If you and your partner are sexually active, it’s bound to happen—he’ll make a romantic advance when you’re not in the mood. For some couples, each partner likes sex at a different time of day, at night or in the morning. Some partners desire sex more than the their significant other. Some couples simply miss each other from time to time. Whatever the reason, it’s common for unrequited advances to happen.
For married couples especially, it can feel harder to turn down a significant other you have committed your time and devotion to, but it’s completely okay to delay sex if you’re not in the mood. Being romantic when you don’t want it can feel admirable but over time, it can make sex feel like a chore or something meant only to please your partner. It can also be hard on your partner since rejecting a sexual advance can make him feel like you’re rejecting him altogether. Both partners should be cared for in such a situation so one person isn’t giving or taking something unfairly or begrudgingly.
Sex can be enjoyed with joy and mutual desire, not begrudgingly, so if you want to tell your partner no, here are some key tips for doing so without making him feel rejected and leaving you with a feeling of guilt.
1. Be Clear With Your No
If you suspect your partner is in the mood and you’re not, speak up in response to his advances. Make it clear that you don’t want sex and honestly explain why you’re not in the mood. Your reasons are valid, even if he doesn’t accept them. Stand firm in respect of yourself and your boundaries. Be sure to speak up early and be gentle as opposed to waiting til the last moment to turn him down. Being turned down romantically is hard for anyone so don’t be mean or curt with your denial. While you shouldn’t need to, you may need to repeat yourself. Be gentle each time, but firm.
2. Suggest Another Time
Suggest another time for sex within the next 24 hours. Unless life is extremely busy, it’s likely that there will be another opportunity for sex in the upcoming day. While it may seem unromantic to schedule sex, it’s a helpful practice as life gets busier. For married couples with kids, so much may feel planned already that planning sex feels like a relationship death knoll. It’s not. In reality, scheduling sex may be a great way to jumpstart a good sexual rhythm again if you and your partner aren’t as intimate as before. It also signals to both you and your partner that your relationship is worth investing in because you’re making time for the things that make it stronger. Open your calendars, find a time you believe you’ll have some privacy, and schedule time for intimacy—just make sure you don’t accidentally add that event to your work calendar! ;)
3. Care For Your Partner In Their Love Language
While sex may be off the table, care and intimacy isn’t. Think about how your partner likes receiving love, and in lieu of sex, care for him in his love language. If it’s acts of service, find some meaningful way to serve a need he has. If it’s words of affirmation, have an honest conversation with him about why you love him and remind him of the things he’s doing right. If he loves quality time, commit to being there with him for the evening or otherwise be more intentionally present for him. This will work as a reminder for him that you love and care for him deeply and the lack of sex doesn’t signal a lack of love or affection.
4. Suggest Another Form of Intimacy
You know your partner best, so consider another form of intimacy that will satisfy his sexual desire until you’re ready. For some men, kissing is great while for others, a full body massage or a soak in the tub together will make him feel connected to you. If you’re unsure, ask him what would be a good alternative to sex and if you’re okay with it, connect with him in that way.
5. Go on a Date
Even if it’s buying takeout and watching a much-anticipated movie together, go on a casual date. For many, sex is an opportunity to connect emotionally with their partner, so find a way to do so that doesn’t involve sex. Take him to that restaurant he’s really wanted to go do, or take a long, sunset walk in the neighborhood. Find that groove where emotional intimacy flourished and enjoy each other, taking the pressure of sex off the table.
Let your yes be yes and your no be no! We encourage you to be firm and loving in saying no to your partner but we hope y’all have the opportunity to connect in a sweet way outside of sex.