If you’ve been on the Internet today, you’ve likely heard about how a husband made a spreadsheet of all the reasons his wife turned down sex. When his angry wife saw it, she uploaded it on Reddit, and the rest is viral history. Clearly, this couple has more issues to work on than simply negotiating a bedroom schedule they both like, but the reasons why the wife skipped out on sex may sound pretty familiar to a lot of otherwise happy couples.
When the unidentified wife uploaded the spreadsheet, she explained mutually busy lives, work stress, and her recent weight gain all contributed to her not feeling in the mood. And if you read the spreadsheet, her husband notes that one of her most frequent reasons for refusing was because she “felt gross.”
And it’s understandable. Whether it’s feeling sweaty from the gym or the humidity, or feeling bloated after a big dinner, it’s hard to get in the mood when you feel physically uncomfortable. And it’s totally normal to occasionally turn down sex because it’s a million degrees or because Taco Tuesday at your favorite Mexican joint is wreaking havoc on your stomach. But if you’ve found yourself using that excuse more than once with your guy for no solid reason, sussing out your state of mind can be helpful, suggests Megan Fleming, Ph.D., a psychologist and sexual intimacy expert based in New York City.
“Think about what you really want from your partner. Maybe you’re exhausted and overwhelmed and what would feel really good would be a massage or a Netflix night under the covers. Being able to communicate your needs makes it clear that your rejecting sex doesn’t mean you’re rejecting him,” she explains. Plus, when you’re just being close without pressure or expectation, you may find yourself getting in the mood after all.
Second, if there’s something you feel self-conscious about—whether it’s feeling bloated after dinner or feeling dirty and sticky from the commute home—flip your focus so it’s about what would turn you on rather than turn you off, suggests Fleming. Maybe it’s taking a long shower before bed, maybe it’s keeping on a cute camisole—whatever makes you feel good about yourself. And when he tells you that you look hot? Listen and believe his compliments, rather than batting them down.
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Finally, if you genuinely love your partner, but just feel eh about sex with him most nights, it’s likely a sign that you’re worn down, exhausted, and in need of serious self-care. And no, self-care isn’t a euphemism for the battery-operated variety (although if that works for you, then go for it!). Taking time to work out, write in your journal, have coffee with friends, de-stress with cat videos—all of those things will help you feel more chilled out, which, in turn, will make you more receptive to pleasure when it’s offered, says Fleming.