I’ll define stress as an external or internal force that adversely impacts mental and physical well being, usually with a release of cortisol. In this context, cortisol (the stress hormone) is bad, it decreases libido and impacts hormones. Think of cortisol and testosterone as a see-saw as they directly impact each other- cortisol goes up, testosterone production goes down. Stress from a 20 mile run, or from work, or from the kids or not getting enough sleep all impact cortisol production. And makes having sexy times with your spouse more challenging.
Even if you are Brad Pitt and have the so-called perfect Alpha-Beta mix, it won’t matter if stress is pressuring your partner. It tends to crush people and they get lost in their own minds unable to get out. This is where the blue-pill, woman magazine argument starts to shape up. The “help with housework to get laid” meme, and “massage her and butter her up” idea all under the context of reducing stress. This may work to a degree, but having it be the default way to have sex is a bad idea. Just don’t discount the fact that as a husband, you may be doing everything right, and not getting the response you want simply because of this tiny (huge) issue. I’ve attempted to capture my thought in a graph below (click for bigger image).
Men and women respond to stress very differently, as men’s default is usually much higher and they can handle much more stress and still be willing to have sex. In many of us, sex is a stress reliever. Women’s rope is usually much shorter before the fall into the “Ain’t No Way” zone. You can beta it up all you want but it’s not going to change her mind. She may pull out on her own through changing how she views the situation, but sometimes when you’re stuck in the mud, there’s no getting out until the mud dries up.
It’s no wonder then the introduction of kids result in less sex in most of our marriages. The stress level of a new born or toddler is often very high, mentally and physically. We’re tired (cortisol), worn down and mentally fatigued. It takes a lot of effort to get out of this caustic place in our heads, and frankly, many couples really struggle with this time of the family life. But letting sex go too long is a bad idea. Pretty soon your partner is a stranger sleeping in the same bed with you and things are awkward.
What can we do about this? First, do what you can do keep cortisol production low and to reduce stress. The best things for this are good diet (shitty dietary stuff like processed foods and wheat also have stress response) and getting good quality sleep in a dark room . Put that iPad away as you get closer to bed as the light has been shown to disrupt our circadian rhythms resulting in poorer quality sleep. If you aren’t in a stress hole, exercise is also good. If stress is already high, do low impact walking as your exercise, since high intensity training will put further stresses on your body.
Recognize that outside forces do impact your marital lives. You can help to relieve stress for your partner, but it is ultimately on them. With that said, don’t allow them to utilize this as a long-term excuse on why you aren’t connecting in the bedroom to your desires. Stress-begets-stress, sexless-begets-sexless… so you may need to do something to shake them out of a funk. Sometimes it takes addressing it head on: “I see you’ve been really stressed out lately, that must really suck. Is there anything I can do to help address the underlying stress issues? I’ve heard that good sleep goes a long way towards helping you feel better.” Try to get her out of her own head and engaging you. This is a big thing as with so much going on, and the electronic zombie devices (phones, tablets, television) it is easy to disconnect with our partner. Caring and empathetic, while providing an easy solution. While kid issues will always be stressful, you can find ways to bring it down a notch. A lot of times it’s an excuse or a perceived excuse to stay moping and sad. Outlook on life comes from within.
This doesn’t mean you don’t bring the Alpha, just realize that cocky-funny and looking good only takes you so far when your partner is lost in her own quicksand head. She’s internal, not external. It’s not your job to get her out, but to at least throw her a rope so she can get out herself. And you’ll be there, ready to take her to pound town when she does.
I see I wrote a similar post back in October…Hopefully with the weather getting sunnier, the Vitamin D levels will improves moral (spring time is mating time people)