Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.
This week: Should sex be used as a bargaining chip with your partner, or is bedroom bribery a no-go? Have your own questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Scary Mommy,
My husband and I have been happily married for nearly five years, and we have two little kids. There’s just one issue we can’t seem to agree on. As an overworked, overwhelmed working mom, I use sex (and/or blowjobs) as currency. I mean, we have sex no matter what, but I use more sex as bribes to get him to do more chores, finish DIY projects I want done around the house, etc. If he wants to give up his day to sleep in, and let me sleep longer instead, I will definitely blow him. He’s been fine with this, until lately, when he thinks we should just be having more sex no matter what. 1-2 times per week isn’t enough for him, and honestly I’m too exhausted to give it up more (or go downtown more) unless he takes some extra things off my plate. Acts of service is my love language, I think. And getting blowjobs seems to be his. So, I feel like he can cook dinner or paint the bathroom or something to motivate me to want to do more. Is this a bad thing?
I think it’s time for an honest conversation with your husband, in which you tell him exactly this. Hell, show him this letter. Motherhood is exhausting; moms do all the things — including things nobody in your family even realizes you do — and by the end of each overwhelming day, we’re dead on our feet. And when we feel like that, the last thing we want is to expend more energy to go canoodle in the sheets when we’d just rather go kerplunk on the pillow.
Your husband would likely prefer having sex with you when you’re actually into it, not just performing a task that feels more like an obligation (although, psst … married couples are under exactly ZERO obligation to have sex with one another; there’s no required quota you’re trying to reach. And if your husband feels like there is, tell him to go fuck himself … literally). You can’t be into it if your energy level is somewhere along the lines of “trying to squeeze a drop of water from a dry dishrag.”
Let him know your concerns — that your proverbial plate is only so big, and only so many things will fit. Heaping another thing onto your to-do list is almost certain to kick your husband off of it. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s just asking for what you need in exchange for providing what he needs.
It would be different if you were using sex as a tool of manipulation, and denial of it as punishment, like “if you don’t do XY and Z then I’m not having sex with you.” But that isn’t the issue here; you’re simply saying you’d have more sex if your needs were being met, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Because while your husband’s fulfillment is important to you, yours should be to him, too – even if you get that fulfillment from a different source than he does.