5 Words You Need to Learn to Say

White balloon coming out of the megaphone.No.

Not Now.

Not Anymore.

Do those 5 words roll easily off your tongue?  Can you say them without stammering, apologizing, or piling guilt on your head?  If not, you’re jeopardizing your plans to reduce stress, improve your health or enjoy your marriage more this year – in other words, to live a calmer, healthier and sexier life.  Because when you avoid saying “no”to low-priority activities, you’re reducing the time and energy you can devote to the activities you’ve identified as high priority.

Because when you say “yes,” to one thing, you almost always say “no” to something else.

So “yes” to “Can you serve as the fundraising chairperson this spring?” may mean “no” to your plans to organize your home, get rid of “stuff” and lead a calmer life.  And “yes” to “Can you coordinate the children’s Sunday and Wednesday night programs?” most likely means “no” to the exercise and healthy eating program  you planned to begin.  And “yes” to “Can you keep our kids this weekend?” almost certainly means “no” to relaxing and enjoying intimacy with your husband.

So why don’t we say those 5 words more often?  Lots of reasons – we want people to like us, we feel more important when we’re busy, we’ve gotten into the habit of saying “yes,” or we just haven’t practiced saying them – to name a few.  And sometimes, we don’t say them because busyness keeps us from having to deal with issues or problems we’d rather not address.

I don’t like saying any of those words, primarily because I want people to like me.  Recently I said “not anymore” to a volunteer job I did for many years.  I didn’t like saying it, and I’m pretty sure some people didn’t like hearing it!  But I did it, I survived, and I freed up time for things that are higher priority right now.  And to be honest, it really wasn’t as hard as I expected!

So, if you’re working to create a calmer and healthier life for you and your family and a more fun and sexy marriage for you and your husband, you have to learn to say them too.

Okay, let’s practice:

  • “Can you serve as room mother this year?”  No.
  • “Mom, can I play soccer this season?”  Not while you’re taking ballet. (Not now.)
  • “I hope you’re planning to run the baseball concessions again this spring.”  Sorry, not this year. (Not anymore.)
  • “Can you take my shifts at work this weekend?  No.
  • “Can we go to the store tonight?  I need new notebooks and paper for tomorrow.”  Sorry, you should have asked me earlier.  (Not now.)
  • “You’re coordinating Vacation Bible School again this year, aren’t you?”  No, it’s someone else’s turn.  (Not anymore)

I think every woman can learn to say “no” when she needs to, in order to say “yes” to the things she really values.  However, if you find it difficult at first, try this – say, “I need to talk it over with my husband.”  That buys you some time to think it through and discuss it with your husband, so the two of you are making decisions that involve big time commitments together.

Is it easy or hard for you to say these 5 words?  Have you discovered any strategies that make it easier?  Please share your ideas in the Comments – I would love to hear from you.  And please subscribe to CalmHealthySexy by email (using the pink bar at the top of the page or the box in the sidebar).  When you subscribe you’ll receive my free ebook – 17 Ways to Live Calmer, Healthier and Sexier – Starting Today.  And I’ll send you an email whenever I publish a new post, usually 2 or 3 times a week.






  1. says

    Great article. I have such a hard time saying no and then when I do I always feel guilty and judged. Taking care of yourself first is so important though and life is too short to be stressed and not doing what you want to be :)

    • GC says

      Hi Kelly – It IS hard to say no, but I think it’s so important for our sanity and peace of mind!

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

  2. says

    Great thoughts! Something I need to work on Thanks for sharing this at our HomeAcre Hop. We’d love to have you back again this morning ~ hop is live!

  3. says

    It only took me 40+ years, but I have learned to say NO rather well. I’ve never known anything that lends itself to quality of life so well!! Thanks for being so faithful to Medical Monday! We love having you on the grid!

    • GC says

      “I’ve never known anything that lends itself to quality of life so well!!” Love that – it is so true!

      Thanks – I love linking up with Medical Mondays.

  4. says

    “No” is something we all need to learn how to say. We have no problem saying it to out kids, but everyone is can be a challenge. We have to learn to say it to save our sanity and give the chance to spend our time doing what is important.

    • GC says

      Hi Nicky – I agree – learning to say “no” is absolutely necessary if we’re going to stay sane!


  5. says

    It is SO hard for me to say these words. Especially with everything school and blog-related. And last week I took on too much that I forgot to complete my work night requirements at my daughter’s school! Oops. Next time, I won’t schedule three things in one day!

    • GC says

      Hi Tamara – It is hard, but definitely worth it, to learn to say various forms of “no.”

      Thanks for stopping by.

  6. says

    I found your blog via the “Let’s Get Real” linkup – great post! Learning to say no is so important. I had a similar experience with a volunteer position – I felt like it wasn’t going anywhere for me or for them, but I felt guilty saying no. But when I did, I felt so much better, it was totally worth it!

    • GC says

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I have had the same experience – dreading saying “no” or “no more,” but then feeling so relieved when I did.


  7. says

    I have to pin this one, print it out and hang it on my fridge, my rearview mirror and my forehead!!! 😉 I have gotten better at saying these words to everyone but the kids. I have to work on that, because it’s actually good for them to hear it as well!

    • GC says

      Hi Kim – Oh yes, it’s hard to say it to the kids – it takes practice! But, you’re right, it’s good for them to hear it sometimes.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  8. theseanamethod says

    I heard a suggestion once I thought was great. Saying “I wouldn’t want to say ‘yes’ unless I thought I could do a good job, which I don’t think I have the bandwidth to do right now. I respect the initiative too much to give it a half-hearted effort” I like this because it is often the truth for me! (Stopping in from LOBS)

    • GC says

      Oh, that’s an awesome response. And I love “don’t have the bandwidth to do right now!” That is a perfect description of how we often feel.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

  9. says

    I’ve always been pretty good with these words and having appropriate boundaries but now that our kids are growing up I find that they want to say yes to things that take consideration. Learning to work within the balance of the yes and no in this season is about to get trickier.


    • GC says

      Hi Megan – You’re right, adding kids wants and activities into the mix as they get older does make it tricky. You will probably have to say “yes” more for a period of time. I think that people run into problems, though, when the parents haven’t considered the situation together and established priorities for the family. When that happens, “doing as many activities as the kids want” seems to become the default priority!


  10. says

    So many, in particular women, have a hard time saying and setting these small but important boundaries in their lives, Gaye. I know, I’ve been there and done that and still struggle to do all that I “want” to do. But what I “want” and what’s healthy for me and my family are two different things sometimes! I love this and noticed you haven’t linked up yet over at Wedded Wed. I hope you’ll join us over there today! Hugs to you!

  11. says

    The one thing I always heard from my mother anytime me or one of my siblings asked her if we could do something was, “I have to talk it over with your father first.” That was her way of saying no and not right now. My parents made all the major decisions about us together. I truly honor my mother for honoring my father in that way.

    Stopping by from Wifey Wednesday!

    • GC says

      Hi Yvonee – Your mother was a smart woman! That’s a great approach – to consider all of those decisions together as a couple. It’s easy for women to end up making all of those decisions on their own, which can sometimes leave the husband/father feeling like an outsider in his own family.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

  12. jugglingrealfoodandreallife says

    Because when you say “yes,” to one thing, you almost always say “no” to something else. This needs to be my new mantra. We are a really busy family right now. It won’t always be like this I know, but I do need to work really hard at managing the chaos. We are quitting gymnastics till after baseball and football season. I can’t keep it all going. I owe this small amount of control to your encouragement. What’s interesting to me is how easy it is for me to say “NO” when I have my priorities clearly in place. Senior year for example………..No, I have a senior and we are doing this or that. So easy! Perhaps, I need to work on being clearer with my priorities all of the time. Maybe that is the key to reducing the guilt?

    • GC says

      “What’s interesting to me is how easy it is for me to say “NO” when I have my priorities clearly in place.” I think that’s exactly what we have to do – set our priorities and then make all of our decisions about continuing or starting activities based on those priorities. Your example of having a senior is perfect. Senior year involves a lot of activities and planning and time and money! If you decide to make your son’s senior year a priority for the family, then other things you’re asked to do clearly aren’t as high a priority.

      Thanks so much for the encouragement, Christina.

  13. says

    I love this, I have worked with people at church before and had to help them learn to say, “No!” Some people just get too over committed and it hurts them, it makes it hard for them do take care of what is the most important things in their life.

    Kind of reminds me of “The Tyranny of the Urgent” It was a great article written years ago that basically said, we often spend so much time on the urgent, that we don’t have time to do what is really the most important!

    Just hope my wife does not use those 5 words on me when I try to get intimate with her. :)

    • GC says

      Thanks Jed. It is very much like the ‘tyranny of the urgent.” We all need to set our priorities and then make decisions about new or continuing activities based on those priorities.

      Hope your wife won’t use those words on you, but I’m guessing she won’t!


  1. […] Enjoy sex with him.  Whether or not you and you husband had sex before you were married, you probably felt very sexually attracted to him when you were dating.  Now, maybe not so much.  Instead, you’re busy, you’re stressed and, above all, you’re really, really tired. In addition, you may have started to believe one of the great lies of our culture – that the best sex happens in new relationships between people who aren’t married.  No – the best sex can and should happen between two people who are married and committed to each other for life.  While you’re focusing on being your husband’s girlfriend, work on rekindling the sexual attraction that you first felt for him.  Let him know clearly that you’re open for and interested in sex.  Try taking the lead and initiating sex.  Wear something that you know he thinks is hot.  Consider trying something new that you know he would like.  Above all, cultivate a positive mindset and plan to enjoy intimacy with your husband.  Almost every man desperately wants to know that his wife is still turned on by him and enthusiastic about enjoying sex with him. If you’re not sure how to make that work (and believe me, I know it isn’t easy) some of the resources on the Sex and Marriage Resources page may give you some additional ideas and encouragement. And if you’re always too tired to enjoy sex, consider taking more control of your schedule and learning to say no. […]

Please leave a comment - I would love to hear from you!