Although sex was designed by God to be like the dessert following a fine meal of connecting, for many couples the subject is more like food poisoning. In fact, sex is one of the most intimate, emotionally charged and painful issues which many couples deal with in their marriage.
Michele Weiner-Davis writes that from her research only 40% of married couples say they are very satisfied with their sex lives. Experts say that 20% of married couples are in “sexless marriages” and have sex less than 10 times a year. We’ve worked with couples who have gone months or years without physical intimacy.
We don’t presume to be able to answer all the issues in a blog post, but we do offer some key things to consider, pray through, and talk about with your spouse. Some issues may need to be worked through with a professional counselor. Your marriage is worth the investment of time and resources to get all the wisdom and counsel to bring healing into this part of your marriage.
The importance of making love
God’s plan is for sex to draw couples together, to be the glue of the relationship. God designed sex to be enjoyed and to connect a husband and wife intimately, “and they become one flesh.” When it is an act of self-sacrificing love, the focus by each is on the pleasure of their spouse first and foremost.
The breakdown in marriage
Too many spouses become self-centered when it comes to sex. For those who are uninterested, they refuse to make themselves available to meet their spouse’s needs. It is a sinful and self-centered response.
For those who desire sex, they may press, accuse, manipulate to try to achieve sexual satisfaction, or turn to porn or other outlets—none of which honors Christ. It is a sinful and self-centered response.
The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth:
“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)
Bottom line: It’s wrong to withhold sex from your spouse, and it is wrong to demand sex from your spouse.
If you don’t desire or think you need to make love
In the context of your marriage this may actually be an opportunity for you to honor your relationship with Jesus in how your serve your spouse. True love is self-sacrificing and doing things you may not “feel” like doing. Ask God to help you to have a positive attitude toward your spouse, to not complain, make them feel guilty or dirty for their desires—but to engage out of a love for Jesus and for your spouse. “Whatever you do, work at it with al your heart….” (Colossians 3:23)
If you desire to make love, but your spouse isn’t willing
Be sure your spouse knows that you love them regardless of their sexual interest. Be consistent in your romantic overtures expecting nothing in return. Let them know that they are attractive to you. Provide plenty of non-sexual touches daily so they know your touch doesn’t have to always “lead to something.”
You are vulnerable for resentment and distance to build in you toward your spouse. While you cannot control or manipulate their obedience to Christ, you can control your response. Adding guilt, blame, or shame does not honor Christ or your spouse and will never lead to the lasting intimacy you desire. You have been called to love your spouse as Jesus has loved you: with grace, forgiveness, and unconditionally. As you walk this journey, be open and honest about your desires both to your spouse AND through prayer. And prayerfully make the choice to be holy, pure, and committed in your marriage.
If you both desire intimacy, but life gets in the way
This may seem unnecessary, but your current plan isn’t working—so schedule time for sex. Have a sitter take the kids to a park for a couple of hours, trade babysitting with friends, set an alarm in the middle of the night—but rearrange life so you can have opportunities for intimacy.
We know that the issues surrounding sex in marriage can be varied and painful, but we trust these words can be helpful guides for you and your mate as you Build Your Marriage!
Here are some additional links that may be helpful:
Why Sex Is So Important To Your Wife by Dennis Rainey
Why Sex Is So Important To Your Husband by Barbara Rainey
How Much Sex Is Normal? On Marriage Missions International
Scheduling Sex by Mark Gungor
Is Sex Really All That Important In Marriage? By Intimacy in Marriage
Sex and Intimacy In Marriage by Unveiled Wife