In Seasons When Your Marriage Is Sexless

How often should a married couple be having sex?

Although I do marriage counseling (Christ and Paul spoke the most on marriage and they were single too, right?-I Corinthians 6&7, Matthew 19), I am still single and so since I’m not (and not supposed to be-Hebrews 13:4) having sex, I wanted to pose something more in (long) question form.

After doing quite a few counseling sessions, one thing that *continously*(sic) comes up is that sex is *severely lacking* in the marriage bed. And when the frequency (or lack thereof) is “once a month”, “twice every six months” or “I can’t remember the last time” and *then* there are issues with porn, inappropriate online exchanges or even all out affairs, sometimes, I can’t help but to wonder: “What do most couples think when they read I Corinthians 7:5?”

“Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

You see because here’s the thing: There are a lot of married people who watch porn, have affairs, engage in masturbation (even preferably to their partner), etc. out of pure selfishness BUT there are also many who do these things as a way of figuring out how to cope with the lack of sex that they are having within their marriage. Yet somehow, when this is mentioned to the “non-participating party”, they don’t seem to want to address the reality of this fact.

I liken it to how a lot of husbands seem to always remember that a woman is supposed to submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:22), yet somehow they “conveniently forget” that the same Word also says that if they don’t dwell with their wives *according to understanding* their prayers are not heard (I Peter 3:8). In this same vein, a lot of wives seem to want to quote “Do not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14) but somehow, I Corinthians 7:5, miraculously, does not personally apply to their marriage bed. *That if theirs is a sexless marriage, their husbands are just supposed to…accept it.*

So, this leads me to two questions, actually:

“Although frequency does tend to vary from couple to couple, when do you think that a marriage should be considered to be a sexless one?”

“What is a sexless marriage a sign of in the overall scope of the relationship?”

Oh, and I guess there are three:

“When there is a sexless marriage, what do you recommend the other person should do?”

Uh-oh. I guess there are four:

“What should be done to get a sexless marriage back on track?”

I’ hear the problems a lot. I would be curious to hear some of you all’s solutions.

~ “How Frequently Should Married Couples Have Sex?” by Shellie R. Warren

It appears Shellie decided to write this article after reading another piece, “I Hate Sex with My Husband” – just the title of that one denotes trouble!

As she says, not having sex for 1 year can’t be good news for a couple. I agree.

Lifestyle in modern times, says Nancy, where everyone is dealing with stresses of office work and assignments, negatively weighs on a couple’s sex life. The demands of juggling work, family and other responsibilities can be exhausting and overwhelming; there may be little energy and enthusiasm left for sex. The solution would never be in seeking clandestine satisfaction.

At the heart of the matter though, relationship problems and difficulties in communication can have a major detrimental influence on a woman’s sex drive. For this, Nancy explains, the proper antidote would be couples opening channels for conversation.

She also relays that the major missing nut in men’s mind about their women is that sex to them is, “more than physical embroilment of a man and a woman: it is an emotional connection to someone I love.”

As it turns out, sex begins in the morning when the man is leaving for office and goes beyond an actual orgasm achieved after a night of passionate love-making, concludes Nancy.

~ “I Hate Sex with My Husband” on StandardMedia.co.ke

I read the article with interest as I sometimes wonder the same thing… are we normal? Are we under-doing-it? Are we in the top percentile (…or not)?

What really struck me though was a comment posted by an obviously hot & bothered husband who was getting very little action at home. His comment:

It’s funny… my wife recently had this passage in her bible reading for the day…. So she mentioned it to me… and I had a glimmer of hope….. then when she was done quoting, immediately came the….. but….. If a man could die from lack of physical contact I would have been freed from this life a long time ago. My wife is totally non-physical and if I get a once a month I’m lucky, and then it’s usually with a crappy attitude of “here if you need it just take it.” Which then forget it. That triggers me all crazy because of all the abuse I suffered as a kid.

~ Broken

I could totally relate to Broken’s comment for a couple of reasons:

  1. I could totally see my own hubby writing something like this at certain times.
  2. I do often forget that this verse exists in the bible.
  3. When I do remember, sometimes I act as though I am exempt and also use the “but”.
  4. The “here if you need it take it” attitude I sometimes have is probably as offensive to my hubby
  5. Because of my own bad sexual experiences in the past, sometimes the “having sex just because he wants it” mode does trigger very bad memories & leaves hubby & I both feeling dirty and used.

So here’s the response I had as I thought about Broken and what he’s going through…

aka

“When the Wife is Not up for Sex: A Guide for the Confused but Loving Husband”

@Broken – I’ll respond from my view as a woman. I’m glad you don’t take someone else’s failing as an excuse for your own – with a heart like that I know God can use you to turn things around in your marriage.

As a young single woman I’d got to the point where my boundaries were so bad (due to mistakes of judgement + forced sexual encounters) that I didn’t know how to say no. I was a new believer with the convictions and the experience of the destructiveness of premarital sex.

Dating my now-husband was a challenge because even though he was a Christian and a virgin – he was an “everything but” virgin who’d pushed the line as far as it’d go. What saved our purity was accountability with our pastors (often getting scolded) but it taught him to hold himself in check and me to have better boundaries.

The flip side was, because I’d had to guard myself from him because of the lack of self-control and boundaries, once we got married the challenge was unlearning my self-protective stance after we’d entered into marriage.

So with your wife you need to determine the impact your pre-marriage lives have on your marriage now – were there any bad sexual experiences she went through that you both need to work through?  And did you establish any bad habits as a couple before you got married?

After getting married we struggled in a lot of areas, particularly in finance & leadership (spiritually, in decision-making, in running a business together). I felt sorely disappointed in my husband and until we dealt with that, sexual intimacy was undesirable to me – I felt no attraction to him. So naturally sex wasn’t a priority or something to look forward to.

The fact that I discovered his addiction to porn & masturbation soon after our wedding didn’t help our marriage or sex life. I felt betrayed & it took a long time to rebuild the trust. He’s worked through his addiction & it only happens a couple of times a year. The understanding is no hiding & we have deeper transparency & vulnerability in our marriage. I’m still praying one day he can break free altogether but its been a journey of growth for us both.

The most recent challenge has been that with a lot on our plates, the last few months have found us tired and our sex drastically reduced, sometimes just once a month.

We’ve talked about this lowered sex rate and recently agreed to have sex only over the weekends, ideally every weekend, because one of the reasons I put off having sex is when we do it during the week, I’m totally exhausted & out of commission for 2 days afterwards. So I may enjoy it in the moment but regret when I need to make decisions or do stuff and I just don’t have the energy or capacity for it…so the next time we want to have sex I remember the results and it reduces my willingness and it just goes downhill from there. We’ve also agreed that I will ‘help him out’ ie masturbate him during the week if he needs it – so we both participate without the ‘energy depletion’ for me & not resorting to porn for him.

There have been times we have sex because my husband needs it, but because of my background when he takes it rather than I give it – it leaves both of us feeling dirty and used. So we’ve agreed to rather not do it at all in those instances (it’s happened twice in 4 years).

On this note, there are certain things that just turn me off – a way of looking at me, showing me his privates at random moments, certain words that just kill the moment. Every woman is different so you need to know what those are for her.

Some practical tips

Take your wife on 3 separate dates. For the first 2 dates, just hang out & have fun & share heart-to-heart (no talk about work or kids or family etc unless that’s really what’s on your heart & needs sharing). Create a safe place again.

Important: Don’t ask for sex after the first 2 dates! At one point in our marriage when dates began to feel transactional – “I’m paying you for sex by bringing you out on a date” rather than a date being a time of reconnecting & getting to know what’s going on in each others mind & heart.

During those couple of dates, you can ask her how she’d like to be seduced. What are the clues that show when she wants sex? (I’m so subtle my husband used to miss these & we’d both be frustrated coz I had a hard time initiating in other ways). What are the things that turn her off? What turns her on?

Only after you’ve gone out on a few relationship building dates & found out this stuff again (it can change over time – trust me, I’m a woman), and this is important follow her advice (this should be obvious). Take her on a date. And then…

If she likes a certain cologne, wear it. If she likes your 2-day stubble, make sure it’s perfect. If a back massage in bed is the doorway to more intimate touch, give her one. If she has a big day next Tues, don’t plan this for Monday night.

What most of us forget is that we’re married to the whole person & our sex lives are influenced by how the whole person is doing.

I know this might seem like a lot of work and it seems kinda one-sided but hey, it’s just my opinion and ideas on how to rekindle the spark in your marriage. If what you’re doing isn’t working for you and you feel your marriage is worth trying something different for (hint: it is); this can fall under the dying to self to serve the other.

When you show a willingness to partner with her in life & not just in bed, hopefully things will get better in your marriage overall.

After talking to your wife through all these issues – past sexual experiences, resolving and dealing with disappointments & unmet needs & expectations within your marriage, schedules that create negative mental associations with sex etc… You’ll probably be in a better place to determine where the deeper issues lie. Your wife will likely be more open to seeing a sex therapist for further help, if both of you agree to continue working on your marriage – for both your sakes.

Remember: Don’t forget the past…otherwise you’re bound to make the same mistakes again.

[Repost]

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4 thoughts on “In Seasons When Your Marriage Is Sexless

  1. I’m just curious why people seem to assume it’s the woman who doesn’t want to have sex.
    There are men who don’t (uh, like mine).
    Going on a year now. I keep telling him, “There are men who have to beg their wives. You have one who wants to be with you, and THAT is a problem! Must suck to be you.

    The thing that is so distressing is I pray for God to change things. For some reason, God won’t, and it’s really shaken my faith. Any words of wisdom are welcome.

    Like

    • Hi Michelle, thanks for sharing what’s on your heart, it must be frustrating being in that situation.

      I wrote this blog post partly in response to a question asked, but also out of my experiences, being the wife with issues I had to deal with and the perpetrator of our mediocre sex life, so it certainly doesn’t reflect the different sides of the coin and the many nuances of marriage, sex and relationships.

      Your question stirred a number of thoughts and it ended up blog length: https://rhythmandrice.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/my-husband-doesnt-want-sex-its-not-just-women-saying-no/

      I hope you find some of the thoughts and resources helpful, especially the link to Sheila Wray Gregoire’s website http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com where she talks a lot about this issue and suggests many ways to address the root causes and revive your sex life.

      I’ll drop you an email as well if you’d like to talk more. Hang in there, don’t lose heart.

      Hugs,
      Rhythm

      Like

  2. Thank you so much. I really appreciated you taking time to give such a thoughtful response.
    It just gets so hard to deal with. For 16 years, we had a consistent intimacy with no complaints.
    Now this…I just don’t get it.

    Like

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