Do You Have a Sexless Marriage?

Do You Have a Sexless Marriage?

Written by Gary Thomas

Anna, a mother of five children all under eight years of age, is understandably tired. It’s impossible not to be tired if you  have five kids that young. She’s married to Michael, a rising lawyer and almost-certain future partner of a prestigious law firm. The problem Anna wants resolved is a common one: Michael has a high sex drive, and Anna has almost none. She’s understandably concerned that as Michael’s star at work rises, particularly with younger associates and interns, he could be targeted for sexual temptation. But she’s not concerned enough to have sex nearly as often as Michael would like.

“What do you think would make Michael happy?” I asked her.

“He told me he’d be happy with two times a week, ecstatic with three.”

“As opposed to the current…”

“Maybe once a month, if I’m honest.”

Once a month almost qualifies for a “sexless marriage.” (An accepted definition by most marital therapists is ten times a year or less.)

There were extenuating circumstances that we talked about, and things I could and did say later to Michael, but the image that Anna later told me most opened her eyes was this: I asked her to imagine her oldest son all grown up, married, and with small kids. He works a busy job and travels through a pornographic world. His vocation requires him to be around young, energetic women, he’s a star in their galaxy, and he also happens to have a high sex drive.

“Okaaaay…,” Anna said.

“You want your son to be a faithful husband and a man of integrity, right?”

“Of course.”

“And because you raised him right, he’s doing his best. But I want you to consider this: If your future daughter-in-law treated him like you’re treating Michael right now, would you be frustrated with her or grateful to her?”

Anna was silent for a long while, processing the question. He voice dropped two levels of softness when she replied, “Well, I wouldn’t be happy with her.”

(This is an excerpt from Gary Thomas’ book “A Lifelong Love.” From what I have read so far, it’s a fabulous book! Remember, treat your husband the same way that you want your future daughter-in-law to treat your son.)

Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
1 Corinthians 7:5

22 thoughts on “Do You Have a Sexless Marriage?

  1. Some of us have the opposite issue. We want sex, offer it, request it, pursue it, and yet our husband’s aren’t interested. It is one of the most hurtful things to be rejected almost daily by him in this area.

      1. I’m living this rejection. We have gone three years at a time. It is unbearable. I’m not sure how long I can take it.

  2. BLESSED! My husband has never been deprived! 11 years of marriage and I’ve never turned him down. When his friends complain about only making love every few months, he can’t believe it! Women!! Make love to your men. Don’t treat it like a reward or punishment. It’s the deepest connection you GET to have with him!

    A few months ago my friend told me it had been 8 weeks since she made love to her husband. I told her to knock it off! You can’t deprive your man and then get mad if he cheats! Don’t drive him there!

    1. Yes, good for you for rebuking your friend, Katie. We need to be doing this with our sisters-in-Christ whenever they speak evil or complain about their husbands or say that they don’t want sex. Someone needs to be speaking truth to them.

  3. A standing ovation to you, Lori, for posting this from all of us Christian husbands who have been denied the sexual intimacy we so longed for with our wives.

    (For myself it has been most of the 38 years we have been married and I cannot begin to describe the heartache it has caused)

    We have been failed by our pastors and the majority of Christian leadership for them not addressing this sin from the pulpit.
    God bless you for not letting it go un-noticed.

    1. You’re welcome, Charles, and I am sorry for the pain you are having to endure. What it comes down to is selfishness, pure and simple. They aren’t loving their husbands as God has called them to love them and are only concerned about themselves.

      1. Lori, Many, many husbands, married for decades, want sex not just every day, but 2 or 3 times a day. Where most husbands give their best is to their work; they give their Passion, Energy, and Time. Having sex with my husband 3 times a week pleases him, but he complains every day. It makes me feel he doesn’t love me…he loves sex.

        1. No, Mary. There aren’t “many, many husbands, married for decades” who want sex 2 to 3 times a day. Maybe in the first year or so but once children come, work gets harder, age sets in, and the sex drive diminishes, this just isn’t going to be happening.

      1. I read it long ago

        I think it’s biological…I’m not shiny and new anymore…and my physical ‘hotness’ is not high enough to sustain his long-term interest

        I do think it was hubris on my part to even date my husband as he is physically so much out of my league.

        That being said…he does not cheat. I think he’s a low-sex drive guy…the low-sex drive causes him to pursue women not in his physical league as it’s not a requirement for a relationship…and therefore he only has sex at the beginning of a relationship when there is novelty and excitement.

        I think a lot of these sexless relationships are at their core…an imbalance in the hotness of the couple.

        You see it more with women/men because women more often settle than men.

        1. While I get that there are just some plain sinful and spiteful men, I suggest that is the small minority in marriage and that when it is a male rejecting sex it has more to do with church pathology or the level of engagement of the wife then with simply him not being desirous of sex or thoughtful of the spouse. To be blunt, in the ‘worst case sceniario’ – that is, just tolerating sex, women can just lay there and ‘perform’ – they can be TOTALLY disinterested and reasonably satisfy their man …in the short run. But men HAVE to be interested to perform, particularly for intercourse. They can’t be ill or disinterested or tired or ticked-off and just grit it out for 10 minutes. Sometimes men CAN’T perform and there is nothing they can do about it. There is a huge difference in male and female physical capacity, so wives are a huge key to getting a disinterested husband excited where he physically is able to ‘perform.’

          Certainly it has something to do with how a wife physically takes care of herself [there are very few women that are not attractive if they reasonably take care of themselves; my wife is 67 yrs old and 50 lbs overweight and very pretty to me, so keep up the effort] but MORE IMPORTANT is how a wife engage her husband in all of life: how she really desires and respects his leadership, his will, his body. He reads all that and responds pro or con to that, sometimes without the ability to overcome it, no matter how godly he may be. And frankly, I have not observed a woman yet that fully understands her ability and ways to inflate or deflate the wellness of her husband. Wives should regularly ask their men to be honest with her in that respect.

          Finally, there is pathology in the church that leads many, if not most all couples into having some level of inhibition – “naked and ashamed.” The church has created a lack of communication on sex, and just as Paul says later in verse 7 ‘don’t push your spouse out of the bed to be tempted elsewhere,’ the church has effectively done that by at minimum having the discussion of sex be significantly taboo and if it does discuss it in limited fashion, it implies that it is not a real blessing just for the sake of the act. This contributes to forcing sex out of the marriage, including much of the demand for the pornography industry.

          I suggest that next to the church teaching the commitment of marriage, the church teach and promote the knowledge, the importance, and the acceptance of sex in marriage.

          1. Dave – this is probably the first comment you’ve made that I agree with! You are so right about what the church teaches (or doesn’t teach) about sex. The church I go to is different, but so many churches seem to teach that sex is purely for making babies. It’s not something to be enjoyed, and much of it is made out to be sinful, even between husband and wife. (I’m not talking about extra-marital or pre-marital sex, just intimate acts between husband and wife that are outside of the most basic level of intercourse) So many Christians are made to feel ashamed of exploring intimacy with their spouses and being imaginative and trying different things. They act shocked, and harshly judge those Christian spouses who have an active, fulfilling, and imaginative (perhaps even kinky) sex life. Why? I don’t understand this. Within the bonds of marriage and love, sex is not sinful, it’s fun! It’s pleasurable!

  4. I actually have heard it from Christian people, it is only for making babies! Oh really! My husband and I were made fun of for going away for a weekend or Anniversary trip. We found that these people must be jealous of our relationship, because they could do the same thing. I even had elderly people have an issue with us going away. They left us know that what do you need to do that for! Again it came back around your done having children. At the time we didn’t know what God might do but we didn’t tell them we were never done having children. More education is needed so Christians know it is not just for having children.

    1. I’m surprised that there are even Christians out there that only believe it is for creating children. I have never heard anyone ever teach or preach this, Jo. Song of Solomon clearly shows us this and we are commanded to not defraud (cheat) our spouse!

      1. No, it is not talked about in church at all! We live in a very conservative area and the only time you here about this is in counseling before getting married.

        The most we heard of this is from the Baby Boomer generation and the older generation in which we were told that this is for baby making. I will say the ones that told us this, seem not to have a good marriage. They were many years married but you could see the bitter between the husband and wife. Also, some of these people came from large families and I think felt like they weren’t treated fair during their childhood. A conservative legalistic area does crazy things to people here. If only they could see the blessings and positive things in life.

  5. Thank you Lori for recommending this book. I just purchased it for $1.99 on Kindle and I am already crying my eyes out reading about how my heavenly “Father in Law” wants me to treat my husband. I am excited to read more and appreciate you sharing this with me.

  6. I’m very blessed to have an understanding husband. He has a high sex drive and we have sex nearly every day, but sometimes he knows I’m tired (we have 3 kids under 3) and just cuddles with me without taking it further.

    I do try to keep him satisfied, though. It can be hard not to be selfish when I’m tired or just cranky but I try my best.

    It’s very sad to me that women would use sex as a tool. . . By either giving it or withholding it to manipulate their man. 😕

  7. The word translated ‘depriving’ in 1 Cor 7:5 is 650G ‘apostereo’ which is the root of the word apostate which means to abandon loyalty, usually to the faith.

    The spouse who says ‘No’ without a legitimate reason and without a reasonable offer for ‘when’ it will be ‘Yes’ is apostate to God’s marriage, to their marriage vow, and to the very soul of their spouse.

    And it is effectively committing adultery in their heart, and is very practically pushing their spouse toward commit physical adultery. It is defrauding, it is robbing all nearby of the truth of God, and the spouses of growing in knowledge of each other; in unity and oneness. It is quite literally a living Hell — ‘dead while living.’

  8. A few related thoughts:

    It is no coincidence that God uses sexual relations as a metaphor [and reality] for His relationship with the church. That is why it is so important for the church to teach and model sex scripturally in marriage, so we can understand our offense to Him when we have idols, other things before Him …committing adultery.

    It is critical to understand the marriage and sex metaphor [and the reality of it]: a wife’s disobedience to her husband is adultery; she has an idol before her husband. The church’s disobedience to God, to His Word, is adultery; it has an idol before her husband. A husband cannot commit adultery by disobeying his wife because she has no authority over him, EXCEPT in the bed, by him denying her conjugal rights or having a spirit of denial.

    A wife, though, does commit adultery, even while granting sex and appearing holy, simply by disobedience elsewhere, or having a spirit, a heart of disobedience and resentment.

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