There are untold Christians, both saints and leaders alike, living in a marriage without intimacy, or sex as the true term is coined. This terminology for this type of marriage, whether Christian or not is deemed a “sexless marriage.”
More than you know!
According to experts, a sexless relationship is one in which the frequency of sex has dwindled to 10 times or less in a year. Statistics suggest that more than 15-20 percent of couples in America come under this category. That’s a one fourth of American couples and includes religious couples!
The intimate connection that results from sex is often the glue that holds a marriage together. As human beings, we are hard-wired to crave a special sense of intimacy with another human being. That is why people who are in a sexless relationship feel lonely, hard, depressed and emotionally unfulfilled.
The problem is that often only one spouse no longer wants to have sex while the other one still craves it. And rather than deal with these vital issues, oftentimes the one spouse that is without such intimacy attempts to fill the void by being extra active in other areas of their life, such as church ministry, sports, hobbies, etc.
And while these areas of activity “sound” good, it is not only wrong, but it is an almost impossible unsustainable task to “go without” intimacy simply by sheer fact that God made us this way. Intimacy comes from God. The devil perverts it outside of marriage, but intimacy and sex still comes from God’s design for our marriages.
Lead me not into temptation
In particular, for us as Christians, this poses an added danger – infidelity. When the spouse is forced to “fend for themselves” it poses the potential temptation in their path, and many times the spouse that is withholding has no idea that their actions of not being intimate is in fact a key factor in pushing their spouse into infidelity.
It’s noted in many counseling sessions by many Christian counselors that when probing into situations of infidelity, many surprising twists and turns pop up that reveal that it’s not only the responsibility of the one that fell into adultery, but a surprising number finds that it is often the spouse that remained visibly faithful that oftentimes is the culprit of “pushing” their spouse into the cold, open field for the enemy to hunt down. Even many times not even realizing it!
According to columnist Sheeri Mitchell, she writes to Christian women about Christian couples in a sexless marriage:
"I have heard every excuse imaginable – whether it’s not having enough time, being worn down by housework (not to mention that he (meaning the husband) doesn’t help with the housework or the children), needing to unwind from a long workday herself, being unhappy with her body, being repulsed by his body, working through resentment against him for something he did this morning, last week, ten years ago…I have truly heard some doosies...But an excuse is an excuse is an excuse no matter how cleverly or eloquently phrased it is. And apart from 6-weeks postpartum recovery, other physical conditions that prevent a couple from being able to have sex, and/or damage resulting from abuse, truthfully, there just isn’t any excuse that holds up for a wife not “giving it up” regularly... Here’s the deal: Sexually active men need sex often…not once a month, not once a year, not only on holidays – but often. Websites, books, television shows overflow with information about the difference between the sexual needs of men and women. Some wives (and even a few husbands) are like sexual camels, able to go years without sexual intercourse. But most healthy husbands need sex just to function. I can’t imagine that there is an adult woman breathing who is not aware of this fact. But just in case there is, let me make it plain."
Knowledge is power – understanding brings victory!
Understand, that especially for a husband, this is a part of who he is and if this is withheld, you have withheld not only a physical command by God, but also the love and commitment you promised by marriage. In essence, when you withhold physical intimacy from your spouse, whether husband or wife, you are breaking your marriage vows and putting your spouse in a position of vulnerability and temptation.
Physical intimacy is healing and brings a closeness that absolutely nothing else, from talking to playing, to worshiping, etc. can do. This is how God made a marriage to be.
For the partner who is left to an empty sex life by the other, the emotions and feelings bring rejection, low self-esteem, frustration, confusion, loneliness and a myriad of deep, hurtful feelings, regardless of wife or husband.
Many don't realize that if a spouse puts their partner in this type of situation, and their partner falls into infidelity, they are just as responsible as their partner.
Matthew 18:6, if you cause one of God's children to sin, it would have been better to tie a huge stone around your neck and sink in the depth of the sea.
2 Corinthians 7:2-5, "But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer."
There are some obvious signs that alert you to the possibility of your marriage going the sexless way. The first of these is when the frequency of regular intimate contact begins to decrease dramatically. Of course, in most marriages, the initial fervor dies down after some time. Still, many couples work out a pattern that keeps them both satisfied. But if you find that even the smallest and simplest of gestures is unwelcome, then you may be in for trouble.
Cycles of sexless marriages:
1. Partner A refuses intimacy with partner B for whatever reason.
2. Partner B becomes deeply hurt, confused and eventually resentful at Partner A.
3. Partner B hurts back at Partner A in various ways that add insult to injury, furthering the dissolving of this marriage.
4. Partner A becomes resentful and angry at the hurtful actions of Partner B.
5. A spiral of hurt, distance and a total breakdown of communication occurs until the marriage completely shatters. Usually both partners blame the other partner and sometimes even justify the breakup by a noble cause of some sort.
Can my sexless marriage be fixed?
Absolutely! We were speaking with a University student the other day who asked a similar question of whether or not a marriage that is far gone and broken can be fixed. Without hesitation the answer is almost always, “Yes!” It just takes willingness and determination and any marriage is fixable!
So, here are some ways to help the situation and of course the main thing is to make intimacy a priority:
• Make it a point to think thoughts that are related to sex with your spouse throughout the day.
• When you were dating, you daydreamed about your future husband. The image of him, his voice, waiting for letters in the mail, phone calls, his kisses, his cologne, etc. it's been said that men (Christian or not) have a sexual thought every 20-40 seconds. It is vital for the relationship to be healthy that the wife must develop the habit of thinking about sex for her husband.
o As stated by Sheeri Mitchell, "Instead of letting your mind wander to the bills, the kids, the bills, your aging parents, the bills, learn how to fantasize about your husband." This falls under the scripture, "Taking every thought captive."
• Put it in your schedule or on the calendar.
• Make it part of your routine. This part is for your husband. Your part is when there is what's called "gourmet" sex, when there is extra long, special romance and time taken.
• Pursue him more often.
• Make it a point to instigate sex and chase him down for sex. Be the first and you will have his heart in your hands to trust.
• Read positive books and resources that give you better understanding.
• Do not talk with your friends or church friends about your bedroom life. You are destroying your trust and relationship with your spouse.
• If your schedule and business is making you too tired for your husband, then you are too busy period. Get rid of something to accommodate. You are telling your husband that he is not as important as your list of items on your to do list. This will destroy your relationship.
• Many do not realize just how bad they need the intimacy until after having intimacy.
• We get used to routine as creatures of habit. Even negative routines. When we continue the negative cycle, we think this is "normal" simply because we have been doing it continually for so long. That's the farthest thing from the truth. We can deceive ourselves out of a life of richness and love that comes with being close and intimate often. Intimacy is healing and will continue the bond between husband and wife that absolutely nothing else will.
• Deal with the problems preventing WANTING sex, but be effective.
• Saying goes, "ready, aim, fire!". You may be ready to heat things up a bit, but before you start doing things to re-ignite the passion, "aim first." First find out exactly what is causing the lack of desire. THEN deal with those things.
• Many times a partner will try all kinds of things they think would kindle the fire, only to be burned themselves by frustration that it seemed like it didn't do anything. Aim at your target. Don't just shoot, aim. Find out specifics by discussing this in depth with your partner. Then shoot at the target. Bullseye!
So, as with any important task in marriage, after ascertaining that there is indeed a problem that needs addressing, working on these tips will greatly improve your momentum in becoming an intimate couple again.
Remember, intimacy comes from God, and is also required by God. Whether it be our walk with Him, or as husband and wife, it is God’s absolute plan for our marriage. Make intimacy a priority and you will be amazed at how blue the sky can be, and how sweet the birds can chirp once again!