Should We Make Love If We Are Separated?

Joe Beam

For those who ask about lovemaking with a spouse while you're separated: I address this both as one who works with marriage problems and my role as a sexologist. I give only three reasons FOR and three reasons AGAINST.

Pro: Reasons to make love with your separated spouse:
1) Oxytocin is a powerful hormone that plays a significant role in bonding people together (see It is present in greatest amounts when it induces childbirth. However, it is also present in great quantities when a human orgasms. If people have sex with each other, some oxytocin is released by their touching, kissing, lovemaking, and a much greater amount is produced within each person if s/he orgasms. Therefore, making love with your separated spouse may well create within him/her a sense of closeness with you.

2) Orgasm helps to reduce anxiety and tension, helps reduction of physical problems that are caused or exacerbated by anxiety or tension, and can help you sleep. Because of the tensions and anxieties most separated spouses feel, making love to the point of orgasm can be a very good thing. (By the way, especially in me orgasm can significantly reduce irritability.)

3) If the lovemaking is that — not just sex (the proverbial quickie for fast relief), it can affect your spouse to feel more desire to be with you. If you think about it from a behavior modification viewpoint, people tend to repeat things that reward them.Feeling close while enjoying the lovemaking can make your spouse want to make love to you again. As already stated, if that's just for relief, it isn't necessarily a good thing, but if it's because of the experience with you, it can be a very good thing.

CON: Reasons NOT to make love with your separated spouse:

1) If your spouse is involved with another person sexually, you – in a sense – wind up competing with the other person by making love with your spouse. Though it may benefit you physically / emotionally as described above, it holds huge potential of giving a message to your mate that you'll be intimate with him / her even though you know s/he is concurrently being intimate with someone else. Is that the message you want to give?

Additionally, it's hard to compete with an illicit lover. There are factors that often make that sex very exciting: a new lover, a thrill that comes from doing something forbidden, the exaggeration of emotions that are part of limerence, and the potential sexual expertise the lover gained from previous sexual experiences the s/he uses to enthrall your mate.

2) By experiencing the closeness and bonding, you may set yourself up for disappointment. Feeling those powerful emotions very likely will create even stronger desire to be with your mate. That may cause a deeper and longer hurt within you if your spouse continues to move away from you. In short, you may be setting yourself up for more misery by creating within yourself a false hope.

3) If you are the one moving away from your spouse — you are the one who wanted the separation and potential end of your marriage — you likely are creating a false hope within your spouse that will make his / her healing more difficult.

It's common for people who are separated or even divorced to continue to have sex with each other. There are reasons for that, such as comfort with the familiar, not having to seek out new partners, and a sense of safety (not worrying about STDs and such.)

As far as I know, there aren't statistics about how many of those who continue to have sex with each other wind up together again. I would guess it isn't very high. However, I also know that it has the possibility of leading the couple back together, as mentioned in the PRO reasons above.

As with many things we post in this group, the decision is yours. Consider the pros and cons and make the best decision you can. If you feel good about it as you resume lovemaking, great. If you feel badly about it, cease.

Two other things to consider:

First, if your mate has already married someone else, sleeping with him / her is adultery on your part. You may not agree with me on that, but I'm convinced I'm right. I don't have time to explain that from a Biblical standpoint here.

Second, when a person enters an illicit sexual relationship with a paramour, s/he typically crosses sexual borders that were not crossed before. Now that s/he has violated beliefs and values by being unfaithful, it's not unusual for them to do things sexually that they would not do before. For example, a person who in her marriage didn't want to perform oral sex with her husband may well do that in the affair. I'm not mentioning that to make you feel worse about your spouse's affair, but to inform you that if you do choose to have sex with your spouse who has been involved in an affair, you may not be a satisfactory lover if you do only those things you did before in your marriage. You may need to enhance your sexual repertoire.

Don't misunderstand: I'm not suggesting you do anything that violates your own beliefs and values. I am suggesting that if you had any inhibitions toward sexual acts that didn't appeal to you, it would be helpful for you to reconsider doing those things. If you have questions about whether an act is right / wrong because of your religious beliefs or things you may have heard, check out my blog at, you can search for many questions I've already answered about sexual acts. Use the categories to find what is of interest to you.

This article was originally posted here.

Joe Beam is the founder and chair of Beam Research Institute (formerly LovePath International) based in Franklin, Tennessee, just south of Nashville, and the chairman of He is an internationally known and respected authority on love, marriage and sex. If your marriage needs help, click here to request more information, call us toll free at 866-903-0990 or email us at

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