I will own it right up front.
I like sex. I want sex with my husband, often.
And, I have told my husband I will never deny him.
It didn’t used to be this way. Like so many other busy couples raising children, sex was not happening often enough as the years passed. As a matter of fact, the longer we went without, the worse our marriage seemed to get. Little peccadilloes and grudges that plagued us during the day carried over into our bed, and before long we were not seeking each other intimately. Along with the lack of physical intimacy, we had stopped communicating. There was a huge disconnect.
It doesn’t take long for a marriage deprived of intimacy and honest communication to hit the skids.
OK, maybe you are a wife who says, “I don’t want sex. I get nothing out of it. I want my husband to just leave me alone…” And I would say that you may well be representative of the majority of women. When you’re so exhausted by the demands of your busy days, it can be hard to dredge up any thoughts of intimacy, much less passion, with your spouse. I know it goes both ways; there also are some men out there who desire sex less frequently than their wives.
The low-sex or no-sex marriage has a vicious cycle, which may start out in a variety of ways, all seemingly innocuous. Perhaps you aren’t getting along (or feeling low respect for one another), and the thought of bonding in that intimate and vulnerable way is the furthest thing from what you want. Maybe you’re angry about something, and withholding is a form of retaliation. There is a chance that intimacy isn’t satisfying for one or both of you, and that disappointment in itself causes you to avoid sex. Or maybe it is just plain exhaustion. No matter which of these reasons, the cycle begins, and worsens. Without physical bonding, you become hardened to one another, and it intensifies anger and quarrels outside of the bedroom. When your relationship outside the bedroom worsens, your desire to become vulnerable and soft with each other in that most intimate act wanes.
Sex in marriage is important. Of course, there are other important things. When you married your partner, you both agreed that you would be the “one and only” to bond sexually. You vowed that no one else will meet that need. You vowed to “cleave to one another” in that intimate mystery created by God for spouses. Without it, your marriage is incomplete.
I’ll allow there are some circumstances where medically or physically a couple cannot have sex. Men have erectile dysfunction, often as they age. Women have issues of menopause, dryness, and pain, usually as they age. There are solutions to resolve or improve these handicaps. However, I’d wager that few marriages start off with no sex, but if so, they’ve had to adapt in the ways they show one another love. But for the average person, sexuality is the norm in a marriage, and commanded in scripture.
Human touch– we all crave it, most of us want it. Some of us have, over time, become anesthetized or even traumatized away from it. There are very sad stories of orphans who never were touched, cuddled, or held, who exhibit a huge range of negative issues from such deprivation. Those who have been victimized by childhood molestation or abuse may fear touch. If you’ve ever felt “used” or “dishonored” during intimacy, even in your marriage, then I recommend counseling. However the majority of us are wired to enjoy pleasant touch and connections with some of human beings in our lives, namely those we trust. Babies and children crave it from their parents (and just about any friendly person); adults feel affirmed with a hug, a hold, a stroke. Spouses connect when naked flesh is pressed together.
So, when you deny your spouse intimacy, you are setting into motion a very unnatural state. In depriving each other, you are acting against God’s Word, which tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 “A husband should satisfy his wife’s needs. And a wife should satisfy her husband’s needs. The wife’s body does not belong only to her. It also belongs to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong only to him. It also belongs to his wife. You shouldn’t stop giving yourselves to each other. You might possibly do this when you both agree to it. And you should only agree to it to give yourselves time to pray. Then you should come together again. In that way, Satan will not tempt you when you can’t control yourselves.” (NIRV)
When God led me to turn my eyes to my own failings in this marriage, he convicted me of many things in my attitudes towards my husband. Respect was the number one thing. I had to respect my husband, something many men want even more than to be loved. Men feel love through respect. And it is mighty hard for a human being to want (much less enjoy) intimacy if not feeling respected by one’s partner. Ironically, I still wanted sex… but my lack of respect shut him down. But another issue that God convicted me on was how my willfulness, selfishness, and need for control, stymied the very things I wanted in my marriage. Anytime I denied my husband for my personal, selfish or manipulative reasons (even hurt), I further shut him down, and I further shut down our marriage. When he denied me, he was sinning as well.
The translation above uses the phrase “give yourselves to each other.” Not “take from each other.” Shared intimacy involves two giving people.
Michelle Duggar, of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” fame has been much reviled for her lifestyle, views, and choices, and those of her family. I’ve not watched the show, I’ll admit putting your family out there for others to gawk at doesn’t entertain me. But I know they are not bad people, and they are Christians striving to do their best. She recently was interviewed, and asked her opinions on what made a good marriage. Love her or hate her, with 30 years under their belt, it’s hard to argue that this woman might not know a thing or two:
Say yes to sex, even when you’re tired. Michelle says a friend gave her advice to live by before she and Jim Bob married in 1984: “She said, ‘In your marriage there will be times you’re going to be very exhausted. Your hubby comes home after a hard day’s work, you get the baby to bed, and he is going to be looking forward to that time with you.'” — she’s talking about sex, just so everyone’s clear — “‘Be available. Anyone can fix him lunch, but only one person can meet that physical need of love that he has, and you always need to be available when he calls.'”
At the time, as a young bride-to-be, Michelle says, she couldn’t imagine ever not wanting to “be available” for some quality married nookie. But with kids, she soon realized, exhaustion can easily extinguish romance. So she’s made an effort to follow her friend’s advice — and with no birth control and 19 kids, it would seem she’s succeeded. “That has been such a lifesaver for our marriage,” she tells TODAY Moms. [You can read more of the interview here, on Today Parents
If I truly believe that my body belongs to my husband, and that I should satisfy his needs and be a joy to him (and he believes the reverse), why on earth would I deny him? Why would I risk missing the opportunity to give myself, and feed our marriage through intimacy? To love him and honor our marriage through acts of service, even when I don’t “feel” like it? Trust me, it rarely feels like an act of “service,” but I wouldn’t hesitate to give him pleasure, even at times there’s little intense physical pleasure for me (but there always is pleasure in the giving as well as the receiving). And vice versa. The simple act of sexual bonding or “cleaving” has miraculous properties in bolstering a marriage, when both the husband and wife lovingly and unselfishly consider each other’s needs.
I can guarantee you, any time I ever said yes to sex with my hubby (even when I thought I “wasn’t in the mood” or “I was too tired”), I later left our bed with a smile on my face, love in my heart, and a new attitude towards my husband that spilled over into every other facet of our lives. Sometimes I was less tired and rejuvenated. Never a regret. We can’t underestimate the healing power of the feel-good hormone oxytocin! My husband now never has to fear being randomly shut down by me (which can cause feelings of rejection). And in caring for me and loving me, my husband knows without a doubt when I’m sick or too incapacitated for sex, and never prevails. When I was recovering from a painful surgery, he offered to just “rub on me.” There were no expectations for sex. His loving act of service was to make me feel better. And the simple act of his hands on my body (the body that belongs to him) resulted in a release of endorphins that miraculously shut down the pain I was experiencing.
After promising to never deny him, our intimate times went from almost non-existent to several times a week. We were regularly bonding in our one-flesh love, and everything else improved from there.
Sex isn’t the cure-all for an ailing marriage. However, if other honoring acts are in place, sex and forms of husband-wife intimacy can be the magical glue that holds a marriage together, and sometimes a healing balm.
Wives, I can only suggest to you what worked for me. Give it a try for yourself. You may need to first confess to your husband that you have wrongly withheld from him, and no longer wish to do that. You can site Scripture above. You will ask him for forgiveness. You may also explain to him some of your needs to help you be fully present for him (Longer foreplay? Lubrication? Sexy words? Texts through your day that help you both look forward to time together? Don’t make your list too long at first… eventually you can work together on your list). One thing I told my husband that was nonthreatening, and which he could easily deliver was, “I have really missed feeling your arms around me, I feel so safe and protected when you hold me. Can we cuddle for a little while?” Cuddles can break down some walls, and lead to other very nice connections.
And be prepared to say yes. He may at first not want to ask you outright (especially if he’s been shot down a lot) or “demand.” Be aware of his signals (these are often very obvious… a lingering kiss or hug or squeeze; a shy meaningful smile), and respond to his hints so he doesn’t have to work too hard. Be intimate with him even when you don’t feel like it, even if you start out thinking of it as you act of loving service towards him. Ask what you can do to make him feel good. Do it with love and adoration. I can guarantee you, the more often your husband sees that you meant what you said, the more YOU will be looking forward to your times together. No matter what your bedroom issues were or are, this is a vital starting place for working through them. Your husband needs to first trust he won’t be rejected, and next that he will be respected/loved.
What have you got to loose? Just say yes and trust God to do a miracle with your yielded heart.