Dealing With Sexual Issues in Marriage


Of all the forces that draw a man and woman together and provide pleasure in their lives, none can surpass sexual intimacy. Designed by God for both pleasure and procreation of the human race, sex is the universally spoken language of love.

Sex is God’s creation, and His desire is for us to enjoy it to its fullest within the parameters of marriage. The Scriptural prohibitions regarding sexual sins are not given by God to keep us from having fun. Every warning from God concerning sex is to keep us from destruction. God’s motive is love — not legalism.

The Difference in the Sexual Needs of Men and Women

There are fundamental differences in the sexual needs and desires of men and women. It is critical that we not only realize these differences, but also respect them in our spouses. Basically, men are stimulated visually and through sexual touching. In contrast, women are stimulated through their emotions and non-sexual affection. Why is this important? It is vital to a marriage that a woman understands that her husband is not aroused by the same methods as she. In the same respect, a man must realize that his wife isn’t going to “turn on” sexually just because he takes his clothes off.

Women need their husbands to talk to them throughout the day and pay attention to them. They need affirmation and tenderness in a non-sexual way. In other words, if the wife feels that the only time her husband pays attention to her is when he wants sex, she will begin to resent his advances because she knows it is for his purposes?not because he loves her and wants to show her affection. On the other hand, a woman must realize that sex is a God-given need that a man has, and she needs to eagerly purpose to meet that need.

Because he is visually stimulated, sexy lingerie and playful approaches will bless a man. Sometimes women have a tendency to discount this because they are more critical of their own bodies and want to cover up or hide it from view. It is important for every woman to realize that her husband wants to see her body. In the same way, although groping may offend a woman, a man actually enjoys it. He doesn’t need the tender non-sexual affection that she needs?he needs sex. We must remember that we need to meet the needs of our spouses according to what their needs are?not according to our needs. Understanding this principle is a key part of enjoying a fulfilling and satisfying sexual relationship.

The genius of God’s creation is that we are so very different and must get outside of ourselves in order to fully enjoy the sexual relationship. The best sex is obtained by a husband and wife who put the other’s needs and desires first and seek to meet them. This type of relationship is guaranteed to be exciting and fulfilling. When we encounter problems in our sexual relationship, it can almost always be traced back to selfishness or a “me” focus.

The Key to Fulfilling and Satisfying Sex

Many times stress occurs in the sexual relationship because the husband and wife do not understand each other’s sexual needs. As a result, they often become defensive and shut down sexually. Because men generally have a higher sex drive than women, a husband may feel a need for sex more frequently. His wife may not understand this or feel that he is exploiting her, and she may refuse sex at times. This is where understanding and selflessness in both spouses need to be exercised. If your spouse is not responding to you correctly, choose to do the right thing and pray for God to soften your spouse’s heart and sensitivity toward you.

Sex should be an exchange of intimate love and affection, where each person is more concerned with the physical and emotional needs of their spouse than their own needs. A man should care deeply if his wife is not physically responsive to him. Is he soft and affectionate in and out of the bedroom? The old cliché ´hat says “sex begins in the kitchen” is virtually true. The way a man treats his wife tone of voice, non-sexual affection and touching, kindness, and consideration during the day all set the tone for the sexual interplay between them. This is normal and it’s the way God created her. If a husband is sensitive to this need in his wife, it will enable her to want to respond sexually to him.

It is a wife’s responsibility to provide for her husband’s sexual release. Sex is a deep need in a man?not just a desire. Because women do not have the same sexual drive, to provide for that release is sometimes an act of selflessness. If she doesn’t do this, anger and resentment will build, and it will have a negative effect on the relationship?certainly in the bedroom, but also in every other aspect of the marriage. Scripturally, neither a wife nor a husband has the right to withhold sex from their spouse (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Sex is not to be used as a weapon or as a bargaining chip. God’s desire is that both spouses be responsible to care for one another and “tune in” to what the other needs rather than caring for themselves. Sacrificial love is the key to having a truly open and satisfying relationship.

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What Does God Allow in Sex?

In counseling, people often ask what is allowed in sex. The Bible is clear on the biblical parameters for marriage. NO adultery, fornication, fantasy (lust), homosexuality, bestiality, incest, etc. Following are a few scriptures that are clear about these issues; however, there are many more: Leviticus 18:6-23 Matthew 5:27-28 Romans 13:13-14 I Corinthians 6:15-18 If the Bible isn’t specific about a certain act, it is a matter of personal choice and conscience. For instance, the most common questions are regarding oral sex, vibrators or sex toys, different sexual positions, sexual fantasy, etc. To determine whether it is something that they should practice in their sexual relationship, a couple should examine how it falls under the following criteria:

  1. Is it forbidden in the Bible?
  2. Does it violate my conscience before God?
  3. Does it violate my spouse or is it against his or her will?
  4. Is this physically safe? Does it cause harm to me or to my spouse? Are there health risks involved?
  5. Does this treat my spouse in a disrespectful manner or damage our relationship?


These are important questions that you both must consider. If you and your spouse disagree on a certain sexual practice, it is important to wait and pray about it. Don’t violate one another, but pray for God to show each of you truth. God delights in us and wants us to enjoy our marriage and develop physical intimacy with our mate. He is not a legalist. God gave us the parameters for our protection, but the freedom to have a wonderful, creative, energetic sexual relationship abounds for us to enjoy. Frequency is a topic that often comes up when discussing this subject. It is important to know that every couple will have a different rate of frequency. The key is for couples to agree on what the amount of frequency should be for their relationship. Normal sexual frequency constitutes a range of from once a month to several times a week. Many, many factors play into the rate of frequency?such as age, stress levels, health, etc. Again, the key is for couples to commit to meet each other’s needs aggressively and sensitively.

Sexual Dysfunction

It is common in a marriage from time to time to encounter a degree of sexual dysfunction. This can be as simple as fatigue-induced disinterest, or it can be as serious as impotence. Regardless of the level of severity, the sexual part of marriage is important and should not be discounted. If you are experiencing any degree of dysfunction, seek help either through a physician or through counseling. To determine the problem, consider these common causes of sexual dysfunction:

Lack of Desire Can be caused by:

  1. Chemical / Physical Hormone deficiency due to aging, hysterectomy, etc. Seek the help of a doctor.
  2. Unresolved conflict Be honest and talk about it. Do not use sex as a form of punishment or manipulation.
  3. Stress and fatigue Examine your lifestyle and seek areas in which you can reduce stress. Husbands need to share responsibility of the house and children?whether or not the wife works outside the home.
  4. Depression Can be chemical (physical) or emotional. It is necessary for a spouse to be able to share feelings of frustration, anger, displeasure, or pain with their mate. Both spouses need to learn to listen and communicate. Seek a physician or counselor’s help if not resolved quickly.
  5. Fear of pregnancy Work out an agreed birth control plan. Husbands should take responsibility for this as much as the wife.
  6. Pain See a doctor. Use lubrication. Communicate what does and doesn’t feel pleasurable?be careful not to only express displeasure. A man’s ego is closely tied to his ability to please his wife sexually.
  7. Shame/Guilt/Unresolved emotions Can be the result of abortion, previous sin, past sexual abuse, etc. Confess sin and release it to God.
  8. Erectile dysfunction Can be caused by age, medications, or a medical condition. Check with your doctor. This can usually be resolved by medication or penile implants.

Deception and Unrealistic Expectations Can be caused by:

  1. Pornography Exposure to soft-core and hard-core pornography decreases a man’s ability to be satisfied by his spouse, and it taints his perception of his wife. Dissatisfaction and disillusionment set in. Seek counsel.
  2. Romance novels Unrealistic comparison of the emotional male in the book to the unemotional, disconnected husband. Soap operas have the same effect.
  3. Hollywood’s portrayal of romance and sex Unrealistic, movie-created images.
  4. Ungodly friendships Ungodly relationships have a detrimental effect on intimacy and the sexual relationship of a husband and wife.


Though there are many other facets to the marriage relationship, sex is an important part of building and maintaining intimacy. It is our prayer at Family and Marriage Today? that you and your spouse enjoy an intimate, fulfilling sexual relationship with one another. God bless you.

Copyright © 2005 Jimmy Evans, Used by Permission.

Author & one of America’s leading authorities on family and marriage relationships, Jimmy Evans is Founder & CEO of MarriageToday. He and his wife, Karen, host MarriageTodayTM, a national television program. Jimmy is the author of many resources including the books Marriage on the Rock, Freedom From Your Past, 7 Secrets of Successful Families, and Resolving Stress in Your Marriage. He also travels nationwide presenting life-changing truths for couples through his marriage seminars and conferences. Jimmy and Karen have two children and two grandchildren.

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About Jimmy Evans

bio-evansJimmy Evans is Founder and CEO of MarriageToday, a ministry based in Dallas, Texas, that is devoted to helping couples build strong and fulfilling marriages and families.Jimmy has authored more than ten books, among which are his popular works, Marriage on the Rock, Freedom From Your Past, Seven Secrets of Successful Families, Ten Steps Toward Christ, Lifelong Love Affair and his newest book, When Life Hurts.

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