Can a Sexless Marriage Survive?
One of the primary reasons for marriage is the sexual aspect. Marriage was designed for two people to enjoy each other sexually within the bonds and boundaries of a marriage covenant. Because of the “one man and one woman” nature of marriage and our commitment to be faithful to each other, we should not deny one another sexual pleasure. Otherwise, this denial of sexual intimacy may develop into a pattern, which could cause division in a marriage.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we should expect the “fruits” of our marriage during disagreements and fights. It is natural to not want to have any intimate physical contact when there is a deep-seated argument or a disagreement. However, once your fellowship has been restored and forgiveness granted, celebrate it in bed! The longer one partner “holds out” and uses sex to teach the other a lesson or to get a point across, the harder it may be to work through the initial problem, as the lack of a physical relationship will add another dimension to the initial problem and perhaps prolong restoration.
We have been discussing marriage relationships with several couples and are shocked to hear that some of them have gone months without having sex. I often think of my friend Richard who usually can count on one hand the number of times he and his wife have had sex in the span of a year. I truly feel sorry for him! It is not healthy for a couple to refrain from sexual activity for a long period of time, unless there are physical limitations or health risks. When this happens, disagreements are magnified and additional conflict can materialize.
Living in a Sexless Marriage
In most marriages, it is quite common for one spouse to desire to have sex on a particular day or night when it is the farthest thing from the mind of their spouse. With all the various pressures on us throughout the day, chances are great that one of you may want to initiate spontaneous lovemaking on exactly the wrong day or time. We have found that, along with many other aspects of our marriage, this is one subject where good communication is vitally important.
If I don’t pick up on the nonverbal messages that Debby is sending throughout the evening that she is “not in the mood” and I try to initiate sex, she will sometimes tell me that the time is just not right. She’s open and honest with me, without giving the famous “headache” excuse. Sometimes she gives me the reasons, and other times she doesn’t. There are times when I need to accept this and honor her wishes, yet there are also times when she understands that I have physical needs that must be met, and we have sex. It’s important to realize that at different times, we both need to sacrifice for our spouse. When we are focused on putting each other first, we both win. The key is communicating your expectations and your needs, and coming to an understanding.
The Bible has plenty to say about sex and the marriage relationship, and it isn’t all negative warnings about fornication and adultery. In fact, read these words from the Song of Solomon, chapter 4:9-15: “You have ravished my heart, my treasure, my bride. I am overcome by one glance of your eyes, by a single bead of your necklace. How sweet is your love, my treasure, my bride! How much better it is than wine! Your perfume is more fragrant than the richest of spices. Your lips, my bride, are as sweet as honey. Yes, honey and cream are under your tongue. The scent of your clothing is like that of the mountains and the cedars of Lebanon. You are like a private garden, my treasure, my bride! You are like a spring that no one else can drink from, a fountain of my own. You are like a lovely orchard bearing precious fruit, with the rarest of perfumes: nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, myrrh and aloes, perfume from every incense tree, and every other lovely spice. You are a garden fountain, a well of living water, as refreshing as the streams from the Lebanon mountains.”
Furthermore, Song of Solomon 7:11-12 says, “Come, my love, let us go out to the fields and spend the night among the wildflowers. Let us get up early and go to the vineyards to see if the grapevines have budded, if the blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love.”
Sounds like a romance novel, doesn’t it? There are many more verses on romance similar to these in Song of Solomon. Spend an evening reading this book of the Bible with your lover. God created sex and desires that the covenant of marriage will be a lifelong commitment. Genesis 2:18 says, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.'” As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one” (Ephesians 5:31). Matthew 19:6 reads, “Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
God expects us to remain faithful to our spouse, and clearly indicates His judgment on those who practice immorality. “Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery” (Hebrews 13: 4). 1 Thessalonians 4:2-3 says, “For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.”
We encourage you as husband and wife to fully enjoy your sexual relationship. You are free to enjoy each other’s sexuality and the pleasure you can bring to one another. While it is true that God designed sex and intended it for our pleasure, some may wonder if we as believers have the freedom to have sexual fantasies. Playful experimentation with one another and creativity is wholesome and can add variety to your sexual relationship, but we are cautioned to live a disciplined life and to control our thoughts. “Cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
According to 2 Timothy 2:22, “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust.” If your thoughts and fantasies include anything that takes your attention and desires away from your spouse, you cross the line of what is acceptable to God. Ephesians 5:3 says “Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people.” If you fantasize about a particular romantic getaway or adventure and this fantasy only involves you and your spouse, you have the freedom to indulge and enjoy the fantasy.
As we have indicated, it is never appropriate to hold out on one another as a form of punishment or depriving one another of pleasure. Doing so could cause one or the other of you to lose self-control and fall into an adulterous relationship. We read in 1 Corinthians 7:2-5, “But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” Plan a romantic getaway for you and your spouse, and indulge in one another. Stoke the flames of your passion and renew the freshness in your relationship.
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Adapted from Discovering Your Amazing Marriage
Copyright © by Jason and Debby Coleman, authors of Discovering Your Amazing Marriage, published by Seraphina Press. Used with permission.
Read more from Jason and Debby at YourAmazingMarriage