Skip to main content
priscilla-du-preez-228134

Thriving in a Marriage without Sex If Necessary

Before we get married, we tend to think to ourselves, “Wow, once we are married, I’ll get to have sex with my guy any time I want! It will be AWESOME!”

There is often (but not always) a beautiful honeymoon period where both husband and wife are delighted in being together and enjoying sex together. It can be glorious. Sex is a beautiful gift of God to married couples. The ideal goal is for couples to have sex regularly and to both enjoy it together and for each to seek to be as available as possible to the other, to be compassionate, loving, selfless, and giving. Sex – the one flesh relationship – is intended by God to be a picture of the spiritual oneness of Christ and His bride, the church.

But what we usually don’t expect or plan for, is the reality that there are likely  to be many times in marriage when sex doesn’t or can’t happen. It can be for a large variety of reasons, but almost all of us experience some times where at least one spouse:

  • Has a major illness or injury.
  • Has medical issues that make having sex very difficult – lower back problems, pregnancy, bedrest, recurrent yeast infections, STDs, PTSD, arthritis, etc…
  • Suffers from sexual dysfunction or pain.
  • Is in the hospital for a while.
  • Is dealing with the needs of very sick young children who need almost constant care and attention.
  • Is extremely depressed or spiritually oppressed and can’t function in life in general and loses interest in sex.
  • Has a very different level of libido at the time.
  • Takes a medication (certain anti-depressants, birth control pills, blood pressure pills, etc…) that interfere with libido and sexual function.
  • Has a porn addiction that gets so severe that the spouse can’t function anymore sexually in marriage.
  • Is suffering from the trauma of sexual abuse and can’t seem to get past the fear, shame, and horror he/she associates with sex.
  • Is deployed or has to be gone with work for extended periods of time.
  • Has a completely different work schedule and you are never in bed at the same time.
  • Is so exhausted from working 70-80 hours per week that he/she has no energy left for sex.
  • Doesn’t recognize the signals the other one gives to try to initiate sex.
  • Has an affair.
  • Had an affair and it is not wise or safe to have sex again yet.
  • Decides to separate.
  • Determines to divorce against the other’s will.
  • Dies and the other is left alone.

Truthfully, as people age, things change sometimes. If you are not aware of this, let’s put it out there, ladies:

  • Men tend to peak in their sexual performance and libido in their late teens or twenties.
  • Women tend to peak in their sexual performance and libido in their mid thirties.
  • With increasing age, men are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and prostate enlargement – all of which can contribute to erectile dysfunction. It is not 100% of men. But it is an increasingly larger percentage of men over time.
  • As women enter peri-menopause, we are likely to experience vaginal dryness and thinning of the vaginal tissue which can create pain with vaginal intercourse.
  • As hormones begin to wane in older age, libido tends to decrease a lot. Some people do have sex into their 70s and 80s. That is awesome! But not everyone does or can. And that is okay, too.

So we are probably all going to face this issue at some point or another – probably not by choice. What can we do?

FROM A BELIEVING WIFE WHO HAS BEEN THERE:

Just like everything else in life that we have to face and let go of, if we are in a time where we have to be celibate, what will come up is our will in contrast to the will of God. That is always where the battle lies! When we can’t do, have, or be what we want, right now, that is what makes it so much harder to face and let go of it!

If we are in a time where we have to be celibate, it will come down to this: are we going to accept that this is God’s will for us right now? Or are we going to kick and fight against it, clinging to our own will in the matter, and seeking to make our will happen?

The reason it is so hard to do anything we don’t want to do is because we don’t want to do it!

We want something else, something other than God’s will at the moment! And that is the battle we all face in so many different things in life. But just as in this situation, the Lord is seeking to create in us the Spirit of Christ that lets go of all, empties all of self, that God may fill us up with His all! We have to let go of our own will in order to come into all that God is purposing!

The longer we cling to our own will and way in life, the more miserable, dry, and fleshly we become.

But the sooner we surrender to His will in any moment and season in our life, the sooner our heart is filled to overflowing with the peace, rest, and presence of God which FAR surpasses any fleeting sexual pleasure we may get by having our will instead of His!

He is seeking to make Christ Lord and our All-in-All when things in life do not go our way!! <3

FROM PEACEFUL WIFE

Here are some suggestions to prayerfully consider…

Don’t:

  • Resent God.
  • Focus on all that you are missing and how deprived you are.
  • Allow resentment to develop toward your husband.
  • Listen to Satan’s accusations against your husband.
  • Feed your mind and heart with lots of marriage resources about sex if you can’t have sex at the time and reading about it upsets you.
  • Read about how “normal men all want sex every day.” Not helpful. And not true.
  • Freak out.
  • Lash out at your husband in resentment or hatred.
  • Tell him how “he is not a real man” if he won’t/can’t have sex with you, insult his manhood, or call him names.
  • Look outside your marriage for sexual satisfaction (porn, raunchy novels, that guy that flirts with you at work, other women, etc…)
  • Talk to another man about how deprived you feel sexually.

 

Do:

  • Turn to the Lord in faith. Pour out your heart to Him.
  • Claim His promises to you and stand on them. (Ie: Rom. 8:28-29 and James 1)
  • Pray about the situation, invite God to heal your sex life and marriage. To work to accomplish His will and His good purposes to help you grow in your faith and in spiritual maturity.
  • Guard your heart from other men and from sources of temptation in the media.
  • Be willing to take care of any issues on your end so that you can be available to your husband.
  • Share with your husband what you would like, if appropriate – if it is possible for him – but don’t try to force or pressure him.
  • Respond with grace if he can’t or won’t have sex with you.
  • Focus on all of the good things about your husband and marriage.
  • Think about all the things you respect and enjoy about your husband.
  • Be available to help your husband respectfully with any issues he may have that are contributing to the problem.
  • Be his teammate.
  • Continue to respect your husband and to honor his leadership appropriately.
  • Enjoy affection with him if he is up for that.
  • Enjoy spiritual intimacy if he is receptive.
  • Starve your flesh by switching your thoughts from sex to the Lord, His Word, His love, His promises, and other things.
    • You can seriously dramatically lower your sexual desire level, if necessary, simply by diverting your thoughts. Then if sex becomes available with your husband again later, you can begin thinking more about sex to increase your desire level. How much you think about sex can raise or lower your libido level a lot.
  • Take your thoughts captive for Christ.
  • Depend on Christ for the strength you need to walk in holiness and self-control, be Spirit-filled.

 

NOTE – If you are getting older, or there are severe medical issues going on, and neither of you are really interested in sex anymore, that is okay. Marriage books and blogs talk about how “men want sex” and “a man’s greatest need is sex.” Well, that may be true sometimes in certain situations. But as we age, things can change. If neither of you seriously desire sex, it is okay to let that go and just enjoy each other in other ways. Don’t let marriage books or blogs and the generalities they share make you worry about your marriage if you have a particular situation and medically can’t have sex and are both truly content with that.

SHARE:

Ladies,

If you have wisdom to share, you are welcome to share here. You can set up your name to be anonymous if you would like. And if you are struggling, you are also welcome to share and be encouraged here. 🙂

Much love!

RELATED:

Sexual Rejection in Marriage

When You Feel Deprived in Your Marriage

When Your Husband Rejects You

Placing My Higher Sexual Appetite Under God’s Control – a guest post

Twenty Simple Ways to Enjoy Your Man

Handling a Very Delicate and Sensitive Matter with Respect – a Husband’s Impotence 

Encouragement for Military Wives Whose Husbands Are Deployed – a guest post

 

27 thoughts on “Thriving in a Marriage without Sex If Necessary

  1. From a husband from another post a few years ago – that may be helpful for some:

    Thanks for addressing this topic. I’ve had conversations with my wife when she suggested that she’s been on a bullhorn and putting up billboards to initiate. I’ve had to learn her VERY subtle methods of initiating.

    If there was a point when the man initiated often and was rebuffed often, his antennae might not be up for his wife’s initiation. It’s like in public speaking, when you think you’re being overly expressive, you’re barely scratching the surface. Sometimes a woman might think she’s being obvious but she’s not.

    I would encourage a woman to ask her husband if he’s even aware that she’s initiating.

  2. I am 31. Very much at my peak. My husband is older than I am and hes ill in his body where sex especially penetration is non existent. God is the only thing keeping me sane but i honestly feel so invisible and just unpleased and down about it. I will never leave God. I believe he has a plan and purpose even in this hurt and confusion, i just need support in dealing. I need help not talking to other men about it. I need help not pleasing myself or looking at porn. I need help and prayer. I wana wait on God and wait well. You know how they have AA and rehab? I wish there was a group for women and or men dealing with no sex in marriage but desire to take this walk with God and depend on God. If anyone knows of anything that exists like this ill travel. Thank you and God bless.

    1. GodisLove,

      That is a tough situation, my precious sister! I’m so very sorry for your pain. 🙁 Is your husband able/willing to do things other than vaginal intercourse with you at this point?

      Would you be interested in hashing through some of the negative things you are saying to yourself and thinking?

      Are you willing to commit to not talking to other men about this and to not looking at porn? If porn has become a big temptation, there is a lot of help at http://www.xxxchurch.org. There are even women’s support groups online there for that.

      Let’s talk some more!

      Much love!

      1. Thank u for commenting. He does do other things but im over it. I want more. Also yes i am willing to stop i went years not doing those things so i know i can. Yes i am willing to hash through the nevative things.

        1. GodisLove,

          Sometimes, there is a lot more to our desire for sex than may be obvious at first. I’d like to ask a few questions gently, just to get a pulse on how you are doing. 🙂

          1. What do you believe that having sex with him would do for you? Ie: Do you tend to equate sex with security and feeling loved? Does it make you feel that the marriage is strong if you are able to have sex? Does it represent something to you beyond just a physical connection?

          2. If you can’t have sex with your husband like you want to, what do you say to yourself?

          3. What do you say to him?

          4. How involved are you in emotional connections or friendships with other men?

          5. What are you doing to guard your heart and your marriage from temptation?

          6. How often have you been watching porn, would you guess? Maybe in the past few months?

          7. How is your relationship with Christ?

          8. What would you like to see happen in your walk with God?

          9. What do you desire most in your marriage?

          10. How are y’all getting along in other areas in the marriage?

          Much love to you!

  3. I have a question, looking for some godly advice. My husband and I don’t have this problem now, but I wonder about our future sometimes, since sex is one of the greatest tools of reconciliation and levity between us.

    If that’s the best way for me to talk to him (without him feeling offended/disrespected/angry, because he knows I am for him after I do those things and I am able to be honest), what can I do if/when that wanes for him? Sometimes he gets so riled up and upset that I feel there’s nothing else I can do…

    1. BlessedOut,

      I vote to talk to the Lord about this and lay this concern at His feet. I don’t know that it would be super helpful to talk a lot about it now – because it may never be an issue. I believe the Lord will give you wisdom as the time comes to handle this with grace as you seek Him and His leading. And I believe God can equip you to grow in your marriage and give you the tools you will need as the challenges arise and you trust Him.

      It may be that a hug or time just cuddling might be enough sometimes. I know for me, even before God began to change me so much 9 years ago, if Greg would just hug me and hold me when I was upset, I usually melted in a few minutes and wasn’t so angry any more.

      Much love!

  4. Any advice for wives in an unwanted separation. I have been separated for 1.5 years and standing for my marriage. We have had sex once during this time. My husband won’t have sex with me now because in our state it resets the time he has to wait to file for divorce. It can be hard because I know he is having sex. I want to be obedient though to what God has called me to do by standing for my marriage and interceding for my husband’s salvation.

    1. SeparatedWife,

      Ugh. Such a painful situation! That I wish no spouse ever had to face.

      Well… truthfully, it is probably a blessing he won’t have sex with you right now. I would really want to encourage couples not to have sex unless/until the wayward spouse sincerely repents. And then, this may be the pharmacist in me, but I would also want the unfaithful spouse to be tested for STDs before reuniting sexually. And I would want to see a lot of genuine fruit of repentance beforehand, too.

      A spouse who is cheated on is not required to take the offending spouse back. Of course, God can heal even after infidelity. I know many, many cases where He has done exactly that. I’m so glad you are praying for his salvation. That is the primary thing.

      What specifically would you like advice about?

      Much love, my dear sister!

      1. Separated Wife,

        I do have a number of posts about being separated. You are welcome to search for “separated wife” to read some stories from wive who are in the trenches.

        Also, this post may be helpful about dealing with a husband who is involved in adultery.

  5. Hi Peaceful wife,

    I got married in Dec 2016. Over the honeymoon our sex life was great. In Feb this year, I left town for a while to accompany my mother on an overseas trip for medical treatment. I discussed this with my husband. He agreed to the trip. I ended up returning home in April as I found out that I was pregnant while I was away and had a few complications. When I returned in April, my husband immediately moved out of our bedroom. We have not been intimate in any way since my departure in February. He will not explain what happened. When I insisted that we talk about things, he offered me a divorce. Throughout my pregnancy, he has only given financial support. I had to have minor surgery during the pregnancy and my sister took me to that appointment. We live separate lives, albeit in the same house. He has said once the baby is born it would be better for us to have a trial separation. I am very confused. I was standing for my marriage but I no longer feel like I have anything to stand for. I have agreed to leave once the baby is born. We are both Christians. Not sure how you can help as I do not know what went wrong so quickly.

    1. Findingpeace,

      Wow.

      Congratulations on your pregnancy!

      But wow.

      That doesn’t sound good. Kind of leaves your imagination to run wild, doesn’t it? 🙁

      Has he ever said anything about fear or concern about pregnancy? Or about being a dad? Some guys do freak out a bit when their wives get pregnant. Some can’t stand the thought of sex during their wife’s pregnancy. But, I am not sure if it is just that. It sounds like something deeper could be going on.

      Has he ever had issues that cause you to be concerned about porn addiction or some kind of inappropriate activity with someone else?

      Has he talked about God at all? Why is he staying with you now? I am confused, too!

      Lord,
      We pray for Your wisdom and Light to be shed in this situation. Please help findingpeace know what she needs to know. Help her to have the light she needs for each step. This is a mess. We can’t fix it. We don’t even know what is happening. We pray for Your healing for this dear sister in Christ. We pray for Your Spirit to work in her and in her husband. We pray for his repentance if repentance is necessary. We pray for Your Spirit’s victory and glory. We invite Your power and Your wisdom and Spirit into this situation to bring something beautiful from this painful trial.
      Amen!

      Would you be interested in doing a spiritual check up with me? My greatest concern is your spiritual health and your walk with the Lord. When you are filled up with Him and close to Him, He can give you the wisdom and discernment and power you need to know how to handle your husband.

      Much love and a huge hug!

      1. My husband has a child from a previous relationship. He is thirteen years old and lives with us. My husband wanted to be a father again and while we did not plan to get pregnant so quickly, he was very happy when I gave him the news. I was delighted as well as I am in my late thirties.

        I do not know if there is anything else going on. I asked if he had someone else and he denied that. I have seen no evidence of a porn collection. We argued about him coming home when our son and I are already asleep because I said I needed help. Parenting is new to me and I am on strict bed rest due to pregnancy complications. He said that he has never found it difficullt so he does not know why I am struggling.

        He does talk about God. He says that if I prayed, God would tell me why he is doing what he is doing. He has also said that I am not spiritually minded. And that we do not need to seek external help, we just need to pray.

        I am happy to do a spiritual check. The baby should be arriving any day now so I am making arrangements to move temporarily to my parent’s home. I will look for a place for us affer she is born.

  6. my husband for the bad things happening at home, to him and to the kids. I’m getting fed up of it and it is now the main cause of every fight. I did told him not to blame me for every bad result but he continued to do it. Can you please tell me something to get rid of my inner anger and turmoil?

    1. Tereram,

      Sounds like things are very frustrating. Would it be okay if we do a “spiritual check up” together where I ask some questions to get a pulse on where you are spiritually now?

      Much love!

  7. I got three kids who are still young in primary, kindergarten and one is a 9 months old, I tried my best to look after them while at the same time meet my husband’s demand as it is very great since he is a Reverend. less time is spent with us and most of his time was at his work place, he blamed me for every bad result at home. I really want a peace of mind and some advice on how to be a good and smart reverend’s wife, please help me here in some advice.

  8. My wife’s just not into me. She gets her fulfilment from all her good works. She is busy 24/7 doing all this good stuff. She gets accolades from other and that seems to stroke her ego. I am left wondering why am I here.

  9. Thank you so much for this post. Once again, the Lord used you in amazing ways! I need to print this paragraph (below) and read daily. I want to mention also that Christian marriage seminars also pound in that men need respect and sex without mention of age, season in life/marriage, God’s will. These seminars need to be be avoided as well IMHO.

    You are pretty much the ONLY resource I have come across that hasn’t made me feel EXTREME sadness, depression, and loss that my husband and I are no longer interested in making love. Just hearing you say “it is okay”.. helps more than you can imagine.
    ===============

    NOTE – If you are getting older, or there are severe medical issues going on, and neither of you are really interested in sex anymore, that is okay. Marriage books and blogs talk about how “men want sex” and “a man’s greatest need is sex.” Well, that may be true sometimes in certain situations. But as we age, things can change. If neither of you seriously desire sex, it is okay to let that go and just enjoy each other in other ways. Don’t let marriage books or blogs and the generalities they share make you worry about your marriage if you have a particular situation and medically can’t have sex and are both content truly content with that.

    1. Louise Lewis,

      I’m so glad that this was a blessing for you. The seminars and books speak in generalities, but when you don’t fall into that larger percentage range, it can be very discouraging to hear it as if it is true 100% of the time.

      I’m glad you are able to just chill out a bit. Think about the things you have together that are beautiful and wonderful and enjoy that.

      If you are both interested in seeking medical help or praying for miracles together, that is awesome. But if you are both content with the way things are at this time and season, that is awesome, too, in my view.

      Much love!
      April

      1. I think we are both content at this time, but why does that feel so wrong? How do we know we haven’t deceived ourselves because that’s the easier route? Can contentment be disguised as dangerous apathy? I tend to over-think things as you can tell.

        1. Louise Lewis,

          How are you doing spiritually with the Lord? How is he doing spiritually with the Lord, to your knowledge?

          What you were doing – freaking out and feeling extremely depressed and discontent was not of God.

          If you both truly are content – you can be happy and joyful in that.

          If one of you feels you need to work on things or pray for healing or seek medical treatment, you can do that.

          But whether you can have sex or not – you can be content in Christ. Contentment in Christ is great gain – according to scripture.

          Much love!

  10. Gosh April! tackling this issue has an exhaustive list as you have shown. In my own life as a husband, I gave up on her. I don’t expect intimacy and so the “assumed pressure” on her is gone. As a result, any arguments we have are much, much more heated. I suppose in the past I kept back my rebuttal statements in hope that our intimate time would not be affected. We still act as a team on family stuff. My own career is nonexistent as I took a minimum wage job recently to have some cash but it makes me look less masculine and less ambitious…and therefore less desired.

    Glad to see you’re still at this blog April. Hope your job is going well too. Wish I could update you but, keep on your tasks. I love the anniversary pic of you and your husband, his hair style is awesome!

    1. Jeff,

      Thank you for the update – I am so sorry to hear that things are still very challenging in so many areas, dear brother. Please do let me know how you are doing. How may we pray for you?

      Ha! Greg’s hair is very, very thick. He likes to keep it so short that it just kind of stands straight up on top these days. 🙂

  11. I’m a man of 54 years and my libido has not peaked to date…. One of the best enablers for myself, is to separate emotional connection of love from sex. Too much in the head tends to destract one self from truly enjoying an activity or moment. My advice is to clear the mind and heart of layers of expectations, simply enjoy the moment.

    1. Keigan,

      Thank you for sharing your perspective. It is really hard for me to imagine separating the emotional connection of love from sex in marriage. Or even wanting to. To me, and I think to a lot of wives, the emotional connection is the best part!

      But I do like the idea of clearing your mind and heart of expectations and enjoying the moment.

Thanks for joining the discussion! Let's keep it classy and respectful. I'm so glad we can walk this road together.

%d bloggers like this: