Why the Excuse “Sex Isn’t a Need” Doesn’t Hold Water

When sex is denied in a marriage, especially if there is a long pattern of withholding sex, one of the most common excuses given is something along these lines…

“Sex isn’t a need.  It’s not like air or water or food.”

Let’s be humble and dig deeper into this, because I think God longs for us to shed light where there is pain, disconnect and heartbreak.

Sure we all know that none of us could go very long without air (3 minutes), without water (3 days) and without food (3 weeks).

(The water and food time frames can vary based on a few factors, but suffice to say… no one is going to survive very long without some hydration and sustenance).

How long can a person go without sex and still survive physically?  Well, the answer is obvious, isn’t it?  Lack of sexual intercourse is not going to kill anyone.

But either is lack of time scrap-booking…

or lack of time volunteering at church…

or lack of time reading the latest New York Times bestseller…

or lack of time talking on the phone with friends…

or lack of time working…

or lack of time getting a manicure…

or lack of time meeting a friend for lunch…

or lack of time cleaning the house…

or lack of time preparing the perfect Christmas tree…

or lack of time praying…

or lack of time playing with the kids…

or lack of time serving others…

There are many many things in our life that are not necessary to our physical survival. But if we removed them all, our lives would not be what we envision them to be.

They would be empty, without purpose, enjoyment and appreciation for the human experience.

If you are someone who has denied sex to your spouse because it is not a “need,” stop to consider how painfully empty such an excuse is?  Stop to consider how you are robbing yourself and your spouse of something that is inherent to marriage.

We do not need sex the same way we need air, water and food.

But God never intended us to put sex in the same category as air, water and food.

I believe when we look closely at His Word and we press against His heart, we discover that sexual intimacy in marriage has a sustaining force that deserves its own accolades… its own category.

And when we embrace that — when we get that — we begin to see that it is a deep need.  Oh what encouragement it is that my husband and I need each other in this way!

When I say I need sex more than I need  coffee with my friends or playing with my kids, I’m not saying “instead of.”   Do you see the difference?

It’s not that God is saying we sacrifice everything else so that we can focus solely on sex. But He is clear that sex deserves our intentional and authentic effort, rooted in love, endearment and respect.  And that if we walk in that direction, we benefit in unfathomable ways.

Sex was never meant to sit indefinitely on the proverbial back burner.  Out of such a choice we can’t help but come face to face with horrendous fallout.

If you have denied your spouse sex, claiming or simply thinking to yourself that it is not a “need,” do you really want your fingerprints all over such a tragic wrongdoing?

Sex is a cool cup of water in marriage.  And personally, I need that.

Copyright 2012, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.

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25 thoughts on “Why the Excuse “Sex Isn’t a Need” Doesn’t Hold Water

  1. landschooner says:

    If you don’t want a happy marriage, then yah, sex isn’t a need.

    If what you want is a brother sister relationship, then yah, sex isnt a need.

    If you want an uninvolved disinterested husband or wife, yup, sex isn’t a need.

    if you wanted a passionless business relationship that is there just for the kids, sure, sex isn’t a need.

    If you want a spouse that on long lonely nights secretly wishes they’d met someone else instead of you, then yes, sex isn’t a need.

    I agree. Sex ISN’T a need.


  2. Greg says:

    Why on earth do people who could care less about sexual intimacy ever get married in the first place, and how do you know if the person you want to marry is one of them?

    This is the biggest thing that scares me about marriage. By comparison, it makes all the struggles and frustration of being single look incredibly tame.

  3. VR says:

    Julie this post is actually a springboard of so many issues. Yet they all stem from a selfish root. The bible clearly says that to follow JESUS you must deny yourself and take up your CROSS. We all know that when it comes to sex and marriage that 1 Corinthians 7 is used often but how about looking at 1 Corinthians 8-12. And thus,by sinning against the Bretheren and wounding their conscience when it is weak,you sin against CHRIST. Our spouses needs must be our top priority after our relationship with CHRIST. We will all have to give an account for what we did,how we loved that which CHRIST has given us. One true form of worship to CHRIST is to love ( give ) the son,or daughter that CHRIST gave you as a spouse completely. No one else on the planet is ordained by GOD to meet those needs or wants. Knowing that we will give an account and that CHRIST knows your heart and motives when we do things,loving his child that he gave you should change every Christians perspective when you look at the CROSS and see how HE loved you. Blessings Julie your preaching better than were acting.

  4. Amy says:

    This is in reply to what Greg said…just my humble .02 cents from a woman who did not want sexual intimacy with her first husband, although it wasn’t like that from the beginning. My ex-husband was abusive our whole twenty years together and when we first married I was 24 and very sexually naive, yet I have what I consider a very high sex libido for a woman. I was very interested in having sex and probably wanted it more than he was willing to give…I suppose a part of the abuse too. After years in that marriage I just started dreading having sex with him and I can assure you it was strictly sex, not any form of lovemaking between two loving spouses. He was only interested in his own pleasure, never once in our marriage did he EVER try to please me nor did he care, that was basically my “problem”. And when your husband is demeaning and verbally and mentally abusive telling you how ugly, stupid and incompetent you are outside of the bedroom, the last thing you feel like doing is anything sexual with him in the bedroom.
    So, I was one of those spouses that tried everything not to have sex after a while and he started telling me how cold and frigid I was and how much it was like living with his cousin. But his form of foreplay was coming up behind me, grabbing my crouch and breasts and that was it. He was into porn and Playboy when we met and made no attempt to even hide it. He stopped watching porn, at least movie forms and I never saw another magazine after we got married, but his form of sex was based solely on what he had viewed and had nothing to do with love for me.
    And therefore, I became unresponsive and believe me, it hurt so deeply inside…I WANTED TO MAKE LOVE TO MY SPOUSE….actually I WANTED my spouse to love me and desire me.
    We divorced after twenty years of non-stop abuse and last year I married an amazingly loving and caring man. We are sexually compatible and I only dreamed that lovemaking could be like this.

    So, having said all of that, why would someone even want to get married if they do not want sexual intimacy…I don’t think it’s necessarily as black and white as that. I believe that in a majority of cases the sexual intimacy may have been there in the beginning, but over time due to any number of circumstances it fades away.
    Certainly, if one spouse is withholding sex to “punish” the other then I believe that is a sin.

    But perhaps if a couple just does not have a sexual attraction to one another they should reconsider whether to get married in the first place.
    In the book Falling in Love For All the Right Reasons by Neil Clark Warren (recommended to me by my counselor after my divorce so that I would be discerning when I began to date again) the author discusses how dating couples can find out if they are truly compatible with one another, hopefully ensuring a lasting marriage. And one of the areas he says is critical to be compatible in is sexual passion, because he believes that sexual intimacy in a marriage is very important. And he feels that if there is no sexual passion while dating it’s highly unlikely it will be there in marriage also.

    The author, who started the eHarmony dating site and is a Christian, does not recommend single couples have sex outside of marriage to test their sexual passion, he simply says that there should be a sexual charge between the two people and if there isn’t it might mean they are not sexually matched right. And he says one of the best ways to test for that passion is through a kiss. If sparks fly for both people during kissing chances are you are both compatible sexually.

    Perhaps that seems a little too simple to base sexual passion on a kiss, but I can say from experience that it does show a lot without getting sexually involved. When my husband first kissed me we both felt the sparks and still do even two years later.

    Just my rambling thoughts on the subject of sexual compatibility in marriage. 🙂

  5. Angel says:

    I am a woman only being married for not yet 2 years. When we first got married when he kissed me the hair on my arms would stand up and I would get chills all through my body. I still desire him but the feelings are fading, See he has some hormonal issues and can go 2 and 3 months without wanting sex. And even then I usually have to mention it. I feel like he does it just for me and not because he really wants it. So I get less and less enjoyment out of it thinking the whole time pretty much that he doesn’t desire me. It is playing a big impact on my self esteem and at time I have thought I will show him that I am still desirable to someone. I know not christian thoughts and I pray I would never do anything like that. But the desire to be held and loved and feel truly desired gets so strong sometimes. But I have always been a christian and hold to my marriage vows. Another problem I see is when a man has no desire for sex he isn’t touchy feely in the other areas either. Kind of life someone mentioned it feels more like living with your brother or friend with no passion. I am an extremely passionate person in everything I do. But I feel that part of me dying every day. When he kisses me now most of the time I don’t even pucker up my lips anymore. It feels more like he kisses me out of habit as he is walking by not real kissing. I love my husband with all my heart. But I do fear for our marriage having these kinds of problems so early on. I have been working on getting his hormones straightened out but I fear by the time he is ready to love me the way I need I won’t care if he does or not. Once I mentioned this and he got mad saying he is worried about the bills and I am worried about sex. But I feel like the article said sex is a need just as much as anything else. And I believe God made it to help us create a deeper bond. I want to have that bond with my husband but part of me is so hurt and angry I care a little less every day. And he talks about women before me quite often which makes me feel even less desirable. I have found out he drove clear across the country to have sex with some woman he met online before we met of course. And I am thinking he will drive across the country for some w**** but I am right here and he no desire for me. Which of course hurts me more and makes me feel even less desired. Sometimes I feel so hurt I do feel like striking back. Like they say “hurt people hurt people” I don’t ever want to hurt my husband. But sometimes I do wish he could feel the pain he has caused me. He is my husband. The man who is supposed to make me feel better about myself than anyone else. But instead no one has ever made me feel so worthless and undesired in my life. I am lost and keep praying for God to help me. I feel like a little part of me dies a little more every day. To him it is just sex and no big deal. To me it is so much more than that.

  6. Greg says:

    Amy, I’m sorry you went through so much–I can certainly see why sexual intimacy was something you dreaded! 🙁 🙁 Perhaps I should have rephrased my question for spouses who ARE kind, loving, and attentive toward the other but are still rejected.

    As for the test of sexual passion via a kiss–it’s an interesting theory; but I suspect it doesn’t reveal those who are good at faking it until the marriage vows are said. BTW FWIW (at least for some of us), all it takes is being smiled at by a cute gal, and we’re a pile of mush inside. 🙂

  7. Amy says:

    Greg – I totally got where you were coming from about being rejected even if you are loving and kind towards your spouse. That’s when I would suspect something more might be going on with the other spouse like a physical issue, possible past shame or just withholding as a way to “punish” or control…kwim?
    Perhaps the spouse is having a problem where intercourse hurts or hormones begin to play a part in making things more uncomfortable and that spouse does not know how to communicate it. Or maybe there are past sexual issues that make them feel ashamed during sex and again they do not know how to communicate it. And no matter what the problem, that spouse may just find it easier to stop having sex than talk about it.

    So, perhaps that is one of the keys right there…communication. After all, talking about sex is not always that easy for people, but it’s so crucial to talk that as it is to talk about finances and other marital issues.

    As far as the kiss test…I personally do not think you can fake real passion…again, I say this from experience. 😉 When my ex kissed me for the first time before we were married there were no fireworks going off and to be very blunt and honest, we both were just being lustful and ended up in bed. And in all the years we were married there just was never that true passion.

    But when my current husband kissed me one night after two months of dating, there were sparks that honestly surprised both of us. He was afraid of being rejected and when he took the chance of kissing me, he told me later he was not sure how I would respond. He said he felt such intense passion on my part.
    And I don’t think you can fake that kind of passion. 🙂

    I do realize that a pretty gal can probably make a guy turn to a “pile of mush”, but again, that does not indicate true passion. The true test is in the kiss! 😉 Hey, isn’t there a song about that?!! LOL

    Anyway, you might try to find the book I mentioned, he explains it all way better than I can. And I think it’s a really interesting book about how to discern whether someone is truly compatible with you. Both my husband and I said the exact same thing after reading it…”why did we not see these warning signs with our ex-spouses!” Haha!

  8. J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) says:

    Great post, Julie! I have also heard this argument–especially from wives who want to rationalize denying their husbands sex. The husbands says, “I need it,” and she says, “No, you don’t”–making comparisons to food, water, air, etc. Your approach that it isn’t a survival need but is a core component of a healthy marriage is absolutely true.

  9. Will says:

    “If you don’t want a happy marriage, then yah, sex isn’t a need.

    If what you want is a brother sister relationship, then yah, sex isnt a need.

    If you want an uninvolved disinterested husband or wife, yup, sex isn’t a need.

    if you wanted a passionless business relationship that is there just for the kids, sure, sex isn’t a need.

    If you want a spouse that on long lonely nights secretly wishes they’d met someone else instead of you, then yes, sex isn’t a need.

    I agree. Sex ISN’T a need.


    Couldn’t agree more……She will not meet my needs. Yet thinks I am selfish for trying to get her to meet my needs, taking care of my own needs. God forbid allowing someone ELSE to take care of these needs…

  10. Shanon says:

    Angel wow you described me in your entire post but one thing that I believe and know for a fact is that we will be okay, rather we are with them or not. I am not sure if you have children but I do and that is the one reason why I am making this huge sacrafice but soon I will not. Number one a sexless marriage is not normal at all and only the person who does not want the sex can fix it. If we are doing what we can to wait on them also remain faithful what more can we do in m opinion nothing at all. The best part of our suffering is that we know what their doing to us is wrong also we have told the other party so when we make the decision to walk away it will be their fault. God knows our heart and how faithful we are so when its all said and done he will forgive us. God bless you and try to stay strong trust me I know its hard when someone is robbing you of your feelings and needs daily!

  11. Evan says:

    I feel that I should point out that it may be possible that HIS needs are not being met either, even if it seems that everthing possible has been done. I have no way of knowing this, of course, I am just throwing it out there as a consideration. And yes, women have all the power in the world over men, enough to turn them to “mush” with a smile. Have you ever studied what the word “ravishing” really means?

  12. SexuallyBurntInTexas says:

    My wife and I have been married for seven years. We’ve never had what you may call an awesome sex life, but as time has progressed, it has has gradually turned into maybe having sex once every two or three months. I have never been a great husband but have always tried. Even to this day, I still have to work hard at being the leader of my household. I feel as if I have taken up my cross, and made it evident to her that I always want to love her as Christ loved the church. Household chores are never an issues with us and we live a somewhat comfortable life. But I just dont understand why she denies me (us) sex. I cant even remember the last time I initiated and she accepted. She doesn’t mind asking me to massage her body, but when its noticeable that this arouses me, she always makes a comment such as “really?” that really degrades me as man. I’m left battling staring at other women from time to time and then having to shake myself out of it and asking for forgiveness from the Lord. I am at a loss and honestly, I grow weary of wondering every night if “this will be the night”. By no means do I look to end our marriage, I love her, even in my sex-starved mind. But I’m hurting. I’m to scared to bring it up her anymore. I just need God to intervene and fix this now. There no more communication that can be had. Please pray for us. I am sorry if this post seems a little “everywhere”. But honestly, I’m tired of looking for blogs in hopes that I will feel better. My hearts desire is to feel wanted and desired.

  13. Shanon says:

    Evan honestly I am over his needs and wants I have done everything that is humanly possible that I could have done to be a good wife and show him that I want to be married. I just feel that he is not worthy of my love and that another man would be so happy with me I feel that we are just not meant to be. I know that it is money as to why we are together also the economy, everyone knows right now that the need for two incomes are very important. I do not want to struggle nor do I want my kids to go without so I stay and deal for them but on the inside I am unhappy. When we were dating our relationship was fine and we had sex often but once he moved in his drive sort of left. I feel that my husband just has problems inside of him he is a man that I feel likes the excitement of getting to know people also the thrill of new people sort of like a thrill seeker. He does not live life on the edge or anything but I think now I am bored to him and he want to move on some people are like that but what he did not realize is in marriage things dont work like that. I know that we are all Christians here and want to honor God in all we do but God teaches us to love ourselves aso God does not want us to suffer he want us to be happy. I am already gone and over my marriage I just feel so bad for my daughter who is 2 yrs old and loves her dad so much that will be my only regret when I file for divorce.

  14. VR says:

    Shannon obviously there are deeper issues here than needs being met. Love is a choice and GOD is concerned with your character not your comfort. Marriage is to make us HOLY not happy. If you choose to be HOLY that will bring the happy. Paul was stoned,shipwrecked several times,imprisoned and while in a prison wrote Phillipians to free people on happiness and more importantly JOY. GOD let the devil inflict pain on Job and JESUS was tempted for 40 days and ultimately tortured on OUR CROSS. The BIBLE is all about personal responsibility when JESUS was telling PETER how he would SUFFER in his life he said what about JOHN and JESUS said what is that to you YOU follow me. Shannon for a sinner saved by GRACE to call your husband UNWORTHY of your love,none of us are Worthy but JESUS dying on the CROSS for us ALL tells us that what someone is willing to pay determines its worth. CHRIST love for us is not determined by OUR performance, cause we were ALL dead in our trespasses and sins. But CHRISTS love demonstrated on the CROSS was about HIS character not our performance.

  15. Mark says:

    What about those of us that are married to wives that are clinically depressed? They cannot live without those cursed anti-depressants, which rob them of any desire for sex? What do WE do?

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  17. JT says:

    Speaking from a man who throughout 13 yrs of marriage, almost 7 of them has been without sex it very much is a need. I have 3 children, my wife stays home and I own my own business and it is all suffering. I’ve learned to cope with it as if there was an accident and I have to live as if I’m paralyzed from the waist down. I will say to Greg, 1 Corinthians 7:5 says ” Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” Or lack of self control. Sex can be a wonderful gift in a marriage or it can be a cancer if ignored. Thanks for reading my 2 cents

  18. WH says:

    WHY do all of you suffer in sexless marriages? If we can all quote verses from the Bible that says denying a spouse is unbiblical, tell your spouses that they don’t get a free pass in the bedroom because they’re a Christian! Remaining married doesn’t trump neglect or abuse for 20 years. I am continually astounded by my fellow Christians that would not let a neighbor to speak abruptly to their children, but would spend 30 years waiting for their spouses to speak a kind word, make love to them or treat them as they are being treated. I have a great marital relationship, my sex life is better in my 50’s than it was in my 20’s and I would never accept less than a GREAT marriage. And neither should you!

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  22. Dr. Fill says:

    Lack of sexual intercourse is not going to kill anyone.

    true, BUT, to put it simply.

    Lack of sexual intercourse will kill a marriage.

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  25. JJ says:

    What about two asexual people who decide to commit to marriage for safety, security, affection and companionship? Surely sex forced on two such spouses would not be helpful to the marriage right?

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