3 Ways Financial Stress Damages Sexual Desire

Depressed couple doing their accountingI fought with the mortgage company today.

Twice recently they told me they paid our homeowner’s insurance out of our escrow account.

Sounded good to me, because that is what they are supposed to do.

Go figure.

But then our insurance company emailed me to say, in not so many words, “Hey, ya’ll gonna pay your homeowner’s insurance or what? Because come Oct. 1, you’ll be without insurance and that would just suck.”

(That’s my loose interpretation. I’m sure it was more professional than that).

I dialed the mortgage company AGAIN, only to have a nice customer service gal look up our account and sheepishly say, “Looks like we were supposed to pay it. But we didn’t.”

(Keep in mind, this was the third call. A call just 20 minutes earlier to the mortgage company and a different customer service rep told me they had paid it, but sent it to Illinois, even though the address on the statement was in Texas).

Quite the confidence builder, if I must say so myself. Who are these people and why do they torture me so?

Any hoo, I realize these are first world problems. And we have cash on hand, so I’m not worried about our mortgage company holding our insurance payment hostage — or, in their case, not knowing what exactly they did with it. It’s like a hostage they have misplaced.

(We will pay the bill and I’ll fight with the mortgage company another day).

Wouldn’t you agree, though, that bills and financial uncertainties rarely have a calming effect on marriage?

Nothing screams “no sex tonight” like “I spent the day on the phone with the incompetent mortgage company, and our homeowner’s insurance is about to lapse. Don’t leave the iron plugged in, okay?”

In most marriages, financial stress is a real mood killer. Maybe it’s a mood killer in yours.

Here are 3 ways financial stress damages sexual desire:

1. It’s a huge distraction.

Money problems drain energy freakishly fast.

And it’s not like you don’t already have enough on your mind, what with the lost permission slips, boatload of laundry and over-optimistic promise you made to bake 4 dozen cupcakes for some fundraiser (which sounded noble at the time, but now is a huge thorn in your side).

When we are overwhelmed with wondering how certain bills are going to get paid, we have little energy left to nurture sexual connection with our spouse.  We just feel too distracted, too spent, too done.  Nothing left to give to the relationship and no desire to make love.

2. It diminishes our sense of security.

When people don’t feel financially secure — especially wives — they tend to not want to be emotionally or physically vulnerable. (The husband dynamic of this may be that he feels inadequate as a provider, so he doesn’t want to be emotionally or physically vulnerable).

Yet, tender vulnerability is what ushers a husband and wife into profound sexual intimacy.  I’m not saying financial security is everything. But most people have chosen to live a life that carries with it a sundry of financial obligations (rent, mortgages, cell phone bills, car payments, etc.)

If we have financial obligations and can’t pay them, we don’t feel secure.

Resentment grows, insecurity increases, motives are questioned.  Sex becomes unbearably laborious to navigate — if a couple can navigate it at all.  In those moments, we feel especially exposed — and not in a good way — because we can’t escape the feeling that security has already been compromised.

3. It fuels division.

In some marriages, financial stress is causing so much division that there is increasing doubt about whether their covenant commitment can even survive.

Division is the go-to method of Satan, and he will do whatever he can to destroy that which is designed by God.  Satan particularly has his sight set on marriage.

Precarious finances create the perfect scenario for the enemy to further divide you and your spouse.

As the chasm widens, sex becomes nothing more than collateral damage.  The emotional costs maybe are apparent, but the spiritual losses often slip under the radar — which, not surprisingly, is exactly as Satan would have it.

Financial stress and division in a marriage often go hand-in-hand.

I am humble enough and aware enough to know that some financial struggles in a marriage are not of the couple’s own making.  Job losses, injuries, illnesses, natural disasters, family circumstances and so forth sometimes put people in financial desolation that they could neither have prepared for nor rectify.

I remember getting a comment from a reader who shared how difficult their finances were because of ongoing medical treatment their child needed. Obviously, they weren’t being irresponsible with their money. They were simply trying to take care of their kid.

In those situations where the financial chaos was not of their own making, my prayer is a husband and wife are able to gain a perspective that keeps them united — emotionally, spiritually and yes, sexually.

If your financial stress, though, is more of your own making, then I encourage you to consider what is at stake.   As painful as it may be to make changes and dig yourself out of the mess, do it.

Do it as two people on the same team with a shared focus to build a foundation that will strengthen your marriage.  Even in the midst of the mess, you may find that your sexual desire increases — if you are on the same team fighting the financial battle together.

And if you have never been in financial stress, I encourage you to not wait to decide to live below your means.  Resist the urge to believe that happiness is found in nicer things, when true richness is found in the depth of our relationships, particularly with God and with our spouse.

God is amazingly faithful and full of hope.  No matter your situation, if you seek His Word and heart on finances, marriage and sex, you will find He has great interest and insight in how you handle all of those.

And if your mortgage company happens to forget what to do with your escrow account, remember — it’s a first world problem.  Go have sex with your spouse, get some sleep and then deal with the mortgage company in the morning.

That’s my plan. Just sayin.

Copyright 2013, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage.

15 thoughts on “3 Ways Financial Stress Damages Sexual Desire

  1. Bob says:

    This brings up an interesting (imo) question about “comfort sex”. In the Bible there is a passage that talks about how David comforted Bathsheba after their son was born and subsequently died. He basically comforted her with sex (no details obviously).

    My take on that is that he made her feel secure by making love with her. Maybe she felt that, since what basically forced them together was gone, she would become “expendable” or a problem for David to solve by getting rid of her somehow…and taking her into him was his way of reassuring her.

    I’ve never been able to fully understand the dynamic of “comfort sex”. The only thing I can think of is that is a husband and bride are so on-the-same-page and a tight team that sex offers them an impenetrable sanctuary that nothing they are facing can destroy.

    I’d be interested in hearing other thoughts…but I don’t want to derail this post haha. Hopefully this is on-topic enough.

  2. HMT says:

    I missed this blog. I’m glad you posted something new Julie. I wish my wife would read this, but if I recommend it, she’ll think I have ulterior motives: translation–that I want to change her, and make our physical intimacy more important. (The first, no. The second, well… yes.)

    But I think one point you make about guys, when financial troubles hit, is particularly on point. Guys see themselves as providing for the family. If there is too much month at the end of the money, as Dave Ramsey puts it, this is construed as the guy’s fault, even if the wife works and out earns him. My prayer is that husbands and wives can have full disclosure, spiritually, socially, financially, and sexually.

    It will bring them closer.

  3. Needed This says:

    Wow. I really needed this. A year and a bit into marriage, and now two years into a permanent residence application that means that despite being capable of and willing to work, I’m temporarily not legally allowed to. That plus living in an extrodinarily expensive part of the country has led to ongoing financial stress and strain on an already pretty fragile intimate life. I have been feeling desperate and despairing and really uncertain about whether it’s all worth it, and happened to pass by your blog. I’ve never been more grateful for a post.

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  5. Chris says:

    My wife has expressed the points you listed. I lost my full-time job 8 months ago, but have had a part time job for 6 months, but it pays very little. As a result my wife continues to work long hours even though she wanted to cut back. The financial stress adds stress everywhere in our marriage. It’s also killed what little interest she had in sex. I’m working towards getting a better, full-time job, but until it happens I;m worried things will be rough in our marriage. Any advice, other than pray? I’ve tried to talk to her about ways to cut back, but she doesn’t seem to want to deal with it, it may be because most of the unnecessary spending comes from her.

  6. JulieSibert says:

    @Chris… If your wife is not willing to approach some of the ways you want to work together on cutting back, then try on your own to continue to read about good financial stewardship and implement even small cuts wherever you can. She may see from your diligence that you are trying more than she is giving you credit for.

    You may also consider writing her a letter, with a tone of love but also deep authenticity about how you are feeling… that you know the money issues are difficult, but that you long to feel that the two of you are in it together and that you really want to work on the marriage and work on all forms of intimacy.

    Also, you may want to find 1-2 other mature Christian men, with whom you can pray, confide in, etc. It can be good to have safe sounding boards that will give you insights, pray for your marriage, guide you in the ways of God’s Word, etc.

    You cannot change your wife, but you can demonstrate to her, especially in small daily ways that you are incredibly committed to loving her and doing all you can to build a strong marriage.

  7. Jerry B says:

    Very slippery slope.I agree with some of these things but one of the things mentioned in the vows I took was “for richer or poorer…” Usually the true character of a person comes out during challenging times…Women are often put on the spot when they happen.Some will go to God for the answers…Others won’t…

  8. trnee says:

    I’ve been married for 27 years. We have not had any type of touch , hugging,holding,kissing , or sex in 7 months. I have been unemployed for ayear. I help all i can. But not enough. My husband will not even look at me. When I try to discuss our situation he does one of two things ignore you with no response or snap in anger with shouts accusation of all blame toward me. I can’t pinpoint what is really wrong. He is also a diabetic that may be dealing with ED as well. I pray and surrender my marriage to the Lord. It is out of my control.

  9. Yvonne says:

    Hi just came across the blog nd hope ull ansa me im desparate for answers. We have been married for a minth nd a half nd he resigned from work to start his own business bt hes becoming distant , he sleeps at the edge of the bed far from me nd i have to insist to get sex. Nd hes on his phone and most of his close friends are female . I feel lost . I dont know what to think anymore

  10. Sharon says:

    If husband is stresses about finances enough that he is not interested in sex, then why does he want to build a bigger house that we do not need.

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  12. AliceG says:

    Financial stress is causing more than just problems in my bedroom. I think my husband is now considering divorce. I’m worried he’s already lost hope in me and our relationship. The money situation isn’t good, I think that definitely effected our sex life, and now it’s spilling over into our marriage. I feel like it might be too late, but do you have any advice for someone with not only a dead bedroom but a husband who’s likely considering divorce?

  13. BJH says:

    Thanks for the post. Ever since I left my job to take care of our youngest two years ago, we have been experiencing financial stress. We are not going under just yet, but the closer we are to the edge of the financial abyss, the less I feel like making love. My libido and confidence have tanked under this stress, and until recently, I didn’t realize this was what was at root of the problem. While he has been patient, a lack of lovemaking has been very difficult for my husband to endure. I feel guilty for staying home with my son and putting this financial stress on us (though he assures me that my son loves me, and it’s been very good for us to be home together since I worked with the other two and it makes his work life less stressful), and also because I feel like I should be able to make the books work (since I am in charge) and have failed at this basic task. It’s just soul-crushing, makes me feel as though I’m not doing my wifely duties on many levels, and physical intimacy is just one of many areas in which I’m failing. It’s so hard, though, to force myself to be sexually active when I feel so disconnected and distracted. It feels disingenuous. I have been praying about it and looking for answers, and was glad to stumble onto this page–feels like ‘Thank God!’ relief to hear that someone else has the same issue from time to time. I wish people would talk about this more as a cause of lacking libido and separation. I will pray more for strength and wisdom to be patient and find ways to connect even amid the stress.

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