Sex and Your Marriage: Are You Giving Your Spouse False Hope?

false hopeOne of my pastors recently shared a message about why we as the body of Christ cannot take lightly the serious struggles some people face.

With regard to the deep pain some people are in, he made this statement:

“This isn’t something we can just throw platitudes at.”

That statement really resonated with me.

Because “throwing platitudes” — rather than actually doing the hard work of bringing about healthy change — is exactly what happens within so many marriages where sex is a struggle.

My pastor was not preaching about sexual struggles specifically or even marriage struggles specifically, but his statement still is abundant with truth with regard to those issues.

Are you giving your spouse false hope with regard to sex in your marriage?

Are you “throwing platitudes” at something, rather than backing up your words with action?

I’ve hung out in this arena of sexual intimacy in marriage long enough to start to notice some detrimental patterns when a marriage is struggling sexually.

And one of those patterns is the spouse who is neglecting sexual intimacy resorts to “promising” things will get better — but then makes no steps in that direction.

That’s false hope.

And it is deeply wounding to the spouse receiving it.

It exacerbates an already fragile situation where the neglected spouse may be questioning how much their spouse actually loves them.

I’m not trying to be harsh.

I’m trying to shed light.

If sex is a struggle in your marriage — and it’s within your power to do something about that struggle — what will it take for you to actually do that something?

I know that some sexual struggles are rooted in issues that you likely cannot dig out from under by yourself.  Past sexual abuse.  Past promiscuity.  Sexual betrayal in the form of infidelity or pornography use. Skewed theology and wrong messages about sex.

Certainly the seriousness of some struggles means you may need to get help from people trained and equipped to actually help — professional counselors, doctors, specific ministries and so forth.

I also know that some sexual struggles are rooted in nothing more than selfishness, laziness and stubbornness.

Regardless of the severity or root cause of the situation, false hope will not solve sexual intimacy struggles.  No more than pretending a struggle doesn’t actually exist.  “False hope” and “pretending there is no problem” are shaky foundations on which to maintain a marriage.

Be courageous. Do what you can to bring about healthy change.  Let go of this idea that “throwing platitudes” at a struggle is the same thing as solving it.

Sex and marriage are intricately intwined for a reason. The presence of healthy sexual intimacy that a couple nurtures and protects will strengthen their marriage.

The absence of sex more often than not creates a breeding ground for distrust, division and discouragement.

If my words frustrate you, please know that my heart is to encourage God-ordained change that will redeem broken places in your marriage and help you see false hope for the weapon it is.

Sexual intimacy in marriage is such a sacred and consequential matter that when someone tells me sex in their marriage is in jeopardy, I can’t “just throw platitudes” at such struggles.

Where in your marriage can you start replacing “false hope” with “real hope” — fueled by God’s love, truth and guidance?

Copyright 2014, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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17 thoughts on “Sex and Your Marriage: Are You Giving Your Spouse False Hope?

  1. Thomas says:

    Here is the real deal. There are certainly a great many men who have let themselves go physically, psychologically, and relationally. Understandibly these guys have work to do in regaining the respect and attraction of their wives. I am not talking to those guys. I am talking to the men who provide, take care of themselves, and give love and support to women who choose to starve them sexually. Fellas, I hate the message I am typing and frankly will be surprised if it is posted…but here it is.
    Leave. Leave right now. Go pack a suitcase and exit the shared roof with the selfish shrew that likes to blame her failure on you. Every day we turn down the advances of women who would give anything to be treated the we we treat our wives. The guilty party in this scenario is US for staying.
    God did not put you here to cater to the selfish ramblings of an insecure wreck.
    Every day you make up excuses for her behavior KNOWING she is not going to change.
    Get out. You have one life. Serve God alingside a women who supports you as you support her.
    Nothing to lose and everything to gain.

  2. Doubting Thomas says:

    Thomas:

    I suppose if I worshipped the god Phallus, I’d be lifting up my lighter and clapping for an encore (that is, assuming I wasn’t right in the middle of a worship ceremony).

    What if Christ followed your prescription for husbands in His dealings with His bride, the Church?

    Does He not take care of Himself, and give her perfect love and support, in spite of her wayward ways? Her frequent unresponsiveness to His unending and self-sacrificing love?

    Does she not spurn His advances for greater intimacy with Him? Does she not even take other lovers while denying Him constantly because she is too tired, too busy, too caught up in her worldly pursuits?

    And yet His love for her endures. His patience persists. She has broken His heart, mocked Him to His face and behind His back. And yet He pursues her. He protects her. He has given His very life to redeem her.

    I am no proponent of Christian women ignoring the sexual longings of their Christian husbands. It causes grievous pain and invites lustful thoughts and adulterous temptation. Such negligence is sinful, stupid, and selfish.

    Yet the call to husbands experiencing this agony is to love their wives like Christ loves His church– and to hate what God hates.

    Divorce. Pride. Hypocrisy.

    I have endured more pain my Christian marriage than any husband I know. It has led me, in darker hours, even to suicidal temptation- to say nothing of the temptations of pornography, adultery, and bitterness.

    But where is my hope, if not in Christ’s forgiveness of my own indifference and waywardness? He has endured so much for me, and sinned not once against me.

    And He has asked me to endure these pains for His name’s sake, just as He has endured for it. As I do, He is sanctifying me, conforming me slowly to His image.

    So I will pray for my wife, not resent her or replace her. I will strive to love her as Christ loves His church, even as I long so deeply for a greater intimacy with her. I will thank God for all the goodness I see in her, for there is so much.

    And whether God changes her heart, or simply strengthens my resolve, I will love her as perfectly as I can. Because that is how I need Christ to love me. And how you need Him to love you.

  3. Ol' Will says:

    Thomas,
    What you say about her (my wife) is spot on but I took an oath before God and man, with my children attending, to stay with this disaster of a woman for better or for worse. So I’m staying.

    The problem now is that I have finally given up hope and don’t even try to make things pleasant for her. She screws up, she hears about it. She does stupid stuff, she knows it’s stupid.

    We went to a marriage counselor and she told him that one of our goals is to start sleeping in the same bed again (I moved to the other room several months before at his suggestion after I explained how she treated me). She’s the reason and the only reason I moved to another room yet she hasn’t made the slightest effort to draw me back in.

    I pointed out to her from Scripture that what she is doing is a sin – fraud, as a matter of fact. It only made things worse. Indeed, the corner of the roof is preferable to being in the house with a contentious woman.

    My only consolation, and it is cold comfort, is that we are now both miserable.

  4. GoodDad says:

    For all of you disagreeing with Thomas, I support him. For those saying prayer without action is what God wants partners in marriage to do, I have two responses:
    1) Did you raise your children that way? Was prayer enough to get respect and proper behavior, or did consequences work? Prayer saves souls, consequences work on people.
    2) You are raising the agreement of marriage to a higher state than the people in the marriage, much like the Pharisees did to the Sabbath. Marriage was made for man, not man for marriage.

    I happen to think I’m worth something in God’s eyes, and have taught my son and daughter to not be abused, neglected or mistreated by anyone. BTW, that includes me.

  5. GoodDad says:

    Doubting Thomas: your martyrdom of a being miserable husband is no accomplishment for yourself or for Christians. To insult a man effecting change in his situation is misplaced.

    Quite frankly, your wife gets away with what she does because you let her. She knows, for one reason or another, that you will do nothing.

    I have a great sex life, love my wife and can’t wait for her to get home. I expect nothing less from life and for my children’s marriages. I achieve this one way: my lovely Christian wife as well as myself are expected to leave if we’re mistreated, neglected or miserable. Because I WANT her to leave if I don’t keep her happy, you’d better believe I do what I need to in order to keep her coming home! She does the same for me, and the result is almost 30 years of marriage with no regrets. I look forward to my retirement with my wife. So should you and so should Thomas. People fail, and for continual and intentional abuse/neglect of your marriage partner, there are consequences. Knowing those consequences ahead of time prevents the initial transgression.

  6. Doubting Thomas says:

    GoodDad:

    Your self-centric theology and transactional view of marriage is no doubt a source of great pride. It’s not especially Biblical, but hey- we’re MEN, right? God understands that sometimes, His word has to take a backseat to our manly prerogatives.

    I do congratulate you on the perfect marriage that you have and will guarantee youself in the future via the power of fiat and solipsistic biblical revisionism. And I’m sure it’s a great comfort for your kids that you’ve taken steps to prevent future marital problems for them in advance.

    Of course, it’ll be a BIT of a bummer when perhaps your wife develops Alzheimer’s down the road and stops meeting your needs perfectly- for her, anyway.

    And yeah, it will SUCK to be her if she gets breast cancer and those lovely squeezebags have to go… Because GoodDad deserves something to grab onto, right? And he sure aint gonna wanna look at some suddenly chemo-bald, flat-chested, scar tissued shell of his former blushing bride. Hell, this isn’t the beautiful vision you married at all! Plus, that freakish, wasted hag will just keep crying all the time. It’s the same thing, over and over, “Don’t leave me, don’t leave me, please don’t leave me!”

    Oh well- her fault, really- whatever it will be!

    If only she’d had your faith, she’d never have been subject to one of those pesky Act of God things.

    But no- she just HAD to let herself go, right? She violated the sacred marriage compact and turned into a real PAIN IN THE ASS TO LOOK AT OR TAKE CARE OF– therefore, your sacred vows don’t matter. SHE broke them by disappointing YOU, and anyway– God REALLY hates to see His Godly Husbands having to ever face disappointment. That’s why God told Hosea to hunt down and kill his wife Gomer with his bare hands, “lest ye be chumpatized in my sight”.

    That’s why Christ gave the Pharisees such a liberal license on marriage sanctity. They were divorcing non-stop, for reasons as simple as “Oy! My wife keeps burning the bagels….” or “She had three kids and her butt got so big the dog howls at it at night”. So, like the GoodDads many of them were, they wanted his endorsement of the Mosaic “Kick Her To The Curb” tradition.

    What was it Christ said again? “I tell you that any man who divorces his wife and marries another, except for reasooms of adultery, has committed adultery himself.”

    Oh well, what did Christ know anyway? He never had to deal with the kind of crap these sinful, fallen women come up with. Not once. His bride was without blemish or sin. She never failed Him once- let alone trillions of times over thousands of years. Why, I’m not even sure why He had to die in the first place, given that she’d proven herself spotless and without blemish from the start.

    (Isn’t that what you’re saying?)

    As I said before, I do not believe or endorse the notion that Christian wives should ignore the critical importance and holy joy that is to be found in frequent, spirited sexual union with their faithful husbands. Those women are sinning against God, and their husbands, and they need to get right with God, lest they unwittingly discourage their spouses, and leave them vulnerable to temptations. Like adultery, pornography, resentment, bitterness, and divorce.

    They will give account to God for their stewardship of a faithful husband– and many, though forgiven, will be forced to acknowledge their failures of that opportunity to truly delight, encourage, and know their husbands deeply.

    Yet so too will proud, entitled Christian Husbands. Men who divorced their wives for reasons other than adultery. Like “she didn’t put out enough, God!” Or “she got old and fat, and then this hot young chick threw herself at me. She VALUED AND UNDERSTOOD ME, GOD– and my fat wife took me for granted!”

    When that happens, I kinda doubt God will just wink and give the fist bump of Brohood and say, “Well, I usually hate divorce– buuuuut– it’s cool, Bro.”

    If He does, then brace yourself. Because I suspect you might find him delivering on His promise to judge you as you judged others– and I’m guessing He’ll find a blemish or two that makes you unfit to a member of his Church Bride…

  7. landschooner says:

    @Doubting Thomas,

    I believe that for total long term refusal, divorce is warranted, but that is debatable biblically. I consider it abandonment, though I admit divorce in that case is only really mentioned for a non believing spouse. However, unless I missed it in your posts, you fail to mention that part of the way Christ loved the church is discipline. (Rev2 Ephesus and Rev 3 Laodicea) Matthew 18 certainly applies in severe refusal cases as well. Christ does NOT tolerate all misconduct and neither is a husband called to.

    No divorce for refusal. Fine. But to be consistent. If there is no divorce for refusal, then there is also no divorce for physical abuse or criminal activity or anything else severe like that. (Not saying that you said there was)

    For complete long term unrepentant refusal, my opinion is that a spouse is not bound, but I could be wrong about that. Is a spouse bound if their husband or wife leaves and never returns? They are bound forever to a spouse that left for 30 years because that spouse happens to be a christian? Maybe they are. But I wouldn’t argue with someone who divorced under those circumstances. I know a man whose wife has totally refused him for over 20 years. He is remaining married. I think he should divorce. I do. But I could be wrong about that. I have no doubt whatsoever that while perhaps not the SAME as adultery, and therefore perhaps not divorce-able, that refusal can be just as damaging as adultery. Its a marriage destroyer.

    I dont argue this way for most cases of refusal that I’ve heard of (and experienced myself) Most don’t rise to such a level of severity though they are still marriage destroyers and the victims are worthy of compassion.

    LS

  8. flipside says:

    What about the other side of the issue?How about the husband who does not take care of the wife sexually? I haven’t been given sex or any equivalent intimacy for well over a year and probably closer to two years. I have begged for some counseling… Medical research…..anything. But although he claims to want to find a reason why he doesn’t want or can’t have sex…so far nothing.

  9. Sexual Attraction MIA says:

    In the case where the husband has let himself go physically, yet continues to make failed attempts at “getting it together” (for example, the few thousand dollar treadmill that he purchased but uses sporadically), how can a wife address that? And address it delicately, without being offensive. I recall having a conversation early on about maintaining our best selves physically, which was reasonable at the time because we were both FIT, but now I’m worried about how to we get back to that place. I’m hoping it gets better before it gets worse. How can I help?

  10. JulieSibert says:

    @Sexual Attraction MIA… One suggestion may be that you talk to your spouse about the two of you working out together. Express that you really want both of you to have a long and healthy life and to be able to enjoy life. Maybe if you express it as something you can help each other with, you can have a shared goal, etc.

    Also, as far as activities, don’t limit them to traditional exercise (treadmill, etc.) Suggest going for walks or other activities in your area where you get out and move about.

    Also try to incorporate healthier eating. I know that one thing I started doing was serving fruit at every meal as a side dish.

  11. david says:

    I am married to a refuser! The refusal started within 3 weeks of our marriage. I have been married almost 29 years. We were seeking conseling but she has given up on it. I am at a loss! So many wasted years!

  12. christy says:

    My husband and I haven’t had sex in close to 4 months. He doesn’t respect my boundaries and belittles me when I can do something he wants. He is also controlling and has been emotionally abusive as of late. I don’t know if”us” will last.

  13. JulieSibert says:

    @christy… I am sad to hear about how your husband treats you. Abuse is not okay, and I encourage you to find safe mature Christian woman (possibly at your church) or safe people at a local women’s organization (some cities have these) to seek insight on how to navigate this. I know emotional abuse is often harder to categorize than physical abuse, but emotional abuse is still very damaging and mature safe women may have suggestions that you haven’t considered.

  14. Thomas says:

    I really have to thank “Doubting Thomas.” If it wasn’t for these estrogen washed shells of men dispensing condescending rhetoric I might have stayed in my misery of a marriage.
    As it turns out, attacking an honest desire for healthy relationship is not just a tool for narcissistic wives (mine was diagnosed by a Christian counselor,) it is also the tool of self righteous bloggers on this thread. Doubting Thomas, your advice was worth exactly what we paid for it.
    Gentlemen, there is a future where you serve God alongside a positive and sexually compatible mate. Comparing a spouse with cancer to a women who chooses to be a selfish wretch is like comparing Adolf Hitler to Mother Theresa. Wake up, grow up, man up.

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