Sexually Speaking, Is Your Marriage a Fraud?

This is such a painful question.

I know.

Lately I have been particularly undone by the emails I’ve been getting.  The ones wrought with despondency and frustration and confusion and “I’m ready to give up.”

As a Christian wife who speaks about sex, I figuratively glimpse into a lot of bedrooms.

Do you know what I see?  I see many marriages where two people proclaim deep love for the Lord, yet have missed the mark on His design for sexual intimacy in their marriage.

And yes, I know there are sometimes complex reasons behind missing the mark, many of which I have unpacked on this blog in great detail.

A common thread, though, when sex is a struggle in a Christian marriage is that one or both spouses have chosen to be blind to their sin that is sabotaging sex.

The sins we hear about most, of course, are pornography and adultery.  The church is more than willing to look at those and build ministries around overcoming them.

But what about sexual refusal and sexual indifference?

What about when two people have faithfully held their vows of fidelity, but one spouse has arbitrarily removed sex from the marriage?

The reasons?  Well, there aren’t too many I haven’t heard (at least I don’t think there are).

Too exhausted.

Too uninterested.

Too unwilling to see sex as God sees it.

Too much miscommunication.

Too much belief in the enemy’s lies — that sex in marriage is gross, boring, only duty, only for procreation, only for the guy, optional.

Too much inhibitedness.

Too stressed.

Too many emotional wounds.

Sexually speaking, is your marriage a fraud?

I think back to my first marriage and the struggles we had sexually.  Should have, could have, and would have mean little when staring at divorce papers.

And oh how I understand now what I missed then.  Sex wasn’t our only struggle, but it was a big one — and those struggles were impacting our marriage in ways that I downplayed or overlooked or convinced myself we would figure out “someday.”

Surprisingly — or not surprisingly, depending on how you look at it — the dense fog of such deep pain after my divorce helped me see more clearly about sex.

I resolved that if I ever married again, I wouldn’t have a marriage shackled with sexual fraud.  I’ve never regretted such resolve.  Neither has my current husband.

And though we occasionally navigate difficulties in our sexual intimacy, we are living proof that sex in a marriage can be profound, sacred and wildly fun.

Some of you could heal the fraud that is plaguing your marriage sexually — really, you could.  You don’t have to wait for your marriage to completely unravel.

Do you have hope — maybe even tenacity and humility — to create a healthier reality for your marriage? I ponder such hopes for so many marriages.

Sexually speaking, is your marriage a fraud?

Whether that question pierces you, angers you, inspires you or confuses you, my heart is always to be a shedder of light.

Partly because I really like sex. And I want others to experience that kind of intense pleasure and connection and revelation of God’s heart in their marriage.

But mostly because I believe God is a redemptive God, eager to make things new.

We have to be willing to walk in His direction, though. Sexual restoration can replace sexual fraud in more situations than I think we realize.

Sexually speaking, if anything is going to define your marriage, let it be restoration.  Not fraud.

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.

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19 thoughts on “Sexually Speaking, Is Your Marriage a Fraud?

  1. David Justin Bibby says:

    Julie,
    I’d suspect there is a lot more fraud marriages out there that most people think there is. Most people don’t walk to talk about it so thank you for bringing it out to the forefront. When one spouse is telling the other “I’m too tired” “Sex isn’t important to me” “It’s gross”, etc. they are lying to their spouse… because to tell the truth might mean an end to the marriage! The truth is… what they really mean is “I’m not attracted to you anymore. Your behavior is turning me OFF instead of ON and I don’t want to have a confrontation about it so I’m going to give you an excuse you can’t argue with.”

    I believe that what’s really going on here is a lack of spiritual leadership from the husband. If he’s not leading, if he’s not giving his wife what she needs emotionally, then he shouldn’t be expecting fireworks in the bedroom. Be he DOES expect it, and gets angry when his wife offers excuse after excuse.

    Men I talk with feel like they’re victims of a “bait and switch”… with his wife being very sexual before marriage, and then having the faucet shut off 1-2 years after. I tell these men that they also shut off what they used to be giving as well… things like affection, dating, keeping themselves in shape, etc. It’s not all the other spouse’s responsibility here. Both spouses have a part to play in this fraud situation. It takes leadership, prayer, hard work and understanding to turn this situation around… but it can be done!

  2. John says:

    Yes. Complete and utter fraud. My wife portrays a loving, devoted, spiritual wife at church, but at home she hasn’t even touched me in 16 months. Sex 8 times in the last 3 years – and that is boring, plain, one-sided (me giving, her not). I used to try. I compromised for less, than even more less, and even more less. After our last “argument” – meaning I sit there and take being called a pervert for even suggesting that perhaps it wasn’t out of the ordinary for us to have sex once a week – I’ve given up. I won’t ask again. I won’t humiliate my self again. And there are consequences for this: I will no longer serve with her in church (we did sunday school, awana, summer programs together). Date nights, which used to be frequent – now far less. If she wants me help at home so she can go out with her friends – nope. I don’t see us lasting another 5 years.

    Our church celebrates marriages that last 25 and 50 years by having the couple come up on sunday morning service for flowers and whatnot. Our 25th is coming up in 2 years. I swear, if nothing changes between now and then, only over my own dead body will I be going up on that platform with her. And I’ll tell anyone who asks why: because for 25 years, our sex life has been an utter fraud, and she’s the reason for it, and I’ll be damned if I get up in front of thousands of people and celebrate it.

  3. marie says:

    David,I have begged my husband to pray with me and have told him I need him to be the spiritual leader.Your post really opened my eyes as I thought my refusing him was all my fault.I just realized this may be the key to our situation.Thank you for posting.

  4. Anonymous says:

    My husband was emotionally abused by his father. It obviously changes and affects a person. He is depressed, but won’t see a therapist or doctor. He struggles with so much mentally, and often explodes in anger and says hurtful words. I’d checked out of our marriage emotionally years ago. He’s trying to change, but I’m having a hard time being willing to be vulnerable. We have sex a lot more now, and while I sometimes enjoy it too, I find no emotional connection to him through sex. It’s almost like just another thing I do to try and help make him feel loved, to stabilize him and give him hope.
    Your above mentioned excuse of “Too many emotional wounds”, is not just a fluffy stupid reason. Being repeatedly emotionally hurt by your spouse for years does make sex difficult. Having sex often makes me feel used.

  5. David Justin Bibby says:

    Wow John,
    I can feel the anger coming trough in your writing, and I completely understand it! One of my best friends, who is now divorced, found himself in the same situation and possibly worse. Over a period of 10 years his wife distanced herself from him more and more, their intimacy declined to about once a quarter. She insulted him, belittled him, his position in the household became less than that of the family dog. Seriously… the dog was treated better that he was. But it gets worse. Being “nice” to her didn’t work… and confronting her didn’t work either because, like you, she’d call him a pervert for wanting what is actually “reasonable”. Sex 1-2 times a week is reasonable… even 3-4 times a weeks is reasonable. What is UNreasonable is her withholding sex for extended periods of time, and it’s UNreasonable for her to just “give her body” without being present int the moment. But it get’s even worse. My friend discovered that his wife wasn’t the non-sexual person he thought… because he caught her with another man in HIS BED! No remorse either… she justified and defended her cheating behavior and blamed it on him and he believed her! He even forgave her… but it made no difference. She didn’t change, and after another two years and another cheating incident.. she filed for divorce and took the kids too. He see’s his kids one weekend a month now and some holidays.

    This guy, my friend, is a decent guy, not ugly, and is well respected by coworkers and he’s nice to everyone. I don’t understand why he never stood up for himself or his values, or insisted that the problems in their marriage be addressed… but in the end it didn’t matter, all that suffering and for what?

    I won’t say that it’s too late for you John. Because it’s never too late to turn things around. But it isn’t going to happen all by itself. You can pray that God will change your wife’s heart and raise awareness in her that what she is doing is wrong. But waiting around for that to happen is NOT going to do it. You are a person who has value, and you HAVE values. Your wife has crossed over those values so much you don’t have the energy to try again. But if you don’t… you’re only going to get more of the same. It’s going to take time, money, and effort on your part to decide that you are going to take charge and lead yourself AND your wife out of this mess. If you leave her to do the leading… you’ll only get more of the same. Granted, I don’t fully know all of your situation, but I’ve seen it enough times to know that if a man becomes a strong leader for the family… he generally has no issues in the intimacy department. A woman wants a man she can look UP to… and she will be repulsed by a man she looks DOWN to.

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  7. e2 says:

    @David wrote: “I believe that what’s really going on here is a lack of spiritual leadership from the husband.”

    That’s a mighty broad brush you’re painting with there, David. I’m sure there are many marriages in which that is the case, but it’s dangerous to state as if that is a universal truth. My wife has repeatedly reassured me that she loves me, is attracted to me and appreciates my spirituality. Yet, she just has little interest in sex or most forms of physical affection. She says she just doesn’t like being touched. I respect that while at the same time expressing my sexual desire for her. We’re both working on our respective parts in the marriage. What we’ve both learned is to not buy into the fiction that, “if I only do my part, then s/he will suddenly fall in love again and give me what I want.” I am learning to simply do my part, without any promise of anything in return.

  8. e2 says:

    @Marie said, “…as I thought my refusing him was all my fault.”

    Could I suggest that, instead of thinking of “fault” we think in terms of “responsibility”? Each spouse in a marriage is responsible to meet the needs of the other. We retain that responsibility even when our own needs are not being met. Yes, my ability to meet my wife’s needs is much easier if she is meeting mine, but even if she isn’t, I must still seek God’s help to love her as Christ loves the church. And, she remains responsible to do her part. If I refuse my wife (whether sex, or romance, or financial support, whatever) because I don’t feel loved at the moment, then I’m not meeting my responsibility. She may not be meeting hers either, but I can’t blame her for my choices. The only person I can change is me.

  9. e2 says:

    @Anonymous said, “Your above mentioned excuse of “Too many emotional wounds”, is not just a fluffy stupid reason. Being repeatedly emotionally hurt by your spouse for years does make sex difficult.”

    I don’t think Julie’s point was was to give a list of “fluffy stupid reasons” for withholding sex. Every one of the reasons on her list has validity to it. What I hear in Julie’s post is that, no matter how legitimate the reason, we must deal with it and if we don’t, on some level, we’re letting our marriage be a fraud. I hear Julie tell us again and again that God designed sex for marriage and it is his will that married couples engage in mutually satisfying and enjoyable sex. Instead of just explaining why sex isn’t happening, let’s all put in a concerted effort to deal with the issues, whatever they may be.

    As to feeling used, I can relate in a weird way. My wife loves to “help” me drive a car. It makes her feel needed and useful in our marriage. For years, I complained that I felt belittled and disrespected because she felt she couldn’t trust me to drive safely. But, then I listened to her and decided that she is expressing love in her own way, by offering help. I decided to try to hear that love rather than letting myself feel bossed around. In the same way, when a man makes love to his wife, he is (generally speaking) not just using her for his pleasure, but is also trying to give pleasure to her. We are screaming “I love you” in the clearest way we know how.

  10. HopefullyHelpful says:

    @e2: I had the same car problems. Until I helped my bride get her license and she started driving. Now, when I drive, I almost never hear anything from her.
    And so, how true, your words. We have to do our part regardless of any return or lack of it, and we definitely can’t expect to get back anything more than we put in. So one has to do their part if they even want the hope of a return.

  11. Anonymous 2 says:

    Guys, do your wives have pain with intercourse? Do they have pleasure? Julie mentions that there are women who have these problems and I, frankly, think the percentage is higher than anyone realizes. There just aren’t enough resources to help women figure out what’s wrong. A wife can love her husband dearly and want to make love with him often, but the body doesn’t cooperate. If she’s doing it just for him and not getting aroused, that’s fraud, too. I know many women go ahead, for the husband’s sake. But I think men need to be more aware that for many women, sex is not pleasant. Even though they don’t want it to be that way, it’s a chore like washing dishes or vacuuming. Or it may even be more like stubbing your toe or hitting your head on something. They may feel pain for days afterwards. Please think about that. Find out from your wife if this is how it is for her. Even once a quarter may be a true gift from her. I would love to see a blog that encourages wives for whom intercourse is painful or not pleasant.

  12. Rico says:

    If that is the case, Anonymous 2, the wife needs to seek medical attention. Pain during intercourse is not normal. Suffering in silence only serves to drive the wedge deeper between husband and wife.

  13. HopefullyHelpful says:

    @Anonymous: Look up “vaginismus” for a common problem. And as Rico mentions, medical attention might be required.
    The issue of sexual intimacy is not about intercourse only. Even when that is not possible, there are still other avenues. The issue is to do one’s best to provide the intimacy required for a marriage to be viable. Issues like pain and such need to be addressed. Failure to do so and then fall back on that reason is somewhat invalid, and frankly, might just be an excuse to cover up deeper issues.
    I doubt any (truly) loving Christian husband will be anything less than supportive with medical/psychological issues. Part of that better/worse, sickness/health deal we signed up for. But these issues cannot be neglected by those who have them. That is being negligent with their family and their marriage.

  14. will says:

    Please use my body, yeah yeah! I’m your husband. Please stop bringing up resentments out of context, while you are guilty of more hurtful actions yourself, or feeling victimized for getting called out on your nasty behavior. Get jobs ladies. Men, role play for your women if need be. Men, we need to be 100 times fitter, stronger than women. Dont be out of shape in the least. Exercise at least 40 minutes a day before you shower every day. Biologically, women can be soft. If you ate fast food even yesterday, no sex for you today. How is she going to find you manly if you have soft breasts and a belly with no definition like a woman. How is she going to feel like a woman if you aren’t as strong as you are capable of becoming, walking around on your day off whining and begging for a kiss. It is unfair that we men have to work so much harder and that we will likely die years before our wives, but the sight of her passionately submitting for a few minutes is worth the back breaking work we do for hours and hours while she can just order pizza and turn on the tv for the kids.
    IF you want sex, do not watch tv, eat pizza or any crap- eat plain vegetables and plain tasteless cuts of lean meat and fish, sleep 9 hours a night, do not do pointless chores, just master your own body for several months untill you make her swoon with your command.
    Now, if she is damaged by previous sex partners, mentally unwell, has any latent gay tendencies, you may just be stuck because sexuality is delicate and takes work to repair and many women are lazy and will not make an effort. Staying home with kids who are already in school is unbelievably easy, I did it while I was a teacher. If you have electricity at home, a car, and even a couple of dollars a day, homemaking for a few hours after school is a piece of cake. Just pitch in with the kids when you are not working. Stop complaining. Be super Dad. And grab your wife whenever you feel like it. A healthy heterosexual woman will love it.

  15. J.Z. Howard says:

    The notion of choosing, of arbitrarily removing sex from the marriage is all too common, and it does amount to fraud.

    Didn’t both spouses take vows to put the other person’s needs—their life mate’s—first? Withholding sex AND communication does indeed shackle the spouse who is willing … and waiting … and waiting… and eventually wondering whether to stay or leave. The list of reasons Julie cites is extensive, but seems more of a list of symptoms than causes. What CAUSES a spouse to disobey God and biblical counsel that affirms “sex in marriage can be profound, sacred and wildly fun”?

    Ask that person. Only they know. And their lips remain sealed. Stalemate.

    The list of “reasons” contain excuse after excuse, depending on each individual, and that assumes the person has enough insight to know themselves honestly and is not self-delusional. There’s a tool I use in my counseling work called the “Johari Window.” I’ve seen it help pry loose the tight-lipped refuser’s silence (an entrenched position that s/he is heavily invested in), and lead to two-way productive dialogue. Simply put, one of its axioms says, “In a two-way relationship, the person who discloses the least (who stays silent on important issues) controls the relationship.” Think about it. In my view, that kind of control is based in fear—the kind of fear that controls the controller. That leaves the other spouse guessing, powerless and chronically shut out.

    Restoration? It can’t start until both parties are talking frankly, and are genuinely seeking the same healthy, God-honoring goals. How can both parties cooperate when one member is crippled by control that s/he mistakenly believes is protective rather than destructive?

  16. Joan says:

    Anonymous 2 struck a chord with me. After several years of marriage with good sexual intimacy, I started going through menopause. My sex drive took a dive….yes I can be sexual and still am, on a routine basis, but it takes a lot of mental effort because with the menopause, sex has become painful. I can’t seem to ever become aroused, and I can no longer orgasm. Even sexual touch has become unpleasant. So, sex is no longer profound, sacred, and wildly fun for me anymore.
    What once came so easy, is now very difficult. This all began in my 40’s!

    My Gyn tells me these symptoms are very common among peri/menopausal women and can start in the 3rd decade of life.
    She says that up to 60% of menpausal women complain of these symptoms.

    Often women don’t realize what is happening. They don’t understand why they are no longer in the mood. They just feel inadequate and are confused and too scared to tell their husbands they don’t feel like having sex with them or that having sex hurts, or worse yet, you no longer enjoy their touch. Who wants to bring up that conversation? It’s easier to come up with an excuse and avoid the pain.

    I have tried all types of things from hormones, to counseling, to herbs and pelvic exercises and have been working on this for years. I still have pain and have to force myself to endure being touched. When we have sex, it is for him only and when it becomes a one-way-street, over time it does become a chore. Sad, but true.

    From reading several menopause blogs, it seems Many husband’s feel that these symptoms are not real but only excuses. Nothing could be further from the truth. Thankfully I have a very understanding husband and we work very hard to make things more pleasant for me but how disappointing it must be for him to have a wife who no longer enjoys being sexually touched.

    I only mention this because it never seems to be addressed in any of the “she never wants sex”, “she always has an excuse” blogs. I wish it was mentioned more often. Men need to know there might be a physical reason their wives aren’t too interested and are ashamed to say anything for fear of letting their husbands down. Excuses might be a cover up for not wanting sex because it’s painful or unpleasant and perhaps the husbands attitude keeps the wife from feeling she can confess her problems.

    I want people to know that sex isn’t always pleasant and wildly fun!
    From experience, I can tell you that the medical field doesn’t have all the answers. It’s not as easy as taking a pill and the pain goes away! It’s very complex and very common.

    It needs to become a topic that is talked about more. Only when women who are going through this know that they aren’t abnormal or a bad wife, will they be more willing to discuss it with their husbands and bravely seek the medical attention they need.

    Men often have a hard time talking to their wives about their impotence. This is nothing different, it’s just less obvious.

    I agree with anonymous 2, we need a blog for women who find sex painful and unpleasant. We need support from each other, as well as support for the husbands of such women. We need to know it’s ok to tell our husband’s it hurts when he touches us. It happens, it’s normal, we are NOT bad wives, we are not fraudulent. Our husbands need to know that we aren’t making excuses to not be sexual….they need to know what we feel is real and we need support on how to deal with it.

    Sexual restoration can take place but only if the problem is brought out in the open. That will only happen when women are made comfortable enough to talk about their pain and disinterest. They need to know it’s not fraudulent to tell their husbands that sex isn’t all that great right now. Only then can the problem be worked on.

  17. Christian Husband of 38 Yrs says:

    A couple of thoughts:

    First, it seems strange that some people fail to understand that “marriage” really does imply the marrying of two bodies together. The Bible does indeed state just this in Genesis 2. Of course, it is so much more than just that – but it IS that. I get the impression that some women especially get to the wedding not really understanding that this is what they are supposedly committing to – even in this day and age. I understand why parents and pastors might not want to fan flames when they are also wanting young people to remain chaste until marriage. However, we apparently do need to try harder to make sure that all of our young people clearly understand that marriage = a marrying of bodies (and vice versa!).

    Second, “intercourse” is an old word which originally was more of a synonym for “communications” than for sexual interaction. (That older meaning is still in the dictionary, but you don’t hear it used that way very often any more.) The point is, though, that sexual intimacy is just communication carried on by other means – and I do mean “carried on”. If a couple isn’t working on good communication (and it does take LOTS of work), then they probably are going to have problems with their communication carried on by other means in the bedroom.

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