Are You Sexually Lonely in Marriage?

It’s a hard question to unpack. Are you sexually lonely in marriage?

If you are reading this right now, I am guessing it may be because your spouse continues to assume your sexual desire is nothing more than a need for sexual release.

They don’t get that you hunger for closeness with them. They misinterpret your sexual intention at every turn.

That misinterpretation is dangerous ground, for sure.  If you’ve lived it, you know what I’m talking about. That misinterpretation tends to spiral downward into a broad and skewed generalization that you are selfish for wanting any physical affection.

Ouch.

If you’ve been rejected long enough, you maybe have given up trying all together, retreating into not only sexual loneliness, but also marital loneliness. And while you’ve been retreating, your spouse who’s doing the rejecting is silently rejoicing, grateful to no longer have to field your sexual initiation.

Couples in this scenario often settle into some sort of warped agreement to which the rejected spouse never really agreed, so to speak, but simply saw no other viable choice.

“Either I figure out how to go without sex with the person I love and married. Or I leave.  I don’t want to leave. So I’ll stay. But this isn’t what I envisioned our marriage would be. I’m lonely.”

I don’t need scientific studies to back all this up (although I’m sure the scientific studies would).

All I need to do is read the countless comments and emails I get from spouses who say that the sexual refusal is profoundly painful — not because of the lack of sexual release, but because of the close relational connection that mutually-valued sex would kindle in their marriage.

For the rejected spouse, sexual rejection is rarely about only sex. It is a rejection that stings across a person’s whole soul, right?

If your spouse rejects you sexually, you aren’t just thinking, “Am I desirable sexually?” You’re likely also thinking, “Does this person even like being married to me? Do they value me as a spouse beyond what I provide financially or around the house or as a parent to our kids?”

Are you sexually lonely in marriage?

If so, my heart grieves for what you are facing. It is not a light matter at all, because sexual intimacy is one of the essential ways God has set the covenant of marriage apart from all other relationships. God is thrilled when a husband and wife make love, so when one spouse purposely thwarts that aspect of a marriage, the sexually rejected spouse is left in quite a quandary.

You can’t ethically go get the need filled elsewhere. (And let’s be real — you don’t want to do that anyway. You want to have sex with the person you love).

I offer the below suggestions. (Spoiler alert. You possibly have already tried these, to no avail. I’m a realist, so I offer that disclaimer).

BUT for some of you, these ideas haven’t been on your radar.  Regardless of which camp you are in, I encourage you to keep reading.

1. Be direct about why you want sexual intimacy.

There are two approaches to being direct about what is happening because of the lack of sexual intimacy.  You could explain how you feel because of the lack of sex.  This would be using statements like…

I feel rejected.

Without sex, I feel our marriage isn’t all it could be.

I question if you really love me.

It hurts me deeply that you don’t want to touch me sexually.

It is not doing us any good to continue to ignore this sexual struggle.

OR a slight variation of this is to focus on the positive of why you want nurtured sexual intimacy.  This would be using statements like…

I love you and I believe sex would help us feel closer.

There is no one I want to make love to but you.

I feel better all the around about our relationship when we make love.

When we got married, one thing I looked forward to so much was being intimate with the person I love.

I desire to make you feel good, too. I want us to both enjoy sex.

I know we have it in us to figure out our struggle in this area.

We both love the Lord. I want to us to seek His Word and understand His heart regarding sex in our marriage.

There are a lot of great Christians resources out there on sex. Could we read one together?

OR you could use a combination of both of those approaches.

You could explain what the lack of sex is doing to you (that it isn’t just about a physical release) AND you could explain the many positive effects sex has on you and the relationship.

I know. I make it all sound so simple. I know it’s not.

But I also know there are so many instances where we won’t discover what is on the other side of hard conversations unless we courageously venture out and try.

If there is even a slight chance of breakthrough — of sexual healing in the relationship — isn’t it worth it? If you struggle with starting the conversation verbally, consider writing your spouse a card or letter. Share from your heart and emphasize that you want what you’ve written to be a springboard into a face-to-face conversation.

2. Enlist the aid of a professional Christian counselor.

Tell your spouse you are concerned about the toll the lack of sexual intimacy is taking on you and the marriage and you want both of you to see a counselor together.

If your spouse won’t go, then go on your own, not only to get the insights of a professional, but also to demonstrate to your spouse the depth of your seriousness on this issue of sexual intimacy.

Authentic sexual intimacy on a somewhat regular basis is a normal aspect of healthy marriage, and every marriage counselor out there would echo that sentiment. Counselors want to help marriages heal their struggles, including their sexual struggles.

If you think counseling may be too expensive, read my post 3 Ideas if You Can’t Afford Professional Marriage Counseling. Great creative ideas with potential to yield so many positive results for you and your marriage.

3. Pray for your marriage.

I’m not listing prayer last because I think it should be an after thought. It definitely should be something you do regularly. I listed it last because I thought if I listed it first, you may be quick to tune me out, thinking I am glossing over the depth of your pain with spiritual platitudes.

God calls us to be honest with Him about our deepest confusion, joys, bewilderments, crossroads, decisions and heartache. He does indeed see and know all, but His Word still tells us that He wants us to come to Him in prayer.

Sometimes that looks so messy, but He doesn’t care. He gets that you are heartbroken — maybe even angry and disillusioned — about your sexual loneliness.

Sometimes He intervenes by stirring our spouse’s heart and other times He points us to resources and scripture and still other times He simply grants us peace in the midst of the ongoing angst. How He responds is inherent to the mystery, but His desire that we cry out to Him is steadfast. He has wired us for connection with Him.

If you are sexually lonely in marriage, you are not alone. I hope my acknowledgement of your sexual loneliness brings you at least some comfort.

Your pain is not unwarranted. It’s part of the reason I wrote the post The Sexual Sin No One Will Talk About and How Long Can a Marriage Go Without Sex?

For more reading, don’t miss these posts:

5 Signs Your Husband May Be in a Sexual Desert
5 Signs a Wife is in a Sexual Desert
Are You All In When It Comes to Sex in Your Marriage?
Want Better Sex? ONE Thing You Must STOP First.
3 Tips on Making Sex Better in 2018

Copyright 2018, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.

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6 thoughts on “Are You Sexually Lonely in Marriage?

  1. Charles says:

    “Either I figure out how to go without sex with the person I love and married. Or I leave. I don’t want to leave. So I’ll stay. But this isn’t what I envisioned our marriage would be. I’m lonely.”

    Almost my exact thoughts. I have tried #1, she treated that approach as if it was my fault. #2 she went to one counseling session and wouldn’t go back. I have given up on #3 because in five years I have seen no change and I am out of ideas for ways to pray for this marriage. I’m nearly 61 and have not had sex equal to one time for one third of the number of the 38 years we have been married. Unless God intervenes and changes her heart it will be this way till my death.

  2. Rachel says:

    Charles, I am in tears. I am so sorry for the pain you have endured. All I can say is I used to be your wife. I get why she is that way. And I also get how much pain you are in. However, I did not recognize that until later. I never once recognized how much my hubby was hurting. All that mattered was how I felt. And I did not want sex. Every time I read lists on what to do, I get sad cause I know they don’t seem to help. Cause my spouse did them all. But one thing I will say. PRAYER must be a part of your every day. Never give up. And never lose hope. God is not holding out on you. I promise.

    The thing that changed for me was not one big thing but many little things. Most of them made me angry at first. But they were the things I needed to hear. Things like start reading books on female sexuality. Start thinking about sex. Change your thoughts on sex from dirty to beautiful. Stop seeing sex as just something to do but something to be enjoyed. These were hard lessons. Lessons I did not want to learn. I would cry out to God why do I need to like sex? As I heard these words that I didn’t want to hear, I began to see the light. It was not magical. It was not over night.

    Then one day, after my hubby and I listened to a podcast on male sexual anatomy, my hubby shared some deep thoughts, feelings, and insecurities he had about his sexuality. I had no idea. Here I thought all along all he wanted was sex, all he thought about was sex, he didn’t really want me except when he wanted sex (oh and by the way, these were all not true). I had never once thought he had issues. But for me, I wanted to connect with my spouse intimately without sex and here is exactly what was happening. He was exposing himself to me in a way like never before. And the result, was I wanted to have sex with him. AND I wanted to change. That conversation allowed for more exchanges between us about past relationships and fears about our own sexuality which in turn opened the doors for healing. I did not change over night. It was a hard road for me. But now it wasn’t about just the sex. It was now about sex AND intimacy. Old ways tried to sneak in. And I had to resist big time. But together my hubby and I read, read and read some more about sex. We talked. Sometimes cried. Okay just kidding. I cried often. Actually it was more like weeping. Weeping over lost time and the incredible pain he had to endure for over 20 years of our married life.

    Maybe there is something your wife needs from you that you don’t even know yet. And I know there is something that you need from your wife that you don’t even know yet. I pray that the two of you will discover those things together. I believe in miracles. I am one!

  3. Robert says:

    EXACTLY. I have been there. Six years ago our marriage was teetering on the brink of disaster as a result of this issue.

    I have been in exactly this situation – where I prayed – hard – to just lose my sex drive. I could not stand the lack of sexual intimacy, the lack of affectionate touch. It was slowly poisoning our marriage.

    Once you start spiraling downward, it becomes hard to climb back out. When I had been rejected too often for too long, I began to weigh whether the slim chance of a “yes” to a suggestion of lovemaking was even worth the pain of the nearly certain rejection. Thus, I stopped even asking until I was desperately lonely and empty inside. That only made each rejection that much more painful. It was a lousy way to deal with the problem.

    Then one day things changed. I don’t know what happened, but something dramatically changed and we have been much better since then. I still struggle with these feelings at times, but have regained trust that my spouse will – at least occasionally – be willing to joyfully share sexual intimacy with me.

    But when you are living this, it is just soul crushing.

    You desperately want to be intimate with the woman you love best in all the world. Being rejected constantly is just deadening. Absolutely awful. There are lots of ways she rejected me, and all of them just awful. I suggest we be intimate and she just looks blankly at me and says nothing. Or., says she’s “too tired” but then stays up until 3am. Or says “maybe later” when experience had clearly taught that was nothing more than a transparent brush off. Or, I ask about about making love and she reacts with annoyance or anger.

    But the worst, absolute worst – she said “yes” when what she really meant was “don’t touch me, go away and leave me alone.” That happened only three times. The first time, I wasn’t smart enough to understand until afterwards and then I begged her never to do that again. The second and third times, I figured it out beforehand, and told her – “No, let’s not. I don’t think you really want to do this.” She agreed that she really did not want to.

    Our entire marriage, we have struggled to find a happy ground on how often to make love. But the worst patch in our marriage, was 10X worse than what came before or after.

    I never quite got to the point of thinking about divorce. But, I was close to thinking about that when things turned around.

    I recognize that my need for physical intimacy and sexual intimacy works differently and runs at a different pace than hers. So that this part of our marriage has always been a tough point and will always be. But, today we are mostly doing OK.

  4. Dwight Hasbrouck says:

    Beyond Wow! I add myself to the list of those who posted comments. Married and alone sucks. Never imagined that my wife would reject me and us.I will be praying for all who posted their comments. 1Corinthians 7:1-11 is what I am hanging on to.
    Dwight

  5. Anonymous says:

    My wife and I rarely have sex (2-4 times per year) but neither of us have a problem with that. When I read blogs like this I feel like we are aberrant as so many others seem to feel truly hurt by lack of sex. I would love to hear from others out there who are in the same boat but feel good about it (ie not abandoned or rejected etc). I guess these kinds of blogs by their very nature don’t attract satisfied sexless readers. Anyway…I’d love to hear from anyone out there!

  6. Patrice says:

    I’ve been married for 7 yrs and I have had numerous health issues, gained weight, and loss my eye sight. However, I want to have initimacy with my man. I get so turned on with just the sound of his voice and I think he gets so turned off with the mention of my name. I’m so lonely.
    I have dreams of him but I don’t think he even knows I’m in the bed next to him. He plays he games every day and night even after a 12 hour work shift and if I say anything or touch him in places as a hint he rejects me. OMG! What do I do I need intimacy too. I’ve considered leaving, cheating, and moving into separate rooms. I’ve played sexually explicit music and even wrote poems but nothing. If we are intimate which is maybe once a month it’s all about satisfying him.
    I lay there and it’s like c’mon man. Are you serious!!! What about me and what I need. Gosh just a kiss, touch, and a little attention.
    Now that I’m legally blind and feeling lonely and detached from the whole world I’m detached from the man that promised to love me in sickness and health. Is it wrong to crave kisses, touching, and pleasure? I want so much but I know I will get nothing. I feel lost. I watch movies and I’m like wow that looks and sounds like it would be amazing and then I look next to me and it’s like please baby please
    How many ways do you tell someone you’re ruining this? How many ways do you say I need you to make me feel alive? How many times do you deal with the rejection nicely and not get pissed when they purposely put you on the maybe later list? How do cope with begging them to please be with you before they close their eyes and not feel like your world is empty and your words mean nothing. Geez I’m just so like how many more years do I endure this? It’s been 4 freaking years and I just miss the touch and kiss of a man especially my “husband”!

    Patrice

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