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.
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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