Often I hear from people who are in sexless marriages.
I’m not talking about a lack of sex because of injury or illness or physical separation because of military deployment or long-term work commitments.
I’m talking about marriages where sex could be happening, but one spouse has arbitrarily taken sex out of the equation.
Scratched it from the menu. Nada. Zilch.
Nothing even resembling sexual intimacy is happening and hasn’t been happening for possibly years. AND the spouse throwing up all the roadblocks is also refusing to address the struggle.
Faced with this scenario, the spouse who desires sexual intimacy may wonder if they should leave. That pondering is what compelled me to write the post Sexless Marriage? 10 Questions to Ask Before You Leave.
But what if you decide to stay?
I’m going to share 3 ways to cope, and I am hoping other readers in this situation will chime in as well in the comment section.
3 Ways to Cope in a Sexless Marriage
1. Lean on God.
THIS sounds so cliche, I know. And maybe the last thing you want to hear is to draw near to God, especially if you have been begging and pleading with Him to stir change in the heart of your sexually refusing spouse.
But no one more than God understands the depth of your pain and heartache. No one. Yes, friends can offer empathy and sympathy, but even your closest friends cannot comprehend your pain the way God can.
I’m not being naive, but rather am trying to speak into your discouragement. When we dig into God’s Word and draw close to Him in prayer, we find He is safe haven. He does long to sustain us when we are at our deepest points of loss, anger, discouragement and confusion.
I know this not only from personal experience when I have experienced pain in my life, but also from studying His Word. Compassion is His gig. His calling card. His wheelhouse.
There is so much raw transparency in the below Abraham Lincoln quote, it’s astonishing how much it drips with truth:
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go.”
So. You can resist Him, ignore Him or banish Him to the outskirts of your heartache. But He will still pursue you and long for you. He loves you that much and cares that deeply about what most traumatizes you and grieves you.
2. Exercise and/or Develop a Hobby
Not too excited about lifting weights or running or doing some kind of cardiovascular exercise program? Good news! You don’t have to be a cross fit expert or a regular gym attender or an Amerian Ninja Warrior.
You can simply get out and walk or hike more often. Or take up swimming at the local YMCA. Or reacquaint yourself with a sport you liked when you were younger, like tennis or golf.
Same goes for hobbies. There is a subculture for everything, I’m convinced. Want to get into model trains. There’s a club for that. Want to learn chess. There’s a club for that. Want to start knitting or flying model airplanes or painting or cooking gourmet meals. There’s a club for that.
Sometimes when we exercise and/or immerse ourselves in a hobby, we find less energy or time to ruminate about our unmet sexual needs and desires.
A great way to cope with our own pain is by shifting our focus to how we can help someone else. Within every community are opportunities to get involved.
Volunteering can mean anything from hands-on helping (doing repairs, serving food, building homes, delivering items for a charity, cleaning) to offering your giftedness with things like administration, accounting, mentoring, coaching, or teaching a Bible study.
What usually works best is to find a couple volunteer activities to do with other people. Not only is this a way to build camaraderie with other generous folk, but it also broadens your perspective by hearing other people’s life experiences and stories.
What about masturbation?
By this point in the post, some of you may be surprised I did not mention masturbation as a way to cope. Only you can decide if masturbation is helpful in your particular circumstances. I’ve written about masturbation before and I personally don’t think it has to always be off limits.
But in a sexless marriage, I doubt it is effective as a sole way to cope. If anything, I wonder if it would breed more resentment and discouragement about the lack of oneness with your spouse.
Also, some people (particularly men) find it difficult or impossible to masturbate without the use of pornography or fantasizing about someone other than their spouse. So those are red flags that the masturbation is wrapped up in sinful activity that is damaging short-term and long-term.
For as simple as the act of masturbation is, it can be entangled with emotional and spiritual sensitivities and confusion. This dynamic may be most prevalent in a sexless marriage where masturbation is being used as a coping mechanism. You have to use discernment, press into God’s Word and heart and determine if masturbation is going to help or hurt your circumstances.
Even if you decide masturbation is helpful in your sexless marriage, I wouldn’t rule out incorporating the above coping strategies as well. You may find if you spend more time on those, your desires for masturbation subside.
What other coping strategies would you offer?
If you have ideas, please share them in the comment section. I do moderate my comments because of the amount of spam I get, so be patient if your comment doesn’t appear immediately.
Copyright 2018, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.