Sex Isn’t Everything in Marriage. BUT…

Whenever I receive pushback from someone about the need to nurture sexual intimacy in marriage, one of the most common responses I hear is, “Sex isn’t everything in marriage.”

“I could not agree more,” I usually say. “BUT it is indeed something, right? I mean, sex is something… something that can’t completely be taken off the table or treated so haphazardly, right?”

Insert defensive gibberish here, because that’s usually what I get in return from the person. They are on their heels in full defensive mode, going to great lengths to shore up their “sex isn’t everything in marriage” argument.

To which I usually take a broken record approach. “Yeah. I agree with you. It’s not everything. But it’s something, right? It is one of the few things that sets marriage apart in God’s eyes, right?”

More defensives stares. More gibberish. More indignant frustration.

The look on their face says it all. “How could she have the audacity to challenge me on this?” Usually they change the subject.

If you have laid claim to the “sex isn’t everything in marriage” stance, let’s at least start by celebrating our agreement on that fact. I am married, after all.  I know full well sex isn’t everything.

Marriage also is crammed with pa-lenty of haggling over finances, laundry, lost homework, ignored homework, car repairs, family commitments, “what’s for dinner,” muddy dogs, frozen water pipes, work demands and tedious monotny.

AND let’s not forget to give props to all the joys and firsts and laughter and triumphs and tender everyday moments as well.

I get it. I really do.

Sex isn’t everything in marriage.

Where this becomes a dangerous slippery slope, though, is when “sex isn’t everything in marriage” drifts into “sex is nothing in our marriage.”

Nothing to pursue. Nothing to make time for. Nothing sacred. Nothing to mutually value and enjoy.

What God designed as a non-negotiable becomes heavily negotiated.  The occasional “not tonight” becomes the regular “Not tomorrow night either. Or the night after that.”  

What is your normal? Is it nurtured sexual intimacy or is that the exception? Sit with that question a moment. I offer it as a kind nudge, although I recognize you may hear it as an all-out assault on your status quo.

“You don’t know my marriage, Julie.”

True that, sister. I don’t. BUT I do know that whenever I have heard “sex isn’t everything in marriage,” it has come from the lips of someone eager to justify not only their lack of interest in sex, but also their unwillingness to admit there may be sexual struggles.

And here’s the kicker. Rarely do I hear both people in a marriage saying it.

“Sex isn’t everything in marriage” is easier to say than humbly admitting your spouse doesn’t feel the same way.  If your husband has made it clear that sex is something missing, then the curb appeal of “sex isn’t everything” declines dramatically.

And just to be fair, I know that it is not always the wife who is not nurturing sex. I hear from women who feel painfully neglected sexually by their husbands.  Feeling sexually lonely in a marriage is an equal-opportunity heartache.

I just happen to hear more from husbands. I think they think that because I am a wife who loves sex, I must have some secret to getting their wives to share that sentiment.

Sadly, I have no secret, but I do know that any kind of healthy improvement begins by recognizing something needs to change and taking incremental action in that direction.  If you’re going to start an exercise routine, you have to at least lace up your shoes, right?

So if you are in a marriage where sexual indifference has been a thread running through your days and weeks and months, then it’s probably not realistic to think you’re going to start having sex every night.

What is realistic is to get real about the struggle.

Below are 5 questions worth asking and answering:

Why do you think sex is not that important?

When did sex start to fall by the wayside OR was it ever something mutually valued in your marriage?

In what ways has the lack of sexual intimacy caused pain or disconnect in your marriage? (Your spouse may want to chime in on this if you are not certain of the answer).

What baby steps can you take toward restoring sexual intimacy?

What specific benefits could nurtured sexual intimacy have on you individually and on your relationship?

I know. I make it seem so simple, right? It’s not.

BUT it is worth it to ask those questions and to start to heal what is broken. Sex isn’t everything in marriage. But it is something.

A. Very. Important. Something.

For more reading, check out:

5 Things You Must Know if You Are Denying Your Husband Sex

Don’t Like Sex? Have You Figured Out Why?

How Long Can a Marriage Go Without Sex?

Are You Sexually Lonely in Marriage?

5 Ways to Sexually Please Your Husband

Wives Who Want More Sex and Aren’t Getting It

You Might Be a Sexually Selfish Husband If…

You Might Be a Sexually Selfish Wife If…

The Orgasm Page

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

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16 thoughts on “Sex Isn’t Everything in Marriage. BUT…

  1. gg says:

    thank you julie for your passion to enrich peoples lives on the joy of a fulfilling intimacy in marriage i have been married for 22 yrs now in our marriage we have always i feel struggled with intimacy or the lack of it for many reasons but for the main it has been her health but also i believe a very low sex drive as well as now going through pre menopausal or menopause i think we are getting close to months or more of no intimacy or sex it is now at the point i have given up i dont suggest anything anymore i dont see the point if she feels there is not a problem what hope is there for me
    my heart breaks i will never leave her but i yearn so much for that intimacy that she would desire me want me as time goes on it doesnt get any easier i just live in the hope that things will change

  2. gg says:

    thank you julie for your passion to enrich peoples lives on the joy of a fulfilling intimacy in marriage i have been married for 22 yrs now in our marriage we have always i feel struggled with intimacy or the lack of it for many reasons but for the main it has been her health but also i believe a very low sex drive as well as now going through pre menopausal or menopause i think we are getting close to 12 months or more of no intimacy or sex it is now at the point i have given up i dont suggest anything anymore i dont see the point if she feels there is not a problem what hope is there for me
    my heart breaks i will never leave her but i yearn so much for that intimacy that she would desire me want me as time goes on it doesnt get any easier i just live in the hope that things will change

    gg

  3. Rachel says:

    Very good article Julie. Isn’t it interesting that before marriage, we as believers struggle immensely to keep ourselves pure only to find that when married, the struggle now becomes how to live out what we held back for so long? The church needs to stop preaching sex is bad to premarried folk and start preparing them instead for the best journey of their life… MARRIAGE!

  4. oldermarried says:

    How I feel for these marriages, where it isn’t a priority to make love as much as possible! How resentful the spouse must feel, where there isn’t a valid reason.

    I also know that there are some reasons, believe me, when it gets pushed to the side, or made impossible for a while. I’m thinking long illnesses, deployments, and more.

    Having a wife who was nearly killed in a car wreck in our 30’s, sex became impossible for over a year. Oddly, as she recovered, and sex became a thought, then a possibility, and finally a reality, I didn’t realize how much I missed it, until we were making love again. What a missed blessing, suddenly re-bestowed!

    And oddly, there is NO support. Our church and friends provided emotional and financial support–even counseling, but in over a year of counseling, and friends visiting, etc, no one asked, “Hey, are things ok in your sex life?” No dr. ever alluded to this, despite multiple interactions. They are treating broken bodies, not broken sex. It is the forbidden topic, which is so SILLY, because it is the elephant in the bedroom where there is no sexual connection.

    My wife’s dad is the only one, who made a veiled reference, and it was more out of worry than anything. He was worried that we would divorce, because of her health. I told him in no uncertain terms, that I wouldn’t be doing anywhere.

    I am not sure how to explain it, but when you are connecting sexually, then not, and then you are blessed again, it changes every “Good morning!” and every, “Did you get the milk?” to something entirely else. It is your secret, your vital and sensual connection.

    I would encourage all who have a broken connection, to start somewhere.

  5. Lexie says:

    Very well, delicately and sensitively written, Julie. It’s not everything to me (this is why I listen and appreciate your balanced views so much…) but IT IS EVERYTHING TO HIM! I struggle and am encouraged and challenged by you. Thank you!

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  7. Gill says:

    I feel very misunderstood in my marriage I long to be touched too. I believe meeting each others needs during sex and making each other feel special. Is the best way to stay close to each other and feel cherished.

  8. Debbie says:

    Good article hubby has taken sex off the table and out of discussion so we are like roommates, monk and nun , I have tried to bring sex back to the table for at least a discussion bu no go so stuck, unsatisfied and a bit angry with hubby and counselor who gave him a perfect out “perhaps this is a once every 6 month conversation “ lol good luck with that

  9. oldermarried says:

    Debbie,

    I’m not a doctor, but you should have him get his testosterone levels checked. I kept telling my internist, and she wouldn’t listen, until I finally said, “Either check it or I’ll get another dr. or a private lab.”

    It was really low, so low that she said she couldn’t believe I was walking around. I felt miserable, but I’m better now on testosterone therapy. It’s not perfect, and I would prefer not taking it, but the alternative….

    I’m betting his quality of life is suffering in other areas also, IF that is the problem. If not, you have to ask yourself, “Do I want to continue a life without sex?” Also, are you sure there isn’t something else going on?

    I’m listening to this podcast, and the therapist who runs it said his high desire client was told by his low desire spouse, “Are you willing to throw our marriage away because of this one thing–sex?” And the therapist said (to the low desire spouse) “So are you.”

    You should listen to this podcast, called Sexy Marriage Radio. A lot of it is about how to handle your high desire vs. low desire spouse. One thing they mention is that there is always a high desire and a low desire person, even if one is an 8 and the other a 7, on a scale of 1-10. But once every six months is a “no sex” marriage. To me, that isn’t a marriage.

    Marriage is the unique relationship where sex occurs. (Or should be that way.) No other relationship is more challenging, and sex glues it together. I urge you to see another therapist, even if only for you.

    I’ve been where your husband is, but I didn’t want to continue with my own low desire. The conversation is a hard one to have with your doctor, and my wife wasn’t that much help. She just thought, “Oh well, sex is over.” But the room mate thing doesn’t work, and the change was so gradual she kind of accepted it.

    We’re better now, and even she admits it. You owe it to yourself to get help for both of you. Life’s too short!

  10. Cassie from True Agape says:

    This is something that’s designed for married couples and it is something that is important to couples. Intimacy is a way where couples can show their affection to their partners and because it is a language of love, we make our partners feel how much they’re loved.

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  12. John R says:

    Men need to feel loved. For many men, far far more than most women would believe , this is a simple reality. My experience was girlfriends don’t withhold sex because they WANT THEIR MAN. After marriage sex slowly ( or quickly sometimes) is no longer a priority. I hear many many Christian women repeat the age old adage that men “are just animals and want to GET SOME.”
    This is so untrue and hurtful to good men and good husbands. I experience the greatest heights of love and intimacy while having sex with my wife. When weeks go by I wonder what I have done wrong? Does she really love me? Why isn’t she taking this seriously?
    Withhold long enough and you will have masturbation ( without you). Keep withholding and you are laying the groundwork for someone you know who is aware of your attitude to decide to go after a GOOD husband. They will not feel guilty about sex with your husband because they feel YOU “set the stage “for this affair. Your GOOD husband will agonize over it until he is nearly crazy. But in the final analysis he may Divorce you because you convinced him you don’t love him. And you made fun of his attempts to explain his feelings to you.
    Sadly, you earned it. John R

  13. Rookie says:

    I feel sometimes I don’t have the cravings that I did back when we weren’t married yet (back then, we did everything but actual sex). There were days I just couldn’t wait to get over to his house (we didn’t live together until we got married). I feel the reason the cravings have gone down is BECAUSE of the fact we now live together. Before it was like “I’m only there a few times a week, we better get in intimacy while we can!” Now it’s so readily available that there’s no reason to excitedly think “We gotta get it while we can.” This is probably a wrong state of mind that needs to change. Another part of it is that typical “exhausted after dinner and fall asleep on the couch” type thing. I feel I’m the type of person who needs a trigger too. Be it reading this blog, watching a romantic movie, or just my husband being sweet all day. I’m more complicated like that. I can’t always just hop in the sack sporadically.

  14. Nathan says:

    I would tend to disagree with the statement “sex isn’t everything in marriage…” with the exception of extenuating circumstances such as medical, sexual abuse issues etc “sex is everything in marriage…”

    Every other act and function within marriage within the home and in life can be performed platonically or as best friends without breaking any commandments set out by God.

    In fact one psychologist had the audacity to ask me in my previous marriage (when I was 25) if I was willing to keep my marriage without sex.

    Oh so he means maintain a good friendship or a marriage where growing resentment is developing?

    Sure castrate me and give me those drugs given to pedophiles to suppress sexual function… sure where do I sign up?

    Sure the vows have the negatives of in sickness… poorer… worse, but why is the focus on someone making the sacrifice of an desire that does not go away?

    Why is it never said that there are other vows that say to love and cherish etc.

    Sacrifice cuts both ways.

    If one of the marriage partners has issue with sex, the are OBLIGATED (a very unsexy word) to meet their partners sexual needs.
    This is not negotiable.
    How that is achieved is something they both have to be happy with but some sacrifice on the part of the abstainer has to be made. Something I note 99% of the time is ignored in counselling, it is more often than not the one with the sexual desires who has to do the impossible, the very thing that drew them into the marriage in the first place.
    (everything else in the marriage can be done outside marriage. I can raise kids with another guy if circumstances dictate, that does not mean I am homosexual, there is no sex, merely mutual friendship, financial need, spiritual co-operation etc. this could be said the same regarding a woman though in church circles this would raise eyebrows without a doubt.)

    Sacrifice in marriage cuts both ways, if it doesn’t someone is not fulfilling their marriage vows.

  15. M says:

    M here again. It astonishes me how the SEEMINGLY small things I do that I do for her/ us and to me are like breathing in that ,for her they are NO real effort for me trip the locks that will remain locked if I were to nevlect them. WOW!

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