Has Modesty Killed Sex in Your Marriage?


modesty-killing-sexWhenever I speak to women’s groups, one of the topics we talk about is modesty.

When it comes to what to wear and how to carry themselves in public, most Christian women I have met have a fairly clear sense of what is modest.

And if they ever need reminders on what not to do, they could simply take a quick glance at the pop culture landscape, right? In a public realm, we don’t grapple too much with what is modest and what is not. The sharp contrast is there in plain view for us to see on magazine covers, in media and entertainment, in window displays and within people’s behavior and attire.

But what about behind closed doors in the privacy of your marriage? Do you find the lines as easy to discern? Has modesty killed sex in your marriage—or at the minimum tarnished it a bit?

Modesty that glorifies God on the street may not glorify Him in your bed.

At first glance such a statement may sound quite harsh, but let’s unpack it a bit. Sit with it awhile. And figure out what it means. Modesty that glorifies God on the street may not glorify Him in your bed.

The reason God calls us to glorify Him when we are deciding what to wear and how to behave once we walk out the door is because what we do when we are partially naked or fully naked with our spouse is sacred. If what we show the rest of the world or what we allude to with our dress or body language or verbal language starts to encroach on what is meant only for our spouse in private, the sacredness of sex is diminished.

And God doesn’t want His gift of sex diminished. God thinks so highly of arousal, sexual pleasure and sexual oneness that He wants it nurtured only in the safety of covenant.

From this perspective, the motive for public modesty is clear. We want to glorify God. We desire to keep the marriage bed pure (ours and others’) by not displaying something in public that is meant for private.

But what if you hold so tightly to this tenet of public modesty that you carry it with you into the privacy of your marriage bed? This is where women tell me they struggle.

Have you ever felt that if you became uninhibited sexually with your spouse, it would go against everything you believe is honorable about modesty. Possibly you would even start to see sexual passion and freedom, even with the person you married, as something sinful that does not glorify God.

Some women struggle so much with “flipping the switch” so to speak—going from being modest in public to embracing sexual freedom in private—that they just don’t do it. Ironically, though, this then becomes the slight against God.

Modesty that glorifies God on the street may not glorify Him in your bed.

God designed sex to be thoroughly enjoyed by a husband and wife within the exclusivity of their relationship. Arousal, sexual pleasure, passion, intercourse—they are all wedding gifts from God. Do you find yourself being so restrictive and modest that you do not thoroughly appreciate those gifts? If so, consider the below insights.

5 ways you can be too restrictive and modest when it comes to sex:

1. You aren’t sexually playful when clothed

One of the best ways you can loosen the unhealthy grips of modesty in your marriage is by being appropriately sexually playful when your clothes are on.

Foreplay isn’t just about what happens right before we have sex. It also is an attitude we carry with us long before a sexual encounter. Within the privacy of your home, you can be sexually affectionate and suggestive, yet discreet at the same time if other people are around. Truth be told, even when you are in public, you can still be discreetly suggestive and playful as well.

There should be touches between you and your spouse that are not overtly sexual, but they certainly aren’t modest either. Grow in your sexual playfulness while you are clothed, and modesty won’t be such a stumbling block once you make it to the bedroom.

2. You rarely or never initiate sex

I have had more than one wife tell me they don’t initiate sex because they associate it with being promiscuous. Good girls just don’t do that sort thing. They don’t desire and seek sex.

But you know what? Good girls in marriage do exactly that thing! They desire and seek sex! This idea that only a husband can initiate sex is a skewed message. It doesn’t find any footing in the Bible. God is clear that neither a husband nor a wife should withhold their body from each other, which clearly conveys that both can seek each other’s body.

If you rarely or never initiate sex, you may say it’s because you’re modest. But what if that’s not actually true? What if it’s because you have misinterpreted God’s Word? Or you have relied only on what someone else told you about being a godly wife, instead of discovering for yourself?

When both a husband and wife embrace the responsibility and privilege of initiating sex, the overall health of the marriage and the sexual intimacy in it improve. Don’t fall back on modesty as a reason for not sharing in the initiation of sex.

3. You refuse to let your spouse undress you or see you naked.

Yes, I realize sometimes body image struggles rather than modesty drives this, but it robs the marriage bed nonetheless. Morally, you are the only one your spouse can desire sexually and see naked with the intent of sexual pleasure. It is a desire and need that cannot ethically be fulfilled any other way.

You’re it. And your spouse is it for you.

I occasionally have women tell me they will never have sex with any light on in the room or without being fully covered by a sheet or blanket. They won’t let their husband see them get dressed or undressed. Yet research would tell us most guys are visual and long to see their wife’s body.

I would add to this by saying that some men find lingerie incredibly arousing. This doesn’t mean you have to wear something uncomfortable or distasteful. There are many tasteful options of lingerie that are revealing and enticing. But I certainly wouldn’t call them modest.

Context means everything. The more you grow in letting your spouse see you naked, the better you understand context means everything.

4. You don’t communicate specifically what you find arousing

Sadly, we too often associate all sexual uninhibitedness with promiscuity. If as a wife you have been hesitant to tell or show your husband what brings you sexual pleasure, I wonder if it is because you think any woman who would do that is a woman of low character.

I encourage you to reframe your perspective. First of all, your sexual pleasure matters as much as your husband’s. Second, it’s not fair to expect him to understand your body without you giving him some guidance (in the same way it’s not fair for him to expect you to understand his body without him giving you some guidance). And third, marriage is a place for lovers who know sex is about more than intercourse. Together, you and your spouse can discover all the delightful idiosyncrasies of foreplay and arousal and passion that are significant to you.

Modesty in the public realm compels us to wisely apply restrictions—clothing, attitude and language that is not sexually suggestive. But if we bring this kind of modesty into the bedroom, we likely will rob ourselves of profound sexual connection. We won’t experience sex as God intended. And we won’t build the trust and vulnerability to genuinely enjoy sexual pleasure with each other.

5. You don’t express your pleasure

This could be an addendum to point 4, but it’s worth its own mention, too. When you climax, does your spouse know you enjoy it?

Yes, I get that if you have kids in the house (or live in an apartment with really thin walls!), you may not be able to scream at the top of your lungs when you are gripped by orgasmic ecstasy. But you can still make it clear that being turned on and having an orgasm are quite the happy place for you, right?!

Don’t be modest in letting your spouse know that you are sexually pleased. It feels really good to climax, and your husband is the person who should know—really know—when you feel that kind of pleasure.

Considering the above ways modesty may be killing sex in your marriage, which ones ring true for you?

Modesty that glorifies God on the street may not glorify Him in your bed.

For more reading, cruise through my list of past posts. as well as my page with a bunch of posts on orgasm.

And I have a 5 video series available on building better sex in your marriage. Great way to invest in your marriage!  You can find out all about it at this link:  Better Sex in Your Christian Marriage.

Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.

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11 thoughts on “Has Modesty Killed Sex in Your Marriage?

  1. RK says:

    My wife knows how to dress for work but not the bedroom! She’s always been heavy, has bad varicose veins and a double mastectomy so doesn’t want to be exposed. Undressing in the bathroom, turning off the lights and hurrying to get under the covers is her MO. We swam at Disney World and she was covered up like 100 years ago—-I felt like crying. She initiated sex once during our 43 years of marriage. I have been in a sexless marriage for 14 years now. Her last comment in the bedroom was, Oh, just go ahead and do it! As a faithful husband, where does that leave me? Hopeless………

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is an insightful post! I really did not realize how modesty has invaded our marriage until you wrote this post. All 5 points are exhibited in our marriage…ouch!

  3. oldermarried says:

    RK–I hear you. But that is on her, not you. You didn’t do anything wrong. Your expectation of a fulfilling sex life is not too much to ask. I get it. Been married a few years longer than you, approaching 50th. Learned from my own diminishing sex drive how NOT to react. She has noticed, now that I don’t want sex.

    “What’s wrong?” She asks. It’s like a game, and now the game is over.

    Once YOU don’t desire sex, she will probably realize what she missed or is missing. But it will be too late.

    For years, I was maligned and dissed for wanting sex. Before we married, it was, “No, not yet, but after we marry, it will be great.” The biggest scam of my life, and I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.

    What I didn’t know is that some women, while still wanting marriage, children, and all of the things that go with it, have NO sex drive to speak of. No amount of “being a good husband and father…” whatever that means, will increase her desire.

    It is just not hormonally there. (That may or may not be your wife, but it was mine.) She can act like she wants it… to “reward” you, but ultimately, that is it… a reward, not a shared need to commune in the delight of your relationship.

    For years, I longed for that type of intimacy. Gave up. Been there. Done it. Over it. There is still a lot to be said for marriage: companionship, shared interests, friends, family, kids, grandkids. Just don’t bring sex in there, and everyone is good.

    It’s kind of like living the ultimate lie. And she gets to pretend that everything is perfect. I silently smirk, but I don’t suffer. Not any more.

  4. Daniel Van Voorthuysen says:

    My heart goes out to RK. My wife and I have had a lot of physical challenges which have prevented piv. We have been rich in our love for one another, but that sex part has been absent for many years. It is important for me to know my wife understands how much I love her. I could never be with anyone else, and I work to avoid things which could stir me to desiring sex. We are affectionate, and I give her wonderful massages. We do what we can, and thank God for each day we have. It is hard, and we are still working on the things we can hoping one day further intimacy will be possible. I mentioned it is hard, but she is worth it. Keep your love for God and her at the center of it all and all things become easier and possible! Your wife has suffered an assault on her body and esteem. Counseling from a skilled therapist might help. The Cancer Society has many resources.

    God bless you!

  5. Denise says:

    Why not specifically call out those who are giving messages to young women right now about modesty that sometimes frankly verge on quite disturbing so we can save them from the damage we may have experienced?

  6. Sue Hall says:

    Where in the Bible does it say that marital sex is sacred and only to be shared between a husband and wife? How do we know that “let the breasts of the wife of your youth satisfy you” means only those of your wife. Maybe it means be satisfied by hers and others. My husband loves God and desires to follow Him. However, in recent years his beliefs have changed. He doesn’t think “the two shall become one flesh” means a couple can’t bring a third person into the bedroom if both want that. He knows adultery is wrong, but somehow doesn’t think a threesome is committing adultery or practicing homosexuality. He says the Bible doesn’t explicitly say that pornography is wrong, so it isn’t. How else are we supposed to learn how to give sexual pleasure in a better way? We’ve gone to a marriage counselor, and he has talked to church leaders. None agree with him, but none can give him a satisfactory answer. I can’t either. It has to be black and white for him to believe it. Therefore, homosexuality, bestiality, and a few others are sins. “Sexual immorality” only refers to the practices specifically named elsewhere. I no longer feel like we have true intimacy even though he hasn’t had sex with anyone else. Just knowing what he believes makes it difficult for me to feel close to him. I need to know how we know that those passages mean what the traditional church has long taught.

  7. Julie Sibert says:

    @Sue Hall… Thank you for your honest comment. I’m so sad you are experiencing this. It sounds like your husband is simply looking for a loophole or a way to justify his desire to have sex with someone else (or to watch you have sex with someone else). I am not sure if anything anyone is going to say is going to convince him otherwise, because I sense he doesn’t want to believe otherwise. So let’s just look at it from the adultery standpoint. Hebrews 13:4 says the marriage bed should be honored by all and kept pure and that God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. When your husband looks at that verse, how can he justify adultery? God designed sex as something between a husband and wife (the two shall become one), so if a third person is brought into the marriage bed, how does that pass the adultery test? It doesn’t. What’s interesting too is that even among non-believers and in most other world religions, a husband or wife having intercourse or any sexual touch with someone else is considered a violation of the marriage vow. If you randomly asked 100 couples if they would be fine with their spouse having sex with someone else, you would be hard pressed to find too many (if any) who would say they would be completely fine with that. I think that you are completely justified in being concerned and refusing to comply with your husband’s request that a third person be brought into your marriage. Your husband is simply wanting to gratify his sexual desires, regardless of whether they are sinful and regardless of whether they hurt you, the woman he vowed to honor, protect and be faithful to. Like I said, I am not sure anything a pastor or Christian is going to say is going to convince him otherwise, based on what you have shared. Has he genuinely prayed and searched the Bible on his own? Sounds like he did seek wise Christian counsel, but he didn’t like what they said, so he’s not going to listen to their counsel. I’m saddened you’re in this situation where he cares so little about his marriage that he wants to become an adulterer and have you become one as well. Nowhere in the Bible do we see where adultery is held up a positive thing, something to strive toward. Nowhere. And common sense would tell us it’s not good for marriage. It breeds jealousy, envy, anger, division. Is that what he wants in your marriage? Adultery does not foster closeness or trust or joy in a marriage. It just doesn’t. I can see why you feel you and your husband no longer have true intimacy. I encourage you to seek insight from a mature Christian woman who can guide you, point you to additional resources, do a Bible study with you on what God says about sex. Thank you again for your comment. My heart goes out to you.

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  10. Anonymous lady says:

    Wow. This was a good one and I understood every single point. I often feel that marriage would be better without the pressure of sex. It’s good once we get there but our schedules are crazy, I get too tired, I don’t sleep well as it is, we let little irritations get to us, we rarely have date nights, we don’t see eye to eye on tons of things…it all affects the sex drive big time. There is little flirting and I’m not physically attracted to him. Need lots of prayers…I know I need to honor God in this and I do want to.

  11. Corey D. says:

    To the reply of Sue Hall, my heart goes out to you about your husbands attitude and his mis-understanding/misinterpretation of scripture regarding adultery and sex and the pain that’s causing you. The scriptures are very clear about it, contrary to his thinking. Thou shalt not commit adultery or anything like unto it, can’t get any planner than that. Adam was told, “cleave unto her and no one else”. As for pornography, the Lord said ” if you have thought it in your heart (mind), it’s the same as if you have done it”. The scriptures also teach to beware of our thoughts, words and actions, that we should be in the process of learning to have our thoughts, actions and words be inline with what the Savior would say, do and think. Your husband is just trying to justify his thinking and actions and is showing no respect for you and I’m sorry you are experiencing that.

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