Have You Ever Bartered for Sex in Your Marriage?


bartering-for-sex-in-marriageI’ll give you one romp in the sack for one clean kitchen.

I’ll give you lots of romps in the sack for one NEW kitchen!

Okay. Maybe I’m oversimplifying it. Or stereotyping it?

Rarely do I think bartering for sex happens so blatantly, like how things go down at a swap meet for classic car parts. We don’t “negotiate” for sex and then seal it with a handshake.

But bartering for sex does happen in some marriages.

If it’s playful banter, that’s one thing. “Bartering” in a playful sensual joking sort of way can be its own form foreplay. So arousing. So passionate. That kind of bartering for sex in marriage is fun and sexy.

“Come on over here, baby, and let me rub your back. We’ll see where things go from there!”

“If you want them to go somewhere AMAZING, you’ll throw in a foot-rub!” Wink. Wink.

Ahh, the joys of playful sexual bartering. But what if the motive is anything but playful and altruistic? It’s the passive aggressive “I want my own way” kind of bartering that is a problem.

When we handle sex as a mode of exchange, we manipulatively hone in on reciprocity. It’s all about getting the most by giving the least.

I will do this. If you do that.

Sex becomes transactional. No one would probably use the term “conversion rate,” but that’s essentially what each would be silently calculating in their mind. Was the trade equitable? Did I give away too much?

And if the spouse who wants sex doesn’t want to do whatever that is, the sense of ownership only deepens for the spouse dangling the carrot. The spouse who holds the keys to sex feels all the more entitled to clench them tighter. Weird rationalizations start happening.

“Well. He could have had sex. He chose not to.”

Ironically, the dysfunctional pattern of all this is made worse, not better, if the spouse who wants sex gives in to the bartering, even if they do so because they’ve learned it is the only way they will get any sex. Some sex is better than no sex is how the rationalization might go.

One would think both spouses would end up happy, right? They each would have gotten what they wanted. But what if arriving at that place only erodes the relationship and trust even more? What if they wind up with no authentic intimacy?

The costs are high. Bartering for sex is no small issue. It flys in the face of all that is good and holy and right about sex in marriage. 

If there is bartering going on in your sexual relationship, humbly ask yourself if it is the playful kind or if it is the passive aggressive kind.

One will enhance your oneness, love and passion. The other will cheapen it.

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

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

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4 thoughts on “Have You Ever Bartered for Sex in Your Marriage?

  1. Ronnie says:

    We did use bartering for sex a few years ago. I would do most house cleaning and laundry weekly in exchange for 1 quicky usually Friday evening. The work need to be done anyway and I got to have some sex. It was for a quicky only, no long drawn out sex session. I was happy with it, but didn’t like doing it, she said she felt like she was taking advantage of me for doing quite a bit of work for a few minutes of sex.

  2. Running Deeper says:

    I don’t have any recollection of bartering but sometimes it can be the unspoken things that can give one a sense of obligation.

  3. Victoria says:

    I have known this was the case for some time. I cannot accurately tell you what I am “giving” since there seems to be no rhyme or reasons to it, but I caught a very clear glimpse of it several nights ago. It turned my stomach, and I was so proud of myself for saying no thanks. I have finally reached a place where nothing is better than rotten. That is huge growth for me.

  4. J. Parker says:

    Such a great message here! Well-spoken.

    And I know someone who literally said to her husband, “If you eat more fruit, I’ll give you more oral sex.” She called it her Pears for BJs plan. Not surprisingly, he concluded the blow job wasn’t worth it, not because he wasn’t willing to eat a pear but that kind of begrudging, bartered sex wasn’t what he wanted from his wife.

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