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A good friend and I were talking about how we both hate being in limbo. I am not a fan of the not knowing.
Whether it be waiting on news about a career change, medical diagnosis or treatment plan, relocation, getting a loan approved, application to college or a sundry of other life situations where we can find ourselves in limbo, the not knowing can be tedious.
And a lesson in patience.
We hunger to just know. Give me the verdict so I can get about the business of processing and working forward with what I now do know.
Like some other limbo situations, this one can feed our self doubt and discouragement. And that’s because one spouse feeling in limbo sexually is often because of the actions or attitude of the other spouse. One spouse is holding all the keys to sex and controlling the narrative, much to the detriment of the other spouse and of the marriage.
Because sexual intimacy in marriage is such a deeply personal and private matter—often complicated by unresolved past or current issues—it’s no surprise that spouses don’t always come right out and talk about their sexual struggles.
First of all, we generally don’t get a lot of practice talking about sex. Topics like finances, parenting styles and career choices enjoy way more applause as talking points for a couple. Teams of experts and resources abound to help an engaged couple or newly-married couple think out loud about their philosophies and behaviors on those matters.
Yet sex is still a bit of a taboo topic. On a wide scale, we as the body of believers have not gone out of our way to make it comfortable for couples to talk candidly about sex.
Second, sexual intimacy requires a level of vulnerability that can compel individuals to internalize any struggles as personal attacks. It’s messy ground, this area of sex in marriage. The degree to which it can be profoundly enjoyable and uniting for a husband and wife, it also can be wrought with division, bitterness, isolation and misinterpretations.
It’s no wonder some couples find themselves in sexual limbo. Sometimes they both are trying to bridge the gap, to no avail. More often, though, one spouse hungers for candid conversation about sex, nurtured intimacy and resolution of the struggles, and the other spouse stonewalls or downplays the severity of the discord.
Enter limbo, stage right.
If you are in limbo and hungering for sex with your spouse, I want to affirm that you are justified in sexually desiring your spouse. That is not an unrealistic desire.
If your spouse refuses to address or work on the issues, they possibly have taken the stand that you are the one being unreasonable for even desiring sex. But that desire is not unreasonable. Sex and marriage are intricately woven together, and when a husband and wife could be experiencing sexual connection on a somewhat regular basis, the Bible tells us that they indeed should. God designed sex as a vital component to marriage that ripples out to affect the health of the entire relationship.
What I also want to say is that if you have not been bold in expressing your concern to this point, you may need to courageously do exactly that. Sometimes limbo lingers longer than it should because no one has caused a disruption that moves the needle.
Just as it is reasonable for you to desire sex with your spouse, it also is reasonable for you to lovingly, yet firmly, point out that the struggles are damaging the relationship. I’m in no way implying any conversation like this is easy. It’s not easy, especially if the two of you have been in sexual limbo for awhile.
But not shedding light on the matter means you are left to simply hope they will come around to understanding your perspective. Sure, it could happen. But you increase your odds by intentionally raising awareness and speaking out loud about what has caused you great concern, sadness and frustration.
If speaking out loud feels too monumental of a way to initiate such a conversation, consider writing a letter whereby you share vulnerably about the negative impact lack of intimacy has had on you individually and the relationship as a whole, in your opinion.
The goal of a written letter, of course, is that it would be a springboard to face-to-face communication. You may have to actually say that in the letter…that you wrote the letter to give your spouse space to process, but what you would like is the two of you to talk more in depth about what you have written. Whether you have a conversation out loud or start it on paper, bathe it all in love and your commitment to the two of you experiencing more closeness and oneness.
While I don’t have easy approaches to overcome sexual limbo, I do think it’s a very real experience for many married couples. Some work their way out of it rather quickly, while other couples find themselves in sexual limbo for years.
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.