Navigating a Sexless Marriage: Advice and Hope for Couples


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Sex is a word that holds so many connotations. And this one word contains a universe of emotion and impression; some positive, some negative, even some destructive. It can come with pleasure, excitement, intimacy and familiarity, but also fear, pain, guilt, and loneliness. How can one little, three letter word carry with it so much power and weight? Maybe it’s because this was God’s design, that sex would not be something to be viewed lightly, but was meant to be held in the highest regard. 

Sexless marriage is something we as a couple grappled with for many years. Right from the beginning of our marriage, we struggled being intimate in this way. And while it wasn’t intentional, it was still frustrating and hurtful. There can be various reasons that sex feels difficult or even impossible, some within our control, and some uncontrollable. Some reasons can include addiction (i.e. to pornography), medical issues, trauma, or even an absent spouse. For us, it was a physically painful experience for myself, which inhibited us from coming together in the way we desired as a married couple. For a more in depth look at our story, you can read Unveiled Wife, which details what my heart went through during this time. Eventually, we became so bitter and angry that we didn’t even want to be physical with each other and there were also spiritual things that we were walking through: things that we needed to let go of, things that we needed to forgive, and how to love each other through this season of hardship.

During this time, despite the frustration and disappointment, the Lord taught Aaron to trust Him, to surrender to Him, and to continue to love anyway. As he has said: “I’m going to love you because I’ve chosen to be your husband. I’ve chosen to walk with you and vice versa. You love me. Not because of what I get or what you get from me, but because of what we agreed to, what we’ve promised to each other.”

Meanwhile, I was learning more about myself and the expectation I held for what marriage was supposed to be. I felt like God was kind of stripping down all of those expectations and ways of being to say, “Hey, I am everything and I want to be your source of who you run to and where you go and where you get met, where your needs get met.” I felt like God was teaching me how to actually reveal who I am to my husband and open up my heart and be at a place where I trusted him. 

Mark 10: 6-9 But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife. And the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together. Let not man separate.

Sex is not unnecessary and unneeded, yet that doesn’t mean there’s not going to be seasons without it.  Our bodies aren’t just meant for sex. That would be an oversimplification of what and who we are. One of the main purposes of sex, but not the only one, is for creating more image bearers through having children. However, we must recognize it is also for pleasure and strengthening the bond and unity between husband and wife.

Practical ways to encourage intimacy when struggling with sex:

  1. Acknowledge that choosing to live in a sexless marriage isn’t healthy or beneficial. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5
  2. Keep the pursuit alive. Continue to pursue your spouse, and remain hopeful.
  3. Have fun outside the bedroom. Spend time enjoying your spouse and having fun outside of sex.
  4. Actively seek help and guidance. Seek wise counsel, and if one of you is experiencing something health related, seek multiple opinions to find out what is going on.
  5. Experiment and try to find what works best for you and your spouse.
  6. Avoid external pitfalls. Avoid temptation to seek fulfillment outside of marriage. Hebrews 13:4
  7. Encourage one another throughout this season. Maintain hope and continually reaffirm your love for one another.
  8. Ask God what you can learn through this. What does He want to show you and your spouse in this season?

It is crucial not to define entire marriages by sex. Although sex is a vital aspect of a marital relationship, it shouldn’t overshadow the other elements that make a marriage meaningful. However, living in a sexless marriage can feel lonely and discouraging. There can be many lies and doubts that arise during these times. Our journey through a sexless marriage required maintaining a positive mindset, keeping faith, and continually encouraging each other. While each couple’s experience is unique, we hope our story provides guidance and hope to those facing a similar situation.

READ TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer Smith (00:06):

Sex a word that holds so much connotation. And this one word contains a universe of emotion and impression, some positive, some negative, and even some destructive, pleasure, excitement, intimacy and family, but also fear, pain, guilt, and loneliness. How can one little, three letter word carry with it so much power and weight? Maybe it’s because this was God’s design, that sex would not be something to be viewed lightly, but was meant to be held in the highest regard.

Aaron Smith (00:38):

Hey, we’re in Jennifer Smith, your host of the Marriage After God podcast this week. We’re incredibly thankful, thankful for the ongoing support of our wonderful patrons who found value in our daily prayer emails and this podcast, and have generously chosen to pay it forward. We’ve been on this journey together since our podcast inception in 2018 and even earlier with our daily prayer emails from 2015 every year, our family of listeners Gross, and with it so does the costs. We’re now inviting you, our listeners, to partner with us in this mission to keep offering these resources free of charge to become a patron. Stand and stand with us. Please head to marriage after god.com/patron and join today. And if you haven’t yet joined our daily prayer email community, we want to invite you to sign up@marriageprayerchallenge.com. Let’s continue this journey together.

Jennifer Smith (01:25):

Hey, welcome back everybody.

Aaron Smith (01:27):

We hope you guys was having an awesome week. Yeah, I am. Sun’s out even though it kind of snowed yesterday, which is crazy to me. Philly, Oregon. I know. Oregon’s crazy. But before we jump into our topic, we always like to kind of start off with just some life stuff. And specifically, I was just thinking this week because we’ve been doing so much stuff in the backyard on the house, I was just thinking about how nothing ever lasts forever. It doesn’t matter how brand new it is. Both our cars need have issues that need fixing. Right now we have a check engine light on one. I have a air conditioner is not working the other. And then we’ve been in our house for almost a year now, coming up next month. And it already looks like it could use a whole new paint job on the inside. I mean, we have five kids, so I get it. But it’s just the reality is kind of kicking in that nothing lasts forever.

Jennifer Smith (02:22):

Okay, but hold on, because this is a marriage podcast. So how are you going to tie this into, not mean that marriage?

Aaron Smith (02:28):

Well, marriage should last forever as long as we’re living. But yes. No, that’s this. I’m just talking about things in our lives. Yeah, we want things to just be nice. Always

Jennifer Smith (02:40):

Perfect.

Aaron Smith (02:41):

Yeah. Well if you think about our bodies, if we thinking about our minds, if we think about our possessions, everything just slowly deteriorates.

Jennifer Smith (02:49):

Well, so that’s true though. And even in marriage, our relationship can take, I don’t want to say take a beating, but it can, it’s used and that means that it

Aaron Smith (03:01):

Needs to be maintained

Jennifer Smith (03:02):

And well, it needs to be maintained care stuff. But there’s going to be experiences that we go through that make it to where it’s like it’s not perfect. And it does break down sometimes, but it’s our job to hang on.

Aaron Smith (03:15):

Sometimes it needs a fresh coat of paint. Gotcha. Sometimes it needs a check in engine light checked. Yeah. Yeah. It was just something I was thinking about this week. But why don’t you talk about the growth spurt that we’ve been trying to, well,

Jennifer Smith (03:28):

You just mentioned that we’ve been outside a lot. Yeah. And it has been nice because the majority of the time the sun is actually out and it feels really good. But part of June’s challenge or growth spurt was to get your hands dirty and plant something, whether it’s an annual or a vegetable plant or something like that. And you

Aaron Smith (03:44):

Planted one thing, right?

Jennifer Smith (03:45):

No, I’ve been going at it because

Aaron Smith (03:48):

You let me, I know every time you come home you got two or three new plants.

Jennifer Smith (03:50):

I have. But even my mom came out for a visit last week, which was super awesome and she got in on it and we went to

Aaron Smith (03:57):

The store. She loves roses

Jennifer Smith (03:58):

And she, she brought me some roses and some other random things. I don’t even know what they are. And we had fun coming home and planting it all

Aaron Smith (04:07):

And it looks really good. And you did get your hands dirty. Lots

Jennifer Smith (04:10):

More color

Aaron Smith (04:12):

While you’ve been working on our little plant sections with flowers and all that. I’ve been trying to bring back some of our grass that we planted last year that did not come back very well this year. I’ve been trying to bring nurse that back to health. Shared about that already. Yeah, I feel like, but it is coming back much better. It’s like almost, it’s like 75% back, which is really awesome. But I’m also really excited because you’ve been wanting patio furniture and we’ve been looking around and it’s so expensive. I thought maybe I can make, put my hand to the plow and make my own. And so I’m going to try and make my own. So if I do, I think now you have to post about it to show that I will them. I’ll

Jennifer Smith (04:49):

Be so stoked.

Aaron Smith (04:50):

So that’s something

Jennifer Smith (04:51):

I’m trying to, I like going out to the backyard, but I also like, we’ve just been using our camping chairs, which is fine, but it’d be nice to have a little couch or something.

Aaron Smith (04:58):

So we’ll see. You really think

Jennifer Smith (04:59):

You could do

Aaron Smith (04:59):

It? I have a design in my head and I have a welder in my garage. I’m excited. Yeah, I’m going to try it. And then also this last week we had some new friends over that we’ve met at Jiujitsu.

Jennifer Smith (05:13):

Oh yeah. That was fun to get to know ’em

Aaron Smith (05:15):

More. Yeah, we had them over for dinner. We got to get to know them and plays. Oh, we

Jennifer Smith (05:20):

Played marbles, which most people probably don’t know what that is, but it’s a really fun game that has to do with marbles and cards

Aaron Smith (05:26):

That they can’t get anywhere because it’s our friend’s game

Jennifer Smith (05:30):

That he created that made it. But I love games and I love getting to know other people over games. Cause I feel like it’s a really easy entry to people start talking over it. But I’m also, I get a little torn because it’s like, well, I want to get to know you, but I also, whose turn is it?

Aaron Smith (05:47):

I also want to win.

Jennifer Smith (05:48):

I keep everybody on track. Whose turn is it?

Aaron Smith (05:50):

We were winning me and my me and my buddy, and then you and his wife were losing. So that’s all that matters is, oh

Jennifer Smith (05:56):

God, we actually didn’t get to finish the game. So we need a second round. That’s

Aaron Smith (05:59):

True. Anyways, that’s another encouragement for all you listeners is go make some new friends, invite ’em over, have ’em in your home. Be hospitable, hospitable, hospitable. So this topic was kind of my idea. And they’re going

Jennifer Smith (06:15):

To think we always fight for who wins the idea topics

Aaron Smith (06:19):

In reality. You know, even if I have an idea that’s the best one, I kind of put them before you and you’re like, oh, that’s a good one. Let’s do that one later. Let’s not do that one at all. So there are both of our ideas, but this idea, I just know that it’s a necessity. I know that there’s a lot of marriages out there that are going through this stuff and we have that have some very intimate knowledge of this ourselves. We’ve

Jennifer Smith (06:41):

Struggled a bit.

Aaron Smith (06:42):

And the idea of having a marriage that is lacking in the Department of Sexual intimacy, either it doesn’t exist at all or it’s very rare. And so we thought we would talk about it and just talk about a biblical perspective on it.

Jennifer Smith (06:58):

So real quick, sorry to cut you off, but if you’re listening right now and you’re currently in this place in your marriage, you’re dealing with the struggle of no sexual intimacy or if you’ve been enduring a long season of it, we just want you to know right up front that we understand how feelings can get wrapped up in all of this and how it affects all parts of marriage. There really is so much to this and we just hope that what we share today and what we bring does encourage you. And for those listening who maybe can’t relate to this topic, you just don’t struggle with this, that’s amazing. But we also think that the awareness of it, that it happens in other people’s marriages can help create compassion for those who do struggle with it. Because maybe you have other couple friends who are struggling, maybe you can be a shoulder for them and exactly a year for them.

(07:54)
You can encourage them and be helpful to them. If anything, just encourage, share this episode with them. But I just want you to know, when we were struggling, we had friends that we met at a marriage bible study who were not afraid to ask us, Hey, how’s intimacy going? And encourage us and also challenge us to pursue each other regardless. That was a necessity and it was so much help to us. So if anything, like I said, share this episode with them or be willing to ask others, you and your spouse together, Hey, how’s it going? And be willing to go to those places just like you would ask them, Hey, how are other areas of your marriage? This is an important one. And to be willing to talk about it I think is really important, which is why we’re willing to talk about it today. And lastly, just being reminded that this is something that many marriages struggle with can put into perspective for everyone how your marriage is going and if it’s going great, and be encouraged in that and have a heart of position of appreciation for where you’re at. That’s good. Is that good? Yeah. Okay.

Aaron Smith (09:00):

So why don’t we start with a little bit of our own backstory. This was this situation, a sexist marriage, sex, sexual issues was pretty much our story for the first four years of our marriage. Right?

Jennifer Smith (09:11):

Starting right away,

Aaron Smith (09:12):

Right away. It was very

Jennifer Smith (09:15):

Unexpected

Aaron Smith (09:16):

And frustrating and hurtful and all. And it wasn’t intentional. It was just something that we had a hard time with. And if you ever pick up the book, the Unveiled Wife, Jennifer’s first traditionally published book she wrote, it has, it details this story of what God was going through in your heart with this, but you have a lot of details in there about this actual situation that we went through. So we do have some personal intimate knowledge of this sort of thing.

Jennifer Smith (09:44):

Basically every time we came together, it caused a lot of pain for my body. And so for the first handful of years, we didn’t actually know what it felt like to experience sex.

Aaron Smith (09:59):

And God used that time for many different types of things in our life. Again, it’s why we’re writing this or not writing, we’re recording this pod podcast is to talk about the things that we learned and some encouragement that we got that we have for you guys along the way. But God used it to teach us a lot about ourselves, about each other, about our marriage to humble us. That was a big one. I felt like there was a lot of humbling going on because we were very selfish people, very in inwardly focused and which I think is normal because you’re newlywed and you’re going from being an individual to a couple and having to learn those dynamics. What

Jennifer Smith (10:38):

Would you say is, I know there was a lot, but what’s one or two big things that the Lord taught you during that time?

Aaron Smith (10:47):

Well, there was a lot of teaching me to trust him and to surrender to him and to continue to love you anyway. Even though I’m like, regardless. Regardless. And that was the main thing that when we started going, coming on the other side of this was like, man, what kind of love am I going to have for my spouse? What kind of love were you going to have for me? Was it going to be conditional? Was it going to be transactional? I’m not getting what I want, therefore I’m going to not love you or you don’t deserve my love. Or is it going to be unmerited gifted? And I’m going to love you because I’ve chosen to be your husband. I’ve chosen to walk with you and vice versa. You love me. Not because of what I get or what you get from me, but because of what we agreed to, what we’ve promised to each other. So I think that was a big deal for us and so much of who we are today and what our marriage is today stems from that season of struggle and pain. So I’ll ask you the same question. What do you think is one or two things that you learned in that season?

Jennifer Smith (11:50):

I think one of the biggest ones that stands out to me, I look back at that time was where my reliance was. And having this ideal of marriage being perfect and everything working, that would’ve been great, but that would’ve kept me reliant upon you and me doing things perfectly, which is impossible. And so I felt like God was kind of stripping down all of those expectations and ways of being to say, Hey, I am everything and I want to be your source of who you run to and where you go and where you get met, where your needs get met. Does that make sense?

Aaron Smith (12:29):

Yeah. Are we looking forward in each other or are we looking forward in Christ first? Yeah. Yeah, that’s good. And so all of these things we’re bringing up that the things that we’re going to be sharing today stem from a lot of those things that we walked through.

Jennifer Smith (12:42):

Oh, another one real quick is how to be vulnerable with you in marriage. And not just with my body because obviously you’re in that vulnerable space when you are being intimate. But more than that, I feel like God was teaching me how do I actually reveal who I am to you and open up my heart and be at a place where I trust you.

Aaron Smith (13:04):

Hence the title of the book, unveil Wife. Yeah.

Jennifer Smith (13:07):

Revealing to make myself known to you and reveal myself,

Aaron Smith (13:10):

Which was a big deal for us be, and I don’t know if a lot of couples recognize this, how veiled or closed off we are and how many years it takes for us to actually be known by our, have, allow our spouse to truly know us. And physic being known physically is one thing, but being known internally and spiritually and mentally and emotionally is a whole nother avenue. And often the physical comes first. And then those things for us, this physical couldn’t come at all.

Jennifer Smith (13:45):

Well, it actually stirred up a lot of things because then if I got upset about something, especially around intimacy, you were asking me questions. Well why that? And I had been given the opportunity to share myself with you.

Aaron Smith (14:00):

Yeah. Well, and it also, it shows that’s really hard for me inside of me, lots of things that I had inside expectations. And where did those come from? Were those healthy? Were they biblical? Were they things that were good for you or were they just for me? And so there was a lot of, lots of internal intro respect going back and forth. So why we, we’ll start off with, we just want to bring up some of the common issues that could be causing a sexist marriage. And this isn’t all of them for sure. And we’re also not even going to discuss all of these. We just wanted to bring up that there’s a variety of reasons this could be happening. Some are uncontrollable and some are very controllable, but we just want to, so one is called vaginismus,

Jennifer Smith (14:43):

Which is a word that we first heard when we sought out therapy because we were encouraged by some other friends, Hey, maybe that’s the route you need to. And so we sat down with a counselor and they brought that word up and we had to go do research cause we had never heard of it.

Aaron Smith (14:59):

And I had to do research again for this podcast episode cause I forgot what it was about. But it’s essentially, it’s an unintentional tightening of the muscles around that area down there in the woman making it harder, even painful for intercourse. And this is the thing about vaginismus is lots of things can cause it. And there’s no necessarily cure for it. It’s, it could be neurological, it could be emotional, it could be all sorts of things

Jennifer Smith (15:23):

Like your environment.

Aaron Smith (15:24):

Yeah. Well, if you’re afraid, if you’re anticipating, if you’re emotional stuff going on. And again, I’m not a therapist, I don’t know much about it other than this is something that was suggested to us to research and to figure out other things. And this is a big one. Again, this is one that, one of those that could be controllable doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy, but controllable is addictions, drugs, pornography is a huge one. Food addictions, gaming, these types of things. When our minds either on the husband or the wife or both are being under the control of other things, under the influence of other things. These can have drastic effects on our biology, on our physics, I was on the physics, physics on the physical body because

Jennifer Smith (16:13):

They’re not just habits you’re choosing to form. It’s actually rewiring your brain.

Aaron Smith (16:18):

Yeah, there’s plenty of books on just pornography alone on how it actually, there’s one called Wired and it talks about how pornography actually is changing the way your brain works, the way you get aroused the way. So anyways, addiction’s one of those. Another one is erectile dysfunction or other medical issues. These are going to be landing in those uncontrollable, you don’t necessarily have control over those things, but that definitely affects it. Another one would be performance anxiety. This could be caused by past traumas, things like that, which is the next one is past trauma and F causing fear or distaste refusal or lack of interest. So these types of things are very spiritual, very mental, very emotional. And they can keep one of the, or both part parts of the marriage, husband or wife from wanting to have sex or they have a totally twisted perspective of sex because of something that’s happened to them in the past or something that they’ve done or a myriad of reasons.

(17:29)
The last two is a partner that’s absent either prison, military, or work travel. This is a very common situation in marriage where there’s one spouse that’s gone for long periods of time. So you can’t have sex with a spouse that’s not physically with you. And then the last one is medical conditions, which kind of goes into the erectile section, but there could be other things that are causing you to not be able to have sexual intimacy. One specific one would be, and this would be a short, shorter season, could be a long season though, is recovering from having a baby. You have a season where you can’t have sex because there’s, there’s physical recovery happening, but it doesn’t like whether the season’s months or years where the idea is we want to have the right mentality and heart and perspective on these things to help us get through those seasons. So

Jennifer Smith (18:24):

Do we want to give the cliff notes so that if someone can’t get, can’t go read the Unveiled Wife right now? Just where we landed in that and what we discovered. Yeah,

Aaron Smith (18:36):

I think there was quite a few things. Like I said, we were talking about how we came into healing of that, but it wasn’t just one thing. It was kind of a group of things. It was us figuring a lot of stuff out. It was you figuring out that there was certain things that your body was sensitive to that we realized that when you took those away, you started, your body started changing and you started, things started working.

Jennifer Smith (19:01):

There were ingredients specifically that were mimicking estrogen in my body that caused dryness. And it was a hormone problem,

Aaron Smith (19:13):

Which is something that you’ve been figuring out over the last 16 years. Also with your Hashimoto’s. Yeah. And figuring out things about your body that you didn’t know before. But on top of that, there was a lot of spiritual stuff that we were walking through of, again, things that we needed to let go of, things that we needed to forgive, learning how to love each other. So I would say there was one major thing, and then a bunch of little things that were just compounding on top of this, and then we’re going to get into later on in the episode is eventually we just get so bitter and angry that we don’t even want to be physical with each other anyway.

Jennifer Smith (19:50):

So our greatest encouragement to you today is hang in there and continue to pursue each other and try and seek out what those reasons are or root causes are, because it’s worth it to stick around and to be patient and to love one another in that sacrificial way. That’s what we found.

Aaron Smith (20:08):

That was good. So that was just some cliff notes of our own story, some of the reasons why maybe there’s an issue in your marriage or someone’s marriage that would be causing a sexist marriage. I want to talk about the biblical perspective on the beauty and the pleasure of marital intimacy. So sex. And I hope that first and foremost, this kind of just sets a mindset and a foundation for how we can be viewing sex and marriage. This doesn’t mean if you’re not having sex, you’re in sin. No, some people that might be the case depending on things going on. But I just want us to have the right of like, because there are some out there, and I wanted dispel this, that believe sex is unnecessary and unneeded and I can’t disagree more. And I think the Bible disagrees also. That doesn’t mean, again, there’s not going to be seasons without it.

(21:01)
That doesn’t mean if you’re in a season without it that you’re necessarily in sin. Because again, there’s lots of reasons that are uncontrollable. But I think biblically the mindset should be sex is a good thing. It’s a powerful thing. It’s a necessary thing, if that makes sense. So God’s perfect will, I don’t know if you’ve heard us talk about this in the past. I didn’t come up with this idea, but God has a perfect will and a permissive will. His perfect will is that none should perish and that all would come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. But we know that that doesn’t happen. So there’s also a permissive will. There’s something, there’s a will that he allows to take place. So in his perfect will, our marriages would be that sex would be honored in our marriages and in his intimacy would be honest, passionate, and lasting. That’d be amazing. All of our marriage is just perfect. Perfect. That’d be great. But we know that’s not the case. So we can have the mindset of what God, we can have God’s mindset on it while we pursue his perfect will while living in his permissive will. If that makes sense. That makes sense. So here’s some scriptures. Why don’t you read the first one?

Jennifer Smith (22:05):

Proverbs five 18 through 19 says, let your fountain be blessed and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely dear, a graceful dough. Let her breasts fill you at all times with the light. Be intoxicated always in her love.

Aaron Smith (22:18):

So I know that this proverb is speaking from a perspective to a man and his wife, but if we look at this, and the purpose behind this is that the husband and wife enjoy each other, enjoy each other, and they rejoice and delight in each other. And that the, it’s talking about breasts and that sexual fulfillment is good, being intoxicated with her love, with her body, with her. So coming together and having this perspective, again, song is Solomon. The whole book is about this idea of close, beautiful, intimate relationship with a man and his wife and how beautiful it is and how powerful it is. What I,

Jennifer Smith (22:58):

Go ahead. What I love about this first is even though it’s from the perspective to a husband about the wife, at the end there, it says, be intoxicated always in her love, meaning she’s also doing, yeah, she loves. And so he loves. She loves. I just like that it’s both in there

Aaron Smith (23:14):

And it is. It’s just showing again the godly perspective of this is his perfect will. Having this level of relationship with our spouses, Hebrews 13, four, let marriage be held in honor among all and let the marriage bed be undefiled. So not only the union of marriage being held in honor, but also the actions that take place in the marriage on the bed. What happens between that union, that physical connection between a husband, wife, that coming together, that unification, that becoming one physically, that it is undefiled, that it’s kept pure, not distorted, not ruined, not trampled upon or cast out. That’s not pure if you’re just throwing it away.

Jennifer Smith (24:01):

The next one is Mark 10, 6 0 9. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife. And the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together. Let not man separate. And this idea or concept of one flesh is also mentioned in several other places. Genesis 2 24, Matthew 19, four through six, Ephesians 5 31 and one Corinthians six 16.

Aaron Smith (24:31):

And when the Bible says one flesh in concept, it’s like unified as one whole, but it’s also that coming together. And sexual intimacy is the consummation of marriage. It’s that physically coming together and becoming one together. And children that are made from that act are the physical reputation of that union because they actually, they combine our D DNAs together. And you have one new thing that came out of the two. So God made a male and female, therefore man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife holding fast like that. This is what we want to encourage today is this idea of holding fast even in the seasons when sex is not possible or difficult. And so that’s the biblical perspective. Sex is good, it’s should be honored, it should be honored, protected undefiled, and that a man and a woman, a husband and a wife, hold fast to one another in unity and wholeness. Amen. Okay. So again, just going back to that permissive will, this is definitely not always the case. That’s not always so perfect. It’s not always so beautiful. It’s not always so pleasurable because there are things that can get in the way of a healthy and fulfilling sex life with our spouse. So some

Jennifer Smith (25:59):

Things are intentional and some things aren’t always intent unintentional.

Aaron Smith (26:05):

And so we got to understand this issue a little bit. And so if we come into this marriage like I did and think like, oh, sex is going to be easy and plentiful and awesome and I deserve it, and that’s what you are there for. I’ve only got a percent of the truth, right? Well, first of all, some of those things may not be true because it wasn’t in the first four and a half years and it’s taken us a long time to figure things out with each other. But our bodies, your body, my body isn’t just meant for sex. That’s a very objectified view of each other. It’s a very oversimplification of what we are. And so if we don’t define a whole, define our whole marriage by sex alone, we’re going to be in the wrong place and we’re going to have a destroyed perspective about our marriages.

(27:11)
So we have to have the right perspective, the right definitions. So recognizing that our spouse is not just for sex, but as for so much more will help us to navigate a sexless marriage better. It’ll help us to see our spouse better, but then understanding on top of that, that sex has what the purposes of sex are in marriage. One of them, one of the main purposes, but not the only one is for making more image bears for having children, but also recognizing that it’s for pleasure and for strengthening a husband and wife’s bond in unity. So on one hand, not just seeing your spouse for one thing, but recognizing they’re more than that. So that even if we don’t get have sex, if that’s something that we we’re lacking, we can still have a fulfilling marriage while we pursue that and figure that out. And then also recognizing what the purpose of sex is in our marriage, that it’s for having children, but not just for having children, it’s also for pleasure and for strengthening a husband and wife’s bond unity. So having both those perspectives is really good. That’s

Jennifer Smith (28:23):

Good. I like the balance. So in wrapping our heads around this issue, I think it’s important to talk about all also the impact of feeling that discouragement when things aren’t working the way you expected or desired.

Aaron Smith (28:40):

Were we discouraged?

Jennifer Smith (28:41):

Yes, very much so. I know that was a huge thing for me. And so if we can just speak to that, I’m sure there’s someone listening that could really benefit from feeling encouraged.

Aaron Smith (28:52):

Yeah. So when there’s lack of sex, discouragement is a huge enemy, feeling discouraged in many ways, discouraged over our bodies, discouraged over our marriages,

Jennifer Smith (29:01):

Thinking it’s your fault or you’re the problem

Aaron Smith (29:03):

Feeling like a failure. One big thing that comes out of is loneliness when you can’t, like we said, one of the benefits of sex, one of it is, is that building that unity and strengthening it, we feel distant. We feel alone. I feel like you’re, I’m not with you. You feel like you’re not with me. We’re not physically coming close. So we may have the friendship on lockdown, we go do things and we have friends and life seems great in other aspects, but the moment we’re home alone, the moment it’s quiet, the moment the time is there that we could be intimate and we feel a thousand miles away.

Jennifer Smith (29:47):

Something from what I can remember of when we were in this season was all of the other physical touches started to be amplified for me and really meant a lot to me. Like you playing with my hair or us holding hands, ways of feeling close to you without being physical but not sexual. Those things kissing, they played a huge role in me feeling like, okay, we’re still here. We’re still together.

Aaron Smith (30:16):

That’s really good. And again, in understanding what the temptations come with, that discouragement, that loneliness, those things is also recognizing that the enemy knows this and loves when he can influence and tempt a couple to fall into this even deeper, like speaking those lies. Yeah, you are broken. Yeah, you can’t even fulfill this one thing, this one simple thing for your husband, or you can’t fulfill this one simple thing for your wife and speaking those lies to tempt us to become bitter or more lonely or afraid.

Jennifer Smith (30:55):

More isolated,

Aaron Smith (30:55):

More isolated. And so we’re bringing these things up to bring to the forefront what is happening in this scenario so that we can better deal with it, better walk with it. What are some of the lies and doubt that can come in times of weakness and v vulnerability? Because again, going back to the things that we’re tempted with is lies doubt were weak and vulnerable. So all of that kind of gets rolled up into this ugly emotional mall.

Jennifer Smith (31:27):

Yeah, I remember one for me was that things are never going to get better because it was four years. If it was maybe after the second or third time, I would’ve been like, whew, that was tough.

Aaron Smith (31:38):

But yeah, there was moments they were like, oh, that kind of was a great, and then oh, then five times it sucked. Yeah,

Jennifer Smith (31:43):

Even an up and down, that would’ve been, I think easier. But we didn’t have, because it wasn’t, oh, it was draining. And I just got to this place where I felt utterly hopeless. I literally thought, this isn’t going to change, which led me to then start thinking, you go down that rabbit hole if well, if this isn’t going to change, then you should go be with someone. You can be

Aaron Smith (32:03):

Again, lies. Yeah. And that was a big deal because especially when we, we got more and more discouraged and feeling like it was never going to change. There would be something coming up. We had a photographer, a work trip, and we’re like, oh, maybe this is what we needed, a change of location, a change, and there would be this glimpse of hope and then failure, and then boom, we’d sink way deeper than we were before. Yeah. So

Jennifer Smith (32:30):

There were other things that, oh, sorry. Go ahead. You go ahead. There were other things that came up too. I remember I had gone back to school for a time college, and there was a class I was in where a group of girls were talking a little bit older than me about marriage. And one of ’em, I forget the context, but she used the word compatible and that rest of the week, really, I could not stop the thought that we were not compatible.

Aaron Smith (32:54):

Well, we made his mistake. We’re the wrong people for each other.

Jennifer Smith (32:57):

We just don’t fit. That’s the problem.

Aaron Smith (32:58):

Yeah. Lies. But the enemy tempts us with that, we start believing because of all the other things. We feel that the compatibility was a big one. And one for me was I started getting tempted with this lie, man, I should have had more experiences before we were married, which is, I mean, that’s such a ugly lie that isn’t fixed nothing. And it was something that would’ve been against God and against my walk with him. But that’s how susceptible we can become when we’re so weak and this vulnerable state if we’re not pursuing God and pouring into the things and seeking the things that God wants for us. Another one is that we’re not loved. You don’t love me or I don’t, don’t feel loved by you. These are the kinds of lies and doubt that we get tempted with when we’re weak and vulnerable in this state of a marriage where there’s that not that physical connection. Bonding is closer and closer and something that we can enjoy and walk in.

Jennifer Smith (34:07):

So our purpose in this episode is just to shine a bright light on this thing that, well, obviously the enemy loves to use against us to tear us apart, but also our own flesh gets in the way. And what happens when we get to a discouraged place, like a really discouraged place where your thoughts are going in a completely other direction than where God desires. We become unimpactful and not influential in this world at all because we’re focused on ourselves and what we’re not getting. And that becomes the rat in the wheel. Yeah. That’s what we focus on. And it makes it really difficult to be used.

Aaron Smith (34:53):

So we want to encourage. And so a lot of things we’re saying are very discouraging, but if you’re in this season, if this is something you’re going through, then I would imagine all of these things are resonating with you. And we hope that by shining the light on it, we were just saying that it reveals the truth about them, that they are lies from the devil. They’re not truth. And we can walk in the truth and we can walk in light. And even though we can’t have fulfillment in this area in the moment that we want it, we can grow and we can do other things while we wait on the Lord

Jennifer Smith (35:29):

Patiently

Aaron Smith (35:30):

And pursue answers.

Jennifer Smith (35:33):

So moving on here, what are some practical things that a couple can do to biblically and spiritually and physically deal with their marriage that is struggling with sex?

Aaron Smith (35:45):

So I mentioned earlier about some reasons are by choice and some reason are not by choice. It may not be a simple thing that you guys can’t have sex because of issues, but it may very well be if you have this mentality. I think first and foremost is recognizing that it’s not a healthy or good to be living in a sexless marriage by choice. So if one of the spouses is choosing, saying, I’m not, I don’t want sex with you for whatever reason, I think that’s something that needs to be dealt with. Yeah. So

Jennifer Smith (36:23):

Go ahead. Sorry. I just had this picture of we’ve worked through so many different seasons of being a toddler, A toddler having a toddler.

Aaron Smith (36:31):

We were a toddler once too,

Jennifer Smith (36:33):

I guess. So with toddlers, remember we came to a point where we recognized that one of their first choices in life is right around one and a half, two, where they recognize, oh, I don’t have to eat that food you just put in front of me. And they like full on fight to honor mom and dad and eat the food that we just gave them. And I think it’s because they recognize, well, I can choose to put that thing in my mouth, or I can throw a tantrum and just little kids trying to explore those boundaries and seeing what happens. Even though mom and dad know the most beneficial thing is get that nutrients inside of you. When we get married, whether we’re newlyweds or it’s later on in the years of marriage, we recognize that sex is a choice. And sometimes in our immaturity, we use it to throw a tantrum.

Aaron Smith (37:30):

Well, and it could be a control thing I brought up earlier in some of those reasons. It could be a fear thing, it could be lots of things. But if it’s something that you’re choosing and you’re saying, well, it’s unnecessary, I don’t want it. I don’t like it’s gross and my husband or my wife has to deal with it, I think that’s wrong. And I think that’s something that should be prayed through repented of and figured out. So that’s the first thing. And the verse I wanted to read was in one Corinthians seven, three through five, the husband should give his wife her conjugal rights. And likewise, the wife, her husband for the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a limited time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, but then come together again so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

(38:23)
So this is showing the dynamics of the true relationship between a husband and wife that my body’s not my own, it’s yours and your body’s not your own. It’s mine. So I don’t have whatever say I want over my own body. And you don’t have whatever say you want over your own body. We have a mutual say over each other’s bodies. And then it says, if you’re going to deprive one another, it’s got to be by agreement. And so again, I think it’s sinful if there’s one partner, one spouse that’s choosing and forcing the other spouse to that you to be deprived, you can’t have it. I don’t want to do it with you until I want it or until I let you have it or until I’m okay with it. That’s not by agreement. So the first thing is practically, if you are choosing this, if there’s a specific spouse in the relationship that’s controlling the sex in the marriage, that needs to be repetitive.

Jennifer Smith (39:17):

So another practical to tack onto this list is a practical way of addressing a sexist marriage is knowing and recognizing the importance of prayer for endurance for each other. Galatians six, nine says, let us not grow weary of doing good for induced season. We’ll reap if we do not give up. And I know that’s a general, that’s general, but we can apply this to praying for our marriage and specifically intimacy in marriage. The whole pursuit of prayer and perseverance, having patience, which we talked about earlier. Those are all really important values that we can bring to our marriage that will support our spouse and encourage them along the way. It’s something that you did for me when I felt like I was discouraged and I was believing lies. I’m the problem. You made sure we prayed every night and you came alongside us and brought our issue before the Lord in a really humble way that made me feel loved, even despite the not being fulfilled

Aaron Smith (40:17):

Well. And the praying also, it encourages ourselves to keep our eyes in the right place, keeping our eyes on God, on his word. It keeps us in this place of seeking his wisdom and counsel, asking him for help because we’re weak. I say, God, I don’t know how much longer I can handle this. I don’t know. Rely

Jennifer Smith (40:37):

On his strength. Yeah.

Aaron Smith (40:38):

And so yeah, having a prayerful heart in this season is so important. Another practical is keeping the pursuit alive. You mentioned pursuit just a second ago is not giving up, but remaining hopeful

Jennifer Smith (40:54):

Isn’t another thing that you did really well for us. Because again, in my caught up in my own mind of feeling frustrated over our sex life, you never gave up initiating or trying again. I’m sure there were seasons that made it harder for you, but you did. You kept coming back and you kept

Aaron Smith (41:14):

Coming. Being a male, it was kind of built into me to want to keep doing it. Yeah, no, but it was, didn’t want to keep pursuing, but it was hopeful. But on both sides, husband and wife, not giving up, not being like, well, I’m just hurt and angry. I’m not going to pursue you anymore. Continuing to pursue, continuing to remain hopeful and not stopping.

Jennifer Smith (41:37):

I do wish that during that season, especially towards the end, that I was better at this, better at remaining hopeful and better at pursuing you because I really struggled with that.

Aaron Smith (41:49):

Well, it was the moment we lost hope that we started going downhill really quick. So that hope is really important.

Jennifer Smith (41:56):

Another practical is the importance of celebrating the little wins along the way and really having fun outside of the bedroom. I mean, you could have fun inside the bedroom in different ways too, because we watch movies and stuff together, but we also worked out together. We hung out in groups of friends and spent quality time doing fun things together. We learned new things like you taught me photography, you helped teach me photography.

Aaron Smith (42:23):

What else? Yeah, we kept building on our

Jennifer Smith (42:26):

Friendship side

Aaron Smith (42:26):

Things, other intimacy side parts of our relationship, which is really good. And celebrating that, looking at those things and being like, man, I love that you are my best friend.

Jennifer Smith (42:35):

And when we did come together talking about celebrating the little wins, I remember I would be discouraged that it didn’t happen just the way that I hoped or wanted or whatever. And you’re like, yeah, but we got to do this. Yeah, but we got yeah, this far. So you were also aware of the victories when I couldn’t see clearly.

Aaron Smith (42:57):

Well, and you would do that for me at times too. Yeah. So I just feel like you’ve been, well, beating yourself up a little bit about

Jennifer Smith (43:03):

I’m not beating myself up. I want there to be an honest there. There’s this honesty where it’s like during that time of struggle, I did, I don’t know how to explain it, but I did struggle a lot more in the emotional side of things. Mental side, the mental side of things. My capacity was not great.

Aaron Smith (43:23):

And

Jennifer Smith (43:23):

Yours was,

Aaron Smith (43:24):

Look where we’re at now. Yeah, here we are. Another practical tip for you if you’re in this season is to actively seek help and not just settling for the first answer you get. Because the first answer we got was, you’re young, you’re healthy, everything should be fine. That was literally the first answer you got.

Jennifer Smith (43:46):

And actually, the first answer was to loosen up.

Aaron Smith (43:50):

Right? Oh, you’re right. It was like, Hey, yeah, go relax. Go relax and stop overthinking it.

Jennifer Smith (43:56):

And then it was, you’re fine.

Aaron Smith (43:59):

So what two different professionals made it sound like it was nothing, even though there was clearly something. And so don’t just give up. Don’t go to the first doctor, the first naturopath, the first whoever, and then just take that answer. If you didn’t get an answer ke, there’s nothing wrong with educating yourself, asking questions, seeking counsel, seeking advice, getting second, third, fourth, and fifth opinions. This is your marriage. So seek that help.

Jennifer Smith (44:32):

Another practical you could consider is experimenting, experimentation and changing up your game. You can explain the rest.

Aaron Smith (44:43):

And essentially it’s just in the bedroom with your spouse. If the one method isn’t working, take the time to explore other methods with your spouse, enjoy them and the time with them and figuring out how you guys work together.

Jennifer Smith (45:07):

Understanding when there is a need for change is probably the first thing. And then being willing to communicate it. And I don’t know if this was hard for you. I remember it being a little awkward for me at first, but being willing to communicate verbally, Hey, I don’t like that as much. Or, Hey, I’d really like it if you,

Aaron Smith (45:23):

Right. And I think that’s a huge thing, is learning to talk about sex, all aspects, all aspects of it. And then the last portion of this is utilizing other means of release for each other so that maybe you can’t have intercourse the way the traditional way in this season like us. But coming together, spending that time with each other and still enjoying each other is a really powerful thing and necessary. We have a few more to go, so we thank you that you’re sticking with us. Another really powerful practical tip is avoiding external, external, external pitfalls there. In this season, we know from our own experience, there’s going to be an extra level of temptation that comes with this. When you’re not being physically intimate with your spouse, there’s that the enemy’s going to tempt you are flesh temp says, because there’s a need that still exists, there’s a physical need, a biological need, a spiritual need that still exists. And so we might be tempted with things like pornography, romance, novels, other things that are going to help us get something that we need, something that we’re looking for, not from our spouse.

Jennifer Smith (46:52):

And could you add to that list even emotional dependency on others or emotional,

Aaron Smith (46:59):

Yeah. Other relationships even. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And these are the pitfalls that we want to be aware of, that we are vulnerable and sensitive in this area, and we might be like our flesh, flesh is going to want to pursue that need in other ways.

Jennifer Smith (47:19):

And this, we already shared this verse, but it goes back to just remembering that a Hebrews 13, four says, let marriage be held in honor among all and let the marriage bed be undefiled. And it continues to say, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous

Aaron Smith (47:34):

And the sexual immoral. So if this could be a husband or a wife, but romance novels that are very graphic, it’s essentially pornography in words and finding that fulfillment in other places, that’s not your spouse. We need to not do that. We need to be very careful of that. It’s something that I did and I shouldn’t have, and it did not help. It definitely only made things worse. So

Jennifer Smith (48:07):

The last thing is just encouragement and hope, encouraging one another throughout the process or the season that you are experiencing.

Aaron Smith (48:16):

Constantly encouraging,

Jennifer Smith (48:18):

Maintaining a positive mindset and keeping the faith, keeping your faith and keeping in the word of God, being encouraged by it. These are all things that are really important and things that will hold, like Aaron mentioned earlier, in order to hold fast to one another under trial, you need to be doing these things

Aaron Smith (48:39):

That we did. I did a lot in this specifically in how to encourage your spouse, not just like, Hey, we’ll figure it out, but I love you. And no matter how long it takes, yeah, I’m here with you

Jennifer Smith (48:55):

Reaffirming the love.

Aaron Smith (48:56):

Yeah. I will continue to try figure this out with you in this with you and reminding your husband, reminding your wife that you’re not just there for their body, but you do want their body. And so being their spiritual encourager, their mental encourager, their physical encourager.

Jennifer Smith (49:19):

And I just to add to that, knowing that for the person who’s having the issue, so in our case, you heard me say a lot, I felt like I was the one kind of in the way of what we’re we were dealing with. For the person who feels that way, it really is such a sensitive thing to walk through. And they will, they’ll probably feel even more discouraged than you, or sometimes, I guess it could be both of you could be the, yeah, I don’t know how to word this, but I just want to say that the person who thinks that they’re the ones standing in the way may need more encouragement. And so

Aaron Smith (49:58):

We’ll need more

Jennifer Smith (49:59):

Encouragement. We’ll need more encouragement. So if you could find the courage to be the one to embrace that role of the encourager. Oh, man. Yeah, it is amazing.

Aaron Smith (50:11):

And then I brought up in the beginning that your spouse is much more than just their body. They’re made in the image of God. And so remembering that be like, wow, this is a child of God. This my wife is made in God’s image, and then the wife, my husband is made in God’s image. And remembering that and using that as the basis for your encouragement, as the basis for the words that you bring to your spouse and remembering the truth about all of this. And then the last thing is asking God what we can learn through this. What does he want to show us in this season? Because he does have stuff for us to learn.

Jennifer Smith (50:51):

Yeah, that’s really good.

Aaron Smith (50:54):

So that’s kind of what we got for this episode. It was a lot.

Jennifer Smith (50:58):

So basically, we just want to encourage you guys that if you’re currently in this season, and for some of you it may have been a very long season, don’t give up, hold fast to each other, hold fast to the Lord and the word of God and seek help.

Aaron Smith (51:15):

Yeah. I think we should give him a little bit of what happened with us, just as a little bit of encouragement in that like

Jennifer Smith (51:24):

A glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.

Aaron Smith (51:26):

And we don’t know everyone’s situation and we don’t know if there’s an answer for everything. And sometimes there’s no answer. But

Jennifer Smith (51:35):

Well, we went through four years of a sexless marriage and the Lord saved us and we were given the opportunity to start enjoying sex. And when that happened, we quickly got pregnant. And since then have had five kids. And now up to date, we’ve been married for six and a half years total

Aaron Smith (51:56):

16,

Jennifer Smith (51:57):

I’m sorry, 16 and a

Aaron Smith (51:59):

Half years. 10 more years of that.

Jennifer Smith (52:01):

Yes. So when you look in comparison, 12 and a half years versus four. So we’ve enjoyed more years of goodness than trouble as far as the sexual intimacy department and currently our enjoying each other more than ever before.

Aaron Smith (52:18):

And we learned a lot in those, like we said earlier, in those first four years about each other, outside of being able to do that, that has benefited us over the last 12 years as we’ve learned to enjoy each other, learned to love each other in this way, learn to

Jennifer Smith (52:34):

Communicate better, learn to understand each other’s needs better.

Aaron Smith (52:38):

So we just want to encourage you that in pursuing God, there may be an answer. There may be an answer. And to not give up hope, but to continue to grow in your relationship with your spouse, to despite this area being the way it is, and just continue to seek God in all of it. And God’s good. He is a good God, and he loves you, and he does want the best for you. And so again, we don’t know. We don’t know have all the answers for everything, but we just know God’s good. And when we wait on him, he renews our strength. When we pursue him, we find him. When we knock, he opens the door for us. So I like that. Why don’t you finish with the growth spurt.

Jennifer Smith (53:26):

So every e episode at the end, we just share a growth spurt. This is an opportunity to, that we challenge you with, to grow in yourself, but also in your marriage and in your relationship with the Lord. And so this month we’re focusing on growing by actually growing. Try gardening, planting a flower or a tree or vegetable, something that gets your hands in the dirt. And you can do it together with your spouse, but you can also, like I mentioned earlier, my mom came out and we had a blast doing that together. So you can invite others. Maybe it’s your children, maybe it’s a grandparent, maybe it’s a friend.

Aaron Smith (54:01):

Awesome. Why don’t you pray for us?

Jennifer Smith (54:03):

Dear Lord, thank you for the special gift of sex and marriage. We appreciate the way you designed us to experience being one flesh in a physical way. We pray we would continually pursue one another and posture our hearts to be inviting and ready and willing to embrace each other. We pray over our marriage and specifically over our sex and marriage, that we would be blessed and fulfilled. Please help us to love one another and meet each other’s needs. We pray when we come together, it would be a positive experience. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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