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:
- Acknowledge that choosing to live in a sexless marriage isn’t healthy or beneficial. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5
- Keep the pursuit alive. Continue to pursue your spouse, and remain hopeful.
- Have fun outside the bedroom. Spend time enjoying your spouse and having fun outside of sex.
- 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.
- Experiment and try to find what works best for you and your spouse.
- Avoid external pitfalls. Avoid temptation to seek fulfillment outside of marriage. Hebrews 13:4
- Encourage one another throughout this season. Maintain hope and continually reaffirm your love for one another.
- 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.