You were created for intimacy. You probably got married expecting that doing so would fulfill your needs for connection, love, sex, and the other aspects of intimacy. When your spouse carries sexual baggage your expectations are likely to be disappointed, and there’s more pain than intimacy between you. How do you care for your heart when your spouse won’t connect?
I did not say, “won’t have sex.” Intimacy between husband and wife as God intended includes sex, but that’s only one aspect. There are healthy godly marriages where intercourse is not possible, but physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy are strong.
There are many possible reasons why your spouse might not want to have sex. If your spouse is working diligently on their “issues” your heart may have an easier time. But what about when they aren’t? They refuse to get help for their porn use, they keep emotionally cheating, or they have high walls around their body and soul that you see no windows through. What then?
Remember, you cannot fix your spouse! You cannot make your spouse connect with you as you wish; stop trying to control them. Last time we talked about ways in which you can be helpful to your spouse. But the only part of this that you have control over is your own heart, attitudes, thoughts, behavior. And it’s your heart we’re talking about today.
Check your own heart for excuses. What attitudes or behavior are you excusing because your spouse won’t connect, be intimate, or have sex with you? Are you being prickly, harsh, or resentful? Going to porn or affairs? Trying to punish your spouse, hoping that will “teach” them? Refusing to deal with your own wounds until your spouse deals with theirs?
Let the Holy Spirit speak to you here. Ask Him to show you how He sees your own heart. What is He wanting to do in you in this season? He does not enjoy your pain, but He will use even the hardest circumstances to work something good in you if you give Him that chance.
You have holes in your heart that are legitimate needs. Your need for intimacy is part of how you are made in the image of God. That applies whether you’re single or married, and regardless of how your spouse is responding – or not responding.
You are responsible for taking healthy action in finding the nourishment your heart needs. God makes an infinite variety of physical food available, but He doesn’t harvest the grain, grind it, bake your bread, and hand you a sandwich. You’re responsible for knowing when you’re hungry, finding appropriate food, and actually taking it into your being.
It’s the same with your needs for things such as affection, connection, inspiration, love, and intimacy. Sure, your spouse “should” meet many of those needs in marriage, but don’t make the mistake of believing you’re powerless if they’re not doing so. You are still responsible for what you do with your heart.
That means finding healthy non-sexual authentically intimate connections in the body of Christ. God never designed you to grow and thrive alone. You need these kinds of connections even if you’re married. God never intended even the healthiest marriage to meet all your needs. I find this one of the hardest steps for people to take – intentionally proactively connecting deeply with a few others, people who can know you, challenge you, support you, pray for you.
And of course this means investing in your connection with God. The “usual” Christian who is married expects their spouse to meet needs that only God can meet. Make sure you are going to Him directly and first.
Learning to feed yourself will bring you the inner resilience you need to see things more clearly, make wise decisions, and bring your best self to your marriage.
Sitting with Discomfort
Our culture has trained us to believe a quick fix must be available whenever we feel something unpleasant. Hunger, pain, boredom – there’s a pill or fast food or entertainment just a click or two away. That’s a false perspective.
The union of two sinners in marriage is a setup for pain and disaster. Marriage will hurt you. (See 1 Corinthians 7:28) Loving means allowing your heart to be vulnerable, and the one you love therefore has the ability to hurt you. God Himself has been and continues to be wounded because of His love for us. You will experience some of that in your own marriage.
You will need to learn to sit with discomfort when your spouse won’t be intimate. That’s not pining away, or becoming resentful, or putting up with truly toxic behavior. (There are times God does release you.) You will naturally want to act out in some way emotionally, sexually, or otherwise. Notice your pain, but then pause. Don’t act on those emotions without time and thought and prayer.
But what do you do with the loneliness, pain, frustration, or unmet sexual desire?
- Own it. Embrace it. Acknowledge it. Your feelings, your pain, is real.
- Bring it to Jesus. It’s too big for you to deal with on your own. Lay it on Him.
- Keep pursuing intimacy. Seek your spouse’s heart. Make sure you continue to be the invitation to come closer.
This side of eternity we all experience unmet needs, wounds that bring scars, disappointments, and more. It’s not that these are somehow OK; they’re not! But it is part of the human experience.
And Jesus understands. He experienced unmet needs, hurts, disappointments when He was here, and He allowed none of that to make Him prickly, withdrawn, or unholy. Bring those parts of you to Him.
Doing so is the only way you will have the wherewithal to keep pursuing intimacy in your marriage. And in many marriages that will result in rebuilding the connection between you.
Your Turn: How are you dealing with your heart when your spouse won’t connect? Where do you need to tend to your heart more diligently? Leave a comment below.
Tweetables: why not share this post?
- When your spouse won’t connect you still have no excuse for behaving badly – emotionally, sexually, or otherwise. You do need to attend to your heart at such times. You can learn to feed yourself. Tweet that.
Struggling with Sexual “Stuff?”
When your spouse’s sexual “stuff” stirs up your stuff, you need some help. That’s why we’ve created the Sexpectations online course – to help you deal with your sexual story, find the transformation Jesus offers, and write the next chapter with hope. You can do this regardless of what your spouse does or doesn’t do.
Don’t wait any longer! I’m inviting you to join me in the Sexpectations online course, and take the next step in finding the wholeness Jesus offers.