When you should NOT have Sex with your Spouse

When you should NOT have Sex with your Spouse

If your marriage is relatively happy and healthy and your sex life together is satisfying, this is not for you. (If this article doesn’t apply to you, please simply move on.) But if you are facing elephant-sized problems that are destroying the intimacy between you, keep reading. Yes, there are some circumstances in which you should NOT have sex with your spouse. This article is about bringing wisdom and the gospel to bear on some of those very big marriage challenges.

I’ve written a fair bit about pursuing intimacy, making sex between you better, and how important pursuing physical intimacy is to strengthening the bond between husband and wife. But I’ve heard from some of you recently with questions and comments such as these:

  • “My husband is physically abusive, and then expects me to have sex whenever he wants. Is that what I’m supposed to do?”
  • “My wife is having sex for money with other men. Do I keep trying to have sex with her?”
  • “My husband has been living with another woman, but sometimes he comes home to see our children. Sometimes he asks for sex, and sometimes I say Yes. Should I be doing that?”

My short answer to these questions is No. Sex is not a magic fix. The deeper issues must be addressed.

But a one-word answer is not enough if you’re facing that level of challenge in your marriage. Let’s look at this in more detail. Understanding the role God designed sex to have in marriage will help. And then we’ll address some of the specifics these comments raise.

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Seeking Intimacy – Married or Single

Seeking Intimacy – Married or Single

If you’re married, chances are good intimacy was high on the list of what you were looking for when you said “I do,” even if you didn’t express it that way. If you’re single and want to be married, chances are good intimacy is one of the biggest things you feel you’re missing out on as a single. Intimacy is one of our deepest needs as human beings, and seeking intimacy is following a drive God put within us.

If you’re single and want to be married, you may fantasize about being forever connected to someone who would understand you, who would fulfill your sexual desires, who you could share the real parts of yourself with and communicate with, who you could “kiss any time I want.” A marriage certificate seems like the necessary and guaranteed key to intimacy.

If you’re married you likely know only too well that sex – or marriage – does not equal intimacy. You may feel cheated; “this certainly isn’t what I signed up for!” You’ve discovered that a less-than-perfect marriage can feel like the loneliest place on earth. Your spouse either wants sex much more than you do, or you can’t seem to get them in the mood. Conversation seems strained or full of fight. You find yourself hiding more now than when you were single.

Intimacy is hard work. Intimacy with another human being is dangerous, fragile, yet deeply satisfying when experienced. Seeking intimacy can make some so desperate that they settle for cheap and unhealthy substitutes, including sex.

God created us to need and desire intimacy. Seeking intimacy is a good thing. When that seeking leads us to faulty substitutes it causes more pain, but the need is real.

Since intimacy doesn’t necessarily correlate with sex or marriage, what can you do? Yes, intimacy is possible whether you’re married or single.

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Pornography and your Christian Marriage

Pornography and your Christian Marriage

If the gospel is good for anything it must have an answer to the worst problems humans face. As believers we know that intellectually, but the body of Christ frequently hides from some of the really bad stuff. Pornography and your Christian marriage may seem like things that should not be said in the same sentence. But in 21st century culture it’s something we must acknowledge, and find God’s answer for.

I hear from people every week who struggle with this. I hear from the small-church pastor who feels he has no one to help him out of his addiction to pornography, the godly wife who just found out her husband has been watching porn for years, the young Christian woman who weeps in shame over her continued failure to stop engaging in internet pornography.

Although statistically more men than women get hooked by sexually-charged images and videos, pornography is an equal-opportunity destroyer. Men and women, married and single, Christian and unbeliever, young and old – it affects them all. Our sexualized society spends multi-billions of dollars on this. It starts young; your ten-year-old (or younger) can watch it on their cell-phone while riding the bus to school. (That’s a whole article – or book – in itself!)

Dr Juli Slattery, psychologist, author, and media professional, has stated that she no longer asks couples whether pornography is an issue for them; she asks what role pornography is playing in their relationship.

So what is a Christian to do? Refusing to address pornography is putting your head in the sand, especially if you’re married or contemplating marriage. But as with all human brokenness God has an answer – if you’re addicted, if your spouse is addicted, or if you want to proactively protect your marriage.

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Say This, Not That: Healthy Communication Examples for Marriage

Say This, Not That: Healthy Communication Examples for Marriage

Communication can be difficult. You and your spouse seem to speak different languages. Attempts at talking seem to end up in a fight or in someone walking away. Emotions flare up easily. You want to communicate better, but what do you say? It would help to have some healthy communication examples you could adapt for your own marriage.

Your words have a powerful effect on your spouse. Words can emasculate your husband, rip your wife apart, or bring out the worst defensiveness in your spouse. Your words also have the potential to sooth your spouse’s volatile emotions, solve serious problems, and open the door to true intimacy.

Learning to hold your tongue and do your homework before communicating about something difficult or negative is a huge step. In planning what to say when you do talk, these examples of what to say and what not to say will show you what it means to:

  • Express what you need, think, feel, and want clearly
  • Demonstrate respect and love for your spouse
  • Communicate with a goal of understanding first
  • Solve problems instead of attacking the person

Don’t try this until you have an open heart. Once your heart is open, see how these examples may help you develop some healthier communication patterns in your marriage.

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Pursuing Intimacy with Your Wife

Pursuing Intimacy with Your Wife

(This is a message especially for husbands. Last week I talked about the other side – a post especially for wives.)

In about 80% of marriages, the husband desires sex more frequently than the wife. And then comes frustration. Sometimes anger. Loneliness. Disconnect. What’s a man to do?

There’s also the 20% – those marriages where you as the husband have less sexual desire than your wife. And then comes the frustration, sometimes anger, loneliness, and disconnect also. Can we ever get this right?

Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians are often quoted when this issue comes up among Christians:

“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)

Some husbands read this and say, “Yeah! The Bible says my wife should give me sex when I need it. So wife, come on!”

So, how’s that working out for you?

You’re probably like the husbands I hear from regularly. You want your wife to want you. You have a physical drive for sex, sure, but it goes deeper than that. You want to connect with your wife, and sex is a huge part of how you do that. You want her to respond to you, even initiate. You want her to enjoy your intimacy together as much as you do. You feel most satisfied when she feels satisfied with your time together. Truly connect sexually with your wife is when you feel closest to her, and when you feel most like a man.

If the intimacy between you has been less than great, you may have come to settle for physical release only. But part of you knows there’s more.

Back to that Scripture from 1 Corinthians. So how does it apply? What can you do about it?

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