We know that sex is a part of marriage. However, we also know that sex doesn’t always occur in marriage. A study done a few years ago about what’s happening sexually in America found that about 20% of married couples between the ages of 15 and 59 have sex with each other less than once a month (about ten times a year). And another 15% in that same age group are having sex with each other less than twice a month. Less than twice a month is considered a low-sex marriage, and less than once a month is a no-sex marriage. But what about your marriage? What if your spouse doesn’t want sex?
Perhaps you want to be making love to your spouse, but when you attempt it, your spouse doesn’t want it to occur. And you feel that you’ve been sexually rejected or are continually sexually rejected by your spouse. So what do you do about that? Well, we’ll talk about that on this episode of Relationship Radio.
Important For Marriage
Sex is a critical component of marriage. As a matter of fact, we know that sex is good for us. For example, when you look at the studies done worldwide, you’ll find that sexually active men decrease the likelihood of having a fatal heart attack. Of course, it doesn’t reduce the possibility of a heart attack. But if they’re sexually active, it decreases the likelihood that a heart attack will kill them.
Women, on the other hand, if they’re sexually active, meaning regularly orgasmic, actually decrease the likelihood of having a heart attack in the first place. Now, there are all kinds of other benefits. We could talk a lot about that, and there’s a lot about sexual satisfaction we could discuss.
But today, understand this: sex is a drive within us. If you believe in God, then God put it there. If you believe in the universe, then the universe put it there. If you believe in nature, then nature put it there, but it is there. And it is designed not only to make babies, which is the ultimate purpose of sex. But it’s designed to bring two people together to fulfill each other in emotional and physical ways. It bonds people together.
When Your Spouse Rejects You
Now, based on how important sex is for both males and females, and it’s a way that people can communicate love to each other, you can imagine the tremendous emotional pain that occurs when one spouse is rejected by the other. For example, “I want to make love to my wife, but she doesn’t want it to happen.” Or you want to make love to your husband, but he doesn’t want it to occur. And in those situations, we have all kinds of problems. Rejection causes not just sexual issues, but relational problems, and even ego problems.
Sex is incredibly intimate, and rejection harms that intimacy. So it’s not just, “I don’t want to hold your hand right now,” although that can hurt. Instead, it can feel like your spouse is rejecting you as a person because it’s so intimate to who you are.
And that’s typically how people take it. Not just that you’re rejecting the act of sex itself, but you’re rejecting your spouse, what they need, what they want, including the closeness between the two of you. Why is that such an ego bust?
Sex is the most intimate and vulnerable a person can be with another person. So when it feels like your spouse rejects you, it may seem like you’re not good enough, attractive enough, or sexually prime enough. I mean, there are so many different ways a person can take that rejection, a man or a woman, that it can hurt their ego, self-perception, self-esteem, and self-worth.
We know if somebody has unfulfilled sexual needs, there are other avenues out there. There are people out there that you can have an affair with; there’s pornography. If they’re looking for self-satisfaction, many things exist if a spouse doesn’t have it fulfilled in marriage. So it doesn’t mean that if my spouse refuses me sexually, my sexual need goes away. It just means if it can’t find fulfillment with my spouse, it will probably find another outlet. And in all likelihood, that outlet will not be a good one.
Now, saying what I just said could get me in trouble if I were on national television because people are going to say, “Well, you just implied that if my spouse goes and does something they shouldn’t, it’s my fault.” So I don’t want to give that implication. But I am saying this: If you’re refusing to be sexual with your spouse, they may go and fulfill that sex drive in some other way. Now, I’m not saying it’s your fault. People have to make their own decisions; they are responsible for their actions. But if you refuse to fulfill your spouse, that is a possibility in the future of your relationship.
And remember, you should never do anything you don’t want to do. Always hold onto your values and what you’re comfortable with, but also be aware of the effects of long-term sexual rejection.
What Can You Do?
Is there anything you can do? What can you do to help improve intimacy with your spouse?
In our Marriage Helper Couples workshop, we teach you all the tools and new ways to communicate so that you can have these critical conversations. And it’s the most helpful thing we have seen work for restoring marriages and making them more satisfying. In addition, we conducted some research on the workshop that indicates a statistically significant increase in sexual satisfaction within 90 days. So make sure you take the time to learn more about the workshop here.
Even if someone is listening and saying, “Well, I wouldn’t say our marriage is in crisis. We’re just having sexual issues.” Our workshop is still helpful because we teach you how to have a good relationship first, which leads to better intimacy and more satisfying sex.
Remember, sex is essential in a marriage. Not wanting sex doesn’t mean your spouse doesn’t, so you need to find common ground. Instead of one spouse, the one with a low sex drive, saying no, maybe explore saying things like, “What if we did this instead? What if we cuddled in bed? What if we held hands?” Those phrases are a way to show your partner you’re not turning them away, but you still want a connection. Maybe you’re just not in the mood for sex now. So one spouse wanting it or one not wanting it doesn’t mean the other can’t find a way to compromise. Work on having great intimacy and sex in your relationship, and see how your marriage flourishes.
For more about improving sex in your marriage, get our FREE eBook here about the 5-step model for satisfying sex.