Dear Aunt Dara
I was married in November 2011. I did not realize we had sexual problems until December 2011. I have discovered my husband is not forthcoming when it comes to sex. I think if he had it his way he could have it once a week, but I want sex every day or once every two days. It now looks like I am a sex maniac in my own head.
I am upset almost every evening and it is now starting to affect the way I think of him, act around him and talk to him. I am moody and I am not the happy wife you would expect to see a few months into her marriage.
To this day I haven’t slept with my husband in a week; I am more frustrated because he acts like nothing is wrong. I have thought about cheating but I cannot - I feel guilty before God. I have also thought about masturbating but I just can’t do it - what will God think of me? I have spoken to him more than three times. It changes for a day or two then we back to square one. I am tired of talking, Aunt Dara, and I have all these feelings bottled up. Who do I tell? How will people look at me?
This has begun to also affect the way that I think. I think I am too fat so maybe he is no longer attracted to me. I think it has something to do with his health. He is obese too and asthmatic. Maybe it’s his health that is affecting this part of his life. I think he has other priorities like his job. My husband can work so hard the minute he walks into the bedroom he is flat out and he sleeps till the next day.
Is sex not necessary in marriage? Am I really a sex maniac for wanting to sleep with my husband at least 4 times a week? What should I do? I feel my marriage is slowly breaking down. I need help to deal with this before we both ruin our marriage. I love my husband, so much - and that is why I married him – but he is slowly destroying me.
Confused and Heartbroken Wife
Dear Confused and Heartbroken Wife,
I have delayed in answering your letter these few days because your problem, though a common one, is complex and the ramifications of giving inaccurate or inappropriate advice could be harmful to your marriage, to your relationship with God, and to your self-esteem. I have spent days in prayer that God will assist me in being sensitive to your needs, to say the things that you need to hear, and that your heart will be receptive to the things that I have to say. I realize that some of the things that I am about to say may be hard for you to hear, but I feel strongly led to share them. I also realize that my reply to you will be far longer than is typical of my replies. I ask that you read with an open heart, keeping your love for God and your love for your husband in mind. I also ask that you trust me in what I’m about to say because I speak as a Christian wife, mother, and grandmother who has been happily married for 38 years.
First of all, I congratulate you and your husband on your new marriage. I pray that the two of you will have many, blessed years together. Marriage is a wonderful gift from God, as is the sexual relationship between a husband and wife. However, as important as sex is in a marriage, it is not the most important thing. The most important thing about marriage is the bond that you form with each other as you become one—not just physically, but as a spiritual union—one in the sight of God and man, one in purpose, in plan, in life-direction, and in service to God. Some of the things that you say in your letter, including the title that you chose for your letter (that your marriage seems to be over before it has started), indicate that you may have some misplaced priorities and unrealistic expectations about marriage, about your husband, and about the place of sex in marriage. Physical intimacy in marriage is not about having one’s sexual tension satisfied, nor is it about one person satisfying the sexual tension that has built up in the other. Sex is about sharing love, affection, and intimacy through the ultimate bonding of two physical beings. I commend you for wanting to do the right thing regarding your sexual needs, and you are correct in not doing anything that would displease God or violate your conscience. However, you need to look at the sexual relationship in your marriage from all angles and put sex in its rightful place.
Sexuality is a natural, God-given human desire. However, sexual desire varies greatly from person to person, and even varies in the same individual over time. It is perfectly normal to want sex four times per week. (You are not a sex maniac; you are normal.) It is also normal to desire sex once per week. (Yes, your husband is normal, too.) You and your husband just happen to have a disparity in your current sexual needs. (Notice I said “current.” Sexual needs change over time.) I doubt that your weight has anything to do with your husband’s not wanting sex as often as you do. If your weight was an issue for him, he would not have married you. Sexual desire can be affected by various factors, including one’s age, physical condition, health, hormones, stress level and energy level, among other things. Certain medications also have a side effect of decreased libido.
Sexual desire is particularly affected by what happens outside the bedroom. In other words, when you have a negative attitude or negative thoughts toward your husband, when you become frustrated, unhappy and moody, he is less likely to feel amorous toward you. Do not harbor negative thoughts in your heart about your husband. God is not pleased when we have negative thoughts toward our husbands, when we complain about them, blame them or nag them (Eph. 5:33), and nothing will kill romance faster. When you tell him repeatedly that you want sex more often, he may feel as if he is being nagged and pressured. He may even wonder if you love him for him, or if you just want his body so he can satisfy you. Nobody likes to feel pressured, and nobody wants their spouse to view them as a sex object. The way that you think, behave, and speak to him will affect his response to you. If you want to spark your husband’s desire, then what he needs from you is selfless and unconditional love, understanding, patience, forgiveness, kindness, consideration, appreciation, admiration, and affection. Show him that you love him by preferring him above all others, spending time with him, talking with him, doing things together, looking for ways to help him, serving his favorite foods, etc. Show him that you love him by giving him affection without the pressure to have sex. Hug him. Hold hands. Stoke his arm or leg. When you sit side-by-side, lean against his body. Kiss lovingly and often. Smile when you look at him with the sparkle of love in your eyes. Tell him daily, at least once a day, that you love him. Then, watch how he responds.
Be sure to pray, asking God to help you to have a loving attitude toward your husband, to have the right priorities in your marriage, and to have a more balanced view of sex. Pray that God will bring your sexual needs and your husband’s sexual needs more in line with each other so that both of you will be content with the frequency of sex in your marriage.
Finally, I would like to leave you with this thought: When my husband and I were married in 1973, the minister who performed the ceremony told us that he had married 197 couples, and only four of those marriages had ended in divorce as far as he knew. He said that he told all of them the same thing that he was about to tell us. I now pass on this old gospel preacher’s wisdom. He said that the marriage vows that we were about to take were not really vows to each other, but rather we were pledging vows to God. Then he read Proverbs 15:1 (you can look it up). He said if both of us remember those two things, we would have a successful marriage. I pray the same for you.