I fully believe that married sex should be erotic, frequent, adventurous and a host of other things. However, sometimes there’s just not enough time for all of those things.
Life can get busy and occasionally you just have to have sex, because that’s what the relationship needs. I think some people don’t like that idea. They don’t like the idea of having sex just because they should.
We have been taught in our culture that sex should always be spontaneous, romantic and highly erotic. Now, all those things are fine, but they shouldn’t be a requirement for sex to occur. After all, when do all three of those align? Pretty irregularly in most marriages, I think.
I think there is a time and place for maintenance sex, if you can get over the conditioning of these three myths:
1. Sex always has to be romantic
Don’t get me wrong, I think sex should always be loving, but it doesn’t always need to be romantic. There’s nothing wrong with a quickie just because you need to reconnect in some meaningful way again.
I don’t even think there’s anything wrong with having sex just because you have an itch to scratch, as it were, or pressure to relieve. Why not? It’s still a shared experience and something you can use to grow closer together.
2. Sex always has to be spontaneous
We’ve been taught, explicitly or implicitly, that that sex should happen when both spouses are suddenly in the mood. The problem is that most women and some men are rarely, if ever, spontaneously in the mood for sex.
Most of them experience reactive arousal far more often than spontaneous arousal. Considering that women, particularly those who have been married for a decade or more, are likely to never feel spontaneous arousal, this myth creates a lot of sexless marriages. It’s not always the women either. There are many men who rarely, if ever, feel spontaneously aroused. We’re taught that men always want sex, but that’s not true either.
So, the idea that sex should always be spontaneous is not only ludicrous, it’s also very damaging. There is absolutely nothing wrong with lying in bed thinking “It’s been a while since we’ve had sex, maybe we should try tonight.”
Because just as sex leads to more sex, a lack of sex leads to even less sex. If you just wait until you’re “in the mood”, then chances are, you’ll be in the mood less and less.
3. Sex always has to be erotic
I believe married sex should be erotic, at least some of the time. We have an issue in marriages, that I think I’ll address in the next post, that too often, marriage has no erotic sex. Now, that’s a problem as well. But, that doesn’t mean that every sexual encounter needs to be a wildly erotic adventure.
Sometimes sex is … just sex. That’s not quite true. I mean sex is never “just sex”, whether you’re married or not. There’s always all this other “stuff”. What I mean is that you’re not trying anything new, you’re not focused on extending the pleasure, you’re just … well, trying to get an orgasm.
But, even that is a connecting experience. In order to help your spouse to orgasm, you need to be thinking about them, watching their body language, listening to their cues. You need to be serving them. While it may be more utilitarian than erotic, at times, it’s still loving.
Have you bought into any of these myths? Are they getting in the way of maintenance sex that could be sustaining your marriage through difficult times?
26 thoughts on “3 myths that kill maintenance sex”
But as 77 yom this sounds more for the mans sake, couldn’t/wouldn’t this be classified as living flesh-lite?? If your unfamiliar with the term it’s what some men use to masturbate. Maintenance sex is for the pleasure of one partner period.
There is nothing wrong (and a whole lot that is right) about lovingly serving your spouse and finding joy in pleasing them even when the thing you do to please them has no value to you. When a husband brings his wife flowers, there isn’t anything in it for him other than her happiness. He is going out of his way to give her what makes her happy with no thought of himself, and men are encourage to act like that. Likewise a woman can find joy in pleasing her husband sexually, even when it means doing something that is just for his sexual pleasure. As long as both spouses are serving each other and both are having their relationship needs met, neither one of them should be resentful over serving the other.
Oh I disagree. Maintenance sex can definitely be for both spouses, and in fact it should. I agree with what LatterDay Marriage said above about serving your spouse.
However, it doesn’t always have to be one sided. Many women need that sexual connection, not just men. For men it can be much more about physical release. But for BOTH partners, it helps reconnect emotionally, physically, intimately, etc. The act of sex is bonding in so many ways, and it can really help a couple stay connected, or even reconnect.
I agree with the post. There’s been times where I have just wanted to be with my husband for a quicky and he wasn’t even thinking about sex at the time! Maintenance sex is for women too. A husband’s and wife’s needs are not always the same at the same very moment. We have to be willing to give even when its not all that you are wanting at the moment. We don’t only fix our husband his favorite birthday dinner if its exactly what we are wanting too!
Movies are responsible for these myths. Whether it is Hollywood/Bollywood.
Most of the sex shown in movies is not married sex. Wonder why?
Because it’s not “romantic”, “spontaneous” or “erotic” enough
I understand the idea that maintenance sex can sometimes be like serving your spouse in some other way (like giving a massage or going to a movie with her that you don’t really want to see). I am not ok with being on the receiving end of obligation or duty or sympathy or any other sex that does not come from a place of pure desire on my wife’s part. To me, I would rather never have sex at all than think that anyone is doing me a favour by having it with me. I won’t initiate sex with her unless I really want it. I expect the same from her. And I expect her to turn me down if she is not in the mood. For me, 99 percent of the pleasure of sex comes from the idea that I am actually wanted and desired. I don’t want sex that comes from the same motivation as say cooking for me as an example. I don’t want it to be about me deserving to have my wife doing something nice for me.
Does anyone else feel the same way?
What if your wife is rarely (once every 2 months in my case) in the mood? Is a sexless marriage okay in God’s eyes?
I can’t answer for God…all I can say is that I personally would be ok with that and would rather that than think she may be doing me any favours. But that’s just me. It might not be ok with you and I get and respect that.
Yes, many people feel that way, that’s what I was trying to fight against in this post.
We have this false belief that our spouses need to be in the mood (spontaneously), whereas the truth of the matter is that most women, and not a few men, are never spontaneously “in the mood”. Rather, their arousal follows a reactive pattern. Movies and TV teach us that people will just be “in the mood” if they really love us, but that’s an absolute fallacy. The truth is, our pride gets in the way. We want to believe that we’re irresistible and that we always have our spouses “ready to go” as it were.
As well, we have a lot of pride when it comes to accepting gifts. We don’t want “handouts”, especially from our spouses. But, if we can’t even accept that our spouse might want to “give” us sex when they aren’t necessarily “in the mood”, how can we possibly be willing to accept Christ’s forgiveness. I’m sure He wasn’t “in the mood” to hang on a cross. The Bible tells us He wasn’t. Should we then reject Him until He “feels” like dying?
While that may feel like a stretch, it’s really the same thing. We need to have the humility to accept gifts, whether they are from God and it’s forgiveness, or from our spouse and it’s sex.
Well I’m not sure about others but it does happen that we are both “spontaneously” in the mood frequently enough for both of us to be quite satisfied. Why change that? Are we really compelled to have sex together more frequently than either of us would want to? I don’t get it.
And when it comes to sex, the only “gift” of any real value to me is the gift of being desired. Any other kind of sexual act just seems mechanical. Isn’t sex supposed to be about two people desiring each other? I’m willing to be convinced otherwise it’s just I have yet to read an argument pursuasive enough for me to change my thinking.
If you both happen to both want sex frequently enough to keep your marriage working well, then yeah, go for it. However, that’s pretty abnormal. Generally one spouse wants sex more often than the other. Most often it’s the spouse who wants sex less often that gets to dictate when sex happens, which seems to be the method you are subscribing to.
However the Bible teaches the opposite in 1 Corinthians 7:5, that neither spouse should have veto power over sex.
As for the act being mechanical, I disagree entirely, nor do I agree that sex is about two people desiring each other. I think that is the lie that Hollywood has sold to us. And I get why you want to believe it. It’s a sexy and romantic thought.
Instead, I think sex and marriage are designed to grow our character. I see parallels between married sex and our relationship with God. For example, my wife rarely “wants” sex, but she “wants to want” sex. In the same way, we often don’t “want” to do what God commands. But we “want to want” to.
If were were just to wait until we were “in the mood” to follow God … well, the Bible says that our hearts are continuously wicked. No doubt we’d never worship Him.
The biblical model teaches humility (in accepting the gift of sex from our spouse) as well as teaching us to do what is best for us, even when we don’t feel like it at first. Because, like worship, often, even though we don’t really feel like worshiping at the moment, once we start, we find we get “in the mood”, if we approach it with the same open heart and mind that we should approach sex with.
I hope that clarifies my position.
Thanks Jay. I think I follow your argument. I have a couple of points of push back:
First the parallel between sex and worship. I agree that if I wait to feel like worshipping it may never happen. Unlike worship however, if I go a couple of months without having sex I really, really want it so the parallel seems weak in that regard to me.
You also say that sex is not about two people wanting each other. Fair enough. However is it fair to say at a minimum it is about one person wanting the other? In other words this gift that we are supposed to have humility in accepting…presumably the receiver actually wants the gift non?
I still don’t see the harm in a happy marriage for both spouses to agree to a pattern that maximizes and favours intensity over frequency. I’d trade frequency for intensity any day.
In other words sex for me is much more enjoyable when we are both very hungry for it. My experience with maintenance sex is that interferes with that…for us as a couple that is.
Also I don’t think I’m “irresistible” and that I have my wife in an always-ready-to-go state. What I do know is that if we wait long enough between sex sessions, we both genuinely want each other. What’s wrong with operating as a couple that way?
In other words what’s wrong with skipping snacks so that we are both hungrier at real mealtime?
I think your right, Jay Dee. Humility is the key. The opposite of humility is pride, and that kind of pride is a sin. We might as well be telling God we know better than He does.
In our marriage my desire and his desire are not the only concerns, there’s also level of pain. One of us doing for the other is what happens out of necessity to hold us over till we’re feeling better. Maintenance sex is a very good label for it. And if it keeps our desire humming along thru a dry spell I’m all for it!
You also said sex leads to more sex, that may be true in most cases. In ADHD cases not so true.
My wife has ADHD, and it seems to hold true in our case. I’m curious what you mean by that.
No matter how much he enjoys or how many times he says “we should do this more” my ADHD husband forgets about making love. I read that the good vibes we get from sex lasts 1-2 days for men. After that he is distracted by his long to-do list (mostly created by himself) or work or his pain. He has too much on his mind. All that being true I must come to his defense. When I remind him in an engaged fashion he never says no.
Ok my thing is if u don’t feel loved and respected and dusted yourself and Ur spouse don’t treat u like his beautiful loving nurturing wife and you don’t have feelings but when u talk about your feelings he acts as if he don’t care and all u r is a nag and puts u don’t and cusses u and have stupid anger outbursts how on earth can u ever feel loved and dusted enough to have sex. If you feel like crap and he treats u like he don’t really care about anything you want to talk about or care about how much he is hurting u emotionally and verbally how on earth can u ever have the desire to have sex if u don’t feel loved enough. How can u find confidence and high self esteem about yourself when you don’t have confidence and self esteem to feel sexy in attractive enough to give yourself pride and confidence to feel good enough about yourself to go through with sex. If Ur sex drive has already died physiological and u can careless for it how can u bring the sex drive back if it dead because of the emotional and verbal abuse.
John I can relate. I struggle in my own marriage in this way. I crave my wife’s sexual desire, yet she only seems to really want me sexually if we have gone without sex for 7-10 days. As a forever recovering porn user I find this very difficult. In order to keep my mind pure I do find that maintenance sex is very helpful, though it leaves me emotionally wanting since it makes the times my wife “craves” me all too infrequent.
I definately blame hollywood and porn. I know the times I have slipped up with porn is not because I want to see others having sex, but more to do with seeing the desire the woman has for sex and the man. I realize it is all acting, but that is how empty I can end up feeling at times.
Thanks for sharing anonymous. I think your experience and mine are very similar except it seems like my experience does not negatively impact my emotions like yours does. I leave the frequency decision up to my wife. She generally misses sex at around the two week mark. I’m totally ok with waiting and for the life of me I can’t see what’s wrong with that. Sure I’d love to have sex more frequently but I would much rather put up with a little imbalance in desired frequency and a bit of hunger on my part in exchange for knowing that she really really wants sex when we do have it. I don’t look for food the minute I have a few hunger pangs and as a result, dinner is much much more satisfying. Does that make sense?
Take some of that unused sexual energy and channel it into work or fitness or prayer. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish!
The title of this article “3 myths that kill maintenance sex” is interesting. Having thought about this some more I have come to the conclusion that for us as a couple, maintenance sex reduces the frequency of hot erotic sex. In other words, for us, maintenance sex kills erotic sex. For sex to be erotic, I need an appetite. Maintenance sex reduces that appetite significantly. Maintenance sex for us ends up reducing the frequency of hot sex. In other words, maintenance sex has the impact of transforming what subsequently would have been a hot session (because of hunger) into just another maintenance session. We will gladly trade frequency for intensity any day.
Interesting. For us, maintenance sex actually makes sex hotter because the relationship has continued to be fed even when we don’t have time for an intense session. As well, there isn’t this sense of stress that “this one has to go right” because we won’t have sex again for a while.
For us, frequency is tied to intensity.
Well, different strokes for different folks it seems.
No pun intended;-)
For us it is also true that frequency is tied to intensity. But the difference is that for us, and only to a certain extent, the two are inversely proportional..