Here’s yet another question through our Have A Question page. I’ll be honest, I’ve been hesitant to answer this one, but here we go anyways:
My fiancé and I have sex every once in a while. Are their changes in sex after marriage?
I think first we should deal with the fact that having sex before marriage is a sin. The Bible is quite clear on this, and I’ve written about it multiple times. But, nevertheless, I’m going to answer your question directly.
Based on our surveys, on talking to other Christian couples, and on my own experience, yes, sex changes after marriage.
Frequency tends to change in sex after marriage
First off, most of the time, one spouse’s sex drive drops dramatically, which generally makes the other spouse quite angry, upset, hurt and a host of other things. Often it’s considered something of a “bait-and-switch”, where the (now) higher-drive spouse was expecting to be married to someone who wants sex as much, if not more, than they do.
I’ve spoken with many husbands (and some wives) who’s girlfriends (or boyfriends for wives) were insatiable while dating, and even engagement, but as soon as they got married, it was like a light switch turned off. Some just declined dramatically, others went straight into a sexless marriage. Why is this? I have two potential theories, which might overlap.
The first is that sex before marriage is exciting and taboo. It’s new and fresh and there is the danger of being caught (if not literally, then figuratively). That dopamine and adrenaline rush makes you really crave more of the same. But, when you get married, sex is “normal” even expected. It’s not taboo, it’s not dangerous, in fact, it’s comparatively boring given the context. So, all of a sudden, the spouse who’s drive had been artificially inflated during courting now drops back to “normal”.
Others suddenly feel a huge sense of guilt, or disappointment because they had sex before marriage. I’m not sure why, but suddenly they’re allowed to have sex, and boom, it hits them like a sledgehammer that they shouldn’t have been all along. Maybe they get to the wedding night and it’s not the magical experience they were expecting, because they’ve been having sex all along (not that it’s a magical experience if you hadn’t been). Or maybe it’s just realizing that this was the context in which they should have been having sex. Whatever the reason, for many a huge sense of guilt suddenly shows up. I’ve talked to many spouses who were having daily sex up until their wedding, and then their honeymoon started a sexless marriage for years, if not decades.
For some they are angry at their spouse for other luring them into having sex before marriage, or angry at them for not being stronger to fend off their own initiations. Either way, this often gives a feeling of not being secure with their spouse, of not feeling protected, and for women in particular, that is a dangerous feeling to have about your husband.
And then there are some who go on hormonal birth control when they get married. Before being married, they used condoms, because you don’t need to explain the doctor’s visit to your parents to pick up condoms at the drug store. But once married, then it’s “okay” to go on birth control pills. This screws with a lot of women’s hormones and kills many wives libidos. Sometimes for years after they stop taking them.
In short, there are a great many reasons why frequency can drop after marriage.
Activities tend to change in sex after marriage
Another shock to many is that the range of activities tends to narrow. In particular, oral sex seems to be the one I hear of a lot. So many husbands (in particular) lament that they used to get blow jobs at the drop of a hat while dating or engaged, and then, as soon as they get married, there are no more offers, and requests get rejected (except maybe birthdays or other special occasions). This leads to another cry of “bait-and-switch”, and leads a lot of men to wonder if their bride “tricked” them into marriage. They feel cheated and lied to, betrayed in a very serious way. Because ultimately it’s not about the oral sex, it’s about the attitude. They were “promised” a wife who was as sexually adventurous as they were and instead given someone they see a prude and cold in bed.
But oral sex isn’t the only thing. Positions, noise, locations, these are all common complaints that seem to disappear upon marriage. Some return later on (sometimes decades later), some never do. This isn’t the case for everyone, but it’s enough to know it happens frequently. Maybe more frequently than not.
The best reason I’ve heard for this is that the newly-prudish spouse is hurt that they couldn’t wait until marriage, or hurt that they feel they “had” to before in order to attract their spouse. And so, either out of guilt, or retaliation, they stop after marriage. If they are hurt, it’s because it reminds them of their guilt and shame, if they are angry, it’s out of revenge, or because they never really wanted to in the first place.
The “mano-sphere” out there tends to take the stance that it’s a method of control, a way to use sex as a weapon, or that your spouse just isn’t that attracted to you, and I have no doubt that occurs in some cases, but I doubt it’s as often as they claim.
Sex after married looses it’s excitement
As I said before, sex looses a bit of it’s excitement. That’s because previously it was being artificially inflated by hormones that shouldn’t have been there. A lot of your sexual relationship gets built on these temporary hormones, basically a house on the sand, if you will. Then, when marriage hits, the foundation looses it’s firmness.
Making the switch to having a relationship that’s build on true intimacy, on vulnerability and love, real love, not that puppy love you had before, it’s not as simple as just deciding to do it. For most people, sex isn’t that good when you first get married. It takes time to become a proficient lover. But many don’t survive the gap in between.
God wants you to have an amazing sex life
Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right. – NLT
I sincerely believe that God wants you to have an awesome sex life, and the only way to do that is to have it in a marriage. I think that’s why we’re warned not to awaken these passions, not to have sex before it’s time. The effects are damaging to all, devastating to many. If you want more information on the topic, you can check out the following posts:
6 thoughts on “Are there changes to sex after marriage?”
Why not just go and get married and solve that problem. Or stop getting put in the postion where temptation is to great to say no. IMO
I know that in our case if we had had premarital sex it would have either resulted in us calling off the marriage and breaking up or sex being a resented activity that brought up that guilt each time. So I can definatly see how premarital sex could lead to a sexless marriage. It might seem unbearably hard at the time to forego premarital sex but it is more than worth it in the end.
I have a theory that many of us built our sexuality on the thrill of the forbidden. Thus, after marriage “takes away the forbidden fruit,” we have trouble getting aroused by the gift of sex. Thus, spouses turn to an ever growing list of thrills, kink, and alternatives to get that drug like rush back that they had while sinning.
I think this is why I have seen Christian men practically obsessed with getting anal. I think this is why porn is even more tempting. I think this is why Christians struggle with illicit fantasies, excuse erotica, and generally have some sort of sexual dysfunction in their marriage
I believe women tend towards guilt and men towards regaining the thrill, though the reverse occurs as well. I also believe that the thrill seeker’s spouse may shut down sexually because they feel “off” about their spouse never seemingly satisfied with normal sex.
I am not saying Christians can’t explore their marital sexuality beyond missionary. By all means given by our Creator, have at it like Solomon and the Shulamite! But, I think instead of embracing the true gift of sex from God, they are going after the drug like thrill spawned by their illicit beginnings.
I think there’s also a need for better pre-marriage sex education for Christian young people. Engaged couples should talk openly and honestly about what they want sexually, and what they’re prepared to commit to.
As a woman I took offense at the ‘bait and switch’. Many women feel the ‘bait and switch’ was pulled on them!!! The man was so lovey-dovey, so attentive, so thoughtful, so caring BEFORE marriage and then about year into marriage -BAM, the man reverts back into some kind teen ager or something. He thinks the world is now suppose to revolve around him, when he lead the woman to believe his world revolved around her. He thinks he suppose to be ‘top dog’. And the sex gets boring because he’s also became selfish in bed thinking sex is just for him. He may be the ‘high drive’, but he’s also become the selfish drive. Sex gets boring really fast when a wife feels just being used as a house-keeper/prostitute.
I liked what you said about true intimacy. But true intimacy is built on friendship and must happen BEFORE the marriage. Marriage is not all about sex, and if a man thinks that it is, then the woman will tire quickly of that. Intimacy involves a lot of open and honest communication. Not just every once in a while, but daily. Life changes people, and people need to be willing to change and to grow. When two people marry, they both need to be willing to become a new person, a different person, a better person. There is a lot of compromise in marriage. And both need to willing to do it.
My husband and I were virgins until our wedding night. We even saved our first kiss for our wedding day and hugged sideways. Our 10 year anniversary is coming up and we have an amazing marriage and sex life. It doesn’t have to “change”-although I can’t really say I know for sure because we waited. But I can say it’s amazing now and it was sooooo worth the wait. What an amazing man I’ve found who respected and loved me so much to value himself and me to wait. God’s way is best!