I received this question from our anonymous Have A Question page about a week ago:
My husband and I have been married for 4 years. For the past 3, I’ve not wanted to have as much sex as him. Is my not wanting to, a violation of what Paul describes as due benevolence in 1 Cor. 7? Should I force myself to have sex when I’m not into it? Am I dishonoring God by not giving my husband sex when he wants to have it more than I do?
There are two questions here that I think we should tackle individually. Let’s go in reverse order.
Am I dishonouring God by not giving my spouse sex when they want it?
Short answer: Yes. In normal situations (excluding abuse, severe medical situations, and possibly some others), the Bible is quite clear that you are not to deprive your spouse of having a sexual relationship with you. The verse in question that she cites is this:
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps 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
Paul is quite clear that the decision not to have sex must be mutual, neither spouse has veto power over sex. Furthermore, it says that gatekeeping (controlling sex) will result in strengthening Satan’s ability to tempt you and/or your spouse. Even if the decision is mutual, Paul suggests it only be for a short time. Extra-biblical material leads me to believe that Paul meant no more than a week, baring work schedules that take a spouse away from the home for longer, and even then, the Rabbis had restrictions on how long you could stay away.
There isn’t a lot of wiggle room here, not much to argue. If you are saying “no” to your spouses advances, then you are dishonouring not only God, but your spouse and your marriage as well. That’s my opinion anyways, and it seems to have been Paul’s.
Now, of course, some common sense needs to be mixed in with this. If you’re spouse suddenly wants sex in the middle of a church service, for example, I think you’re perfectly justified to say “let’s wait until we get home”. If you’re away on vacation…”let’s wait until we get home” is not quite so justified. I know many have adopted a 24 hour rule. If a spouse makes their desire known, within 24 hours they’ll have sex. That seems reasonable to me, and I think it would to most spouses.
Should I force myself to have sex when I’m not into it?
Short answer: yes. However, let me explain. I don’t like the word force, because it implies a negative right off the bat. I think the question is a bit leading and combative.
Let’s try this: Should I try to enjoys sex when I’m not feeling a desire to have sex? That one is a lot easier to say “yes” to.
Firstly, sexual desire can be proactive (usually more strongly and frequently in men, but not always), but it can also be reactive (usually more strongly in women, but again, not always). Hormones may make you desire sex out of the blue, but most of us, when put into a sexual situation, will find out bodies will catch up, to meet the situation. As well, if you let your mind catch up as well, it can be drawn into it too.
Just because you start without a desire to have sex, doesn’t mean you won’t want to by the time you are done. In the vast majority of marriages, one spouse wants sex more than the other. If the low drive spouse rejects the high drive spouse every time they themselves are not in the mood, it leads to feelings of rejection, it puts walls up in the marriage, it teaches the higher-drive spouse that their needs and desires are secondary, and so they begin to feel less important. This leads to a feeling of condescension, that one spouse is more valued than the other, which, according to research, is one of the most dangerous feelings to have in a marriage. It’s a precursor to divorce.
However, if instead you decide to bless your spouse, to give them not only your body, but also allow your mind to be aroused by the process, then you both gain the benefit of all the wonderful hormones associated with sex. It will grow your relationship, bond you together more strongly and make both of you feel more loved.
What you do not want to do is give in grudgingly. Don’t have sex out of duty, or obligation. This will just create that feeling of condescension in reverse, and we’re back to the same problem.
Rather, recognize what it is your spouse is asking for. They’re asking to be loved. How do you think that should be answered?Have a Question? Ask it here!