Last week I wrote a post about how fantasizing can be detrimental. In the comments, MaBeck asked this question:
Ok, so what about if I fantasize about me and my husband, is that ok? For some reason, if I fantasize about us having sex in public, I get very aroused…I do this while he and I make love. I don’t know if this is wrong Biblically, or not?? But, I will say, I think it may have it’s dangers. Recently we were at the movies (which is often where I fantasize us making love) and I became extremely aroused, like when I was a teenager! Of course I did nothing about it, but boy I haven’t been that aroused in years! So am i doing something wrong or not?? – MaBeck
Good question. Here’s my take on it.
Most of the world will tell you fantasy is good
Most therapists and counselors will tell you to fantasize about whatever arouses you. Why? Because they’re symptom focused. If the question is “How do I become more aroused” then the answer could be “fantasize”. The problem is that they focus too much on the symptom and not enough on root causes.
Even most Christians therapists will say this is okay, because you’re involving your spouse. I’ll be honest, that was my gut reaction too.
After considering it for a few more moments, a quote popped into my head. I’m not sure who said it originally.
What you focus on gets your mind, and what gets your mind gets you.
So, what’s the issue? I mean you’re focusing in your spouse right? Well, no. The issue here is that during sex, you aren’t feeling aroused enough, so you add fantasy. The context of the theater creates that arousal. It could be because of the risk, or the “naughtiness”. Or being back to a consequence free mentality of being a teenager. So, it’s not your spouse you’re focusing on, rather it’s the context.
Now, whether it’s the risk, or naughtiness, or remembrances of being a teenager, you know it’s not right to actually act on this things. You said so yourself. “Of course I did nothing about it”. But it does have your mind, an that made me think of this verse:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8
Your mind is leveraging a sinful activity (the context, not the sex) to supplement arousal with your husband. To me, that’s dealing with the symptom rather than the real issue. The real issue being that you aren’t aroused enough by your husband. I don’t say that to be mean, that’s a real and common issue.
The solution, I believe, is not to sidestep that and achieve that arousal another way. Rather work to improve your arousal while focusing on your spouse.
If you choose to quit, it will be hard
For one, you’re going to be giving up the “quick fix”, and that’s never fun. Especially if that shortcut leads to orgasms. Orgasm is such a strong motivator that it rewires our brains to try and get more. You’ll find your mind going down that path before you even realize it.
It takes a lot of practice to become mindful of what you’re actually doing during sex. I think I’ll write a post on that tomorrow.
While you adjust though, it’s going to be a difficult transition. Sex may be a little more boring as you adjust to dealing with reality. I remember a friend of mine in college saying “I went to work sober today…it was so long, and boring!”
Your husband may not appreciate you focusing on him more
For most men, a big part of what makes sex good is how responsive our wives are to our … ministrations.
If our wife becomes less aroused, less responsive, less orgasmic, we feel like we’re failing. Breaking the news to him that you’ve had to use fantasy to get aroused may make it worse.
If you want to say something, perhaps phrase it more like
I’m working on focusing more on you and being more mindful and present during sex. It may take a bit for me to get used to it, but I think it will make me more responsive in the long run.
Is it okay to fantasize about your spouse?
I think it depends. Here are my guidelines:
- Am I fantasizing about an immoral act? Fantasizing about threesomes, public sex, adultery, or sex before marriage is focusing on something sinful, and I think that Bible speaks clearly against that.
- Am I fantasizing about my spouse in a realistic fashion? I could fantasize about someone that looked like my wife, but acted completely differently. I would argue then I’m not fantasizing about my wife. Rather I’m fantasizing about a fictional character wearing the body of my wife. I would count that the same as adultery.
- Is my fantasy going to make me dissatisfied with reality? If your fantasy makes reality look boring, dull, or makes you wish your spouse was something else, then that’s not helpful or beneficial to your marriage. You’re better off having a conversation about what needs to change instead.
- Should I be focusing on my spouse instead of fantasy right now? If you’re with your spouse but are focusing on fantasy instead of on the reality of them being there, then that is not ideal. Be present with your spouse.
Those are my thoughts. I hope that helps.
23 thoughts on “Is it okay to fantasize about your spouse?”
Darn! I’ve been using disassociation by fantasy for a long time, and with the help of The Fantasy Fallacy, I was able to see that much of this is rooted in some minor sexual trauma from my teens. I confess I’ve been trying to replace those fantasies with fantasies of my spouse during sex, which is much better, but I agree with you that I am treating a symptom and not the root problem. I’ve stopped and started a couple of times and so far I always fall back into fantasy because it creates a quicker, more intense experience. I hate that I have trained myself to not respond like that to the real thing. Deep down, I know it is a counterfeit. Sigh. Thank you for this kick in the pants, I needed this. And yes, speaking from experience, it is a long and frustrating road, which is why I have failed numerous times now. But it is the right thing to do and I think it will be worth the work. I really do.
I don’t know that I have ever considered this fantasy focus problem as a problem!!
Hi all as a Christian and counselor I think we must be careful how we try to legislate and decide what persons can and cannot do within marriage. While scripture is clear about even think about someone else sexually when it comes to ones spouse hmm is it a sin thinking sexually about my own spouse. There’s certainly no scripture to back that hence I’d be careful labeling it a sin. Id say be guided by the Holy spirit and your conscience. I’d thinking about ones spouse in a fantasy turns you on the him or her I’m not seeing the sin in that as long as your spouse is the subject and no one tries to force anyone to do anything he or she is not comfortable with.
Let me add though to balance the scale, that anything in excess will become sinful, generally. So if ones sexual fantasies about a spouse becomes more important and pleasurable than the reality then there’s a problem.
Thank you for answering this question, I kinda wondered if there was something wrong with it. Now I know! I’d rather repent and retrain my brain than open any doors to the enemy. In the past I’ve had insecurity issues and fantasy may have been how I’ve chosen to deal with it. Will seek the Lord’s help and healing. 🙂
You said, “Am I fantasizing about my spouse in a realistic fashion? I could fantasize about someone that looked like my wife, but acted completely differently. I would argue then I’m not fantasizing about my wife. Rather I’m fantasizing about a fictional character wearing the body of my wife. I would count that the same as adultery.”
Isn’t that what is happening when your wife talks diray to you in bed? You said that she would never talk that way outside of bed so it kind of seems like thats not her personality but she does it cause she knows u like it.
Only asking cause my wife talks dirty to me in bed because she knows I like it but that’s totally not natural for her. I just want to make sure that I am not doing this fantasy thinget myself
If she does it, then it’s reality. Therefore, it’s something she would do in the right circumstances.
But, if you’re wife said “No, I’d never do that in a million years”, and then you fantasized about it, are you really fantasizing about your wife? Or just a look-alike?
Does that help?
All the rules and restrictions. Seriously? Visualizing my wife wearing something she has never been known to wear is a problem? My wife just lies there in bed and is not very active at all. If I imagine her being more energetic and aggressive and use that as mental stimuluous I’m somehow damaging our relationship? I don’t buy it!
Look at it this way:
Without the fantasy then sex would be less enjoyable. Which means you might be more motivated to actually change and improve it. Instead, fantasy encourages you to enable your wife to continue not being an active participant during sex.
I personally don’t see them as rules and restrictions. Rather, guidelines to promote healthier marriages.
You can look at the Bible the same way, either you see a set of rules (don’t eat pork, don’t do work on Sabbath, you have to tithe, don’t commit adultery, don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t murder), or you can see it as guidelines for how to live a healthy, happy, productive life here on Earth.
Well that makes sense. But without the fantasy how would I even know what I would to be different? If I want my wife to be more active, by necessity I have an image in my mind of what that could possibly look like right?
So, why not discuss it together instead of fantasizing about it alone? Together it’s communication that can bring you closer together. Alone it’s a fantasy that can only draw you away from your wife.
Well sure but before I can discuss what I want with her I first have to be able to articulate what I want and to be able to do that I have to imagine or picture it non? Fantasy is just visualization isn’t it? What would we talk about if I just go in with a blank slate and no pre-esisting goal for what I would like to be different?
I guess I’m being argumentative about what fantasizing is or isn’t. Is me just imagining something to be different the same as “fantasizing” and would you argue that doing so is damaging my relationship with my wife?
Yeah, I think we’re talking about two different things.
“Look at it this way:
Without the fantasy then sex would be less enjoyable. Which means you might be more motivated to actually change and improve it. Instead, fantasy encourages you to enable your wife to continue not being an active participant during sex.”
So how is this different from using sex toys? I know you’re a big proponent for them and even advertise them here on this site. I’m not some prude against toys, (and we have some too) but in my experience they are a shortcut to quicker arousal and release, mostly replace the husband even if he’s there holding it and what’s worse, some women become just as dependant on them as some men on porn. I actually would much rather that my wife was fantasizing about me and sharing it with me, then grab for the toy. At least her mind is engaged and involved in all of it.
BTW, seems to me there is significant fantasizing going on in the Song of Solomon! (Doing it in the vineyard?) That seems like a rather public place.
I agree, toys can be used inappropriately. If you’re grabbing a toy just to get yourself off and basically excluding your spouse, then that’s an issue. I much prefer using toys on my wife than having her use them on herself. Or, if she’s using it on herself, I make sure I’m involved somehow. Point is, the toy isn’t the focus, it’s a tool, whereas with a fantasy, the fantasy is the focus. It has to be in order for it to work. So, yes, her mind would engaged, but not with you. With a fantasy version of you, and that’s not the same. With a toy, she can still be engaged with you mentally. The toy is a just a tool, like your finger, tongue, whatever. At least, that’s how we use them.
As for Song of Solomon nothing in it leads me to believe it was a fantasy.
I agree with you we must be careful how we impose our own likes and dislikes and apeak for scripture where it’s silent. My question is, is the Holy spirit convicting u about it, if not well.
I think it is a good thing fantasizing about your spouse. As long as it is your spouses body and personality. Honestly, we all do that in some way or another!
No argument there. As long as it’s actually your spouse, like you said (body and personality).
But what if the fantasies are the only thing that keep the thought of sex with your spouse alive.
Intimacy between us is declining and the only sex I have with my wife is in my fantasies. Do I fantasize about her being really aroused and that we have sex in different ways? Yes. Mostly because before we got married she was the one that gave me those ideas. We really struggled to live pure and while I’m not saying I was innocent she taught me many things that I didn’t know about sex and it created high expectations. When we finally got married things started to go down and now that we have a daughter sex isn’t important for her anymore. Her life is our daughter and I’m just around if she needs me. So for me the fantasies aren’t something that destroy reality. For me the fantasies is a wish, a hope that one day we will have a great sex life. Will it ever happen? I really hope so. Because the further the time goes the less frequent the fantasies arouse me and I would say that if you don’t get aroused when you fantasize about your wife, then you have problems.
I think you guys need to talk to someone together. If you don’t resolve this, it’s potentially going to lead to some major problems, if not divorce.
Hi. Jay Dee is correct. You need to talk to a matured Christian. Both of you. Spouses should prioritize their spouse. Children are next. It is Biblical and will make a family grow together. May God bless your marriage.
Thanks for this post… I ended up on this site because this is something I too have been struggling with. I have tried being open about what I like, sexually, but my husband told me it’s all “disgusting.” And I’m not talking about crazy, kinky stuff, here, I’m talking about anything other than missionary-position. In the past he struggled with a pornography addiction, which he still actively works to avoid, so maybe he’s scared that he’ll be triggered…? I don’t know. But our boring sex has been a killer for our marriage – for me, at least. He won’t even let me perform oral sex on him – which I actually really enjoy doing. I can’t get aroused anymore without fantasizing about the sex being more exciting, and now I sometimes find myself fantasizing about other people, and even justifying it because I feel so neglected in that way. I know it’s wrong, however, so we have made an appointment to see a (Christian) marriage counsellor next week, at least. I’m dreading talking about all of this, and am humiliated just thinking about it, but I know we have to if our marriage is going to survive.
What if I can’t help but fantasize(or recall & be aroused by, really) about actual past encounters with my wife, though we are separated? I read another ministry’s site that said appreciating a woman’s physical attributes was too objectifying & that we ought to learn to be aroused solely by the interactions of the relationship & that men are not really visual, it’s just cultural. Tell that to Solomon.