I received this question about a week ago from our anonymous Have A Question page:
My husband is not saved, so his perception of sex is a lot different than mine. Now don’t get me wrong, after 12 years of marriage, 2 kids, and menopause, we have an excellent sex life, but his attitude has always been that it’s just a physical release. Although it feels awesome, my view has been that it is not only a physical connection between husband and wife, but a spiritual one as well. It is a time for us to become “”one flesh”” and grow more intimate. His view on sex is more like the world’s at times and he will often refer to it as the ever infamous “”F”” word, which makes it cheap and dirty. I should state that this is not my perception, but his actual words about sex. In the 12 years we have been together, we have truly only made love less than 10 times and the rest have been just the physical release. Like I said, I don’t mind the pleasure or having fun part of sex, but there are many times it seems shallow and cheap. How is a believing wife to address a severe lack of intimacy that she so desperately craves despite a fairly active sex life?
So, how do you turn sex into a spiritual connection with an unsaved spouse? I’ll address that in a minute. First, I want to tackle of a couple of sub points.
Sex doesn’t always have to be for emotional connection
His view on sex is more like the world’s at times and he will often refer to it as the ever infamous “”F”” word, which makes it cheap and dirty.
Of course his view of sex is the world’s. That said, there’s nothing wrong with sex as a simple physical activity. Recreation sex, in my books, is perfectly okay. It’s not cheap or dirty, it’s just fun. I know it might not be the whole romantic emotional experience you are wanting, but that doesn’t make it bad.
Emotional connection is often an individual experience
In the 12 years we have been together, we have truly only made love less than 10 times and the rest have been just the physical release.
I’m also curious how you gauge these experiences. So far as I can tell, there is nothing that makes one experience “making love” vs another one. In fact, I’d hazard a guess and say that it’s more an individual experience. One spouse may find one experience really connecting and another found it just to be a good release.
The same thing happens in church services. One member will say “I really felt God was in the room” while another feels completely abandoned by God. Since His is everywhere…it’s more about your awareness of Him than about whether or not God is actually there. You cannot manufacture God’s presence, any more than you can manufacture a “making love” experience. If you feel disconnected, I suggest that a mindset shift may be in order on your side.
What does darkness have to do with the light?
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”
“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.” – 2 Corinthians 6:14-17
Lastly, he’s not saved. You’re craving a spiritual connection, because it’s not there. It can’t be. He doesn’t have the same spiritual framework as you do. Arguably his entire framework for life and existence is radically different. I’m sorry, but that’s what you lose when you don’t have a spouse of the same faith. I’m sure some people think I’m not being compassionate, and that’s not so. I’ve seen family members decide to love non-believers. I get how difficult it is. However, you made the choice, and I’m not going to excuse that. As it stands, the two solutions are:
- He accepts Christ
- You abandon Christ
Unfortunately you can’t force the first, and the second is trading eternal paradise for a hope of short term happiness now. That’s why marrying outside the faith is so dangerous. In fact, our denomination won’t even marry you to someone in another denomination. Too often one spouse abandons the truth. I’ve seen that in my own family. A great many of others lead to divorce, which I’ve also seen in family. One of my sister-in-laws is going through that now. I don’t think that’s a viable solution though, because the Bible is clear that’s not an option:
And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. – 1 Corinthians 7:13
In other words, we need to hold out for a hope they will meet Christ through us.
What do you do about spiritual intimacy?
You accept that you may never see it in your marriage. You accepted that, perhaps unknowingly, when you married him. Even if he was a belief when you married him, you accepted to stay with him through the good and bad. Well, this is the bad.
Instead, grow your relationship with Christ. This will have two benefits:
- By becoming more Christ-like you will perhaps make Christianity more attractive for your spouse. Let him see Christ in you, every day. Let him fall in love with Christ with you as His ambassador.
- Christ will help you carry though when its lonely. God is all you need. It may not be ideal, but He’s enough.
Furthermore, there are things you can do in your marriage.
Firstly, realize that while you can rely on God to fulfill your spiritual intimacy needs, your husband has no one to turn to. You may feel alone, but your husband is truly alone (if only by his own choice). All you have to do is be more aware of God, whom you already believe in. He needs to bridge an incredible chasm of unbelief in order to reach out to God. That’s not easy. He may not express this need, and he may not even be aware of it. But, it’s there. We’re created to want that spiritual connection. Unfortunately, we often try to fulfill it the wrong way … or drown it out.
Secondly, respect him. Just because he’s not where you are doesn’t mean he’s less valuable as a person. I heard from somewhere “Inside every man is a king and a kid. Whichever one you speak to will respond.” If you treat him as an inferior because he’s not saved, then you will be inviting contempt into your marriage. Typically, marriages don’t survive long after contempt starts to set in. Don’t let it gain a foothold in your marriage. Rather, submit to your husband:
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives. (1 Peter 3:1–2, NIV)
The Bible is clear that submission is not contingent on your husband being a believer. Of course, he can’t overrule God’s laws, but in all other things, do your best. Witness to him with your life more than your words. By submitting to your husband, you are modeling for him how to submit to God. It’s not a display of weakness, but of strength.
Lastly, never stop praying for him. For him. Not for him to be saved so your marriage is better. Pray because you want him to know Christ. Not so that sex will have this spiritual connection. That’s not the priority here, though I know it might feel like it some times. Let’s not let our sexual desires overshadow our kingdom tasks.
I hope that helps, and if any of my readers are in similar situations, I welcome your input (and others too of course).Have a Question? Ask it here!