SWM003: Is sex a need or a want?

Sex Within Marriage PodcastToday I’m tackling the question: Is sex a need or a want?  I’ve actually written about this in the past but it was about 3.5 years ago, and I have a lot of new readers since then and now new listeners who haven’t heard my views on this subject.  So, here we go.

Show Notes


  • Many people exhibit side effects of a lack of sex, or a low frequency of sex.
  • These side effects can be physical, they can be psychological, they can be emotional and they can be relational
  • Often one spouse experiences the effects more than the other.  But, does this mean they need sex more often, or just that they want sex more often?

The conflict

  • Usually it’s the higher drive spouse who experiences the negative effects of a lack of sex.
  • Generally the lower drive spouse has other things they’d rather be doing.  Often, particularly when you have young children, and if the lower-drive spouse is the wife, the conflict is often between preferring sleep over sex, or visa-versa.
  • Who’s need is more important?  Well, if the low-drive spouse has veto power over sex, then they win by default, regardless of whether it’s a need or a want.

How do we solve this?

Using the example of sleep and sex:

  • If sex is a need and sleep is a need, then you have a stalemate.
  • If sex is a want and sleep is a want, then again, you have a stalemate.
  • If sleep is a want and sex is a need, then sex should definitely be an option.
  • If sleep is a need and sex is a want, then the high-drive spouse is viewed as selfish.  As we talked about last week, often this is how the low-drive spouse feels, because they may not see sex as a need, and so their spouse is obviously flawed, broken, selfish or abusive for wanting sex above whatever they feel their need is.

What does the Bible say?

  • 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 says that sex is certainly a need, in fact we’re commanded to be available to our spouses, to not deprive them.
  • That doesn’t mean we can compel our spouses to have sex.  After all, Ephesians 5:25-28 says that we need to love in a sacrificial way.
  • So, what’s the answer?  Ideally, we each love selflessly, seeing the needs of the relationship above our individual desires.
  • Sometimes that means individual desires need to be met so that the relationship can thrive.

My conclusion

  • Sex is not an individual need, thought it may be an individual want.
  • However, it is a relational need for marriage.  Without frequent sex, the relationship gets damaged.  How?  More on that next week.

What’s going on this week?

Don’t forget to check out this week’s marriage challenge.

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