What do you do if you are asexual?

Jay Dee

What do you do if you are asexual?

Mar 27, 2015

This question is starting to come up more and more.  This week, I received the following message on Facebook: So what about ‘Asexuals’? I am a college student currently in a dating relationship and to be honest, I have pretty much no sexual attraction, desire, or

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Anonymous Question

This question is starting to come up more and more.  This week, I received the following message on Facebook:

So what about ‘Asexuals’? I am a college student currently in a dating relationship and to be honest, I have pretty much no sexual attraction, desire, or drive. And although I don’t really want to pin myself to any labels, I fit the Asexual description. I’m not too worried about now, since me and my partner have decided to wait for sex, but I’m thinking its going to get quite complicated in the future. (My partner is definitely not an asexual person). For a married couple, do you think it would be a still healthy marriage if a couple didn’t have sex at all? My thinking is that because I have no desire for sex, anytime we did have it would be out of obligation, and it would just be me “giving in” to my partner, which I don’t think is the ideal reason or motive for sex.

Now, typically I only answer questions from married couples, but I think asexuality is something that married couples deal with as well, so I’m going to give my answer publicly (with the questioner’s permission), in the hopes that it might help others.

Should asexual people get married?

I think this is the first question that should be asked.  Should people who identify as asexual get married in the first place?  After all, if sex is a part of marriage, and they have no interest in sex, should they bother getting married?

Well, let’s see what the Bible says on the topic.  Honestly, we don’t have much to go on beyond 1 Corinthians 7.  It starts with:

Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. – 1 Corinthians 7:1 NKJV

Which is extremely confusing.  In fact, it seems to contradict the rest of the Bible, from Genesis, where God commands us to have sex and multiply, to a mere 4 verses later when Paul himself tells spouses not to deprive each other of sex.

This is why I prefer the alternative punctuation as in:

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” – 1 Corinthians 7:1 ESV

It changes it from Paul saying it’s good not to have sex to him refuting a false theology that it is good not to have sex.  This brings this into harmony with the rest of scripture.  Later on we run into a similar issue:

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.

1 Corinthians 7:32-38 ESV

Some will argue that this passage says you shouldn’t marry, and the NKJV and others seem to lean towards this way too, but I think this passage is about waiting to marry until your relationship with God is solid, but if you cannot control your desires for your betrothed, then get married first rather than sin.  And then continue to work on your relationship with God, understanding that it will be harder now, because your attention is split.  Again, I think this brings Paul’s writings into harmony with the body of God’s Word.

So, let’s take a look at a passage between these two:

I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

1 Corinthians 6-9 ESV

The first thing we need to realize that it is highly likely that Paul was married earlier on in his life.  It has been argued that he could not have attained the position he had with the Pharisees if he were not married.  It’s quite possible, being of such a high standing Jewish family, that his family disowned him when he converted to Christianity.  This would have been incredibly difficult, and brings potentially new understanding to his words “the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.”  If Paul went through this difficult choice, to choose between his wife or Christ, and chose Christ…well, that makes his words all the more meaningful.

Furthermore, Paul doesn’t define exactly what he means by “I wish that all were as I myself am.”  Most will say that he means celibate…but I think perhaps he means undivided in his following of Christ.

So, what are we left with.  Well, that it’s okay to marry, that it’s not a sin, and that it’s better to marry than to twist God’s gift of sex into lust for someone who isn’t your spouse.  Again, I feel we’re inline with scripture once more.

So, what does this have to do with asexual people?

Well, it seems that those who have strong sexual drives have little choice: they should marry, in order to avoid sexual immorality. But, for those who do not have such strong sexual desires, you have the option: to marry a spouse, or not, and focus on your relationship with God.  I don’t mean you can’t have other relationships, but arguably, if they aren’t your spouse, they won’t have as strong a pull for your attention as anyone else.

So, that still leaves an asexual person with a choice: to marry or not.  So, what about sex?

What about sex if you do get married?

Our Facebook person asked:

For a married couple, do you think it would be a still healthy marriage if a couple didn’t have sex at all?

And that’s a difficult question.  However, your statement earlier of saying your partner is definitely not an asexual person clears it up easily.  As he gets closer to you, as you grow in emotional intimacy together, his desire for a physically intimate relationship is going to grow as well.  I can almost guarantee it.  So, in your situation, no, I don’t think you can have a healthy marriage without sex, because your emotional, intellectual, spiritual and all the other facets of intimacy will most likely be limited by your physical one.  There is a reason Paul wrote

Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

1 Corinthians 7:5 ESV

Without sex, your husband will have trouble bonding with you permanently.  He may begin to feel unloved, to feel uncared for, and that will make him more susceptible to feeling loved and cared for by someone else…and then you will have a huge risk of adultery in your marriage.

So, does that mean your marriage, should you choose to get married, is doomed?  What about all those people who discover they are asexual after getting married?  I want to address her final statement:

My thinking is that because I have no desire for sex, anytime we did have it would be out of obligation, and it would just be me “giving in” to my partner, which I don’t think is the ideal reason or motive for sex.

This, I think, is a huge trap in our society.  The belief that you need to feel desire in order to engage in sex, and if you don’t, then it’s one sided, that you are just “giving in”.  This is an absolute fallacy that is being pushed very strongly, and it’s leaving a trail of destroyed marriages and a wake of marriages with low sexual health.  I have a few thoughts that I will try to keep brief:

1) Just because you don’t feel sexual desire doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy sex

Many women rarely feel sexual desire out of the blue, particularly after marriage.  Unfortunately, many wives believe that they need to feel “in the mood” or “sexually aroused” or “turned on”, or “horny” or whatever you want to call it before sex can occur.  This is patently false.  Rather many women find that their sex drive is far more reactive than proactive, that the best way to get them aroused, is to start foreplay first.  There’s a good chance your body will catch up.

2) Don’t “give in”, but rather “give him a gift”

Why do we always think in terms of our spouse taking stuff, or us “giving in” to them.  You should never do anything without your heart being 100% into it.  A lot of times, that means you need to change your heart, not change what you’re doing.  If you’re grudgingly taking out the garbage. Stop.  Change your heart, and take out the garbage, realizing that at the moment, it’s what your can do to serve your family, and do it proudly.

With sex, if your married and your spouse wants sex, and you’re thinking about “giving in”.  Stop.  Change your heart.  Don’t “give in”, but rather realize the impact that this is going to have on their day, on your marriage, and don’t reluctantly have sex, but rather give your all, after all, that’s what they really want, not just sex, but a passionate intimate encounter with you.

Your Turn

Now, I realize a lot of this is theoretical to the questioner, and she has some thinking to do.  To live a life of service to God, or to God and your spouse.  For the rest of us who are married, we already chose.  Time to start living out that choice.

 

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43 thoughts on “What do you do if you are asexual?”

  1. JAMES WITTER says:

    Awesome job on that question… I like your answer… Yes sex in marriage is a must to have a healthy marriage… Now for us when we got married we had lots and lots of sex(love making) but over the nest few years it went to once a week. It was driving me crazy and I could not handle that amount of sex. So wife and I had a talk and she did not realize that i need sex more often and we came up with a workable amount of sex of every other day. That has been the perfect amount for us.. Sometimes I would like to have more but that is the way it goes. Thanks for doing a great job on this subject and being open .

  2. Dan says:

    Great job, JD.

    I also think that if an asexual marries a heterosexual – then they should realize that sex will be a part of the marriage. Unless they mutually agree that it won’t. Perhaps when both partners are asexual and they marry knowing beforehand that the marriage is ONLY for companionship – it would work. I would agree with the poster about not having sex if you don’t ‘want to’. To be constantly pressured into doing something that is never what you want would only build bitterness and resentment.

  3. Lindsay Harold says:

    If a person marries, they are vowing to have sex on a fairly frequent basis. That’s part of what marriage means. So if a person doesn’t have much of a sex drive, they should either not marry or they should marry with the understanding that they will commit to having sex at least fairly frequently with their spouse. People don’t get to marry and then not have sex, thus depriving their spouse of sex as well. The Bible is clear that this is not an option. So a person who thinks they are asexual should think long and hard about marriage and be sure they are willing to commit to a lifetime of having sex before they marry. It is God’s plan for their marriage, if they have one, to include sex.

    Also, I would say that even a “marriage” between two people who don’t want sex isn’t a good marriage unless they are having sex once in awhile. Sex is a part of marriage, and God intends and expects for married people to have sex with each other.

    As for the idea that not having desire means you won’t enjoy sex, Jay is absolutely right. There is no reason that people can’t engage and enjoy it, even if they weren’t horny to begin with. Sex can be a gift and still enjoyable. Sex can be good for the relationship even if one person was reluctant or not in the mood at first. For women, especially, they often only feel desire after starting sex. They usually won’t feel like it until things get going.

    So this idea that we should never have sex unless we feel like it is a terrible idea for marriage and is killing a lot of marriages. We do have a duty to have sex within marriage. I know people think “duty” is a bad word and the opposite of “pleasant,” but that doesn’t have to be the case. I have a duty to feed my children and talk to them, but I don’t find it a horrible burden I only do because I have to. Sometimes, though, we have to remind ourselves that we don’t get to skip certain things we don’t want to do right now because they are important, and then we have to get our minds in gear to enjoy it while we’re doing it. That goes for taking care of kids and for sex and for lots of other things.

    I wrote a blog post about this while back: http://lindsays-logic.blogspot.com/2014/07/should-you-only-have-sex-when-you-feel.html

  4. lollipop man says:

    Paul said in the bible that it is better to remain as he but if you cannot contain yourself it is better to marry than to burn and it sounds like maybe you can control yourself at this time so remain single and later if you see the desire arise then marry because sex is a vital part of any marriage

  5. Arbrown says:

    Great answer Jay. However unless it was already discussed the writer NEEDS to make sure there is nothing medically going on . there are many factors to be considered. Great discussion .

    1. Jay Dee says:

      That’s also a very good point, thanks for bringing that up. I’m planning a post along that line of thinking for the near future.

  6. LatterDay Marriage says:

    Regarding 1Cor7:6-9, I took it as Paul being a widower who has not remarried, and his personal recommendation is that a widow who has not remarried should ideally remain single unless they can’t contain themselves. (interestingly, the word used for widow in the manuscript is a specifically feminine form seemingly to indicating that his counsel was not intended for men whose wife had died)

    More on topic, marrying somebody includes a commitment to fulfill that other person’s relationship needs, including their sexual needs. As you said it can be done as a loving service to your spouse even when there isn’t a personal need for sexual gratification, but if somebody isn’t willing to take on that commitment, they should reconsider getting married IMHO.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yeah, 1 Timothy 5 would agree with you. Actually, it gives an age. If you’re a widow under 60 years old Paul seemed to assume that your passions would overtake you and that you’d likely marry again, and if they don’t, then they’ll turn into gossips and busybodies 🙂 Of course, I’m sure there are exceptions.

  7. JC says:

    Hi JayDee,
    What a coincident. I’ve been thinking about asking you a quite similar question ever since I stumbled upon your blog a few weeks ago. Thank you for addressing asexuality.

    The issue of asexuality in marriage has become more central to my thoughts in the past few years (I’m afraid too central maybe), partly because people in my family and church have increasingly started asking why I haven’t tied the knot yet and each year it’s getting harder to find sufficient excuses. And I am not even 30 for that matter!

    It is a tricky thing to talk about. Coming out always bears the risk of labeling and certainly doesn’t enhance the search for a life partner. Apart from that, it is not easy talking about stuff like this with Christians in general, reactions go from: “You must have been abused as a kid!” to “No sex drive AT ALL? That’s just not existent/What a freak of nature!” or “Just wait for the right one to come along! You’re going to feel it then.” Yeah! As if people had to write blogs like this one about it then! Turning outside the Christian community is also not helpful: “Maybe you are gay? You should try it!” So, as you can imagine, I haven’t had the guts so far to talk openly about this with friends and family, let alone the pastors in my church.

    I agree that a marriage consisting of one sexual spouse and one asexual, may not work. At first, for the sexual spouse of course, but in the long run for both of them when the effects start showing (potential adultery as you mentioned). But what if two asexuals agree to marry? There wouldn’t be any sexual needs dissatisfied in this kind of constellation, I assume. Which brings us pretty quickly to the one basic question: Is having sex the only defining criterion of a godly marriage? I’m making a guess: The majority of the commentators to come (or those who already did) will say, Yes it is! It is necessary to keep in mind that they are answering out of a sexual perspective, the one considered “normal” and “healthy”. And I’m not blaming anyone for this. But I feel like I have to remind you of the other perspective that exists – the asexual one. Without the element of sex, there is still a tremendous sum of worth in a marriage: Exclusive companionship, security, friendship, intimacy (even physical), (adopted) children! All things that every person on this planet I guess would value most in life (except for children maybe)!

    This brings me to the point where I cannot agree with you, JayDee:
    Quote: [So, that still leaves an asexual person with a choice: to marry or not.]

    You make it sound so simple, so casual. I can assure you, JayDee, it is NOT. Because asexuality is not the same as celibacy! It is not a personal or conscious choice and it is not a choice to abstain only from sex. What it means for a Christian asexual is that without marriage, the person will not get to enjoy those things I listed above: exclusive companionship, security, friendship, intimacy, or children. Things of which at least the first 4 of them I consider to be truly existential! Entirely disregarded of whether he or she has been given the gift of celibacy or not, as Paul talks about.
    Personally, I think this would be the real tragedy!

    Now, I am young, I’m still a student at university. I certainly don’t consider myself to have any legitimate closing remarks on this topic yet. Most definitely not on sex within marriage 🙂 ! But I felt it was important to throw in this perspective.
    Oh, and please excuse my writing, I am not a native speaker of English.

    Regards (from the other side of the Atlantic),
    JC

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Oh, I did not to make it sound casual. Simple yes. It’s simple in terms that there are only two options: marry, not not. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, or that the decision making is not complex.

      However, I’d still be cautious about two asexual people marrying together. For one, something may shift that might cause one to no longer be asexual. Then, you have a difficult situation of having agreed not to have a sexual relationship…but now one desires it.

      As well, since you brought up adoption of children, I think it’s important for children to see their parents in a physical relationship. I don’t mean actually see them have sex, but it’s obvious when two people are lovers, they act differently around each other, they behave differently. This can’t be faked long term, and the lack of this relationship, I believe, would be detrimental to a child or children, as they will grow up never seeing that. I think it would damage their own views about marriage and healthy sexuality and thus potentially cause them issues in their own potential marriages.

      But, I agree, sex is not the same as celibacy, and I appreciate you expanding the discussion.
      If you still have questions, feel free to ask. I’m sure the subject isn’t exhausted by any means, and I am certainly not the authority on the subject, merely answering a question from my perspective.

      1. JC says:

        Thanks for your response!
        About that shift you’re talking about, from an asexual spouse to a sexual one and what trouble this can cause- by all means, that’s a possibility for every sexual marriage as well. There are so many examples to find in the comments on this blog, people who struggle with the fact that after 10, 15 or 20 years or marriage, their spouse shows no interest in sex anymore or confesses to only have had sex in the past for the purpose to conceive. Well… I figure that would leave anyone with a huge thing to deal with, sexual or asexual. But that is what you get with marriage- you have to trust your spouse to be honest about his or her feelings concerning sex. And the reality in life seems to be that this can change, unfortunately.
        Now, refering to the topic of children – I think there is a very common misconception about asexual relationships, meaning that without sex, there is no intimacy at all. As you said yourself, you wouldn’t necessarily want your kids to see you and your wife having sex. But it’s important for them to experience warmth, touch and affection, and what better way is there to just demonstrate it, as parents. I totally agree with you on this. Hugging, kissing, snuggling – all these things can be very much a part of an asexual relationship as well, depending on how the partners feel comfortable with it. And I’m sure that in real life, it is a natural process to find a balance with that, just as sexual couples do (like, what kind of affection are we ok to show in public for example). It sounds more technical than it is in reality, I would say.
        Anyways, just a few more thoughts.
        Thank you for your offer to answer more questions. I might take you up on this sometime.

  8. DMV says:

    IMO, a heterosexual + asexual marriage is a form of “mixed orientation marriage” (MOM). Of course, the most common MOM we talk about is the heterosexual + homosexual marriage, and, statistically, these tend to have poor outcomes. I would probably suggest that you study other successful MOM’s and see what general attitudes and behaviors that you see them exhibiting. From my limited study:

    1) Successful MOM’s seem to figure out how to accept each others’ sexual orientation. For the heterosexual spouse, this means accepting that your homesexual/asexual spouse will likely never “desire” him/her “in that way”. Many like Jay Dee speak about the importance of “feeling desired” in the sexual relationship in marriage, so I think there are many who will have difficulty coming to terms with this aspect.

    2) Successful MOM’s seem to figure out some way to have a fulfilling sex life. This is why I think it seems that “bisexuals” do the best in MOM’s, because there is at least some interest in sex with the heterosexual spouse. In a similar way, I see talk about similar variability among asexuals. Some asexuals, while not actually desiring sex themselves, are more open to doing it and enjoying it. Others are asexual to such a degree that the idea of sex is repulsive to them.

    3) I see some discussion of “alternative sexual outlets” in some successful MOM’s. Of course, in a strict, Christian MOM, this can be real problematic, since we can be very strict in requiring “monogamy” (a truly “open” marriage would be considered adultery and wrong). In such a case, I would expect some discussion around things like masturbation (which I know Jay Dee and many others frown on), porn/erotica (which almost all Christian dialogue frown on), fantasies (which many Christians frown on), and so on.

    4) It seems that commitment becomes very important in these marriages. So many probably end because they give up without a fight. It seems important to enter a MOM with your “eyes wide open” with your best understanding of yourself and your own sexuality, your spouses sexuality, and how those things will likely effect your pending marriage. It is sometimes difficult, especially since Christian dialogue in the past has often been “dismissive” of the importance of sex to marriage, to “look forward” to such a lifetime commitment and predict how we will respond to these challenges.

    Anyway, a few thoughts of my own on this.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thanks for adding to the discussion. Yeah, I’d definitely warn against “alternative sexual outlets” myself, as you’ve said. To me, the only “valid” alternative outlet is focusing on your relationship with God. But, that’s only how I read the Bible. As DMV says, others (even Christians) have wildly differing opinions.

  9. Ricky says:

    The asexual should seek counseling prior to marriage and have serious open communication with their spouse. This is why I’m glad I did not wait to have sex. I have a very high sex drive and although I don’t expect my spouse to match mine desire for desire, I don’t think I would’ve handle a sexless marriage very well and since divorce is just as highly frowned upon as pre-marital sex, I guess I was inclined to make my own choice. It highly disturbs me when I hear adults wait and saving themselves for someone who has no desire to be intimate and has a very unhealthy outlook on sex itself.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Having sex prior to marriage is no guarantee either. I’ve had dozens, perhaps hundreds, of spouses say they had a vibrant sex life prior to marriage, and then after the honeymoon (sometimes right after the ceremony), suddenly their spouse switched and became asexual, frigid, vanilla, or whatever. Every survey we run there are at least a few comments lamenting this fact.

      Premarital sex is not the answer, and as our survey showed, it seems to do a lot more damage than people realize.

      1. Ricky says:

        I know it’s not the answer. Course when I was younger 16-17 I didn’t realize that once people get married peoples sex drives drastically change in some cases. I believe in the case of women losing their drive after married and having pre-marital sex, has something to do with feeling comfortable and safe and no longer a need to impress or “go get.” I’ve heard it from some of my guy friends and it’s really sad. Women stop oral sex a lot too. No idea why since people should want to have sex and not see it as a chore or obligation. I could see never wanting it like asexual people, but to be a very sexual active person and then suddenly stop after marriage is the definition of laziness and in my opinion not really giving a crap about the person they supposedly love’s needs. It’s kinda like weight gain. People when they aren’t married tend to feel a need to uphold an image and meet a certain standard. After it’s gone it all floats away. That’s all unacceptable to me. Not saying I’m not going to show love but before I got married I specifically clarified two things that were musts for me. I get certain times call for certain things but long term it would be a problem for sure. I’m just glad I don’t have to deal with it and I don’t have to pressure my spouse to do these things she wants them for herself.

  10. Andrea says:

    I unfortunately fall into the category of asexuality and I’m sorry to say after 14 years if marriage, I haven’t had the positive “reactive” experience. In the beginning it didn’t bother me that sex was not enjoyable, I was cool with knowing that he enjoyed it but now my body has completely shut down so that we couldn’t have sex if we wanted to…I want to have the experience of enjoying sex, but I guess it’s just not in the cards for me

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yes, there’s no promise to say you will react, but many think they are asexual, when they are just reactive. Not so in your case apparently. I’m sorry for that.

      But, I don’t think I understand, why can’t you have sex?

      1. Anonymous says:

        I think the condition is called vaginismus, that’s what I mean…

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Ahh, I see. I’m only vaguely aware of vaginismus. It’s a topic I need to look into more.

        2. HopefullyHelpful says:

          Is it physical or psychological in your case? There are treatments, you know. And there are alternatives to vaginal sex as well. How is your spouse holding up?

          Prayers go with you.

          1. Andrea says:

            My OB/GYN said it is always psychological…(shrugs shoulders)…you ask how my husband is doing, I honestly don’t know. Although we share an awesome friendship, I have no clue how to broach the subject with him, especially since I have no solution to our issue. It has been a year this month since we last tried (unsuccessfully), and I really want to beg him to leave me and find someone who can make him happy sexually, because I really can’t. I love him too much to think that he will be missing that part of his life, possibly for the rest of his life

            1. Jay Dee says:

              While I’m not a doctor, I am strongly inclined to disagree with your OB/GYN and would suggest a second medical opinion.

              And I urge you to talk to your husband about it. Discussion doesn’t need to happen because you have a solution. Sometimes it helps merely to communicate your frustrations, fears, concerns and hopes. Also, to explore alternatives. If sex isn’t possible, perhaps mutual masturbation, manual sex, oral sex, sex toys … there are so many options that can still allow you to connect with your husband sexually until you resolve the underlying issue, whatever it is.

              The conversation can start with a simple “We have a problem and I don’t know the solution, but I think we need to talk about it anyways, but I’m afraid to.”

              And I’d urge you not to suggest divorce. The damage done to both of you will be immense.

            2. alchemist says:

              Some doctors just give stock answers because they don’t want to admit to not knowing. Some doctors are also just taught wrong/ don’t keep up with the literature. To be fair, you can’t specialize in everything.

              You should definitely seek a second opinion. There are physical therapists that specialize in pelvic floor issues (including vaginismus). I think they would strongly disagree with your OB/GYN’s opinion. I’ve read that this condition is very treatable. It’s just quite rare, so some doctors might not know about it/ know how to treat it. Sheila Gregoire from To Love Honour and Vacuum has some resources about it on her site. She had it when she first got married. Now she’s a Christian sex/ marriage blogger.

  11. El Fury says:

    Considering my opinion that enthusiasm is the key to great sex I’d be pretty wary of enabling an asexual person to get married to someone with any sort of sex drive. I mean, you can fake enthusiasm for a while, but if the enjoyment is never going to develop then that’s going to be a pretty rocky road.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I would agree that someone who believes they are asexual should not marry someone who does have sexual needs. My question though, is what do they do if they did not realize that they will have these issues and don’t know until they’re already married?
    When it turns out that one spouse finds sex painful both physically and emotionally, it becomes much more complicated than taking out the trash – especially after treating it exactly like that over a long period of time. This doesn’t work for either spouse and doesn’t make for a healthy marriage. One cannot force himself/herself to start enjoying it any more than the other can stop needing it, so what could either of them do to improve things?

    1. Jay Dee says:

      If sex is painful physically, there are doctors you could consult with. If it’s emotionally, there are therapists.
      The fact remains that they married and have so promised to be together, as husband and wife, and that comes with a sexual component. So, to give up and say “well, I’m asexual” is not really an excuse. I would want that person to live up to their vows and work towards some sort of relationship that satisfied the needs of the spouse that is sexual. If intercourse is impossible, that doesn’t mean other activities are off the table. One can learn to enjoy things merely to see the pleasure their spouse gets from it.

      1. Catherine says:

        It’s not really that simple. Sex is painful physically for women who are asexual because their brain does not signal their body to become aroused. Then you’re trying to force a cucumber into a keyring. Many asexuals consult a therapist and end up being told, “Well, there’s really nothing wrong with you. You just don’t like sex, and that’s who you are.” I truly, truly wish I could enjoy sex (even without intercourse) just because my spouse enjoys it, but it feels so completely unnatural and foreign to me. I feel like I don’t belong in the picture at all.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Asexuality is not directly linked to pain. I’ve gotten emails from a few asexual wives, and none mentioned pain. Sounds like you have vaginismus, which is a different issue all together. Many women wish they could enjoy sex, but have serious pain when attempting. It takes work and trying things, sometimes dealing with some psychological issues, guilt, or theological issues (like bad teachings about sex) to resolve the problem. But, I wouldn’t give up.

        2. Disparity says:

          I tend to agree with JD that pain is not necessarily present in asexuality – after all, asexuality is a spectrum condition, with a lot of variations. My own body seems to be functioning perfectly when it comes to the technicalities of sex – especially natural lubrication, so sex has never been painful for me, and yet, I have never enjoyed it on a physical level, which has caused some major problems within my marriage, especially since I realised I was asexual more than fifteen years into the relationship. Until then, I just thought there was something physically wrong with me, and the medical publications I had access to at the time, seemed to reinforce that view – I was angry with God for creating me this way, and with my husband for not acknowledging the difficulties I was going through. And I, too, lack somebody to talk to on the issue – I live in a very small Eastern European country, where most people (Christians and non-Christians alike) aren’t even aware of there being asexual people.

    2. Jordan says:

      This is exactly where I find myself… My wife was a complete virgin when we got married, I’d been married before. I was her first kiss at 25 when we were dating. I thought it was spiritual discipline that helped keep her chaste… NOPE! It was a complete lack of desire or interest. 6 years in we have two kids, basically a miracle, and have sex maybe 10 times a year, though we’ve gone longer than 9 months without multiple times.

      It’s not just the sex, she doesn’t understand the need to desire for physical touch at all. She has said that if it were up to her, it would be The Four Love Languages.

      She understands my problem but has no idea how to help and has gone so far to call me a sex addict at times. It’s disheartening to say the least, I’m not sure how long I can hold on.

  13. Catherine says:

    I haven’t read the comments word for word, but after skimming through, it seems to me that the missing voice here is someone who did not engage in sexual activity before marriage (trying to honor God), THEN got married, and THEN realized she was asexual a time later. That person is me.

    My options aren’t very favorable. Option 1: Deprive my husband of sex (obviously unbiblical). Option 2: Have sex, though I literally cannot engage emotionally, and physically it feels like I am getting stabbed by a knife from inside my body the entire time. (I do not think this is what God wants for me, either.) 3. Have sexual encounters that do not involve intercourse, which is still somewhat of a disappointment to my husband, so also probably not what God would want.

    I have prayed about it but I just can’t figure out what to do. My husband loves me very much and we are trying to work out a compromise, but we haven’t found a good one yet. Also, it doesn’t help that I literally have never met another asexual person–much less an asexual Christian–so I have no sort of mentor in this area.

    It is NOT always an “illness” that can be “treated,” and I find it very insensitive of my fellow Christians to treat it this way. This is an oversimplified example, but it would be like saying, “It’s an illness (or sin) if someone doesn’t crave and enjoy pizza–God gave us tastebuds and said we should glorify him whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, so you must glorify God by eating this pizza whether you like it or not!”

    Any sort of “treatment” would interfere with hormones, and I am very wary of hormonal medications because they often have terrible side effects, even sometimes causing cancer later in life.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Sex prior to marriage or not isn’t the issue. It’s the drive to have sex that makes one sexual or not. I think people know whether they have sexual desire or not prior to marriage. I mean, if there was no sexual desire, why get married?

      Rather, it sounds like you are experiencing pain during sex, and that makes you not want it, and so then you think you are asexual. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but that’s how I read your comment.

      I highly suggest reading this post on sexual pain and then working to resolve that. Sex should not feel like “getting stabbed by a knife”. That sounds like vaginismus, which can be either physical or psychological in nature. But, it’s not the same as being asexual.

      1. Catherine says:

        I’m not entirely disagreeing with what you’ve said, but I do want to clarify some things. I did not know I lacked sexual desire before I was married/had sexual experience. The church told me not to lust, and that any sexual thoughts outside of marriage were sinful. When I didn’t have those thoughts, I just thought I was doing a really good job of resisting temptation to lust. I thought the desire would come after I was married, when God-glorifying sex was finally an option. I got married because I was in love, not because I was craving sex, and it is a bit offensive that you would suggest my marriage was pointless if I didn’t desire sex. I know that not all asexual women experience pain, but many do because when a woman is aroused, her body literally changes to prepare for sex and accommodate what’s about to happen. Therefore if our brains cannot get aroused, our bodies often cannot go through with sex without pain. This is not just me. However, no, the pain is not confusing me to make me think I am asexual when I am not. Thank you for trying to find an explanation for me though.

        I am not looking for an argument, but I do hope to dispell the myths that true asexuality doesn’t exist, or is a disorder, or must be caused by some outlying factor.

        1. LE says:

          Hi Catherine. I wanted to let you know that you are not alone: I am also an Asexual Christian woman. I wanted to confirm that you are not broken, or confused, or going through a phase. Asexuality is a sexual orientation, just like someone identifying as straight or homosexual. Before we were born, God knew that we would be made like this. Being Asexual isn’t good or bad, it just means that we experience different desires for intimacy.

          I can say with no doubt that I have never experienced sexual desire or lust. I’ve never looked at another person’s body and thought about how they could use it to bring me pleasure. But I have fallen in love and I’ve experienced deep emotional intimacy.

          As for having a partner or being married, I myself have never been married, but I have Asexual friends who are in relationships with Asexual or sexual people. They say that communication is key.

          A really good source for more information on Asexuality is AVEN – Asexuality Visibility and Education Network. Their website is great and has different discussion boards where you may be able to get advice from others in your situation. The site also has info specifically for people in relationships with Asexual individuals.

          I hope some of this was helpful and that, at the very least, you don’t feel alone.

  14. Matthew S says:

    I can speak only of my experience. I am seventy years old with still a very healthy sex drive, my wife and I were virgins when married, February 1972. I resisted the strong urge to have sex with my bride to be, wanting to save us both for our wedding night. I always had the feeling that had I asked, she would have jumped at the chance to have sex, so it never occurred to me that asexuality would one day be an issue.

    All through our married life, it was always, always down to me to initiate sexual intimacy, if I didn`t, then nothing would happen. I was keen to be adventurous, to keep the interest up, she was never enthusiastic, which sort of made me feel like a sexual pervert. I really wasn`t, compared to what I understand people do, I was tame. We would average sex three or four times a week, which I was not unhappy with. She never refused my advances, never denied me sex, thereby using it as a weapon against me. I sensed though, that I was, “being treated” to “duty sex”, or “obligation sex”, that she was not getting any joy from, not just sex but the intimacy as well. I realize now, that my concerns should have been aired in a discussion, they weren`t, I just internalized them and continued with what I regarded as mediocre sex for a very long time, too long, waay tooo loong, until around 2000/2001, when I thought I would test my theory about the “duty sex/obligation sex”, I would cease and desist initiating sex. I reasoned that this would precipitate some kind of reaction which would confirm my suspicions or prove me wrong.

    Sexual abstinence commenced either in 2000 or 2001, I am not precisely sure but it was 2001 at the latest. Weeks, then months went by, that we were not engaging in any form of intimacy. It seemed not to be a concern whatsoever for my wife. She never assumed the role I had for all those years of initiating, she never inquired why suddenly we were not having sex anymore. I had thought of some questions that she might have wanted answers to, for example, did I have an ED problem, or some medical condition, was I no longer attracted to her, was I having an affair, or had I become gay? I understand many people reading this will question my MO. Why I didn`t just ask her straight out the questions I sought answers to. Well, I reasoned that if I confronted her with my suspicions, that she was engaging in “duty/obligation sex”, she may not wish to admit as much, so she would deny it. I wanted an honest answer, not one she felt pressured to give. If my suspicions were unfounded, then, I reasoned that she would reach a breaking point, be that weeks or months of abstinence, when she would miss sex and intimacy. Well folks, no such breaking point came, I concluded that she was happy that hubby had apparently outgrown his sexual urges, “thank God for that. Thought I was going to have to fake interest till one of us croaked”.

    Can you imagine what sort of an effect this had on my self esteem, self confidence. It came as a real kick to the nether regions, I can tell you. It was seriously impacting our relationship, I was feeling resentful, the love I had always felt for her was all but gone. In 2013, that is a minimum of twelve years without intimacy, I mentioned to her that I thought our marriage was in dire trouble, to illustrate how serious it was, I scored it`s health as three out of twenty. I remember she remarked, she felt it was nowhere near as bad as that, she apparently was quite satisfied. She was not interested to inquire of me why I scored it so low. To my mind such a low score would beg the question to see what could be done to improve the situation, nope didn`t happen. I attempted this conversation a second time that year with the same result.

    Later that same year, I attempted to try a different approach, where we could address specifically our sexual intimacy issues. She shut me down immediately, absolutely no discussion whatever angle I approached it from. I suggested that it might be an appropriate time to consider professional help in the form of marriage guidance/counselling, again no deal, not interested. If things were bad before this, they really deteriorated hence forth. Relations became toxic, though she is much better at remaining civil than I am.

    Earlier this year, I asked her if we could have a conversation to see what could be done as I believed our marriage seemed doomed otherwise. As I saw it this was a last ditch effort to salvage the wreckage. I suggested one more time that we seek professional help, again it was rejected. Then twenty four hours later she asked if I was still interested in marriage counselling, she had reconsidered her position and was now willing to give it a try.

    Subsequently we had around twelve sessions, some jointly, others singly. It was there that I learnt that the mistake we both had made from the start, we had not communicated to one another all the important stuff, our hopes, dreams, fears, likes, loves, what we didn`t like. So, left to guess work, mistakes born of ignorance, were always going to be a good chance.

    Where to from here? I don`t know. I believe my wife is asexual, either all along or latently or transitioned down the track. I know that before we married, she expressed a fear that she would never have children, I know not what that fear was based on, or whether it was genuine, or not, or her way of finding out my attitude to having children. We did have children, three in fact.

    I have to say that I have wondered, in recent years, if she ever had unconditional love for me, or whether I was an acceptable means by which she could have the children she felt compelled to produce. it is a very sobering and unsettling thought.

    I, like all sensible thinking people, embarking on the ship of marriage, do so with the hope and expectation that mutual love feelings will last till one dies, I certainly did. I never wanted to number among the statistics of failed marriages, but it is looking increasingly like it is inevitable. Our marriage is virtually extinct now. We share our house, we operate as a team, share income/resources, we cooperate, we socialize, and yes we share a bed, where we sleep but nothing else happens there. Crazy eh?

    I have no feelings of love for her anymore and I believe we are well past the point of no return. I can not conceive how my love for her can be reignited. The chemistry that is necessary for love to happen between two people, is a universe away. I have suffered too much damage. I have tried to find out from her if she is asexual, or if it is just me she is not attracted to. She offers me no answer. She avoids the question. She seems to miss the point that while it may suit her very well not to have to engage in sex, it is extremely damaging to the partner with average sex drive as a minimum. Such an attitude reeks of, “I`m alright Jack, stuff you”, Well, my attitude now is firming towards finding a lady who has the same unmet needs as myself, she may be a widow. We could go some way toward filling gaps in our lives. I never thought I would find myself uttering such things, much less posting such thoughts on a web site. It is a fact, that the only person I have ever had sexual intimacy with is my wife. That is the case no matter how anyone chooses to define sexual intimacy, so embarking on this course, seriously troubles me. For me, I can not countenance sex without strong feelings of affection. it is because of that, that I rule out having sex with my wife, ever again.

    I have to say that if my last sex act ever, occurred fifteen years ago, when I was only fifty five, maybe fifty four, such a thought fills me with dread. I believe I deserve better. It is my belief, and I understand it would bother many people, that were I to form a sexual liaison with another woman, while remaining married to my present wife, that this is not to be regarded as cheating, since there is no pretense that our sexual commitments are being met. I would feel obliged to let my wife know what was happening and why. My motive for doing so I regard as honorable and not to be vindictive.

    Finally, I, we, entered marriage as a couple of naive green thumbs, I am sure I knew nothing of the term asexual, even less of the consequences down the track. I wish I had, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
    Sexual incompatibility is too important to throw the dice and hope for the best. Prevention is better than cure. In our case it looks like a deal breaker. So with all those cliches I will close.

    1. Eli says:

      So you spent more than a decade playing mind games with your wife, spring on her 12 years later that your marriage has fallen apart, go to some therapy sessions, and then decide she doesn’t love you because she didn’t want to have sex with you after all this?

      Take a step back and look at it from her perspective. You kept your feelings, emotions, and motivations hidden for over a decade and you think she’s just supposed to tell you “you’re great, let’s have sex?” Did you consider she may have felt unloved or unwanted when you didn’t initiate sex for 12 years? Did you consider she may have felt that you were cold and distant and therefore didn’t want to try and initiate sex? Did you consider she may have been depressed, which kills the sex drive in men and women? Did you consider she may have been dealing with menopause and felt like she was no longer in control of her body? Or did you just conclude that because she didn’t behave the way you expected her to that she was broken?

      The story you’ve told paints you as very self centered and narcissistic. Your only care was meeting your own needs and feelings and you weren’t even adult enough to have a conversation about those feelings. You gave up on your marriage long ago and now want someone to tell you it’s your wife’s fault and you should divorce her and upgrade to a new model. My takeaway from your post is “But see my wife is broken, and I left her that way, so now I need a new wife who isn’t broken. It’s not my fault she’s broken. I didn’t break her.” But see you did. You spent a decade deceiving her and now blame her for not noticing your deceit. Your wife sounds like amazing and likely godly woman. You sir, do not.

    2. Someguy says:

      Thanks for writing this Matthew. It was helpful to read my exact thoughts. I’m afraid my sex life never took off. We didn’t do it on our wedding night…and only did it twice during the 3 week honeymoon. After that, I managed to convince her to do it once every 3-4 months…maybe.

      “Experts” say less than 10 times a year makes for a “sexless” marriage. A guarantee of 10 a year would have been wonderful. My last sex act was about a year and a half ago…at age 40. I gave up. I couldn’t face the constant rejection…so I’ve accepted my place

      She hates when I touch her…so I avoid all contact with her. But like you, I could never bring myself to sleep with anyone I wasn’t in love with. So I can’t see myself having sex ever again. I was a virgin at marriage…at the age of 27. Now I’m done at at 41. What a waste.

      So now we raise our two kids together. She’s a good mother but we’re just roommates. That’s all there is to my life now.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        Did you ever have a conversation about it?

  15. Terry says:

    Wow, I’m not sure how to respond. Sex is suppose to be vital to a marriage??? I am an asexual female. I have been married for nearly thirty years and have had three children. I don’t have any desire for sex. I participate in it at times because I know that my husband enjoys it. We have talked about the intimacy in our marriage and he is very plain when he says that he would be willing to never have sex again if it was something I did not want to participate in. He and I feel that our relationship, our love for one another is much greater than the need or desire for sex. I participate because I love him and want to do something for him but i have never felt obligated. I know that our situation may be unusual but it is possible to have a marriage without sex being the vital part of the marriage. To have children….yes it is pretty vital…but a marriage can be based on much more than sex and frankly should be. I think it comes down to the individuals and what works for them. To make a blanket statement is unfair to many couples that have made marriage work happily even with rare sexual encounters and to those looking ahead to a marriage. You can have a healthy loving marriage and be asexual.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I participate in it at times because I know that my husband enjoys it.

      I’d be willing to bet that “enjoys it” is a gross understatement.

      he would be willing to never have sex again if it was something I did not want to participate in

      Well, if course, because the alternative is rape.

      I agree that marriage is more than just sex, but no, I don’t think a marriage can thrive without it. I think physical intimacy is incredibly important.
      I am curious how one classifies ones-self as “asexual”. When you say “I don’t have any desire for sex” what does that mean? Does that just mean you don’t feel spontaneous arousal? That’s pretty normal for a female, about 30% of women respond the same way. That doesn’t mean they’re asexual.

      Just wondering what brought you to the conclusion you’re asexual.

  16. Anonymous says:

    This is my second marriage. Married almost five years. My husband and I are both slightly over 50. During courtship we tried to but did not always abstain. My husband was never married before. The point is I did know he had a sex drive during courtship and that he had been active throughout his life. He had become a Christian just a few years before I meet him. The first 6 months of marriage was rough. It seemed he was pushing me away. Sex was not what I expected during this time, but with the troubles that made sense. Well those troubles are long gone, but the sex is less and less. I would initiate for a few years, but have stopped. I thought I would wait until he was ready. I have talked to him about the problem pretty much since we have been married. I usually talk, but on occasion I would do so while upset. He never seems to have an answer. Or the solution changes. Often he will initiate once I have one of these talks, but that seems not to be working so well anymore. I am pretty sure he had his testosterone checked and it was fine. He was estranged from his mother during the years of our marriage, but that is now resolved. His men’s group had suggested this would solve the problem. No. Now he says he is just lazy about it and about marriage as a priority. While he is almost always working and making decent money, he does not hold jobs long at all. It has now been over 3 months since we had sex. I try to have faith in God for this. It even makes me question my faith or even run from God sometimes. I don’t even want to ask God again, or try to have faith again and be disappointed. Yet it affects me so much, so it is affecting my relationship with God. I know he loves me and I love him. I have asked myself at times if i would marry him knowing I would be so disappointed in sex. I have said yes, but that was awhile ago and still thinking about it not being all sparked up, not drying into non-existence. I mean I was so looking forward to having lots of sex in marriage. I am worried about my happiness, the risk of infidelity (not even remotely in my mind but I know how things work), but mostly I am worried about getting depressed or hatred towards him at some point. I try not to think about it – focus on other things. But that only works so long. I was not attracted to my first husband and thought I had a low sex drive. Now I know that is not true and feel so much more sexual, but I can’t be sexual. 2 marriages and no sexual enjoyment. I know God made marriage for this.

    I am not looking for any particular comments on the above, but will take them. After reading this thread and a few others, I really have some questions:

    – Could my husband be asexual? I would think his history says no, but he is acting that way.
    – What is an asexual? Some comments indicate no sexual feelings, some people seem to use the label for low interest not no interest
    -or could he be responsive vs spontaneous? there is much discussion about women being responsive, but can a man?
    -doe the more sex create more momentum work for men also? especially with these issues?

    What would help an asexual or responsive man?

    After reading some threads, I am thinking maybe I should try initiating again.

    I also have always thought that not initiating or pushing sex down is a way for him to keep from true closeness/vulerability/oneness.

    Sincerely,

    MO

  17. Anneliese says:

    I am asexual and married to a very sexual, very Godly man. I love what you have to say about giving in versus giving a gift. I’ve been trying to explain that to my husband for a while now. But that message women receive about giving in being a bad thing, about needing your whole heart to be in it? It’s wreaking far more havoc on men than women. Men are told that if their wives aren’t 100% into it that they (the men) are doing something wrong by accepting what she offers. If he can tell she isn’t 100% into it, then she, or someone else, can ( (and probably will) use it to condemn and attack him for selfish chauvinistic sexism, and maybe even accuse him of being coercive, thoughtless, manipulative, and at worse abusive. Can you write something to address this toxic message? Men are trained not to trust women giving them sexual gifts, and that is a true tragedy.

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