I received this question in the comments on the post What Do I Do If I Get Turned On By Someone/Something Other Than My Spouse?
If you knew your spouse was deliberately looking at stuff to get aroused but goes to you for sex, would you refuse them? Would you also refuse sex with your spouse if they accidentally see something arousing in a movie, but watch it anyway with no repentance or attempt to look away and then they come to you for sex?
It is one of my fears that I’m having sex with my husband, but he is having sex with someone else (in his mind.)
Now, this presents a problem, we have two concepts in direct opposition to each other:
- Sex is a marriage right. One spouse does not have the right to deny the other.
- Sex is viewed by many men as a “reward” or an indication that everything is alright in the relationship. So, having sex may be telling him that you are OK with his behavior.
So, how do we reconcile these two opposing choices?
I’m going to lean on 1 Corinthians for this one.
Do not deprive each other except 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 7:5
Now, this verse is talking about not depriving your spouse of sex, and that’s what everyone focuses on, but what if we flip it the other way around? What if the couple decided to mutually take sex off the table (or bed, adjust for personal preference) for a while to dig into scripture, pray and meditate on what God wants in their lives concerning this topic? What if you went to your husband (or wife) and said “Dear, I want us to take a break from sex because I feel what you are doing is hurting our relationship and your relationship with God and I want to spend time with you studying scripture to see what it says about this point we disagree on.”
How can you argue with that and still claim to be a loving spouse and a Christian? Now, if they do put their foot down and refuse to do it, then I think it’s time to go to a pastor, elder, trusted friend. Someone with whom your spouse trusts to hold them accountable in their walk with God, who won’t judge but offer help and guidance. If you have no one like that, get one.
Now, during those whole process I, of course, advocate praying for yourself and your spouse, for guidance and wisdom and strength to endure.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that this will work. One of the downsides of free will is that we have the ability to choose against God. So, what do you do in that case? Now, keep in mind, this is just my personal opinion. I think it depends on the couple. Some would see this sort of treatment as emotionally abusive, and in such cases, I suggest complete separation (not divorce) until such time that the abuse ceases. An abusive marriage must not be tolerated, it needs to be addressed and healed. If you do not consider it abusive, but just don’t like the fact, then I’m afraid all you can do is be transparent about your feelings and continue in your marriage the same way you would if your spouse had a problem with any other sin, as we all do.
And if your spouse is not a believer, or deliberately chooses against God? All I can do is point back to scripture again:
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. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.1 Corinthians 7:13-15
And then go read the story of Hosea in the Bible and how he was treated by his wife Gomer, perhaps it will help give some perspective to how marriages are to be endured when things are wrong.
That’s my take on the question. What would you say to this person?