4 Ways Sex Can Comfort in Crisis or Grief

My last couple of weeks have been a little crazy, with a family member experiencing a severe health scare. My schedule was upheaved, my body was exhausted, and my heart ached. (Things are better now, thanks for asking.) When I had time to myself, it was a toss-up on whether I should get some writing done, do household work, spend time with the family, or de-stress with R&R (rest & relaxation).

But I had a strange desire for sex with my husband.

No, it’s not strange for me to desire sex with my husband. But the desire itself was a bit different from my usual motivations. I wanted to be comforted by sex — wrapped in his arms, folded into his heart, united with his flesh. I realized that engaging in sexual intimacy would ease my grief.

Which reminded me of a verse about sex that I’d always thought rather odd before:

“Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her.” 2 Samuel 12:24a

Bathsheba was grieving the death of her newborn child, a terrible experience for anyone who’s been through it. I simply can’t imagine the heart-wrenching pain she was going through. In the face of this crisis, we might expect a scripture like, “Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba; he listened to her talk through her pain all night long” or “Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba; he held her close and let her cry in his arms.”

But that’s not what the Bible says. Rather the verse is “Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her.” The second half of the verse says that she conceived a second son, Solomon. But was the knowledge that she was pregnant the source of comfort? It doesn’t seem so. It seems that the sexual encounter itself played a role in comforting Bathsheba in her deep grief.

And that’s how making love with my husband felt to me during those touch-and-go times. Like a balm on my wound, a Band-Aid on my heart. Why?

I have few ideas on why sex can be comforting in a crisis or grief.

Sex releases physical tension. When you’re in anxiety or grief mode, your body tenses up in ways you may not even recognize fully. Focusing on physical pleasure, and experiencing orgasm, releases that tension — even if it lasts only a brief time. We release certain brain chemicals during sex, including oxytocin and serotonin, that result in feelings of peace and well-being. In the midst of an emotional tornado, sex can have a calming effect.

Sex reassures. Sex can reassure you of your spouse’s love. It can be a reminder that, whatever storms rage in the rest of your life, your husband’s love is a sure anchor. In the story of David and Bathsheba, she was not his only wife, and following the death of their child, he could have discarded her, set her to the side, never had to gaze again on the mother of his lost son. But David reassured her of his love, by going into her and making love with her. Likewise, being intimate with your spouse can reassure you of his presence and constancy in your life.

Sex transports. Some issues in life loom so large or so urgent that we can’t seem to escape the anxiety they bring. But honestly, when I’m in the midst of making love with my husband, and particularly when I climax, I ain’t thinking about anything else but that moment. I get a break from my fretfulness — a mini-vacation for my worried mind. Sex can transport you away from the concern and hurt stirred by the crisis or grief and to a place of pleasure and joy.

Sex reconnects. Oftentimes when life is tugging at you so hard, you don’t have the time you wish with your spouse. You’re pulled in too many directions, dealing with too many demands, dodging too many bullets. Getting time for a “date night” in my home the last few weeks wasn’t easy, but we could pull off a fifteen-minute lovemaking session. And that reconnects me to my husband. It reminds us of our overall intimacy and desire to be with one another. Sex has been called the “glue of marriage,” and in this instance, I agree that it has that sticky quality.

Sex can be comforting in times of crisis or grief.

Of course, sex may not always be what you need. When one of my best friends died a few years back, I had several nights that I just wanted to be held while I bawled like a baby. And that’s exactly what my husband did for me.

But there are times when sex can comfort, heal, and reassure.

Have you ever experienced the comfort of marital intimacy in difficult times? What are your reasons for desiring sex when you experience crisis or grief?

Also see Genesis 24:67: “Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”

28 thoughts on “4 Ways Sex Can Comfort in Crisis or Grief

  1. Carrie

    This is so true. Sex has definitely helped my husband and I reconnect during some times when it was too hard and draining to try to connect in other ways.
    This is my first time commenting, but I wanted to let you know I have been reading for awhile now and love the approachable way you deal with such a touchy, important topic. (Yes, I just said touchy 🙂 I recommended your site on my own blog – which is mostly about DIY – as one of 6 blogs worth reading. Thanks for all you do.

  2. Jerry Stumpf

    Thank you for your entire blog. I have read through many of the posts but have not commented on them until now. After having my own blog I realized how important it is to give wholesome feedback.
    For today, many folks bypass the healing and intimacy comforting segments of our sexual encounters. Not all of our times together are going to be “rocking the house” sex but they will be therapeutic for the desired needs. God has designed us so well that it is amazing how much we are still learning how the most basic activities we take for granted, so bless us.

    My blog is still in its beginning stages.

    Jerry

  3. M

    At the risk of sounding silly…I experienced this in a smaller scale a few weeks ago. Being 6 months pregnant my emotions are at the mercy of my hormones a lot right now it seems and there’s been plenty of other stresses in our lives. In addition to the big stuff like hubby’s being out of town M-F for months now, a new house, etc I spent the week feeling very alone (as hubby was away) working with our dogs. One in particular continues to find ways out of our yard and I am still a new person in their life and the home is new to them as well so it’s felt especially challenging all around. On top of it we ended up with three kittens and the dog was not mixing well with them. All week I had spent (it felt like) trying to keep them separate (and failing once or twice then wrestling a boxer off of a 12 week old kitten). Then two of the kittens “disappeared” and hubby later found one of their bodies (thankfully it was not our boxer that did it, we apparently have some neighborhood dogs prowling or other vicious animals) and I was sad but life goes on…and then Sunday we came home from church and our third kitty was dead too. That was it. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I remember taking off my jewelry and dress clothes and crawling into bed sobbing pretty much uncontrollably while hubby was out burying the kitten. When he came in all I wanted was to make love. I didn’t feel sexy or turned on or hot or anything, I just had a desperate need to connect with him I couldn’t explain and he was very happy to oblige. 😉 It does seem funny to me how naturally that comes when we are making up after a disagreement or dealing with some other stress. Not that we don’t talk about it, the action always follows dealing with whatever problem or issue, it is not a cover up. It just somehow is the perfect closure.

    1. J Post author

      Oh, my heart hurts now. We once had a cat die from a greyhound that got out of its fence; it was so heartbreaking to find the lifeless kitty. I’m glad that your husband was there to comfort you. Blessings!

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  5. Cindy

    I cannot believe that I have never read that verse about David and Bathsheba! My husband and I lost a child, he was stillborn at 38 weeks, 2 1/2 years ago. Despite doctor’s orders and all that stuff, we made very passionate love within just a week of leaving the hospital. Our hearts were hurting so bad, and in those moments, we knew that there was only one way to get through it – together. Over our 11 years of marriage, I do not think I had ever experienced the love and passion like we did in those moments of love making after we lost our son. And despite the heartache, our marriage has been made stronger through the loss. Making love so soon after the loss was such a wonderful thing for us and helped us heal and unify. Thank you for this post. I just discovered your blog, but feel like God brought me to it. Thank you!

    1. J Post author

      I’m so sorry about the loss of your child. I simply can’t imagine your heartbreak at that time. I’m glad that you and your husband drew together and found comfort in one another’s arms.

      Thanks for sharing your story, Cindy.

  6. Greg

    Not to detract, but since the verse includes the word “and” (in multiple translations) it appears they may(?) have made love after he spent at least some time comforting her in a non-sexual way: “Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, [and] he went to her and made love to her…”

    In any case, there’s no doubt in my mind that their love making provided the greatest physical release and emotional recovery from the sheer devastation and grief Bathsheba felt!

    1. J Post author

      I don’t think that detracts at all, Greg. Yes, the word “and” is there, but the proximity is so close that the impression left is that the lovemaking was at least part of the comfort. I’m quite certain that David comforted her in other ways, and likely felt comforted by her.

      Thanks!

  7. Megan@DoNotDisturb

    I’ve absolutely had the experience when sex has comforted me. To me, that’s part of the wonderful mystery of sex. At times, God has used sex to fill voids in my life that I didn’t even know I had and would never have turned to sex to fill. Thanks for sharing your experience as it echo’s some of my own as of late. Be blessed!

    Megan

    1. J Post author

      It is a bit of mystery, isn’t it? I don’t believe that any sex fills such a void, but marital, intimate, God-blessed sex can fill empty spaces in us. Thanks, Megan.

  8. Tammy

    My mother died suddenly of a heart attack on Wednesday, the same week my oldest daughter was getting married on Saturday. My brother was in Iraq in the Army, I was a mess, to say the least! The first night I didn’t sleep, I was a zombie the next day, so many things needed MY attention, so many details to try to take care of for a wedding and a funeral and arrangements for my brother. The next night I drugged myself with Nyquil to sleep. But when I woke up that Friday morning, after about 5 hours of sleep, I just needed my husband, and I like you, just really needed the physical touch, the reminder that I was alive, that we were a team, in this LIFE together-and I just needed the release. Afterward, I just kept telling him “thank you”. I could now face whatever I needed to, I had recharged my batteries. God has given us such a gift, I am amazed each time 🙂 Thanks for sharing this article. I pray many read it and if they don’t understand what a gift intimacy in marriage is, that they will soon GET IT. Once you understand it with your heart and mind, it fundamentally changes you.

  9. Bonnie Wallace

    This is something that I have not actually sat down and though about, but now, looking back, it is very true. I know that sex has become a comfort for me as well and I have an additional theory to add to all of your great ones.

    I think that, when we make love to our spouse, we are experiencing God as love. God is love and sex is the ultimate expression of love, so, in a way, when we have sex we are experiencing the most physical quality of God. This allows him to comfort us on a very spiritual level. Many references to experiencing God in historical works are quite sensual in nature and I believe the orgasm to be a God-given spiritual experience. It should not be surprising that sex is comforting!

    Great post though. It is definitely something I have not put extensive thought into before!

  10. Erica

    Absolutely! I know that I’ve found sex to be a sort of affirmation that I am ALIVE and that life will go on during those times of grief/pain/worry.

  11. Rory

    Amazing how you totally touch a topic that hits home for me! We have always had dry spells after babies over our almost 24 years of marriage. Breastfeeding, bed sharing, and wanting to sleep instead all contributed. After our last baby was born with a heart defect and the extra care he required, it was no different. He passed away unexpectedly last March after surgery when he was just 7 months old. In the grief that consumed me after, there was nothing I craved more than sex with my husband. You summed it up beautifully. 🙂

    1. J Post author

      I’m so, so sorry. I mourn your loss with you. I am praying for you and your husband, and I’m glad that you reconnected.

  12. DorothyC

    I totally get this…thank you for sharing. This was exactly my response after my husband told me he had had sex multiple times w/another woman (who I know and who came to our wedding) prior to our marriage. I think it kind of surprised us both how I wanted him to be touching me all the time and to have sex just about every night for weeks after he told me. I needed him to just love me, be with me-and he did, does. Unexpected and amazing grace provision from God-the intimacy and restoration, redemption even that sex can bring to a relationship sometimes.

  13. Yolanda W

    I’m feeling the same way at this present moment. My husband is away seeing about family he hasn’t been gone a week yet but since he’s been gone I had uncle pass unexpectedly. My fathers birthday is this weekend and he passed this summer…my uncle’s funeral is this Monday the day before my birthday..no I’m not attending…can’t do that right now..and I know my husband will be home before the weekend and all I’m desire is to make sweet passionate love. to him like never before. 🙂

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  16. Mara

    Sex has been really important for me (and my H) after he had an affair, 1.5 years ago. We went through a phase (6 months) of hysterical bonding (having sex several times a day). Where my husband was the higher drive one in our marriage before (about 3 times a week), I’m the higher drive one now, after the affair (still 7+ times a week). He has gone back to normal (his normal), I’ve ‘calmed’ down a bit, haha, but I find it difficult sometimes, our difference in ‘drive’.

    So yes, sex has never been more important in our 13 years of marriage

    Mara x

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  18. nix

    So I’ll just throw this into the mix as you are discussing affairs etc. I haven’t had sex with my husband for 6 months ( he decided to stop) .Then I discovered his affair !!
    From that point, obviously, I was hurting grieving the loss of my marriage , even though I didnt’ know back then if it was over. But he decided to leave just recently. Once I found out about the affair I was really craving him sexually , like a big increase in sex drive. I would love to have had him comfort me and bring us healing in that way but he has chosen someone else. So now I obviously have to look after myself in that department ; )
    Anyone have any experience of this or am I barking !
    thanks

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