Q&A with J: Sexual Release Without Sinfulness

Our question for today comes from a wife who is currently separated from her husband, fighting for her marriage, and trying to deal with her restless sex drive. Here it is:

Our sex life has been amazing from day one. I have a very high libido and I just enjoy sex and trying new things, etc. However, we are currently separated due to him falling into an international affair. I am fighting hard for my marriage and I’m praying the Lord will grab his heart and turn him from his sin…

My question is this: I’m 31 years old with a high libido and I feel trapped in how to how to honor the Lord with my sexuality right now. How can I get a release without indulging in anything sinful? I believe masturbation is okay, especially in my situation, but it has become really hard to climax without having a scenario in my head. I believe erotica can erode a marriage, but are there certain types of erotica that can help people people in my situation?

Blog post title + woman under bed covers with arms raised

First off, I’m praying for your marriage too, and I invite my readers to do the same. Obviously, the best answer is for this marriage to be not only restored but brought to a place of thriving.

Yet whatever happens, you have to deal with this high libido that was awakened in marriage and now has no place to be satisfied. I feel for you. Your sex drive doesn’t just go away when your spouse is gone; it can be a hungry little beast when not properly fed.

You essentially have three ways to deal with a restless sex drive.

1. Release it.

That’s where your question heads to: “How can I get a release without indulging in anything sinful?” You say that masturbation is okay, and I’ve laid out my own position on this blog before. A summary of my perspective would be that masturbation that brings you and your spouse closer together is okay and masturbation that draws sexual energy away from your spouse is not okay.

Long physical separation from your spouse could be one of those times when it’s beneficial to “take the edge off” so that you can remain focused on your husband and your intimacy with him and not be tempted by another’s man attention, get cranky with your husband because it’s been way too long, etc. But imagining a scenario in your mind that doesn’t involve your husband takes sexual energy away from him; it’s inherently detrimental to your relationship.

If you’re imagining anything other than your hubby in your mind, you’re in sinful territory. And that’s what erotica encourages you to do. Jesus said, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28, NLT). Of course that also applies to a woman looking, or imagining, a man with lust.

Ideally, if you’re masturbating to be able to withstand a long physical separation from your spouse, you’re doing so with their knowledge, support, and even presence (yes, some married couples Skype and simultaneously pleasure themselves). In your case, however, that’s not possible. So you need to be careful about how you engage in this physical release.

Look at your motives, your heart and your mind, and what will best keep your sexual energy on your marriage. Prayerfully ask those questions and listen for God’s answers.

2. Channel it.

You don’t have to use sexual energy sexually. That pent-up feeling can be channeled toward other activities. For instance, physical exercise can help diffuse that tension. It’s another way to be active, experience body chemical highs, and end up with that level of fatigue you sometimes feel at the end of sex.

I’m sure you’re also missing that physical touch that comes with sexual connection. You can refocus your desire for sexual affection to other forms of affection and other relationships. Spend more time with family. Volunteer in your church’s nursery. Head to a convalescent home and hold hands with an old woman, who might also have some wise life advice to share while you’re there.

Check out these and other ideas on what to do with your sexual energy when you’re not attached in this post.

3. Ignore it.

You’re probably thinking, I can’t! It’s impossible to ignore. But hear me out. In psychology, there’s a principle called extinction. In behavioral therapy, we know that linking a stimulus and a consequence causes people to expect the latter when the former shows up. The classic experiment is Pavlov’s dogs who heard a bell before being fed and thereafter drooled for food whenever they heard the bell ring. But if you de-couple that stimulus and consequence (bell → food), eventually the conditioned response (drooling) goes away. That’s extinction.

Right now, your hungry little beast — aka, your sex drive — wants to be fed. But it doesn’t literally need to be fed. You don’t have to have sex for your heart to keep beating. So it’s possible to use a bit of extinction in dealing with your drive.

I don’t believe your libido will completely go away, because our sexuality is an integral, God-given part of our humanity. But if you constantly shove juicy morsels at that beast, it will keep coming and coming, demanding to be fed. If you ignore it, eventually your drive will diminish. Enough to be more manageable.

Lest you think I’m being completely unrealistic, my husband and I did not have sex for about four months when expecting our second child. I was right in that high-libido part of my pregnancy when my doctor announced that health risks precluded intercourse. I did a lot of ignoring my drive, and so did my husband. Over time, it got less demanding. So I believe it can be done.

(By the way, for those who are in a marriage where you should be having sex and one of you has been practicing extinction, this might help to explain why it’s hard to get going again. But you should, for the sake of your marriage.)

Which of the three options should you choose? Each of them — releasing your sex drive, channeling it, ignoring it — could be beneficial depending on the motives, circumstances, and goals. But ask serious questions about what would honor God and your marriage when deciding what to do.

Once again, I’m praying that your marriage will be saved.

5 thoughts on “Q&A with J: Sexual Release Without Sinfulness

  1. Anthony

    I have been married 23 yrs, My wife has 2 Sons, both by ‘section’. She was able to have normal birth had her birth opening was small and ever since sex has been painful and i being high libido have had to release myself. I now am not wanting to do this but have spoke to My wife about this and recently she said its ok as i will allow me to do this. This is not what i expexted her to say after me wanting intimacy and it is My wife who is a much stronger believer Christian than me but i velieve also. This problem has been long term and My wife had always been low libido. I have hope for intimacy to return but it is a lonely experience – is there any advise to her and me, as i am aware that i an just acting like Pavlo dog, and seeing Symbolic body symbol only reminds me if earlier abuse as a child

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      My advice is that you need to explain that you want sexual intimacy with her, not just this physical release. Then ask her to see a doctor and see why she’s having pain. It’s not supposed to hurt like that, and she needs to specific tell her doctor that she’s experiencing pain during intercourse. Tell your lovely wife that you want to make love to her, that you want her to experience sexual pleasure, and that you will be there for her and work as a team to figure out how to bring intimacy back into your marriage.

      Reply
      1. Anthony

        Thanks J. I do get some to talk about this with my wife. She is 60 but I still find her attractive. She is hesitant to see a Doctor after bad experiences in past and recently her Doctor told her to see a mid-wife which she did not want to. I think she procrastinates and tells me, it is not hormones etc but stress. Also she has been several times to a Doctors and they have only suggest KY which has not changed her low l.

        Reply
  2. John

    I feel at this time for you is to focus on identifying
    The right things to invest your time in during
    Each day that is given to you.
    You will find out what is helping you build the best
    And strongest you ever and what gets you no where
    In this opportunity you are in

    Reply
  3. Alicia

    Thanks for this post, J. My marriage is not in trouble as this reader’s is. (My prayers are with her and her husband.) But a lot of what you said still applies. My husband is battling cancer, and our once-frequent and thriving sex life is now virtually non-existent. That’s not his fault. Illness and treatment are taking their toll on him physically, caregiving on me emotionally. I’ve been wondering what to do with my own high drive in this time when my husband is, through no fault of his own, unable to satisfy it. Without being able to put words to it, I realized I’ve been doing what you call channeling and ignoring/extinction. And the longer I’ve done that second one, the more my drive seems to have gone to sleep. I’m honestly a bit worried how to wake it back up again if we can get my husband back into remission, but I guess that’s a bridge we cross when we get there. Thanks for helping me put words on what I’m already doing, and helping me think about forms of release that would not be sinning.

    Reply

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