Today’s question is from a wife who was put on bed rest during a complicated pregnancy. She wants to know what to do about their sexual intimacy when everything is off the table.
“Not only is intercourse forbidden, but any arousal on my part causes pain and strong contracting. It has been six weeks, so even stimulating my husband causes me to become aroused…
“My poor husband has it pretty bad too… I feel so horrible for him, but can’t figure out how to help. How can we stay intimate and sexual when there is no sex to be had?”
Been there, done that. Spent 11 weeks on bed rest with one child. So definitely take care of that little one! You’ll be glad you did.
Usually when intercourse is off-limits, you can indeed engage in other sexual acts. But in your case, that’s off the table too. You don’t want to bring on those contractions. Honestly, I think the best you two can do is:
Abstain. Sometimes in your marriage, that’s just where you are. And while I’m clearly gung-ho for frequent and satisfying sex in marriage, I’m also a pragmatist who’s lived long enough to know that things happen.
Of course, we’d far rather be sexually intimate, but for a season you two can likely hold out. Certainly military couples and those going through extreme illness or injuries manage, so while it totally stinks (and I’d like buy you a cup of coffee and let you tell me the woes of it all!), you may simply have to bite your lip and hold off. Thankfully, in the large scheme of things, a few weeks without sex can be a blip on the screen of your marriage.
Show Affection. Focus on affection, not sexuality. Part of our God-given biology in sex is the release of a bonding chemical called Oxytocin. It’s very present during sex, but it’s also released during embraces that last for several seconds and other prolonged touch. So hold each other. Snuggle up on the couch, hold hands, etc. That can help keep the connection.
Communicate. Encourage each other as you go through this dry spell. Be willing to hear the others’ frustrations or longings. Continue speaking positively about your love. And remind each other why you’re willing to make this personal sacrifice — for this child you’re carrying.
Let him take care of it. I know this one will be controversial, since some Christians object to solo masturbation in any situation. I consider the standard to be what takes away or adds to marital intimacy. Usually, one spouse engaging in solo masturbation takes away from the marriage bed — because pleasuring yourself in that way can be selfish, can deny your spouse something they deserve, can take your mind places it shouldn’t go, etc.
However, sometimes masturbation could add to the marriage by helping the frustrated spouse get through an unavoidable period of abstinence. Mind you, your husband shouldn’t be doing this terribly often, because it is easier to climax on your own and frequent masturbators can unwittingly retrain their brains and bodies to respond to their own touch rather than their spouses. But when the tension builds up so high, might it be okay for him to fantasize about you but take care of things himself? You two will have to decide that. But I think it’s an option.
Count down. Remind yourselves often that this is temporary. We can usually handle painful circumstances and personal challenges far easier when we know they won’t last forever, that we’ll soon look back on this time with a different, bigger-picture perspective.
Maybe you can get a calendar and mark off days until your due date — seeing that each day you’ve had to wait is one less day you have to wait. You’ve done that one and you’re getting closer and closer to sex with each other and baby for the both of you. Treat it like a goal to make it to the end and then congratulate yourselves for each successful day of pelvic rest that brings you closer to your ultimate goal of building this beautiful family.
And for what to do about sex after the baby comes, check out A Month Without Sex?! Advice for New Moms.