That title is a tough question for many of you. Some marriages are struggling in the area of sexual intimacy, and one or both spouses feel trapped in an impossible situation. Your spouse doesn’t fully understand what you’re going through, and you don’t know how much longer you can hang on.
I get it. I really do.
Because that’s where my marriage was for days, weeks . . . okay, honestly, it was years. I didn’t feel that way every single moment, but there were more moments when I thought we wouldn’t make it than I expected we would. It was so very hard to hang on and believe things could get better.
I’ve said many times on my blog that you cannot change your spouse. You can make requests, explain yourself, encourage change, and make your own choices. But you can’t force someone else to behave the way you want. God gave your husband (or wife) free will, and He won’t take that away because it’s not working out well in a particular moment.
I believe spouses in unhappy situations need to ask themselves that question: What if nothing every changes? What if my spouse keeps doing X? What if we continue to have this struggle?
Such questions may feel like a recipe for despair, and maybe even divorce. But NO! That’s not at all what happened when I finally asked myself that question in the worst time of our marriage. I didn’t want to base my answers on the fissures in my heart or the frustration in my head. I wanted biblical, common-sense answers. What I discovered is what I want to share with you today — those of you whose sexual intimacy isn’t everything it should be, and who feel like giving up.
You have many other blessings in your life. When something is going wrong in your life, it’s easy to fixate on that. Likewise in marriage. Believe me, I spent years dwelling on everything that was wrong in my marriage, not bothering to consider what was going right.
That gave me a skewed perspective of the whole and sapped my energy to work on the area that needed improvement. It brought resentment and anger. And it made me blind to my own contributions to our problems.
Instead, consider all the blessings in your life — both in your marriage and elsewhere. Your sex life isn’t what it should be, but you likely have other benefits from being married. I know that doesn’t cover over the problems, but it may give you a healthier perspective and infuse you with a positive desire to work toward increased intimacy.
You can change the way you approach your situation. You are not powerless. You probably feel that way, but you have a say in how you deal with what’s going on. You choose your attitude and your responses.
Sometimes inadvertently enable our spouses to mistreat us regarding sexuality. We cooperate with the cycle of frustration or shutdown. We bring our anger to the forefront and operate from a selfish standpoint.
What if you changed the way you approached the situation? What if you stepped away from the role you’re playing in making things worse and discovered positive ways to approach your spouse and your marriage?
Without knowing your specific situation, I can’t say what that looks like for you. But most of us have some inkling of how we are adding to the problem. If you don’t know or need help figuring out how to change your approach, I recommend seeing a Christian counselor who can help you work through alternatives.
You still have an obligation to your family and to your God to do the right thing. Sorry to break it to you, but you don’t get a waiver from God because your spouse mistreats you. You are still called to act in ways that mirror Christ and exemplify love.
Now if your spouse has been unfaithful or abusive, you might well have reason to leave — permanently. But most troubled marriages fall short of this. Most of us are just unhappy. Yes, the issues may be big or they may be small, but they are likely not insurmountable.
Which means you can still do your part — by being the most loving spouse you can be. I recognize how hard that prescription is, but once again, I have personal experience on this one. Holding myself responsible for living out God’s commands was key to the resurrection of my failing marriage.
But even if my marriage had fallen apart, I could stand before my God and my family and say that I’d done everything I could possibly do.
You don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Many of you are heartsick right now, your hope deferred because it feels like nothing will ever change.
But there are happy-ending stories for marriages and marriage beds that seemed they would never work out. If you doubt things can change, read the testimonies of wonderful marriage bloggers like Paul and Lori Byerly, Scott and Sherry Jennings, Chris Taylor, and others.
I’ve received great comments on my blog from couples who rediscovered sexual intimacy after years of frustration, and my email inbox has messages from now-happy couples that were very unhappy with their intimacy before. It happens.
You don’t know what’s coming, but if you can remain faithful, something beautiful could come your way. Pursue the best for your marriage, get help if you need it, and continue to hope that your future could be better.
Once again, even if nothing changes, continuing to hope can get you through a lot. It sure beats despair. And it can help us to “be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).
Are you ready to give up and feeling like nothing will ever change? Or do you have a hopeful story to share about your journey from unhappy to happy in your marriage bed?