Actually, I do convey to lower interest spouses that they should have sex with their higher interest mates. I wholeheartedly believe that sex is good for a marriage, a gift from God that expresses and fosters intimacy.
But I have received numerous messages over the years—primarily from men but not entirely—complaining that Christian bloggers, authors, speakers, ministers, and counselors cater to the lower interest spouse, letting them off the hook for their sexual refusal. Why, they ask, don’t we tell their spouse to have sex with them already?! Why is everything on the higher interest spouse to figure it out and draw the lower interest spouse into doing what they should have been doing all along?
I hear the hurt. I know the hurt. But I understand that many tactics to change the situation not only won’t work but can make things worse. Let’s look at six answers to why I won’t just tell your spouse to have sex with you.
1. There’s a reason your spouse won’t have sex with you.
Most spouses are not ill-willed jerks who don’t want their spouse to have the intimacy they deserve. Rather, they genuinely don’t understand its importance and/or have their own hangups. Their obstacles could involve anything from bad teaching, to past sexual harassment or abuse, to relationship strife, to health challenges, and many more.
So just telling them to have sex already would be like telling someone to run a race when they don’t see the point of running or have severe asthma. Wouldn’t it be more effective to resolve the issues keeping them from running and then invite them to race?
2. Pressure can backfire or build resentment.
Those of us in marriage ministry receive heartbreaking emails. Among them are stories from spouses feeling enormous pressure to have sex despite good personal or relationship reasons to hold off. Sex is not a positive for them (right now), and then someone says they have to do it anyway because it’s their biblical duty, or men need sex, or it will keep a spouse from cheating, or whatever.
Let’s go back to my race analogy. When I was a young student in gym class, I struggled to run long distances. Most of the time, teachers and coaches believed the problem was my lack of stamina or poor attitude and simply yelled louder at me to keep running. Turns out, I had mild, undiagnosed asthma. I finished my laps back then, but I hated every one of them and rarely run now.
That can happen to spouses with unresolved issues who schlep themselves to the bedroom anyway. They end up disliking sex even more and resenting the person (spouse) who forced them into that experience. That isn’t the outcome you want, and it could break your whole relationship.Spouses with unresolved issues who schlep themselves to the bedroom anyway…end up disliking sex even more and resenting the person (spouse) who forced them into that experience. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
3. God may be trying to teach you something.
Sometimes, sexual refusal is a natural consequence of the rejected spouse’s actions. For example, some spouses want their mate to play out scenarios seen in porn, or neglect their mate until they want sex, or pursue sex that’s brief or coarse and only for his pleasure, etc.
In such cases, not only is frequency of sex not the real problem, increasing frequency could embolden a spouse to keep hurting their mate. After all, they’re having their cake and eating it too.
Look, I don’t want to enable sin—neither the sin of ongoing sexual rejection nor the mistreatment of one’s spouse to get sex. Which is why I have spent nearly 10 years and millions of words trying to persuade spouses to treat one another well, to work through their problems together, and to find unity, mutual pleasure, and intimacy in the marriage bed.
Perhaps you’re not sinning as egregiously as any of my examples, but this could still be a wake-up call for you and your marriage. Before pointing fingers at our spouse, we should ask what God wants to teach us, and then let him do His work.
4. You’re the one reading my blog.
If my posts focused on telling lower interest spouses they needed to stop withholding and start having sex, I’d get a lot of kudos from certain readers. They would feel affirmed, vindicated, justified.
But how would that ultimately help? Yes, I recognize your hurt, ache for your pain, and have made it clear that sex should be happening in your marriage far more. Yet telling your spouse to just have sex with you isn’t going to resolve your issues, because your spouse isn’t reading my blog.
Many of them won’t read my blog—because it’s been presented as part of a pressure campaign or because they have underlying issues that make them reluctant to read such material. Moreover, it’s unlikely that a blog post from a stranger writing about a topic they don’t want to address will be the epiphany moment that gets them to change.
Meanwhile, you’re reading my blog, and you have more clout with your spouse. (After all, you once convinced them to marry you!) Maybe I can provide insight, encouragement, practical ideas, resources, etc. that help you persuade your beloved, and help you hold on until that breakthrough comes.
5. Duty sex won’t fill your emotional need.
A friend once explained that the longer he goes without sex, the more physical his desire feels. It becomes a raw hunger for his wife that longs to be sated. That’s where a number of rejected spouses are—yearning for physical closeness, a release of tension, and the surge of pleasure.
You’re like a starving person, and any food sounds like a fantastic idea. If offered spam, you’d take it.
But imagine a diet of spam. Every single time you sat down to eat, it was spam. Very soon, you would not be sated. You’d long for something more, something better.
Duty sex is spam. (If you like spam, substitute some other don’t-like-it food into this analogy.) You, your spouse, and your marriage deserve the full menu of sexual intimacy, the one that sates not only your nether regions but your mind, your heart, and your relationship. You may think any sex will satisfy, but it won’t.
And if it satisfies you long-term to use your spouse for sex, then you are not a loving spouse. Scroll back up and read about God wanting to teach you something.
6. I want you to have the sexual intimacy you deserve.
Demanding your spouse have sex with you might get you laid tonight (unlikely, but let’s presume for the sake of argument), but it will undermine the ultimate goal of sex in marriage by God’s design. The sexual intimacy you and your spouse deserve is mutually satisfying and strengthens your unity.The sexual intimacy you and your spouse deserve is mutually satisfying and strengthens your unity. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
Again, if you’re in a sexless marriage, please know that I ache for your situation. It’s not good, it’s not right, it’s not sustainable. But because I want the best for you, and your spouse, I’m not going to take the short-term or harsh view of just telling someone who doesn’t want sex to “lie back and think of England.” Rather, I want that person to want sex as God intended, for all of its many benefits and for its own delight.
Marriages do turn around in this area. It happens. Thankfully, I get those emails too!
But it usually isn’t the flip of a switch. Rather, it’s a journey. The path depends on your particular situation, but God wants better for you. I want better for you.
And so, I’ll keep encouraging spouses to prioritize sex, address obstacles in the way, embrace God’s design, and invite one another lovingly into the bedroom, step by step.