I read a very interesting article today (at the time of this writing) about withholding sex in a marriage.  The article discussed the problems and consequences of a sexless marriage. I’ve read many articles over the years about a sexless marriage and have even experienced it myself.  I found that I wasn’t alone as many couples experience a sexless marriage sometime during their marriage relationship. I had read many times where people said that the solution to a sexless marriage, or rather, a spouse who withholds sex, is to divorce him or her.  I always thought that was extreme and that there must be a better way. However, the article that I read today presented that same solution and gave the reasons why.

The Solution to Withholding Sex

The solution to a sexless marriage is divorce, according to the author of the article.  Immediately, I disagreed because God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and divorce was never in his plan for marriage (Matthew 19:8).  However, I started to think about that for a moment.  What kind of marriage would it be if the wife withheld sex from her husband or the husband withheld sex from his wife for many years?

The Effects of Withholding Sex

There have been many times where my wife was not interested in sex, and sometimes for good reasons.  There were many times when I just felt rejected, unwanted, and left out to dry.  The interesting thing during those times was that the effect of not having sex when I wanted it and needed it was devastating.  I had no idea what not having sex with my wife would cause the following day.  At first and immediately I was just disappointed and let down.  You know, “Darn.  No sex tonight.”  You’d think that would be all.  However, after many days passed and sometimes even the next day, depending on how bad I wanted it or needed it, something strange and scary started to happen.  I became very sensitive to other women. Sometimes just being next to one would make my blood boil inside making me feel like I should jump in a cold shower or something.

My mind was preoccupied with sex.  Was I in heat?  I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I can only imagine that a man who goes a long time without having sex with his wife would be fighting temptations left and right.  This would be the time that Satan would introduce a woman that would provide what he needs.  I recall a minister referring to sexual relations in marriage as fighting demons.  That is exactly what it’s like.  You have to fight the temptations of the devil daily because you know there is nothing for you when you go home. This tends to wear a person down over time. Your husband or your wife will not fulfill you or meet your desperate need for sex, which is actually a desperate need to be loved, cherished, wanted, desired, and emotionally close.

A man will feel undesired by his wife.  He will feel like he doesn’t measure up and sometimes like he is less than a man.  This could lead to depression, ill feelings about himself, anger, resentment, and finally distancing himself from his wife.  The wife would have the same type of feelings if her husband rejected her. She would feel like she’s too fat, too skinny, not attractive, etc.  These are devastating to a marriage, and many husbands and wives simply don’t realize how serious it is.  They could go on for years like this and one day the manifestation of a sexless marriage comes, and all is ruined.

Sexual Immorality

Jesus said that we should not divorce except for sexual immorality (See Matthew 19:9).  But what is sexual immorality?  It is commonly thought that sexual immorality is infidelity or adultery in a marriage.  The only grounds for divorce was sexual immorality or becoming unequally yoked with a non-Christian (See 1 Corinthians 7:10-13 – if the unbeliever decides to call it quits).  Again, I started to think about this for a moment.  Sexual immorality. What would be sexually immoral in a marriage?  Surely, we would agree that having sex with someone besides your spouse is sexually immoral, i.e., adultery. However, sexual immorality in some cases, or perhaps many cases, happens long before the act of adultery, porn addiction, separation, etc.  Sometimes sexual immorality is indeed withholding sex from your spouse.

Withholding Sex is Sexually Immoral

When two people are married, they promise to love and cherish each other.  They promise to be loyal to each other.  They also promise to meet each other’s needs.  However, withholding sex from your spouse is a direct violation of the vows you took on your wedding day.  Even before an adulterous act by your victimized sex-starved spouse happens, you have already severed the marriage relationship by blocking the very act of connection.  Why is adultery so bad?  Adultery is so bad because you connect at a deep level with someone else besides your spouse.  You and your spouse are supposed to connect with each other sexually and nurture the marriage relationship by it.  However, when you withhold sex, you are breaking the marriage bond, let alone your promise.

The Apostle Paul also admonishes us about withholding sex.  See 1 Corinthians 7:1-7.  We should not deprive each other of what is proper in a marriage.  Otherwise, Satan will tempt us and because of lack of self-control, we could enter the realm of sin, i.e., adultery.  With these, I submit to you that a husband or wife who withholds sex from her spouse is not only sinning but provides a stumbling block for their spouse to sin. They are putting their spouse in a position where he may lose self-control and sin.

The Pressure of a Sexless Marriage

We are constantly at war with our flesh and with the realm of darkness.  We fight temptations all the time.  In many cases, we can go to someone for help, such as the church, a best friend, prayer partner, etc.  However, in marriage, those options tend to be few.  Who does a man go to when his wife consistently withholds sex from him for years.  He is under pressure every day to fight sin.  He goes on travel for his job and he has to fight the temptation to build a relationship with a woman every day he is away. 

I remember watching the movie, “Fatal Attraction” many years ago.  In the movie, a man was going to go on travel for his job, if I remember correctly.  The night before he was to go away, he went to the bedroom only to find his wife in the bed with their children.  She looked at him with that look, “I’m sorry, but the kids…”  He smiled and the next day went away. That is when he met a woman who he had sex with.  He would have been much better able to resist the temptation of that woman if he had sex with his wife before leaving.  Given the wife’s evident mindset about their sexual relationship shown by her actions before her husband was to go away, she most likely did things like that many times in the past. This time it was devastating.  He committed sin, but she committed a double sin, withholding sex and putting a stumbling block in front of her husband.

The Divorce Solution

The pressure that builds up from a sexless marriage would be mind-numbing.  You would have to fight temptation all the time from the opposite sex.  You would have to fight resentment towards your husband or your wife constantly.  Eventually, something is going to break.  And with that, I can see why divorce would be the solution.  The pressure would be gone.  The resentment could subside.  The pain of being with someone that is constantly rejecting you and making you feel so bad would be gone.  I can see how divorce looks attractive here.  However, is it a viable solution.  Unless one does as Paul said (be like him, single and sexless), then divorce will not solve the problem.  What happens with the next woman?  What happens with the next wife or husband?

I believe that the best approach is to resolve the sexless marriage, and some agree.  Some will compensate for a sexless marriage by committing adultery, as twisted as that sounds.  I heard it said that men cheat to stay in their marriages and women cheat to get out of it.  I don’t know about that, but from a guy’s perspective, I can see how the lore of satisfying oneself sexually by someone else will make being with the woman that rejects you constantly more bearable. The husband can then love his wife, though not emotionally and sexually (Greek Eros).  He and his withholding wife or she and her withholding husband become roommates instead of soulmates. 

What do you say to a person who is deep in a sexless marriage and sees no way out?  What do you tell a woman whose husband isn’t interested in having sex with her, but other men find her attractive?  In many cases, she is going to start thinking that he is cheating on her.  Some people will turn to other sexual outlets such as porn, clubs, sexually oriented meetings/sessions (these are sessions that people have with others where there is no intercourse, but there is a sexual activity such as domination sessions, face sitting sessions, sexual teasing, and the like).  Some may find those relieving, but over time even those things could stop “working.”  Then you’re left with the sexless marriage.  This then could lead to more hopelessness, and eventually, the sexually starved spouse checks out of the marriage by divorce or separation.

Unless there is serious incompatibility and one argues that God did not put you together, I don’t believe divorce is a viable solution, though it looks very relieving.  I believe that resolving a sexless marriage is the best approach. Confront your spouse about it and determine why he or she rejects you.  Perhaps he or she is not happy with you, is angry with you, or has a medical or psychological condition causing low libido.  Whatever it is, work it out. There are many things that a couple can do to compensate for the inability to have intercourse.  It is more important to sexually link with each other in whatever way you both decide and agree to do.  Your marriage is worth it.  Your marriage needs it.  Besides, you promised.


The Bible reveals to us that divorce is not God’s idea and in fact, he hates it.  Two people should keep the vows they made during their wedding. Withholding sex from your spouse is one serious way that those vows are broken.  Not only that, withholding sex from your spouse puts a stumbling block in their way increasing the probability that they commit a sin, such as adultery. 

Withholding sex from your spouse is indeed, sexual immorality because it is in many cases the seed and catalyst for infidelity.  If a couple has a good sex life, then they would not need to be fulfilled sexually by someone else, assuming both are really committed to the marriage.  However, how can we speak of commitment to the marriage if you withhold sex from the marriage?  That says that you are not committed to your marriage, but yourself.  If you have something against your spouse that causes you to not want to have sex with him or her, then talk to him or her about it.  You promised to be together at the wedding ceremony. Stop breaking your promise to your spouse and properly maintain the marriage.  Have sex with your spouse and never withhold it without mutual consent for a short time, as the Apostle Paul said.

Sexual immorality begins with breaking your wedding vows, and one way to break the vows is to refuse to have sex with your spouse.  A sexless marriage is a sexually immoral marriage.  Even if there medical or psychological reasons for not having sex, the couple can still find ways to satisfy each other sexually.  An effort has to be made.  Sexual immorality is not only fornication, adultery, or infidelity.  It is a sexless marriage due to withholding sex from your spouse.  Free your spouse from the pressures of the temptations of sin by having sex with him or her.  Discuss it.  Resolve the issue even if it hurts emotionally for a time. Stop committing sin against your spouse and your marriage and build a very healthy sex life.



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