What should Christians who find themselves married and still burning with sexual passion do? Consider the following passage of Scripture from the Bible.
1 Corinthians 7:8–9 (NKJV) — 8 But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; 9 but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
Paul wrote that single people and widows should remain unmarried as he was (See 1 Corinthians 7:1-2, 7). However, it is safe to say that God does not want all people to stay single. How would the human race continue if they did?
Paul wrote that it is better to marry than to burn with sexual passion if one cannot exercise self-control. They get married and expect to have sexual relations with their spouse. Unfortunately, many people find themselves in a sex-deprived relationship where their sexual appetite is not being filled or addressed by their spouses in many cases.
The question becomes, what should married people do if they are still burning with sexual passion? They married assuming and, in many cases, hoping to have sex with their spouse. In the man’s case, he naturally wants to bond with his wife emotionally through sex. However, what should he do if she refuses to have sex with him or is unable for other reasons?
I will address this issue from a man’s perspective for two reasons. First, it is easier to illustrate circumstances. Secondly, I am familiar with the husband’s perspective and can speak freely. Keep in mind that the situation could be reversed. Some women marry expecting sex from their husband only to find that he is not interested and withholds sex from her. However, it seems more men complain about their sexless marriages than women. Again, understand that the situation goes both ways.
Couples are excited about the prospects of a life together in most cases. They may dream of better days ahead and their love for each other. However, in many cases, something terrible happens in the relationship over time. They start growing apart emotionally. They don’t cuddle, spend time together, or have sex like they did at the beginning of their marriage.
Many years pass, and their emotional connection and, subsequently, their sex life plummets. Soon, they become roommates or even cellmates. The love is gone; they merely work together to keep Household, Inc. moving forward. They exist in the same house but are worlds apart.
For example, the husband is attracted sexually to his wife and wants her. However, she consistently refuses to have sex with him, does not initiate intimacy, and behaves like the relationship is fine. The husband wants his wife but begins to realize that she is slipping away, and he doesn’t know why. To him, she has rejected him.
Her rejection slowly pushes him into different and progressive states of emotions and subsequent behaviors. He becomes frustrated, depressed, angry, resentful, and apathetic, to name a few. He starts pulling away from his wife mostly to protect his own emotions. However, he is still burning with passion. It would be so nice if we could simply flip a switch and turn off the desire. That is perhaps a gift some people have. Many married people find themselves married and still burning with sexual passions for their spouse.
Consider again what the Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Corinthian church.
1 Corinthians 7:5 (NKJV) — 5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
First, a husband and wife should not deprive each other of sex except for a short time for prayer and fasting. Otherwise, Satan will tempt you because of your lack of self-control. Now, I thought that a man (or woman) in a sexless marriage only needs to exercise self-control. However, remember that they were married because of a lack of self-control. They assumed that self-control regarding sex would not be an issue because they got married.
So, again, what happens to the passion when your spouse withholds sex, which I call a sexually immoral act? He gets tempted with no way out! That’s what happens. Now, that doesn’t mean that the husband, for example, will start having sex with whomever he wants because his wife rejects him. The temptation could be avoided simply by him and his wife having a good sexual relationship. His wife is sinning against him (or vice versa).
Dodging Stumbling Blocks
Again, using the husband as an illustration, his wife sins against him, possibly breaking their marriage vows and putting a stumbling block in front of him. In an effort to quench the passion he feels inside, he may turn to other forms of sexual gratification. Those could include the following.
- Another woman on the side (or man for wives)
- Strip clubs and the like
- Fantasizing about women
- Becoming emotionally connected to another woman and pretending she is interested in and cares about him. That sets an environment for him to slip into infidelity.
Now, he must spend much energy dodging the stumbling blocks his wife places in front of him everywhere. He has to spend much energy fighting the urge to look at other women and have his passion fulfilled elsewhere. That alone will increase his stress.
It is essential that men and women understand what sex means in a marriage. Wives should especially know what sex means to their husbands the same way they expect their husbands to understand their emotions. After over 35 years of observing marriages, including my own, I find that women know much less about men than men know of women. However, there are some enlightened women who do understand and advocate for men in this area.
Refusing to keep your spouse from burning sexually places a stumbling block in front of them and creates an environment for them to fail in the relationship. God says not to tempt Him, and we likewise should not tempt our spouses by creating the stumbling blocks caused by sexual neglect.
Frustration, Anger, and Resentment (FAR)
Frustration will quickly spawn in a marriage where sex is neglected, and at least one wants it. The frustration is made worse when one seems to be oblivious to the sexless condition of the marriage.
Frustration will lead to anger, at least for men. He may begin to rue the day he got married. He might start wondering what his life would be like if he hadn’t gotten married, at least when he did. Of course, he will believe that his life would have been better because he wouldn’t have so much frustration and pain due to his marriage, even if he remained single.
That anger will surely lead to resentment. The husband will resent his wife for being a significant force in making his life miserable. She was supposed to be a source of pleasure, not that she would make him happy. He didn’t expect so much pain to come from her. Likewise, I’m sure women go into marriage hoping for the best.
FAR only leads to stress and eventually hopelessness unless something changes for the better in the marriage. FAR results in the couple moving far apart. Unfortunately, the longer they are apart, the longer it will take them to come back together.
There is one more point I would like to make about putting a stumbling block in front of your spouse. Putting a stumbling block, i.e., withholding sex and intimacy from your spouse, is the first sin of the marriage. It may lead to infidelity, which is a sin in itself. However, that sin was spawned by the first sin. It’s like entrapping your spouse to sin by creating the environment for it.
You sin against your spouse when you neglect the affection due to them. You put them in a situation where sinning is more justifiable. That, of course, does not make it right. However, it shouldn’t be something they need to deal with if people were more sensitive and active in meeting their spouses’ needs as much as possible.
Loss of Trust
How can a man trust his wife when he feels that he betrayed him or deceived him and vice versa? He thought she loved him and wanted to spend the rest of her days with him when it seemed she only wanted a sense of security, home maintenance, and lawn care. She wasn’t interested in him but merely in what he had to offer her functionally. Once that motive sets into his mind, it will become difficult for him to bring himself back to trusting her and believing that their relationship will improve. The hope for a life together is gone, possibly forever.
Extinguishing Unquenched Fires
It is said that men are visual creatures. I can confirm that I am highly moved by what I see. We are, therefore, naturally aroused by women, especially those with bodily attributes we find attractive (e.g., butt, legs, lips, hair, etc.). So, when we see our wives in their panties getting dressed or ready for bed, in a particular outfit, etc., we may become aroused. However, many men know nothing will happen because it usually doesn’t. Their burning fire for their wives goes unquenched, and they must learn ways to extinguish it themselves.
It doesn’t end there. Those husbands with the unquenched fire also know that they will face demons the next day in the form of various temptations. Their wives have established stumbling blocks and put their husbands under constant stress dealing with the temptations day after day. She has thrown fuel on his burning passion, and no moral water is in sight.
Likewise, a woman who craves an emotional connection with her husband is left high and dry when all he wants to do is watch the game or something else besides spending quality time with his wife. Sometimes, she may try to sit down with him while he watches his sports games, only to be treated as if she is annoying or in the way of his fun. Her cravings go unquenched, and she must learn how somehow to resolve her emotional connection deficiency with her husband in some other way.
She, too, must face demons day after day, where many men around her may attempt to get close to her (even if she has her wedding ring on). She spends so much energy fighting those temptations, only finding it more challenging as time passes. Her fire remains, and there is no way for her to extinguish it.
Now, he has to learn to shut himself down so that his wife does not sexually arouse him. Perhaps he turns away from her, leaves the room, or does whatever is necessary to not look at or touch her. He learns to turn himself off regarding his wife. That is not a good place to be in marriage!
What happens when a spark lights her one day, and she approaches her husband sexually? He has learned to turn himself off and may effectively reject her advances, which she might take as rejection, further pushing them apart. He believes nothing will happen, and the situation is only a mirage. She doesn’t realize that his reaction is from the other abundant times she rejected him. He is only protecting himself from the stress and temptation he thinks he will face the next day.
That unquenched burning fire gradually tears down a person and their marriage. For a man, almost every woman he sees causes gas to be sprayed on the kindling fire within. He wants his wife to quench it, but she consistently leaves him burning. He becomes increasingly weary of fighting, and it gradually tears him down. Even his relationship with God may suffer because his mind is racing to find a solution for his woes. The same applies to a burning wife.
It is not good for a person to be married and burning. I recall listening to some women online stating they make sure their husbands leave the house empty. In other words, they do all they can to extinguish his burning fire for her. Otherwise, the fire he has for his wife can morph into fire for any woman or the like (e.g., porn).
A significant consequence of unquenched passion in marriage is the husband and wife become roommates. They operate within the home like two coworkers do on a job. Being roommates is not a good place for a marriage to be. It means the emotional connection is probably gone, romantic love is gone, sex is probably non-existent, and they live separate lives in the same house.
The bills will get paid, the children will be cared for, and the house will be managed. However, their emotional connection at the beginning of the marriage with all its hopes and dreams will have died already. They will experience a functional relationship instead of an intimate one.
Interestingly, the Bible uses marriage to illustrate our relationship with God. Some people genuinely want to nurture an intimate relationship with God, whereas others want to go through the motions like church attendance, religious activities, etc. God wants a personal relationship with us, not mere religious acts (See Isaiah 64:6).
Likewise, for the most part, marriage should be an intimate connection between a man and woman, not merely a functional one.
Pursuit of Alternatives
I recall reading an article many years ago where it claimed that some men would resolve their sexless marriages by getting sex from another woman. He would go home happy as if nothing was wrong because someone else had extinguished the stress of dealing with the unquenched burning fire. Of course, infidelity has its own world of problems that will plague him and is not recommended as a solution to a sexless marriage.
However, some men will do exactly that. They will seek other ways to satisfy their sexual appetite, and it may very well be another woman, porn, strip clubs, and more. The same goes for the burning wife.
Sex is important to a man in marriage. Therefore, if he doesn’t have sex with his wife, he will become distant from her, making her a mere roommate or just another responsibility. The emotional connection will be severed, and the marriage will decline. They will eventually become roommates or cellmates.
The alternatives to a sexless marriage may not always be sexual. For example, a husband may find ways to be home for less, i.e., to be away from his wife more. He may hang out with his buddies, stay at work, or find other activities that keep him away from home and his wife.
Unfortunately, those reading this article are most likely the ones burning with passion for their spouses in a sexless marriage. Those who need to know what is happening are the ones who don’t pursue their spouses intimately. However, I still provide some possible solutions below in hopes that the one neglecting or withholding sex from their spouse may become somewhat enlightened.
What can people do if they find that they are married but still burning with passion? I am referring to a sexless marriage, not a situation where one has a significantly higher sex drive than the other. That doesn’t mean the spouse withholds, and is somewhat of a different discussion altogether.
The first thing you should do if you find yourself burning with passion is to communicate. Your spouse should know what you are going through, and perhaps you both could work on resolving the issue. Communication is essential in any relationship.
If the situation persists with no improvement, the following suggestions may help.
Have More Sex
The obvious solution is to have sex with your spouse. Take away the stumbling blocks and short-circuit the temptations they face each day because their burning isn’t quenched. Stop neglecting sex in your marriage. Ensure that your spouse leaves home in the morning empty as much as you can.
Work together to create an intimate relationship. Let the burning for one’s spouse be a form of anticipation of what will come later instead of a source of pain.
Husbands and wives should be more informed about their spouse’s needs and do what they can to meet them. The Apostle Paul said not to deprive each other of sex, so don’t do it.
Learn to control the sex drive or the sexual passion. That sounds ridiculous, but it is a possibility, though not probably because it introduces its own set of problems. However, the Apostle Paul said we can do everything through Christ Jesus, who strengthens us (See Philippians 4:13).
Remember, the Apostle Paul said it is better to marry than burn with passion because of your lack of self-control. Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit (See Galatians 5:23). Therefore, it seems reasonable to expect God to help us in dealing with a sexless marriage with little self-control.
However, people marry in the first place, thinking that self-control wouldn’t be necessary since they would have a spouse to quench the burning. Self-control, therefore, was supposed to be a moot point.
For those who refuse to seek divorce, separation, or sexual immorality, gaining self-control is probably a good option. What moral options are available to those married and still burning? Gaining self-control is the ideal solution. That means you wouldn’t be moved so much by your sexual desires, and you could operate optimally even though your marriage is sexless.
I mentioned earlier that this approach could cause its own problems. For example, what happens if your spouse begins to realize your pain and starts to do something about it? What if a wife begins to be more open sexually to her husband? However, he may continue to operate as if nothing will happen and is better at it because of his increased ability to control himself.
What if you were able to control yourself such that the lack of sex in your marriage was inconsequential? I know that sounds crazy, but what if? What if attractive women around you didn’t move you? What if you could short-circuit that part of your life? It sounds great, but it is hard to implement, given the abundance of sexual triggers we all face each day.
You will need to learn to cope with the sexual burning you experience because of a lack of sex in your marriage.
Those who refuse divorce, separation, or alternatives to quenching the fire within may decide to resolve that their marriage will never be fulfilling and choose to be content with the way things are. Perhaps they get along with their spouses, but the intimacy just isn’t there. They decide to live with that and make the best of their life as possible, even if their spouses are not part of it.
What can you do to make your life better? What can you do to deal with the sexual dissatisfaction of your marriage? Start by making yourself better. Perhaps your spouse will come around. If so, great. If not, you’ll still pursue your own happiness and enjoy your life the best you can.
Unfortunately, that may mean being distant from your spouse in and out of the house. You reject intimate gestures because, in your mind, it will only bring more pain. You may also be caught off guard, perhaps in a moment of vulnerability, and find solace in another person for the emotional or sexual connection you want with your spouse.
Some men resolve that things will not improve with their spouses, and they learn to make the most of their lives. Besides, you are responsible for making yourself happy, not your spouse. Your objective in a persistent sexless marriage is not to allow it to hinder your happiness.
Some may seek marriage counseling. I must admit that I haven’t heard great things about this approach. Therefore, you need to be diligent about obtaining the services of a marriage counselor. Perhaps a marriage coach may work as well.
You should be sure to get the Lord involved in your marriage. He can help. Pray about it in your secret closet, so to speak. Seek, ask, and knock to get your answer from God.
The point here is to get outside mediation for the condition of the marriage. Perhaps things are going on that you and your spouse aren’t aware of are contributing to or possibly causing the situation. Having an external pair of eyes and perspective may do well for you.
It would be so nice if I had a magic formula that would move any relationship to an intimate one where the only fire burning is for each other and is regularly extinguished by each other. However, many men and women find themselves in a sexless marriage and are burning with passion. Their spouses have failed them, placing them in a situation where sin is more probable.
Ultimately, we need to seek God’s help. Only with his help will we be able to effectively and satisfactorily deal with the burning passion within while married.
I wish there were a magic formula or a sure thing you could do to improve your marriage. However, no such magic exists. Some people stick it out, others take the path of infidelity or other extra-sexual activities, while others separate or divorce. The first sin is withholding or neglecting sex, which leads to the spawning of others.
Therefore, it is up to you to do what you can to live your life regardless of the condition of your marriage. Never neglect yourself. Pursue your dreams. Be open to things getting better. Perhaps, one day, your spouse will come around, and the marriage will improve. Don’t let anything hinder you from being the best person you can be and having a fulfilled life.
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