Marriages Without Intimacy

But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 (NASB)

Some women live in marriages with little to no physical intimacy. Women have been informed by culture to believe that men always want sex, and are always ready for sex, so a man who doesn't want sex bewilders us.  This is becoming an issue with increasing regularity in my biblical counseling ministry.  It is a myth that women are not interested in intimacy, and while there are certainly, exceptions most women are hungry for their husbands loving touch. The reality is that a woman can be in a marriage where she desires intimacy and her husband does not.

Most women are well versed in the dangers of withholding herself from her husband. We are warned about the possibility of him straying to pornography, or committing adultery if we aren’t willing to be intimate with him, but what about when intimacy is withheld from a wife? We are certainly confronted with the opportunities and the temptation to stray from fidelity, especially in our feelings-based culture where we hear all the time that our "needs" must be met. Society has emboldened women to act out sexually through television, romance novels, and books like Fifty Shades of Gray. We are encouraged to self-gratify by using pornography and to flirt with emotional and physical adultery through social media.

Despite temptation to be unfaithful, the majority of women don’t stray and but remain steadfast in their commitment to their husband in the midst of loveless marriages. They are lonely, aching, hurt, and rejected. They fear others knowing about this, they struggle with anger, envy, bitterness, and confusion, and this is natural.  

If you are a woman in such a marriage, pray, pray, pray! As you pray, ask God to help you to focus on the aspects of your marriage and relationship that already honor Him and to keep your feet from stumbling into sinful thoughts, beliefs, and desires of the heart. This battle is fought and won (or lost) in the heart, so guard your heart well against bitterness and anger. Continue to love him unconditionally. Your obligation is to honor God by how you conduct yourself in your marriage. Treat him kindly and lovingly in spite of the hurt and pain you may be feeling. Immerse yourself in books like 1st and 2nd Peter which address suffering for righteousness sake.

I encourage you not to take revenge against your husband (Romans 12:17-21).  If your husband is a Christian, gently and lovingly point him to the Word of God. First Corinthians 7 clearly says when we marry we belong in every way to our spouse. We commit to loving and cherishing that person and we both commit to meeting the physical needs of marriage. I encourage you to be wise, and not to use the Bible as a weapon in an attempt to force, guilt, or manipulate him into having a physical relationship with you. Let the Word speak for itself and trust that God will convict his heart.