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Sex Does Not Define Your Marriage

Regardless of why you and your husband are in the 20 Percent Club, the most helpful route to take is to bring sex back to the purpose for which it was designed. While you can underestimate the importance of sex in your marriage, be aware that you can also overestimate its importance. Couples in their 70s and 80s are often asexual as one or both have medical conditions that prevent intercourse. However, their friendship, seasoned love, and shared history are often enough to maintain a marriage in which sex is no longer possible.

Being part of the 20 Percent Club often results in a couple allowing this one issue to dominate their entire relationship. Sex begins to take on an overwhelming meaning and magnitude. Both husband and wife harbor the deep fear that "something must be wrong with me." As these emotions fester, they overtake the sexual relationship and possibly even the marriage. An invitation for sex carries the weight of the deepest emotional needs of both husband and wife: Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I be competent or a failure? Sex becomes a testing ground for each partner's love, worthiness, or competence. The sexual environment is laden with expectations that reach far beyond the bedroom. In this context, no wonder both husband and wife routinely end up feeling as though they have failed and been failed.

As I mentioned earlier, your husband's level of sexual desire is based on a number of complex psychological, biological, and relational issues, many of which may have absolutely nothing to do with you. His sexuality doesn't define him, nor does it necessarily reflect how he feels about you. He can be absolutely in love with you and think you're very attractive, yet still lack the interest or ability to perform sexually. Don't allow this one aspect of your marriage to color and dominate your perception of your husband, your marriage, or yourself.

To put sex back into the appropriate context, you need to remember that it's simply one expression of how you relate to your husband. You also share childrearing, hobbies, hardships, friends, spiritual interests, vocational trials and successes, ministry, mentors, and countless other aspects of the marital journey.

Taking the pressure off your sexual relationship may allow you to enjoy what you have instead of carrying the burden to create what you lack. Although you may experience frustration in the sexual arena, most likely there are many other aspects of your relationship that are thriving and can unify you. Build upon those aspects, even as you strive to address the roadblocks you experience in sexual intimacy.

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From No More Headaches, published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. © 2009 Julianna Slattery. Used by permission.

Next in this Series: Addressing Unmet Sexual Needs

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