sexual compatibility, marriage and divorce

A terribly disturbing yet thought provoking comment on a Christian marriage blog is the impetus for this post.  Before providing the full quote of the comment (below), let us pose the relevant questions.

Is a sexual incompatibility of the spouses reasonable grounds for seeking a divorce?  Can married couples achieve a more harmonious and mutually fulfilling and satisfying sexual life over time through effort and sacrifice?  How important is good sex to the strength and success of the marriage?  Why are the Christian churches largely silent on this challenge present in many marriages today?  What about the harm, the very great harm, done to children who suffer through a dissolution of their parents’ marriage?  A final question could be: Why do women play the role of refuser or gatekeeper when it comes to being sexually available for their husband?

Our feature image was captured last May (2016) while on holiday in Arches National Park, Utah.




Here now is the full comment text found on Intimacy in Marriage.

TheMaskedMarvel   May 3, 2017 at 1:08 am
George, I am sure that you will be attacked viciously by the many women who will call you “selfish” and “unfaithful”, but who will have no problem with your wife’s being dishonest with you before marriage, just as Andy’s wife was completely dishonest with him and fabricated her sexual experiences. The women who will attack you the most strongly are probably the ones who think and behave like Andy’s and your wife. I too was in the same situation, and my only regret was that I didn’t leave my marriage much earlier than I did. Again, the women who attack a man for leaving a sexless marriage are probably women who don’t value (or appreciate) sex very much themselves. At the same time, if a woman leaves a man who does not satisfy her needs, she is being “independent” and “her own person”. You and Andy are not selfish to want to be happy in this lifetime, and sexual fulfillment is part of happiness, not “selfishness”. Marriage is a sexual partnership, and if you are not compatible, the worst mistake for both of you is to say married. I hope to God that Andy didn’t go back to his manipulative and dishonest wife. There are plenty of women out there that will give him what he wants, and his wife what she wants; a man who doesn’t care about oral. But enough with the guilt, the blaming, the branding of “selfish!” just because you want to be sexually satisfied by your partner who you have forsaken all others for. I had an affair too for years before I divorced; it was a mistake. It allowed me to stay in a sexless, passionless marriage far longer than I should have. Getting a divorce while you are both still young enough to find more compatible partners is the solution; and to do it without religious or societal guilt; or the judgement of strangers on a comment board. Best wishes to you and all other humans out there trying to find the sexual happiness you all deserve, in the way you want it; without guilt or having to justify it.

Click this link to go to that blog and see the above comment:

comment from Intimacy in Marriage blog site


our thoughts

We quite agree that within reason, a husband is not being selfish in desiring sexual fulfillment as that is part of happiness.  And, as the particular post this comment appears on treats oral sex within marriage, let us say that the vast majority of Christian marriage bloggers we are familiar with do not see the husband’s desire to receive oral sex from his wife as being selfish.  (If approached with the right attitude, oral sex can be a very beautiful expression of the sexual love between the spouses.)

For many spouses (both husbands and wives), it is frustrating trying to achieve a sexual compatibility in their marriage.  There are wives who complain of inattentive husbands or husbands who are so immersed in their work or other activities that they have no energy or no time for making love frequently with their wife.  Yet, based on posts and comments we have seen over the years, it appears that it is more often the case that the husband is being denied sex or at least unduly limited in certain areas such as oral sex.  What is the most frustrating and the most damaging to the marriage bond is the obstinate wife who refuses to even try to work towards a sexual compatibility.  The reduced frequency of sex and the limited range of its expression is hurtful to the husband.  And, let us not fool ourselves, the emotionally or sexually frustrated spouse (husband or wife) may seek fulfillment and satisfaction outside of the marriage covenant through extramarital affairs.

A good, mutually satisfying sexual relationship in the marriage is not the only necessary ingredient for the marriage to be strong and lasting, but it is one of the key ingredients and ought not be trivialized.  As some say, good sex is the cement that holds the marriage together.

Wives and husbands: your spouse does not have to earn sex from you, and sex ought not be used as either a bribe (reward) or a weapon in the marriage.

Has modern feminism contributed to this problem of sexual compatibility within marriage?  We will let those of a feminist persuasion ponder that.  But, a movement that promotes mistrust and antagonism between the sexes has not helped in this area.

As to the questions posed above, here are our thoughts in brief.

Grounds for divorce?  We say that this could be grounds for divorce.  However, divorce should never be sought before serious reflection and serious effort have been made to make the marriage workable for both spouses.

Can couples achieve better sexual compatibility and have mutually fulfilling sex?  We say that if they sincerely commit to this and make the effort, yes, they can have a mutually satisfying sex life.  The key here is to make the sincere effort.  A good sexual relationship takes time to achieve but is worth the effort both spouses will have to make for it.  (We are not talking here of the adjustment period in the first few to several months of marriage where the spouses become more familiar with each other sexually when some short term difficulties can naturally be expected.)  For the wife who finds it difficult to give of herself sexually to her husband, she needs to think carefully on this.  Sex, good sex, is very important to most men.  You deprive your husband of sexual fulfillment at your own risk.

How important is sex to the marriage?  Very important.  (Consider how this topic dominates so many marriage and relationship blogs!)

Why are so many Christian churches silent on this serious issue of sexual compatibility?  Likely because they are uncomfortable discussing it as the history of Christianity as regards sex is one of sexual pessimism and hatred of pleasure.  Sorry to say, but this animosity towards sex and sexual pleasure has ancient pagan roots and is not authentically Christian.  The moral law requires that sex be kept within marriage, but it does not lay a heavy burden on the sex within marriage.  Read the Gospels.  In them, you do not read of Jesus railing out against married people for having good sex within their marriage.  Regrettably, over the centuries, “purity” came to mean the extinguishment of any sexual feeling or desire in the individual.  Thus, the de facto goal of sexual morality for some priests and ministers was the near total desexualization of the individual.  Of course, that also means the dehumanization of the individual as well.  Do we have a right to sexual fulfillment and happiness in marriage?  Food for thought.

What about the harm done to children during and after the dissolution of their parents’ marriage?  It is devastating.  We cannot trivialize or minimize this.  The author of the comment above (with his amusing pseudonym) makes a good point.  Find this out early in the marriage.  He recommends a quick exit to the marriage if there is no sexual compatibility.  We suggest that the couples get their sex life to a healthy state before they have children.  Divorce ought never be sought without proper reflection and guidance.  Couples can and should seek outside resources and counseling.  If they both will sacrifice to make their marriage work, they can succeed in time.

Why do women opt to play refuser or gatekeeper when it comes to sex with their husband?  We can say that some women consciously use sex as either a bribe, a tool to get what they want in other areas of the marriage, or they use sex, the withholding of it, as a weapon to get back at or to punish their husband.  In some marriages, it is a case that the wife simply does not understand how important sex is to/for her husband.  She does not realize that it is more than physical for her husband.  Men feel love through sex.

Lastly, to pre-empt feminist ire and angry attacks we say that husbands, too, need to pay attention to their wife’s needs in this area of lovemaking.  Be sensitive to her emotional needs in addition to her physical needs and desires.

Visit our Marriage and Sex page for more of our essays on marriage.

copyright 2017 –


  1. I rather agree with Sheila Wray Gregoire – sexual compatibility is dynamic, it ebbs and flows and changes as people change and grow and allow themselves to be vulnerable. And I quote from her post regarding this:

    If we’re capable of being sexually incompatible, then our sexuality must be something static. She by herself is a static sexual being, and he by himself is a static sexual being, and the two may not match. Not true. God designed sex to be a relational thing. And because sex is far more than physical, as we open up to each other by becoming more vulnerable, more giving, and more trusting, sex will change.
    That’s why I hate the phrase “sexually incompatible”. You’re not incompatible; you just have things you need to work out. If one spouse wants to make love much more than another, and this causes hurt, it’s sin, because one (or both) are not loving each other as Christ did. If one is being selfish in bed, demanding unreasonable things, or refusing to learn how to pleasure the other, it’s sin. When physical problems come, and one spouse doesn’t make allowance, it’s sin. If the spouse experiencing difficulties won’t get help, it’s sin, too. If one is using porn or erotica to get aroused, it’s sin. If one is feeling ashamed of sex, that, too, is sin, though it may not be theirs. Perhaps they grew up in a house where their parents made them feel ashamed of the fact that they were sexual, and now they need healing. Or perhaps they were abused (someone else’s sin) and that, too, has impacted their ability to enjoy sex.

    1. Thanks BM for your comment.

      We did not want to post too long an essay on this subject. Additional points could have been made. But, there are wives who are not willing to make the effort for a better sexual relationship with their spouse. As well, there are husbands who neglect their wives’ needs in some marriages. The point of the post is that the desire for a satisfying sexual relationship with one’s spouse is not a sign of a selfish person as some Christian prelates will tell us, and that good sex is very important for the health and strength of the marriage.

      In many cases, the couple who is having serious difficulties in their marriage bed are also having serious relationship issues outside the bedroom. These other issues need to be addressed as well.

      Sheila is correct in that the sexual relationship is dynamic and there are ebbs and flows so to speak. Couples, the 2 individuals do change over time, yes. What the constant is or at least should be is that both spouses work to satisfy the other and grow together in their love for one another. Yes, good, deep sexual intimacy requires both spouses to become vulnerable and to trust and respect each other. A strong and mutually satisfying sexual relationship takes ongoing effort.

      1. Thanks again, Rudolf. The topic ought to generate some interest as it is not an uncommon challenge in many marriages, sorry to say.

  2. Because marriage, as its been since Abrahamic religions took over, its abnormal, unnatural, against human nature. Foam as much as u want, reality tells it best. Its like eating the same food over and over. In the end, u get sick of that, no matter how hard u try not to. Its not rocket science, its just us who get more and more stupid and pay a terrible price for that. Who would want to be frustrated a life time, really? Most durable marriages are failed divorced, keep that in ur head.

    1. Your comment towards the end is almost incoherent. I am guessing that you are hinting at the promotion of a non-married lifestyle that is open to promiscuous sexual encounters. The Commandments serve to protect us humans from our self destructive tendencies as we have already expressed on this blog.

  3. I lived in a sexless marriage for more than a few years. I suggested counseling — even made appointments, but my husband would never show up. I suggested trying new things, and he was appalled. I had always believed that, instead of dishonoring the marriage, a spouse should leave. I actually had a pastor tell me that my husband had, for all intents and purposes, left the marriage emotionally many years prior. Still, I did not have sex outside of my marriage until, when I finally knew in my heart that my marriage was over, I did. About 5 months later I left — not because I thought I would have another long-lasting relationship with the person with whom I had had sex, but because I knew there is more to life than a marriage in which a husband is emotionally unavailable.

    1. Thanks for your comment. It is sad that many spouses suffer in such a marriage that is bereft of emotional intimacy (and nurture) and sexual intimacy. The marriage vows instruct us to love our spouse. That requires some effort, some ongoing action. One wonders if many of the individuals entering upon marriage lack the commitment to make the ongoing sacrifices and efforts necessary for a strong, healthy and happy marriage. Being emotionally and/or sexually unavailable to one’s spouse is being selfish, is holding back. Hope you found peace and happiness.

  4. For 20 years I endured a “marriage” to a sex-addicted spouse, and even when I felt physically sick, was made to perform, or suffer the consequences. And I endured having the “church” tell me that I was wrong to complain, or even say anything about it, that being “speaking evil of my spouse”. I was accused of being frigid, etc., but the truth of the matter is that I was being used as a sex slave within the context of “marriage”.

    This is extremely destructive behaviour, and also must be addressed by the so-called “churches”, not being partial to the man’s perspective, but looking at it from all sides to get at the truth. I am now very happily remarried after a divorce which should have happened many years before it did, and it has taken me a number of years to heal from the painful parts of the physical and emotional wounds inflicted upon me by a so-called “Christian”, whom everybody outside our home loved. The wounding has left me still unable to enjoy the oneness of the marriage bed, but praise the Lord, my new spouse is very godly, and never forces me.

    1. This is EXACTLY his point! One person’s “addict” is what someone else is desperately seeking. How often would qualify as a “non-addict” for you? Once a week, a month, a year, or only when YOU need it? Was this discussed at all BEFORE marriage? This, I think, is the REAL issue that needs to be addressed. Pre-marital SEXUAL counseling. Some sort of checklist that covers EVERYTHING couples should discuss BEFORE marriage. I don’t know about anyone else’s, but ours covered NOTHING. We have never come to any sort of compromise on frequency. And I have been in a miserable, loveless, sexless, gatekeeping, refusing, manipulating, “marriage” for over 35 years now. I am fighting sexual sin in a white-knuckled desperate battle to the end–ALONE–in the ONE RELATIONSHIP ALLOWED for help with this struggle!

      And just like you with your “addict”, I have gotten ZERO help, or even sympathy really, from “the church”!

      1. Thanks for your comment. The problem is quite real and serious in many marriages. Regrettably, the churches have avoided dealing with this issue.

      2. I am so sorry, Longsuffering! 😪 Yes, pre-marriage sexual counselling should be part of the marriage counselling. But would it help afterwards, if someone refuses to keep their agreement? A sex addict is one who demands, and takes, even when the other is sick! Who uses the other, not lovingly, but violently. Who demands things gotten out of porn magazines, who never considers the other’s feeling at all. Who NEVER takes “no” for a legitimate answer, even under conditions that would allow it. I’m sorry for your lack thereof, really I am. These are two ends of the same evil stick. The bible says that what your spouse is doing is WRONG, and legal grounds… Not saying you should, but the bible allows it in such cases. why suffer for ever??

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