No. 20: Should I Have Sex with My Spouse Even When I Don’t Want To? and Responses to Other Listener Questions

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No. 20: Should I Have Sex with My Spouse Even When I Don’t Want To? and Responses to Other Listener Qs

Listen to this episode from One Degree Podcast on Spotify. This Q&A we’re diving into questions submitted by YOU all about marriage. We put up a question box on Instagram and our emails and y’all gave us some good questions.


This week is another Q&A Episode, but this time it’s all about marriage! We put up a question box on Instagram and our emails and y’all gave us some good questions.

We answer questions about:

  • What to do when one spouse wants sex and the other doesn’t
  • Disagreements between spouses
  • How to handle tricky in-laws

Let’s dive right in…

1. How do you navigate a situation when one spouse wants to have sex and the other doesn’t?

To give some perspective, most of the time, this scenario is likely being asked by the husband, but this is not always the case.

The Purpose of Sex

First, we need to talk about the purpose of sex. You can listen more to Ep. 10 where we do a deep dive into a biblical perspective of sex, but we believe that marriage is a representation of Christ and His bride, the church. Ephesians 5 lays out this image of wives symbolizing the church/the bride of Christ, and husbands symbolizing Christ. Sex points to the union and consummation of Christ and the church- it points to heaven.

Another purpose of sex is to be fruitful and multiply- we are to fill the earth with more worshippers of God. We need to be careful: the goal of being a man or a woman or being married is not to simply have children.

Finally, the third purpose of sex is to draw husband and wife together. While it has been twisted and misused, it is a gift in marriage to enjoy one another!

Now that we’ve laid down the foundation of the purpose of sex, we can talk about the question.

Sacrificial Love

1 Corinthians 7:1-5 tells us that the husband does not have jurisdiction over his own body and the wife does not have jurisdiction over her own body. In this passage, the same command is given to both husband and wife.

A Word to Husbands

We need to be careful because the context of this passage is discussing not depriving your spouse of sex. But this does not mean that when one spouse wants to have sex, the other one has to give it. We’ve even seen social media posts that say that your marriage license is your consent to sex all the time. Husbands, be careful not to abuse Scripture by using Ephesians 5 to force their wives into sex. Husbands are called to emulate Christ- this is a high calling to love your wife. You are called to be willing to sacrifice your life, your comfort, and your ease for your wife. You are called to be a spiritual leader to help your wife grow in your faith. Loving sacrifice might look like not having sex when you desire it in order to serve your wife if she does not desire it.

A Word to Wives

For wives, sacrificially loving and serving your husband may be having sex even when you’re not completely in the mood. Wives are called to embody the church. Just as the church is called to serve Christ, we are called to serve our husbands. To add some nuance: for wives, absolute authority is in Christ, not your husbands.

Friend-to-friend, if you’re always experiencing low drive and aren’t ever really in the mood, you should try and get to the root cause. There is a physical and emotional aspect and the answer isn’t “you’re never going to want it, but you’re going to have to have sex anyways.” Try cultivating a desire for sex!

Marriage is intended to be mutual servanthood. Husbands, true leadership is servanthood. Wives, true submission is servanthood. It should be a dance of constantly wanting to “out-serve” each other. Sex truly is better when spouses are trying to please the other over themselves.

The One Degree Podcast No. 20: Should I have Sex with my spouse even when I don't want to? and Responses to other listener questions

2. When would you seek out a third party to mediate disagreements between spouses?

Xan says that this is likely never a bad idea (as long as it’s a good third party). Marriage is not a confidential bubble in which you have to figure out everything on your own.

Nathaniel agrees- individualism is so highly celebrated in our Western culture, that we rarely seek out advice or help from other people.

We are made for community! Acts 2 provides a picture of the church living in tight community. Proverbs 12:15 shows us the wisdom in listening to advice. We should go through our lives with other believers.

Make sure when you do consult a third party that they are mature believers. Advice you are given should be tested against Scripture. Advice from Scripture should always outweigh advice given by others. Additionally, seek help from a third party together as spouses.

Here are some situations in which spouses should seek a third party (this isn’t an exhaustive list):

  • Any big life decision (moving, job changes, big purchases, etc…)
  • Sin struggle involved in an argument (anger, sexual, deeply rooted sin)
  • If you and your spouse are unable to reach a compromise
  • If you and your spouse are continuously misunderstanding each other

3. How do you set boundaries with your spouse’s parents when they are too involved?

1. Make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page (check out Ep. 18 for more on this). You will never be able to establish healthy boundaries if you haven’t discussed them first.

2. Each spouse should initiate the conversation with their own parents. Both play a part in the conversations, but the other spouse should not carry the burden of starting these difficult convos.

3. Have SAR boundaries- specific, assessable, and realistic. They should be specific and clear, easily measurable, and realistically attainable.

4. You should have negative and positive boundaries. We like to think of boundaries as both negative (preventing something you don’t want), and positive (cultivating something beneficial). Another way to think of this is preventative and proactive. An example of a negative boundary is asking your parents not to show up unannounced. A positive boundary is asking your parents to have dinner once a week. We should focus on the positives as much as the negatives in order to soften a difficult conversation and your relationship.

5. If you establish boundaries, don’t break them yourself. This could communicate that you don’t actually care about the boundaries you set or that you are hypocritical.

4. What are practical ways to reach a compromise when both spouses have strong personalities?

We can speak to this from experience because we both have really strong personalities. Remember that as followers of Christ (see Question #1), we are ultimately called to serve our spouses.

For us, compromise starts before conflict happens. Our weekly meetings and regularly talking and serving one another have helped us build trust and open communication with one another. You will feel so much more confident and safe in these situations when you truly believe that your spouse has your best interests at heart.

Here are some tips we have:

  • Start the conversation by laying out all the facts.
  • Remind each other that you are on the same team.
  • Bathe the conversation in prayer.
  • Share how each of you thinks and feels about the situation.
  • Seek to understand the view of your spouse.
  • Come to a decision that you both can agree on.
  • Husbands, remember that you have the burden of servant leadership.

5. Do we have a set schedule for praying together?

This is kind of convicting, but we don’t have a specific rhythm for praying together. However, this is something we want to grow in! We both pray individually, but 3-4 nights a week we pray together before bed. Something we have learned from others that we want to start implementing is to have set “markers” that signal a time for prayer. For example, mealtimes, getting ready in the morning, and car rides can be regular times of prayer.

6. What is your best marriage advice for first-time parents?

First, give yourself grace! Being a first-time parent is difficult. Other new parents don’t have it figured out either- no matter what social media may tell you.

Also, you should turn to the Lord and not yourself when things get difficult. We were guilty of always looking to the next stage for relief and hope. See each individual stage of your child’s life as holy work and the Lord will see you through.

Practically, make sure that as spouses you are cultivating your friendship and seeking regular times of communication.

One Degree Shift

Ask your spouse “what are three ways that I can serve you better?”

Download and complete the “Are We on the Same Page” Spouse Evaluation.

Want More?

Ep. 10: Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

Ep. 18: Are You and Your Spouse on the Same Page?

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