Do You Deprive your Wife?

Brad says…
I find that most Christian men love the verse 1 Corinthians 7:5. Even if you don’t recognize the reference I’m sure that you will recognize the passage:

Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (NLT)

In Kate’s post, Emotional Lust, she took another popular verse and applied the intent to challenge wives. If wives should learn to be careful of their emotional influences and lusts, then husbands we need to learn an important lesson to.

Are you depriving your wife of emotional intimacy?

Many men would agree that sexual intimacy is a life blood of their marriage. With it removed their marriage is very tested. (If you doubt this you only have to visit the comment section of our post, The Sexless Marriage Trap) But guys, we have to recognize that emotional intimacy is the life blood of marriage for our wives. We cannot deprive our wives of the very thing that helps them to be connected to thinking about her

I don’t like the idea of rewriting scripture passages, but I don’t think the intention of this verse would be substantively changed if it said, “Husband’s do not deprive your wife of emotional relations, unless you both agree to refrain from emotional intimacy for a time”.

What Is Emotional Intimacy Anyway?

I know that some guys reading this have absolutely no clue what I mean by emotional intimacy. I’ll admit it isn’t as easy to define as sex. There is not a clear-cut, yes it happened moment. However, it is as important to the health of your marriage.

Emotional intimacy is the deep connection you feel with another person when you take time to share your thoughts, ideas, goals, dreams and yes even feelings. I’m sure some men are groaning at that prospect, and some wives are cheering.

Here is the thing it isn’t exactly a simple thing to sit down one evening and “do” emotional intimacy. It’s difficult, time-consuming, and vulnerable.

I think many women think that their husbands are purposely hiding these things from them. They assume that we are filled with all these emotions that we are not sharing. On the other hand I think some guys feel that sharing any thoughts or emotions with their wife is putting “undue burdens” on them. So many times things simply go unsaid. Neither of these thoughts are exactly true. Guys are often not very good at identifying and communicating their emotions, and yet, they are there. (For more on that topic check out Emotional Foreplay)

Guilty As Charged?

So maybe you are reading this and saying, “Yep I have been denying my wife emotional intimacy”. I propose that there are two very different ways most men fall into this trap at some point during their marriage. There could be a lack of emotional intimacy because of a growing distance or as a result of a deliberate denial.

Distance vs. Denial

Distance happens at times in every marriage. Busy schedules, work demands, kids, sicknesses, and a million other things can come at times and take the time from your marriage that should be devoted to creating a space for emotional intimacy. This actually is normal, and as long as you pay attention to it, doesn’t have to be unhealthy. The problem comes when the time of distance extends beyond what is agreed upon. The key here is communication. If you know that you have a crazy busy week, then talk about how and when you are going to create time for your spouse!

The Problem of Denial

Denying your spouse emotional intimacy is a completely different thing. Purposely not sharing your heart for any reason is wrong. Look guys, this verse doesn’t say, “as long as your marriage is going great, make sure you are having sex”, so in our bit of a twist I think we can accurately say the same goes for emotional intimacy. The fact that things are difficult in your marriage is no excuse for denying your marriage emotional intimacy.

Notice I didn’t say, “denying your wife emotional intimacy”, I said “your marriage” because if you believe it or not, you need emotional intimacy too. It is a necessary for all marriages. So denying it only adds to the problems in your marriage.

Talk Back!

How emotionally intimate is your marriage right now today?

If it isn’t as close as it could be is that because you have allowed distance to happen or because you are denying your marriage of the intimacy you need?

What are you prepared to do today to bring emotional intimacy back into your marriage?

Leave us a comment!

Photo courtesy of and © photoxpress/Pavel Losevsky

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14 Responses to Do You Deprive your Wife?

  1. This is a fabulous post! It is such an important topic, and not one talked about. A lack of emotional intimacy can and will lead to a lack of physical intimacy which will worsen any drift that exists. Great!!

  2. For our marriage, I have be on the guard against allowing distance to interfere here. It wasn’t long into our marriage that we recognized this as a potential problem thanks to a conversation one evening in our small group. My wife and I agreed that she has permission to be blunt and forward with me about this. If I’m distancing away, she can tell me.

    And for my part, I’ve been working on developing a list of “filter” questions to ask myself once per week as I look over my upcoming weekly calendar. This timely post has reminded me I need to develop a question that asks if I have sufficient time scheduled just for the two of us.

    • Eric,
      Thanks for your practical ideas of how to make sure the emotional distance doesn’t impact your emotional intimacy. Kate and I have wrestled with this too, the calendar can be one of the biggest enemies of intimacy in a marriage. But when you boil it down, it isn’t the calendar’s fault, it is the priorities that are behind it! Make sure to let your wife know she is a bigger priority then any appointment!

      Thanks for your comment Eric!

      • Agreed. She (and my team) knows she is the only person on the list of people who are never told “I’m sorry, Eric is in a meeting.”.

  3. Brad – this is such an important reminder. I think us guys have a tendency to withhold emotionally when we feel we aren’t getting what we want sexually. Not necessarily on purpose but because sex is the best path to emotional intimacy for us, we just naturally react by withdrawing. Of course it is ultimately self-defeating.

  4. This is a great post and one I will ask my husband to read as well. It’s so very hard to give of yourself physically when you feel your emotional needs are not being met and are not as important as the physical. I’ve heard the mentioned verse so many times and how it is my duty to be available. I’ve tried many times to explain to my husband why I’m not in the mood when he has been less than pleasant to be around all day. It just does not sink in. Maybe this will help. Thank you!

  5. Good read. I recently discovered the “oneness” concept of marriage. Like the Father, and son in Johns Gospel. Everything is done with a sense of “togetherness”. All decisions to do with anything, the finances, planning, child discipline, possessions etc, are to be shared. The goal is,” to be of one mind”. This requires a lot of communication. There is no room for domination, or independence. The calender becomes your friend, as you spend time planning your week together. Plan time; to each make God first, and your spouse a close second. Plan when you will have moments of intimicy: emotional and sexual. Plan dates and weekends away. Plan to make your partnership as inimate as the Father and Son. Then guard, and work the plan.

  6. I’ve been in a sexless marriage for a loooong time now and I can’t begin to tell you the battle that I’m fighting daily. I fight porn, I fight having an affair, I fight seeking divorce. I feel like not only I’m I fighting rejection and hurt, I’m fighting every sense of being human. We’ve gone to counseling but he blames me that I don’t do acts of service like looking for his socks. And the christian counsellor(man) agreed with him! I just don’t know what to do!

    • Jane- this response is very late, wonder how you are doing now? Did the counselor have anything besides those blessed love languages to offer (sigh). I am sorry, but I don’t think sexual intimacy is on the same scale as housekeeping. You can hire a maid to do chores, but a spouse is the only person mandated to show physical affection. Surely no one is thinking of an affair or divorce because they don’t like the laundry pile building – but without affection, as you stated its a fight against temptation each day. The Five Love Languages are not equal, they help the discussion of how people are different, and how they feel loved.. which may lead to more intimacy.. but chores and gifts are not marital sexual love, and will never substitute.

  7. I’m in a situation where this is reversed, and the wife is indifferent and happy in her own little “orbit”. With sex being ever more infrequent. Quite frustrated and have read of other men ( though not often) in this situation too,even after many years of marriage(like myself). -shrugs-

  8. Thanks Brad, for this timely article.

    Intimacy in marriage is a desperate problem among Christians today. And a symptom of that underlying problem is the rampant divorce epidemic in the Church.

    “The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5 NLT)

    This passage from 1 Corinthians 7 is extremely important, and, even though the husband is the spiritual leader of the family, this directive should be heeded, in love, by both husband and wife equally. The same Holy Spirit who dwells in a godly husband, dwells in a godly wife.

    One can debate over the wife being the “weaker vessel” and many other valid truths. But here’s the bottom line. Jesus said,

    If a man (or woman) loves Me, he (or she) will keep My commandments.”

    Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. And then love your neighbor (your spouse is your closest ‘neighbor’) as yourself.

    When a husband or wife who struggles with a lack of sexual desire for their mate, or for intimacy itself, contemplates this difficult topic, what must become the all-important question, is, “how much do you love Jesus?”

    I can say I love Jesus, but if I am not keeping His commands from the Scriptures, then the proof in the pudding is, I simply don’t love Him as much as I say, or think I do.

    “This people draw near to Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” said the Lord, of a people who give great lip service, but their actions reveal hearts that didn’t really love Him.

    Agape love is a sacrificial love that seeks to love his or her mate even if it is not reciprocated. Nevertheless, we as human beings are weak in our flesh. We have needs. Strong needs. God created us this way after all.

    The divine purpose of marriage is companionship; “It is not good for the man to be alone”, said the Lord, after he created man who did not yet have a companion.

    So, the question Jesus would pose for all spouses here today, is; ‘How much do you love Me?’ ‘Will you love Me enough to minister to your husband or wife’s sexual needs, even though you don’t feel it or desire it?’

    Satan [only] comes to steal, kill, and destroy. And his first act of destructive division was to come between husband and wife in the Garden. And we’ve been letting him continue this for roughly the last 6,000 years.

    If I really love my wife (and I do), then I am going to esteem her needs (sexual and otherwise) above my own; because I do love her, and because I really love Jesus.

    It’s all about love, and putting the needs of others; especially our spouse’s, before our own feelings or needs.

    If a wife or husband understands that the Enemy of our souls (and of our marriages) seeks to destroy us by tempting us in our sexual weakness, because our spouse has forsaken us in that area, then if they really love one another, they will send the Enemy packing by submitting their hearts to God by loving their spouse and ministering to that sexual need.

    It’s all about love.

    If you really love Jesus, then esteem the needs of your spouse above your own needs or feelings.

    And by this shall the Lord be glorified.


  9. I don’t think that this is the meaning of 1 Corinthiabs 7:1-4. I think this topic is specifically addressed to men in 1 Peter 3:7: “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

    The husband is to seek to know his wife intimately, and keep himself focused on her as a woman, especially since she is in a vulnerable position as one in submission to him. He is to value her and “nourish and cherish” her. (Ephesians, 5:29). These verses have more direct application to the subject of emotional intimacy.