I was chatting with my husband last night about the problem of so many people not being attracted to their spouses. He was really baffled and asked me to explain how it comes to pass that so many people, usually women, marry people they aren’t attracted to. I explained to him that as far as I could gather from what I read, women will sometimes settle for commitment from men who are less alpha than other men they’ve previously dated or slept with because they are in a hurry to marry and have children while they are still able to.
“So maybe her husband wasn’t the most attractive guy she ever had; why does that mean she’s completely unattracted to him now?” he asked.
Hmmm. I’m actually not sure about that. Maybe her husband isn’t the hottest man she ever had, but she should still be able to be attracted to him if he isn’t yucky, right? For such a woman, was there not at least a spark of attraction to her husband in the beginning which then waned later after marriage? All I can come up with as an answer is that she was attracted to him, but after marriage his behavior became too supplicating, he failed too many fitness tests, and basically acted too “beta”, or he let himself go somehow by gaining a lot of weight or not taking care of his hygiene/appearance/health. Therefore she lost attraction to him, their sex life declined, which led to overall dissatisfaction with their marriage, which will possibly end in divorce.
If there was even a spark of attraction to him in the beginning, it should theoretically be possible to get that back. There are lots of blogs and resources that have popped up (with Married Man Sex Life being the most well-known) whose focus is helping married men increase their attractiveness to their wives, and from what I have read in the MMSL forums, it seems to work. Married couples who were previously in bad shape, with no sex life at all and who were not getting along with each other, apparently can recover the lost attraction and avert divorce.
But what if there never was any attraction to begin with, or what if that spark that used to be there just cannot be rekindled? What if, despite everything he tries, the man’s wife just never feels attracted to him again? What if she isn’t attracted to him but she’s willing to have sex once a week and does her best to act enthused even though he knows she isn’t? What should they do?
My feeling is that if there are children, the couple should not divorce regardless of their religious beliefs. In making the decision to bring children into this world, they were making the choice to put someone else’s needs before their own. Divorce, as we all know by now, is incredibly damaging to children, and as unpleasant as a marriage with no attraction may be, it is selfish to put one’s children through the break-up of the family.
My second thought is that Christian couples should not divorce over lack of sexual attraction whether they have children or not, provided that the wife is willing to have sex (or provided the husband is willing to if he is the unattracted spouse, but that scenario is less common). However, the husband has to be willing to accept duty sex; he can expect frequent duty sex, as is his right according to 1 Corinthians 7:5, but he can’t really complain about her lack of attraction for him because she probably can’t do much about it (although she could try some of my previous suggestions and see if they help). I disagree that the Bible permits divorce in cases other than adultery and abandonment (and perhaps not even in those situations). Here is what Jesus Himself said about that in Mark 10:1-5
Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.
Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
“What did Moses command you?” he replied.
They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Christians will sometimes argue that divorce is permissible for various reasons provided that no remarriage takes place. This is wishful thinking on their part and is probably an attempt to leave themselves an out from their own marriages should they want it. I ask any Christian who holds the view that couples should be able to divorce for reasons other than adultery or abandonment to show me in God’s Word how they arrived at the conclusion that this is acceptable. And if you are a Christian who believes this, but you cannot show me support for your position from the Bible, then you are playingChristianity a la carte, picking and choosing what you feel like believing; you are a Churchian and should repent of your heresy on your knees before God.
The only married couples who should probably divorce over a complete lack of sexual attraction, regardless of whether the wife is willing to have sex with the husband or not, are those who are not religious and have no children. For them it is probably better to divorce because attraction is such a fundamental part of the marriage relationship and if you have neither God nor children to hold it together, there really isn’t much reason to stay.
Since there aren’t that many marriages where there are neither religious beliefs nor children, that means most people in marriages without physical attraction are simply going to have to learn the discipline of gracious self-denial. Perhaps people stuck in such marriages might consider sharing their hard-earned wisdom with the next generation so that they don’t make the same mistake.