Sexual Temptation After Marriage

 originally published on

Recently, one of my friends made a presumption:

“When you get married, all this temptation gets easier, right?”

I remember thinking that way before I got married.  I remember thinking that suddenly all these lusts and desires would disappear and the world would be a wonderland, free of sexual temptation.  I responded to my friend in the most truthful manner I could:

“No.  It changes, but it doesn’t get easier.  It gets harder.”

It’s amazing how temptation finds its way through so many cracks and slivers of life.  Sexual temptation doesn’t simply go away once you’re married.  To think so would be naïve, and run the risk of exposing yourself to self-denial about the things going on around you.

When I got engaged I had to stop chatting with friends I’d known for years because the moment I was “off the market” they wanted me to know that they had wanted to be the one to be with me.  I have friends who, once married, discovered something their sexual identity and decided that monogamy wasn’t for them.  I know of relationship after relationship where something happens, someone withholds love from their spouse, and suddenly there is deceit and pain and someone has been unfaithful.

In a marriage, nothing is just about “you” anymore.  It’s about you and your spouse.  So even if you don’t think you were tempted… your wife might think your eyes glanced at someone to long.  Your wife may think she’s just talking to the girls, but you might think that she swoons a little too much over that actor on the screen.  These temptations might seem like little things, but they can quickly become memories that turn into your spouse thinking they see a pattern of behavior; and suddenly, just the temptations are becoming a sore point in the relationship.

Temptations change in scope, as well.  When I was single, we were always trying to see how “far” we could get instead of how holy we could be with a girl.  But now that I’m married, going “far” isn’t even the temptation… the temptation is to even start down that path of thinking how “far” is ok.

Most people would never think of hugging a girl as a sin.  Once you’re married, though, the moment that hug becomes anything more than a brotherly or sisterly hug a flood of thoughts and temptations can come into the mind of the friend, the hugger or the spouse watching from across the Church floor.  Why was the hug that long?  Why did that hand linger?  Why haven’t I gotten a hug like that lately?  Why did she hug me like that – is their marriage ok?

The temptation no longer has to be how “far” you can get sexually, once married.  The temptation can become to even think about testing those boundaries.

And, of course, temptation comes in the structure of marriage itself.  You are no longer dealing with just your own needs, but a spouse’s needs.  There are self-imposed issues of questioning whether you’re meeting your spouse’s needs.  If life is busy and there isn’t time for the necessary intimacy, then the temptation is there to just do a duty and not be engaging in relationship.

We live in a world that models sexuality instead of intimacy.  I think marriages across our nation are begging for models of intimacy.  I’ve seen enough random hook-ups and mornings after in the movies and on TV to last a lifetime of memories.  I struggle to think about media that models sexual intimacy instead of just sex.

These thoughts are just the tip of the iceberg of how temptation changes in marriage.  Probably books could be written (have been written?) on the subject.  I remember when I was in high school (and, yes, even some of college) wanting to get married just so I could be done with all those sexual temptations.  I remember my first few months of marriage thinking no sexual temptation was going to be coming my way; that part of my life was all taken care, I thought.

It’s not always easy.  So my single brothers and sisters – pray for your married friends that they can be aware of the temptations around them.  Be aware that in the wrong situation, on the wrong day and with the wrong slight of hand, you might be that tempter.  My married brothers and sisters – don’t forget the temptations that so strongly affected you back “in the day.” Help your single friends know that sexual intimacy in a marriage is a treasure and worth waiting – and fighting daily – for.  Remember that just because you’re married, your single brothers and sisters don’t suddenly stop finding you attractive.  That, even married, you might be a temptation to someone else.

So; let’s discuss.  What are the models of sexual intimacy out there?  What are the new temptations we struggle with when married?  What are the thoughts of you single-folk when you see a married couple in love?  In struggle?


3 Responses to “Sexual Temptation After Marriage”

  1. Great article. I am a witness, it does not end after marriage and it is something I never imagined would affect me. i always thought of marriage would be the great sexual escape. i never dreamed i would marry a man who struggles with sexual and intimacy issues; i have not been sexually satisfied in a very long time; but i love my husband so dearly; and just when the desert couldnt get any drier…along came temptation. thank God i resisted the urge to not call on accountability. i am determined to double down and pray that the voids are filled so that i am not vulnerable like this ever again…
    pray for those of us who are committed and being tested…

  2. 22 years I have been married to my only wife. Over the years her emotional and sexual problems have created a very thin string upon which my fidelity hangs. I have never touched another woman. But I find myself longing for someone who can give and receive love and pleasure like I do. And yes, my wife always crosses the finish line first in the bedroom. I make sure of that. It’s just that it’s very hard to get her in there as often as I need her. When I express my needs she often ends up angry and insecure. So often she doesn’t even know Im struggling because Im afraid of creating a blowup. I have told her I need sex at least twice a week or I struggle with temptation. She has acknowledged this a dozen times but always falls back into the same pattern of neglecting me.

    I know God is supposed to have a way of escape for every temptation, but how do you escape a physiological and emotional need that is being unmet in marriage. Even the bible commands spouses not to neglect their sexual partner. OK? So what does the partner do if they don’t heed that command? Lump it and try not to go to hell for falling into lust? I have two grown children in college and the last thing I want to do is hurt them or my wife by leaving. And I know that divorce is a terrible option.

  3. I agree with this artice 100%. I met my husband when i was 17 and fell completely in love with him. I had all my first sexual experiences with him. I was always attracted to good looking guys and i consider myself someone that “loves sex”. I’m 28 now and have been married 4 yrs, no kids yet… my husband and i do have good sex, but it’s hard because I’m attractive and I get a lot of good looking guys hitting on me – almost every time, it brings on the “temptation”. I thought when I got married, the feeling would go away – it only got worse. Unfortanetely, I have talked to other guys while I’ve been married and even kissed a few. I live with terrible regret because I was raised Catholic and got married in the Catholic Church. I feel like I’m living with this temptation daily and it’s actually painful. I dont talk to guys that like me because I know my happiness with my husband is most important. I don’t want to lose that. He knows about the guys I kissed and it definitely hurt him – i live with that pain… We have a powerful love that has kept us together through a lot. When tempted, I remind myself of the hurt he would feel if he knew i would do something so terrible & the grief it would cause….but, still – the temptation makes me WANT to talk to good looking guys and i battle that “want” every day 😦

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