Maintaining Sexual Intimacy When Sex isn’t Possible

I’m excited to have as my guest today Chris, from “The Forgiven Wife,” to help kick off a new series called “Rekindling and Reclaiming Sex in Marriage.” I hope you’ll make her feel right at home here, sharing with her in the comments, as well as to all your favorite social-media places!

Sex Connection

God’s intricate and beautiful design for sex is a special gift that is a vital part of the marriage relationship. Becoming one flesh makes us a couple, not just two people who live with each other.

Sex reunites and connects us. Bonding hormones released during sexual activity help us feel emotionally connected to each other. The private moments shared only by the married couple help build a sense of oneness.

Sexual intimacy weaves a tapestry of togetherness over time.

When we marry, we know that sex will be part of that marriage. Most of us don’t think about the possibility that we might someday be unable to have sex. We don’t imagine extended medical problems, body parts that hurt or don’t work, or even the way our sexual response may change over the years.

I know I didn’t think about any of that. When I was placed on complete pelvic rest during a high-risk pregnancy years ago, I at least knew that the ban on sexual activity was just for a few months. Now, as my husband and I age, I catch glimpses of the kinds of things that may eventually limit our ability to have sex for the rest of our time together.

Short-term medical problems, long-term health conditions, aging, and medication can all take their toll on a couple’s sex life. It’s easy to wonder what can be done when a time comes when one spouse has physical issues that interfere with sex.

Fortunately, even when intercourse is no longer possible, it is possible to maintain and enjoy sexual intimacy—if you prepare yourself with prayer, sensitivity, a sense of humor, and a willingness to try new things.

Let me explain how …

1. Remember the real purpose of sex.

Sexual intimacy helps build the mysterious one-flesh-ness of marriage. It reunites and connects us.

The ultimate purpose isn’t to experience physical pleasure (although that certainly is nice). At its core, sexual intimacy is about developing and maintaining intimacy and oneness. Sex helps us know and be known—not because we connect body parts, but because we are sharing something with each other that we don’t share with anyone else.

When we broaden our understanding of sexual intimacy beyond intercourse, we can see that all expressions of our sexuality, and any sexual touch, make up our sexual intimacy.

The good news is that even if intercourse is no longer an option, sexual intimacy can still thrive.

2. With a broader view of sexual intimacy, we find that we have a huge banquet of possibility in front of us—even if the main dish is no longer there.

Without intercourse, we can still be sexual with each other. We just need to approach it differently than we are used to.

If you find yourself facing the loss of intercourse in your marriage due to illness or physical challenges, it is time to be creative. With prayer and good communication, you may find that some of these options help you maintain sexual intimacy.

Consider other forms of stimulation such as oral and manual sexual touch. If intercourse isn’t possible because of one spouse’s pain or sexual dysfunction, these options can work very well. It may be helpful to know that a man does not need an erection to experience an orgasm.

You may find that non-intercourse touch is erotic in their own ways, enhancing your marriage bed in ways that continue to surprise and delight you!

All the Days of Your Life

Couples may eventually need to come to terms with the reality of not being able to experience sexual intimacy together. If one spouse is weak or very ill, or if both spouses have medical issues that make sexual stimulation impossible, it may be that sex really is over—but that doesn’t mean that intimacy is finished.

Maintain sexual intimacy as long as you can—but if a time comes when sexual stimulation is completely impossible, look for other ways to maintain intimacy …

  • Spend time cuddling naked together. Skin-to-skin contact is good and comforting. Being naked with each other is a good reminder of the special relationship you have with each other. The physical closeness that comes from something you share with only one person will help maintain your emotional intimacy.
  • Seek private time with each other to enjoy intimate conversation or even just to hold hands for a while. Play music that has been special to you. Look through photos together.

As much as you are able to, pursue intimacy with each other all the days of your married life.

“Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.” ~Ecclesiastes 9:9

Chris Taylor writes at The Forgiven Wife, where she encourages Christian wives who want to grow in their approach to sexual intimacy in their marriages. You can also connect with Chris on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.

5 responses to “Maintaining Sexual Intimacy When Sex isn’t Possible”

  1. […] Maintaining Sexual Intimacy When Sex isn’t Possible, Messy Marriage (guest post by yours truly) […]


  2. My wife and I have been married 38 years and have always had a great sex life. I am 73 and because of medication I take and My age I can no longer get a erection. We do oral and manual stimulation but is it ok to use sex toys too? Vibrators or dildos. Sorry if this not allowed as a comment on here and delete it if it is.


  3. […] Refuse to give up on your marriage. While a lack of penetration can feel like a sexless marriage, please know that research actually shows that you can still feel quite connected when you both have the right perspective. For tips on feeling more connected when penetration isn’t possible check out Chris Taylor (of the Forgiven Wife)’s posts on the subject here and here. […]


  4. […] This is an updated edition of a post originally published on  Messy Marriage […]


  5. […] to do with intercourse. Check out a guest post from Chris Taylor and my Rekindling Sex Series—“Maintaining Intimacy When Sex isn’t Possible”—for some great […]


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