She has no sex drive. Is it immoral to allow her husband to sleep with his ex?

She has no sex drive. Is it immoral to allow her husband to sleep with his ex? May 11, 2015


Dear John,

I’m in a marriage with another Christian; but I have an exceptionally low sex drive. I love my husband dearly, and on the rare occasions I am in the mood, sex is lovely. But some med issues and such make my desire for sex almost null.

We’ve talked in depth for about two years about me being okay with him engaging in sex with a lifelong, “friend with benefits” he’s had since well before we met. Thing is, I am honestly ok with it on a personal, internal level. I’m very close to her as well, they were friends about 10 years before I was in the picture; he chose me as his romantic life partner.

The only thing holding us back is, well, the Bible. Jesus makes it pretty clear that adultery is a damnable sin. Yet I see stories of Christians in open marriages, or polyamorous unions, or not marrying for whatever legal reasons—and I can’t figure it out.

I suppose, it seems to me, that each commandment and law we still keep is because to not keep it does harm. Do these alternative styles of Christian relationships work out on the moral field because a consensual open relationship is different from cheating, or looking at someone only in lust?

I know it must sound contradictory, to say “I’m okay with it—but I’m not.” But for me it’s really a matter of “I have no moral ills about this, but everyone says I should.”

How do open arrangement Christians reconcile non-monogamy with the Bible and adultery?

Hi. Thanks for trusting me enough to write me with this delicate and deeply personal question.

I know I’m gonna get my rump handed to me for saying this, but my personal opinion is that sex is never exclusively about the physical act of copulation. I know that lots of people understand “owning” their sexuality as meaning that, if they want to, they can have completely rewarding sex that is essentially devoid of emotion—that they can, at will, get off with another person without any accompanying or resultant emotional involvement.

I don’t believe that’s possible, however. I don’t think anyone can actually do that. And if any given person can, that’s not healthy. If you’re able to become as vulnerable as sex makes anyone, and at the same time sever yourself emotionally from that vulnerability, something is wrong. That’s not natural, and that’s not healthy. It accounts for the classic “dead eyes” of strippers and prostitutes, which is always the saddest thing to see.

Again (he said, in anticipation of the war-whoop certain to come his way if a very particular online community discovers this post) that is just my opinion/experience.

So all I’d ask is that you ask yourself very deeply, and very honestly, just how okay you really are with your husband having one of the most intimate experiences possible with another person—especially with, as you put it, “a lifelong ‘friend with benefits’ he’s had since well before we met.”

I just don’t want you to get hurt by ever having to realize, after the fact, just how much you are hurt by being at home watching television while your husband is off bonding with this other woman in the way that it doesn’t seem to me possible he and she won’t end up bonding.

I’m not saying you can’t handle it. I’m simply encouraging you to consider the validity of the idea that no wife or husband could ever handle that, that no one—or, at least, let me say, very few people—are ever likely to really be okay, all the way down to their bones, with the spouse they love regularly going off to sleep with someone they’ve known for a long time and always been really close to.

(I’m also aware of how … untenable it is to argue that what’s true for most people must be true for all people. If there’s one thing in life I understand, it’s that.)

I also wanted to say, if I could, that when I read your, “Some med issues and such make my desire for sex almost null,” I immediately focused on that phrase “and such.”

Are you sure the reason your sex drive is so low is purely medical? Because that is one rare medical condition. And you may have such a condition, obviously. But your “and such” points to causes for your sexual dysfunction which you’re aware cannot be successfully addressed medically.

If you have any psychological issues around sexuality (as virtually everyone does, btw), take those very seriously. I know it’s a cliche, but seek real, qualified, actual, long-term counseling. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve known who believed that their sexual dysfunction was a medical condition, only to ultimately discover that it was rooted in their subconscious. If as a child you were molested or sexualized in any way, for instance, that is guaranteed to seriously mess with your adult sexual identity. That’s a rule no one gets around. If that sort of thing happened to you as a kid, you need to directly and thoroughly deal with that. It’s the only way you’ll ever really be happy. (For that please let me recommend the amazing book, The Courage to Heal.)

Finally, your moral instincts about all this are absolutely correct. There is no moral issue with you allowing your husband to sleep with the other woman. What’s immoral is lying, cheating, hiding; what’s immoral is betraying the trust of your spouse. In the situation you’re in, it sounds to me like nobody’s deceiving anyone.

Fair enough. What’s true for all people is also true for Christians: no harm, no foul.

Best to you, sister. Hope this helps at all. All my love.

A really interesting perspective on this sort of dynamic is given by the woman I interviewed in 1 Man, 2 Women in a Polyamorous Relationship.

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