sex-and-stressWhen “benefits” of sex are listed, “stress reduction” is usually somewhere in the mix.

It may be phrased a number of different ways, alluding to both physical and emotional side benefits.  No matter how we label it, the people who study this sort of thing often hold up “feeling less stressed” as a big plus of nurtured sexual intimacy in marriage.

And certainly scientists and doctors could explain this reality physiologically. From a scientific standpoint, they would confirm that something good indeed does physically happen within a husband’s body and wife’s body when they enjoy making love.

And I’m not just talking about orgasm.  There’s a lot more going on than just that powerful response, right?  If ever there was a masterpiece of tremendous complexity, it is the human body.

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BUT, I imagine it comes as no surprise that for quite a few married people, sex is a source of stress, not a pathway toward relieving it.

And I’m not just referring to stress in the actual act of intercourse, but also stress in discussing it, navigating difficulties with it and so forth.

What is your experience? Does sex increase or decrease your stress?

I’m personally in the camp of loving — even craving — sex for all the positive things it does to my body and my marriage.  But I’m sensitive to the reality that for some people, sex is a source of tremendous discord in their heart and home.

Whatever camp we are in regarding sex — loving it or dreading it or discouraged about it — I think we owe it to our spouse and marriage to unpack that camp a bit.

Sure, if you love it, seems like there’s nothing to unpack, right?  But I’m a firm believer that good areas of our marriage can continually be made better.  Nothing really is as compartmentalized as we would like to believe.

If sex is a mutually valued part of your marriage, pay close attention to building upon the positive impact it has on your relationship beyond the lovemaking.  Don’t become complacent in showing each other affection out of bed as much as you do in bed.  Don’t assume your spouse knows what sexual intimacy means to you.  Tell them. Affirm them.

If you are in the camp of dreading sex, have you gotten to the root of the reason?

I make it sound so easy, don’t I?  Well, trust me — I’ve written, spoken and read about sex for long enough to know that the reasons can be profoundly difficult, complex and painful. Rarely do I ever think it’s easy to dig into those.

But if sex causes you stress and you know the issues are yours to own, what will it take for you to seek healing for those sexual struggles?  Baby steps count.  Do something, because doing nothing may feel like it’s keeping stress at bay, but it’s more likely just masking the stress.

And if you are in the camp of feeling discouraged about sex in your marriage and tired of feeling rejected sexually by your spouse, I am sensitive to your pain as well.

If you haven’t already, get real with your spouse about what the lack of sexual intimacy is doing to you and to the marriage.  Express to your spouse that you want the two of you to do whatever it takes to work together toward better intimacy (sexual and otherwise).

If they have no interest in your request, then at least you know you did your part in trying to address and heal the matter.  And if they do show interest? Well praise God for wake up calls that help us make our marriages stronger!

All things considered, does sex increase or decrease your stress?

I’m humbly asking you to give that question more than a mere passing glance.  Sit down with it for awhile.  Let it comfort you — or make you uncomfortable.  Marriage begs us to unpack that question with our whole heart.

Will you?


About the author 

Julie Sibert

Julie Sibert writes and speaks about sexual intimacy in marriage. You can follow her blog at She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband and their two boys. When she's not writing, she's probably drinking ridiculously overpriced coffee.

Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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  1. I met my husband – wonderfull, loving man – in high school. We’d been dating for over six years before we got married over a year ago. We did our best and pray and managed to stay pure untill the wedding. I’ve never thought we would have any problems with sex – after all it took a lot of our energy to stay off eachother for all this time. But we quickly discovered that 1) none of us knows what to do and 2) it’s far from being what we thought it will be. And now, 18 months later, it still is our major problem – despite all the reading and talking. We still try.

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