This is the third post in a three-part series by Greg Oliver. Make sure to read parts 1 and 2 first.
For Both Partners:
A fast allows a couple to discover deeper and more challenging ways to experience intimacy. Too often couples hear the word “intimacy” and thoughts automatically gravitate toward sexuality. This misunderstanding of what constitutes intimacy often springs from a lifetime of unhealthy and self-centered approaches to relationships. What results is a couple who uses sex to achieve intimacy, rather than seeing it as a beautiful expression of the intimacy that already exists. When a couple abstains from sexual activity, they have an opportunity to find new and meaningful ways to express love, to go deeper in their communication, and even to weather conflict in a healthier way that doesn’t use sex to make everything appear fixed.
What to do during the fast:
When sex is not an option, couples will often experience a multitude of feelings ranging from bliss (often from the wife who finally feels less pressure) to irritability (usually from the husband who has always believed he cannot live without sex). But through the length of the fast-whether it is 30, 60, 90 days, or even longer-there are many things that the couple can experience together that can help to deepen their relationship, including…
Making sure to talk about how you’re feeling is important for both spouses. Men and women need to be able to be honest and transparent about how they’re feeling. As days go by and the lack of sex brings intense emotions to the surface, it’s important to talk about it so that this is not a wasted experience.
Practicing non-sexual touch:
For men, learning to touch and not grope their wives is important. For women, learning to accept touch without questioning motive is important.
So few couples actually pray about their sex life. But God created us to be sexual, and in a healthy way, so it makes sense that couples should invite Him into their struggles and experiences. Praying for openness to what God has to teach during the fast, and for deeper connection through every aspect of the relationship are good places to start.
For couples considering a sexual fast for whatever reason, it’s to be expected that it may be a rocky path. No one makes it through this experience without struggling with anger, fear, frustration, or a range of other emotions. It is an exercise in trust, where a husband and wife choose to believe that God has gifts to offer that are worth more than sex, and that, through experiencing them, their sexuality with one another can ultimately be better and more fulfilling than they ever imagined.