“A sense of duty is useful in work but not in personal relations. People wish to be liked not endured with patient resignation.—Anonymous

duty sex

Sexual intimacy is vital for a healthy marriage. But what happens when sex feels like an obligation or duty? What can you do when an enjoyable sexual connection is replaced with feelings of dread or resentment?

Duty sex is problematic for a marriage.

It makes the closeness and vulnerability of sexual intimacy become transactional. The initiating spouse may feel like they are being “endured with patient resignation,” like the quote above. And the spouse responding out of a sense of duty may build resentment for meeting the needs of their spouse without getting anything out of it themselves.

Duty sex is not good for either spouse. Rather than bringing us together, it divides us.

And it can happen for many reasons:

  • Busy seasons of life
  • Differences in desires
  • Painful sex
  • Fatigue
  • Broken trust
  • Feeling disconnected

These things can make sex feel like an item on a to-do list or a favor one spouse needs to do for the other. It doesn’t “just happen.” And it’s not something you can easily sweep under the rug. Both spouses can recognize when duty sex is happening.

So how can you overcome this?

It’s important to acknowledge that duty sex is generally a symptom of a bigger disconnect. Whether it happens occasionally or all the time, duty sex can show cracks in another pillar of intimacy.

There could be cracks in your emotional intimacy, physical intimacy, or any other of the 6 Pillars of Intimacy®. After you’ve identified the root of the issue, you can take action and begin healing.

A simple evaluation of your 6 Pillars of Intimacy® may help you identify what cracks make sex feel like a duty or obligation rather than a fun, meaningful act of connection.

For example, if cracks in your emotional intimacy are leading to duty sex, get to know your spouse again. Have intentional conversations. Prioritize connecting emotionally.

If trust has been broken, ask yourself what you must do to repair that hurt. Apply for marriage coaching to receive personal help in your healing journey.

In busy seasons of life, be creative with sexual intimacy. If you find that you feel obligated to have sex at night despite being exhausted from the day, schedule sex in the morning or afternoon so you can focus on connecting sexually with your spouse.

Duty sex means there are cracks in your 6 Pillars of Intimacy® that you need to address.

If duty sex has become overly familiar in your marriage, it’s time to have a conversation with your spouse about what a healthy, mutually satisfying sex life would look like. Discuss the key components for both of you. And decide what you need to do to make that happen.


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