“When things change, make sure those changes are a part of the plan.—Anonymous

going to have sex

Out of the 6 Pillars of Intimacy®, one pillar stands out for often having expectations: sexual intimacy. When the expectation for sex goes unmet, what do you do? 

You may feel confused when it happens. You might think, “I thought we were going to have sex.” Ultimately, the actions you take—or don’t take—when sex doesn’t happen will affect all 6 Pillars of Intimacy® in your marriage.

Not having sex when you thought you would is like a massive elephant in the room. Typically, couples do one of two things when the elephant appears. They either address the situation and keep communication lines open or ignore it and hope it disappears. Of course, it never goes away on its own.

Ignoring unmet expectations won’t lead to a stronger marriage, yet 47% of you said that when sexual intimacy doesn’t go as planned, you ignore it. 

Sweeping unmet expectations under the rug can cause cracks to form in your marriage. And it goes beyond sexual intimacy. 

Chances are high that while you had expectations of sexual intimacy, you also had expectations for physical and emotional intimacy. You may have been looking forward to your spouse’s tender touches and flirtatious words, so the lost opportunity altered at least three pillars at once.

Unmet expectations are the breeding ground for frustration, bitterness, and resentment. It’s not just big things that cause this. Even little things, like sex not happening when you thought it would, can lead to cracks. And when one pillar develops a crack, it can weaken the others. That’s why taking action is so important.

There are three key components for addressing a situation with unmet expectations:

  • Acknowledge the situation and the feelings associated
  • Exercise self-control over the responses
  • Make and execute a plan

Both spouses can initiate the conversation. It’s important to take accountability, avoid making excuses, and not get defensive. As you have this conversation with your spouse, look for ways to restore your emotional intimacy. 

Be proactive about discussing the issue. It’s easy for your imagination to run when things turn out differently than you imagined. Talking with your spouse about the situation can help you both avoid creating your own false narratives. 

If you’re having trouble discussing the problem with your spouse, consider tapping into resources.

The Emotion Wheel is one resource that can help you explain how you feel when the sex you expect doesn’t happen. When you can describe your emotions, you minimize defensiveness and deepen your relationship.

Another resource is marriage coaching. If the phrase “I thought we were going to have sex” keeps coming up, there could be other issues you need personal help to address. You don’t have to be stuck in a cycle of resentment or frustration. Consider whether the action you need to take is to apply for marriage coaching.

There may be seasons in your life where sexual intimacy falls into place with ease and other times where your intimacy lifestyle needs tweaks and adjustments. Each season of life will look different. What’s most important is figuring out what works best for your marriage in the current season.  

Every spouse wants a strong Sexual Intimacy Pillar, so start by looking for the elephant in the room. What are you not addressing, and how can you change that? An open and honest conversation is often the first step in repairing cracks and pursuing the extraordinary marriage you desire. 


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