Sexual Temptation After Marriage

 originally published on

Recently, one of my friends made a presumption:

“When you get married, all this temptation gets easier, right?”

I remember thinking that way before I got married.  I remember thinking that suddenly all these lusts and desires would disappear and the world would be a wonderland, free of sexual temptation.  I responded to my friend in the most truthful manner I could:

“No.  It changes, but it doesn’t get easier.  It gets harder.”

It’s amazing how temptation finds its way through so many cracks and slivers of life.  Sexual temptation doesn’t simply go away once you’re married.  To think so would be naïve, and run the risk of exposing yourself to self-denial about the things going on around you.

When I got engaged I had to stop chatting with friends I’d known for years because the moment I was “off the market” they wanted me to know that they had wanted to be the one to be with me.  I have friends who, once married, discovered something their sexual identity and decided that monogamy wasn’t for them.  I know of relationship after relationship where something happens, someone withholds love from their spouse, and suddenly there is deceit and pain and someone has been unfaithful.

In a marriage, nothing is just about “you” anymore.  It’s about you and your spouse.  So even if you don’t think you were tempted… your wife might think your eyes glanced at someone to long.  Your wife may think she’s just talking to the girls, but you might think that she swoons a little too much over that actor on the screen.  These temptations might seem like little things, but they can quickly become memories that turn into your spouse thinking they see a pattern of behavior; and suddenly, just the temptations are becoming a sore point in the relationship.

Temptations change in scope, as well.  When I was single, we were always trying to see how “far” we could get instead of how holy we could be with a girl.  But now that I’m married, going “far” isn’t even the temptation… the temptation is to even start down that path of thinking how “far” is ok.

Most people would never think of hugging a girl as a sin.  Once you’re married, though, the moment that hug becomes anything more than a brotherly or sisterly hug a flood of thoughts and temptations can come into the mind of the friend, the hugger or the spouse watching from across the Church floor.  Why was the hug that long?  Why did that hand linger?  Why haven’t I gotten a hug like that lately?  Why did she hug me like that – is their marriage ok?

The temptation no longer has to be how “far” you can get sexually, once married.  The temptation can become to even think about testing those boundaries.

And, of course, temptation comes in the structure of marriage itself.  You are no longer dealing with just your own needs, but a spouse’s needs.  There are self-imposed issues of questioning whether you’re meeting your spouse’s needs.  If life is busy and there isn’t time for the necessary intimacy, then the temptation is there to just do a duty and not be engaging in relationship.

We live in a world that models sexuality instead of intimacy.  I think marriages across our nation are begging for models of intimacy.  I’ve seen enough random hook-ups and mornings after in the movies and on TV to last a lifetime of memories.  I struggle to think about media that models sexual intimacy instead of just sex.

These thoughts are just the tip of the iceberg of how temptation changes in marriage.  Probably books could be written (have been written?) on the subject.  I remember when I was in high school (and, yes, even some of college) wanting to get married just so I could be done with all those sexual temptations.  I remember my first few months of marriage thinking no sexual temptation was going to be coming my way; that part of my life was all taken care, I thought.

It’s not always easy.  So my single brothers and sisters – pray for your married friends that they can be aware of the temptations around them.  Be aware that in the wrong situation, on the wrong day and with the wrong slight of hand, you might be that tempter.  My married brothers and sisters - don’t forget the temptations that so strongly affected you back “in the day.” Help your single friends know that sexual intimacy in a marriage is a treasure and worth waiting – and fighting daily – for.  Remember that just because you’re married, your single brothers and sisters don’t suddenly stop finding you attractive.  That, even married, you might be a temptation to someone else.

So; let’s discuss.  What are the models of sexual intimacy out there?  What are the new temptations we struggle with when married?  What are the thoughts of you single-folk when you see a married couple in love?  In struggle?