Those of you who have never been divorced just said to yourselves, “Ew, why would anyone want to do that?!”
I know, it sounds atrocious. But there are justifications we women make in our heads.
Things like, I’m lonely. (Ending a marriage is a very, very lonely thing.)
Or, I miss him.
Or, I still love him.
Or, I have needs.
Or, maybe it’ll make him want to get back together with me.
I heard from a reader a while back who told me that she and her ex-husband had sex right after they went to court to get their divorce. She said that she thought it would bring closure. It, unsurprisingly, did the opposite. It hurt her deeply. Why? Because sex was created to bind two people together, not help them say goodbye.
So, can you have sex with your ex-husband?
In a word, no.
One, because once you are divorced, you two are no longer married, which means you would be fornicating.
But two, if you want to hi-jack and dismantle all the grieving and healing work you’ve done up to this point, by all means, go sleep with your ex. But if you want to continue to move forward into healing with your head held high, refrain. Do not let a few moments of passion undo all the hard work you’ve done. It is not worth it. It will send you reeling and send you back months and months healing-wise.
But I want to tackle an off-shoot of this question.
Can I have sex with my estranged husband? (Meaning, can you and your husband be having sex while separated?)
In my opinion, no.
But why not? We’re still married, you might be screaming at me right now.
For the above reason that you will undo your healing, but also for this.
Sex is such an intimate thing. As a woman, think about how you feel – emotionally – during and after you’ve had sex. Something happens in those moments that makes you feel closer to your partner. Oxytocin is released through a woman’s body during sex that leads her to feel affection, bonding, caring, love, peace, nurturing, security, and attachment. In other words, it can potentially mask what is really going on in the actual relationship, which can be quite dangerous.
And it can be dangerous for this reason: whether you are separated and on your way to divorce or separated and attempting to reconcile, your thinking needs to be clear to see your reality for what it is.
If you are separated because your husband is an addict or is abusive, and if your feelings have been rebuilding for him because he appears to be trying, if you have sex before healing and change have taken more deep and lasting roots, you could be short-circuiting the process. In the cycle of abuse, they talk about a honeymoon stage, where things seem calm and good between the partners. But a good deal of the time, what ends the honeymoon stage is when the woman acquiesces to sex, because that signals to the man that he has won her over again (even if blindly, even if through manipulation and lies). And after sex has taken place, the cycle changes into complacency and can ramp up to another incident.
Listen, I get how difficult it is to go from being able to have sex whenever to not being able to have sex at all.
But if you want to walk out your therapeutic reconciliation attempt with dignity or if you want to walk out of your marriage in wholeness, DO NOT HAVE SEX WITH YOUR SOON-TO-BE- OR EX-HUSBAND. You must protect your heart.
Above everything else guard your heart, because from it flow the springs of life. –Proverbs 4:23
If this post resonated with you, you’d benefit from working with me and from reading Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage.
Oh wow!! This is something that a LOT of folks struggle with – at least in the Divorce Care group I am co-leading. I have to say much the same thing to them as you have just said here. It is SO NOT A GOOD IDEA! Thanks for speaking truth!!!
This is so true.
My husband left me for a couple of months and when he showed me a little change, I had sex with him. Sad to say, it took him less than 3 months to go back to being the man he used to be.
Today, we’re back to the same situation and I’ve learnt the hard way that sex does cloud the process of working through issues.
My position now is one of unshakable indifference. I can no longer afford to allow my emotions get drawn into my decisions.
I hope women will learn from this your post.
Wow, can’t imagine EVER wanting to have sex with my ex. Ew is right.
Excellent . . . . Sharing on Give Her Wings. Thank you.
Beth, this is an excellent advice! Thanks so much!
Can’t. Even. Imagine. EW.
I agree with you…..now. I read this blog post right when you posted it, and I went ew, definitely not going to have sex with the ex! And then….I did. It sent me into a whirlwind of emotional upset and regret. I wish more than anything that I had made a different choice, because unfortunately I could be pregnant now. I am late, I think. And my heart breaks again…
Praying for you Suzy…
I ended up being a week ‘late’ and no worries now. I was so thankful for that. We are now legally divorced and so I will not participate in fornication. I have every intention of remaining celibate until I marry again.