When Sexual Pain Causes Emotional Pain

This article is based on scientific evidence and clinical experience, written by a licensed professional and fact-checked by experts.

Posted: May 19, 2021

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

When Sexual Pain Causes Emotional Pain by Melissa Abello

You wait until marriage to have sex.  Everything about sex seems so natural and easy about it from the outside looking in, so you assume things will go smoothly on the honeymoon.  You have all this excitement about engaging with your spouse the first time but it hurts really bad.

You naturally assume that it was just because it was the first time and keep going.  Following that you keep trying and it keeps happening and maybe the pain is getting even worse.  You start to get worried, but assume it probably will get better, only to be met with it continued and worsening hurt.

You try different positions.  Read online.  Go to the doctor.  Nothing seems to help.  Your friends just tell you to relax because it will get better.  It still is not getting better.

When Sex Hurts

As a husband you start feeling bad about asking your wife to have sex because you do not want to hurt her, so you wait until your desire gets so intense you cannot handle it anymore.  As a wife you start avoiding touching or kissing or anything that would let on to you wanting to have sex.  You work yourself up to a place where you can endure the pain and initiate here and there because you want to be a good wife.  You grin and bear the pain during sex to perform your wifely duty.

As a husband you feel terrible because something inside you lets you know your wife really is not enjoying this, but this is your only chance so you take it.  Then you finish having sex and you are left with feelings of shame as a husband and feelings of brokenness as a wife about your body or maybe bitterness because you cannot understand why he would be okay with hurting you.  Rinse and repeat.  For some people until they stop engaging sex all together, get a divorce, or have sex only on those special occasions.

As I wrote the above paragraph my heart felt so heavy.  I have sat across from so many couples where this has been their experience and their story. So many couples who waited until their wedding night only to feel the one thing they held out for brought them so much pain.  It breaks my heart to see so many of God’s beloved children go through so much pain.  They love Him, they love each other, and they feel so stuck.

There is Hope in the Midst of Sexual Pain

If the above paragraph sounded like you or felt like what you have felt, I just want you to know how much I care about that and how much God cares about it.  I can imagine how hopeless you must feel and how much it must sting to feel something that is supposed to connect you yet drives you further apart.  I feel for the lost time and experiences you have not gotten to have together.  I also want you to know that there is hope.  There is a future for your sexual relationship, but sometimes before we start addressing the sex we need to start addressing our hearts.

How to Navigate the Emotional Pain from Sexual Pain


This topic has caused you so much heartache and grief.  It often times is to overwhelming to process.  Since it is one of those things that is hard to talk about with others and since we cannot tell our spouse we find ways to bury the feelings.  Maybe you work yourself out of feeling or maybe you drown your feelings in sleep or alcohol.  How ever you do it, what matters is that you start giving yourself some margin to get in touch with your pain.  Sit down with a notebook for 10 minutes and a feelings wheel that you can find on Google and start getting in touch with the words the resonate with your experience around sex.  Get in touch with the condition of your heart.


Our pain is too much to tolerate on our own, so we need others to come in and feel it with us.  If you have a trusted other in your life invite them in to hear how hard this has been for you. Ask them to listen and not fix.  Let them be with you there.  If you do not have someone in your life you trust, consider going to a Christian sex therapist who has walked through this pain with others.  Let them grieve or mourn with you around these pains.  The Bible does say when we let ourselves mourn (which is a group activity) we will be comforted.  If you are not ready for any of that consider sharing that pain with God first.  Telling Him how hard this has been for you.


Your spouse hurts emotionally in different ways.  If you feel safe enough, share with them how hard this has been.  Even if you cannot fix the physical pain right now, sometimes aligning with one another around the emotional pain can make it feel like you are walking together through this verses walking separate paths on this sexual healing journey.  When you share, it is important not share what they have done, but how this experience has been painful for you.  Consider using phrases like: I have felt…. I have wanted….I have wished….. Stay away from phrases like YOU did this…. or when YOU… When we talk about the person it takes the focus off our our hearts and onto their behavior, which makes it hard to feel known.


You need a professional to help you navigate the physical and emotional pain.  There are trained therapists out there like me who know how to be helpful to couples like you who are hurting both physically and emotionally.  Their goal will be to heal the distress you have felt relationally and help you to find ways to enjoy one another sexually.

Consider reaching in to your heart, reaching up to the Lord, and reaching out to others.  I know that with His help and with help from others you can get to a different place.

If you want feel free to reach out to me and set up an appointment I would be happy to help.

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This article is based on scientific evidence and clinical experience, written by a licensed professional and fact-checked by experts.

About the Author
Melissa Abello
Melissa Abello

Melissa Abello MA, LPC, has a Masters in Counseling. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), holding her license in Missouri.

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