What’s Okay? Setting Sexual Boundaries

What’s okay in a Christian marriage? Here at Get Your Marriage On! we get lots of questions in this same vein, such as…

  • My husband used to watch porn and wants to use some things he learned.
  • My wife wants to role play as other people.
  • My spouse wants to try BDSM.
  • Is sexting okay?

The problem here is that the wrong person is being asked. There are very few sexual experiences that are objectively wrong or right. It’s a topic that is mostly determined by personal preference and what you feel comfortable with. Therefore, we at Get Your Marriage On! can’t answer these questions for you. This should be a conversation between you and your spouse about what you think will add to your sex life and what might cheapen or lessen the exprience.

That being said, it can be really hard for couples to decide for themselves what’s okay for them. It sometimes feels easier to just ask a counselor or other trusted source; however these people cannot tell you what is “okay” given your specific experience. To make the decision a little easier, I’ve compiled a few things to consider when asking what’s okay, and what isn’t.

Let’s walk through a few thought experiments that can help you decide what’s okay and what is not in your marriage. 

Would you rather listen? Try out our podcast episode with Daniel Burgess on What’s Okay!

What is the Purpose of Sex?

Here is the first question to ask yourself. What is the purpose of intercourse in this marriage? I believe the primary purpose of sex in a marriage relationship is to build connection and intimacy between spouses. Sex creates a physical, spiritual, and emotional bond between two people. When focused on that purpose, sex is not governed by a hard set of yes’s or no’s. Instead, sex is governed by the relationship and connection you have with your spouse. Sex is about giving love. It’s a reflection of your relationship.

For example, if you and your spouse want to have fun and be silly, that’s the type of sexual experience to aim for! If you are feeling more soft and snuggly, then that’s what’s right for that particular experience. If you’re feeling incredibly sensual, then maybe that’s your cue to try something a little more adventurous. Focusing on the purpose of the sexual experience (bringing you closer to your spouse) will make a lot of these “what is okay” decisions come more readily.

Where is the “Bad Feeling” Coming From?

If you have a question about whether a sexual experience is okay or not, you must have some reason to doubt that it is. Take a second and think about what it is that’s making you uncomfortable. 

Sometimes our doubts come from an outside source. Maybe you heard somewhere that that thing is wrong or sinful. Maybe you’ve heard about other people doing it, and you feel behind the curve. If this is where your hesitance is coming from, remember that your sexual relationship is exclusively between you and your spouse. Remind yourself that others’ opinions don’t matter in your bedroom. The great thing about sex is, if you don’t tell anyone else, they’ll never know what private things you do or don’t do in your bedroom (or wherever you do the deed). 

If you are feeling hesitant because you feel like you don’t know enough about this a sexual act or idea, learn more about it from a trusted source. For example, you could try using the Intimately Us app! We have Learn articles that go through the specifics of a lot of techniques and fun sexy ideas! (They’re all free!)

However, if you are hesitant because this sexual idea crosses one of your personal boundaries that is completely understandable! Sex is meant to connect you to your spouse. If this idea feels uncomfortable, disconnecting, or wrong then that’s okay! You shouldn’t ever feel pressured into doing something you don’t want to do.

Picture doing this thing with your spouse. How this picture make you feel? If you think it would feel good or pleasurable, then odds are it’s okay to do!

Boundaries and Limits

Take a minute to think about your sexual boundaries. A boundary, in this context, is a limit you’ve set for yourself. It marks the line for you between what you think could be a good experience and what definitely won’t be. Boundaries in a sexual relationship could be, “I don’t want to ever involve outside people” or “I don’t want to even pretend to hurt each other.” I know a wife who has asked that no matter what the roleplay, her husband still calls her by her name. For her, this is a reminder that he is still aware of who she is and only wants to love her. For others, this rule may seem silly or even more embarrassing. 

Sit down and think about your sexual self. What things stand out as being “off the table”? Imagine your sex life as a living thing. Your boundaries are the shelter you build to keep that sex life alive and healthy. Just like a fence can help a pet have room to explore without the danger of getting lost, boundaries actually give you more space to grow sexually because you already know where the line is. 

If your still unsure about the what and how of boundaries, sign up for a coaching call to talk about it with a trusted source.

The Source

Often, our hesitiance to try a sexual exprience has less to do with the experience and more to do with where the idea came from.  If your spouse is the one asking for a particular sexual experience, they are making a bid for affection. Some spouses (women in particular) worry about things their partner asks for because they question the source. 

For example, a wife may be hesitant to try something her husband learned about from pornography. In this instance, think about it this way. Your spouse is asking YOU to try something with HIM. He’s not asking anyone else. He’s claiming his desires and sharing with you what he finds erotic. Chances are he’d still be interested in doing whatever it is he wants to try with you if he’d never watched porn but got the idea from elsewhere because it’s an idea he finds appealing and exciting. Suppose he had never viewed pornography in the past but still wanted to try that new something. Would that change the way you perceive his request for sexual novelty? Why is that? What is it about knowing he has a past of viewing pornography that’s affecting the way you think about yourself? 

If what your spouse is asking is clearly outside of your boundaries, regardless of where they got the idea, you can discuss your discomfort and express your boundaries. But if this thing they’ve suggested is something you might consider outside of the source, know that sexual ideas can come from anywhere. The important thing is that they came to you with this idea, and wants to use it to build intimacy with you. Think about your spouse. Consider why they may have suggested this idea and if you can’t figure it out, ask them! If this thing in particular is not outside your boundaries, consider what it would mean to your spouse for you to give this to them.


Whatever the situation, here’s the process to try and find your answer to what is okay and what isn’t in YOUR marriage. 

  1. Remember the purpose of sex.
  2. Examine where your hesitance is coming from.
  3. Make sure this thing isn’t outside your boundaries.
  4. Consider the context and your spouse. Does this thing have the potential to bring you two closer together?

It can be hard trying to find the balance between being a faithful Christian and wanting to have an exciting and fun sex life! Use these tips as a guide to figure out what’s okay for you and your spouse. If you want more ideas of things to try, download our app for fun date nights, sexual experiences, and other ways to build intimacy.

Written by Amanda Severson, with help from Dan Purcell, at Get Your Marriage On!

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<h3>Amanda Severson</h3>

Amanda Severson

Hi, I'm Amanda! I'm a grad student on her way to becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist. I'm a wife and a sex enthusiast. I am a psychology nerd whose life goal is to help every couple find the absolute joy of sharing your life with someone else.

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