Reader Question: My Husband Wakes me Up for Sex

by | Oct 21, 2019 | Abuse, Libido | 63 comments

When Your Husband Treats You Like a Sex Object: Why it's okay to say no if he's waking you up for sex all the time--and how to create a better sexual dynamic in your marriage.
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Every Monday I like to post a Reader Question and take a stab at it. Here’s a difficult situation, where a woman asks, “my husband wakes me up for sex. Is that really reasonable?”

Reader Question of the Week: My Husband Wakes Me Up for Sex--and I feel like a sex object.

Reader Question

I may be being a bit selfish here, so I need to ask your opinion. We just had another baby a few weeks ago. Now there will be times when I initiate and my husband says no, which I am okay with. But then he will want to a few minutes later. Now this doesn’t seem like it should be an issue, but for example, today I had to go to work and knew I would be leaving in a half an hour. I offered for us to have a quickie before I had to go. He said he was okay. Then right before I had to leave, he asked if we could go in the bedroom. I got frustrated but didn’t want to deny him which of course killed the mood for him and he got frustrated.

Also our baby isn’t sleeping through the night yet. When we go to bed I am normally pretty tired already, I initiate and he normally wants to, but there are nights where he doesn’t…when I initiate, then as soon as I fall asleep, he wakes me up and says he is horny (or he will wake me up early in the morning around 5. I am a sound sleeper so I normally sleep through it and he’ll make comments about how I didn’t wake up to have sex).

I don’t want to deny, but it is so frustrating and I feel like he isn’t being at those times considerate. How can I communicate this to him in a loving way? Or am I being in-considerate? Any tips or help?

Let’s paint this picture a little more: They have a newborn. She offers him sex frequently, and he sometimes says no. Then he’ll come back and ask for sex at a really inconvenient time, and get annoyed when she doesn’t wake up.

Wow, there are a lot of issues here which make me a little uncomfortable, so let’s start with some fundamentals.

My Husband Wakes Me Up for Sex: What to do when your husband treats you like a sex object

First Principles About Sex in Marriage that Apply if Your Husband Wakes You up for Sex

Consent is Still Necessary in Marriage

To have sex without someone’s consent is rape. To have sex in marriage without someone’s consent is ALSO rape–it’s called marital rape, and it’s real.

Now, some couples don’t mind being woken up for sex, and it’s part of their fun sex life, and that’s fine. That’s giving consent ahead of time, and that’s a-okay.

But if you have said, “I don’t like this, and I don’t want this,” and then someone does it anyway, that is having sex against your will and without your consent, and it does count as rape.

 If you do not want this to happen, tell him clearly. Say to him, “I am not consenting to having sex in the middle of the night, and  you need to stop.” If he refuses, please call an abuse hotline.

A few other things:

Sex Should Be Mutual

Sex isn’t just about using each other for your own pleasure. Sex is about sharing something together. It isn’t just physical; it’s also emotional and spiritual as well. That doesn’t mean that every time you have sex that the earth has to move for both of you, but it is about sharing something together, not using someone. There’s one part of the letter which could be taken in two ways; I’m not sure if she’s saying she sleeps through the times he ASKS her for sex, or if she’s saying she sleeps through sex. If he is having sex with her while she is asleep, that concerns me greatly. There is no consent going on, and there is absolutely no mutuality.

I’ve written more about how sex should be mutual and how godly sex is mutual sex.

To Say “Not Now” is Not the Same as To Refuse or Deny

We aren’t to deny our spouses (I’ve written a three-part series on what that means as well). But it is not denying to say no to sex when you’re late for work, especially if you had given him the opportunity thirty minutes earlier. We are not obligated to act as if we’re at our husband’s beck and call sexually, with no regard to our feelings or our needs. Again, sex should be mutual.

Respect Should Be the Cornerstone of any Relationship–and waking you up for sex without your consent is not respectful.

What does respect mean? It means that you value the person as a person. You don’t view your spouse simply through the lens of what they can do for you; you hold them in high esteem based on who they are. If a spouse is asking for sex while you’re passed out cold because you’re exhausted with a newborn, and then getting cranky about that, or demanding sex right before you have to leave, that does not show respect. You are not required to give your husband sexual favours when you are out of commission yourself.

Sure, playing “beat the clock” when you’re both into it and it’s something you’re laughing about together is one thing. Having someone consistently ask for sex at the worst possible times, even when they know it’s a bad time, is something else entirely.

Self-Control is a Christian Virtue and a Fruit of the Spirit

Asking someone to wait twelve hours until you can both enjoy it and both be there mentally and physically is not unreasonable. Again, you’re not saying “no”. You’re saying “not now, but soon.”

Sex Should Never Be Used a Power-Ploy

The fact that he’s refusing sex when she’s offering, and then demanding it when it’s inconvenient, is a huge red flag to me. What it signals to me is that he only wants sex when it’s a way that he can exert power over her and make her feel uncomfortable. That makes me worry that he’s got an underlying personality disorder, like narcissism, or that he’s extremely insecure and  needs to exert power to feel good about himself. Either way, it’s not healthy.

Women can also use sex as a power-ploy, by denying their husbands sex time and time again until the husband is run down or humiliated, or until the husband does or says what the wife wants him to. When either spouse uses sex to try to control the other’s behaviour or to exert power over the other, that is actually abusive.

Those are some foundational principles. Now, with that background, what would I say to this woman?

God made sex to be AWESOME!

It’s supposed to be great physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Feel like something’s missing?

Create a Relationship that is Mutual and Respectful

It seems to me that there’s a really unhealthy dynamic being set up in this marriage. They both seem to have this idea that when he wants sex, she should not say no to sex, even if it’s inconvenient. He’s come to expect that, and he expresses displeasure if she says no (even though he often says no to her). This makes her into a sexual object, not a person.

I love this quote from Leslie Vernick: 

Great quote from Leslie Vernick--you should not be used in your marriage.


Ladies, I talk so much on this blog about how we need to initiate more, and how we should be having sex frequently, both for him, but also for ourselves. I talk about how men need sex. But I absolutely do not believe that this means that you should let yourself become an object to him. That isn’t glorifying to God or helpful to your husband or your kids.

What does God want? He wants each of us to resemble Jesus more and more. According to Romans 8:29, it’s His will that we should be transformed into the likeness of Jesus. We should be looking more and more like Him.

If you are allowing your husband to treat you with disrespect, you are encouraging him to look less like Jesus.

You are setting up a dynamic in your marriage where your feelings and your needs are considered unimportant. Do that for long enough, and it will be easy for your husband to overlook you as a person, and see you only in terms of what you can do for him. And that is not a healthy dynamic for the kids to witness.

You can’t DEMAND respect, but you can COMMAND it.

Why do some husbands treat wives horribly? Obviously the main reason is a flaw in the husband’s character. But the reason that this behaviour continues is that the wife tolerates it, and has not set up boundaries. It sounds like this couple has set up a dynamic where he thinks he can get whatever he wants whenever, without thinking about her at all. And the reason that he thinks that is that she has not taken action when he has treated her badly. Becoming a sexual object for your husband does not point either of you in the direction of Christ.

Now, if saying no to your husband would result in you being hurt, please, please, please call the police or a domestic abuse hotline. But otherwise, it’s okay to set some clear boundaries.

So how would I handle this? I would begin by starting to be very forthright. This woman hasn’t been happy with the way things are, but she also hasn’t said very much about it. He has expressed his displeasure; she doesn’t mention expressing hers. In fact, the whole tone of her letter (and I edited some out) seemed to be, “do I have a right to feel a little bit upset, and to ask him not to do this?”

Let’s practice this. It’s 10 p.m., and you’re heading to bed because you know the baby will need to eat in a few hours and you need to get some sleep. So you say to your husband,

“I’m going upstairs now. If you want to come, I’d love it, because I’d love to have some fun with you tonight. But I really need sleep, so it’s now or never, baby!”

You can say it in a fun way, but be very clear: you will not be making love in the middle of the night because you need to sleep.
If you’re willing to have a “quickie” during the day, and you offer and he says no, that’s fine. But then if he comes back half an hour later, at a time that is really inconvenient, you simply say,

“I’m sorry, babe, but you missed your chance! I’ll try to find some time tomorrow.”

Start saying this enough, and he’ll start taking you seriously when you initiate, realizing that it’s now or never.

Will he be upset? Perhaps. That’s okay. He’s allowed to have his feelings, after all. But you’re allowed to have yours, too, and you can talk about it, and just say,

“I want to have a great sex life, and you are an amazing lover. But there are other things I need to get done, too, and I need my sleep. So let’s look at how we can find times to make love where it’s for both of us, not just for you, and where I can still get the sleep that I need.”

If he continues to be upset, then you need to let him have space to have his feelings (and you may need to get outside help as well). But it is not okay to set up a dynamic where you become an object, rather than a human being with real needs.

Finally, to reiterate: I do believe that both spouses’ needs are important. So don’t take any of this advice to mean, “Great! It’s okay to say no every single time I’m tired!”, especially if you’re tired every night. I’m just saying that in the context of a marriage where there is regular, frequent sex, let’s make sure that we’ve got lots of respect going on, and that sex is totally a mutual thing.

And seriously–if he continues to have sex with you while you’re asleep when  you have told him no, that is not safe, that is wrong, and it needs to be dealt with. Call an abuse hotline; see a licensed counselor for help; or even call the authorities. This isn’t right, and he needs to understand that he is breaking the law and that you are not an object.

I’d love your thoughts now, too! What do you think about a husband who wakes you up for sex frequently? How do you handle that? Let me know in the comments!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Jane Eyre

    It strikes me as really passive aggressive.

    I once dated someone who would pick fights with me the night before every organic chemistry test. He enjoyed the fact that it put me in a terrible position. One of my friends divorced a guy who would “need” to get into fights, have sex long into the night, etc., before her big law firm interviews.

    Spassuming this guy isn’t that bad of a person, I would ask him what’s up. Does he understand how it feels when she’s dead asleep or in her work clothes? Is there a reason he’s doing this – is there some miscommunication? Would he like more of a heads-up because it takes him some time to warm up to the idea of sex?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, isn’t that just bizarre? The lengths that people will go to to feed off of the control they can get over other people. That’s so sad!

      • Geraldine De'Borah

        Very insightful article. I agree with you SWG. I feel sometimes that women are afraid to have what we call a “normal conversation” with a man, because their reactions can be what we think as females to be “inappropriate”. Sometimes we just want to be able to day what we need to without a man being completely defensive. I find that there’s a lack of understanding. Why is this? Ad Christian men, they should most certainly be all the more understanding. Sex should be an “anticipated journey” whereby your mind hasn’t forgotten how to make your person feel excited about sex… so where did it go wrong? Why has that stopped? COMMUNICATION is key but people hate having decent and respectful conversation these days. It almost always turns into an argument… and like you said… it could be an underlying issue.

      • Pamela Chika

        Good day. I am 35years old and a mother of 4 kids and my last baby is a year and 8 month. Some nights my baby doesn’t sleep well while some nights he does. My husband usually comes for sex in the mid night and I have always told him that it’s Never a convenient time for me because I am not a deep sleeper and also hypertensive. I have told him that the moment he wakes me up at odd times I can’t go back to sleep again and this affects my daily productivity but he has refused to listen.

        He came this night at about 1am for same sex call and I reminded him that I am not a deep sleeper and do not like being woken up in the midnight for sex. He rather threatened me that if he leave my room he will never have sex with me ever again. He almost pulled down my mosquito net, aggressively opened my door and left it slammed open and walked into his room, slammed his door and locked the room even though he knew I will come to use the convenience later.

        our marriage has always been on threats and rock. He is 25years older than me and sees my thoughts as invalid. I am really confused and also tired of feeling like an object for sex. Did I also forget to mention that through out the period he comes for midnight sex even when I disapprove,he takes it by force. No mutual sex or consent. Before I go to bed I come to him for sex and all he says is am tired but he feels it ok to come wake me up at his pleasure. I really don’t know what to do about this cos he is not the type that listen to advise or read internet advice that could help one. PLEASE HELP ME GET THROUGH THIS HORROR.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Pamela, I’m sorry to be so blunt, but you are being raped and abused. This isn’t okay. I don’t know if you live in an area that has domestic violence shelters or if you have any other way of supporting yourself, but please reach out to women in your community and see if there is somewhere that you can go that is safe.

          I am so sorry you are going through this. Does your country have a domestic violence hotline? Perhaps you can call and ask what resources are available. I am so, so sorry.

    • Blessed Wife

      Passive-aggressive was the exact phrase that came to my mind, too!

      I’m kind of wondering…how does he feel about her working? Does he, for instance, prefer that she be staying home with the baby instead, and is he trying to sabotage her job outside the home by depriving her of sleep and trying to make her late for work, through something they both seem to feel she should not get mad at him about?

  2. Alex

    Great article as always Sheila,

    Some anecdotal evidence from our marriage might be interesting.

    1. Margo has maintained from day 1 of our 25yr marriage (well sometime early on anyways) that I am to NEVER wake her up for sex, nor am I to touch her when she is asleep.

    I respect her wishes and have never woken her up to ask for sex, or touched her when she’s sleeping.

    2. I’ve given Margo permission to do whatever she wants to me when I’m asleep. So a couple of times per year she will come into the bedroom aroused when I’m sleeping… wake me up and have her way with me, before rolling over and going to sleep. Sounds awful… but it’s fantastic 🙂

    3. Sometimes Margo will ask if I want to have sex just as we hop into bed at night. I’m dead tired, can think of nothing but sleep, and really don’t want to have sex at that point. I apologise that I don’t believe it will happen, given I can hardly keep my eyes open.

    Then on occasion… a short while later… I find I’m suddenly VERY aroused… and no longer sleeply. Now I have a conundrum.

    Is Margo still awake… hmmm… seems like it.
    Is she still interested in sexy time? Who knows, was she asking because she was aroused, or because she thought she should?
    Should I say I’m ready now, that’s seems unreasonable? She might get REALLY annoyed as she only asked me 5-10mins ago, and I said no.
    Or worse… she’s just dropped off to sleep, and I wake her up.

    All of which is to say, when a man says no to sex, then changes his mind a short while later, it’s not automatically some form of power play. Men sometimes need notice to become aroused and make things happen. Without any arousal, not much is going to happen for the man (or couple if the wife is wanting intercourse), particularly when he’s very tired at the end of the day. (Men’s testosterone levels peak in the morning, and are lowest at days end I believe.)

    Not to say this is the case in your readers story, just another perspective for couples to consider 🙂

    Thanks, Alex.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Alex, I think what you’re describing is very true and very common. It’s just that with some of the elements in this story, I’m not seeing that (the fact that he’ll have sex with her while she’s asleep; the fact that when they’re awake, he deliberately waits until the most inconvenient times and then sulks). I think in a healthy marriage, it works as you described!

  3. Lindsay

    Thanks, Sheila, for the article in general. One thing I caught that makes all this even more frustrating is that the writer writes she *just* had a baby… a few WEEKS ago. Not months, weeks. So probably three weeks post-birth. For heaven’s sake, a lot of women (most? all?) aren’t even medically cleared by then to have sex at all. And she says “another” baby, so she’s got a (probable) toddler or maybe even two or more. And she says she’s already back at work!

    That’s a LOT. I can’t imagine that the vast majority of women who have just given birth, have multiple other children, and are working are going to want to be woken up in the middle of the night. Frankly, I’d imagine most of us aren’t going to be having much sex, if any, at that point. She’s not a vending machine, and her husband is going to have to learn to not treat her like one. I hope she can learn how to see herself as more valuable than that too someday. Her needs and wants are just as important as his (and I’d argue in the post-birth stage, more important, as her body is dealing with so much).

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally agree, Lindsay! I think that all too many women grow up thinking that sex is something that they owe their husbands, and they see sex as a duty they have to perform. It has nothing to do with them or with how they feel; it has everything to do with a husband’s needs and desires (similar to how Emerson Eggerichs framed sex in Love & Respect). When you really don’t see yourself as having any say over your own body, or having any right to an opinion, it’s just so scary. That’s not marriage. That’s not intimacy. That’s really concubine status, and it’s not godly at all.

      • LL

        I actually looked up concubine a while ago, and found they basically have the duties of a wife without the benefits. It seems much Christian marriage teaching leans this way. I’m so glad someone said it!!

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          That actually would be a good idea for a post, maybe? Let me think about that.

          • Natalie

            Please Sheila! Do that point! “Are you more your husband’s wife or his concubine?” Just the title alone would be sure to ruffle a few feathers! 😉 lol

          • Natalie

            Please Sheila! Do that post! “Are you more your husband’s wife or his concubine?” Just the title alone would be sure to ruffle a few feathers! 😉 lol

      • Lindsay

        Amen to that. That would be a fascinating post.

  4. Nathan

    Before I found this site, another site (mainly dedicated to support for people whose spouses watch porn) had a woman post that she didn’t mind this at all, if it kept her husband from turning to porn.

    The answer to “is this wrong” is like most things in marriage. If both spouses are okay with it, then it’s great. If at least one spouse is NOT okay with it, then don’t do it. People should be able to tell their spouse if something is or is not okay, and we should also respect and love our spouses enough to stop doing something that they aren’t okay with

    • Natalie

      But how sad is that statement? That poor wife feels like her husband watching porn is because of her… like he’s not getting enough access to her body, and if he were, he wouldn’t feel the need to watch porn. That indirectly lays the blame of him watching porn at the wife’s feet, which is never the case! Wives may do things that causes their husbands to be at a weaker place when they encounter temptations, but it’s always his choice to watch porn / visit strip clubs / visit prostitutes, etc.

      • Nathan

        Oops. I may not have been clear enough. I meant that the waking up to have sex is okay if both spouses are okay with it.

        I did NOT mean that as far as watching porn. There is no excuse for this and watching it is always the fault and choice of the watcher.

        Sorry I didn’t specify that well enough. The whole reason I came to this site in the first place was that a friend asked me to help after his wife caught him watching porn sites,so I know how bad it is, and that the other spouse is NOT at fault for this,

      • Greg

        I don’t agree,If the wife refuses or doesn’t give him reasonable access then what’s he to do?

        • Anonymous

          Exercise self-control, masturbate, or divorce her if that’s his conscience. It does not give him the right to exploit other human bodies. That is always his choice and a reflection of his character.

        • Madeline

          Oh so if a husband is being distant or not affectionate, its okay for his wife to go have an emotional affair? No. Just no. Your sin doesn’t get to be excused like that. Jesus said its better to pluck out your own eyes before sinning.

          Secondly, a lot of porn is incredibly exploitative and fuels human trafficking. No excuse makes it okay to support that industry.

  5. Carrie

    I guess I’m in the minority. I love being woken in the middle of the night for sex. I’m completely relaxed and enjoy it a lot. Occasionally I’ll say that I’m too tired and my hubby will respect that and stop. That’s probably the main point. Years ago I said that at night-as long as I don’t say no, I’m good with it.

    • Eb

      I love it too!

    • Natalie

      Yes, but the point Carrie is that you & your husband discussed this already. My husband and I have as well, and we too have agreed that the other is allowed to wake the other up for a middle-of-the-night romp on occasion if the opportunity presents itself. In this scenario, that discussion has not taken place between the spouses and the husband is just taking taking taking from his wife. TOTALLY different scenario!!! One is flirtatious and sexy and fun and adding a little thrill to the sex life. The other disregards the wife’s feelings and bodily autonomy and is treating her more like a piece of meat than the loved, cherished, adored wife she should be in her husband’s eyes.

  6. CharitySolvesMostProblems

    I read through a bit of Lori’s original post(s). Certainly, I agree that if a husband is consciously having sex with his wife while she is asleep (unless they’ve talked about it and she’s ok with it), then there’s something wrong with that situation. On the flip side, though I can see some of Lori’s argument being Biblical. If the husband wasn’t fully awake, then maybe forgiveness on the wife’s part is ok to suggest as a first approach to the situation. I don’t agree with a lot of Lori’s mindset (I don’t think it’s actually very respectful to the husband to cater to his every whim – that’s treating him like a child, not an adult), but I think her more cautious approach to calling something marital rape could be a good initial reaction to a lot of situations. Let me know what you all think about this viewpoint; I’m curious!

    Definitely, though, the husband from this article – at least from what we know about the situation – isn’t loving his wife. His behavior absolutely seems like a childish power-play, not appropriate behavior for an adult man protecting and loving his wife’s heart and body.

  7. Crystal

    I thought I was the only one this happened too. My husband only wants sex when I’m asleep. He has very little interest during the day. Granted he isn’t a believer, so that may have something to do with it. I feel used. I am seeing a counselor about this and other issues, but this article helped me so much. I am going to talk to him and let him know it’s not ok. I wasn’t sure if it was ok, or if it would be considered denying, even though I get very little if any enjoyment out of the act. Thank you Sheila.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You’re so welcome, Crystal! And I would make sure that porn isn’t playing a part in this–like that he’s not watching porn, and then coming to bed aroused by the porn. Very, very bad.

      • Natalie

        Or worse yet, that he’s watching porn directly before bed that glorifies taking advantage of the woman!!! Very very troubling & also a genre that has been on the rise according to major porn websites over the last several years!

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          That’s honestly what it sounds like to me for a lot of these guys.

  8. Jenny

    For many years in my marriage, if it weren’t for him waking me in the middle of the night for sex, we wouldn’t have had sex at all. I always consented because he otherwise didn’t want sex so I felt that I better take a crappy quicky in the middle of the night because it was all could get. He rejected me when I would try to initiate and he refused to initiate at a normal and convenient time. Then one night I woke up to him trying to shove his penis in my mouth. I told him that was not to happen ever again. He sulked. Soon thereafter I told him no more middle of the night sex. So he started initiating (not very often) very late at night and I told him that if he couldn’t start sex before 10 pm when we both had the energy for more than a quicky, don’t bother. He would still reject me when I tried to initiate. No matter when sex happens, it’s a quicky– I blame this on his porn addiction. A year ago, I made him put Covenant Eyes on all of his devices after finding he was looking at porn for the 500th time. Ever since then, he has been in a pout. If I mention sex, his shoulders drop and he gives an angry sigh then gives me some excuse- too tired, too busy, didn’t we just have sex last week…. I quit attempting to initiate and he won’t try anymore either. I’ve been putting up with this crap along with other issues for 20 years. This article has brought me to the full realization that I have always been an “object” to him. I have suspected it for years, but now I know for sure.

      • Jenny


        I totally agree that the porn use is the problem. I have read all of your articles on porn use– I almost feel like an expert on the topic for as much reading as I have done. In short, I’ve done all I can do. He refuses to work on the issue at all. I’m planning my exit (there are other big issues as well). I do want to thank you for all of the information and support you give through your articles. You are a blessing!

    • Noel Lokaychuk

      Is the Lori Alexander of the blog the same Lori Alexander who wrote (sometimes odd) Christian women’s fiction? My grandmother sometimes passed those books on to me. They were conservative in certain areas- clothes, leadership, etc.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I don’t think so.

        • Noel Lokaychuk

          I just realized I had the wrong name. I was thinking of Lori Wick. Sorry!

    • Tu

      Sounds like what Dr Doug Weiss calls Intimacy Anorexia which many sex addicts have. They are afraid of true emotional intimacy, so they objectify people and use sex activities to relieve pain and avoid real intimacy. They know what they’re doing because it makes them feel powerful. They need help. It’s good to have Covenant Eyes, but the issue runs deeper than just trying to stop or being policed by their partner. They have an intimacy disorder from childhood. Notice how when the mate comes towards them, they back away. But, when the mate is retreating, they come near. It’s a sick power play. Get help.

  9. Natalie

    GREAT article!!! Ugh, I read the Transformed Wife’s post too… talk about giving your readers a spiritual guilt trip over something that you deem to be correct biblical theology, but also something that’s never stated in the Bible. How Christ-like. 🙄

    I’m a SAHM. I do all the cooking in my family. I cook three meals a day. None of my family members come to me at all hours of the day when I’m not cooking and say “hey, can you make me ____ right now?” They don’t do this because they know I’m not a short order chef. I’m their mother/wife. There’s a time and a place for everything, and my time is no less valuable than theirs.
    This is the exact same philosophy this reader needs to have towards sex. She is not withholding anything from her husband by SETTING UP SOME BOUNDARIES WITHIN HER MARRIAGE (so important, hence all caps). She is showing him through her actions that she knows her value and has self-worth!!! She is the daughter of the Living God, not some sex servant he just so happened to marry! It’s time she started standing up for herself, because no one will stand up for you if you can’t even do it yourself!

    • Natalie

      Also concerning future blog post ideas Sheila, I’d love to hear your thoughts on gender and leadership not only within the church but also within the family/marriage.
      I was skimming through Lori’s blog (something I rarely do) to see what other kind of content she creates and found this one:

      Honestly, while that whole post of hers just doesn’t sit well with me, I can’t find any specific fault in her premise. It states exactly what I’ve been taught in all the churches I’ve attended throughout my life, & I honestly don’t know if there’s a biblical case for women holding the same leadership positions as men. After all, the Bible does say the husband is over the wife… not that the wife should view her husband as her own personal Jesus (we all know that’s wrong), but that still, God placed him in a role above/over her.

      That whole topic is something I’ve been struggling with over the past several months. I want to be a godly wife, but I also know that mutuality in marriage and being a team is the overarching theme in the Bible concerning marriage. Your thoughts would be most valued.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Natalie, I’d just say that head doesn’t mean “above” in a leadership sense, as I said in this podcast. I think, when we’re interpreting Scripture, that it’s really important to look at what Paul and Jesus actually DID. We can’t interpret their words to be more restrictive than their actions were, and that’s what’s been done. I actually sketched out a mini-course on this and I’m thinking of doing it soon!

        • Natalie

          Yes! I’d for sure take that course! And I’ll take a listen to that podcast again. Thanks! 🙂

          • Becky Miller

            Marg Mowczko has a great website answering those questions.

  10. Arwen

    Great response Sheila. I agree i saw communication issues and respect issues in this situation. The power-play was a major red flag to me too. It shows utter disrespect when you have been given ample time and instead choose to inconvenience the other person. It shows he didn’t thoroughly think about the additional time it will cost her if they were to have sex 5 minutes before she left instead of the 30 minute she gave him. She probably has to clean herself, change outfit in case there is sperm on it (remember Monica Lewinsky), etc. these are things she can’t do 5 minutes before she leaves! The fact that he doesn’t care about that is truly red flag. And it can only be resolved if she brought this up to his attention through communication.

  11. Nathan


    Sheila has some good threads on this site about leadership issues.

    She says (and I agree) that God and the bible do NOT put one spouse over the other, with the possible exception of the husband being the spiritual leader of the household, kind of like the family pastor.

    The “wives submit to your husbands” phrase in the bible is part of a larger overall passage that indicates that wives and husbands should submit to each other. The passage says that husbands should love their wives and that wives should submit to their husbands, which sounds unbalanced. However, the word “love” in this case may mean “servant love”, which is another form of submission.

    I cannot believe, even for a minute, that God created one half of the human race (women) to eternally serve the other half (men).

  12. Greg

    After our first child I couldn’t touch my wife for six years. I found the birth too traumatic. Intimacy and desire disappeared from our relationship.

    • Anonymous

      Seek counseling. That is not a normal reaction.

    • Blessed Wife

      I’m confused…

      You couldn’t touch her for FIVE YEARS because you found watching her birth your child too traumatic….

      Or she’s depriving YOU, so you need porn?

  13. Bill Johnson

    As a man in a sexless marriage, going on 5 years now, I’d agree to about anything if I had a wife that EVER initiated sex. What’s this guy’s deal? (Assuming this story is even close to the truth…)

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I really think it’s a control/power issue, Bill.

      And I’m so sorry about your situation. So sorry. I’ll be writing a piece later this week on what husbands in your situation can say to their wives.

      • Bethany

        I have the sweetest flirt-in-his-sleep husband! Back when he worked nights and I was pregnant. We’d text frequently with every bathroom trip I made. There was a pattern of it. If we’d been flirting in texts, he’d rise up and kiss me and cuddle me completely asleep! It was hilarious and sweet cause he never remembers it, and it showed That he was thinking of me. my little story about sex and sleep!

    • Greg

      There is no “deal” Bill, that’s the truth. If you need sex that bad there are other options, you shouldn’t settle for just anything.

    • Anonymous

      There are lots of women who get rejected for sex by their husbands, just as there are husbands who get rejected by wives. There’s no reason to assume that the reader is lying just because it’s not what you personally are experiencing.

  14. Blessed Wife

    My husband has a standing invitation, repeatedly verbalized by me, to wake me up for sex whenever he wants, by whatever means. (I can trust him with this latitude because I know for certain he would never attempt to penetrate or degrade me in my sleep!) If he is unable to wake me up, he desists.

    If my husband acted like this guy, that invitation would be rescinded! This husband is acting like a jerk. I think this behavior is about something else- he looks to me like he’s using sex to achieve some other objective.

    Two things come to mind: he’s infantilizing himself to place himself in competition with the baby, or as I said before, he’s trying to undermine her job. If she’s late or underperforming due to sleep deprivation, it’s not like she can tell the boss it’s because her husband is always demanding sex at the worst possible time! If she says no, she’s depriving and being unloving (obviously not true, but I bet that’s what he says), and if she questions his motives, why he just really loves her, and is so turned on by her that he just has to have her NOW and (sniff, sniff) her rejection really hurts…all of which paints her into a corner.

    In this case, I think some firm (hopefully temporary) time boundaries need to be set in place, until he’s acting like a concerned and loving husband and father again, instead of a toddler who wants Mommy to wake up and comfort him in the night, then cries and doesn’t want her to go to work the next day. She gets enough of that, I’m sure, from the actual kids living there!

  15. Belle Grace

    On one hand if a husband treats his wife like a sex object, that’s because he believes that’s her purpose. If a person sees you as property, they are going to use them in some form or fashion.

    Then on the other hand it sounds like a person mentally forcing you to prove your love for them…by creating a fake competition between your peace of mind & their wants. It becomes a power game where their prize is breaking your will and nothing more. It’s not even about sex anymore, just power.

    Most importantly is seems callous, selfish & downright disgusting for anybody to use another person’s body for sex. It’s even worse when it’s a spouse who claims to love you, but yet doesn’t need/care for you to be mentally enjoying the moment. How can one even defend wanting or enjoying one-sided sex.

    For me if a man, boyfriend or husband can enjoy himself by using a cold body…he’s proven to me that I am “interchangeable” to him. He’s showing me that any other woman in the world could be laying in my spot & he would not care.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally agree, Belle. I do think there’s some weird dynamics here where it is about power.

  16. Daisylee

    Interesting discussion. More and more in the last few years, h would wake me during the night. He was usually on the computer (gaming) till middle of the night then sometimes he would wake me bc he’d “been dreaming of me”. I often responded bc it was all i could get. I hated being woken as I’m a light sleeper and often couldn’t sleep despite the exhaustion of fibro but felt i couldn’t “deprive” him. Him watching porn just b4 bed and being aroused makes total sense. One night i went down to his office about 4am as he wasn’t in bed. He turned the computer off so fast and nearly knocked me over in his haste to leave. If he wanted sex in the evening, it was more like 11.00 when i was exhausted (fibromyalgia and 5 kids). I’d ask him to come back the next night. He’d promise then he’d disappear back to his computer for the next 2 wks.
    I don’t have proof he was using porn however i know he used to show his mates inappropriate stuff and i can’t imagine it’s spontaneously stopped in the past 7 yrs since moving. We were in home separated for 8 mths and said a couple of times early on that he couldn’t wait much longer. I’ve now been in my own place 4 mths. The only reference to reconciling is “letting him back into the bedroom”. Also, he refused to get anything like covenant eyes on the computers despite him agreeing that it was not good if our teenage boys come across inappropriate websites. I no longer have questionable ads coming up on my computer. (One time he was looking at soft porn many years ago, he didn’t notice me walk in, he laughed and said “look at what just pops up on the screen”. I asked why it didn’t pop up on mine. No answer.)
    I need to read more of your material and more about the effects of porn. I tried to tell him i felt used. Last time he asked me why i didn’t want sex, he said And don’t give me that being used rubbish. I didn’t have anything else to say 😕

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Daisylee, I’m so sorry. This does really have all the hallmarks of a porn problem, and it does need to be dealt with. Intimacy disappears in a marriage when a man is watching porn–and often emotional connection & emotional maturity, too. You can read the 4 things you must do if your husband uses porn, and also this post on porn & emotions for husbands. It does matter!

  17. Nathan

    Comment from above…
    > > If the wife refuses or doesn’t give him reasonable access then what’s he to do?

    If one spouse feels that the other isn’t meeting their needs (physical, emotional, etc.) then they should have an open discussion about it. Watching porn or doing things to her in her sleep or otherwise “demanding” things are all very bad solutions

    • Ruth

      I agree with this. Communicate!

      On a different note:

      Some people act as though they needed sex for survival, but sex is not a need. We don’t need it like we need water, air, food or, indeed, sleep! A husband waking his wife for sex is putting his desire over her need.

      Personally, I’d like to see a return to using the old-fashioned “make love” phrase. Perhaps talking about “making love” instead of “having sex” might help counselors and married couples focus on what sexual intimacy is about and how it belongs in a relationship that is committed, loving, respectful and intimate on every level.

      Reading Lori Alexander and the men who comment on her blog, you’d think that sexual intimacy is merely a duty, something a wife owes her husband (and one commenter actually called it that: a debt a wife owes her husband). Lori talks about “giving sex” and has chastised women for not providing it on demand, cheerfully, even when they’re not up to it, because their husbands go out to work and provide for them even when they don’t feel like it! It’s like a wife should have a to-do list that goes like this:
      – make breakfast
      -make bed
      -wash dishes
      -clean bathroom
      – give sex

      Lori’s blog is especially vile because she provides disgruntled men with a safe place where they can vent their frustrations and air their abusive beliefs. The man who said that a wife owes her husband a debt of sex, also said that husbands should be able to take it and that a wife should be happy if he doesn’t force himself on her. Another poster (a woman) said that the husband who simply goes ahead and has sex with his sleeping wife is “taking what is his”. These attitudes are beyond awful and the fruit of Lori Alexander’s so-called ministry.

      • Blessed Wife

        Actually, I disagree with you on whether or not sex is a need. Perhaps it would be fair to say it’s not a need for everyone.

        It absolutely can be a need for some people, and the lack of it can be extremely damaging emotionally. In the roughly 17 years between puberty and the first time I had sex (I waited until marriage), I experienced an array of severe symptoms both physically and mentally, which were alleviated completely once I got married and finally started having sex regularly. In my case, prolonged lack of sex has a profoundly negative effect on my brain chemistry, which we could never effectively correct any other way.

        More importantly, God created sex as a vital bonding mechanism to be used only between spouses, and most people have a very real emotional need for that. And yes, if BOTH people’s needs aren’t being met, then someone isn’t doing it right!

        But with this husband, I don’t think it’s about a need for emotional bonding, or even physical release. I think he’s using it to jerk his wife around. If it were a legit need for sex, I don’t think his refusal-til-its-prohivitively-inconvenient-for-her thing would be a pattern. I think if it was about sexual need for him, he’d make sure he was available the next time she made the offer!

  18. Lindsey

    Ok, I haven’t read the Lori Alexander article yet (and I’m not certain that I will) but here was my initial thoughts about the reader question:

    Her husband should absolutely not be pouting if he gets turned down for sex on occasion- that’s called being an adult. However, he may not be waiting until the last minute just to be controlling. It could be possible the he needs more time to mentally get there (in much the same way that we discuss with women), and once he does finally get mentally ready, he feels frustrated when it doesn’t happen. He may not even understand this about his own sexuality. After all the world makes it seem like a man should be always “on”. I’m not saying that this is 100% the case, just that my first thoughts were that this may be the issue.

    Now, his petulance is still a problem even if this is the issue. She really needs to let him know that he needs to act like an adult when things don’t go his way. But the waking up in the middle of the night/waiting until the last minute could be avoided (If I was correct) if they both understood that he needed more than 30 minutes to mentally gear up for sex.

    Just a thought.

    As a side note – there were multiple times in our marriage, especially when I was pregnant, that I would wake up to my husband really making out/touching me. I would push him away and ask why he woke me up like that – to which he always said “I don’t know, I woke up to YOU kissing ME!” And we would both laugh and cuddle back to sleep. I think it’s important for me to mention this – because if I sleep-make out (instead of sleep talking or walking), and my husband is himself still groggy from being woke up, that isn’t marital rape.

    So, there is a scenario where a loving husband may believe that he has the implied constant of an enthusiastic wife, but she’s actually not fully awake. This would, obliviously be a rare occasion, but if it happens in an otherwise healthy marriage I would caution women against believing they were raped. If your husband has earned your trust, trust his explanation in such a situation.

    • Lea

      “sleep-make out ”

      That’s funny. I’m not sure how that works, though.

      I doubt most women in healthy relationships jump right to ‘i was raped’ in these circumstances. Waking up to someone, gently, touching, kissing, etc, might be great for a lot of people and lead to good sex. But, obviously there are other people who just jump right in or are abusive. Most women either have no problem with the way these things are going, or will be able to communicate with their partner to good result.

      I think the women who feel like it’s off are probably right on about that, though. Waking to a touch is different from waking to full on penetration too.

  19. Nathan

    > > but sex is not a need. We don’t need it like we need water, air, food or, indeed, sleep!

    Very true. I suppose we could instead say “very very strong desire”, but at this point, we’re just quibbling over terminology.

    > > Personally, I’d like to see a return to using the old-fashioned “make love” phrase. Perhaps talking about “making love” instead of “having sex”

    On another thread on this site, another poster (I think his name was David) suggested that we use the biblical term “fornication” to describe the act itself without any romantic or emotional attachment.

    • Ruth

      “On another thread on this site, another poster (I think his name was David) suggested that we use the biblical term “fornication” to describe the act itself without any romantic or emotional attachment.”

      Fornication is sex between two people who aren’t married. If we want to use a biblical term we can use the verb to know.

      For me, the term “make love” adds the deep connection that “having sex” doesn’t necessarily imply. Seeing that some people (like Lori Alexander and the men who hang out on her blog) even talk about wives “giving sex” and husbands “taking what is theirs”, I think there may be a need to go back to talking about sex in the context of a loving, caring, intimate relationship. It’s not a thing that one gives and the other takes; it’s an expression of love and an activity that connects a married couple emotionally and physically.


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