It’s our podcast aimed at men today–what if your wife refuses to have sex?
On the last Thursday of every month, I like to direct my podcasts more at questions that men are asking (though women are more than welcome to listen in as well, too!). And today’s, to finish up our Iron Sharpens Iron series, Keith and I thought we’d talk about what to do if your wife cuts you off from sex. What’s the best way to handle this?
We looked at it from several points of view, and I hope you’ll listen in!
Main Segment: When Your Wife Refuses Sex
We’re not just talking here about if your wife doesn’t like sex, or if she only has sex every few weeks. We want to talk about what to do if you’re truly and honestly cut off.
We looked at this from two different angles: one if the guy has honestly been trying to make sex a great, mutual experience, and wants to feel real intimacy and passion and fun, and she just refuses. And one where she has never felt much of anything, but he still wants it anyway. Here’s the first scenario:
My wife announced, after our last child was born 15 years ago, that sex was over in our marriage. She didn’t like it, she found it gross, and she felt it was unnecessary and I should be able to live without it. I’ve loved her and never bugged her about it since, and I’ve been a great dad to our kids, and I’ve tried to keep our friendship alive, but I feel myself dying a bit everyday.
So we dealt with that one for a while–about how women can feel that sex is honestly distasteful, often because of the messages that we hear about men’s sexual needs, and how what often backfires here is that husbands go to wives and tell them that they have an obligation to have sex, and that they’re desperate. That just makes women’s distaste of sex increase. I always suggest that you start from first principles: God made sex to be an awesome way to connect, an awesome thing to experience, and really the pinnacle of passion. Our marriage is supposed to have that, and it doesn’t right now. We’re missing out on some great things that God has for us, and I’m not okay with that. And then talk about seeing a licensed counselor together.
I promised I’d share my post about why I’m reluctant to recommend biblical counselors for this, too.
Now, women, if you’re reading, and this is you, please also read these:
- Do We Understand what Rejection Does to Husbands?
- The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex
But what about the other side? This is a long question, but it shows something important:
We have been married for several decades.
As a husband, I would say I got more wrong than right. Mismanaged finances, failure to listen to her advice on money, career and maybe most importantly; her needs. Of course there were ugly arguments in spades, overwhelmingly caused by me as well. She warned me for years this was all taking a toll on her, causing her to shut down little by little. Several years ago she stopped having sex with me. In hindsight, I view it as the day our marriage ended. Not just because the sex ended but any semblance of emotional connection was/is gone.
This period was also marked by numerous half hearted attempts by me to get on top of things, all to no avail. I simply failed her…… For several years there was 100% zero sexual contact. That period was marked by vicious arguments instigated by me wanting sex. Although it had been coming for some time, she even told me so, it still seemed to me as if she just woke up one day several years ago and said that’s it, no more sex. She has since told me it was either withdraw physically and emotionally or divorce. My moods/temperament since then have been bad. She told me several times how she felt like she had to walk on egg shells around me. I believe it is because I no longer feel like I have a connection with my wife. I told her this but she does not accept it. Two years ago, after several years of no sex, I began making a concerted effort to improve my disposition. There were many two step forward, one step back moments but, she began allowing me to touch her again, no intercourse just touch in 2018. She would allow me to have an orgasm.
At her request our sex life currently consist of me asking her for sex. A day, or two or three or a week later she either makes time and asks me to come upstairs or I ask her again and the process starts over. Believing our marriage needed something drastic; a few months ago I confessed in vivid detail my failings as her husband. I surrendered my life to her and promised to serve her for the rest of my days. Since then I do as much as I can for her. I clean the kitchen after dinner, I give her massages, I bring her her favourite drinks the way she likes them. In short, I try to lighten her load and ease her burden as much as possible. I really enjoy it. Serving her makes me feel closer to her.
Things were going well until Saturday when I randomly asked her to go upstairs. For whatever reason it was awkward, we didn’t go. The next day we had an ugly argument. She asked me to go upstairs but her attitude and body language made it clear it was “lets get it over with so you leave me alone”. I said no, just no. I do not want it like that. Then the argument ensued ultimately leading her to say the following: “I hate it (sex), absolutely hate it” When I asked what she thought the last six weeks was about she said: “It’s the same as before, that’s what it is always about” I asked her if she got any mental or emotional NOT physical joy out of giving me an orgasm. Her response: “No”. I am sorry to be so wordy and hope this is not TMI but I need help. We no doubt should have sought counseling long ago. I want to feel intimate and close with my wife again. For me, part of that is an active sex life. I have attempted to talk with her about it. She just gets defensive.
To me, this is an entirely different scenario than the first man, and Keith and I dissect it in the podcast. But let me know what you think–we’ll see if we picked up on the same things!
Reader Question: Does Oral Sex Cause Throat Cancer?
This time a woman writes in with a question that I thought I’d aim at the men. She asks:
My husband doesnt want to perform oral sex on me. We’ve been married for over two decades and I can count the number of times he has done that on just 2 hands. He made it plain in the beginning he didn’t like the taste and his tongue got tired, etc.
A few years back he read some stuff about oral sex and HPV throat/mouth cancer. Is this a real issue?
Okay, quick answer: Yes, the HPV virus can cause mouth/throat cancers through oral sex. However, it’s only if the HPV virus is present. Oral sex, without the presence of STDs, does not cause cancer. Now, a large proportion of the population does have HPV and may not know it, because it lies dormant. If either of you had previous sexual partners, or if one of you has been unfaithful, you need to get tested. But oral sex, in and of itself, does not make you sick.
So should he do it? Sex should be MUTUAL, which means that you each feel comfortable and not grossed out, but you also each are getting pleasure. If he’s very uncomfortable with this, I think it’s okay to say no, as long as he’s regularly bringing her to orgasm in other ways. (pretty much the same answer I give to women when they write in with the situation flipped). The only thing I’m concerned about is that many women find that they can only orgasm through oral sex. If she is not able to orgasm, then he needs to rethink this or try harder in other ways!
That’s it for our Start Your Engines podcast!
How would you answer our reader questions? Let me know in the comments!
(Keith and I are on vacation right now, and wifi is sketchy, so I won’t be participating in the comments as much as usual. But when I get wifi, I’ll come and reply to a whole bunch all at once! And thanks to Joanna and Rebecca for moderating for me while I’m gone).
If a friend came to me and said “my wife isn’t meeting my needs”, the first thing I’d do is ask two questions. First, I’d ask “Are YOU meeting HER needs?”. Most men, in my opinion, would answer “yes” to this automatically. So I’d then ask “how do you know this? Have you ever asked her? Have the two of you ever sat down and discussed each others needs and how to fill them, or are you just assuming?”
Beyond that, and suggesting communicating your needs to each other, and doing your best to be a good husband or wife, I’m not sure what to do in this case.
God never intended for marriage to be celibate, any more than He intended for unmarried people to have sex. So if a marriage is sexless, one or both people need to be finding out WHY they aren’t reflecting God’s plan.
Is there trauma involved? Get counseling and seek healing. Is there sin involved, and the lack of sex traces back to that? Repent, and get to work fixing the damage. Is there a legitimate medical issue? The spouse who wants sex should be caring and patient, AND the spouse with the medical issue should be active in seeking healing.
Are you married to a toxic person who doesn’t care about your needs and has no intention of ever changing that? I think separation or divorce would be appropriate, because this person has already decided they don’t want marriage as God intends it to be. They want the status of marriage, the comfort of a home and money that goes with marriage- but they don’t want the love, fidelity, and growth in intimacy and service that should be the core of marriage.
Those people should grow up, move out, find like-minded roommates, and let their poor ex-spouses move on and find someone who WANTS to be married to them, with all that entails.
I’m not advocating for divorce. I’m advocating for marriage where both people want to reflect God’s plan. If one or both spouses care only about their own selfish desires or grudges, neither will have the marriage that God wants for them. That’s a heartbreaking way to live!
How can you tell people to separate or divorce in one paragraph and then say you’re not advocating for divorce in the next paragraph?
That entire thing from the one guy about whether the wife doesn’t get pleasure for making him orgasm neglects to mention if she orgasms. It also was pretty ‘come upstairs’ and it seems like more lead up, with flirting, compliments, non-sexual touch, etc, would help? IDK.
I feel like one night stands are working harder than husbands in this department.
I feel like the first guy but I am aware that men are usually very blind to their faults so I try to analyze things.
It’s difficult to know when sex will happen in my marriage. My wife likes sex . She even wants to try some new things. Things I never thought she would like to try. And that’s great but the thing is sex only happens when she decides. Now don’t get me wrong that’s how it should be but I often feel neglected and that hurts. She can go weeks without sex and I don’t know what to do. After we had our first kid I got rejected so many times that I don’t dare initiate. I don’t even know how. I mean I kiss her and show my interest. She likes that I touch her butt and things like that. But I dont really get her turned on. When she isn’t in the mood nothing seems to be able to change that.
And I know I have the “list”. Theist of things I should do. First of all I do all the things I do because I want her to feel loved. I Do them before and after sex happens because I want to my keep my wife’s emotional tank full. I want her to know I love her. So I try to speak her love language everyday. I write sweet texts to her. I make poems and find fonts that I put them on and Send to her(discovered today that she thought I found them online. I got a little hurt since I make them out of love for her), everyday I give her massages and I do all the chores when she and the kids go to bed(yes they sleep on our bed) and so on. I try to do my best because I love her.
But I don’t know how to get her in the mood and understand that sex means so much to me. It’s not just the physical part. I just love to be close to her. Some days it’s not even about sex it’s about feeling loved through physical touch. And I don’t know what to do.
When she is in the mood I don’t have to do anything and she still wants sex. So I don’t know how to solve this.
I have a difficult time to talk to her about this because I don’t want to pressure her but there are times I feel so unloved and unwanted because the days go by without knowing when sex will happen(my heart breaks for all of them that are waiting for years not knowing) and it hurts.
But I don’t know how to explain this without putting pressure on her
Hi In Debt,
I am so sorry that you’ve been hurting.
I am a stay at home mom of four kids, whom I homeschool. I rarely get away from them (although I am adamant about them going to sleep in their own beds, the youngest two usually end up in our bed in the middle of the night). I really enjoy intimacy with my husband, and initiate much of the time. However, frequently I feel run down and frumpy after caring for my kids all day, and I have a difficult time transitioning from mother to wife. In those times, if my husband will follow the 12 steps of intimacy by Desmond Morris (you can google them), I am much more likely to make the transition.
Obviously I don’t know much of anything about your relationship, but if this information could help, I wanted to offer it.
Thank you for your reply. I will look that up. She isn’t a SAHM. The kids go to daycare and we have had a nanny until recently. She studies so I understand that stresses her specially with kids. So I get that but I also feel a lot of stress with taking care of kids, driving them to daycare, working coming home, doing chores and etc. but I wil check that out
Now I’m going to have to look those 12 steps up! Thanks, Lindsey.
It basically explains why women usually react poorly to random fondling from their husbands, but then other times they may be open to it. It is really fascinating.
I am so sorry for what you’re walking through. If you are being honest about the way you are handling things, then this falls on your wife, not on you. It doesn’t matter if you complete some list of to-dos or requirements, it doesn’t matter if you try harder or love more. It sounds like you are doing all you can to make your wife feel loved, cared for, and appreciated. And if she is still withholding sex until she decides she wants it, that is wrong. Possibly manipulative or emotionally abusive. Women love to excuse women’s behavior for a variety of reasons and yes, there are factors that may need to be considered but it sounds like you are analyzing and putting a lot of thought into it and not simply being insensitive to what she is going through.
What if you showed her your comment you left here? It was written in a loving way that shows your desire for her, for intimacy, for making your marriage what God intended it to be. Would she be at all open to hearing that? If not, would she be willing to go to a licensed counselor? What you have described is not a healthy relationship dynamic and I am so sorry for you.
Yes, I think when a guy is doing everything he can to love sacrificially, and a woman is ignoring intimacy, and won’t engage in a conversation about it, then it likely is time to involve a counselor. I’d start with showing her this post, but if she still just won’t even engage about trying to make things better, then seeing a counselor is likely the best thing.
In debt, I somewhat understand how you feel (I commented below about my own situation). I think what frustrates me and many men that I’ve read on here is one of the comments you made:
“And that’s great but the thing is sex only happens when she decides. Now don’t get me wrong that’s how it should be but I often feel neglected and that hurts.”
Outside of specific issues such as abuse, significant health issues etc. (I know these have been mentioned in other posts and comments as well), I completely disagree with this comment. That is NOT how it should be and there is no scriptural foundation for this. It is actually the opposite. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians:
“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
1 Corinthians 7:5 NIV
Now I kind of read this as pertaining to more than just sex, but in general meeting the needs of your spouse to fill their love tank so to speak.
Your posts seems to suggest that you agree with a spouse being the gatekeeper of emotional fulfillment in a relationship and again, I do NOT believe that is ok. It is the duty of the spouse (not just speaking to you but any spouse) to find out what fills the love tank of their spouse, then do that thing unapologetically, with love, and often unless there is a mutual understanding that you may abstain for a short time, then come back together to continue speaking their love language. Again this goes above and beyond sex as many spouses feel disconnected from their spouse in other areas and turn outward to meet those needs. It just seems many have placed sex into a different special category where it’s ok if we don’t do that one when we don’t feel like it.
Our relationship would’ve must resembled the middle commenter who stated his wife revealed she’s never liked sex. Now we have not been married for decades (just 8 years) but I could as the woman relate to a lot of that. My husband and I are to a much better place than we were a year ago (we have an almost two year old now so that’s a huge part of it). However, I remember the first year after our child was born when I felt pressured and like I owed it to my husband to be intimate (and biblically speaking I do) and while I thought I was doing him a favor, it actually made things far worse. He could tell I wasn’t all in and it messed me up emotionally. It turns out breastfeeding was the major culprit for me, to the point I’m nervous to even go that route again as it really wrecked havoc on me emotionally and our marriage. I’m saying this because when my husband were in the throes of this, I would of loved to know this information.
Now the way my husband handled things was not great either. He took my lack of interest as a personal attack, which in turn made me feel even more worthless (especially in an emotionally fragile state). Truly it was like walking on eggshells and no matter what I did I couldn’t win. We threatened divorce more times than other portions of our marriage and it was just a really toxic, sad environment. I think once my husband realized it was physiological phenomenon that was causing me to be the way I am (which took months for him to see) he started having more compassion. When he finally stopped blaming and started trying to help, things drastically improved. All this to say – we women have a huge cascade of hormones occurring at any given time and season and they largely play into our desire for sex. Seasons of life affect this and we need help during these times most notably support.
So true! Breastfeeding can totally wreak havoc (it’s likely nature’s way of spacing out the kids, honestly).
The problem with trying to give advice to men who have been shut off from sex is that there are a whole host of reasons why it happens, and there’s a whole spectrum of culpability.
I know of a couple wherein the wife unilaterally shut the husband off after the birth of their second child. Interestingly, they were in couples counseling at the beginning of their marriage because she didn’t want to have sex (with him), despite having been very active with any number of men (at least one married) prior to the marriage. That marriage ultimately failed when she walked out on him.
In those circumstances, your problem is that your wife was never invested in the marriage.
Then, there are plenty of women who find sex to be painful, get no pleasure out of it, and as a result, find it to be alienating rather than intimate. (I have never felt so disconnected from my husband as I have during and after intercourse.) In those circumstances, the lack of sex is a symptom of a larger problem, and focusing on that symptom is to focus on the consequence that happens to be uncomfortable for you, not the underlying cause.
If your wife hasn’t orgasmed in seven years and finally cuts you off, your problem is that your wife hasn’t orgasmed in seven years, even if what is causing you pain is the fact that she cut you off.
In those cases, you have a variant of the weight loss issue: they say if it took you X years to put the weight on, it will take X years to take it off. Get ready for the long haul, because these problems were a long time in the making.
Really great point, Jane!
I’ve read a few of you’re posts Sheila and I must say they are fantastic. I’ve read through many of the comments on some of the blogs and I can identify with many of the men on here. My wife and I have been married for 13 years, 3 kids, and a 4th on the way. Wife is SAHM, I’m a physician. Both come from great families with parents who are still married, both grew up going to church and we still do now. I do my best to be home at a decent time to eat dinner with the family, do dishes, put the kids to bed, help out with laundry, clean, vacuum, whatever. I’m not the best at all this but I try to do my part, after a day of seeing patients and what not. I did this all through Med school and residency, working night shifts and call shifts. My wife is 100% the gatekeeper of sex and has been our whole marriage. Didn’t have sex on our wedding night. Had our honey moon several months into our marriage, spent a week in Mexico, no sex. For the vast majority of our marriage it’s been maybe 1-3 times a month mainly because I’ll ask enough and she’ll give in. Can’t even begin to count or fathom how many times I have been rejected, can’t count how many times I’ve cried myself to sleep because of the pain of the rejection. Her idea of initiating is saying “ok you can get on top if you want”, lights off, same position every time, minimal amount of clothing removal to get the job done. If I comment enough to the point of complaining then I’m made out to be the bad guy for pressuring her. She pats herself on the back because she’s done a better job of “not saying no” as much but never initiates outside of the scenario above. Rarely to never kisses me, if I try to hug her or give her a kiss she acts like I’m interrupting something and vaguely reciprocates. About the only times I hear her say “I love you” are when I’m leaving for work or after speaking to her on the phone. She doesn’t have a few minutes maybe in a weekly basis to engage in any real intimacy with me but has hours to spend on her phone, watching Netflix, documenting our perfect life on Facebook and IG. To everyone else, friends, family, all of social media, it looks like we have an absolutely perfect marriage. My wife is stunningly gorgeous and I’m super attracted to her. (And I’m not being biased she’s legit like model gorgeous). Is adored by all who know her. Admittedly we have a good marriage outside of this specific topic, rarely fight, good kids etc. unfortunately this topic is just so pervasive for me and has affected me on so many levels. We’ve discussed it so many times. We’ve read books together, I’ve recommended other books/blogs/single Facebook posts that never get read. I feel so unloved, unappreciated, used. I feel crushed, broken, and really don’t know what to do. I’ve prayed so many times for this to get better that eventually I started praying that God would take my desire away because the pain was too much. I’ve asked if there’s anything I can do and most of the time she says “no” and says her love tank is full etc. I don’t even know if I have a love tank anymore. Oh well I feel like I’m just rambling and repeating what I’ve read so many other men post on here. If it makes anyone else feel better to know, I’m right there with you guys. Have a great spouse, “great marriage”, 3 children soon to be 4, and never imagined I’d feel so alone.
I’m so sorry, AGN. Honestly, it sounds like she just has a really, really bad view of sex and can’t fathom how it’s supposed to be intimate or supposed to be for her, too. You can show her this post where I try to explain to women what the big deal is. And if she just won’t engage, what about trying to see a counselor so that she can get to the bottom of it? I’m finding that so many women grow up with so many negative messages about sex that they just can’t let go and enjoy it. It seems ugly and rather disgusting (and it’s actually not surprising if you look at what teenage girls are told and what we go through). We really need to change the conversation!
Thank you Sheila. I’ll try to see if she will read it and possibly discuss it. Every time I’ve tried in the past to get her to read a book or blog or anything on this subject, she promises she will but never does. I had bought a book several years ago written for women, by a woman, about husband’s sex drives from a Christian perspective that I thought was really good. After literally years of it sitting on a shelf (after many times saying she’ll eventually read it) she read the first chapter. When she told me, she said she thought the first chapter was good and eye opening for her. I cried tears of joy right there in front of her. I don’t think she’s even touched the book since then and that was 3-4 years ago.
I’ve had this thought before too and agree with your comment about the negative message that is presented in church to teenage girls. They’re pretty much taught “sex is bad” all throughout those adolescent years. It’s beaten into their brains, then they’re supposed to one day get married and forget all that immediately. I certainly think that has played a role in my wife’s attitude toward our sex life.
AGN, I am really cynical, but I think your wife knows exactly what she’s doing and just doesn’t care. She does not have to care, because not caring causes her very little pain.
My best suggestion is counseling, so that you can better understand that (as weird as this sounds), it actually isn’t personal. The way she’s behaving is about her own issues and selfishness, and ironically has nothing to do with you.
There’s a saying that love is an action and not just a feeling. Likewise, you refer to your wife as a “great spouse,” but she really doesn’t seem to be acting like a great spouse. Just saying.
Jane, I love this line, “not caring causes her very little pain.” That’s the crux of it. People don’t change until the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. And too often we make it easy to stay the same. It’s just such a sad situation.
I think counseling is eventually where we are headed. As I said before, I’ve tried to ask her her feelings and how is her love tank etc. usually I get the response that her love tank is full. She knows where my love tank stands and knows it is nowhere near full (it’s pretty much destroyed at this point), and hasn’t been for pretty much the entirety of our marriage. Despite this, I believe even the suggestion of counseling would be a shock to her and met with resistance. This is the part that makes it so hard to fight the thought that she just doesn’t care.
AGN, I always find value in the men posting here because it makes me reflect on my own (biased and limited) perspective of myself and my husband and marriage. It makes me wonder – am I not seeing him or showing up? Even though I see so many toxic patterns in him, what are my toxic patterns/ how have I enabled him to keep running the show unchecked? So thank you for sharing specifics about your situation. For a physician especially it sounds like you’ve gone above and beyond your time constraints to try to demonstrate love and service to your wife and family. It sounds like you care deeply and just want to have an authentic and deep relationship with your wife on ALL levels. That is a good thing, don’t let satan rob you of that desire.
I think one of the hardest things to endure in life is for everyone to see your marriage, your life in a different light than the secret reality you live with daily. It hurts so much to feel so rejected, unloved, unappreciated, used, crushed, broken like you said. And it hurts even more that you have to pretend. And it sounds like you REALLY have to keep up pretenses with all of that social media she’s invested in. This messes with your sense of reality…. and you start doubting yourself, telling yourself your needs don’t matter, praying for a God given good desire to fade away, to just accept this is how things will be. I know how this feels to some degree (minus the social media but with a lot of faking in real life), and it’s just awful. I have to kindof agree with Jane, it doesn’t come across like your wife cares. But I’m wondering why because she does seem able to care deeply ab so many other things? Like she’s not depressed and just not caring ab life (which so many SAHM’s deal with and it’s real). I’m kindof baffled here….
As Mam shared in her comment – could there be something deeper there like previous abuse? Even with her picture perfect childhood? Sometimes people even block out abuse in childhood, but the trauma stays in the body and manifests in physical ways. It’s not something to bring up without some wise counsel. I would never suggest asking her if she was abused without some guidance on that. I have wondered if my husband was abused…. there’s just a missing piece that doesn’t make sense. The best decision I ever made was to seek out a really wise, seasoned licensed counselor who is a Christian. You will gain clarity, strength and validation so you are able to take action. And your wife and family need you to take action! It might be painful to do, but I think in your case it’s totally worth it. It’s not ok for you to suffer behind closed doors like this…. it’s not ok to keep pretending (preaching to myself)… God wants more for you and your marriage! You sound like a strong enough and empathetic enough person to rise up and get to the root and heart of the issues in a loving way. Don’t waste your one life settling for this false version. I see a lot of hope here! Don’t give up!
I knew I forgot to mention something that was a huge red flag to me…
“Didn’t have sex on our wedding night. Had our honey moon several months into our marriage, spent a week in Mexico, no sex“
There is something seriously wrong here. This isn’t a case of losing interest bc of pregnancies or kids or life circumstances. Something was wrong before you married her. And I’m not putting the blame on her, I’m just taking it off of you. This is not normal. And I implore and pray you will find a counselor who can help you!! You’re not exaggerating…. you’re not the problem. And SHE is not the problem, but clearly this is some issue from her past like purity teaching (like Sheila said), abuse or something else.
Yeah…I mean 3 kids with one on the way if that were it I could understand, but delayed sex? Honestly, there are reasons you can get an annulment early on because of lack of sex. I wonder if things wouldn’t have been better if you had gone to counseling immediately to try to figure that out? I don’t even get how that happens.
I know I had fear of sex at one point (growing up during AIDS crisis and with heavy STI/no sex before marriage/don’t get pregnant messages), but if that had been it she’s obviously had enough sex to get pregnant multiple times. Whatever it is, I doubt it’s anything the husband is doing (obviously barring some serious undisclosed issues).
My heart goes out to you and all the moral men in sexless marriages. I hear the pain. My husband was the same as you, patient, supportive, loving in every way (He works hard, he is a physician as well) I felt loved and could see and appreciate all the things he was doing for us. Although sex has never been unpleasant for me, I felt I could be happy with very little and wouldn’t miss it if it didn’t happen. I am on Antidepressants and it most likely affects my sexual desire. But I must say,I also had a big attitude adjustment. It took me a very long time to realize what sex means to my husband and how it made him feel to get rejected most of the time It hurt him deep inside, as a whole person. It wasn’t just about the physical act that is enjoyable. He fells validated as a man. Once I figured this out things changed and I became automatically much more open to his sexual advances. I love him and want him to have a good life. I don’t want him to feel left alone, unloved, and miserable. It’s a horrible existence. And I came to believe that forcing a faithful person to live in a sexless marriage is spousal abuse. It’s cruel. We wouldn’t expect a woman to stay with a husband who tells her everyday that she is unloveable and that there is something fundamentally wrong with her as a person. We wouldn’t tell the wife,’ You have to continue to behave as lovingly as you can towards your husband and support him. Never mind that he tells you everyday that you are unlovable. If you keep doing whatever you can to show your respect and love, he might come around one day and tell you that you are a wonderful person and that he loves and admires you, too. I feel, that’s exactly what we expect of husbands in sexless marriages. Women grow up to believe men don’t have a problem enjoying sex without a relationship. That’s true and from that observation women conclude that sexual intimacy fulfills only a physical need in their husband. If this were the case, men could take care of themselves and be happy all the time but of course that’s not it.
Sex in a long term relationship with a wife has a very different function. It fulfills the deepest needs for acceptance and validation in a man. I wish, I would have realized this earlier. My husband is so much more relaxed and happy nowadays. I am grateful it wasn’t to late. I think most men would not have been that patient for so long.
There are things that can increase a woman’s libido that aren’t tasteless. I listen to well written erotic, historical fiction while I am jogging. It works wonders for my libido. For a lot of women the brain is the most important body part that needs to be stimulated in order to feel desire. And having sex more often makes you desire it more as well.
I hope my own experiences can be of help to you.
I can now understand how men like You and my husband are feeling rejected and unloved, but don’t give up. I do not know your wife but I believe there is a reason why she is rejecting you. If you keep communicating and discussing things with her, (maybe without expressing your frustration but making it about what is maybe missing on her side?) you should be able to get to the root of the problem. Hormones also wreck havoc through women’s lives, Child birth and child rearing, depression, pressure to perform in so many areas of our lives also become a big burden. If she isn’t willing to open up to you, counselling has to be your next step.
I am a SAHM of seven children, and wife to my wonderful husband of 19 years. In the first decade of my marriage, I was happy to fulfil my husbands sexual needs as he showered with a lot of attention and love. I had grown up with a religious environment that painted a very negative picture of sex, but also came into marriage having been told and believing that sexuality was something I owed my husband. It never came to my mind that it had anything to do with my pleasure. I pretended to enjoy it but never allowed myself to have an orgasm. In hindsight I subs consciously believed it would be selfish and sinful to enjoy something that was purely designed for my husband’s pleasure. And I ticked all the boxes in my life in that way, painting a perfect little life, clean home, gourmet meals, happy kids… but just like in bed, I was never truly there. I never truly gave my love to my kids or my husband, and ultimately to God. I believed I was a good Christian because I did what I was supposed to do.
After over a decade of this lie that was my life, I started to resent sex, I couldn’t be mechanical anymore, and I started avoiding sex with my husband at all costs. At one point we didn’t have sex for a whole year and it never bothered me. After that, most of the time I would give in to him once a month so he could leave me alone. and I thought everything was fine because we were just like best friends and I couldn’t understand why that wasn’t enough for him. Mean less to say he has been miserable in that area for many years, and I am truly sorry he suffered so much. He is a very good and patient man who stayed by my side through all this, but he also has been Very frustrated with me.
To love Honor and vacuum truly has been the number one help, it has given me the sexual education I never got. The first step for me was a real painful one, admitting to myself and to my husband that I had been sexually abused as child. That was 4 years ago. Since then, we have struggled, but real communication on my part, real honesty and openness towards my husband, has made a huge difference. But it is a very slow process to undo all the bad habits and ingrained beliefs that I had. Yes I am very tired at the end of the day, and my to-do lists are endless but my husband who had stopped hugging me and kissing me for years, takes me in his arms and comforts me every night, kisses me. A desire for him grows in my heart that was never there before! He has made tremendous efforts to make sure I feel pleasure in the marital bed, and I feel less and less pressure or anxiety at the thought of sex.
I thought my case to be hopeless and felt real despair, and my husband was stretched to his limits too, but we are making it through, and I believe and pray you will too!
Mam thank you for sharing your story! It’s full of hope, not the false “just pray” kind but the get to the root of the issue kind. Your story is such a great example to so many suffering people. I’m so happy for you and your husband to have found healing after dealing with so much pain. You two really wrestled through it and stuck by each other. It’s just such a real example of how things can get better when Truth is on the table. I’m sorry for what you went through and I think you are an amazingly strong woman!
Thank you so much Kim P, I wasn’t sure it would help but I’m glad I wrote it.
Very good advice to AGN. It’s not his fault he suffers the way he does, he is doing everything right.
I would add that many victims of past abuse are desperate for “normality”, and need to have everyone around them believe their lives are perfect. It is another coping mechanism. It is what ticked with me when I read his story, but I may be completely off the mark!
Whatever it is, it has to come out soon, their marriage needs to become what it was meant to be. Overcome the worse so you can get to the better! Together!
Sheila, These are just terrific; appreciate the two of you speaking as a team.
Now, imo, the crux of your talk and a man’ “problem’ was addressed beginning about29:00 min mark. Getting to heart and feelings issues. This is true communicatio; it is selfless – an d THAT is exactly the male problem, being all about getting his needs met, or else. . . . Men, we need to confess this before God and before our spouse. Truth is, we have heard all of this before, but we simply are in major denial. With headship comes responsibility. We need to take serious the command to “love our wives” – and keep itup until she feels loved. Husbands need to face this honestly. Of course the sex drive is normal and God give, but the carnal lust is not. Were we filled with ‘lust’ as our brides came down the isle to be wed for life? I did Not believe that God’s ways are better in the bedroom. I feared what i “might be losing”. However, when he answers prayers to love our wives, we discover that sexual expression and sharing truly is never better.
In closing, thank you for your ministry to wives and husbands. The reason you and a few other Christian women have so many men in their audiences, is simply because you ladies seem to be light yrs ahead of the male counterparts on the web. You resonate with the women and men in marriage. We can take tangible , workable advice from each of you; what a God given gift in our day. You know, Sheila, that Christian men were Not “discipled” in this area at all in most cases; sadly the church was and is silent on the Songs and godly principles. I thank God that your ministries are reversing this. A sexless marriage does seem to be epidemic in America. God bless you as you continue to bring healing and restoration all across the internet and without. I have your book and one by Ruth Besus, both are so helpful.
So… this is a really positive comment, full of praise for two people who are doing a lot of good in this world. I respect that.
At the same time, I take issue with the phrase “the male problem” (in reference to sex (supposedly) being about men getting their needs met, if I am understanding you). It implies that maleness itself is the problem, when reality is it’s just some men who think sex is all about them.
Obviously you know that some men have a selfless view of sex, otherwise how could you have written the rest of that comment? That one phrase really sells men short, though, including yourself.
Consider DSM disorders such as Narcissistic Personality disorders could be a control issue.
That second letter, wow, I’m almost speechless. I think you addressed it so well on the podcast.
It seems like he really doesn’t understand at all. Years and years of emotional abuse and neglect, suppressing all his emotions for her except anger and sexual arousal. It sounds like he has no clue how it felt for her to be used for all those years.
Six weeks of doing dishes and bringing her a beverage doesn’t undo years of using someone.
I like your suggestion for him to forgo orgasm for a long time and just figure out what she needs, both sexually and otherwise. And if that sounds really hard, yeah, you’ll start to understand why your wife finally said “no more.”
I really hope they see a licensed counselor. I think it’s important that they each go separately and only go together maybe once a month or so. They both have a lot of work to do. He needs to unlearn his sense of entitlement. Entitlement to orgasm and entitlement to unleash his anger and frustration without any regard for those around him. He needs to own his choices and see how he is merely reaping what he has sown. He’s treated his wife worse than an employee for years but thinks she should enjoy giving him an orgasm. Flabbergasted.