10 Questions to Ask if Your Wife Doesn’t Want Sex

by | Sep 16, 2020 | Libido | 62 comments

Why doesn't your wife want sex? 10 questions to ask

Are the higher drive husband, and you’re wondering what to do because your wife rarely wants sex?

We opened the week looking at frequency of sex in marriage. Usually marriages start off with couples having sex relatively frequently (like at least several times a week).

(If yours didn’t, then that really is a sign that something major is going on, and you should see a licensed counselor).

But then, just as frequently, couples see a drop off in frequency. Sometimes it’s not a big deal, but sometimes, even over a period of years, that drop off becomes drastic.

In this post, I’m addressing marriages where the drop off is huge. I am definitely not addressing marriages where sex is happening once a week or more. I mean where sex is really rare–a few times a year, maybe monthly, or maybe even every few weeks. 

Next week we’ll look at high drive spouses where sex is actually happening a healthy amount of time (as we looked at on Monday), but today, I want to focus this on high drive husbands who are having sex a few times a month or less. (We’ll talk to wives on Friday)

So let’s get started!

An uncomfortable truth: Drastic drop-offs in frequency of sex rarely happen in isolation.

When we surveyed 20,000 women last winter for our upcoming book The Great Sex Rescue, we found that 73% of truly sexless marriages had at least two of these problems:

  • Porn use
  • Male sexual dysfunction
  • Anorgasmia (not reaching orgasm)
  • Vaginismus
  • Not feeling close during sex

I’m going to assume that for you the issue is not male sexual dysfunction, since if it were, this isn’t the post that you’d be reading.

Now, what about marriages where sex was just infrequent, but not technically sexless?  These things were still far more likely to be true than in marriages where sex was happening frequently.

Please hear me on this one: I am not saying that this is necessarily your fault. If the majority of marriages do things because of X, you could still be in the minority who look more like Y. And when it comes to sexual pain, you’re not responsible for that (although you are responsible for how you handled it). In many cases when she doesn’t feel pleasure, too, the problem is more that she won’t let herself relax and explore what feels good because of things that she’s believing. You’d love to give her pleasure, but she’s not willing.

(And we’ll be addressing a lot of this in our Orgasm Course launching next month! Make sure you’re signed up to the email list to be notified when it’s available, and so you don’t miss the launch sale!).

That being said, it does very little good to tell you that it’s all your spouse’s fault, and you’re justified in being angry and hurt. That only leaves you stuck, and I want to see you move forward.

Yesterday I addressed what the lower drive spouse can do to help the situation, and today I’d like to ask  you to take an honest look at what has happened in your marriage and sex life, to see if there are steps you can take to bridge the gap.

Questions for Higher Drive Spouses to Ask Themselves

These may be hard questions to hear, but please, pray now, before you read them, and ask, “God, if any of these relate to me, please soften my heart so I can hear it.”

1. Early in your marriage, did you express frustration, anger, or criticism that your wife wasn’t enjoying sex as much as you were?

For most women, orgasm is a learned behaviour; it isn’t something that automatically happens with intercourse.

If you were critical or angry that your wife didn’t enjoy sex the way that you did, or were frustrated that she couldn’t orgasm or couldn’t get aroused, it’s quite likely that she now equates sex with something she’s not good at. Most women already have body image issues; she likely now feels, “I’m broken.”

Even if you don’t feel that you were angry at her, if you were internally focused on your own disappointment rather than helping her experience great sex, she likely picked up on that.

Or if, when she did have sex and enjoyed it, you’d also complain and criticize that you weren’t doing it more, she would have internalized the message, “nothing I do will ever be enough.” Then sex, which she was enjoying, became something that still made her feel inadequate.

2. Did you take time to ensure that your wife felt pleasure?

When you were just getting used to intercourse, was her pleasure your focus, or was it your own? Did you slow down so that you could figure out what would arouse her, or did  you think that she should be aroused by the same things that arouse you, and so figure that she should “catch up” to you?

If you had sex for months, or even years, without her experiencing pleasure or an orgasm, you may need to apologize and ask for forgiveness.

Maybe you wanted her to feel good, but she had too many hang-ups or she wasn’t comfortable with you trying to touch her. Even then, to go ahead when she’s not enjoying herself is to solidify in her mind, “sex is not for me.” 

It’s better to sit down early and talk about how God made sex to feel passionate and amazing for both of you, and go through a challenge like 31 Days to Great Sex, which can help her step-by-step discover how her body works, without it being overwhelming.

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3. Have you expressed frustration when she is experiencing physical issues making sex uncomfortable?

Up to 7% of evangelical Christian women experience sexual pain to the point that penetration is impossible, and many others experience vaginismus or other kinds of dyspareunia (sexual pain) where penetration may technically be possible, but is very, very uncomfortable.

If your wife experienced pain, did you insist on trying to have intercourse anyway? Did you talk about how disappointed you were that you couldn’t have sex, to the point that she pushed herself to go through with it because she felt so embarrassed and broken and guilty, or did you show her acceptance and love and reassurance?

After having a baby, women can experience sexual pain, even if sex was easy beforehand. If that was your wife’s story, were you patient as she healed, or did you pressure her to have sex regardless?

Perhaps it’s not sexual pain, but pain overall. If your wife has had heavy periods so that she’s experienced a lot of cramping or very heavy bleeding, did you express sexual frustration to her, rather than compassion for what she is experiencing? Did you prioritize your own sexual frustration over her physical discomfort? I know that many Christian books talk about men’s sexual discomfort as if it’s very difficult to go more than 72 hours, and women shouldn’t make their husbands wait. But this isn’t God’s view (as we see from Old Testament laws about periods).

When women feel as if their physical experience isn’t important, then sex is no longer a mutual experience. It’s only about being used. That can easily turn a woman off.

4. Was sex, when you had it, depersonalizing?

Many high drive spouses say that they feel most intimate with their spouse, and closest to their spouse, when they have sex.

This doesn’t always mean, though, that they are going about intimacy or sex in the way that will build intimacy. Sometimes we swap intimacy with sex, and we actually debase both.

If you’ve used pornography extensively,  then you’ve learned that sex is about using someone, not about “knowing” someone. In porn, sex is about a man getting his needs met by using another person, often violently. Most of the sex acts that are depicted are done in such a way as to provide maximum humiliation to the woman, and maximum power to the man.

If you have grown up masturbating to pornography, you have trained your brain to become aroused by things that make you feel powerful at the expense of another person. It’s almost inevitable that you will bring part of that into the bedroom.

Maybe you’ve been pressuring your wife to do things that she is not comfortable doing and that don’t feel intimate. And maybe you’ve expressed disappointment that she won’t try things, as if she doesn’t love you because she won’t give these things to you that you want.

Or maybe it’s not to that level. All of us, in the Western world, grow up in a pornographic culture, whether or not we’ve watched porn. And what becomes sexy is what is depersonalized. “Taking” someone is sexier than just loving someone. Sex has been divorced from marriage in our culture, so that it’s become all about the body, and not about the heart.

If you haven’t been able to say “I love you” or say your spouse’s name during sex, but instead tend to use very coarse language that your spouse doesn’t like, or even “check out” during intercourse so that it’s obvious you’re not really thinking about your wife, then sex may become something very ugly in your relationship. Here’s how one commenter described it:

Sorry if this seems crass, but there’s no better way to put it in the English language in my opinion. My husband is very good at f***ing me. It’s something he’s seen modelled to him through porn for years. It’s physical, it’s animalistic, it’s a release during which he says stuff like “you’re so hot” etc. It’s focused on the here and now… on the bodies present. He feels loved during that experience because he’s experiencing the highs of arousal and orgasm in my presence while also enjoying my body. Because he’s doing that to me in my presence, he thinks that means it’s him showing me his love. I understand why he thinks what he’s feeling is enough and is love/loving me. But 99% of our sexual encounters don’t go much beyond that. The exchange is purely physical. 

16% of our survey takers said their primary emotion after having sex is feeling used. If your wife could have written that, it’s likely that she’s one of the 16%.

5. Have you broken trust with your wife?

If your wife has found you using pornography, or knows of a long-standing porn issue, then you have broken trust with her. So many women on this blog comment that they are now turned off of sex, because they can’t trust that their husbands actually want THEM, or that their husbands are thinking of THEM.

If you have had an affair, or had an emotional affair, even if it was in the past, if you have not taken time to admit the depth of hurt that you have caused, and rebuilt trust, then she may still be withdrawing. It’s very difficult to want sex when trust isn’t there.

6. Did you use the Bible to pressure her into having more sex?

Did you talk about the “do not deprive” verses from 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, and tell her that she was in sin by not having sex more? Did you tell her that you find it much harder to resist porn or resist lusting if you don’t have sex frequently (after all, Every Man’s Battle actually says that women are men’s methadone)? Did you tell her that if she doesn’t give you sex, or sexual favors during her period, that you would lust, because the Bible says that without sex we’ll be tempted?

We found in our survey that certain teachings very prevalent in the evangelical world cause women’s libidos to plummet and women’s orgasm rates to plummet. “Have sex so he won’t lust!” and “You’re obligated to have sex with your husband” are two such teachings, and there are many more. (we’ll tell you the exact numbers, plus so much more, in our upcoming book The Great Sex Rescue, out March 2021!)

The Bible clearly says that sexual intimacy is a vital part of a healthy marriage, but sexual intimacy does not just mean intercourse. It means sexual activity that is mutual, pleasurable, and intimate. Pressuring someone repeatedly using Scripture is actually a form of spiritual abuse and coercion; it is not a proper use of Scripture.

We should allow Scripture to point out where we need to change to love somebody more effectively, not distort Scripture to get our own needs met. That’s going against the very nature of Christ, who said, “For the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28).

7. Do you care for your health and hygiene?

I know this is a tricky one to deal with, but excess weight plays a major issue when it comes to sex. It is difficult to have pleasurable sex when a man has a big belly. Excess weight impacts “usable length” of the penis, and prevents his pelvic bone coming into contact with her clitoris during thrusting, reducing her ability to feel pleasure. It can also make the man-on-top positions impossible (due to feeling as if she’s being suffocated), but many women have said that straddling their very large husband is also too physically straining.

Every time I write about hygiene, too, the comment floodgates open. It seems that many women are embarrassed to tell their husbands, “your breath stinks”, or “you need to have a shower”, because it seems rude, so they avoid sex instead. Other women do tell their husbands, but don’t get the desired behaviour.

Do you shower everyday? If you work at a physical job, do you shower before coming to bed? Do you brush your teeth before coming to bed?

8. Do you share the load with your wife?

If your wife is run off of her feet caring for the family, while you get a lot of downtime during the day or in the evening, then she could simply be exhausted and feel very taken for granted. If she carries most of the mental load for the family, so that she has so many things running through her head and she can never “turn off”, then maybe she’s always turned off sexually because there’s no room in her brain for sex!

I talked about this phenomenon in our June series on mental load and emotional labor, and so, so many women told me that THIS was the #1 reason that they had no libido. If their husbands could take on some of the mental load of the family, it could change everything.

If you didn’t read that series, please check it out. And ask your wife to work through it with you.

9. Do you show your wife love OUTSIDE the bedroom?

Does your wife feel loved, cherished, and valued outside the bedroom? Are you only nice when you get sex, and do you act disappointed and withhold affection if you don’t?

Is the only time you touch her or kiss her when you want to have sex? Do you grope her when she’s doing the dishes or other things, rather than show her affection in a way that she’d prefer that would honor her? Almost 20% of our respondents say their primary motivation for having sex is that their husbands treat them badly if they don’t have sex. Over time, that wears on a woman.

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10. Do you open up to your spouse emotionally?

For women, sex is very physically vulnerable. You’re literally letting someone inside your body.

As we talked about in the podcast last week, many men who have a difficult time opening up emotionally prefer to have sex to connect. But sex is not a substitute for emotional vulnerability.

I know this is a bit of a chicken and egg thing–how can you open up to her when you feel rejected sexually by her? Why should you have to be the first one to make the move?

But again, we’re talking about trying to fix the problem, and to fix it, you can only change yourself and how you react; you can’t change her. She will not want to make love to someone that doesn’t listen to her emotions or share his own emotions. Likely she wants to actually connect and feel “known”, and that isn’t just a physical experience. It’s everything all wound up together. If you’ve had a hard time emotionally connecting with her, take a look at my post on 10 questions to build your emotional connection from last Friday, because I’ve got those questions, and some other great tips, in there to help you. Plus try my emotional reconnection course!


What if you see yourself in some of these high-drive husband questions?

Take some time to pray through them and ask God to show you how you have hurt your wife or given her a bad view of sex. If you can relate to some of these, you haven’t just pushed your wife away; you’ve also stolen the sex life that she was supposed to have from her. You have tainted sex to her, and that has hurt her. Allow yourself to feel the pain that she has felt–even if she has caused you pain, too. Focus on what you have done.

Then I’d suggest writing her a letter, because we can often think better if we write it all down.

List what you have done. Tell her how you think this must have made her feel. And apologize for each thing.

If you can remember specific instances when you did any of these things, name those instances. Say, “I remember our anniversary two years ago when we were having sex, and I was using really bad language. You asked me to stop, and I didn’t. Afterwards I knew you were upset, but I couldn’t handle it, so I didn’t say anything. I let you go to sleep feeling used, and I’m sorry.”

Ask her to forgive you. Tell her that you know that it may take her a while to trust you again. If the issue is porn use, show her that you are serious by joining a recovery group, confessing to a close friend to hold you accountable, and sharing your passwords with her.

To rebuild, tell her that you want to focus on her, not on you. Suggest trying something like 31 Days to Great Sex which can be focused on how she feels about sex, and learning how to make it personal and pleasurable for her. Tell her you want her to be the focus from now on.

Feeling sexually disconnected?

Like you’ve lost your groove?

Like you’re on two different planets when it comes to sex in your marriage? 

31 Days to Great Sex can help you talk through what’s gone wrong and try some new things to figure out how to make it RIGHT!


What if you don’t see yourself in these high-drive husband questions?

In some ways, that’s awesome. It means that you likely don’t have things you need to repair; that you are a selfless husband who is loving his wife.

In other ways, it’s tough. If you did something to contribute to the problem, then you can also do something to contribute to solving it. But if this really wasn’t you, then you’re in a tough spot.

Please, one warning, though: only 7% of women in sexless marriages report having none of porn use; anorgasmia; pain during sex; not feeling close during sex; and male sexual dysfunction. Really make sure they aren’t true in your life!

Now, that being said, what do you do when you didn’t cause this?

Make sure that there aren’t other issues going on, such as your wife feeling really stressed for other reasons; health issues; issues with the kids; etc. Do what  you can to smooth these issues out.

Then say to your wife, “I know we were meant for more. I want us to experience real passion and intimacy, but you are continually pushing me away. That makes me not just sad. It makes me rejected, lonely, and in despair. I don’t want to live in a marriage like this, and I believe that we have to do something about it. We’re missing out on so much. I know sex doesn’t matter much to you, but I’d like to figure out how to show you what all the fuss is about. Can we please try?”

And if that doesn’t work, if it really is that she simply doesn’t like sex and doesn’t prioritize sex, then I’d advise talking to a licensed counselor. If she won’t go, go by yourself. A counselor can often help you see what’s really going on, and make a plan for how to address it.


Women reading this–do any of those questions ring especially true for you? And everybody–how would you repair if some of those questions did apply to you? Let’s talk 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. Harriet Vane

    Thank you for this, Sheila.
    I took sex off the table a few months ago because I was desperate. It felt like the last way I had of getting my husband’s attention and making him confront the many issues we have in our marriage. Me starving for emotional intimacy is the biggest, but also his past porn use (which I’m sure contributed to our depersonalized, “physical exchange” style sex), my mental load, and his habit of pouring himself 110% into his job and leaving me and our kids with the dregs. (I think that’s another reason you could add to your list.)
    We are in counseling now, but it’s a long hard slow road. I still feel scared to put sex back on the table, scared of feeling used and lonely.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m sorry, Harriet. I’m glad you’re in counseling! Sometimes it seems like there is so much to unravel. I pray for healing for you!

    • Julianne

      Also in counseling… but just individual. Having a really hard time finding a marriage counselor.
      Sheila- I don’t know what I’d do without all your helpful information. I didn’t realize the pain / trauma was from the years and years of my husbands porn usage- I almost always blamed myself for his addiction (when I just found out he’s been using since a teen). He’s in recovery for the first time in 33 years but there is so much damage already done, it’s going to take a lot for repair / healing.

  2. Doug Hoyle

    Great post. I have to admit that I see myself in many of those areas and that I had a whole lot to repent of and make amends for. The really marvelous thing is that it really did make a difference, not only in our sex life, but thruout our entire marriage.
    You suggested a letter being a good idea, and I wholeheartedly agree. It was just such a letter that put our marriage back on track. God laid it on my heart to quit pornography, and I was looking for ways that might help me do so. I wasn’t ready to admit it was an addiction, but I knew I had issues that I couldn’t seem to handle on my own. In the course of looking for help online, I had read several accounts of women, and the pain that porn caused them, and that really opened my eyes. I sat down to write a letter apologizing for that, and before I was done, God showed me so many ways I had hurt my wife. My apology letter ended up being 7 pages long. Really, I expected my wife to read it, and then file for divorce on the spot. Maybe I wasn’t as bad a husband as I suddenly came to believe, but seeing it all in one place sure made it seem I was.
    Instead of being angry, my wife reached out to me and comforted me, and pointed out so many of the things I got right. She had every reason and right to shut me out of her bed forever, but instead she took me to bed right then.
    I guess the point I am making is that in that moment, she chose forgiveness, and she acted it out. I’m not saying that it should look like that in every case. Obviously every person is different and will go thru different steps and stages to get there. At the same time, there has to be a willingness to get there. Had my wife responded with bitterness and hung onto her very real right to be offended, we would not be where we are now.
    I can also mention, that in her response, she taught me a great deal about forgiveness, so much so that I came to believe I could be forgiven by God, and in a very real way, that is why I am a Christian today. When it came to be my turn to face down all the hurt I carried from her actions, it was the model she showed me that I try to follow. The path I am taking to live that forgiveness out occasionally looks much different than the one she took, but it is common in that I choose to release any right to offense that I have.
    Either of us could have chosen to stand on our offenses, and our marriage would have ended. Instead, we are enjoying what are probably our best days together.
    So for those wives(and husbands) who are reading this, and seeing their marriages reflected in some of it, I would ask if you are trying to live out forgiveness, or if you are hanging onto offense as justification for your own behavior. That isn’t a judgement or a condemnation. It is something that I have had to come to grips with myself when I might otherwise let hurt push me into old behaviors. Sometimes it really does come down to a choice.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Doug, what a beautiful story! Especially since I know some of the beginning parts, with how much hurt there was. What a lovely depiction of both of you giving each other grace. How lovely.

    • Sarah O

      Awesome response Doug, thank you for sharing

  3. Hopefully Healing

    Well done!
    Unfortunately I am the wife who has experienced 8/10 of those points. Still, it has taken me 25 years to get to the point where I am saying no more, I cannot do this anymore. It has taken a toll on my mental and physical health to continue to service my husband in spite of eight of the factors you listed above. I have woken up to the reality that he has been sexually, emotionally, and spiritually abusive throughout these years and I let him because I thought I had to to be a godly wife. I am learning to set boundaries and no more sex is one until we get some of these other things worked out. If we do.
    I can’t fathom my husband writing a detailed letter of confession like you outlined, but wow! that would sure help me to know he is trying to work on himself. I hadn’t considered that he stole the experience and intimacy I should have had in God’s design for marriage. Another thing to grieve. I pray often for him to truly repent, for God to change his heart.
    One thing I might add in your suggestions that I have seen recommended by experts in porn and sex addiction situations is to take at least 90 days off with no sex to help reset the brain. They ought not think they can say sorry, write a letter with a few details, say they are getting accountability and immediately expect that now she has to do the 31 Days of Great Sex with him so she can show him her commitment to the relationship. I know that is not how you worded it, but I can totally see how some guys would use it to manipulate their partner into more sex when there hasn’t been time for her to heal and see actual sustained growth in her husband.
    Sheila (and girls), thank you for addressing these messy topics and shining light into dark places. It was one of your posts two or three years ago that began to open my eyes to reality. You quoted Gary Thomas, I think, when he said something to the effect of God loves people more than institutions. If the cost of saving a marriage is destroying a woman, the cost is too high. I read that when I was at my lowest, darkest place due to demands he was making that were degrading and immoral. I thought I HAD to make things work, that I could not deprive my husband…..he often used that scripture to coerce me. Y’all have helped me to seek hard after God and untangle the web of twisted scriptures used to torment me. I’m in counseling now. I have learned so much. It has been hard work to heal from decades of abuse. I couldn’t even call it that until a few months ago. I have a long way to go still.
    Y’all keep speaking truth! So many need to hear it.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, wow! Thank you so much for that encouragement to me today, too. I’m so glad that God used us to show you that you have deep, immense worth to Him, and that you don’t need to be treated this way!
      I completely echo what you said about taking 90 days off to reset the brain. Absolutely. We’ve talked about that in the podcasts before, but maybe we should write a post on it as well. So important.
      And, yes, this part of your comment is the most heartbreaking to me: “I hadn’t considered that he stole the experience and intimacy I should have had in God’s design for marriage. Another thing to grieve.”
      I think many women do have this to grieve, and often we don’t even realize what we’ve missed. It is very sad indeed. I’m sorry.

    • Doug Hoyle

      Hopefully Healing.
      I’m sorry you are in such a bad spot. It may be even more poignant for me, because I was as bad or worse than you describe your husband, and it hurts my heart to know all the pain I caused.
      As for your remarks about the 90 day reset. I have heard that often said before, and I believe there is some merit to it if it is done for the right reasons. After my letter, I certainly had no expectations. On the other hand, I don’t know that I would describe what happened that day as sex. Sex was part of it, but it was deeper on so many levels that I can’t describe it. Maybe the best I can compare it to is the celebration feast when the prodigal came home. It is probably also worth noting that we were already in pretty much of a sexless season.
      Our situation was unique in a lot of ways, so I would never tell anyone that what happened for us was the right way. It was right for us. I think that each couple will have to find their own way thru all that.

  4. Chris

    I have to pray hard before I respond to this. I will come back tonight and leave my real response.

    • Chris

      “Allow yourself to feel the pain that she has felt“
      Wow. Just wow. Lord knows being in a sexless marriage for nearly a decade hasn’t caused enough pain, now I am expected to embrace it. Imagine for a moment we wrote that to women. Imagine if we said “ladies, all that guilt and shame you feel for letting your marriage go sexless, that’s wonderful! We are so glad you feel that way”. I think the responses would break the internet. The double standards are awe inspiring. Imagine we took number 7 above and aimed it at women. “Ladies, if you gain some pounds, he may be tempted to lust!” I think the internet would break again. And the “uncomfortable truth” part. Do you know how many men I know who don’t know what the heck they did/didnt do/ may have done/ aren’t sure they did or might have done something to cause their sexless marriage? They just know the situation stinks. It happens all the time. Marriages go sexless. No doubt there are lower libido men out there but by enlarge this is women deciding they are done with sex for whatever reason. Also, the mental load thing. Easy cure for that. But I cannot share it. Why? Because if I do, my idea will not be assessed on its merits but rather will be reacted to emotionally and well, haters are gonna hate snd my head would be ripped off and the internet would break again. But its so easy to cure that emotional load problem. So frustrated with this post because there are A LOT of men who are suffering and this post is more of a victim blaming exercise.

      • Doug Hoyle

        I don’t think the post was meant to be victim blaming, but I can sure see how it would come across that way. Honestly, depending on where I am emotionally, I might even respond much the same way you did, if not out loud, at least in the back of my mind. In more than a few instances I have been very vocal here in expressing disagreement with Sheila, but I have never known her to blame the victim in anything.
        Sometimes nothing you do will make a difference, and that is tragic. In those cases, and I really believe there are more than the small percentage mentioned here, it really isn’t about you. People come into marriage with so much baggage these days. I did, My wife did. We both came from broken homes and we both were raised by alcoholic stepfathers who both happened to be combat veterans with PTSD. We absolutely had baggage. We all do. Sometimes that plays a major role. Sometimes it plays a more minor role, but sets the stage for later difficulties, based on the hurts and fears that we don’t even know we carry around, and it is only when those are surfaced in the marriage in some way that problems arise. I really think that Sheila downplays that to some degree. Personally, I think it plays a huge part.
        If you go down that list and none of them apply, then there is no reason to give them any more consideration. If one or more do apply, it may not make any difference at all if you try to correct it, but you should probably do so anyways.
        In any case, I can certainly empathize. I have been where you are, and I know how much it hurts. I wish I really could give you a list of things that would guarantee things magically turned around, but there isn’t one. This wasn’t meant to be one. It was just a list of things that could be an issue, and a suggestion of how to reconcile some of those things.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Chris, I’m sorry you’re frustrated. I am. But what I am telling you is that you are NOT necessarily the victim. In your marriage you very well may be. But in many, many sexless marriages, SHE has never received an orgasm. He has rushed through sex. He has pressured her when she was in pain. If she then gives up, is he really the victim?
        I know you are frustrated, but when I try, over and over again in so many posts, to let you know what your wife may very well be feeling, you tell me all the reasons that I am wrong. It seems like all you want to hear is how right you are, and how justified you are in being mad.
        But can you see that perhaps THAT attitude could be contributing to the sexlessness?
        There are actually many sexless marriages where he is the one deciding to be sexless, and I’ll be talking about that on Friday. And on Tuesday I did talk to lower libido spouses. There are many, many ways that this can play out, and I’m trying to cover all the bases. But if you aren’t able to see things from her point of view, I don’t see how things can ever get better in your marriage. So I guess you have to decide: Do I simply want to be justified in being angry? Or do I want to rebuild?

        • Chris

          Sheila, I owe you an apology for the rant. I don’t really feel anger about it. I did go through an anger phase though. No, right now i am passing into the end of my “frustration” phase and into the “apathy” phase. Which scares me because once I get fully into the apathy phase, i guess i will just file for divorce.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Yes, apathy is so dangerous. I think indifference is the opposite of love, not hate. Hate you still feel something.
            Have you ever been to a licensed counselor together? Really talk any of this through?

          • Chris

            Sheila, i went to a counselor a few times by myself. She wouldn’t go. She said there was nothing wrong with her. When I got into the details with the counselor, he was perplexed and didn’t know what to tell me. But it was still helpful to talk about it with someone.

          • Sarah O

            Please try again. There may be some clues in her first “no”, because you said she responded “there is nothing wrong with her”. That suggests a very adversarial dynamic.
            Maybe try something like: “both of us have a lot of great qualities and accomplishments as individuals, but for some reason our marriage relationship isn’t thriving. I’m happy to try something new, but I can’t figure all this out without your help. Can we please go get some new ideas of how we can work on this?”
            I think a lot of times people resist marriage counseling because they feel like they and their spouse are on different sides, and the person suggesting counseling is only trying to find a friend to gang up on their spouse with. If instead we are in collaboration and working on something together, then asking some advice becomes less vulnerable.

          • Dereck

            Hi Chris .

            Had a talk with God on the topic. He is the Designer in this case ,

            He came back with the “seek you My Kingdom first ….. ” sentence .
            So , I took His advice.

            That is why i’m sharing the same with you . God designed sexuality and everything that goes with it .
            Sex is a gift from Him , go on this journey with the actual Designer and see what happens .

  5. VHR

    Immediately after my husband I were married I started having very frequent and painful UTI’s. After every sexual encounter no matter how many prevention techniques I used, I always had an infection and was constantly running to the doctor and on antibiotics. Nothing I did helped. After six months of this (even a trip to the ER it was so bad), I was ready to never have sex again. And instead of receiving compassion from my husband, he gave me advice that we need to have more sex. His logic was that my body needed to adjust to being a wife and the quicker that happened the better. And so the mindset was reinforced that sex is not for me. My pleasure has nothing to do with it. I do not matter in the marriage bed. This is an extremely hard mindset to break. After over a decade of marriage, I still feel that sex has very little to do with me – other than my body has to show up.
    The UTI’s finally started to lesson in frequency after my infected gall bladder was removed. My immune system was on over load and couldn’t fight off infections in multiple spots of my body. That was year three of our marriage.
    I have never recovered from this horrible start. My husband has never apologized and I can’t seem to move past it. I just feel stuck. Even after all these years, sex is a duty and I can count on two hands the orgasms I have had. How does a wife try to move forward with out her husband understanding the amount of trauma that he helped cause? As much as I try and talk with him, he just doesn’t seem to understand. I want an intimate and passionate sex life and I need compassion and selflessness from him in the bedroom. I hope all husbands understand that.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry, VHR. I really am.
      Have you talked to him about how it isn’t okay that sex is one-sided, and that you both need to chart a path forward where sex is about you, too, and your pleasure is the primary consideration for a while (since it hasn’t been for years, and you both need to learn what to do to have your body respond, which likely includes fixing how you relate to each other as well?). It’s okay to say that you don’t want one-sided sex anymore. It really is. Saying that you want to figure out how to make it good for you, and what that may look like (even if you need to go to counseling), is okay, because sex is supposed to be mutual.
      In our orgasm course that’s coming out next month we’ll be talking to guys about how important it is that they understand and honor their wives’ bodies. I’m sorry that your husband never did that. I really am.

      • Diane Eberly

        Wow!! I can relate to all these questions!! We have gone through counseling recently but it’s still hard to heal and to get over the road blocks in my head!! I love your posts and hope to some day hear you in person!!

    • Doug Hoyle

      “I have never recovered from this horrible start. My husband has never apologized and I can’t seem to move past it. I just feel stuck.
      Even after all these years, sex is a duty and I can count on two hands the orgasms I have had. How does a wife try to move forward with out her husband understanding the amount of trauma that he helped cause? ”
      I wish there was a way to highlight or make text boldface. It would make commenting on individual remarks easier. Either way, I will try to offer some insight from my own perspective. We don’t always get those apologies, We don’t always get our own feelings acknowledged. In my remarks above, I left out a lot, specifically what I had to forgive, and the fact that it has never been acknowledged. I never got an apology or an acknowledgement of what I lost. For a long time, I believed that I couldn’t be healed without those things, and quite honestly, as long as I believed that, I couldn’t. It may have taken longer. It certainly added to the list of things I had to forgive and that complicated things. What I can tell you is that I have learned to accept that it may never happen, and if that is true, I I have to accept it, or forever be shackled by it. There are times that I really wish for it, particularly on a few occasions a year where the weight of it all really bears down on me. It may be that I am standing in the way myself, because it is something that I can’t bring myself to talk about with my wife. Maybe some day I will, but for now, I have more work to do on myself before I get to that point.
      In the mean time, I just don’t hold it against her.

    • Alan

      Wow, these UTIs started “immediately” after you got married; how convenient.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Actually, Alan, yes, this is very common. Why do you presume that she is lying? Talk to any medical professional, and they will tell you that beginning intercourse often triggers UTIs in some women. I’ve written posts about the phenomenon before. Perhaps you should check your medical information before presuming someone is lying?

  6. Jane Eyre

    This is a very thoughtful list, Sheila. I like how you do include the fact that for 7% of sexless marriages, none of those factors (pain, anorgasmia, etc.) are present: it’s a small minority but it exists, and the presence of one group does not erase the presence of the other group.
    Before I got married, I got a really good piece or marital advice delivered with incredible tact: don’t fight the way my parents fight; my parents are divorced (then divorced some more), and the way they fight is a factor is why they are divorced. Not that I succeed in doing this… it’s just something I try really hard to not do and ask again and again for grace when I fail. (It goes beyond fighting: in the most recent parental marriage fail, one spouse cut off intercourse entirely. Ergo, something I do not do, regardless of how much I dislike sex.)
    The flip side is: if you’re uncertain about whether or not something is okay to do to your spouse, think about the couple’s you know who have been married for 40 or 50 years. Picture one of them doing that to the other. Picture how they would likely handle the situation.
    Couples can find a zillion ways of functionally and happily arranging their work schedules, childrearing, home life, and finances, but the fruitful and functional ways to *relate* to each other are actually kind of limited.
    When I read this list (which is very thoughtful), it seems like a list of “things that maybe aren’t obviously bad (as in, good people can find themselves doing this) but are obviously not the ways that happily married people treat each other.”

    • Just “L” this time

      What if YOUR the one who depersonalized sex, for reasons you don’t 100% understand?
      What if hearing you named said makes you immediately stop feeling aroused?
      What you and your husband are perpetually exhausted during this very long season, and this depersonalization allows sex to happen quick enough that it happens somewhat frequently instead of 1-2/month?
      What if at the end of it all, you realize that sex feels hollow? That it doesn’t make you feel “used” (after all, you started it), but it does make you feel sad?
      What then?

      • Just “L” this time

        Sorry, I meant for this comment to stand alone, not as a response to Jane.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        That’s a great question, L! I think dissociation is really common among many of us for all kinds of reasons. It’s one of the most common questions I got in my Sex Questions You Can’t Ask Your Pastor event. Perhaps I should devote a whole series to it sometime coming up, too?
        I think we need to better understand what our sexual fantasies/drives are trying to tell us, and then learn how to foster real intimacy, despite what our brokenness may be demanding. Listen to what your fantasies tell you, but don’t let them take control of you.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m reminded of what Tolstoy said in Anna Karenina (one of my favourite quotes of all time): “Happy marriages are all alike, but unhappy marriages are unhappy in their own way.”
      Exactly. “The fruitful and functional ways to *relate* to each other are actually kind of limited.”
      When we focus on treating each other unselfishly, things tend to work. But when selfishness gets all bunged up, it does have some dire consequences.

  7. Emmy

    I would like to add one point that can cause a lot of trouble. I’m not sure how exactly call it, but in lack of a better term, let’s call it sexual purism. It goes somehow like this: one of the spouses believes the ONLY right way to have sex is – – – .
    You may fill the gap with many different things such as “for procreation” or “pure PIV” or “in the dark” or “with him on top”. You just name it.
    And when the other spouse wants to try something different or even just talk about it, the puristically oriented partner responses with a Bible verse pulled out of context or just freezes.
    Sexual purism may be connected with the purity movement but not necessarily. Many religious groups for centuries have had their form of sexual purism.
    I find this sexual purism a big problem, because it is religious by nature. It makes the other spouse feel being a bad Christian or Jew or just “impure”, for not being able to live with these kind of restrictions. It is also very hard to go against it by using reason or scientific arguments.
    And as Christian who wants to obey God and save sex for marriage, there is hardly a way for you to know if your becoming spouse has been affected by sexual purism.

  8. Nathan

    > > 2. Did you take time to ensure that your wife felt pleasure?
    I have to admit that I’ve been guilty of this before. I’ve tried to turn it around and focus on her as well, but in the past I haven’t been as good about this as I should have been

  9. Tory

    I don’t want to be snarky but I am really mystified that this even needs to be said. Are there really men out there who just don’t care if their wife doesn’t have an orgasm or at least gets some pleasure? Why did they even get married? 🤔 I’m not talking about the men who post here saying that their wife has never had an orgasm but that they are earnestly trying to make things better for her. How can you be turned on unless your partner is also into it? Shaking my head here…And are there men who don’t bathe or brush their teeth before sex? Is this not a given? So confused…

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yeah, it’s a thing. Whenever I write about hygiene, I get so many letters from women desperate because their husbands shower once a week, or won’t brush their teeth. It’s awful. And many, many, many women who report that their husbands won’t do foreplay, because intercourse should be enough. It’s truly awful.

      • Emmy

        “And many, many, many women who report that their husbands won’t do foreplay, because intercourse should be enough. ”
        Indeed. I’m married to one such a guy. I’m really puzzled, where on earth does it come from. I know it is not out of malice. He really is convinced foreplay does not “belong”. It is not that he would not want me to have any pleasure. He rather takes for granted I automatically do.
        I’d be interested to do some book study on older Christian marriage books, ltet’s say older than the La Haye’s. I suspect at least some aspects of the problem could be traced to them.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          LaHaye’s was originally out in 1976 I believe, and it did actually talk about how intercourse didn’t do it for women (which was a big revelation at the time). Other parts of that book were horrendously problematic (including marital rape), but at least he got that right.
          But even when you look at more recent books, like Love & Respect (written in 2004), it never once–never ONCE–talks about how sex should be pleasurable for women, but just about how men need physical release. I think when you hear that message enough, you do start to think that women are complaining if they don’t like “sex” (and they define sex as only intercourse). It’s a very male-centered way of looking at it unfortunately.

          • Natalie

            My husband wasn’t raised in the church so he thankfully bypassed a lot of the damaging teachings about sex there are. But when I didn’t orgasm for the first 7 years of our relationship, even he came to the conclusion that my body must just be broken. In the early days, he tried to stimulate my clit or reach in and find the g-spot, but he was very rough and didn’t use lube and we were both too young and inexperienced to know any better. I don’t think it’s a Christian teaching but an overall cultural myth that women should be in tune with their sexualities like men are, and for so many women, that’s just not the case. Men are not taught to cover up and hide their sexuality like women are (specifically in religious upbringings). And mind you, my husband is an extremely kind, empathetic, caring man and always has been… which is also why it baffled me so much that we had such awful, physical-exchange-like sex for nearly a decade! But when I didn’t orgasm after a month of him trying to figure out my body when we were both 19, he and I both concluded that it must be my body was broken, not that he still had more work to do to figure me out or that I had more work to do in uncovering and embracing my sexual side. I’m sure there are many good men out there like my husband who are just rather clueless about sex and think trying new things will result in instant results. After all, our culture is very much oriented towards instant gratification.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I think this is very, very true, Natalie. A really common dynamic.

          • Emmy

            When we married, La Haye’s book was the most recent and in some sense “the best” there was. Another popular work was ny Ed and Gaye Wheat. I believe the English title was Love for Two or something like that.
            Before La Haye and Wheat, books by Walter and Ingrid Trobish were popular. I would not call them bad, not at all. They had some very good points. Especially their advice for teen agers was balanced in a period of time where the Purity Movement was raising.
            Their books are, however, of no help, when there are real problems with sex. On the contrary, they feed sexual purism. According to Ingrid Trobish, a grown up woman was supposed to reach an orgasm through PIV sex only. If she did not, she was not really grown up but stuck in thelittle girl phase.
            I have not read all their books yet, but I’m going to make a project of it- I’ll let you know what I find out.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Yes, LaHaye had the same thing: and not just reach orgasm through intercourse, but simultaneous intercourse (which is lovely and which is a great aim, but only the minority get there). And he was very adamant that oral sex was wrong.

          • Anon

            As a newlywed, I’ve read some recent stuff which isn’t any better – ironically, it was recommended to me by someone who also recommends your own writings, which raises the troubling idea that a lot of people simply recommend anything labelled ‘Christian’, without regard to the content, since many of the other articles I was advised to read are in complete contradiction to those on this blog!
            One of the other writers did say sex should be mutually pleasurable, but it was very much along the lines of ‘if you do this, sex will be less likely to hurt you’ and the advice to the new groom was ‘this will reduce the amount of pain your bride experiences’. The wife’s job was just to lie there and have stuff ‘done’ to her, which ‘hopefully’ won’t hurt too much, but if it does, she’s got to put up with it anyway… And all the others were even worse – as a wife, it’s your job to please your man, if sex hurts it’s your fault, if he gets angry with you for not being ‘good enough’ at it, it’s your fault… I am SO glad that I found this blog along with all the other stuff, because if I’d gone into marriage with my head filled up with all that rubbish, I think our sex life would either be terrible or nonexistent.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Oh, wow! That’s so terrible. As for this, “which raises the troubling idea that a lot of people simply recommend anything labelled ‘Christian’, without regard to the content,” I think this is really true. In fact, I would have put myself in that category. I used to think that because a book is Christian, it must be teaching similar things to what I’m teaching. I’ve shared before about how I used to recommend Love & Respect because I assumed it was good. I hadn’t read a lot of Christian books because I didn’t want to plagiarize, so I just assumed they all said the same thing, from different angles. Boy was I wrong!

        • Doug

          I imagine you could trace it back much farther than that.

  10. Doug Hoyle

    I have a comment on number 2. Maybe it is more of a question, so I would appreciate some insight.
    First, I have to admit that on occasion I have probably failed in this area, but I would say that it is a rare occasion because I have always enjoyed her pleasure. If anything, It is likely that I pushed too hard the other direction, when she was not only willing to forgo an orgasm, but preferred to do so. I don’t have any idea what normal is. I know that if my wife and I had sex every day for a week, she might let me bring her to orgasm once. Since our frequency is considerably less than that, I try to get her there at every sexual encounter. On occasion, they have been strictly for her.
    So I find myself in a very real quandry of not ever knowing what to expect. If I push too hard for her orgasm, she gets increasingly irritable until I back off, but I know from a long string of experience, that if I don’t push at all, it won’t happen. Even when she is completely generous, she is reluctant to allow me to be, if that makes sense. I have to read her mood and guess her desire pretty precisely. Sometimes I can just wing it, and say “It’s been a week, and she would probably be receptive to enjoying her own orgasm, but that really is winging it. Sometimes it may be 2 or 3 weeks or longer. If you are wondering, she really doesn’t have difficulty reaching an orgasm, so it isn’t that. She just doesn’t want one most of the time, for whatever reason, and I am left trying to figure out when she might.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s actually a really good question, Doug, and that’s something that a lot of couples deal with. If he wants her to have an orgasm, and she says, “I’m really okay with not having one tonight, I just want to do this for you?”, what’s he supposed to do?
      I think I’d like Keith to talk about this one with me on the podcast some time, because it is tricky. I think often women know, “I just have too much on my mind, but I want to give him a gift,” and that’s okay occasionally. but if it becomes all the time, it’s a problem. And I know sometimes women can think they won’t tonight, but if husbands are persistent they can get there. Other times, if husbadns are persistent, women get mad because they just want to get to sleep.
      Not an easy one for sure! But great question.

    • Tory

      @Doug, what jumped out at me while reading your post is that you were speculating a lot about how your wife might feel or what she may want. I think you two need to have a conversation about this instead of just making assumptions. For me, when I first got married I had a high sex drive but having an orgasm with my husband was a learning curve. There were times I felt bad and thought I was “too much work” for him, and I had also internalized the message that sex was primarily for the man. My husband had never done or said anything to cause this, it was an assumption I made on my own. So, as a result, I only “allowed” him to bring me to orgasm every third encounter or so. It wasn’t until years later when my husband approached me to have a conversation about it, and he basically said “I want every encounter to be mutual and I want us both to climax, what will it take to get there?” For me, realizing that he prioritized and enjoyed my orgasm led to a shift in my mindset. Now that the expectation is there that we both climax, I’ve allowed myself to go ahead and enjoy it and not feel guilty that it’s taking too long or is too much work. I suggest you have a similar conversation with your wife.

      • Darren

        My marriage isn’t sexless yet but it is on its way there. Since my wife and I got married last year August our sex frequency has been on a gradual decline from 4 times on our 7 day honeymoon to 1-3 times in a month.
        We have sought counseling, I have apologized repeatedly for past offenses, I have done better with hygiene, I help around the house, I cover half of our bills. None of that makes a difference.
        I identified 6 questions out of the 10 that apply to us. So I’m going to write the apology letter you suggested.
        However, I have been becoming more indifferent lately. I’ve asked God to take my desire away. Because it’s better not to have a need than have a need that goes constantly unmet. I hate feeling frustrated and rejected most of the time. It’s not like she doesn’t have orgasms. We both climax 95% of the time. But she just has a lower libido than I do and that is further lowered by how much of a failure I am at giving her everything she wants.
        Some of husbands are really trying but our wives simply don’t want to meet us half way.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Oh, dear, Darren, I’m so sorry. I’m glad you’re in counseling. If your first counsellor didn’t work, please see another. You’re still early in your marriage; please fight for it, because you can turn this around. I’m curious as to what you mean by being a failure at giving her what she wants. Do you mean material things? Like she only wants a certain lifestyle? If that’s the case, that is definitely a major problem and red flag.

          • Sarah O

            That sounds like an alarming place to be in so early in your marriage…You say you only married last year but 6 out of 10 apply plus “past offenses” plus impending sexlessness…
            Did you have any premarital counseling? Do either of you have a history of living in unsafe environments?
            If possible, you may want to consider doing an intensive weekend together. Whether or not you can save the relationship, it’s important to know if you have coping habits that may sabotage your ability to relate to others in a healthy way.
            Here’s one option for intensives, you can find others. Wishing you the very best.

      • Doug

        Thanks for your comment. We should absolutely be more open and talk more, but it is always a struggle. Sex in particular, is a subject that my wife just won’t discuss, tho we have made some inroads there.
        As far as her orgasm goes, her being able to have one really has never been an issue,. I think we figured that out on the first try, tho it was likely just blind luck. Neither of us really knew what we were doing. In any case, while it has occasionally taken more time than others, for the most part it hasn’t really changed much. If anything, I have learned how to get her there sooner.
        Just somewhere along the line, gradually, her desire to have one fell off to the point it is now. Sheila mentioned the whole “let me go to sleep” thing, and it might have started then when she was pretty worn out from everything when our son was little, and has just stayed there. Honestly, that was so long ago, I wouldn’t even begin to guess, but it seems plausible.

  11. Ed

    Shouldn’t one of the questions that a husband should ask his wife as to why she doesn’t want sex is whether or not she is using porn or erotica?
    I note that the question wasn’t asked in this blog post but was asked today’s blog post, “8 Questions to Ask if Your Husband Doesn’t Want Sex”:
    1. Is porn use a part of your husband’s present or past?
    Why is a wife’s use of porn, erotica or fantasy (or for that matter, an emotional or physical affair) not a reason as to why she might reject sexual overtures from her husband but for a husband, porn use is a reason why he might reject sexual overtures from his wife?
    Wouldn’t it be logical presumption that a wife might reject her husband sexually if she is being sexually or emotionally unfaithful in some way?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Ed, the difference is that when a husband uses porn, it tends to lower his libido. It doesn’t work the same for women. When women use porn or erotica, they often want sex MORE–the difference is they tend to dissociate when having sex, so that they’re fantasizing. Men often can’t perform when they’re heavily involved in porn; women can’t either, to the extent that they can’t be mentally present. But they can cover it better.
      So it just tends not to manifest itself in the same way, though it can be a factor.
      I will likely do a whole series on dissociation soon.

      • Doug

        I don’t know. In the case of porn, I tend to think you are probably right and it doesn’t present that way.
        In the case of an emotional affair, or a physical one, I think it could go either way. The heart behind the affair matters. If that heart has already emotionally left the marriage, I would think that could very well show itself as a lower drive. It isn’t necessesarily that the woman has a lower drive but that drive is not and has not been directed towards her husband. Not everyone who reaches that level of unhappiness in their marriage will have an affair, but some do and many of them have already removed themselves from physical intimacy.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yes, I think you’re right about affairs. I didn’t deal with them in either the men’s questions or the women’s questions because I guess I assumed that if an affair is happening, people would notice that or figure it out. But perhaps I should have put them in. I was thinking about the case where it was a long-standing issue (like years) so I didn’t think affairs would really be a big factor.

  12. Ed

    So, you’re saying that wives who are being sexually unfaithful through porn, erotica or affairs will not diminish, avoid or cut off sexual interactions with their husbands?
    In other words, they’ll still be active sexual participants with their husbands with no change in sexual frequency?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s often the case, yes, far more than the other way around, because they’re using the erotica/porn etc to get “turned on” and then find it easier to orgasm through intercourse by continuing the fantasy.
      Not always, of course, I’m just saying that this is far more common than with men, who often find it more difficult to perform when porn is an issue.
      The problem, of course, is that the women aren’t really “there”, and so this does need to be dealt with. It just shows up differently.

      • Ed

        I think that if a wife is having an emotional or physical affair, then she is more likely to flat out sexually reject her husband or at least diminish the level of their activity. I don’t think that there’s a gender difference here. Spouses, both husband and wives, who are cheating with other people tend to divert their passion away from their spouse and towards their affair partner.
        However, if a wife is being sexually unfaithful via porn and/or erotica but the sexual frequency and intensity between her and her husband is staying the same or even increasing because of the extra stimulation that she’s receiving, then how is her husband supposed to know that there is a problem?
        And once he knows that there is a problem, will he even be able to comprehend it since apparently he is not being overtly sexually rejected?
        It’s almost seems like your indirectly implying that a spouse’s porn or erotica use hurts wives more than husbands because wives are more likely to be sexually rejected.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          All I’m saying, Ed, is that it shows up differently, and so that’s why I’m not talking about it in the low libido section. Like I said, I’m hoping to do a series on dissociation in a little while, but it just shows up differently. It’s not that I think one is worse than the other; it’s simply that I’m talking about them at different times when they fit the topics. I can’t talk about everything at once, that’s all.

    • E

      As a wife who has had several different versions of affairs (emotional, online and physical) and a history of reading erotica, some porn use and a long running history of fantasy while masturbating, I can say that I had more sex, that was often more ‘spicy’ or whatever when I was having the affairs etc (also a long history of dissociating during sex) than any other time.
      Also, now that I am trying really hard to have a Godly sex life, not using fantasy/dissociation, my husband often complains about how boring our sex is.
      I know that he is mourning the ‘spicy’ sex, and I can totally understand his viewpoint, so I cling to the hope that if I (we) work hard at having sex the right way, we will heal enough to either be able to do more ‘spicy’ things, or we will become satisfied with a truly intimate sexual experience that is truly relational and ‘knowing’ each other.
      I too mourn the fact that I had to learn that this what sex is supposed to be like the hard way, and I am a long way from being ‘cured’.
      All that to say that until I actually spoke up, my husband had absolutely NO idea that this dissociation/fantasy was going on in our sex life, and I was always able to ‘perform’, even though there were major sin issues going on under the surface.

  13. A

    #2: Explained, then mentioned what should have been/should be done early in marriage, but nothing says what might be done to fix this if it’s been going on for years as is mentioned. Suggestions, please? Thanks!

  14. Allerise Williams

    Firstly I want to say thank you for this article. I only wish I could have found it while in my marriage – it was 18 years of at least 9 of the above points. It left me feeling broken and feeling worthless or more to the point, my worth was defined in the quality of sex I could provide my husband with! He even kept count on a calendar of when we had sex or not and whether he considered it good quality or not. I really thought I was a broken woman until the love of an amazing man made me realize that it wasn’t me. Your article names all the feelings I had experienced but could never put into words.

  15. Never O.

    Check, check, checks (for all
    10.) Its been a very long journey, and I can’t see my husband changing anytime soon. His most used line for when I try to explain my pain during sex is, “It hurts me too.” Nope. Sorry buddy, it actually physically does. Not.


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