Do You Ever Feel Rejected When Your Husband Seems to Prefer Sleep to Sex?

by | Jan 13, 2021 | Libido, Uncategorized | 53 comments

I wonder: since we’ve grown up believing so much that men want sex all the time, then when he doesn’t initiate sex, do women feel rejected?

I’m not talking about the rejection that higher drive wives feel (that’s real, and that’s difficult, and I’ve got a series on what to do if your husband doesn’t want sex here.)

I mean that even lower drive wives can feel rejected, even if they don’t want sex themselves, if their husbands don’t proposition them.

I want to talk today about the dynamic where he has a libido and does want sex…but it may not be everyday. He’s perfectly healthy, there’s no porn use, he just isn’t necessarily always trying to get sex. 

Tomorrow on the podcast we’re featuring Rachel Joy Welcher, who wrote Talking Back to Purity Culture (which is a great book!). Rebecca and I had a great conversation with her that I know you’ll enjoy. But as I read her book over the weekend, I came across this part that stirred up some thoughts:

I thought sex would be my magical wifely power, able to comfort and cure anything that ailed my husband. Because I was told that he would want sex constantly, I experienced deep and unnecessary rejection when he wasn’t in the mood. Men had been painted as sex machines, not human beings who experience tiredness, sickness, and stress, just like everyone else. (p. 98)

Rachel Joy Welcher

Talking Back to Purity Culture

Earlier she’s recounting a conversation she had with two men, Blake and John, who are good husbands with normal sex drives, but who chafed at the description of men as sex machines. Welcher writes:

“I went into my marriage with certain expectations,” Blake told us. “Things people were telling me, like men crave sex six times more than women do.”

“Where did you hear that?” I asked him.

“One of the megachurch pastors was on stage with his wife and they were breaking it down.” He continued, “A wife might think her husband is looking at pornography, when really, maybe he just had a long day, and if you sit still long enough, you’re going to fall asleep.”

We all laughed. I thought about times I’ve interpreted my husband’s tiredness as rejection and other woman who have shared similar experiences. It is a deep pain, pressed deeper still by the stereotype that men always want sex. Women wonder if there is something wrong with their body, their perfume, or their performance in bed. They wrack their brains trying to figure out what they are doing wrong. Shouldn’t their husband always want them? (p. 57-58)

Rachel Joy Welcher

Talking Back to Purity Culture

When  he doesn’t want sex everyday, she often interprets it as rejection, because she hears that men’s sexual appetites are insatiable, and he can’t feel close to her without sex.

As Blake and John continue to discuss this with Rachel, one makes the observation that it’s not so much that Christian men are obsessed with sex as it is that they are immersed in sex. Christian manhood is almost always defined as:

  • Getting a job and providing
  • Wanting sex a lot (and working at being good at it)
  • Lifting lots of weights and being physically strong

Sex is so much of the male conversation that the church ends up reinforcing negative stereotypes. Just because some men struggle with lust doesn’t mean all do; just because some men struggle with porn doesn’t mean all do. But when we talk constantly about these struggles, it can give the impression that real men lust and struggle with porn and want sex all the time, and only “wimps” don’t (like we were talking about yesterday).

That ends up hurting men, who can feel “unmasculine” or “beta” if they actually treat women like whole people, and it hurts women who can feel rejected by a husband who isn’t sex obsessed.

Right now Keith and I are writing The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex, and I’d like to include some stories from this perspective in it, because I don’t think this is talked about enough.

So I thought I’d just ask a question today: have unrealistic expectations about sex and your husband’s sexual appetite ever left you feeling rejected, even when your husband is simply acting like a normal guy? What was that like for you? Did you ever talk about it? How have you worked that through?

I’d love to about it!

(And get ready for tomorrow’s podcast with Rachel, because it’s awesome!).


And if you do have difficulty because your husband doesn’t want sex and it’s a perpetual problem, here are some other posts that can help:

Women Feel Rejected if husbands prefer sleep to sex

Let me know: Have unrealistic expectations about a husband’s “sex machine” libido ever left you feeling rejected? How did you work it out? Or if you’re a guy, has that stereotype hurt you? Let’s talk!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of 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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53 Comments

  1. M

    This definitely affected me. I remember once telling my husband in a revelatory moment… “I don’t want sex but I want you to want it.”
    We kinda laughed and realized how ridiculous my problem was.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      HA! That’s perfect. That’s exactly what I think so many women feel. (Not to discount high drive wives who are really frustrated; but this is the sort of silly dynamic that this teaching causes; it creates problems where there are none).

      Reply
      • Joanna

        How much is enough though?. I know you’ve talked about a lot here on the blog. My husband physically only wants it once a week and even then he could go without. I think I want it everyday? But is that because I’ve believed stereotypes and have felt rejected for so many years? We have had two really long conversations the last week about this. I am upset because doesn’t even try to initiate. He’s annoyed that I want it more than he does. Uggh.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Oh, that’s tough! I don’t think there’s a number that’s “enough” that works for everyone in every circumstance. I think what’s important is that BOTH partners feel desired and BOTH feel pursued, at least some of the time.
          Your high drive doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve believed stereotypes and you’ve been frustrated. You just may have a naturally high drive! I wish I could write more about how to deal with that frustration, but it’s hard to think of anything more to say. But I think communicating that you do need to be pursued as well is completely valid.

          Reply
  2. libl

    Yes! How much this fueled my anxiety in our marriage, and when I went seeking help I only found two toxic sources, porn and evangelical church teachings, both of which basically told me to be more attractive, submissive, and that it was all my fault for not being or doing enough.
    Imagine if someone simply explained the truth, the science, the psychology, the biology, the individuality of men, my man. Now, when he refuses, I don’t feel rejected or ugly or unworthy and I can respect his boundaries and needs, schedules, and just how he feels that day. And, letting all this nonsense go has improved our sex life and frequency.
    There is a side effect, though. I can’t stand most movies and TV shows these days that perpetuate that lie, that stereotype. It is just one big “ew” and eyeroll.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks so much, libl! That’s helpful. I want to make sure in our book that we do explain that normal exists on a range, and it doesn’t have to look one way.

      Reply
  3. K

    We never expected hubby to have 3 surgeries in less than a year – one minor and two major. His libido never bounced back. I have a low libido, so it hasn’t been a sexual frustration for me. He is actually more frustrated in that aspect, that his body isn’t able to do what it used to do. But emotionally it does hurt. I know it’s no one’s “fault”, but there are still moments I feel guilty that I’m not enough to make his body work.

    Reply
  4. Tory

    Yes, the teachings I grew up with related to sexuality perpetuated negative stereotypes and hurt my marriage! We married as virgins at age 21 after dating since high school. I was very much looking forward to sex; and was very surprised when my new husband didn’t want sex every day. Some days he just wanted to cuddle and watch a movie and fall asleep. We have been married 17 years and he has always been this way. I wouldn’t say he is low drive, but he definitely isn’t high drive. He also told me he doesn’t really struggle with lust and he doesn’t think about sex itself that often. There’s nothing pathological about this, but it has left me feeling very rejected throughout most of our marriage because i wasn’t being pursued the way I had expected. It took years of honest conversation and some marriage counseling for me to finally believe him and accept him. Interestingly enough, he also doesn’t want sex if we are in an argument or emotionally disconnected— he wants us to fix the conflict first, and have some quality time, before connecting on a physical level. This is the opposite of what I’d been taught about men. I thought sex would be my magic trick to resolve things between us 😜 but he is more complicated than that. I had to learn to see my husband as a unique individual, rather than put him in a box just because “all men are supposed to be like THIS “.

    Reply
  5. Sienna

    Yes, and it absolutely broke my heart. We’d been married for 2 months when I realized that my husband could happily go weeks without touching me. I was 21. I thought it was my fault and did everything in my power to change it – weight loss, lingerie, being as exciting or boring as he wanted. But that was the issue, he never wanted anything.
    I discovered that there are two options for women like me. Stay the higher libido partner and continue to have my heart broken. Or somehow drop my libido to uninterested levels.
    There is no cultural pressure on men to respond to their wives sexually. My husband quite comfortably told me that this was just the way he was.
    He broke my heart a thousand times over.
    Eventually, I stopped caring about him, about that angle of our relationship, and the SSRI I started taking killed my libido.
    He was finally happy.
    It’s been nearly a decade now, nearly a decade of spending my twenties in a cold bedroom.
    I’m used to it now.

    Reply
  6. AspenP

    I was totally disillusioned as a new bride. All I had ever heard was how much he needed it and couldn’t help himself. Imagine my surprise when he could pretty much take it or leave it after a few months of marriage. I wondered what was wrong with me, if I wasn’t attractive enough, if I was doing something wrong, etc. (all kinds of rejection).
    We go to a non-denominational mega church and the way the pastors talk about sex (when they rarely do) it has always highlighted how much they chase their wives around which has always been stark contrast to my married experience. If I don’t initiate and pursue sex, we can go literal months without him even seeming like he’s missed anything. Quite the adjustment.

    Reply
  7. H

    This resonates. However, my husband has had previous sexual partners and they had regular sex a few times a week, whereas we’re lucky if it happens twice a month. So it’s both that the Church set me up to believe he would want it all the time, and I know that in his past he had sex more than he has with me. And it’s not like he initiates and I shut it down… It’s complicated though, we have a lot of problems. But I feel constant rejection.

    Reply
  8. Kristina G

    Read the introductory paragraph for on Facebook for this post, and went, “yes, yes, yup, yes!” What you wrote exactly described how I felt in the first bit of our marriage. I’m not quite your target audience, as I am and have been the higher drive our whole marriage. And that was not something I expected whatsoever. When we were dating/engaged, my husband was the boundary pusher, so I didn’t expect that to change after we got married. But being tired and dealing with work stress take a major toll on his drive. And not only did I feel disappointment that we were having less sex than I anticipated, but I also felt like it was something I was doing wrong, especially when I got pregnant 6 weeks into marriage and I STILL had a higher drive than him.
    Fortunately, we’ve figured out this dynamic, both coming to realize that neither one is wrong or broken, this is just how life is shaking out for us. And this past year we had sex about 40% more times than our previous 3 years of marriage, yay! (Despite my fatigue from pregnancy and now 3 kids under 3.5, and my chronic illness.)

    Reply
  9. HeirOfBlack

    I’ve definitely felt this way. However I found out that the whole time my husband seemed to have a low drive was because he was watching porn. I felt very rejected because I couldn’t understand how he could be okay having sex once a week if that.
    I think for me it comes from a place of trauma, in my case, child abuse. I felt that sexual attention was the only way I felt wanted or desired and so when I didn’t receive it, I didn’t feel loved or wanted.

    Reply
      • HeirOfBlack

        I’ve read all of your posts on porn use a hundred times over 😅 But yes, it definitely caused a lot of the trauma to resurface and had caused me even more trauma. I have developed severe depression now because of it and have no self worth left. But at least he is trying now to fix himself and our marriage.
        I wish there were more mens books out there that discussed women and sexuality in a healthy manner rather than boy having to grow up with Eldredge or Eggerich.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          We’re working on one right now! Unfortunately it won’t be out for a year (The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex). But it will cover healthy sexuality.

          Reply
  10. Anon

    So far it hasn’t been an issue for us. As an older, newly-married couple, and with some health issues in the equation too, we went into marriage knowing that we were likely to have some physical limitations on how often we had sex. And we agreed from the start that either of us has total freedom to say if we just want to cuddle or go straight to sleep instead of doing something more ‘energetic’! We’ve only chosen the ‘straight to sleep’ option about 3 nights in the last 6 months, and I think it’s largely due to having the freedom to communicate what we want. So nights when we’re both quite tired, we’ll often say ‘let’s see how far we get’ – and surprise ourselves! I reckon the freedom to say ‘sorry, I’m suddenly really tired, can we sleep now’ without the other person taking it as rejection has been one of the most beneficial things in our sex life, because it takes all the pressure away.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, my goodness, that’s such a great insight! I may put that in a book I’m writing right now. Thank you! The ability to say no truly does give people the freedom to say yes!

      Reply
      • Anon

        Definitely the ability to say ‘no’ is vital! Especially for any couple who are dealing with health issues. We have a rule that either of us can ask to stop at any point and it has been so freeing. Some of our ‘best’ nights have been when I didn’t initially feel well enough to do much, but knowing I could call a halt at any moment took the pressure right off and it’s surprising where that can lead!!! If I knew my husband was going to get sulky or resentful if we didn’t go all the way, I’d just be thinking ‘I’m in too much pain for that, so it’s best if we don’t do anything’!

        Reply
      • DD

        I know that this is not your current subject but, my wife keeps promising “tonight” but falls asleep anyway. Then when morning comes and we have time she’s not interested.

        Reply
  11. Melissa W

    I think I was a bit surprised when we were first married that my husband didn’t want sex everyday but I never felt rejected because of it. He just told me that sex was just better when there was some time in between, even just a day or two in between. That there is something to build up and anticipation. Quality over quantity. And I actually agreed with him. Even now, 23 years later and even though it doesn’t happen often, sex after a week of none is really intense and amazing. There is something to be said for building up desire and longing. So, it was every other day or every three days, which was fine because every encounter was amazing and has only gotten better with time. I also made sure to take the whole of our relationship into account as opposed to just looking at our sex life to determine how he felt about me. Was he loving, was he serving me, was he making time for me, was I his number one priority, did he communicate his heart to me, did he affirm me with his words, did he touch me in non-sexual ways (kiss me, hug me, hold me, hold my hand, cuddle with me) and did I feel loved by him. Since the answer to all of those was yes then it was logically ridiculous to think that only wanting sex every other day instead of everyday was a rejection of me but in fact was just our natural rhythm as a couple that met the needs of both of us. We have had to talk recently, in our mid to late 40s, about adjusting our schedule to make sure we aren’t too tired. He got a new job in August that is much faster paced and more stressful and has him just beat at the end of the day. Between getting older and this job he needs more sleep than he used to, so we have to get into bed earlier than we have ever had to in order to make sure we have time for us whether it is sex or just cuddling and talking. I still make sure to look at our relationship as a whole though before allowing myself to roll down the emotional path of feeling rejected when there is nothing in our relationship that would otherwise indicate that. It’s a balancing act of taking my thoughts and feelings captive and evaluating them against reality and what I know to be true!

    Reply
  12. Happily Married

    I grew up in a strict purity culture movement centered entirely on a man’s need for sex. I was told all through highschool that men want sex all the time and once you’re married just make sure it happens every day. As an older woman said “it only takes 15 minutes to meet his needs.” Knowing, since puberty, I had a high drive I thought my husband would be over the moon once we got married. We were both virgins. I was absolutely stunned when I found out he didn’t want or need sex every day. I was truly lost and heartbroken and it took several years of pain, resentment and some difficult conversations.to work through it. Thankfully, we have settled into a rythem of how many times each month we have sex. We have learned to better communicate our needs. I don’t understand why the focus has always been on the man needing sex rather than teaching newlyweds how to communicate with each other about one another’s specific needs. It would have saved so much heartbreak. My husband has a DIFFERENT drive than mine. It’s not even all that much lower. He does have a healthy desire for sex, he just doesn’t need it three times a day. His drive just felt low because of what I had always been told men are like (which is an incredibly unhealthy view of men, btw).

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s so well put, Happily Married! It makes me sad that so many couples are feeling rejection when their drives are actually pretty similar.

      Reply
  13. Elsie

    My heart is breaking reading some of the comments and many of them resonate with me as a higher drive wife. I know this post isn’t directed to high drive wives but I still found it helpful
    I grew up in the height of purity culture but was fortunate that I didn’t absorb most of the negative teachings about sex. However the one lie that I really internalized was the idea that men always want sex all the time. So I assumed that most marriage problems were due to a negative view of sex by women and since I was sex positive, I naively figured I would have no problems with sex in my marriage since everything I read implied that sexual issues in marriage were caused by women not wanting sex.
    I was caught so off guard when it turned out that my husband only wanted sex infrequently. There have been times that I felt angry and hopeless. This is a real problem that we need to work on, however, the thought that my husband must not love me if he doesn’t want sex tonight definitely makes the problem even worse. I’ve had to reframe and remember that my husbands lower drive doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love me and that he is a person who gets tired and run down just like I do.
    Hope the church will start teaching about this in a more honest and realistic way. Thanks for advocating for healthier teaching, Sheila!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      This sentence: “I’ve had to reframe and remember that my husbands lower drive doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love me and that he is a person who gets tired and run down just like I do.” I think is so important.
      We’re told (not just by church, either!! Think about all the TV shows that perpetuate this, too) that men are ready and raring to go literally all the time. But I think having a more person-centric view of our spouse’s sexuality versus a roles-centric view can help bridge a lot of misunderstandings. Sexuality is a part of a whole person; not an isolated aspect. But this discussion of “men want it all the time” takes their sexuality and divorces it from the rest of their being.
      It can be such a shock when women have been raised to believe that men show love through wanting to have sex to discover that some men really do love you a lot, but don’t want sex 6 times a day.

      Reply
      • Elsie

        So true, Rebecca! Great point – we unfortunately get this false teaching from both church and our culture.

        Reply
      • Julie

        …or 6 times a month!

        Reply
  14. Hopeful

    I’ve always been a higher drive wife but all these comments really resonate with me.
    I came into marriage also thinking that the only problem there would be was if I didn’t want sex. And I was eager and ready to be the best wife ever and always be there for my husband etc.
    I was shocked when he rejected me on our honeymoon already.
    He did eventually confess a porn addiction and I believe that contributed a lot to the problem.
    However , he is eight years porn free now and all of the physical /mental issues have improved , but his libido is still extremely low.
    That has been hard for me because I still had naively assumed that his low drive must be the porn. And would become “normal” once we’d healed from it.
    I almost couldn’t comprehend that a man could love me and have so little desire for me.
    I have felt hurt, rejected, unloved, unworthy, shame ( I can’t arouse desire in my husband).
    Like someone else commented, even when I don’t want sex, I would still want to feel like he wanted it.
    It changes the whole dynamic of a relationship, other couples will smile, flirt, exchange looks throughout the day etc, but since sex is seldom on my husbands brain, he never even seems to particularly notice me at all.
    He even said once , when I complained about the lack of physical affection like hugs, kisses, hand holding etc “ when I don’t have any sexual desire then physical touch is the farthest thing from my mind”. When I kindly reminded him that we go weeks without touch then, and since touch is my love language it’s very hard for me, he looked away because my pain at hearing the truth (which I asked for) makes him feel inadequate, pressured , less like a man , etc.
    It can be really difficult to navigate in a marriage.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That is hard, Hopeful! I’m sorry you’re walking through something this lonely.
      I’m wondering–I know he’s porn free, but did he ever go to counseling for how the porn affected him? The fact that he has no sex drive and he has no desire to touch you does sound like there are still big issues there to be dealt with. I know that may make him feel inadequate to bring it up, but if it could be talked about in terms of, “I want the best for us, I don’t want us to live half a life,” maybe that would help?

      Reply
  15. Krista

    Yes, this is me. My husband doesn’t have any issues, no porn use or anything. But, we can go months without having sex. When I think about that, I wonder if there’s something wrong with me or if he just doesn’t desire me. And then my thoughts go down into a black hole of low self-esteem and well, it’s not pretty. I never question if he loves me because I know he does. We have had a conversation about it, probably years ago now, where I said I didn’t like feeling like we are roommates. Most of the time I don’t even notice, as life just keeps going and we continue in the same routines. While we were dating and engaged he was definitely the line pusher and seemed so attracted to me. I totally expected marriage to be the same, him desiring sex often. Sometimes, to be honest, I wonder if I should just not let it bug me since I don’t feel the need for sex all that often anyway. I know, having followed your blog for a while, that I should not let this go, but I’m not sure how to talk about it or even if I want to.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s such a hard thing to answer! I think it depends with how happy you both are and how close you both feel to each other. If you both honestly never want sex, I do think you’re missing out on passion, and understanding why you have no drive for it may unlock some other things that need to be revealed. But if you’re both also really happy, then I just don’t know how to answer!

      Reply
      • Krista

        If I’m completely honest with myself I’m probably not super happy about it because it does affect how I feel about myself. I also really hate rocking the boat, so to speak.

        Reply
  16. E

    It’s understandable to be tired and stressed, but when no efforts are made to get to bed at a decent hour! I’d rather get to bed early (with the possibility of some stuff happening there) than watching more tv.

    Reply
  17. Meghan

    “Just because some men struggle with lust doesn’t mean all do; just because some men struggle with porn doesn’t mean all do. But when we talk constantly about these struggles, it can give the impression that real men lust and struggle with porn…”
    Oh hey, do you like actually know me? Cause when I first got married, this was a point of contention for us! I legitimately thought my husband was lying when he said he didn’t really notice other women, and it made me so worried that he was hiding stuff from me. Nope. He just sees women as people and not objects. What a novel concept!
    My sweetheart of a husband was bullied a lot in school for his “beta-ness,” because while he is built like a linebacker and incredibly strong he also loses his ever loving mind over butterflies and has a tendency to take in stray animals and is extremely empathetic. Apparently those things cannot coexist in a “real man,” so he must be gay and therefore worthy of contempt. (ay ay ay don’t even get me started)

    As for feeling rejected, sometimes I do. My husband doesn’t initiate as much as I’d like him to, but I think that’s more of a communication problem that we still haven’t quite solved yet. Since he is so empathetic, he can tell when I’m not feeling 100% and so will not even try to kiss me if I’m not the one starting it. And for the past year with COVID I’ve been operating at like 50% capacity so frequency has plummeted. What I can’t get him to understand is that even if I’m not feeling super awesome and energized, I can still want sexy fun times and not just because I’m trying to humor him. While I deeply appreciate that he wants me to enjoy myself as much as he does, every once in a while I just want to be pursued and persuaded, you know?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It’s such a fine line to walk, isn’t it? I think men also grow up feeling like sex is something she doesn’t necessarily want that much, so the best way to love her is not to ask. It does make for some very counterproductive dynamics!

      Reply
      • Meghan

        The weird thing is, before I had my daughter I was the higher drive spouse! Now due to hormones we are much more equal. It’s almost like he’s still operating under the dynamics from the first year and a half of our marriage.

        Reply
  18. Eliza

    I remember hearing that men thought about sex X number of times more often than women when I was a teenager and thinking . . . that CANNOT be true, or we would all be living in caves because nobody would get any work done. 😀 (So luckily I did not imbibe that message, at least, or I would be really frustrated being married to a disabled partner, who, naturally enough, does not have as much energy for sex as I do!)

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! I heard that it was like once every 6 seconds or something. Just ridiculous.

      Reply
  19. L.L.

    Yes! It was really hard for me when he didn’t want me all the time, or even frequently. In the beginning of our marriage he was so consumed with work and it’s stress I started keeping track of when we had sex and would confront him with the fact it has been over a week and question why he didn’t want me. The feeling of rejection cut really deep for me. Pregnancy also took my drive pretty high and when he wasn’t interested I felt rejected personally a lot and had serious body image issues. Multiple times in our short marriage I’ve been the one initiating and I have nearly lost heart because I just want to be pursued by him. All my training about men’s lust and women’s responsibility to keep them from lusting didn’t prepare me for any of that. Thankfully, we have really tried to work hard together to communicate with, and listen to, each other and things begin to even out now, but I still struggle with those leftover rejection feelings.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m sorry you’re going through that (but congratulations on the pregnancy!). I’m glad you’re able to communicate about it, though. I hope that’s making it easier!

      Reply
  20. Jacquie Van Dyk

    Yes, this has been an issue for us. It started on our honeymoon over 10 years ago when I attempted to initiate sex with my husband twice in one day and he just wasn’t interested. I felt rejected and it took a long time to work through those feelings as we worked through our libidos and the fact that we might not fit the stereotypical Christian couple that we had heard about growing up and in premarital counselling. It took me years to be ok with his lower libido and realize that him wanting to read a book before bed some nights, instead of having sex, wasn’t a rejection of me. It’s something we still talk through regularly. Our libidos seem to match up pretty well, and neither of ours are particularly high. It took me a long time to realize that doesn’t mean something is wrong and is actually something to be thankful for.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So glad you’ve been communicating about this! But, yes, often these teachings create problems that aren’t even there.

      Reply
  21. Heather

    Yes! We’ve been married almost 9 years and if I’m honest, I sometimes still feel a little rejected if I want sex and he doesn’t. I never realized I was believing this stereotype so much that I was finding fault in my man. It has helped us to talk about expectations for the night and make a plan for the next night if one of us is too tired, etc. Thank you for this!

    Reply
  22. Naomi

    Yes! This assumption hugely affected me as a wife. I thought I was not supposed to voice my true feelings when I wasn’t really wanting sex, because all the books taught us to be always willing and available and men of course need it blah blah blah.
    It wasn’t till year 13 or so of marriage when we started having the hard talks about what we really want, what’s really going on when we’re not in the mood, etc. Communication and honesty is the only way to get through it. We both felt so much pressure to ‘go all the way’ every time we started something that if we were interrupted or one of us lost momentum, it would ruin the entire day, or several days if not quickly remedied.
    Now after lots of work being intentional to NOT think negatively, we can get interrupted by our kids, or lose momentum and get tired, and it’s not the end of the world. No rejection, failure, shame. It takes purposeful rewiring the brain though because those teachings and beliefs run deep and are very emotional and vulnerable to try to talk about.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I totally relate to this, Naomi! We had to dispel a lot of this, too.

      Reply
  23. E

    I don’t think I’ve got anything unique to add, but just wanted to say that this all 100% sums up my experience and is so helpful. I can relate to all of it. It has caused a lot of pain and feelings of rejection.
    Men wanting sex all the time is definitely the message from general culture, not just purity culture though.

    Reply
  24. J

    It’s not about libido- we are very frequent, but I still get extremely upset whenever he is too tired because I thought there was something wrong with him to not need it 24/7 like the culture and church say. He was just a healthy human all along! Thank you.

    Reply
    • Lynnica

      This is pretty close to what I’d say about this myself and my husband. We’re really pretty frequent (comparing to Sheila’s statistics last fall), but I still got upset sometimes if I wanted it and he didn’t seem to. I hesitated to initiate – I kind of felt like if I wanted it more than him I must just be obsessed or something, and I didn’t want to treat HIM like a sex object – but I was confused – why didn’t he want it? I knew he loved me, all the rest of our interaction was proof of that, but when we had time and he just … didn’t initiate… what am I supposed to do with that?

      Reply
  25. Kate

    YES! We’ve been married for almost 4 years and this has been such a huge issue for me. I struggle so much with feeling unwanted, and we have never really been able to get over that. It’s hard to not feel like somethings wrong with you when everyone says guys love sex, and your husband doesn’t seem to really want it or could go without it. It’s hard not to give into my insecurities that say he’d want to if he was with someone else. It’s like poison in our marriage, and I don’t know how to get over it. I try to constantly tell myself not to read too much into things, but my brain does it without my permission.

    Reply
  26. Jen

    I’m not sure if you have any posts or resources to help a wife whose husband has found healing in the sex area…but now the wife is will wounded and has lost her libido?
    Background:
    -both virgins entering marriage (in late 20s).
    -i had a greater libido and felt rejected. (Chalked it up to his age and weight). We eventually found a decent groove.
    -8 years in I found out my hubby had a problem with porn since his teen years.
    -He gets counseling and guidance from church pastors. Also loses a bunch of weight.. like 100+ lbs and now has a higher libido.
    -due to shame he had from life, he had a temper and I wilted to only care for his needs and our 3 kids. The anger is gone now…yay counseling…and it’s truly honestly like I have a new hubby.
    Problem: I am bruised (not physically) and hardly desire sex anymore. I am trying to “heal”…I know it’s a forgiveness thing, but I’m finding it very hard. Initiating sex is terrifying to me…I am so afraid to be vulnerable. So…any resources for “the other side”? Thanks so much.

    Reply
  27. Jane

    I never connected my expectations of semi-frequent sex(2-3x/week) with the information I heard through my teen and college years. I do know that a majority of our 20+ years of marriage has been a disappointment in this area because of unequal desires. It’s been a vicious cycle of bad sex that leaves me disappointed and dreading his advances or good sex which leaves me hoping for more but feeling rejected when he’s satisfied for a week or more and angry and used when he feels like “it’s time.” I’ve cried myself to sleep way too many nights.

    Reply

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