How Do You get Your Husband To Understand That He Coerced You Into Sex?

by | Nov 28, 2022 | Abuse | 86 comments

How to Get Husband Understand He Coerced You into Sex
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If your  husband has been coercing you into sex, how do you get him to understand what he’s done?

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?

We’re in the middle of a series on what to do if one, or both, of you have dug your sex life into a pit. And fundamental to digging out of that pit is a feeling of safety.

That led us to a discussion of marital rape, and while I thought that was originally going to only be two posts, I’ve received so many emails and messages about what many women are going through that there has been more to say.

Last week I wrote about what she can do if she realizes that sexual coercion is present in her marriage, and then I wrote about the five steps husbands need to take when their wives come to them and say, “you’ve been coercing me and it needs to stop.”

After that last post, I had many women asking me, “but how do I get my husband to understand and go through these steps?” That’s what I’d like to address today.

You cannot make someone understand that they have hurt you.

This is really hard to hear, I know, but there are no magic words, no magic formula, no perfect conditions where, if everything lines up and you do it properly, he will finally get it.

Yes, you can say it more clearly, and explain it well (and I hope last week’s post on husbands and marital rape can help). But ultimately whether or not he hears is dependent not on your words but on his heart.

I wish it were not that way. I wish it were easier. But that’s the truth.

The only thing that you can actually influence is what you are willing to live with.

The only thing you can control are your own boundaries. You can decide what you need to do to keep yourself feeling safe and not be retraumatized.

For some women, that may mean seeking emergency shelter. For some it may mean saying, “no more sex” until this is fixed. For some it may mean a temporary sex fast of a particular time duration while you seek counseling. For some it may mean asking him to leave the bedroom. For some it may mean a temporary separation. I don’t know what you should do, because every marriage is different.

 

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Earlier in the series, when we were talking about redefining sex, here’s what one woman said about her boundaries:

 

Sex has been off the table now for many months and will continue to be until he can learn to love me (which means learning emotional intelligence and awareness first, which has and will be a slooow process, maybe years, for him.) Then he has to prove himself trustworthy to me after porn use and not loving me/using me for several decades. I refuse to be used (whored) anymore. If that means no sex ever again because he cannot achieve loving me, then that is the literal and figurative bed he has made for himself. (As devoid of love as it was, I still miss sex, too, so it isn’t that I don’t want it- but it isn’t worth losing/crushing any more of my soul than I already have.) He needs to learn to retrain/reassociate his ideas about sex and love, but so do I if we are ever to stand a chance at actually making love.

She’s hoping he will wake up, but unfortunately, he may not.

When you do set boundaries, it is very likely that you will now be painted as the “unsafe” one.

Tragically, what many women have found when they do set boundaries is that husbands decide to leave (because a marriage without sex on demand is devastating for them), or family members or clergy tell the wife that she is in sin for depriving him, rather than seeing the marital rape that led to the boundaries as the real sin.

(I don’t understand why people can’t grasp that boundaries like this don’t come out of nowhere!).

That’s what this commenter experienced:

I’m divorced because my ex couldn’t understand these simple concepts and broke down sobbing like a baby when I asked if our marriage would be ok if I couldn’t give him sex, as if I was the one stabbing him in the heart to even ask that question! I have health issues that were deteriorating so it was a legitimate question. Then when I said I wanted a separation, so I could heal and he could have time to work on himself, he said if I moved out he wanted a divorce. My almost adult kids have no idea why we really divorced and hate me.

He is a caring man in many other areas, but that one was where he could not see that the misogyny from our upbringing had taken root and was not budging. And it wasn’t just that he “needed release” because I gave him permission to relive the “tension” himself. And he would whine and complain that it wasn’t the same and honestly it just made him worse. He wanted unlimited access to my body no matter how I felt.

Her story also brings out another common theme: When there are major health problems, the biggest predictor of divorce is whether or not the patient is female. The reason that serious illness often results in divorce is because men are six times more likely to leave because of an illness than women are. 

So here this woman is, trying to draw boundaries for her own safety and emotional and physical well-being, and she is painted as the bad one for refusing to be treated like a sex doll. And her husband and kids are blaming this on her.

I want to say to women in this position: You do not owe your husband your silence. I know sex is difficult to talk about, but if your children are adults, you do not owe your husband your silence about what happened. You also don’t owe him your silence to your siblings, or his siblings, or parents, or any family member. This is your story, too, and you are allowed to tell it as you see fit. (You may not always think it wise to tell it; that’s up to you. But you do not owe him silence).

In the church, we often see withholding sex as more serious than marital rape.

I think it’s because at heart we’re not sure we believe marital rape can occur, because we have a flawed understanding of consent in the church.

A real Christian community is more concerned with a wife’s safety than it is with a husband’s ejaculations.

If the Christian community you are in, whether with pastors or counselors or friends, is more concerned with withholding than marital rape, then that is a sign that you don’t just need boundaries with your husband. You need it with your church community, too, and you need to find a different community that truly operates as the body of Christ and does understand these issues (and those communities are out there–they just may not be in your denomination.)

For more on how evangelical resources have addressed, or rather failed to address, marital rape, please see chapters 9 & 10 of The Great Sex Rescue. 

"A groundbreaking look into what true, sacred biblical sexuality is intended to be. A must-read." - Rachael Denhollander

What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?

What if the messages that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these toxic teachings?

It's time for a Great Sex Rescue.

Great Sex Rescue

Your husband’s failure to understand is actually a sign of whether healing is possible or not.

Of course you desperately want your husband to understand what he did to you and how he traumatized you. The only way you can ever be safe in this marriage is if he does understand. If he doesn’t, then there is no room for you to heal, and there is no assurance that it won’t happen again. You will never be able to enjoy real intimacy or let your guard down if he doesn’t  understand.

And so many women are frantic to get their husbands to see because these women want to save their marriages. That’s what I wish churches could see: the women setting boundaries, the women speaking up–they’re not doing so because they’re vindictive and don’t care about marriage. They’re doing so in desperation to save their marriages! Because the marriage can only be saved if they can be safe, and this is the only way forward.

As you are trying to figure out what to do with your marriage, please find healthy help. See a licensed counselor who understands the dynamics of marital rape (not all of them do). As you’re interviewing counselors, send them last week’s post on what men need to do if they’ve coerced their wives, and see if the counselor agrees. If the counselor does not, that’s likely a sign that it’s not a safe counselor.

(And please know that licensed counselors are far more likely to understand this than “biblical counselors” or counselors your church may hire. Biblical counseling is a school of counseling that tends to reinforce male hierarchy and entitlement, though some biblical counselors are still excellent).

A counselor can help you set boundaries, and can help you see through the fog whether your husband is understanding or not.

I have heard of so many men who have gotten it. Some right away, and some after a time. I wish I could tell you that if you wait long enough he’ll get it, but many men never do. But even in the comments on the blog lately there have been men who got it.

No matter what happens, please know that you are strong.

I wish I could offer you more than this, but what I can tell you is that even if he never gets it, that doesn’t mean that you can’t live a big life. It may not be the life you envisioned, but you are strong. You have come this far. And God can open up a life for you that can still be beautiful.

As we’re talking about digging out of the pit, I’m reminded of Psalm 103:

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

Psalm 103:1-6

He works justice for the oppressed. He redeems your life from the pit. He renews your youth.

That is what I pray for all of you today who are walking through this hard road.

And please know: It was never meant to be this way. This isn’t okay. And God sees that, too.

How do you get your husband to understand he committed marital rape

What advice would you give a woman whose husband doesn’t understand coercion? Why do you think churches tend to deal with this so badly? What can we do? Let’s talk in the comments!

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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86 Comments

  1. V

    My husband spent our 12 years of marriage completely ignoring me in every area unless he wanted sex. Make no mistake – he deprived me of that at times too. We once went 11 months without it because he continuously rejected me in bed. But when he wanted it, it was go time, even if I had to wake up in 3 hours. I began to notice the only time he made eye contact with me or treated me nicely was when he wanted sex. I also can’t wear certain clothes because he literally considers them an invitation and says I’m purposefully enticing him.
    Anyway, last month i put a temporary boundary around sex. I said I’m on my last straw in this marriage and we can try counseling but I’m not having sex with you until I feel emotionally connected. He said okay and he would respect that…except he didn’t. Every 2 days he cried and cried (I’ve never seen him cry before), sobbing and tending his whole body until his veins popped out. He said I was depriving him of his love language which is physical touch (I can assure you, it’s not). He would angrily jump out of bed and go loudly j**k off in the bathroom. I told our counselor I had put a temporary hiatus on sex because I didn’t feel safe. Without asking for a single detail, the counselor scolded me in front of my husband. That night I heard about it again. I said “what do you want, me to lay there and take it and not enjoy it?” He said “no of course not.” Then 2 days later he said he’d changed his mind and he wanted me to give him sex. I don’t know why I expected him to actually respect that boundary. But I’m really discouraged. No part of me wants to stay with him but I’m terrified to break my family apart.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, wow, V, I’m so sorry.

      Okay, first, you must never, ever see that counselor again. For a counselor to not even inquire if there is abuse going on is a huge red flag. Please find a different licensed counselor who understands marital rape. That’s not okay.

      Also, even if your husband doesn’t respect your boundary, YOU can respect your boundary. Even if he says he’s changed his mind and he’s willing to just have you lie there while he uses you that doesn’t mean you have to say yes. The reason we have a boundary is not to change his behaviour but to keep you safe. You know that it’s not safe for him to use you with no concern for you whatsoever, so you do not have to acquiesce to that.

      I’m so, so sorry that you’re going through this. I truly am. I hope you can find a licensed counselor who is actually good who can help walk with you through this. I’m so sorry.

      I also want to say in relation to him crying like that–this is actually quite common. Many men have channelled all of their needs for intimacy and emotional connection into sex. They do not connect emotionally in any way except for sex. So when sex is off the table, they do feel bereft. This is a maladaptive coping mechanism, though. Sex should not be the primary way we experience emotional connection; sex should be the culmination of the intimacy we already feel. If he is incapable of feeling intimacy in any other way, this is a sign of his poor emotional development.

      I’d really encourage him to read Jay Stringer’s book Unwanted, because it speaks to some of this, and it may be able to help him. Or Andrew Bauman’s book The Sexually Healthy Man. I hope those help!

      Reply
      • Codec

        I find the whole ” I can only express myself through sex” thing kind of terrifying.

        As someone who has been trying to better understand my own sexual self as well as depornify myself such a mindset leads to some horrifying implications.

        You talk about arousal non concordance for instance. If I can only express myself through sex what does it mean if I find something horrible but I get aroused for instance?

        I admit it is difficult to face your shadow. It is difficult to ask yourself why a certain tone or scenario excites you. It is difficult to look at the little kid within you and try to understand why he is throwing a tantrum.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I think you might really enjoy Jay Stringer’s book Unwanted if you haven’t read it, yet, Codec! It’s very freeing and points a way forward.

          Reply
          • Codec

            I have read it. Its a good book that helped me understand emotional enmeshment.

        • Lisa Johns

          Codec, you might also enjoy Emily Nagoski’s book “Come as You Are.” Not from a specifically Christian POV, but an excellent explanation of arousal non-concordance (even better than Sheila’s!) 😉 — both what it is and why it occurs. I found it very comforting to know.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Yes, it’s an excellent book!

  2. Andrea

    I finally watched Josh Howerton and his wife’s Facebook live on sex (because he’s tweeting again about how conservative evangelicals have the best sex), but it was just too painful. I turned it off after his wife said that the Holy Spirit convicted her of not having enough sex with Josh. Talk about spiritually gaslighting yourself into marital coercion! Honey, that’s your internalized misogyny speaking, NOT the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is not keeping a ledger of your husband’s ejaculation frequency, truly. And if Josh bothered to learn how to pleasure you properly, you wouldn’t require divine intervention to motivate you to have sex with him!

    It just makes me so mad that the half of the population whom God has given a clitoris is the half that needs to be “convicted” into having sex. How bad can this sex possibly be if the ones with the only organ whose exclusive purpose is pleasure are the ones not enjoying it?! I feel like we really need a Fixed-It for this, if only it wasn’t audio.

    Reply
  3. Laura

    “Of course, you desperately want your husband to understand what he did to you and how he traumatized you. The only way you can ever be safe in this marriage is if he does understand. If he doesn’t, then there is no room for you to heal, and there is no assurance that it won’t happen again. You will never be able to enjoy real intimacy or let your guard down if he doesn’t understand.”

    Unfortunately, my ex never understood and I would not stick around to find out. After he was served with divorce papers, he pulled the “I promise I’ll change” act and bawled to me over the phone. I admit, that I felt sorry for him and he sounded sincere, but I knew I could never take him back. If he had truly cared about me, he would have done whatever he could to change as soon as I confronted him about the sexual assault the first time. The only way I could ever feel safe was by leaving him and having a bed all to myself.

    I have no regrets about leaving him, but I regretted that I had ever married him because there were plenty of red flags before we married. Of course, when you’re young and believe you’re in love, you wear rose-colored glasses which blind you to the red flags. Oh, the irony because there’s red in both. Even though I’m glad I left him years ago, I would sometimes feel that I failed as a Christian woman any time someone gave their testimony of their abusive marriage being restored. Well, the reason that happened was because BOTH parties did the work. In the success stories I know, one of both of them was active in chemical dependency and when they got clean, they changed for the better. Unfortunately, those success stories are not the norm. I wish I could say they are because all things are possible with God. I just don’t think people should put themselves in the place of a martyr by staying in an abusive situation that will either remain abusive or get worse.

    Reply
    • Amy A

      “If he had truly cared about me, he would have done whatever he could to change as soon as I confronted him about the sexual assault the first time.”
      I needed to hear that thank you!!
      Also, your comment about the red flags and rose colored glasses was very clever. Have you thought about writing through experiences in poetry (or just word vomits)? It’s been very helpful in my healing process.

      Reply
      • Laura

        Amy A,

        I do quite a bit of writing and that’s an idea about the red flags and the rose-colored glasses.

        Reply
        • T

          My case is distant history, but I sometimes puzzle over it. It lasted for over ten years in the 1980’s and 1990’s. When we married we were 20 and 22 and I understood that both of us were virgins. We intentionally saved that for marriage and during our 15 month engagement there was some close intimacy, which was then called ‘heavy petting’, often initiated by her, but never sexual intercourse. During over ten years of marriage we never had full sex, by which I mean that the prospects of her conceiving were nil. I was always told not to move about & not to push any further, so full arousal & climax never ever happened to me. She was very happy to use my body to reach orgasm, with me actively participating & wanting to pleasure her in whatever way she preferred. I would spend hours, weeks and days attempting to woo her. Wet dreams while in bed with her were not uncommon, but relieving myself to avoid this was expressly forbidden by her and she would not help with this either. I was not permitted to become fully aroused and my completely normal sexual behavior during foreplay was described by her as “behaving like an animal”, ie. objecting. So I would stop. Yet in over 40 years as an adult I have never found any book or article or person that considered it debatable behavior. It was completely and utterly normal. I would spend minutes, hours, days and weeks trying to woo her, prepared to do whatever she wanted, or to not do what she did not prefer, but she always found something that she said put her off, or she would find some excuse. I loved her very deeply, but over the years I felt incredibly rejected. I ended up in a huge crisis about my perfectly natural desire for intimacy with my wife. My ex had a history of debilitating mental health problems that predated us meeting. It had resulted in her leaving school early and she was under close medical supervision at that time. We separated when I wrote to her that I loved her deeply, but I could not cope with her rejection and there was now a risk I would get involved with someone else. I never did, I was completely faithful to her. That was after more than ten years. She accused me of leaving her and after several months of attempts at reconciliation that were directed by very controlling and deceptive church leaders, she divorced me. I have discussed my experience with a number of women who tell me they would not have been able to cope with that level of rejection either. There was a time when she said she could not do it because of a man coming into her bedroom when she was a child. Her bedroom was on a different level in the house and there was only one man who lived there, her father. I wonder whether this was true, or was it another ploy to deter me from seeking sex? She also told me something had happened at school. Since we split-up I have spent many years experiencing what I would describe as a perfectly normal and loving sex life. It involves compromise, but not to the extent that conception would be impossible. Almost 40 years since we first married, last week I discovered she had a daughter who married a few months ago. I felt quite shaken up by that discovery, but I know the sex problem wasn’t me. After we split up some people said it was a good thing that we did not have children. Those comments seemed so ironic.

          Reply
  4. Nathan

    In that top post, I’m wondering, was that counselor attached to a church? He doesn’t sound like a normal, secular licensed counselor.

    Reply
  5. Jen

    Three decades. It took my husband 30 years and MASSIVE intervention from the Holy Spirit to finally see me. He did a lot of the journey while hiding his addiction from me (and he LIED so, so much to me, himself, and our whole church community). But the point is that he was actively trying to stop his behavior by himself because he didn’t want to be the man he was. However, he had no clue how his compulsions and neglect were hurting me. That’s where the Holy Spirit stepped in. The Holy Spirit told him to confess to me (he was going to take his secrets to the grave). After he confessed his addiction, my husband literally had an encounter with the LORD where his eyes burn and watered. After that,, he was able to begin to see what he’d truly been doing to me. Intimate Partner Betrayal, emotional neglect, gaslighting, psychological abuse, spiritual abuse, sexual coercion, regular abandonment . . . They are hell. And the LORD made my husband look at the hell he’d created.

    Addiction specialists say that recovery is next to impossible without seeing how damaging the behavior is to yourself and those you claim to love. There was no way for me to hold the pain in any longer even if I’d wanted to – marriage to my husband was killing me — but I was glad to learn that him finally seeing the pain he’s caused was part of both of our recoveries. The panic attacks, weight loss, hair loss, insomnia, weeping myself dry every day for months, raging at him, telling him I regretted marrying him. General wailing and gnashing of teeth. That went on for a solid year plus.

    Will our marriage survive? I don’t know. We are both in individual therapy and recently began marriage therapy. For the 30 years of our relationship I had all kinds of boundaries that he just broke and lied about. How do you enforce a boundary that he won’t admit to breaking?

    Here’s my confidence: JESUS. He is my protector.

    But my husband is changing. I see it when he processes his own emotions, when he respects my physical boundaries, when he stays present in my pain and sits with me in the emotional mess he created. None of his change, though, was possible without him wanting to change. HE had to desire to become a righteous man. HE had to go the LORD and ask for help. HE has to carry the burdens he created. HE has to heal or lose his family. HE will be held accountable for being a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I tried to get him to see me in every way I could think of for 30 years. It was only by his submission to the Holy Spirit that anything changed.

    Even if your husband is not an addict, if he doesn’t consider your needs, if he acts like he owns you sexuality, if he can’t connect in ways beyond sex, he has growing up to do. And he has to want to do that work.

    The LORD is opening His daughters’ eyes, too. We were not created to be misused by the man who promised to love us. I believe God is saying, “No more.” He is lowering the boom.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, Jen! That’s amazing that your husband is seeing it.

      I love your last two paragraphs, too! Exactly. HE has to want to do the work. You can’t do it for him!

      Reply
  6. Nathan

    Two posts above make a very good point. Yes, God CAN save and heal broken marriages, but that can only happen if both parties see the problems and are committed to the process. Especially the instigator (and that can be the husband or the wife).

    Too many times, the message from some churches is that the way to fix a broken marriage is for the wife pray more, submit more, become a better Christian and have sex with her husband more. That won’t fix the problem. If anything, it’s rewarding bad behavior and will make the problem worse.

    Also, God will very rarely change one person based on somebody else’s prayer, due to God giving us free will. The actual person has to see the need and want to change. God can (and does) cause miracles to happen, but they’re EXTREMELY rare, and don’t depend on how good of a Christian their spouse is.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Nathan!

      Reply
  7. Anonymous

    I agree with most of this but consent goes both ways. If a wife decides she doesn’t want sex anymore then a husband can decide if he wants to stay in this type of relationship and shouldn’t be shamed if he goes for divorce. Like no one is entitled to sex no one is entitled to a marriage also.

    Reply
    • Jo R

      Um, the issue isn’t a wife no longer wanting sex. “V” was quite clear she wanted sex. What she objected to was being treated as a blow-up sex doll, a live-in maid required to give the boss orgasms on demand, to being RAPED by the man she married.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        This author specifically pointed out a husband crying over the loss of sex in a demeaning way. Its gross to mock a man or woman for that matter over showing emotion at the loss of a part of a marriage.

        As for rape, call the cops and press charges. That’s the appropriate response and let the courts sort it out.

        Reply
        • Jo R

          What’s more demeanimg?? Convincing generations of men that all their emotions should be channeled into sex, or pointing out to men that it’s not particularly healthy to do so?

          Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Actually, Anonymous, the police will not prosecute most instances of coercion. That does not make them any less coercive.

          And when a man cries that he no longer gets to use his wife as a sex toy or blow up doll? I’m surprised you aren’t more upset about that.

          Reply
          • Cynthia

            I’m responding to your comment about how the spouse who has previously coerced the other to have sex doesn’t get to then turn around and leave (that comment didn’t have a reply button beside it).

            It may be that from a religious/moral POV, they shouldn’t be able to do that. That might not prevent the person from doing it anyway because (a) they manage to find a church that says that they are right, (b) they don’t tell the church all the gory details about their behavior or (c) they might not care if they are doing the right thing or not.

            From a legal standpoint, though, no-fault divorce is the law now everywhere in Canada and the United States, so either spouse has the ability to file for divorce if they want to leave the marriage, and they do not need to prove that they have a good reason to do so.

            If a wife puts a boundary in place, she is certainly entitled to do so. She needs to be prepared, however, that a possible response on his part would be to leave the marriage. If she gets some advice and does some planning in advance, this possibility may seen less scary.

        • Jo R

          “Its [sic] gross to mock … a woman … over showing emotion at the loss of a part of a marriage.”

          Yes, exactly. That exactly what this is all about. “V” has been denied proper sex for her ENTIRE MARRIAGE.

          Does that matter? Does her experience not count? Do you think she willingly signed up to be treated like an inanimate object in the most destructively intimate way possible? No, she did not.

          If Mr. V is unable to face the very serious fact that he has hurt HIS WIFE in her very being, then his crying for HIMSELF should be telling V all she needs to know, cuz it’s sure as shoot telling all of US all we need to know.

          Reply
          • Anonymous

            V doesn’t have to stay with such a man. She can leave but to try to make a man who she basically describes as a monster change is alarming. Trying to force such a man to change by refusing sex instead of doing the healthy thing and leaving is becoming what she says she hates. In this circumstance both are using sex in an unhealthy way. They both can’t come to an agreement and both have free will. These women aren’t trapped but by suggesting they work through when it’s obviously one dislikes the other is crazy to me.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            She is not trying to force him to change by refusing sex. She is simply making herself safe. She is drawing a boundary to protect herself, not to change him.

            And again, she is the wronged party here, not him. He has no basis to leave. She does. But sometimes there are other reasons to stay–custody, money, circumstances, etc. It doesn’t sound like you understand these dynamics very well, so I suggest that you stop giving your opinion, because it can be very hurtful to women in these situations.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I want to elaborate on this for a minute, and say it very clearly.

            Abuse is totally grounds for divorce. But SHE is the one being abused, not him. It is not abusive to say, “I can’t have sex with you while you continue to be abusive towards me and while you don’t get help and try to help me feel safe.”

            By saying that he now has grounds for divorce because she is withholding sex, you are equating the consequence of his abuse (her protecting herself) with his abuse. That is heinous. “Woe to those who call good, evil, and evil, good.”

            Some women in these situations don’t want to leave for a variety of reasons. When someone has been abusive, they bear the consequences of that abuse. They do not then get a “you can leave your marriage now because your spouse won’t let you abuse him or her anymore.”

          • Rebecca Lindenbach

            The issue is that both are experiencing hurt, and feelings of loneliness because of their spouse’s actions.

            The difference is that HER actions that he sees as hurtful are a NATURAL CONSEQUENCE of his own actions, which happened first.

            When a person is beaten up, and a person is sentence to prison for it, both people may very well feel wronged. But one’s wrong is true and just, and the other’s is entitlement and selfishness.

            Same here.

          • Jo R

            “V doesn’t have to stay with such a man.”

            Too many churches would in fact tell her she DOES have to stay. Too many churches would condemn HER for no longer wanting to be taken advantage of sexually by the man who should be protecting her. Too many people would say she has no grounds for separating from him, let alone divorcing him, without remembering that GOD HATES OPPRESSION.

            If anyone can read her story and NOT think she’s been oppressed, well, what would V have to endure in addition to what she’s already shared for her experience to count as oppression?

        • Lisa Johns

          Actually, Anonymous, I am a wife who has seen the wailing and blubbering as my husband tried to coerce the pity party. Believe me, it’s pretty gross, and hard not to be a lot disgusted with it.

          Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I actually don’t agree. It depends WHY the wife said no to sex.

      It is very, very uncommon for a woman to say no to sex for no reason. Usually when she does, it has been over a decade of his porn use, abuse, or refusing to make sex feel good for her (according to our survey of 20,000).

      If a husband has coerced his wife into sex, and now she doesn’t want sex, but she also can’t support herself and wants to keep having the children full-time, for him to then divorce her would be cruel. He made his bed; now he lies in it.

      If we truly believed that sex were a gift from God and something truly wonderful, then why would we think anyone would give up sex for no reason?

      Reply
      • CO

        “If we truly believed that sex were a gift from God and something truly wonderful, then why would we think anyone would give up sex for no reason?”

        Unfortunately, there is often a great amount of power that comes from being the gate-keeper for sexuality in a marriage, and that sense of power, which might be seen as reactive to the many ways in which women are not equal to men in our society, can over-ride the idea that sex is a gift from God that is shared with a spouse, and instead can become weaponized.

        We’re also ignoring that many traumatic (little and big) experiences women grow up with as they learn about their own sexuality. How many women have experienced pretty strong coercion for sex on dates? Expectations they should put out because the guy is buying a fancy dinner? Or it’s the 3rd date so it’s time. How many women have had trouble saying no, out of fear, and the guy carried on? How many women dated a guy who seemed to only care about sex?

        So you find the right guy, someone who truly isn’t like that. 99% of the time. But we’re flawed as humans, we screw up, and the triggered memories from the past can possibly taint or exaggerate something, giving a small thing more importance than it should. Just the act of not being present with your spouse at all times during sex can be a trigger.

        And the way in which rejection is carried out. “Let’s wait a day or two and we can work to make it really special” is so much easier to handle than “It seems like all that matters to you is sex.”

        If sex truly is a gift from God, then telling your spouse that you would rather have sex just once or twice a month, if even that… there should be some thinking about the why.

        I think so many of the issues we face come from lack of boundaries and lack of security elsewhere that leads to a desire to exercise power in areas where you can. But that can truly be a nuclear option. I think there’s more than just sex that’s causing these marriages to flail and fail. Spouses are working together. They’re not saying look, we’re great right now, how about coming up with a few things that we believe should still be important to us 5, 10 and 20 years down the road? How about we re-evaluate things openly on a regular basis, instead of waiting for a crisis?

        Reply
    • Chris

      Anonymous, in general women tend to not concern themselves with the issue of male consent; it is just assumed to be there. This assumed consent is by no means limited to marriage/sexual stuff. There are many examples where society in general and women in particular have reason to assume male consent. To be fair, these reasons are all rooted in evolutionary biology so it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

      Reply
  8. Tory

    I’ve been watching this unfold on social media and it’s frankly heartbreaking. I just couldn’t believe how common it was. Can I be honest? I really hesitate to engage with these types of posts on Facebook or instagram because I’m afraid my contacts will see my name and think that I’m reading this material because I personally experienced marital rape 🙈 which couldn’t be farther from the truth, so I feel safer commenting on the blog because it’s anonymous. So there’s that. I love how some women can be so transparent and tell their stories, but I’m just not that bold. Anyway, it hurts my heart to read things like this about Christian marriages. My husband and I don’t have a perfect sex life, but if I’m not into it, then neither is he. If he wants sex and I tell him “ok, but just so you know, I don’t think I’ll be able to get into it enough to climax”, he says no thanks and that he would rather wait until it can be good for both of us. Sometimes I even wish he would occasionally accept the offer of one-sided sex, lol. I can’t imagine feeling used like that. No woman should have to experience that. How are Christians getting it so wrong?! Thank you Sheila for all you do to bring this to light. May the next generation do better than we did, in part to your efforts.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It is absolutely heartbreaking! The behind-the-scenes messages we’ve received about this have been just awful. Just disgusting.

      Reply
    • Angharad

      I never comment on Facebook either, because I have so many non Christian friends I’m linked up to there, and I don’t want them to realise just how horrible some churches can be, as I’m scared it will put them off ever finding out more about my faith. But I’m really glad for Sheila’s social media presence, because I hope that it will reach many people who need to hear the message. I can’t say I’m surprised how widespread it is though – knowing how many harmful messages I picked up myself, it’s no surprise to hear that the men of my generation have absorbed this stuff too. Just super grateful for a husband who did not learn any of this stuff – maybe because he was absent from church during his teens and early 20s when so much of this stuff is taught?

      Reply
  9. Nathan

    There may be other reasons that women stop wanting to have sex. Maybe something awoke childhood memories of traumatic experiences in her, and she needs to heal from those.

    Now, are there cases where a woman simply stops wanting sex for no discernible reason? I suppose there are, but I’ve never heard of any specifically, and such cases are likely to be vey rare.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, it definitely could be sexual trauma. I’ll be dealing with that one next Monday I think!

      Reply
    • Sedge by the Lakeshore

      If one spouse stopped having sex, which presumption is more harmful?

      A) She (or he) has no good reason unless proven otherwise.
      B) She (or he) does have a good reason unless proven otherwise.

      I think we, as a society, tend to assume the wife is bad for withholding sex. But what if we started with the idea that whoever is saying no to sex is justified in doing so, until this person does or says something that reveals an unloving heart?

      And for those who need to hear it: lack of sex is not unloving in and of itself. Reasons for lack of sex can be loving or unloving. Nathan, this paragraph is not aimed at you.

      Reply
      • Sedge by the Lakeshore

        After some thinking, that could be worded better.

        If someone is leaving a sexless marriage, instead of scolding them I can presume they have a good reason.

        If someone is saying no to sex, I can presume they are justified instead of scolding.

        It’s a question of letting someone set a boundary in peace, without me trying to stop them, them.

        Taking sex off the table in order to manipulate is not a boundary. Doing so to protect oneself is a boundary.

        Leaving a marriage for selfish reasons? Not a boundary. To protect oneself from a spouse who doesn’t want the entirety of marriage? Boundary.

        Reply
  10. recoverymode

    Learning so much, and continuing to unpack! I think there seems to be some fundamental differences in how many men and women see the world and their relationships. Many men are clueless about how to actually maintain a proper emotional connection. They somehow were able to during dating (maybe because of the chase, the feel good hormones, etc.) that made them look like they were vested and knew how to provide those relational skills. It’s a learned trait to be able to communicate effectively, to put the problem-solving mindset aside, and just listen, process, and validate another person. I came from a very peaceful home where there was no strife, but nobody talked about feelings or processed anything — so I was just very unprepared to be able to do that with and for another person. Had the attitude that everyone should just be chill, deal with their own crap, and show up as their best selves without burdening others. Some elements of that are good, but it doesn’t lead to being able to fully share yourself with another person, or knowing how to be there for their vulnerabilities. A common thread that keeps coming up is that many men channel too much of their emotional needs into sex. I think that is true — many men can be happy as long as there is an absence of strife, things are going relatively well in their lives, and they are getting regular sex. That is because they haven’t been taught, shown, or have experienced deeper connection of actually being known, sharing their deeper selves, and feeling accepted and acknowledged. I think this is where so much of these relational issues come from. Men not knowing how to show up relationally, which then leaves their wives feeling disconnected, unhappy, unfulfilled, unknown, and obviously not into sex under those conditions. But the men have been programmed have been in a cycle where they are pseudo getting their relational/emotional needs met through sex. It’s a toxic cycle! Men need to learn these skills, and learn to de-link them from sex. Getting out of this will absolutely take a willingness from both parties. Takes radical honesty and humility to face this and a desire to get to a healthy path. If you are a woman and in this, I would recommend having a sit-down discussion outlining how you feel, that you want to experience a mutual and satisfying sex life, and what you need in order to feel safe, loved, etc. Tell him how you really feel (IE. used, like he would feel if you only wanted him around for for a specific attribute of his (make it personal to you situation), but didn’t care one bit about him as a whole, etc. I hope you find a path of healing if you are in a bad dynamic right now. To the men — owning your sexuality is 100% possible and achievable. I used to be a guy who was addicted to sex (past porn use, believing the lies that we need it super regular, etc.). So much of it is in the mind and in your belief system. I’m so grateful for the proper training and resources I’ve come across (Sheila’s books and others she has recommended). A vastly different and far more fulfilling sexual experience is available when sexuality is put into it’s rightful place — and it becomes an extension of a solid marriage relationship built on trust, friendship, mutuality, respect.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So good! Thank you.

      Reply
  11. Stefanie

    These are hard truths.

    The part about he might decide to leave if you set a boundary…that part is scary to me… a little bit for my sake, but mostly for my kids (5, 3 and 1). I don’t want them to grow up in a broken home. My husband told me that we don’t have a real marriage because the couples therapist wants us to practice asking for consent before we touch each other. Like, we can’t touch each other before verbally getting permission. Maybe he was just being emotional, but it makes me feel insecure.

    Psalm 103 used to be one of my favorites, but now it’s just triggering because I feel like God himself threw me into the pit.

    Reply
    • Stefanie

      I didn’t mean that last comment as a criticism…just processing my religious trauma here.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Totally understand, Stefanie! I’m so sorry that you’re walking through this. It sounds like you actually have a therapist who understands autonomy, and that’s really good. Have you asked your husband why he thinks it’s only a real marriage if he gets to touch you however he wants, whenever he wants? Maybe that would be a good question to ask with the counselor.

        I can totally understand being afraid to be on your own. I wish I had specific advice for you, but I am glad you’re seeing a good counselor. I hope and pray your husband can understand.

        Reply
      • Sequoia

        Don’t worry Stefanie. I’m so sorry that you’re in a position to be afraid. That is a very valid fear, and I know that you’re thinking of your kids as well. However, as a recent college graduate who grew up in a home where there was at minimum coercion going in from my dad to my mom, it does take a toll on the kids to stay. I can’t tell you if separation or starting is worse, because my parents are getting a divorce now. So effectively, my younger brothers and I are experiencing both. 😬

        As for religious trauma, I resonate. I’m so angry at the “counseling” my parents have received over the years, it is everything Shiela talks against. And why didn’t God protect my mom? Why were me and my brothers brought up in that environment? I’m just now processing it all. BUT —I hope this can be an encouragement to you—I am processing, it can be understood, it can get better, and I AM experiencing healing. May you come to know the same.

        Reply
        • Sequoia

          *separation or staying is worse

          Reply
      • Mara R

        This is a safe place to process your religious trauma.

        And you are not alone, being traumatized by the traditions and teachings of men. And you are not alone feeling as though God has abandoned you to the pit.

        Please don’t ever feel like you need to apologize for your processing here.

        Reply
      • Jo R

        Mara R is absolutely correct. Far too many of us are also processing traumas of all kinds here.

        Welcome! And hugs if you want ’em.

        Reply
    • Laura

      Stefanie,

      I feel you on this: “The part about he might decide to leave if you set a boundary…that part is scary to me…” and the talk about saying we don’t have a “real marriage.” Throughout my 2.5 years of marital hell, my ex would often say our marriage was not real but he never explained to me what he meant by that. A few times he mentioned that we don’t have as much sex as most married couples (I wonder what he was basing this on) and we don’t do every single thing together as a couple.

      Setting boundaries is scary and I wished I had done that when we were dating. But, I was 22 back then and if I set boundaries, I was afraid I’d lose him. I set boundaries with two other guys before I met the ex, and they bailed. It was hard to set boundaries when in the beginning, he kept telling me what a wonderful person I was, that I was the best thing that ever happened to him, and he spent lots of money on me. He told me he loved me. How could I set boundaries? At least he was respectful when I said no to sex until after we got engaged. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where if a man cannot handle not having sex outside of marriage, then he can leave. I don’t need to put up with men who do not respect my boundaries.

      Of course, we should still have boundaries in marriage. My ex thought that because we were married, I was never allowed to say no to sex.

      Reply
      • Angharad

        “I set boundaries with two other guys before I met the ex, and they bailed. ”

        Maybe we need to start actively teaching that this is a GOOD thing? As long as the boundaries you are setting are healthy, it’s actually a good thing if guys stop dating you because of them because it’s weeding out the ones who have unhealthy beliefs about relationships!

        It would also help if churches started presenting single life as something positive instead of as a fate worse than death – if girls weren’t so scared of being single forever, maybe they wouldn’t be so tempted to ditch their own boundaries rather than lose a guy who disrespected them.

        Reply
        • Laura

          Ahgharad,

          “As long as the boundaries you are setting are healthy, it’s actually a good thing if guys stop dating you because of them because it’s weeding out the ones who have unhealthy beliefs about relationships!”

          After my divorce, I took this mindset with me. If men could not stand not getting no-commitment sex, then I knew I weeded out the wrong men. I learned it is much better to be alone than to be with someone who does not respect my boundaries. Here’s the awful thing: some of these men who did not respect boundaries claimed to be Christians.

          Reply
          • Angharad

            That doesn’t surprise me at all. In my single days (single until mid 40s), I was never once made to feel uncomfortable, harassed or assaulted by a non Christian guy that I knew, but frequently had abuse, harassment and minor sexual assault from Christians, especially at church events. Church was always the place I felt least safe.

            Annoyingly, the only times I would be left alone was when I was dating – guys would respect my boyfriend too much to hassle me, but if I were single, I was fair game.

    • exwifeofasexaddict

      Honey, your kids already live in a broken home. It’s entirely possible, likely even, that your kids will grow up happier and better adjusted if you divorce. The status of your marriage will reflect the reality of your relationship and your kids won’t grow up with that cognitive dissonance. This is not a guarantee, of course. But I want you to know that that is a distinct possibility.

      Reply
  12. Anonymous

    I wish this information had been available when I got married. We were both fundamentalists, both virgins, and both looking forward to sex. Unfortunately for me, it was painful and my doctor didn’t know why. At first my husband was concerned and sympathetic. Until he wasn’t. At one point, he decided I was lying. He complained and argued and badgered me into. He never technically forced me, but I also didn’t believe I could say no. I tried and tried to get him to see it from my point of view. There were times when I cried softly through the whole thing, but he closed his eyes and just rolled over and went to sleep when he finished. Eventually his health problems made it nearly impossible for him to have sex. Anyway, I have been in counseling for a little while and have only recently realized that I have suffered his abuse (in other areas as well) for over two decades.
    I am so glad someone is helping other young women avoid what I went through.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Anonymous, I’m so sorry that you went through this! That’s just awful. I hope you’re able to work through the trauma.

      Reply
  13. JamieLH

    This. ALL of THIS!!!
    The Church desperately needs this truth.
    Amen!!!

    Reply
  14. EOF

    I feel like the comment by John Smith on today’s FB post shows why the Complementarian teachings are so dangerous. He said that if a woman “feels” like she was raped, but the man “knows” he didn’t rape her, then she has mental problems. He further goes onto say that she is unsafe because “she’s made a felonious accusation against the husband.”

    In other words, only the accused man gets to decide if a woman was raped or assaulted. And considering that Complementarian teachers say that women can only seek marriage counseling if the husband approves, it only stands to reason that the next logical step is that he can decide if his woman has been raped or not.

    This is just sickening. I’ve said it plenty of times before, but I am so glad for all you guys do here! You’re making a big difference!

    Reply
    • Mara R

      A lot of women were put away and deemed mad by their husbands back in the day who weren’t mad.

      I guess John Smith wishes he lived back then. Those were the good old days.

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I was out doing errands and missed that! I may go delete it unless it has a huge thread because it’s obviously a troll.

      Reply
    • Jo R

      Must be great to act as a referee while also playing the game. 🙄 🙄 🙄

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, wow, that’s a great analogy for the whole thing, isn’t it? I’m going to try to remember that!

        Reply
    • Lisa Johns

      Gaslighting at its finest!!!

      Reply
      • Lisa Johns

        John Smith’s remark, that is. I wasn’t calling Sheila a gaslighter! 😁

        Reply
  15. Karen

    Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU for: The Sexual Recovery Series: Digging Yourself Out of the Pit.

    I am still unpacking years of shame and anguish surrounding sex in a marriage where I felt it was all my fault. I was told it was all my fault. I was the one with the problem. Until he decided he was going to divorce me … not before he struck up a relationship with another woman. The night he informed me that he had officially filed for divorce, he read off a long list of what was wrong with me, what I did wrong, and even went so far as to diagnose me as sexually repressed. He said “sex was the most important thing in marriage” and accused me of denying him of a great sex life. That was his reason for divorcing me.

    We were married 28 years at the time the divorce was final. I look back on all those years and truly cannot remember feeling loved (or respected) in a way that I felt emotionally safe or cared for. Sex was not about love … it was a duty. Almost exactly as you have described in your writings. I felt used and confused and so terribly hopeless. I now know exactly why and what I what experiencing.

    As I read through these posts and listen to your podcasts, I am so grateful for this information. I am thankful to be able to put a name to what was going on. I am thankful to finally put aside the shame and realize that my actions (eventually withdrawing from him, refusing to have sex etc.) were understandable. While he wasn’t abusive in the classic ways, I now know what I experienced was in no way a loving, healthy relationship and my gut was telling me that all along. I am thankful that he filed for divorce even though it was the last thing I wanted. I am no longer subjected to his demeaning and dismissive ways. Ultimately, that seemingly selfish act released me and now I am no longer in that fog of shame and confusion.

    The damage after 28 years goes deep. I am continuing to struggle with self-doubt and shame but I am doing the work. I have a wonderful therapist who has helped me reframe so many of my thoughts. I struggle with trust issues and fears around any future relationships. I also struggle with hope that I will ever experience a loving and healthy relationship at all. However, I am learning and growing in knowledge and confidence. I am passing on what I learn to my children. Seeing them navigate healthy relationships and be loved for who they are is priceless.

    Thank You again for all you do. I am eternally grateful.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Karen, I’m so glad that this could help. I remember you sharing your story with me a few years ago. It was so sad. I can just imagine the self-doubt you do have.

      I’m glad you may be starting to see that you were not frigid or repressed or selfish or sinning. You were reacting to an unsafe situation that you never should have been put in. I’m sorry it was so traumatic for you. I really am.

      Reply
  16. Nathan

    > > He said that if a woman “feels” like she was raped, but the man “knows” he didn’t rape her, then she has mental problems.
    > > He further goes onto say that she is unsafe because “she’s made a felonious accusation against the husband.”

    Wow. There are no words. None.

    Reply
    • Jo R

      Sure, there are, Nathan, and I’m guessing most of us have heard them:

      “And all God’s people said…”

      “Amen. ”

      🤢 🤮 🤢 🤮

      Reply
      • Nathan

        The words we can use likely aren’t allowed on this site.

        But, like you say, do these people hear themselves?

        Reply
  17. Joy

    Hey! I have seen you mention that it’s possible to find a new church that promotes safe teachings, and I’d like some advice on how to find a church like that. I have three youngish children–two girls and one boy–and I would like to raise to think differently than I did as an evangelical teen in the late 90s, early 00s (for instance youth group is looking to be off the table…) I’m eyeing denominations that evangelical me never would have considered! It’s a weird time. We have been completely out of church since covid struck, and that dovetailed with me needing to go through a complete reevaluation of my faith and its role in our family life. Great Sex Rescue, the Southern Baptist scandal and your work here all happened in that timeframe, too. If I make a move my family and friends may wonder what’s going on–I’ve been able to keep things somewhat private using covid as a screen, but that time is ending. So much to think about!

    Reply
    • Laura

      Joy,

      “I’m eyeing denominations that evangelical me never would have considered!” I’m kind of in the same boat myself. I got saved as a teenager in the mid-90s, but was never really active in church until my mid-20s and it was nondenominational, charismatic, or Assemblies of God churches that I attended. Recently, I attended a Lutheran church twice, a Presbyterian church once, and watched several Methodist services online. Years ago, I never found those traditional, liturgical churches appealing. But, I’ve heard great things about those churches in that they do not preach the hell, fire, and brimstone messages, they are affirming of everyone, and don’t tout sexist messages from the pulpit. Now that I’m older, I am not looking to be entertained like the mainstream churches are in America. I used to be into the praise and worship shows which are nice to some extent, but I want more sustenance than being entertained. I want to listen to healthy messages.

      Reply
    • Angharad

      I think that when looking for a church, the biggest thing you can do to help your kids is not to assume that everything they hear within church context will be good and helpful. It’s also beneficial if you can encourage open conversation about church teaching – and if they get to the age where they don’t want to talk openly to their parents, maybe point them in the direction of trusted Christian friends who can be wise listening ears and who can flag up any concerns. My parents would have been horrified at some of the teachings that came our way in church youth groups and Bible studies, but they assumed that I wouldn’t be taught anything unsafe in church! BIG mistake!!!

      It would also be worth checking out what marriage and family resources are in the church library/bookstall and what the recommended church resources are for dating, engaged and newly married couples and young parents. For example, if a church is recommending ‘Act of Marriage’ or ‘Love and Respect’ to all their marriage prep couples, then you know that’s not a church you want to go to!

      Reply
  18. DP

    I think your posts latley are excellent and describe my situstion very well. Several months ago I had to say “no more sex” after decades of being used and him hiding his infidelity. He feels like I ruined our marriage and has let me know in no uncertain terms that I am the one to blame. He had a terribly traumatic childhood and I finally see that letting him use my body to numb his pain just makes things worse. I can’t fix this for him.
    I wanted to comment on a FB post you did today (11-29) about orgasm, not just intercourse that releasees the good hormones. I didn’t want to comment there, because certain people might see it.

    In my situation orgasam made me feel worse. I couldn’t sleep and felt more used after an orgasm than I did after onesided sex. I felt like I had to orgasm to make my husbands experience better. If I didn’t orgasm he felt rejected and gave me the silent treatment or called me names. There was still plenty of one sided sex (every day at least once but he prefered 2-3 times per day – no matter what. He actually told me once that he would “settle” for 10-12 times per week), but he always wanted me to orgasm each time. He said it was for me, but it was really to make him feel like he was a good lover. The times when I would orgasm, I felt terrible afterwards. Sadly, I don’t think I’m the only wife going through this and I wondered if you could address this for the wives out there experiencing the same type of thing?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, this is a real phenomenon as well! I’m so sorry that you went through this. Wow! It sounds like your husband honestly was channelling so many needs into sex, and ignoring real connection. That’s just heartbreaking. Yes, you can’t fix this for him at all.

      Definitely some men try to force orgasm so that they can feel like their wives are into it. Then that feeling can cement the distance that you feel, because orgasm is supposed to signal connection, and when it doesn’t it feels very empty. Again, I’m sorry you’re going through this. I hope you have a good counselor to walk you through?

      Reply
      • DP

        We had a great counselor, but have finished our sessions with him . We can’t afford more and my husband isn’t willing to see him anymore because he says the counselor is full of crap, mainly because he spoke truths that my husband didn’t want to hear. My husband heard you on a podcast just after GSR came out and wanted us to read it. I was hesitant because the way he talked about it I thought it would say I needed to give him even more sex… it obviously didn’t. Just after we read it I wanted to see a counselor and the first thing our counselor did was recomend GSR! 🙂 My husband was becoming more and more frustrated the more we read and listened to your podcasts, and went through a period where he really didn’t like you at all. He has been listening to your podcasts latley and he just started to read Unwanted by Jay Stringer after hearing the recent podcast with him. He has a lot to unpack but I think it is starting to happen.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Oh, I’m so glad! That’s wonderful to hear that he may be open to learning. Jay’s book is great so I hope that may open a door.

          Reply
    • exwifeofasexaddict

      DP, your first paragraph happened to me too. My ex found a way to make it all my fault in his mind in order to justify divorcing me. Of course, by the end I wanted out too. I wasn’t interested in saving the marriage after he had treated me so badly for so many years.

      I’ve been divorced almost 2 years. Life is better now.

      Reply
    • Lisa Johns

      DP, you are definitely not alone in feeling awful after sex with orgasm. I felt like I was a bug pinned on cardboard, with a nasty little kid tugging my legs to watch my wings move. Gross.

      Reply
  19. Chelsea

    I am new. This is hard, but, I have a story.
    18 months ago I suffered what I can now label a sexual assault from my husband. About 2 months prior, I had shown interest in a new intimate encounter that my husband brought to the table. Initially I had to compromise to engage in this, then, seeing how euphoric he got after these encounters, I participated in more frequent interactions. After conversing with my counselor and admitting that I did not enjoy and no longer wanted to participate, she gave me the courage to confront my husband about my feelings. I sat down with him and had a conversation that read “I cannot participate in this anymore, it is not for me”. He did not take it well. Just a few days later, he came to bed (middle of the night) and proceeded to take advantage of my body. I felt terrible! I felt used! I felt so many things that I still cannot put into words. When I approached him asking “what are you doing” he stuttered and said he was sorry, that he came to bed “randy” and didn’t control it. This made me feel more terrible! Like a piece of damn meat!!! The next day I gave up my body to him in the manner he wanted to use it, whenever he wanted, and he did, multiple times a day. This lasted about 2 weeks. I regret that decision. It did not help our marriage. And I ultimately had a breakdown and told him no more.

    Fast forward to 4 months ago when I decided I wanted to better myself. I started learning about changing core beliefs. And realized how skewed my views about sexuality and intimacy were. I have a new counselor and we have a couples counselor. Since that incident, he has been telling me our relationship is lacking intimacy, but he cannot tell me what that looks like.

    My friend recommended your podcast. I listened to the last one and then shared with him. He did not take it well. Specifically saying he felt “judged”. I have suggested he seek his own counseling to talk about his feelings and reactions to my growth. He has turned me down twice. First saying “I don’t feel I have anything major to work on” and second “I see the value in working on oneself, but we are in couples counseling to work on us”.
    I am discouraged and feeling hopeless. We both are. But, I have a story. And I matter.
    The podcast has given me strength to face my shame.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I am so sorry, Chelsea. That’s so hard. I’m glad you found me, but I can imagine how lonely you feel. Just remember that it is okay to draw boundaries to protect yourself. And if your husband won’t respect that, that shows a lot about his character.

      Reply
      • Chelsea

        Thank you Sheila. I sincerely appreciate your kind and encouraging worlds.
        I am learning boundaries right now by reading Melissa Urban’s book.
        I am also learning self validation as well as how to reach out to people in my life as good resources and accountability partners. (These are even more challenging in my mid 40’s) I don’t feel SO alone. Every week I surprise myself with intense growth. It has been empowering, but also emotionally draining and a struggle. But I keep pushing forward.

        I have slogans to share:
        One day at a time
        Live and let live
        Easy does it
        Progress, not perfection
        First things first
        Keep it simple

        Reply
        • Lisa Johns

          Chelsea, I finally withdrew from ALL physical contact with my husband, moving him into the spare room and refusing to so much as touch him in any way. It wasn’t until well over 2-1/2 years later, when I was finally realizing that divorce was not all seven deals sins at once, that he finally began to work on his issues. I’m still not sure it we’re going to last. But my action, and my sticking to my guns, was the best thing anybody ever did for me. (Or him either!)

          Reply
    • exwifeofasexaddict

      Chelsea, it’s actually more important for you to go to counseling separately than couples. You will not be able to heal your marriage until (unless) you have healed yourselves. And specifically, he needs to heal himself. A person who rapes his wife has STUFF TO WORK ON!!!

      Honestly, based on this one story you shared, I’d recommend you separate from him. He isn’t safe, and he will probably keep on hurting you. I’m so sorry you’re going through this and having to make decisions like this.

      Reply
      • Shevrae

        I would second this recommendation. My husband and I went to marriage counseling for 7 years without real substantial change. I kept asking him to go to individual counseling and he said he didn’t need it b/c we we’re going together (meanwhile I had my own counselor in addition to the marriage counselor).

        When I told him early this year I wanted to separate because of the lack of progress all of a sudden he was on board with individual counseling. We took a break from the marriage counseling. It has actually helped a lot (much more than the marriage counseling!) but it’s disappointing that he waited until it was basically an ultimatum. Sigh.

        Reply
        • Jo R

          He simply waited until the pain of not changing was greater than the pain of changing.

          Or, put positively, the pain of staying the same was going to be greater than the pain of changing.

          I’d add “better late than never,” but maybe not. I would highly recommend today’s podcast to you. For YOUR sake, not his.

          Hugs if you want ’em.

          Reply
  20. DP

    exwifeofasexaddict, I think my husband’s heart is a good one, but it’s hidden under so much trauma, he has no clue what love actually is. I want our marriage to recover from this, but he needs to realize that I can’t do all the work for him and that most of the work to be done is on him. I tried to give him all the sex to make him happy, but it just traumatized me and made us even less connected than we were before. He hears messages like “orgasm makes you sleep better” and gets angry with me because I don’t want to orgasm. For me it was just one more thing I had to do for him and it made me feel terrible. Orgasm was the closest thing to love he ever kenw as a child/teenager and can’t dissaccociate the two.

    Reply

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