Wifey Wednesday: Why He Won’t Meet Your Needs

Christian Marriage Advice

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!

Angry pouty pretty bride
Photo by Chris Willis


Today I want to address a common meme in marriage literature: if you want to get your needs met, then meet your spouse’s first. Figure out what his primary needs are, and meet them, and then you’ll get your needs met!

There is truth to the addage that the more we care for others’ needs, the more our own are met. The key here is motivation: if you care for someone’s needs in order to get something in return it’s manipulation, and they will sense it and it will backfire. If you care for someone’s needs because you love them, then that love by itself will change the dynamics of your relationship, and you will be more likely to get your needs met.

But here’s the central issue, girls, and I’m about to be very hard on our gender today: I think this works far better for us than it does for our husbands, because quite frankly too many of us don’t consider their needs at all.

Let me give you an example. About a year or so ago my husband and I were just overwhelmed with busy-ness. I was speaking a lot, and he was working a lot, and we weren’t connecting. Two nights in a row we didn’t make love because I was preoccupied. Then I was away speaking. When I came home it was the middle of the night and we didn’t, either. The next night I was still tired, but neither of us slept well because both of us were feeling that something was wrong in our relationship. The next night we did.

And then he bought me flowers.

Sex flowers.

I got mad. I interpreted it like this: “My husband wants sex too much, so he’ll reward me when we make love, and punish me when we don’t. He’ll be distant when we don’t make love deliberately so that I will start putting out.” And I got really frustrated.

And then it hit me: maybe the reason Keith bought me flowers was simply because he felt closer to me and lovey towards me. I thought what was going through his brain was this:

“I need to manipulate my wife into doing what I want.”

What was really going through his head was this:

“I love my wife. I think I’ll buy her flowers.”

You see, my friends, men are really quite simple. They need two things: respect and sex. Just two things. Respect can be more easily defined as both affirmation and appreciation. When we affirm what they do and show them appreciation, they feel ten feet tall. When we make love to them, we affirm their manhood and they feel loved. And when they feel loved, they tend to feel less antsy, more compassionate, and more eager to keep pleasing us because they feel like the relationship is something they do well.

Men tend to want to put in effort in areas they feel they are good at. That’s why if a man feels he’s lousy at marriage he’ll start working more, or playing on the computer more. He retreats to areas of competence. Make your man feel incompetent and irrelevant, and he’ll retreat. It’s as simple as that.

Now, of course, some men are louts, and it doesn’t matter how much we try to please them, they’re going to retreat and be insensitive. Absolutely. But I think the number of honest to goodness natural louts is far fewer than the number of men who currently ACT like louts. I think many men act like louts because that is how they have been treated.

Too many of us have virtually no respect for what a husband really needs, but we have unlimited respect for our own needs. And we’re not only hurting our husbands–we’re hurting ourselves.

Let me talk about another couple that’s been married for 35 years now. I watch them every now and then, and while I know they’re not splitting up, I don’t see a lot of tenderness. She snipes at him and criticizes him every chance she gets, and he bristles and walks out of the room. Every now and then he retaliates, but not often. She isn’t showing him that she appreciates him; she’s showing him that she doesn’t think he’s good enough. He’s always wrong. And it’s no wonder that he doesn’t act tenderly towards her!

If you take that same couple at year one of their marriage instead of year thirty-five, though, and his wife started thanking him for his contribution, and asking about his day, and making love to him with relative frequency, and respecting his opinion, I bet at thirty-five years they’d be a lot more affectionate and a lot more tender.

Men really aren’t complicated. Do those two things: appreciate him and make love frequently, and you’ll likely find that he starts being nicer to the kids. He helps with the dishes. He phones if he’s going to be late. He feels competent and appreciated, and he wants to keep excelling in the family sphere because it’s something he does well. Make him feel like he’s not doing it well, and he will start to wither.

Why can’t we just give to our men this way? Because we don’t work that way. Remember the book “Sex Begins in the Kitchen” by Kevin Leman? I know it was written by a man, because only a man would think the sexual relationship was that straightforward. He’s thinking the way men do, and then reversing the equation. When a man gets his primary needs met, he tends to reach out and start meeting a woman’s needs. So Leman assumes that women act the same way: when we get our need for affection met, and when he starts helping around the house and caring about us, we’ll start to make love more.

It’s not true.

I’ve known many men who are saints at home and their wives aren’t helping at all, because we tend to question men’s motivations. We think either that they’re trying to manipulate us, or we come up with other things they’re doing wrong. Or, perhaps even more likely, we think to ourselves: “I’m glad he cares about me, because I work really hard. I need to take a break now so he can carry more of the load”, and we don’t think of returning the favour much at all.

We women are far too focused on what is “right” and what is “fair“. We’re asking ourselves, how much did he care for the kids today? How much housework did he do? Did he let me talk? Did he care? And if the answer is no in any of these areas, we tend to hold it as our right to pull back from him until he improves.

We don’t tend to feel all lovey dovey towards him when he does something right. We don’t feel ten feet tall when he does the dishes or takes care of the kids. We simply think, “that’s what he should have been doing anyway”.

So the adage, “meet your spouse’s needs, and they’ll meet yours” has much more of a chance of working for women than it does for men. If you put yourself out and really show him appreciation and make love, he will, more than likely, become a different person over time. On the other hand, if he does the same thing, there is no guarantee that you will change, because we don’t work the same way. What he needs is sex, and so many of us are so focused on being exhausted and not having time that we don’t think that maybe, just maybe, we should consider his needs for a second. In our way of thinking, our husbands often impede on our ability to enjoy our life, what with all their demands, and frankly, they’re far too much like animals, anyway.

And then women wonder why, fifteen years into marriage, their husband seems so distant and so insensitive.

Is it women’s fault if men don’t care about our feelings? If they don’t help with the kids? No, it’s not, because men are morally obligated to do these things anyway, whether or not we return the favour. But here’s the thing: just because you can’t be morally blamed for it does not mean that you could not have taken steps to make your marriage better.

Women, we have it so easy. We honestly have an easier deal with marriage than men do because men are so relatively simple (and I don’t mean this in a derogatory way; we’re just made differently). Give them appreciation and make love, and they will feel tenderly towards us. We, on the other hand, are far more complex, and we’re not easy to figure out. Men actually have it harder.

I know this isn’t popular to say. I know a lot of you are mad at me right now, and thinking what an idiot your husband is, and how I’m blaming you for not having sex with an idiot. I don’t walk in your shoes, and it could be that your husband really is that horrible. But then, if you don’t mind me asking, why did you marry him?

When you were dating, he probably was nice to you, and that was probably because he did feel ten feet tall. You appreciated him. You affirmed him. You “made out” with him and seemed so hot for him! Then you got married and he didn’t feel like he had to woo you, but you also stopped with your affection, too. The difference is that you justify your behaviour; he often doesn’t notice his. And as the months and years pass, your relationship takes on a different dynamic. Maybe the problem is not your husband, but the dynamic of your relationship.

You saw something nice in your husband once. I believe those attractive qualities can come out again. So, please, ladies, even if you don’t believe what I’m saying, can I ask you to suspend your disbelief and try an experiment?

Instead of thinking about how your husband wants sex too much, commit for six weeks (it has to be a long enough period of time) to do the following things:

1. Thank your husband once a day for something (try to make it something different each time)
2. Compliment your husband to your mother, your children, your friends, whatever, within earshot of your husband, every chance you get.
3. Do not nag.
4. Do not give the silent treatment.
5. Make love with relative frequency (say at least 2-3 times a week).

Good Girls Have More Fun!

At the end of six weeks, see if you feel differently towards your husband, and if he is acting differently towards you. I bet you will! Just the act of being nice to him will make you start thinking more nicely about him.

And as you make love more frequently, you will feel closer to him and you’ll feel more goodwill, too. Maybe that’s hard for  you because you honestly don’t enjoy sex. If that’s the case, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex has great info in a fun way that can help you turn it around! If you don’t like sex, it’s really worth trying to tackle the problem, because it will help your marriage so much!

I know you may not believe me, but so many marriages would be saved if we women would just learn how to love our men.

Will you try?

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  1. Thou Art Jules says:

    >This is so NOT what I wanted to read tonight Sheila! As I sit here disgruntled over my day. I think you have a spy cam here at my house and know exactly what I needed to hear even if I didn't want to.
    I will sleep on it, hows that? lol

    • LOL to your response Jules. As a man, I can tell you that Sheila is dead on with her article. My wife wasn’t meeting my needs as a man, but she was quick to tell me her needs and then expect me to meet them. Meeting each other’s needs is a two way street which seems to be a one way street in most relationships where the woman’s way is the only way. I would try to meet my wife’s needs, but my efforts were always short lived because she wasn’t willing to meet my needs. Her needs not being met led to my wife having an emotional affair in 2007-2008 with a neighbor down the street. When that ended, we went to counseling and tried to make the marriage work, but my needs were still not being met and she continued to refuse to acknowledge my need for sex. In 2011, I had enough and decided I was done with the marriage. About a month after I made that decision, I had a sexual affair. We separated soon after in 2011 and divorced in 2013.

      The woman I am dating now meets my needs which make me want to meet hers. I am making her aware of the need for sex through research because I do not want to enter into another marriage where needs are a one way street. I would rather be single and alone rather than go through years of frustration of my needs not being met. I would rather know now, rather than find out a couple years into a marriage, if the woman I am dating accepts and honors my needs or dismisses me like my ex-wife did as it being my problem. Yes ladies, it is that important.

      And, like Sheila mentions, if you are meeting his needs and he is still not meeting yours, then that is just as bad and should NOT be tolerated. Meeting each other’s needs is a two way street.

      • And now your an adulterer. Hmm, not sure this was a great reply for a blog about how to help wives see their husbands as people and not animals.

        In fact this is confirmation.

        • Noel, I’m not saying my situation was the ideal way to handle my marriage, but if you are going to lump men in the animals category, then you may want to reread my post and lump women into that category as well. My ex-wife cheated on me four years before I cheated on her. Yes, I said she had an emotional affair but I know it was physical as well because she told me. I will never cheat on my future wife. I will simply leave the marriage if my needs are not being met. We live and learn and I think it best not to judge as you have done in my case.

  2. >As women we are so protective, so precious of our own needs. Even those of us not treated as little princesses when growing up think we should now be treated as queens in our own homes. We know – or most of us do – what our husbands need but we tend to dismiss it because their needs are only 'physical' but ours are 'emotional' and therefore – in our eyes – far more valid. Oh shame on us! There have been times in my marriage when I've needed to hear what you had to say – times now even that I need to be reminded. It's so easy to think that when he shows me love I'll respond but that's not love – that's manipulation as you so rightly pointed out. Thank you for this post and for having the courage to write it. Blessings, Jules.

    • I know this comment is really old, but it’s near the top of the thread so I thought adding a man’s perspective on one of your statements might be helpful. :)

      You said that women tend to dismiss their husband’s needs as being “only physical,” whereas emotional needs are more valid. Just as it would help a lot of men to realize this about women, it would also help a lot of women to understand that to a man, “physical” represents reality, whereas “emotional” represents non-reality. To us, emotions can be easily changed (or even better, ignored), but the physical world just is what it is. Therefore, in our minds, physical needs are the ones that are far more valid, because at least they’re real.

      I’m not saying that’s right; it’s just how a man works. The fact of the matter is that both perspectives are obviously needed (or God wouldn’t have created us this way), and we can actually use this difference to make our marriages better. It just takes mutual understanding to do that.

      • I would say, as a man. That sex is a realization of an emotion, of what you are feeling. Like violence is of anger. It is the thought turn into an action,a response. ???

  3. Terry @ Breathing Grace says:

    >Thanks for the link, Sheila, first of all.

    Secondly, I loved the post. It actually fits a very nicely with what I posted today even though I'd written it before reading your post (hope that's okay!).

    The thing I left out of my post, and that you articulated so beautifully, is that the more I put myself out for my husband (pun unintended, sort of :), the more my needs are met. Not because I manipulated him, but because I have sincerely prayed to God to help me love him in the ways he needs to be love.

    And God has answered my prayers. I'm so very far from perfect, but I moving along on the journey.

    As women, we are told from birth that we can have it all, we deserve to have it all, and that we should settle for nothing less. This is an absurd approach to life but many of us buy into it and put pressure on our husbands to help us have it all and be happy.

    Meanwhile, his needs sit on the back burner. And we wonder why he may have checked out emotionally.

    Again, great post!

  4. Llama Momma says:

    >This post rings true in so many ways, Sheila. When we meet our spouses needs consistently, our needs get met as well.

    I would say that our needs evolve, depending on what season of life we're in, though. At least in my own marriage they have. For both of us.

    Early in marriage, I would say sex was at the top of the list for my husband.

    And when the twins were little, sleep was a biggie for both of us. (Who was getting up, when.)

    And through a long, stressful season of unemployment, it was respect and companionship. Making sure I planned a night away from home, without the kids, where we could do something fun together.

    And right now, as he's getting in the groove of a new job with a ton of stress: Being available to listen…really listen…without judgement or helpful "suggestions" that I love to make. Just to be there. And I think sex is probably back up near the top again, too.

    Maybe some–even most–men are all about sex and respect. But some are a bit more complicated.

    It's important to know your spouse, and be willing to be the one to meet those needs…whatever they are. It's okay to ask, too. To say, "I want to meet your needs, but I'm not sure what they are." Sometimes the answer is surprising!

    Sheila, thanks for writing these hard posts…the ones that challenge us to get out of our comfort zone!!

    There was

    • empathologicalism says:

      The reference to “some are a bit more complicated” is a red flag. here you have done, maybe unintentionally, what the author says women do, devaluing the “goodness”….of men’s needs by inflating “complexity” to virtue.

      ALL men are more complicated than that. Its not a dichotomy that EITHER he needs sex and respect OR he is a deeper more complicated being. You are looking at him as if he is a woman, I highly recommend you check this train of thought, its a trick to get around the two things the author mentions, especially the sex….by YOUR judgement sex need went up then down then up…..Ive read this kind of thing so many times women explaining the man, inventing him in her image.

      Im shocked the author didnt correct you

  5. Catherine R. vivalagatita@gmail.com says:

    >I appreciate you tackling the S subject, Sheila. My hubby and I have a couple issues going on that prevents things from being the way they could be in the bedroom. One of them, which is frustrating for both of us is that we have a 2 year old and a 5 month old. Sometimes it feels like they are awake 24 hours a day and we couldn't "do" anything if we wanted to. The 5 mo is too young to stick in a room by herself and the 2 yo can't really be alone either. It's rough.

  6. >Thanks for the comment! And Jules–sorry for being so convicting :).

    Terry, thanks for your great post today, too! And Llama Mama, you're right, people's needs do evolve. I definitely was oversimplifying. I think a lot of it boils down to respect, though: respecting their opinion, respecting their needs and desires, and not pooh-poohing them or saying "mine come first". If we do respect our husbands, and make it our goal to study them (as you have), then we'll figure things out! (like you did!)

    Catherine, that's hard with your kids. Really hard. I remember those days. I think that would be a great post for another day, because I know you're not alone in this. I think I'll write on it!

  7. Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama says:

    >Going to accept your challenge and here is my Wifey Wednesday post {linky wouldn't work for me}

  8. >Melissa–I'll put it in the linky for you!

  9. Anonymous says:

    >Ah Sheila…. awesome post. Near brought me to tears just for the truth in it and the gut-level wishing that more wives would just GET this….

    Thanks for writing what I so often wish I could say.

  10. >Hmmm, really really good food for thought!

  11. Anonymous says:

    >Fantastic post. You made a lot of good points.

    One commenter mentioned having small children and how that interferes with lovemaking. I remember those days well. However now that my children are teens I have to say it's even harder to enjoy lovemaking. I'll be blunt…teens can hear and understand what they hear. 😉 lol We try to be quiet but it takes away from the lovemaking always having to worry about every creak the bed makes or sounds of pleasure we might make. It is also hard to wait until after they are asleep. Usually by then we are exhausted too. I would be interested to hear how you handle this Sheila as I know your girls are teens too.

  12. The Happy Domestic says:

    >@ Anonymous 3:05 – My husband and I have teens, preschoolers, and an infant, so we have to work around all those different kind of obstacles to love. The preschoolers at least go to bed at a reasonable hour, the baby can lay awake in her crib if necessary, and the teenagers are fully aware that Mom & Dad need alone time for things that make them go "ick". If I say we're going up to bed for private time, they know not to venture near for their own good, and to turn on music or a movie if need be! LOL It can be done! Some people might feel weird about their kids knowing what they're doing, but I think of it this way: all our kids will grow up knowing Mom & Dad love each other… a lot. 😉

  13. >All so good! Thank you all!

  14. Anonymous says:

    >I would love to read something on men who don't seem to want sex. My husband never initiates it and now that I am so far along In my pregnancy we have been less than once a month. I can hardly move meanwhile have energy to start anythinh i cant finish if he doesnt feel like doing it. And when we do it never lasts more than a few minutes. I don't think he knows what foreplay is. He seems to be the one with the "headache" and "do we have to?" attitude. So when we do have sex it ends up being all about him. Do other women have this problem?

    • Rebecca says:

      I know your post is old, but this really struck a chord with me.

      Yes, my husband and I have been going through this, I have gone from feeling offended, worried that something’s wrong with our relationship, feeling alright about it that maybe it’s not a big thing, but at the end of the day my overall feeling is still that maybe something isn’t quite right. We’ve talked over it many times, he always says it’s not anything that I’m doing/not doing, he just doesn’t feel like it much, it’s not any reflection on our love/relationship. And I believe him, everything-else in the relationship is fine and hasn’t changed, but it just feels like there’s a piece missing somewhere.

      Did your experience with this ever resolve? If so, how?


  15. Great post. So funny that just this very week, I was analyzing my marriage and what I could do better to please him and I came to the same exact things as you’ve posted so eloquently here. It all comes down to respect and sex for him. If I could just offer these two things better and in larger amounts, he would be so much happier, so much more involved, so much more connected with family life and with me. Thanks for confirming my hypothesis!
    @MontanaSherryC recently posted…A Text ConversationMy Profile

    • You’re welcome! It’s hard to find that balance, because I don’t want women to feel like “sex is all for him”, but I do think we need to keep in mind what he needs!

  16. I couldn’t find the “linky” thing (I’m sure I just overlooked it), so I thought I’d link here: http://awomanforhim.wordpress.com/ (The post I’ve linked to is about showing respect for our husbands — which I think this closely related to the sex issue because it’s hard to desire a man you continually disrespect in front of others.)

    I love the advice in your post. I’m actually working on a series of posts that says essentially the same thing — more sex is almost always going to be a boost to the marriage. I’m still a bit nervous about actually posting them, but this has given me some courage!
    Brooke Parks recently posted…International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church: Sunday, November 13My Profile

  17. gaurdian777 says:

    I think it is important for a wife to speak her needs to her husband otherwise us men get stuck in this frame of mind of “Everything is going great, I don’t need to change anything mindset” Sadly, some of us men are just that dense.

    Yes, a wife should meet her husbands needs, it’s biblical but can a husband blame his wife if all of a sudden she stops meeting those needs because we aren’t following our biblical duty to love our wives and lay down our lives on a daily basis. My wife lovingly meets my needs on a regular basis – is everything always perfect? no! but she genuinely tries. Every so often she would break down and cry because her needs weren’t being met and as much as I tried to understand that, I couldn’t – partially because my own selfishness was saying “hey, my needs are met so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” God really opened my eyes to “love your wife as Christ loved the church” as my marriage almost came to an end this year. Sometimes it’s that ultimatum that gives us thick headed guys a kick in the right direction.

    I’m not saying this because I think you are wrong. It may work for some guys – just saying from a guys perspective that it doesn’t work for all of us. In fact my wife and I were talking recently about a couple that we were friends with in our old church. The wife laid down her life for her husband doing things for him out of love. He took that and abused it. He kept asking for more and more. Demanding more and more. He was never abusive but he would come home (while we were visiting) move the couches to make sure she vacuumed under them, he would inspect the baseboards to make sure they were clean and would get upset if she didn’t make what he wanted for dinner. She did all this because she felt (and sadly our church taught it) that women were to do all their husbands asked out of love for them. Sadly the more she did for him the more he degraded and belittled her. He even made fun of her for gaining 5 pounds and told her she needed breast implants right in front of me.

    I say this because I think articles like this generalize too much. not every man fits into this category. I am saddened that it has taken 4 years to figure out that I was being selfish in not meeting my wife’s needs when she was doing so much for me. I really hope to change that over the next several decades of life together.

    • Hi there,

      You sound like just a wonderful husband with a great attitude. Thanks for chiming in and showing us such encouragement! You are right that guys do need to know from their wives what they need, and that sometimes a guy is being completely unreasonable (as with the example you gave, which is quite inexcusable). I’ve written other posts about that, about how being a complete doormat doesn’t help your marriage, and in fact endangers both the marriage and the spiritual condition of both partners. So I absolutely do not endorse being a doormat.

      I think the problem comes, though, in that I am predominantly speaking to women. It’s fine to say that men should wise up, but many men just won’t. And I also think that many men do shut down because their wives really aren’t thinking of the husbands’ needs.

      So if I could talk to men, I would tell them just what you did: love your wives as Christ loved the church. But in talking to women, I would say, don’t wait for your husband to make the first move. Don’t wait for him to do the right thing. You do the right thing. That’s the only thing that you have control or power over.

      Again, thank you for your comment, and keep blessing other men with the same message!

    • empathologicalism says:

      You didnt contradict her though, her article was about mens needs. telling her about your wifes needs doesnt contradict her points or make them generalize too much.

      You are a well trained white knight sir….best luck with that. This is precisely the response that we are taught in church, and the one women would prefer to adopt. The writer offers balance because your words are the ones that are the NORM. To say that hers is way too common a view is dissonance. Your post is the backbone of near every sermon and book on marriage….and you say hers is somehow needing balanced out?

      Go download some sermons….I did….over a hundred back in the mid 2000’s, looking for the slant. Not a single one (they were all relational sermons on marriage searched on google or large church sites) said anything different from what YOU said here.

      sheesh man, pandering for female feedback and practicing male self effacement has gone badly too far

  18. Thank you for bringing so much humor to an otherwise touchy subject! Had my husband brought this topic up I would have snipped at him…I’m going to take your challenge although I have a question but can we email? I don’t want the world knowing this one hahahahaha

  19. Ouch, but thank you. You have made alot of great points. I have been married for 14 years and what you’re saying is true that my husband treats me so much nicer and loving when we i have been showing him love, encouraging him, uplifting him, and stroking his ego. He is the sweetiest when when have had sex 2-3 times a week. I believe sex is so important to marriage, well it has been for our marriage. We enjoy one another greatly, which is why we have had 4 children. When we are not intimate I feel lost and lonely. Thank you for sharing this article. It has hurt me in a good refining way.

  20. Angel baratie says:

    Yes, men like sex.

    But what about if *our* sexual needs aren’t being met? If we have a hard time with sex, and have discussed it with them, and yet they don’t want to try and make it better for us because it’s “difficult”? Do we then just give up and give them sex all the time to make them happy when they won’t try more to make us happy in that department?

  21. Wow, this is convicting post for sure. I suppose I need to get off the phone and do some praying.
    Sara recently posted…Before You Build Your HouseMy Profile

  22. In my child to parent voice– “but I don’t want to!!”. Definitely needed to read this especially after I just googled “how to deal with your unromantic husband”, funny this site came up. God knows what I needed to “hear” and how I need to get my heart right. I’ve been feeling very “well what about me” lately. I’m very newly married so this will definitely be a tough task for me, still trying to work through my bad attitude and feelings of my needs not being met. Nevertheless, I am willing to commit to the challenge for the next six weeks because I want to have a lifetime of happiness with my husband. Not in an unrealistic-nothing-bad-will-ever-happen-to-us kind of way, just want us to both have out needs met and enjoy doing life together. Anyway, thank you for posting this and sharing your wisdom. I pray God helps me as I work through my own issues and focus on meeting my husbands needs. Whew, Lord help me! {and pray for me too!}

  23. Cary Wallace says:

    that is one of the best interpretations of a mans feelings i have every read. and to be from a woman is revolutionary.

    i felt better just reading it.

    thanks for that.

  24. I agree with most of the thoughts here except for the fact that my husband is the one not giving up the sex. And I often think “what the heck happened? How did I marry this guy?” Our wedding night was the worst night ever. My husband fell asleep while he we talking to me and that was basically the end of our night. There I sat in lingerie all prepared to “be one” and nothing. We had quick lame sex the next day and then nothing for weeks. And then months. Then lame sex. Then nothing again for months. And so the pattern has continued for the last 3 years. I have tried everything. He swears he’s not into porn and he’s not cheating, neither have I. I’ve begged, cried, calmly explained the importance of sex in a marriage and he says he’ll try harder and then nothing. I’ve given up on expecting compliments or kind words. We don’t kiss. It’s been so long that when he does decide to kiss me my skin crawls. I resent him. I know I do. I put myself out there, and I feel rejected by him constantly. We just went on a vacation together, had a whole week together and had no intimacy. I have no idea what to do. I’m to the point that trying to initiate anything makes me sick and I just want to punch him in the face. He’s a good dad, he helps when he can, he works, he’s fine with everything except me. He neglects me like crazy. I have no idea how to fix this….

    • I want to be up front here and say that I am a guy and there are several possible reasons for the lack of sexual desire. For a guy to lack sexual desire it could be a health issue (low testosterone levels due to various levels and a dr. can assist with that or other reasons.)
      But there are actually lots of mental issues that can cause issues like this. For example the relationship he had with his parents, if there was any abuse there especially sexual could lead to issues. And it is not something a man would ever come out and talk about easily. If he came from a family that didn’t have healthy sexual life, mother or father talked bad about sex in marriage (this is why it is so important to have a healthy sexual life in marriage and model a good marriage for your children). Of course there could be issues of him feeling inadequate or just not having the knowledge/skills he needs to perform. In other words if he is not sure of himself he may not want to put himself out there for ridicul or rejection. Most men don’t like to fail at things and if we know or think we are inadequately prepared to take on a task we will shy away from it. Sex is probably one of the bigger areas that we will be likely to be hesitant if we think we might not be good at it. Think back to any times you have been intimate and make sure there have been no times that you complained or laughed or said anything that could have been taken the wrong way.

      one last thing that could impede his performance with you. And since I don’t know you this is just general possibilies on why he could be this way. But if he feels that he is being compared to past men (sexually or even in general) that can be a huge drop in his desire. So if you compare him to other past boy friends (that can just be talking about past boy friends in a positive manner) It is best to not talk about past relationships at all.

      I know there are lots of other possible reasons, but if you are both Christians, I would highly recommend getting together and doing a Bible study just the two of you, and being open (harder for guys usually – but if he is a good man, he will be willing to work with you).

      As for other suggestions to help build him up would be to comment positively and truthfully on his appearance and other areas that may help build up his self-esteem (we can tell when it is not true or just shallow comments). Those are things that in a guy if hurt or brought down can cause a lot of problems. But the good news is we are easy to fix usually. We forgive easily and forget even easier… We tend to heal quickly if the person is really seeking forgiveness and don’t usually hold grudges.

      • The original post made me so upset at first, as I feel just as Nicole stated above, so it just felt like someone stabbed me when I was reading Sheilas posts. Ive been married 28 yrs & about 7 yrs ago my husbands desire for physical touch, sex abruptly dropped. We were having sex about 2x/wk & that was 21 yrs into our marriage. I remember telling a gal pal that at that point it was 3 months of no intimacy & she was shocked! Since then, it has deteriorated even more. In 2012 we had sex 3 times the whole yr. I tried so many times to initiate, complement him so often, plead to his manliness & after all these years I still thank he is so sexy to me. He can get my motor running! But he doesn’t want to!! Doesn’t seem to care to!

        Around the time he abruptly decided he didn’t want sex anymore 7 yrs ago,…only thing that i can pinpoint to ’cause’ anything, & thinking of how he perceives things is that I was going to school in the spring, by fall the program I was in college for had shut down & I was so upset as I had wanted to be involved in that field for years. By fall, an opportunity arose to do a home base business with jewelry & make some good money. He supported me in front the person who recruited me, but behind closed doors was criticizing me frequently about my decision, starting arguments over it, diminishing my motherly/womanly roles in life/general over it etc. Thats when his lack of ‘desire’ started! That is the only thing I can pinpoint was in our life at the time to maybe be an insecurity with him. I asked him, I tried to speak with him on it to find answers…he would continually blame me, manipulate it & turn it consistently on me! This has been a frequent theme in our marriage for over 15+ yrs now….that is how he does it 99.9% of the time. I have tried to cope with this of how I am treated by him & how he constantly blames me for any & all ways that HE FEELS!!

        Jump back a few yrs & after he had a terrible affair in our marriage, we went through counseling…actually many counselors…about 6 in 4 yrs. He would not do the work, He would manipulate them all & about the time a counselor would see his behavior, try to help him work on it….he wouldn’t go anymore & blame it on me again as to why it all was that way! He was so distant, withdrawn, could be very hateful/mean. I tried many things to cope with this & to be so positive that I had no needs met at all! Yet I needed love, affection, attention & needed for him to work to heal our marriage on his part! Sometimes I felt like I was trying so hard for intimacy/affection that I ended up wounded deeply….I once got his favorite meal from his favorite restaurant, candles on table…kids to activity..hubs came home from work on his lunch hr (he was on 2nd shift at time) I took shower, did my hair/makeup nicely, sexy lingerie with garter, thigh highs, heels..the works…….saw him driving on street…turned out lights, lite candles & laid on table in sexy position with candles & his meal….HELLOO….he walked in, ignored me, went to wash his hands & got very angry about this & within 5 minutes had left & blamed me for ‘doing’ this to him on his lunch hour!!! THAT devastated me & I have NOT done anything with lingerie since! I have tried slightly a few times but Im so wounded by that & how he talked to me, treated me that I have not been able to fully do anything like that again! Truly…can you blame me?!

        Now that happened 9 or 10 yrs ago………I’ve still tried after that to show love for him, intimacy etc..I just did not put myself out there like that again! He has NOT put himself out there for me for sure! Since his affair, he doesn’t try very hard in our marriage, he does not show love to me much or affection. It seems so superficial. He will say some nasty, heart wrenching things to me at the drop of a hat for no good reason (is there ever ANY GOOD reason to talk to a spouse so hateful/spiteful/evil anyway?..NO) at times when we could have been talking about maybe having a garage sale, or doing a project in our yard etc..

        Im so spent emotionally that I am a totally different person today than I was a yr ago, 5 yrs ago….Im trying to work on building myself up & sure as I do…seems like he sees that in me & tries so hard to bring me down in so many ways, yet he wont take responsibility, & then blames me again & again!

        So…In my instance this to me just wont fix anything! I think to give this across the board advice to women, that we are doing something wrong or our husbands would be doing this or that for us….Does not fit across the board! When I read above that Sheila got made that her husband gave her ‘sex flowers’ I just wanted to cry because My husband doesn’t give me flowers ever…he doesn’t have sex with me…So I just thought that she should be sooo enormously grateful for what she has & that he gives her sex flowers!!!

  25. Wow! This post really help alot. You’ve indeed hit the nail on the head….and the commenters, you’ve said it all, though from your different perspective…but all driving to the same point…..”respect and sex”. Nice post!

  26. Great post. It rings very true to me. However, I’m feeling a little depressed reading it, because I don’t have any faith that I’ll ever consistently get his in my relationship.

  27. And what if the sex tables are turned the other way? Years and years and years of going months before a husband wants sex.

    • That’s so hard, Nancy! I’ve written a series for women in that position that starts here. Hope that helps!

    • Your situation is no different than a wife refusing her husband sex. I couldn’t deal with a week or two of no sex followed by begging for it only to have my wife “give in.” The situation didn’t improve, she said it was my problem (because she didn’t have the same need) and she told me to “get control” of myself. She got upset with me when she caught me masturbating and would tell me that I had her, so why would I feel the need to do that. She refused to listen to my needs year after year. We finally separated and divorced. I know separation and divorce is frowned upon and it was a rough time in my life, but I am so thankful I had the courage to go through with it. Lack of sex as a valid reason to divorce: YES!! I will be very careful about who I marry next to ensure she understands and respects my needs for sex. I am in a relationship with someone that I believe understands the importance of sex. I meet her needs and she meets mine.

  28. I would like to reply to danielle. Im not really good with words, but i hope i can help you somehow because your post is absolutely heart breaking. You have endured so many years of hurt and pain and sounds like you are trying your utmost best, i dont know how you are so strong to survive through that. And you forgave your husband for an affair i can never ever imagine being in your shoes for so many long years. I truly wish i had an answer of solution to suggest to you but sadly i am so angry with your husband the way he treats.you makes me want to give u.biblical advise by saying divorce him but i know that is not the right thing to say. My concern is for you and i can only imagine your self.worth must be in the dungeons and if i was in your situation i can think.i would be terribly depressed. So what i just wanted to say is.that i will pray for.you and i want you to know i read your story and sympathise and i think you need to be careful of.your own depression and see a councellor for.yourself or do something.for yourself and your own needs. I dont mean this in an insulting way but i feel like you need to do something to ensure your own happiness. Whether its cliche stuff like a hobby or interest that helps you take your mind off things or church or friends or movies or whatever. But i sense you have deep pain and sadness and i dont blame you and i pray for your healing and for.your husband and your marriage. Sorry i wish i could.give me helpful advise. I hope there are.mite people out there that could.offer you solutions.if they have been in same situations. But i feel you must focus on loving yourself.first despite how youve been rejected and neglected and i feel you are trying so hard to meet your husbands needs at the expense of.your own and that feels wrong to me, i dont think thats what God means? I dont think he would ever want us to experience such destruction.to.ourselves, i dontknow perhaps i am wrong? Sheila please advise. Ithink danielles post is a.serious one and needs some expert advise?

  29. I don’t know if comparing it to chores is effective.Dishes and chores and other things you do even when you don’t want to don’t require enthusiasm or enjoyment.You get through it as fast as you can and move on. You can be as mad or annoyed while you do it. I would have sex a lot more often if I didn’t have to pretend to enjoy it.5 to 15 minutes isn’t that long if you think about it. Most men want enthusiasm and enjoyment during sex. Anger and annoyance don’t go over very well.

    If he’d only stop expecting me to enjoy it and just get on with it. I don’t need him to enjoy it when he does chores after all.

  30. Anonymus says:

    Saying that men only need respect and sex is saying that they are nothing more than horny animals. That statement just sent men, and the entire human race back 20,000 years! Men are people who have feelings, tney require love, and tenderness, and companionship. They are far more evolved than you just gave them credit for. Sure their are some men who may only require sex and respect, but those men are the vain and egotistical scum of the earth and should not be included when speaking of real and respectable men. If that is the case, then why the heck would any man get married?? Sex certaintly is not hard to come by, and you can get respect from people by doing the simplest things. I usually agree with you Sheila but that statement, no this entire post is insulting and ridiculous. Where is the sacrificial love that husbands are REQUIRED to give to their wives inthis post?? Please point to the scripture that says that christ like love should only be given IF the wife does this, this, and this. Just like with a wifes submission, it is not dependent on what your spouse is doing or not doing, it should be given freely and willingly because it is Gods word, NOTHING MORE; NOTHING LESS!

    • Hi, I understand your frustration, but you also have to understand: I’m writing to women. It does absolutely no good to write about what men should do, because the only ones we can change are ourselves. I address this in another post here.

  31. It is frustrating to me to read over and over how men only need two things, one of them being sex. I wish, you don’t know how bad I wish, that were true with my husband. He never wants sex. On the rare occasion he does, it is all about him and his needs, never about me. I am at my wits end, considering divorce because at 42 I am not ready to be in a sexless marriage. We have only been married 7 months and have had sex maybe 7 times since then, only twice on our honeymoon. I have tried everything, read every marriage book out there. My love language is touch and I feel like I am slowly dying from never being shown any affection

    • Shannon, I am so sorry about your situation. It is just as frustrating for women as it is for men when sexual needs are not being met. Considering his age (I assume he is also in his 40s), he may want to get tested for low testosterone. I found that I had low testosterone in my late 30s and now I’m on hormone replacement therapy. It has made vast improvement in my life. It did not give me the libido of an 18-year old, but it did return my libido to normal. Now, with my fiancé, we schedule sex three times a week. Not so much for her, but more for me. If she is in the mood or gets in the mood druing, then I do whatever she needs for me to satisfy her. If she is not in the mood that day, I make it fast because I know she is doing it just for me and I don’t want to take advantage of the time she gives me.

  32. Thank you for the article. I have 5 children and the last thing I want for them is for their parents to divorce and secondly I don’t want them to see their parents not getting along. We have been married 15 years and I have never physically cheated but it is really tough for men if they are not satisfied at home. Men really are simple and they primarily need respect and sex or sex and respect. God created men this way and it does something to us that calms us. When my wife has frequent sex and respects me I want to go out of my way to do anything for her. On the contrary, if I am not getting sex and respect then my body feels shut down, rejected, low self esteem and lethargic. When I refer to respect, I am referring to simple things such as her tone of voice or her reaction when I come home. This could be as simple as something that takes less than a minute to say that makes me feel like a king and I will work for her all day. Needless to say, my wife doesn’t seem to like sex and she has been extremely spoiled by her parents. Thus, when she doesn’t get what she wants, she talks to me like white trash. I am trying to stay in this till death do us part but it is HARD. Both marriage and my body parts. Men really are simple and I hope that this may help other marriages. My wife is 10 years older than me and I usually just US that as the reason she doesn’t like sex but I don’t understand women. In most cases wives, with very little work on your end you can have your man do anything for you and treat you like a queen. For example, my wife just got out of bed. I am desiring sex but she doesn’t consider it. For the rest of the day I will be internally frustrated. If she would have desired to make love to me this morning then she has no idea how I would have treated her all day. Woman please understand that it is how us men were created. Please try it, I want you to have a happy non frustrating marriage. Life is too short to not get along.

    • Ed, I’m with you on this one. Men are men. We are that simple. My wife is never in the mood for sex, but she knows I need it so we have sex three times a week. She never starts out in the mood, but she usually gets in the mood during and ends up enjoying herself despite where she started. Lately we have incorporated a massage for her into it. She often times asks me to rub her back so one day I came home with massage oil and gave her a proper massage. It helped her relax and led to incredible sex. I love to please her so even when the massage isn’t going to lead to sex, I don’t mind one bit. It is what she needs to relax just like sex is what I need to relax. I love to please her and I am willing to use my body to do so just like she is willing to do for me with sex. Ladies, I implore you to try it. If you have a good man, you will see his attitude towards you change (for the better): He will treat you better, he will have more patience with the kids, he will be more attentive to your needs, he will be more affectionate, he may even turn out to be a romantic (like me)!

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. Any comment that espouses an anti-marriage philosophy (eg. porn, adultery, abuse and the like) will be deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are replying to another commenter, please be polite and don't assume you know everything about his or her situation. If you are constantly negative or a general troll, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Sheila Wray Gregoire owns the copyright to all comments and may publish them in whatever form she sees fit. She agrees to keep any publication of comments anonymous, even if you are not anonymous on this board.


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