Reader Question of the Week: What Should This Frustrated Husband Do?

'Questions?' photo (c) 2008, Valerie Everett - license: weekend I like to post a reader question and then let you all take a stab at it. Usually I post a question from a woman; last week we talked about menopause and sex, and there’s some great resources in the comments! But today I’m going to feature a frustrated husband.

I’ve received several emails from men saying almost the same thing, so I’m going to combine two into one to disguise any identifying features, and post this for you. What would you say to the frustrated husbands men who ask things like this? I get more email like this than any other kind:

My wife is always (a) too tired, (b) not interested, (c) grumpy, or (d) wants to watch TV, do sudoku puzzles, lay in bed with the kids, etc. I swear, sex in our house is like a space shuttle launch! The windows for liftoff are extremely rare, and there is always a reason to postpone.

Honestly, I doubt my wife would even read your blog. When I’ve tried to get her to read stuff like that, or books in the past, she just snaps back that she “can find stuff on the internet that agrees says [she] is right.” She also says her friends make love with their husbands once a month or less, and those guys never complain–very helpful influence, those ladies. (I wish she could hang out with you instead.) I have no idea what to do to make my wife understand how lonely I am. I believe Ephesians 5 that I am to love her, and I try my best to be selfless, but if I am affectionate in any way she pulls away.

Most people would think from the outside that we have a good marriage. We’re really involved with the kids; we’re really involved at church; I have a good job. But sex is almost non-existent.

I just wish my wife cared, if not for me, at least for our kids and what we’re teaching them about marriage.

Answer in the comments! And if you want to send me a question, the easiest way is through my Facebook Page! You can send direct messages through there. Or you can click the contact button above.

For the frustrated guys asking this question, I have some resources that can help you.

31 Days to Great Sex1. If your wife is open to talking about it, consider getting my book 31 Days to Great Sex. It’s not 31 days of sex tricks–though there are challenges in there that help you become a little more adventurous in the bedroom. The first week focuses on how you think about sex, and getting rid of negative thoughts and baggage. It focuses on how to laugh and talk again, so that you’re less stressed and tense around each other. It focuses on how to build more intimacy in general. So it’s a complete look at every aspect of intimacy that goes into a great sex life–including affection–and she may appreciate that approach.

Check out the book here!

2. If you want to start the conversation with your wife about how important sex is to you, but you need to tread carefully, here’s a post I wrote for you to show her explaining how you feel. She may not be open to reading blogs in general, but if you tell her this is important, and you want to talk about it, that’s a good one to send her to.

Read: Why Your Husband Wants You To Read This Marriage Blog

3. If your wife has a negative view of sex in general, I’ve also written a book called The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, which helps women think differently about sex and see the benefits that it has–and get excited about it! It’s a low-pressure book, written by someone who sounds like a “funny big sister” (as World Magazine said). So it won’t come across as harsh.

Read more about the book here.

So those are my thoughts! Now, readers, please add your own in the comments!

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  1. There is nothing he can do but pray that the Lord will send an older woman into her life to mentor her or that the Holy Spirit will convict her. The only person we can change is ourselves. I am mentoring one woman who was 4 months pregnant and did not have sex at all for 4 months. I told her that she needed to give her husband sex and a lot of it! The next time I saw her she told me her husband loved me and they are so much happier. The more we learn to forget ourselves and serve others, the happier we will become.
    Lori recently posted…Love Never FailsMy Profile

    • Hi Lori. Wish you could talk to or mentor my wife (don’t think it would do any good). Sex once in 15 months and that was two months ago. I’m trying to act like a Christian but so frustrated and turning into anger that I am tempted to go outside my marriage. Don’t know why I’m writing you this.Iguess I just need to vent,talk to someone. Thanks.

  2. Kelly Stoski says:

    Oh – poor guys. But I get it. I don’t always feel like having sex. But I have found the best way to get in the mood is to have sex! LOL!
    As for advice….pray?!? And just keep loving her. Figure out her love language. Romance her. Feed into her and hopefully she will want to feed into you.
    Two tips (based on me) 1. Don’t wait until she’s ready to crawl into bed. By then she probably really is too tired. 2. Don’t fondle her while she is making dinner, doing dishes, or fighting with the cable company on the phone. Not sexy! We are not squeeze toys :)

    • LOL. I don’t know, Kelly, I don’t mind being fondled while doing dishes. Any excuse to procrastinate there! HAHA. But I agree, sometimes the timing isn’t right. When we had a small baby who woke frequently to feed, my husband used to stay up watching the t.v. or whatever, while I got up with the baby(had to, was breastfeeding), then wait until 2a.m. when I was finally able to crash(and crash was so the word for it) and THEN approach me for sex. He would be too busy to have sex with me when the timing was good and then would wait until I was so tired I could cry to ask me to be enthusiastic about sex. I started to resent him so bad that sometimes I would pray for him to have a boys night and stay out all night! How awful, right? I think communication on both parts is key.

    • I have to agree with your timing points, Kelly. Often I feel like I want to have more sex than my husband does. He usually waits until we are in bed and we go to bed late, so by that time, I want to please him and I WANT to have sex, but the idea of the physical activity is just too exhausting. It seems like when I am in the mood and try to initiate it is usually earlier in the evening when I am actually awake, but he is busy watching tv or writing papers or fiddling with something and just isn’t interested. Sometimes I wear as little clothing as possible and hand around, but that doesn’t always even distract him! There are some days where I consider pulling the plug and walking around without clothes on to get his attention. I don’t want to have to say, “I’m in the mood, let’s have sex”.

      We are newlyweds really, two years this august, so I think we are still finding our funk, but I’ve found that if I initiate and give him attention once a week or so it really helps him to be more interested. I think sexual desire is sometimes something we have to practice and stretch and encourage in one another. By making a purposeful decision to initiate often and repeatedly I think it helps him feel desired, wanted, and certainly lets him know that there is some passion in me, WHEN I’m not exhausted 😉

      As far as the reader’s question, I feel sad for you and also for your wife. Sex is unfortunately always complicated because it is about two beings coming together at a level of intimacy that requires openness. I wonder how your wife experiences sex. Is it a good thing for her? Does it hurt? It seems like she is giving a LOT of excuses so perhaps she is avoiding sex because of some emotional reason. You say that she shies away with any type of affection. Perhaps she associates your affection with the end result of sex. I would suggest that the next time you are intimate that you make it about pleasing her, even if she just wants to be kissed or hugged. From your words I am sure you want what is best for her and you seem to be very self-less and honoring of her wishes. Keep trying! God’s word says “Love covers all!”

  3. Pray about it of course. But learn to relax with your wife. Cuddle with her while she watches her favorite shows. Sit with her while she does sudoku. Give her massages and foot rubs. Take a bubble bath with her (yes, with). Remember, sex starts in her mind not her body – if she is too tense or focused on anything, it’s probably not going to happen. So help her relax both physically and mentally, and be patient, and you should see a change after a while! Make the focus about pleasing her and meeting whatever her needs are (even if they’re not sexual) and she will most certainly reciprocate!

    • That’s good advice when it comes to feeding the emotional connection, but you should probably remove the expectation of reciprocation. Unfortunately, I have heard far too many stories of husbands taking that tack, but getting nowhere, to the extent that “most certainly” ought not be the words that apply. You should demonstrate love to your wife because you love her, not because you believe that will cause her to meet your needs. The more you can separate it the better.

      Instead, I recommend scheduling a conversation outside the bedroom, in a neutral spot (like the kitchen table) where you can be honest about what you would like her to change, while being open to whatever you need to change. That’s not guaranteed to work, but in order for a change to occur on her part, you have to be honest with her about your dissatisfaction and hurt. Then you may be able to get buy-in (even if just to shut you up) to go through “Sheet Music,” “Intimate Issues” or Sheila’s book together.

    • Lonesome George says:

      @E.Johnson: As one of the husbands who wrote to Sheila, I thought of the same things you suggested.

      For years, I have pleaded with my wife to just make 30 minutes after I get the kids bathed and tucked in to interact with me. Playing a board game, cards, or kissing and cuddling, or even just letting me give her a massage… anything. (I did say I thought it would be nice to turn off the TV though.) I said the only requirement I would ask is, we try and have fun together. She said, that sounds great, but never takes me up on it.

      I still offer to give her massages, or flirt with her and ask her to come take a bath with me, but she always says no thanks.

      For the commenters who suggest helping out more around the house and with the kids, you don’t have to believe me, but God already knows that I do that. I also am always looking for ways to improve myself, and do new things. (Lately, I’ve been trying to be more of a handy-man around the house.) My wife can always count on me to be there and to listen and give her emotional support when she is sad or upset. But it doesn’t feel fair that she can count on me when she needs that, but I am out of luck when it comes to getting love and affection from her.

      The fact is, I’ve tried everything I can, including talking to her in a kind, vulnerable way, to get her to understand how lonely I am, and how unimportant I feel. Sometimes she seems genuinely moved, other times, she gets angry and defensive. The one constant is, there is always a good reason to say, “not tonight.”

      • @Lonesome George. It sounds like my life. I still do all these things after 30 years of marriage because I love my wife. I do all the cooking, most of the cleaning, try to be romantic, cuddling, flowers, cards, notes, massages, And as you said, “there is always a good reason to say, “Not tonight”.

      • I can only pray to get any attention from my husband. It’s not always an issue with the wife!

      • I couldn’t have put it better

      • I just told my wife today, “if we want to do something, we’ll find a way but if we don’t want to, the number of excuses are infinite”. I have been dealing with this for over decade and have tried everything. I’ve tried to just give up and except it.The rejection and not being wanted by the one I love turns to anger and I am tempted to go outside my marriage as much for revenge as for need.

    • Then again, if she has so much to do that she’s too exhausted, see if you can take any of those things on yourself. Help the kids with homework, or do the dishes while she helps the kids. Try to take on grocery shopping on the way home a few nights week instead of one mega trip on the weekend. Leave little love notes around the house on post-it notes where only she will find them (cleaning supplies, in the flour, on the milk, a secret chocolate stash, etc.). Limit the kids’ activities so that she’s not always running from one thing to another. Mop the floor in the kitchen during commercial breaks or work on the laundry while you’re watching TV (you can fold and watch and you only have to get up ever 30-60 min or so). Pretend that you’re dating again and woo her. Ask her to set aside a weekend then arrange for the kids childcare to be covered and make plans to go to a quiet mountain cabin. Go to A Weekend to Remember. Get creative and listen to what she’s saying when she says no. Find ways to augment the reasons and lighten her load.

      The definition of insanity is doing what you’ve always done and expecting a different result…

      • Megan-

        Did you even read the previous posts? Doing all of the cooking, most of the cleaning, and giving love notes flowers etc? After reading several of these posts and being observant of many “real life” relationships some people just really get screwed with their mate selection. People show their laziness in their jobs, their parenting, and their interactions with their spouses. They are the ones that will lose. In life you get what you contribute. Marriage is no different. Those spouses who choose to minimize their “significant-others'” needs, need to realize that their actions are what push their spouses to get their needs met elsewhere.

      • Megan,
        I’ve done it all over the last 25 years. Every time I took on more to make my wife’s life easier, she found something else, and it wasn’t’ time with me. Now I do all the cooking and most of the rest. Sex? Never got better. My advice for young men… Women only desire you as long as they feel they need to. The men who do the least for their wives tend to get the most attention from them. Not how I’d like life to be, but that is the way it is.
        I talked with my wife about my loneliness at least 4 times a year, from my heart. All to no avail.
        After 25 years, I have now reached the point that I know longer desire get, thinking about sex with her just brings up too many bad memories of rejection and hurt. She has created an unhappy marriage and nothing I’ve tried has ever even helped. I truly think all of the advice given to men is just hogwash based on the lame excuses offered up women.
        Women who don’t desire a man, should not marry them.

  4. First let me assure whoever wrote that in, you’re not alone. The vast majority of men would have the exact same complaint; including the husbands of your wife’s friends. Either the husbands have given up on complaining to their wives, or the wives are just blocking out those complaints.

    It’s clear that most women don’t have the sex drive that men do. Our sex drive is caused by the testosterone in our systems. There’s only one day a month where she’s got any noticeable level of testosterone, that’s the day she’s most fertile; 12 days before her next period. That’s probably the one day that the two of you make love.

    Women are created by God to be responders, so her lack of responding to your sexual advances shows that she’s feeling as if she has no reason to respond to you. Regardless of whether or not you are doing what you should, she could still feel this way. Our reactions to one another are more based upon perceptions than reality. So, she’s perceiving that she isn’t receiving enough affection from you to be able to respond sexually.

    The one thing you can do is work on filling her love tank. Women need to feel loved at least as much as men feel like they need sex. So, you’ve got do double down and give her lots of expressions of love. Now, in your mind and mine, sex is love. But, in a woman’s mind it isn’t. For her, love is spelled R O M A N C E. I don’t know how romantic you are towards her, and I definitely don’t want to accuse you of anything. Nevertheless, whatever you are doing, isn’t enough to meet her emotional needs for love. Ramp it up. Make her the woman who all her friends are jealous of.

    This is challenging for us guys on two levels. First of all, we don’t naturally think that way, or at least we don’t think we do. But, when you were dating her, you thought that way. You just need to go back to doing what you were doing then. Secondly, you might end up feeling like you’re doing all the giving and she’s doing all the taking. Throw those feelings out the window. The apostle Paul admonished us to love our wives as Christ loved the church. That doesn’t mean just when she’s meeting your needs, that means all the time. True unconditional love, like Christ demonstrated, is about loving the other person in spite of what they do. Follow His example.
    Rich Murphy recently posted…A Weekend GetawayMy Profile

    • Rich, that is such a wonderful comment and I just had to chime in to tell you that. Very thoughtful, informative and, I hope, helpful. My husband and I don’t have this particular problem, but I think that from a woman’s perspective you are right on. If a woman doesn’t respond to this kind of affection, romance, true giving from her husband, then there is something deeper going on. In most cases, I bet this is just what would work though.
      “Fill her love tank”, learn her love language (and your own while you’re at it, guys), true unconditional, Christ-like love…and hopefully in turn she will respond and there will come a time when it will be SHE who shows you unconditional love when your needs are stronger. Marriage lasts a long, long time (hopefully) and we go through many seasons with many opportunities to give and receive.
      LisaZ recently posted…Why I’m a Stay-at-Home-Mom (Still)–Part TwoMy Profile

      • Spaceman says:

        My comment to LisaZ and others. Please stop talking about this guy as some retard. He’s probably doing all of this and probably even more now than before. He has a problem, so don’t expect him to be grumpy all the time. If he is as ugly and cynical and lazy as me, I agree, he needs some basic advice but most likely he’s doing all of this already and his wife is not reciprocating so he’s clueless. The more she pushes him away, the more needy he is and less attractive. That’s all. Read the comment below by Kat. This is smart woman! I wish all women were like Kat. The moment she increased the number to 3x/week, the whole problem disappeared. Her husband stopped begging. There is a saying, give your husband 15 minutes a day and he will give you his whole life. This is what Kat is doing and as we know it’s 15 minutes every other day.

    • Rich,
      I agree with you! As a wife, I HATE the feeling that my husband is pleading for sex. It makes me feel sorry for him, and it makes me want to give it to him, but I do not enjoy it very much. Now that I’m understanding how a marriage works, I don’t make my husband beg. We have a great sex life as far as the numbers go, probably 3x/week normally and maybe 9x on certain weeks. *ahem* :0)

      But the fireworks don’t happen if he is all snuggly and sweetsie. The fireworks happen when he has a plan for the evening and starts executing that plan in the morning, by touching me and kissing me and then walking away, not hanging around like a puppy wanting his tummy rubbed. By texting me with a “how’s your day going?” and letting me vent about traffic or whatever without feeling like my emotion freaked him out. By coming in the door confidently, not slinking in watching my face like I’m a time bomb and “is he going to get lucky or am I ticked off at the kids?” By looking around and making the evening go the way he/we want it to go, rather than slugging along in “mommy’s little helper” mode and hoping there is anything left by the time we wrestle through homework and the kids are in bed and the kitchen is cleaned up. By telling the kids, “No, go read in your beds and turn your lights off at 9. I want some time with Mommy.” By telling me that if we work together for 15 minutes on the kitchen, we can have it done in no time and then go snuggle and watch a show. By sitting on the couch and pulling me over to lean on him, not laying his head on ME!

      I want to (HAVE TO) be able to turn off my mommy-mode in order to feel passion and want sex. When he reacts to me like I’m his mom, I will let him just slide into the queue with the kids and meet his needs in the order of triage, with homework and ironing and returning phone calls coming before special time, just like with the kids. Sex will be low priority, just like sitting down and having a tea party with my 4-year-old is low priority except on special occasions.

      Women desperately need to feel like they are a team with their husbands, that they are on the same page. Unfortunately, a lot of marriage advice seems to tell the guys, “Ask her what she needs you to do, and help out more. Do more stuff. Keep her happy.” This is not quite right.

      I would advise a husband to be manly about how he approaches his family. Pay attention to your home, your family, and how things work. Evaluate privately how you think things are going, where kinks are, what parts of the schedule are a mess and stress-inducing, etc. If things are chaotic, decide on one or two of the worst spots and, in a decisive way that both lovingly takes the wife into consideration and involves mostly YOU, make a plan for improvement. Plan a lunch date, and let your wife know that you want to try these changes for a period of time, and then execute. Don’t be intimidated by your wife’s shock or challenging your plan or whatever. MAN UP and insist that you have a chance to attempt these changes and she can have the floor at the end of the trial period to voice her concerns about how it went.

      When you come home from work, your wife is frazzled or not home yet herself, or whatever: MAKE A PLAN for how you think the evening needs to go, and execute it! Start the kids on homework and chores, put dinner in the oven, dvr your tv shows so you aren’t tempted to veg out, and make things happen around the home. Lead.

      When your wife starts seeing you lead this way, day in and day out, and then you pinch your wife’s butt on your way out the door one morning and say you expect to see pink lace somewhere on her body when you get home…then you text her and tell her that you are heading up homework tonight so that she has a chance to make the calls/emails that have been weighing on her mind…and then you pop several mints on the way home (that’s important!) and pin her to the door frame with a sexy kiss as you come in the door and don’t let her push you away…and you execute homework and love on your kids…and you come downstairs in boxers and hand her a what you want her to wear while you clean up the kitchen together…
      …you have a very nice evening in front of you.

      I’m afraid, guys, that girls in our modern era still like (LOVE) guys to be guys. Masculine (think muscles and a nice cologne) Clean (shower!!! and think of your breath before you kiss her!) Confident (have a plan! speak with a deep and confident voice, negotiate but don’t cower!) and COMPLETELY in love and horny for her (so much so that you won’t take no for an answer! Pay Attention to the men in our chick flicks–there are some lessons there for you!!)!

      So be helpful, but do it in a manly way that attracts women. Give her something to brag to her friends about.

      • Great explanation, Kat!

      • I just wanted to chime in to say that your comment, Kat, is right on! I recently explained to my husband that it gets on my nerves when he asks me for things in a hesitant, apologetic way. (He does this because he is always putting me and my needs first and thus doesn’t want to inconvenience me by asking me to help him out. As much as I appreciate the sentiment and genuinely want to help him, I’d much rather he ask boldly and directly.) I wasn’t referring to sex when we had this conversation, but your comment made me realize that it applies here even more than to other areas. I think most women would go weak at the knees for a guy who is focused, decisive, bold, and courageous . . . and completely devoted to her. Men and women have forgotten how to play the roles God gave them of initiator/protector and responder/nurturer, but when we can recapture those roles, our marriages can become the things of beauty God intended. And while either spouse can (and should) step in and halt a negative cycle by choosing to love unconditionally, I really believe that in this area, the burden of responsibility rests on the man, who is to love his wife as Christ loved the church.
        Mommy Joys recently posted…Wacky Things My Kids Have Said: #4My Profile

        • Mommy Joy,

          I wonder if some of what this is comes down to personality. I actually DON’T like when people BOLDLY ask me. I feel like they are self-centered and don’t care about my feelings. I think hearing this coming from you it is making me realize that maybe I have a wife that is more like you are. Sounds like something we need to talk about.

          What about it ladies. Are there others of you that feel the softer asking is preferred or do you all want your hubby just to be, “Bold and direct”?

          • My heart bleeds when It hurts. If I love you, Love me back. Never be Demanding!

            Being direct with his voice, “tone” the energy of the tone and speed becomes too controlling or aggressive for one to Claim or Receive. So I would naturally feel my space, soul, my being; is about to be violated “Disrespected” I defend my purpose. My purpose is to be spoken to, in a kind, loving fashion.

            However, if he approached me in a direct, assertive, polite, respectful fashion; than I wouldn’t take it personally. Example “Hey Babe’ since your up, do you mind serving me a second cup of coffee? I reply with a smile, “Sure Sweet Cheeks!” . . . . . . I naturally love serving my man. Maybe because the Love I have is Unconditional. One of the ingredients in Unconditional love is; TRUST

      • Kat, thank you for your insightful comment. You hit the nail on the head. I now realize why my helping around the house did not result in increased lovemaking.

        In my desire to help, I was coming across like Mommy’s little helper. She would get annoyed or angry, rather than being appreciative. When I plan the evening with her needs in mind and confidently execute the plan, I’m a man with whom she wants to share her body and soul. It’s a win-win outcome :-)

  5. As a woman, I get my back up if someone tells me that I am obligated to have sex with my husband. Excuse me? What about my rights and my happiness? The whole tone of the conversation changes, if someone says, “you aren’t obligated, but it is a good choice to make because sex for him is like cuddling for you. Think about how you would feel if he was never in the mood to cuddle.” If your wife is a Christian, she MIGHT respond also to some discussion about the bible and what it really means, but there are different interpretations to the Bible, so it may work for some and not for others. When you point some women to website and resources, sometimes they might go, “hey cool, I never thought of it that way.” Other women, though, are only going to feel like this is yet another source of other wives/mothers telling her that she is doing something wrong. I think it’s like most things. She has to be at least somewhat ready to change her thinking on sex. I really think explaining it to her in a really vulnerable, honest way is more likely to get her on that track. And it’s going to be baby steps. Maybe she isn’t a cuddler, but I’m sure there is something else that makes her feel loved. I would just talk really quietly and calmly and explain to her that you don’t feel like she loves you when she is always turning you down. Use “I” statements, and make sure to acknowledge her point of view. And remember that it is very likely that what she has been hearing/feeling all along about your requests are that you only want her for her body and you feel like you own her body and she is not really a “person”(just your wife and your property). I know that’s not what you mean, but it’s likely how she feels, just like she doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you by not having sex, but it’s how YOU feel.

    • Also, another tip, when you talk to her, don’t get on her too much about her friends being a bad influence or her rejecting you for her hobbies. She is likely to feel very defensive then of her friends and hobbies. This is about the two of you and your relationship, not her friends or hobbies. She needs to understand that, too, though, so if there are a lot of comparisons to her friends, maybe try reminding her that those are THEIR relationships and every relationship has different needs. Maybe also give her a little insight into men and rejection. Men don’t like to be vulnerable, usually, so when they are rejected, they eventually just shut down. Not complaining doesn’t mean they are happy.

      On the other hand, if she is having sex with you at least 3 nights a week and you still feel like you are being rejected, too much, maybe you should see if she needs a hand with something like the laundry, clothes or dishes, especially if she has a job or you have very small children. Give and take on that one.

      Just some ideas from someone who has been there, done that :)

    • I agree with you completely, Rachel. And your advice to open up, be vulnerable and honestly talk about how you feel is right on. As you say, men don’t like to be vulnerable so this does not come easily. Women don’t like to be vulnerable, either! And opening ourselves up sexually is a very vulnerable thing to do. So, a woman needs to have openness to respond to.

      When you tell her how you feel, watch that you are not being whiny and childish. Instead, find your true feelings from deep down and talk about them, picking a good time to do so and not when your wife is busy or exhausted. Maybe go for a walk, or sit side by side on the couch. Really talk and open up. Say you are worried about your marriage, worried about her, wanting more for each other. I frankly don’t know how anyone could not respond to that!
      LisaZ recently posted…Why I’m a Stay-at-Home-Mom (Still)–Part TwoMy Profile

    • I will point out that if you are believers, both of you ARE obligated to have sex. Or, a better way to look at it may be that you have a responsibility to uphold. I. Cor. 7:3-5. If you haven’t figured out that in the sight of God, “I do” also means “I will, and often,” you have some issues to work through and own.

      • David, I don’t think Rachel would disagree. I think she was just saying that if you want to actually be effective and achieve something (rather than just pointing out that you’re right), a more transparent and vulnerable approach will often work better. When we get into an argument over who is right and who is wrong it rarely ends well. You may convince someone they’re wrong, and they may change the behaviour, but they often do so grudgingly, and so it’s not real intimacy anyway. Open up and talk about how you feel, and make yourself transparent, and it’s more likely that you’ll be able to have an honest conversation where she will hear your heart, which is what you want in the first place.

        • Exactly what Sheila said! :)
          Jen recently posted…my first designMy Profile

        • Exactly right, Sheila. And if men have an obligation to love their wives “as Christ loved the church”, then you really have to think about what that means. The amazing thing about Christ is that he did not LORD it over the church but laid down his life for us. God’s true kingship comes from sacrificial loving. That has huge implications for marriage.
          LisaZ recently posted…Raising TeenagersMy Profile

      • David, I completely agree with you. Unfortunately, when you tell a spouse who doesn’t want to have sex that they’re sinning against God, they do get very defensive and upset. I tried to open my husband’s eyes to that, and he accused me of guilting him into having sex.
        Jen recently posted…my first designMy Profile

        • Yea, that didn’t work for me even though i felt like I did it peacefully and not in a condemning way. I think sex is just so personal that my wife takes any suggestion as an insult to her. Unfortunately, there is not much a guy can do. I just gave up on the whole sex thing. I know that our marriage is suffering because of it but if she can’t meet half way what can a guy do? Just pray and don’t expect anything. Not much else left to do for us I fear. Two people are involved and if one doesn’t change their ways there is no convincing them. They will need to change on their own. Period.

        • Lonesome George says:

          @Jen, LisaZ, Rachel and David: Honestly, in my house, the approach I’ve taken does not seem to make a difference. This problem has been an issue for us for about 10 years, so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to try new strategies to reach my wife. The one common theme is, she might give me a date night, but then she goes back to taking me for granted.

          Since this seems to have drawn some interest among Sheila’s readers, here’s a little background:

          – I am reasonably successful, still “tall, dark and handsome” (her words), and I know my wife still likes my sense of humor, as well as how good a father I am to our children.
          – When she wants support, I am always there for her. And I defend her when the kids get sassy or act unappreciative of her. If she worries that someone is judging her, I reassure her that we love her and are proud of her.
          – I build her up, pay her complements, and try to flirt and generally be fun to be around.
          – Doing laundry, taking out the trash, washing the dishes, shopping for groceries, and doing minor fix-it projects around the house… all without being asked.
          – She likes when I tidy up the toy-room and organize where the different toys go, so I’ve taught the kids how to do that for her. I’ve also taught the bigger kids to help us by putting away their laundry and even cleaning up the floors when they get crumby.
          – I help the kids with their homework, cook pretty well-balanced meals (for her and the children), make sure everyone is bathed, and I tuck the kids in bed on time. (My wife actually tries to talk me into letting them stay up later, but I try hard to keep structure–at least on school nights.)
          – Occasionally, I have to work late, but I never let her down when she asks me for help. (I try to call her and let her know, although I need to be better about that.)
          – I cheerfully take time off from work to drop the kids off at school, pick them up, and even stay home and care for them if someone is sick.
          – On weekends and evenings, I urge my wife to go somewhere so she can go study in peace, or even just go have hot chocolate/a glass of wine/see a movie with her friends. I tell her to come back when she feels refreshed, and I’ll fix her a bubble bath and give her a nice massage. (She always says, that’s nice, but I’m too stressed.)
          – I offer to help her with her homework or the other items on her to-do list, but she always says no thanks.
          – I’ve read relationship and “being a good husband” books, and bargained with her to read them together, but she always sets it aside after a week. (I still try to look for ways to improve myself and to spice things up for her.)

          In a nutshell, we have a pretty decent marriage. We’ve had some rocky times, but we made it through and seem to be in a pretty good place now. And I can say with 100% confidence that I really do try and give it my best effort. Of course I’m not perfect… I’d like to lose 10 pounds and get back down to my high school weight, but I do take good care of myself, and use good hygiene. (And for the person in the comments who asked about whether I was taking care of her when we do make love, I assure you, she always comes first, except when she tells me she just cannot. And even then, I try hard to make her feel as good as possible.)

          So… that’s my subjective take on things. Obviously, I’m not purely objective, but every bit of that is true.

          In fairness to my wife, she is very busy. She is finishing up her degree, doing papers, group projects, studying for exams, and sprinkling in some 12-hour “clinical” days too. She pays our bills, coordinates our taxes with the accountant, tracks our budget, coordinates play-dates for the kids, birthday parties, etc. She plans family trips and activities, which I probably wouldn’t think to do. I know she works hard.

          But she also chooses to go lay down and fall asleep with one of the kids, when she has promised to give me some attention. And she always seems to have time and energy to talk on the phone with friends or her mom, or to do family weekend trips with our friends’ families. So why can’t she reserve some time for me?

          • George,
            you’re certainly in a difficult situation. Reading your own description, I see lots of Beta behaviors, the kind that build a long-term relationship, but can actually be damaging to sexual attraction. With the caveat that the author isn’t a Christian, but knows a lot about the relational dynamics of a marriage and has dozens of testimonials from men who were in situations that sound similar to yours but have been greatly improved (for both partners), I hope you’ll consider checking out:


            It provides a good foundation for understanding why the things that make you such a great father/husband won’t make your wife view you as someone she can’t wait to jump into bed with.

            The things you’re doing are great things, things that are honorable and noble. But I suspect that by adding a few ‘Alpha’ (it’s all in the link) behaviors, you may see a drastic turnaround in your wife’s appreciation for you as a lover, not just a friend and provider.

            I’ve never been in your exact situation, but I’ve seen the powerful effects of adding some Alpha behaviors to a marriage that had become lacking in spark. There’s no such thing as a guaranteed fix, but a good definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting new results. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. I’ll be praying for you.

          • Lonesome George says:

            Thanks, Jeff.

            I’m familiar with Athol’s blog, and I’ve been thinking about exactly what you described. I’ve looked at ways I can recapture some of that alpha male vibe that I think attracted my wife in the first place. (I’ve been doing more handyman stuff around the house, working out more, showing more confidence in myself. etc.) Unfortunately, so far, there hasn’t been much improvement. I’m not giving up on it though.

            I noticed someone in this thread didn’t approve of Athol’s writing. To me, there’s nothing inherently un-Christian about it, even though he is no longer religious. The dirty little secret is that Athol is urging men to improve themselves (e.g., getting a better job, losing weight, dressing nicer, showing some drive/initiative/confidence), and in doing so, make themselves more desirable to their wives. If someone wants to call that manipulative, I wonder how they view women who work out and put on make up?

            I’m all for people trying to raise themselves up, and being proactive to find happiness, and discarding complacency. God helps those who help themselves, right?

          • Again, George, I don’t have a problem with changing to make yourself more attractive; not at all. And I totally agree that you can use it from a Christian point of view, if you’re careful (in that sense what he’s saying isn’t a whole lot different from John Eldredge). It’s just that he doesn’t always seem committed to marriage, and he seems to be telling people “here’s how to get what you want”, not “here’s how to create a relationship that’s godly”. That’s all. I think that if you’re focused on the second, you can still use a lot of it. You just need to make sure that you’re always focused on the second, you know?

          • Lonesome George says:

            Can’t argue with that, Sheila. You manage to balance your faith and fairness to husbands and wives very well.

            I shouldn’t speak for Athol, but it seems to me that he is dedicated to helping men and women having happy, fulfilling marriages. (Not the same as godly marriages, but a good thing to aim for nonetheless.) But on the flip side, he seems willing to admit that some unions may be doomed, and he won’t push men (or women) to remain in unhealthy, loveless unions forever. I’m actually OK with that.

            At some point, my wife will have to fix this issue or she will lose me. More than anything, I want us to live happily ever after… but she will need to invest in the relationship to make that happen. I know she will get more out of it than she puts into it, but she has to stop shooting for the bare minimum level of effort. I want to give our kids a wonderful blueprint for their own happy, wonderful marriages (not the mediocre one we’ve been settling for).

            There are very few things that could force me to leave, but if she makes no effort, and doesn’t appear motivated to make the changes, I don’t feel like I will have any choice. I hope she joins me, and I am trying to lead her. Whether she chooses to follow is up to her.

          • George,
            Athol Kay’s advice is for men to improve themselves, develop the Alpha/Beta balance, and basically throw down an ultimatum to an unresponsive wife that it is “change and work on this marriage, or I’m leaving/having an affair.”

            I don’t agree with that particular ultimatum, but as a wife, I’ve watched way too many other wives get sucked into the “my husband’s a jerk” trap, where nothing he does is ever right, even when he is doing everything right. Your original post seemed very very Beta to me, but it sounds like you have the Alpha pretty balanced as well. At the point where you read the articles and hear the advice and cannot honestly change/improve anything else, I would say your wife needs a wake-up-call.

            I don’t think Christians have the option of threatening divorce or an affair, but you do have other recourse! If you think it would make any difference, tell her (maybe write her a letter so she can re-read and not misunderstand you?) that things will not go on like they have been, and that you expect her to 1) respect you and communicate kindly 2) spend energy on the marriage and 3) stop talking negatively to her friends about you/the marriage, and 4) jettison whatever activities she has to in order to save enough energy for your new Wednesday and Friday date nights, which will include sex. (or whatever–just throwing ideas out there for you! ) Tell her you will in turn do the same. If she does not agree, you are scheduling an appointment with your pastor, and expect her to be there, so that he can help you two reach a place of agreement and have a plan for improving things.

            I think sometimes we Christian wives take our great husbands for granted, because we feel like they’re stuck with us/we’re stuck with them, and we need a kick in the butt. The threat of divorce would definitely rock her boat, but if you aren’t willing to follow through, I don’t think you should threaten that. It’s definitely a dilemma.

          • Lonesome George says:

            As for the different approaches, I’ve tried everything.

            I’ve tried being vulnerable, and speaking to her from my heart–telling her that I am lonely, and I miss how affectionate we used to be. I empathize that life is stressful, and the daily demands of juggling the kids and my job/her schooling is truly exhausting. I asked what I can do to make it possible for us to make more time for one another (and not just for sex, but truly connecting and being real friends and partners). She says it isn’t me, that she still finds me handsome, but she is just so tired and she never is just in the mood. When we do kiss and touch, she recognizes she gets into the mood quickly, which is frustrating, because I’d think she would notice the pattern and how her body responds. Unfortunately, whenever I flirt or make a pass at her, she always says, “How about tomorrow night?” (And more often than not, something comes up the next night too, and the next night…)

            I’ve also tried gently reminding her that we too vows to make one another a priority, which includes physical affection. I’ve pointed out (in a nice way, and at other times in a frustrated tone) that the Bible is clear that either spouse refusing the other is a form of infidelity.

            I’ve tried appealing to her logic: How can a spouse say, “Yes, I understand you have needs, but they are not a priority for me.” Isn’t it cruel to put someone in a box, and tell them by your actions, that you can only get affection from me, but I choose to put other things first. What if I told her, she could only get chocolate (or a shoulder to cry on, whatever) from me, but guess what? Whenever you come to me, I say, “Maybe tomorrow…”

            I’ve tried just shutting up about it, and focused on being the best husband I could be, and waited to see if she ever made a move toward me. (I’ve gone as long as a couple months, before exploding out of frustration.)

            I’ve tried giving her ultimatums, saying, you can say you don’t want to feed me, but you don’t have a right to tell me I shouldn’t be hungry. I’ve told her that monogamy is predicated on love and affection. Without those, it isn’t monogamy.

            I’ve tried working out, getting into better shape.

            I’ve told her, if she just wants to be friends, please tell me so I can stop waiting for a miracle. (She swears that isn’t what she wants.)

            When she cancels our date night at the last minute (after postponing me for days and weeks), I’ve tried giving different reactions like, “I understand. Maybe tomorrow night?” …or “OK, but it is your loss” …or “That’s fine, I’m not really in the mood either.”

            I’ve pleaded with her to seek medical help, if it is something psychological or physical that is getting in the way. (She has talked to doctors, but admitted later that she is was not completely open with them.)

            I even moved out of the house for a few months, when I couldn’t take it. (She promised it would be better if I would move back, but nothing changed.

            I don’t really know what the problem is. In the past, she has admitted she takes me for granted, and that she hasn’t put much effort into our marriage at all for years. (At these moments, she gets very sad, cries, and talks about how awful she is–I tell her, she’s not a bad person, but part of being a good mother is being a good wife. And if she wants things to be different, she needs to stop looking for “What is the bare minimum I can invest in this marriage.”)

            I get the impression that that attitude–if it is too much work, it isn’t worth it–is at the heart of a lot of struggling young marriages. When you grow up thinking that if something is broken, you throw it away rather than fix it, maybe you bring that attitude to your relationships too? I don’t know.

          • Lonesome George,

            I can relate to much of what you state is going on in your marriage as I have experienced much of it also. The one post about being more “alpha” may have some truth, but the times I have tried that seem to stir up more coldness and/or anger and I have been shot down.

            My wife does allow some sex, but not nearly as much as I would like (and much less than ‘average’) after a few decades now the hurt is less about the frequency of sex and more about her just not caring much at all if I am in emotional pain.

            I have tried every way to communicate this and have read dozens of books and tried to implement what they say. I forced her to go to counseling, but she didn’t open up and she said it was a waste of time and money.

            My big issue that I have tried REALLY hard to shower her with love and attention and all that the books say. She told me to back off. That sent me into a really bad bout of depression and I nearly lost my job due to poor performance. I want to try again giving it all I have to make her feel loved, even if she does not fully return the love, but I am terrified if I do and I end up depressed again, my boss will have had it with me and I will lose my job.

            I am working to talk with her again on the subject as I think she feels all is fine. I will pray my hardest that I say the right thing and her heart is touched.

    • Or, to put it another way, if you “get your back up,” your issue is with God, not with the person bearing the message. This is how He designed it to work.

      • Jerry Peterson says:

        David, I think you sound way too legalistic here. It may very well be that the person’s having an issue with what God tells us in his word, but that doesn’t mean it has to be so dogmatic as the way you say it. Sheila makes a good point that it’s how you say what you say. I’ve spent my life teaching people how to communicate in business. I’ve learned one thing over the years and how we say something may have the greatest impact in getting the right response. And women especially react to how you say something, both in words and tone. I’m not sure I agree that it’s as cut and dried as you say (and yes, I know what the bible says), but it would be nice if it was. I think men continually have to woo their wives over and over and over again. It’s a constant process of persuasion. That’s partly because it’s how they’re created and it’s partly because of the fall. Had sin not entered into the world we would not have these types of issues. But it did and now we have to take our sinful natures into account when figuring out how to deal with things.

        • Listen, I’m not as dumb as I sound. 😉 I’m not suggesting that this conversational tactic (even though it is true) would win the day. I haven’t tried it myself, and I know better than to try it. You truly do draw more flies with honey than with vinegar. My DW may not have intended it this way, but bedroom frustrations have served to sanctify me and make me more of a servant leader. I speak more bluntly online, to people I do not know, than to people IRL and I will own that. Ironically, I am also a business communicator for a living.

          Here, I was simply trying to point out to the commenter that while it may be true that someone arguing from obligation may “get her back up,” it doesn’t mean that an obligation does not exist. And if you react with defensiveness or hostility, you may wish to check that, examine your heart, and pray about it.

          For the record, I DO think this command is pretty cut-and-dried, in that a pattern of refusal is simply un-Biblical, but I also subscribe to Paul Byerly’s interpretation of I. Cor. 7:3-5 for men, which is that we are to major on the emotional connection so that our wives will want to and will enjoy it when they do. If we do not do our end of it, we are falling short as well.

          (Wow, I don’t think anyone has ever called me legalistic before.)

          • David, I totally understand what you’re saying. I think a two-pronged approach is necessary. I think church leadership (and things like this blog, and others) should point out what 1 Corinthians 7 says, and then equip both wives and husbands to fulfill it willingly and with enthusiasm, even if that means getting over issues. And then the spouse should take a different tactic, and share feelings. The problem is that the church isn’t really doing #1, and so the spouse sharing feelings isn’t as effective as it would be if that spiritual admonition was there. So it’s just a tough problem.

          • I agree 100%. And I really do not think it is usually a husband’s place to shove I Cor. 7 (and SoS and/or any other relevant passages) in a wife’s face. That I would usually file under “beating over the head with Scripture” and I don’t like being on the receiving end of it either, even if there’s nothing untrue about what’s being said.

            That said, it seems there are a lot of Christian wives (and husbands!) who think that having a healthy sex life in marriage is optional, or a “nice to have” or “maybe one day when the kids aren’t so high-maintenance.” I think the church does a great job of telling people to say “no” prior to marriage or outside of it, but a really terrible job of telling people to say “yes” (and why to do so.) As a consequence there are many men and women who pray and read the Bible daily, yet also wound their spouses every day as well.

          • Love that sentence: “the church does a great job of telling people to say “no” prior to marriage, but a terrible job of telling people to say “yes” after.” Think I’ll tweet that!

          • Lonesome George says:

            @David: Amen!

            One thing I’ve asked my wife is, “do you want our kids to save themselves for marriage?” She said, yes, of course.

            But if they see that sex is NOT for marriage with their own eyes (which is what we are showing them in our house), aren’t they going to figure out for themselves that they better have sex before they get married?

            Our children are mystified when I say that mommies and daddies are supposed to have time alone together. They are confused because those words don’t jibe with what they witness everyday. My wife chooses to lay down with them and go to sleep 10-20 times for every one time that she spends time with me after I tuck them in. In fact, if she ever does not lay down with them, they will sneak downstairs and whisper to her that they need her to come lay with them when she and I are sitting together. She’s trained them to expect that moms and dads give love and affection to the kids, but not each other.

            I think is foolish for us as parents to think that we can tell our kids to “do as I say, not as I do” and actually expect them to listen. They see how we are, and that becomes their roadmap for decision making.

          • Very true, George. Very true. I think I’m going to write tomorrow’s Wifey Wednesday post about “Are you a better wife or a better mother?” Because ultimately you can’t be a really good mother if you’re not first a good wife.

          • Very good idea Sheila! For most of my marriage I’ve been guilty of this…pouring everything into my children. It certainly wasn’t because I wanted to, it just happened that way and as they grew I guess by then he didn’t expect anything else because he’d already learned to deal with it. Thank God I wised up! Looking forward to that post!
            Lisa Maria recently posted…A Romantic Marriage – a fairy tale?My Profile

          • Lonesome George says:

            Thanks, Sheila. I mean it. It takes guts to talk about stuff like this, and to challenge some of these common-but-unhealthy attitudes and presumptions.

            I suspect some of my wife’s friends may roll their eyes, I really believe that what you are doing is fighting for families to not only stay together, but to be truly happy together. That is a gift to the couples and their children.

            I hope you don’t ever give up. :-)

            On that note, I saw this ( and thought of you. Imagine how different our society might look if more people embraced that attitude? Anyway, thanks again.

    • Rachael, obligation? Yes. Fidelity and celebicy are not synonyms. Its crappy to fill in all the spots on someone’s dance card and then proclaim you aren’t obligated to dance.

  6. I used to really struggle with a sex drive the first few years of our marriage. It influenced every other aspect of our marriage, too, because if he tried to be flirty or say sweet things to me, I would respond negatively or pull away, thinking that if I accepted it I would be leading him on to think I would have sex with him that night. We had a great friendship and marriage, but there was something missing that I knew was coming from my aversion. I love my husband and know that sex is a physiological NEED for men, so I wanted to be able to give him what he needs, and enjoy it myself, too. We had been praying to figure out ways to enrich our marriage and one evening it just popped into my head like it was straight from heaven:

    Make a sex schedule.

    I pitched the idea to John and he loved it, of course. And it has helped our marriage IMMENSELY. I would advise every marriage to do this because of the way it has helped ours. We personally schedule a certain day/days a week {the same every week} where we KNOW we will be having sex that night. We prioritize it and make it a big deal. Because of this we can flirt and be as lovey-dovey as we want any day of the week and I don’t feel pressured to have to have it lead anywhere. So it makes our marriage so much more fun! Which puts me in the mood more. And even if we are in the mood on another night than our scheduled night, we sometimes hold off until the scheduled night so that it’s extra spicy and the tension is higher.

    This truly was an answer to our prayers. Heavenly Father wants us to have healthy marriage relations. Sex is one of the most sacred acts we participate in this life and when it is done in the correct context if is truly a form of divinity. I wish you the best!!
    Jessi recently posted…Earlybird Special: diy tour editionMy Profile

    • I just wanted to chime in here in complete agreement! After six years of struggling in the same way you’ve described- turning down all affectionate advances because I didn’t want to promise something I wasn’t willing to follow through on, scheduling intimacy has changed our whole marriage. For him, he knows that he doesn’t have to nag or bring it up all the time in a desperate attempt to communicate his needs and for me, I know that I need to make it a priority that day. If a nap, or a trip to town or saying, here you take the baby for an hour is what it takes, I know to anticipate that and do accordingly on “our days”.

      We were in a terrible cycle where he expressed need and got rejected frequently, and the expression of those needs made me feel guilty and resentful… scheduling intimacy broke the cycle, and along with some attitude changes on my part (thanks to the 29 Days to Great Sex series) we’ve really reached a place we are communicating better about this and enjoying this part of our marriage much more!

  7. I did not read other comments, so might repeat something here.

    One. Make sure there is no medical condition that will kill any sex drive. Mine was hypothyroidism, and I was not interested in sex at all. We made love, but I never initiated it nor needed it. I just was never in the mood.

    Two. If you (husband) have been missing any clues she might have given about your sex live in the past, any suggestions, any tips, even jokingly said and you have ignored them, you have hurt her a lot. Has she mentioned trying something new? Has she been disappointed with your sex life? Has she been trying to talk about you intimate life? If you have missed those time she has tried to communicate her needs and desires, you have given the message that her needs and desires do not matter. It communicates that you are happy and sexually satisfied and see no need to change anything. Therefore it says that when you (husband) are happy and you needs are met, her needs do not matter that much. As she knows what will happen, she is not eager.

    Three. For a woman it takes awhile to get in the mood, and if you do not take this into account and spend some time getting her in the mood, she will not just want to do it. I know that Sheila encourages ladies to just start the bedroom games anyway because she will get in the mood slowly , but I would not have realized this before I read her blog. So if you talk about it with her and ask her what are the ways to get her more in the mood for tonight, she might give you some suggestions. And she might be more willing to just start with you because she knows she will get excited too.

    These were just some thoughts…not very carefully written, but I hope it helps.

    • Great thoughts, Hannah! I think I’d like to elaborate on your number two for a post, because that’s so important. What if you’ve tried to express your needs, but he didn’t get it (I’m not saying that’s what’s happening with this man, but I do think it’s a common problem, and I think we need to revisit it some more!).

  8. See, for us it’s the opposite……my sex drive has always been ridiculously high, and his has always been rather low. It’s frustrating, and hurts my feelings sometimes. I don’t really know what to do about it, especially because he’s been depressed for years and medications have certain side effects. I don’t want to approach it in a way that may hurt him, because that’s not my intention – I just want to be close to him. But I’ve talked a lot with him about building intimacy lately, things that I’ve been reading on this blog, and it hasn’t done any good. Back in the day, I would always try to initiate, and he always got mad because he thought I only wanted sex and didn’t want to just hang out. He point-blank told me to stop initiating. He made me feel ashamed for wanting him. Anyway, right now I think it’s his depression. He’s feeling a bit better today, and asked if we could have a date tonight! So I’m excited about that. Should I try initiating? Maybe just tease him and flirt with him, and see where it leads. It’s been two months since the last time we had sex. We’ve never gone that long before, and I don’t want this to become a trend.
    Jen recently posted…against hope, I believe in hope.My Profile

    • Just read your post, and YES, depression can do this to a man. The best thing you can do is PRAY for him–pray he’ll be in the right job, pray he’ll be seeking God’s will. Things can definitely turn around for you, but sometimes it takes time.
      Heather Day Gilbert recently posted…Coming Clean–My Name is Heather, and I’m a Christian Author…My Profile

      • Thanks, Heather! I do pray for him – constantly. He has a lot on his mind, a lot weighing him down right now. He started feeling better while we were on our date, though. He started smiling and laughing. :) I was just so relieved to be with him, you couldn’t peel me off of him if you tried! We didn’t have sex, but that’s ok. I’m just so happy that he started to feel better, that he had fun with me.
        Jen recently posted…date nightMy Profile

        • My father has struggled with depression his whole life, and my mom told me that if she starts by giving him a back rub, he usually relaxes enough to be in the mood for sex. I find that a nice back rub has a similar effect on me. People with depression are very tense, which makes it hard to be “in the mood.” Just thought I’d throw that out there.

          • Great point! And I think starting with massage is calming for just about every purpose, even if it’s not depression but just needing to get rid of the worries of the day and refocus.

          • Hey! Yeh, I scratch him and massage him all over all throughout the day. It’s one of the things I’ve been doing for him since we first started dating. More recently he told me that a man can know if he should marry a woman or not by whether or not she’ll spend inordinate amounts of time scratching and massaging him. Haha.
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  9. learning is fun! says:

    There are some great comments here, and I would definitely agree that communication and honesty are very important in dealing with this situation. One aspect of the ‘combined letter’ that Sheila included in the original post concerns me more than just the ‘problem’ itself: “When I’ve tried to get her to read stuff like that, or books in the past, she just snaps back that she “can find stuff on the internet that agrees says [she] is right.” ” It seems to me that, if one person in a marriage isn’t happy with the current situation, then chances are, you’re not ‘right.’ Yes, there absolutely needs to be self-examination on the part of the husband, to find out if there are things he could/should be doing but isnt, or things that he is doing that are causing a ‘rift’ – but if those questions have been addressed and this issue still exists, then it’s time for those same questions to be answered on her part. She does need to know that this will affect your marriage and your future, and it’s an issue that does carry importance. I also agree that she needs to realize that relying on her friends’ opinions should not necessarily dictate how THEIR marriage works.

    • Megan G. says:

      Yeah, no kidding. Sort of makes me want to pull out the old, “If all of your friends jumped off the bridge…”

  10. How about giving her Ephesians 5 and telling her to meditate on it for a while. Plainly, you are instructed to love her, but women are addressed FIRST to submit to their husbands. She is not living up to her end of the bargain – not even trying by the sounds of it. In the meantime, you can google “Athol Kay MAP” and run that on her.

    I know a lot of women bristle at advice like Athol’s, but this is advice for MEN, not women. There is nothing un-Biblical about it, although he is an atheist (formerly a Christian). She needs to do her part and that may require something different of him if she is unwilling to ‘just do it’ or to read anything that doesn’t confirm her current position. Refusing a man sex in marriage without good reason is not loving behaviour and she needs to realise this. She also needs to see that she is hurting her marriage and therefore herself.

    This is a marriage that is teetering on the brink; as such, drastic measures may be required, which means there will be a period of destabilisation. It’s either that or it’s likely going down the toilet.
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  11. It sometimes takes a woman a long time to come around to the mutual mood to have sex, or as I like to put it …make love.
    Hey guys…start being lovey in the morning….like a kiss to the back of the neck…then just let it linger….no further. Later in the afternoon…follow with a really sexy kiss. By evening, she’s going to be ready to rip your clothes off. She may even give you such a session that it will last you a few days.
    Often men turn off their working/doing mind when they step inside the front door, where women are constantly thinking of what else must be done.
    I’m afraid in a lot of cases, it’s up to the guy to distract her. It’s certainly worth a try, wouldn’t you say?
    Also, we women, have to learn to turn off our never ending housework motor and give our guy what he loves. It is a two-way street and you’ll like the walk down it.

    • Bill Lamont says:

      That sounds nice Liz, but for those of us who’ve tried that over and over again for years and get nothing but rejection we’ve found it doesn’t work. The advice here is great and it’s nice to hear these things from women, but I think what’ s missing is that the advice is being given from women who are willing and desirous of affection and intimacy. Many of us men who are here are saying that our spouses are not responsive and we’ve tried everything that’s been mentioned here (I know I shouldn’t speak for other men, but I have read and reread these posts and unfortunately have found nothing I haven’t tried that is suggested. That’s why many men, and I’m speaking of myself and other men I know, have simply given up on even trying. After years, even decades of rejection for many of us it is so damaging and depressing that the only way to keep our sanity, so to speak, is to simply focus on every other part of the relationship and not try anymore when it comes to intimacy.

      When you’ve been married for many, many years and you used to have a good sex life but one day she turns it off and won’t even hold your hand, pulls away when you simply want to hug her or kiss her hello or goodbye when you coming home from or going to work, won’t even change clothes in front of you anymore, but every other part of the relationship is strong, fun, enjoyable, and fulfilling, we just decide that we might as well learn to live without it. And I have to say that for me, and I’m guessing for other men, too, it’s too draining and depressing to try and continue to get rejection year after year so we just find it easier to eliminate it from our efforts, even though we’d jump at the chance to have the smallest form of affection from our spouses. We’re not only talking about sex here, we’re talking just plain and simple forms of intimacy like hugging, cuddling, a touch, being able to put our arm around our wife, etc.

      Something has shut down our wives and nothing is reopening it. And while some people here, especially men, seem to focus on our wives “duty” to have sexual intimacy with us, it doesn’t change a thing. You don’t get anywhere with demands. I don’t want my wife to be intimate with me because she has to, I want her to do it because she wants to. If she does it only because she has to then that’s almost worse than not having intimacy at all.

      • Amen! What would a good 2 second hug feel like? That would make my day – or even my week.

      • Bill, you wrote, “When you’ve been married for many, many years and you used to have a good sex life but one day she turns it off, and won’t even hold your hand….”.
        SOMETHING had to turn her off. When you’re experiencing a good sex life and relationship, it doesn’t just turn off…..just a thought.

  12. That could have easily been my husband talking just four months ago… I was totally ignorant of how important sex is in marriage. Totally cluess as to how important it is for my husband. Things have totally changed for us (to the point where he sometimes tells me “can’t we just cuddle?” LOL).

    Looking back, I had all the same excuses… mainly that I was tired. I do know that the BC pills I was on for many years didn’t help… but I think the thing that was hindering our physical intimacy was a lack of emotional intimacy. We just weren’t connecting, so I didn’t feel close to him… and without that closeness, I didn’t feel comfortable being vulnerable enough to have sex. And without him experiencing the physical intimacy, he didn’t feel comfortable being emotionally intimate. It’s a terrible cycle…

    I would suggest that the husband prays… but not necessarily for his wife (although that’s important too). He needs to pray that God reveals ways for him to meet his wife’s emotional needs to she feels loved, cherished, valued, etc. Then, as others have suggested, help find ways to put her in the mood. One thing that helps me is to take a bubble bath while hubby puts all the kids to bed. It gives me time to transition from “mom” to “wife.” Speaking of kids… as much as us moms love our kiddos, they suck every bit of energy out of us. I often gave my husband the leftovers, which wasn’t much. He deserved so much more than that.

    I also wonder if perhaps she just has a negative view of sex… I know I did. I felt like sex was really only meant for procreation. That’s not healthy, and it DEFINITELY hinders closeness in marriage. If a couple going through this has kids, perhaps the husband can ask his wife how they are going to talk about sex with their children. Of course, you have to pick the right time to do this. But maybe through discussing this, the husband will discover how his wife views sex, which could lead to lots more discussions. It’s not fun to be preached at (hey wife, the Bible says….)… but if you are talking about your kids, you can say “you know, maybe we can approach this from a Biblical view” and go from there.
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    • I totally agree with you. For one thing, BC pills can kill libido. For another thing, I think the husband praying to find out how to meet his wife’s needs is a great idea. I know that when my husband started researching and finding new ways to make sex pleasurable for me rather than just expecting me to meet his needs, I started to desire sex rather than dread it. I have wondered whether the husband in this post and the one in another post where his wife was menopausal are spending enough time and energy during sex to pleasure their wives or whether they just take their own pleasure and call it good. I think a wife will have a much more positive view of sex and be more likely to make time for it and make it a priority if she can expect to recieve some pleasure from it herself. If she is only fulfilling a duty, then it’s not going to be something she looks forward to. And if it frequently ends in frustration for her, it may be something she dreads. My advice to husbands who want more sex, in addition to romance and caressing without attaching expectations is to make sure that each sexual experience ends in pleasure and fulfillment for your wife. Make her pleasure a priority, and yours will get taken care of as well.

  13. This just makes me so sad!

    But maybe if you speak her love language more (helping with chores? spending time together? complimenting her?), that will help open the doors. I know Shaunti Feldhahn’s books can be real eye-openers for wives who are going along telling themselves they’re “good enough,” instead of “extraordinary,” as far as how they look and what they’re willing to sacrifice for their husbands.

    I definitely side with the husband here, and I think wives that refuse to give their husbands sex are asking for affairs to happen. (And vice versa! Same to men). I understand that some anti-depressants can lower drive, as well as high stress levels. But marriage is about learning to be less selfish. So sad when marriages are stunted in growth b/c one spouse refuses to give what’s most important to the other.
    Heather Day Gilbert recently posted…Coming Clean–My Name is Heather, and I’m a Christian Author…My Profile

    • Lonesome George says:

      @Heather: I’m convinced you are right. I’m not a bad looking guy, and I do get appreciative glances from women.

      I don’t want to threaten my wife, but at the same time, if one person in a marriage is craving affection, and the other person says, “I know, but I don’t care enough to give you that,” there are only 4 possible outcomes.
      1. The affection-starved spouse will stay, but be miserable.
      2. They will get divorced.
      3. Someone will have an extramarital affair (and possibly divorced as a result).
      4. The other spouse will stop neglecting the lonely spouse.

      Of those 4 options, only the last one seems like a happy ending to me. So far, I’ve gone with option #1, but I’ve tried to communicate to my wife that I won’t settle for that anymore.

      • Yup. Sounds about right for the options. Well, keep trying to communicate, making sure she knows you’re not just joking around about it, and prayerfully it will get through for her!
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      • Hey George,

        I think this is all so sad, that something as wonderful as sharing and enjoying each other’s body in a marriage is not being met for one of the spouses. I have gone throught the same problem for 10 + years. I have learned her love language through books, compliment her often, help her around the house even though I am the only bread winner for quite some time now(8 years and make really good maney)), I try to cuddle with her often, even offer her massages and she declines every single time, and she never touches my body for a quick caress or even offer to massage my back when I am hurt. We go to church together, and I could go on and on. I recently have started to recent her because I have talked to her so many times and it is a broken record my friend. I feel that some of the spouses feel so secure about their marriage that do not feel compelled to have sex with their partners. Some spouses forget that to love is to give… I feel the nicer and better to we are to our wives, the less they want us and the less they respect us( I am sorry for the wives that really appreciate a good husband). I now that if we are not consumating our marriages it is ground for divorce according to the bibble. Some peolple do not know how good they have it until they loose their spouse to some one else that paid attention…. I do not recommend cheating as this is a grave sin as well….Life is to short to be feeling lonely and not wanted. Our bodies is the temple of God and God intended for our bodie’s needs to be met by our spouses. I keep praying every day :-)

      • CowboyCooker says:

        Unfortunately, I know the feeling. And I know all the reasons for staying. I hate to say it but she may need to be shown the curb.

  14. Megan G. says:

    Oh, I just hurt reading that! Those men are obviously in such pain. And I really feel like their wives don’t wake up in the morning thinking, “How can I make my husband miserable today?” They must just not understand what it is truly doing to their husbands.

    Maybe they’ve already tried things like date nights, weekends away, doing little things to make sure the woman knows he’s thinking about her during the day and cares about what she’s going through, etc. Those are the kinds of things that would work for me personally if I was going through a hard time, but I know the answers are different for everyone.

  15. That is a tough one :/ I was pretty resistant to reading about sex online- afraid that I wouldn’t find any real Christian perspective and that it would be bad bad bad. My husband suggested a book and that got me looking online. Starting with “the marriage bed” which had some good articles but I didn’t find very updated over the weeks (nothing new posted) and eventually I found Sheila’s site and it opened up the world of blogging to me. May I suggest her start reading “regular” Christian blogs as well as this one? They helped me so much to start on the path to being a more Godly wife, if that makes sense. I still mess it up every day but I feel that I learn a lot from these sites. Also, I would just pray- God can change anyone for the better, and see where you could improve and help your wives. :)
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  16. Samantha J says:

    I love all the comments here…. all wonderful advice. I am wondering though why no one has suggested this couple seek counselling? Sometimes people get so entrenched in “their” perspective, a third party is required to show each of them a mirror.

    There are so many ways for the husband to introduce getting help to the wife. “Honey, I feel like I am not able to communicate in the way that you need.” “Honey, I feel like I am not able to reach out to you in a way that you will hear me.” “Honey, I love you so much, but I feel like we might need someone to help us through this in our marriage, teach me some skills to be a better husband, listener, partner, whatever.” Will you come with me?

    And then find a GOOD CHRISTIAN therapist. You need someone who shares the same values as you and is not going to play the selfish card about what “YOU” need.

    Love all the comments about praying. I have recommended Stormie Omartian’s praying books to friends with struggling relationships and they are great helps.

    And we should all be praying for this couple as well. Marriage is one area under huge attack from the enemy and I am so grateful for blogs like Sheila’s that are fighting back.

    • CowboyCooker says:

      Counseling…..Counseling. Not that I am 100% against it, but maybe she should try having sex with her husband. I don’t know…call me crazy, but I think it just might work.

      Look, I’m not trying to be insensitive, but it sounds like to me it’s a pretty easy fix from her end and adding more complexity to an easy fix empowers her to continue to act like a child. I don’t think that can be the right answer.

      This is why this whole subject is confusing to men. Why can’t we just have sex? Why do we have to wrap it in (pun intended BTW) things like counseling and ultimatums, and stuff?

  17. Honestly, that could have been my husband up until the 29 days challenge. I don’t think this will help this reader much, but it is his wife’s choice whether she will choose to make the necessary changes in their relationship. My husband and I spend much of our home time in separate rooms. He works long days on top of long commutes so when he gets home, he just wants some peace and quiet. I am usually in the other room unwinding after a long day with our extremely active, opinionated 4 yr old, and many days several hours with my MIL (not a big help for “Hey honey, I’m so glad you are home, let’s get busy”. But since your challenge, I see that *I* needed to change my outlook on sex and the importance it plays in our relationship. Since this couple has a seemingly good relationship outside of the bedroom, I agree with the other comments suggesting that he pray about it and he may even want to gently suggest that his wife pray about it. Several times, I have actually prayed just before sex that God would clear my mind and help me to enjoy my husband, and it really does help.
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  18. Anonymous says:

    There is so much we don’t know about this relationship that it is hard to really answer the question. I know that when we first got married I was on bc pills and had absolutely no interest. When I got off the pills I felt like a much more normal human being, but my husband just didn’t seem interested in me. Sex was okay but he didn’t care about me. He flirted with other ladies and gave more smiles to our lady friends then he did to me. I determined to love him and worked hard on our sex life to the point that I was teaching other ladies how to “love” their men. Then I found out that he had been into pornography our whole marriage and that he had indeed been fantasizing about these other friends. Our sex life now is not that great. I try to be obedient and give him sex when he asks and if I allow any foreplay I follow through. But it has no meaning and I can see if this lady had any of this kind of background – porn and/or giving attention to other ladies pretty much kills a ladies sex drive. If it doesn’t feel like we are making love then it’s just sex and we could do without.

    • I’m sorry. :( My heart breaks for you. I have not experienced your exact situation, but I completely agree, if the connection isn’t there – the emotional connection, the spiritual connection – then sex just isn’t fulfilling. Are you guys in counseling together? Does he show any interest in working to overcome his sinful behavior? I have said a prayer for you and your marriage, sweet lady.
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    • I feel your pain. I, too, went through this. My husband was a virgin but he got everything he learned about sex from porn…that really gave him warped ideas about how it should be. I wasn’t experienced and never had an orgasm so I guess he felt he wasn’t doing it right or something. He was also addicted to porn and I started feeling as if he preferred to watch than to actually do it. I had a bad self-image that was even more destroyed by the porn because I felt i could never measure up to those ‘perfect breasts’ and bodies. We fought about it and then he just h id it from me.

      Our sex life became non-existent. I was the one who wanted him it seemed to me and he would reject my advances. I know now that it was partly because he had erectile dysfunction as well as hypertension (Probably) We found out about the blood pressure issues a few years later, but it must have been there all along. I also found out later on that he had an affair, which nearly destroyed me but I couldnt let it destroy our marriage because I accepted that I had become withdrawn and guarded my heart after feeling hurt so much. I wasn’t giving him what he needed and somebody else paid him attention. He swore that he didn’t get to follow through on the sex, though he tried, because of the e.d. Its taken a lot of hard work to rebuild, but through the crisis we have worked on our relationship which led to greater intimacy. He still has moments where he can’t function, but it is not as destructive as it used to be in our relationship. I still haven’t had an orgasm but it doesn’t matter as much to him as it used to.

      I hope and pray that things improve for you, but I will say that you obviously need to communicate better. Perhaps you have never let on how much his behavior has affected you. The guilt might cause him to react negatively at first, but if he is willing to work on it, that is the key I believe to healing. You need to dig out what’s buried and deal with it first. i went through a year of so many fights and emotional roller coasters as we dealt with what was deep inside of both of us and what came to light. I know now that it just lay festering and needed to be cauterized. Its hard to go through but i have no regrets because I’m on the road to building something so much better…I couldn’t go back to what it was before. I wish you luck and all God’s blessings.

  19. To quote that famous line of Billy Crystal’s from the movie City Slickers; “Women need a reason to have sex – men just need a place”. There may be a lot of reasons that our wives don’t want to have sex, and we need to discuss these openly and honestly, but before we do, we need to take a good, long, hard look at ourselves and how we are treating our wives. As one person has said; “sex starts in the kitchen”

    I’m not a fan of the Promise Keepers movement, because if Christian men acted like Christians I don’t think it is necessary. But, the sad fact is that it is required, because so many men act like jerks, especially towards their wives.

    I’m not saying that this is all your fault, but, before you have that conversation with your wife, make sure the plank is removed from your own eye.

    • I agree with you, Rudy. Sex does start in the kitchen! :) Or the park, or wherever. It’s important to treat our spouses with more love, respect, and attention than we do anyone else, but too often people treat their spouses worse than they would even dream of treating anyone else. We as women need to feel deeply loved in order to truly be fulfilled by sex, and I can imagine how a habit of never being fulfilled outside the “bedroom” would cause some women to shut down. I posted above that my sex drive is higher than my husband’s, BUT even if I want to have sex, if he is short-tempered with me it just kills my desire. The door swings both ways, of course.

      Of course, there are always cases where a person does everything possible to treat his/her spouse with love, and the spouse still shuts down. I wonder, though, if maybe it would help to learn what his wife’s love language is – maybe the man (men) who asked this question is showing his wife love through ways that make him feel loved, but his wife has a different love language so the efforts on the part of the husband aren’t making her feel loved. That would probably be good to find out. I think you can get the five love languages test free on the website.
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    • Thank you for your post, Rudy, very thoughtful and wise.
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  20. anonymous says:

    As I glanced through all the responses (though not thoroughly), I didn’t see any mention other than counseling, which was close to what I had in mind, but not quite. A negative view of sex was also mentioned, but something that wasn’t mentioned at all that causes a negative view of sex & requires counseling is past sexual experience, but particularly sexual abuse. This could be either within her family (father, brother, uncle, etc.) or from a previous relationship (boyfriend, husband). My experience was the latter. I withheld from my husband because I felt dirty – filthy! – like a prostitute. Of course my view of sex was skewed & it took counseling and a lot of Bible study to overcome. I also had PTSD that had never been treated because of it. By God’s grace, counseling, and choosing to be uncomfortable while being intimate with my husband & practicing what I was learning I overcame it. We’ve both been rewarded with a good relationship in the bedroom as a result.

    Just one thing fellas: I know you’re hurting, but my husband (who’s not a Christian) chose to go outside of the marriage to get his point across. Again, I know you’re hurting – I hear you! – but please don’t do this. Exhaust every other avenue, then give it up to God. Two sins don’t make for sanctification.

    • So true. I know people who had sexual traumas in their childhood – it truly, deeply scars and can greatly affect a marriage. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through – I’m so thankful that you overcame it! It makes me so angry, that some people are that cruel. I always think of what Jesus said, that for people who hurt children, it would be better for them to have a stone tied around their neck and be thrown into the sea, than to face the wrath God has for them.
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  21. This seems like an all too common problem among many couples. As I skimmed through many of the earlier comments I saw a lot of good advice and perspectives so I’ll try not to repeat too much of it. As a man and a husband I can understand how frustrating this kind of situation can be. My wife and I have been fortunate enough to not encounter that specific issue but we have had our fair share of bumps along the way. It becomes easy, as a man, to want to ask for sexual intimacy often if it isn’t happening as often as I would like and then get frustrated when it doesn’t happen. The best thing to do in this situation would probably be to have an open an honest conversation about physical intimacy and what each other’s expectations and desires are. A generous dose of empathy and understanding might go a long way to lubricating this conversation at the beginning.

    As a marriage and family therapist I’ve had experience counseling couples who were experiencing problems with sex and physical intimacy in general. One principle that tends to hold true for many couples is that expectations–even just perceived expectations–for sexual intimacy or performance can really kill someone’s interest is sex (husband or wife). So for many couples, the first step toward having better sex is to stop trying to have sex. In fact, a temporary prohibition on sex can often be very helpful. Go back to the beginning and learn how nice it can be to just hold hands. Remove the expectation and you can safely begin to work through the issues (whatever their source may be) that are creating a barrier to a healthy intimate relationship.

    • Adam, that’s an excellent suggestion, and one that I often make to couples, too, especially those who are dealing with negative attitudes towards sex stemming from past issues. Sometimes you just need to remove the pressure for sex and learn how to have fun with affection and just being together, and then slowly, as you start to feel more intimate, add the physical intimacy as well. It’s like you need a “restart”.

    • Bill Lamont says:

      Adam, that sounds good, but it assumes that both spouses are willing. I’ve been married almost 25 years and we had a good and active sex life for years. But when she hit menopause she was no longer interested and told me so. That was 7 years ago and we haven’t had sex since then. I got her to try going to doctors because she said there was no desire. But they tried things like hormones and nothing helped. Their conclusion was that there was nothing that could be done but that it was good that we have a good relationship because, as one doctor said, “You’ll most likely live far longer than you will be capable of having sex so you should just start now to learn to focus on the other aspects of your relationship that you would at that time anyway.” And since then that’s what I’ve done. She is not willing to have any contact. Not even holding hands. When I try she pulls away. Yet she regularly tells me how loved I make her feel.

      I’ve read the comments about sex starting in the kitchen. Some people think that means that it doesn’t start in the bedroom but starts slower with closeness, but I think it means that the relationship has to be right in other areas for her to be open to intimacy. As a result the “kitchen” part of the statement means that guys need to learn to help out around the house. For me, I do all the cooking, cleaning, shopping (although once in a while she wants to go along to do that), interior and exterior care of our home. I have tried to find us another church because we get no support there, just the leadership telling me that I need to focus on my responsibilities and not my needs because a man is called to serve his wife. I agree with much of that, but it’s still hard to live with.

      Some posts I’ve seen on this website talk about finding another church. We live in a rural area. Ours is the only bible teaching church within a 90 minute drive in any direction and even it is 45 minutes away from us. I could go on and on but won’t. My point here is that while there are many nice comments here and solutions suggested, for those of us that have been dealing with it for years it’s not those simple solutions that work. I know other men in similar situations as mine and we have learned two things. First, we focus on serving our wives and remember that we are not to seek for ourselves just as Christ never sought for himself. Second, we understand that life is not fair. There is no guarantee of fairness. Someone here wrote that their situation seemed unfair. It probably is. But we do not focus on that. We focus on our responsibilities. As a good friend of mine whose wife is disabled told me, when his wife became disabled their entire lives changed forever. He takes complete care of her. He told me that he finds his fulfillment in serving her, not in getting anything for himself. That, he tells me, is where he’s found more fulfillment in his life than he’s ever had before. His attitude has become one I try to emulate and I’ve found that it works. I still have some tough days, but I’ve learned that when I keep my thoughts under control I get through it.

      • Bill, I think your attitude is a wonderful one. I do hope that one day your wife realizes she misses intimacy, but I’m glad that you’re able to find intimacy with God in serving her. Thank you for giving us your perspective, and I really do feel for you. I hope that some women reading this will hear the pain in your comment, and will resolve not to do the same thing to their husbands.

  22. Lots of good and inspiring comments. I’m going to have to refer back in the future.
    I asked my husband this question and, like a number of others here, his reply centered around starting to connect earlier in the day, bringing other forms of intimacy to the forefront, etc.
    I would like to comment on timing too, though. I know that my husband wishes that we had sex much more often than we do. I wish we did too but leaving it to the very last thing at night just isn’t working for me. By the time that we are ready for bed at 10:30, I’m exhausted, especially when I know I’m going to be up anywhere from three to five times during the night with the baby (just like I have been for the last four months) and the day starts at 6:15 when the toddler gets up. He’s tired too and that means no foreplay either which is uncomfortable for my hormonally wacked out post-partum body. BUT, every day at 8:00 when dinner is cleaned up, the kids have just gone to bed, I get that twinkle in my eye and ask him if he’s interested–and he gives me a whole long list of things he has to do instead. So the window of opportunity is there, it’s just never taken advantage of. Makes it hard to take seriously his complaints that there’s not enough sex.
    There are also seasons when we are just so busy (we just moved and we’re in one right now) that we haven’t been able to talk intimately about things other than making businesslike decisions about our lives. I find that taking a couple of days to clear the backlog of things that we have on our minds also opens the door to more kinds of intimacy.
    So, make sure that you are taking advantage of any windows that are being offered even if they don’t fit with your ideas about timing. Keep current with talking to each other and clearly communicate what both of your needs and expectations are. Another thing is to practice pleasing her without the expectation of return. In our experience, it helps to wake up my own desire to be close and it actually becomes pretty hard to not reciprocate. Always pray for her and for your marriage.

    • Excellent point! I had another email about this just yesterday from a woman that I was thinking of turning into a Reader Question of the Week. What do you do when you’re willing and ready for sex earlier in the evening, but your husband stays up too late?

      I think the key is communication: tell him frankly how you feel, and tell him–in a fun way–that if he wants sex, he better come upstairs now. And then just keep the lines of communication open.

  23. To these two gentlemen, I think you’ve gotten a lot of good advice. My only contribution is that I do believe that most women equate making love with feelings of love. if there’s something wrong in your relationship its going to spill over into the bedroom. I think many women have these feelings of resentment or bitterness inside of them which give them this ‘don’t touch me” attitude. I know, even though I never refused my husband and I think my drive has always been higher than his, I have felt the ‘don’t touch me’ at various times in our marriage. You h ave to show your wives that you are willing to connect with them outside of the bedroom too. Maybe there are issues that you are not even aware of. Open the doors to communication and show her that you are willing to listen with an open mind. You may not even agree with her, but the main thing is that she needs to know that you hear her and love her enough to work with her. It may even be that she is the problem, but you wont know what the real block is until you dig into what’s hiding underneath. Good luck to you both.

  24. Jeff Mallory says:

    Wow the words this man was speaking is like I wrote them I feel the same way so I am sure there are more men out there as well.

  25. Boy! I wish I had that problem- my husband *wanting* to cuddle or have sex! Anyway, what can these husbands do? I don’t know of anything that will change the other person’s mind. You can’t *force* someone do to anything. You can ask, you can challenge, you can use all the *I* statements you want but if the other person doesn’t want to change, they won’t. What I have tried: I have tried talking to him about it- saying I enjoy being with you, cuddling, touching, even having sex b/c its a connection I have with you and no one else. When we aren’t having sex, I feel unloved, unneeded, unwanted. I have tried meeting all the demands he’s put out there- getting the kids to bed earlier, getting them to sleep all night- nothing. I have talked to ‘mentors’. I have gone thru the Biblical example of what to do when your brother is sinning – you go to him alone, you go to him with a few others, you go to the pastor. All those steps seemed right, he was shown the same things I alone had shown him- 1 Corinthians 7- it is against Scripture to refuse to show your spouse affection and refuse to have sex with them. Anyhow. Nothing has changed. My husband will not, WILL NOT hear this. There is nothing I can do about it. I have been tempted to leave him, to simply have an affair, to seek a divorce, but overall I have been convinced that God’s way is for me to love my husband as God loves- unconditionally. Not I’ll love you and treat you right, respect you, submit to you *IF* you meet my needs and show me the affection due me, give me the sexual intimacy due me. Just I love you no matter what. And leave the rest up to God. I have to say that is the hardest part for me because I am all about doing something myself so letting go and letting God is very hard for me. I am sorry there are others in the same position.

    • Amethyst, I’m so sorry you’re walking through this, and you’re right: there is no magical answer. You can take all the right steps, but it is ultimately up to the other person. And if you just commit to doing the right thing–in this case, loving unconditionally–then God can continue to work in the situation. I’ll pray that your husband will learn to crave the intimacy he’s missing, and that God will sustain you and show you how to love effectively and appropriately.

    • I could have written that myself. Same problem, dealing with it the same way.

  26. Is she on hormonal birth control? It negatively affected my libido. I’ve been a different woman since I’ve been off of it. It’s made a huge impact on our sex life.

    • I’m actually on hormonal birth control, and it has never affected my libido….. but, I know it does with many women. On Sheila’s menopause post, several women mentioned natural progesterone cream. I looked it up, and you can use natural progesterone cream while taking hormonal bc – it just negates any of the bad side effects that the synthetic hormones cause – e.g., it raises your libido if that’s being negatively affected by the bc pills. So, that’s an option if getting off of the pill isn’t.
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    • Lonesome George says:

      My wife isn’t on any birth control, and hasn’t been for years.

      I told her if there is something (something in her past, some medical issue, etc.) that is getting in the way of her libido, that is NOT her fault… but if she truly wants to fix this, she needs to aggressively seek help for whatever it is.

      If either of us has some sort of issue (medical, psychological, or whatever) and say “I can’t help it,” and choose not to actively search for a solution, that violates our marriage vows (in my opinion, anyway).

      • Lonesome George says:

        And with regard to libido, I think it is pretty well documented that many people (especially women) don’t start out “hot and bothered.” They start kissing and touching, and they warm up. In addition, the more frequently these people do fool around, the more their libido increases. (Kind of like a bear waking up from hibernation, I suppose.)

        I get the impression that some of the women and men who say they just aren’t in the mood expect their cars to warm up before they even turn the ignition on! C’mon! Give it some effort before ruling it out!

        I joke, but this is very sad to me, because whenever my wife has admitted when she just lets us start kissing/touching, her libido really does respond. The problem is, there are always reasons to say not tonight, so we don’t get the chance.

        • Absolutely agree with your comment. I got tired of trying everything to have sex with my wife. So I quit trying. After about 15 years, she comes in and lies down in my bed. I said no. NO. And I poured myself a large glass of wine. I do not want to have sex with a woman who obviously does not like me. I am a good man. And she is a good person. I want an apology first. I have been faithful to her. But I am still angry.

  27. There can be a lot of reasons why women don’t want to have sex with their husbands. Like others have mentioned, maybe there are medical or hormonal reasons, maybe they’re tired, maybe there are unresolved issues in the relationship that are causing the woman not to desire her husband in that way. Many many commenters have suggested ways to be more supportive, more loving, more helpful in an attempt to make her feel loved enough to want sex.

    But what no one has mentioned is that sometimes those things don’t help–sometimes they actually hurt. If you’re already doing all of those things, if you’re being uber-supportive, and she isn’t responding the way you want, maybe you’re moving in the wrong direction. Women want to feel cherished, yes. But we want to feel cherished by men that we perceive as strong men. Who of you women who are/were beautiful, popular, well-loved teens/young women really responded to endless expressions of adoration and devotion? Were you not attracted more to the guys who were popular or accomplished in their own right (the high school quarterback, for example), who didn’t seem so desperate to have you?

    I’m not saying that supportiveness, kindness, and expressions of love shouldn’t exist in marriage–they absolutely should!–but if that’s all you’re showing, then she may be viewing you more like the beautiful popular girls viewed the devoted nice guys: as good friends, but not as someone she’s just dying to make out with. It feels counterintuitive, but sometimes increasing that behavior is exactly the wrong thing to do.

    Check out a blog called Married Man Sex Life, written by Athol Kay (not a Christian, but his focus is on improving sex within monogamous long term relationships, with marriage being the ideal, he’s happily married, was a virgin when he married, and has not had sex outside of his marriage). He also has a book, available on Amazon, that lays out his recommendations. My husband recently started reading Married Man Sex Life, and I couldn’t be happier! (I don’t mean to hijack or anything, Sheila, but there are some things that I really think men should learn from other men, not because women “shouldn’t” teach them, but because we can’t–although we women respond to the behavior, we often don’t understand why we respond … and frankly, the idea that we respond as Athol Kay says we do–while true–is not something we like to admit.)
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    • Athol Kay? Please. You can get all you need about having a backbone and being a servant/leader (with emphasis on both parts) from the Bible and Biblical sources. There is something to what you diagnose as the problem, but I have real issues with the “solution.” I don’t think it’s OK to be manipulative or to run a monogamous version of “game” on my spouse, and that’s all Kay’s stuff is. It’s cynical, sub-Christian and not honorable or respectful.

      And if you are serving and serving, and all it does is enable more selfishness, then you need to heed the admonitions of Scripture to present your bride “holy and blameless” and lead her toward sanctification. Sometimes it is easier to send flowers or do the dishes than it is to have an uncomfortable conversation that you know you need to have… and it is even more uncomfortable to involve a pastor or elder in your marriage. But sometimes that is what you absolutely have to do. That takes guts but guess what? That’s what we men are supposed to have.

      • The problem I see is that I don’t see many Christian leaders teaching men to be leaders–the focus is so often on the servant part of servant leadership, rather than stressing the two equally, that the part about how to be a leader is missing altogether. Would it be better to get this kind of training from Christian sources, so you don’t have to weed out the parts that aren’t biblical? Yes, it would. But your statement that these men should get it all from “the Bible and Biblical sources” doesn’t really help much, does it? These men are looking for concrete answers–action items. Where precisely in the Bible would you have them look? To which biblical sources would you direct them, specifically? I know it’s all there in the Bible, but it’s spread out and takes a lot of concerted effort to find, and while it’s good to do that and devote that time and effort, these men need help *now*. At the very least, they need to be told where to start. If I can direct them to one place where it’s concisely stated, full of action items, then that’s what I’m going to do. I didn’t direct them to a Christian blog, website, or book because I don’t know of one that gives them the information and action items they need in a digestible package that will allow them to start doing what they need to do quickly.

        If you naturally have the frame to be the leader and to take the difficult steps, that’s great. But there are lots of men out there who need some pointers. Athol Kay’s suggestions overall (I haven’t read everything, so there may be some exceptions) are not demeaning or disrespectful to women–over a third of the questions he gets are from wives who want their husbands to behave more like he suggests! It is true that a lot of Game sites are designed for pick up artists who do demean women, but this one is for improving marriage. And it works. The wives of the husbands who follow his advice are not complaining about it. Many of his readers are Christians whose marriages have been helped. If you don’t want to read it, don’t. But don’t demean those who do read it and who are helped by it. It doesn’t just take guts for men to have uncomfortable conversations or involve pastors or elders in their marriage–it also can take guts to admit that they need help enough to accept it from a source that some of their Christian brothers revile and ridicule.
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      • I would agree. Authenticity and integrity are so vital to a Christian life, and “game” is the antithesis of that. At the same time, I think Athol Kay is so popular because churches are doing too much to feminize men and not to teach them to be leaders. So churches really need to step up to the plate!

        • I guess I’m confused about where Kay’s advice lacks authenticity and integrity. To me, he’s saying simply (1) get yourself into a position where you can be confident and then (2) act as if you are confident in your role as leader in this relationship, because women respond positively to confident men who have reason to be confident. I don’t see how that’s different from the advice I received as a very shy child: Act as if you have confidence in social situations, and as you see how people respond to you, you will develop real confidence, and people will continue to respond positively to you.

          I’m also confused as to how it is lacking authenticity and integrity for a man to change his behavior in the direction of taking a leadership role, when it apparently is not lacking in authenticity or integrity for a man to change his behavior in the direction of offering more cuddles, massages, or work around the house. The goal in each case is the same–he wants his wife to want to have sex with him. The difference is that in the former case, the man is changing his behavior to match up with what most women’s responses show that most women actually want, whereas in the latter case, he’s changing his behavior to match up with what most women say they want.

          Please note that, when Game is used as a tool for a pick up artist, authenticity and integrity are lacking because of the man himself, because all he wants is for the woman to be willing to give him what he wants, without any real desire on his part to give her the commitment that she most likely wants. When a husband seeks to use the same principles to inspire his wife–whom he loves and to whom he already is committed–to want him more, it’s no different than a woman following Sheila’s advice to wives in previous posts. In fact, some of the advice is even the same: take care of yourself physically, send suggestive text messages and emails, initiate physical play that may or may not turn sexual, just off the top of my head. I’m sure there’s more. So I’m also not clear on why authenticity and integrity is lacking when a husband does these things, but not when a wife does them.
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          • I guess I’d say it’s because of the motivation. The motivation in our marriages should be to love each other and to show our spouse love. It should be to build each other up. It shouldn’t be to get what we want or to manipulate in any way. When a wife sends sexy text messages, for instance, she’s doing it because she wants to build intimacy, and this is one way that he feels intimacy. So it’s being honest and not manipulative.

            At the heart of the Athol Kay philosophy, though, is the idea that the guy is trying to get what he wants out of a relationship. He’s not thinking about her; he’s thinking about himself.

            That doesn’t mean that everything that Kay says is wrong for relationships. I’m just very sensitive to advice that is self-focused rather than focused on how to love each other.

            I do think that there is a crisis of masculinity in the church, and that men need to step up and be leaders more, and churches need to encourage this, rather than becoming feminized. But the way to do this is to use Christ as our model, with the goal of becoming godly men; not the goal of getting our own needs met. So it’s just a different starting point. Sometimes a lot of the actions are the same, but I’m just wary of the underlying premise.

          • The problem with your response is that the motivation is the same. The reason behind this post at all, the reason the men asked you the question, is that their needs are not being met, and they want advice on how to get their wives to meet these needs. These needs are reasonable, and their wives should be meeting them–I don’t think there’s a commenter here who disagrees with that. Athol Kay agrees, too: these needs are reasonable, and the wives should meet them, as they implicitly agreed to when they married. This post was not framed as “How do I love my wife, show love to her, and build her up?” This post was framed as “How do I convince my wife to have sex with me?” It seems that, when the answer I offer isn’t approved, the question changes. It’s no longer “how do I inspire her to meet my needs?” because now that’s a selfish question that should not be asked in a marriage.

            The underlying premise of Athol Kay’s method is that the husband needs to become someone with whom his wife wants to have sex. What’s to disagree with?
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          • The enormous red flag, for me, in Kay’s stuff is his statement: “i can promise you that you will have a wife who wants you sexually… I just can’t promise you that it will be your CURRENT wife.” Bottom line: if by “manning up” you shake up your current marriage so much that it’s destroyed, no worries, because you’ve put yourself in line for what you really deserve. It really is all about you. I personally find that chilling.

            (Confession: I corresponded with Kay a while ago when I thought that his stuff may have been what I needed, but when he used a version of the line above in his reply I cut it off and moved on. I don’t need “help” from someone who values my marriage that little.)

            I hear you in saying that there’s little from Biblical sources that conveys the same kinds of needed messages (John Eldredge may be closest, but I have a few issues with his stuff as well — though not as many as Athol Kay’s.) That said, it takes JUST as much discernment and thought to sort through Athol Kay’s stuff and separate the wheat from the chaff as it would to do an honest, self-directed study on what the Bible says about manhood (and what the examples of many men in the Bible can teach us.) I’d far rather a guy spend his energy on the latter.

          • I have to ask, as a husband, which is more loving — to continue to frustrate yourself by trying the same things that people tell you your wife wants (she may be one of those people herself), but which she doesn’t respond to, or to improve yourself and change the way you interact with her so that she’s more naturally led to follow you?

            How long should you keep trying to push a rope with doing housework, cuddling, massages, etc. (none bad in themselves, as part of a balanced approach), praying that God will change her heart (actually, rewrite her genetics), instead of acting like the leader and provider that (barring medical or emotional issues which need professional help) she’s more likely to be drawn to want to follow?

            The Bible teaches, and practical experience tends to agree, that, in marriage, men were made to lead and women want to follow a man they respect. How, then, can you say that a husband who’s trying to make himself someone his wife will want to follow isn’t thinking about her best interests as well? If he focuses solely on trying to build her up, while neglecting his responsibility to lead within the family, who’s he really hurting in the end? I would say both of them, because he won’t be a leader in his family, and his wife will be bored and disatisified.

            Are you fine with Athol Kay’s philosophy/techniques if what the man wants out of the relationship is a happy, engaged wife?

          • sorry, this was in response to Sheila’s post above (one too many page refreshes)

          • Jeff, yes, I would be. The problem I have with Athol Kay isn’t necessarily what he says about relationships between the sexes, because I think he’s largely right on many of these things (and I do agree that many men are losing out sexually because they aren’t acting masculine; Kay is right in that female sexuality is more responsive to male sexuality).

            My problem is with Kay’s philosophy of trying to create a marriage on your own terms. That’s primarily selfish. If, on the other hand, you’re trying to create an intimate marriage where you reflect God, and where you both love each other, and that honestly is your motivation, then pray and ask God to show you how to do that, even if it involves doing things drastically differently. But the motivation must be to create a relationship where you both truly love each other and are intimate together–not simply a relationship where you set the terms and you manipulate someone into being who you want them to be.

            Note, too, David’s comment below that Kay isn’t necessarily committed to marriage to your current partner. He’s trying to help his readers find the kind of relationship they want; not necessarily teaching his readers how to create the best marriage with the current partner they have. So those are my issues.

            Does that make sense?

          • That makes sense. Thank you for clarifying that Athol’s techniques can be highly effective and can be used to pursue either Christlike or un-Christlike relationships. One need not agree with his entire worldview to benefit from his research and experience in relationship dynamics, and to someone desperately trying to save his marriage, an immediate action plan can be the difference between reconciliation and divorce.

          • I’d love to hear how it goes, Jeff! And I do pray that God will help you rescue your marriage.

          • Sheila, thanks. My last statement was largely hypothetical, but you can ask Deborah, God’s been doing some work on me lately, using MMSL as the toolbox :-)

          • Athol’s a realist, and openly comes at the situation from a non-Christian approach. How much you value your own marriage, and what you’re willing to endure should his techniques fail to attract your wife, is entirely up to you.

            There’s no step in the MAP that says ‘give up and divorce her,’ just the realization that if she decides to divorce you in spite of your efforts, you have positioned yourself to be more successful should you choose to pursue another relationship.

            Don’t dismiss the tools because they can be used to either destroy or build a home. How you use them is up to you.

            Anyone who claims they can guarantee to fix any marriage with their teachings is either lying or incredibly naive. If either partner is already checked-out enough by the time the other realizes the problem, there’s no way to force them to stay married, and in a relational sense, it’s likely already debatable if the marriage is alive or the parties simply haven’t admitted that it’s dead.

        • van Rooinek says:

          Authenticity and integrity are so vital to a Christian life, and “game” is the antithesis of that.

          Indeed. Tragically, however, the Gamers give a much more accurate description of female psychology and behavior, than the church. The Christian world is struck speechless when confronted with the ONE question that vexes single Christian men more than all others put together — the one issue that ripped my heart out over and over from my teens til my late 30s:

          “Why do women — including many Christian women — prefer jerks over good guys?”

          I’m not quite sure what to make of that conundrum. How could Gamers get it so right, and the Christian world — the representatives of Truth on earth — get it so wrong? Or, more accurately, the Christian world didn’t even try to answer the question. The church was no help whatsoever on this core heart issue. None.

          • It’s terribly sad and wrong that women prefer jerks over good men. That is part of the FALL and not God’s design, however, so it should never be a man’s goal to become a “jerk” to attract women!

            Women (and men) are attracted to people who are confident. A person can never be hurt by working on themselves and gaining confidence, in Godly ways. The command is to love others as you love yourself, implying that we have the greatest of love for ourselves in God’s true design. In this culture, most of us can work on that!
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          • And I should have said, “some women” prefer jerks over good men.

            But I do believe the vast majority of well, everybody, prefer people who are confident.
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        • Sheila, thank you for your insight. I too think that men have been far to feminized, within the Church and without. VERY, VERY good point and VERY important.

  28. As I freely admitted when I first mentioned his post, Athol Kay is not Christian, not anymore. He does not have the same views on marriage and divorce that the Bible presents. That does not mean that his methods are not useful. It is true that part of his plan is for the man, eventually, once he’s become the most attractive man he can be, so tell his wife: “I love you, and I want to be with you. But here is what I need, and I expect you to meet those needs. In exchange, you never will have to fear losing me. I will not leave you or cheat on you.” The implication, of course, is that he will leave if she doesn’t meet those needs. In one of his posts (unfortunately I don’t remember which one), he stated that he knew that some of his readers would never, should never, make that implied threat, because their religious beliefs would prevent them from following through. In that case, don’t make the threat. Many, maybe most, wives will respond positively just to the changes the husband has made, without any threat. If she doesn’t, you’re not in any worse of a place then than you are now.

    David, you still haven’t told me where you would advise Christian men to go for this kind of training. It’s pretty obvious that you haven’t told me because you don’t know. There isn’t a Christian resource for this. So we’re left with the alternatives that are available. Athol Kay is there. Yes, Christians have to exercise discernment in choosing what advice to take and what advice not to. We have to do that no matter what the source of advice is–we can let down our guard a little when it’s a Christian source, but even Christian sources sometimes offer bad advice (as you know, since you disagree with some of John Eldredge’s advice). At least with Athol Kay, Christians go in knowing to keep the guard up. The bottom line is that his techniques work, and you can skip any specific techniques with which you disagree. Until someone shows me a biblically based source for this information, I will continue to point people to Athol Kay, making sure they realize up front that (1) he has a good plan and (2) he isn’t a Christian, so you do have to use judgment in exactly how to adapt his plan to your situation.

    (And, now, in my particular little spot on this globe, it’s past time for me to be going to bed. Any further discussion will have to wait until tomorrow.)
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    • Sorry, this was meant to be a reply to David above.
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    • Bill Lamont says:

      Deborah, I do believe that going to a non-Christian for advice is risky at best. A person had better have their spiritual armor on and be extremely discerning (I would even suggest having a trusted Christian friend read when you read and then discussing how it fits in with Biblical teaching just to make sure we’re being careful in how we receive it). But I also agree that sometimes we have no other options so we have to act using what we have. I would disagree with something both you and someone else here said and that’s that this man used to be a Christian. The Bible is very clear that a person who becomes a true Christian will not leave the faith. On the other hand, I John is clear that those who claim to be Christians and leave the faith do so because they were never truly Christians in the first place. And knowing that should make us cautious in how we receive the advice of someone who claims they were Christians and left the faith. Once again, and as you said Deborah, we must have discernment but that doesn’t mean we have to outright reject what they say either.

  29. Among other things, this show how importnat “peer pressure” is. All it takes is one or two women in a group to make regular sex the norm, and low sex unacceptable. On the other hand, if a few are going on about how their man wants a lot of sex and they keep him to his necessary once or twice a month, those who have a healthier sex life will tend to be quite, and the assumption is that the few speak for the whole.

    Ladies, if you have a healthy sex life, talk it up – you can make a huge difference.
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    • Mike Lowell says:

      That’s a nice idea, but many Christian women, my wife included, are very offended that this topic would be discussed openly by women. They see it as being trashy, worldly, and even sinful. They are highly conservative and were raised in homes like my wife, where these are private issues between a man and wife. They see women who “talk up” these things as people who want to be part of the world and are in church for reasons like social relationships, not because they truly love Jesus.

      Now I understand that those attitudes may be old fashioned, but they are what they are. They do not change because someone in the church says it’s okay to talk about these things. The result is that their walls go up even higher. My wife and I have been married for 19 years and we had a good physical relationship until a six years ago when she shut down and pulled away. We now have no physical contact other than what she allows, which is things like taking her hand to help her step up or down and things like that. She does not allow me to even caress her, hold her hand, or hug her. She just pulls away. I tried to give her a copy of Sheila’s book but she found the title so offensive she threw it out of the house saying that Christian women wouldn’t have any part of something that promotes being like bad girls.

      So, I appreciate what you’re saying, but I think for as much help as it might be for some people it might drive some away who are offended by talk about it.

  30. My appreciation to Shiela that she didn’t try and squash mention of me in the multiple comments in this thread.

    MMSL looks like a double-edged sword to Christians. On one hand it works and is very close to biblical concepts… on the other hand I’m openly atheist and take a starkly pragmatic approach to relationships.
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    • Hi, Athol! Thanks for chiming in. As I said, I have no problem with people using your methods (it sounds strange to say “your” methods, because I think a lot of it is common sense) if they also see it within a biblical framework.

      I’m actually going to be commenting more on the subject in a book review on Sunday.

  31. JustAWife&Mom says:

    Interesting topic…just dealing with it in reverse. My DH claims a medical issue, we’ve done research into trying to aid the situation, but he just isn’t interested in me any more. A doctor could probably help, but with no insurance, he isn’t keen on going to talk about his “pieces-parts” to just any old doctor; he probably needs a specialist, which is more $$…but if he spent that $$, it might help things out…it’s a vicious (and very cruel!) cycle.
    His computer is his best friend…but he definitely is not into porn (I check, with his permission, often, and I trust his word). I sit on the couch in the living room almost every night, in tears, because he won’t even kiss me any longer. He holds himself as far away as possible. We had relations *twice* in the past 2 years. It breaks my heart, because I’m finally coming around to a point in my life when I can say, “Hey, let’s have some FUN with this for a change,” because I’m learning more and reading and studying the Word to be sure that “this” is ok, and “that” isn’t. But he doesn’t have that same interest. I didn’t sign on to be “roommates” after a certain amount of years, so this really hits me in the heart.
    Someone above had given a list of four things that can happen when a spouse isn’t interested any more. I think I’m stuck on #1. I wouldn’t leave, but it’s sure going to be rather miserable. I’m in the stage of resigning myself to this and figuring out how I can make it more tolerable. (I’m still getting over the squeamish feelings as far as toys and such go…)
    Great blog, glad I found it, and thanks for all the great conversation.

  32. Timbreldancer says:

    I read through a bunch of the posts, but didn’t specifically see my idea mentioned (before I finally gave up because I’ve got to get off the computer).

    George, Bill, and others of you who are struggling with this problem: I have been that wife. My husband and I have been married for over 25 years and I can see myself and my husband in so much of what you have described. In my case, some of it was physical issues, including a pre-diabetic condition that improved a great deal with medication, plus trying to be much more careful about my diet. I can really tell the times that I choose the wrong foods…I spend the rest of the day exhausted. Some of my problems were also a result of past sexual abuse. When my husband and I went through counseling, that part of it was resolved quite a bit (although I still struggle with it sometimes).

    Most of all, however, my problem was that I had a loving, caring husband who was willing and able to bend over backward to show me how much he loved me, but in return, I was selfish, thoughtless, and too focused on myself to really even notice how much pain he was experiencing.

    I’m not saying I was selfish in general. I have been a caring mother to our children, a caring friend to my friends, a caring Christian to unbelievers, and a caring family member to the rest of the family. I was not even completely selfish toward my husband. He many times did not notice the many sacrifices I made to serve him in some way I thought he would appreciate. However, because I got my sense of self worth from serving and doing, all of that “doing” and “serving” others left me almost zero energy for giving and serving my husband sexually. When he would try to bring it up, gently and lovingly, I would get angry and resentful, because I felt he was one more person “sucking me dry” by asking for yet another thing that I just didn’t have the energy to give.

    The times that I set aside my own desire and “let” him pursue sex, I did eventually relax enough to enjoy it, but I would never actually want to have sex on my own, or if I did, I was too lazy to pursue it, because going to sleep was easier than actually making an attempt to start things.

    Anyway, enough about my story. I just wanted you to see that I have been at the exact same place as George’s wife. I think George is doing an awesome job of being caring and thoughtful, and having him become uncaring and unthoughtful (or demanding) is not likely to have the kind of effect he would hope for. It may, however, wake his wife up, but possibly at the expense of his marriage. My husband chose the route of becoming uncaring and unthoughtful, and it did eventually wake me up, but it also greatly endangered our marriage and also caused some serious problems with our children. If I hadn’t been extremely committed to staying married and if I hadn’t had numerous friends who were willing to pray for us, I’m fairly certain we would be divorced now. There were many, many times I was within 10 seconds of packing up and leaving. So, I don’t recommend that route.

    What made the biggest difference for us, in the long run, was that I began to realize that my husband wasn’t the big, selfish “jerk” I thought he was, just because he wanted to have sex on a regular basis. I give 100% credit to God for the change that saved our marriage. On a practical level, though, it came down to the fact that I didn’t really believe my husband loved me like he said he did. Despite all of his selfless service to me, I always felt he was doing it either because (a) he wanted to anyway or (b) he was trying to manipulate me into doing something he wanted (like have sex, for example). Because of that, I either didn’t recognize the basis of his caring acts, or I assumed they had a completely selfish basis and I resented him. Resentment turned to bitterness turned to hatred turned to almost divorcing him. Not good.

    So what can you do? You can’t fix your wife. You can pray for her. You probably can’t serve your way into making her stop being selfish and lazy when it comes to sex. What you can do, though, that I haven’t seen mentioned here, is you can ask her to set aside a half hour of time to talk with you about “the future of your marriage.” I highly recommend you do this in a coffee shop or park or someplace where your children will not be around, and where cell phones can be turned off. Make it clear to her that this is very important to your marriage. If she is unwilling to set aside 30 minutes, then you may want to consider asking her if the marriage is important to her. I(f it isn’t, you may have a different problem on your hands entirely.) It is extremely important that you speak gently, without an accusing or angry tone, but that you also make it clear that you won’t be “wasting her time” by talking about unimportant things.

    Once you have your wife alone, in a place where you will not be interrupted, start by confirming your relationship. You can say something like this: “Honey, you are so important to me and I want us to have a really great marriage.”

    Then, being careful not to make any accusations or any attempt to imply blame toward her, acknowledge your own failure. (NOTE: YOU ARE NOT FAILING! You are doing the right things, but she’s not seeing it, so in that sense, you are failing to connect with her in a way she can see.) You can say something like this: “I feel like I’m not doing a good job of showing you just how much I love you.”

    Reconfirm the relationship: “I really want us to have a great marriage…”

    State the problem: “…but I feel like there is always room for improvement.”

    ASK HER for the solution to the problem: “I’d like to know if you can think of anything I can do to improve our marriage?”

    If she’s like me, she probably won’t know what to say at this point. She may know exactly what she wants, but she may not be willing to say it, because she’s been hurt or disappointed in that particular area too many times in the past to be willing to risk it. Or, she may really have no idea what she wants. Either way, you asked, and that is the important part.

    From there, I would recommend an apology: “Honey, I know there have been times that I have not been able to communicate my love to you, and I’m sorry for that. Please forgive me for the times I’ve made you feel unloved.”

    Here is the important part: ASK HER what you can do to demonstrate your love for her. “I want to know if there is anything I can do to show you I love you?”

    Chances are, she may not have an answer for you, or she may try to push you off by saying you are doing just fine and she knows you love her. Don’t let that stop you. Ask her to think about it: “Would you be willing to give this some thought? Would you be willing to take some time and maybe write a list for me?”

    Remind her that this is really important for the future of your marriage: “This is really important to me. I want us to have a great marriage, so I really want to know what kinds of things help you to feel loved.”

    If you’re brave, you can also ask her to tell you what she thinks you are doing wrong. In fact, if she is not offering suggestions for improvement at this point, you probably should ask her if she can also think about giving you a couple of ideas about what you are doing wrong.

    (Sorry, I’m a bit longwinded.)

    And a few last thoughts: First, don’t give her a list unless she specifically asks for one, and if she does, make sure your list is very positive and mostly includes things she already does for you, that you’d like her to do more of. Now is NOT the time to ask for more sex. Secondly, don’t assume the list she gives you will be accurate. She may not really know what she wants. What it will do for you, however, is give you some idea of what she *thinks* she wants, and also it should give you some idea of how she perceives love. For example, if “bring me flowers” is on the list, then she may be more of a romantic than you realized. If “take out the garbage” is on the list, then she may be resenting you for not doing something she thinks is your job, for example. ” The Five Love Languages book (by Gary Chapman, I think) may help you identify if you are just not speaking her love language, based on her response.

    If you try doing the things on her list and you aren’t getting any additional warmth from her, then I’d recommend you go back and ask again if there is something you are doing that is making her feel unloved. Often, the thing that is making her feel unloved will also give you a clue to what would make her feel loved.

    I’m NOT saying that you aren’t trying hard enough or that you’re not being nice enough. I just know that when my husband started asking me these kinds of questions, it really made me stop and think about what I really did want out of the relationship. And when he was vulnerable enough to ask me what he was doing that made me feel unloved, I not only had to think about that (and actually tell him what was bothering me), but it also made me feel like he really did truly care about me, for real. That was when the iceberg began to melt, for me. And since he had also become something of a hard rock, too, because of his own hurt feelings, when I began to ask him these kinds of questions, he also began to melt. Our marriage is much much better than it was, and these types of questions helped to open up lines of communication that had never been there before, or were so firmly closed that even we didn’t notice they were missing.

    • That is such a wonderful comment! I think I’m going to have to turn the whole thing into a blog post.

      Where I think you really hit the nail on the head is that many of us women DON’T KNOW what we want. We have this vague feeling that something’s wrong, but we can’t put our finger on what it is. It’s like when a man says, “what can I do to get you more in the mood?” We shoot out with a few answers, but when he does those things, it doesn’t work.

      The problem is that we have to see the relationship–and sex–in a whole different way. I think keeping demonstrating love like you said, and talking seriously about the marriage, is a great idea. And men need to realize that often women don’t know what we want. It’s really that we’re craving intimacy, but we don’t understand that.

      Thanks for this comment!

  33. After having only one ovary removed at age 27 I had major changes in my sex drive. I had other symptoms as well, depression, weight gain, mood swings, excessive fatigue, and many more. Well due to my young age and ignorant medical providers I suffered as did my marriage for five years until I finally saw a practitioner that tested my hormones. My levels were so low I was post menopausal! I also was hypothyroid. After a year of adjusting my thyroid med and Bioidentical hormones Im feeling great! Almost all of my symptoms have disappeared and that includes my non existent libido! Please encourage your wife to get her hormones checked and make sure its by someone that specializes in hormones!

  34. So much of this is helpful, but I still feel lost. I’ve been looking for a long time to try and figure this out, I’m gonna spend more time reading through responses, but wanted to share my own struggles as they are so big to me right now.

    My wife and I have been married for 4 1/2 years and we have our first baby on the way, due march 8th (hooray!) Overall we are happy, there is financial stress, and things are never easy, but we love each other and enjoy each other for the most part. I don’t really feel she is that selfish, but she has no interest in sex whatsoever.

    We’ve been to counseling, talked to people, and no one seems to get it. We’ve literally had sex less than 10 times in our entire marriage. We didn’t have actual sex until this year, which is when we got pregnant. She doesn’t even seem to enjoy kissing me (refuses to kiss open mouth cuz it’s gross). How’s a guy supposed to feel about himself living with that knowledge?

    I know I’m not perfect and I can definitely do better, but I just don’t know what to do. I love her, I tell her she’s beautiful, I hang love notes from the ceiling telling her all the things I love about her, I start her car in the cold mornings, I make dinner, I do most of the housework (she works with 2 year olds and gets pretty tired) but whenever I approach her or ask it’s always “maybe” which is always no.

    I understand she’s pregnant and that has an affect, but this has always been the way it was, she is just never turned on by anything I do. I feel completely emasculated almost all the time, and have to give myself over to God all the time, but I still feel like a failure almost every day of my wife because of my complete inability to satisfy my wife. I am so worried, because with a child on the way, I think it’s just going to get worse, I don’t want my son to see us like this, I want so bad to enjoy a physical relationship with my wife.

    I guess if nothing else, I appreciate prayer from anyone who reads this. Maybe someday I can regain hope that anything will ever change.

    • Adam, I am so sorry, and this is truly not the way that marriage is supposed to be. I have written a post on what to do if your spouse withholds sex; it’s right here.

      I’m going to say something which may sound radical, and perhaps this isn’t the right message to give, but I feel strongly that I’m supposed to write this.

      I’ve just finished reading a whole bunch of books on porn that I’ve been reviewing for the site, and I see similarities in the two problems. Both have similar roots: they are denying a central part of the intimacy that God designed us for. Porn users deny it by making sex into something selfish; your wife denies it by running away from it. And sex is supposed to be about communion between two people; when we withhold sex, we really reject that communion and choose to live a self-focused life–even if we’re looking after babies, or working hard for the family, or whatever. We’re essentially focused on OUR feelings, not on the marriage.

      So both extremes are harmful. Both extremes kill a marriage and kill intimacy. Both extremes steal true intimacy from each other, but also steal that intimacy that we’re supposed to have with God. You cannot be married and have true passion for God while at the same time denying your spouse sex. There is a passion in your life that you are denying.

      What I have read, and what I have preached again and again on this blog, is that you cannot find wholeness from porn alone. As Christians we need community; porn is a tearing apart of communion and relying on self; that must be broken. I think the same is true in your wife’s case.

      I believe that you simply must at some point take this to a Christian counselor or to some friends who will come alongside you and even do an intervention. What she is doing will not only hurt you; it hurts HER and it will hurt her child. SHE should not be living like this. SHE is missing out on what God has for her. SHE needs more communion with God.

      So an intervention is not only “because you want sex”; it’s because SHE is missing something spiritually, too. And she needs to be made whole. She is not whole. And when someone we love is not whole, we don’t sit back and do nothing about it.

      Now is likely not the time; she’s pregnant, after all. But I do think at some point you will need to force some kind of an intervention. Perhaps now would be the time to get a few key, well thought out people around you. Don’t tell everyone, or even many; but find a handful who can support you but who can also support and help her.

      I really feel like that was the message I was supposed to give you. I hope and trust it was.

      And I will certainly say a prayer for you and for her.

  35. Well I am actually in the same boat only I’m the wife. My husband doesn’t pull away from me when I’m affectionate but when it comes to sex he is weird we have a great marriage other than that so I TOTALLY know how frustrated he must be! I am so lonely and always wonder what is wrong with me but finally realized it is his issue not mine…I pray for him and ask God to restore that area in his mind that is all I know to do any more we have been to a dr and counseled a little on it so I’m running out of ideas good luck frustrated husband I know so deeply the pain you have

  36. The husband wrote that he and his wife were active in church. Maybe he could have some of the women from the church speak to his wife, or they could get counseling from the pastor and pastor’s wife. When I hear a woman say her friends”only have sex with their husbands once a month and the guys don’t complain” I want to know how many of those husbands are looking for sex elsewhere. I wish the book “Total Woman” was still in print. I read that when I married my 1st husband; sex (or lack of) was not a problem in our marriage- he just got wrapped up in being native American and I couldn’t live that kind of life.

  37. Leila3000 says:

    Silly, silly women. I get what this man is saying. I am a woman whose husband wants to make love MAYBE once a month. Take your husband’s drive and desire for you as a good thing. There are those of us out there who have husbands who never want it. Stop making it seem so hard or academic. You are ruining a good thing.

  38. A Happy Hubby says:


    I use that quote of, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result” almost opposite of how you are using it. There comes a point where a husband that is trying his best to do all the things you mention and no love is coming back in return, then another strategy is needed – such as the “man up” suggestions mentioned earlier in the comments.

  39. fred bear says:

    sometimes i feel immature im a simple male, i gauge my relationship with my wife on the amount of sex i get. i help a lot around the house i get no sex, i dont help i still get no sex. my wife just wants me to be the provider and grinds me every day i get no joy or a kind word nor a cuddle or a kiss and quite frankly i am sick of it i now sleep in a separate bed. sex has stopped she didnt have sex on the days when any relative died fathers day mothers day now i just give up and she just ignores me unless she has a chore for me to do. i am critisized on everything that i do.

  40. I am a Christian guy in this situation, and it is unbelievably painful. I am sure a non-Christian would have divorced my wife long ago, but I can’t do that, and the fact is I love her in spite of this pain. You can’t believe how hard it is with a wife who won’t even let you touch her, and temptation all around. I wait year after year for God to change something, and it never happens.

  41. Believe me Jim, God does not seem to intervene. I’ve been in described situtation for years and I’ve been praying for this countless number of times – nothing has changed. As I see, this is common. I’m tired of advices and advisors. Many people say that I have to change myself but this is not possible, sexuality is part of me and this is not what I am able to change. My wife is honest and tells me that she has (almost) no need for sex and in this situation it seems to me weird to go to her and as for sex. Situation is complicated as I’m a Christian and I’m only 36. Don’t want my soul to perish for this, neither would I like to continue in this situation. Still thinking about what to do, but I have lost hope that God might help me in this :( Sorry to say that.

    • Yes, it is a total Catch-22 situation. You try to be a faithful Christian and you don’t engage in any sort of extra-marital relationships–you don’t even let your eyes stray, and then you get cut off at the knees at home and get totally denied with no remedy. And the church can and will do absolutely nothing. What I wouldn’t give for our pastor to give a stern sermon from the pulpit one day about the duty of Christian married couples to be physically intimate with one another, but you know it is never going to happen.

      And yes, I have tried to “change myself,” in terms of always trying to be a better husband. And yet my wife has me trapped, like being stuck underneath one of those glass bell jars. What makes no sense to me is I would hope there are women who would like a husband who would be faithful to them and who *wants* to share physical intimacy with them, rather than looking elsewhere. But it’s almost like I would have to go out and cheat on my wife to get her to pay any attention. But I honestly can’t do that–I don’t think I could possibly go through with it.

      • I stumbled upon this post and honestly I’m not at all surprised the comments are still going from a year ago. Unfortunately, I have been that woman–never in the mood. It’s very frustrating for my husband, and that makes me sad and frustrated that I can’t just flip a switch and be in the mood. He seems to think it is that easy. Things have gotten a little better for us, but every now and then we get in a funk and it’s hard to break that cycle again. The worse possible thing a man can do is blow up at your wife for this. We’ve had that happen far too many times and it doesn’t help anything–at all. Throwing 1 Cor. 7 in your wife’s face doesn’t help either. The best advice I have is to pray, and be patient. God doesn’t allow things to happen without a reason. There is something in both the male and female God is working on. I know for me, one night we fought about this subject and I was crying out to God, praying, asking why… In my talking to God, I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it was something being MY body and why do I have such a hard time giving it to my husband or something like that. And God came back with this…Jesus sacrificed to his death. He gave up his body to the full. He was beaten and tortured. Brutally. All I (God) am asking you to do, is lay down the right to your body for your husband. And that’s actually a good thing, when done properly. And in light of that, I couldn’t say anything else. And I try to remember that, when my husband does make an advance. I still can’t explain why it’s so hard to be in the mood sometimes. There’s a LOT of factors that go into it, but just pray for her and yourself, be patient, and don’t put pressure on her. Just be true to your vows and love her unconditionally and wait on the LORD.

      • Jim said: “And the church can and will do absolutely nothing.”

        Perhaps. But have you tried? The Bible does have guidance about what you should do when another person is actively sinning against you. Read Matthew 18:15-17.

        First, you should clearly express to your wife that she’s neglecting her husband and her marriage. Remember that you are the “pastor” of your house, and if there’s something your wife needs to hear she should hear it lovingly but clearly from you.

        If that doesn’t work, you need to find one or two fellow Christians, preferably an older married couple, and confront her with her unfaithfulness. Again, lovingly but clearly. By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word might be established. If she still refuses to repent you need to talk to the elders of your church.

        I don’t know whether your church practices actual, Biblical church discipline or is more of a “sing and shake hands on Sunday” affair. If the church you’re attending won’t discipline members who are in open rebellion against God, you should think about a different church.

        But first, why not give both your wife and your church the opportunity to do the right thing?

  42. I also wanted to share these two broadcasts. They are worth listening to. There was one thing in them that really stood out to me, about how she found that women who had been sexually active with their husbands before marriage were more likely to have this problem, basically saying that the woman deep down distrusted him, because he had not respected her in that respect. She also suggests if this is your case, to consider confessing that to God and your wife, repenting and asking for forgiveness. Just something to consider …

    • Spent a lot of time reading all of these responses and can really relate to the husbands who feel like they’re trying really hard, but just not feeling a ton of reciprocation. I’m replying to this particular comment because I suspect this one is at the root of our problems. We did not have intercourse before marriage, but did go way too far, and I can own that it was at my initiative. I’ve repented and apologized on many occasions, but the wound and distrust never seem to really fully heal (it’s been over 25 years).

      I will say that compared to some of the men here, I’m sure that I don’t do as well in my efforts. For one thing, I have a temper that flares and I know I’ve hurt my wife with my tone; in that same vein, she says I come across as condescending. I have gone to counseling (with and without her) to try to work on these issues, and I think we’d agree that there’s been measurable improvement — just not enough to close the intimacy gap. On the positive side, I frequently tell my wife I love her, do much of the cooking and nearly all of the housework. I’ve written notes, brought home flowers and other small love gifts. But while she says she is not disinterested in sex, I’d never know it from her actions, and she doesn’t respond well to my wanting to hold her hand or touch her in just about any way. She wants me to ask permission any time I touch her (which I’m doing), and fears that my need for touch and desire for sex will be a bottomless pit that can never be filled (which could be true…). For those who are love language devotees, you’ve probably already inferred that her strongest desire is for quality time — and that seems to be my hardest to deliver consistently. I should add that she is menopausal (due to surgery), so intercourse can be painful and her sex drive is not very strong; hormone therapy is a scary thing for her, given a family history of aneurisms and blood clots in the brain, as well as headaches back in her birth control days. I’d be very happy for a non-intercourse sexual relationship, but that doesn’t seem to be an option. I’d guess that we’ve had one such interaction in the past two months. We barely kiss. You get the idea.

      I try to allow the feelings of loneliness and rejection to drive me to the Lord, seeking the love that will not fail, finding acceptance for my rejection and companionship in my loneliness. As a long-time Christian and pastor, one might expect that I’d meet with a greater sense of satisfaction and peace than I have thus far. But I still find myself pretty discouraged. To end on a more positive note, we’ve raised great children who are now young adults who love Jesus and are committed to serving him wholeheartedly. Our ministry life has been full and fruitful, and we enjoy reading together, playing board games, and eating out together. For all of this, I am grateful to God and to her. I know others have it far, far worse.

  43. I feel like this may be a site where I can get a balanced, Christian perspective instead of a standard line response. My husband and I have been married for just over a year and a half. We have very different sexual histories. I have some sexual molestation and a long history of promiscuity. He was a physical virgin but a long history of internet porn use. Sex was great for the first week after we were married – possibly because it was just the two of us. I have a son so we started out being married with a child. Shortly after we were married, I was not very responsive to his advances. I asked him for a break from initiating sex. He was very upset. Later, we found out I was pregnant. I had a miscarriage in the first trimester. We got to a point where we tried to schedule sex at least twice a week. That improved the frequency of our sex life but not necessarily my desire for sex. Currently, I am 8 months pregnant. I really don’t want to have sex or the pressure to have sex. But I also don’t want to not want to. I proposed a break for us to not have sex so God could weed out whatever is not from Him. My husband continues to struggle with porn and I found myself indulging in it and having an increasing desire for more and more perversion: watching porn together, considering a one night stand. I knew that this path was unhealthy. My desire is to grow closer to God and have a healthy sex life. My husband doesn’t believe sexual abstinence in marriage can produce purity.

    We are dealing with other complicating issues: he has an extremely low self image which manifests in anxiety, depression and anger. There has been a lot of growth but it’s still a struggle. I am not always loving or patient or kind. I struggle with treating him respectfully at times because of his low self confidence.

    He is currently unemployed which adds to his depression and makes him feel like less of a man. I do not think less of him for that but I do have trouble with his attitude about it.

    We love each other and have some very good days but this is definitely a serious issue. If anyone reads this, especially the blog author, I’d appreciate any thoughts.

  44. My wife was a great lover before we met. She’s told me stories about having sex at hockey games, or positions she’ll never try again with me, her husband. When we dated, I never felt so desired. The sex was great.
    Now she’s tired. Simply too tired for me at 10 PM, but not too tired to be out every now and then past 2 AM partying with our friends?

    I don’t like talking about myself, but to say I’m a good husband is an understatement, albeit a purposeful one on my part; I make it a point to be the best husband I can and to work harder for it than I know is probably needed. I WANT her to be spoiled. I don’t do EVERYTHING, but I do most of the chores, I cook (I love cooking), pay most of the bills, bought her a new car (she’d never had one), listen to her purposely, spend time with her every day purposely, got rid of my art studio to spend more time with her…and the sex has gotten LESS the more I meet her needs.

    A lot less, in fact, despite her needs being met in abundance.

    I kiss her, write her notes; I make a very deliberate effort to show her every day in new ways that I love her emotionally, mentally, and physically.

    She needs me to hug her, hold her hands, that sort of thing. I love all that stuff, actually. Foot rubs, kissing her neck, it’s all good. It’s tricky—-if I ever don’t do something like that, for whatever reason, she pulls back. She NEEDS touch, I get that, but with now a total absence of sexual touch?

    I don’t feel wanted at all. It’s awful. I don’t know at what point it’s ok for me to feel used? Other women, her friends, THINK our marriage is the best possible marriage, and perhaps on her end it is. She likes sex when we have it, she does orgasm, sometimes multiple times, and she’s said that it doesn’t hurt just so that’s clear. She initiated it a few times, including the first time we were together. It was magic. It inspired me to do some of the greatest things I’ve ever done in my life.

    Now? Never. Not at all. She simply never initiates it. A few times it’s felt like a pity-HJ just to sate me I guess? And she thinks I want it too much, like I’m just being selfish I think—–when I say it’s been a month, she says no it hasn’t, and the truth is it doesn’t matter because it just hurts that she doesn’t want me the way she once wanted me and her exes. I can’t stop thinking about all the lingere she owns that she’s worn for other men, never for me, and I love lingere. I’ve seen her in it twice. She doesn’t have body issues, sleeps naked. We don’t want babies and she can’t have babies—-she had cervical cancer, no more periods as a result, however note that, for the record, she had relationships since then, now including me, and sex was WANTED, not just good and frequent enough.

    I feel like sex is the singular greatest thing we can do as humans—-when two people are in love, sex is the ultimate inspiration and a perfect expression of love.

    And I’m not feeling it. At all.

    She’s happy, for the record, almost to a fault. Like, I don’t know if I make her TOO happy and hide my needs for the sex she once gave me and other men she keeps jewelry for who aren’t paying the bills, rubbing her feet and making her happy every day WITHOUT holding it against her as much as possible. But at some point, how can I not, even when I purposely don’t mean to?

    A few days after Mother’s Day (I made bacon-wrapped lobster tails and hand-made crabcakes, cleaned EVERYTHING, let her sleep past noon, perfect card, and her favorite flowers) I had a wet dream. Not only was it embarassing, it made me relentlessly sad and I haven’t been able to really get past it since—-I feel like I’ve mostly been hiding how important sex is to me, and that makes me feel like I’m not being honest with my wife….but when I bring it up, she tries to fight. She takes it as only a personal attack, and don’t I understand she’s tired, etc. but she hasn’t tried anything.

    I feel like I SHOULD be able to talk to her about this, and I guess we have but it ends up bad. But why can’t we talk about this? Why aren’t we best friends anymore despite her being perfectly happy the way things are now, even moreso than they were before because I listened to more of her needs and adapted to meet them?

    I consider love to be equal parts physical, mental, and spiritual. Those needs are being met for her (just trust me for the sake of the next question), but at what point of my NEEDS not being met and me feeling so alone and used should I take action and decide, God forbid, this isn’t the right person for me to be married to? When I try to talk to her about it she just tells me to relax, brushes it off. I dont’ know how many days/weeks/months I can go in a row of not talking to her about it. To date, she hasn’t looked at anything or spoken to anyone about it. She hasn’t tried. That’s the worst part, in spite of me believing she does love me it’s like she doesn’t realize her half of the relationship requires SOME effort.

    • Michael says:

      I found this blog post and comments while trying to figure out similar issues with my own wife.

      Our sex life has always been dictated by my wife’s needs and opinions, something which has caused me immense frustration and hurt during the 20 years of our marriage.

      My wife has always been happy to be pleasured in sex, however, the only times she initiated sex was when she wanted to get pregnant with our two children. They are now 16 and 12 years of age.

      After the first fourteen years of being barely touched enough to arouse me and having the announcement “I am finished so you can finish now” as her final comment during sex, I became resentful to the point of raising what I felt was her selfish attitude and asking why she felt fine expecting so much but giving so little pleasure in return.

      I expected a moment of awareness and a heartfelt apology. Instead, after fourteen years of marriage, working hard to bring home an income and also working to improve our home, of being an active husband and father, I was told that I had brought lust into our marriage by asking her to reciprocate.

      This accusation was leveled after my wife had discussed our sex life with her prayer cell friends. My wife chose to disregard their opinions when they advised her she was there to satisfy my sexual needs as part of her marriage vows. One of them told me she had spoken to them and what they had said as they were deeply concerned by her attitude.

      This accusation devastated me emotionally and sex since that point has been a rudimentary act during which I hear the same accusation over and over in my mind. This has led to my having erectile problems during sex at times. I feel like a fool for staying with her but am bound by my marriage bonds under God.

      My wife moved out of the bedroom eighteen months past which has left me feeling increasingly lonely; yes, I have told here but there is little response.

      The current situation is that if my wife wants sex, about once per month, then it happens and is over as quickly as she can get to her orgasm. Otherwise, I apparently have no sexual needs that she cares to satisfy.

      We barely communicate and when we do it usually ends in an argument. Affection is sparse just like sex; I used to refer to sex as love making but I feel there is little love left in the act now.

    • His low self esteem comes from you not wanting him sexually.

  45. Sundevilff says:

    It’s a tough subject. I have been married 17 years and still have to work to figure my bride out. I have been admittedly blind and selfish many times in this regard. I have a great relationship with my wife. I really do. I adore her. Enjoy being with her. The only aspect where I think we really struggle is sexually.

    I would honestly say we average 2x per month. Mostly on her terms. I really have gotten to the point of not asking due to that humiliating feeling of rejection. Silly right? A girl I adore and have a deep connection with gives me that feeling.

    We have discussed many times. Recently she suggested scheduling it. Frequency? Same. She suggests a scheduled night and sometimes it works out great. A week later I try to do a creative romantic schedule suggestion and her reply is always the same…maybe. Or worse, “sure” and the time comes up…”not tonight”.

    The truth be known…there’s a part of me that has given up. Not good I know. But I am out of things to say to address the issue. I am by no means perfect, but I know I pull my weight in our partnership. Just praying a lot and waiting to see a change in the bedroom. Who knows.

    • Sundervilff you’ve really nailed it. I’ve been with my wife 24 years. 2x/month is exactly right (and that’s an average, which means feast or famine some months.) There is little to no romance anymore, which is not to say there is no love, friendship or mutual respect. She likes sex. It feels good. But in contrast to my view of the act as a bonding, meaningful expression of love and devotion, to her it’s “just sex.” She doesn’t understand all the anger and hurt that comes from rejection. It isn’t personal to her. She’s not trying to hurt my feelings. She’s just not into it all the time. I hit all the bases emotionally trying to understand her point of view over the years but I’ve finally come around. Or at least I’ve accepted that there is no changing her view, just as she can’t change mine. But the problem is, and I don’t think many women really ever understand this, is that after a while all that rejection builds up and to protect ourselves we, by default, have to lose interest in sex ourselves or go mad. So, sports takes on greater meaning, as does a drink with the boys at the bar, or a book or newspaper, maybe gardening. One doesn’t have to actually approach another to feel rejected. After a while it’s just there. And of course women criticize us for being wusses or unmanly in that. “We are men. We should be able to handle rejection indefinitely.”

      I love my wife. And overall we have a good relationship. But to be honest, it’s amazing how interest in a spouse wanes once sex is off the table.

      • A Happy Hubby says:

        Duane and Sundevilff,

        I agree with both of you as I am in about the same situation (27 years).

        After decades of reading and trying to implement every suggestion I read and pleading to go to counseling I had no emotional energy left. I felt if I kept pouring more energy into trying I was going to fall into depression again. I read more than one place that for a gatekeeper to be woken up the only thing might be a threat of divorce. The thought abhorred me, but I decided to at least think about that. I took it very seriously, but concluded after about 3 weeks of intense deliberation that I really couldn’t do that to my kids. So I had one final talk with her and I told her everything I felt about our relationship and I was done pushing her (and even that I had read that women that used to be gatekeepers that divorce was the only wakeup call, but I couldn’t do that). She basically said, “I certainly am not going to change.” That was about a year ago. And as Duane mentioned, it sure was quickly that my overall interest in my wife plummeted. Even though we occasionally have lame sex, I feel like my relationship is more with a sister, not a wife. What I am shocked about is the fact I don’t seem to care anymore.

  46. Jeff Smith says:

    I found this site and thread by the search term, “given up on sex with wife”.

    This is kinda the end of the road I suppose. Over the last 5 years or so I’ve gone from searching for ways to win back my wife’s physical affection to now finding out ways to rationalize the reality that’s it’s likely never coming back.

    I’ve given a lot of thought about what to express here. I find common themes in every man that’s posted for the last 6 months of this year, so I’m not going to repeat the problems and trials that several have already so elequently stated. Michael, Duane, Happy Hubby, Sundevillf, I hope you are still checking back her because I related to each of you. I especially like the remark equating bedroom encounters to a space shuttle launch – wish I’d thought of that. And lately I regret that my wife seems to be a cross between my sister and a composite of two or three of the worst bosses I’ve ever had.

    What I will offer is that I’ve thought that my wife being the main breadwinner was our main problem for at least a decade. But after at least 5 years reading and hearing of men that bring home the bacon in spades to stay-at-home wives/moms, yet still experience a gross lack of affection from their wives I’ve more or less disabused myself of the notion that this is mainly an income distribution problem. Besides, I’m college educated and have become an irreplaceable cog in our family business…..although I doubt I can tolerate that position much longer.

    I’ve always thought, and as a Christian, still believe, that a man and a women become one when they are married. I’ve told my wife before, in a joking manner, that I need her to have sex – I can’t have it by myself and don’t want it with anyone else. These type of approaches used to be fairly effective, but as she’s reached menopause and our kids have gotten older she simply shrugs them off because she is tired, has a headache, or is mad at me for any number of reasons. It is a fact that she’s not physically able to ‘hop in the sack anytime’ as she used to be, but during the course of a month there are still numerous opportunities for us to get together……she just doesn’t seem to care, and now the last few times I’ve tried she’s pretty much a dead fish, or tells me ‘hands off’ like I’m some kind of intruder. So I’ve stopped trying because each time she rejects me it hurts worse than it did the last time and takes me even longer to correct myself out of the tail-spin that her rejections seem to put me into.

    We still seem to have good and better than civil conversations most of the time. I think the kids keep us united more than anything right now. She believes that I don’t care about our future and how we don’t have enough money saved for the retirement that we hope for in another 10 to 15 years. When I point out that we’ll have enough to put our kids through college and pay our bills it’s not good enough. She says I get mad when she wants to talk about the future. I tell her that everytime she talks about our future she dumps all over our past by saying what we haven’t been productive up to now. While I do take offense at her over this I must state I’ve rarely ever yelled at my wife…voice inflection, yes, but never shouting and/or cursing, and wouldn’t think of hurting her.

    So as far as I’m concerned there is no ‘us’. There’s only ‘her’, and ‘me’. The last few times my wife and I have attempted to talk about ‘us’ I ended up telling her that’s she’s cold and mean, that she’s not a warm person, at least not towards me anymore. Throughout our marriage of nearly two decades she’s rarely initiated physical contact and now she never does, maybe one time out of 20 (never in the bedroom) and only if I happen to be standing right in front of her as she comes through a door.

    Our problems seem to be circular in nature – she can’t love me physically because her ‘needs’ aren’t being met, and by implication I suppose I haven’t met her needs for the better part of 20 years and am less inclined to do so now because I get zero physical affection from her. What makes it even tougher is that her ‘needs’ are fairly nebulous and it’s uncertain if we’ll ever attain the kind of financial security she desires.

    I’ve rambled on far longer than I planned. I find my wife more physically attractive than ever but it’s a curse living with her. I’ve prayed to God to make me a less physical creature and to make me more spiritually minded. It works for a couple of days. I can’t imagine cheating on her, but sometimes wonder what I would do if an opportunity presented itself. I don’t deserve the way I’m treated. If marriage unites a man and women to be ‘one flesh’ than she is wrong and indeed sinning herself. After years of listening, I find all of the advice, biblical and otherwise, about men and women trying to meet each other half-way and understand each other to be so much nonsense. It takes two to tango – my wife isn’t interested in listening to seminar advice about couples being true partners because in her mind she doesn’t have a problem….I’m the problem.

    So in the end I’m not looking for advice; I’m simply commiserating. I suppose misery loves company. I get along from day to day and week to week not having made love to my wife for several months and with no respite in sight….sigh….I’m desperately trying to cope with the reality that it seems certain that a time of my life that I greatly enjoyed and wish to extend is ending. I’ll have to find hobbies to keep me busy and try to be more heavenly minded thinking of Godly things. I’m beginning to understand why throughout history some men became monks….and I suppose some still do.

    Best of luck to all you gentlemen in your relationships, marriages, and endeavors. May God be with you all.

    • A Happy Hubby says:


      So sorry to hear where you are at. My heart aches for you. I am not in a sexless marriage (although my marriage has had a few spells where it was). But it certainly is nowhere near what I would want it to be. As I have said I have resigned myself to this situation after 27 years of no success attempting to fix it. I think my wife’s mental issues are blocking her and she is unwilling to even confront those.

      I often use humor to cope in life. This may not come off as funny now and I am not trying to wife bash, but I recalled what Socrates said, “By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.” I also recall that he wasn’t that upset to die. Sorry if my odd sense of humor isn’t found funny.

      • Jeff Smith says:

        Happy Hubby,

        I appreciate your comments. I have found it helpful to adopt a similar type of gallows humor in order to cope with difficult situations in general. This one takes the cake. It seems that after my wife and I are able to string several weeks of friendly interaction that my guard naturally drops and I make an advance to share physical affection. Alas, my latest attempt met with the same, now typical, cold refusal, and without even the least explanation as to why.

        A few years back I used to tell my wife, in a somewhat joking manner, that her rejection would eventually turn me off permanently. Well, I’ve definitely reached that point. It seems there’s nothing I can do, no favors, politeness, caring, chore, etc….nothing I can do to elevate my own status in her eyes so that she will once again make love to me. I’ve become nothing more than some strange type of friendly butler to my wife. Some times I think it likely that she’s having an affair, although I can’t figure out how or with who.

        So there it is, I guess. Not much more to say. I’m devoted to raising my kids; that’s what keeps me going. I’ll do my best to get my kids off to college before I jetison myself from this marriage….if that indeed is our destiny. I haven’t done anything to hurt my wife – no physical or verbal abuse, no cheating, no perversion or drug/alcohol abuse of any kind. I attend church with my family every Sunday and watch my wife reverently praying and singing and praying to “Jesus”……sometimes it disgusts me and sometimes it almost makes me laugh…acting like such a Christian yet mistreating her husband the way she does. Makes me wish I could move to another state – tomorrow.

        I do find that I’ve had to become philosophical about life in general. I’m not the only one trudging through life everyday whilst being miserable yet trying to put up a facade of happiness and general content. I don’t find the appeal of death strange at all; I’m very confident and at peace that Jesus is my savior and I’ll spend eternity with him. Yet I have a teenage memory of my Father secretly announcing to me that he wanted to divorce my mother. Of course I told him I understood but hoped he wouldn’t. Well, he didn’t – he toughed it out. In fact he stayed with my mom for another 20 years until she died. My dad is now in his 80s and the fact that I still have my dad to talk to is an immeasurable comfort to me. So through all my discouragement I figure I have to find a way to hang in there for my children, because me dad hung in there for me.

        Thanks for your comments and kind words. I found them to be wise, pithy, and instructive. God Bless you and have a good day.

  47. i am a christian man and me and my sex life is almost non exist i try to tell her that when we are alone and the kids are at school thats a good time but she is always on the computer or to tired or not interested for anything and sometimes i reminded her that the kids are asleep and the doors locked nows a good time but she just rolls over cold shoulder and all help i dont know what to do,used to when we were a new couple before kids we were rabbitts now more like good with my labido but she is blaming everything on her non exist drive like kids and stuff i understand the kids thing but she sits all day on the computer and does nothing while im out working all day.i feel like im being neglected here.

  48. broken record says:

    Sounds all the same, same story and same outcome. My wife lacks the love I would like to have. I have done everything as the men above, and still receive rejection, 17 years…dont really care to even want to talk w/her about it. One difference is my wife has depression. The meds help her w/her day to day, but really doesn’t change her w/my needs. I’ve done the alpha thing, i try to be very positive to her needs, and yet she can still be negative. Our kids can see her anger, and i try to set it straight to keep her calm. I even pray to god, and ask him to make her love me more! Still nothing, cant talk about it, get the ohh maybe later bs! Geeeeezzz . I am crazy in love w/my wife, and i know she has her issues w/depression, but friends and her church groups dont make a difference! I’m tired of peopleand there first world bs! For allthe lonely guys/gals, maybe we should meet up and have some fun together! Lol! I don’t see a clear answer and so as i continue to wait for my wife i will do my damndess to take care of myself ! I just dont know if i will wait for my wife to join in. I want to be happy! So again i will pray to god, just wish i could get a direct answer. Good luck!

  49. Ifhedjustlisten says:

    From what I read…the problem was listed right there for all to see…”the wife is always tired, …the kids…, …grumpy…., …always an excuse”. Has anyone ever considered that those are legitimate reasons and not excuses?
    When was the last time this guy helped his wife clean the house, cook dinner, do laundry, run errands, shopping, groceries, doing dishes, being a taxi, fixed what needed fixing, took care of the children-fed them, bathed them, did schoolwork with them, put them to bed when they don’t want to go?
    We as women are lucky if we find and marry a man who is willing to share the duties of the family, most men, including my husband feel that they go to work, earn a paycheck – so BAMM they are done with their half of the fatherhood and marital responsibilities. That in itself sets up a whole other set of boundary issues, because children are not stupid, they learn quickly which parent will take care of their needs the most efficiently and will make them feel better at the same time. Children know when they have a dad or mom who has checked out of the family dynamic and has chosen work (yes I said chosen) their work over their family. These are parents who think that because they are home that this somehow means that they are with their family, but the truth is – the parents that come home and can’t switch off the work mind to the family mind – they are the parent who usually come home, greets everyone, then proceeds to call his buddies to schedule his weekend golf game, turn on the tv to ESPN, maybe even grab a beer, and then they say “I just need like a half hour to relax.” Guess what? You just said to your wife and children that your work is more important, your relax time is more important and your TV is more important. Moms (or dads – who ever is the hands on parent, the “goto” parent) don’t get to relax EVER! They are on 24/7. When our kids are sick we are not thinking about how we can sexually please our partner, when we are trying to get dinner on the table and get the kids fed, bathed, teeth brushed and homework done all without an tantrum or outburst before 8pm…sorry but we are not thinking about how we can sexually please our partner. If we are its because we are trying to imagine ourselves on a tropical beach with the sand in our toes and a piñacolada in our hand sharing that experience with our partner without our children there. LOL
    Would it be safe to say that she is too exhausted to feel sexy or even to tired to even think about having sex. When we have a husband or partner who comes to us to complain because we are not meeting their sexual needs – we are being told we are not good enough, we are not superwoman, because somehow we haven’t mananged to figure out a way to be a good parent, a good person and a perfect wife. Let us not forget that that is what got us into this mess in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, I love my children and for the most part like 95% of the time I love my life. But there is a fine line between loving your life as a mom and wife and feeling like all you are is a maid, cook, taxi cab and event planner. We love our kids so much we will never admit that we secretly wish for a week away without anyone touching us, crying at us, defying us, whining to us or needing us.
    It just needs to be said though that a part of us loves all of it – why? Because we like to be needed – but when it comes to our mutual partners, our significant others – we don’t only want to be needed and loved but we need to know by the words coming out of your mouth and by your actions that you love us, and we need to hear it ona way that is mature and adult like in its presentation. We want you to appreciate what we do as a wife and mom and that you want us to be a loving connected partner in the bedroom. By just saying I want more sex doesn’t solve anything. Groping us doesn’t really solve anything either. We want to know you care! Grabbing one of our lady parts and saying “Mine!” does not make us feel like we have been swept off our feet – groping us only solidifies to us that we have children as well grabbing and crawling on us like we were jungle gyms…that only signals to us that there is now one more child, a large child, who also wants to be on the already crowded playground. Be kind to us, be playful with us, be our partner – not another child in line waiting for their turn for mom to “tuck you into bed”…get my drift.
    If you are coming from a place where you honestly are trying to make an effort by helping her out (and not once a month – that’s like saying your 1% is better than her 99%) with the kids and household duties. You may work a 9-5 or maybe more – but just for a minute realize that as the “hands-on” parent, they are not working your 9-5, but they are also putting in two more shifts than you are without weekends off.
    I’m a woman who is a mom, wife and friend – I also struggle with a chronic pain issue. I feel taxed one hundred percent of the time. My husband complains that we don’t have enough sex. I have told him several times that if I’m feeling ok (tolerable pain) and I have gotten atleast four hours of sleep the night before – then chances are I want to also – but as a woman I need to have that connection, that intimacy. My husband thinks that by going to work all day, coming home then spends 90% of that time with his buddies, and that if he comes home and says “So are you gonna take care of me tonight?” … If he thinks that is an attempt at intimacy and connection – he just failed –
    As a wife I don’t have an issue with sex but I do have an issue with having sex without the intimacy, without the connection. As a woman I don’t want say that I speak for all of us, but I do know a lot of other woman who feel the same way.
    If you are seriously making an attempt to make that connection and to create that sense of intimacy, and you support her and treat her with respect and as an equal then yes – your wife needs to take a look at why she she isn’t responding – maybe counseling would help you both. But if you don’t see her and value her for what she does and who she does it all for everyday then you need to take a closer look at what you are doing or not doing.
    As a wife whose husband can be selfish and lack accountability at times – I wish I had a husband who wanted that intimacy and to feel connected – then my 95% would be 120%
    Good luck to you and your marriage…

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  1. […] Every Thursday, I’m going to try to answer a reader question in video format, and do a “vLog”. On the weekends, though, I’d like to throw up a question someone sends in and let you readers have a go at it. Last week we had a great discussion (over 100 comments!) trying to help a frustrated husband whose wife refused sex. […]

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