When Your Spouse Withholds Sex

When Your Spouse Withholds Sex
Do you live in a sexless marriage? They’re increasing all the time. And in my book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, 14% of survey respondents reported living in marriages where they rarely or never had sex (at least less than once a month). Their spouses withhold sex.

Sometimes refusing to have sex is due to health problems, but more often than not it’s a deep-seated issue within a spouse where they don’t see the importance of sex, and something has triggered them to decide to stop. I’ve been writing a series of posts this week on what to do when a spouse doesn’t want sex, and we’re going to end the series today looking at the most extreme (but not all that rare) case when a husband or wife refuses to have sex altogether.

I received an email recently from a woman who announced to her husband over a decade ago, after a hysterectomy, that their sex life was now over because her sex drive was gone. Today she is in turmoil because her husband had finally decided to leave.

I’ve received several emails from women whose husbands have not made love to them in years. Again, it was triggered by a health complaint or a sexual complaint (erectile dysfunction), but the husbands used those things to decide to “switch off”.

Now what do the spouses do? I’d suggest talking to your spouse about intimacy, the way I suggested yesterday. But for many spouses this goes much further than that. The spouse has basically checked out of the relationship and you now live in a sexless marriage. It’s not just that your spouse rarely has sex; it’s that your spouse refuses to have sex.

And you’re in a very difficult position because how do you talk about this? It’s not like your spouse has had an affair (in most cases). They’ve just decided that they want the benefits of being married (living with someone, parenting together, sharing expenses, having the status) but they don’t want one of the major responsibilities.

Let’s Get Real: Withholding Sex is Wrong

Paul Byerley, of The Generous Husband, wrote an important post back in December about how the church doesn’t think of withholding sex as a sin–even though it is. He writes:

Sometimes it’s total refusal, sometimes it’s sex once a month, or almost once a week… Sometimes the lack of sex is because of ongoing emotional, mental or physical issues, but the person with the problem won’t get any help. This is still refusal, as it is refusing to do what would make it possible to have sex.

He goes on to show how churches treat the sins of adultery and pornography very seriously, and have great sympathy for the offended spouse, but that the church does virtually nothing for the spouse who is left in the lurch because their husband or wife has decided to check out of the relationship. He tells churches:

So here is the bottom line for Christian leaders: Sexual refusal is a common and growing issue. Ignoring it does not mean it does not exist in your church, and being embarrassed about it does not get you off the hook with God. If you don’t think it qualifies as sin, I encourage you to do a detailed study of 1 Cor 7:3-7. Can you honestly say Paul did not see sexual refusal as sin?

I completely agree. It is relatively easy for a spouse to go to a pastor and say, “I need help because my husband (or wife) is having an affair.” But what would most pastors say if a spouse went to them and said, “my husband (or wife) has refused to have sex with me for months on end.” They likely would do virtually nothing, or else would encourage you to examine yourself and see how you can love your spouse more, as if they are placing the blame at your feet.

When Your Spouse Withholds Sex--it's wrong

It is time that all of us–Christians, church leaders, spouses–recognized sexual refusal as a sin. The Bible clearly speaks against withholding sex. Paul said that spouses have the responsibility to meet their spouse’s needs–within reason. I certainly do not believe that if your husband wants sex twice a day you therefore have to make love twice a day. Marriage is compromise! Nor do I believe that if your spouse is demanding weird or kinky sex that you have to do that (and I have had emails saying, “my husband won’t have regular intercourse because he only wants X or Y instead.”) But there is a certain level of reasonableness that should be met in a marriage. Refusing sex, or only making love extremely rarely, is a serious problem.

Now, if you have a medical reason for this, or if you’re still recovering from psychological trauma or abuse, that’s a different category. If you are working towards recovery, and you are hoping to resume a healthy sex life, then you are working towards a healthy marriage and that’s good. But if you are refusing to work on your issues, even if those issues are one of sexual function, like erectile dysfunction, then you are not living up to God’s design for marriage.

What Should You Do if Your Spouse Withholds Sex?

What, then, is the recourse for the spouse who is consistently refused? I think Matthew 18:15-16 applies here. There, Jesus says:

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’

The next verse talks about putting the person out of the church if they don’t listen to the church, so obviously this isn’t entirely applicable to marriage. But I think the principle is still valid: God said that if someone is sinning, you talk to them about it. If they don’t listen, you find a few spiritually mature people to talk with together. You don’t tell the whole church. But you talk to some spiritually mature people and ask them to sit down with you both as a couple.

To me, this should be the norm when major sins in a marriage are taking place, like verbal abuse, alcoholism, pornography use, adultery, or refusing sex. These are all serious sins that need to be dealt with or the family will fall apart. Unfortunately, often Christians are very leery of dealing with them, because we don’t like to get involved in other people’s problems. But where, then, does the spouse who is hurting go? What recourse do they have? They don’t want a divorce, but they do want some help. If the church doesn’t provide it, what will happen to these families?

I was reading the book Rocking The Roles recently, and the authors, Robert Lewis and William Hendricks, were calling for a much more ambitious program of churches coming alongside couples to help in interventions. I think withholding sex is a perfect example where such an intervention may be necessary. They were using the example of a man who was overspending and putting the family deeper and deeper into debt while refusing to get a job. And the elders came around him, asked him to sign a contract stating the steps that he would take over the next month to get things under control, and telling him that if he failed in this task, the elders would help the wife separate (not divorce, but separate until he got his finances under control).

Churches have a role to play here. And that’s where a mentor couple can be helpful. Maybe you don’t talk to the pastor per se, but you do talk to a spiritually mature couple in the church who is willing to sit down with the two of you, listen to both sides of the story, and then help the offended spouse (if they decide that this is a sin of withholding situation) argue their case. Setting up some sort of accountability system would be important here.

For instance, if it were a husband who was refusing sex because he had no sex drive and was diabetic, I would say something like:

Over the next month, you need to agree to talk to a doctor about this, start taking care of your health so that obesity and diabetes is less of an issue, and find ways to show your wife love, even if sex isn’t possible yet. You need to be moving towards greater intimacy.

If it was a wife who was refusing sex because she had no sex drive and was too tired, then you may say something like:

Over the next month, you agree to talk to a counsellor about why you don’t like sex, to talk with your husband about your schedule and see how you can get more rest, and to find ways to spend more time together as a couple and work on intimacy as you try to rebuild.

Sometimes getting it out in the open, even if just with two other people (and it really should be with a minimum number of people) can inspire a spouse to act. Often people are hesitant because they don’t see the importance, or they’re embarrassed to talk to a doctor. Having people prod them can spur them on to action.

Other times, however, you need a bigger stick. Is it right to separate (not divorce) if a spouse absolutely refuses sex? I’m not sure. In the vast majority of cases, separation causes incredible hardship on any children involved, and I am very reticent to recommend it just for that reason. God can also be incredibly real to you when you need Him most, and so staying married does not mean that you necessarily will not have joy in your life. God can be that joy.

However, sexual refusal is usually not the only problem. I’ve spoken to many women lately where the sexual refusal of their husbands is combined with a lack of motivation to work as well as a lack of motivation to work on his health. It’s tied up in a number of psychological issues. In this case, I believe a temporary separation where you say to him, “I love you. I want to be your wife. But you must start working and pulling your weight, because I can’t look after the children and work full-time and still look after you. This needs to be a partnership,” may be a way of shaking some reality into him. I know couples, for instance, where she can’t even leave the children with him, but has to hire a baby-sitter, because he won’t look after the toddlers. So having him move out would actually be cheaper for her. The separation is not with the goal of divorce; it’s with the goal of shocking him into actually working on his problems, instead of enabling him to act in an unChristlike way.

Still 30% off at Amazon!

I don’t recommend this lightly, and I’m not even sure if I’m right. This is just such a difficult issue. So I would say that if you are in this situation, you need to get counsel from a mentor couple who knows you both in real life. I can’t answer all these problems for you because I don’t know your unique situation. But God does, and so pray that He will reveal a couple that you can talk to who can come alongside you and plot a course where both you and your spouse can find true intimacy again.

I can’t give you all the answers, only a broad outline of the approach that I would take. But if I can, let me at least validate your feelings. If your spouse is withholding sex, this is wrong. It is so heartbreaking for you. It blocks intimacy. It is not God’s design for marriage. And I am sorry you are going through this. I pray that you will find people to talk to who will understand, and who will be able to pray about it and steer you in the right direction.

Don’t forget that my book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, has lots of help for couples with problems in the bedroom. If you have trouble seeing sex as something positive, or finding real intimacy, this book is for you!


 

Comments

  1. This has become a big issue. I had gone through a divorce from an achoholic who wanted everyone but me, he then committed suicide. I am married now to a man who is 14 years younger than me, he is absolutely wonderful and I am truly blessed that he loves me and my 3 sons. Someone responded one time, “he must want it all the time” and I kind of, “yeah…I wish” and they responded with, “If you can’t do it for someone his age you don’t have much hope” Yeah – those words stuck!! He went to the Dr. and was supposed to ask about testosterone check, and when he came back he said they couldn’t do bloodwork b/c he hadn’t fasted. I haven’t point blank asked him if he asked for that specific test or not. I want to believe he did, but I am to the point of total discouragement and have lost desire myself. He is a video gamer and to him it is just not important. My closest friends have said, “well, at least you know where he is – not like your ex” Yeah – he is at home – but completely in his own world. I agree totally with what you wrote regarding putting his energy and desire there instead of with us. He always wants friends around and when the kids have gone to bed, he hops on the computer and I just go to sleep. He honestly does not see the issue at all and thinks I am making a big deal out of nothing. I love him, but I am so incredibly lonely! I was SO looking forward to having and growing our sex life and intimacy as husband and wife.

  2. My counsel to women in this situation is to “win them without a word as they observe their godly behavior.”. I have seen this work time and time again.
    Lori recently posted…Are Gays Born Gay?My Profile

    • Yes, Lori, but what would you say to a woman whose husband hasn’t had sex with her in two or three years? I guess what I’m saying in this post is that if a man were having an affair, we wouldn’t just say, “be as good a wife as you can be and he will change.” We’d say, “he needs to be confronted and told to change.” I think a person who has been withholding sex for several years would fall under that category. I have just had emails from such broken women who have been praying and turning themselves inside out trying to be great wives, and their husbands don’t seem to care, largely because they have other psychological issues. And at some point, I think the church needs to come around these women (and these men, because the problem is more often the other way where the woman withholds) and say, “you’re endangering your marriage and this isn’t right.” Do you know what I mean?

      Like I said, I’ve had emails from women who have told me, “I announced to my husband a decade ago that sex was over, and now he’s leaving me. What do I do?” And they’re heartbroken. But why did they think that they had the right, within a marriage, to say, “we’re not having sex anymore because I don’t want to.” I’m just saying that I think this is a pretty serious thing, and it causes so much heartache, and we need to find a way to support couples who are in this situation and find a way to help encourage change.

      • I have been mentoring women for the past 8 years who have husbands who are having affairs, into porn, not interested in sex, etc. and I give them all the same advice….The Bible says that husbands that are disobedient to the word are won without a word as they watch the godly behavior of their wives. It also says a believing wife should not leave her husband. It also says that a godly wife sanctifies her husband. He sees Jesus in her. I have seen them win their husbands to them as they love, serve, and please their husbands. I encourage them to be joyful as God commands us to be. Love wins people…warmth, kindness, no arguing or complaining wins them. God’s ways work…It make take a long time but they are blessed as they live in obedience to God.
        Lori recently posted…Pray For Michael PearlMy Profile

        • Lori, I think it’s wonderful that you’re mentoring women like this, and I’m so glad that they have someone to talk to.

          I just want to say, though, that I think everything needs to be seen in balance. Yes, there is a verse that says that we should try to win our husbands without a word, but that’s really talking about salvation. In Matthew 18, it clearly says that we are also to confront specific sins.

          If you are talking to women and know them personally, then I think you know best in those situations. But here, on the internet, where we don’t know people personally, I just wouldn’t want to say something that may be hurtful, and I do think that telling a woman that if her husband is having an affair that she should “win him without a word” could be damaging. Jesus very clear said that adultery was grounds for divorce (though He did not say that we should divorce). And in talking to many men who have been involved in porn, what they have said is that they would not have stopped had their wife not brought it to a head. In the post I wrote earlier where I quoted a man at length who had come through healing from porn, he said that if you do not confront your husband and get help, he will fall further into sin.

          There is a point where we are enabling sin, I guess is what I’m saying, and we must make sure we never do that. I also don’t believe that Jesus wants us to consistently be broken hearted and beaten down. That is what the body of Christ is for; to help us. And I think that we as Christians need to do more to hold each other to account as spouses, and to help those couples who are really hurting, whether that means coming alongside a man or woman who is involved in porn and saying, “enough is enough”, or coming alongside a man who isn’t working and who isn’t having sex and saying, “you need to be a man.”

          Confronting a husband on an issue is a separate issue from whether or not we, personally, are going to God for our self-worth and our peace and our joy, and on whether we are trusting God with our husband’s salvation. They are not mutually exclusive.

          Also, I always interpreted the verse from Peter as meaning that we shouldn’t be constantly preaching to our husbands about salvation, but that we should “win them without a word”. It seems, from the context, that it is not talking about tolerating sin, but about leading an unbelieving spouse to Christ. Constantly preaching to a man, or demanding that he read the Bible, or always buying him Christian books rarely works. Your example means more.

          But I do not believe that God called us to enable sin. I think they are two separate things.

          Nonetheless, you know these women personally, and I think that what most women need is a flesh-and-blood person who can help them work out their issues, and if more of us had that, we wouldn’t need the internet quite so much!

          • I agree that they need to confront them on their sin, but then they need to pray about it and leave it in God’s hands. I tried changing Ken for 23 years and when I stopped trying to change him and just make him happy, he changed! I appreciate your advice you give on your blog, Sheila. I have developed personal relationships with these women and walk with them as they try and heal their marriages. I was just sharing what has worked for me and all the women I have mentored!
            Lori recently posted…Pray For Michael PearlMy Profile

        • I believe I am goingto try to not say anything, anymore – I have been naggy lately, I am aware of that, which pushes them further away. I will try to be the Godly wife who lives by example and gives unconditionally. It is hard when you feel like you get so little in return.

          • I CLEARLY do NOT! understand all this Be a GODLY WIFE what about the HUSBANDS being GODLY Husbands?….. Hello , this is 2013 ,… Us woman should NEVER be made to feel guilty if our spouse has withheld sex from us,… HE is the one who should be working on correcting HIS problem (I mean woman don’t get married to live a sexless marriage ,..oh wait a minute ,..”I think I’ll obey my husband & be the “better” one ????? & be a MORE “GODLY” WIFE?…… OH! (light bulb moment?NO WAY) ,…. NO-ONE MAN OR WOMAN should EVER has to change THEM self IF they’re SPOUSE is the one with the “PROBLEM” & YES! it IS a problem whether physical,emotional,psychological it is STILL 1st & foremost THEY’RE problem & if after the “other’ spouse REPEATEDLY tell’s them that they’re “need’s” are not being met,.. & AGAIN!!!!!! REPEATEDLY,..it CONTINUES??????? Are you -REALLY????_ going to advise them to just be patient (like they haven’t been PATIENT,…… ENOUGH?????……. by now? ABSOLUTELY -WRONG!-,…You then should counsel them BOTH (TOGETHER) then & tell BOTH to be GODLY towards they’re rightful expected duties as a santity of MARRIAGE VOWS (& PROMISE IN GODS HOUSE BEFORE GOD THEY PLEDGED) & in “SICKNESS” (YES,..Can be caused by SICKNESS too) & in Health,….. It is NOT at all healthy for ANY marriage to repeatedly be “Sexless” & it really annoys me that ppl are told to1) “Be the BETTER one”2) “Be the STRONGERone3) Give it time & “be the PATIENT one”,….. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? ….. they BOTH should be told to TRY hard together & IF it continues ,..yet again,…. then it TIME to say so-long ,…. & STOP wasting ANYMORE time in a DEAD END ,ONE WAY relationship,….. Remember the saying,… “WE only “live” once”??????? Well,….. it is NOT -“LIVING” when your slowly DYING inside made to feel un-wanted,un-noticed,UN-NEEDED, & UN-SATISFIED! & CRAZY too boot,…. it’s CRAZY telling me to “be the MORE) Godly One”,.. GOD made BOTH men & Woman to JOIN together in LOVE & RE-CREATE,… How is that POSSIBLE? then IF too many ppl are “LIVING”? (or isn’t it REALLY just “EXISTING”) merely in such sad relationships? I say Woman of “TODAY” demand the same things they’re husbands EXPECT,..& IF our needs STILL are not met & fall on DEAF ears then oh well,… hasta La Vista baby,… & Get “stepping” into that in which we ALL deserve a BEAUTIFUL life with the RIGHT person who RESPECTS,LOVES & HONORS US BOTH ,…. & SHOWS IT,…. For one who withholds is CONTROLLING the destiny of the COUPLES sex life,… & the one on the NOT “receiving” line is made to feel guilty,in-adequate or the FOOL?,….. NO ppl SPEAK UP & LAY IT ON THE LINE whether you are a MAN -OR- WOMAN! you DESERVE & SHOULD EXPECT M-U-T-U-A-L love,respect & a sexually SATISFYING union,….. & if you have tried,TRIED again & still NO CHANGE,…then MOVE ON …… In GOD’s eyes he want’s us ALL to be HAPPY,….. :) Peace & Love to ALL,…..

          • Kelly, I am not a tough guy on the internet–if I knew you I would readily say this to your face in as respectful of a manner as possible: That is, quite possibly, the biggest load of crap I’ve read in a long time. God wants us to seek His heart and His will for our lives. Our happiness is irrelevant with respect to His supremacy and humanly unimaginable power. God wants us all to be HUMBLE. Happiness is completely subjective.

  3. Sheila,

    Thank you so much for taking a strong stand on this! If more do the same, things will change.

    Thanks especially for the “as if they are placing the blame at your feet” comment. Marraige problems usually have his and her roots, but to blame a lack of sex on the one being refused is like blaming an affair on the one cheated upon.
    Paul Byerly recently posted…Partnership: I got your backMy Profile

    • Debbie says:

      I was actually told when my husband had an online affair ” well what did you do to make him do that” and ” if he cheated on you, you must have done something to make him do it” and “you weren’t nice enough to him so you deserved it” . The pastors assistant suggested I look at my part in causing his affair. She then handed me a few handouts on forgiveness and a page of counseling referrals for therapists starting at $100 an hour. Since we were fighting forecloser at the time it wasn’t very helpful. I was able to find an intern who would see us. When the subject of my husband’s refusal to have sex for over a decade came up, I was asked how I contributed to his lack of desire.

      The experience was very much like when I was assaulted and dumped on the church lawn. I was in so much shock that when someone asked me what happened I told them. I was shaken and yelled at “what did you do to provoke him, NO man does something like that without being provoked”

      There are many people who can and do verbally attack the wounded for being wounded.

    • Kelly (in response to)
      I am sorry for the response you got. Sadly most in the church do not come along side of abused women, who have husbands who makes all believe he is ok, and that he is the true victim. You sound angry, I have been there, as a young women I was so angry and broken . I still am. I have been married 31 years. I am sure you are in an abusive marriage. My marriage started out , by him having emotional affairs and going out with other gals, hitting me, and deflecting anger towards the children so I would do or act as he would want me to be. After 7 years he became a christian, the hitting stopped, and his outings with other women stopped. But the abuse continued, he is an expert at turning things around and me being the person in the wrong. He uses every communication tactic known so covertly that I don’t even get it. every serious conversation I am left angry, confused, and turned around. He has withheld affection outside the bedroom, I would give him hugs and kisses for years and years. Cause I needed touch. As years went by I gradually decreased my advances(outside the bedroom) to see if he would give me a hug or kiss or touch me first. Then about 6 yrs. ago I stopped completely. Nothing from him. And I had grown tired of asking for a hug or kiss. I wanted to feel wanted. In the bedroom our sex life as a whole was miserable. Nearly nonexistent, and I don’t want to go into detail about it. All I know for sure that when I got contentment, and got on top of my housework, and rose above the difficulties of life, or got closer to the Lord. He had a arsenal of tactics to bring me down, breaking agreements, lying , crazymaking communication, withdrawal of affection completely. At 53 yrs. old I have no job right now, a 19, and 9 yr. old still at home. I have 2 bitter adult children that resent their Dad, don’t respect me, their Mom. And I have a husband who still won’t let me be an equal, in decisions our agreements don’t matter, he breaks them. And he has to be better than me , in intellect, in work ethic, and spiritually. He still undermines me with those same tactics as before, when he sees me happy. Sometimes I think I’m crazy, is this my marriage? Is he doing that? Then I look back in my journals see the same thing over and over again. Sadly, I have nothing left to give him, my fight has gone out to save my marriage. And he knows it, he knows that I’m here for my son. I want the best for him. My heart has slowly over the years has turned to stone for my husband. I don’t want to really talk to him , do things alone, or be in the same bedroom with him. He can’t stop doing these behaviors. And he does not want me. really. and I know it.

      Proverbs 30:21 an odious unloved women, the earth trembles……

      Kelly I feel your pain.

  4. I love the idea of churches taking up the banner for more intimate marriages. If we would stress that sexual faithfulness in marriage involves being engaged physically in the marriage, a lot of heartache could be prevented. We tend to look at the subject narrowly, as you said — “did he/she cheat?”

    I see this in other areas as well. Ultimately, there is a selfish attitude of how little can I do to be in the safe zone. Teens ask this with “how far is too far?” and I’ve heard Christian wives ask “how little is enough for my husband?” Wrong question. We must ask: “How can we experience the intimacy God desires for us in marriage?”

    I agree that bringing in a church leader or counselor may be the path to pursue for some of these couples. I pray that when someone in such pain searches for a fellow advocate in their church, they will find a biblically-sound, compassionate leader to intervene and speak the truth in love. Blessings for tackling this tough subject, Sheila!
    J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) recently posted…Storing Your Sexy StuffMy Profile

    • J, I read in your blog that you had an active sex life before you got married. Has that negatively impacted your marriage? I’ve heard that it usually causes issues. My husband and I were each other’s first everything – even first kiss. (Well, I did kiss one of my girlfriends in fifth grade because we wanted to know what it was like – we even hummed the wedding march beforehand! It was hilarious.) My husband and I met while we were still teenagers. We started having sex four months after our first date, but we’re still together so it’s not something I regret. We have a lot of sweet memories from that first year. I know, however, that it usually doesn’t work out that way. Anyway, did your husband have a hard time accepting your past sex life? Has it affected the intimacy in your marriage at all?
      Jen recently posted…life isn’t easy, but God will provideMy Profile

  5. van Rooinek says:

    The next verse talks about putting the person out of the church if they don’t listen to the church, so obviously this isn’t entirely applicable to marriage

    The Puritans of early America once excommunicated a man for the sin of not having sex with his wife.

    • Really? That’s interesting. And goes to what I’ve always suspected: The Puritans weren’t prudes at all!

      • I would venture to bet that many more wives withhold sex from their husbands then husbands from wives. Although I think men withholding sex is starting to be more common based on a few things.

        But I really wonder how the church would handle it when a woman refuses her husband sexually and it was brought before them. I am willing to bet that the husband would be told to “just love her more”. I say that based on my own experience.

        While if the husband was withholding sex, the church would probably suspect him being in to porn or having an affair.

        I have sadly found in my case, I just do not want to have sex with my wife any more as I am no longer attracted to her. You had mentioned in another post about the years of rejection and how they can wear someone down. It is interesting now, after many many years of being rejected that I am no longer interested in sex with my wife even though she is starting to initiate it herself. Please do not think I pestered her or I was not aware of romancing and loving my wife. I would make that a point and not mention physical intimacy for weeks, when we were first married. No response from her. I would then try to talk to her lovingly and she would be very very offended and tell me that I should just love her the way she is. Add in to that the weight gain, not talking 30-40 extra pounds, talking about somewhere around 2x those amounts.

        What I find even more hurtful is how frequently, before we were married, she would try to have sex with me and then once we were married, it pretty much went to once a week and then once every other week to then once a month over the course of the next year. I really think I was set up with a bait and switch or tricked in to marrying this woman who pretended to really like sex.

        Also while she is initiating it is hard for me not to be bitter or find much joy in it, as the frequency has not increased it is still on the 3-5 week cycle but since I have stopped initiating she has started to.

        I am feeling almost to the point that I just want to tell her, “No thanks, I am not in the mood.” Or that I am too tired or have too much other stuff on my mind, because I usually do these days. I mean she went how many years refusing me and I was a selfish perverted husband because I wanted to have sex with her 2-3 times a week. That is pretty rough and I am having a hard time reconciling that in my mind.

        • Your story is nearly like mine. It has hurt so much having my husband constantly reject me. We have sex once maybe twice a month for five years. I’ve reached my breaking point and am starting to not even be attracted to him anymore. The usual excuses are him being too tired, stressed , or me not being a good enough wife (not being an ocd control freak with house chores).

          He gained about30lbs and I have maintain my weight of 115-120lbs even after two pregnancies. His weight gain didn’t bother me because I loved him…..but he has an endless list of things he finds unattractive to me. We went to two different counselors, he didn’t like either, so we went back to him refusing me and us never resolving anything.

          I have resorted to porn and madterbation, neither which are fulfilling at all and leave me more lonely and empty than before. We are both in our early to mid 30s and healthy. This started 5 years go!

          I would leave him but am financially unable at the moment. I think he gets a power trip refusing me because he has said he is like whiskey to me and I’m a drunk. I think I honestly hated him in that moment. I wouldn’t have sex with him not even if he reverted to the guy I met 9 years ago.

        • Completely agree ROI. Sounds like we’re pretty much paddling the same boat. After 15 years I’m finally reaching a point where I at least don’t get angry when I think about how I married a “roommate”…

          • Since my mastectomy, I don’t even have a roommate. Originally, he moved into the guest room so “I could heal.” It’s been a year. I think could live with no sex right now. some of the drugs really cut your sex drive anyway. But, no affection of any kind – no hugs, no handholding, no kisses. I cannot share my emotional pains and fears. If I try to talk about how I feel about how I look, instead of reassurance I get, “Would you rather be dead, that was the alternative.” Every time I try to confront him about this, he tells the doctors I need antidepressants. (For those who don’t know, they pass them out to cancer patients like candy. They say they help you process and deal with your emotions about your body changes – they usually don’t, they just numb you so you still have to deal with it later.)
            There is a lot of information out there for the breast cancer patients about handling sex and intimacy problems surgical and drug treatments cause, but nothing if their husband withdraws. Yet, a large percent of my support group have the same problem with sexual and emotional rejection from their husbands. And the ones who have had reconstruction said it made no difference. And usually, due to medical debts and ongoing treatments, finances and insurance mean we have no choice but to stay. And our husbands all seem to paint themselves to friends and family as saints for staying with us.
            Incidently, my husband claims to be a Christian, but has refused to go to church for over 20 years. All of them are too full of hypocrites.

  6. van Rooinek says:

    No, they weren’t prudes at all. They emphasized hard work, yes, but only as part of a balanced life. They also promoted wholesome recreation, occasionally had large public feasts, and enjoyed moderate alcohol. And they were very, very pro-sex… within marriage.

    They were also advocates of limited government, rule of law, and even the separation of church and state (on that last item, note: both institutions are ordained by, and accountable to, God, but, they have very different missions and shouldn’t be combined).

    In other words, just about everything that is (or rather, was) good about America. All this good stuff, they got from the Bible. Funny how that works.

    Good summary here:
    http://texnews.com/opinion97/hart112697.html

  7. My husband has shut himself down. He has shut himself off from me. He is very depressed (and when I say very, I mean as depressed as a person can become – I know what depression means, I know what it is, I know what it does, I know how it feels). He is discouraged and hurting. He can’t even function. He doesn’t want to live anymore. He thinks I’d be better off without him. His medication isn’t working – we’re going to the doctor next week to try something else. I don’t know what to do. I love him so much. He has shut himself off from me in every way, including when it comes to sex. I know that when you’re that depressed, sex tends to go to the backburner, but it’s not just sex! I desire him sexually, but I also desire him as my beloved and best friend. I miss him. I miss being intimate with him. He won’t even talk to me. I am trying so hard to fix things for him, to make things better, to make him feel better, but it’s a burden that I can’t handle. What am I supposed to do when he will have nothing to do with me in this sort of situation? Do I address it as sin? Do I patiently wait, asking for nothing, until he recovers from his depression – no matter how long that may be? What if the next medication doesn’t work? When will he want me again? When will we experience intimacy again? What if he leaves me behind?

    I love him. I want to grow old with him. I want to be intimate with him. I feel as though the way he has shut himself off from me (in every way) is wrong, I know it is wrong, but at the same time it’s understandable – but does that make it ok? How do I handle this situation? I pray constantly, I have prayed constantly for years for him, for us. What else can I do?

    • Jen, I’m so, so sorry for what you’re going through. It really sounds like what your husband is experiencing is something external from you. Like you said, he’s shut down from you. So it’s not your fault, and I’m not sure that twisting yourself into knots to find the magical solution is going to work. It truly isn’t your fault. Real depression like this is an illness.

      I’m glad you’re going to the doctor. I’d also ask the doctor about how to tell if your husband is suicidal, because this sounds like something quite intense where you’re going to need some help. I’ll say a prayer for you, too.

      • He is suicidal. He says if we lose the apartment he’s finished, because he’s so tired of working so incredibly hard his entire life only to get nowhere. I want to take him to the hospital, but he won’t go because we don’t have any money to pay for it. So I’m just praying that the medicine we’re getting this week will help really, really soon. I’m also praying that God will show himself to my husband in a mighty way, that He will work miracles in his life – because he is desperate and downtrodden, and we don’t have money for bills, and we need miracles right now. The thing is that my husband is such a wonderful and admirable person, he has given so much to help people at different times, and they took everything from him – including his mother and his brother, who stole tens of thousands of dollars, all of his savings that he worked so hard for, so that we have nothing. And no one is willing to help him, to help us. I know that God has said that He has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a good future – why is there so much heartache? When will hope and a good future come? When will we prosper, instead of constantly struggling? I believe in God’s promises, I believe there are blessings ahead. The thing is that we need blessings NOW, we need miracles NOW. I don’t know the mind of God, but I am on my knees begging God to reveal himself to my husband this week, in a mighty way, praying that my husband will get several job offers this week, jobs that will make it possible for us to share a car (because we only have one car), praying that God will heal his heart and mind and spirit, praying……praying.

        • John Miller says:

          Jen, I was reading your posts and my heart breaks for you. My wife has refused any intimacy with me for over 3 years so I have some idea of part of what you’re feeling. However, what made me want to respond to what you wrote was your continued comments about medicine the doctors may give him. I was married for a long time to my first wife (she passed away about 18 years ago). She went through some tough times with depression. We learned a lot about the drugs that are often prescribed and even more information has come out in the past two decades about these types of drugs. I’m speaking, of course, about antidepressants. If that is what your husband is being given I will warn you that those have been proven in many, many studies to make depression worse in some people, even causing people to become suicidal. Doctors don’t know as much as we think about drugs. They are not trained in them. I would go talk to a couple of pharmacists about the drugs. They are trained in drug use and I would talk to more than one because no one person is always right. They might agree entirely with the doctors, but they might have some warnings you should be aware of. My wife took antidepressants for about 4 or 5 years and I finally started to figure out that they were not only not helping, they were harming her. I woke up because a pharmacist told me of the damage they could cause. I convinced her to stop taking them (which was a battle in itself) but once she did it was amazing after a period of months how much better she felt. Over time she did much better, was better able to cope with life, and then would tell everyone that the best thing she did was to stop taking them.

          I’m not saying he should or shouldn’t take what the doctor prescribes. I am saying that we can’t listen to any human and blindly trust them. We must do our own research and learn as much as we can.

          I will be praying for you and your husband.

          • I’m bipolar, so in my personal experience medication has proven to be life-changing in a good way, but I can’t take anti-depressants because of the bipolar disorder so I’m not sure how they operate. I do know that sometimes they cause depression to worsen in some people. I’m wondering if the one he’s trying now is doing that, because it really seems that things have gotten worse. But for years now he’s been depressed, and most of that time he’s been seriously depressed and suicidal, with very short bouts of being able to function somewhat. The first anti-depressant he tried didn’t do anything. The second actually did help, but it caused a side effect that he didn’t like so he switched to the one he’s taking now…..which still causes that side effect, only now he’s more depressed than I’ve ever seen anyone – and I have been severely depressed to the point where I couldn’t function and have been suicidal. His depression reaches lows that are unimaginable. He reached these lows for years before he started taking medication. So we’re going to try the last medication that he took, the one that did help. Thank you so, so much for your prayers, and for the heads up. I will definitely ask the doctor and a couple of pharmacists those questions, as well as do a bit of research on the ‘net.

        • Jen, just know that we are joining you in prayer for you and your husband, and that God will show you His grace and mercy. I know that in the dark times it’s hard to see or feel God, and all I can tell you is that He is there, and He will see you through.

          • Thank you, Sheila, so much. I believe without doubt that God will provide for us, and that He will get us through this…..even though sometimes it’s impossible for us to see how that’s going to happen. It’s kind of like Peter said, “I believe – help my unbelief!” Sometimes my husband will wake me in the middle of the night so that I can reassure him that God is with us and will provide. The thing is that he was homeless as a child, so he knows what that’s like, and he knows that it can happen. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your prayers. I know that the Bible says that when two or three are gathered in His name….prayer is powerful. And Jesus said that whatsoever we ask in His name, believing, He will do it. I believe. I believe.

            Today I did find a list of churches in our area that provide rent assistance, so I’m going to call them tomorrow….I hope that works out! It would be such a blessing, a real, concrete answer to prayer for my husband to see. And he has a phone interview tomorrow morning….I so much hope and pray that he gets offered that job!

            I can’t wait for him to be happy again, and to be close and intimate with him again.

          • Sheila S. says:

            Hi Jen, I was just wondering how you and your husband are doing now? I just read your comments and it’s been several months so I’m just curious if there have been improvements. I said a prayer for you all in hopes that you both are in a better place now.

          • Thanks for asking, Sheila S! And thanks so much for the prayer!

            There have been huge improvements! He stopped taking medication completely for awhile because of the side effects, but things got so bad that around the middle of July he finally realized how bad things were and started taking one that worked again, in spite of the side effects. So that started to work, and it completely changed our lives and our marriage; then he got a really good job in the middle of August! And, he voiced his concerns to the doctor about the side effects, so he was given a medication that combats them.

            Things are lovely now. We’re both stable – at the same time! – and doing what it takes to stay that way; and God has provided for us, and we’re almost caught up on bills.

            Thanks again for the prayer!
            Jenny recently posted…How do you meet your spouse’s needs?My Profile

  8. JustAWife&Mom says:

    I guess my question is, after reading your whole series on this topic, what do we, the neglected wife, do in the meantime? Now that you’ve been enlightened, if your spouse isn’t yet, then what? (I sure hope I’m making sense here…) It’s hard to sit back and just wait…some of us have been waiting a huge amount of time. If I go seek out a counselor from church (which I want desperately to do), my husband thinks that I’m “telling too much”, and thinks that he’s being bad-mouthed (which is the farthest thing from my mind). So I’m not honoring or respecting him if I do that, but yet I sit and feel rejected/inadequate.
    Any thoughts?

    • I think waiting is probably the most difficult thing to do, but I’m not sure there’s much else to do. I do, however, really think that you should find a mentor. To do so is not disrespecting your husband if you find someone who is not a gossip. We’re told in Titus 2 that the older women should help the younger, and so the unbiblical thing, I believe, is to remain alone. We are meant to be in community in Christ, and sometimes we need others to pray for us and to guide us and to help us. So wait, yes, but don’t wait alone. Pray that God will also give you someone to encourage and counsel you.

  9. My husband and I have been married almost a year already. Since then he has flirted with two females and done some things he should have never done and I forgave him. He had a major porn addiction and he told me he has stopped and as far as I know he has. Before we had our now six month old son i couldn’t keep him off of me and now I’m lucky if we have sex once a month. I don’t know what happened to him but I miss the old him especially now that I don’t look like a baby hippo (lol) When he is in the mood it’s all about his own needs and then he goes back to playing his world of warcraft until he has to go to work. what can I do?

    • Sarah, I think many women are in your position. I’m going to put your question up as a Reader Question of the Week this Saturday. My quick answer: find other things to do together that are fun. Schedule some of them in. Have stuff planned. Video games are a habit and an addiction; you can’t break them unless you replace them with something else.

  10. This has been the most helpful article I’ve read so far. Especially because I want to please God and help my marriage. I feel like I can’t talk to anyone about this. My husband uses exhaustion from work to justify constant video/tv/movies to ‘wind down.’ When he finally pays attention to me it’s good, but then it might be weeks again. I’m so starved sometimes and I realize that although I could respond better, he is laid back and passive aggressive. He gets resentful when I ask for help with chores that he normally does but has procrastinated for months/years. I think he then doesn’t desire me and is punishing me by withholding intimacy. He is PA because he had to be that way to function with his demanding parents. I really love him with all my heart and he acts independent of me a lot of the time. Going on vacation is very hard because he tries to sabotage it (money usually). This time he was more honest and said that he didn’t need vacations and it was only because I ‘needed’ a vacation. We hadn’t had one in 3-4 years and over 5 years before. He just wants to go out to eat with me and that’s about it. He also asked me to do things in bed that I’m not comfortable with, so I worry that he has lost interest because I won’t play along? I just want to be loved back! I am only 42 and still attractive.

  11. This seems very PC to me….I gotta believe it’s women cutting men off from sex 90% of the time. Not men cutting women off.

    • I know it seems counter-intuitive, but in 30% of marriages the wife has the higher sex drive. And on this blog there are A LOT of women in despair because their husbands don’t want sex. It still is USUALLY the other way around, but the number of men with low/no libido is growing significantly lately.

      • Thank you for your blog…finally I found a godly woman talking to other godly women. I want in my heart to do right by my husband and my two children but I feel so very lonely and depressed right now. I think my husband is withholding sex but I don’t actually know what the definition of this is and was wondering if you wouldn’t mind clarifying it for me. thank you

        • I would say that if you’re making love once a month or less you have a definite problem with one spouse withholding sex. I’m not saying that once a month is a healthy level; only that once a month generally falls into the term of virtually “sexless marriages” and does need to be addressed!

          • thank you for taking the time to reply…i have a lot to think about and reading your blog has helped. I need to find someone to talk to because since I am the one in the situation, it is very hard to see clearly. Obviously, this is a symptom of some deeper issues. It seems like I have tried everything to try and fix this but to no avail…we have talked to a pastor and he didn’t follow his advice, i encouraged him to talk to his doctor (he won’t), I have confronted him (without success), prayed, etc. I am at a loss and have no idea what’s going on. I feel like I have no say in this area of our marriage. thanks for listening and letting me vent.

          • KATHLEEN says:

            I would KILL for once a month. Haven’t had sex in over 11 months. Even my trained (male) psychologist told me to come to terms with the fact that I will never have sex again. And I can’t stop sobbing as I type this.

  12. I know that my husband and I have a problem, and I think that it is on both ends. He is the typical male – with a crazy sex drive. Early in our marriage, I just couldn’t give it to him enough and that made him feel rejected. To this day, he still holds that against me. A few years ago, I vowed to not reject him. But somehow, I am rejecting him now with out even realize that I’m doing it. He assumes that when I don’t initiate sex with him that I am rejecting him, and very rarely initiates sex with me. I like sex and I want to have sex with him. But we have kids and we both work and we are tired. Sometimes I fall asleep watching tv, and I have told him plenty of times, please wake me up, and let me know you want to have sex, and I will reciprocate, but don’t wait for me to initiate. He wants it probably 200% more than I want it. That doesn’t mean I don’t want it and it doesn’t mean I won’t give it to him if he asks for it. So if a week goes by that I haven’t initiated, you can assume that a week has gone by that we have not had any sex. And if a week goes by, he feels rejected, and then starts to purposely avoid sex with me, and in a sense, rejecting me. I will catch on to what has happened (he’s not very vocal about his feelings) and then seek to initiate sex and he will in his own ways tell me no and usually rolls over and goes to sleep. It’s been over a month now, and he doesn’t look at me, touch me, or have sex with me. I want to get things back on track and I want to stop playing these games. I feel like I am guilty, but then again, I feel like I cannot be the only one in the relationship to initiate, either. I’ve tried telling him this before, but nothing changes. If you talk to him about this, his story is that I continue to reject him. I admit, I have rejected him, but not in the sense of no, i’m never having sex with you. But in the sense, of one too many times, I’ve turned him down because I was plain tired. I love him and want to have a great sex life with him, but this huge hurdle stands in our way. What should I do???

    • That’s tough, but so typical! It sounds like you just have a lot of baggage, and you need to work through it and start fresh. I wrote a post on this here. And you may find working through my 31 Days to Great Sex helps you to talk about these issues and stop assuming things about each other, too!

      • Thanks for responding so quickly. I guess it’s somewhat of a relief to hear that it’s somewhat typical. The baggage is obviously baggage that we created, because I don’t think it was there before we got married. I actually have the .pdf for 31 Days to Great Sex in my shopping cart right now! I was thinking of giving it to him for Valentine’s Day. How would you suggest I present it to him?

        • There are coupons that you can give him announcing it! I think I sent you a link to them, but I’d suggest printing those out and putting them in a card!

          • Thanks, I just received that email with a link to the coupons. I’m excited to get this started! I hope he responds well to it.

  13. Dear Sheila,

    I’m coming to the conversation late, but I’m glad I got here. It’s too late for me but its a pleasant surprise to find I wasnt alone. My husband and I married in 2003 and our sex life had all but disappeared in the time we became engaged and the time we married. In all these years he never once initiated sex and I havent been touched at all since 2005, he hadnt even tried to kiss mein many years. We were good friends, I used to think, but that was all. I cant even tell you how many times I tried to talk about it only to be met with silence. The emotional toll was devastating and I developed severe depression. We finally separated in June of 2012 because the emotional pain of having him in such close physical proximity but refusing to touch me was too much. Within months of our separation, he began dating a much younger woman (his adult student) and blasted his new found happiness all over facebook for everyone to see, including me. I was utterly devastated and after a particularly viscious phone call attempted to end my life. I spent eight days in a psych hospital and when my husband was invited to attend a family discharge meeting he accepted. He came alone, told none of my family, and then very publically washed his hands of me. This was December of 2012. Just last month he used my account to buy his girlfriends valentines day gifts so I would see them when I balanced my checkbook. (I have since closed that account). I’m still reeling under the hostility of his actions. Like I said, its too late for me because divorce is a certainty. But Im glad I stumbled acrossed this blog and know I wasnt alone. I’m still struggling emotionally so if anyone has a kind or encouraging would out there, I’ll take it.

    • Diane,

      I am so very sorry about the painful experience you have been through – and the pain you continue to feel.

      Sometimes it’s hard, even impossible, to understand what motivates people. Perhaps the best thing to do
      is to cut your husband loose completely, if you’re not connected because of children or something else
      that will require ongoing interaction.

      Not a one of us can control another. All I can control is myself and how much access others have to me.

      Please, find some support for yourself, friends, healthy (emotionally) family members, a support group, church.
      You are important and precious. Our Lord wants to give you abundant life and wholeness. Recovery from this
      relationship is possible. You can be whole again. Please take one day at a time, things will change for the better.

  14. Ladyinvain says:

    Hi Chris.. And hello to all, I am here because I like to find answers and is in a situation like yours. I have only been married for 6 months and feel like I am heading towards a sex less marriage. I don’t know how to address the problem. I married my highschool classmate dated for about 2 months, during that time he was so in to me that he wanted to get on my panties immediately but I refused many times because I wanted marriage and a real relationship, I wanted sex of course but wanted to wait until its ok to give it all. To cut the story short.. We where married , I like any other wife was so excited, but then to my surprise he only initiated sex once .. During the day after our wedding, after that it was always me wanting it.. And there was even a point where he said he was to tired and that he was not in the mood.. I snapped, I was so emotional that I cried and told him I feel I was not attractive, he said I should just try to understand him. He is an average guy, his romantic in his own ways.. Tells me he loves me always , does house chores, works, we go to the gym together, we do have nice times together, but when night time comes and I want romance he just shuts off.. I have to initiate foreplay and then we will have sex, and I do feel his passion on it. But I just wish it would happen more often since we are young married couple and just started a married life. I am baffled by his action towards intimacy.. :( I love him and I do know he loves me too, but he just lacks that sex part… I don’t want to leave him, but I fear that if he doesn’t change.. i might be forced to have a change of heart.

  15. I’ve been refused sex, intimacy or any kind of togetherness for over 40 years. Our wedding night was the only time we had sex. The day after it all ended, he thought sex and all that goes with it was senseless, pointless, meaningless. disgusting, stinky, messy a total waste of time and to much work for so little. He couldn’t understand why some one would do that to another human. I fussed and fumed but it didn’t do any good! He decided that to get away from me he moved all his things to the basement, and volunteered to work the midnight shift. And he has told me to leave him alone, don’t talk to him. So for over 40 years we haven’t talked ,I mean really talked, slept together or done any thing together. Its like I don’t exist, I’m just the person who lives upstairs. He has turned into a loner, no radio, computer, tv, no friends, and completely un-interested in the outside world. He’s retired now and things haven’t changed except he looks terrible long ugly gray hair and beard to match and old holey clothes . Looks like a guy who has just crawled out from under a card board box under a bridge down town. I should have left him but I didn’t, he would have never missed me. I just plug along day by day, visit my shrink, and take me anti-depressant meds. Now I’m to old to care any more about myself and him. I hate all men and what they stand for.

    • confused Christian says:

      I’m afraid this could wind up as my story too. My husband and I have drifted far apart. never hold hands, a kiss goodnight, or any touching. If I am sick, he takes care of me and I believe he still loves me but…
      He had prostate cancer 7 years ago when he was 57 and I was 46. Our intimacy has been forever changed and we have only had sex 3 times in all this time. We sleep in separate bedrooms because I could not continue to cry myself to sleep from my loneliness and be able to get up each day for work. I think I literally have starved for his attention. It is the elephant in the room. If I ever bring it up, I wish I hadn’t.
      My prayer is that God would allow me this happiness one day again because I have been committed to my marriage.
      But I want to have this part of my marriage back and kept hoping but I now realize that it is unlikely.
      I keep myself attractive, I have thrown myself into my business because I don’t party or go out. We are together 24/7 because of our company. But What do you do?
      I appreciate this forum because it is a big problem.

  16. My husband always wanted more sex than I did and we averaged about twice a week for 28 years. He has always been jealous and accusatory and nothing I would say could convince him that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. He cut off sex completely in December 2011 and only because I threatened to leave if we were going to only be roommates did we have sex twice in 2012. He was mean and cruel with his words and I was utterly alone. Recently, I became suspicious of him and checked his phone. Nothing, so I checked the phone bill online and found over 1,000 text messages to another woman, sometimes 50-70 in less than an hour. It was clear what was going on. I have confronted him and have been forgiving and affectionate though all I want to do is scream. I am saved, he is not. He told me that if he’d known my Christianity was going to be so important, he never would have dated or married me. I’m trying to get him to go to a marriage mediator, but he’s not letting me know if he will. I’m scared that he doesn’t care enough about our marriage to go to the eight sessions she said it would take her to make a huge difference in our relationship. If not for the Lord, I would be utterly alone. He justifies what he was doing and blames it on me. I’ve had breast cancer and a double mastectomy, with reconstruction. The withdrawal from sex came as my reconstruction ended, so I thought that he just had nothing to be attracted to anymore. I also had a full hysterectomy, and so I’m dealing with pain during sex, but I still want intimacy with him. He says he stopped because he was tired of being dependent on me for sex, and has masturbated every night for a year to prove to me and to himself that he doesn’t need me. I cannot sleep now and can only pray that we stay married and something changes. He spent two hours last weekend telling me and my brother how he has no use for God or church, and why now he will not even go with me on Christmas or Easter. He is angry over things that happened 23 years ago and will not forgive anything. Keeps lists of what I’ve done in his phone and ipad…..he’s a very unhappy person and blames me for it.

  17. Sharon says:

    I am a believer…not sure where my husband stands with His relationship with the Father. Over our 15 years of marriage our intimacy especially our sexually intimacy has suffered tremendously. Whenever I would come together with my husband I would feel emotionally drained and lonely. My desire for sex began to wane. I know that I love my husband and desire sexual intimacy but everytime I came together with him, it seemed empty and I would feel even more lonely and unfulfilled. How do I overcome this?

  18. My husband and I have been together a very long time, lets just say over 10 years. He was into heavy in to porn before we got married, and carried that in to our marriage. Over the years he has been verbally and physically abusive. We are both in counseling now and have been for a while, we have separated a few times in the past. We are currently together. Here is the thing, he always looks depressed and bummed out. He is moody and grumpy much of the time, or tired. He wants to have sex with me, and I honestly don’t want to at all. The thought actually makes me sick most of the time. We do have sex a few times a month, not nearly meeting his needs at all or even close. I haven’t found away to just “suck it up” any more and be the good submissive wife. I am a happy person, hard worker, and have my hands full with our children. I love life, there is no greater turn off for me than someone who acts like ” woe is me”….I don’t know how to change these feelings in myself, and I don’t think I can. I am at the point where I am beginning to believe that it is just over, it’s just not there. I don’t even want to talk to him any more really. There obviously is more to this story than what I can put on here….But it was really bad, and I FEEL so much better as a person when I am not even around him. It’s like he literally sucks the life out of me. Which is really hard to do….

  19. I have been with my husband for 2 years and I think the way that he gets back at me to withhold sex it’s only when he needs it I get angry and depressed and I get hurt inside it is taking a toll on me mentally and physically I have told him repeatedly over and over and over to move out but I really don’t want to leave cause I know that I really really love him what should I do in my position I have already talked to my pastor he has already came over pastor has already told him that its good to withhold sex from your wife my pastor told me the same thing what do you think I should do do you think I should divorce him are separate from him I would never thought in a million years us getting married in me have to separate or have to divorce my husband

  20. My wife has some big problems. I’ve been married 29 years and her lack of sexuality has destroyed the marriage. We’ve had separate bedrooms for over half our marriage; she just prefers sleeping alone. It’s been years since she has touched me, and for some reason this person has absolutely no need or desire for *any* type of physical contact. When I say “zero”, I mean “zero”. It’s sad and scary at the same time. I’ve asked her point blank what is the reason she shows no interest in this area, and all I get is silence and blank stares. A pastor I know says there is some deep seated psych issue here, or some demon from her past that she never told me about nor has ever dealt with.

    Is it even worth pursuing a solution at this point, i.e. at my age? She has all the outward appearances of the godly Christian wife, but has no problem with intentionally sinning against Paul’s command to wives’ duty toward their husbands. So what should I do? The problem is hers, not mine, so I refuse to go to joint counseling since I am not the problem nor the solution. She has some major issues she’s never dealt with, and obviously has not cared enough about the marriage to address them.

  21. My partner and I have been together for over 2years and I still love him deeply. HOWEVER . We just had a baby 4 months ago. He was awesome through the whole process. Then when I was home with our newborn (whom had Colic) he told me that he was mandated to work 7 days a week. He therefore would be gone everyday on 12 Hour shifts. This was extremely difficult for me. I was exhausted physically and emotionally . He also would not come home on time. So one day I saw a number come through on his phone . When I asked him who it was he became nervous . I memorized the number and texted it a couple days later. It was a woman….. She said that they met on Match.com and had been dating for a few months(the age of our newborn ) Needless to say I was and still am devastated . He left me and his newborn ata difficult time to be with someone else. Betrayal, deceit, and neglect. How could he? We argued, I forgave. It has now been 5 months and we have tried to put things back together . But when I try tobe intimate, literally pushes me away. I feel disgusting, unwanted, not attractive. and unloved. When I talk to him about it, he says that I confuse sex for love. Not so. He does things that make me feel loved but to push me away when trying to be intimate…. it makes me wonder more and more about his affair…. am I not pretty? not emotionally available?what is wrong with me?? If he loves me why not be intimate? I am broken hearted, really depressed whichis not good because I have a precious,beautiful baby to take care of. Prayers pleplease …

  22. My husband of 25 years has not had sex or any physical contact with me in 13 years. He started having problems with ED 19 years ago and refused to seek help and yes we have medical insurance. During the first 6 years things were going down hill and it got to a point he could only have sex in one position and not for very long. So I again begged him to see a doctor and a counselor for his issues. To make a long story short, he became angry at me and started refusing sex all together. He told me that I touch him too much, that I was too sexually aggressive and that sex with me was a chore. I allowed him to make me feel unloved, unattractive, undeserving of love and sex pervert for wanting to have sex with my husband. I discovered on 1/17/14, that he was having an online affair and stated that he did it because he was not getting any attention at home. He shut me out and now he wants to lay the blame for his bad behavior at my feet. How do you move forward when he won’t take responsibility for what he has done?

    • Ann, I am so sorry that you’re having problems with your marriage. In your situation, it sounds like divorce might be the only option if he refuses to step up to the plate and take responsibility for his actions/behavior. It will be difficult after 25 years with him, but you deserve better. He has issues and it doesn’t seem like he wants to work on improving anything, so maybe you should just move on.

      And he had the nerve to state that you weren’t giving him enough attention, to excuse his affair? After you’ve been trying to be intimate with him all this time? He is acting like a selfish jerk and making excuses for his poor treatment of you. I can sort of relate to how you feel, the part where you said that it makes you feel unwanted and ugly and rejected. My husband pushes me away sexually too…I love him, but it is very hurtful and frustrating to constantly be pushed away. It is even more painful because I will admit that I’ve always had low self-esteem, so I often blame myself for him not wanting to have sex with me. I beat myself up for not being a size 4 anymore and not being pretty enough. But then I remind myself that I’m doing the best I can, trying to lose weight, and I’m not unattractive. I’m definitely not what most people would call gorgeous but I’m not ugly and neither are you.

      We simply have spouses who don’t appreciate us.

  23. we are married for 8 years.
    My wife is withholding sex from past eight months. kindly suggest what to do.
    Whenever i take initiative she just refuse. It is now taking a toll on me.

  24. This may be the best article I have read on this issue. It says almost all the things that I have always wanted someone to say to my husband. I think it is just SO important for leaders to come out and say that denying sex is a sin without them just acting like it’s a woman’s sin. Thank you. :)

  25. Did it ever occur to any of you that the reasons the churches don’t take it seriously is that it isn’t a sin?! There is one verse that suggests it is (although I think the verse is about good practise, not about sin) and thousands of verses about not demanding rights, having a servant mentality, not giving to get etc. etc.. Yes it is heartbreaking when one half of a couple shuts down sexually but have you thought that by encouraging the wounded spouse to judge the other like this you are actually discouraging them from taking a loving, kindly approach which might, eventually make more progress and encourage intimacy?

  26. I came to know a Christian man who had been together with his wife for 27 years and married for 16. There was sex only once before the marriage in the early days and they were then celibate for 10 years. However they hardly had any sex during the marriage either. According to him the wife was never interested but then she later went off with another married man who had 5 children and she and her husband eventually divorced. In the meantime the Christian man and I had started a relationship and had through the ceiling sex for 2 years but he had periodic feelings of guilt because his church elders were telling him he couldn’t go out with a non Christian nor have sex before marriage. All our major fights were about this and one day he said he wanted to be celibate before marriage and not have sex any more. I felt this ws a) a control tactic and b) a way of saying he wanted out and wanted to date someone else, he had not been very nice to me at times and was setting me up to be controlled by him (trying to tell me what to wear, badmouthing me to all his acquaintances from day one etc). I could also see all the patterns emerging which he had claimed were occurring in his first marriage, and they all seemed to be happening due to HIM!! When prodded, he had previously admitted to finding the concept of sex rather unclean, and celibacy within Christianity helped him deal with it.
    Anyway whatever the reason, I wasn’t having that. I told him I wasn’t dating his friends or church elders, that it was clearly a manipulation game on his part, and that he could get stuffed.  

  27. Susie~Q says:

    Hi, I DO believe it is a sin for either spouse to withhold sex, I do not care if there is a medical issue, it can be resolved. I am writing this out of bitterness, here is my story.

    We have been married less than two years. On our wedding night, the trouble started. He could not get an erection. I tried and tried to get him to “respond” but to no avail. I am not ugly and there was no reason for this. He then adds insult to injury and said he did not have this trouble with his first wife. Well, the entire week there, nothing happened, I cried and cried. There was no love at all those days, he was not even interested and on our last night on our honeymoon, he went to bed early and would not join me in the hot tube. We finally consummated the marriage when we got back to my home, but, it was not good, I was not satisfied, it just hurt badly. (I want to add that we had just met via on line, he is from New Zealand) Well, we packed up my stuff and flew over to his home of New Zealand. I left everything for him, my home, college, friends, health. Well, when we got here, the sex got worse and worse and kept dwindling to the way it is now, which is nothing. He shows no love to me, criticizes me, and I feel so unloved, useless and unworthy, I can hardly stand it at times. I am so lonesome as well. We no longer have “regular intercourse” he can not get an erection at all. He blames the epilepsy pills, but, I do not believe it. He refuses counseling, says it costs money.Our GP was talking to us about it, and he gave suggestions such as cuddling without the stress of sex, etc. Well, that is no longer done either. I even have to initiate manual sex, which gives me no satisfaction at all, he never takes any initiative to make me happy. He is most unromantic. He told me once that no one turns him on, I don’t care about anyone else, it is me I care about. He said he has no libido. He has viagra but will not take it as he does not like how it makes him feel. I feel again so undesirable. I still think he is pining away for his ex wife, she started the divorce, it was very nasty, he said he would not go along with it. He says he does not miss her, but I know he does. He one time said he was “spiritually bonded” still to her. I asked the elders here and they said no way.

    Anyway, I feel this is a big sin, I am seriously thinking of leaving, I can not take this loneliness and lack of love anymore. I miss my homeland, I would not care if I was here if he showed he cared, but there is no concern for me at all. If it was not a sin to divorce, I would have long ago.

    Please pray for him and our marriage. I am trying to be a good wife, I really am.

  28. Hey Jed… I know exactly how you feel… I am facing the same problem.

    I love my wife and I know she loves me too. We have two beautiful children and I dont think I can ever find a better woman than my wife so coming here and saying what I am going to say now is really hard but its what I feel after 12 years of marriage. My wife started refusing to have sex about 2nd or 3rd year in to our marriage. Till about last year, I never pondered upon it as I respect her decisions. Mind you though, it did make me sad and at times depressed as well but I still had strong sexual feelings for her. But now, I dont find her sexually attractive. I get sexually aroused but dont feel like having sex with her – its like I am scared that I will have to face yet another rejection and I am not prepared to be emotionally hurt anymore. I used to kiss her every time I left for work and when I came back from work (She works from home) but now I dont feel like it and I dont it anymore. I still love her to death though.

    I have done stupid stuff in my life like working too hard at times and coming home late from work but it has always been to create a good life for the family. I do lawn mowing and any physically demanding work at home but it does not seem to help.

    Funny thing is, now that I have refused sex a couple of times (first time in 12 years), she says that I have changed and that I dont love her anymore (which is false coz I have always loved her and that will never change).

    I know I wont cheat and I know she wont cheat so not sure what is going to happen in he next few months as I have come to point where I am vehemently going to say NO to her. She is NOT getting any action from me. May be that is what she wants………

    • Roch,

      I feel bad for you as well as others who suffer from this issue (spouse withholding sex). In my opinion, its a sin for a spouse to withhold sex from their husband/wife. Intimacy is the invisible string that holds the marriage together. My wife doesn’t seen to think its a big deal; she does very little on her own to resolve it. We have a beautiful daughter. I pray she doesn’t do the same thing to her husband. My wife is an excellent mother, but a poor wife. Years ago, my father gave me advice. The person you marry isn’t going to change. He was right!. My wife has always had a limited sex drive and now she has none. She told me that she would change and work on it. For 2 years she worked on it. After the birth of our daughter, it is no MORE! My wife knows that I would never cheat on her, so she continues to make me suffer. Someone posted that adult is grounds of divorce. In the legal system withholding sex is, too!

  29. My wife walks the line of mental illness. She is up one day & down another. when we have pursued counseling she appears calm & in control, but get home away from another and she becomes erratic. Im sick to death of living with her but my faith will not allow me to leave. My hope is after the kids are raised she will leave me. I pray for God to take her and often find myself cussing her out when no one is around. on her good days I am thankful, but now know they are short lived and simply wait for another of her episodes. She has withheld sex and then agreed to it but claims I am just using her body. she has no involvement or desire. after a week or two of this she told the counselor I was raping her… She is so convincing to others I have given up on counseling because most all see the guy as the shmuck. Now when or if she does agrees to sex, I fear any release, for who knows when she will return to calling it rape. She has been diagnosed by two medical professionals as bipolar and recommended to be on medication by many more Dr.;s. she refuses. she found some counselors who have told her there is nothing wrong with her. We have spent over $10,000 in counseling cost & are worse than when we started. I masturbate when she is not around as she freaks if she sees me. she loves the double standard. And refuses to speak with me without a third party present. She has contacted my family past friends and current telling them I am a sex addict when if we do it 3xs a month its a good month. I truly pray she has an affair or wants out of the marriage or dies. But she needs me as she cannot get a decent job. I hate that I married her for her looks. I was such a fool. she acknowledges her lack of libido & can not tolerate anything but missionary. I love our four kids who all struggle with her mood swings. it scares me what I wish for but I know no other way out. I;m trapped¡

  30. Excellent Article says:

    Great article.
    What if the person is cheating and you don’t want to “put yourself/your health at risk?”
    Are you dishonoring your vows my not having sex with your spouse?

  31. Ok, so with holding intimacy is a sin. How about the situation where the with holding is completely (mostly?) unintentional? ADHD = no time or follow through on sexy time. This isn’t a case where the spouse is intentionally closed off, they just don’t “work like that”. No. no-no. We tried medication and counseling. That didn’t work. Next check box please?

  32. I found this from http://www.peacemakers.net/peace/divorceforadultery.htm
    Take a look.
    “May the believing partner instigate the divorce? It would seem so. The Greek of verse 15 reads, literally, ‘if the unbeliever is separarating,’ that is, if he is in the process of breaking up the marriage. Certainly it would refer to actions (or lack of actions) on his part that would indicate he no longer wishes to be married and probably also pertains to a failure to assume the obligations of marriage. According to Exodus 21:10, minimal requirements for a marriage on the husband’s part are food, clothing (or shelter) and sexual relations. When these are not provided by neglect or refusal, the marriage my be terminated by the other party. At any rate, the overarching principle is that failure on the part of a marriage partner to maintain the semblance of a home, in such a way that it is constantly upset by such failure, provides opportunity for divorce, leading to ‘peace’ for the Christian partner.”

  33. I have been married for five years. My wife doesn’t want to have sex with me. Her only frequent response is “I feel disconnected from you”. I tell her I love her and surprise her with flowers, but that’s not enough. She aways comes up with an excuse for withholding sex from me. Now, I watch a lot of porn. I find myself staring at women at work elsewhere. I am nt happy Married life sucks!

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

Trackbacks

  1. [...] walking through a really difficult time in your marriage. Maybe your husband has completely withdrawn from you. Maybe he’s addicted to porn. Maybe he’s had an affair. I am not saying that you alone [...]

  2. [...] things are so big that we have to take action, like if he’s using porn, or if he never ever makes love to you, or if he’s violent. But other things, even if they really hurt is, we have to let go, [...]

  3. [...] Note: If your spouse is completely withholding sex, I have written about this here. [...]

  4. [...] do believe that a woman can feed a habit (in Vicki’s words) by withholding sex, though this isn’t an excuse for her husband using porn. But I think far more marriages find [...]

  5. [...] When Your Husband Doesn’t Want to Make Love: What You Can Do Communicating Your Needs when your Spouse Doesn’t Want to Make Love What To do When Your Spouse Withholds Sex [...]

  6. […] problem than what I’m talking about it here, and I’ll deal with what to do when your spouse withholds sex on […]

  7. […] in Scripture. I think the problem that many of us have is that we start measuring sins: I may have withheld sex, but that doesn’t give him an excuse to have an affair! Or to watch porn! And I would agree. […]

  8. […] what if the chain of events doesn’t look quite like that? What if you’re the one whose spouse is refusing sex, and it looks more like […]

  9. […] to do when your husband withholds sex […]

  10. Loving Well says:

    […] great post on faithfully consummating  marital love by Sheila Wray Gregoire. .(Click here.) Shelia blogs at To Love Honor and Vacuum. I frequently read her blog posts as I find them on […]

Leave a Comment

*

CommentLuv badge