Wifey Wednesday: Do You Try to Avoid Sex?

wifey wednesday

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

Today I want to ask a question: Do you try to avoid sex? I know for a significant portion of you, sex is stressful because your husbands don’t seem to have any sex drive. I’ve written posts for you here and here, and I do feel for you! But for many others, we’re tired of being pestered.

See if you can relate to this tongue-and-cheek sketch my husband and I filmed:

That was the story of the first few years of my marriage (though I didn’t decorate with Tampax!). But I just hated the fights that we would get into if we didn’t have sex enough. Or if it wasn’t fights, I could still tell he was mad at me, or hurt. And I didn’t want him to be hurt, because in my mind what he was saying was, “I love her, but only if we have sex a lot. If we don’t have sex very much, then I have to withdraw from her.” So I felt like he was punishing me and that his love was conditional.

Of course, I was giving him the same message, because to him, I wasn’t loving him, either (because we weren’t making love enough). But I still figured that if I could just stop him from expecting anything, then we could get back to a “normal” relationship where we relate in the way that two people who enjoy each other’s company should.

I’m not sure I did this consciously; but it certainly happened. I stopped kissing him. I wore really ugly stuff to bed. I complained about how tired I was and what a headache I had constantly (I’m surprised he didn’t try to admit to a hospital or something). And to me, it worked.

But here’s the problem:

When you spend so long trying to get him turned off, you never have time to figure out if you want to be turned on.

I was so focused on making sure nothing ever happened that I never opened the door, even a crack, to my own sex drive. And then we miss out on intimacy, and fun, and release, and all the good stuff that we can get from sex.

Now, of course, part of the reason that women stop wanting to make love is that for many of us it just doesn’t feel very good. I’m going to film a video soon (hopefully tomorrow) talking to men trying to explain this problem. And I’ll have some thoughts on how you can communicate this to your husband better, too.

But for many of us, if we decided to jump in with enthusiasm it would feel good, because for women, our sex drives are largely in our heads. We don’t tend to be “turned on” before we start making love. We become aroused once we start. And if we make sure we never start, then we’re cutting off an important part of our lives.

I received one particular response to a survey question that I asked when writing The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex that has really stood out to me. I even quoted it in the book. The woman said:

My husband of [over a decade] has a very high sex drive. I had no idea before we got married that our sex drives wouldn’t be hte same–he says he wouldn’t have married me if he’d known. (But really, how was I to know?). And in order to “turn him off”, so to speak, and not have him asking twenty times a day, I gained weight. I thought that if I was fat he’s leave me alone–really his needs and the constant asking made me feel as though I had no other options. So here I am, obese and a huge disappointment to him. All because I have a low sex drive.

My heart aches for this woman (and her husband), because I don’t think it had to be this way. There could have been compromise, and they both could have understood each other’s needs better. But I do believe that many women find that “I’ll never get turned on as often as my husband“, so the answer is to turn him off. But there is another alternative. Why not work on turning ourselves on?

Let’s get a positive attitude about sex, and learn how to prepare for sex throughout the day. I’ve got lots of advice in that post from the 29 Days to Great Sex series on how to do practical things during the day so you’re in the right frame of mind later.

So today, here’s a challenge for you: If sex has become a source of tension, because he wants it more than you do, then why not spend today trying to get ready for tonight? I wonder what would happen if we spent as much time trying to get ourselves in the mood that we do trying to get our husbands out of it?

Don’t miss my contest! If you like my writings on marriage & intimacy, I would love to come and host a Girl Talk night at your church–for free! Enter here.

Now it’s your turn! Do you have marriage thoughts for us today? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!

Comments

  1. Oh that video is priceless!! How sad and funny at the same time. I know that when I learned how to take charge of my own sex drive that our marriage was transformed. That’s why I also put so much energy into helping couples turn things around. I use some unconventional methods from my sports performance life, because that’s how God changed my world, but all of it rests in the finished work of Jesus. He has already answered our prayers and made the power available to change. We just need to tap into it and get our bodies to line up.
    Gina Parris recently posted…Is Generosity More Important than Sex for a Happy Marriage?My Profile

  2. This one REALLY hit home for me! This is exactly where we are. I started feeling like he just wanted sex all day long, and so I started shutting him down and avoiding it. So now we rarely have sex. Because I have the most amazing husband in the WORLD, he doesn’t try to make me feel guilty about it, and assures me that he loves our marriage, regardless of our sex life (or lack thereof). But I still feel guilty about it, because I feel like I’ve robbed him of the kind of marriage he deserves. And the guilt makes me REALLY not want to have sex, because I can’t think of sex without feeling that guilt. Awesome, huh? I will say that since finding your blog I have been making an effort to change my thinking, and my actions toward my husband. We’re still not going at it like bunnies, but I’m working really hard on shedding the guilt and just getting back to that good place where we enjoyed each other and there wasn’t so much PRESSURE. There was a time when it was just spontaneous and fun, without all the expectations and pressure. I do miss that.

    • Amy, I think your comment could have been written by about 75% of the readers of this blog (or 75% of all women!). Many of us feel exactly the same way. We feel guilty for not having sex more, which causes a vicious circle of resentment and guilt, which means we want sex less! I’m glad you’re starting to come out of that.

    • Gorgeous George says:

      @Amy: Your comment made me sad for both you and your husband, but I have good news for you. It isn’t too late to reverse this pattern.

      First, you need to forgive yourself for stuff that you can’t change in the past. If it helps, hug your husband tight, give him a big kiss, and say you’re sorry that it has been this way for too long, and tell him that you are going to change it, starting tonight. (Or you could just skip the apology, and show by your actions and attitude that you are turning the page from that sad chapter in your marriage.) If you really are making things different (not just tonight, and then sliding back into the bad habits, but consistently), he will see, and he will be happy.

      But this cycle won’t end until you end it. Forgive yourself. Like the saying goes, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift.” Don’t let today become another sad yesterday. Seize it! And if you stick with it, pretty soon you will have a lot of happy yesterdays, and a lot less guilt. :-)

      • Gorgeous George says:

        @Amy: One more thing… It sounds like your hubby is a good, kind man, but you need to recognize the urgency of this. Unless he is an honest-to-goodness candidate for sainthood, at some point, this will become scary urgent for you. Or you may find out that it is too late.

        Don’t wait until some other woman that he works with (or sees at the coffee shop, etc.) starts showing interest in him. From a guy’s perspective, I’d seriously doubt my wife’s sincerity if she only sprang into action when she found out other women might like me and not take me for granted. (My wife evidently assumes this isn’t happening to me, but it is. And when you’ve been ignored and shot down long enough, it just feels nice to have someone flirt with you.)

        Don’t be the pet owner that only notices her dog after he runs away. Pet him everyday. (Or at least more often than he asks, so he can say “No thanks” to you once in a while.) If you do that, he can see with his eyes that his loyalty is worth something to you. (Note: Just saying it is not the same as showing it.)

        Good luck!

  3. My brother and I were talking last night. He brought something to my attention, and then I looked it up online today….the way porn affects people. Speaking of avoiding sex. So here is an example of the way porn ruins sex. You know in Japan, porn is incredibly perverse. And here in America, men can’t get enough of Japanese porn. ‘Japan is a step ahead of the United States, as the first industrial country to bring sadism and pedophilia into the mainstream. Mere possession of certain Japanese manga is a criminal offense in other countries. “In recent cases in the United States and Sweden, authorities have made arrests over manga books imported from Japan depicting sexual abuse of children,” the New York Times reported Feb. 10, 2010.’ Men everywhere are obsessed with Japanese porn, Japanese GIRLS. Well, apparently a great majority of Japanese women and men ages 16-34 have never had sex, and actually despise the thought of sex. 90% of young Japanese women have shunned ever having sex. Apparently Japanese women hate being made into sex objects as the porn industry over there is turning them into. And it’s not just the women – a great percentage of young Japanese males have also shunned sex. The Japanese people as a whole are becoming asexual as a reaction to their porn industry. According to a couple of articles I read, this has shaken the psychology profession to its core. Japan is actually facing the fact that their race may be facing extinction. They’re talking about immigration to try to bring in young workers to support a population that in 2050, around 40% will be aged 65 and older.

    And apparently it’s happening to a lesser extent here in America. It might explain some of what’s been going on here too.
    Jen recently posted…in reality, what is worth more?My Profile

    • Jen, that is really, really interesting. I’d like to look into that some more. I know that studies have shown that the effect of porn on young men in North America is to kill their sex drive for real women. But I hadn’t thought about the effects for women, like you describe in Japan. I guess when sex is just so gross (and Japanese porn and all that school girl stuff really is disgusting) you start associating that with sex, and sex becomes gross. So sad.

      • You should do some research, and maybe write something about it! I founds lots of articles about it online. Not all of them made the connection between the lack of sexual desire and porn, but about half of them did. Something that was brought up in the comments of one article is something I had heard about happening, but I didn’t realize it was so widespread – many young Japanese men actually have fantasy computer girlfriends/wives – and I’m actually talking about computer generated images, from video games and the like – so they’re just not interested in a relationship with a real woman. They’ll even take their laptops with them on vacation to spend their vacations with their computer generated lovers. How did society get to this point?? My brother made a joke that is actually kind of scary because it’s very possible – that the holodeck will be the last invention, because after that the human race may very likely become extinct. (If you’ve watched any amount of Star Trek, you’ll know what I’m talking about!)
        Jen recently posted…in reality, what is worth more?My Profile

      • i recently read a book on porn, that provided additional perspective. it affects both male and female. i wrote a short review on it because its one of those things that christians seem to have a hard time discussing – we’re either judgemental(as in this can’t happen to me) or uncaring and there’s another perspective somewhere in between. this book though a fiction novel was based on the author’s life.
        nylse recently posted…Porn – Book ReviewMy Profile

        • I used to be judgmental about porn, because it is so incredibly hurtful to women. I still believe that it’s cruel, selfish, and completely against the plan God has for human sexuality. The thing that changed my attitude towards men who struggle with it was realizing that often men do stuff like that because it’s less risky than actually being intimate with someone. That doesn’t make it ok. It’s still cruel, selfish, and a destruction of God’s beautiful gifts. But realizing that gave me the ability to sympathize.

          Sometimes I worry that my husband may look at porn. He would swear up and down that he doesn’t, but with what’s been going on in our marriage sometimes I worry. Yet I am terrified to bring it up because he has made sex an absolutely taboo subject in our marriage. Not only does he refuse to have sex with me (though I know he has masturbated a few times, because I asked him and he told me – then he refused to talk to me for a week), he also refuses to talk about anything remotely connected to it. And now that I’m not living with him, I worry even more.

          I’m glad that I can trust God, and rest in my relationship with Him. It’s such a comfort to have God to lean on, someone who loves me.
          Jen recently posted…deliberately confident in the character of GodMy Profile

          • My husband and I are at the stage where we can talk about anything, and we’ve had really good conversation around this topic. Has he looked at it, is he enticed, does he know others affected by it, what does it do to you (from a man’s perspective), etc.
            Why is sex such taboo topic in your household?
            we can continue this conversation offline or via email nylse.esahc@gmail.com, but in the mean time I’ll be praying for you.
            nylse recently posted…Old Things/Old WaysMy Profile

          • There is a lot of hurt connected to sex in his past and in our past together. The frustrating thing is that I understand his hurt, and I hurt for him, and I understand why he acts the way he does – but I know that he could choose to get help, he could choose to work through these things with me instead of pushing me away and creating a greater rift between us. I keep telling him, we’re partners, we’re teammates. He is going to be getting back on an anti-depressant soon, which will help improve his outlook on life and his mood drastically, but there are side effects – again, something that I want him to realize we can work through together. I want us both to feel safe being intimate with one another, without fear of judgment or rejection. The problem is that he grew up in an environment without love, he grew up in an environment of fear and hurt. He hasn’t resolved those issues yet, and therefore he doesn’t quite realize how to be in a healthy relationship. The frustrating thing is that he can choose to deal with the issues and work past them, and he can choose to grow closer to me and to God through this, rather than pushing us both away, but so far he has been blinded to that truth. He said today he’ll start going to counseling again and start taking medicine again, so I hope things will improve soon. I love that man. He told me a few days ago that he wished I would hate him, because my love is the only thing keeping him on this earth and he doesn’t want to be here anymore. I told him that I would always love him, that I can be mad as heck at him and still love him to pieces.
            Jen recently posted…deliberately confident in the character of GodMy Profile

      • Gorgeous George says:

        @Jen and Sheila (and all the women who want to chime in):

        Serious question from a guy here… If a spouse continually refuses his/her partner, isn’t it better for the neglected to look at porn and masturbate, especially compared to having an affair, going to a strip club, or (heaven forbid) being with a prostitute?

        I realize, the neglected spouse can choose none of the above. But if he/she is put into this box, and left there long enough, is it realistic to expect him/her to not do something about it? People do have needs.

        I also realize, most of these activities will not improve one’s self esteem (although meeting a different person who is genuinely interested in him/her could).

        Note: I am NOT saying a neglected spouse should threaten any of these things. I’m simply saying that perhaps porn is better than some other coping mechanisms.

        • No. Porn is never, ever, EVER ok. Fantasizing about other women is adultery. Jesus Himself said that if a man lusts after a woman other than his wife, he has committed adultery. I can *understand* masturbation, because there are physical needs, but NEVER ever is it ok to commit adultery. Matthew 5:28: “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
          Jen recently posted…deliberately confident in the character of GodMy Profile

          • Gorgeous George says:

            @Jen: OK, that’s certainly understandable, and I respect your opinion. Thanks for giving your take on the subject. I have an equally strong feeling about the cruelty of rejecting/ignoring/refusing one’s spouse. I firmly believe it is a violation of the marriage vows, and a form of infidelity too.

            I asked the question above because the Bible tells us we are all sinners, all imperfect. Knowing that, it just seems inevitable to me that if you put an imperfect person into a box where they have ONLY bad choices, and you leave them there long enough, sooner or later they will choose one.

          • The thing is, it’s not my opinion. It’s the Word of God.

            I’m the rejected spouse in my marriage. I understand how you feel. But there are not only bad choices. There are never only bad choices. The Bible says that God always provides a way out of temptation. God didn’t say to only do the right thing when we’re being treated well. When Jesus was being beaten and mocked and the crucified, He cried out to God, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” And He still loved them, and still gave His life for them – for US. God commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. That doesn’t mean only love with Christ’s love when your wife is doing what she’s supposed to do. Christ loved us while we were yet sinners. He loved us while we were ripping his skin off with a nine-tailed whip that had broken glass and sharp rocks attached to the ends. While we were laughing at him and spitting on him. While we were yet sinners, He loved us enough to give his life for us. You are commanded to love your wife with that kind of love. Christ’s love and faithfulness isn’t conditional. It’s not contingent on whether or not we love Him. He loves us no matter what, with a deep, merciful, sacrificial love.

            When we are put in situations where temptation is, we have to very purposefully place boundaries and build hedges so that we won’t fall. Sex is extremely important to me. Emotional intimacy is extremely important to me as well. I have been tempted so many times. I didn’t always do such a great job of avoiding that temptation. Guys have a tendency to flirt with me and ask me out, and while being rejected and ignored by my husband it always felt pretty good to be flirted with, to be told that I’m beautiful, to be treated like I’m special and worthwhile. Before I built hedges and placed boundaries in my personal life, sometimes I would talk to those men with a bit of a flirtatious tone. Sometimes I would let them buy me drinks. I was desperate for attention. I was lonely, and I didn’t have clear and strict boundaries, so I fell. I learned the hard way how important boundaries are.

            I don’t respect and love my husband because he always deserves to be respected and loved. I respect and love my husband because I have been shown mercy by Christ, and I desire to please Him through my every word, thought, and deed. I choose daily to respect and love him, I choose daily to be faithful in every way. I take every thought captive in obedience to Christ, as the Bible says to do.
            Jen recently posted…water your grassMy Profile

          • Very well said, Jen. I know that you’re going through a hard road, but I do believe that God sees your daily sacrifice and your heart, and what you do doesn’t go unnoticed.

          • Thanks for the encouragement, Sheila. I have so much comfort from my relationship with God. To be able to rest in His love, to be able to have peace, comfort, strength, and even joy in the middle of such painful trials. I find that I discover the character of God in new and intimate ways when I’m experiencing struggles. I don’t always do a great job of handling things with composure, and sometimes the stress can affect other areas in my life, but I know He understands when I fall apart.

            Things have been a little better the past couple of days. He’s making a concerted effort to spend more time with me, and get to know me again. We talked for around three and a half hours today. We decided together to do what you mentioned in another post, push the “reset” button on our sex life – so, start back at the beginning and rebuild our marriage from the ground up. We’re going to wait a bit on developing the physical intimacy, until we have developed a foundation of spiritual and emotional intimacy, because we don’t want sex to be only about the physical. I think we had forgotten how to be spiritually intimate while making love, because he had ignored me and pushed me away for so many years that we weren’t emotionally or spiritually intimate at all, and sex wasn’t fulfilling anymore. We’re planning to go to church together on Sunday – his idea. We’re going to make the habit of reading the Bible together and praying together.

            I know that there will be setbacks, but I can see God working.
            Jen recently posted…water your grassMy Profile

          • Gorgeous George says:

            @Jen and Sheila: I didn’t mean to sound as if I was glossing over the Biblical basis for what you said. I am sure you are right about that.

            But isn’t there some truth to the old saying that God helps those who help themselves? It’s one thing to try to follow Jesus’ example, leading a selfless, compassionate, forgiving way… but don’t we have some responsibility to find happiness, rather than waiting for God or our spouse to make it happen?

            Yes, I know the kind of suffering we are talking about is minor compared to what Job and others went through. And maybe this is what God wants us to go through for reasons we can’t understand. But I believe there have been studies about babies (possibly monkeys?) being denied physical touch and affection from their mothers, and it is devastating. (I recall some even died!) I think this is pretty analogous to the heartbreak neglected spouses suffer through.

            I guess I am not a good enough person to look at this situation and see a good option. Accepting the fact the other spouse won’t change and leaving hardly seems positive, and living with this loneliness is more than I can bear.

            Anyway, if you are willing to hang in there, Jen, I salute you and wish you the best.

            I’ve reached my limit, so either my marriage has to change, or I have to leave soon. I am looking at what is in my control, and really trying to do what I can. But I can see a point in the near future where, if she hasn’t met me halfway, it will be clear that it is time to go. I won’t wait around until I die from heartbreak. My kids need me, and I believe they will be much better off with a happy, healthy role model.

  4. i dont want to comment but i have to – that woman you referenced was misguided.
    a big part of marriage is communication and so once they both found this out – why couldn’t they both talk about it and come up with a solution that would work for both of them? How silly is it to get fat thinking it would change his sex drive! and how uncaring to say you wouldnt have married her if you knew her sex drive was low. does he apply this logic to other areas he wasn’t aware of, until after marriage?
    I’m not a sex expert – but my husband and i are experts on us. The only way we got here is by talking, sharing, discussing, being open, vulnerable, and willing to adjust on each other’s behalf.

    and the other thing i know – sex drives change.
    nylse recently posted…Old Things/Old WaysMy Profile

    • I totally agree, Nylse. And her comment really did make me sad. We really don’t know the husband’s side, but I think many women would just rather give up, and it’s the wrong thing to do. It’s better to love, to accept, and to communicate, which is what we’re called to do.

  5. WOW – why am I just NOW finding your blog!? This is awesome and a topic I am already so passionate about after just 21 months of marriage. Sex is marriage is so important, yet still so taboo to discuss among Christian women. Thank you for writing about this!!
    Becky recently posted…2013 DestinationMy Profile

  6. What a great illustration, Sheila!!!!!!! While it was funny, some women do go through those things to keep from having sex, as God intended it. Your website always helps me to refocus and keep encouraged that I am on the right track!! THANK YOU!!! :)

    ~TC Thompson
    Another Whoament In Time
    tiffanyswhoaments.blogspot.com
    TC Thompson recently posted…Wedded *Whoa*ment: Nagging Nurse or Wise Wife?My Profile

  7. In reading about asexuality in Japan, I came across this – apparently asexuality is a growing thing in other countries too. I wonder why? I wonder if this could explain many of the stories of spouses who simply aren’t interested in sex, and there seems to be no reason for their lack of interest? Could they be asexual? http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/26/among-the-asexuals
    Jen recently posted…deliberately confident in the character of GodMy Profile

    • Hi Jen,

      I don’t think spouses who are married really fit into this category. This article was talking about people who had never felt any attraction for anybody ever, and who had never yearned to be kissed or touched or anything. I would think that most people who got married did, at one time, feel a sex drive. In fact, from most people that I talk to whose spouses aren’t interested, it’s come as a surprise, because at one point the spouse was eager to have sex, or at least make out. And now that’s all died.

      So I believe it’s more of a relationship issue than a sex drive issue. It could be that some married people honestly are asexual, but I would think that this would have been apparent even in the dating days. Still, the impact of porn in Japan on women does seem really interesting, and porn, in general, is causing people’s sex drives with real people to plummet.

      • You’re probably right. I guess the thing I noticed in the article was that many asexuals do want to have a marriage relationship, because there are still emotional needs, just without the sex. BUT you’re right, it would most likely be apparent even in the dating stage.

        I find it interesting that society still sees porn as acceptable and “healthy” (yes, I’ve had many non-Christians tell me that it’s healthy for men to watch porn – WHAT??) even after all the stats have come out on how much it negatively affects people and relationships in a variety of ways.
        Jen recently posted…deliberately confident in the character of GodMy Profile

  8. Thank you for your bravery and honesty in writing this post. I struggle with trying to figure out sometimes if I really don’t want sex because I’m genuinely tired/not feeling well or if I just need to be turned on. My husband is so wonderful about working with me and if at any point, I’m not feeling comfortable or it’s not working, he is patient enough to wait for me. But this definitely gave me food for thought – and I appreciate the link to preparing for sex throughout the day.

    In marriage, sex is so critical to the health of the marriage. As women, we too easily slip into a negative frame of mind that prohibits us from being totally unified and freed to love in our marriages (and all relationships for that matter). I find myself meditating on Philippians 4:8-9 when I need to be in a better frame of mind – Yes, married sex can be messy and chaotic and is so far from the Hollywood produced ideas of sex, BUT… Married sex is lovely. Married sex is pure. God speaks about married sex as being important and pleasurable – and I need to remember that truth. It is praiseworthy to please my husband. And God’s peace is with me always – helping me to find peaceful solutions to the sex problems we may come across, calming my heart when I’m feeling anxious or awkward, giving me purpose when I feel unworthy or unlovable, giving me strength when I really want to please my husband but don’t have the energy. I think it’s so wonderful that we have the Word of God to refresh us, restore us, heal us, help us, and guide us!
    Hannah Williams recently posted…I Take Thee to Be My Husband… and then I’ll work under you, be your personal slave, and never have an opinion of my own forever! Part 4My Profile

  9. Ashleigh says:

    This is something I need to work on. My question is, how do you stop feeling like just another household appliance, and start feeling like a woman and wife again?

  10. Cami Valdez says:

    @valdezcami I agree! I try all the time to avoid my husband. I just don’t like it anymore. He now wants a divorce but I still love him like my best friend.

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