30 responses

  1. James
    March 31, 2014

    My take on this is that it sounds like your husband has some distorted views of sexuality. It’s not uncommon for men who have a past to put “good girls” on a pedestal and have trouble maintaining a healthy sexual relationship, especially if he was doing something then that was against his values. The term for this is the “Madonna-whore complex”—women are either saintly virgin, motherly “Madonnas” or “whores”. In his mind, he doesn’t want to treat you the same way that he treated those other girls. Even though you have a healthy desire for him in marriage, he is stuck in his own past. When he says he “made a conscious choice not to be driven by sex, but to choose someone for the more lasting values that marriage has to offer” , that’s a pretty big red flag that this may be the problem.

    Unfortunately, men who have found their “Madonnas” sometime keep their “whores”. Men who don’t see sex with their wives as something positive tend to seek sex outside the marriage, through porn or worse. Other men become afraid of sex, hating their sexuality and (strangely) resenting their wives for wanting it. Whatever the case, this is a very serious problem.

    As for your end of it, you say “Now it is abundantly clear that if he found me more attractive, he would be more driven to have sex with me. It would be less of an effort to initiate it with me. It would be more frequent, spontaneous.”, but from what you have written, the problem is HIS problem, not yours. You could be the perfect woman with the perfect body and he’d probably still have issues. This is not about you at all.

    You say you are Catholic. If you are looking for a good Catholic resource, I recommend “Holy Sex” by Dr. Gregory Popcak. The book does a really good job of debunking a lot of myths about Catholicism and sexuality. If the problem is deeper than simply false beliefs and bad information, then I highly recommend finding a good counselor who respects your beliefs and can help you both work through the problems.

    • James
      March 31, 2014

      After reading some of the other comments, I think I may have misread your post.

      If HE thinks you aren’t attractive or if HE sees you only has a “helper” and not a lover, then, yes, that’s a big problem on HIS end.

      If YOU THINK you aren’t attractive to him, or YOU THINK that he sees you only as a “helper”, that’s a different issue. It’s never good to play “mindreader” in a marriage or to expect your spouse to do the same. Never assume, always ask.

      What are his priorities for intimacy? How does he show love? How does he want to be shown love? Is he still struggling with his past? How much have you communicated with him about your need for physical intimacy? What is behind his hesitation?

      I still suspect there are some unresolved sexual issues on his end, but I also see a lot of issues with expectations and assumptions taking the place of actual communication.

  2. Lori Alexander
    March 31, 2014

    I told my son about Sacred Search and he read it over Christmas vacation and said it was the best dating book he had ever read. He is 26, walks with Jesus and has been looking for a truly godly woman with deep roots in Jesus. This book caused him to take a second look at one girl he had coffee with in Nov. When he went back to school, he began dating her and now they are very serious and love being together. This book helped him take a second look at her because of her quality characteristics and deep love for the Lord. They come from the same background, have never “dated” around, and have the same values. This book should be a must read for all young, Christian people who want to understand the true meaning of marriage and what to look for in a future spouse. By the way, Sheila, great response to a woman who is deeply hurting. This society tends to elevate sex over marriage instead of marriage over sex.
    Lori Alexander recently posted…Duck, Ladies!My Profile

  3. Sheila
    March 31, 2014

    An anonymous reader of the blog by email sent this to me to put in the comments:

    What about reading ‘Intimacy Ignited,’ or Intimate Issues by Dillow? Maybe his sexual past has something to do with why he isn’t passionate about her. Maybe he needs to deal with why he thinks its not okay to be sexy with her ? Date nights are also a great way to have time together, to build the romance. I think I’d dwindle without them, cause you otherwise never get any uninterrupted time to talk. ;-)

  4. Elizabeth
    March 31, 2014

    “Now it is abundantly clear that if he found me more attractive, he would be more driven to have sex with me. It would be less of an effort to initiate it with me. It would be more frequent, spontaneous.”

    This just breaks my heart! I’ve felt the same way myself many times, especially postpartum, around 4 months postpartum like you are! but other times as well. Just out of curiosity, have you been worrying about this a lot lately? Is it an old thought but it’s bothering you more now? That’s how it was for me, and it was all lies in my case. I’m not sure what was going on inside myself but that was NOT a good time for me.

    My husband too “picked” me for some things… my ability to stand up to him being near the top (which is something I never really appreciated about myself, but lo, it turns out to be a blessing), followed by other stuff like being responsible, loving children, being passionate about human rights, etc.). Not sure he was really lovey-dovey until LATER, like a year or so into marriage, and it’s still not really in his personality to be super romantic. He did do romantic things for his previous girlfriends but I maintain that’s just because they demanded them. I don’t think it was out of spontaneous affection.

    Honestly we are lying to ourselves to say that our husbands don’t find us attractive and don’t really love us! The truth is that he chose YOU, and you chose HIM. Out of everybody in the world, he decided that you are the person he most wants to spend the rest of his life with (an especially serious decision as a Catholic). I think it just takes time for most husbands and wives to communicate that love effectively to each other. He may be trying to show you how much he loves you, but in a way that means nothing to you. I’ve BTDT. :) Do you lay down your lives for each other daily in tangible ways? In ways that mean something to the other person (not necessarily what would mean something in someone else’s marriage)?

    I think that sometimes we picture married life in a totally unrealistic way… for example, sex. The busier you and your husband are, the less likely you are to have super frequent *spontaneous* sex. This is simply about the number of hours in the day and exhaustion. :) Sometimes you have to choose one… either frequent OR spontaneous. And sometimes you get both, which is always nice! Just keep in mind that you have a little baby and that comes with a lot of new responsibilities. I don’t know about you, but I could never make love when my daughter was crying in the next room (still can’t, actually, although she’s almost 2 so it’s a much rarer occurrence now). I remember my husband being quite upset about this, like I loved the baby more than I loved him (which wasn’t really true, I just can’t leave her to cry if I don’t absolutely need to — I wouldn’t leave ANYONE crying if I didn’t need to!). This caused a lot of strife in our relationship for a while.

  5. Jenny
    March 31, 2014

    I’m not sure if this helps, but I married my husband for similar reasons. I’d had my heart broken as a teenager, and as a young adult new Christian, I really wanted something different than my past, carnally-motivated relationship(s). It’s not that I wasn’t attracted to my husband when I married him — it’s that I didn’t want that to be the only, defining characteristic of our relationship. Almost 12 years later, I think I chose well. We’re well suited to each other, and I love him more every day. We’ve been through troubles (those years with infants are killers, when hormones and sleep deprivation made me want to cry or yell or curl up and sleep all the time, and all I could see of him was the ways he wasn’t helping me), but we’ve learned to push through our past hang ups and really communicate. Our history gives our relationship incredible meaning and importance to me. All this to say, I think your marriage can be awesome. If you can work through brokenness together, with honesty and teamwork, you can come through anything stronger and more “in love.” Love is a choice that we make every day.

  6. Deana
    March 31, 2014

    I can relate to this but I was the one who chose to marry my husband because he was the “good choice”. I had been married and divorced before and fell for my ex because of passion. It definitely did not trump character! When my husband and I started dating I had 2 daughters under 5 and was very skeptical. I decided that following my heart had not worked and that I would follow my head on any future relationships. I met my husband and while there were no breathless moments I truly admired his Godly character and his devotion to me. I knew he would love and cherish me and my daughters and 20 years later he still loves and cherishes us. We married and a year later had a daughter together. He also adopted my 2 older girls and they have never felt like they were second to their younger sister. I know we have a deep and aviding love that has grown passionate through the years. Being open to a relationship that was not based solely on the physical passion has paid off more than I could have imagined.

  7. Monk chick
    March 31, 2014

    I’m approaching my first year anniversary and I just recently found out my husband married me because I would make a suitable wife and mother. He enjoys the partnership and companionship that I bring to our marriage. Did it grieve me when I realized that I’m appreciated for the practical and not passion? Yes. Very much. If I’m not careful to guard my heart, resentment and discontentment grows and hurts our bond.

    I do understand the hurt of lack of intimacy or passion. In my marriage, he does not carry much interest in me that way even though I am very fit. I have initiated multiple times and I’m often turned down. Not even one year in marriage and our average is once or twice a month.

    I try to focus on the ways he does show love to me. He provides for our family, he’s very affectionate (though it rarely leads to sex), he takes care of fix ups in our home.

    I try to be a crown jewel for him and trust God to meet my needs. I stay clear of any and all chick flicks as they do nothing but cause me to focus on what I do not have. Comparison is the thief of joy.

    • Greg
      March 31, 2014

      I’ve never understood how any husband could lack that passion and desire for their wife (and it seems to be a growing concern in a number of marriages). :( I pray that God convicts him, stirs his heart for you, and restores his desire for intimacy in your marriage.

      • James
        March 31, 2014

        I once saw a bumper sticker that said “Girls are no substitute for a PlayStation”. While it was meant as a joke, it’s sadly a reality for many couples.

        While there have always been guys with naturally low sex drives and couples with little chemistry, I suspect a lot of the “growing concern” of men not being interested in their wives involves a combination of poor health, interests outside the marriage (video games, TV, work, etc.), and porn.

      • Becca
        March 31, 2014

        I’ve been praying for the opposite. I recently prayed for God to squash my desire for my husband and take away my sex drive. I’m tired of feeling sad. I’m tired of feeling undesirable. I’ve been taking care of myself, my husband is very affectionate (kisses, hand holding) but he rarely seems to want sex. I’ve stopped initiating and we’re down to once or twice a week. I can’t take knowing so many husbands constantly hound their wives for sex and mine seems happy without it. I try to tell myself that his job is stressful, and since he starts so early in the morning, he is exhausted by the time the kids are in bed, but it doesn’t help much. I’m just tired of being undesired and feeling repulsive. I’m tired of him getting upset when I ask him what I could do to be more attractive to him. He claims He thinks I’m beautiful and he doesn’t want me to change, but I feel like the reader who asked the question. If he found me more attractive, he would be more driven to have sex with me. It’s affecting my mood, and I want that to change. Perhaps if I lose my sex drive, I will feel better about this whole mess.

      • monk chick
        March 31, 2014

        I understand how you feel. I have been praying the same thing.

    • Hannah J
      March 31, 2014

      My husband used to only want to sleep with me once a week, any more times is because I literally begged and cried… I’m not proud of those moments. After reading “The Surrendered Wife” by Laura Doyle, I stopped initiating. It hurt WAY too much to be turned down. We still don’t do it often, usually 2 times a week, but now I enjoy it more. He likes taking the lead, and I don’t have a tear stained pillow.

  8. Catherine Seiwert
    March 31, 2014

    Love love love love love LOVE this…..can’t say it enough….you’re awesome Sheila!

  9. Alchemist
    March 31, 2014

    Who told this girl that sex would just be natural and spontaneous?

    I know she is hurting, and I’m sorry for that. But really. If I may be blunt. Did you honestly want your husband to choose you for your body instead of your character? or even more blunt, did you want him to decide who he was going to spend his life with with his penis instead of his head?

    I know my fiancé chose me because he sees me as a suitable helpmeet and good potential mother. This is an honour! Not a badge of shame. I know I chose him for similar reasons. I chose him because he is steady and kind and I believe he will be a good father and provider. Not because he is hot.

    • monk chick
      March 31, 2014

      Though the writer of this letter didn’t make it clear. I would assume that she doesn’t want to be just a suitable helpmeet but also ravished by her husband’s desire. Why must it be either/or?

  10. anonymous
    March 31, 2014

    I, too, can relate to these comments. I have a much higher sex drive than my other half and have had to stop initiating in the face of constant rejection. Which means we now have sex once every 2 or 3 months. I hate it, but he doesn’t seem to even notice the absence. Not having any sex is about as crummy as always being rejected. Heartbreaking.

  11. Henna Maria
    April 1, 2014

    Sheila, what a wonderful response!

    Yet, in the heart of a woman, there is a need to be the one, the most beautiful of them all, the most desirable of them all. I would recommend you to read “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge. I think when we women realize how passionately our God loves us, it can really help us to feel loved (and we women need feelings too, not just facts:) and experience the love of God, our Father.

    Also, I would ask if you felt loved by your father when you were growing up? Lots of our ‘issues’ can be rooted in our childhood, especially how our father treated us. If there is any painful memory or situation that has been carved into your mind, I would prayerfully ask Jesus to reveal if there are any lies you believed about yourself because of that. I have personally been changed by this. I just had people pray for me over a painful, shameful memory and Jesus spoke to me the truth: “I am so excited that you were born!” It was so freeing!

    Thirdly, are you familiar with the 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman? Do you know what makes your husband feel loved, does he know what makes you feel loved? This can help you as a couple to do and say things that communicate love to each other.

    I feel for you! All those crazy baby hormones and body issues after pregnancy and birth… I have had 4 babies :)

  12. Rebeccah
    April 1, 2014

    Ironically, I feel like my husband made an emotional choice and I made a sensible choice. He is so often reliable and encouraging and such a good man in so many ways. I feel like being married to me must be more like being married to a perpetual tidal wave. I really liked a lot of what the response entailed but I do think that I wouldn’t want to feel the way she feels either.

    Luckily for me, my husband finds me very attractive. We also struggle often that I have more desire for sex than he does (we were both each other’s firsts). I have started to realize though that his lack of desire is more to do with him than it does with me. He just naturally doesn’t want to have sex as much as I do. What I have also realized is that hormones make life crazy! During my first pregnancy, I wanted to have sex ALL THE TIME! I couldn’t get enough. Now that we have a two year old daughter and I am pregnant again, I just don’t feel that way. It isn’t the opposite but it is lower than the in between for sure. I don’t know if it’s because we are expecting a boy or because I am more tired taking care of a toddler and being pregnant but either way we really pray and talk about trying to give each other grace. Sex isn’t NOT important. It IS! But it certainly isn’t a large percentage of our relationship. The biggest part is that he is my best friend! What I love is the gift Jesus has given to us to be able to share our true feelings while still knowing that feelings aren’t the be all end of all of reality. In good moments, He gives us the grace to care more about the other one than ourselves.

    I hope she finds the courage to speak her feelings in this way and that her husband has the grace to listen and to fight the enemies attacks with her. Her feelings certainly matter but they cannot have the last words. The last words belong to Jesus and that is that no matter how her husband responds, chose her, or whatever, she is a loved daughter and that her husband is a beloved son. He has put them together for showing the world what his love is like which cannot happen without redemption. There can be redemption no matter the circumstances.

  13. tina
    April 1, 2014

    Sounds like a porn problem to me. Good luck. It a v rough ride. So sorry for your pain.

  14. Kat Cuny
    April 1, 2014

    What you want, what Hollywood glorifies and constantly portrays, and what everyone sighs over, is what some buddies and I call “New Relationship Energy”. That amazing rush of meeting someone new. Some people experience it only in a relationship form, some have that tingly rush and glow even from a simple budding friendship. It’s essentially emotional junkfood. It’s fun, sure, but it won’t nourish you, sustain you, support you. And after a couple of years? They’re not new anymore, the thrill is gone, etc., etc..
    As much as I hate (sorry… :->) Jane Austin, she’s right on the money with this one.
    As for the sex, please, please, please, do NOT blame yourself! Others have far more eloquently touched this one, but seriously. If it’s his hormones, his sex drive, his whatever, then that means it’s not you. Be kind to yourself.

    • Sheila
      April 2, 2014

      Yes, exactly. It’s that “New Relationship Energy” that makes our hearts skip beats, but it is just “emotional junk food”. Love that analogy!

  15. Sarah
    April 2, 2014

    I also found out, after 6 years of marriage, that I had been chosen for sensible reasons rather than love. Or rather, I had known I was a sensible choice, but had not known my husband never felt that emotional spark with me. Tragically, his keeping secret this missing spark resulted in him having an affair (with someone who was an extremely insensible and emotion-driven choice). That is now in the past, and we have been able to work through a lot of crap with counselling and family/church support, but I sure wish he had been open with me about his feelings (or lack thereof) from the beginning and throughout. He just wanted to spare my feelings, but I would rather have been superficially hurt by his honesty if it meant we might have prayed together and worked together toward the goal of building a deep emotional connection. If you are finding out now, and your husband is faithful, you have the opportunity to COMMUNICATE with one another, pray, work on your intimacy together, and guard against potential heartbreak later on!

    • Sheila
      April 2, 2014

      Excellent advice and thoughts, Sarah. Thank you. And I’m so glad you’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now. I can just imagine all the “crap” you did have to wade through, though.

    • Daphine
      April 7, 2014

      I totally agree with you Sarah,
      One of the amazing things I have realized in marriage is that I thought that a successful marriage was automatic till I found my hubby secretly gambling and drawn apart from our marriage a year after. I noticed later and tried to work through it but he was laid back because he had also lost his job. I have prayed and currently he wants to go to the middle east for 2 years to work for us (with our 2 kids) but in all this I m patiently trusting. we are watching MARK GUNGOR’s talks and they are teaching us.Its a long journey but I m gently interesting my hubby in learning from bloggers and other Christians since we are both Christians. He is still chasing the middle east job since he is tired of being jobless in Uganda———–I don’t like the distance we will have but I cant blatantly communicate that,,,,,,,,,,,,im praying and hoping for a miracle so as not to crush him..
      So my dears, I want to say Seasons can be tough and the basic lead to breaking of marriages is IGNORANCE. I pray

  16. Terri
    May 8, 2014

    I have some things to say about the flip side of this duo. I am the girl who was chased after in college. I say that bluntly. I don’t think I’m supermodel crazy attractive by any means, but I did know how to flirt with EVERY SINGLE GUY in my christian group of friends. I could date whoever I wanted, flirt with whoever I wanted and didn’t feel a single shred of remorse. After all, I was not sleeping with them, not getting physically intimate at all actually. The guys I dated kept it all PG! But after four years that got old and stale. Even though I wasn’t doing anything physically wrong with anyone, I felt shallow and I knew I wanted to start a family with a wise and Godly person, not just a guy with great hair. I started to regret keeping things so superficial and I made a conscious decision to pick the “good guy” instead of my normal “hot” type. I picked my best guy friend of 4 years (who I’d turned down repeatedly). Call it a Rom Com or something, but I pulled that man out of the friend zone and into my arms :) Now we’re married and I am happy I did. Did I feel passionate and crazy about him all the time like I did when I was flirty with other handsome guys? No. But I am SO thankful for God putting me into a relationship with a Godly man, who leads our family and who loves me. He’s constantly doing the dishes or filling out our taxes four months in advance or putting money into our retirement fund. And you know what? I’m finding that increasingly to be super hot! lol. He has no idea how attractive he is when he says things like “I woke up early Saturday, let you sleep in and changed the oil in your car.” Stuff like that! God has blessed me for picking the “good guy” and he is SEXY (he was never ever bad looking, just not my “type”. Ugh! How stupid could I have been? right?). Stick with your man and do the things you love to do for him. God will open his heart, just like He did mine and you two will start feeling even more attractive with each other. Thats what worked for us and hopefully yall will start to feel the heat too!

    • Sheila
      May 9, 2014

      That’s a great story, Terri! Thank you.

  17. DSTA
    September 10, 2014

    We’ve been working through some challenging family/relationship issues this year. I’ve always felt that I was not my husband’s first choice and until this year I’ve never mentioned it to him. 2 months ago, in the darkest depression I have ever been in, I tried to take my life by overdosing. I researched well and knew what to take and in what doses, unfortunately I took the meds too early in the evening and he realized, if I’d taken them later/at bedtime, it would have been successful. At this dark place in our marriage, we have started to communicate. After 13 years of insecurity. I am now on a very complicated regime of medication to help me fight the depression, but still have no hope as the circumstances in our life cannot change. Recently I asked my husband if he married me because he was hopelessly in love with me and couldn’t imagine life without me. And the answer was as I had expected. He was 40, I was the only girlfriend he’d ever dated. (11 years age difference, dated first time at ages 21/32 and then 6 years later he came back to me, we dated a further 2 years before we married) The way I feel now after hearing that he was: anxious to not be alone, our mutual friends had coaxed him to pursue me, we’d kinda gotten along and I seemed nice, and he was already 40(his reasons) has left me in a numb state of shock, which is exacerbated by my depression. This is a very lonely and isolated place to be. I don’t want to divorce, we made a covenant and commitment before God, but the thought of living out the rest of my life, I’m 42, with no intimacy at all, and a husband who married me to co-parent a family he so desperately wanted, makes me feel even more numb than before. I am overwhelmed with fear that I am going to live my one life, feeling unfulfilled and unloved, and second best because of all this. We are basically living like flat mates, living pretty separate lives yet have our sons in common. Except for our marriage contract we may as well be divorced. How do I turn this around? The more I lose hope, the more depressed I get, and then I am warned I’m going to be hospitalized(which I DON’T WANT!) and the more misunderstood and isolated I feel. I feel like I’m at a crossroads, and I’m just turning in circles, I just don’t know which direction to turn. :(

    • Sheila
      September 10, 2014

      Hi DSTA,

      That is really, really hard. I know what you’re saying: It’s letting go of the dream that someone will ever love you completely and not let you down.

      All I can say is that love can grow, and honestly, the only person who can love you completely is God anyway. I know that you still long for something more, but I’d suggest spending the next year honestly chasing after God and battering the gates of heaven to ask God to show you tangibly that He loves you completely and passionately. I think if you can start to sense how passionate and deep God’s love is for you, then you can start to love your husband in a new way and change the dynamic. And that’s when real love does grow.

      It starts with letting go of a dream, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be other dreams in the future that God WILL give you. And God does want a future for you; never doubt that. And He wants you to feel love. So chase after Him, and it will have repercussions in every other area of your life.

      • DSTA
        September 12, 2014

        Thank you for taking the time to give some advice. I am in therapy, we are both in marriage therapy together, we’re submitted and accountable to an incredible couple who are on the pastoral/leadership team in our church, and my GP is managing my medication. My therapist and GP started suggesting Electro Convulsion Therapy, every 2nd day for 3 weeks, and I think that’s when my husband really understood just how serious this all is, that my overdose was not just an ‘episode/cry for help’ but a genuine desire to escape from the intense pain I was feeling. We have told just 4 friends, and 3 of them don’t know what to say so have backed off(and I don’t blame them, its completely understandable) It is a VERY lonely place to be in, as I feel disconnected from him and am grieving the loss of what I thought my marriage was. The hardest part is that I am feeling so numb and disconnected from my 6 and 7 year old sons, and that is breaking my heart. But… I finally am starting to feel like I can face each day, as the mood stabilizers have kicked in, but we have a very long way to go. You’re right, I need to formulate new dreams and I know my Dad will only have the best for me so I’m making a choice to trust Him(I have serious trust issues so that’s a challenge). He is good and He is kind and He only wants good things for me, and that’s where I’m getting my strength from at the moment…

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