Should You Have Sex Even if You Don’t Feel Like It?

WifeyWednesday175It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! Recently I noticed a great post linked up in the comments by one of my frequent readers–Lindsay Harold from Lindsay’s Logic, answering the question “what should you do if you don’t feel like having sex?”

She was responding to some major controversy she started on the Matt Walsh Blog in the comments section, leaving a comment about sex which generated over 1,300 likes and dozens of comments in the first 24 hours. So she turned it into a post, and then said I could feel free to post it, too.  Here’s Lindsay:

I wrote on Matt Walsh’s blog comments:

“Feminism told them that it’s degrading to be a stay-at-home mom or to submit to a husband or to want a lot of children. They should never have sex with their husbands unless they feel like it. They should never let a man make decisions for their family.”

Specifically, a lot of people had a problem with the second sentence in that quote. They objected to the idea that a woman should ever have sex with her husband when she doesn’t feel like it.

But I absolutely stand by that statement. I think it’s perfectly normal and right for a woman to have sex with her husband even when she doesn’t feel like having sex.

In fact, I’ll even go so far as to say that a woman ought to have sex with her husband even when she doesn’t feel like it – at least sometimes.

Should You Have Sex with Your Hubby--even if you don't feel like it?

That sounds like a radical idea, I know. Our society has become so feminized that this idea is actually considered crazy or weird or somehow the same as saying women should be raped. It’s not.

You see, there are lots of things we do that we don’t feel like doing.

I don’t always feel like getting up in the morning, making breakfast, feeding my kids, cleaning the house, changing diapers, going to the store, or a million other things I do. But I do them because they need to be done and because I love my family. My feelings don’t rule me. I make decisions based on love for my family and what needs to be done to care for their needs.

It should be the same in for caring for my husband’s needs, including his need for sex.

Of course, the usual response at this point is to ask whether I consider sex some painful, unpleasant duty. I get people saying my sex life must be horrible. On the contrary.

It is a modern and erroneous notion that “duty” is a bad word and the opposite of “pleasant.”

But that is a false dichotomy. There is no inherent reason that duties cannot be pleasant. Nor does doing something out of duty mean that one cannot enjoy it. Of course, not all duties are fun, but they don’t have to be unpleasant simply because we have a duty to do them.

For example, I may not feel, at the moment, like taking my girls outside to play. It’s hot. I’m tired. I have dishes to do. But they want to play outside and the fresh air and sunshine will do them good. So I go because I love them and have a duty to care for their needs. One of their needs is play time and time with mommy. But once we’re outside, we have a great time and I’m glad I did it. Duty, in this case, was not preventing me from having fun. In fact, duty helped me overcome laziness, lower priority tasks, and distractions that would have prevented me from having fun with my girls.

There are many other things which work similarly. I have a duty to read and study the Bible, and I enjoy it. I have a duty to feed my family, and I also enjoy it. I have a duty to vote and participate in my government, and I don’t find that duty horrid or burdensome. I have a duty to be a witness to those around me, and I find that duty agreeable.  I have a duty to clean my house…ok, maybe I don’t necessarily enjoy that one, but it isn’t some horrible thing I do just because I have to either. I do it because I love my family. And having a clean home is certainly enjoyable.

In the same way, I have a duty to have sex with my husband, and I also enjoy it greatly. There is no contradiction there.

Another thing to consider is the design of female sexuality. Women are less likely than men to be aroused out of the blue. We women often need touch, closeness, and the right mindset to get us in the mood for sex. If a wife is waiting for the mood to strike her before she says yes, it may be a long time and it will take a toll on their marital intimacy. Thus, women who go ahead and engage (not just laying there, but actively participating), even if they weren’t initially in the mood, will often find that they warm up as they go along and end up enjoying it. And the emotional intimacy that comes from physical intimacy will strengthen the marriage and bring husband and wife closer together.

So, if duties aren’t necessarily unpleasant or a hardship and women can often enjoy sex if they will choose to engage, then pointing out the duty to have sex within marriage doesn’t mean that sex becomes unpleasant or forced. Sure, it could be that way if you let it. But it doesn’t have to be. If you have the right mindset, recognizing the duty to have sex can help you overcome laziness, lower priorities, and distractions that would prevent you from having the vibrant, intimate, and fun sex life that God intended you to have in your marriage.

I appreciate the flak that Lindsay took for this, because I had to write a post defending something I said in similar vein a few years ago–when I had some feminist groups saying I advocated rape when I said that wives should try to have sex if their husbands wanted it, even if they didn’t always feel like it. My response to their criticism is here–being selfless in marriage. I wish people could see that marriage isn’t a trap; it’s a chance where both spouses can give!


LindsayHaroldLindsay Harold is a preacher’s daughter and a former homeschooler with a Master’s degree in Biology. Until recently, she taught college biology courses (including General Biology and Human Anatomy and Physiology). She is now a blogger and stay at home mom of two little girls, ages 2-1/2 and 1. She and her husband, Doug, live on a small farm in the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia.

Lindsay writes about Biblical worldview, marriage and family, inalienable rights, politics, creation/evolution, and a variety of other topics on her blog, Lindsay’s Logic. She and her husband also write a blog together called The Rational Abolitionist where they make a logical and scientific case for ending legal abortion.


  1. What a fabulous defense of this idea!

    Indeed, I’ve compared my duty to have sex to how I felt about getting up in the middle of the night to nurse my child. I’d sometimes start out weary and reluctant, but some of my best moments and memories involve holding my infant close in the middle of the night, while the rest of the world slept; staring at that beautiful, innocent face; knowing that I was caring for that baby’s needs; delighting in the privilege of motherhood. They started as duty, but ended in delight!

    Thanks for speaking up, Lindsay.
    J. Parker (@HotHolyHumorous) recently posted…Have Stories Damaged Your View of Sex?My Profile

    • Yes, that’s a great analogy. Sometimes we’re a little reluctant to do something we know we ought to do, but making ourselves go ahead can often lead to a very pleasant time. And, in the case of marriage, lots of other benefits to our relationship too.
      Lindsay Harold recently posted…Raising Kids in the CountryMy Profile

  2. I want to share my views of this subject. If we switch the rolls, and ask, should men have sex with their wives even if they don’t want to. My answer is why not. Now its a tad bit harder for a man if he is not in the mood or if he has ED. But there is other ways he can have sex with his wife. But I think if she wants sex I think its husband’s duty to satisfy his wife any way he can. There can be a fine line between Not Want To and Being Forced To, No one should be forced to have sex. But still you should lovingly take care of your spouses needs. Having said that, I would never force my wife to have sex. I think its up to her to decide. As Lindsey said, we do stuff we don’t want to do all the time. So why not have sex with our spouse. I don’t think its degrading for a woman to enjoy sex. I think God created her to enjoy her husband, like the husband was created to enjoy his wife. And their union bringing glory to God. Feminism throws God out the equation and only plays on selfishness and ego.

    • I don’t think a desire for equality is particularly selfish, in fact, you suggest that same thought in your first sentence. Here’s the common definition of feminism: “The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” I think God is okay with this: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galations 3:28.

      • *Galatians* I hate when I see a typo just after hitting the post button!

      • I never said the desire for equality is selfish. But I think when the world is giving the sole right to the woman to decide if and when sex happens. She can decide she never want to have sex again in her life and then her husband is out of luck. If he tries to get it else where he is a cheater. If the rolls are reversed she is the victim because he neglect her needs and he is the jerk so men can’t win. Its not right for neither spouse to neglect the other ones needs. As for feminism. That may be the definition but its not what it has evolved into. I see no problem with men and women being equals. But then the sex decision should be decided equally too.

    • Great comment Matt! Of course we should be there for her when she really wants sex. Same for just about anything else she really wants, if it is at all in our power to do it for her. This is what love does!
      Paul H. Byerly recently posted…Will He Ever Be Sexually Satisfied?My Profile

  3. Although I am pretty much in agreement, I still don’t like the word “duty” applied to sex. I think of it this way: Sometimes we do fun stuff (sex included) because I want to, sometimes because he wants to, and sometimes because we both want to. We accommodate each other’s wants and needs in lots of areas and usually find that we have a great time together even when the activity wasn’t our individual top-of-the-list choice at that time.

    When it seems like a duty, then I feel like I don’t matter that much to him beyond fulfilling his desires.

    • I agree, Meredith. I don’t like the term duty either. I especially don’t like it compared to nursing a child in the middle of the night. The idea that men “need” sex and it is a woman’s “duty” to fulfill that need makes men seem a bit animalistic (i.e. I’ll die if I don’t get sex or I’ll have to cheat on you eventually) and women seem uninvolved or dissatisfied with sex. Truth is both people in the marriage need that connecting time. So, sometimes, either one of the spouses may feel like watching TV or doing nothing rather than having sex. But, cuddling up and exploring each other’s bodies a little can make them both change their minds about what they want to do.

      By the way, I would expect most men don’t really like “duty” sex as it is often defined.

  4. Great post Sheila. I never understood when women have a good-willed man who they admit is a good guy, why they would not want to try to make him happy and give him things that please him. I just don’t get it. Most of these great guys do things all the time to try to please their wives. I have an goo husband who loves me and always tries to make me happy why would I not try to make him happy. This is selfishness and self-contentedness. It is all about them and they are the only ones who matter.

  5. I absolutely love this.

  6. happywife says:

    I agree 100%. We have responsibilities in all areas of our lives that we need to attend to even when we don’t “feel like it”. Nurturing our physical relationship as a couple is no different. In fact, it is probably even more important to nurture our physical intimacy even when we don’t feel like it. It is the glue of our marriages. I didn’t feel like cooking dinner last night so I didn’t. My husband was a bit annoyed, but he made a sandwich and got over it. That shouldn’t have a long lasting negative effect on our marriage. But if either of us had come to bed desiring/needing physical connection and the other, in the name of “not feeling like it” was not willing to even consider the option, that could leave the other feeling rejected and unvalued. I value my marriage and therefore I seek to do things that build my marriage up… taking walks with my husband, spending time in conversation, having sex, preparing a meal to eat together (yes, I’ll cook tonight ;-). Honestly, I don’t look at it as much as meeting his needs, but meeting the needs of our marriage. Our marriage needs intimacy, so I need to set aside my own “feelings” at times for the greater good of my marriage. On the flip side, sometimes realizing that my husband has had a really stressful day (or him realizing that I am not feeling well, etc) and setting aside my/his own desire for sex in order to meet the other’s need to “not have to perform” is what our marriage needs. We don’t always get it right, but we both try to be willing to give of ourselves or be honest about where we are so that it is a mutual decision, not one feeling controlled by the other. (I hope I expressed that well)
    And for the record, the other night, it was him who wasn’t exactly “in the mood” but he knew that I was needing some physical attention so he met me where I was. It goes both ways. That’s what builds trust and oneness in marriage.

  7. Jimmy Evans has said that if you wait until both of you have the same desire to have sex you might wait a long time. I think sex should also be something we plan for on some occasions – not just hoping it works out – just as we plan to go somewhere, do a project, workout, etc.

  8. Great post Sheila. Been married almost 14 yrs. My thoughts, the things you cherish in life, you nurture. “duty” is what IMO puts this into perspective. I love to serve my spouse. My spouse means more to me than anything else in this world! “She is my world” I have been doing my own study on why some people live in such a dysfunctional state. My conclusion, once we become selfish, self serving, all about me, everything becomes unstable in your life! Business, marriage, kids, etc. My message here is directed mostly to guys. It’s like the saying goes, “you can have what you want in life, if your willing to work for it.” Guys, be the “guy” that she can’t refuse

  9. I totally agree, although, like others have pointed out, there is a big difference between doing something that you don’t want to do voluntarily and being forced into it. Or even just FEELING like you’re being forced into it.

    I think maybe that’s the crux of it – when people feel obligated or “duty-bound” to do something, they sometimes feel like they don’t have a choice in the matter, which robs whatever it is of joy.

    Since many women are very emotionally driven when it comes to sex, if they never get over the initial hump of feeling obligated, they never reach the part where it’s enjoyable and beneficial to both parties.
    sarah @ little bus on the prairie recently posted…Two Random, Unrelated Money Saving TipsMy Profile

  10. Well said! I completely agree! As a woman who is finding herself tumbling headfirst into the mire of menopause I can tell you that if I were intimate with my husband only when I felt like it, the poor man would be lucky to have sex once a month! These hormone fluctuations really take a toll on the sex drive and I hate it but that’s life. I know that my husband very often does not like having to go to work and especially doesn’t like the 60+ hour weeks he puts in but he does it to provide for my needs and he does a wonderful job of it, too. What kind of wife would I be if I chose only to meet his needs when I “felt like it”? He knows my sex drive isn’t what it used to be. I’ve been honest with him about that and he is sensitive and respectful of my situation. But he’s a man and I’m his wife. It’s my job, my duty, my privilege to take care of this man who does so much to take care of me. Whether I feel like it or not. :)

  11. I love the concept of my wife making love to me even when she doesnt want to. Maybe some day it will actually happen, and when it does, I wont feel like she is “servicing” me. I do have a problem with a bit of your phrasing however.

    You said, “It should be the same in for caring for my husband’s needs, including his need for sex.”

    I believe that as men, society has conditioned us to “need” sex. There is no medical proof that a man’s private parts will fall off or cease to function if he stops having sex. Having said that…I love making love to my wife. I love it more when she is a WILLING participant. While society focuses more on technique (positions, making it “hot”), the focus turns more and more away from intimacy and more toward the ACT of sex.

    Being addicted to porn for years, and even suffering from porn-induced erectile dysfunction, it has taken me years to get to a place in our marriage, where the images in my brain are of ONLY her. The lovemaking is amazing. Could we be having it more often….you bet!

    Let’s not get trapped into believing that sex is a NEED. It’s a gift! And it works best in a loving, committed relationship!

    My $.02!

    • I don’t think she necessarily means physical need. Like some horrible medical condition will occur. But for many men it is an emotional need. Like many women have a need for connection and relationship. And many women also have a need for the physical intimacy sex provides but for some it is just not really a very prominent need. But I know if we go too long without intimacy my husband can have a nocturnal emission. And no, in our case, he is the one going to long, I want to me with him but he is too stressed and busy.

  12. I think the issue at heart is one of obligations. As the world has lost its Judeo-Christian values it has also lost its sense of obligations. We have obligations to God and our fellow man. In marriage we have obligations to our spouse. My obligation to my wife is to connect emotionally with her, she likes to spend time together and chat about minutia. She’s said she wants sex maybe twice a month, so if it was up to her we’d have little sex and I’d feel unhappy and disconnected. Similarly, I don’t ever want to talk about the minutia that happened during the day, so if that choice was mine she’d be unhappy and feel disconnected. The other element, as mentioned in the article is that female sex drive is different. Desire comes after stimulation begins (Paul B. wrote about it: Generally people have a sense of obligation to their boss/job, to their community, should that extend to a spouse?

  13. Sheila/Lindsay, thanks for sharing this here! I saw Lyndsey’s initial comment on Matt’s site and loved it. It’s so funny also, I am just editing a chapter in my book dealing with this very topic right now. And my heart is really burdened because so many wives (esp younger wives who i primarily talk to) don’t understand this, and so many older wives throw out this as an “old wives tale” and many ladies just don’t know what to accept as truth! It takes time to have this mental shift and spiritual shift and it helps when more women take a strong stand on this.
    Ngina Otiende recently posted…Are You Making these 5 Communication Mistakes in Your Marriage?My Profile

  14. Great post. A couple of random thoughts on the subject:
    Its funny that those that are more “liberal” take offense, because if the example wasn’t of marriage they probably wouldn’t be as upset. For example a few semesters ago I took a class in Human Sexuality at my local community college. The professor was a middle-aged gay man. In talking about the changes that happen to our libidos as we age he shared a personal story. Said that at a medical check-up the doctor was asking him about his sex-drive. He admitted that as he got older it had decreased, and he found himself not initiating as often as he used to. That being said however he said that if his partner initiated he eventually ended up enjoying himself too. Nobody in the class was upset that our professor was having sex even though he initially didn’t want to.
    Another thought is that perhaps those criticizing the loudest are the ones with sex problems of their own. Perhaps it is the first time they have ever been exposed to the thought of selfless sex, and the idea shocks them. Often as humans are first reaction is to first protest a new idea. They may have their own problems, and never been able to experience selflessly agreeing and then having a good time. After 10 years of marriage I still struggle with sex. There have been times I’ve fulfilled my duty and had a good time, but I’ll admit there have been times when I just waited for it to be over. So, those of you who love fulfilling your duties, please just be patient with those of us who struggle. We want to be like you, we just aren’t there yet.

  15. Maybe I’m just super lazy, but I count on my sense of duty for most of the stuff I end up doing – from sex to vacuuming to hanging out with friends. If I only did things when I was inspired and in the mood to do them, I’d do way fewer things…

  16. Agree with J’s (of Hot holy Humorous) comment above. This is not just an issue for wives. There are married couples where the wife is the higher drive spouse and the husband needs to be sensitive to that and make effort to be “available” for his wife even when he may not feel up to it. (No pun intended.)

    Duty sex or not – do not withhold sexual intimacy from your spouse. That is one of the surest things to harm your marriage and sow seeds of marital failure. Thanks Sheila for posting this essay on your blog.
    Larry B of recently posted…“racism” in the US: why do only blacks get to frame the debate?My Profile

    • But what’s wrong with saying, “honey, I’m not feeling it, lets just make out for awhile”.) or for me personally, I have long periods of time where being touched by anything literally makes my skin hurt. Should I submit to my “cuddle loving” husband despite my out and out discomfort, pain, itchiness?

  17. This is a great post and a concept that really changed my idea of my responsibility as a wife. My husband and I experienced many empty years in our marriage–me trying desperately to get from him the emotional connection I needed, him wanting to feel wanted and loved by a wife who just couldn’t desire physical intimacy without the emotional facet. When I stumbled upon this concept on your blog last year, Sheila, I was so convicted about how I had failed to meet my husband halfway. How could I expect him to be a godly husband to me if I was only focusing on him meeting my needs? I made a commitment to him that I would be available on a regular basis. I think that was when the tide began to turn. More frequent intimacy and several other God-ordained incidents in our marriage eventually led to my discovery of the real reason we had struggled for so long; my husband has been addicted to pornography from a young age. Although it breaks my heart that this the case, and that we’ve both been unfaithful in our desperation to be loved, God had used this to turn our world upside down in a way I could never have imagined. Now, not only is making love a delight, but a way of showing my husband how much I love him even when I’m not feeling so amorous. To me, my duty as a wife isn’t really an obligation, instead it’s a wonderful way to show my husband how much I care about him. Thanks, Sheila and Lindsey, for your courage in helping those of us who didn’t grow up with an example of how wonderful a Christ-centered marriage can be. God is using you in ways you may never know! God bless you!

  18. Hi Sheila and Lindsay – I agree with this post but…it makes me wince just a little bit too. I’m wary about framing sex as a wife’s “duty.” To me that takes us back to the days, not so long ago, when very few people thought or cared about women’s sexuality or what constituted good sex for them. If they were married, sex was their “duty,” whether it held any meaning or pleasure for them or not. To me, using the term “duty” to talk about wives and sex plays into the idea that sex is primarily for men, and women just have to go along for the ride (so to speak!). I would really like for us to get away from that idea and focus on helping women embrace their sexuality (and, of course, that is a huge part of what Sheila does week in and week out). I definitely agree that a husband and wife have sexual obligations to each other, but if a wife finds that she’s rarely or never interested in sex, let’s encourage her to figure out why that is and change it, not just have duty sex.
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  19. I have to respectfully disagree with this entire argument.

    My husband and I had one full year (yes an entire calendar year) wehre I “submitted to duty” when I didn’t want to. An entire year of having sex and getting nothing out of it.

    It bred nothing but contempt, bitter feelings, anger, and he felt like “less of a man” in the end.

    I do not apologize for not liking sexual acts very often. I feel angry about the comments above about “not doing it right”. Umm it’s a biologic process but again so is being able to eat peanuts. But people have peanut allergies… does that mean they are eating peanuts wrong?
    A bit apples to oranges my example but you get the general point.

    I didn’t do anything wrong.
    I did submit
    It almost cost my marriage (among other things)

    Just food for thought.

    • I never advocated just “doing it” all the time without any pleasure or when there is pain. My point was that we should try to overcome our feelings of reluctance and engage. Not just lay there wishing it was over, but actively participate. Get our heads in the game. Try to enjoy it. I even said that women shouldn’t just lay there.

      Just laying there because he needs sex is a terrible idea. But thinking it should always be one or the other – either saying no or just laying there – is a false dichotomy. Neither of those is good.

      If you cannot enjoy sex for some reason, then you may need to work on figuring out why and address that problem. My post was written primarily for women who can enjoy sex, but often find themselves reluctant for various reasons. My point was that making sex a priority and seeing it as an important thing, not a take-it-or-leave-it thing reserved for when the stars align just right, can help us overcome reluctance and lower priorities and help us have better marriages.
      Lindsay Harold recently posted…Raising Kids in the CountryMy Profile

      • Lindsay, this is exactly my take on it, too:

        But thinking it should always be one or the other – either saying no or just laying there – is a false dichotomy. Neither of those is good.

  20. I also 100% agree with this but I struggle with one thing…. What if he wants it nearly every night, or needs it (it is a real stress reliever for my hubby and he suffers from anxiety). My health and energy levels aren’t always there, but he feels rejected and that causes other issues.

    • It is a common problem for spouses to have quite different drives. In general, marriage experts recommend finding a frequency that lies between the two drives, but usually a little closer to the higher drive spouse’s preference. That way, the higher drive spouse isn’t going without too often and the lower drive spouse’s preferences are taken into consideration too while still maintaining a high level of sexual intimacy to keep the marriage healthy.

      I don’t necessarily think women should always say yes, regardless of the circumstances. I do think that sexual intimacy in general and the needs of the spouse should be an important priority in every marriage.
      Lindsay Harold recently posted…Raising Kids in the CountryMy Profile

  21. Another Opinion says:

    I could not disagree more. I am a higher drive wife and I hate, hate, hate pity sex. Hate it. Detest it, don’t do me any favors. Being the higher drive spouse, especially the wife (when most men really desire their wives) is very hard. Being “given” sex, or being made love to out of pity and not desire is absolutely awful. I’d rather be celibate. We have sex on the rare occasions he wants me. Any other time, especially if I know it’s being done out of pity or a sense of obligation I say “no thanks.” Feeling undesirable is hard enough without feeling pitied.

  22. This was an interesting post to me. I’m not married, I’m curious to why people feel sex is a need, especially for men. What do people who are single do then, if sex is a need? Thanks in advance for anyone’s insight on my question.

    • Sex is not a biological need. Thousands of monks and nuns have done just fine without it over the centuries!
      However, within marriage, sex is a need. It is not the only need in a healthy marriage, but if there is no physical connection the marriage will likely struggle. (And if there are struggles in other areas, it will often affect the sex part, too).
      In most marriages, the man needs/wants sex more often than the woman does. Equally, the woman usually wants to talk about her feelings more often than the man does. So there is a need for compromise on both parts. He accepts the responsibility of listening to the hidden secrets of her heart, and she accepts his physical expressions of love.
      (Of course those things go both ways. There are times when the man will need to talk, and there will be times when the woman initiates sex. )

      • Yes, sex is not a biological need, but an emotional one within marriage. Sex is an important part of marriage and both husband and wife need it (which is not the same thing as saying they want it, btw).

        I should also mention that desire for sex often increases once you have an outlet for it. A man may be a virgin at 25 and struggle little with sexual desire. Then, he gets married, gets used to sex, and going a week without his wife’s attention can be very difficult.
        Lindsay Harold recently posted…Raising Kids in the CountryMy Profile

        • True, once you get used to it its hard to break the cycle. Medical issues and changes is hormone levels, stress, issues between spouses is often the cause of decline in sex. Last year in October my wife was in car accident (not her fault), she wasn’t seriously hurt but still she was hurt, and the stress from the wreck, insurance, lawyers, doctors etc. brought on the shingles. On various places on her body. Months before that she had been bitten by a brown recluse spider on her which made her really sick. Since she was bitten by the spider in early 2013 to today I can count on one hand the times we had sex. Am I happy about that? No, not at all. But I can’t do anything about it. The thing is this, not having sex on a regular basis can and most likely will cause stress and performance anxiety for the man. Being so stressed out to be ready when she is willing that it can cause E.D. like symptoms. Talk about feeling less of a man. I don’t blame my wife for her medical issues and I would not look elsewhere either. Just being there day in and day out for her and do everything she can’t do. I don’t want to get to graphical but I have since a month and a half ago given up masturbation and even occasional porn since doing it for 25 somewhat years. Call it abstaining if you will. But I call it rebooting or rebalancing the brain to connect to the spouse. 50 something days in doesn’t bother me anymore. But my desire for my wife is stronger. That’s what’s so difficult. For me its not the need cause I don’t need sex the way I used to need it. Do I desire it? Sure I do. But i’m willing to wait until she is ready. As for the mood. That’s another story. Not having sex for a longer period of time does make the man irritable and moody and believe me, not even masturbation will help for that. Ok Mrs Sheila, I hope I didn’t get too graphical. If I did feel free to delete my post. I enjoy reading your blog and I often forward the emails to my wife.

          • I am sure your story is experienced by others who are not as open and honest about it. Certainly godly advice would be helpful for those going through such experiences. Being real helps us heal! (James 5:16) Unfortunately the church and Christians have been so silent about sex for so long we have let the world hijack and pervert the beautiful things God gave us. Hopefully this kind of discussion will help change that.

  23. The other day I had this thought, why do I expect my hubby to be available to me when I want to, but when he wants to, it depends on my mood?

    If I want sex on my terms, I need to be be able to give him sex on his terms too. Perhaps not all the time, but at least some of the time.
    The Baby Mama recently posted…Do You Like Your Husband Too Much?My Profile

  24. Sheila, Reading most of these posts, it seems men have “the need” for sex and women need to be willing to meet it. It consistently get portrayed that way. I want sex way more often than my husband and would love advice on encouraging men to pursue!!! My Husband and I have built a strong marriage over the years but my drive has always been higher and I feel unwanted being the one to always initiate. Can you address that topic? I know I’m not the only women in the world to want it more than my husband.

    • When you get rejected enough time you just quit trying, you quit pursuing your spouse. You go though your life in a sexless marriage and every day is the same, you go to bed with your backs against each other. When you try to put a move on your spouse they look at you like you are some kind of perv and laugh it off or change the subject. They always try to find something that is more important to do than to have sex with their spouse. Even if i’m a man I want to feel desired. If I want to feel wanted. Men do have feelings too and we get out feelings hurt just as much as women does even though we don’t say anything.

      • Men have a great need to feel respected (its in the Bible) and for some men that feeling of respect is based on being physically desired by his wife (or in some cases another woman). Some men find that respect in their career and have an “affair with work” or sports, hobbies, etc. It is not unmanly to want to feel wanted. But as others posts have stated, women have a deep need for emotional intimacy and affection. One without the other is an incomplete relationship. We are called to serve each other and our differences give us a great opportunity to do that.

  25. So what if I consistently show respect, tell him I desire to be with him and NEVER turn down an opportunity to spend time with him (to cuddle or make love) and still I’m the one to have to pursue him most of the time. Then what? All I’m told when we discuss it is that he prefers oral sex over vaginal sex. I give that too as part of foreplay. Really hurting and feeling unwanted. Help.

    • Ann, that’s such a tough one, and I actually wrote about just that scenario–I just can’t find the post. Sorry! But I do think that if a guy is only wanting oral sex and refusing the other, that there is something seriously wrong. I do have a series on why men may not want sex here, and I’ll keep trying to find that other post!

  26. Thank you Sheila for responding. I read the other article you posted. To clarify he is willing to have vaginal sex when I initiate. What seems to be a barrier is two fold. He doesn’t “pursue” me like most of your articles talk about and I desire that so much. And secondly he says he has “a need” for oral sex because he has always preferred that. I’m his second wife. I know he had early sexual experiences in life starting at the age of 12 when he was sexually abused. I try to take that into account and not take it as personal rejection. I try to show him love, respect and appreciation but often feel that only God can heal his wounds that run deep. My take away from reading the article in your response to me is that I need to show him respect and help him to feel like a man. I trust in God to bring him healing but I can’t help but feel unwanted when he rarely initiates. If you have any thoughts at all, feel free to throw them out there. As far as porn, he used porn years ago but has made a conscious decision to walk away. I have never found evidence otherwise. Thank you.

    • Ann. sorry for intruding on your conversation, but porn addiction was the first thing that came to mind when I read your post. Men or women who is addicted to porn have a way to hide the traces of their addiction. You can read more about how the brain changes when using porn at and also a support website for people who are dealing with porn addiction or having a spouse that is a porn addiction .

  27. Question for anyone: what are your thoughts on this topic when there is emotional abuse in the relationship?

  28. Thanks Matt B, I would have that same reaction too reading my limited comment. I am not one to stick my head in the sand so to speak, but I have been married previously to a man addicted to porn. It was a horrible situation that led to physical abuse. I tried all types of Christian counseling and years of forgiving but when my son was in danger, I had to make the decision to leave. My current husband has suffered years of sexual abuse in his early teen years and experienced a lot of things most people don’t. We have had a lot of communication in regards to that part of his past and it is not that he is not tempted. He makes choices to not focus on any of that and blocks that as much as he can on his computer. I think his early years though led him to prefer the oral sex as “better” but I realize I can’t change that. I also would like wisdom to know how to encourage him to be the “pursuer” as most men are. Maybe I just need to accept and appreciate who he is and just deal with it but it hurts feeling unwanted. Thanks again.

    • Hi Ann, the book of James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Just continue praying about it and ask God for the wisdom you need and to reveal his plans for you and your husband. Just remember its on God’s time. :) I know it hurts to feel unwanted even if its not what the other spouse intentions were. I think unless the relationship becomes abusive please do hang in there even though its can be discouraging. And do continue to pray.

  29. Thanks Matt B, that is exactly where I’m at. Just asking God to give me wisdom on what I need to be or do differently and stepping back to allow the Holy Spirit to heal my Husband. I do appreciate the wisdom I have received on this very candid website too.

  30. Rachel, there is a book called “Boundaries” by Cloud and Townsend that gives Bible based help in setting boundaries in what you will “allow” in your life. It is not about controlling someone else. It was suggested to me in counseling years ago. What it did for me is show me what boundaries I had that were appropriate and where I needed to grow. When in an abusive situation, often times it has to do with that person feeling insecure and they assert themselves on others. That may be emotional, mental or physical. When I was in the middle of it though and being told all the time how wrong I was, I began to question what was healthy and not healthy. The book can help you with phrases like: “I will be willing to listen to you when you stop yelling at me”. As far as sex in that situation, that has to be a personal decision because only you know what is really going on in your marriage. I think it may be necessary to seek professional Christian counseling too. Hope that is helpful.

    • They had a Boundaries Simulcast at the church I attend a few months ago, They said it was really good. Its important to set boundaries for your own sake for privacy, intimacy and other things. If you don’t people tend to take advantage of you. If there is emotional abuse I would suggest against sex until the issue is settled. But counseling is definitely a good idea. Great answer Ann.

  31. There have been times where my wife has had no desire for sex herself, but she understands that I need to connect sexually with her and out of love and with a willing heart she gives herself to me. It is unselfish and loving and kind of her to do that and it strengthens our bond. Often before the end I can arouse desire in her and give her a very satisfying experience, but her decision to give me that chance was made without her having any expectation of anything for herself.

    I think the key question to ask is not ‘do I feel like it’, but ‘will it be good for our relationship’. If she is so tired, sick, etc. that pushing herself to have sex with me will cause her physical or emotional discomfort, resentment, or anything else that is destructive to our relationship, then it would be better not to do it.
    LatterDay Marriage recently posted…Spreadsheets and BedsheetsMy Profile

    • So what is your solution for wives or husbands that won’t sleep with their spouses for months or years at a time? That won’t even try and just brushes off their spouses attempts repeatedly? What is the solution for that? Since seeing a prostitute and having a lover/mistress is considered adultery then what is the options?

      • Do they think rejecting their spouse night after night like that is making their marriage better? Probably not. If one spouse desires to be intimate but there is something that is preventing it from happening, they should work together on overcoming the obstacles as quickly as possible so they can develop a sex life where nobody feels used or deprived. In an extreme case like you are talking about, I expect some counseling would be needed and/or some medical intervention.

        If a spouse refuses to do their part to make the sexual relationship something that is mutually satisfying, then the options are for the other spouse to either endure the situation, or to leave the marriage. But the post is asking what a person SHOULD do, and what they should do is be unselfish and not make it about how they feel but about meeting their spouse’s needs as best they can. You can feel like having sex because you are horny, or you can feel like having sex because you love your spouse and desire to make their life a happy one as much as you can.
        LatterDay Marriage recently posted…Spreadsheets and BedsheetsMy Profile

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.


  1. […] what I mean about serving one’s husband, we had a bit of a to-do on the blog last week over these posts about prioritizing sex. It’s such a simple thing–a way we can serve–and I […]

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