Intimacy in Marriage

Encouraging Christian Women toward Healthy Sexual Intimacy

Wives Who Are Sexually Refused

I'm humbly blessed to have Kentucky Colonel of A Grown Up Marriage posting today, looking closer at something that isn't discussed often -- wives who are sexually refused.

Even if that doesn't apply to you, I implore you to read this post for its tremendous wisdom about maturity in marriage.

Sexual refusal is a huge issue in many marriages.

I read a lot about it in blogs online.  In the vast majority of these articles, the refused is the husband and the wife is encouraged to meet her husband's sexual needs.

This post, however, is about the other spouse -- the one you don't hear much about. This post is about wives who are sexually refused.

A female friend of mine once told me, "My former pastor looked me in the eye and said, 'No man turns down sex from his wife,' as if I was doing something wrong and that it was my fault [that my husband didn't want to have sex]."

Such implication is just wrong.

One of the things that I am certain of is that there are two sinners in marriage. No more. No less.

That selfishness is a human sin condition, NOT a gender condition. What the pastor said shouldn't have been spoken and the attitude shouldn't be tolerated anywhere that Truth is valued.

The problem is that, for too many, this pastor's comments are perceived as true.

For a number of years, I count myself among those who was deluded to believe that lie because it was outside of my experience (for more on a defining truth through our experience, read That's Not My Preference).

As I matured, I learned that my experience wasn't always the barometer of truth that I thought it was. I even began to quit using the stereotypical higher-drive husband and lower-drive wife examples.

Instead, I began using more generically labeled examples.  Instead of refused husband, it's now a refused higher-drive spouse.

How important are these distinctions? Important enough and uncommon enough to draw a comment from one of my readers.

As I learned more, I found that these sexually-refused women were having the notion that husbands don't refuse sex.

Even worse, the wives would believe what many marriage books imply -- that simply being more submissive, wearing lingerie, cooking better meals, keeping the house cleaner or being sexier are the keys to their husband's sexual desire.

Frankly, it isn't much different than telling a husband to help more around the house, give his wife a break with the kids or be more emotionally attentive.

In my experience, which isn't comprehensive truth by any means, these things -- wearing lingerie or being more emotionally attentive -- might help in some rare cases, but they aren't the cure-all they are peddled to be.

Scripture doesn't make a distinction between male and female sexual drives.

"The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife." 1 Corinthians 7:3-4.

There is no distinction between the genders in this regard. Both husbands and wives have responsibilities and obligations.

Chronic sexual refusal in marriage is a symptom of much deeper issues -- usually issues we'd rather not face, because they are hard truths for us.

Typically, they boil down to spouses in the marriage being Stubborn, Immature, Selfish Jerks.

We don't like to think of ourselves or our spouses in this maanner, but honestly, we've all been there and it's usually our own anxieties and insecurities that drive us there.

Not being a sexually refused wife myself, I decided to go to a place where I knew they existed and even congregated -- The Marriage Bed Forums.  I asked questions, got input and here's what I found out.

I found that a lack of desire from their husbands made them more susceptiable to temptation (1 Corinthians 7:5).

Usually the temptation for a refused husband is to ogle women.

The temptation for many of the women I heard from is a temptation to be noticed and ogled by men other than their husbands.

They want to feel pretty and have their desirability affirmed.

I asked about how their spouse's refusal affects their body image, and a few women said that a lack of sexual desire from their husbands only reinforced what they already [wrongly] believed about their bodies (See Julie's post The Secret to the Stopping the Body Image War).

The other thing I asked about was the stereotypes that are accepted as the norm -- a horny husband and a less-than-enthusiastic wife.

Basically, the feeling is that these stereotypes are hurtful for those who don't fit them. They can actually lead women to skipping out on ministry opportunities because they do not fit the stereoptypes, which are just not scriptural.

The stereotypes also reinforce the notion that there is something wrong with the wives or their husband.

It's not that these women don't understand that refusal is an issue for husbands as well.  They do.

As one friend put it, "I do feel there is still a need for Christian women to be challenged to please their husbands more and not to refuse or avoid, as outlined in the Bible in Corinthians. However, I think this should always be accompanied by a nod to us women out there who feel alone and ashamed. We need to be thrown the lifeline that we actually are not alone. There are others who suffer in silence -- quietly crying at night, unnoticed in their sexy lingerie while their husband simply turns over and goes to sleep."

I want to point out that Julie is very good about recognizing this. As she's pointed out, she hears from more men, but she acknowledges the wives out there who are suffering.

Another wife says, "I would one day like the opportunity to tell the wives that refuse their husbands how it feels to be refused. I honestly think that women who truly love their husbands would never refuse them if they really understood how refusal feels. I always thought that maybe if these women could hear what refusal feels like from a woman's point of view, maybe they would understand better what they are doing to their husbands."

These wives obviously understand the feelings of being refused. It is sad that often they also feel marginalized by their brothers and sisters in Christ.

My thanks to the brave ladies of The Marriage Bed Forums for their help in writing this post.

Kentucky Colonel blogs regularly about marriage at A Grown Up Marriage. This blog and many others are striving to give applicable insights on ways married couples can strengthen their relationship.

August 9th, 2011 by