The Altar of Indifference: Are You Sacrificing Your Sexual Intimacy?

I’m so glad Jim and Carrie Gordon of The Intimate Couple are adding their insights to my “altar” series.   Their below post is a perfect follow up to my post the other day about unintentionally killing your sexual intimacy.

Have you become indifferent to sex in your marriage?

If that seems like no big deal to you, listen closely to the Gordons’ wisdom on ways you can go from being indifferent to intentional when it comes to nurturing sexual intimacy.  (For the other fabulous posts in the ALTAR series, see the links at the bottom of this post).

Everyone wants a dream marriage — a relationship where both husband and wife enjoy the deepening love, intimacy, and sex God designed for them to have.

Like most things, though, a dream marriage doesn’t come automatically: It requires being observant, careful tending, and regular investment from both husband and wife.

Tragically, there are husbands and wives who simply don’t value their sexual relationship. There is a disregard and lack of interest in understanding the importance of healthy sex in marriage.

They are unaware of the final price tag of this indifference towards sexual intimacy.

What may start as naiveté, turns at a frightening rate to ignorance and then indifference.

It’s tragic really: potentially the most glorious relationship known to humankind is sacrificed and spoiled on the altar of indifference! Apathy. Disregard. Unconcern. Disinterest. Undervaluing.

Apathy and indifference towards sex can actually kill a marriage.

Either of these sound eerily familiar:

Their day had been a pleasant one.  Perhaps tonight she’d be okay with having sex. Andy reached his arm around Gail’s waist and felt her stiffen against his touch. “Not tonight, Andy. We can cuddle if you want.”  Andy withdrew his arm and rolled over.  It had been 3 weeks since they had enjoyed sex together. They were averaging sex less than once a month!  He remembered Gail’s comments the other day, “Andy, I don’t need sex like you do.” Gail thought their marriage was “just fine” and there was nothing that needed changing, but he was becoming more discouraged and frustrated as month after month went by.




Carol had a special evening planned.  She thought surely Steve wouldn’t be able to resist her advances tonight! Her preparations included special music, candles, and a new negligee ready to model for him!  But Carol had misgivings.  It had been 5 weeks since they last had sex together.  Steve never asked for sex and he always had excuses whenever she mentioned it.  “You’ve been really busy, Carol, so just get yourself some rest.” Or “I’ve got a lot on my mind.  Not tonight, okay?” Always excuses.  Carol wondered if Steve was dabbling in pornography again. If only he knew how much she desired intimacy with him!


These are two typical scenarios that spouses often share with us through our website for married couples.  A husband or wife is crying for deeper sexual intimacy while their spouse seems to only show lack of interest and disregard—indifference.

Warning Signs of Pending Indifference Towards Sexual Intimacy:

a spouse is naïve about the differences between a husband and wife’s needs and desire for sex

a wife, with less sexual drive than her spouse, isn’t willing to talk about this difference with her husband

a self-centered spouse is blind to the desires of their partner and puts their own needs and wants first

there is a fear of asking one another,  “Are you satisfied with our sexual relationship?”

an insecure husband is unwilling to work hard at being open and vulnerable with his wife

a lazy spouse has an “I know it all” attitude and sees no need for change or improvement in the sexual relationship

But apathy doesn’t have to stay!  An indifferent partner can learn to care, understand, and value sexual intimacy in marriage.

Steps to Remove Indifference Towards Sexual Intimacy:

1. Educate yourself about the differences between a husband and wife’s needs and desire for sex.

2. Talk about these differences with your spouse.

3. Learn to communicate how you really feel: be open and vulnerable.

4. Be intentional about understanding how your spouse feels about sex.

5. Become a student on marriage topics (through books, podcasts, seminars) and then apply what you learn.

6. Ask one another, “Are you satisfied with our sexual relationship?”

7. “Kill” selfishness; put your spouse’s sexual needs and wants ahead of yours.

8. Be willing to try new things to have better sex!

For married couples that want to guard against the effects of apathy, we highly recommend our stay-at-home, week-long course designed for re-igniting sexual intimacy: The 7 Day Sex Challenge, our best selling eBook!

Read below as Jim describes how we avoided sacrificing our sexual intimacy through indifference.  Instead, we now enjoy an awesome sexual relationship … truly we have our dream marriage!

Carrie and I would both have said our marriage was great! But inwardly I was frustrated. I tried my best to “make do” with the sexual intimacy we enjoyed — which was less frequent than I hoped.

I did my best to ignore my frustrations simply because it was obvious Carrie didn’t need sex in the same way I did. Why wasn’t Carrie’s desire for sexual intimacy like mine? She was oblivious to my inner struggles and disappointments.

Carrie was, in many ways, naïve about sex — although certainly not against it, she was just totally unaware of the typical male sex drive.

I was unaware that differing sex drives were classic.  I needed to learn that it was crucial for me to open up, become vulnerable and communicate clearly with Carrie what was going on with me.

Thank God, I was able to be honest and open with Carrie about my frustrations.  She responded, not with indifference, but with a desire to see our marriage become all God designed it to be!

Has indifference threatened your sexual intimacy? Take steps today to remove the indifference, and re-ignite your sex life!

Jim and Carrie Gordon’s site explores the vital areas of intimacy in a marriage: sexual, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.

Don’t miss the other posts in this on-going series!  Sign up with the RSS-thingy so you can catch what other great marriage bloggers will be saying about the Altars We Sacrifice Sexual Intimacy On.

PART 1: The Altar of Time by Dustin Riechmann

PART 2: The Altar of Ideal Conditions by Lori Lowe

PART 3: The Altar of Inhibition by Kate Aldrich

PART 4: The Altar of Tiredness by Paul Byerly

PART 5: The Altar of No Pleasure by Sheila Gregoire

PART 6: The Altar of Seriousness by Mrs. Hot Holy Humorous

Copyright 2011. Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

6 thoughts on “The Altar of Indifference: Are You Sacrificing Your Sexual Intimacy?

  1. Will says:

    Gail sounds just like my wife. It averages once a month to every 6 weeks. She does not see a problem. She throws every excuse out there. I am tired, not in the mood. She is also passive aggressive. If I didn’t put up the dishes “her way” It is a major turn off for her and even if she WAS in the mood, one tiny mistake turns her off. I have to be “perfect in her mind….DO A,B,C, D and if the stars are aligned just right and world peace breaks out…she would be in the mood for sex…sometimes….Don’t and there is NO chance.
    Does my wife “love” me….by her words…she hasn’t asked for a divorce or “thrown me out”. I was raised with christian beliefs, that sex was reserved for marriage. My parents made time for each other. They would tell my brother and me they were cleaning their bedroom on a Saturday afternoon and were not to be disturbed. Yes they locked their bedroom door…..and actually had sex with children in the house…during the day!!!! It is painful to realize that how you were raised is a lie.
    I feel I have been betrayed. It feels like adultery. She is cheating on me, but it is not with a person. She is cheating on me with no-one.
    I have a job, help out with the kids, do the dishes( she has a phobia) I don’t go out drinking with friends, I don’t hit her, my friends wives wish their husband were more like me. It is very confusing for me.
    The article said “a self-centered spouse is blind to the desires of their partner and puts their own needs and wants first”
    My wife would point a finger at me and say this is me. I am selfish for wanted sex more than she does. I am selfish for bothering her. I think the exact opposite…….There is no compromise……You run the show. If you are not in the mood, or don’t “let” me….it won’t happen. Who is the selfish one?
    “Kill” selfishness; put your spouse’s sexual needs and wants ahead of yours. I need/want sex at least once a week. I do get moody and hormonal the longer we abstain. By 4 to 6 weeks without I feel like I am loosing my mind. The wife could care less whether we ever have sex again. How can we put each others needs first…when they are the exact opposite of each other?

  2. elizabeth says:

    I believe my marriage ended the day of my mastectomy (reconstruction not done for medical reasons). My husband moved to the guest room for “while I recovered” and never returned. He was wonderful about helping me with bandages and drains and medications, but has cut off all affection and emotional support. It has been a year now. I no longer even try. No kisses or hugs because my “immune system is weak.” Even the oncologist says there is no reason for that.
    I will not even try for emotional intimacy anymore because when I tried to get comfort and reassurance from him, his reaction was “would you rather be dead?” Plus, he has become super-controlling. And if I try to express my needs, he starts telling my doctors I need antidepressants. They made me emotionally numb which he thought was a vast improvement, and then suicidal, at which point I refused to take anymore or try any others. By the way, my friends all thought that depression thing was ridiculous and that I was much worse off on the pills. They thought I just needed someone to listen, pass the tissues, and to make an effort at cheering me up and were great at trying to fill in the gap.
    Anyway, he is a “saint” for not leaving me, just listen to any of his friends and family members that he has been talking to. And I guess I am terribly ungrateful to make any demands for any kind of physical or emotional intimacy as apparently I am just a repulsive mutilated used-to-be woman, at least even though he does not say those words that is how I feel around him.
    There is more than one way for a man to desert his wife when cancer strikes, and sometimes he does not even need to leave the house. There are a lot of helps out there for if a woman withdraws from intimacy during or after cancer treatment. Seems to be nothing if it is her husband who withdraws intimacy from her. I know I am not alone as this subject came up at one of my support group meetings and this turned out to be a common problem (about a third of our group) that no one else had found any help for either.
    I really don’t even care if I ever had sex again, if I could just have cuddles and kisses and someone to listen to me and share emotionally with.

  3. J Banks says:

    My wife and I haven’t had sex in three years and we do not have children. I remember how it slowly began. First it started with her decision to stop going to the gym in the winter because it was “too cold outside” while simultaneously complaining about her weight gain (she’s ~35-40 lbs overweight but short in stature). Inside I was furious with her. Then in the spring through summer she continued to gain weight but also began to forget to take her birth control. I was angry at her and had my own performance problems (ED and PE). I simply could no longer perform. I was mad at her for not trying to tackle the weight problem which she herself was complaining about, She began to perspire more and develop that musty smell, I was no longer physically attracted to her but I do love her. I just can’t perform.

    She’s now in her early 40’s, her body is changing, and her extra weight is exacerbating the changes (lower metabolism, pre-menopausal).

    It is now summer. I just wish she’d stop complaining get out and walk and get over the fact that she’d have to shower afterwards.

    I know she’s not happy, I know she knows I’m not happy. We’re about over each other (not in constant argument’s however). I won’t buy a new house with her because I don’t know if I’m doing her a disservice by staying married to her.

  4. Michael says:

    The problem is that the spouse that is indifferent is just that, indifferent. They are not motivated to improve the relationship, they don’t care. They are not going to work on it. They are satisfied and often think their spouse is ‘too demanding’, ‘selfish’. The problem is with their spouse and not theirs. They see no reason to change, they are apathetic.

    The spouse that cares can read all the books in the library, can go to counselors daily, but may never see any change.

    The sad news is, you cannot make a person care.

  5. pat says:

    Michael is absolutely right. He hit the nail on the head. You cannot make a person care and if they don’t care, then you cannot take away their indifference. If physical and emotional intimacy is important to one partner, then it should become a priority to the other partner as well, even if they do not enjoy it as much.

    Asking a partner to go without intimacy(except if there is a medical reason) is just asking too much, no matter what else is brought to the marriage. It is like asking someone to go without love. How can that person be happy? And any partner should care about their partner’s happiness.

  6. Giselle Franco says:

    In my marriage it’s my husband that totally disregards my sexual drive… I catch myself fantasizing about getting divorced and finding a passionate man. Not to marry tho.
    I ended up with an habit (addiction? )
    Of watching porn and masturbating.
    I already asked him about different things he would like to try, another woman maybe(a man ?) But he doesn’t talk about it. I complain it crashes my self esteem and it’s giving me bad habits and so on. He says he loves me and he is always at home. I’m 38 yrs old Brazilian and he is 44 yrs old Australian. Can it b cultural differences?
    I’m so confused and sad.

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