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.

60 thoughts on “Wives Who Are Sexually Refused

  1. Given Up says:

    Sounds very familiar. Mine doesn’t flip out if I touch his hand (I’ve stopped touching anything else) but I avoid any physical contact whenever I can. If I touch him at all, it’s by accident. I’ve gotten used to no bodily contact. What infuriates me is his just deciding to end that part of our “relationship” without my having any say in it. He had no right to do that. He recently told our 26 year old daughter that “I was physical with your mother before we were married”; that it was a sin and he has “repented” of it. In other words, he’s sorry he got involved with me. Yet he does not think it is a “sin” to not indulge in marital relations. He hasn’t “repented” of that. (Of course, to him, it’s not a sin; there’s nothing to repent of). When we were younger and he was interested, I was convenient. Now he has a church to occupy his time. He goes on both Saturdays and Sundays so he doesn’t have to bother with me. I recently asked him if his new-found perfect pastor knows what he is NOT doing and if he thinks it’s okay. I knew he hadn’t because I know he wants to keep up the facade that this is not strange; that it’s regular behavior and he knows his pastor would tell him what he is doing is wrong and also a “sin”. We’ve been married 35 years; I should have left him when I was young and had a decent job and could support myself. I should’ve left him before he talked me into having kids. He actually asked me if I think he likes living like this. I said “Yes; you’re the one who decided this is how it’s going to be for the rest of our lives”. He also actually wanted to make plans to go out on Valentine’s Day. I asked him why. There’s nothing between us anymore but money. There’s nothing romantic to celebrate. I’m stuck in this dead marriage. It’s a hell of a situation.

  2. Given Up says:

    To continue: this is not the first time he has done this to me, it’s just of the longest duration. It now has been more than 3 years.
    He claims to “still love me” (I guess now sort of like the sister he never had). The longer this goes on, the more I find him to be physically repulsive to me. I look for things to dislike about him. It makes it easier for me to deal with the rejection. I do not bring up the subject anymore. I do not experience sadness anymore, just blinding anger. I would love to find someone else to be with. He wouldn’t care but I still would love to throw it in his face. The best part is that he thinks he is SO Christian. It would be laughable if it didn’t make me so angry. Running off to church and praying about everything all the time while he so blasely destroys his marriage. Of course, he believes I have already done that. He likes to talk about when he retires; he thinks I’m just going to ride off into the sunset with him. I’m 60 years old; maybe I’ll live another 20 years. Do I really want to spend it with a guy who would rather be a Bible quoting celibate? I don’t think so. I need to win the lottery so I can leave him!

  3. Given Up says:

    Sounds familiar, although mine doesn’t flip out. He sometimes tries to hold my hand. That’s about as far he will go in the physical contact department. Occasionally he will try to kiss me when he is literally walking out the door to go to work. This is safe contact; there’s no way I could mistake that as an invitation to hop in the sack.
    Recently he actually told our 26 year old daughter “Your mother and I were physical before we were married. It was a sin and I have repented of it”. So, in his mind, premarital sex is a sin, but refusing to screw your wife isn’t. Or if it is, it is an understandable sin because I am such a shrew.
    I facetiously asked him if he has told his new perfect pastor about his unwillingness to have any carnal contact with the only woman he is allowed to have such contact with (me). I knew he hadn’t because he wants to keep up the false facade that he is such a devout Christian who strives to live as God would want him to. Also his pastor would think he is weird. What married man, even in middle age, doesn’t want to get laid? It’s abnormal, unless of course, you are married to this horrible ogre.
    I know he’s not having an affair and there is nothing physically wrong with him. His goal is to make me so miserable I will turn into this meek, unargumentative, submissive little “Christian” spouse who he can tolerate to live with.
    He runs off to church and Bible study classes every chance he gets. He wants to put us in hock by tithing his 10 percent to this church.
    That comes to $400 to $500 a month. That’s a lot of money we could use to pay bills or put into an IRA. It’s not “extra” money.
    He won’t go to marriage counseling with me until I have gone to counseling on my own because he believes I need to be “fixed” first or couples counseling will just be a waste of time.
    I no longer want to have any kind of physical contact with him. If we do touch, it’s by accident. He wanted to make plans to go out for Valentines Day. I asked him why. Since there is now nothing between us except for financial obligations, there is nothing to celebrate. There is nothing romantic or loving in our relationship anymore. We occupy the same apartment, that’s it. A few months ago, he actually asked me if I think he likes living like this. I told him he must like it since he is the one who decided this is how it’s going to be for the rest of our lives. It infuriates me that I have no say in this. The longer this situation stays this way, the less likely it is that it can be fixed and the less likely it is I want it fixed.

  4. G says:

    Wow you’re life is almost a mirror image of mine except I’m the starved (sexually) husband, I’m not even allowed to sleep in the same room, it’s been over seven years I don’t even know if I remember how to do it, but I wish we could talk maybe as friends

  5. Linda says:

    My husband did this for six years. Three years it was more frequent but not so great. Now I’m finally thinking of leaving. I can’t believe how stupid I was to put up with such blatant disrespect. I’m so sick of him and so tired of having to threaten him to have a regular sex life.

  6. Given Up says:

    Believe me, you don’t want to sleep in the same room. You’re lucky you have some other place to sleep. I have to sleep in the same room in the same bed. Sometimes when he is sleeping, his subconscious will forget he has vowed to have nothing to do with me until I am “nice” to him and he ends up almost on top of me. At this point, that’s the last place I want him to be.

  7. Saddened says:

    I empathize with all of you. My husband won’t touch me and has gone years and years without sex. At holiday events he sits across the room from me and even moved to his own row in an airplane during our travels to not talk or sit with me. It is so disrespectful and rejecting. Im going to be leaving him afyer 14 yeats of marriage. I realize I deserve more and would rather be alone than feel alone with him. He also shuts me out emotionally. We tried marriage counseling but it didn’t work. They believe each party is equally at fault in marriage counseling but I disagree. If someone withholds love, affection, sex, emotions, spirituality, it’s abuse. A good book on the topic is Married and Alone, about intimacy anorexia, although it’s all about trying to fix the marriage. There are also some good youtube videos about it. I’m so angry at this point, I have lost my love for him, finally. It’s a lonely place to be and we need support.

  8. Anna says:

    I’m sorry to hear all that you are going through. I had good spiritual counsel to make sure who I married was compatible in every way. Society has twisted views on a lot of things and it’s sad to see when it has crept into the church. There are women who have high drives, women who have low drives, men who have high drives, and men who have low drives. (I believe there are some women out there who have high drives but don’t realize it because they have been taught by society and church doctrine that women either are to be good girls or in the case of sin in the world the man who sleeps around is hero the women is slut.) Compatibility is important. I’m just throwing this out to any singles to not rush but be sure before you say until death do us part. Know it is God’s will without a doubt in your mind. And, God isn’t going to force someone to stay in His will or to act right as He gives us free will.

  9. Amber says:

    I’m still a newlywed. We have our two year anniversary in two months and I’m considering leaving. We had intimacy issues before we got married but it never occured to me that this was just who we are together. Now he never touches me, we rarely say I love you, there’s not much tenderness. Early in our marriage after feeling so disappointed in both him and myself, I was nearly tempted. I stopped it before anything happened but I wrote of it in my journal and he read it. Now I feel he uses that as a means to justify his emotional distance and lack of desire. I’m past blaming him and now accepting that this is an issue of compatibility. I don’t see what choice I have. I know I can’t spend the rest of my life this way

  10. Nombulelo Mtakane says:

    I’m married now for 3years and its been 2years since my husband had sex with me I’ve prayed about it talked with him he said we must only have sex when wanting to have a baby I told him I don’t want to leave like this but he doesn’t care

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