Today’s post comes from Kevin Bullard of MarriageWorks! Kevin and his wife Cetelia have a deep compassion for marriages and I’m humbled to have Kevin posting today. This is a post you won’t want to miss.
Since starting Marriage Works!, I have spoken with many husbands who are beyond frustration due to the lack of sexual intercourse taking place in their marriage. Two stories in particular jump out at me, and I’ll base this post on their experiences.
According to this husband, he and his wife sinned by having sex before marriage. In exasperation, he told me that they had more sex before marriage than they’ve had since being married.
Although he had expressed how he felt multiple times in multiple ways to his wife, it seemed that his complaint and need for sex both fell on deaf ears. She was like the King James description of the city of Jericho: “Straitly shut up … and none came in.” (Joshua 6:1)
This husband was in an interesting situation because the lack of sex in his marriage appeared to be related to his wife being pregnant. In the past they had suffered a stillborn and a miscarriage, and this husband said his wife refused to have sex due to not wanting to harm the baby.
Although doctors had ruled out the chances of harm being done to the baby through intercourse, one can understand her concerns given their history. At the same time, the husband told me that he was increasingly tempted to view pornography, and began seeing other women as more attractive. The husband explained these two things to his wife, and she acknowledged them, but still did not have sex with him.
Let me begin by saying that despite the temptations and lack of sex, both of these men had and will always have the responsibility to maintain their purity and fidelity. This is a covenant with God and their wife.
That said, both husbands also have a very real need that cannot be dismissed by encouraging them to “man up.”
Both of these men felt something that is often felt by a spouse who is the victim of adultery: rejection. They felt like they weren’t important enough to their wife for their needs to be met by her. Because these husbands felt like their needs didn’t matter, they felt like they didn’t matter, and that is a low place that hurts whether you’re male or female.
While some husbands deal with this rejection by stepping outside their marriage, others, like these men, deal with the rejection by giving it to God while trying not to grow bitter against the one woman who is their God-ordained sex partner.
As I said at the outset, I don’t know all the details of their individual stories, but I do know this much: this is not how God intended for marriage to be for husbands and wives.
It was not His plan for bitterness to take root due to spouses being denied their conjugal rights (1 Corinthians 7:3-4).
It was not His plan for spouses to feel rejected and abandoned due to being denied sex from the one person they covenanted to have sex with.
If you, like the wives in this post, are denying your husband sex for any reason, I encourage you to challenge the reason against God’s word.
If there are physical issues causing you to deny sex, explain these to your husband, and seek out the necessary help. If there are emotional or forgiveness reasons causing you to deny sex, again, I encourage you to explain these to your husband, and seek out the necessary help.
In short, if you’re denying sex to your husband for any reason, seek the necessary help. It’s essential that you understand that your husband likely feels rejected, and Satan will do his best to exploit that rejection and turn it into sin.
Take ownership for any objections you have towards being sexually intimate with your husband, and pray that he will take ownership for any issues that may be causing you to feel the way you do.
Finally, together, seek a way forward so that you both feel loved, honored, and cherished enough to bring healing and growth to your sexual relationship.
Through Marriage Works! Kevin & Cetelia Bullard create experiences and resources that help you build a healthy, functional marriage. You’ll be encouraged and challenged as you interact with them through Twitter, Facebook, and their blog. And now, you can take your marriage to a new level through Marriage Works! 2Go, the world’s first mobile marriage coaching service that sends you daily marriage strategies, EBooks, and teaching videos via SMS or Email for less than a cup of your favorite beverage at Starbucks. If you’re ready to make your marriage work, you’re definitely ready for Marriage Works! 2Go!
17 thoughts on “WARNING: Your Husband May Feel Like These Men”
I was husband #1 for 8 years. Thank God my wife felt convicted to change. It is definitely a condition of the heart, because nothing I said, did, how I acted or how I served made any difference. I’m afraid I didn’t handle it well, didn’t “give it to God”. I got tired of waiting for God. The ramifications of those years still follow us, though we’re both past our mutual sins.
Amen! I appreciate this post bc my husband felt neglected for a time bc I withheld sex because I was never in the mood. I was tired after our newest addition and we weren’t in the best place in our marriage. I was counseled by our Pastor and told to do it as unto God. I prayed that God would give me the energy and desire for my husband in spite of our lack of emotional connection at the time and He faithfully answered my prayers. Thanks for sharing these perspectives!
The pregnant woman’s fears are understandable. I was forced FORCED by my doctor to not have sex because my baby was at risk for prematurity….believe me, I did not want to give up sex. Of course, I didn’t want a preterm baby either. Instead, we had outter course, oral and manual for him. The only thing that stunk was I didn’t get to orgasm, so I was the one getting aroused, frustrated, and tempted! So, while hubby was getting his needs met, I couldn’t! It was sheer torture!!
our problem is not the same as either of these…we have sex 2 to 3 times a week and my husband fusses that it is not enough, he also takes it when im not willing, even though i feel like im meeting his needs…what would be your advice for us?
Thank you everyone for your comments…really appreciate it!
Tyra, I think each marriage is unique and the key is to continue to communicate on how you both feel about your sexual intimacy. I think it’s good to both express what you like about sex. Instead of getting caught up in a frequency issue (because honestly, 2-3 times a week is fairly frequent, all things considered), I think a more productive conversation is to build good dialogue on what you enjoy about sex. If your husband knows that you truly do enjoy the sexual ways he pleases you, he may be less likely to get so hung up on wanting sex more often.
And likewise, if he can become more expressive in why he enjoys sex with you, I think that may help you better appreciate that this is indeed is one of the ways he feels valued and loved by you.
I didn’t quite understand the comment that he takes it when you’re not willing, but I’m guessing that means that there are some times you are less than enthusiastic about it, but you still agree to have sex?
At any rate, communication is key, and being willing to even say some of the hard things like “when you try to make me feel guilty about not having sex more, when we are already having sex 2-3 times a week, it is hurtful. I don’t want sex to be a battleground for us. As your wife, I want to feel treasured and safe with you.”
Anyway, those are just some ideas. Without talking to your husband, it’s difficult for me to know where he is coming from in thinking 2-3 times a week is not enough.
If initiating conversation on your own seems to not be productive, don’t rule out going to a Christian counselor. Sometimes having a third party to help a couple navigate can really lead to some breakthroughs where both the husband and wife grow in better understanding the other person’s heart and perspective.
Hope this is helpful…
I was required by my Dr to not have sex the last 4 months of my pregnancy. 2 weeks after the baby came, ny husband basically demanded we have sex, even though it was very painful for me. A few months later, I discovered that he had been looking at porn, even though we were having sex regularly and I thought our marriage was doing great.he apologized and swore it would never happen again…but it did. Each of these incidents made me feel as if I am just a convenient tool for his sexual pleasure and also made me feel inadequate and replaceable…this makes it very difficult to want to have sex with him, especially since my self confidence has basically been washed down the drain. Any suggestions?
Thank you Mel for your courage in commenting. Understandably you have suffered greatly due to your husband’s insensitivity and sinful activity.
If you have tried to lovingly, yet firmly, explain how this has made you feel and he has not responded with a humble heart, I’m wondering if he would be open to the two of you meeting with a counselor or an elder or pastor at your church?
For the sake of your marriage, it would be good if he would have accountability with another Christian male regarding his struggle with porn, and/or possibly look into a ministry designed to break porn addiction.
At any rate, I encourage you to build good safe friendships with other Christian women who will pray with you, listen to you, and come in agreement with you about full restoration of your marriage.
Your husband needs to understand what’s at stake if he continues to be so careless with his marriage and intimacy with his wife… if he’s not willing to change and/or go to counseling, I highly recommend you go on your own to demonstrate to him the seriousness of the situation.
This kind of problems follow different patterns that may originate in long forgotten events, situations, traumas, that neither the husband nor the wife can’t remember anymore. As Julie repeatedly said, communication is key! Lack of it will only aggravate the symptoms and lay the ground for separation. But communication has to be mutual, it won’t work if only one side seeks it and the other avoids opening his/her soul to the spouse.
When our children were little, I used to consider sex as a duty, from time to time, like why having sex four-five times a week, two-three isn’t enough? But we always talked about this offer versus demand issue. And I mean not in a subtle way, but in blunt explicit dialogs, the way friends communicate. Years into this process made me think like a man and made him think like a woman. We don’t argue about the problems of womanhood vs. manhood, instead we seek solutions for each other. When he asks me for more sex and I have no time (lately I’m always in the mood), then I never give him a refusal, just a work around, such as ignoring the dressing code or using my voice, the way I know he enjoys to hear, while continuing my chores in his presence.
The best part is that, whenever I demand love-making, he will drop anything and run to serve me copiously. This is what it takes to have your best friend and your hubby in one and the same person.
Oh, as about men looking at women, I have total confidence (verified over time) in my man. I know that he won’t touch any woman other than me. So then why not allowing him to watch? After all, this is how men were built. Just look all over the Old Testament. It’s a feature not a deficiency! The big question mark is if we have the courage, and the confidence, of giving them the free-watching pass. In my case this worked wonders, consolidating our marriage. Sure, not all men are grown up equally, although they are born equal.
I used to feel the way these husbands did. Then, convicted by the Holy Spirit to love my wife the way Jesus loves His church Eph 5:25-33 things have changed. Now unless health issues intervene we usually make love (vastly different from having sex) twice a week and it is better than ever before.
Julie – Please do more topics like this one. As a man who is caught in one of these never-ending I always have to beg my Christian wife for sex situations, I pray women get the message of how important sex it to your husbands. Please wives, make it a priority in your marriage! Women are such complicated machines. For some of us emotionally reserved men, it’s nearly impossible to figure out the secret password. We desperately need the love that first consumed us with unquenchable passion for the woman we married. Unfortunately as life gets more complicated, we don’t always know the intricate weave of just the right words/actions to keep you running in perfect form. We need a lot of help. What happens to make this part of our marriages so tough? Kids and jobs and health and church responsibilities and whatever other huge list of important things enter our lives and get in the way of the most precious thing we men have – the intimacy of our beloved wife! Don’t let the clutter of life get in the way of your marriage. Make intimacy with your husband a priority…like, tonight. You really can’t imagine how important it is to us.
He went to counseling a few times and talked with his mentor about it a few times but nothing recently. He has trouble following through with commitments…I don’t think he has looked in the last several weeks but it’s very difficult to believe him, since he lied to my face both of the previous times until I confronted him with the evidence. I’m always afraid I’ll discover something I don’t want to! I hadn’t thought about going to counseling on my own, thank you for the suggestions 🙂
Your husbands problem is not about you being deficient somehow! It is about him.
I had a similar situation, where my wife could not have sex the last few months of pregnancy. Nor was she enthusiastic about meeting my needs. After the baby was born, it was hardly better. Her libido and arousability had gone through the floor! I turned to porn and masturbation as a way to meet my needs, which I learned had little to do with sexual needs.
If your husband wants to change and be free from porn, I highly recommend the book Surfing for God. I am reading it now, and it is so different from anything else I have read (variants of the “Just say ‘No!'” approach). It addresses the real roots of the problem. Just trying not to do it is probably not going to be effective long-term: there will be relapses, as you have seen. Porn use is often more about covering insecurities, feeling powerful, being desired, and needing to feel loved and affirmed than it is about sex. I know it was for me. Even though my wife was loving and affectionate outside the bedroom, I did not feel desired by my wife, or loved. Instead, I felt weak, ineffective, and impotent (not because of erectile dysfunction but because I was powerless to arouse her or make her want me sexually). For most men, sex is such a huge part of our self image that we can be shattered when we feel that our sex lives are not going well. Porn allowed me to feel passion, feel desired, feel powerful sexually. But of course it is all a lie! And it makes things worse! It breaks the heart of those you love and traps you. After ~2 years, our sex life gradually improved, but I still can’t shake the habit, even though I want to, and even though I masturbate and view porn much less frequently than before. I don’t know your husband’s heart, but this may be where he is coming from too.
Another resource that may be of help to either of you is The Marriage Bed boards (http://www.boards.themarriagebed.com). There is a forum for Porn, and you can find support for yourself from other wives who are in the same boat.
What do I do in a situation like this?:
We’ve been married over 10 years, with beautiful children, part of a good church etc. My wife and I met on the short term mission field originally (She is from the UK and I am from the Southern Hemisphere – I won’t mention which country in order to preserve some anonymity, but I’ll just say this: It’s not New Zealand).
However, my wife hardly ever initiates sex anymore. In the last 3 years, she has done this less than 10 times (yes, unfortunately I am counting and am not up to the fingers on both hands yet). It basically doesn’t happen anymore unless I initiate first. I have essentially, for the past 2 and a half months, given up on trying to initiate sex. In that time she has initiated it once. Clearly this situation is not a problem for her, as she has never mentioned it and doesn’t seem phased by my lack of interest anymore at all.
Interestingly, on the few occasions that she has initiated over the last few years, it has mostly been when we have been away and staying in fancy hotels (e.g. when we’ve been visiting my family in the Southern Hemisphere and spending a night away alone etc.). That combined with the recent lack of intimacy makes me think the horrible thought that I only get an enthusiastic response from her when I am “paying for sex” as such. So I am now actively avoiding us going away alone together anymore, because I feel that these occasions should be a celebration of something ongoing and not an excuse to do something which hardly ever happens. Plus, we can’t afford it anymore (see more later).
But I’ve essentially given up now because I get the sense that she’s not really interested in me anymore. A couple of times recently when I’ve tried to initiate sex with her, she has literally fallen asleep during foreplay (which is completely one sided from me) or she has given me such a bad attitude of a response, that I have just given up. I have also tried to discuss/mention/ask about her initiating sex but every time I’ve brought it up she’s been pretty dismissive. Maybe it’s just me, but I need sex more than 5 times a year. Realistically, 3 or 4 times a week would probably be in the ballpark for me.
We used to have a pretty good relationship, but she has never been the most forthcoming in telling me that she loves me or discussing anything deep in our relationship for that matter. If you take the traditional cliche of the wife wanting to embrace after sex and the husband rolling over and falling asleep, in our house it would be the other way round. I’d be the one who would want to do the embracing and she would be the one who would be turning over and falling asleep.
She is also not the most “cuddly” or intimate of people (must be that British stiff upper lip thing) but we did have a good relationship. In the beginning, I tried to be very affectionate and romantic with her (in a non sexual way: I’m talking about hugs, kisses etc.), but over the years, because this was not reciprocated in the same way that I was giving, I just kind of stopped trying and let that side of things die off – it’s hard to keep something up when it feels so one-sided. In terms of initiation, I would almost always be the one to say “I love you” first. As I said after years of being the initiator on that, I just kind of stopped trying. I have not heard the words “I love you” uninitiated from her for so long, that I cannot remember the last time she used them without being prompted into a rote response first. I do know that she loves me, in her own unexpressive way, but it genuinely hurts when your spouse can’t be troubled to use the words “I love you” as a regular thing, without being prompted by you first.
The situation has been recently compounded in that, although I am well qualified, the UK (and especially the North East where we live) has gone through a major recession recently and I have seen my work (I am self employed) and hence income drop drastically. We’re not in poverty by any stretch, but we are watching the pennies very carefully. Put that in light of what I mentioned earlier about her mostly only initiating sex when we were away at a fancy hotel: we can’t afford to do that sort of thing anymore.
I don’t understand the situation anymore. Sex for her seems to be a chore and something that she is not particularly interested in, yet she finds loads of time for coffee with her friends, organising church things, other social activities, watching tv, facebook etc. She doesn’t have to work and has a lot of opportunity to do the things she wants to do.
I know that if I commute the 200 miles to London and spend 3 nights a week living down there, I could get a good job again which will have my family not lacking for anything. Sometimes I think she’d welcome me not being around because it would give her more time to do more stuff with her friends. And sex is clearly of such very little interest or priority to her that my absence would not be noticed, and maybe even welcomed.
A month or two ago I seriously began to wonder whether she was having an affair. I had noticed occasionally when I was leaving the house that she would often walk the kids to school in the company of this guy who also has kids in the school. On one day, I was able to walk with them to school one morning. My wife walked next to this guy the whole way, chatting to him, whilst I walked behind like a spare part with our youngest. I dropped back a bit to see if she’d come back and walk with us. She didn’t even notice and carried on talking to this bloke and just walked far ahead of us. I was so upset inside that after dropping our daughter off, I had to just turn around and leave. I think however that I’ve gotten over the fear that she is having an affair. I don’t think that’s the problem. I just think that I’ve become the invisible man to her in many ways.
I am having my own problems at the moment. Not having job satisfaction or earning a decent income anymore is not exactly working wonders on my self esteem. I have had bouts of depression occasionally over the years and I am probably in the middle of one now for a number of the reasons already mentioned. I hate the weather in the UK (having grown up in a sunny country) and if I was offered a job in Australia tomorrow, I would fly out yesterday. (I probably suffer from SADS as a result of the lack of sun over the past 10 years.).
I try to be a good husband and dad, I don’t spend loads of time away from my family on the golf course or socialising with friends. I don’t look at porn on the internet (which a lot of christian men have been tripped up by), I don’t drink in excess. I have never been unfaithful to my wife and go out of my way to avoid any situations where there is even the remotest chance that there might be the possibility of anything happening with anyone else. We both entered into our marriage as virgins.
I consider myself to be a pretty good looking guy (I often find pretty woman both younger and older than me smiling and doing that unconscious thing where they start touching their hair a lot when they notice you – no disrespect to my wife, it just happens) and I am in very good shape for a 41 year old, still carrying a lot of muscle from my younger days of training, no paunch etc. It’s not as if I’ve allowed myself to turn into a slob so my wife would find me physically gross or something.
We don’t have a bad relationship in terms of: we are not fighting like cats and dogs. It just feels like it’s dying a slow death, with the sex side of things being the proverbial canary in the mine early warning signal.
I’m scared for the future. How can things go wrong like this for a christian couple? I pray and I pray, but nothing is changing… in fact, it does feel as if it’s getting worse. Coupled with everything else that’s been going wrong recently (work, self esteem etc.) it’s not a happy brew.
I’m trying to figure out what I am doing wrong because I know I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Trying to give it to God and trying to get some answers on many fronts, like what he’s trying to teach me through the job loss etc. Trying to realise the truth of the fact that my worth is in him and not in circumstances or wealth or any other earthly measure.
Wow, I started out meaning to write a few lines about why my wife would not be initiating sex, and it’s turned into a full blown therapy dumping session. Sorry!
Would appreciate any advice, but more importantly, would appreciate your prayers. Many thanks, DH.
Hello DH… Thank you for your honest comment. Your experience and sentiments echo what I hear from so many others in similar situations… usually husbands, but sometimes wives who are denied sex.
It is heartbreaking and certainly whenever someone is so careless with nurturing sex (as in the case of your wife), there is damage — seen and unseen — that really can’t be tallied. There’s no way to estimate the toll, in the same way that when sex IS nurtured and held in high regard in a marriage, there is no way to estimate the indescribable benefits.
I’m wondering if you took the time to write your wife a letter with much of what you shared in the above comment? Your goal obviously would be to help raise her awareness of the genuine desperation you are feeling. You would want to be loving in your tone, but vulnerable and clear as well (like your above comment).
Sometimes a letter can be a good way to breakthrough to more face-to-face communication.
I think too often the spouse in a marriage who is the one denying sex just completely underestimates the damage they are doing… that’s what I was getting at in this post I did long ago: https://intimacyinmarriage.com/2011/03/19/would-you-be-fine-with-your-husband-having-sex-with-someone-else/
If you have tried all you can to share your feelings with your wife about this situation, then I would encourage you to suggest counseling. If that is not an option or she is not open to it, then I would encourage you to find a safe male Christian confidante who will listen and pray with you. You need support, as isolation will only compound things.
I am so sorry for what you are going through…
Thanks Julie for your reply. Sorry for replying so late, but I’ve been away this past week with little to no internet access (sometimes not a bad thing!).
I think you are very right about the damage thing. I think with the way things have been the past couple of years, I find myself thinking more often: “Why bother?”, in many areas. When you don’t feel wanted in that way anymore, it impacts across all aspects of your marriage. You can’t just isolate out sex and say, “it’s just sex, get over it”. Everything is wrapped up together and when one part suffers, so does everything else.
I think your idea of a letter is good, as I don’t think talking is really going to help, given past experience. I was thinking that maybe sending my wife the link to this article and asking her to read it would be a good thing to do, because then maybe she’d see how particularly serious and distressing this is to me. Plus then she’d also see all the other articles and comments and realise that our situation is completely out of whack. I don’t know, what do you think?
I hope and pray that things come right in so many ways. This is a real bind and drag on me both mentally and physically, especially when coupled with everything else that is going on at the moment (finances, job etc.).
I cry now when I think I used to be such a happy-go-lucky optimistic kind of guy.
All the best, DH.
Julie- my husband has been unfaithful in the past. Now that we are reconciling, I have a HUGE problem in being intimate with him…
We are fairly young (late twenties) with four young children, whom I care for alone… When we “make love” he climaxes so quickly that I feel it’s ABSOLUTELY pointless in having sex. I mean I SERIOUSLY get nothing out of it but end up being MORE sexually frustrated than before we began.
I don’t watch pornography and I have no desire to be unfaithful but I also have no desire to be intimate with him… Any suggestions?
@Christian Wife… thank you for your comment. I’m so sorry for the disconnect in your marriage.
If you have tried to have a conversation with your husband without much positive response on his part, I would suggest writing him a letter… in a tone of love, but being clear and vulnerable in sharing specifically about the pain this causes you. Express that you want the two of you to have more nurtured sexual intimacy, and that you are committed to working on that together.
Also, I encourage you to pray and seek God’s Word specifically about sexual intimacy and ask God to reveal to you ways you can set in place healthier patterns in your intimacy.
I know there are no guarantees that your husband will change, but often when one spouse walks in the direction of health and is intentional on seeking nurtured intimacy, the other spouse often responses positively.