Are You Numb to Your Sexless Marriage?

Cup Of Coffee With HeartBefore age 34, I was never a coffee drinker.

The first time I had a latte, I was about 6 months pregnant with our youngest son.

In my naivety, I failed to order decaf, so you can imagine what the caffeine did to my heart and kid.  Poor little guy.

He probably felt like I jabbed a syringe full of adrenaline straight into his thigh.

Anyway, that was 9 years ago.

Despite the experience, I still don’t order decaf (only now I’m purposely not ordering decaf).

In fact, more often than not, I’m asking the hip young barista to throw in an extra shot of espresso. I glance at him with that “you-have-no-idea-what-I-have-to-get-done-today” sort of look.

He glances back un-fazed, because he has seen that look a thousand times before — from other 40-somethings who keep hoping someone will come up with an app that can drive the kids to school and keep the fridge stocked and do the laundry.

All. At. The. Same. Time.

Not surprisingly, the caffeine doesn’t seem to jolt me like it used to.

Sure, I feel its effects some, but for the most part, my body has built a tolerance for that kind of rush.  I’m certainly more numb to it now than I was when I sat at that coffee shop 9 years ago, introducing my kiddo to his first encounter with a caffeine-fueled mama.

It’s interesting what we can tolerate if we subject ourselves to it long enough.

Caffeine is probably the least of our worries in this regard (although some doctors would beg to differ with me. I know. I’ve feigned concern when my doc tells me to not drink more than two caffeinated drinks a day and certainly not after noon. Uhh. Okay. Whatever.)

Caffeine warnings aside, are there other times when we have built a tolerance for something much more damaging?

In marriage, sometimes tolerance morphs into an icky acceptance of patterns that just aren’t good for us.

Like too little sex.  Too little good sex.  Too little sex that both of you mutually value.

Or no sex at all.

My email inbox is strewn with strangers’ emails.  Their hearts and words spill like emotional wreckage across my computer screen, accounting often in great detail the devastation of having tolerated a marriage void of authentic sexual intimacy.

Usually, one person is tolerating the lack of intimacy — and the other person is completely indifferent or unaware of it.

Lately, I have received a few emails where people have shared this sentiment: “My spouse has said they would be fine with never having sex again.”


If you have become numb to your sexless marriage, I humbly encourage you to ask yourself if that numbness — that tolerance, so to speak — is bringing you closer to your spouse or causing a widening divide.

I can’t answer that for you.

All I know from my casual sideline view and from having a heart sensitive to this aspect of marriage is that I never hear stories where little or no sex in a marriage is doing any good.


The marriages where little or no sex is happening (and there’s no reasonable reason as to why) are ones that tend to lack the deep endearment that people envision they will have when they marry.

At best they are characterized by two people who are going through the motions of a life that looks strikingly similar to two roommates. We share bills. We share a washer and dryer. We share a bathroom.

There is discord and disconnect, but not enough safety and trust to truly address those issues mutually and selflessly.

At worst, they are characterized by two people who cannot stand being in each other’s presence and are internally processing how they can survive the marriage — or get the heck out of it.

So, if you stand back and realize that little or no sex has become your norm, have you also counted the costs?

If we could sit and talk over a cup of coffee — and I knew your marriage was lacking authentic sexual intimacy — I would courageously ask you that exact question.

What would your answer be?

Copyright 2013, Julie Sibert. Sexual Intimacy in Marriage blog.

56 thoughts on “Are You Numb to Your Sexless Marriage?

  1. Numb and Number says:

    Are you referring to the refuser or the refusee as the one who is numb? Or both? As the refusee I basically gave up months ago. I stopped initiating, stopped trying, stopped flirting, stopped suggestive comments. She is probably relieved – I’m going further into a hole that I’m not sure I can get out of. Numb? Somewhat, but the ache is always there. She’s probably relieved. At least maybe she is happy, but I can’t help but think down deep inside she senses something is wrong.

  2. Steve says:

    @Numb and Number: same place over here, almost. Only I see no indication that “deep inside she senses something is wrong”, and think if you asked her, she’d say everything is JUST FINE.

  3. ? What! ? says:

    If your husband is constantly saying “I don’t want to make love to you.”, this is whether or not you have initiated or not… as a matter of fact… you don’t even try any more because he keeps saying it… can you divorce him… you are married… you are a Christian… you don’t get numb to it… it just always hurts … and he knows it… you suspect he is saying it just so he can hurt you… what do you do?

  4. ? What! ? says:

    Oh by the way… several affairs later on his part… we were divorced… so glad that is not my problem any more…

  5. Still Learning says:

    I’m the refusee usually and it’s one of the most hurtful things I experience as a wife. To have him touch me and tease me and then not go all the way hurts. More than anything, constantly hearing “not right now” or “I just don’t feel like it” rips away at my heart. Maybe it’s childish of me but I look forward to times when I’m having my “monthly moment” so I can be the one to say no for a change. It’s become a power struggle and I’m clearly losing.

  6. Scott says:

    Wondering about the idea of being numb because being refused is a painful road and that pain does not go away. Since I believe those who refuse (with the exception of abusive situations) are using it as a wall to avoid the intimacy they fear, I could see how the relational anxiety they experience can numb them to particular ways it is manifesting. Thanks for the blog with lots of good stuff to think about!

  7. Kwala says:

    Well looks like I’m gonna have to become numb – all the stressing I have been doing, crying out to God – it finally caught up with me last week. I had a seizure during my sleep and ended up in hospital. So how’s that? Pray hard for months your marriage would change, that God would bless your marriage, and you end up in hospital from stress and a medical condition relapse. Do I blame God? No. But now the pressure my family is going through because of this. And I know the stress and heartache of falling before God about my marriage was the or a factor. I kept asking God how far did He want to push me. At least I got an answer there! Maybe when I said “yet he slay me will I trust Him”, He thought He’d test me on it.

  8. SH says:

    I believe I’m numb at this point, too. Although for the past 16 years we’ve been married, I’ve spent the last half of them wondering what happened. Honestly, I believe my hubby’s infidelity had a major part in it, but we’ve discussed it, cried, prayed, and resolved some major issues and (I thought) moved on. Maybe not.

    All I know is that for the past few years, whenever I’ve approached him in a sexual/sensual manner, he has had excuse after excuse after excuse. Some of it I understand (medications, crazy work schedule), but for YEARS??? Come on…

    Between all of the refused men and women on this board, it just makes you wonder: how in the world did we currently choose the spouses we’re with? We should’ve just picked and chosen from the folks reading this blog, and I’m sure we would’ve been happier! LOL

  9. Numb2 says:

    I wonder if we have hurt ourselves in Christianity by emphasizing the self-sacrificial side of love. My wife’s libido has tanked, and she’s just fine with that. As long as she sacrifices by “ministering” to me, she thinks all is well. But, I need her to selfishly want me. (“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth”, begins the Song). So, while I still get periodic sex, I’m growing numb to a one-sided sex life that lacks passion, desire, and intimacy.

  10. SH says:

    Numb2, at least you’re getting “ministered.” I know it’s not truly consolation, but at least some intimacy is being shared, even if it’s half-hearted.

    Being intimate with my husband only once or twice a year is NOT a fulfilling marriage. And Still Learning, I am right there with you; being the refused spouse (whether you’re the husband OR the wife) just blows, really.

    God meant for marriage to be a wonderful testament between two people who love Him and who love each other. Intimacy is a part of marriage, and is approved by God. Why are our spouses denying us this blessing??? I must be missing something, because I just don’t get it.

  11. Jed says:

    You ask a great set of questions. Has your marriage benefited from a lack of sex. I guess there might be one or two out there that could say, “Yes.”, but the vast majority of marriages will grow cold and stale without an active sexual life.

    If you are the refuser/gatekeeper, please, please pray, pray, pray, and then seek help. This website is a great place to start.

  12. dryinup says:

    I’ve adopted a Pink Floyd line “I have become comfortably numb.” 10 years of begging, pleading, and constant refusal, followed by 20 years of knowing better than to even mention “it”, the numbness is my only chance for survival. Sex is a cruel joke that God played on me. I’m not sure even how or why I say faithful to a marriage that has been/ is torture.

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  14. Dave1 says:

    Interesting post. A few things that stood out to me:

    1) On never hearing “stories where little or no sex in a marriage is doing any good.” I have to believe these stories are out there. They might be few and far between and they might represent the rare “exceptions” to the rules. I wonder if there could be anything to be learned from these stories if we could round a few up.

    2) On being roommates: This represents a kind of turning point in my sexless marriage. I don’t recall exactly how I made the connection, but one day I made this observation. So much of the advice for “how to get your wife to make love to you.” (help with housework, for example) is the same advice for “how to be a good roommate.” It didn’t change much outwardly, but it gave me a different attitude towards my sexless marriage. If we are going to live like roommates, I’m going to be a good roommate. It will be a workable relationship, but it won’t have the same endearment that I had always expected from marriage.

    3) which leads into my 3rd observation: on sexless marriages tending to “lack the deep endearment that people envision they will have when they marry.” The thing that stands out to me in statements like this is that, before marriage, we will frequently tell young people how sex and love do not really go together. “Sex is not a litmus test for love.” or “If you respect the one you are dating, you don’t want to have sex with him/her.” and so on. Looking back on my single years from this side of the altar, how much of my sexless marriage is a product of these kinds of messages. Would it have been different if someone had said, “if you want that kind of love and endearment, you are going to need to nurture and grow your sexual relationship (along with all the other aspects of your relationship). God expects you to wait until after marriage to do it, but you will need to make this a priority.”

  15. Valerie says:

    I would love not to say I’m not the refuser. I used to love making love to my husband, but now I’m in menopause making love is so incredibly painful, all my hormones feel like they have up and left the building. My motor no longer gets turned on.I have tried everything except go on artificial hormones which is not an option. I feel bad for my husband. He was in a sexless marriage for 18 years, and now he is in a second one. I know as a Christian its wrong not to have sex in a marriage. My husband is quite tolerant, he never strayed in his first marriage.
    Furthermore, my husband is a wonderful man, but he loves to goof around all the time, he never can spend time being intimate because he never takes it serious enough to be romantic. I have stopped trying, or maybe I don’t try hard enough.

  16. JulieSibert says:

    @Dave1… I couldn’t agree with you more that we often send the wrong message to people about sex before marriage. We don’t give them a balance message and clearly convey that sex outside marriage is not what God desires for you, but once you are married, he definitely wants you to nurture it, pay close attention to it, and follow 1 Corinthians to not withhold your body, etc.

    Thank you for your comments…

  17. JulieSibert says:

    @Valerie… I’m sorry for the disconnect in your marriage when it comes to sexual intimacy. It sounds, though, like there is room for growth. You say you feel bad for your husband. Have you tried to have a conversation about the intimacy (sexual and otherwise) and expressed how you really want the two of you to work toward healthier patterns in your marriage? What about counseling? What about also checking with your doctor about ways to alleviate some of the effects of menopause? I don’t have all the answers obviously, but there might be more for you to explore.

    Thank you for stopping by and sharing your story… I appreciate it and I know there are others out there who can relate.

  18. Bert says:

    Valerie, that “goofing around” of your husband may be his way of dealing with a sexless marriage. If he was in a previous marriage that was the same, he probably developed a way to redirect the pain and ” not be serious” may his way of trying to divert the pain. My mechanism was ” righteous anger” which worked the first three times, then ignored. Obviously not good either! I would bet there is hurt there that you don’t see, just directed in a different way. If sex is painful, have you tried the many personal lubricants that are out there. That, with some patience might help. Talk to your OB. You say your husband is a wonderful man, what is that worth in today’s world of couples who could never say that about each other.

  19. Numb2 says:

    SH, you are right. I am learning to be grateful for the sex we share, even if it’s not what my idealistic desires would prefer. Yes, my wife loves me dearly, even though her hormonal desire is diminished.

    Valerie, your situation is similar to my wife’s. She, too, is post-menopausal. Vaginal intercourse is very painful, and her libido has suffered as well, so she is less inclined to consider other alternatives to vaginal intercourse. Manual stimulation is about all we do anymore (I’m not complaining).

    Like you, she is sympathetic to the fact that my desires have not diminished. However, her own diminished libido has impaired her motivation to focus on her own desire. It’s a catch-22. Because she’s not aroused, she has little interest in fantasizing or doing things that will get her aroused.

    Julie, if you haven’t already addressed it, perhaps a helpful post would be how post-menopausal couples can deal with both physical realities (thinning vaginal walls) and hormonal realities (loss of interest). My guess is that it won’t do to simply tell wives to try oral sex as an alternative to vaginal intercourse. With a diminished libido, I have to imagine that a woman would be even more inclined to think oral sex gross and disgusting.

  20. Guilty as charged says:

    My wife and I have been married for 19 years. We married late in life at 38, and neither of us were Christians until married for 2 years. We are both numb to our sexless marriage. We haven’t had relations in many years, and stopped trying a few years ago. I grew up in an abusive alcoholic home. My mother emotionally abused me by talking to me emotional and intimate things she should have talked to my Dad about. I got the message loud and clear that sex was dirty, and always unpleasant for women who are just used by men. She also told me I was not wanted, and that the night I was conceived she refused my father so he raped her. Being shy and introverted I had no girlfriends before my wife in my mid thirties. I had lost my virginity with a prostitute in my late teens and made many more attempts in subsequent years but rarely achieved an erection due to extreme nervousness. I learned to self gratify using magazines and later pornography. My wife was the first woman ever to take an interest in me, asking me out, and taking the lead in all areas including initiating relations. I married her because I thought she loved me even though I did not love her. Our first 2 years of marriage were terrible as she constantly tried to change me through criticism and control. Once we became Christians that lessened considerably, but it also led to telling me that she had never found relations pleasurable with me, and that she would never again initiate relations as that is my role as the man/husband. Despite years of individual and couples marriage counseling I have yet been unable to initiate relations. Compounding the problem is the fact that I have been touch averse my whole life and find physical affection very unpleasant. My wife of course desires affection. Our entire marriage has been without passion or emotional love. Even though I find my wife unattractive I have worked on showing her affection as much as I can (i.e. loving through actions). Unfortunately, she can tell it is not natural/spontaneous, and so cannot appreciate my efforts at all. Our counseling has involved lots of things like dating, physical exercises such non-sexual touching and massages. Sadly, these are still very unpleasant for me. Our last few efforts at relations (scheduled by our counselor) were complete failures (I was unable to achieve arousal). We’ve also tried some meds like Viagra, but to no avail. I know as a Christian that love is not about emotion, but it is very hard to love when there are no feelings whatsoever. We are also utterly incompatible as we have no common interests whatsoever. We’ve worked through many marriage workbooks and programs and marriage weekends but none have helped. Many talk about recovering/rediscovering ‘first love’, but we never had any as we both married false images of one another. The last 2 years we’ve resigned ourselves that our marriage will be without relations. Our counselor wants us to continue “intimacy building exercises”, but neither of us can bring ourselves to initiate these as they are unpleasant and emotionally painful for both of us now. I have night time erections and “nocturnal emissions” so I know my impotence is not a physical problem on my part, but emotional. We know we’re in sin, but we’ve given up and are making the best of it as de facto roomates. Our sons are now 18 and will soon be moving out. The only reason we haven’t divorced is because of them and the knowledge that God forbids it. I pray constantly that God will help me to get over my inhibitions and feel love for my wife. That is my only hope – that and the return of Christ when all will be made new again.

  21. Practically Done says:

    My wife knows, because we’ve discussed it a dozen times, that starving me for over a month without sex is too long. Yet she tests the limit, over, and over, and over. Callously, at that.

    I’m seriously thinking of getting a girlfriend for companionship. Talking about our nearly sexless marriage has been a waste of time and energy. Praying hasn’t helped either. Her desire to almost never have sex is stronger than my ability to bring intimacy into our relationship.

    I’m in my 40’s and don’t want to spend the rest of my life “taking care of it” with a magazine, like a perpetual teenager.

    Sex in marriage was a big lie that I should have never believed.

  22. serina says:

    I have addressed this issue over this past year with little improvement in our sex life. I quit trying and he’s “fine” with that. well I’m not. I miss my husbands touch and I’ve cried to him how much it hurts me to know he has no desire. So I cry myself to sleep most nights. He doesn’t want to seek medical help so I’m left feeling a loss in our marriage that he doesn’t understand. and I pray I can keep the “home fires” burning by myself for the existence of our love is slowly fading to memory.

  23. CPR says:

    These stories are all too familiar. I had a sexless marriage for nearly 30 years. Was ready to leave and join a widowed ex-fiancé. Actually met with my ex who said my priority and hers was to save my present marriage. She gave me some pointers. The best was to talk openly and bluntly to my wife, which we had never been able to do before. My wife thought sex was a shameful thing and not to be mentioned. I started talking bluntly using words, phrases never before uttered in our home. At first she was angry, but is reconciling to hearing me talk openly about certain themes. Finally she is realizing she loves me and doesn’t want to lose me, and that sex is from God and is for pleasure between husband and wife and not just for procreation. She is making an effort to meet my needs and it is such a wonderful change. I no longer fantasize about other women. I just want her.
    My point is keep trying everything you can, read, study, confront in love.

  24. Anonymous says:

    These posts that say “I’ve been in a sexless marriage for years” just break my heart (I’m a guy and been married 30 years). Every one of these situations could be prevented, but I’m sad to say it’s the traditional Christian marriage concept that prevents you fixing it. The objective answer is to give your spouse an ultimatum to correct their behavior or the relationship is over. This website actually talks about that as a last resort, and I agree. What everyone needs to know is that a last resort does NOT mean you need to wait 20 years to impose it. As soon as an intimacy problem is evident, tell your spouse it needs to be addresses quickly! Don’t be an affair waiting to happen, and don’t waste 20 good years on a person who will not please you. Talk firmly, mean your ultimatum but do it as soon as there is clearly a problem. The saddest thing is a 50-year old person who spent their married life angry, bitter and lonesome in bed.

  25. Daniel says:

    I agree with anonymous. All the gentle and patient communication coupled with prayer have been an absolute waste of time in my case.

    We made it over 15 years together but the sex pretty much stopped after the first child 10 years ago. It’s been downhill from there. Wife is not interested in changing, and says my desire for sex is a selfish desire (even though when we engage, which is rare, she enjoys it very much).

    I have been telling myself (well, lying to myself to be honest) that things would improve. But they only get worse. It only gets to be more and more work to get her to have sex. Leaving the relationship would be easier.

  26. MeToo says:

    We’ve been married for 29 years and we always had sex at least 2-3 times a week, rarely less except for 2007-2010 when I was undergoing a double mastectomy and multiple revisions to my reconstruction. My husband constantly nagged me in front of our three kids, which was humiliating. When they were little, he was in bed by 8:45 or 9 p.m. because he went to work very early. Most of the time, he was in bed before I had all three kids tucked in. As much complaining as he did, he seemed to be a morning person anyway. Sex was the only time he touched me and I tried over the years to explain to him that women need other affection too, or at least some foreplay, but he apparently didn’t care. Our relationship had it’s ups and downs, and he is not saved, so he doesn’t forgive a thing. Two years ago, he had trouble completing sex twice in a row. Suddenly, sex stopped completely. Months went by and by 8 months out, I told him that we needed to get counseling. I was so busy with work that I didn’t find a therapist. Six months later, I found that he was having, at the least, an emotional affair with his high school girlfriend. He lied for hours when I confronted him. I insisted on therapy and he gave it about 8 sessions, which he wasted on telling the therapist every last thing about me that he is angry about or dislikes. Some were from 30 years ago. Like I said, he never forgives anything. He admitted to masturbating daily. I spent a lot of time researching and found that men who do this, and especially men who use porn, can no longer be stimulated by their wives enough to have sex. They have to abstain from this for 90 days in order for their brains to rewire. He seems to forget that he admitted this, and blames his lack of desire on his age, 56. Says he’s old and tired and just doesn’t want it anymore. There was no kissing for decades, and I have never been the least bit aggressive but decided I had to be to save my marriage. I transformed myself and it lasted for about three weeks, and more often than not, I was rejected. I was eventually told that he doesn’t like to kiss because he doesn’t like germs.
    This is not what I signed up for when I married him. We used to lie on the bed, look into each other’s eyes and kiss a LOT. Our sex life was normal by nearly all standards, but he harbors deep resentment because it wasn’t as much as he wanted, which was daily. Never did he acknowledge that three children within 4.5 years and being self-employed might wear me out physically.
    He is not saved, and I was when we married. I know that I committed sin marrying a non-believer. I fooled myself into thinking that eventually, of course, he would become saved too. Wrong! He was formerly agnostic and now says he’s atheist.
    During my breast reconstruction, I had a hysterectomy to lower my risk of other cancers. I had horrible problems with dryness and once even bled after sex. It was incredibly painful, and I wasn’t allowed to take replacement hormones due to my cancer. Well, I finally found an oncologist who believes that there should be some quality of life after cancer, and she gave me a prescription for Estrace cream. Topical is less dangerous for me than a systemic hormone. It COMPLETELY took the pain away within a week. I cannot recommend this enough for vaginal pain with intercourse.

    My problem is that my husband still has no interest. I think we’ve had sex about 5-6 times this year. I’m going to meet with a pastor in two days and ask what he thinks about me giving an ultimatum. Seek treatment or fix attitude/unforgiveness within four months or I move out of our home. I don’t think I have to tolerate this any longer. I’ve recently had colon cancer and a foot of my colon removed, and life is too short to continue to tolerate this abuse. And that’s what it is…abuse. I think that most men who don’t want sex with their wives are either cheating or using porn. Some may be gay, but I think that’s probably a minority.

  27. Cary says:

    I tolerated a sexless marriage for years, and when I tried to bring it up with my wife I met with excuses and apologies but nothing ever changed. I eventually started having affairs because I didn’t want to leave her or our family. Then I got caught, and am now struggling to hold into my family. She doesn’t understand how she drove me to this.

  28. WH says:

    @Cary: Sorry to hear of your situation. The issue you had was NOT that you needed more sex from your wife – she DID contribute to, and could possibly even have avoided – your affairs. Had she fulfilled her sexual responsibility to you, you likely wouldn’t have ever had an affair.

    Having said that, the error was accepting her excuses and deciding to have an affair instead of making an ultimatum. This is where 99% of married men make their mistake. Rather than risk their family or the embarrassment of a sexual-based complaint with the wife, they risk FAR MORE by having an affair. Society, and Christians in general, will always blame the male in an affair regardless of the decades of neglect that drove him to it, and you give your wife something to focus on (the affair) rather than themselves.

    Married men in your situation need to know exactly how to solve this problem – it isn’t porn or an affair! It’s a gut-wrenching, embarrassing and angry confrontation about a topic Christians would wish go away – SEX. You make it clear that sexual neglect is a sin, and that you refuse to be put into a place of temptation you have no place being in. Make intimacy a make-or-break issue in your marriage, one with an ultimatum. It’s a shame that most wives sow the seeds of their own divorces by their neglect of intimacy, and God Bless Julie with this website. She’s trying to stop such preventable disasters! If only the typical Christian wife would listen.

  29. Topper says:

    I thank you for your consistently levelheaded responses to myself and to others.
    But in response to your call for a husband to lay down an ultimatum, are we able then to state in plain terms the elephant-in-the-room word for what happens should the wife ignore or defy the ultimatum: D-I-V-O-R-C-E.
    I notice you kind of shied away from directly using the word, in case the wife flouts the ultimatum. Are you okay with the word? Are you okay with the action?
    In my case, my wife has already quasi-absconded with our children, so I would LOVE to see how somebody preaching “divorce is never an option” like some on this forum would behave in a situation like the one I am dealing with. My guess is, evangelical men like that who have led an insular, largely protected life thus far and have no idea what a truly devious woman can actually do to them, would freak out and break down and not know what to do. That “divorce is never an option” stuff sounds oh-so-pious and idealistic and virtuous–until your wife not only denies sex and intimacy, she also makes off with two children (from the very few sexual encounters you have had with her) and starts dictating to you when you can and can’t see them. Good luck with your “divorce is never an option” stuff then, you silly emasculated modern American evangelical men.

    And all this because I wanted my wife to act like a wife. Ugh.

  30. Davis says:

    I’ve been married as 17 years and never really had a sex life. Without going into all the details and without seeing myself as mr perfect I simply just can’t take it anymore. As last 2 months I’ve tossed it to and fro how best to tell my wife we need to seperate. Simply for my mental well being. We don’t/ can’t even talk about this and I’m now simply putting this down in writing so that I can unload it a bit. Sorry for vagueness and any selfishness on my part but I really don’t have anywhere else to turn.

  31. WH says:

    @Topper – I’m glad you responded. Yes, I avoid the word divorce because I don’t want Julie to refrain from showing my post. Yes, the ultimatum for sex-starved husbands is divorce. I am WELL AWARE, due to close relatives and friends, how the laws in the US favor the female as far as custody, property and spousal maintenance (alimony). I do NOT make the ultimatum recommendation lightly.

    What I do know, from close association to men in exactly your situation, is that only two realistic possibilities exist for your future: 1) you stay married, the economic slave of your wife and children, forever fighting porn and an affair, or 2) you end up divorced anyway when it’s economically beneficial to your wife to do so.

    If you, like most normal men, provide your wife with the excuse for a divorce by using porn or having an affair, the courts and the church will not come to your defense; all you’ve done is make it easier for your wife to leave you, take your money & children, and have the church’s blessing. It sucks but that’s the way it is.

    On the other hand, if you make vocal your “alienation of affection” to a minister & your wife, take clear steps to make good on the ultimatum, and even perhaps pull the trigger on divorce, I say you have a 75% probability of having a divorce ANYWAY, except you are younger and able to perhaps find a better person to spend your life with. Divorce is always a last resort – but you shouldn’t wait 50 years to have the sex and marriage you deserve and are scripturally entitled to.

  32. WH says:

    @Davis – you’ve done the absolute best thing you can do, believe it or not. You’ve put your wife on notice that a sexless marriage is not acceptable (nor scriptural!). One of two things will happen: 1) she’ll realize what she needs to do and you’ll have the marriage you’re entitled to, or 2) you save yourself decades of frustration, anger and bitterness, likely ending up in porn or an affair (all because your wife COULD do something, but is too SELFISH to do it).

    You’ve taken the first step to fixing this, either way. Feel sorry for the poor guys that have 10, 20 even more years like you’ve been and haven’t been able to break free.

  33. JulieSibert says:

    @WH… I think each marriage is unique and those individuals need to prayerfully consider how to navigate. I just don’t think we can arbitrarily say someone will turn to porn, have an affair or get divorced.

  34. Daniel says:

    If a wife denies her husband, he is most certainly going to turn to porn, likely will fall into temptation such as an affair, and will either end up in divorce or continue living a lie that he is in a happy marriage when in fact he hates his existence every single day.

    And no matter what happens, it’s all his fault. Thank you feminism and the age of “enlightenment.” A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle (after kids and after he pays for everything).

  35. Catch says:

    Thank you all for your comments. I have felt for years that I’m to blame and now I see I am not alone. We have been married for 27 years and have been intimate only a few times in the beginning. We have not been intimate for over 20 years now….not at all.

    As some of you have said, we talk about it, he says he knows, he is sorry, he wants to change, he wants me but nothing changes. We have been to marriage conferences and had a breakthrough a few months ago. I was so excited because I thought that was it, things would now change. He said they would. But they have not.

    We are both Christians. To our friends at church at other places, we have the perfect marriage. And for the most part we do. He is the financial provider and encourages me to do what I want with regards to work or staying home. We are like roommates who are best friends.

    In our talks, we have discussed counseling and he says we can work things out ourselves. He says he was taken advantage of when he was a teen with a girlfriend and that scarred him for life. That’s all she wanted to do. Everytime they got together, she wanted sex. He liked her so he did. He was raised Catholic and felt it was wrong but he liked her.

    When we talk about it, I can see why he feels like he does. He also has low self esteem and things he is not good enough when it comes to intimacy. He is very smart and intelligent but when it comes to showing emotions, he seems to be more surface than having any depth.

    He is also now overweight and sleeps on the couch because he snores. I encourage him to loose the weight to see if that would help with the snoring. I miss sleeping with him. He says he misses it too but then doesn’t seem to be doing anything about the weight.

    When he says he was going to stop for a hamburger, I get so frustrated inside but don’t say anything. My reaction inside is ‘if he loved me he would not do that so that he could loose the weight so we can sleep together’.

    I am frustrated, very numb and I now feel that I just accept him supporting me. I feel terrible saying that but I think ‘well if he doesn’t want me then fine just support me’. I don’t want to feel that way but I am getting numb. I love him but I don’t know what to do. I can’t make him change.

    We have talked and talked and talked about the situation and he always ends up saying it is him not me and he wants to change and will but then months go by and nothing.

    Hopeless in Wisconsin.

  36. Chip Pacer says:

    Great post – thank you. I am the husband – ‘the refused’ in a sexless marriage. I have tried it all: talking, asking for counseling, prayer, giving more attention, etc. – just to be told that I am being silly, that counseling never works, to stop wasting money on flowers, etc.

    The numbness for me has caused a huge divide – we are that couple who are roommates – sharing a washing machine – and I am one to whom you referred, just trying to survive the marriage.

    The interesting thing to me is that while I do have sin in my life (as we all do), my wife does not see this aspect of the sin in her life. She is immersed in many, many ministries, bible studies, Christian books, etc. I’ve been praying for this since ’07 – and have to trust that the Lord wants better for us and that those prayers will be answered.

    Thanks again

  37. will says:

    I have lived in a sexless marriage for over ten years. We do have children. But i am pushed away for even looking at her. What has worked: get in shape! Workout sweating with weights every day and sleep eight hours or more- screw late night cleaning organizing or whatever, your health comes first. Don’t eat any junk eat begetables and fruit for breakfast even don’t smoke or drink. Learn a new sport, whatever your age. Get manly confidence and don’t beg an insecure vindictive person. Get angry to to changeyou yourself. Arrange social outings with couples who seem to have mojo. Peer pressure works great on many people. You will feel sexy and confident. Romance confidently but don’t moon for hours -or if wife doesn’t respond move on that day
    and learn to dance. And be around normal married couples.

  38. tiredly says:

    Thanks for all these great comments. It was a relief to read that I’m not alone in this situation- we’ve been married for 11 years and sex is always an issue. As the husband I always have to initiate the intimacy. We’ve talked about this several times but made little progress. Wife shows little desire. It’s a mental torture for me and I dont want to continue this way. I’m in my early 40s. I’ve turned to porn (again) lately and stopped, knowing that it’s a sin. In the past I’ve shared this sin with my wife, telling her what our lack of sufficient intimacy is leading me to. Now I keep fighting off thoughts of having an affair. I know the Bible says that one of the reasons for getting married is sex. I waited for this but what I’m experiencing is far from what I longed for. Feminism has corrupted the minds of many Christian wives, making them neglect what God intended marriage for. I feel so unsatisfied in my marriage and the torture sometimes get unbearable. I work full time, my wife stays home with our toddler. I come back from work tired but I send evenings doing considerable amount of housework and taking care of our children; very tired physically and mentally, but I will still initiate intimacy and still wife wouldnt make it happy. Is this life?

  39. eff says:

    My indifferent wife once asked me how much happier I would be if we had sex as often as I needed it and I said 50%. This is a real number because there is a life outside of sex, obviously. There is; my pressure to get a job after a long, long period of unemployment, money, kids, house maintenance, etc. So if I had 50% (because in this hypothetical example, I am sexually fulfilled) plus 10% (because money is good), plus 10% (ok about home repairs) plus another 10% (the kids are behaved and healthy)…I am 80% good! Now that’s a B in most classes. If I can add a vacation to that with another 10%, I’m at 90%…an A!
    Let’s look at the null though. Take away the 50% of sexuality and the best I can ever be in happiness is 40%??
    We got troubles. Realize though that my wife can always have the 50% for sexual fulfilment because she doesn’t care for sex so she gets to be above the 70% mark all the time!
    There is something really, really unfair here.
    Also, she does what is typical; she blames me for her not wanting sex because she claims I am angry ALL the time. I deny this. She says I am mean to the kids. I also deny this. Doesn’t matter. If she believes I am spending too much time with space aliens, it is her belief and any denial on my part will not change the blame that she places on me. Her Vaginismus has been left untreated for 9 months! another excuse to NOT want sex.
    Add disrespectful comments to that and you get our marriage.

  40. ufe says:

    The point most people seem to be skirting on this situation is that in her mid to late forties the majority of women experience a hormone driven sex drive crash (that is if they had one to start with) anyone who stays married to a woman over mid forties whose sex drive has suddenly disappeared is simply wasting their life. The situation is not going to change no matter what counselling, or therapy you throw at the problem. Exacerbating the problem is liberated women who conveniently hang on to the romantic Victorian beliefs that they prefer. This delusion is the female version of porn addiction, just as fantasy, just as damaging to a healthy relationship. If you are experiencing thid in your 20s or 30s, then you need to get out quick smart.!

  41. JulieSibert says:

    @ufe…. I disagree with you on your blanket statement that anyone who stays married to a woman over mid forties whose sex drive has suddenly disappeared is simply wasting their life. Yes, hormonal changes are not uncommon, but to paint them as insurmountable or an end to intimacy is extremely short sighted.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

  42. Tim says:

    There is no fix! I understand people have chemical, hormonal, and anti depressant issues, but this understanding doesn’t cure the issue for those neglected in all physical aspects of a relationship. Those with no desire get to live their daily life without any pain or suffering and they inadvertently choose no sex/affection for both.

    Can’t cheat morally, can’t leave your family or you become a deadbeat (and the pain will likely continue anyway), can’t stay in the situation because it’s unhealthy for everyone in the household, and suicide is drastic and has it’s own issues and implications. Can’t force yourself on the uninterested party. Can’t created desire from no desire and guilting the uninterested party results in either no positive outcome OR the uninterested party does it without any genuine interest because they were coerced.

    Talking about it resolves nothing either one on one or with a therapist. Health deteriorates and the emotional pain from abuse is a silent tragedy. The heartache is not addressed. Where’s the balance and compromise? Not twice a week. Not once a week. Not one a month or every 3 months. Not once a year so why ever.

    Then a new evolution occurs. Those with a libido is still STUCK with a libido, a part of their humanity that they can’t get rid of. Even if the uninterested party becomes interested, the one who has been neglected has lost interest altogether with their partner or fears that it will be only the long overdue annual (or less) interaction or an act of pity or obligation. So the catch 22 perpetuates itself. Changing the marriage to an “open arrangement” isn’t a solution either. The neglected party then becomes a cheater and the marriage will fall apart anyway because the underlying issue was still never addressed.

    The daily pain and resentment only continues. It’s a horrifying pain that cannot be escaped and ending the relationship divides the family, physically, emotionally, and with newly added financial burden. It becomes so severe, daily existence, that one can end up praying for death to come to oneself. Everyone else gets to live without a “holding pattern” perceives your desires as being selfish despite it being a normal part of life and part of a marriage vision. The lack of a resolution of some sort is the most painful part.

    There is no fix! It continues day after day, month after month, year after year until death arrives without fulfilling love. And no while a marriage is indeed more then just sex and intimacy takes on many more shapes then sex, it is still part of it and a key part that is cast aside without any regard whatsoever to it’s value. It’s value of being the glue that holds 2 people together. It’s part of what makes a marriage more then a platonic relationship. A couple should be enjoying each other and if genital stimulation isn’t probable by one party, I bet if the situation was reversed, the neglected one would use hands and mouth to at least try to please the other. This too (providing manual/oral touching and pleasure) is not even considered or volunteered.

  43. HopefullyHelpful says:

    Dear Tim: There are many fixes, but not all of them leave you feeling the same, sort of like repairing a car after an accident. How well the outcome is depends very much on what you put in–and what you started with. Sometimes the result is completely not what you expect, or not as good as you might want, or better than you ever thought possible.

    You are the one reading this blog. YOU are the one thinking there is a problem. And problems are best solved by those who see them. That’s you. You are *not* alone. But you HAVE to be willing to change, and that is terrifying. We *know* your pain. *Know* your anguish, the humiliation, loneliness, heartache–all of it. Are you willing to forget yourself, your needs, your desires, your pride, your anger and your hate? Will you trade those for peace? Most are not willing to do so. But if you are, God can and will help.
    Don’t snort with contempt. He got me out of my hole. Got Julie out of hers, and many others out of theirs.
    He can get you out of yours. If you let Him.
    And we will help you.

    My prayers go with you.

  44. will says:

    As time goes by, a man has to work smarter. Women are often put in a position where they don’t work or have to make an income to support two adults and children. It is easy to stay home with school aged children compared to fighting to make a living income. Women become stupid and stop actively taking care of their spouse like husbands do working often 50-60 hours HARD to provide for their wives, who do not enthusiastically respond to their husbands.
    This is because women become dull from tv, modern conveniences, the promise of life long care free from work.
    The only thing that may wake up a wife is to for the husband to ready his body for battle. Eat only raw vegetables and the lean meat of strong animals,crap like a soldier then run and lift weights at dawn before work;sleep at dark For 9 hours.TV and internet is a pure waste of time. Kids should be asleep by 8:30pm at the latest anyway. Throw away your TV.
    If you have any flabby belly,or smell like you ate pizza you will not turn on a high quality woman.
    I did these things after many stale years of sexless marriage. My wife still only paricipated in an obligational way infrequently. But I now turn ladies heads and get genuine interest. I don’t act on these temptations,but I feel that my body is my temple.
    I have gone from getting sex 2-3 times a year to almost twice a month. I will take it all day long! Would I like more, Absolutely. But I am still lonely as can be, but I do feel significantly better and not hypocritical like I did when for years I was 40 pounds overweight with no muscle like many other men in their late 40’s.
    If anyone has any other ideas, I am waiting to hear, because I want affection and sex more than every few weeks.

  45. HopefullyHelpful says:

    @will: Tone down the rhetoric, become slightly humbler and appreciative of how hard it really is to stay home with children, spend 40 hours a week at work more wisely and invest the other 10-20 on the wife and not the gym. Make sure *you* put the kids to bed by whatever time you want, after you have looked over their homework, read them their stories, given them their baths, and performed the “daily review” with their mother. After the kiddies are in bed, give your wife a foot massage and tell her how much you appreciate all she does looking after the brood while your away from home. Spend some time together with her after dark, when it’s finally *quiet* even if you just read books together, preferably the Bible. You might buy another TV and get the right channels, such as CNN, BBC, Discovery, NG and maybe some Christian programming channels; you can always block the unwanted ones out. It’s also a help for your wife to have keep the kiddies busy while she is cooking her master’s dinner.
    Just some thoughts.

  46. Keylimelemon says:

    Man, I have so much to say on this. There’s been so many good comments in here. My wife took on sexless attitude soon after getting together. It was gradual, apologies and excuses, as someone well put it above. Now it’s turned into this epic problem that seems endless. She makes half-assed efforts sometimes, but her attitude makes it clear she doesn’t care, and will frequently ruin even this. I really hate her for putting me in this position. Lots more details to say, but too irritated and hopeless now.
    I say hopeless because, unlike women’s issues which get spoiled with ‘overcare’ in most of today’s societies, men are now the disposable sex. Expected to work and provide and deny their needs and desires and die before women do. There’s a good book called “The Myth of Male Power” that talks about this unfairness.
    Physical sex routinely ranks as a very high need for men – not for women. Women’s priorities routinely are different. Women’s topics dominate the media because they have the priveledge and acceptance to do so. Yet men’s needs are taboo to talk about. Women get their needs and wants enforced by courts and society at large.
    Who will enforce men’s sex needs in marriage?

  47. Keylimelemon says:

    When it’s time to discuss the issue truthfully and actualy do something to solve this, all the women dissapear from here.

  48. M's Husband says:

    I was numb when I thought that either of us could could opt out of sex. Then, after two years of marriage I lost patience. We had sex once in the last year. I started reading blogs and websites about sex in a Christian home. I quickly learned that my wife does not have the authority or option to deprive me of my marital right. Now she is being rebellious against God and against me. She has stated that she will never have sex with me and I ruined any chance I would ever have to be sexual with her. ( My chance of once a year sex is gone!). I am amazed that she is numb to my statement that she is sinning. I have never known this woman to willfully sin. She knows the Bible. I have labelled her “sexually immoral,” She is going against the moral of sex within a marriage. Where does that leave me? On the verge of depression. I love having sex so much, though I seldom had the experience with her. I knew what life as an unbeliever was like, my first 35 years, and I was single. Now I feel, as it says in the KJV about this, “defrauded” by her. She is stealing from me what rightfully belongs to me. There is a little bit of anger towards her, but I love her so much. I plan to discipline her by removing every luxury I provide. I will tell her that she is not worthy of anything but necessities. She will know what I mean. I will also ask her to have sex with me every day. This is so hard to do, because I love her. I just pray that God will take me to His kingdom soon. I would rather die than live celibate the rest of my life. I will submit to God in all things, so I will wait for Him and trust in Him.

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