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My friend and I were talking about sexual rejection, and I shared with her that in my experience as a writer and speaker on sex, I have noticed that men and women respond differently when they are sexually rejected in their marriage.
Now I know I’m painting with a wide brush, but I do see threads that lead me to believe that men internalize and process sexual rejection differently than women internalize and process it.
How did you feel about the rejection?
How did you respond?
What conclusions did you make?
My observation has been from emails and comments I receive is that when a husband is sexually rejected, he tends to question his wife’s love for him. I’ll hear things like, “I’m a good provider. I work hard. We both help take care of the kids and the house. I am affectionate with her.”
In other words, his observation of himself is positive. He wonders why she would not want to love him sexually. Her lack of willingness makes him question the relationship strength overall, to the point in some cases of wondering if the marriage can sustain ongoing sexual neglect. He also tends to be more apt to withdraw, especially if he has made his feelings known and there has been no change.
When a wife is sexually rejected, the comments I often receive indicate she questions deeply what’s wrong with her. The sexual rejection fuels her sense of low self-esteem. Am I not pretty enough? Am I not sexy enough? Am I not the right weight? Am I not doing something right? Her husband’s lack of sexual interest in her exacerbates her sense that she is “not enough.”
In other words, her observation of herself is negative. She wonders if she could do more or if she could do something differently in order to gain his sexual interest. I often hear women give a list of things they have tried, whether it be with their appearance or the ways they initiate sex. And rather than withdraw, they tend to keep trying to find “something” that will pique his interest.
Again, remember what I said up top. These are generalizations I have gained from the numerous emails and comments I have received over the years. I know that each individual has their own experience.
Whether a husband is on the receiving end of rejection or a wife is, they overwhelmingly are grieved deeply and confused. In some cases, they are angry about the lack of nurtured intimacy. There is a grander toll on the marriage than the spouse inflicting the rejection realizes.
Above I asked “What conclusions do you make?” if you are the one rejected. The conclusion I often hear is, “My spouse does not love me.” This then spirals into more self worth battles for women and more resentment and withdrawal for men.
There is damage happening that is more significant than you have been willing to acknowledge—at least until now, is my hope.
It’s vital that a married couple build solid and clear communication about sex in their marriage. You may assume you know how your spouse feels, but you could be wildly off base—to the detriment of not only the marriage as a whole, but to each of you individually, too.
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.