How should you as a husband handle it when your wife directly refuses to have sex without a valid reason? Is there anything a Christian husband can do about this?
Christian Husbands – let me be crystal clear here. The situation I am addressing in this post is not your wife occasionally turning you down for sex (even with a bad attitude, as opposed to for health or other legitimate reasons). What I am addressing here is the wife who consistently and routinely denies her husband sexually simply because she does not need sex as much or she thinks she should not have to do it except when she is in the mood or she thinks her husband should have to earn sex with her by “putting her in the mood” by doing various things she expects or likes.
Let me also be clear to all the haters(this includes liberal Christians who reject the Biblical view of male headship in marriage, as well as the Biblical teaching of the right of sex, and responsibility of sex in marriage):
Biblically speaking the modern concept of “marital rape” is an oxymoron. It is impossible from a Biblical perspective for a man to rape his wife. The Bible defines unlawful forced sex or what we would call rape as when a man forces a woman who is not married to him to have sex with him see Deuteronomy 22:23-29 for more on this. God condones forced sex in marriage in Deuteronomy 21:10-14 and he symbolizes himself as a husband who “humbles” his wife Israel in Deuteronomy 8:2-3. For more on this subject see my article “Why the Bible Allows Forced Sex in Marriage“. But in the conclusion of the article I just mentioned I make the following warning to men:
“Am I Telling Husbands to Go Home and Force Themselves on Their Wives?
The answer is No. But you might be thinking – “Wait you just said spent this entire article telling us it was not a sin for a man to force himself on his wife!”
As you catch your breath let me explain a simple principle regarding Biblical rights. Just because we have the right to do something, does not mean it is always wise to do something.”
And then I go on to explain why it is not always wise for us to exercise all our rights. But never once in this article, that article, or any of my articles do I EVER tell men to go and force themselves upon their wives.
For all of the “Rape Accusers” out there, especially the ones that are hurling applications of domestic violence laws at me – I have written a special post just for you. It is entitled “The Frustrated Feminist Wife“.
In two previous posts in this series I addressed these key issues:
In “Christian Husbands – You don’t pay for the milk when you own the cow!” we established this Biblical principle:
Neither the husband, nor the wife have to earn sex in marriage.
A wife cannot flatly refuse her husband, she may only ask for a delay (a raincheck) and then she needs to make good on that raincheck as soon as possible.
A husband has the right to confront his wife’s sexual refusal as a sin not only against him, but also against God.
In “Is a husband selfish for having sex with his wife when she is not the mood?” I elaborated further on this subject of sexual refusal in marriage with these principles:
A husband ought not to feel guilty for having sex with his wife when she is not in the mood if she yields, even grudgingly.
A husband needs to use prayerful discernment to discover if her reasons for “not being in the mood” are for legitimate physical or mental health reasons or if the problem is wrong thinking and wrong attitude on the part of his wife. If her reasons are legitimate, then she needs to seek medical or psychological help as soon as possible.
Now in this post we will talk about how to handle the sexual refusal of a wife when it is because she has a wrong attitude and wrong thinking about marriage and sex.
But what about the husband refusing to have sex with his wife?
I have received several comments from people asking why I have not addressed the issue of a husband’s refusal to have sex – yes it is equally clear in these passages that he cannot refuse her. Since originally post this article I have written a companion piece to this article entitled “4 Steps to Confronting Your Husband’s Sexual Refusal“. Check out that article for more detail on this from a wife’s perspective.
What about Paul’s “concession” in I Corinthians 7:6?
Some Christians have tried to take the entire power out of this passage in I Corinthians 7 because of verse 6 where Paul writes “I say the following as a concession, not as a command.“ So did Paul just get done telling husbands and wives not to deprive one another sexually, only to say – “Well this is my opinion on how sex should be, but if you want to deny one another – go ahead”?
“Now in response to the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have relations with a woman.”2 But because sexual immorality is so common, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. 3 A husband should fulfill his marital responsibility to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. 4 A wife does not have the right over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband does not have the right over his own body, but his wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another sexually—except when you agree for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say the following as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all people were just like me. But each has his own gift from God, one person in this way and another in that way.” – I Corinthians 7:1-7(HCSB)
When we look at Paul’s statement in context, his concession is not about husbands and wives not denying one another sexually.
His concession(or opinion) is about celibacy. He is prefacing the statement he is about to make as his opinion – that he wished everyone could be celibate like he was as there are many advantages to serving God as single person. But he realizes that celibacy is a gift God has only given to a chosen few, while the rest of men and women ought to marry.
What he is stating in this passage is, if you don’t have the gift of celibacy and you do get married, you have a solemn obligation to have sex with your spouse, you cannot deny them unless it is mutually agreed by both of you for a short period of time.
There is another way that people attempt to disarm the thrust of Paul’s words on sex in marriage in I Corinthians chapter seven. Some have tried to say “well if the wife has power over his body too, then she can decide to use that power to say she does not want his body having sex with her”. This is an absolutely ridiculous notion as it goes against the entire context of the passage. The entire point the Apostle Paul was making is that husbands and wives may NOT deprive one another of sex, unless they both mutually agree to a cessation of sex for a limited time.
Know the battle you face, before you get into it
The advice I am about to give you Christian husband will require courage. The advice I am about to give you will require you to show your wife tough love.
Let me be clear on something, even if you do follow the steps below I give, this does not automatically mean you will get a change from your wife, or her repentance for her sexual immorality. And yes my friend it is sexually immoral for a wife (or husband for that matter) to deny their spouse sexually unless they have a legitimate physical or mental health grounds for doing so. Most people think of sexual immorality as only someone having sex outside marriage (pre-marital sex, adultery, incest, homosexual sex). But remember that when something is immoral, that means it is sin, and we know that sexual denial in marriage is sin, therefore it is accurate to call willful sexual denial in marriage an act of sexual immorality.
I had a Christian man email me once asking if he should tolerate an affair his wife was having for the sake of saving his marriage. He had confronted his wife about it, but she told him she could not give up her lover, and she told him she loved both he (her husband) and her lover and she needed time to consider both relationships.
This man was actually counseled by a Christian counselor to continue to tolerate his wife’s affair in order to win her back. The counselor invoked the story of the prophet Hosea whom God told to marry a promiscuous woman and then left him and he had to go and get her back. What this counselor misses is – this was not God’s pattern for marriage that men tolerate sexual immorality, it was simply done to illustrate the idolatry of Israel and that God was trying to bring her back to him. Israel never did come back and later God said he gave her a letter of divorce.
In the same way men are often counseled by Christian counselors, Pastors and marriage books to simply tolerate their wives sexual denial – which is just as immoral as if she were to commit adultery. They told to talk to their wives and pray for their wives – which is good advice. But then if their wife does not repent they are told they must simply learn to cope with their wife’s sexual immorality and there is nothing else they can or should do.
I am here to tell you there is something more you can and should do. You need to call out your wife’s sin for exactly what it is – sexual immorality.
Now that you know what you are fighting against you need to know what this fight might cost you. It may end with her walking out and possibly divorcing you. You must be prepared to do what is right, no matter what the cost.
First understand this – sacrificing yourself for your wife, as Christ sacrificed himself for the church does not mean toleration of this kind of sin on the part of your wife. Many counselors throw out the “husbands you just need to sacrifice yourself for your wife like Christ did the church” but they don’t tell you WHY Christ sacrificed himself for the Church.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless.”
Ephesians 5:25-27 (HCSB)
Christ sacrificed himself for the Church, for us, not so we could just live any way we wanted to. He sacrificed himself to make us holy, to conform us to his likeness, and his Word.
As I said in previous posts – God wants sex in your marriage, your desire for sex in your marriage is not a sin, but rather it is a gift from God. My Pastor often says God put a desire in men and a command toward men that they be “intoxicated” or “ravished” by their wife’s body.
“Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.” – Proverbs 5:19 (KJV)
Your desire for your wife is not the sin, but instead it is your wife’s sinful sexual refusal that must be confronted.
Before you take any steps to confront your wife’s sin of sexual refusal
Before you embark on this difficult journey, you need to first address any un-repented sin in your own life. You need to pray very hard and make sure you are doing the right thing. You need to confess any bitterness you have toward your wife over this issue before you can confront it. Perhaps there are some other wrong ways you handled it, things you have said or done that need to be confessed to God, and perhaps even to your wife if it directly affects her.
8 Steps to confronting your wife’s sexual refusal
UPDATE: 1/23/2016 – I have reordered what I believe the Biblical steps are to confront your wife’s sexual refusal based on my understanding of when a man should seek out a marriage counselor and bring the issue to his Pastor.
Biblically speaking the husband is the spiritual authority in his home and he has the Biblical obligation to FIRST attempt to discipline his wife as she is his responsibility. Only when he has exhausted all forms of discipline and she remains defiant and divorce is looming should he approach a counselor to act as a witness to her sin.
Christ said this about confronting a brother(or sister) that has sinned against you:
“If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you.” – Matthew 18:15-17 (HCSB)
Matthew 18 gives us the first two steps a Christian husband must take to confront his wife’s sexual refusal.
Step 1 – Rebuke her privately
Rebuke your wife’s sin to her in private. This assumes you have already on several occasions tried to speaking gently to her about this issue. You have tried time and time again to find out if there is anything you can help her with, and anything you can do different. This assumes you have ruled out health problems, and or other mental problems and she simply has a stubborn and willful attitude toward sex in marriage and she does not think she needs to change.
Step 2 – Stop taking her on dates or trips
If the brother or sister in Christ who sins against you is outside the authority of your home then you would go to witnesses next. But since your wife, like your children, is under your direct authority – you have a Biblical obligation to discipline her first before taking this outside of your home. These next 4 steps use the two types of discipline that a husband has at his disposal. Time and Money. For some women money means nothing, but almost all women highly value their husband’s time.
Stop taking your wife to her favorite restaurants. Stop taking her out to those movies she wants to see. Don’t take her on those weekend getaways she wants to go on. I am not saying to stop talking to your wife, or ignore your wife, as that is not an option for a Christian husband. But your wife does not have the RIGHT for you to take her on dates or trips – these things are a privilege that you may remove at any time.
Step 3 – No unnecessary household upgrades
Ordinarily, I am all for a husband funding things like new furniture for the house, or new paint for the walls. Wives will come to their husband’s for these and many other household things. What you need to do as a husband is, unless it is a true family need, and not just an upgrade to something – Do not allow it.
Step 4 – Stop doing the little extra things
You know those dinners you cook, or that vacuuming you do, or those things that really she should be doing for herself, but you have simply been trying to be nice and doing for her – STOP doing them. Stop giving her those nice back and shoulder massages she loves so much.
Step 5 – Remove her funding
This step may only work if you wife does not have her own income. Stop giving her pocket money. Change your bank account so her ATM card becomes worthless. Cancel your credit cards. If she does have a job, stop paying for anything in her name and make her pay for any credit that is in her name. The Bible only requires that you provide her with food, clothing and shelter. It does not say that food and clothing has to be the fancy kind she likes to get.
If your wife has not repented and changed her ways after you these first five steps, you are sure to have a very angry and defiant wife. The little bit of sex there was in your marriage is most likely completely gone.
At any one of these points, your wife could have threatened to leave, or has already already left. You may be separated or in divorce proceedings.
But I want you to understand something, it is not your responsibility to keep your wife in the marriage by any means necessary, and certainly not by giving in to her willful, rebellious and sinful behavior. The Apostle Paul writes:
“But if the unbeliever leaves, let him leave. A brother or a sister is not bound in such cases.” – I Corinthians 7:15
Remember that in Matthew, Christ told us to regard an unrepentant professed believer as an unbeliever. There is no sin here for you as a Christian husband to simply let her go, you are no longer bound and are free to marry another woman. My pastor told us that he had to deal with some rebellious times with his own wife, and his translation of “let him (or her) leave” was “there is the door” when she would threaten to leave.
But your wife may have stuck around betting that she can “wait you out” and thinking that eventually you will go back to leaving her alone about “all this sex stuff” and things can get back to the normal life she has come to love.
This is where we begin the final phase of confronting your wife’s sexual refusal.
Step 6 – Rebuke her before witnesses
If she is still defiant after you have tried all forms of Biblical discipline with her take her to a Christian marriage counselor so they can serve as a witness to her sinful defiance. But make it clear as you seek a counselor what your beliefs are to that counselor and that this is not about changing your beliefs – it is about having a witness to your wife’s sin.
Step 7 – Bring her before the Church
If bringing her to a counselor does not shake her defiance after you have tried all other forms of discipline then bring her to your Pastor and his wife to have her sin confronted by church authority. If she is defiant to them then she needs to be expelled from the church.
What if none of these 7 steps work?
If your wife remains willfully defiant, yet she has not left you, it could be for a variety of reasons. She may not want to lose how she lives with you and she knows that after a divorce her lifestyle will be severely affected, and she does not want to deal with the consequences of divorce. Perhaps she may have some genuine care for you left as well as your children but she simply cannot see the error of her ways and will hold out indefinitely with the hope that one day you will fold and give her back the money, the dates, the trips, the house hold upgrades and she will not have been forced to change her ways.
But you have a final step you may take, one that you need to pray long and hard about before you do.
You have the option to divorce her for her sexual immorality.
“But I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” – Matthew 5:32(HCSB)
Why bother with the first 7 steps if divorce is an option for sexual denial?
Many Christians would ask “If I have the right to divorce my wife for willful and chronic sexual denial, why bother with all these other steps?” The answer my friend, is that God wants us to fight for our wives and our marriage the way he fought for his marriage to Israel as a nation. Eventually he had to divorce Israel as nation, but he fought long and hard to bring her back to him, and we owe our wives and our marriages this fight.
But aren’t these steps a form of manipulation?
Those who oppose this type of confrontation will accuse me of advocating that men manipulate their wives into having sex with them more. But what these same people would fail to understand is, there is a big difference between manipulation, and discipline.
Manipulation is when someone who is an equal (like a friend, a coworker, a fellow student…etc.) or someone in a lower position (like a child, or employee, someone of lower rank) tries to make life difficult for their fellow equal or for their authority figure by doing certain actions in order to get them to do something they want. A union strike is a form of manipulation. A child throwing a temper tantrum or giving their parent the “silent treatment” is a form of manipulation. A wife withholding sex when she is angry at her husband, or giving him the “silent treatment” is also a form of manipulation. Sometimes manipulation is just pure retaliation.
Discipline, on the other hand is very different from manipulation. Discipline is performed by one who is in authority over one who is under their authority. It is action taken by an authority to attempt to modify the bad behavior of the subject of that authority so that they will behave correctly in the future. True Biblical discipline should never be done out of a spirit of retaliation or revenge.
And just to be clear – I am NOT advocating for husbands to beat their wives,smack them around, or physically abuse them in any way. There are forms of discipline that are not physical.
Blatant willful sexual denial by a wife toward her husband is an act of rebellion against God’s authority first, and then the authority he has given her husband second. If a man denies his wife sexually, it is also an act of rebellion against God, because God has commanded him to give his body to his wife as she needs it (and I will address this in a separate post).
But a husband is supposed to love his wife as Christ loves the Church
I have had many responses since originally posting this article, that these 8 steps are not the acts of a loving husband. Previously in this post I mentioned that God had to divorce the nation of Israel, picture as an adulterous and rebellious wife. If it were true that a loving husband would never discipline his wife, then God was not a loving husband to Israel. When Israel, who is pictured as the wife of God, rebelled against God – he disciplined Israel and as he disciplined her he told her he was doing it out of love for her to bring her back to him.
Some might respond that in the end God had to eventually divorce Israel, and his discipline did not work – so maybe Christian husbands should not discipline their wives.
But God shows by his example that he would not and could not compromise his holiness even for the nation he loved. In the same way God does not want a Christian husband to sacrifice his faith to enable his wife’s sinful behavior, even if it results in divorce. See this post that I wrote separately on this issue entitled “10 Ways to know if you are sacrificing your faith for your wife“.
Christian husband, you are not powerless to act against your wife’s sexual refusal. Also you need to remember that this about a lot more than sexual refusal. This is about your wife’s rebellion against a central tenet of marriage and her rebellion against the order God has established in marriage. But you must realize that this may be a long and costly battle. Your confrontation of your wife’s willful, sinful behavior may result in your marriage ending.
In our next post “10 Ways to know your wife” We will move out of this sexual arena and into getting to know your wife better.
Some might wonder why I addressed sexuality from a husband’s point of view first before I talk about “knowing your wife” and “honoring your wife” in following posts. The reason is because Biblically speaking “knowing your wife” on an intellectual, spiritual and emotional level was never a prerequisite to marriage in the Bible, it was something that often times came after the consummation (sex) in marriage.
Some have mistakenly compared the “Betrothal period” of the Bible to modern dating. The fact is betrothal and dating have nothing in common. In dating, the man and woman both choose to come together mutually and decide between themselves based on a physical, emotional and intellectual level if they want to get married (and often times they even have sex during this dating period).
Betrothal in Biblical times was nothing like dating today. Men did not convince a woman by romancing her to marry them as is the typical model of relationships and marriage in modern western culture. Either the parents of both the man and the woman would arrange their marriage, or the man would approach a woman’s father and ask for his daughter in marriage, and they would agree on a bride price (like Jacob asking Rachel’s father for her hand and he worked 7 years to buy her).
They were officially considered married at the Betrothal, and it took an actual bill of divorce to break a betrothal. But during the betrothal period the man was primarily concerned with being able to setup a house and be prepared to support his wife in marriage. When he was ready, he would come to claim his wife and they would consummate the marriage with sex. Many couples saw very little of each other if at all during this betrothal period.
A man really did not know his wife emotionally and intellectually until he “knew” her sexually.
That is why we will talk about “10 Ways to know your wife” and then “12 Ways to honor your wife” now that we have concluded our discussion of sexuality as it relates to being a godly husband.
230 thoughts on “8 steps to confront your wife’s sexual refusal”
The sad truth is there are marriages where either the husband or wife are closet homosexuals. They engage in traditional marriage to have a family and have companionship while knowing they are not truly attracted to or desirous of their spouse. I do believe that some homosexuals have a genuine desire to cultivate a sexual desire for their opposite gender spouse and the do not intend to hurt them or just use them for the benefits of marriage. But other homosexuals know full well going into marriage they have no sexual desire for their spouse and they have no intention of trying cultivate a sexual desire for their spouse. They simply want to use that person to be able to have children, to have a co parent for their children and to have the other benefits of traditional marriage. Then they may or may not act on their homosexual desires elsewhere.
I believe you know what you need to do if you have read this post. The Bible is clear. If you have a wife chronically denies you sexually and you confront her and try to address the situation and she will not attempt to change then you have every right to divorce her.
This is perhaps the BEST, well written article I have ever seen on this issue
I would make it compulsory for all potential wives to read so that they can feel ashamed when they deny their partners their God given right to have sex in marriage
I’m not sure if it’s too late to post here and get a response, but I really appreciate this article. While it is primarily concerned with “defrauding”- withholding sex, what would your response be to a situation where the wife isn’t necessarily “withholding” sex from her husband, but rather showing disrespect through her attitude and behavior, to the point where the husband no longer even desires intimate relations with her? I’d like to hear what you and others have to say on this, because there are some situations I know of where the wife doesn’t quite “withhold” sex, so she can say she’s “doing her duty” as a wife when her husband confronts her (and thus, having done her “duty”, he has no “reason” to divorce/leave/confront her), yet withholds respect and refuses to submit to his leadership in the marriage. Repeated, gentle confrontations of her behavior end up with the wives playing the “victim” to the “big, bad, meanie” husbands with accusations that he’s not behaving like a Christian!!!
Excellent article. Thanks in advance for your reply!
Your question is a very good one. There are many women that simply go by the letter of the law and do not follow the spirit of the law in sexually submitting to their husbands. They basically have the idea that “if I spread my legs I have done all that is required.” And from a technical perspective that is true. I don’t think God allows husbands to divorce their wives for having bad attitudes or submissiveness attitudes about sex or anything else.
Divorce for bad attitude no, but for sexual defrauding yes.
But while a husband may not divorce his wife for having a bad attitude or disrespectful attitude toward sex or just towards him in general he can discipline her. Divorce is not always an option – but discipline always is. In fact I would argue that often discipline is required as long as we are also showing grace and mercy at times as God does toward us.
As far as the wife playing the “my husband is being a big, bad, meanie” card that is where husbands must stand strong and be convinced that they are doing what is right. Often times leading and doing what is right is a very lonely and unpopular place to be. But God calls us to take this stand. In the end the wife may repent or she may not. But until she does we must take a firm approach with her as God did with Israel. Unfortunately in the case of Israel she never repented and eventually God divorced her for her unfaithfulness to him in going after to gods of other nations and failing to give herself to God.
I am so grateful for this absolute gem of information! I enjoy reading these well written profoundly wise Scripture based articles. This is probably The Best source of information on such sensitive marital matters that I have ever came across. Sadly, my marriage did not survive because my husband put me away and denied me consistently for nearly 3 years with no physical contact. As a woman I agree on absolutely every single point in this article. Makes me want to look forwards to the future possibilities with prayerfully the right man, a husband, and hopefully never make the same mistakes I’ve made in my first marriage.
Thank you, thank you so much for your wisdom and giving me hope. May God Bless your ministry abundantly!
This is intriguing. I’m not really sure how to feel about this article, but I’ve questioned the scripture about denying each other for quite some time. I’m interested in a response to this question: What if the wife isn’t intentionally denying her husband to be rude, rebellious or manipulative? What if she is just physically and emotionally exhausted because she is caring for small children and other responsibilities around the home? Sometimes, if a woman is physically or emotionally drained (especially caring for smaller children), it’s extremely hard to fulfill her husband’s sexual desires. It’s not that she doesn’t want to, but she feels like she has nothing left to give?
CeCe – first let’s be clear about something. This article was not saying that if a woman is occasionally denies her husband whether it be for reasons of physical or mental or stress(which are understandable) or even for bad reasons(a rebellious spirit) that he has the right to divorce her or that he should take any disciplinary steps.
What we are talking about is chronic denial. It is a pattern – it is the way things are most of the time.
In the case you suggest – I would say if a woman chronically and regularly feels emotionally and physically drained she may need to seek out medical or psychological help from a professional. But sometimes women just need to put on their “big girl pants” and be grown ups and understand that you sometimes have to do things you don’t feel like doing.
While some women approach sex from the masculine view point of it being a physical need – the vast majority of women do not and that is where the problem lies. They believe sex is a “nice to have” and something you do with your husband when you are both feeling emotionally connected. But the fact is sometimes a woman has to have sex with her husband when she is drained and exhausted.
Would a woman still feed her baby when she is feeling drained and exhausted? Of course she would.
Would a woman still change her baby when she is feeling drained and exhausted? Of course she would.
The only reason women easily throw off their husbands sexual needs is because they don’t truly see them as needs but instead as wants.
And here is the secret most women do not realize. If they have sex willingly with their husband and simply let go, stop thinking about the kids, the dishes or other issues and simply focus for that small time period on their husband sex actually helps women emotionally! There are all kinds of chemicals that are released in a woman’s body during sex. The only reason a wife would walk away from sex not feeling any better emotionally is because she did not truly let go during sex. She hung on to what she brought into the bedroom and was thinking about it the whole time. Or perhaps she was thinking about how selfish her husband was for desiring sex.
A woman’s mindset toward sex is often her own worst enemy. Most of us as men can’t understand this concept. If you do X, Y or Z sexually with us it is going to feel good. It does not matter if we had a bad day at work or had other issues arise. For women though – they can literally shut off the pleasure they otherwise would have received because of their mental or emotional state and this is what every wife needs to work on knowing in the end it will be to her own benefit, not just her husbands benefit.
i would say this is a really good article. im not saying that women are prone to “disobedience” in a marriage, but all the info i have experienced and read about biblically adds up to it. god placed a husband in a marriage for a reason. todays philosophy is really backwards. the woman is now the head of everything in a marriage and its all out of order. i see feminine husbands and even women who enjoy anal sex with toys on their husbands. to me that sounds like the woman has a desire to be the authority over the husband in that aspect. i also believe its wrong. modern teaching says that women can do what they want to just because they are women and men absolutely have to deal with it. that would mean that women have more importance overall than men do. not true because we all know that both genders are equally important.
im thankful for this article because it shows me how much of a pushover ive been in marriage. i am just as important as my spouse. and yes, a woman can be extremely selfish in many ways regarding this article and in my own experience. i need god in my life to help me be an improved man. and i will be with his help
Definitely a taboo subject I had literally never heard of until after I got married. We’re going on 12 years now and I wonder if we’ll ever get out of this inversion.
Are you saying 12 years with no sex from your wife?
Hi, good article. Personally I feel the steps are a little on the negative side and I would encourage someone going through the same as me to be more supportive/encouraging as I believe I was.
Especially when young children are involved, I think if I had “disciplined” my wife in that way she would resent me now and we would be fighting over children and assets rather than genuinely enjoying each others company as brother and sister. There has been so much pray and God has given us so much of His peace in what could so easily have been a disaster. Six weeks after my asking for a divorce we have been on a 4 day holiday together and it was the best holiday we have ever had. I no longer feel rejected and hated by her for refusing sex – I realise it is just her and we are different.
I do have a question (and this may relate to why I am uncomfortable with the “disciplining” steps). You mentioned how Paul said that some people have a gift of celibacy, suppose (as I believe) my wife has that gift – how can it be a sin for her to live that gift out as God gave it to her. Yes she probably shouldn’t have married and I guess that was a sin of sorts but even then assuming everyone is like yourself as we do naturally she had no reason to know getting married was a bad idea (and I would say I’m just as guilty – I thought everyone wanted sex all the time just like me and so we never discussed it before getting married)
JJ – Are you saying you are accepting her sexual refusal as her living out her supposed “gift of celibacy”? Does this mean you are no longer having sex with your wife or pursuing it simply for the sake of peace in your marriage?
If this is the case I am sorry but you have sacrificed truth for peace. You are actually not fully understanding the Biblical gift of celibacy. The gift of celibacy includes more than just no desire for sex. It also includes no desire for the companionship of a spouse and no desire to have children. It is a desire to live without a family in the service of God.
So apparently your wife did desire a husband and children – she just did not desire sex and that is not a “gift of God” but rather a corruption of her nature by sin. It is no different than a man whose sexual nature has been corrupted toward homosexuality – but because he wants the family he marries a woman only for her to realize he has no sexual desire for her and only wanted the children and the family.
What your wife has done is evil and corrupt in the sight of God. This is not a matter of you and your wife “being different” but instead this is a matter of your wife having her nature seriously corrupted by sin and you have convinced yourself that God actually blesses this so now you are partaking in your wife’s sin.
It is one thing if you decided to stay with your wife and suffer for God and for the sake of your children while holding steady with your wife that what she is doing is making a mockery of God’s design of marriage. Some who have come to this blog are doing just that and I can respect that. They are not exercising their option to divorce and that is OK. But what is not OK is when we seek to justify our spouse’s sexual sin(and that is what your wife’s sin is) for the sake of peace and making them feel better.
If I am misunderstanding your situation then please let me know.
You said one other thing I forgot to address.
I take it by “brother and sister” you are referring to your wife and you being brother and sister in Christ. Again that is a fine way to try and excuse sin – but when you are married you become something else in addition to brother and sister in Christ – you become a husband and wife and God calls this a “One flesh” relationship which has it is center a physical and sexual union. You cannot throw that relationship and all it entails away for the sake of peace as you have chosen to do.
You have stripped marriage of its essence and changed the nature of the relationship God has ordained that you have with your wife. You can talk in spiritual terms about brothers and sisters in Christ but you are literally living with your wife as though she is your physical sibling and not your help meet. Do you not see the wickedness in this?
I urge you brother to repent. Do not display this mockery to of marriage to your children and make them think it is right.
Interesting article.. I am currently reading up a lot on the issue.. Currently have 2 small children, so yes one can understand the state of the wife being exhausted..
BUT it started actually when we got married. I am going to be honest we had a wonderful time before getting married abd lived together as married couple for 10 months in a house and almost 2 years before living at each others families.. Yes, we had sex before marriage. Yes we lived in sin and to be honest life felt good and I married the girl because I wanted to marry her..
I didnt want children so quickly but we had our first after 2 years of marriage.. but the intimacy faded very quickly after the ceremony.. I did ask abd tried to talk but I guess we as men do get some blame and also sometimes we deserve the blame.. I work relentless hours and build a nice comfortable income for my family. My wife only wanted 1 child but after our first child I wanted more children.. We were blessed with a baby boy when his sister turned 3.. now 9 months old, I read up on sexless marriages.. some call it sexless if only happening once a month.. i think it has been basically 6 months now, and only once early during oregnancy and never again until 4 months after birth..
I read and try to fully understand the article.. I am really not even getting any reaction from my wife even if I try and establish “a connection”.. yes the kids and work and moods and everything basically gets the blame.. my problem is, the almost 4 year old girl ia now sleeping in our bed which I love having my child with me, but I dont sleep well and I feel guilty, but in the same sense I want to chade her and my wife to her room to go sleep there, as I do not private time with my wife, and I dont sleep well because of another being in our bed.. I love my kids and would also go sleep in my daughters bed with her to make her feek safe in her own bed and did that before, but I feel that I need to reach out and the same time just give up.. I even thought of telling her that if I can not get affection from her that she must try and accept if I get it somewhere else, but that would be wrong as well, and humans do stupid things but have needs and desires.. Being basically only 30 years of age I am currently at peak and does not get anything from my 28 year old wife. Is she burnt out, or just not willing? Really too tired? I read the answer about still feeding the children, but I have respect for that.. But to never make time for us? Very frustrating.. You want to do the right thing, and be a good abd understanding husband and father, but I just feel like I am working my body to the ground earning good money and when time comes to spend the time and money on my family, it feels like I dont want to as if it is not earned.. I feel guilty, angry, desperate and lately not even interested myself. Feeling lonely, disrespected at times, and while I try to make more family time by arranging my work loads differently.. I feel like the failure and at the same time my wife speaks to me as she wishes and very aggressive.. I am really trying hard to keep all at bay and keep my cool and be a good guy in this process, it is hard.. I do feel rejected, disrespected.. I would use swear words to explain an argument, but my wife would swear directly at me which I never do to her.. Am I done? Am I exhausted? I dont think I am interested in sex anymore at this stage, it would feel like work anyways.. Maybe my punishment? Not really sure what your reply would be, or maybe I can already guess but it helps getting it out somewhere.. Life is short, I will always love my kids, but my lover and friend is gone.. I am not sure with what I am living at this stage.. just my spousse??? I wanted it to be more.. I have gone through a lot of thoughts even thinking it is my fault for various reasons, maybe that I rejected her at some stage.. but I was always willing and tried from my side…
What if you’ve tried counseling but after the birth of our third child 12 years ago, she said “no more sex” and there’s been no sex for 11 years or so? We now have separate bedrooms and lead pretty much separate lives. Am I required by the Church to stay married to my wife? Counseling hasn’t worked, talking is non-existent and she seems content to live the rest of her life without marital intimacy.
I am sorry to hear of your situation. Well if you are a Catholic and believe the Church has authority over marriage then yes you are required to stay. However the Bible does not grant the Church authority over marriage or the family. Check it for yourself – you will find no authority given to either the civil government or the church over marriage.
However if search the Scriptures you will find that God does give you the authority to end your marriage to a woman who refuses to engage in the very act of marriage itself(sex). She is no longer becoming one flesh with you and this mocks your marriage covenant. Her sin of sexual refusal is a form of adultery and fornication. Adultery is a two sided coin – it is when your wife gives her self to another man or refuses to take you as her husband in the marriage bed.
Most Christians do not understand this concept. God is just as disgusted by a woman refusing to have regular sexual relations with her husband as he is with a woman who is married and has sex with other men. There is no distinction between these two things – they are both forms of marital unfaithfulness.
It sounds to me like you have tried counseling and waiting 11 years a long time to wait for her to turn around. So you need to proceed with the steps I outline here. Your church like many may not be willing to participate since so many have rejected God’s Word in this area. But the other steps you can do. Take things away from her stages. Show her what like will be like without you. Show her that your marriage is nearing its end because of this grave sin she has committed against God’s institution of marriage. God warned Israel before he finally divorced her for her adultery and so should you. Warn her and if she will not change then you have God’s leave to divorce her as God divorce his unfaithful wife Israel.
You mentioned God divorcing Israel if we look at the scripture that talks about this Jeremiah 3. We see they played the harlot with other lovers (other gods) in verse 8 he states he has given her a bill of divorce. (Jeremiah 3:8 Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also.) But what does this mean? When you divorce as we know divorce you are no longer husband and wife. If we continue reading in verse 14 he states he is their husband (Jeremiah 3:14 “Return, O backsliding children,” says the Lord; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. 15 And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.) How can you be divorced and married at the same time? The Hebrew word for divorce here comes from the word kârath which means to cut off when something is cut off it is separated from it. (Sin separated man from God Jesus came to reconcile us back to God.) People can be separated but still married their relationship is changed and isn’t the same as it was before. The contexts of scripture fits that application God cleary states in Malachi he hates divorce and Jesus did give the command not to divorce when he said therefore what God has joined together let no man separate and the apostle Paul affirmed this command in 1 Corinthians 7. In Corinthians where it talks about the non believer leaving there’s a reason it referenced a non believer because the believer is supposed to know that God intended marriage for life. The non believer will not know this because they don’t know God’s word they are worldly (which is influenced by Satan) and divorce is a common practice in the world. And since satan goes around seeking to devour and destroy and he knows scripture and uses scripture It would not be out of character for him to use scripture to promote divorce even among believers. (Saying look it says it’s ok).
I have been married 12 years, and it has always been a battle for sex in our marriage. My wife says I’m always angry, but I told her as a result of being denied sexual intimacy completely now for over 3 years has caused great frustration, sometimes leading to anger (of which she then will not talk to me for days or weeks), but it’s me who has to attempt reconciliation by asking her to forgive me my anger. Then we make up, but still not sex. She also has been sleeping mostly with our 2 children in their beds for 10 years. The few times we do go to bed in our bed, its late at night, usually after midnight when she wakes up and goes to our bed. She gets mad if I’m not there sometimes, saying she’s made the effort but not me. I remind her that simply going to bed and right to sleep does not address her chronic rejection and neglect of me by denying me sex. The few times I have tried to stir things up in bed, she rejects me and I feel destroyed again. What should I do?
What you are describing is more than a battle – it is a power struggle and this happens in a lot of marriages today. Your wife wants to control the situation. She may feel you don’t spend enough time with her and she may feel all you want is sex. That is a common complaint from women today. But the problem is that women don’t understand that in marriage for a man to have much chance of desiring non-sexual time with his wife, he has to be sexually fed first.
A man who is starving sexually will think of little else besides sex. But if his wife is doing as the Scriptures command and giving herself to him whenever he desires it then he will be well feed and then and only then can she have any hope of time with him that does not have to do with sex.
A man frustration with being denied sexually on a regular basis can easily turn to anger. Part of this anger may be sinful but I would argue part of it is holy. It is righteous and holy for a man to be angry over his wife’s sin, whether it be her disrespect him, disobeying him or her not being faithful to him in the bedroom by giving herself freely to him. Is God angry with his people when they disrespect him, disobey him or are otherwise unfaithful in giving themselves to him? You bet he is.
You need to have a serious discussion with your wife. You need to tell her that she is going to sleep in your bed with you and not with your children. And you need to let her know that she needs to freely give herself to you sexually. if she refuses these things then you need to use the steps I have outlined in this article. Your wife’s behavior is making a mockery of marriage as God designed it.
I found your site interesting and wanted to offer my experience from a marriage of 8 years. I think the ‘not in the mood’ reason from a wife is valid every so often, but not on a regular basis and not under every circumstance. I also want to say my wife doesn’t use the ‘mood’ excuse very often so I am fortunate in that respect.
I have come home in a romantic mood, thinking about candlelight and romance and seduction and a few times I got “I’m just not in the mood right now”. Disappointed, heck yeah. Did I force the issue? Heck no. It would have been self defeating, you can’t force romance and it would have caused resentment, so on to other things.
As far as the need to have relations in order not to ‘burn with passion’, I have forced the issue. I have insisted on sex because I felt the physical need very strongly. Having forsaken all others, I felt it was her duty to be sexually available (absent illness or other serious reasons). I also think that in our society a husband insisting on satisfying sexual urges is viewed as primitive and selfish, but it is clear that the sexual act is the basis of marriage and having that desire is not something to be ashamed about. Did she actively participate? Not really, but it was a normal act of intercourse between husband and wife on the marriage bed and I didn’t feel guilty during the act or afterward.
The final area I wanted to comment on is the procreative urge. Early in our marriage we talked about having a child and we’ve decided specifically to have relations during the next set of fertile days in her cycle. On the first occasion she she suddenly wasn’t in the mood, no reason besides she didn’t feel like it. I didn’t physically force her but I was very insistent on engaging in the act. Afterward she said she felt like I didn’t take into account her feelings.. I told her we had talked about having sexual relations on that particular day (and succeeding days). As a married woman I told her she had a duty to have intercourse with the goal of conceiving. Maybe not every time, and certainly we could talk about it (which we had) but I still feel like requesting intercourse even when there is an increased chance of pregnancy is not wrong.
I loved your column but my issue is a bit different. I am more sexually active than my wife. I could have sex daily if I was allowed but my wife prefers sex at least once a week. When she has not had sex in a while she does indeed give good sex. But that time is just too much for me. What can we do?
My first question would be – Have you been direct with your wife about what you need in the sexual arena? You don’t have to be ashamed of desiring sex more often than your wife as this is common in most marriages(while there are a smaller percentage of women that actually desire sex more often than their husbands). Now she may come back with a common response that my wife did in our marriage which might be one of these typical responses:
1. “Why would you want to have sex with me if I am not in the mood?”
2. “How can I have sex with you when I am not in the mood – I need to be desiring it first.”
So then we have the typical modern Christian teacher response:
“You just need to work harder to put your wife in the mood more often”
Don’t get me wrong. I am not against husbands being kind to their wives and doing nice things for them. But that typical response is wrong on several fronts:
1. It simply codifies for women that they don’t have to have sex unless they are in the mood.
2. It assumes that women will want sex as often as men if men just do this magical list of things. That is wrong. In most cases women simply do not have desire for sex as often as men. Its how we are wired differently.
3. It turns sex into something that must be continuously earned in marriage, rather than a duty that is owed to one’s spouse in marriage.
You don’t have to earn sex in marriage, it is both your right and your wife’s right. Sex is both a right and responsibility in marriage according to the Bible.
With that said if you have had a frank and direct conversation and your wife simply does not believe she should willingly and with a good attitude have sex with you even when she is not in the mood then you need to move to the next step.
I actually think that time is one of the most powerful tools men can use with their wives to communicate to them the importance of regular sexual relations for a man. Women are truly desirous of their husband’s time if they truly love them. That means she likes it when you watch certain shows on TV together, or go out and do regular activities she likes. She likes it when you work on little projects around the house. And frankly – she likes it when you spend time talking to her.
So what I suggest is pull back a bit on the time you spend with her. I am not saying completely ignore her. You need to give her some time. But you don’t have to do everything with her that she likes. You don’t have to give her as much talk time as she wants. This activity by you is not some sort of revenge, or being spiteful. It should be a willful act on your part to teach her a lesson. The purpose of this exercise is to teach her that while she desires your time in certain ways, you desire her time in other ways. And it does not mean you don’t enjoy non-sexual times with her. But as a man it is extremely frustrating for us and it is hard for us to sometimes enjoy non-sexual times with our wives when our wives are failing to meeting our sexual needs.
That is my suggestion of where to start sir.
Wow. After seeing all the comments here I realize I am not alone. I too now live in a sexless marriage. Due to wife constantly having excuses ( planets all need to be in alignment before anything happens). Been married 23 years and was fine for most part till last 4 years. Now angry and frustrated. Was considering many ‘sinful’ alternatives. After reading all ur articles I feel better then I can move on. And do the right thing and hold her accountable without God judging me and with guilt that I have needs. Will hav Ethel talk soon tho I am not sure she will get it. So it may leave me no choice , but to leave.
“It is utterly ludicrous to say as so many Christian teachers have falsely taught – that if a woman does not take other men yet refuses to take her husband she is still being faithful to him. If she does not take her husband she guilty of unfaithfulness to him.”
As a divorced man, from a Christian wife, with the explicit advice for divorce from a teaching elder, how does the flip side of the coin appear? I have been accused of “spiritual neglect”, a Christian buzzword for emotional abuse which can be defined as “withholding time, money or affections”. However when you reach the point that I did in my marriage, both parties are emotionally abusing each other, but the men don’t go crying to their male friends about the problems. Women cry to their female friends who whisper into their elder husband’s ears.
There is a view in the Christian church that women have higher moral values than men, and that it’s all the man’s fault when things don’t work in a marriage. Remember however that it was Eve who sinned first. Today’s Christian would claim that Adam must have caused Eve’s sin because he did give her the proper love/care.
The Christian female’s “get out of jail free card” is “emotional abuse”, and the definition is held in the mind of the beholder.. My ex got cash and prizes while I continue in my job under the threat of jail if I don’t pay alimony. Going back to Habbakuk (sp?), it is no longer Jewish men who deal treacherously with their wives, its Christian woman who deal treacherously with their husbands with great assistance via no fault divorce.
wow this was really good – my wife and I read 1 cor. 7:1-7 ourselves as well and I think we have been doing this right. If you are both Godly people, I think you will usually have a healthy appetite for sex, it goes beyond psychology, it is a biological imperative. Obviously God would have something to say on this. If you are in Christ, I think you will want this with your partner, I think a person who is outside of grace or is backsliding will turn away from their spouse.
“There is no sin here for you as a Christian husband to simply let her go, you are no longer bound and are free to marry another woman.”
Doesn’t the Bible say that if a man or woman divorces their spouse and take another then that would be adultery?
“11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.
12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” Mark:11-12 King James Version
Honestly the biggest problem with a spouses refusal of sex is because of serving themselves and this is simply flesh and worldly. I see the topic take out of proportion on many different levels. I am grateful for what God has shown me over the years on this topic and more. Honestly if the relationship has reached this level, it is because something else is influencing us or our spouse. I always believe first in looking at ourselves before the spouse along with biblicalgenderroles.
The one thing that I noticed though and this is an issue of misunderstanding and possibly unforgiveness in many areas and we see results or various things stemming to the current issues of today because of the past, whether a past relationship or current one. One thing I’ll highlight is that God doesn’t condone or approve of what is taking place in marriage or the world today when we compare scripturally to what is taking place. It is his grace and mercy that allows the ignorance of man to continue on the path it is on while giving Christians the power and authority to any on his behalf the way Jesus Christ revealed him. As Children of God, we should be representing Christ on all levels from marriage to personal relationships and becoming the light we are called to be. Most issues is because of pride, non seen by the way.
If we go to Genesis 1:26-28 we see that when God said let us create man (non gender) in our image, both male and female, that we are all equally immediately. To go a step further, the image today where a wife stayed at home is unbiblical and this is evident because Proverbs 31 wife. The feminist movement is equally unbiblical because we see competition, self serving and comparison. Simple fixes, stop serving self and serve the Lord.
The truth and purpose behind marriage is beautiful and honoring to God, but when we fail to look to honor and serve God, the things that are beautiful become a nightmare in which we see many marriages today. The bogus topics of today about a male or female is just plain excuses. No sense in going further. Counseling isn’t necessary if both will hear sound council from the Lord, but take humility and repentance on both parts
I appreciate your article. I have been doing the first 7 steps for 13 years with counsel. I have gone to counseling, recovery for my sins, repeatedly and have changed. My wife will admit to it. She’ll go to the beginning of counseling, twice out of 3 times, with me continuing, because she says I need it, not her. After 13 years of sexual and intimate refusal, with originally offering me a divorce because she didn’t want to be intimate anymore, after 35 years of marriage she decided to divorce me. Her answer was that she was mad at herself in marrying me, and wanted to get married and have kids. I made a promise for better or worse, etc., etc., etc., until death do us part. I made that commiiment to my Father God and Lord Jesus, plus all my family and friends, and to her. Come to find out she decided on her own bible study without any others. Only her and God and never disclosed her decision to her best Christian female friend until she decided to tell her of the divorce. Now I find out that she has been sexually immoral, which is the exception that Jesus gave. Does that eliminate my promise to God, until death do us part? I know it is my walk of working out my own salvation. Any thoughts and direction biblically would be greatly appreciated.
Tom, even among Christians who believe that Christ overrode all previous allowable reasons for divorce in the Old Testament, the vast majority of Christians believe this passage allows a man to divorce his wife for being sexually immoral:
“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”
Your wife committed adultery (as God does not recognize her to divorce to you as it was not done under allowable circumstances) and adultery is a form of fornication, which covers all sexual sin in the Bible. You are free to remarry brother.
Many people wrongly believe the marriage covenants are unconditional based on a false notion of unconditional love. Even God loves based on conditions. Sometimes it is his own commitment to himself to do things for us and not anything we did (like in salvation). But make no mistake, love always is conditional in one way or the other. And the covenant of marriage is absolutely a conditional covenant. There are things that can break that covenant. And you wife committing sexual immorality is one of them.
For a fuller look at every verse in the Bible on divorce, both Old and New Testaments, both before Christ and after Christ, see this article I wrote:
This is wholly compatible with my view. I am currently dealing with this problem and this is exactly how I am handling it. It is the obvious route for the Biblically literate. My wife will not outright deny me, but she never initiates, is very subdued, disinterested and sexual encounters are extremely rare, unless I schedule and push for them. It got much worse after pregnancy and the birth of our first child. I believe her condition is due to physiological/biological reasons (low lobido) as she has always had a very low general desire and curiosity from youth. It is very difficult, since I will receive a great deal of attention from other women (which I forcefully refuse).
God is my help and we will make it work. Its very disappointing after practicing premarital abstinence and waiting so long to get married. Its breaking me down and she seems not to care, though we have talked about it at length.