8 steps to confront your wife’s sexual refusal

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):

Update 1/25/2018

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.”But because sexual immorality is so common, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. A husband should fulfill his marital responsibility to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. 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. 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. 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

  1. Your post is very interesting but I believe most sexual issues that develop within a marriage can be traced back to the ridiculous expectations our sexually-soaked, non-Christian, culture places on sex itself. Both genders are bombarded with selfish, sexual messages about their sexual roles as males and females, that were NEVER intended by God. Intercouse was designed by God for one purpose – to bring into the world God’s precious little children, to a loving and committed husband and wife, in order to protect and provide for those helpless children.
    The distortion of that primary purpose of procreation into a porn flick of activity is not only demeaning personally but destructive to all marriages. Today’s publically over-stimulated men (sex sells advertising, Platboy, pornography, etc.) can place unrealistic expectations of sexual gratification on their wives, which can be exhausting. Today’s men, many of whom, as a result, view themselves as sexual studs in the bedroom, rather than devoted husbands and fathers, continue to demand sex from their wives, many of whom are decades past their ability to bear children, as though they were both still in their twenties. This can be both demeaning and debilitating.
    These women are also culpable in this distorted view of sexual relations because as young, sexually “liberated” feminists, they encouraged this misconception about the purpose of sexual intercourse, by “performing” like porn queens for their young husbands as well.
    This possibility must also be addressed before calling it quits. Someone (ministers, pastors, priests) must determine what level of sexual activity is appropriate for the couple (according to their age and fertility) based on God’s purpose for sexual intercouse, not Penthouse’. Then, and only then, should it be determined whether a husband expects too much from his wife or if she is just being stubborn.

  2. Kathy,

    Let me just say that you are someone that I have the utmost respect for. You know we agree on many things from a Christian world view point.

    But I must say that I disagree that procreation is the primary reason that God made sex and here is why. If God’s primary purpose for sex was procreation he could have made human beings like animals where we only go into “heat” once or twice a year, and even then he would not have had to give us the pleasure we get from sex – the human orgasm is not necessary to procreation. In fact he could have made us like fish where the female lays eggs and the male simply fertilizes them.

    Instead he gave us a beautiful gift in sex, and one the greatest benefits of sex is indeed that ability to procreate through it(within the bounds of marriage of course).

    Previously I wrote a post called “The 7 reasons why God made sex” where I explored this issue and I believe it is for these reasons:

    1.For Procreation
    2.For Unity (to bring a couple close together, but this unity may not always come before sex, but may come later as a result of sex).
    3.For visual pleasure
    4.For physical pleasure
    5.For relief of physical and emotional stress, to comfort one another
    6.Sacrifice & Submission – husbands are called to sacrifice themselves by giving their bodies to their wives when they need it, and wives are commanded to submit their bodies to their husbands as they need it.
    7.To bring us out of our comfort zone, to be able to love our spouse not as we would desire to be loved, but as they would desire to be loved(e.g. sexual preferences).

    The full post is here https://biblicalgenderroles.com/2015/02/10/the-7-reasons-why-god-made-sex/

    As you can see yes I have procreation in there, but I see based on the Scriptures, and secondly on what we know about human biology that there are many reasons God made sex.

    One of those reasons I allude to is sacrifice. God calls us as as spouses to sacrifice our pride and give our bodies to our spouses as they need them for sex. God also calls on us to sacrifice our sexual needs when our spouses needs are greater, like when they are sick, or have other health or mental issues that might stop them from being able to have sex for periods of time.

    With all due respect, I don’t think that the reason men and women want sex is because of what they see on television or in the media(not that I am agreeing with it all). Long before the last century, before we had visual media men and women had strong desires for sex.

    Unfortunately sexual issues were suppressed by both the Catholic church and then the Protestant churches, sex was viewed a necessary evil for procreation only, and we can thank the early church fathers – especially Augustine and the Christian Ascetic movement for creating so many errors about how Christians view sex(as something dirty, as necessary only for reproduction). The Apostle Paul was fighting against Asceticism in the Scriptures while he was still alive. So yes we have porn industry that has made a mockery of what God intended sex for(a loving marriage relationship), but I am glad now that some churches are finally talking about the importance of regular sex in marriage.

    I have had plenty of emails from women telling me they have the opposite problem and their husbands don’t want sex, so this issue does affect both sexes and I have always acknowledge that, although I think(and if count emails could confirm) that this issue is usually more of the woman not wanting it and the man wanting it.

    While sex is not the only thing in marriage, it is as my Pastor calls it “a dashboard issue”. Meaning that either the husband, or the wife, or both are being selfish toward each other. If both the husband and wife saw their bodies as belonging to the other, this would not be an issue, but because of the attitude we have in our society that “its my body, and I will do with it as I want” this is why we have the problems in marriage we do today.

  3. Kathy,
    I agree with you that women and men need to make sure that their demands are not outside what is normal or natural given their age and other factors. Unfair expectations on a spouse may mean that a person is acting selfishly. I’d like to understand what is considered a normal expectation. For example, what seems quite satisfactory to one man may seem inadequate to another.

    I also agree that sex for a female is very much related to reproduction. A woman’s body changes during her monthly cycle and so does her sex drive. Women’s sexual desire increases when they are most fertile and, without getting into details, there are physical changes that make sex more pleasurable that occur at these times. It’s hard not to acknowledge the biological differences between men and women. Also, women’s bodies change with age, which corresponds with their decline in fertility, and sex can become less pleasurable and even difficult. It seems that these changes are naturally intended by design. It’s also important to remember that most women died long before menopause as early as a few hundred years ago and didn’t live past their child bearing years.

  4. I think that some of the steps you addressed only work if the wife is financially dependent upon her husband, and statistics show that women are working more than ever these days. For example, you cannot take a woman’s “pocket money” away if she’s earning it herself. She’ll still have her own paycheck to go out and buy food and nice clothes with regardless. Also, it’s not like she cannot use her own money to go out to dinner or see movies with her friends if her husband refuses. She doesn’t need her husband to do activities with her.

    Thirdly, your claim that husbands cannot manipulate their wives is ridiculous. The definition of manipulation is literally: the skillful handling, controlling or using of something or someone. Most of the steps (except for the first three) are indeed blatant manipulation.

    Lastly, I understand that you’re looking at this from a strictly biblical standpoint, but the best way to deal with a woman withholding sex is not to come down with an iron fist. Women are emotional beings. If a woman isn’t being intimate with her husband, it’s because there’s underlying emotional issues. The most efficient and logical plan of action would be to attend counseling or really try to figure out what the real issue is. If a woman is strong armed or bullied into sex, it won’t be satisfying for either party and will only create tension and resentment (which is not good for the marriage or children).

  5. Julie,

    Certainly there are always extremes, I have heard of some men asking for two times every day from their wives, while some men have to beg to get sex twice a month. My Pastor has come up with a good in-between number I think – he says the norm if you take age and other factors into account should be two to three times a week. Of course when a man is in his early 20s he might need to have it more often than that, but most men older than their 20s would be fine with having sex two to three times a week.

    And yes a woman’s desire is definitely tied to her reproductive cycle, although it is not uncommon for some women’s libido to actually increase as they get older because they were a lot more stressed in their early years but they learn to relax and enjoy sex better in their later years.

    But I maintain that whether a woman is 20 or 50, her lack of desire, or mood for sex is as irrelevant as her husband’s lack of desire or mood for sex from a Biblical viewpoint. If either the husband or the wife desire it, the other spouse should be willingly yield their body. The things I have talked about in this post and previous ones should never be necessary in a Christian marriage, and they only are necessary, and divorce is only necessary because of sin. This does not mean that the spouse desiring sex, should not try to use every means possible to make the sexual experience as pleasant as possible for the spouse not having the desire(massages, proper foreplay, perhaps seeking medical help where appropriate).

  6. Erin,

    I agree and I mention in the article that if the woman has her own income some of these steps would not work.

    On your “manipulation” claim, if a father were to take certain privileges(say going to his friends, or video games…ect) in order to get his son to start getting better grades in school would anyone call that manipulation? I doubt anyone would. But then we would have the retort that “a man’s wife is not his child!”. A very true statement indeed. But even adults get discipline. If a police officer pulls me(as an adult) over and gives me a ticket for speeding, that is him bringing consequences into my life(discipline) in order for me to drive correctly in the future.

    Yes a wife certainly has greater privileges as well as responsibilities in her marriage to her husband than her children do to them as parents. But she is still under the authority of her husband, as her children are and her husband has the authority to take action to correct these kinds of issues, just as God took action to correct his wife Israel in the OT(before he eventually divorced her because she would not come back to him), and he also corrected his churches in the NT.

    I agree Erin, that before any of these tough love methods were to take place, a man ought to take a softer approach first and also seek counseling if she is willing to go, and I allude to this in this post, and previous posts.

    But what I am primarily dealing with, and few people in this discussion are willing to admit is, not every sexual issue has to do with a woman’s emotional issues – I believe this is a blatant falsehood. Sometimes it is an emotional or health issue, and a husband has the responsibility to gently investigate. But the results of these investigations may be very different. Perhaps the woman is going through some stressful issues, or perhaps she experiencing painful intercourse or some other physical issue, and those things can be worked on.

    But what if her issue is not a physical or emotional one, but rather a wrong attitude or wrong thinking about sex in marriage? This is the scenario I am primarily aiming at, and this is a problem that is far too common in many marriages, Christian marriages included.

  7. I have a question. In your posts you state that this behavior goes both ways, that if a husband refuses sex to his wife it is just as much a sin as if the wife refused sex to him. When a wife refuses sex the husband takes disciplinary actions to correct her behavior. This is because he is the authority figure and can discipline his wife, correct? So, if it applies equally, even though the wife is not an authority figure, how would she take disciplinary steps to correct her husbands bad behavior if he were to chronically deny her sex based on his attitude?

  8. Amy,

    This is a very good question, and one I plan on dedicating an entire post to when I finish this series on “How to be a godly husband”, I will be doing a series on “How to be a godly wife”. This is a very real problem today now that women are more free to express the fact that they actually do want sex. The whole idea of women not liking sex was unfortunately something that came from wrong teaching in the Churches after the Apostles died. Basically many had the idea that only a dirty woman, or a whore would actually want to have sex – something that is absurd Biblically speaking. I still believe based on what marriage counselors report in books and online as well as what Pastors report, that more often than not is the man wanting more sex and the woman wanting less. But you are right, and we must acknowledge that sometimes it is the woman wanting more sex.

    I will give you a sneak preview of what I will be advising Christian wives to do in this case. I believe the first three steps would apply equally to a husband that is being denied or a wife that is being denied. A wife has the right to rebuke her husband’s sin against her, of denying her sexual rights in marriage. She ought to do this with respect of course, but she can show him his error in private(just as he is to go to her in private).

    If he will not see it, then I believe a wife has the right to go to her Pastor and his wife and request that they meet to counsel with them. Obviously the Pastor will want to investigate with the husband and counsel with him, but if the husband refuses to talk or give his side of the story, or admit fault, then I believe the wife would have a right at this point to divorce her husband.

    “If he takes an additional wife, he must not reduce the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife. And if he does not do these three things for her, she may leave free of charge, without any exchange of money.” – Exodus 21:10-11(HCSB)

    We can see based on Exodus 21, that God takes it VERY seriously when a husband denies his wife sexually, and I would advice such a woman that she is free to divorce her husband for his sexual immorality(denying her sexually). Even though her husband is her authority, when he acts in willful sin against God, and does not provide her with the rights of a wife that God demands – she has a right to confront this.

    While the wife is not her husband’s authority, God does give her certain rights that must be upheld, otherwise she has the right to leave her husband. I will go into this and other Biblical reasons I believe a wife has for leaving her husband when I get to that series. Again this based on willful sexual denial, it would not apply in the case that the husband is physically disabled and cannot perform any kind of sexual activity(and this would be the same with husband if his wife were completely physically disabled and not able to perform).

  9. So if the first three steps don’t work a wife has no choice but divorce? There is no disciplinary action she can take to correct her husbands sinful behavior?

  10. Amy,

    When we understand how Biblical authority works, then we will understand that the steps will be different for a husband than for a wife. Just as her husband is her authority, he has authority over him as well. God is his authority, as well as God’s leaders in the church(his Pastor). I don’t think a wife ought to be running to her Pastor for every little thing her husband does, but when it is serious violation of the marriage(for instance he is having an affair, he is abusing her, or he is denying her) she has every right to go to his spiritual authority, which is his Pastor. This is not her disciplining him, but rather calling on other men to discipline her husband.

    For instance, if a child were being abused by his mother while the father was at work, and the child reported this to his father, this would not be him disciplining his mother(who is his authority). Instead if would be him asking for help from his mother’s authority, for the father to discipline(rebuke) the mother.

    But as far as the other actions of discipline – no she is not in authority over husband and she has no right to refuse to go places with him if he asks her to, or to stop making dinner or some other things like that. If what he is asking her to do is not sinful, then she must do it.

  11. So, apparently my husband is already doing steps 4-7.
    And he’s not often in the mood for sex, since he prefers watching porn and chatting in online fetish communities.

    Does this mean I should stop having sex with him, or consider divorce?

  12. Mari,

    As I have said to some other commenters – I will be doing some a new series written to Christian wives that will address this scenario you are facing.

    Him talking to women online is him committing online fornication(virtual whoring) and this needs to stop, in addition to his continual denial of sex to you.

    What I would recommend is that you first confront him about his online whoring around, and also about him willfully sexually denying you. If you already have and he will not hear you, then suggest you go to counselor, if he won’t bring someone in that you think he might hear from. If he won’t hear from you or anyone else, your final step is to take him to your church leaders(your Pastors elder) and have them confront him.

    If he will not listen even to the church, then I believe you have the right to divorce him for sexual immorality(both for the online whoring, as well as the sexual denial).

  13. Hello there. I have to give you kudos for tackling such challenging issues. I was having a laugh just thinking of how “well” this post would go over in some places.

    The only thing I would really add, is the impact of the porn culture and how it can lead to unrealistic expectations, not unlike what Kathy mentioned above. We live in this very materialistic, pornographic culture, so many people grow up with unrealistic expectations around sex. Not just men expecting Hollywood style porn sex and finding themselves constantly disappointed, but women also feeling constantly inadequate. It’s a terrible combination.

    The culture itself makes women feel cheap, inadequate, undesirable, and feminism comes along and tells them that is men that make them feel this way. Needless to say, that totally messes with female desire. So a wife may actually desire sex herself, but be unable to recognize it because she’s been fed far too many conflicting messages. That is something husbands should be aware of and to address with some compassion. Wives don’t always deny sex out of rebellion, they often have complex feelings about the matter that need to be sorted out.

  14. Insanity,

    Kathy did raise some excellent points – and I actually plan on addressing the “unrealistic expectations” she brought up in a separate future post. In that post I will try and draw a very clear line and distinction between “sexual denial” and “sexual performance”. I would NEVER EVER tell a husband that he should or can divorce his wife because she won’t do certain things sexually. What I am taking about is straight out willful denial of the entire act of sex itself.

    I will also be writing a post on the actual existence of selfish and sexually denying women. Most people who have read this post, actually completely reject the notion that any woman would turn down sex for anything but noble reasons. Its laughable. I am not saying women have a monopoly on being selfish, because there are definitely selfish men as well. They actually believe it is moral and just for a woman to get married, and then decided at any given point she just does not want to have sex anymore.

    They also reject the very real possibility, as I have seen in many letters I receive from Christian husbands to my blog, that some women simply are happy not to have sex that often and would prefer that there husbands would be the same, and these see no moral dilemma in simply training their husbands to have less sex.

  15. “Most people who have read this post, actually completely reject the notion that any woman would turn down sex for anything but noble reasons”

    LOL! I’m sorry. I assure you women can and do turn down sex for defiant reasons, mostly as a form of control, revenge, power.

    I just want you to be aware of the fact that the vast majority of women don’t even recognize that for what it is, so rather than deliberate or intentional, it has a lot to do with their own sexual confusion.

    That makes it twice as important for Christian husbands to patiently lead there, because sex is important in marriage, and important for her too, and she may not even realize that.

  16. This a quote from an actual comment I just received that illustrates what I told you that there are so many women(unlike you) that simply reject the idea that a woman could turn down sex for wrong reasons:

    “I don’t think you can really direct your article towards women with “a wrong attitude or wrong thinking about sex in marriage” that doesn’t have anything to do with a mental, physical, emotional, etc reason… Because that doesn’t exist…
    a woman will always have a reason to refuse sex (whether or not she’s willing to tell her spouse/partner) and that reason will always be completely valid and should be respected”

  17. “..a woman will always have a reason to refuse sex (whether or not she’s willing to tell her spouse/partner) and that reason will always be completely valid and should be respected”

    Oh dear. That actually made me chuckle. That is indeed the popular thought of the day, but it isn’t necessarily true.

    If we were to edit that to say “My husband will always have a reason to refuse to go to work and that reason is completely valid and should be respected,” you can see the problem there. There’s enough surface truth to make it sound good, but dig deeper and men actually go to work to serve the common good of their families. Some even really enjoy their jobs…once they get out of bed in the morning 😉

  18. I have actually used the “men have to go to work”, “kid have to go school” analogy many times in discussing this with people, and they always dismiss the comparison.

    Americans and Westerners actually have a very opposite view of “rights” in regard to sex:

    Many Americans believe they have a right to have premarital sex(between consenting adults of course).
    Many Americans believe they have a right to have homosexual sex(between consenting adults of course).
    Many Americans believe that in marriage, the only right to sex if both people are in the mood.

    The Bible’s view of sex is very different, there is no right to sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman. But once marriage is established, sex becomes not only a right, but a responsibility of both the man and the woman.

    It is a very different take than our modern world view, as the hundreds of hate mails I have received will confirm.

  19. What if a husband wants to do things with his wife that she does not like or that make her uncomfortable? I can think of a lot of examples but I am talking specifically about sodomy. My husband says it is not real sodomy because we are married and the biblical references are to homosexuals or to fornicators. I understand his argument but I still do not enjoy it. I allow him sometimes in order to please him, but I don’t believe I am being sinful in not agreeing every time he wants this. Sometimes I think if I agreed all the time he would never want anything else.

  20. First of all I want to say I admire the way you wrote your post. It is evident you are trying to live and think in a Biblical manner. All of the comments I have seen you post were very respectful and I never saw you attack a person or use sarcasm. You have gained my respect!

    That being said, I have to admit, this post first made me angry and then it made me cry. I am a single girl in my mid-twenties, my parents have been married for almost 30 years, and to be completely honest, overall they have had a terrible marriage. I am not going to blame my father for everything. I know my mother has her faults as well. I went through a time when I was angry at men and I have since realized that is unjust for me to lump all guys in a category and there are some really awesome men of God out there. Also, I try to show love and respect to every man (and woman), as we as Christians are supposed to turn the other cheek and love and pray for those who hurt us.

    However, my father has been at fault a lot of the time. He is emotionally abusive (never physically though), controlling, harsh with his words, stays angry with her over little things, withholds sex from her (yes, maybe my mother should not have told me this but she did), and emotionally distant. My mother has had to put up with a lot but she has wanted to honor God and did not believe she ever had the grounds to divorce him. My father is quiet and somewhat withdrawn socially and I think he has things from his childhood that were never completely dealt with which have not allowed him to move forward in life. My parents were not Christians when they met, but my mom has been now for about 15 years and my father professes to be but there is not much fruit in his life (it is not my place to judge though).

    I gave you a backstory so you would understand why I reacted the way I did to this post. This made me terrified to ever get married. I have never had a boyfriend. I do plan to get married some day and I have always said I was waiting for the guy God has for me. When I get married, I would want to please my husband emotionally, sexually, etc but I have a really hard time with the concept of being required to give him sex when I do not want to. Again, I understand you were saying habitually having this attitude but it makes me scared of men and being stuck in a relationship where l don’t feel loved and just used. I do agree within a marriage there is a commitment to satisfy each other sexually. I have heard it said that if a man truly loves his wife and this is evident to her, she will respect him and along other lines have more desire for him as well. We as humans are sinful beings, so there may be times when the woman is selfish in not wanting to give sex or the man being selfish in not wanting to take the time to listen to his wife or have compassion for her.

    I still have a really hard time with steps 4-7 because it seems controlling to me. I understand you discipline a child in a similar way but I guess it goes back to the husband being the head of the wife, which I agree with, but I don’t think this means the wife has to do everything the husband asks of her. What exactly do you understand as Biblical submission? Could you maybe shed some light on this? Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this!

  21. Anon,

    What I am talking about in these posts are chronic “sexual denial”, not “sexual performance”. I would never advocate for a man to use these 8 steps because his wife would not do certain sexual things, as long as she is willing to have intercourse, then she is not denying him. I do not believe God created the anus for sexual penetration, and while other types of sex are alluded to in the Song of Solomon, anal sex is never alluded to or mentioned. I would recommend you seek counseling with a Christian counselor or your Pastor on this.

  22. catrachadecorazon,

    Let me also say to you, as you said to me, that I appreciate your respectful disagreement with me, and what I sense in you is a genuine desire to understand my position better, even if you still disagree.

    I am so sorry for the abuse that you mother suffered at the hands of your father, his withholding of sex from your mom was as equally sinful from him, as it would have been if your mother withheld from him.

    Marriage is always a union of two sinners – two imperfect people. I have never taught easy divorce as our society teaches today. But I do believe that for serious breaches of the marriage covenant(like adultery, , physical abuse, abandonment, and willful chronic sexual denial) God does allow divorce.

    In many marriages what you heard is absolutely right, if the husband is loving his wife as he ought to, his wife will give herself to him both emotionally and physically. But would you agree that there are some men, and some women that are very selfish people? It is very possible, and I have seen it in the many many emails I receive from Christian husbands and wives – to have a spouse that is chronically and willfully denies sex to their spouse. Some use sex as a tool to get their spouse to do what they want, while others have no nefarious motives, they simply have little desire for sex, and they believe their spouse should be content to have a sexless marriage.

    This is a very real issue and many spouses(both men and women) suffer in silence from sexual denial. The non-Christian world’s answer is “just divorce them or have an affair”, but we know as Christians God sees marriage as sacred, and something to be fought for, and not something that is easily dissolved. Other Christians tell these husbands or wives, that there is no way ought Biblically, that God calls them to continue to tolerate this sexually immoral behavior(which is exactly what chronic sexual denial is). In fact some of these counselors even advice Christians that they must continue in marriages where they know their spouse is committing adultery. This is what I am fighting against in these posts – tell husbands(and later I will address this issue from the perspective of a wife who is being denied sexually) that God does give them tools to confront this massive breach of the marriage covenant.

    I completely realize, and I knew it as soon as I wrote it, that steps 4-7 would be seen as controlling and manipulative. That is why I wrote a lengthy explanation immediately following explaining why I see it as discipline, and not manipulation.

    You stated that you don’t believe that a wife has to do everything her husband says and asked how I understand Biblical submission. I will address these articles in more detail when I write my series on “How to be a godly wife” when this series on husbands is completed. But here are some key passages that I believe illustrate the what submission of a wife looks like in marriage:

    “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
    Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” – Ephesians 5:23-24

    “In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands…For in the past, the holy women who put their hope in God also beautified themselves in this way, submitting to their own husbands, 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” – I Peter 3:1 & 5-6(KJV)

    “We ought to obey God rather than men.” – Acts 5:29

    There are many more Scriptures that talk about the husband wife dynamic and God’s purposes for marriage and I hope you will explore this blog to see them. But I think the three passages I give above illustrate this Biblical principle:

    A wife is to be obedient to, and to submit to her husband in “every thing”, unless he asks her to do something that violates God’s law, then she obeys God, rather than her husband.

    I realize that flies in the face our modern American culture – but it is the teaching of God’s Word.

    Also realize that men are called to love their wives as Christ love the Church, and a husband is to honor his wife, so this is not allowing men to mistreat or abuse their wives, simply because she does not have an equal role with her husband.

  23. Thank you for your quick reply and for your encouragement! Yes, I have always tried to see things the way others do and to be open to the truth, even if it is not easy to swallow. I also agree we can be very selfish. Our sinful natures affect every area and can sometimes cloud our thinking which is why as iron sharpens iron one sharpens another. As we are in the Word ourselves, it is important to talk to others so we can have accurate beliefs biblically. I talked with some friends this morning too and they reminded me of the importance of choosing a spouse who will be submitted to Christ so that it will be a mutual relationship based on love and respect and that even if we don’t agree with something our husbands ask us to do, we will submit. I again appreciate you taking the time to respond and I pray God continues to bless you!

  24. catrachadecorazon,

    The other point you had that I wanted to address separately is your fear of marriage. I think young men and women both fear marriage but for different reasons. As a young woman, you are fearful of being with a man that might abuse you physically or emotionally, or might be too demanding and those are legitimate fears. But then you have to also to understand that what is defined by the non-Christian world, or liberal Christian world as “controlling or demanding” behavior in marriage, and what the Bible defines those things as, you will see very different things.

    Check out this post I wrote to see where I am coming from – https://biblicalgenderroles.com/2014/07/01/how-a-christian-wife-should-handle-a-controlling-husband/

    But now see it from young men’s point of view. I receive letters from young Christian men(in high school or college) all the time being afraid of marriage for other legitimate reasons. 70 percent of divorces are filed by women and most of these divorces are not filed for abuse or infidelity, it is just over “differences in the relationship, or loss of love”. Young men are afraid they will marry a woman, and then some years later they will divorce him, take his children and half of everything he has, if he does not do what she says, or if he tries to lead her and his family as he believes God would have him to. Young men are afraid of what I am addressing here – chronic sexual denial that occurs in many marriages not long after marriage. So yes both young men and young women have much to fear from marriage in our day.

    However, in life anything that is worthwhile, is a risk, and there is always a risk of hurt and marriage a worthwhile investment of one’s life. What I always recommend to young people is to find a person who loves God, more they than they love anything including their potential spouses. Someone who was committed to Christ’s Church long before they ever met the other person. While it is still no guarantee of a successful marriage, it makes the odds of having a good marriage much better.

    And also as the theme of this blog goes, when we live according the way God has designed us as men and women, when we first submit to God, and then secondly to God’s design for men and women, when we recognize and honor the differences between men and women, instead of trying to burying them, we will have peace. We will have good marriages. When men love their wives as Christ loved the Church, and when women submit to and obey their husbands as the Church is to do toward Christ, we will have peace, we will have good marriages that last the test of time.

  25. God bless you and your family. I found your page as I was looking at my current dilemma, because I desire God’s will not mine and the same goes for my marriage. I just can’t say I feel my wife is equally the same, even though she believes in the Jesus Christ.

    I scanned many articles on your site and various comments associated, using the spirit of discernment. I did not feel there was any gender bias, judgement, or condemnation, but rather peace and biblical clarity in your writing. I applaud you as God is doing great things through you, your ministry and your writing. Anyone who chooses to learn truth about the gender roles of the bible, will find clarity here.

    I would have wrote my dilemma in here, but I feel the details are to long to list. Thank you again for your excellent godly biblical clarification with the true use of God’s love listed in 1 Corinthians 13. May God continue to bless you with knowledge, wisdom, understanding and prosperity. Continue serving God the way you are.

  26. Justin – thank you for you gracious comments – and feel free to email me if you don’t feel comfortable sharing the details of your situation here. Most husbands and wives email me privately.

    May God grant you wisdom in how to love and lead your wife.

  27. Thank you for taking your time to respond to me. I greatly appreciate you sharing God’s word with the truth as it is meant to be.

    How do I obtain your email? I am new to this website, and I set up an account. It didn’t take me to your email. My email is justin72783@gmail.com. I believe in being an open book, I just know it is long. Transparency allows us to grow and mature add Christians. So after I email you and you want to post what you feel is applicable for resolution and addressing others in similar situations that is ok with me. God bless.

  28. I read you post with interest as both a student of God’s Word and as a counselor a few times each year to men who are dealing with difficult wives. Certainly the withholding of sex in a marriage is a serious issue, so serious that the apostle Paul is quite clear that it should not happen in any regular way. Not only is regular sex a contractual obligation of the marriage contract, it is the glue for a deep and lasting intimacy in a marriage. When a husband and wife are not on the same page with frequency of sex and no agreeable compromise can be found, such a marriage cannot move forward in intimacy and a deep relationship, because one of the parties is always believing the other to be selfish.

    I also agree fully that a husband in a Christian marriage, is the head (leader) of his wife, and a wife’s Christian duty to be submissive, that if she regularly withholds sex, he may use leadership a tool (discipline) available to all managers to try to have his wife become the wife God has asked her to be… so long as what is done is done out of love and not selfish motives.

    The use of discipline on a wife for repeated sinful behavior should be the mildest form necessary to gain her change of heart and actions. I counsel men to use truth with humor to both communicate their needs and their displeasures. To treat a wife in an understanding way, and yes, this does not mean giving in to her perceived needs when those needs result in behaviors that are unBiblical and unloving. I take no issue with the forms of discipline you suggest here, but I would like to see Christian men be clear with their wives about the disciplines they will be using, and not exercise them willy nilly. To not be clear does seem to send a message of manipulation or revenge. “If you don’t give me sex I am going to find any way possible to make your life in our marriage unpleasant for you,” is just one sinner punishing another for her sins. The husband must be loving in his approach to discipline his wife, and this means not using his own moods, anger, or “tit for tat” behavior to try and win his wife’s changed behavior.

    Where we disagree completely is in your conclusion that Christ gives an “out” for divorcing for a wife who withholds sex. I believe that this would be a very grave misinterpretation of the words of Christ, and if one was then to be consistent, all men who look at porn would then be fair game for divorce by their wives. No, Jesus intends His words to apply to adultery or perhaps gross sexual misconduct of any consistent basis, and even then He says God allowed divorce for hardness of hearts, not that it is HIs ideal for any marriage to divorce.

    If selfishness, or any consistent sin in a marriage becomes grounds for a divorce, how will a husband or wife ever find God’s best? Impatience gives way to divorce and the lost opportunity to win the disobedient spouse to Christ, or to a changed life. My first 20 years of marriage with my selfish wife are now rewarded with a fabulous marriage, and although I did not have to put up with a sexless marriage during those difficult years, I did have to put up with many other frustrating things that are now all made new by our faithfulness to the Lord and each other.

    I guess it is possible to see that if one goes through your steps 1-7, and barring a true emotional or physical reason for withholding sex, there is perhaps no real Christian who would still be doing the withholding, husband or wife. If a wife is still withholding after being confronted with her sins by 2-3 others and her elders, would not we have to consider her an unbeliever? And if she is an unbeliever, how can a Christian husband divorce her as Paul says,

    “To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.” (I Cor. 7:12).

    So I find the idea of divorce not in keeping with God’s Word for many reasons. If she leaves, or if she divorces him, the husband is free to remarry, assuming indeed he was not being manipulative or punishing, but was indeed using discipline and love to try and win his wife from her sins. But if she decides to continue to live with him, his tactics should perhaps change and he should treat her as an unbeliever, and shine the love of Christ upon her in every area of life. Allow God’s Spirit to break her stubborn will, and to drive her back to Himself and her husband. If we do not leave room for God to do His work, why should we expect that He will bless us? And the Bible shows us that a large part of faith is long time patience and perseverance in believing, like Abraham the father of faith.

    Separation may also be a tool of last resort to try and win a spouse back, but again, it must be done in love and with an end point in mind to win the spouse, not punish them. I suggest that only after years of working hard and doing most of what you have advocated here, a husband may give a wife a sense of what it feels like to him to live in the same home but not have true companionship or intimacy by separating. To demand regular weekly counseling along with a separation until a wife makes the decision to fulfill her marriage vows or decides to break them completely by asking for the divorce.

    The idea that somehow a Christian husband will never suffer with a selfish wife is a very foreign concept. God uses the pain of marriage to draw a spouse to Himself and ultimately the couple to each other when they work through the most difficult of issues. Selfishness does not completely disappear just because we marry a believer, and this important aspect of regular sex should always be discussed prior to getting married. Both husband and wife must make themselves lovable to the other, without an expectation that one has “rights.” Love at times, rarely, but at times in a marriage, demands discipline and tough love. Let’s be sure that Christian husbands understand that such disciplines are part of being a loving husband and to be used sparingly, so that they do not become a part of the problem, instead a part of a loving solution.

  29. Ken,

    Thank you for comments and respectful disagreements.

    I agree that true Godly discipline that a husband uses to attempt to bring his wife back to the model of a Biblical wife should never be out of retaliation, spite or revenge.
    I also agree that a husband should make it clear that is his action is discipline, and not revenge or retaliation.

    As I said at the beginning, this type of discipline I am advocating for is not for occasional sexual denial by a wife, even if she does it for selfish reasons, as we are all sinners(husbands included).

    With all due respect, I believe your analogy of any consistent sin, like just plain selfishness is not the same as consistent and willful sexual denial in marriage. This in my view is by definition sexual immorality, at it is a deadly sin that eats at the core of Christian marriage. I don’t believe that it is any coincidence that both in the Old and New Testaments – God specifically targets sexual sin(and even sexual denial in Exodus 21:10-11) as something that breaches the marriage covenant.

    But I also would not tell any husband to do this “willy nilly” – I would only advice after he has made years of effort to bring his wife back to Christ, and then and only then would I offer my opinion that it was OK, if he had prayed over it for a long time and he also had peace. Even in the Old Testament, God continually kept trying to win his wife back to him, but in the end after trying and being patient with her, he eventually did divorce her.

    I realize we will probably still disagree on the divorce option, but I appreciate our agreement on the first 7 points, with the caveats you mentioned and I agree with.

  30. Pingback: 8 steps to confront your wife’s sexual refusal… | Honor Dads

  31. A pretty balanced article on a tough subject. I watched a good friend suffer this abuse by his Christian wife for many years before he finally left. My guess is it happens a lot. And yes, it happens both ways. The fact that St. Paul even had to cover the topic suggests that too.

    What the author doesn’t address is how many guys won’t go this route out of fear of losing their kids. Generally not the case were the roles reversed. A woman who dishonors him the bedroom likely dishonors him throughout the rest of the house too.

  32. Honordads,

    Thank you for your gracious comments. You are right that many men, out of fear do not confront sexual denial by their wives out of fear of losing their kids. What they don’t realize is that finally in many states if a father fights for 50/50 custody he will get it. I won joint custody of my kids in my divorce from my first wife, and I know of another family member that recently got 50/50 custody in his divorce with his wife as well. It is possible, you just have to willing to stand and fight.

    You are absolutely correct as well, that if a woman is rebellious with her body, she is also rebellious in most other ways as well, from a Biblical standpoint, it reveals that she rejects the concept of submission.

  33. Kudos on your efforts to tackle a difficult subject, and to do so from a biblical perspective. I think you make some valid points and some I don’t quite agree with (which is OK) so I will simply leave two words of caution.

    First of all, the first three action steps are right out of Scripture (Matthew 18). Steps 4-7 are not outlined in the Scriptures, nor has their basis been clearly established in your post (no disrespect). Scripture warns us about adding to or taking away from it so we must be mindful of that.

    The rational listed for steps 4-7 are that God wants us to fight for our marriage. Honestly if one does steps 1-3 while continuing to maintain a spirit of humility; letting the Lord lead them and continuing to love their spouse as Christ loved the Church throughout this entire process they’ve fought to save their marriage. You’ve done what Scripture teaches and God requires nothing else us other than that. Separation and/or divorce would be as the Lord leads as a final step (which would actually result in steps 4-7 that were listed).

    Secondly, we must remember that we are no longer under the law, but under grace and as such our words and actions should be “seasoned” with it. On this or any other subject pertaining to life from a Christian perspective there must be balance of grace and truth (which Paul tells us Christ was full of). From the post I got a LOT of “this is what a married man has a right to have and a right to do if he doesn’t get what he needs/wants”. I didn’t get much grace.

    Just as the Lord gives the gift of celibacy/abstinence for a lifetime, He is able to give it for seasons. I’m not attempting to be like the counselors you mentioned who bring up the whole Hosea story, but I am saying that for the sake of fighting for our marriage the Lord may call us to accept (temporarily though for a long period of time) the withholding of sex; and if so He’ll gives the supernatural ability to do so, as He is working things out.

    Leaders are called to sacrifice and to do without for the benefit of those they serve, so one has to balance the ideas regarding what we have a right to and what we may need to sacrifice so that God’s work and will can be done. So in all of this we need to be led by the Holy Spirit in the execution of all of this so that His will is done in a way where neither grace nor truth overshadows one another.

    Thank you again for your efforts.

  34. Mike,

    Thanks for your comments. I am not trying to add to God’s Word, and I like you believe steps through 1 to 3 are right out of the Scriptures. Steps 4-7, are simply my own application of the fact that I see in Scripture that a husband does in fact have disciplinary powers over his wife. He might even try some of those steps in between the first three steps(for instance after seeking out a counselor and she remains defiant, he implements steps 4-7 and then takes her before her Pastor).

    I also agree that no husband ought to start out with these steps, but they ought to be used only as a last resort. He should first speak gently to his wife about this, and do this on many occasions first. He should pray long and hard before implementing this steps to confirm he has a true problem on his hands. This is not for the wife who occasionally denies, and then comes to her senses – because we are all sinners – both husbands and wives and I do believe a husband needs to show his wife the same grace and forgiveness that God shows all of us as believers.

    But we also know that God will not tolerate willful rebellion, he tried to bring Israel back to himself, he brought discipline on her and begged her to turn from her rebellious ways, but in the end he gave her a bill a divorce.

    I also agree with you, that we as Christians husbands can go for periods without sex, it is difficult but we must seek the Lord for help during these times. But when we do this, it must not be seen as enabling our wives sinful behavior, but simply giving God time to work in her life, but at a certain point we must act, as God did with Israel.

  35. Bib, thank you for your godly above. Those who spoke about the divorce option, I want to assure you he did not recommend it to be, but rather sound council as a true man of God would. Thank you for being a willing vessel for God. God bless you and your family.

    I will say this all the sites I have read articles on, along with scouring through comments as I looked to resolve my dilemma with my wife. I noticed they were all filled with more opinion and bias toward cultural trends using the wood in convenience, instead of the truth God intended it for toward marriage and other topics.

    Four days ago as I was low in spirit and looking for God to give a sign and direction I came across this sight. Now I took time to read this article, and others on this site, comments of others than the replies from biblicalgenderroles. I have seen some comments from others who disagree with some of the information listed, which is ok, some did it out of love, others out of rudeness. Far as Bib’s replies all that I read, were out of peace and love of the holy spirit with no bias toward anyone.

    What do I mean by love? It is clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT
    Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

    Read this scripture about what Jesus says about having an opened heart to receive, eyes to see and ears to hear. The last part of the verse 15, he spoke that without being receptive and willing to see and hear you won’t be able to be healed.

    Matthew 13:10-15 NLT
    His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?” He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand. This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says, ‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes— so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’

    Another scripture I will post is the law of God was never abolished. Jesus Christ brought God’s grace mercy and forgiveness with the ability to have a relationship with God.

    Jesus clearly states that in Matthew 5:17-20 NLT “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. “But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!

    Far as those who disagree, which is ok with 4-7. Which is ok because everyone has their own preference. Correction must be done out of love. I refer you back to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 where it states what biblical love is.

    I have a couple question to ask you. Does the bible say not to correct your child? Did the bible say to let people run you over? Does the bible tell you not to correct a fellow believer?

    If you answered no to all of these you are right.

    Does the bible say how to correct children? Does it say how to correct other believers?

    If you answered yes, to these you are correct. The bible clearly states it.

    It is important to learn who God is. I don’t mean by just listening to a preacher, teacher or prophet. I refer to investing your time into building a personal relationship with God by reading, and praying. He wants us to seek him earnestly with our heart, mind and soul. God bless you all.

    I want to say thank you again Bib, for all your time and energy in this site, staying true to what the bible says. May God continue to bless you with all the right words and confuse those who come against you. Stay faithful to God as he is faithful in all he does.

  36. It’s not demanding for sex its called “sexual rights”. And the sex is between the husband and his wife and no one else. If they want to be rough them let the be rough. No where in the Bible does God say that there are limitations of sex between a man and his wife. Except that sex is only meant to be between ONE MAN and ONE WOMAN (The Husband and The Wife.)

  37. Mari, what helped me stop watching porn was the fear of losing my wife and son and the fact that when I would try to get away, it seemed to hold me prisoner. So I had to pray to get away from habitual sin. I did this for a long time. And sometimes prayer works when you apply action as well. Because ultimately we make our own decisions, God doesn’t make them for us. I never told my wife of such struggle, it was my secret life. So my advice would be to pray and find the time and place for sex. Like when he’s taking a shower, just take one with him and use your imagination. And read the Bible and make sure he catches you reading the Bible and hears you reading its. Read about the duties of married couples and about sexual sin. This should plant a seed in his heart so to speak. It might take a while but it will take affect. Remember, ultimately he will have to make a decision to fix himself or not change but he will struggle with it even more even worse than before and eventually he will decide to change or not and he could end up leaving. If he’s childish he will give up hope and leave. Please for give me for my illiteracy. I’m righting it as I think it. I hope everything works out for you, and I’ll pray for you.

  38. Amazing article and some thought provoking material by all contributors. I’m a married man of 11 years struggling with the same issues. While my wife pretends to be a Christian, she has become an immoral woman and lives two lives. While I am not perfect, I’m a 100% faithful man who has given my all to the love and care of my wife and daughter. I love my wife with all my heart and find myself pleading for her affection, love, and compassion towards me. Nothing is given freely, or lately – given at all. While the mother of our 2-year old daughter, she’s placed her job and friendship with a lesbian over time with my daughter and I, and continually leaves me to do all the bidding (chores, “honey do,” etc). Given a good marriage working in partnership with one another, I would abide with gladness and do even more than she asks (which up until this minute, I have been – at least…doing all she asks). I am at the point now where I will give no further. We share few words, as we have for the past two, sexless years. I don’t know many men in their early 30’s who would tolerate such a thing. I find myself in a persistent state of acute jealously of all my friends whose wives love and respect them. I stay because I love my daughter immeasurably and I cannot bare the thought of her calling another man “daddy.” I have become the heel of the family – and while I’ve vocalized my disdain for the current situation – I’ve chosen sacrifice for the sake of my child and for what I now realize as the only reason.

    I view my wife as an immoral woman, who has sold her being to her work and acceptance of other’s sins over her family and particularly the love of her husband. As a Soldier of 14 years, I know a bad deal when I see one but my marriage by no means compares to sleeping under the stars or the stresses of combat. My own resilience has become my greatest enemy in evaluating my current circumstances.

    After two years, I’ve reached the point where I have to leave – where I have to get away – from the abuse inflicted on me by having my face rubbed in such wicked confidence and endless self righteousness, based on a worldly view and by no means God’s Holy Word. My wife challenges my views on homosexuality as it relates to her best friend, my service to my country as a Soldier, and as someone who believes in doing the right thing even when nobody is looking (my integrity). I may lose every worldly thing, but I cannot go on, hurting the best thing going on in my life and that is Christ alone.

    Every so often, I get a glimpse of hope. A kind smile, my wife doing something completely out of the ordinary to gain my approval and maybe push the ball (the oven timer on our marriage) just a little further down the field. If all of my effort and love only gets me “D” effort from the woman who is supposed to protect my heart, I’m not leading the team and I certainly question my leadership in my family, outside of the military.

    Your proposed solution is my last ditch resort, and I’m going to take it. No matter how it ends, I won’t look back on my marriage and say I didn’t give it my very best. Thanks for sharing and allowing me to share.

  39. I see your points in this article & they speak quite loudly to me as I struggle with emotional issues affecting my desire with my husband. You haven’t addressed certain expectations of a man to help her through those issues such as going to proper counseling. We are in a rut bc he travels 40+ miles to work & while we sought counseling in that area to make it convenient for him, it was ineffective. There aren’t other counselors in that area really to choose from. It’s slim pickings! I go to individual therapy but it doesn’t help our marriage for me to go alone. He says he can’t go in our town bc it’s too far from work. My therapist wishes he would take an afternoon to work from home to allot time for counseling but he says that’s impossible in his position. I understand that so I feel stuck!! Additionally, his job requires almost 60 or more hrs/wk & then tack on driving time, there’s no time to work on this! What do you say about that?

  40. Natasha,

    I am a proponent of couples going to marriage counseling, provide that that counseling is done by Christians that believe in marriage from a Biblical point of view and how God defines love, not how we define love in our culture.

    It sounds like your husband works a lot of hours, and on top of that has to drive a decent amount there and back. So he is in it a bit of a pickle. God has placed the primary responsibility for providing for your family on his shoulders.

    You say “the counseling was ineffective” – before I can comment more I need to know why you thought it was ineffective? What did you expect to change on his behalf?

    The reason I am asking for more information as to why you were going to counseling is sometimes women go to counseling with their husbands expecting things that they will never get their husbands. They convince themselves that it is ok for them to withhold themselves sexually until they get certain things from their husbands. So I really need to know what you thought would have been “effective results” what the issues are. Then I can answer you question better.


  41. Over the years I’ve suffered emotional neglect & am in part to blame as I enabled it. Of course that is bc I hate confrontation especially with him & he refused counseling with me for the years before I shut down. I wore myself out trying to find ways to fix my marriage w/o him going with me bc I had a counselor who said she could help couples w/o both parties there. We have an 11 yr old who was born needing immediate heart surgery & another at 18 mos. Aside from that he had feeding issues requiring a g-tube. That an other issues & diagnosed with Aspbergers at 3 1/2 yrs. It’s been draining to walk through the fire alone. He was absent (working 24/7 & in his free time going to football games or hanging out with friends in what free time he had) When his eyes were opened & he was slapped in the face by separation proceedings Jan-March 2014, he started stepping up to the plate. That is why I stayed to fight for the marriage but unfortunately I’m left with emotional numbness towards him. I like him as a friend (& no longer resent him), but there has to be more in a marriage naturally. I hate that I allowed the weeds of resentment surround my heart bc now that I want that loving feeling i can’t get it back.

    We were seeing a Christian counselor but what we need wasn’t being addressed. I know bc I have an individual Christian counselor & he’s explained to me what kind of dialogue needs to take place between my husband and I in order to foster an emotional connection. That couples counselor wasn’t counseling US this way & was leaving too much up to us to lead the sessions. We got uncomfortable with how to dig into a difficult situation & getting down & dirty was impossible if left up to us.

    Regarding your opinion to restrict the wife from funds, etc…I see how that should happen if she’s clearly using her husband & mistreating him but it can instill more resentment, & pushes her further away. I’m really dependent on his income bc I’ve stayed home raising kids for 11 yrs, & I’m upset he’s not paying off a cc used for expenses & legal expenses from that separation saga last year. I simply can’t pay it off but am coming close to finding some job that will actually pay me real $ after years of unemployment. He is paying the minimum but half of that covers the interest fee I’m accruing. He’s willing to pay for home improvements like fencing, etc but is letting that just hang out there like that. So I don’t know how to handle my resentment regarding that.

  42. Here’s an interesting point of view from a Christian wife being refused by her husband. It’s at http://www.marriagehelper.com/sexual-rejection-effect-on-marriage. It’s really powerful in that she was the one who rejected him early on in their marriage but now that they are in their 40s he has grown used to going without. So now that she finds herself having strong desires, her husband does not. Her observations and advice is helpful and interesting.

  43. Diane – I read that and it is an interesting link. I think it happens more often than we realize that for some when their desire for physical and sexual connection is rejected time and time again – over many years a coldness forms. Then that person who was used to be pursued – find the pursuit gone and they miss it.

    Thanks for the link.

  44. That same scenario actually happened to someone in our family (long gone now, but the story is retold and retold). They were Catholic, and she was extremely afraid of getting pregnant – hadn’t figured out the NFP method I guess back then – and so she just rejected and rejected – for years! When she finally hit menopause and lost her period, she wanted to have sex with him again – but he didn’t care for her in that way anymore! All those years of rejection really broke their marriage, it is so crucial to a man feeling loved.

  45. Women desire love and want to know that their husband loves them. If a husband does not show love to his wife, she is not going to desire him. It is not just bringing flowers or gifts, but doing special things for her on a regular basis–giving her your time outside of sex. My wife and I text each other at least a few times a day, just to give a word of encouragement, a prayer, or say what we like about the other person. It doesn’t take a lot of time and it doesn’t need to be long. When we get home from work, we both want each other and sex happens. Marriage requires work. Apathy is death to a marriage. Turn off the TV!!!

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