Our next story of sexual denial is from a man named Mike. He sent me this comment in response to a follow up post I did called “The Frustrated Feminist wife”. As you will see from his post, he disagreed with what I wrote.
Before Mike begins his story he makes a comment about my posts about sexual refusal:
“There is no need to tell your wife “it is written in the Bible, you owe me”. If you are reduced to referring to Holy texts, your couple is in great communication trouble. I am married under God’s law and I will never consider that my wife owes me sex whenever I feel like it. Like many couples, we faced some challenges on the matter. Let me share two of them…”
A Christian husband should routinely be teaching his wife the Word of God. Why did Christ give himself up for his Church? To make her holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:25-27). He did this to conform her to his will and his Word.
Mike admits he was “married under God’s law” yet he says he would “never consider that my wife owes me sex whenever I feel like it”. But the same “God’s law” that calls marriage good and honorable, states this:
“The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” – I Corinthians 7:3-5 (NASB)
The Bible says you owe your wife sex, and your wife owes you sex. God calls sex “a duty” in marriage, as opposed to a “privilege” which is how many modern marriage counselors falsely refer to it. I realize that Mike’s motives may have been pure, in thinking that it would be selfish for him to consider that his wife actually owed sex to him as a marital duty. But God defines what selfishness is, we don’t. It is not selfish for us to desire something that God designed us to desire, or to ask our spouse (husband or wife) to fulfill their marital duty.
I agree that couples need to communicate, and I have written on how the Scriptures say a husband has a Biblical duty to “know his wife”, and part of knowing his wife is him having regular and open dialog with her. But open dialog does not solve all issues. If a husband or wife has in their heart, an attitude or belief that directly contradicts God’s design and will for the roles of a husband and wife in marriage, all the dialog in the world will not solve such a problem.
Mike now begins the story of him and his wife:
“Three years ago, she had experienced lot of stress (deaths of relatives, job difficulties, etc.) which made her so tired and so sad that I could not even touch her. I was getting very frustrated. So I told her. I did NOT demand. I just explained that this situation was not ok for me, that I loved her and consequently I desired her. And that she could not expect me to say nothing after a whole month of frustration. So we talked about it. No bargain, no manipulation, no coercion. We just talked and we were equals in this discussion, both our needs were equals. She told me that she understood my feelings, that she wished she could do something about it, but that her body and her mind were dealing with pain and sorrow, so she could not give me what I wanted. So we discussed about what WE could do to make her feel better. What worked was not to offer her things and please her. What worked was to accept she was not me, to listen and to assist her in this difficult period of time. Eventually, she recovered from this. It took 3 months during which we had sex 2 or 3 times. Very very frustrating for me. But we came out of this stronger: I proved that I was far stronger than my flesh and that I valued her more than my personal needs. And she valued my efforts very deeply, she told me that she was thankful for what I did for her and that she felt even more in love with me (all this with big hearts in her eyes… I just melt!)”
First and foremost let me say that I understand when a wife loses loved ones, or perhaps has job difficulties that these things could cause her great emotional pain to the point that she may have ZERO desire for sex. As I have stated on many occasions in this series, if a man sees that his wife is experiencing psychological issues due to temporary things (like the loss of loved ones, or job issues) he ought to be graceful towards her. Her emotional hurt and needs may temporarily outweigh his need to sexually connect with his wife.
This might last for a month, or several months, and I think Mike was right in bringing his frustrations to his wife but I would not have suggested in this situation that he use the disciplinary steps that I outlined in my previous post, at least not at this early juncture.
But what about if his story had been different. What if his wife continued to use the emotional stresses in her life to deny sex to him not for months? But for years? For decades? What if after the death of some relatives his wife decided he and she were only going to have a sex 5 times a year? I have received several emails from men who have experienced such things.
If his wife had continued having emotional problems to the point that it continued to be a detriment to his sex life, then it would have been right for him to seek counseling for her. If his wife refused counseling, or said she felt he did not need to have sex as much anymore then it would not just be his right, but his Biblical duty to confront her sinful attitude.
Now I want to zoom in on a particular statement he said that really caught my eye and I think it will be very helpful for the many Christian men and women who visit this site to see why this statement is wrong:
“But we came out of this stronger: I proved that I was far stronger than my flesh and that I valued her more than my personal needs.”
Even though he said that he and his wife regarded their needs as “equal”, in the end he came to believe their needs were unequal. His wife caused him to believe that his need to sexually connect with her was a fleshly desire, and her inhibitions towards sex were more noble and worthy of respect.
In fact I believe based on the rest of his story as we will see below, that his marriage actually became weaker after this crisis his wife faced. Why? Because he setup the pattern that it is was OK for her to deny him. Mike fell hook line and sinker for what our world teaches today – that sex is NOT about duty (contrary to God’s law) and that sex is all about feelings. “If you feel like doing it, then do it, if you don’t feel like it then you don’t have to”. This is not God’s will or design for marriage or for sex.
Mike dives deeper into his wife’s thought process
“From a general perspective, my wife is not very fond of intercourse. She is completely fine with 3 or 4 times a month, I am completely NOT fine with this. 3 or 4 times a week, yes. A month, no. Don’t misunderstand me (or her): she likes it. But, as she explained to me, if she were the only one to start the game, she would come to me only 3 or 4 times a month. At the beginning of our marriage, I would get angry, even sometimes yell at her. She would get mad, and reply: “Am I supposed to force myself? Am I supposed to pretend? Because I can, but then, each time we will make love, you will never know if it was a true shared love or a fake love to contempt your own selfishness”
So here Mike reveals some deeper issues in his wife’s thinking. I don’t know what Mike’s “getting angry” looked like and perhaps he sinned and needed to confess his behavior to his wife. But as believers, we can get angry at sin, even the sinful behavior of our spouse, and it is not wrong for us to do so. Ephesians 4:26 says “Be ye angry, and sin not”.
The answer to his wife’s questions about “Am I supposed to force myself?” is YES Biblically speaking, she should have forced herself. God tells women to submit to their husbands in EVERYTHING. He tells both men and women they do not have the power or right to sexually deny their spouse.
There are many times we don’t “feel” like doing things.
As parents we may not feel like getting up in the middle of the night to take care of a sick child, but we must “force ourselves” to do so.
As employees, we may not want to go to work some days, but each day we must “force ourselves” to go to work.
While we are at work, our boss may ask us to do jobs that we do not like, but unless that job is morally wrong, we must “force ourselves” to do whatever our boss asks us to do.
In school, we may have classes we like, and classes we hate. But we must “force ourselves” to do the work for even the classes we hate.
Here Mike’s wife was mentally training her husband to see his sexual needs as “selfishness”, while her refusal to submit herself sexually to him was out of a noble desire for them to only have sex when it was a “true shared love”. According to God’s Word “The wife does not have authority over her own body” and therefore it was his wife actions of sexual denial toward her husband that were truly selfish, not his being upset when she turned him down.
Mike’s wife convinces him that she is not the one in sin
“As we both consider that sex is a way to be one flesh [“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh”. (Genesis 2:21-24)], I hated the idea that we could not be together in this. Even worst: I hated the idea that she could pretend to have great time with me when she was not. So I refused this option. But I was very very angry and frustrated: I wanted her to be like me, to want sex as much as I did. I realized she was right about being selfish. She was only telling me the truth, I was resenting her for this.”
Yes sex is a beautiful way to become “one flesh”, and in its most literal sense when the Bible says “they become one flesh” it means “they shall have sex”. This is why God commands that sex is to be a regular part of marriage, and never denied – because it the symbol of the union of a man and woman, very much in the same way that communion is symbol of our union with Christ and the Church.
This raises another important issue. What Mike points out here is what every man wants from his wife. He wanted her to desire him and to want sex as much as he did. But the truth is that women are very different than men. Some women may want sex as much or more than their husbands, but most women want sex less often like Mike’s wife.
As men we must accept that our wife may not always want sex as much as us, and that needs to be OK.
But here is a truth that every Christian wife needs to hear and take to heart:
You as a wife are capable of taking the right action, with the right attitude, even if you don’t have the same desire. You are capable of having sex with your husband, and not showing him “contempt” while meeting his sexual needs – you have only to choose to do what is right.
Mikes wife goes in for the kill
“She realized that she could not shut me out like this, that I was right to be frustrated. So we talked. A lot. We discussed about what was really important for each one of us, what would be fine, what would be great, what would be not acceptable, etc. I asked her to never force herself, so that it would always be true love between us. Though, I asked her what she would be willing to do to lower my frustration. She asked me to accept she did not want as much as me and not get mad about this. Though, she asked me if I would be willing to keep asking her, even if “no” was a probable answer (getting a “no” is hard! So keep asking? Harsh! ) We tried several “recipe” and finally found out a suitable compromise for both of us. The key? Always let room for a “no”. Always let our beloved one feel secure. And never blame her (him) for being honest. This is, from my humble point of view, what a genuine marriage relation should be.”
This conversion Mike had with wife shows her final transformation of his thinking. He states his wife knew it was wrong for her to shut him out and he was right to be frustrated. But by the end of their conversation she had convinced him that he was wrong for being frustrated by her “no’s”.
Mike’s wife might be unselfish in many ways. Perhaps she gives her time to her church to help feed the poor, or maybe she does other charitable work. She might be the most giving and caring mom. Maybe she does a great job of caring for the needs of Mike’s home and his children. But it is possible for a person to giving in many of areas of their life, and still utterly selfish in their marriage. Mike’s wife seems to be very selfish when it comes to her marriage and her husband’s needs.
Remember, Biblically speaking a person is not selfish for wanting sex when their spouse does not. A person is selfish for denying their spouse sex when they don’t feel like having sex.
So here is what Mike’s wife was really saying:
“I actually do want sex a few times a month. But during those few times when I want sex, I don’t want to have to come to you and ask for it. I want to be pursued. So what I want you to do is ask me for sex every time you want it and eventually you will ask for it on a day when I want it and I will say yes. But all those other times you ask and I don’t want it – I will say no. I want you to be ok with that, and not be frustrated or upset.”
THIS IS UTTER SEXUAL SELFISHNESS!
I wish I could say this is the first time I have heard of this scenario of sexual denial but it is not the first time. I have received many emails from men in a very similar scenario, and I even faced this with my own wife until I was willing to confront her sinful behavior in this area of sexual selfishness on her part. I use to experience this in my second marriage not long after we were married. I then confronted my wife’s sinful attitude about sexual denial and it got better. But it is a continual process as my wife’s thinking is highly steeped in feminist thinking (since her mother and grandmother are feminists).
Mike’s confusion over “The Frustrated feminist wife”
“I don’t understand the title of your article “the frustrated feminist wife”. You are dealing with wives refusing to have sex with their husband. When these wives tell you that there is no way they will force themselves into sex interaction, you call them “frustrated feminist”. I really don’t get it but this is a common place I often read from males (sorry, I really cannot say “husbands” here) that are the ones frustrated. I do agree though with the term “feminist” : feminist are people (and not only women…) that consider that men and women are equal in rights (i insist: “in rights”, not physically, strength, etc.). I am a man, I believe in God and I believe men and women are equal in rights. If you are teaching men that their wives owed them sex and their body because they are married, then I don’t think we understand God’s message the same way.”
Mike did not understand why I entitled my article “The frustrated feminist wife”. He is thinking of men being frustrated sexually as he was (until his wife trained him that his frustration was selfishness on his part). What I was showing in “The frustrated feminist wife” was how a feminist who sexually denies her husband (as Mike’s wife does him) can experience her own frustration when her husband stands against her sinful behavior. Her frustration is in the fact that when a man leads his home, and confronts his wife’s sin she may lose the things she cares about. She can’t have her sin without consequences from her husband. This is her frustration.
Mike also demonstrates the typical beliefs of a Christian egalitarian, that marriage is a partnership rather than a patriarchy and that sex is not a duty in marriage. But unfortunately for Mike, the Bible does not support his feelings in this matter. “God’s message” could not be clearer – “The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.”(I Corinthians 7:3)
I believe Christian husbands can learn from Mike’s mistake. Mike allowed his wife to convince him that her sexual denial was not sin – in spite of what God’s Word says. She even convinced him that his sexual frustration was actually based in selfishness on his part and she trained him to pursue her on a regular basis in which she would say no often – so on the few times she wants sex in a month she can say yes.
Christian husband, if you see yourself in this scenario – you have to accept the fact that you have been enabling you wife’s sinful behavior of sexual denial.
An important truth to understand is that this is about a lot more than sex, this is about rebellion on your wife’s part toward God and toward you.
God wants you confront sin in your home, whether it be with your children or with your wife. You cannot be afraid of her threats, or even of divorce. You must do what is right.
If you as a Christian husband see yourself in this post, I suggest that you read my post “8 Steps to confronting your wife’s sexual refusal”. I also suggest that you read my post “10 ways to know if you are sacrificing your faith for your wife”.
If you have a story of sexual denial that you would like to share – feel free to comment on this post or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and just let me know if I can share part of or all of your story. Your name does not need to be mentioned or we can just make a fake name for you.
Many people in this situation feel alone as they have the Church on one side that seems to ignore this issue entirely, and on the other side they have non-Christians telling them there is no right to sex in marriage and they are being selfish for wanting sex more than their spouse. When you share your story, you show others that they are not alone.
10 thoughts on “Stories of Sexual Denial in Marriage – Episode 2”
Yes, this is definitely a topic that needs to be addressed. A question arises in my mind: Why is this sin of sexual refusal or sexual denial not talked about from the pulpits of our churches?
It is sad that this is occurring in not a few marriages. We need to strengthen marriages and one important way to do that is by strengthening the sexual bonding between husband and wife. That means frequent, passionate lovemaking. Thanks for taking on this issue.
There are some Churches that are tackling this issue that I know of, but they are a few. I think there are two main reasons the vast majority of churches won’t touch the issue of sex publicly. The first one is a problem the Church has had for centuries, and that is the idea that sex is only for procreation and the topic need not be discussed(this is the same reason that some Church women have been raised to think sex is some how dirty).
The other reason the Church avoids sex, and specifically the subject of sexual denial, is because of their fear of feminism. Feminists within the Church are a great threat, and we need leaders that will be willing to weed it out like a cancer.
It really bothers me to see a Christian wife manipulating her husband in that kind of way… especially making him feel ashamed of wanting her sexually and ashamed of being frustrated with her constantly denying him his needs.
“Even though he said that he and his wife regarded their needs as “equal”, in the end he came to believe their needs were unequal. His wife caused him to believe that his need to sexually connect with her was a fleshly desire, and her inhibitions towards sex were more noble and worthy of respect.”
Exactly, she is holy in her selfishness and he is sinful for expressing his needs. yuck!
I really appreciate you taking on these issues. One thing I believe that many women really don’t understand, is that men actually require both respect and sex in order to really feel loved. That is rarely taught in churches and the culture reinforces the precise opposite, so many women are genuinely confused. We won’t know that truth unless husbands tell us and stand up for that.
This was interesting too, “Here Mike’s wife was mentally training her husband to see his sexual needs as “selfishness..” Yes, but she was also mentally training “herself” to see his sexual needs as selfish. Ironically, “selfish” is a real turn off to many women, so the more she is able to convince herself that he is just being sinful, selfish, weak, the less desire she will feel. Long ago my husband was able to turn that around by rather humorously pointing out that he was actually the one sacrificing himself to meet my sexual needs. It’s a bit funny, but it threw me for a loop. My husband has always believed that women need sex just as much as men do, we just don’t realize it, don’t admit it, aren’t aware of it. Whether that is true or not is somewhat irrelevant, the point is that his narrative served to change my whole perspective.
“Am I supposed to force myself? Am I supposed to pretend?”
This can be a huge problem for women. A while back I wrote a post called “it’s okay to fake it,” after a conversation with some wives who genuinely felt as it were wrong for them to have sex if they weren’t 100% “feeling it.” Again, that is culture and feminism at work, serving to deceive us, to mislead us. Ironically the culture teaches women that it’s okay to have sex outside of marriage with people you don’t even like, for reasons you can’t even fathom, but within marriage, you better be 100% “feeling it” or just scratch the idea entirely.
Yes I could not believe how blind this man was to what his wife did. He came to her, and expressed his genuine frustrations with their sex life. She starts off by telling him she understood their needs were equal, and then managed to turn him all around by the end and convince him he was just being selfish – the sad part is how common this is today and how many good Christian men fall for this. I truly believe this Mike guy really loves his wife, and wants her to be happy, and unfortunately he put his wife’s happiness as the primary goal of his marriage, rather than leading his family as God would have him too.
So many men do not realize, this is about a lot more than sex. The sexual denial by these wives is only the tip of the iceberg. The sexual denial in 95% of cases is about a wrong heart attitude toward a woman’s role in marriage as designed by God, and a wrong attitude toward male sexuality.
You are so correct about men needing respect and sex in order to feel loved. Perhaps this is why God calls women to respect their husbands, and to not deny them sexually. But what is interesting as your husband has pointed out, it the fact that women often need sex too whether they realize it or not and that is why God also says husbands cannot deny their wives sex either.
95% of men(unless they are a complete narcissist) could not help but love a woman that respects them and sexually pleases them – its really not rocket science. In fact I would argue that women have it much easier when it comes to loving their husbands, than we men have it when it comes to loving our wives.
A wife asks her husband “How can I make you feel loved” – the husband replies “Respect what I do for a living, how I provide and how I lead our home. Don’t shame me in front of people by making me look stupid. Share your body freely with me, put some lingerie on from time to time, and act like you desire me in the bedroom.”
A husband asks his wife “How can I make you feel loved” – his wife responds “I want you to emotionally connect with me, and be passionate about me”. You see the difference? Most women can’t give their husbands an exact list of actions, they just want their husbands to guess what to do.
And even if the guy guesses right on a combination of actions one day that makes his wife feel loved, that exact same combination won’t necessarily work the next day, or the next week.
I personally feel that husbands need to make it very clear, often and regularly to their wives that we are NOT mind readers. If a wife wants something, then she needs to ask for it, in the same way that if we want something, we ask for it. In fact I know some actual good marriage counselors(Pastors) that do exactly that in marriage counseling – they are right up front with the wife – “You husband is not a mind reader – you cannot be angry at him for something you did not come right out and ask for”.
And you are absolutely right that it is “it’s okay to fake it”(and I will look that up on your blog).
We can all agree that prostitution is wrong, and the Bible speaks against it many times. But what is wrong about prostitution is not the fact that women are pleasing men sexually or the fact that 99% of the time they are “faking it” with these men. What is wrong is that these actions are taking place outside the bounds of holy marriage. I find it fascinating that a typical prostitute is capable of faking the most fantastic sex in the world with a complete stranger, while a wife who is loved, protected and provide by a man who professes love for her within the bounds of marriage is somehow incapable of “faking it”. The truth is they are not incapable, they simply choose not to out of selfish rebellion.
These wives tell themselves “I have more respect for myself than to fake it” or an even better one they use is “I have more respect for my husband than to fake it”. What they really have is a whole lot of PRIDE, and a lack of gratitude for the man that God has placed in their life.
Well, putting women first was (I think) the sin that Adam committed right? Choosing Eve over obeying God’s instructions? The Scripture says *she* was the one who was deceived, not Adam. He chose her happiness and desires over everything else (especially God). And that’s so normal for you men. You love so deeply and truly, doing literally ANYTHING for your family and your wife… even to the point of living in decades in a marriage that is essentially manipulative and sexless… all for the “duty” of family or being a good man. It’s actually amazing, and something very few women ever really accomplish in how much they sacrifice personally for their husband’s and children’s happiness. With feminism, that isn’t the norm at all (not saying it was good for women to be a martyr), but now we’re constantly seeing the opposite where women take advantage of their husbands sacrificial nature.
You are right that most men want to see their wives and children happy. What most people don’t realize is, that one of the hardest sacrifices for a man to make is his wife’s happiness, or his children’s happiness – because he also sacrifices his own because he cares about them. This why no man that loves his wife and kids ever wants to have to confront them about sinful behavior – but as the leader of his home he must take on this unpleasant task. But what he knows is, in the end the discipline will be good for them personally, as well as for his marriage or the family.
I discuss this of duty as a difference between most men and women in this post https://biblicalgenderroles.com/2015/01/22/is-god-more-like-man-more-like-woman-or-a-combination-of-the-two/ :
Men are creatures of action and duty, whereas women are creatures of talk and feelings. I am not saying that women are bad because they are creatures of talk and feelings – a woman’s empathetic(feeling) nature makes her a far superior caretaker and it also makes her much better at working with children. Husbands can greatly benefit from their wives their wife’s “emotional intelligence” when dealing with others.
But while a man’s nature to do his duty, even in the face of adversity, can be a powerful asset, it can also be detriment when he allows sinful behavior to go unchecked with wife, wrongly thinking he is sacrificing himself for his wife’s good when he is actually sacrificing himself for his wife’s sin.
While a woman’s feeling nature can be a powerful asset her caring for her children and others, this same feeling nature can be a great detriment to her. The first sin in the garden of Eden was when Eve was betrayed by her feelings of envy, she did not accept her position, or the fact that God did not want her to have certain knowledge. Her husband sinned when he “hearkened unto the voice” of his wife and chose her happiness over obeying God.
So we as men have to be very careful when listening to our wives – we could be sinning by not listening to our wife, or we could be sinning by listening to our wife. God wants us to seek his will through his Word and prayer to know the difference.
Yes, the culture does encourage sex outside of marriage and this occurs too frequently. The irony, and it is sad – even tragic, is that many individuals have a lot of sex prior to marriage and then once married do not have sexual intimacy that often. This is backwards. Sexual intimacy ought be saved for marriage and then within one’s marriage it needs to be frequent and mutually fulfilling. One may wonder if our society is even sane any more.
I’m glad that you are doing your part in addressing this very serious issue in a Christian marriage. Keep up the good work!
When I read the cases of withholding sex in Christian marriages (either in blogs or their comments), I sometimes laugh especially when someone said something like “I only had sex once a month” — I have been married about 25 years. Total number of sexual intercourse? About 5. The last one was almost 20 years ago.
As for the lack of teaching on this issue from the pulpit: 2 years ago our church had a chapter-by-chapter study of 1 Cor. Sometimes we had several sermons on a single chapter. I was wondering what was going to happen to my wife when the pastors (it was a large church and they take turns) talk about 1 Cor 7. You know what happened? The pastor in charge of that section of the chapter said there wasn’t enough time to cover that section. He had one vague comment about the relevant part: “Sex is the glue of marriage. It’s really, really, really important. It really is the glue. We don’t have time to cover this. Let’s move on.” I’m not kidding you. And you know what? During this 1 Cor sermon series, the pastor team cancelled one Sunday’s sermon to have an invited panel to have a discussion about the social issue of gays and lesbians. No doubt an important subject. The church even organized an open Q&A forum to talk about gays and lesbians after the Sunday service. But judging from the percentage of dysfunctional sexless marriages (even Christian ones) and the known percentage of population who are gays and lesbians, I’m totally stunned by the pastors’ decision.
If christian families are not healthy, functional, and strong, what will happen to the local church and the church? Keep up the good work. Praying that your work will sexually heal many families. I know mine will not.