“Being a newlywed I thought marriage was going to be all rainbows, I had quite a rude reality check very early on, and it’s embarrassing to talk about your new husband not desiring you anymore… I am always the one who has to initiate sex, and EVERY time I’m shot down, my normal response is to clam up and avoid him, which often leads to a fight. It’s gotten to a point where he will even refuse to hold my hand or hug me.” This is an excerpt from an email I received from Hannah, a young Christian newlywed wife.
While sexual denial most often occurs with the wife denying her husband, there have been many women throughout history who have been sexually denied by their husbands. Over 3000 years ago men were sexually denying their wives prompting God to give this command through his Prophet Moses:
“If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.” – Exodus 21:10-11 (KJV)
God made it clear, whether a man had one wife or many – he was not allowed to sexually deny any of his wives. Here is Hannah’s full story.
“I just wanted to thank you for your blog, I have searched all over the internet for a CHRISTIAN based blog on sexual relations between a husband and wife, and none would address the issues that you do here. It has helped my perspective so much, especially with the sexual denial posting. I have been experiencing this from my husband in my own marriage. I have tried everything and nothing has helped. We haven’t been sexually active in 10 months and we’ve only been married for 11 months.
I prayed for my husband for eight years, we met when I was 14 and it was love at first sight. After eight years of an off again, on again relationship, God answered my prayer and brought us together. I never truly dated anyone else but him, I knew in my spirit he was created to be my husband.
Being a newlywed I thought marriage was going to be all rainbows, I had quite a rude reality check very early on, and it’s embarrassing to talk about your new husband not desiring you anymore.
Right after we were married, I got pregnant and lost the baby when I was six weeks along, since then all affection and intimacy has stopped. I’ve talked to him, reasoned with him, even pleaded with him to change or tell me what I should do differently. I have felt like something is so incredibly wrong with me. It’s been a heartbreaking experience and I’m so glad to learn and see in scripture that I’m not alone or a “lustful” woman for desiring my husband.
I have tried getting him to go to counseling but he continually brushes it off. We currently don’t have a home church of our own. My former pastor that I served under in ministry for several years has announced he is homosexual and left the church. This was a shock to all of us and left us very hurt, so getting him to find a new pastor to council with is very difficult. After we lost the baby it has been a downhill spiral. I am fighting feelings of bitterness towards him which I know is wrong. It’s just so hard to deal with the rejection. There have been moments of weakness where I wanted to leave or pursue someone else, but my Spirit (thankfully) overrided my flesh.
Do you have any practical advice as to how I should react to his sexual rejection?
I am always the one who has to initiate sex, and EVERY time I’m shot down, my normal response is to clam up and avoid him, which often leads to a fight. It’s gotten to a point where he will even refuse to hold my hand or hug me. It annoys him when I try to show affection, not just in public but even if we’re alone. Now if in want a kiss or to hold his hand I have to ask permission. He says it’s because he’s not ready after the miscarriage but it’s been several months since we lost the baby.
I have respectfully poured my heart out to him several times about the issue, he listens, and then nothing is ever fixed. There is always an excuse why he doesn’t want sex and they change each time. I really don’t know what to do. I was raised in a strict Christian home that does not condone divorce between Christians. After reading your post I am viewing my right as a Christian woman in a completely different light. I am so glad to know I have a biblical right to divorce if this doesn’t change and that God has given me this right. I love my husband and I am willing to stick this out, but it is very hard.
Please if you have any advice, I would love to hear from you. Thank you again for your blog, it’s been such a blessing.”
My Response to Hannah
Hannah I just want to say how sorry I am for the loss of your first child. My first wife and I lost our first child to a miscarriage as well – it was a tubal pregnancy. My niece lost her first child two days after she was born without any indication there was problem last year. The loss of a child can have a traumatic effect on a marriage and sometimes takes years to recover from.
For some couples the loss of a child bring them closer together, while for others it may tear them apart. Some couples have even divorced over the loss of a child when one or both of them cannot move past it. The reason for this is that sometimes a person allows their spouse to be a constant reminder of the loss and only by leaving them do they feel they can truly leave the death behind.
It sounds like based on your story that you husband had to great disappointments one with the loss of a child and another with loss of your Pastor in such a terrible way.
Your husband is a broken a man. He is bitter at God for all these disappointments in his life.
Your husband pushing you away shows that he is directly associating the death of your child with you. Your face might be a constant reminder to him of the loss of your child. Only through intense counseling will your husband be able to disassociate you from the death of your child.
But let me assure you that your feelings of wanting to be close and intimate with your husband are completely normal. Many people deal with the loss of a child very differently and you wanted to comforted in your husband’s arms – but instead have been pushed away. That must be heartbreaking for you.
How you should handle your husband’s sexual denial
First and foremost if your husband won’t go to church you at least should get yourself in a good Bible preaching church. Seek out a counselor on your own even if your husband won’t go so you can talk about how you are feeling. Make sure it is a Christian that holds to your same world view and faith.
If you don’t have some good Christian girlfriends, make some friends. Spend time with family and friends and draw strength from them for the battle you have ahead.
I realize it is a horrible feeling to be rejected for physical intimacy by the man you love but continue to make occasional attempts to be intimate with him realizing he may continue to reject you.
At the same time you need to have a serious talk with your husband. Let him know that you love him and you want to repair your marriage and move past the loss of your first child. Continue to offer to go to counseling with him, or even if he wants to go by himself to see a counselor that will be fine to.
Be sure to pray for your husband daily.
But you also need to let your husband know that your marriage is broken. The covenant of your marriage is broken while there is no physical intimacy between the two of you. You are no longer one flesh and this is not pleasing to God. Tell him you will only allow this grave sin to go on for so long until you will exercise your right to divorce him for this breach of your marriage.
I would recommend giving him at least a year or so with occasional respectful requests to him to get help he needs.
If over the next year you see no forward progress and he still refuses counseling or any to talk to the Pastor of the new church you will find then you probably need to file for divorce.
But filing for divorce does not necessarily mean the end of your marriage. For some filing for divorce shakes them out of their sinful stubbornness and bitterness and helps them to see what they are about to lose. For others they will only sink deeper into the abyss of their bitterness.
The two possible outcomes of your attempts to confront your husband’s sin
The best outcome, and the one you are praying for is that you husband will allow God to free his heart of the bitterness that has poisoned him.
But if your husband refuses to repent and give his heart back to God – you are free to go because he has chosen to remain in his sin and refuses to be one flesh with you as his wife.
Realize though that many conservative Churches that would condemn your husband for sexually denying you would also condemn you for divorcing him over sexual denial. They will try and teach you a false doctrine that God wants you to just live in a celibate marriage potentially for the rest of your life if he never changes.
“Celibate Marriage” is a huge oxymoron.
While there is more to marriage than sex, a marriage with no sex is not a marriage. There is a reason why marriage is called a “one flesh” relationship as opposed to a “one mind” or “one soul” relationship.
You must be convinced of this right you have before God knowing that your Pastor may not agree.
I pray the Lord will give you the strength you need for the battle ahead.
Here is another post on this subject: