Stories of Sexual Denial in Marriage – Episode 6

This next story of sexual denial comes from a man who is a minister and has been married 27 years.  I asked him for some clarification on his initial comments because I had some confusion on how often he was having sex with his wife.  I truly believe that as a minister he has the potential to make a huge impact for God with this situation.

Just a warning – this is probably the longest post I have ever done, but what has been said here needed to be said. But for men seeking help I believe it is worth the read.

Joe’s Story

“My wife and I have been married 27 years. I’m a minister.
We have been sexual only 7 times. (when she wants to be) This is the middle of September.
She tells me that sex is the farthest thing from her mind. I exercise often and am in athletic condition and well groomed. I do the things that most women complain about their husband NOT doing. I do most of the chores and cook almost all of the meals.

My wife says that she’s attracted to me and we are very nice to each other. We hold hands often. I give her back rubs which seems to help her chronic pain that she’s had for a number of years. She comes in from work every day totally exhausted and wanting no affection from me, unless it’s just a small kiss.

I’ve lovingly told her how rejected I feel for her not wanting to have sex with me. Oh, every time in our married life when we make love I always help her to achieve an orgasm.

At our last counseling appointment the counselor reiterated scripture that you mentioned above. The thing is…I don’t want her to make love to me out of a “duty”. I want her to do it because SHE wants to. I want to be desired her but she’s not interested.

I’m feeling resentful and very angry. I feel unloved. I recently just read Kevin Leman’s book “Sheet Music” and it made me angry cause I know that my wife will never do the things that Leman mentioned.
From what I’ve read in other articles if you have sex less than 8 times in a year that’s considered a “sexless” marriage.

I never thought I would only be 53 and be in a sexless marriage. If I were 85 or 90 I could understand but I’m so frustrated right now and honestly do not see an end to this. For me to “divorce” her over this could put an end to me being a pastor. I doubt seriously I could convince others that she’s committed sexual immorality against me over not wanting to have sex with me.

I’ve tried to woo her, wanting to take her on a date, just me and her. Nope, she’s too tired and wants to veg out on Netflix. I’ve suggested a weekend away somewhere or a cruise, just me and her. Not interested. I married “in sickess and in health, richer or poorer” but I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS. I’ve shed a bucket of tears over this and just don’t know how much more rejection I can handle. I’m ready to leave.”

He then responded to my questions asking for clarification with these comments:

“Sorry for the confusion. I meant to say we’ve had sex 7 times this year. ..which is way better than 7 times in 27 years. We’ve been seeing a wonderful Christian counselor…for other other issues but Only 2 times now for this particular “no sex” issue.

Sex in our marriage started out great..like most couples but then when children came along it basically came to a screeching halt. With child #2 my wife seemed to be sick the entire pregnancy which meant no sex for me…but i felt sorry for her. She also seemed to develop an invisible disease called fibromyalgia which causes pain all over her body. Its hard to diagnose. It was pretty bad for a number of years. We would only have sex a handful of times a year (whenever SHE was in the mood) .

Now things are somewhat better with her physically but we still seldom have any sex or any other physical touch. The issue now is she works full time, comes home and collapses and has nothing left. She says she loves me but just has no interest in sex. I’ve told her how i feel. The counselor (a woman) has used the same scripture you mentioned.
There is however, a ray of hope. Today she left me a note saying that she wants to pursue passion and for me not to despair. She does realize that she’s not normal. But it’s very upsetting to me that regardless of her non existent libido that she would not care about my desires and needs. I don’t feel desired at all.

Ive noticed that as a result of my situation i am now being tempted to do some immoral things. Have not given in yet but i feel very vulnerable right now. At this point i have resentment that’s built up. I lay awake at night wanting to be touched…and honestly it all just ticks me off. I want to sleep somewhere else.

In response to your last questions:
She initiates. And yes, i gave up initiating long ago because of the rejection. She lets me know when. When she IS in the mood i will ask “is there something i did that put you in the mood? If so what was it so i can try that again.” As far as touch she does not smack my hand but just move it away and then tell me she’s too tired or she’s hurting (with her pain issue). At the moment she feels like i am pressuring her and all i am doing is trying to have conversation about it. “Speak the truth in love”. Im trying real hard to get the “in love” part. I’ve read both books our counselor suggested in three days. She’s struggling to read them cause she doesn’t want to and said it makes her angry. Im all alone here.

My Response to Joe and other men who see themselves in this situation

First and foremost I want to extend my heart felt sympathy to this Christian husband and any other Christian husband who faces this issue of chronic and willful sexual denial from his wife.

Joe truly seems to have been trying to “woo” his wife, to see what he can do to put her in the mood.  He gives her back rubs, he does most of the cooking and cleaning  all in an attempt to relieve her stress which might allow her to be in the mood more often.  He tries to take her on dates. On those rare occasions when she is in the mood he asks her what put her in the mood so he can do whatever that is more to help her to be in the mood more often.

He has shared his frustration with his wife and she has been honest with him that she simply does not have the desire to have sex.

Joe is right that he is truly living in a sexless marriage(only 7 times in a year).

Joe’s situation is further compounded by the fact that he is a minister and he is afraid of what it will do to his Church if he confronts his wife and has to divorce her.

Joe’s story is very close to my own

I receive these emails and comments all the time and rarely do I see a story that so closely mimics issues I faced in my own marriage.   I believe God is leading me to share my story here for Joe as an encouragement for him to learn from what God had to show me in my marriage.  Previously I have shared bits and pieces about my marriage history in other posts.  But this will probably be the most I have ever opened up about my marriage history in a single post.

As I have stated on several occasions on this blog – I was divorced from my first wife with whom I had my children.  While it takes two for a marriage to fall apart the fault is not always equal on both sides. I was not the perfect husband and I know that I failed her many ways, despite trying to love her the best I could.

In my first marriage my wife had several affairs.  We really didn’t have sexual issues in the sense that until we were getting divorced she really never denied me sexually.  But I could never trust her as she would keep returning to affairs and I had to eventually divorce her.

Not long after I divorced her – I went on a Christian dating site where I met the woman who would eventually become my second wife.  When we were first married the sex was great! For about 3 months.

Then after about 3 months of marriage my wife started feeling more free to turn me down for sex. During this same period the personal touching between us went down drastically as well.  My wife started sitting on her couch and I had my couch, and if I were to go and try and sit with her to cuddle up she would tell me she needed her space.

My wife worked a full time job as a manager and she would routinely tell me she was stressed out from work and she had back pain and foot pain from her job.

Why did I marry a career woman?

I realize that may seem like a complete contradiction to what I believe and teach on this site – why would I marry a career woman? The reason is because after my divorce from my first wife I was in the position where I had older children who did not need a mother at home to care for them.  If you look closely at my articles on this site about career women – I say that a woman should not work until at least when her kids are in school and they are not needing full time care at home from their mother.

But even though I am not against women working outside the home when their kids are grown and in school, I think they have to be careful of over committing themselves to their jobs to the neglect of their husbands, their children or their home.

My first wife was a very untrustworthy woman constantly lying and doing things behind my back.  The most important thing to me was finding a Christian woman and a person I could trust with my heart and my children and one that would not betray me as my first wife had.

My second wife was involved in her church before I met her  – she went on missions trips and was involved in various ministries of her church.   I met her family and church friends and found that my wife was a woman with great character.   Once I realized she was the kind of woman who would never betray me and that we shared a common faith in Christ that was it – I was head over heels for her!

She was married previously and was never able to have kids and I came with a ready made family.  My kids loved her and she loved them.  We were married about a year after we met.

While we were dating and then engaged we did talk about how I felt about Biblical gender roles and she asked if it would be a problem with me that she worked full time once she knew my beliefs.  I told her that as long she put me, my kids and our home before her career I had no problem with her continuing to work as a manager since my kids were older and in school full time.  I even offered to help with doing half the house work.

But even while we were dating I detected feminist tendencies in her that she had from her upbringing(her mom was a career woman as well).  Her mom even told me on one occasion that she taught her daughters to “be independent and not need a man”.  So even though my wife had become a Christian a few years before she met me, the feminism ran deep in her.  I also detected that her job as a manager might cause some friction in her commitment to our marriage and our home.

But she was so different from my first wife, and such a good Christian woman with great character that I chose to overlook some of these areas that would later come back to haunt me, naively thinking I could help her to see what God says a Christian woman’s priorities should be in regard to her husband, her children and her home.

Some might say “well they were not her children” so they are not her responsibility.   That is false.  When a woman agrees to marry a man who already has children, she agrees to be a mother to his children and we agreed to that before we were married.

So now with all that as a backdrop to the sexual issues I faced with my wife let me go into what I did to address the issue of my wife’s sexual denial.

Mr Nice guy goes to work

So like Joe I went to work trying to help reduce my wife’s stress.  My first wife was a traditional stay at home mom and did the majority of the cooking and cleaning(although I did cook frequently too).

My second wife was the polar opposite – she was a hardworking successful career woman working as a manager.   My second wife did not cook much as her mother did not cook much so she had no example to learn from.  Her father cooked more often then her mother because he got home from his factory job earlier than her mom from her office job.  Her mom would take care of most of the laundry.

My wife has admitted to me many times that for her growing the norm was “the dad does the cooking and the mom does the laundry” so this is why she never really took an interest in learning how to cook.

So my wife did not have the homemaker model of mother teaching her how to cook.  It was a big change for her to cook at all for our family but she tried.  Not long into our marriage I took on most of the cooking duties(where I cooked about 80% to 90%  of the time)  and at some points I cooked 100% of the time.  Eventually I was doing most of the laundry but she would help put the clean and folded clothes a way.

I hoped that by doing all these things it would help reduce the stress I saw in my wife and perhaps it would jump start and rekindle our love life.  I would try to take her on dates and buy my wife expensive jewelry and take her on expensive getaways(just me and her).  Because she suffered back pain I would give her back rubs and foot rubs.

None of this worked to get her to open up sexually or for us to even have more non sexual touch(like sitting on couch cuddling up together).

At one point in the first year of our marriage I remember sitting in a parking lot and I just told my wife how I felt. I wept. I told her that this was not how marriage was supposed to be were a couple rarely had sex and rarely touched one another.

She told me very candidly that while she understood my feelings, that she felt that a couple should only have sex when both the husband and wife are in the mood and that she really was not in the mood that often – maybe once or twice a month. She told me she was not a “touchy feely person” and she needed her space.  She told me that she loved me, enjoyed spending time together and going on trips together, but that she felt marriage should be more about companionship and friendship than having to be about these physical things.

I asked her “What happened to the woman I dated and the woman who I was married to for the first few months of our marriage?”

Her response was “That was not the real me.  That was just because our relationship was brand new, now this is what I am really like.” She then told me that since we were not young, but in our 30’s that “Sex and touchiness should not be a big deal – that is for younger couples in their teens and early 20’s”.

I wish I could say that right after that conversation I went to work confronting my wife’s sexual denial as I now advice men to do in many posts on this site.  I did tell her that day that I thought she was wrong, but then I dropped it hoping she would realize it on her own and change.

I continued doing almost all the cooking and laundry, taking her on dates and trips, buying her expensive jewelry and giving her back rubs and foot rubs.

Then she began to have health problems which eventually lead to her having to step down from her job as a manager and she worked a regular worker part time.   Then she had a car accident which caused her to become disabled.  During all this time I cared for her with all her various ailments.

I believe in some ways God allowed all these things to come into my wife’s life to humble her, because she was so neglectful of our marriage and our home in favor of her career and other interests.

But even through God allowed all these things to come into my wife’s life and despite my caring for her needs and taking care of the household duties she continued to sexually deny me except on the rare occasions that she was in the mood.  She also continued to deny me the physical touch(not just sexual, but just touch) that I so needed.

So you can see by my own story that I can very much relate to Joe’s story.

My confrontation of my wife’s sexual denial

Eventually I came to the point where I realized that I could not stand back and allow my wife’s behavior to go unchecked. Despite all the trials God had brought into her life to show her that her marriage and family were more important than her career she did not see the changes that God was trying make in her life.

She continued to focus on the loss of her health and her job with no consideration for the opportunity God had given her to focus on our marriage and our family.

This is not to say that I had not complained to her before this – but it was just that a complaint with no followup.

Then God revealed to me that I was not powerless to try and change this situation with my wife. I realized that God had called me not only to love her and care for her physical and emotional needs, but also to rebuke sin in her life toward our marriage.

We went and counseled with our Pastor and his wife(whom she respects) and our Pastor made it clear to her that God says a wife is not to deny her husband sexually, even if she is not in the mood.

After that she stopped denying me for a short period but then it started up again. At that point I felt the Lord leading me to discipline my wife.  I stopped buying her flowers(I used to buy them at least once or twice a month for her).  I stopped taking her to our favorite restaurants when my kids were with their mom.  I stopped the weekend getaways and I stopped the jewelry and gifts.  I stopped giving her the back and foot massages. The message was clear – this sinful behavior will stop.

At first she acted stubborn about it, and then she tried to pull the “Am I your whore that I have to perform to get these things”.  She told me “you just think marriage is all about sex”.

I told her “I do not expect you to have sex with me in order for you to get these things from me – in fact you ought to have sex with me regardless of if I do those things. I expect you to honor the vows you made to God and me when we got married to respect me, submit to me and give me your body freely and without complaint.”

I told her “you are breaking the marriage vows you made to me and you are being unfaithful to me by denying me sexually – this is a breach of our marriage covenant”. I made it clear to her that I would eventually seek divorce if this situation did not change.

You know what happened? Now she does not deny me except for when she is truly sick and I know she is, and then she humbly gives me a rain check.  Has she had some relapses where turns me down in a wrong way or for wrong reasons? Yes. Do we still have issues with her not wanting to touch? Yes.   But I address it head on and remind her that I won’t tolerate this sin to rise up again in our marriage.

I also realized that I was not only enabling her sin of sexual denial, but I was also enabling her laziness.  Yes she had some health issues, but according to her own doctors it would be healthy for her to do things like wash dishes and do laundry as long as I could help her with any heavy lifting(which I always still do).

So I told her I expected her to do what she could and that meant doing dishes and learning to cook.  I would no longer cook 80% percent of the time now that she is at home full time.  You know what? She learned how to cook.  She looks up recipes and now she cooks 80% of the time and I only cook 20% of the time.  She packs my lunch every evening for me to take to work the next morning.

Has my wife completely turned from her feminist tendencies and fully embraced Biblical patriarchy as I have laid out on this site?  No she has not.  But she has made progress and I recognize that.  However, it is my job as a husband to not only continue to search my own self for sinful thoughts and actions but to search my wife as well.  Ephesians 5: 25-27 tells us that as Christian husbands part of loving our wives is for us to wash their spiritual spots, wrinkles and blemishes with the Word of God as Christ washes his Church.

My wife, like myself, still has many spiritual spots, wrinkles and blemishes that need to be washed.  However, while it is not her job as one under my spiritual authority to wash my spiritual spots, wrinkles and blemishes  – it is my job to wash hers.

But I can only wash my wife as she full submits to God and then to me.  She no longer flat out denies like she did before but she still has not fully recognized that God made her for me and has given her to me.  She still is retaining ownership of herself.

A battle plan for Joe and other husbands facing this situation

Joe – this is about way more than your feelings and your frustrations.  This about sin in your wife’s life.  But you can’t take on sin in your wife’s life until you take on the sin in your own life.

“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;  that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.” – Hebrews 12:15-16 (KJV)

Your wife has sinned against you and she has hurt you in a very personal way by sexually denying you and refusing to give you the affection that every man needs from the woman he loves.

But as a minister I know that you know one sin never justifies another sin.  You have allowed a root bitterness and resentment to grow up and you need to rid yourself of that so you can clearly see and confront the sin in your wife’s life.  I struggled with this bitterness and resentment toward my wife for a while until I realized it was making me powerless to confront my wife’s sin.  I needed God’s power to confront my wife and I would not have that till I made my own heart right with God.

Once you make your heart right with God – you will be ready to take on your wife’s sin head on.

You said there is a “ray of hope” and your wife acknowledges the issue.  But my wife did that too but she would change for a week and go back to the same behavior. Your wife may do this as well.  You can’t let her just say “I know I need to change”, actions must follow her words and there needs to be a consistent change.

If you don’t see this real and consistent change occur then you need to move to discipline with your wife(tough love).

First realize why you are disciplining your wife

Your wife is acting selfishly toward you and thinks she should only have to have sex with you or let you touch her when she feels like it which is clear violation of God’s Word.

“3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” – I Corinthians 7:3-5 (KJV)

The  Bible also says you as her husband are to be able to be find satisfaction in your wife’s body and be ravished by her love – something she is not doing.

“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)

Remember God made your wife as a helper for you, not you as a helper for her.

“Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” – I Corinthians 11:9 (KJV)

This is not to say that husbands should not serve their wives as Christ washed his Apostles feet.  But it must clear in your relationship who is the leader of your home and who is the helper in your home. And this is not about you being selfish. Biblically speaking selfishness  is when we think ONLY of our needs and not the needs of others.   But it is not selfish to also think of your needs.

“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4 (NASB)

Most of the time sexual denial, especially on the part of the wife is way bigger than just sex.  Sexual denial is just the tip of the iceberg.  The issue is your wife’s attitude toward her role as your help meet.  She may say she believes she is to be a help meet to you – but her actions show something very different.

Her actions show a woman who has no problem with her husband acting as her help meet, instead of her acting as his help meet.  This needs to change.

How to discipline your wife

Joe – you need to confront this sin head on in your wife’s life by removing the back rubs, the dates and doing all the chores.  Does she really need to work? Maybe you can bring up to her that if she is so exhausted from her job maybe she does not need to work.  But whether she works or not – she must reserve some energy for you.  Her focus needs to be more on her role as your help meet and less on her role as an employee of whatever company she works for.

If she will not listen and rebels against your attempts to bring godly correction into her life then you may have to move to the next level.

It maybe require you stepping down from your Church as Pastor in anticipation of divorcing your wife for her marital unfaithfulness(which sexual denial is form of).

I know that some of my readers will disagree, but I do believe that one of the qualifications of Pastors, Deacons and Widows that serve directly in Church is that they cannot be divorced:

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;” – I Timothy 3:2 (KJV)

“Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.” – I Timothy 3:12 (KJV)

“Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man.” – I Timothy 5:9 (KJV)

But this does not have to be the end of your life, but rather a new beginning and imagine the impact and spot light you could bring to sexual denial in marriage – something that is far too often ignored in our churches today.

This situation could be used for God’s glory

I know it does not seem like it now and you might be wondering – “How could God possibly get any glory from this horrible situation?”

If your wife repents and changes her ways – if she truly realizes how she was not being the help meet to you that God meant her to be you could use this to show other women how to be better help meets to their husbands by meeting their sexual needs.  Your wife could teach women’s classes and share her story and how God changed her life.

I know that many would disagree with me about this – but I believe if your wife remains in sinful rebellion that you need to let your Church know why you are getting divorced.  Do you realize as a minister how much impact this could have? I have no doubt there are other men in your church that face this issue and they do not know how to confront it.  In fact you could end up being an influence on many Christian men in other churches in the area.

You could literally ignite a spiritual fire in your church and perhaps other churches in the area for men to stand up and lead in their homes in this all important area of sexuality.

I hope this will be of some encouragement to you as you seek the Lord’s guidance.