4 Steps to confronting your husband’s sexual refusal

How should a Christian woman handle her husband’s sexual refusal? Many Christian women are embarrassed to even bring this subject up – let alone actually look for help.

Since the explosive popularity of my post “8 Steps to confronting your wife’s sexual refusal” I have had many requests by Christian wives to write “sister” article of sorts to that article since that was specifically targeted toward Christian husbands who experience sexual refusal from their wives.

Christian Wives – I want to be as clear here as I was when addressing this subject with Christian husbands. The situation I am addressing in this article is not your husband 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 husband who consistently and routinely denies his wife sexually simply because he does not need sex as much or he thinks he should not have to do it except when he is in the mood or he thinks his wife should have to earn sex with him by “putting him in the mood” by doing various things he expects or likes. You prayed about it for years but nothing has changed and your husband refuses to meet the obligations of his marital covenant.

Again this is about sexual denial on the husband’s part – not lack of sexual initiation. For reasons your husband may not be pursing you sexually see my post “12 Reasons your husband may NOT want to have sex with you”.  For many women they interpret their husband’s lack of sexual pursuit as sexual denial but this is not the case. In fact it is very common in many marriages where the couple is older that the man may not pursue sex as much and the woman actually pursues it more – so they switch roles (as in who is doing the chasing). To this I would say that a man still needs to pursue his wife sexually even as he ages, just as a woman should pursue her husband even when her desire is not there. Now the percentage of who pursues who more might change – but neither spouse should feel like they are the only ones that ever want sex.

So now that we have established what scenario these steps are addressing – let’s now establish the right of a woman to have sex with her husband.

A woman has the right to have sex with her husband, and the husband has a duty to have sex with his wife

Let me say that first and foremost God give a woman the right to initiate and have sex with her husband.

“10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.” – Exodus 21:10-11 (KJV)

This passage when taken in context was talking about if a man decided to take another wife (exercise his right to polygamy) he must still provide food, clothing (shelter is implied as well) and sex (this is conjugal rights). If a man took another wife and neglected his first wife sexually her family members or other town elders could approach the man and tell him to release this neglected wife (give her a bill of divorce). But it provides though a general moral principle – that a wife has the right to have sexual relations with her husband in marriage.

God reiterates this command that a wife has the right to initiate sex and have sex with her husband in his first letter to the Corinthian church:

“Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 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.” – I Corinthians 7:3-4 (KJV)

Throughout the Bible the husband is consistently seen as the head of the wife, as the owner of the wife and we see here that even though he is her head and owner – she has certain rights as his wife that he may not deny and sex is one them.

So if a wife has the right to have sex with her husband – why don’t women (or men for that matter) want to talk about issue? We will discuss this next.

Why don’t women want to talk about sexual denial from their husbands?

There are two common reasons why Christian wives won’t are embarrassed to bring up this subject – either with their husbands or women from their churches, or even to their pastors.

The first reason is that sadly many Christian women were raised by their parents, or taught in the churches growing up that “only dirty women want sex”. Unfortunately the Church over its history has been complicit in this teaching as the Church fathers quickly fell into the error that sex was “dirty” and “fleshly” not long after the Apostles died.

The second reason is that many women feel to bring up this subject would be a bad reflection on them. “What husband would not want to have sex with wife? Men always want sex right?” They think it reflects badly on their appearance. “Perhaps he no longer finds me attractive” – a Christian wife might reason.

But the truth is neither one of these reasons should stop a woman bringing this issue up and confronting it when it occurs in her marriage.

On the issue of appearance and hygiene – these things are important for both a man and a woman. Both a husband and a wife should do their best to keep their bodies healthy and clean and available for sexual relations on a regular basis. If the man has problems with weight or ED (erectile dysfunction) it is his job to seek medical help so that he can sexually please his wife.

So once a Christian wife understands that sex with her husband is a right in marriage, and she overcomes her inhibitions to talking about this issue – how should she confront this issue in her marriage?

Before you can confront you husband’s sexual refusal you must know and accept your position

The Bible is not a “unisex” book. Yes God loves men and women equally – and a woman is no less human being than a man is. But God created men and women with different purposes and roles and this is seen throughout the Scriptures. So when we come to how a wife confronts sexual refusal from her husband and how a man confronts sexual refusal from his wife the steps will look different.

The biggest reason the steps are different is because a wife is not her husband’s authority. She is not spiritually responsible for him as he is for her. While his role is to love her by leading her, providing for her, protecting her and knowing her – her role is to submit to him, to serve him and to gently and respectfully share her wisdom with him(as the Proverbs 31 wife does).

I have written on this previously that Christian marriage is a type of Master/Servant relationship – but it is not a typical Master/Servant relationship in that a wife has many more rights than a servant, and this is a much more intimate Master/Servant relationship in that a husband is commanded to “know” his wife.

But in the context of a master servant relationship – the Bible tells us that servants have the right to bring grievances to their masters:

“If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me; What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?” – Job 31:13-15 (KJV)

Job tells us that his servants made in the womb – i.e. just as human as he was. You as a human being, and even more so as your husband’s wife have certain rights and when you believe he has violated those rights you have a right bring those grievances before him.

But you must always be respectful of your husband’s position and his authority over you when you bring your grievances before him.

Before you take any steps to confront your husband’s sin of sexual refusal check yourself first

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 husband 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 husband if it directly affects him.

A common issue that women who are experiencing sexual refusal face is – they were the ones refusing their husbands earlier in their marriage. What happens is because of many years of sexual refusal on the part of his wife, a man simply stops pursing his wife sexually. Then one day the wife wakes up and realizes they have not had sex in months or even a year or more and she pursues him at which point he turns her down. Now is the husband right to do this? Absolutely not. But the wife must realize her part in this and confess her sin of sexual refusal before she can confront her husband’s sin of sexual refusal.

4 Steps to confronting your husband’s sexual refusal

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 wife must take to confront his husband’s sexual refusal.

Step 1 – Rebuke him privately

Rebuke your husband’s sin to him in private. A wife’s rebuke will look slightly different than a husband’s rebuke of his wife’s sinful behavior. A husband can speak “with authority” to his wife, as one under his authority. But a wife must remember her husband is her authority. You as a wife can bring your grievance to your husband in a respectful manner, you can plead with him to change his sinful pattern of sexual denial. This assumes you have already on several occasions tried to speaking gently to him about this issue. You have tried time and time again to find out if there is anything you can help him with, and anything you can do different. This assumes you have ruled out health problems, and or other mental problems and he simply has a stubborn and willful attitude toward sex in marriage and he does not think he needs to change.

Step 2 – Rebuke him before witnesses

If he is still defiant after rebuking him, privately ask him to go to a Christian marriage counselor, or maybe even a sex therapist if he is willing to go.

Step 3 – Bring him before the Church

If he will not listen to counselors, or refuses to go to counseling then bring him to your Pastor and his wife. If he will not listen even to them then he has chosen to act like an unbeliever, and now he will be treated as such.

Step 4 – Divorce your husband for the sin of sexual denial

Unlike a husband who has authority over his wife, a wife does not have authority over her husband. So unlike a husband in the same situation with his wife – a wife cannot stop going out with her husband on dates or stop doing her house hold duties or following his wishes. Your only option as a wife after confronting him with the Church is divorce.

But according to Exodus 21:10-11 you have the right to be freed from this marriage(and thus his authority) for his willful sexual denial.

“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 (KJV)

Under the theocracy of Israel – a husband was pressured by male relatives or elders of the town to give his wife a bill of divorce if he was neglecting her in any of these areas. Our government allows women to file this bill of divorce for themselves and there is no problem with this scripturally as the woman is divorcing her wife on Biblical grounds.

12 Reasons your husband may NOT want to have sex with you

“Why does my Christian husband no longer want to have sex with me?” This is a question that some Christian wives ask. What do you do as a Christian wife if your husband does not want sex? This is very delicate subject for many Christian wives and it can often times be embarrassing for them to even raise the subject because of cultural and religious conditioning.

I have received many emails from women asking me to talk about the subject of husbands not wanting sex and here it is finally! Sorry it took so long.

Yes wives want sex too!

Do not be ashamed of the fact that as a woman you want to have sex. In the Scriptures we need to look no further than the entire book of the Song of Solomon to see that women want sex too:

“May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine…

My beloved is to me a pouch of myrrh Which lies all night between my breasts.” – Song of Solomon 1:2 & 13(NASB)

“Awake, O north wind,

And come, wind of the south;

Make my garden breathe out fragrance,

Let its spices be wafted abroad.

May my beloved come into his garden

And eat its choice fruits!” – Song of Solomon 4:16 (NASB)

Unfortunately our culture as well as our churches make women feel dirty for desiring sex with their husbands – “Men are the ones that are supposed to want sex, not women” or so we are told. But nothing could be further from the truth.

In this area of sexuality we have to battle two extremes. One extreme says that “if you don’t want sex as much or as often as your husband then there is something wrong with you”. The other extreme is “If you want sex more than your husband there is something wrong with you”. If you find yourself as a wife in either of these situations – rest assured there is nothing wrong with you.

Many people have commented or emailed me accusing me of thinking women don’t want or enjoy sex because I deal so much with sexual denial by wives toward their husbands. But I do recognize that many women enjoy sex with their husbands, even if they don’t want sex as often. I also recognize that some women not only enjoy sex with their husbands, but they actually want it more often than their husbands!

But the truth is despite those women who find themselves having higher libidos (sex drives) than their husbands – the vast majority of low libido situations are found in women. Just search on “sexual denial”, “low libido” and “sexless marriage” and count the number of comments from men verses women. Ask a Pastor or therapist where they find low libido issues the most and they will say the vast majority of cases are with women having lower libidos than their husbands.

The mistake we make in this area of low libido is thinking that we have to make everything equal. We are told we have to say “This issue of low libido spouses in marriage is equally prevalent among men and women in marriage” when this simply is not true.

But even though it is true that if you want sex more than your husband that puts you in smaller percentage group of women (because the vast majority of women usually want it less than their husbands) – it does not make you abnormal, dirty or unchristian. That is my point.

But now that we have established that it is perfectly normal and fine for you to desire sex more than your husband let’s look at the difference between sexual denial and low libido.

The difference between sexual denial and low libido

A person (husband or wife) is capable of having little to no desire for sex (low libido) and still having sex with their spouse. Spouses do this all the time. Not having sexual desire, no matter the reason, is not the same as sexually denying your spouse.

Most men understand this key difference but women often times confuse the two. For many women – if their husband stops initiating sex as often or not at all then they interpret this as sexual denial when that is not the case.

Sexual denial is when you reject your spouse’s initiation of or request for sex, it is not the lack of them desiring you sexually or failure on their part to initiate sex with you.

Reasons your husband might have little to no sexual desire

When we look at reasons your husband might not want to have sex with you we have to divide these reasons into three major categories. The three categories are “Reasons that have nothing to do you”, “Reasons that definitely have to do with you” and “Reasons that may or may not have to do with you”.

First lets tackle the reasons your husband might have little to no desire to have sex with you.

Reasons that have nothing to do with you

Death of a loved one

Your husband may have lost a friend or loved one and this can take a huge toll on a man’s libido. For some men it increases their libido as sex helps to alleviate their depression. But for other men their depression causes their libido to drop. Usually though this type of event should only cause a temporary period of depression. If this goes on for years you may need to gently prod your husband into counseling if you think this is the case.

Your husband is stressed because of his job situation

Talk to him about it. Tell him how much you love him and how grateful you are for him providing for your family. Listen and empathize with his position (use your super power of empathy that God has given you as a woman). Reassure him that if in a worst case scenario he needs to look for a new job you will support that. Many women are afraid for their husband’s to switch jobs because of their need for security, but sometimes this is not what is best for your husband.

If your husband lost his job – the worst thing you can do as a wife is kick him when he is down. Let him know that you believe in him and that you know he will find something else soon. You need to be strong and not fall apart and worry about financial issues or bringing up finances to him. He knows that time is short and he needs to get a job – adding pressure will not help him. Obviously if he is being lazy or unwilling to support your family that is a different issue.

Your husband has a health issue

Maybe your husband has chronic pain issues or perhaps he has issues with ED or low testosterone. Try to gently speak with him about this. Tell him how you understand that he has chronic pain but you still need to have sex with him – you need that type of physical connection in your marriage. Some types of medication your husband takes may be killing his libido. If he has ED or low testosterone again reiterate to him how much you desire him and want to be physically intimate with him. Let him know he is not the only man that faces this and there is help – he just needs to be willing to seek it out.

Your husband was sexually abused

This is usually something you won’t find out until counseling. It is one of those issues that is usually buried deep. Basically if you can’t figure out a health issue, job issue or one of these other reasons you might want to pursue this in counseling.

Your husband thinks sex is just for having kids

Sometimes people are raised in homes or churches that teach that sex is only for having children. If your husband has this attitude toward sex, you will need to seek out counseling where a third party can help dig out this faulty and wrong view of sex.

Your husband is Asexual or has a true low libido

While these types of men are extremely rare – they do exist. Some men want a wife and they want kids but they have little desire for sex or they may even be Asexual and have NO desire for sex. Often times these men will hide this during the dating and engagement period so their fiancés won’t know and also men with low libidos or Asexuality are often mistaken for being homosexual. They want to appear like a “normal guy” so they put on a show.

But not long into the marriage they drop their guard and the show is over. Most of these men assume women don’t really care about sex so they think it won’t be a problem. While this kind of relationship is some women’s dream – most women want to have sex even if it is not as often as the average man.

You probably won’t be able to determine if your husband truly just has low libido (not for health or other reasons) or is Asexual without counseling to rule out other factors. If he is Asexual or has true low libido not caused by other factors – then you may have to initiate sex more often (and that is nothing to be ashamed of).

Your husband has homosexual desires

This has to be most women’s worst nightmare. Your husband admits to you or a counselor that the reason he has stopped having sex with you is because he has homosexual desires. He may truly love you – he simply has no sexual desire towards you because he prefers men to women. First know that you are not the first woman to face this situation and you will not be the last.

Homosexual desires exist because our flesh has been corrupted by sin. There are Christian programs that can help men recondition their minds toward heterosexual orientation. Just go online and look up a Christian counseling program in your area that can help your husband with this. But he has to be willing for this work.

Reasons that may or may not have to do with you

Your husband is addicted to porn

This may have been something that proceeded your marriage, or may have developed during your marriage but has nothing to do with you as his wife. However some men turn to porn because of their wives’ constant sexual refusal and denial. Some men turn to porn because even though their wife’s do not directly refuse them, they make having sex a difficult proposition. Some wives are overly critical of their husband’s sexual performance rather than gently asking for changes that might make their sex life better.

Your husband is having an affair

This like porn addiction is something that may or may not have to do with you. You may never deny your husband. You may rock his world in the bedroom, so this may have nothing to do with you and everything to do with him. But it may have to do with you if you been routinely denying your husband sexually. Am I saying it is right for your husband to have an affair because you were denying him?

No way!

The Bible does not allow sex outside of marriage under any conditions.

“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” – Hebrews 13:4 (KJV)

But by your consistent denial you may have placed your husband in a very tempting position and he fell.

“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 7:5 (KJV)

Reasons that definitely have to do with you

You are overly critical and disrespectful

Maybe your husband has not turned to porn, but rather he fills his time with hobbies (like video games) or other projects and he has no desire for you sexually because you emasculate him with your constant criticisms. For some men their sex drive is so strong – that they will still have sex with a critical woman just to get the physical release they need, but for others with weaker libidos they will redirect their sexual energy into other areas.

“Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” – Ephesians 5:33 (KJV)

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.” – Proverbs 12:4 (KJV)

You have let yourself go physically

Yes this affects some men more than others. Men are visual creatures – we are designed this way by God. Now most men can handle the natural aging process women go through with their breasts sagging and them getting love handles and bellies. Our bodies change with age and the majority of men accept these realities.

But there are extremes on this issue on both sides. Some men are constantly prompting their wives to get cosmetic surgeries in an attempt for their bodies to continue to look like that of a twenty year old and that is ridiculous. However we do have the other extreme where a wife let’s her body go and she gets massively obese. Let me just speak truth into your lives ladies – while there are a few men that will find obese woman attractive, the vast majority of men will not.

Contrary to what some blogs teach – Beauty does have a weight limit!

Some men will still have sex with their wives being vastly overweight but it is no longer fueled by their sexual attraction to their wife, but it is only fueled by their need for a release. Often these men will make sure the lights are turned off before proceeding. I know this is tough to hear – but it is the truth.

“But the Bible does not say that wives have to keep themselves beautiful for their husbands!” This is a common statement brought forward by women who do not wish to do the work that it takes to keep themselves beautiful. They are right – there is not a specific passage that says a wife must keep herself beautiful for her husband. BUT there are principles of Scripture that would require a wife to keep herself beautiful for her husband.

The Church is pictured as a bride adorned for her husband

“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” – Revelation 21:2 (KJV)

Ephesians 5 tells us that Marriage is a picture of the relationship of God and his people, Christ and his Church.

“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 (KJV)

The model of marriage is – Man is symbolic of God and Woman is symbolic of the people of God. If Christ’s bride is adorned for her husband, should a Christian wife be any less adorned for her husband?

Also a wife must remember she is to submit to her husband in “everything”. That includes in the areas of sexuality and beauty. If your husband wants you to dress a certain way as long as it is appropriate to the occasion then you should do as you husband asks. Your husband should not have to ask you to keep yourself clean and well kept, as well as not obese – you ought to do this out of the recognition that your beauty is a symbol of the beauty of Christ’s bride who adorns herself for her husband.

You used to deny him sexually

This happens a lot to Christian wives. Early in your marriage you never denied your husband and you enjoyed sex together. Then the kids came along. You had years of pregnancies, raising kids and getting them off to school. Now you can finally breathe!

What you did not realize is during all those years of business you either subtly or directly denied your husband’s sexual advances. You made him feel selfish because you were so exhausted from dealing with the kids and you thought “How can he even think of having sex with all this going on? How can he be so selfish?” This devastated your husband in a way few women can comprehend. Eventually he determined that you simply did not care about his needs but simply saw him as a paycheck and helper with the kids.

Now after years of sexual denial you have decided you are ready to have sex! Well he is done. Some men might come back from this, while others will need counseling to get their minds straightened out about this. He may have a lot of unresolved bitterness that he needs to give to the Lord before he will be able to sexually desire you again.

Questions for Wives

As a Christian wife you need to ask yourself these questions:

“Is he actually turning me down for sex or is he simply not pursuing me sexually?”

“Is he pursuing me less or not at all?”

“When was the last time I initiated sex? Have I given up after a few attempts or many attempts?

“Have I talked to him about this – directly rather than in indirect ways?”

“Am I do anything else mentioned here that can directly contribute to lowering my husband’s sexual desire for me?”

Conclusion

Am I saying that a husband is right in sexually deny his wife for any of the reasons above (whether it has to do with her or not)? Absolutely not!

“Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 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.” I Corinthians 7:3-4 (KJV)

The Scriptures are clear – a husband and wife may not deny one another sexually. But what if he is not denying you but simply not pursuing you?

Obviously as Christians we ought to coming to the Lord daily in prayer, to both offer our thanks to him as well as our petitions. But prayer is not going to find out what your husband’s issue is.  It may resolve on it is own, but more than likely you are going to have to explore this issue with your husband  – God means for couples to talk and you can’t read each others minds.

I do believe that a husband should lead his wife in all areas, and that includes in the area of sexuality. So he should be doing at least some sexual initiating and should not be leaving all sexual initiation to his wife. Desire or lack of desire has nothing to do with it. Sex is a duty in marriage – it is to occur on a regular basis by the will of God.

But can a wife look to herself and see ways she may be contributing to her husband’s decreased sexual desire? Absolutely she should.

If a woman has done a self-evaluation and communicated with her husband her need for sexual connection and he refuses to comply then she may need to take this to next level as this may amount to sexual denial if he is actually refusing her.

If you believe your husband is sexually denying you after reading this post I suggest you read my post “4 ways to confront your husband’s sexual refusal”.

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.

Stories of Sexual Denial in Marriage – Episode 5

Our next story of sexual denial comes from a man named Owessco and he is from Liberia.  He sent this is in as public comment on my post “8 ways to confront your wife’s sexual denial”.

Here is his story:

My name is Owessco from Liberia, I read your article and it is so interesting and would like to share my own experience for your advise.
My wife and I have been married for the past almost ten years, but with no child to consumate our bond. She thinks I am the one with the problem and so she has resulted to constantly refusing me in be for sex whenever I needed to. Her last instance in quite these few days is walking out on me from the room to the extend of even sleeping in the living room.

In response to her action, I am forced to allow her have her will. So as it stands, I am playing the “ok go ahead and stay by yourself role”. And we are not talking to each other and I moved out of our room to the quest room. This way, I feel I am doing the right thing to avoid confrontations by forcing myself on her. Seeing her go to the bathroom and creaming infront of me definitely puts me off and I am trying as hard as possible to avoid such lawful temptation.

 

This was my response to his tragic story:

Owessco,

I am sorry to hear about the situation with your wife.  Are you and your wife Christians?

It sounds as if you wife has some bitterness towards you for not giving her a child.  Have you two been to a doctor to see which of you or if both of you are infertile or perhaps there is something they could do with it?

Even if you can’t have a child naturally – have you considered adoption?

I am not saying that your inability to have a child with your wife is an excuse for your wife’s actions toward you – but I do understand the natural yearning that God has placed in women to bare children.  In the Bible a woman named Hannah faced a similar dilemma as your wife is now:

“1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: 2 And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

3 And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there. 4 And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions:

5 But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb.

6 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb.

7 And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.

8 Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?”

I Samuel 1:1- 8 (KJV)

While God ultimately gave Hannah a son, he does not always provide women with a child.  What this story illustrates for us is both the frustration of a wife at being childless and the frustration of a husband for feeling like he is not enough for her.  I am sure that is how you feel and perhaps your wife feels like Hannah in this story.

The pain that women feel from being childless is something we as men can barely comprehend.  Yes men want kids too, but being childless does not affect us the way it does a woman.  But what your wife needs to realize is in many ways the pain she feels of being childless is the way you feel of being emotionally and sexually shut out by her.  In the same way that men cannot fully grasp how being childless can cause a woman pain to the her core, women often cannot grasp the pain they cause their husbands by sexually shutting them out.

This is what I would suggest.

Make sure you have tried every way you can – seeing doctors to try and have a child.  If you already have then look into adoption.  Tell your wife how much you love her and want to provide her with a child.

But the most important truth you need to share with your wife is that true contentment and joy does not come from things or even people.  She cannot hinge her joy and contentment on having a child, or even on your.  Your bodies may fail to give you a child, but God is always there.  He is the one true constant. She needs to find contentment in God, and then realize the sinful way she has been treating you.

God commands a wife to give her body to her husband for sex. You cannot condone an attitude from her “until you provide me with a child, I will not provide you with sex” – this is a sinful attitude and must be confronted.

Seek out Godly counseling for you and your wife. Perhaps God will change her heart.
If after a long time of counseling she continues to act in rebellious ways you may have to take further actions.

But I would start there.

Stories of Sexual Denial in Marriage – Episode 4

Our next story is from a man I have conversed with a great deal privately and then he decided a little while back to make his story public on my site. While it grieves me every time I hear one of these stories, I am thankful then men of God like him are brave enough to share it – for two reasons.

The first is so that other believers can pray for them.  The second is to let other men know they are not alone this situation and this also serves to let Christian women know who may be doing this to their husbands – how much it truly hurts them, and how sinful it really it is.

We will just call him by his avatar name – “Missionary to Mexico”.  He send in this update to his story(you can read other comments from him on my post “8 Steps to confronting your wife’s sexual refusal”.

I just had a talk with my wife today. It did not go very well. I wanted to make an appointment with a gynecologist to see if her having sex with me would be dangerous to her health. I asked what she would do if the gynecologist said that there would be no danger to her health if she had sex with me. She reminded me of what another gynecologist said to us last year, that her sex drive was gone. My wife interpreted that to mean that I should have been prepared to live in a celibate marriage with her for the rest of my life. She said that because she is 68 years old, I should understand why she doesn’t want sex. (I am 76.)

I told my wife that just as it is a sin to have sex outside of marriage, it is also a sin to reject the other spouse when he or she wants sex in the marriage. That the one who is refusing sex is the one who is being selfish, not the other way around. I told her that God put the desire in me to have sex in the marriage. I also told her that I have been communicating with people on the internet who have the same problem as I have, men and women alike. I told her that all of us who have the problem with a spouse who refuses to have sex with us feel rejected and that the one who refuses to have sex is destroying the marriage. I also mentioned about the women (in other blogs) who refused to have sex with their husbands but repented because they knew it was wrong. I told her that these women have come to the point to where they now enjoy having sex with their husbands. She still doesn’t understand.

She also believes that she has to be in love with me to have sex with me, which she said she has never been, that she married me because she felt pressured to do so. I told her that I could not live in a celibate marriage the rest of my life. I explained that refusal by one spouse leads the other into a lot of temptation.

She plans on going to Colombia in December. When I saw some signs of hope a few weeks ago, l told her then that I would like to go to Colombia with her. However, today I told her that until we solve our marital problems I would not be going with her. Furthermore, I told her that if we could not solve them by December, that not only would she have to go there alone, but would have to stay there until we could solve them. I told her that if she wanted me only as a friend, she could call me via Skype from Colombia.

My wife receives two pensions, so she doesn’t have to depend on me to support her. Right now I am paying for all the expenses of the house, the car, and buy all the food. I don’t make a lot more money than she does.

Just a few minutes ago (after our conversation), she told me that she needed to get an exam for her kidneys. Although we have social security health coverage in Mexico, she told me she would get a much more complete exam via a private company. One of those that she really trusts would charge 800 pesos for the exam. I asked her if she had the money to pay for it and she said no. I told her that I would pay for it.

So, I really love my wife and have tried hard to be a good husband. Unfortunately, it does not look like this love is mutual. Please pray for our marriage! Fortunately, neither one of us want a divorce. I am hoping that if we separate, that both of us will come to the conclusion that God wants us to have a good marriage to each other and that both of us will be willing to do what it takes to have one.

From this point forward I will refer to Missionary to Mexico as MTM.

Let me just say clarify a few things that MTM did not mention here(and he would not mind me saying).  You might think because his wife is in her late 60’s and he is in his mid 70’s that they have been married for 50 years or so. That is not the case – MTM was previously married and so was this woman.  They just got married within the last 5 years I think.

So this is a relatively new marriage despite the advanced age of both of them.  I also happen to know from emailing with him that his wife does not have any real gynecological issues that would prevent intercourse – she simply has no desire.  And as he pointed out she uses her lack of desire as medical reason not to have sex with him, and he was taking her to the doctor so he could confirm with her with the doctor present that there is no medical problem for her to have sex with no desire.

Obviously with women of that age lubrication becomes an issue and if desire is not present then yes it can be more difficult, but there are ways to help with that  – if only she is willing to try.

He is truly trying to love his wife the best he knows how, but he is absolutely correct that God does not call us to live in a marriage with a spouse that willfully and purposefully rejects having sex for their own selfish reasons.  And yes “I don’t feel like, I have no desire” is a selfish reason.

God determines what is selfish and what is not selfish.  God says it is not NOT selfish for a man or woman to desire sex with their spouses.  On the other hand, God says it is selfish for a spouse to willfully deny sex to their spouse.

If MTM does not feel like going to his job – can he can just say “I have no desire, I don’t feel like it”.  Of course not.  Does a mother or father “feel like” or “desire” to get up with their sick child in the middle night? No.  But we do these things because it is our obligation, our duty to do so.

“I am not, nor have I ever been romantically in love you”  doesn’t cut it either.

This Christian wife needs to put her “big girl pants on” and start acting like an adult and a Christian.  It does not matter if she married him for the wrong reasons, or never felt romantic love toward him.  She made a commitment in marriage, and now she must fulfill the vows she made before God and man – and that includes giving her body to her husband.

The Bible is clear on this:

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

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.

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)

Additionally a woman to submit to her husband in “every thing”:

24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” – Ephesians 5:24 (KJV)

A wife is commanded to submit herself in everything to her husband, and that very much includes her body in the act of sex.  She does not have power over her own body, but her husband does.

And as I have answered the ridiculous notion many times put forward by other Christians online – NO the woman having power over husband’s body does not entitle her to say he cannot use his body with her in sex.  That interpretation goes against the entire principle of I Corinthians 7:3-5.

The power that a husband or wife have over their spouse’s body is a power to take their body in the act of sex, it is not the power to refuse sex.

“And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another;” – Romans 1:27 (KJV)

What is “that natural use of the woman” that God mentions in Romans 1:27? Sex! Now the Bible tells a man in Ephesians 5 that he is to love his wife.   But there is absolutely no contradiction between a man loving his wife, and also having a physical and emotional  need to have sex with his wife on a regular basis.

A husband is not selfish for taking advantage of the “the natural use of the woman” when he feels like having sex with his wife.

I am not in any way advocating for men to be selfish lovers. A Christian husband should try and make sex as pleasant, and as mutually pleasurable for his wife as possible.  But make no mistake  – God himself says sex is “the natural use of the woman”.

In fact according to I Corinthians 7:3-5 the only way regular sex can cease for a short time between a couple is if they agree by CONSENT.  The consent Biblically is not to have sex, but rather the consent is to NOT have sex.  I realize this is completely backward from our modern sinful ways of viewing marriage – but that is not God’s way.

I realize that when I use language like “take sex” – many Christian women and men are offended by this, and I certainly do not mean by that a man forcing himself upon his wife.  But what that means is a man is allowed at anytime, except for when his wife gently refuses him for temporary medical or mental issues, to expect that if he requests to take pleasure in his wife’s body as  Proverbs 5:19 says he should be able to  – that his wife will submit herself and her body to that request.

To MTM – I am praying for you brother.  I realize God will have to let you know when it is time, but if your wife continues to willfully sexually deny you – she is committing sexual sex – sexual immorality by doing so.  Any time we do something sexually that God forbids, or DON’T do something sexually that God commands that is by definition sexual immorality.  Many believers do not understand that being unfaithful to your spouse does not just mean having sex with someone outside your marriage  – it also an unfaithfulness to willfully and chronically refuse to have sex with your spouse inside your marriage.

If she refuses to repent, I pray that one day God will give you the peace you need to send her way in divorce.

 

Can a Christian wife withhold sex as a way to change her husband’s bad behavior?

Can sexual refusal be used by a wife to change her husband’s bad behavior? Does God allow sexual refusal as method for addressing wrong behavior on the part of a husband? Can bad behavior on the part of a husband justify a sexless marriage?

I recently received this very heartfelt comment from a Christian wife named Jenn and you can see how much she is hurting as you read this. I would be willing to bet there are many Christian wives that face a very similar scenario. The emotion runs deep in this story, and I think for some valid reasons.

Jenn’s story

“I agree that a sexless marriage is not God’s plan and that both parties should do everything in their power to maintain their physical union and covenant. However, I do not believe it is appropriate to give a blanket statement that denying sex in a marriage is sin. Sometimes, refusing sex becomes necessary as an effort to PRESERVE THE MARRIAGE when the husband repeatedly shrugs off spiritual leadership in the home, ignores the wife’s emotional needs, treats the wife as a roommate, does NOT consistently do the steps you outlined above (going on dates, upgrading around the house, show any type of affection, etc.) leaves ALL THE PARENTING TO THE WIFE, and then just expects to get laid!

Continuing to engage in intercourse under those circumstances is submitting to sexual abuse, even though there is no force or violence involved. Continuing to engage in intercourse for the wife leaves the door open for bitterness and resentment to fester. NO! The wife does NOT want to live in a sexless marriage, but neither does she want to be devalued and violated, either.
Yes, private communication was sought out to correct these issues… as was counseling that went on for 18 months… communication among godly, loving friends. To make matters worse, this person is an elder and a counselor in the church! Is all this grounds for divorce? Most say no. Does one uproot the children because one spouse is spiritually lazy and hypocritical? Difficult call.

Should the pleading spouse continue to allow the husband to treat her this way? Or should she stand her ground that she needs to be valued and cherished? The sexless part is actually the decision of the husband for refusing to correct his behavior out of pride.
So before you heap on condemnation, perhaps you should spend more time encouraging the husbands (or the wives, for that matter) to deeply investigate WHY there is no interest in sex in the first place.”

My response to Jenn and any other Christian wife who finds herself in this situation

I believe it is possible based on Jenn’s statements that her husband is sinning against her by not “knowing her” as the Bible commands him to do:

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” – I Peter 3:7(KJV)

I wrote a post a while back entitled “10 ways to know your wife” – and these things are a challenge and admonition to all of us as Christian husbands (including myself). Yes we will fail as husbands and we may not do all these things as we should, but we need to get up each and every day and ask ourselves as men – “Am I communicating with my wife as I should? Do I know her concerns? Am I addressing areas where she needs my help?”

God knows that a wife needs her husband to know her on a spiritual, emotional and physical level. This is why he commanded husbands to dwell with their wives “according to knowledge”. A man cannot know his wife as God would have him to without talking to her, and listening to her on a daily basis.

Sometimes we as Christian husbands can become so wrapped up in our careers, hobbies or even our ministries (as this woman’s husband is a church elder and counselor) that we can become neglectful of the needs of our wives and children. This woman’s story should serve as reminder for each of us as believing husbands to make sure we are knowing our wives as God would have us to.

The second thing that Jenn’s husband might be doing is neglecting to honor his wife. This is a duty that God calls Christian husbands to. He does not appear to be honoring her in her role as his helpmeet. I also wrote a post on this subject entitled “12 Ways to Honor you wife” where I go into detail on how a man can honor his wife.

A big part of honoring one’s wife – is to show her that she is valued and to praise her for her work in the home. It is also about making sure that her children are respectful of her. From what I saw in this woman’s sad account – it appears her husband may not be doing any of this. This story should serve as admonishment to all of us as Christian husbands how it makes our wives feel when we don’t know them(talk to them and listen to them) and when we don’t honor them(value them and praise them).

It appears that if this woman’s account is accurate – her Christian husband has been neglecting many of his duties to her (and perhaps his children as well).

Is withholding sex a tool that God allows a wife to use to change her husband’s behavior?

Jenn as well as many other women (Christian and non-Christian alike) believes that withholding sex is valid and justified tool when a husband is neglecting his duties to her and his children. But as sad as these types of stories are – two wrongs never make a right. God does not allow for sex to be withheld as a tool to modify bad behavior, or to encourage right behavior on the part of a spouse (either the husband or the wife).

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

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.

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 7:3-4

“Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” – Ephesians 5:24 (KJV)

The Scriptures are clear in the area of sex that a wife is to willingly give her body to her husband, she does not have the power to deny him or withhold sex from him. The Bible says she is to submit to her husband in “every thing”, and this includes in the area of sexuality.

The only way sex can be halted or denied in marriage is by mutual agreement to do so for a short time. People talk about consent in regards to sex all the time. Biblically speaking sex is only to occur in marriage. But in the context of marriage, consent is about ceasing from having sex for short period (mutually agreeing to not have sex). Consent is not about ALLOWING sex as sex is a duty and responsibility in marriage – it is a central part of the marriage covenant that you freely give your body to your spouse for the purposes of sex.

I have talked in previous posts about a husband having the right to discipline his wife, to motivate her to repent and change her bad behavior. But a husband is never allowed to use sexual denial to his wife as method of discipline. So for instance, if a man’s wife keeps denying him and then eventually she comes to him for sex – he is not allowed to deny her because she previously denied him.

The Bible tells us we should not repay evil for evil:

“Recompense to no man evil for evil..” – Romans 12:17 (KJV)

A wife in the same way is not allowed to deny or withhold sex from her husband in an effort to reform his bad behavior. When a wife withholds sex from her husband because of his bad behavior in other areas – this is a textbook example repaying evil for evil and God will not bless such actions by a wife.

In fact when we look at sex from the wife’s role, this is just one part of her overall submission to her husband. God does not allow a woman to stop submitting to her husband in any area of her life (including sex) in order to reform his bad behavior – except if he asks her to engage in an immoral or sinful activity.

But doesn’t giving a husband sex when he behaves wrongly encourage bad behavior?

Many women ask this question, and I think Jenn is inferring it by her comments above. The answer is that it is never wrong to do what God has commanded, in fact it is ALWAYS right to do what God has commanded. Short of a husband asking his wife to engage in a sinful activity – she is always to submit to him (including submitting her body to him for sex).

The Bible tells us this:

“Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” – I Peter 3:9 (KJV)

In God’s view if a woman’s husband is treating her sinfully by neglecting his duties to her, she is to repay this evil behavior by blessing him with her continued submission, even in willingly giving her body to him for sex.

I know what I just said sounds CRAZY from a human perspective. But this is God’s way, not man’s way.

I completely realize that Jenn’s head is probably spinning right now and I truly feel for her situation with her husband. If she does not withhold sex, but blesses her husband with her body – freely and willingly won’t this tell him that everything is ok and she is fine with his neglectful behavior?

No – and here is the reason why. Jenn and any other woman can continue to bring her grievances about his neglect of her and her children. Nothing stops her from doing that. I think it would really make a man’s head spin, that his wife brings her grievance before him in a respectful manner in one hour, and later that evening willingly gives herself to him when he initiates sex with no attitude or hesitation. This can be a powerful tool for change in a husband, when he sees that his wife continues to submit to him, even though she has legitimate grievances with him.

Isn’t this abusive behavior?

Jen said this about submitting her husband sexually under these conditions:

“Continuing to engage in intercourse under those circumstances is submitting to sexual abuse, even though there is no force or violence involved.”

This is not sexual abuse for her husband to have sex with her while neglecting her legitimate needs in other areas.

Her husband’s behavior in other areas may definitely be inconsiderate, neglectful and sinful by Biblical standards. But him asking for sex and her yielding to him for sex(regardless of his failings outside the bedroom) is NOT sexual abuse. I have said this in previous articles and I will say it again here. Christian wives need to be very careful of using terms like “abuser”, “rapist” and “molester” when it comes to their sexual relations with their husbands. Unless a husband actually rapes a woman(has forcible sex with a woman he is not married to), touches a person other than his wife in a sexual manner, or actually physically abuses his wife, his children or others these terms have no place in these kinds of discussions.

Let be clear as I always have to be in these posts. If a husband forces himself sexually upon his wife, Biblically speaking this is not rape but it could be abuse. So in that case it might be legitimate to call the husband an abuser, but it would still not be right from a Biblical perspective to call him a rapist.

But based on this story, there does not seem to be any forcible sex going on.

But won’t allowing sex to continue cause bitterness in the wife?

Jenn said this about bitterness:

“Continuing to engage in intercourse for the wife leaves the door open for bitterness and resentment to fester.”

I think we could safely say, and Jenn would probably concede that bitterness toward her husband has definitely “festered” in her heart. God says this about bitterness:

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” – Ephesians 4:31

Someone once said of bitterness, “Bitterness is like talking poison when you are mad at someone for wronging you, and then hoping they will die from it”. I have many men write me with bitterness in their hearts towards their wives over their wife’s sexual denial – some say some very hateful things toward them and I have to remind them that they need to let go of that bitterness, that it is a sin against God, their spouse and really their own bodies (because it hurts you when you are bitter).

This same truth would apply to Jenn and other Christian women that are dealing with husbands who are sinning against them by neglecting their duties.

A wife needs to understand the source of her bitterness towards her husband about sex

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; “ – Hebrews 12:14-15(KJV)

If you don’t understand the root of your bitterness as a Christian wife, then you will never be able to remove it. The reason you grow bitter and resentful toward your husband when he initiates sex is this – you believe he did not earn it.

Let me put this another way. It is very easy for us as men to shut our wives out, to stop talking to our wives when they deny us sexually. It is easy for us to grow bitter and think – “She wants me to sit down and talk with her when every time I go to touch her she tells me “not tonight honey”. But our wives do not have to earn the right to talk to us by having sex with us. Talking to our wives, whether we feel like it or not is a duty of every husband.

In the same way as a Christian wife you must realize the truth that your husband does not have to earn sex with you by talking to you(as he should), honoring you(as he should) and doing other nice things for you. He has a right to sex with you because of the vows you made to him and before God.

When you as a Christian wife let this truth really settle in your heart, then you will find that you are no longer bitter at your husband when he goes to have sex with you – even when he is not doing right in other areas.

Does the husband’s behavior warrant divorce?

A husband being “spiritually lazy and hypocritical” is not grounds for Biblical divorce. Now if a man fails to provide for his wife and children and just sits on a couch all day while they lose their home and starve that may be another issue. But nothing I have seen in this story would allow for Biblical divorce.

A wife is not responsible to discipline her husband

A wife is not Biblically responsible (or allowed) to discipline her husband. The husband is spiritually responsible for his wife and his children and as the head of his wife and his home he has the right to attempt to discipline. As I stated in previous posts when it comes to the wife I don’t believe physical discipline is warranted or prescribed by the Scriptures. But other types of non-physical discipline like taking credit cards away, or stopping household upgrades may be used as discipline.

God does not hold a wife responsible for her husband’s wrong behavior, he only holds her responsible for her own behavior.

A situation like this can be extremely frustrating for a Christian wife, and we can see that all throughout Jenn’s post. But she and any other wives facing this type of situation needs to make sure they take a step back and realize they are not their husband’s mother, they are his wife.

What recourse can a wife take in this situation?

I think we can see that scripturally speaking a wife has no right to discipline her husband for sinful behavior and she does not have the right to stop submitting to him in any area, including in the area of sex because of his sinful behavior. To do so amounts to repaying evil for evil – something that is very plainly condemned in the Scriptures.

But a wife can continue to bring her grievances to her husband in a respectful way. She can ask her husband to attend counseling as this woman did.

But what if the husband never changes his ways?

Jenn would most likely respond to my last comment that “I tried counseling with him for 18 months and nothing changed! He says he will change with the counselor but he comes home and nothing changes!”

Is it possible that even if Jenn repents of her bitterness, and submits herself in all ways(including sexually) to her husband that he will still not change his ways and do what God would have him do as a husband? Unfortunately the answer is yes – he may never change his ways.

Also it can help to realize that you are not the only woman or man that faces these issue of being mistreated by their spouse. I often get emails from Christian husbands asking if they can divorce their wives for less than Biblical reasons.

These are some of the things they ask about:

They ask if they can divorce their wives for belittling them and disrespecting them – the Bible says no.

They ask if they can divorce their wives for going against their wishes and disobeying – the Bible says no.

They ask if their wife is giving them sex, but with a bad attitude and she just lies there like a dead fish can they divorce their wives – the Bible says no.

They ask if their wife is too involved in her career and other activities outside the home can they divorce their wife? Unless their wife is sexually denying them or cheating on them they cannot divorce her for being too involved in her career.

The truth is that we live in a sin cursed world and sometimes people do not submit themselves to God and repent. Sometimes our spouses have horrible attitudes, or they are neglectful of our feelings. Sometimes spouses are extremely selfish.

I believe though in these cases where husbands are not doing what God says they should do for their wives – Christian wives can get through this difficulty by depending on the Lord, and recognizing that their submission to their husband, is really them submitting to God.

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” – Ephesians 5:22

So perhaps from a human perspective, your husband has done nothing to earn your submission. But would say you don’t owe God your submission? It is God who is commanding you to submit to your husband.

What Jenn and other Christian wives need to do in this situation

Acknowledge your hurt and your feelings of disappointment with your husband, don’t bury it, don’t repress it. Give it to God, Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.(I Peter 5:7)

Pray and ask God to forgive you for any bitterness you are harboring in your heart toward your husband. Pray that God will strengthen you to be able to submit to and please your husband with a right heart and a right attitude. Pray that God will change your husband’s heart and reveal his sin to him so perhaps he will be the husband that God meant him to be.

Pray that God will continually remind you that your submission to your husband is really submission to God himself.  When you submit to your husband it pleases God, especially when he knows it is hard for you to do it because of your husband’s behavior.

All of us need God each day, we can’t live this Christian life in our own strength.

Stories of Sexual Denial in Marriage – Episode 3

Our next story of sexual denial comes from a man named Nathan.  He sent in this story about his sexless marriage in response to my post “8 Steps to confronting your wife’s sexual refusal”.

Nathan begins his story by quoting something I said in my post and comparing it to his situation with his wife:

““some women simply are happy not to have sex that often and would prefer that their husbands would be the same, and these see no moral dilemma in simply training their husbands to have less sex.” This is a perfect description of my wife for 40 of the 40 years we have been married.

No sex before marriage and on our wedding night she was too tired and it was too late. During the first 5 years nine months of our marriage I tallied up the time from just 4 events and came up with no sex for 2.5 years! Within a few months of our marriage she was pregnant. She claimed it was an accident but a few years later, after the second pregnancy, I found out she and her meddling, controlling mother planned the entire thing. Her mother did some bragging after the second pregnancy and it got back to me.

As soon as she verified she was pregnant the first time she cut off everything for a little over 9.5 months. She then “allowed” sex once and then nothing for over 4.5 months. The second pregnancy was more of the same but worse. This time as soon as she determined she was pregnant she cut off everything for one week short of 11 months; “allowed” sex once and then nothing for over 6 months. Even when she allowed anything it was never better than 3 times a month.”

What Nathan is describing here is the type of woman that looks at her husband simply as one part in her “master plan”. Many women, whether they are Christian or non-Christian do not see themselves as God designed them to be.  They do not see themselves as a helpmeet to their husband, but rather they see their husband’s as a helpmeet to them.

They have it all planned out – “I am going to get married, have X number of kids, have the house with the picket fence, have my career and my other activities.” The husband, and to some extent the children are simply seen as accessories to this woman’s life. I am willing to bet based on the story, that she learned this from her mother doing the exact same thing with her father.

So it makes sense in this woman’s mind that her husband’s needs and wishes are secondary to hers – since he is just a cog in the machine of a world that resolves around her.

At this point we will have all the apologists for this woman coming out of the wood work. “Maybe he was not romancing her enough, maybe he was not buying her flowers, dating her and getting her in the mood more”.

First and foremost – romance is not a prerequisite of sex in marriage.  Biblically speaking sex is restricted outside of marriage, but REQUIRED within marriage.  It is both a RIGHT and a RESPONSIBILITY with marriage.

“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)

I don’t know if this man tried to romance his wife or not, but it sounds like even if he did it would not have changed her view of sex, and even more importantly her role in marriage.  She simply saw him as an accessory to her life – he was the paycheck, the person to do the heavy lifting and a sperm donor to produce offspring to add as other accessories to her perfect life.

Nathan confronts his wife’s lack of interest in sex

“Within a couple of months of our marriage I said something to her about her apparent lack of interest. She put on a great act telling me she didn’t realize sex was that infrequent and then immediately cut things to twice a month. After the first pregnancy I made the mistake of again confronting her with the facts of her lack of interest. Same act as before and this time she cut things to once a month or less.”

As you can see from this story – Nathan’s wife began training him early in their marriage to simply be grateful for whenever she decided to grace him with her body in the act of sex. Any complaint, any grievance on his part would be met with less sex to reinforce this training.

While Nathan can’t go back in time to change this, this is a teachable scenario for many young Christian husbands. What you tolerate at the beginning of your marriage – will set the tone for the rest of your marriage.  Can you change things later on? Maybe. But it will be much more difficult once a pattern of behavior have been established.

What Nathan should have done, and what any young Christian husband in this situation should do is to turn this “training” attempt around. Instead he should make if clear to her that if she continues to refuse him sexually there will be disciplinary consequences.

The Word of God needs be the foundation for every Christian household. Whether it be with his wife or children, a husband and father should always be sitting down and sharing God’s design for the family.  For instance if a child disobeys or disrespects his mother or father, I think it is good and wise for a Father to take his children to the Scriptures to show them God’s commands that exhort children to obedience and respect toward parents.

It is no different with a wife, when a wife acts in rebellious or sinful way her husband has a duty as the head of his wife to rebuke her sin and to show her God’s Word in the hope that she will repent. Job should be the model for every Christian husband in rebuking his wife:

“Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” – Job 2:9-10 (KJV)

Now there are gentle rebukes and there are more assertive rebukes.  I believe as Christian husband’s we should for the most part start off with gentle rebukes to our wives, in the hope that they will repent. But there are times when a wife’s behavior calls for a more assertive and aggressive rebuke.  A Christian husband needs to listen to the Holy Spirit to know what each situation calls for.

Nathan in this case should have rebuked his wife’s sin in regard to her sexual denial. If his verbal rebukes and Scriptural exhortations did not work then he should have moved on to other disciplinary measures. I have had a lot of Christians ask me if I think there could be a different order to 8 Steps to confronting your wife’s sexual refusal and I think the answer is yes.

For some Christian husbands, they may be lead to move from Step 1(rebuke) down to steps 4-7(removing privileges) and then back to steps 2(counselor) and 3(church).  I see no problem with that approach.

So in this case Nathan could have moved from rebuking his wife’s behavior, and if he saw no change or just rebellion on her part and moved to stopping dates and trips. He could then move to removing any unnecessary household upgrades and also remove her funding. But as he took each of these disciplinary steps with his wife – he needed to make it clear that this was discipline – not some form of revenge. It was action taken to correct sinful behavior in her life.   See “8 Steps to confronting your wife’s sexual refusal” for more detail on this process.

Nathan’s wife’s schedule

“With her this is how things have been for our entire marriage: Sunday through Thursday nights were out because she had to get up for work the next day. Friday night she was just too tired after working all week. Saturday night was out because she had to get up early for Church on Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon was out because she had to study for whatever she volunteered to teach Sunday night or whatever she needed to have ready for work on Monday morning. Saturday morning before 9:00am it was too early: after 9:30 am it was too late.

Almost as regular as clockwork, meddling MIL would call on Saturday morning at 9:00 am and she would yap on the phone for 30 minutes to an hour. Those Saturday am phone calls were after a 30 minute to an hour call on Friday night and calls at least 4 or 5 other nights of the week. What was always nice about all the phone calls from “mommy dearest” is that they almost always came within 10 to 15 minutes after I had been given the cold shoulder because my “loving?” wife was “too tired”.”

Here I would give a gentle correction to Nathan. I don’t think his wife did all this volunteer work in addition to her career during the week only to avoid Nathan and avoid sex with him.  She did it for her own fulfillment.  I have no doubt she had little need for sex, but I think the avoidance of sex was secondary to her other interests.

This woman is a prime example of how so many modern day women see their fulfillment in life in every other place BUT where God intended them to have their primary fulfillment in life.

They look at being as wife and mom as simply one of their many life attributes – being a wife and mom gives them a photo to put on a desk.  It gives them something to talk about around the water cooler at work or at Church activities. But they don’t see those roles as the central focus of their life or as the primary reason for which God created them as women.

I think we also have to ask a question that I would really be curious as to the answer from Nathan. Did he know his wife was this busy of a person before he met her? Often times we are blinded as men by a woman’s beauty to major flaws that will make a Christian marriage very difficult.

There is nothing wrong with a woman being ambitious and intelligent. The Bible says this of the virtuous wife:

“She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” – Proverbs 31:26-27 (KJV)

So as we can see – the excellent wife is one who is a wise and a busy person (she is never idle). One could argue that the excellent wife, is in fact an ambitious wife.

The Bible commends ambition for the things that God wants us to do, but it condemns selfish ambition. The virtuous wife of Proverbs 31 is a very busy woman and the Scriptures tell us that she “eateth not the bread of idleness”. Contrary to teachings of our feminist culture, the excellent wife’s ambition is centered on her God, her husband, her children, her home and how she can best serve them.  It is not centered on her own selfish ambitions.  The Bible says this about selfish ambition:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” – Philippians 2:3(NIV)

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” – James 3:16 (NIV)

Let me remind the reader that the first sin woman ever committed was in her envy and selfish ambition in the Garden of Eden in seeking after the forbidden fruit and the knowledge of God. Eve was ambitious for something that God did intend for her.  And then we have man’s first sin “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree” (Genesis 3:17). Adam not only failed to confront his wife’s sin, he listened to her and condoned it! Far too many Christian husbands are condoning and enabling the sin of their wives today in many areas (not just sex) and this is as displeasing to God as Adam’s condoning of Eve’s sin.

But let’s go back to my question of whether he knew or not that his wife was a selfishly ambitious person before he met her.  This is a teachable experience for young men seeking wives to check and see “Is this woman ambitious in a godly way, or is she ambitious in selfish way?”

But after marriage, even if you discover that you were blinded to your wife’s selfish ambitions – God still calls you to love your wife by leading her, providing for her and protecting her.  You are also still called to teach her the ways of God and to rebuke sinful behavior in her life, especially as it relates to her respect for you and her submission in all areas (including the area of sex).

Nathan takes his wife to a Marriage Seminar

“When it came to sex, for 40 years my wife has always been “too”: too busy, too tired, too involved, it was too early or too late. We attended a “marriage enrichment” seminar one time early in our marriage. They had us write down all the time commitments we had on a sheet of paper. Two pages or so later my wife had about listed everything.

The facilitator went around the room looking at the papers form different couples and making a few rather generic comments. Every one of these papers listed their spouse. When he got to my wife’s paper the first thing out of his mouth was “mam, there is no way you can be involved in all of this”. Oh contraire, my wife proceeded to list in great detail times and dates for every last item; she had it all planned out. At this he turned to me and asked “how do you feel about all of this?” My only comment was “isn’t it obvious that it doesn’t really matter how I feel about it”!

You see, in all of the junk she listed on over 2 pages, I did not even make the list and no doubt he saw that as well. Nice thing about that seminar, she went out of her way to start a fight so she would have an excuse for no sex that night as well.”

This marriage seminar just reinforced how blind Nathan’s wife was to her own selfish ambitions. Instead of her centering her life on God and her husband – her life was centered her own selfish pursuits.

Another key truth to point out here is that sexual denial in marriage is often just the tip of the iceberg.  Sometimes women deny their husband’s out of feelings of hurt or neglect, and while this is still sinful we can understand the source of this better.  But sometimes women neglect their husband’s from a position of pure and utter selfishness, and this wife seems to be demonstrating textbook selfish ambition.

This also shows whether Nathan realizes it or not that sex is more than a physical activity to us as men. It’s more than some pleasurable thing we do with our wives. Sex with our wife makes us feel connected and loved by her in a way no other activity can compare to.

When wives neglect or minimize the sexual needs of their husbands, they are in fact rejecting their husbands, you cannot separate a man’s sexuality from his person.  

Far too many men, even Christian men have surrendered to the false notion that man’s desire for sex is selfish and base, and this must be combated in every arena that it appears.

God created sex to be an outward symbol, a tangible symbol of the union between a man and woman in marriage. In many ways sex in marriage is similar to communion at Church in that communion is a constant tangible and physical reminder of the Churches relationship with Christ.  This is why God commands sex in marriage and it is to be often and regular. God gave man a strong physical and emotional desire for sex to make sure that it happens regularly in marriage. Of course there are other reasons God created sex and you can read about them in my post “The 7 reasons God made sex”.

Nathan tells us about his wife’s sexual teasing

“Another nice thing she liked to do for the first 30 years was to grab at me throughout the day in a sexually suggestive way. If I did anything to try and make good on it she would pull away and say “down boy down, we don’t have time for that right now”! If awards could be given for sexually abusive women I think my wife would win hands down.”

I am all for a wife sexually teasing her husband (both by touching him, and “visually romancing” him with her body), but then she needs to make good on that foreplay. It almost seems here that she was mocking his sexuality, knowing how much he needed to sexually connect with her. This is just a truly sad story.

Nathan gives up

“A little over 10 years ago I completely gave up and quit even trying. I no longer initiate anything so it is not unusual to go 1 to three, four months or more without so much as even a kiss from her. After a lifetime of this miserable existence my advice to anyone dating or married to someone like this would be, cut your losses and run as far and as fast from them as you can possibly get. No matter how much you love them they can’t be fixed and they absolutely will not change. If you think they will change if only you are patient and continue to love them you are living in a dream world; it won’t happen.”

So it sounds as if Nathan tried for the first 30 years, and then gave up for the last 10 years of his marriage. I am guessing this puts Nathan somewhere in his 60s now.  He has given up on women and marriage and I can understand why.

But to Nathan and those other men that have experienced this type of “miserable existence” in marriage – let me offer you some hope. You don’t have to give up. You can fight for what is right, in fact it is your duty to confront sin in your marriage. If you’re taking the leadership in your home and confrontation of sin in your wife’s life leads to divorce, then so be it.

God hates divorce, but he created divorce for a reason – because he knows men and women are sinful creatures.

God knew that there would be abusive husbands. He knew there would be lazy husbands who would not provide for their wives. He knew husbands would abandon their wives, and wives would abandon their husbands. He knew there would be adultery. He knew there would be husbands and wives that deny a central part of marriage to their spouse – sex.  This is the reason God created divorce.

So in a case like this if Nathan confronts his wife after all these years – she might leave and divorce him.  Even if she does not divorce him, he may divorce her for the sin of sexual denial in marriage – which is by definition sexual immorality. Regardless of if she divorces him, or he divorces her over her sexual denial – the sin rests on her head.

Another interesting phrase from Nathan was this “If you think they will change if only you are patient and continue to love them you are living in a dream world; it won’t happen.”

I am all for a husband being patient with his wife in regard to her faults, just as wives should be patient with their husband’s in regard to their faults.  But with God some faults in marriage are more serious than others, and some faults when left unchecked can break the marriage covenant and destroy the marriage.

I never recommend divorce lightly, and I get many people who write me about these kinds of issues and I tell them they need to wait, be patient and give it more time.  But I tell them that while they are waiting, that does not mean they need to tolerate the sin in these areas from their spouses.  They need to continue to confront the sin as it occurs, while at the same time continually praying that God will change the heart of their spouse.

But Biblical teachings like “patience” and “sacrificial love” in marriage can be abused to the point where these are used to excuse and enable sinful behavior on the part of a spouse.

If a woman is being beaten by her husband, should she exercise “patience” and just wait for God to work on her husband as he beats her week after week? I believe the Biblical answer is NO.

In the same way if a man is continually being denied sex for weeks, that turn into months, and then years should he just be “patient” and show “sacrificial love” to his wife by tolerating her sinful sexual denial? Again I believe the Biblical answer is NO.

One other thing I want to close with on this sad tale.  This story is about a whole lot more than sexual denial by this wife as most of these stories are. This is about a woman, like so many women today, who does not see herself as God sees her.  This is a woman who is in open and defiant rebellion against God’s design for her life. God wanted her life to center on him, her husband and her children – not her own selfish ambition.