Do You Make Your Husband Feel Guilty about Sex?

A lot of husbands are guilt-ridden. They go week to week, month to month, sexual encounter to sexual encounter, feeling bad about themselves and their marriage.

Why? Because they want sex, even swear they need sex, but their wives aren’t engaged. What circumstances cause these guilt feelings? Here are a few.

She thinks it’s dirty. This wife was taught that sex was something bad girls do, a mere act of the flesh that godly women don’t desire or enjoy. Or maybe she experienced sex misused in her past and it’s left a bitter taste in her life; she can’t imagine sex being a truly good thing.

So when her husband craves her body and the ecstasy of lovemaking, he feels bad. He knows she doesn’t want it, doesn’t enjoy it, thinks he’s a lesser creature for even wanting such a sordid act so often. But he can’t get rid of his sex drive. He wants his beloved woman, deeply, desperately. So what can he do? How can he get past the guilt of constantly wanting to be one flesh with his wife?

She doesn’t have time for it. This wife is so busy with the demands of being a wife, household manager, mother, worker, and whatever other roles she’s balancing. Yes, she understands that sex is important, but can’t her husband see that it’s secondary to the higher purposes of her life? Perhaps she’s running a ministry, something that makes a genuine difference in others’ lives, and her husband feels guilty for taking her away from her calling.

He feels selfish for demanding her time and attention, for feeling jealous of others who get her time and attention, for not being able to go without. Yet, his body trembles with desire for her, and he simply can’t get out of his mind the longing to connect with her physically.

She rejects his advances. Most times he asks, this wife turns him down. He knows that she doesn’t want sex, not anywhere near like he does, and he can’t even fully understand that. Doesn’t she love him? Maybe the problem is with him, that he wants it too much.

Should he simply pray for God to douse his desire, leave him content with those few times she is willing? He hates to ask again, but it’s been so long and he wants to have sex — sex with her. How can he move beyond the rejection?

She doesn’t enjoy it. This wife will oblige her husband’s advances, but she doesn’t like it. Her attitude screams, This is for you only! Maybe she believes she’s being truly loving, offering her body to him for his satisfaction. And because he wants sex so very much, he partakes.

He knows he’s the only one getting satisfaction, but even that satisfaction is bittersweet. And he feels guilty that he’s using her for his own gratification, when he really desires for her to enjoy the experience like he does. He feels trapped — his only choices being to refuse the sex he wants so very much or continue to feel like a clod for having his way with her.

She downplays her enjoyment. This wife willingly engages, but she discounts her own sexual needs and desires. She doesn’t take the extra effort to figure out her body and what feels good. She won’t communicate what she likes, maybe even when asked. She skips the orgasm more often than not, perhaps proclaiming it’s not worth it. Her downplaying of enjoyment conveys that she doesn’t feel like she’s worth it.

Yet her husband yearns to bring her pleasure. He revels in those few times she goes over the top, to the peak of sexual arousal. He feels guilty when he can’t bring her there, when she doesn’t let him focus on her, when the balance of sex is mostly for him. If only he could help her understand how turned on it makes him, to turn her on.

Young Man with His Hand on His ForeheadI hear it from husbands too frequently — that they feel guilty for wanting and pursuing sex with their wives. It’s easy to misconstrue your man’s eager advances as a merely physical desire to “get his jollies.” There are plenty in the male species who approach sex just like that, especially in single life and secular culture.

But what I also hear from husbands is how much sex means to him. How it’s not just about the physical release. Of course, it is about the physical release somewhat; that body craving to be intimate with the person you love is a God-given biological desire. But sex means more than that. It’s an expression of deep love and connection. Husbands feel loved and confident and whole when they experience regular, mutual sexual satisfaction with their wives.

Sex was God’s idea. It is to be enjoyed in the confines of a covenant marriage. It should be mutually sought and satisfying. It is a good thing.

Do you make your husband feel guilty for wanting that?

Think about what messages you intentionally or unintentionally send about the meaning of sex in your relationship. Whatever obstacle prevents you from fully engaging in God’s gift of sexual intimacy, address it today. Help your husband receive what God intended him to have — the intimacy he can only receive from you, his chosen beloved.

79 thoughts on “Do You Make Your Husband Feel Guilty about Sex?

  1. anon

    I hope that I don’t make my husband feel guilty. My issue is that he nags me about it. I wish instead of making comments about how he never gets to have sex with me that he would just shut up and make a move! This ends up with me always initiating and I get tired of that. How can I help him see this?

    1. J Post author

      I understand what you’re saying. So here’s an idea: How about scheduling it? Look, I know that may sound unsexy, but if you both agree that it’s going to happen on one or two (or hey, three or four!) days of the week, then one person waiting on the other doesn’t matter. You just both show up at the designated time and place and get going. This could kick-start the sexual intimacy and get you back into a routine.

      And you can also tell him, “Less talking with your mouth, honey. More talking with your lips and hands!” Ask him to use nonverbal communication to tell you when he wants to make love.

      Best wishes!

  2. Bonnie @ Love, Marriage and Sex

    Great post J! I know that at some point in my marriage I have fallen into each of those categories, but the worst was when my husband felt like I wasn’t attracted to him and even thought that I was cheating because I never wanted sex. I don’t think many women fully understand the impact that this attitude has on their husband. It runs deep and affects how he sees himself as a man, which impacts how he will ACT as a man and a leader in the home.

    1. J Post author

      Thanks! Yeah, I think constant refusal can really mess with the other spouse’s head, and they can start to wonder all kinds of things, including suspecting adultery when it’s not there. Thanks so much for reinforcing the message and expanding on it with your own wisdom.

    2. Dan

      Most people would not make the connection with how it would affect him as a leader in the home and marriage but it is so very true.

  3. Jacob

    I’m the husband this article is talking about (not literally). Please, ladies, take these words to heart and talk to your husbands. I hate feeling like this.

    1. J Post author

      Oh, Jacob, hang in there! I take such heart when I do hear from marriages where this all turned around. I know it can. Many blessings! I pray that your wife becomes sexually available and engaged.

  4. Anonymous

    I am forever initiating with my husband. He seems to enjoy lovemaking, but not as much as I do….if I can just get him to focus on us, it seems he is alright with it….I have tried, just ignoring my urges, and he is fine! Yikes! Scares me to death. I know he loves me, there is no one else, no other means like porno…..he is so pure…..I respect him so much, I do not want to do anything to harm what we have, just need him to want to sometimes….

    1. J Post author

      It’s tough being the higher-desire spouse. And honestly, I personally think, it’s even tougher when it’s the wife…because society tells us that’s odd. So then we wonder what’s going on, why we want sex more than than our husbands. Even wonder if there’s something wrong with us. But it happens fairly often, maybe 15-25% of marriages.

      I try to address high-drive wives on the blog as well, but when you see a post like this, just flip it. Get what you need to get from it! And keep communicating with your husband and loving him. Sometimes it takes a while to get on the same page sexually.

      1. anon

        With my husband, “communicating” doesn’t work. More than a decade of zip-zilch-NOTHING. Because”he is not in the mood”????????? I tried the fancy lingerie and…after he finished laughing hysterically, he lunged at me screaming in my face “you should have known that you look RIDICULOUS!!!!!!!!” Days later he demanded an apology(after pretending I didn’t exist) for “over reacting”. Apparently crying was out of line! The one time I attempted to whisper to him during and he yelled”SHUT THE **** UP” Then he again didn’t speak for days until suddenly yelling”WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO APOLOGIZE FOR MAKING ME FEEL BAD ABOUT MYSELF” Again, tears were something he felt I owed him an apology for. He was livid because I ruined his mood, presumably by reminding him I was actually there! So.. what did he want? He wanted me to give him a hand and talk about someone we knew trying to beat me up! His “porn” is all comic-book characters and children’s storybook characters (dressed in porn star costumes) punching, biting and hitting each other. He considers actual sex dirty. He claims to know the Lord and so do his online “girlfriends” Including the one he had phone sex and cyber sex with! And those “girlfriends” just happen to have comic-book and storybook nicknames that match the ones in his “porn”

        We went to counseling for a year. He quit going and the counselors recommendation was that I join a support group for abused women.

        Sometimes men don’t have sex, with their wives, because they’re abusive. I can say though that God is always good, even when people aren’t!

        1. J Post author

          Given your situation, I’m just going to be blunt: Your husband is cheating on you. He is unfaithful to you in his words and actions. And the way he is treating you is simply not okay. If I was in your situation, I’d be in my minister’s office tomorrow explaining why I think I’m done with this marriage. I do not say this lightly. Not. At. All.

          Can your marriage be saved? I believe almost any marriage can. But remaining in a place where you are perpetually abused isn’t likely to effect positive change. You may need to get out and hope he gets perspective.

          I’m so sorry. I wish I didn’t have to say this. My heart aches for you. But God is indeed so good, and He can help you through. Find good resources and figure out what your next step should be.

          Praying for you.

  5. K

    It’s the reverse in our house. I’ve been fighting it so long, I’ve just decided to give up. He tells me to just let him know when I need it, and he’ll oblige, but in the end that just isn’t very satisfying.

    1. J Post author

      No, it’s not very satisfying, is it? I’m so sorry you’re going through that, K.

      I do try to address higher-drive wives as well on my blog. In this post, I wanted to cover what I hear from men — how they often feel guilty. I tend to hear from rejected wives less about guilt and more about doubt — doubt about their own attractiveness, about their relationship, about their husband’s faithfulness, etc. And that’s all a big problem too.

      Praying for you and your marriage!

  6. Dan

    I can’t say I speak for every man, but I know I want to feel desired. I want to feel needed. I want to feel like my wife WANTS to have sex with me, not is willing to have sex with me. I want her to want to have sex with me as much as I want to have it with her. I think all of us men feel about our wives’ sexual desire in much the same way: To quote Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, “Why can’t a woman…be more like a man?”

    1. J Post author

      Well, now you men wouldn’t be all that into us if we become too much more like a man! 😉 Viva la difference!

      But I totally see what you’re saying and definitely believe that most men have that same yearning — for their wife to want sex, not simply do it. It’s not something to be tolerated, but pursued and enjoyed. Thanks for your input, Dan!

  7. Alayna Spinler

    If I may I believe this post should be called ” Do you make your Spouse feel guilty about sex” sadly in my life it’s my husband who feels just about all of this way. We have only been married for 5 months and it seems sex it not his favorite subject. He does it just for me, but I only get 15/30 mins and he’s onto something else. Yet he works 8-12 hours a day. I have tried speaking to him about it and there is some approvement but not much. I don’t know if it’s his Devoute Baptist background that sex is not acceptable or what, but he insists there is nothing wrong with him. I am often left wanting to make love to my hubby and do delightful things, but I am scared he will get angry or upset. He does have a chronic back, and leg, and knee problem, but my mom says guys usually don’t care, they want it, they get it. Well apparently not mine and I think the majority of your reasons in this post apply sadly to my husband. He is great in all the other areas of our marriage but not in this.

    1. Dan

      I am about to begin a series on body image issues. I mention this not in the way of a “commercial”, but to get to this point. I thought I knew what I was going to say for the most part, at least from the husband’s and male perspective. Then I did some more reading this morning about highly sensitive persons and added yet another issue to the mix. That issue may be part of what is going on in your marriage. Barring medical issues like hormone levels and ED, it may be that he finds sex “over-stimulating” in some way. That may sound odd since sex is supposed to be stimulating by it’s very nature, but we each have optimal levels of stimulation that when crossed over create feeling of discomfort and anxiety. I recently shared comment with a woman who said her husband will not sleep in the nude and wears pajamas to bed and has sex with them on allowing only his penis to extend beyond the fly and nothing else because he finds skin-to-skin contact to over-stimulating.

      In the case of your husband, it is possible he finds the risk involved in sexual intimacy to be over-stimulating. If he initiates he has to risk being rejected. If he engages in sex, he has to risk feeling or being found to be inadequate. Sex for a normal, healthy person is also highly pleasurable and usually highly desired. Sexual release of some sort becomes, if not a need for most people, highly desired at some time and on fairly regular intervals. What he may fear is if It becomes a need and he invests to much of himself into the sexual relationship, what happens if you refuse him. I use the term “refuse” here to mean he is denied sex for any number of reasons, some not necessarily by your design or under your direct control. Now he has to deal with feelings of abandonment. I wonder if this isn’t why some people are open to and drawn to masturbation and/or pornography as an alternate or even primary sexual experience? We will not reject but will immediately satisfy our own sexual desires and the person on screen will neither reject not judge us.

      I am not saying I think you husband has any of these issue and that’s why he has a seemingly low libido, but I do think they are areas that need to be looked at before you begin to think it is you and your particular expression of sexuality that is a problem.

    2. J Post author

      Here’s my take, Alayna. You mention several potential sources of the problem — excessive work hours, possible religious training that included strict (and ultimately incorrect) notions about sex, chronic pain issues. But you also said that he’s declared there’s nothing wrong with him. So maybe you bringing all this up feels hurtful to him, makes him believe you don’t see him as adequate or potent in your marriage. And that really sucks for a guy.

      So while I’m not excusing this, because honestly I think his priorities need some rearranging, I’m trying to look into what you might be able to do to address the situation. Start with reassuring that you’re not saying something’s wrong with him, but you just want both of you to feel loved and valued in your marriage — including the sexual intimacy area. Explain that you want to be united in how you approach sex in your marriage, and that it’s important to you that you both feel close and satisfied. Then start asking questions about what he thinks and wants. Really listen, and see if you can hear where the obstacles are for him. Then work together to deal with them. If you can’t come to some agreement about how to tackle the mismatch in drives, you can suggest counseling — even a few sessions with your pastor.

      You’re right that five months into a marriage, most husbands are raring to go. But not everyone is, and you have to deal with your situation. You love this man, and you’ve got a lifetime to foster a fabulous sex life together. Start here and now.

      Praying for you. Many blessings!

      1. Alayna Spinler

        Thanks J for your insight. I have though tried asking him before what fantasies he has or what he likes and such and I usually get an I don’t know, or I haven’t thought about it. I have also suggested sex therapy to see if that would help and I got a resounding NO WAY!! We do have a marriage counselor who was also our officiant at our wedding and also our friend, and whenever I tell him of our issue my hubby gets angry that I didn’t mention it to him first, but when I mention it to him first I don’t get anywhere. His father tried talking to him about it and as I have said, there have been some improvement, but as u said his priorities seem to be elsewhere. We are both temps at our job and he is trying to make company, and though I wholeheartedly support this endeavor and am doing the best I can to be a loving wife and doing my duties when I manage to have any energy due to back pain, but I wish I got more attention. But despite my back pain and trying to be a good wife, I still make it a priority to please my hubby.

  8. LJ

    Hey folks, we’ve got a vicious circle here. We women need our husbands to engage us emotionally, or we don’t want them physically. I do know that when my husband actually takes a blessed five minutes to ask me about my day (RARE), spends some time engaged with our children, includes me in a ministry opportunity (instead of blowing me off), or turns off the technology to spend time focused on us (MORE rare), I find myself wanting to “climb all over him”. When he is lazy with our relationship, disengaged, gives the best of his time and attention to video games, or shuts me out, yet still expects me to go over the top screaming with ecstasy in bed, it’s just not realistic. It actually makes me feel used. SOMEONE has to change their approach for this cycle to break. I CHOOSE, consciously, to be the first to change, since I can only change myself. But if we change our attitudes, will they make the effort to meet us there, or is it pointless?!! SO discouraged!!

    1. J Post author

      I kind of wrote about this issue in a guest post on Sheila Gregoire’s blog: What Comes First? Sex or Friendship?.

      Yes, your husband should do more. But you are right in saying that regardless, you need to do what you can to improve the relationship. If you do nothing, you simply get what you’ve been getting. Might as well try something else, right? But it may take some time for things to turn around. Because even if he responds well to you being more engaged in the bedroom, he may have his own defenses up for a while before he trusts that this is a real and good and possibly permanent change to your marriage. Oftentimes, when something shifts, there’s a lag time before the positive changes can be seen. But then there’s a tipping point, and I pray that you two reach that, and he can see you as loving and giving and begin to yearn for opportunities to give back to you in trusting love.

      There are no guarantees, but there is a lot of hope. Because I often hear marriages that turned around when one spouse chose to shake things up. And hey, you adored this guy enough to marry him! I’m sure he has some great qualities.

      Many blessings! And prayers.

  9. Sherry Lynn

    As we’ve aged, our sex life has decreased. I am not the reason. The article about do you make your husband feel guilty about sex was really a reversal in our marriage. He makes me feel guilty.

    1. J Post author

      Men often experience a decrease in sex drive as they age. It’s normal for frequency to diminish a bit — for instance, wanting sex a few times a week instead of every single day. (But I think it all tends to balance out because a mature husband can often go longer.)

      Still, if your guy isn’t much interested, he may be experiencing a drop in testosterone or middle-aged stress. Those can be addressed. If you can talk him into getting checked out at the doctor’s office, give that a shot.

      You can also plant sweet memories in his head. That “remember when we…” and “wouldn’t it be nice if we could again….” kind of stuff. Sometimes recalling a better time of sexual intimacy can re-spark an interest in figuring out how to return to those happy days.

      Hang in there! Blessings.

  10. Dan

    Guilty as charge here. As a blogger, I spend way too much time reading, commenting on and writing posts. The problem is I get a payoff that has been so long denied and so long desired that I find it hard to maintain balance. Worse, the things I find interesting to blog about, my wife finds not that much to her interest so we can’t share my passion as a team.

    To me, it sounds similar to your husband’s fixation with video games. There is some type of payoff that he can’t regulate and you don’t understand. My wife can play spider solitaire for and hour or two. She does it to relax. She says she just zones out and removes herself momentarily from the concerns of the day. Sometimes she will only play until she wins once, other times more. Other than that, she is not a video gamer. I don’t understand it like she doesn’t understand my blogging. I want to learn and become involved, even feel needed. She, on the other hand, wants to tune out and relax by only deciding what card to play next. Perhaps your husband is using gaming to escape reality intermittently but is not capable of controlling the time factor. He could also be getting a literal hormonal/chemical buzz like any addict would and this interferes with his ability to reason. Guilty here too I suspect. I am not defending him, but trying to point out that this may be an “addiction” issue for him and a lot of 20- to 40-somethings in our society. It is not just an immature attitude toward time-management, it may be an actual addiction issue or one caused by an underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex.

    An interesting aspect to consider, is there a possible correlation between is level of intense attention invested in and stimulation subsequently received from the video games, especially when he plays exceptionally well (a personal best, wins or beats another) and how he experiences sex with you. Considering only how his side of the experience affects him and leaving you out of the equation for the moment., does he go at sex very aggressively with a lot of gusto and energy? Does he “play” sex as enthusiastically as he plays the game? Does he not only take great joy and satisfaction in his own pleasure and orgasm, but does he try to win your orgasm(s) too? I wonder if when he wants you to “go over the top screaming with ecstasy in bed,” he is not looking for you to deliver stimulation and satisfaction for his sexual experience in a manner similar to the way the video games do. I am not saying he doesn’t differentiate between you and a video game, just that he is looking for the same high degree of arousal and feeling of satisfaction he gets by “playing” either experience well and for that he needs you to help amp up the stimulation level even though it’s just not realistic. ” I realize the realistic remark is about your satisfaction level and not his.

    For you and the other woman out there reading this, don’t give up. Sadly, even when a spouse recognizes and acknowledges the need of change, the process can still be too slow and fraught with one step back for every two or three forward. I may be wrong in this regretted assumption, but I feel you ladies will more often than not have to take on the role of change-agent in your relationships. I know that is far from fair and shows a lack of maturity on the part of us men, but, for now anyway, it seems to be the case. Forgive is if you can. Some of us are trying, though my wife may wonder about one of us in particular.

  11. S.P.

    Wondering if any guys could weigh in on my question regarding this issue:
    For years I rejected my husband (not every time, but alot)…at first because it was painful for me and the dr. said there was nothing she could do to help, that eventually it would stop hurting, then it turned into we have 2 babies in diapers, I work full time and I’m exhausted…….I know during that time I hurt him and made him feel unloved. It kills me to think that I did that to him. So, now that I’ve found this blog and several others, God has really convicted my heart about this subject and now I am willing every time he asks. The only problem now is that he rarely makes a move now.

    Have I ‘conditioned’ him to not even pursue me any more? If that is possible, how do I un-condition him? We are in our early 30’s…he is taking testosterone, so his drive really isn’t an issue.

    1. 1980B.C.

      I know in my case I’m conditioned to avoid the possibility of rejection. My wife wouldn’t label herself as a refuser, because in her mind, my requests are invalid since I asked about sex when it wasn’t “on her radar.” When it is on her radar, it usually happens that it’s been such and such an amount of time, and such and such is scheduled over the next few days, so tonight’s the night it’s on her radar. Any other time I might be in the mood doesn’t matter because that’s not what “our” schedule allows for and to “push her” (ask) is insensitive and just proves that it’s all about me getting physical relief. My wife fits a little into each of the categories listed as to how she makes me feel guilty about sex, but not wholly into one. Every so often, if I can get her to talk about sex, she has a go-to defense that I don’t ever initiate anything, and she does all the work in our physical relationship, so if I’m not getting what I want, it’s because I don’t pursue her. Then she points out a list of times she was available and I just sat there next to her and said nothing all evening. She never seems very available with her shows blaring on the TV, or complaining about how she’s so tired and sore and how there’s so much going on at work. Yeah, I’m conditioned not to initiate.
      I’m working to overcome that because it amounts to me acting scared of my wife and I’m not OK with that. I’ve been working over the last half year to really improve everything within my scope of control in my marriage.
      If you want ideas of how to draw him out of his fear of initiating, I’ll tell you what I imagine would work for me. If my wife started pursing me like she wanted to be pursued, started showing me she was willing to stretch her comfort zone and make sex between us about pleasure and not just dutiful release, made me feel like she WANTED to be pursued by me regularly, above and beyond a weekly quota, I think I’d grab the reins back.

      J, this might be a good topic for you: winning back a gun-shy husband.

    2. J Post author

      I appreciate 1980B.C. giving us the hubby perspective. I read a lot and talk to a lot of guys, but I can’ t pretend to really know what it’s like in a male brain. (Seriously, what’s going on in there?!! LOL.)

      But I think you’ve stumbled on a good point. It can take a while to swing the pendulum back the other way. Oftentimes when someone has been repeatedly disappointed, and then they get the thing they wanted, they don’t jump at the chance and savor it. Perhaps because they’re afraid that it’s a mirage, a one-time fluke, a temporary deal…and getting their hopes up too much will lead to more disappointment. So when you say, “I am willing every time he asks. The only problem now is that he rarely makes a move now,” I’m thinking you need to make the first move. And maybe the second move. And the third one. And so on.

      Yes, that can be so hard to move from refuser to initiator, but if you work on giving clear signals (setting the scene or nudity often works) or outright suggesting sex, your husband will begin to see a new pattern developing. Hopefully, at the point he recognizes it’s not a crazy once-or-twice thing, but an actual PATTERN, he’ll re-engage as fully as he did before.

      Praying it all comes together for you both!!!

    3. Bryan

      S.P.,
      Honesty is your best choice. Confess your earlier sin and selfishness to your husband. “I was wrong to reject you sexually you and make excuses for it. I know I must have really hurt you. Please forgive me. I’d like to start over and learn how to love and respect you as a man and as a lover.” Then make him an offer he can’t refuse. 😉
      I would suggest a night away at a hotel or Bed and Breakfast for just the two of you. Are there any good marriage retreats or conferences you could attend together?
      Give him some opportunities to regain his confidence. We are incredibly insecure creatures underneath the exterior. When we get rejected (or disrespected) we tend to stop going to the source of the pain as a method of self-defense. It may take quite awhile to undo the hurt and rebuild the trust and confidence. So make sure any attempts to “make a move” on his part are successful. That doesn’t mean you have to jump in the sack right away every time. “Not right this minute, but give me some time to get ready for you” or “How about later this evening?”is a success–as long as you follow through. Find a way to let him know you appreciate his attempts (not in a corny, mommy sort of way, however).
      You need to have some meaningful communication with your husband. If he has lost interest in you sexually, then there are a few possible reasons. It could be a physical problem (if he is in his early 30’s that seems a bit young to need testosterone boosting medication). It could be a sin problem (he may have chosen to find a way to make up for your rejection by using porn, which diminishes a man’s interest in real sex as God designed it. Porn creates unreal sexual expectations and then causes shame and guilt which destroy intimacy). It could be a mental or emotional problem (he can’t get beyond the previous rejection because he feels insulted or belittled). He could be hanging on to anger or bitterness (another sin reason) which will destroy intimacy.
      The good news, is that there is real hope for any of these reasons. The gospel of Jesus Christ is all about redeeming EVERY area of our lives. But you both will need to seek God’s help and be honest with each other. Each of you has to own your part in this and offer forgiveness and grace to each other.
      I suggest snuggling up next to him when he is watching something on T.V. he enjoys–the kind of snuggling that makes your kids look away…. Drop him a note once in a while letting him know how much you appreciate him. Model respect for him to your kids. Make sure he (and his ideas) is valued more than parents or friends.
      If you have a godly pastor you may need some biblical problem solving help.
      I will pray right now for both of you.

  12. Nicole (@nicoletteromero)

    Great post. There are really deep messages women have internalized about sex that make it even harder to “look forward to sex”. Women often distrust arousal – in themselves and in men. Women feel comfortable with words and affection but we do not know what to do with arousal. For a few reasons: Arousal is “dirty”
    Orgasms are complicated
    Sex has always been “for the man”

    And other reasons too, but those are a good start. It does not always help to just tell a woman to have sex with her husband because it is her duty. It helps more to explore how she might enjoy sex or see it a different way so that she can look forward to it for herself.

    I hope there is a day that women see that making love is as much for them as for their husbands; it’s just not a simple journey to that.

    1. Dan

      I am trying so desperately to help find at least a tiny patch of common ground between the sexes. Some day I think I have a handle on it and then I learn some new piece of information from some new research and I feel like it’s all back to square one again. I can’t help but feel the problem is not in the nuances, but in how we are approaching this. Are we even asking the right questions and attempting to solve the right problems? Have we effectively defined the issues? I feel like we are trying to map a flat planet when the problem is a sphere, or we have focused our telescopes on the wrong celestial body which is not really at the center of the universe. I keep thinking there is a Pythagoras or Copernicus waiting in the wings who sees the true picture and when it is revealed we can all redirect our focus in the most effective way. OR NOT. You have a really fantastic blog that has become one of my new sources of exasperation with the common ground search. Keep up the good work.

      1. Nicole (@nicoletteromero)

        I think we can find common ground. I really do. I really do. I really do. I think under all our fears, rejections, and confusions are big kids who want to be loved and feel good.

        If we change the ways we have “sex” and start back at the beginning, we can find the place where we understand each other. This is not a transaction or something on a checklist. Our bodies are good, clean and pure. Sex is made on purpose to be playful and loving and adventurous, and also deep and vulnerable and complex.

        A woman who has made her husband feel guilty about wanting sex just doesn’t understand yet what sex can be FOR HER. This is partially her doing, but she probably never learned the glory of letting someone else know her in this way. To be known, body and soul, is the best feeling in the world… AFTER you cut through all the fear and shame to fight for forgiveness and love.

        A man who doesn’t know how to approach his wife in this area, beyond just saying “I want this” is not doing himself any favors. Your wife is tired and scared in ways she doesn’t even know she is scared. Go to her and speak the words she needs to hear, “I want to know you in this way. I want this to be how we play together. I love your body – exactly as it is. I love the way you smell. This is not something I want to do because I want to have a quick orgasm or ‘get off’. I want to know you and have you know me.”

        Sex is another way to have a conversation. Sex is like a late night talk where you share your secrets and laugh and learn more about the infinitely interesting person you are married to – but scarier and even more intense because it involves not just your heart and mind but your body too.

        1. Dan

          Nicole-I am so really, really, really glad that you feel that way too. With passing time and more research, I am getting the feeling that the way we are traditionally addressing this issue is flawed. In the words of of late and wise Steven Covey, we have our ladder leaning against the wrong wall. I especially get that feeling when I read some of the posts by you and your guest posters from the Valentine experience. Thank you for making the fruit of that experience available to all of us and not considering it proprietary work product not to be shared with those who did not participate or pay to be part of it. As a guy, I cannot participate but I have learned so much from it. Some of what I have read tears at my heart. I will definitely affect how I present my blog in the future. I feel it will make it more difficult for me to write which is not what I needed. I have no problem throwing words out there (as you have likely noticed, HA) but I do struggle with saying what I want exactly how I want. That just-right word, phrase or thought can make a big difference at times.

    2. J Post author

      Such great points, Nicole. Especially that we distrust our own arousal. I think women often don’t trust our own bodies and their responses. We don’t fully get in tune with our beauty and sexuality. Perhaps we fear how powerful those feelings really are. But they are powerful for a reason, so that we can connect to our husband.

      It’s God’s plan. It’s a good plan.

      Thanks!

  13. Eric V

    My wife does not make me feel guilty about wanting sex. She doesn’t have to since I’m great at doing that myself. Actually, it’s not just sex but expressing any need can be challenging. I keep hearing a voice telling me I’m selfish and or don’t deserve it. The internal dialogue is often brutal. I’ve told her about this but she has no idea what to make of it.

    1. J Post author

      Well, if I only ever got to enjoy stuff in life I deserved, I’d be sitting on a desert island eating my hair. (So to speak.) 😉

      Marriage should instead be about grace and love and generosity and all that good, mushy, romantic, curl-your-toes kind of stuff. Tell your head to shut up, and let your heart and body take over for a bit. Jump in there and woo that woman! Believe that God designed you to love and be loved. Give it, accept it, savor it.

      1. Eric V

        Thanks for the follow-up. I’m getting better at ignoring the voices in my head (not just for this issue) but I still hear them. I know I give them too much power. I need to work on accepting grace without cheapening it.

        1. Alchemist

          Maybe some cognitive behavioral therapy is in order? You are not the only one who hears these voices. Not just in connection to sex, but lots of things. It’s called disordered thinking. Pushing them away/ ignoring them is a good step. Figuring out what kind of thinking it is, why it is disordered and intentionally replacing it with ordered/ helpful thinking/ gospel truth is even more effective. It takes time to retrain your brain though.

  14. PD

    @ S.P. I’ve never posted anywhere on any website about any sexual topic, but I’ll respond to you because I’m the husband in a similar scenario. My response may seem a bit harsh at first, but its important that you and others in similar situations understand the depth of pain men experience over this kind of situation. Please read all the way to the end, there is good news.

    You asked: Have I ‘conditioned’ him to not even pursue me any more? If that is possible, how do I un-condition him? Yes, you “conditioned” your husband to not pursue you. But its worse than “conditioned.” You’ve rejected him. And for every rejection you’re aware of he’s felt rejected hundreds of times. He doesn’t have to ask for sex or hint at it and be denied by you to feel rejected. Once the feeling of rejection sets in, every time he even thinks of sex he feels your rejection. If he’s like me, and I don’t think I’m abnormal, he thinks of sex multiple times per day, . . . far more often than you know. When he wakes up in the morning with an erection he feels rejected. When he looks at you and thinks you’re beautiful, he feels rejected. When he thinks of you at work, he feels rejected. When he goes to bed at night and you’re already asleep, or staying up until after he’s asleep, he feels rejected. And on and on and on it goes.

    The good news is you must now be aware and care about the situation or you wouldn’t ask the question. So, how do you uncondition him? 1) Have an honest conversation in which you acknowledge your part in creating the current situation and express your desire for more sexual intimacy. 2) Initiate, Initiate, Initiate. Your words won’t be enough to make him feel “safe” enough (safe, in that, he won’t be rejected again) to make any difference at first. You have to show him with your actions. Pursue him. Be sexy. Make it obvious. Do the things he likes and do them often. It may take a while, but once he know’s you’re “for real” he’ll start making the first move again.

    That said, he’s in his thirties and on testosterone? Are you sure his drive is not a problem? I have no experience in that area, so I can’t help there.

    1. S.P.

      @ 1980BC & PD. Thank you both for replying. I really appreciate your advice. I’m pretty sure it’s not a drive issue because the testosterone kind of takes care of that…and when I initiate he is ‘ready’.
      It breaks my heart to know the damage I’ve done and the years I’ve wasted. And we’ve had really good conversations about it recently and how I finally realize how important this really is in our marriage. But when we’ve talked and I’ve shared with him my heart he seems skeptical and almost indignant…even made the comment well now you’ll know how I’ve felt….and he is a very loving husband…I think that comment came out of the pain I’ve caused…He mentioned that he’s still fearful of rejection…so it makes sense that I’m going to have to pursue continually until he ‘gets it’.

    2. J Post author

      Thanks so much for your perspective. I do agree that rejection can be internalized over time. At some point, the refused can simply imagine the likely rejection and experience all those sorrowful feelings in one fell swoop. Over time, all of this can be righted by establishing new patterns. But it may take time.

  15. Jen

    What about when it’s the other way around. I love sex and would love to have it at least (minimally) weekly with my husband and he never wants sex. Maybe monthly but he makes me feel like he’s settling an obligation. It upsets me it makes me feel unattractive or like his attentions are elsewhere. I have tried talking to him about this making advances. He would rather play video games then spend that time sexually with me. I’m so frustrated and feel like I’m the only woman with this problem.

    1. CF

      Jen- you are not alone in this. My husband is the same. I can name maybe 5 times over the last 23 years that I have rejected him. Our intimate life has been kind of sketchy over the last 10 years. The reason is usually the kids come in to sleep with us, he worked construction for a while etc. Over the last couple of years this has really began to make me feel unloved and unattractive. Even as I type this I have a lump in my throat. I have tried everything, being seductive, dressing appealing for this, I have even lost quite a bit of weight thinking that was the problem. I have never been overweight and am now below what I think is a healthy weight. I am currently taking anti depressants to help ease the hurt. It doesn’t help:(. Around this time last year, after many rejections my husband told me that about 10 years ago he realized that looking at other women was a sin and he doesn’t have much interest in sex. WOW! Now as a Christian I should have been happy to hear that except wait, what does that say about me? Shouldn’t he have turned that energy towards me? I don’t know how to deal with this. Anytime I bring the issue up I am shut down. If I initiate I am rejected, then the tears come and I feel bad for making him feel bad. The next day is very awkward ( I am his assistant). And I am an emotional mess for about a week( the antidepressants don’t help with this). I love my husband more than I could ever describe, It is just so hurtful to feel so undesirable. We are very active in our church and I can’t share this with anyone in fear of hurting him. We have 3 beautiful daughters, and vows to not only each other but to God so I am not going anywhere. It’s just so painful to receive compliments from others, knowing that your husband is thinking the same. I’m sorry this got so long and rambly but Jen you are not alone.

    2. Danielle B

      Any man who does not desire sex, needs to have his testosterone levels checked, by an endocrinologist. It’s not normal for a man to not want sex. Even young men can have this problem.

      1. M

        Are you sure about this? My husband and I are very open with each other and have no problem talking about sex with in our marriage. He confesses he’s not interested enough in sex to think about it at all. He’ll enjoy it when we do have it, but never thinks about it outside the bedroom unless it’s in his schedule and he knows he has to prepare himself mentally for it later on. The result is he has to keep track on his calendar when we do it so he makes sure I’m getting what I need in our marriage. (I know it doesn’t sound romantic, but he loves me so much that he’s really trying and that is VERY romantic.) I’ve asked about his levels and his response was he never had an interest in sex, so unless you can be born with low levels he doesn’t think that’s the problem. In fact he wouldn’t call it a problem, more that he has a healthier view about sex than most men. I know it’s more of an unhealthy view brought on by his Dad having affairs when he was younger and him not wanting to turn out like him that he built a wall up so high against sex that I’m just now starting to be able to peak over it, but my point is that some times there may be other reasons, but if what your saying is true I’m sure we’ll both be open to getting his levels checked. Is there any research on this? Thanks!

        1. J Post author

          I think there are plenty of reasons why a man might not desire sex that are unrelated to testosterone levels. If a man is without drive, I would suggest he get his T-levels checked, if for no other reason than to rule it out.

          But low drive can occur due to low testosterone, high stress, poor sexual history or examples (as you mentioned here), and much more.

  16. Ashleigh

    I agree with this, apart from the part amount women’s enjoyment during sex. The female orgasm is not a neccessity to a marital encounter, its a luxury.

    1. J Post author

      Not it’s not necessary, but hey, if I can wrap myself in luxury, why not?!!! LOL. Thanks, Ashleigh.

    2. Danielle B

      The husband needs to make sure the wife has an orgasm. Many different way to achieve one! In our house, he gives me an orgasm before intercourse.

      So um, no, it’s not a luxury. A loving., caring husband does the trick!!

      1. Ashleigh

        Erm, no, the husband does not need to make sure the wife has an orgasm. Should he TRY, yes, I suppose so. But if after some effort, she’s still not getting there, I think it’s totally fine for him to abandon that particular endeavour.

        1. Danielle B

          Well I guess if you don’t like sex… I guess that would be the case. But MOST women get to an orgasm through stimulation, oral, vibe or manual. Sure on a RARE occasion it won’t happen. Maybe my husband is just that good, I always have at least one.

          1. J Post author

            Just chiming in once more on this debate! Strictly speaking, neither husband nor wife must have an orgasm in order for a sexual encounter to occur. Men do tend to achieve orgasm more easily, at least at first, but ideally both spouses are reaching the pinnacle of pleasure. Whatever that looks like for each of them, but it does typically include orgasm.

            On rare occasions, my pinnacle might simply be deep affection, and I truly don’t care so much about the orgasm. But neither spouse’s climax should be ignored or downplayed. If you want it, if you can get it, go for it!

        2. Aimee

          I must say, I’m glad my husband doesn’t hold that view! He always loves to help me orgasm and will keep trying unless I say otherwise.

          1. Ashleigh

            My husband doesn’t hold that view, but I do. As long as he’s satisfied, I really don’t give a monkey’s about myself. If that makes me sexually dysfunctional, fair enough.

          2. Eric V

            My wife is the same way. I don’t give up until she says so and even then reluctantly. I still treasure the times she ‘went away’ and took a really long time to come back!

  17. Chevyman

    I agree with PD. just thinking about intimacy with our wives we feel the hurt and rejection. Thinking about it multiple times a day, that’s a lot of hurt and rejection. And the hurt and rejection doesn’t stop there. It follows on to most other things in life, work, hobbies, etc. feelings of not being good enough to do (fill in the blank), or to have (same), or to even get that raise (why bother asking). Self esteem and even who we are goes down the tubes with it. So in this condition we are not able to be who God wants us to be because we aren’t feeling worthy (even though we know that is a lie). Time has shown us we aren’t, and can’t, and to bother trying is useless and pointless.

  18. Nick

    First…as a husband I will say that yes, years of rejection can absolutely be devastating to intimacy and can make a guy gun shy. The rejection goes right to the heart…and in the end…all of us who are believers should be most concerned about heart issues. The worst is engaging in an an activity that the other person is knowingly not interested in. So why try? it makes us feel selfish, lustful, and even sometimes like there is something wrong with us…seriously wrong. For example…a wife doing research and trying to make a decision on a house purchase or a day care facility or something similar. If the husband totally disconnects from that conversation or is not full present it very often upsets the wife…who just wants him to be a part of the decision. This is similar but on a much grander scale.

    I would say talk to him. Be forthright, honest and clear. On top of that…go back to trying to turn him on like you may have while courting. I’d love for some suggestive flirting…dressing…and the like! However…even these things may not get his attention, which leads me to….

    Second. It must be me. In fact, I know it is. It must be my aging 39 yr old self that just doesn’t get the whole video game thing. Are there really men out there that would rather stare at a screen than enjoy the immense, raw, natural, curves, smells, shapes and beauty of a woman? Someone help me here. I’m sure I have my blind spots…but this one I do not get.

    Lastly. It continues to boggle my mind that there are actually women out there that WANT sex. And fun creative sex…and more than 5 minute sex. And some wanting more than once a week! Ugh…one can dream I suppose.

    1. Aimee

      Well, it is true, there are women out there that not only WANT sex, but LOVE making love with their husbands…I know, because I am one. 😉
      Now to get my hubby to want it as much as I do.

    2. Nicole (@nicoletteromero)

      I cannot tell you how many women have a hard time wanting or enjoying sex. It’s possible to, though, for almost everyone. It takes learning what is holding her back from it – sometimes by asking questions that seem to be about other things (like pleasure, control, God, body issues, body pain, beauty, touch sensitivity, desire, play, fear, being willing to hope for more, seeing arousal as Godly, etc). It takes describing sex in a new way – like a way to play together once you slice through the jungle of issues in the way… A way to learn how much God loves you… a way to experience fullness of life… a way to make a space where the two of you finally get to ignore the rest of the world and just enjoy your own set of rules.

      It’s possible – never give up. 🙂 Anyone. Don’t give up.

  19. Mary

    I am guilty even when I don’t mean to be . I was raped when I was 14. I have 8 kids . I have hypothyroid . I am actually thinking of getting test done regarding estrogen levels . Our relationship has not always been the best ( abuse – physical , mental , emotional ) I never gave up and stayed . It is much better now . Most of the time when he ask I say yes. I just don’t always feel connected . Sorry for all this but any advice ?

  20. carrie

    I understand this post and the other commenters. I understand the importance of sex in my marriage, I understand the feelings of rejection that I could cause my husband and that I shouldn’t just do it for him but enjoy it too. I don’t know how. I love him very much, and I can say to myself that I need to do all that was mentioned, I can even imagine what I wish our life would be like if I could only want to have sex. Even when I decide I need to try I just can’t. Very rarely do I enjoy sex, it isn’t painful or anything. It hurts me that I can’t get my body into it and I know it hurts him. We even tried one of Sheila’s books but we only got to the 4th challenge before it got forgotten. How do I get interested and enjoy sex?

  21. Aimee

    This a great post, as usual!
    I have been on both sides of this topic…I’ve been the refuser and now I’m the higher drive spouse.

    In my first marriage, I lived with an abusive man for twenty years and would do anything to avoid or get out of sex, so I know all the excuses in the book.

    Now I’m married to a wonderful, gentle, loving man who is the most unselfish lover. Unfortunately, due to medication-induced ED and age-related low libido, he seems content with making love only once, maybe twice a week. Not enough for me at all! And in the beginning, it was much more often and he seemed more interested.
    So, I am the one who carries guilt, doubt and frustration around on almost a daily basis. I’ve talked to him about my desires and he really tried for a while, but now we’re back to him not seeming interested. I’ve cried myself to sleep at night and sobbed in the shower while wondering what more I could do to turn him on. We flirt, say I love you constantly, hold hands, touch non-sexually a lot and have a generally fun time on a daily basis, but sometimes I wish all the flirting would finally lead to making love…after 5 to 6 days I’m more than ready and more than cranky and frustrated. 🙁
    I hate continuing to talk about it with him, because I feel like it makes me appear unsatisfied with him or only wanting sex, and I don’t want to make him feel bad.

    For now, I try to continue to try and focus on what I know to be true: that he loves and adores me, and doesn’t do this to intentionally hurt me.

  22. Pingback: Does Your Husband’s Rejection Make You Doubt Yourself? | Hot, Holy & Humorous

  23. Jenn

    Sometimes it can be more than that. It can be that we are out of our normal in the sense of hormones .
    Men have menopause just like women but it’s called andopause . Most men will deny that they do but if they were to have blood work done to check hormone levels they might be surprised

    1. Dan

      Jenn-Not pick a nit with you or being the spelling police, but if people want to Google it, it’s andropause.

      “an·dro·pause
      ˈandrəˌpôz/
      noun
      noun: andropause

      1.
      a collection of symptoms, including fatigue and a decrease in libido, experienced by some middle-aged men and attributed to a gradual decline in testosterone levels.”

      Source: Top of the number one page on Google for andropause

      Another resource: http://www.mayoclinic.org/male-menopause/art-20048056?pg=1

    2. Larry B (larrysmusings.com)

      In reply to Jenn, yes men have a transition similar to menopause in women. Yes, a man in middle age will have lower testosterone levels than a man 25 or 30 years old. But, there are other factors on the physical side of the equation. A man who is overweight, eats a very poor diet and does not exercise is going to be in overall poorer health and be less able to perform sexually than a man who eats a good diet with more natural foods and gets exercise frequently. (Exercise and a better diet help the body to make its own hormones naturally.) The fit man is the more able lover well into middle age and beyond. In my case, I am in mid 50s, eat a good diet, and am in good physical condition as to weight, heart health, blood pressure, etc. Now, to be honest, I cannot have sex (to strong orgasm/climax) up to 9 or 10 times a week as I was able to do at age 30. (Early in our long marriage, my wife thought that I was too desirous of sex.). But, currently I have a healthy desire for sex and can and do have it 4 or 5 times each week without any problems. (And, I am not taking any male performance supplements.) My advice for wives is to encourage healthy lifestyles for their husbands including less alcohol consumption and definitely getting more exercise and losing the extra pounds.

      But, as others have commented, there are other factors for either spouse not wanting to make love regularly. Relationship issues can contribute to a spouse’s lack of interest. Instead of keeping score or count of how many orgasms you have given each other, may be work on improving the emotional connection and the mutual respect you show each other before you are in the bedroom. Be more giving, and you may get more love and respect in return as well.

  24. Joaquin

    I have quickly go thru all the comments, regarding S.P.’s situation I did not see anybody considering he might be getting his satisfaction somewhere else, and not necessarily that he is cheating, many of us men have turned to pornography and masturbation seeing it as the “lesser of two evils”, which as someone wisely said it is still choosing evil, and the worst is that when you love your wife this also makes you feel guilty, and it is an addiction and habit really hard to get rid of. As J should know you should not give up hope, ever. God, praying and true love can fix anything, and when this happens whatever you had to endure is not as important as the final result of a fulfilling marriage in all of its aspects. I pray for you S.P., do not stop, talk to your husband and show him things (you) are different now. God bless.

  25. gws

    married less than 5 years and I WISH my husband would make an advance…he’s so interested in work, podcasts and running we have sex 2 a month MAYBE. he’s a very good man, but let’s just say our drives are completely opposite…oh well!

  26. Jed

    This is an excellent post, there have been times in our marriage that I have dealt with each of those things. I have a few friends that are dealing with those issues quite often. I feel for those men, they love their wife, they want sex with them more than a dozen times a year, they want their wife to enjoy each of those times as much or more than they do, yet are left falling asleep every night feeling guilty for being a sexual being.

    Thank you for writing this, I am going to post a link to it on my Recommended Articles.

  27. Dan

    j- WOW! This post and the Rejection one that followed really took off. It can be really surprising when a post grows unexpected legs, takes off and lives a week after initial posting and is still getting hits. I’m sure there a follow-up in the works after the response to these two.

  28. Tom

    Yes to all of those listed. So much and so often that I now get physically ill if I even think about my wife in a sexual way.

    1. J Post author

      I’m so very sorry, Tom. I pray that her heart changes and your sexual intimacy can be reborn.

  29. Anonymous

    Everything about this post explains what I go through with my wife. I have tired it all to make it more enjoyable for her. I feel like I’m raping her because I supposedly nag about it and when she finally does she lays there to the point like I stop because of the lack of participation. I read self help books and asked her to do counseling she won’t go. I have been elsewhere for it but it’s not my wife and from what I discovered from going elsewhere is that I’m not a excellent lover but my guilt sets in because it’s not my wife. I can’t leave her because I love her. Being with someone else is not the same I want and love my wife but she doesn’t want me. I hate feeling like I have done something wrong for asking my wife to love me and make love to me. Instead my wife makes me feel like some pervert for asking. I’m tired of feeling guilty and making excuses for my wife. I even discussed separation and divorce with my wife she doesn’t want to separate or divorce. So what do I do now? Right now I have a girlfriend and my wife is on the side. I’m being honest I didn’t reveal my story to be bashed. I revealed my story because I want my wife to love want and need me like I love want and need her.

    1. J Post author

      The pain is so raw in your comment. Of course I don’t condone what you’re doing. It’s not going to lead somewhere good. But it seems rather obvious by how you talk about it that you know you shouldn’t have a girlfriend on the side. It isn’t fair to you, your wife, or the girlfriend.

      I’ve talked on my blog about what might have changed my own behavior when I was sexually sinning, and the question for me would have been “What If?” As in…What if you could have good sex with your wife? What if by waiting a little longer, by renewing your commitment to her, by remaining faithful, you knew you would eventually get what you desire? What if? Because I honestly think that’s what you want, but you just don’t know HOW that could ever happen given your current situation.

      Please don’t give up on her yet. And take an attitude of helping her through the sexual problems…because she clearly has some major misunderstandings or hang-ups about sex. Something may have happened in her past or the way she feels about herself or how she feels about you two. She may even have a sense that you’re going elsewhere, even if she doesn’t admit it to you or herself, that’s contributing to her putting up barriers. I don’t know what the issue is, but I’d be she’s hurting too.

      Do the hard thing. Stick it out. Be there for her. See what happens. Trust God.

      I’m rooting for you both! And praying. Definitely praying.

      Thanks for openly sharing your story.

  30. brit

    Disconnection is sad in all forms. I wonder ( referring to the original context of this article) how many of those men in relationships are not meeting their womens emotional needs and in turn the women is un able to sexual connect? Food for thought.

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