When I Rejected My Husband’s Advances Outright

I realize how bad that title sounds. Because I’m Mrs. Marital Intimacy, right? I’m highly in favor of married couples have frequent and satisfying sexual encounters. I’m personally committed to that very thing in my own marriage.

But my husband recently experienced an outright rejection from his wife. He advanced, I blocked. What happened?

When I Rejected My Husband's Advances OutrightWell, the day after I had this paraphrased conversation with Spock (nickname for hubby):

Me:  Did you make advances on me last night, or did I just dream you touching me?
Him: No, that was me. I woke up in the middle of the night and felt turned on.
Me:  Oh, I’m sorry. I totally pushed you away. I was just dead asleep.
Him: It’s okay. I understand.
Me: You can try again today or tonight! I promise to be more responsive. *wink*

And that’s all the detail you get. Because after that, it’s close-the-bedroom-door, fade-to-black kind of stuff.

(After writing this post, some expressed concern that my husband was forceful or disrespectful in his advances. Particularly the line “felt turned on.” Spock is a man of few words, and at this point in our marriage I know full well that translates to “waking up beside you, my beautiful wife, reminded me how much I love you and I wanted to express that to you through sexual intimacy.” He put it in man-speak, or Vulcan-speak (“turned on”). But his advances were never forceful — rather loving and sensual touches that made his intentions clear but respected my choice. As our story shows.)

What happened was this: 1. He initiated. 2. I refused. 3. We did not make love. Which, on the face of it, looks pretty bad. That’s certainly not how I want our sexual intimacy to be characterized.

I’m telling this story, however, to deal with a few questions. When is a refusal not such a terrible thing? When is it not depriving your husband of his “marital rights”? When is it not a ding to your marriage’s sexual intimacy?

1. When you already have a pattern of accepting one another’s initiation. This was an atypical response from me. It was the outlier in an otherwise well-nurtured sexual relationship.

2. When your refusal is solely about how your body feels. I’m not talking about whether or not you’re “in the mood.” If you’re not now, you can probably get in the mood with flirtation, affection, and foreplay. But if you’re sick, recovering from surgery, dealing with a migraine, or — in my case — so beyond exhausted you don’t even know what’s happening, your hubby will likely understand.

3. When you discuss what happened and everyone’s cool about it. I was fully prepared that he might have felt hurt by my rejection. I took it seriously that I needed to apologize for my (unintentional) refusal of his advances. Even if you have a good reason for saying no, express understanding that he feels disappointed. It matters to validate your husband’s sexual desire and let him know you care.

4. When your husband knows he’ll get another chance, very soon. If you can’t engage when he initiates, don’t leave the poor guy’s libido hanging for days or until some unknown time in the future. I immediately let my husband know that I was ready and willing to make love at our next opportunity.

5. When you initiate the next time, to demonstrate your own desire. Your husband shouldn’t have to initiate over and over and over, hoping one of those times will work out. Indeed, a deep longing of a higher-drive spouses is for their mate to initiate sexual intimacy. Spock didn’t have to wait long until I was the one in bed touching and kissing him. Which makes it clear that I’m totally into experiencing physical intimacy with him. I just happened to have one bad night.

For the constantly refused spouse, every rejection feels like another nail in the coffin of their sex life. But couples who cultivate healthy sexual intimacy in their marriage can handle a missed opportunity or a rejection from time to time. They aren’t depriving each other of sexual intimacy; rather, they have a mutually satisfying sexual relationship with blips now and then.

We can shrug off those times, and get back in the saddle marriage bed. Do what you can to foster healthy, godly sex in your marriage.

22 thoughts on “When I Rejected My Husband’s Advances Outright

  1. Sean

    Excellent article. You are right, when you have said “OH HECK YES!!” thousands of times, a single no does not hurt. And the fact that you are willing to make up for it immediately says that this is not a pattern.

    Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. When a spouse says “NO!” thousands of times, a single yes is not going to make any lasting changes.

    Reply
  2. Feeling refused and rejected

    This is great! I can only hope and pray that my marriage may, someday, look like the final paragraph instead of the penultimate one. 🙁

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    J, you had such a kind response to your husband’s advances in the middle of the night. Many women, including my own wife, would have smack the husband in the back of the head (in other words, “what were you thinking–in the middle of the night?”). Reminds me of NCIS when Gibbs smacks Tony in the back of his head when Tony did something dumb.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Oh, I don’t think it’s dumb at all for my husband to embrace me in the middle of the night and indicate how much he wants to make love. He wasn’t grabby about it, and it’s worked before with some delightful results. But yeah, I pretty much shoved him off this time. Oops!

      Reply
  4. Christina

    Great post! Thanks for sharing about this subject!
    I just wrote about it as well…The Intimate No at letsgostreaking.com . It was about the same basic refusal but from a different perspective. I very much enjoyed your perspective!!

    Reply
  5. Lyn

    When I first married, I wasn’t sure how to take it when my husband ‘poked’ me during the night. When I understood – he just enjoys that feeling of closeness – I thought it was sweet. He has my blanket consent to wake me up if he wants to, but he’s such a thoughtful guy, it’s only happened a couple of times in nearly two years.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      It rarely happens in my marriage too. And my husband simply touched me in a sensual way to express his desire. I, however, shoved him back and rolled over. Not typical, but…I thought I was dreaming! Oops.

      Reply
  6. J Post author

    Maybe I should revise my post to make it clear. OF COURSE I’m not a prostitute or masturbation tool! He didn’t grab or force himself on me IN ANY WAY. We are in a healthy marriage where sexual intimacy is absolutely a deep and meaningful thing. But yeah, he got turned on when he woke up, thought about the wife he loves lying next to him, and wanted to express his love and be intimate with her. I understood all of that when we talked the next morning.

    By “advances” I mean that he touched me lovingly and sensually. His intentions were honorable but obvious. You have to consider such things in context. If my husband was a jerk who’d demanded sexual acts in the past, this would have gone down entirely differently — because I agree with you that respect in the marriage bed is paramount.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Nope. You don’t get to attack my husband that way, Jennifer. Yes, as a male he can get stimulated in the middle of the night, but he doesn’t always act on that, and the reason he reaches for me in a loving way is because of our healthy relationship and intimacy. It’s not just a release, so you’re not bursting my bubble. In fact, I have no bubble. I’m well aware of the truth — that my husband loves and values me. And insulting him on my blog is absolutely where I draw the line.

      Reply
    2. alchemist

      Don’t be silly. I’ve had sensual dreams about my *husband* in the middle of the night and woke up feeling turned on. I might have actually started touching him while still asleep. Not sure. I have no history of pre-marital relations with him or anyone else and no history with porn or erotica. I don’t even watch any movies that are rated past PG-13.

      You absolutely cannot make a unilateral statement that people who try to initiate something in the middle of the night somehow has nefarious motives.
      You should check your own heart and motives. And you could definitely brush up on the definition and practice of charity.

      Reply
  7. Amy

    It can go the other way too! I’ve woke up in the middle night and tried to start ‘something’ with my hubby. Most of the time he’s more than happy to try and wake up, but sometimes we both end up falling back to sleep! LOL

    Being able to say no is certainly easier and feels less of a rejection when you are in a healthy marriage where ‘no’ to sex is not the default answer.

    And certainly apologizing for what may have appeared as an outright rejection of your spouse’s advances even if not intentional, such as in J’s case, is the right thing to do.

    Reply
  8. Christian Husband of 38 Years

    Many of us (male and female) are struggling with serious sleep deprivation. If we truly love each other, then more than just a little bit of consideration for each other is called for. Let each other get their sleep.

    Reply
    1. Kb

      Just my opinion…..yes, people do suffer from sleep deprivation, but what is a few minutes of quiet and possibly quick love-making in the scheme of life? I think that if it’s every once in awhile, the sleep deprived spouse can “oblige” lovingly. Of course, there are times where we have to say “no”, and a sweet apology never hurts. By the way, I’m a woman saying this. ☺️

      Reply
    2. a. nony

      If your spouse is struggling with “serious sleep deprivation,” then yes, for heaven’s sake, let them sleep. But presumably in a loving marriage, a husband or wife making amorous advances is going to weigh that against how well-rested their partner is. I don’t think J’s husband is waking J up after she JUST nodded off, at the end of an exhausting night taking care of a sick kid!

      Reply
  9. MW

    This reminds me if the other night. Hubs was sleeping hard but he kept moving over and holding me close in an intimate way. One time he kissed my cheek and goes “you’re so wonderdul” a little while later he pulls me in close again and says “I love you.” We had just made love before going to bed. 😉 The next morning he didn’t remember what he had done in his sleep, but it was really sweet…I call it a win! 😀

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    I’m really glad to read this, because I’ve done similar things and I always feel terrible. HOWEVER, I have a hard time being okay with being woken up in the night. It’s really difficult for me to get to sleep – it got to the point where my doctor prescribed sleeping pills because I simply couldn’t function.

    Problem #1: I’m super grumpy when I’m woken out of a drug-induced sleep. Super grumpy. I make myself get up at least an hour before my kids so it has time to wear off before they’re subjected to me. So although I’m more rested in these scenarios, it’s definitely not a good time.

    Problem #2: When I *don’t* take my sleeping pills, it takes me forever to sleep, and then he freaking wakes me up. I know he means well and just loves me. But when it’s been such a struggle to get any sleep at all, it’s super annoying when he won’t take “no” for an answer. (For example, I will consistently move his hands AWAY from sensitive areas because he keeps waking me up. I’ll even tell him to go back to sleep – he’s mostly partially asleep and I don’t feel that I can hold him totally responsible for not taking my “no” as the answer.)

    Now, I’m not at all opposed to snuggling or being loving. Sometimes it even ends well in the night. I just want to be awake for it. 🙁 I wish I knew what to do. I’m sorry to hijack this wonderful post but I guess it’s been on my mind. There are many small factors impeding our intimacy (location of bedroom + noise of furniture being a huge one) but we are working on that. Maybe that’s partially the cause of the nighttime wanderings?

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I don’t think you’re hijacking the post. And I’ll just say that when I pushed my husband away, he stopped. Your husband should take no for an answer if it’s really bad timing. But I would suggest that you make it clear that another time is better. I mean, instead of just saying “don’t wake me up for sex!”…explain when would be a better time. You might need to get creative, like get busy in the late afternoon or early evening. If you’ve already made love, it’s unlikely he’ll be ready to go again in the middle of the night. That may be hard to manage, but I’m looking for possible solutions. Give it some thought, talk about it, and see what you can make work. I’m sorry about your sleep issues, too! So tough.

      Reply
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