Do You Personalize Sexual Rejection?

To those who get sexually rejected by your husband: Hearing no hurts.

I get it. Some of you hear a no now and again, and some of you hear it a lot. But either way, you experience a strong desire to be physically and emotionally connected to your beloved, you approach your spouse with high hopes, and you get brushed off — your longings left unfulfilled.

But something often happens next. You ask yourself why.Do You Personalize Rejection?

Why does your hubby not respond to your sexual advances? Why do other husbands seem to want their wives but your husband doesn’t? Why isn’t your beauty the kind that stops traffic, or at least makes your husband look up from his TV show? Why does he say he’s too tired or too busy or too fill-in-the-blank? Is that really the reason, or could it be something else?

Given how quickly our female minds jump from one thing to another, it could be mere moments before you settle in on what you’re sure must be the truth: He just doesn’t want you.

Not only this time, but generally speaking. You believe there’s something wrong with you or your relationship or your beauty or your worthiness or … And the list goes on. We personalize the rejection.

I’ve talked before about the many reasons why a lower-drive husband might not be as interested in sex as you (and sometimes he) would like him to be. They include such issues as low testosterone, depression, sexual baggage, porn habits — even from his past — that make it hard to respond properly to in-person arousal, and the heavy burden of stress. Just getting older can also decrease a man’s sense of urgency for sexual interaction; believe it or not, some older men might choose sleep over sex from time to time.

But when we personalize that rejection, we don’t see those factors. A wife ends up feeling like her husband isn’t saying no merely to sex, but to her. And not because of some issue within him, but because he’s rejecting her personally. When that’s probably not what’s going on.

Why do we do this? Maybe for one of the following reasons.

Women are relationship problem-solvers. Men are often seen as the problem-solvers — the ones who, when you explain a problem, skip right over sympathy or commiseration to “how can this be fixed?” That stereotype holds some truth, especially when the problem is well-defined.

However, when it comes to relationships, I think women are more likely to be problem-solvers. When we see something amiss, we jump in to assuage hurt feelings, correct misunderstandings, resolve differences, and mend the cracks. We don’t like cracks in our relational bonds, and we try to putty over those as fast as possible.

Being rejected sexually feels like a relationship crack. And if we can’t fix our husband, the immediate place we go to is fixing ourselves. Clearly — a wife thinks — I must be the problem, and if only I can fix that… Fixing ourselves is within our sphere of control.

So we try to do better, look better, be better. And, while I believe in becoming your best self, this can veer off into becoming someone who isn’t you. That is, you minimize your value, your desires, your beauty — trying to become someone you think your husband wants.

When most of the time, his lack of drive isn’t about that. And he already has who he wants — you.

Women are constant comparers. If I had a nickel for every time a woman in my midst compared herself to another woman’s homemaking, mothering, or appearance, I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now — I’d be sipping a paper-umbrella-decorated drink on the beach of my private island. Wives are constantly measuring how we’re doing by checking in on how other women are doing, and then drawing (often erroneous) conclusions.

So what happens when you hear how often other wives are getting “hit on” by their husbands? When the messages you’re getting are that “all husbands want is sex,” but that’s not your experience? When it feels like all other husbands are raring to go at the snap of a bra opening, and that’s not happening in your marital bedroom?

You look at those wives … you look at yourself … and you decide there’s something wrong with you. What else could be happening? Well, a lot of things actually. But it’s easy to ignore all the other reasons for a difference in sex drives and personalize that rejection. You can end up thinking if all those husbands are chasing after their wives, then your husband must simply be unhappy with the wife he chose.

But that’s rarely the issue. More often, it’s something going on inside him. And playing the comparison game isn’t helping your situation.

Men are bad communicators. Okay, not all of you guys. I promise I’m not trying to be mean here. But from the female perspective, you guys can be hard to figure out because you often don’t tell us what’s going on inside you!

Now I live a house of three men. Typical answers to “how are you feeling?” include hungry, tired, stressed. To me, those aren’t feelings. Feelings are discouraged, grieving, depressed, sullen, heartsick — and those all just describe sad. If you listen long enough, I can also give you full description of where I feel this sadness in my body, why I think it’s there, and metaphors or similes to describe what I’m feeling (“It’s like I’m tethered to the ground”). Look, I know some of that is because I’m a writer, but some of it is because I’m a woman. We express our thoughts and feelings!

Sure, plenty of marriages contradict this pattern, but it’s not uncommon for a guy to keep his feelings close to his chest, or even be unable to define or describe what’s happening inside him. So when he doesn’t have a high sex drive, what’s he supposed to say? He likely says as little as possible, because most guys don’t like to talk about their bad emotions.

So wives fill in the gaps, imagining what he’s really thinking. Even figuring the only reason he isn’t saying something is because it’s bad and about us. So yeah, it’s not just poor communication of some husbands, but also the overactive imagination of some wives.

But what if the explanation “I’m tired” or “I need to finish this job for work” really is the reason? What if you’ve complicated the whole thing because, as a woman, you wouldn’t have communicated it that way?

Honestly, ladies, men are fairly simple. If he says, “I think you’re sexy, but I’m not up for it tonight,” what he probably means is, “I think you’re sexy, but I’m not up for it tonight.” No, really. I didn’t believe it at first either, but further investigation has led me to conclude that men are not lying. They really can say in 15 words or less everything they’re actually thinking. And if they’re feeling more than that, they need time to process and figure out how to express it.

So if the rejection isn’t personal, how can you stop believing that a no to sex indicates some flaw in you?

Ask yourself some questions and really think about your answers. It’s easy to react with your default settings, but consider an alternative perspective.

  1. What if the reason he gives me really is the reason? To fix a problem, you have to diagnose it correctly. If you expend a lot of effort thinking the problem is you, you’re expending effort in the wrong area. Instead, you could be helping to resolve the actual issue.
  2. Would he behave this way if he was married to someone else? I’m not trying to get you to imagine him married to someone else, but this one helped me with other issues in my marriage that I once thought were personal. Instead, I realized he’d be doing what he was doing no matter who he lived with, so it clearly wasn’t personal.
  3. What if he’s frustrated too? One reason you don’t hear more from low-drive husbands is that they’re often frustrated that they aren’t like those other husbands they hear about too. They wonder what’s wrong with them, and might even feel bad for not being able to sexually satisfy their wives. A little compassion for a husband in this situation can help you both deal with the real issues at hand.
  4. How would I feel if he took personally those times when I did something he didn’t like that wasn’t about him? You can personalize almost anything in marriage, like believing that him leaving the toilet seat up is an intentional disregard for your health and safety. (It’s not.) Most of us can remember a time when we were just in a bad mood that had to do with work, kids, hormones, whatever … and he thought it was a slight against him. But it wasn’t. Remember how that irritated you more? Don’t do that to your man regarding his sex drive.
  5. What could I do to be more positive and encouraging of sexual intimacy in our marriage? Hint: Personalizing rejection isn’t positive or encouraging. Being a safe place to talk, addressing real issues in your marriage, and seeking help when you need it is positive and encouraging. Remind yourself that yes, he is tired, stressed, and/or dealing with physical issues. Choose to believe him when he says that he still finds you attractive and loves you. Look for more conducive times and ways to approach him with sexual advances.

This is one instance when “it’s not you, it’s me” is usually true. But in marriage, me becomes we. So instead of spending your time personalizing the rejection, try to identify the real issue and tackle it together. Many couples with mismatched sex drives have figured it out, but only by being one another’s support.

50 thoughts on “Do You Personalize Sexual Rejection?

  1. Mike

    WOW!! Great post!! We finally figured it out. We had a sexless marriage for many years. We are in our 70s and a year ago we started having sex again. Now I say no to my wife for fear we might go back to where we were. We have sex and sexual contact sometimes 3 times a day. It is beautiful. My wife always initiates because I always say “yes.” Last night I was sexually tired, we had already been together sexually twice, so I was hesitant to say “yes.” However, even though I was sore, I said “yes”, but suggested that maybe we could go more slowly, and maybe we could shorten our session. (It was 1a.m. and I also wanted more sleep.) We had a great time in this softer, shorter session. It is now morning and I am going back to bed just as soon as I finish this comment to have some more fun with my wife.

    Reply
    1. Eric

      Mike said: “We are in our 70s . . . We have sex and sexual contact sometimes 3 times a day. It is beautiful. My wife always initiates because I always say “yes.”

      Okay, Mike, a few years ago I wouldn’t have believed you. I’m 77, and Sweetie is 80. I enjoy sex; so does she, but not so much. But 3 times a day at your age? Wow! You guys sound like honeymooners, and I don’t mean that old TV serial with Jackie Gleason. Congratulations.

      One quick, true story: our church once had two retired missionaries. The lady was 79, never married, presumably a virgin. He was 86, twice widowed. They married and acted like young newlyweds for about a year. Then she died during surgery. Widowed three times, he stayed single until he died, past 90.

      I’ll admit I’d like to know if they ever fully became “one flesh.”

      So . . . “have . . . fun with [your] wife.” The Bible tells us to do so. Further, regular sex has been proven to increase longevity. When Moses died at 120, we read that his “natural force” (was not) “abated.” I’ve never studied this thoroughly, but I’ll bet this phrase was a euphemism for sex.
      Eric

      Reply
      1. Mike

        Eric, I had to really work at getting back in the saddle sexually. After beginning reading these marriage blogs about a year ago I realized I needed to take some important steps. I got an evaluation by my doctor, he gave me testosterone injections, we started using coconut oil for lube, I bought some marital aids (toys), and this gave me the physical ability to have and keep an erection. The hardest part was talking to my wife about our sexless marriage. I was fearful but I was encouraged by a blogger to take that step. When I did talk to her, the wall came tumbling down. Since that day my wife has reached out to me 3 times a day. We especially enjoy our “Afternoon Noon Nap” where we engage sexually for an hour or more every day. Now my wife says she cannot go to sleep without engaging with me sexually. So, I will not say to “no” to her even though I might be sore from our “fun.”

        Reply
  2. Bobthemusicguy

    Mike, you go, guy!

    J, as the one who was sexually rejected for years, I definitely did personalize it. But as God was working in me to clear out some sexual baggage from the past, He was also working in my wife to show her that her refusal was wrong. The problem was a simple but common misunderstanding about sex in marriage, due to lack of good scriptural teaching on sex in most churches. She thought that because sex was “of the body” that it was rather fleshly, even in marriage, therefore it was about the least spiritual thing a couple could do. I was thinking more about the physical pleasure of sex, missing the point of union and connection and communication that happens when a husband and wife join their bodies. God corrected both of us, and I found that my personalizing of the problem only made it worse. Thank God for His mercy and restoration. I hope we are still like Mike and his bride when we get there (we’re not that far away).

    Reply
  3. Dan

    j and the ladies of her community,

    “I think you’re sexy, but I’m not up for it tonight,” what he probably means is, “I think you’re sexy, but I’m not up for it tonight.”

    This is very true. Especially as we age and reach the end of the day at an older age. It isn’t always about being tired either. Typically our testosterone peaks early in the day and declines with and like the setting sun. At some point the fire goes out. That isn’t to say you can’t fan the embers into a flame, only that it may be a bit more challenging.

    The problem can really be exacerbated when you attempt to flirt or subtly initiate and we fail to pick up on it, or even pretend not to notice. Then you feel undesired, unappreciated or rejected. You wonder what you are doing wrong or, worse, you make the mistake of wondering what is wrong with you or your body. Don’t! In particular, don’t make the mistake of asking if you did something wrong or are we upset with you. Even in the unlikely instance that that is true, you won’t get the relationship type of answer you could effectively process. “Nothing’s wrong,” which could mean we haven’t figured it out yet or it means exactly what it succinctly says. We need time to process it without your input and immediate questions. We have no answers yet. In all likelihood though, it’s not about you and if we could only get our head(s) around to having sex with you, we’d feel a whole lot better and in a better state of mind to figure out what really is bugging us.

    It is true though that even if it isn’t about you but me, it’s still about we.

    Reply
  4. B

    Thank you, J. This is the best article on this topic I have ever read. It will take me a while to process it all.

    (And I’m just going to ignore the other comments, because yes, I tend to personalize those, too. I know these guys are just happy to share their success, but I read it and my mind instantly goes to “see…there’s another example of men who love their wives and love having sex with them…they must be beautiful…more proof that you just don’t measure up and your poor husband is repulsed by you and no matter what your husband says, he has no interest in you and you will NEVER be the woman he wants.” Yeah, my mind went there – that fast. Sorry guys. It’s like the thoughts come before I even know they’re there.)

    But seriously, it’s like you are a fly on the wall of my brain.

    I will reread this a dozen times and think about all you’ve said. Because I want things to get better. (By the way, we haven’t been intimate in over a week – his choice, not mine – and we are only in our early 40s) and so yes, often this is what happens, “you settle in on what you’re sure must be the truth: He just doesn’t want you.” That is my truth. Right or wrong, it is what I believe and I cannot seem to not believe that.

    And let’s pretend for a minute that it is stress. When does the stress end? He has been overly stressed for six years. I keep a clean house, cook dinner, make him lunch, balance the budget, rub his back, I make myself available sexually but am often turned down – what else can I do? I have told him I would stand by him and be more than willing to cut back if he wants to switch to a less stressful job. But he will not. He is worried about money and benefits now that we have a son in college. So he is stressed. ALL. THE. TIME. So the situation feels hopeless to me. Like we are destined to spend the rest of our lives on earth stressed out and very lonely. I don’t think either one of us wants that, but that’s where we are. I cannot make the stress go away, and so I feel like there is no answer.

    I meant for this to be a short comment. Wonderful post! I feel like someone finally understands – and my feelings might be wrong – but at least someone finally understands how I got here. The understanding is huge. Thank you for taking the time to write this post.

    And yes, I personalize sexual rejection. Very much so.

    Reply
  5. Ashley

    I just wish my husband would say something! He has said he’s not as young as he used to be, but I don’t buy that men should be having problems with desire in their early 30’s. Sometimes he says that I’m usually tired, and that’s sadly pretty true. But it’s been extremely rare that I’ve turned him down. I like to do something to accommodate him even if I can’t go the whole way. A couple of times he has said something about working a long day and being tired. That was the only reason he’s given me that’s seemed like a real reason. I really think our problems stem from problems in our relationship.

    Reply
      1. Ashley

        I’m not necessarily saying it has to do with me personally. I actually don’t think that. What I do think is that he doesn’t want to look deeper into things and see where his issues are coming from.

        Reply
  6. MJ

    Well I am a 45 age male and I have been turned down so many times I quit asking, then she gets upset cause l don’t ask. We had a talk about a 2 months ago, I really opened my heart and told her how I felt, it was painful then she gets mad and won’t talk. For us that is how it goes, when we do make love (which isn’t often). I can last awhile and she will say “are you about done” or ” hurry up, my legs hurt” “are you about there” then I instantly lose my erections and roll over frustrated and hurt. Then she gets upset cause l didn’t finish. So if I just never mention it seems to be the best option and we get along just fine. So yea, I take it personally and very hurt. I just pray that God will open her eyes. I love her very much, but it hurts deeply.

    Reply
  7. Plain Jane

    In 2006 in “Molecular Psychiatry” there was a study published by Dr. Benzion and Dr. Epstein that found two variations in the Dopamine D4 Receptor (DRD4 gene) which controls the number of dopamine receptors in the brain (the pleasure system). The study found that about 60% of the population carries one variation of the gene that is associated with lower sexual desire and the other variation is tied to higher sexual arousal and desire, about 30% of the population.

    A person’s sex drive is not solely driven by love and intimacy. It is affected by ALL kinds of factors many of which we haven’t discovered yet. A person’s sex drive is as individual as their personality. The problem is, we use sex as an expression of love and intimacy which makes it hard not to take a partners low sex drive personally.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Yes, I believe there are many factors that go into our sex drives — biological, relational, history, etc. And we don’t yet understand them all.

      But I don’t know how using “sex as an expression of love and intimacy” is a problem. That’s pretty much the point, according to God’s design for sex in marriage.

      Reply
      1. Plain Jane

        I guess what I meant to say was, because sex drives are so dynamic and affected by so many different factors, it becomes a problem when a person’s feelings of self worth and lovability rely ‘primarily’ on their partner’s desire for sexual contact with them.
        A partner’s desire (or lack there of) may have absolutely nothing to do with their partner.

        We should all keep those 5 questions in our minds whenever we take something our partner does or says personally. Good points.

        Reply
  8. K

    J, your posts are always thought filled and your compassion is evident. I really appreciate these traits when reading your posts.

    “More often, it’s something going on inside him. And playing the comparison game isn’t helping your situation.”
    “This is one instance when “it’s not you, it’s me” is usually true. But in marriage, me becomes we.”

    First, thank you for not saying “It’s not about you.” and for pointing out that it really is about you because you are supposed to be one with your spouse. I find it very hurtful when people say “it’s not about you” even though I know their intent. When a spouse is being rejected more often than not, it does become personal. I don’t mean this with regards to personalizing where you make comparisons, but in regards to the relationship. Even when you know or suspect the reasons, it’s still personal because it has a great impact on the individual being rejected.

    I’m very fortunate I never took my husband’s rejection personally in the ways you describe here. Every day I felt loved and adored by him even though we had a sexless marriage for over 2 decades. I attribute this to several things:
    —What I was taught about sex growing up. — I was taught sexual desire fluctuates throughout a marriage. My mother told me often that love is more than just feelings. It is work and commitment. So, even when the sexual passion and frequency isn’t as strong, the love and strength of the marriage don’t have to suffer. I was extremely fortunate to have been taught this by my parents who demonstrated a loving marriage every day because it stuck with me through all the rejection.
    —I knew (suspected) the reasons. — There was not just one reason. There were several and they changed somewhat over time. It was almost as if I was able to see things like I was an outsider looking in. My husband refused to talk about it or tell me why, but I knew. I just couldn’t get him to talk about the reasons.
    —I focused on the positives rather than the negatives. — This was very much a choice and something I worked on every day. I constantly told myself everything my husband did to demonstrate his love. I have a very loving husband, so this helped. But, I can’t stress enough that it was a conscious choice I made even though the constant rejection hurt deeply.
    —I kept focused on our deep friendship/partnership and love for one another. — I never believed the common lie that we were just roommates because we weren’t having sex. I kept working to build increased intimacy in every other area of our marriage. Again, I was fortunate because my husband did this too.
    —I accepted my circumstances and chose to be content in them. — By accepting the circumstances, I didn’t give up hope or trying to change the situation. ie. I still asked for sex several times a week, knowing the answer would be no. But, I accepted upfront the answer would likely be no and made a concerted effort to remain positive about the relationship.

    I’m sharing this in hopes it may help some of your readers. I had no idea people took sexual rejection in marriage so personally until I started reading Christian marriage blogs about the same time our circumstances began to change.

    I would be remiss in not saying the years of rejection and sexlessness took a huge toll on ME. Remaining positive and not taking it personally helped keep my marriage strong throughout the two decades. But, when things finally came into the light and my husband was willing to face everything, it meant I had to face it too. There were many things we had to repair in the relationship as a result. I realize now, I was hurt more deeply by the rejection than I ever imagined while it was happening. There was, and still is, a lot to forgive and work through. But, I’m grateful we had a solid relationship to begin with because it makes the process of healing easier for both of us.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. Yes, I know it will help someone. And I agree — the impact is definitely felt in a personal way. But the reasons for a low sex drive often are not personal. Blessings!

      Reply
  9. Anonymous

    My spouse often reminds that “it is not about me” when she regularly has said no to sex. I have unfortunately believed her. I never had a good answer to reply when she said this…

    Reply
  10. B

    J, I am trying to ignore the comments, but failing. I cannot help but notice that many of them are written by men, discussing how they have been sexually rejected and/or what their wives say.
    I’m not going to get mad. I do understand that sexual rejection hurts a man that actually loves his wife. So guys, im sorry you went through this. If there’s one thing I know, it is how badly the rejection hurts.
    However, I was so happy this article was written for higher drive, rejected WIVES. While the pain hurts on both sides, as a wife, I can tell you there is one glaring difference – and it is this. Typically (I get that it’s not always) but typically, men crave sex, crave their wives, and have a high sex drive. It’s been thoroughly covered in this post, but when the WIFE wants sex and the husband does not – it can really make the wife (who reads and hears other women always complaining about how much their husband LOVES sex) believe that the problem MUST be her, her looks, her imperfect body, etc.
    Then when I read an article like this and start to think “hmm…” And then the follow up comments are by men saying “I’m a guy and I love sex with my wife but she rejected me, or her drive is low…” I think – See? That just confirms my belief that guys who are attracted to their wives WANT them sexually.
    I think I can say I have never read a comment written by a man who claims to love his wife, and find her attractive, and doesn’t have issues with porn – but just doesn’t have much of a sex drive.
    Once, a few years ago, in a fit of pain and anger, I suggested my husband print out a picture of a woman he found attractive and just lay it over my face, so he could bring himself to be with me. I thought he’d jump at the chance. He got really, really mad. Like, crazy mad. It was bizarre as I was sure it would bring him relief and thrill him that he wouldn’t have to even look at me. The man makes absolutely no sense to me.
    There’s so much I could say, but I’d basically just be rewriting the article. This post is that good and explains almost exactly how I feel.
    And it did finally come up last night with our marriage mentors. And I think we stumped them. The husband, who is the licensed counselor, said he wanted to think on it for a few days. I’m assuming this is because he has probably never heard of a situation like ours.
    And back to my other question, if there is stress, how long? Am I just supposed to sit here, lonely, sad, and rejected, while he is stressed forever? It has been years. He has been at a 14 on a stress scale of 1-10, for at least six years. I try to listen to him blow off steam about work, I make sure he has good meals, I pray for him. Are we just destined to a life of stress and unhappiness?
    And again, I have read that sex is great stress relief. So that also makes me feel if I’m totally willing, and even craving him sexually, and he doesn’t even want me for stress relief, then that’s just more proof that something about me repulses him.
    I’m sorry. I wasn’t supposed to stew on this anymore. I wish my husband would read here, or even a man’s marriage blog, but he won’t. * sigh *

    I’m going to reread the post. Maybe you’ll eventually get through to my sad, stubborn heart and mind.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Four thoughts, B.

      1) Do you see how even here we personalize things? Look, we all do it. Husbands who read this post think about their own situations and comment from there. So yeah, you’re going to see those comments. Just know that happens, and let others express their issues too — as long as we’re not dismissive of one another.

      2) You haven’t seen those comments from low-drive husbands who are just stressed because, as I pointed out, they don’t talk about it much. Yes, it’s tough being a high-drive wife, but it’s also hard being a low-drive husband. And those guys often don’t feel safe anywhere talking about it. Which is why I pray that wives can be that safe place.

      3) You’re not responsible for your husband’s stress, so while it’s great what you’re doing, maybe he needs to find better outlets for his stress. I don’t know your husband, so I can’t say — but some wives have happily encouraged their husbands to take a hunting trip or play a round of golf or even install a punching bag in the garage. What tends to relieve stress for men isn’t a calm situation at home (that can prevent adding more stress, of course), but a way to physically release tension.

      4) “Once, a few years ago, in a fit of pain and anger, I suggested my husband print out a picture of a woman he found attractive and just lay it over my face, so he could bring himself to be with me. I thought he’d jump at the chance. He got really, really mad. Like, crazy mad. It was bizarre…” If my husband did something like that, I would be teetering between furious and devastated. Because it would essentially be calling me a liar and a cheat. He would be questioning my statements that I love him as he is (saying I’m lying) and encouraging me to pretend I’m making love to someone else (expecting me to cheat). Thus, I don’t think his response was bizarre at all. Try to imagine the frustration of someone who tries and tries and tries to convince someone of what they feel…and the other person refuses to believe them. Please take this one off your repertoire entirely: Do not suggest he wants to be with someone else. He chose you.

      Always praying for you, B.

      Reply
      1. B

        Hi J. I hear what you’re saying. I think I might be making a bit of progress, because while I’m still sad, I’m not as angry as I was. I’m trying to learn to let go. About your points:

        1. Yes, I’m starting to see how I personalize things. Which is actually interesting because in the past when someone has said “don’t take it personally” I thought that was the dumbest statement ever. How can you not take something personal, personally? But learning to see how I personalize things makes that easier to understand.

        2. While I think I understand, it’s sad that low drive husbands won’t comment, because it would really help to know my husband isn’t the only one. In fact, when our counselor said something like “while it’s true the man usually has the higher drive and does the pursuing in most marriages, it’s not true in 100% of marriages, so you are just outliers. It’s just different in your relationship.” It is really difficult for me not to say “yes, we are outliers because my husband isn’t attracted to me and therefore cannot bring himself to initiate sex with me unless he’s feeling a great deal of pity for me.” Because as I’m working through this, I still can’t help but believe that. It’s been almost ten days, and I am starting to go crazy, while he is just going about his life thinking nothing is wrong, happy as a clam – most likely because I’m not saying anything. So he doesn’t have to deal with me and/or my crushed feelings.
        I wouldn’t mind being his safe place, but he won’t talk to me about it. My husband is a huge clammer-upper. He doesn’t think I’m worth talking to, especially about sensitive issues. He avoids talking to me to avoid hurting me, but he hurts me FAR worse by acting like I’m not even worth talking to.

        3. Good advice. I agree. I’ve been encouraging him to get a hobby, but he hasn’t. He works Mon – Sat, usually 4 or 5 am to 4 pm, then eats dinner and falls asleep. His grandfather was a workaholic, as was his dad, as is he. He used to work every Sunday as well, but tries to spend Sunday’s with us, so that’s something. He doesn’t really have any friends, other than coworkers, and they all drink a lot, and he doesn’t drink, so he doesn’t really hang out with them. I’ve also been encouraging him to spend time with our sons, but it’s almost like he doesn’t even know how. I wish he had a buddy to golf with, or even talk to. Maybe that’s an area we can work on. Or he can work on. But being a major introvert, I doubt he’s gonna rush out and look for friends.

        4. Ok, maybe it was a stupid idea. But I was getting desperate. And I thought if my face and body disgust him, it was a viable solution. Why should we both suffer? The way I see it, he’s also denying himself sex, because he sees being with me a far worse option than going without. But after reading your explanation, I can see why it upset him. It was a bad idea.

        Thanks for your prayers. I pray that someday I’ll have a success story to share, but the pessimistic side of me really doubts it. I’m not going to get younger, so if I don’t float his boat now, I don’t see how I ever could.

        That reminds me. You wrote something about a guy saying “I think you’re sexy but I’m not up for it tonight” and that being what he really meant. I could maybe believe that for a night, or a week, or a month even. But years? Coupled with the fact that before I knew it was wrong I initiated almost every sexual encounter we’ve ever had? There’s a reason he almost never initiates, and because it’s not just a once in a while thing, that’s what really makes me think it’s gotta be me. I’m so sorry. You all are great and I know a lot of folks just wish I’d be like “oh I’m a nice girl and I’m not repulsive, my husband just has some issues” – and I wish I could do that and make everyone happy. But because I’m the one living in the constant rejection, yeah I personalize it, and I just cannot bring myself to believe that. I’m sorry.

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          So even if you haven’t read those comments from lower-drive husbands, have you seen quite a few comments from higher-drive wives on my blog? Because I absolutely see them, and I read their emails too. You, my dear friend, are not alone.

          Reply
        2. e2

          A while ago, my wife out of the blue said, “Can we have sex tonight?” I thought I would die for joy, not because she wanted sex but because she was clear and direct. No fuzzy signals that I always miss. Just clear direct talk. So, B don’t wait silently. My guess is that he’s missing your subtle signals.

          Reply
          1. B

            @e2, that’s a nice thought, but he’s very discerning. I doubt that’s the issue. He has tried to claim that a time or two in the past, but my “hints” are incredibly obvious, not subtle.

            I can see how outright asking would be obvious, but it’s also just asking for rejection. Also, there have been a couple times where I outright asked, he said yes, and then proceeded to choose sleep. And I’m not talking midnight, I’m talking like 7:30.

          2. e2

            My wife says her hints are obvious, too, but to me, they are either too subtle or inconsistent. I really need big, bright neon lit signs to get it.

            I can understand, however, why a woman would want to be subtle. I sense that most women want to feel pursued and desired. I can appreciate that, if you have to clearly say to your husband, “I’m available for sex,” you will feel more like the pursuER rather than the pursuEE. So, I get why women may be hesitant to be *too* obvious. And, yet, a gentleman doesn’t want to make love to an unwilling partner, so after a few rejections, we get gunshy and wait for the most obvious of signals before making a move.

            I’m not saying that any of this applies to your particular marriage. I’m just venting a bit.

          3. J Post author

            I’ve learned to sometimes say, “I want to make love tonight.” There’s just no mistaking that. 🙂

        3. Ashley

          B said “Coupled with the fact that before I knew it was wrong I initiated almost every sexual encounter we’ve ever had?”

          Why is it wrong for the wife to initiate sex?

          Reply
    2. K

      @B,

      You know I follow your comments here and one other blog in particular. My heart breaks for you and your husband every time I read them. For you because you torture yourself constantly with your thoughts, beliefs and self talk. For your husband because there is no doubt your negative self image, thoughts and beliefs are impacting him more than you can imagine.

      If I had not been taught such positive messages about marriage and sex from my parents, I may have ended up in the same torment you face. Every time I read your comments, I’m grateful my mother instilled in me truth about sex in marriage which helped shaped by beliefs and perspective when I was being rejected. There is a cycle that takes place. Our beliefs influence our thoughts and our thoughts influence our feelings. Our thoughts and feelings also influence our beliefs. Changing either your thoughts or your beliefs will impact the other, and as a result your feelings will be impacted.

      Here’s a story, I hope will help you some. When my husband and I were first married we weren’t rich by any means, but we made enough money to live comfortably and save some. My husband used to always worry about money. Not just normal worries, but excessive. It was a daily thing and always on his mind. When sat down together to pay bills, his worry would get worse. It never made any sense to me because we really had nothing to worry about. We were so much better off financially than many people. His worry concerned me greatly because by worrying so much about an area in which we were blessed, I felt he was slapping God in the face. I told him so and that I was concerned God would take away our blessings if we didn’t recognize and appreciate them. We decided he would no longer help me pay bills. That would be my responsibility. He’s aware of our bank balances and our expenses, but he leaves the day to day managing of the accounts to me. Twenty something years later, we still have this policy in place to help prevent his worry about something we should be grateful for.

      My point is you need to make an effort to recognize what you have rather than continuously focusing on what you don’t. The way you have spoken of your husband before leads me to belief he is a good man who treats you well. Use that as a starting point to try to shift your focus. You may need to figure out what helps you keep a positive focus and what doesn’t.

      I sincerely hope this can help you some. I’m praying God will help you begin to see the positive things about your husband and your marriage.

      Reply
      1. B

        @K, thank you for your comment. You are right, your parents did a great job teaching you about marriage and sex. That is huge. I was taught nothing. Well, I was constantly told, whatever you do, do NOT get pregnant. But that was it. And we had no premarital counseling from anyone. We got married in a denominational church, and the Pastor made us meet with him. I remember being kind of excited about it. He welcomed his to his office, asked us if we were doing the unity candle thing, asked us for our check and then said “great! See you next week!” That was it. Looking back, it seems funny. We didn’t know any better at the time.

        You might be onto something with the beliefs influence thoughts and thoughts influence feelings cycle. Growing up I was constantly told how ugly and fat I was. Daily. Every day for years. Looking back, I was neither fat nor ugly. But that kind of thing has a tendency to stick. I try to work past it, but it’s hard. Maybe having a husband who could bring himself to find me attractive for real (and not just say it) would help, maybe not. He is a great guy, and every day I feel badly for him that he settled instead of waiting for his dream girl. He deserves better. I know this is my issue and I need to grow up and get over it. It’s just hard.

        You are absolutely right that I need to focus on what I have. He is kind, he works hard (VERY hard), he provides well. He is nice and I think he is crazy attractive. He tolerates me. I guess that’s a pretty big deal. 😊

        So yes, you are right. Those are the things I need to focus on. We aren’t all meant to have loving sex lives with mutual attraction. If that’s the plan for my life, then I need to accept that and move on. It’s just that it’s so hard to be so attracted to him, and to know that sex and intimacy are supposed to be a great gift to married couples, just not for us. It’s hard not to think about the fact that if I were prettier, shorter, more his type, it might be different. I so want to give him what I thought men loved to receive from their wives, but he doesn’t seem to want it, at least not from me, and that hurts.

        Here’s a crazy thing. He likes me to sleep in bed with him. But I have no idea why. It is incredibly difficult and wildly painful to lie so close to someone you long for, knowing they want nothing to do with you. I actually think he might simply enjoy tormenting me. Otherwise, why on earth would he care where I sleep.

        Anyhow, I’m off track again as usual. My point is, you’re right. I need to be thankful that he’s nice to me, that we are financially stable, and count the blessings I do have. I need to forget all about the sexual part of marriage, and not worry about it anymore. We can’t all have everything, and so I must learn to focus on the blessings I have been given. I must. Perhaps then I will start to be a happier person.

        And that’s kind of a sad thing, too. I used to be a very happy person. But it has slipped away from me. So I can see what you’re saying. I need to stop longing for what I’m not meant to have, and be thankful for what I do have. I will try. It’s just really hard to let those dreams go. But they’re not making me happy, so I think it might be time to accept my situation, release the dreams, and exist peacefully.

        Reply
        1. K

          @B I’m glad some of what I said resonated with you. I could pick a part your reply and tell you how some of your thinking is flawed, but I’m not. Instead I am going to give you some practical, actionable steps you can take to help you begin to change your beliefs and thought systems.

          Think about this question for a moment. Would you rather be married to YOUR husband in your current circumstances or would you rather be married to someone who wanted you sexually often but didn’t treat you very well?

          Over the course of 22 years, that question was something I asked myself repeatedly. The answer was then, AND STILL IS, that I would chose my husband in a sexless marriage over someone else who would have regular sex with me. My husband is my closest friend, my partner in everything, the person who shares all of my triumphs and my despair. He is my biggest champion in life and I am his.

          That is a BIG deal! For one thing, it helps put things in perspective. Mostly, it allowed me to be able to accept my situation and learn to be content in it. That didn’t mean I gave up hope or quit trying to change the situation. It meant I didn’t have to constantly torment myself over circumstances I had no control of at the time.

          That’s the first thing, I think you should consider. I’m putting it out there because I’m pretty sure I know the answer!!! I also know if you answer yes, it can be eye opening and possibly a start to looking at things from a new perspective.

          Secondly, start making a list of positive things about your husband and things he does for you. You can start with general things like you said in your reply, but then you have to start drilling it down to get as specific as possible. Saying he’s nice won’t really cut it for this to work. You need to describe things he does that demonstrate he’s nice. For example, “He got up and fixed lunches for your kids so you could sleep in one day.” Obviously, this example may not be true for you, but start looking for things that apply to your husband and marriage.

          Add to the list every day. Give it a week or two and then start telling him things you’ve noticed and appreciate. You could tell him or write him a little note. It can be as simple as “Thank you for going to the grocery store for me yesterday. Your thoughtfulness made my day so much easier.” DON’T EXPECT anything in return! Show gratitude if you do get something in return.

          Thirdly, start a journal where you vent your hurt and frustrations. I’m not big on journaling, but it helped me tremendously when we first started discussing things and my hurt and anger were raw. It’s still something I do now during times when my hurt and anger come back to the surface.

          Fourth, whenever you feel especially sad and hurt pull out your list of positives. Read some of them and be grateful you have a husband who does these things and has these qualities. Recognize that others are not as fortunate in their marriages.

          I could list more, but I’ll leave it here for now. Please consider doing these things, especially the list of positives. This will help so much with your thoughts and beliefs about your husband and your marriage. You know my story, so you know I do understand your situation, your hurt, your frustrations, and your desire for things to change. The advice I’m giving you is what helped me through 22 years of sexlessness and allowed us to have a strong marriage despite those circumstances. It’s also what helps me today as I write this even though it’s been almost 2 weeks without sex. While our sex life is vastly improved, it’s still not all I would like it to be.

          I’ll leave you with one last thing that I think has helped my husband see what sex means to me. Every time we have sex now, I thank him and tell him how much it meant to me. That it made me feel close to him and how loved I felt. I know that sounds weird, but it helps him know how important sex is to me without me being negative or nagging about it. It also makes him feel desired, which helps build his confidence and desire. The desire for desire goes both ways. Unfortunately, in my situation like yours, I don’t get it expressed nearly as much as I would like. But, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel it!!! Only that he doesn’t express it very well or as often as I wish.

          Reply
        2. Reiko

          @B: I can feel the resignation in your comments. Don’t give up! Of course you should be able to work toward a loving sex life with mutual attraction. I’m not there yet either, and my situation is very different from yours, but I’m doing what I can to work toward it, because it’s worth it! If you give up on something, then you have no chance of getting it.

          You said: “I think I can say I have never read a comment written by a man who claims to love his wife, and find her attractive, and doesn’t have issues with porn – but just doesn’t have much of a sex drive.” You won’t, because why would these men be reading a sex blog written for women? Or any sex blog, for that matter? But some men fit that description due to medical factors like low testosterone or use of depression meds. Fixing the medical will often help in those cases.

          K has some great ideas in her comment. I’m going to suggest three other things to think about. One: it doesn’t help to get your validation from your husband. You can be a beautiful and high value woman regardless of what he thinks or does. God has given you gifts and talents. I don’t know what they are, but I know you have your own special balance of gifts to use for the benefit of your husband and others. Your true value is in God’s eyes, not your husband’s or your parents’ or whoever else’s.

          Two: the sadder you get, the less your husband will want to spend time with you. This is a negative spiral, but you have the power to break it. Do you have activities and hobbies that you enjoy? Add positivity to your life. Moping and whining aren’t attractive. I have no way of knowing how you come across in person, but your unhappiness could be coming through to him more than you realize.

          Three: if you keep doing the same things, you’ll keep getting the same results. If you know that you’re a positive and interesting person and your husband still isn’t responding to that even when you express your needs clearly (no hinting), then you have grounds to insist that he address why that is. Counseling, job change to a less stressful position, fixing medical issues, whatever it takes. Ruling out or addressing low testosterone would be helpful, for instance.

          Ultimately, since you’re the one who wants things to change, the change starts with you.

          I hope this helps. Please take it in the spirit it was intended. I will add you to my prayers as well.

          Reply
          1. J Post author

            Good points. And honestly, #2 is so true. I saw that in my own marriage when things were tough — the more discouraged and frustrated I got, the more I wanted him to come around and reassure me and the less appealing I was to be around at all. Looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted to hang out with me either! It helped a few years ago when I made the decision that my happiness was my responsibility, not his.

            Glad you’re working toward “a loving sex life with mutual attraction.” Amen to that!

          2. e2

            B wrote, “I think I can say I have never read a comment written by a man who claims to love his wife, and find her attractive, and doesn’t have issues with porn – but just doesn’t have much of a sex drive.”

            Actually, I’ve written several times about how my sex drive took a dive in my 30s. I loved my wife and found her attractive. I had no issues with porn. I just didn’t have much of a sex drive.

            For me, stress was an enormous factor. And, while sex can be a stress reducer, for us guys, stress can physically prevent the erection we need for sex. Which only adds to our stress.

        3. Amy

          B,
          No one else can make us happy, only we can choose to be happy regardless of our circumstances. And no, it’s not easy especially when we long for something that we are not getting, but I will say it again — if you want something to change in your marriage it will be up to you to take the first step in that direction. And I think your first step is to stop being so critical of yourself because honestly, you are only making yourself more miserable and that has to be making your husband pull away from you.

          As someone commented below, “moping and whining are not attractive” and that is so very true. I know this first hand. Oh how I use to mope around because I didn’t feel my husband wanted me because he wasn’t as interested in having sex as often as me.
          It became this vicious cycle — we’d make love, I’d feel so loved and desired, then a couple days would pass and I was desiring him again but he didn’t seem to notice or want to. I’d feel hurt and rejected and wonder why he didn’t want to make love as often as what I was always reading men do, then another day or two would pass and I would start shutting down emotionally. I’d begin to internalize my hurt feelings so much that now I was becoming resentful and angry, and finally after pouting for a few days we’d make love again and all would be well until the cycle started again!

          Wow, when I read that it’s a little embarrassing really because it sounds like a child not getting their way and pouting until they do…which is pretty much how it went.

          I remember one day finally asking my husband in a fit of anger why he didn’t want to have sex with me and he said something that really opened my eyes. He said, “well, you’re so upset I didn’t think you wanted to”! Wait, what???

          From that day on I started speaking up and asking for what I want. It’s still not easy but I made a conscious effort to 1) stop assuming his lower desire for sex had anything to do with me not being attractive enough, etc etc, 2) to simply tell him I want to make love, 3) start focusing on all the other positive things in our marriage and 4) have more open communication.

          It’s time, B, to step up to the plate so to speak and start a discussion with your husband. Maybe tell him everything you are writing here. Put it all out on the table instead of internalizing it all and making yourself miserable.

          I pray you find a way through all of this…

          Blessings!

          Reply
          1. B

            While I appreciate all of the advice, I think I very much give the wrong impression. I do not pout and I CERTAINLY do not whine. I don’t accept that behavior from my children, and I do not do it myself. I know you all don’t know me personally, but the assumption is kind of insulting. I can see why you might think so, because I decided to share my pain here. I apologize if it sounds like whining. As I work on accepting that my marriage is not going to be everything I would like it to be, I imagine the pain, and certainly the disappointment will lessen.

            I have discussed these issues with my husband. He usually just gets angry and clams up. Or thinks I’m “making stuff up” – but we still don’t make love any more frequently. He often says “you never want to understand that life gets in the way.” I could understand that sometimes, but day after day after day after day? We should be able to make time for each other if he is telling the truth about loving me.
            I even encouraged him to wake me up before he goes to work if that works better. It went well once. The second time he was eager to get to work and it “took too long to get into it” and so he felt like it was a bad idea and said he’s “never trying that again.” When I asked him to understand that at 4 am I just need a few minutes to wake up, he said something to the effect of “not having time to wait because the traffic will get bad and he has a hundred things to do before the crew starts.”
            Thanks. Glad to know where I rank.
            So I do try, I really do. But for now, I’m just not all that important to him. At least not in the ways I want to be.
            So thanks for listening, and I’m glad you all have figured it all out. I am genuinely happy for you, and I apologize for bringing down the other readers by sharing my less than perfect situation.

          2. Amy

            I certainly don’t have it all figured out, but I’ve chosen to look deep within myself and see if there were/are changes I need to make and then I made them.

            I wasn’t saying you personally pout and whine, was simply sharing my own story of how I have done that…well, not really whining per se but certainly a type of pouting. Not proud of it, but I was sharing that so you could understand that there are others who struggle also in their marriages with a husband who does not desire sex 3 times a day or even 3 times a week.

            My husband is up these days around 2am, home around 5:30pm and back in bed by 7pm at the latest. So it’s a no brainer as to why he is not interested in sex during the week. I can internalize his supposed lack of desire as me not being attractive enough for him, or him not truly loving me that much or whatever, but the FACT is that his work hours make him exhausted. And that leaves only the weekend for us which then makes it tough because my husband needs a couple days in between before he feels ready again to make love…sooooo, you can do the math…that’s ONE day a week.

            So you see, B, you are NOT alone in your struggle for desiring more intimacy. There can be so many reasons why a husband may not want or desire sex as often as his wife but I would suspect that it usually has NOTHING to do with us personally. It’s not likely because the wife is unattractive or not his type, that he doesn’t really love her or any other host of things. Perhaps they are extremely tired, maybe low in testosterone or even feeling their wife is unhappy with them and it makes back away.

            I pray you can find some healing in your marriage and be able to have real heart to heart talk with your husband to help resolve this issue.

            Blessings!

  11. Eric Wiggin

    J writes: “Men are bad communicators. Okay, not all of you guys. I promise I’m not trying to be mean here. But from the female perspective, you guys can be hard to figure out because you often don’t tell us what’s going on inside you!”

    Actually (and I speak from 53+ years’ experience) most men are excellent communicators most of the time. But it takes a few years for a man–or a woman–to figure out that men and women use different means to communicate. A man usually means exactly what he says, and he should be taken literally, ladies. If Joe tells Joanne, “I’ve got a rotten headache” he means exactly that. No more. No less.

    Joanne may use the exact same words, but she may have some emotional feelings that transcend the physical feeling (headache) that she wishes Joe would understand. So when Joe tells her he’s got a headache, Joanne naturally wonders what his “real” problem is, and she feels or senses that’s he’s not disclosing something she should know. But Joe’s real problem at the moment is that he has a headache, a physical problem best alleviated by an aspirin, a nap or even a bowel movement. Or he’s caught the flu.

    At the moment Joe really does NOT have any issues with Joanne. But if she presses for further explanation, he may certainly develop some issues. Then she’s sure he’s trying to hide something.
    Eric

    Reply
    1. Ashley

      My husband does not communicate with me. Most of the time I don’t know what town he worked in for the day. Me: “Where did you work today?” Him: “Around.” Me: “How was your day?” Him: “Fine.”

      Reply
      1. J Post author

        Maybe ask more open-ended questions? Like: What was the best thing that happened to you today? What was your greatest challenge today? What would you like to do tonight to relax?

        Reply
  12. Endofriendo

    (this is probably going to be a bit of tmi so sorry ahead of time)
    My husband and i have only been married for about a year and a half, and while our marriage is only getting better with more time, the one thing that really hasn’t is our sex life. One thing to consider here is that we were in a long distance relationship that turned into a long distance marriage as we were waiting on our immigration case to go through.
    Neither of us we’re virgins when we met, we got around a bit as teenagers, but we decided to wait until marriage when we started dating.
    Our honeymoon was wonderful, a little awkward as they usually are. Afterwards I had to return to my home country. Things were fine for a while, we would sext and have skype dates and things, and everything was just fine for a while. But slowly the time we spent together sexually began to decline into almost nothing. After 8 months of marriage I was able to go to visit my husband again for 3 months, and in this time I could count on one hand the number of times we had sex.
    tmi ahead, one of those times he had a really difficult time finishing and I could tell it was really frustrating and embarrassing for him.
    Unfortunately, I took this really personally as I have suffered a lot of sexual trauma in my younger days, and pushed him really hard to try and engage sexually, which led to a LOT of hurt and frustration for both of us.
    When I returned to my home country I went to counseling as I was still viewing it as a problem with me, which it sort of was, but in marriage it’s rarely just one persons issue. I do think it really helped me to see why I was taking it so personally and that I had a lot of problems with my own view of sex in marriage and my own expectations I was putting on my husband.
    After 4 more months I was finally allowed to move with my husband permanently, and we were both ECSTATIC. Now I’ve been here a few months and I am so happy and we are both enjoying our marriage and growing closer.
    The only thing is our sex life is pretty much nonexistent. Otherwise, honestly we’re happy.

    But I YEARN for my husband in the deepest sense of the word. I want that emotional connection, I want that time of the deepest affection. I know even having a conversation about it is uncomfortable for him. I wish I had dealt with it different when it first came up instead of pushing him.
    So now I want to open up this conversation with him without making him feel like there’s something wrong with him but I don’t really know how. I know this is something we can handle but I also know it’s very delicate territory.

    Reply
  13. CJ

    I have been married 3 years. My husband had a porn addiction and sexually active before becoming a Christian. We started dating a few months after, and got married within a year. Although the porn addiction and such had stopped, there was still a lot of healing that needed to happen. And although I married as a virgin with a pretty healthy view of sex, insecurity crushed me for a while. It turned out I was the higher drive spouse (MUCH MUCH higher drive) and of course I personalized his rejection and compared myself to what he’d seen or experienced before.

    It took time. These last few months have been our break through. I’ve learned what it means to seek God in ALL things (looking for God to give me purpose and self-fulfillment and a content heart), even in the midst of sexual frustration. My hubby love has been freed from his sexual baggage and had a very healthy sex drive now. I still am the higher drive spouse, but some weeks we seem to even out. But this all took some serious self-examination, seeking out godly wisdom, some horrid-in-the-moment-but-necessary-and-eventually-helpful-conversations.

    So thank you J for sharing this. I know I have appreciated other posts like this one in the past even I was really confused/hurt/insecure. And I’ll probably keep this one saved for a future time even i might need it.

    It’s been a journey and I’m excited to see what God has planned next. I know we will experience more seasons, but I’m grateful that 3 years in we’re in a really healthy place in our relationship.

    Reply
  14. Betty

    Great article! As a wife who was constantly told no, I took it very personally. I tried to talk to him. I prayed. I tried counseling. I tried to spice things up. I even lost 20 lbs and got in better shape than when we met. It didn’t matter what I did, he kept pulling further away and being more distant. Eventually, after several years and many, many fights, I left–I’m in my mid 30s (and so is he) and I could not live the rest of my life that way. I can’t make him want to fix things, but I don’t have to live in misery either. He’s a good man and I hope he finds happiness within himself.

    Moral of the story: Man or woman, rejection hurts. Even if you don’t feel up to what your partner is suggesting, try to find an alternative you can both live with. If you show you hear their need for intimacy and try to meet it, that makes a world of difference. If you truly can’t find a compromise, be honest and let them know it’s you, not them, and seek your spouse out soon.

    Reply
  15. B

    Well, I was reluctant to comment because the good stuff seems too personal. But I feel it’s only fair to share with those of you who have been kind and praying.

    Last night was a good night, started by my husband. The thought of “oh he’s picked up on my sadness so here comes the pity” went through my mind, quickly followed by “stop that! That is not helpful.” So I changed my thoughts (or maybe actually took a thought captive? Which people have told me to do but I’ve spent forever trying to figure out what that means)

    Anyhow, I more-than-willingly participated and I felt so loved and so thankful. And without any prompting, or attitude, or comments from me my husband said “I’m sorry it’s been so long. That’s going to change.”

    And my negative mindset thought “yeah right. Don’t get your hopes up.” But again I did my best to take that thought captive and change it to “be happy and give him a chance. Maybe he really does love you.”

    And so…

    @K, initially I thought you were too much when you said you thank your husband after you make love, and tell him how much it meant to you. But last night it felt so natural to do just that. And I did thank him and I told him how loved I felt, and he seemed really quite happy about it. Maybe it’s not “pathetic” for me to thank him, but a loving thing to do. Maybe he really does want me to be happy.

    Now don’t get too excited and think I’ve gone all sunshine and roses and everything’s gonna be perfect. I’m actually REALLY scared. Scared this won’t last, scared things will go back to the way they’ve been, even if it’s my fault. I desperately want to go forward, and I’m so afraid I’m not strong enough to do it.

    But, maybe baby steps are okay. Maybe taking two little thoughts captive is the start of learning to take more of them captive? Maybe a glimpse of hope with a dose of fear is just what it will take for me to start sincerely praying about this, and believing that God really does care about my marriage and my intimate life with my husband, even though I’m wildly flawed.

    I’ve got a lot to think about, but in the meantime, thanks for caring and for your prayers.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      It’s okay to be scared. As tough actor John Wayne famously said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” I think that applies here. 😉

      Reply
    2. K

      @B, I’m glad you did share. This really warms my heart. I will pray this is only the beginning of a fresh start as you battle to capture your thoughts.

      I really do get it! When I said it, I hesitated because I knew it would sound pathetic to thank my husband for sex. But, think about how you would feel if your husband said that to you. It would boost you up and make you feel even more loved and desired. For us, it’s played a big role in my husband realizing how much sex really means to me. And, in helping him know it’s not just about the physical pleasure of sex. What I’ve noticed since starting to do it is this has given us a new language to talk about our feelings. That has made a big difference for both of us. We now have a language to talk about feeling to connected to each other.

      I stated it’s been almost two weeks for us. We’ve had a couple of weeks with crazy schedules, an abundance of stress, and serious sleep issues. While I’m very upset we haven’t had sex, I understand why and know it isn’t about me or even that he doesn’t really want to have sex. It’s the current circumstances. He told me last night that he’s not feeling as close to me and was bothered by it. This morning before leaving for work, he asked if I could meet him for lunch. I really wanted to say no because I had a crazy busy day and that would keep me from accomplishing everything on my To Do List. But, I also know this was his way of trying to find time to connect with me. So, of course, I went so we could have that time together. Even though it wasn’t sex, it meant a lot to me that he wanted to connect and build closeness in a way that works until sex is an option.

      Having this new language to be able to express a lack of connection has been wonderful. We now talk about when we are feeling especially close and connected and when we feel distant. He also recognizes now that sex is a big part of feeling more connected. But, it’s not just sex. It’s also includes spending quality time together, cuddling without sex, nonsexual physical touch, kissing, etc. I hope you can experience a way of communicating this with your husband as well. My experience has been nothing but positive since I started thanking him and expressing what sex means to me.

      Now, girlfriend, go start your list of positives!!! And, put this experience at the top of the list! Remember this journey isn’t just about your sex life. It’s about your self image and your marriage. These things will help you begin to change your thought process and focus on the positives in your marriage. I truly believe your husband loves you very much. Start looking for the signs that have nothing to do with sex. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at what you find!

      One last thing, J is correct. Fear is part of the journey. Greatness is found when we learn to overcome our fears. Keep moving forward one positive step at a time.

      Wishing you all the best in your journey.

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    3. Amy

      So glad to hear of your wonderful positive experience, B!
      It’s very hard to keep moving forward when those old patterns of thinking creep in and there will probably be more hard times ahead, but just continue capturing those thoughts and doing the best you can. It will get easier.

      And one more thing I would add, say “thank you” to any and all compliments your husband gives you. Don’t dismiss him when he says you are beautiful but simply smile and say thank you. He will appreciate the fact that you heard him and accepted his heart felt compliment, and even if it isn’t easy in the beginning to believe it when he says it, you will come to not only enjoy it but believe it too!

      Blessings!

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