On Monday, I wrote Do You Make Your Husband Feel Guilty about Sex? My intent was to explain to wives (my main audience) how husbands say they feel in the face of their wife’s rejection or disinterest in sexual intimacy.
Of course, rejection goes both ways. There are a number of women that post didn’t apply to, because those higher-desire wives are the ones getting refused. And it hurts. I get it.
Some of these wives wrote about their experiences in the comments, how they were the ones made to feel guilty. I thought about that for a while — why I’d heard about guilt from husbands before, but not so much us ladies. And I think it’s because I more often hear from higher-desire wives about doubt.
Maybe because we ladies are often constant self-evaluators, maybe because society proclaims (incorrectly) that “normal” is a horny husband and a reluctant wife, maybe because stories of cheating husbands are so prevalent . . . maybe. But for whatever reason, I suspect that higher-desire wives whose sexual advances are consistently rejected, or perhaps merely tolerated, by their husbands tend to experience severe doubt. About what? Well, here are some pangs of doubt brought on by a husband’s rejection of his wife’s sexual desire.
Doubt about her appeal. This wife worries there must be something unattractive about her. After all, hasn’t she heard all her life that men are flooded with sexual desire the moment they see a beautiful woman? Naked flesh? Even a hint of sexy stuff? Yet, her husband doesn’t respond to her. So maybe the problem lies with her lack of appeal.
This is highly unlikely. Sure, a person can let him/herself go to the point they lose attractiveness. Yet, most spouses are surprisingly reasonable about their mate’s looks — still highly pleased and aroused by their beloved, even as their bodies change through the years. It’s far more likely that you, wife, possess distinct beauty and appeal.
Besides, doubting your appeal won’t help your sex life. If you personally want to improve your health or appearance, go ahead and do so. (Better health never hurts!) But hold your head high and your body erect. Be confident that God knit you together beautifully (Psalm 139:14). You are attractive, and your husband’s lack of interest probably isn’t related to a lack of appeal.
Doubt about the relationship. This wife feels her marriage must be failing in some way because her husband doesn’t want her in the bedroom. Perhaps there are some horrible kinks in their relationship she can’t see, something she’d fix if only she knew what it was. The marriage is sinking, and she can’t even say just when and how the hole formed in their relationship boat. A sense of doom creeps over her, and she wonders if they will ever be okay again.
Did anyone else read He’s Just Not That Into You? It was a relationship book that was all the rage a few years back, and one of its premises was that if a man isn’t trying desperately to get you into bed, he’s just not that into you. That’s a prevalent notion out there, that if a guy isn’t like a bucking bronco in the chute when it comes to sex, he doesn’t want to take you on any kind of relationship ride, period.
Hogwash. There are a number of couples who have good marriages but honestly haven’t worked out all of the issues in their marital bedroom. Perhaps a spouse’s resistance to sex stems from unhealthy teaching in their past, a history of sexual abuse, physical or hormonal challenges, mood disorders, or a heavy blanket of stress in their lives. Sometimes, a person’s lack of sexual interest isn’t about their spouse, it’s just about them.
Now, of course, whatever affects one spouse affects both of you. Once you say “I do,” his problems are your problems, and your problems are his, and it’s a beautiful thing to have someone on your team who’ll do everything they can to help you work through your issues and overcome. So sexual problems in marriage, regardless of how they came about, are a we thing to resolve. But their existence doesn’t necessarily indicate some relationship hammer about to drop.
Doubt about his faithfulness. This wife wonders if his lack of sexual desire in their marriage means he’s getting sated elsewhere. Is he carrying on a physical affair? Is having an online affair? Is he looking at porn?
Yes, there is some percentage of husbands for whom this is true. But there are also plenty of men out there whose desire simply isn’t that high. They aren’t getting fulfilled somewhere else, because they require much less filling to begin with. They might be content with sex now and then. And feel quite devoted to their wife.
Is this a problem for you both? Yeah, sure it is. When there’s a severe mismatch in sexual drives, or there’s just not much sex happening, both spouses need to address the issue and seek a mutually satisfying resolution. (Preferably a lot more sex. In almost all cases.) But just because he’s not looking your way as often as you want, doesn’t mean that his eyes have strayed to someone else.
Being constantly rejected sexually by her husband can make a wife doubt herself and her marriage. It takes inner strength to fight against the negative messages that swirl around in your brain when he says no.
Yes, long periods of sexual rejection, refusal, and disconnect will negatively impact your marriage. Yet, have confidence in yourself and your ability to grow through your circumstances. It may take time, research, effort, conversation, prayer, and much more, but change can happen.
Every single day, marriages improve. Spouses break through obstacles, connect where they were divided, reignite the spark.
And where you feel doubt, you can always find confidence in the Lord.
“I cried out, ‘I am slipping!’
but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me.
When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”