Today’s question is from a husband frustrated with his marriage’s lack of intimacy. His wife’s frustrated too, but they can’t seem to see eye-to-eye on what next . . . and the marriage is suffering. Here’s his question:
My wife has been complaining about the lack of intimacy for many years- rightfully so. I am to blame because I have not had a healthy sex drive for many years. I want to rekindle the flame, and have suggested that we rearrange the furniture in the living room so that we can sit next to each other so that I can make physical contact with her and kiss and fondle her. She is now refusing to allow that, because she is saying that she is feeling mad, frustrated and love is dying in her for me.
I also want to encourage changing the scenery and would like to buy us sexy bedroom robes and high heels for her to lounge in. To me, intimacy starts by physically being close to her and by seeing her in sexy clothes or even as little clothes as possible. I also want to suggest that she get in the shower with me, which we have never done before. I am afraid she is going to turn me down on all these suggestions because of how she is feeling right now. I can’t get myself into the state of mind of wanting to have sex if my sexual fluids have not been lubed up.
She has never initiated sex, not do I expect her to ever start now. She complains about the lack of it and says she has a high sex drive. So how do I get myself out of this vicious circle? Please help me out. I want to save our marriage.
When someone poses a question, I address that person. If the wife wrote me, I might have some things to say to her, but this question is from the husband — and, while spouses can influence one another, you can only change you. With that in mind, what should the husband do?
Dude, your whole email is about what would get you revvin’. And I get it, I really do. I think that’s important information for your wife to have and consider. But NOT NOW. You’re in a tangled thicket of marital discord, and that is not the place from which any reasonable wife says to herself, “Hey, I know what I want! I want him to go straight to fondling me on the couch, I’ll dress in sexy lingerie and high heels for him, and I want to shower up his naked man-goods. Oh boy, I can’t wait!”
Think about it: You’re upset because you’re not getting what you want from your marriage, and it’s making it very difficult for you to engage in sexual intimacy with her. She‘s upset because she‘s not getting what she wants from her marriage, and it’s making it very difficult for her to engage in sexual intimacy with you. Since you can’t make her meet your desires, why not shift your focus to meeting hers? Not only is this likely to have a better chance of success, check these out:
“…remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ ” (Acts 20:35b).
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15).
“A generous person will be enriched, and one who gives water will get water” (Proverbs 11:25, NRSV).
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, NLT).
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
I could go on. Obviously, the Bible is chock-full of admonition and encouragement to love and serve others — and that’s especially important in our marriages, where we have a greater opportunity and obligation.
Therefore, I’d encourage you to hold off on requesting what you want until you’ve first given her the chance to express why she is struggling with physical intimacy and you’ve given it your best shot to meet her reasonable needs and desires. Is this hard stuff? Oh yeah. We are so primed to be aware of what we are not getting and what we want that it’s incredibly difficult to shove that aside, listen to your spouse, and focus on their pain, their concerns, their hopes.
Which is why I also think you need to pray. Not that sort of prayer that asks the Lord to change her, but to empower you to be the husband you want to be, the confidant she needs, the faithful protector of her heart and her body. Honestly, sometimes my prayers are me gritting my teeth, looking to heaven, and saying, “I can’t do this anymore. Help. Me.” I think God’s okay with that, and He shows up in those moments of need.
How can you find out what’s going on with her? I encourage you also read my posts on How to Talk about Sexual Problems with Your Spouse and 3 Barriers to Communicating with Your Spouse about Sex. It might take some time to break through and see real progress, but you’re right — the current situation is untenable, something’s gotta change. Sexual intimacy is important for your marriage. But you can take positive steps toward being the most loving husband you can be, and you might be surprised in the long run at the way a wife softens when her husband creates an atmosphere of emotional safety and genuine care.
First, rekindle her flame. Then you can ask her to rekindle yours — although I suspect it might be rekindled at that point too. There’s something about loving someone actively and extravagantly that makes you love them all the more.
What’s your advice on rekindling your spouse’s flame, your own, or the fires of the marriage itself?
10 thoughts on “Q&A with J: Husband Wants to “Rekindle the Flame””
The previous comment is right on target. Pray that you be the husband God calls for you to be, believe that it’s done and do not look back. Concentrate on serving her. Cook her favorite meal and have a candle lit dinner. Wash the dishes. Wash the clothes. Clean the house, her car, etc. Buy her roses. Tell her hi ow beautiful she is. Breakfast in bed. Take her to a movie. Leave post-it notes all over the house. Write messages with dry erase markers on her mirror. Give her a massage. Let her respond. Believe without any doubts that God will take care of it and he will in his time not yours.
Absolutely! I was in this trap but as the wife and the higher drive spouse. I was so focused on the lack of intimacy and MY needs. We were both miserable. After reading a few books I realized that the more I focused on me the worse things got. I began shifting my focus to HIS needs and it was scary. I was worried that if I focuses on his needs then how on earth would mine ever get met. I thought I’d be even more miserable. But I trusted God and the writers of the Christian marriage books. Thank God I did! Things got so much better and now our marriage is amazing and so is our intimacy. It took time and effort but it was so worth it! Also, during this time my husband also talked to his doctor about things he was experiencing and they checked his testosterone level and it was way too low. He’s been on injections ever since and now his drive and mine are pretty much even. Just something to think about. There are definitely medical reasons why a man could have a low drive and it’s sometimes is easily fixed. My husband tells all his friends to get checked. It’s changed his life in many ways. Good luck!
Great advice. After 30+ years of marriage, I’ve been there. I suggested a lot of the same things to my wife and received the same feedback. I’ve learned, and I still need work, to focus on little things that make her feel special. Holding hands. Calling her sweet, mushy names. Cuddling, with a little groping but letting her decide how far the gropes go.
If you wanna get wet with her, draw a nice, hot bubble bath. DO NOT join unless she invites you in, or ask if she’d like a back rub while she soaks. Make EVERYTHING about her, not what you want.
I know how hard it is (no pun intended, but a good one). You’ve got to be patient and SERVE her needs. Good luck.
Forget about the sexy apparel. I’ll bet she will become more than happy to give you enthusiastic sex if you will become more than happy to provide her with the affection she’s been craving. I suspect she’s love-starved. So take her out to dinner. Take her shopping for some new clothes. Take her to bed even, but cuddle her, hold her and tell her how much having her as your wife really means to you. Set sex aside for a season. Help out around the house. Do the dishes, wash the clothes, and do other things to SERVE HER and make her your princess! Let her know that you value her beyond sex, and once she internalizes that you really mean what you say, I’ll bet she will lay loving on you like you wouldn’t believe. It may take a few months, be forewarned, because women value authenticity and commitment. Let us know how it works out for you.
Whilst I agree with all the comments above, and have lived it myself after years of frustration and know it works, change yourself first before you try and change your partner/focus on your partners needs before your own… One interesting thing to note was the comment…
She has never initiated sex, not do I expect her to ever start now. She complains about the lack of it and says she has a high sex drive.
For someone who supposedly has a high sex drive to never initiate seems strange. Generally if you want something alot you go out of your way to do it. Very unusual if you dont. If you like cooking, fishing, shopping you dont normally wait around saying why arent you taking me to the shops… you organise yourself to do it. Without having more info it is hard to comment deeper without assuming too much.
Change yourself first before you try and change your partner/focus on your partners needs before your own and Pray. Hard to live out but well worth it if you can.
As a high drive wife, I used to initiate and hubby would turn me down, but it was out of miscommunication. I would rub his back and he would think, hey things are heating up. He would wait for me to “take him” but instead I would feel like he wasn’t responding to my advances and I would lay back down. He thought I changed my mind or wasn’t really interested and left me alone.
Women tend to initiate differently than men. What we see as banners waving, men don’t see at all.
I initiated by subtly suggesting my interest through body language for him to start sex. He was waiting for me to get the boat rocking!
I had the same thoughts about why a higher drive spouse wouldn’t initiate. Perhaps he has turned her down so often in the past that it is just too painful to risk that rejection again. I know I’ve been in that boat.
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Thank you so much for writing this. It was a little late for me, and I probably wouldn’t have received the message well anyways. On the other hand, I was going thru the exact same mental process as the man who wrote the letter.
In my search to find ways to change my wife and mold her into what I wanted, all I could come up was that my own behavior was so hopelessly flawed that I had to fix myself and thank God she hadn’t left me long ago.
The lord first convicted me to correct my behavior towards my wife, and be as giving and generous as I could possibly be, and then he sort of dropped the Hammer on me about my relationship with him.
I quit living in expectation from my wife, and started looking to her needs and wishes before my own, and it is to the point where if we quarrel about a household chore, it is to tell the other to go sit down and relax. Usually we end up performing the task together, and actually enjoy doing it. Sometimes she washes and I dry the dishes, and sometimes the reverse is true, but they almost never sit in the sink for 5 minutes after dinner(which either of us might prepare depending on who gets home first).
The point is, when I started giving of my time, energy, and affection, I expected nothing in return, and instead I have received as much or more as I have given, and both of us do it gladly, with no selfishness, and often together.
My sex life is insanely good, which is great all by itself, but I have gained so much more. I got a real wife instead of a roommate, and I look forward to every minute with her. I hope that she feels the same way, and from the way she treats me, I believe she does.
This post is dead on, and if any husband is reading it, and discounting it because it was written by a woman, All I can say is that you have no idea how great things can be if you don’t give it a chance.
This is coming from a man who has done it mostly wrong for over 30 years.
Thank you. And I’m so happy you shared your story.
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