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?
Well, 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.