Hot, Holy & Humorous

Is Refusing Sex in Marriage a Sin?

No entry sign VectorSexual refusal is definitely a hot topic. I hear from varied voices on this sensitive subject. Some defend sexual refusal, stating that it’s horrible to suggest someone engage in sex just to please their partner. On other end are those who believe that not getting frequent sex is grounds for divorce.

What’s the truth?  Especially for those living in sexless marriages, defined as married couples who make love fewer than 10 times per year?

Cutting off sexual intimacy in marriage is sin. I don’t think there’s any two ways about that. Now, stick with me for a bit if your hackles just rose and blood rushed into your head. This is not the only point I’m going to make.

But yes, when you get married, one of the promises you’re making is to enter a “one flesh” relationship with your spouse. God designed marriage to include sexual intimacy, and you have an obligation — and the privilege — of having sex regularly with your spouse.

Look at these scriptures to see what I mean:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:4-6, quoting Genesis 2:24)

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).

The patriarch Jacob certainly understood sex to be an important part of his marriage:

Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her (Genesis 29:18-20).

You should be having sex in marriage. But does that mean you’re supposed to flop down on your bed and just let your spouse have his or her way with you? Noooo!

Sexual mistreatment is sin too. Did you read that verse up there about yielding to your spouse? Nothing in the Bible says it’s okay to force or demand your way in the marriage bed. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: You are not your spouse’s sex toy.

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One spouse shouldn’t be used by the other to satisfy a sexual need or desire. Our obligation to have sex in marriage doesn’t supersede our obligations to be loving and respectful. Read Ephesians 5:21-33, a passage bookended by these verses: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” and “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” And 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 describes love as patient, kind, and honoring others. There’s nothing kind about dismissing your spouse as a person and expecting him or her to simply perform sexually for your benefit.

There are both sides to this — you should be having sex, but with mutual respect and pleasure. That’s the relationship you should be working toward.

But what do you do with a sexless spouse? This post will not answer that question fully, because the right answer would be specific to your scenario. But ask yourself a few things:

Do I have problems I need to own? If you’ve been demanding, dismissive, or dogged in your approach, you need to stop your own sinfulness, ask for forgiveness from God and from your spouse, and pursue a more loving path.

What’s the underlying reason for his or her refusal? Whether you understand or not, there’s a reason why your spouse is refusing. It’s often that way with sin: We’re doing the wrong thing for reasons that make sense to us. Sometimes it’s because a spouse doesn’t understand what they’re doing; they truly don’t realize how important sexual intimacy is, the benefits to your marriage, or how their refusal is breaking your heart. Even if you’ve said it a million times, some spouses don’t get it. They don’t feel that way, so it’s hard to comprehend.

Or there could be solid reasons why your spouse says no — like physical pain, sexual abuse in their past, relational conflict, depression, etc.

Your spouse doesn’t need you to beat them over the head; they need your support to work their issues out. Those obstacles are not only keeping you from getting sex, but keeping your spouse from enjoying the blessings God has for them.

What baby steps could we take? If possible, I’d get everyone in problem situations to take a giant Mother-May-I step toward healthy sexual intimacy. But most of us don’t get the blinding-light-on-the-road-to-Damascus experience that changes our lives on the spot. We’re less like Paul and more like Peter — whittling away at our bad stuff and replacing it with God’s truth. So take steps in the right direction, even if they are smaller than you’d want.

Those beautiful cathedrals around the world were built stone by stone, and beautiful sexual intimacy can be built step by step. Patience and perseverance are tough callings, but these traits will serve you well in this journey. Weeks, months, years down the road, you may be amazed at how far you’ve come. I’ve heard many redemption stories from couples who are glad they didn’t quit.

What does your spouse need? It’s easy to get caught up in your emotional pain and sexual frustration, to focus on what you‘re not getting. But what about your spouse? What does he/she need to feel safe and cherished? Brainstorm a hundred ideas if need be — things you could do that would show your beloved that you truly care about their comfort and pleasure. Stash deposit after deposit into your spouse’s “love bank,” filling him or her up with assurance after assurance that you love and desire this person you’ve chosen. This is not a tit-for-tat trick, but rather a calling to invest in the woman or man you love. From that place, some wonderful things might happen — to your spouse and to you.

Do you have the right to leave? I’d be remiss if I didn’t deal with this question that arises from time to time. If your spouse stubbornly refuses to have sex, talk about sex, give any indication that anything will change regarding sex, do you have a right to leave the marriage? After all, if this is downright sin, don’t you have an out?

Yet I can’t find biblical justification, through commands or example, for exiting the marriage. While I ache terribly for those individuals in this situation, lack of sex alone doesn’t seem to warrant divorce.  Believe me, it was hard to even type those last words, knowing the hopelessness and despair some of you have felt. All I can say is God is with you in your darkest times. You cannot control all of your circumstances, but you can make choices on how to respond and who to turn to — your Heavenly Father who knows your pain. “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

Finally, why don’t we talk more about the sin of refusal? This charge is laid against churches generally — that we preach against the sexual sins of commission like adultery and pornography but ignore the sin of omission when one spouse stops sexual activity in a marriage. Let me assure you that I’m among those who believe we should talk about it. The Bible is clear about the responsibilities — better yet, blessings — of physical intimacy in marriage.

One preacher summarized the singles and marrieds situation in his church this way: “The people who aren’t supposed to be having sex are, and the people who are supposed to be having sex aren’t.” We need to attend to both sides of this equation!

When I was growing up, about the only time I heard the word “sex” in church, it was followed by “-ual immorality.” It gave the mistaken impression that God was solely concerned with His people avoiding extramarital sexual activity. When God is equally concerned with us diving into intramarital sexual activity!

Thankfully, I see this message changing among Christians — more people willing to address head-on the challenges of sexual intimacy in marriage and to encourage not just sex acts but physical intimacy between husband and wife. And it goes both ways. It’s not just about getting the sex you want; it’s about experiencing the intimacy you both want. Let’s proclaim that message. Over and over, until Christian marriages thrive in this area.

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35 thoughts on “Is Refusing Sex in Marriage a Sin?”

  1. Hi J – good coverage of this most difficult subject. There is much in the church that is misconstrued by grounds for divorce. In the Gospels, Jesus was not given a thorough teaching on this subject but only the no-fault divorce of his day, “for any reason.” The only verse in the entire Bible regarding marriage vows is in the Old Testament. It is located in Exodus 21:10 and deals with a slave wife taken by a free Hebrew husband as a second wife. There’s an important lesson for us moderns and how God teaches us in his word. He uses the absolute lowest rung on the ladder for a particular command and assumes his hearers will apply it to everything greater. This is illustrated when Paul states that God is not concerned about oxen only when he was teaching about supporting church leaders that work hard in God’s vineyard. Now then, none of us in our right mind would allow a husband or a wife to continue to shoot a spouse repeatedly intending for their death. As a matter of fact, there are stories in the church where that exact thing is happened in the spouse has been killed. But the church body that the victim attended just told the wife to “submit more and love him.” So along the continuum of physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse and neglect and abandonment, there certainly are times for separation and divorce for the unrepentant perpetrator. This is the heart of God to protect his people. Now, it is our experience in our ministry with many people that sins are in clusters due to the evil and deceived heart that is perpetrating them. This means that if a wife is sexually starving her husband that most likely she is sending against him in other ways as well. Of course, this works both ways for the husband can be the perpetrator. I know personally of at least one case among many of a Christian husband that encountered sexual starvation in a long-term marriage where the wife over time began to withdraw sexually from her loving husband and church leader. As he confided in me, first she withdrew oral sex then intercourse due to a physical problem that she wouldn’t pursue fully for healing. Then it was just reduced to a perfunctory weekly or biweekly manual orgasm for the man without any interest by the wife. She would wipe off her hands of any semen in disgust and always made mention of it to him. In this case like many others, the wife was being disrespectful and dishonorable with the husband in almost everything else as she sniped and sassed and just dishonored and blasphemed the word of God as Titus 2 declares. The church and those around them did nothing to bring the woman to account. In total frustration and even still sexually faithful, the husband warned the wife on several occasions that he was going to leave to at least separate for a time. The wife ignored him and he finally left. The church condemned the husband as the perpetrator and the wife as the victim when indeed the situation was reversed. The best resources on divorce and remarriage in the church and its history are by David Instone-Brewer from England. His two books and many videos are the gold standard for those wondering what to do in this age of misunderstanding and legalism. Blessings in all you do and thanks for this great ministry to us all out here in the trenches!

    1. The Church needs to do a better job of intervention as well, when it’s warranted. Not nailing people against the wall (as has been done in the past), but truly engaging the sinner and working to heal the marriage. If that would happen more often, I suspect the question of whether it’s okay to leave wouldn’t come up so much. Thanks!

      1. When dealing with intervention, I think we (the church) forget Galatians 6: 1 & 2 “Brethren, if a brother is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

    2. David Instone-Brewer is a very conservative Biblical scholar who acknowledges that abandonment, adultery, and abuse are grounds for separation and divorce if the problem is not resolved.

      I believe CHRONIC sexual refusal is a type of abandonment which CAN lead to divorce. Spouses should seek healing through counseling, etc. but if the offending spouse refuses to heal, change and grow and ALL efforts to resolve the situation have been exhausted I think separation and divorce are the consequences. I think even if a spouse has a chronic condition that prohibits certain sexual activities, a spouse might ask him or herself what is the loving thing? The theme l often sense from the denied spouse is a flat-out REFUSAL for any kind of sexual intimacy. Is that loving? Is that even kind?
      Although we can never know both sides of the stories presented here, there are spouses who have seemingly tried to be loving, kind, patient, etc. and yet their offending spouse has denied them sex for years. 2,5, 8, 15, 30, 35 years!! That is not right! It is sin. Does that marriage honor God? I’m not so sure.

      1. This is a really tough question, and I totally get what you’re saying. My point was simply that I couldn’t find specific biblical support for lack of sex ALONE meaning the end of marriage. But I recognize that oftentimes there are other issues in the marriage, and those may warrant leaving. Thanks for adding your two cents!

    1. I’d give him personal credit if I had permission. But I wanted it clear that the statement wasn’t my own! Borrow away.

  2. My pastor has just completed a series on 1 Corinthians. He actually stated that you should not even marry if you’re not willing to have sex 3 times a week with your spouse. Our church definitely speaks against refusal. He also spoke against coercion and demanding spouses in the same series.

    Maybe not divorce. But stubbornly unrepentant sin should be called to account in the church. People who are refusing to repent despite repeated warning should be under the church discipline and barred from the Lord’s table. This is not just a case of the church not addressing a single sin. It’s more of a pattern of reluctance to engage in the hard work of disciplining the flock. Many churches have decided that numbers are more important than faithfulness and making disciples, with disastrous consequences. Not just for the church, but the culture at large.

    1. Wow, your pastor is a brave one! Good for him being willing to speak up in favor of marital sex. And yes, I agree that “stubbornly unrepentant sin” (which is a good phrase for what we’re talking about) must be addressed. Thanks.

    2. Alchemist’s pastor has just completed a series on 1 Corinthians. Great! It’s my hope that he taught from one of the only three major translations in current use in which “divorce” hasn’t been added to I Corinthians 7:10-14 as an option, even if there hasn’t been adultery: namely the old King James Version; the Holman Christian Standard Version and the New Living Translation (if there are others, please correct me). Three weeks ago at the Christian Bookseller’s Association’s annual convention, the ICRS, I was privileged to read the study Bible notes by several well-known Bible teachers. For example, Dr. John McArthur frankly contradicts the text of the New King James Version of 1 Cor. 7, where divorce is given as an option.

      A Well-known, 80-year-old Bible radio and publishing ministry has published a booklet in which the New King James of I Cor. 7 is given as an option for divorce, flatly contradicting the words of Jesus in Matthew 19. The same author asserts that Jesus’ reference to Moses allowing “hard-hearted” men to divorce their wives means that this Old Testament rule is still in effect, and that it’s also permissible to divorce an unsaved spouse. After reading the same rendering of 1 Cor. 7 in the NIV, I ran this information past Dr. Wesley Gerig, retired after 50 years teaching Greek and a contributor to one 20th-century Bible translation. Gerig said to me, “That’s an interpretation, not a translation.” He said further that there is no Greek word in 1 Corinthians 7 that can properly be translated “divorce,” and that Paul’s instructions re abusive and unsaved husbands were so that a couple might separate temporarily and seek counseling with a view to reconciliation.

      Of course, most men refuse counseling, and find another woman and marry her, which according to Jesus in Matthew 5 and 19 is adultery, so this frees the wife up to remarry.

      Dr. Gary Chapman, in LOVING SOLUTIONS, teaches that divorce, even from an abusive husband, is a desperate last resort.

      As for refusal to make love–never divorce, IMHO. Separate and live a celibate life, if necessary. Divorce has given America millions of rootless children who don’t understand marriage.

  3. I’m so glad you tackled this, J. I think of it this way: it isn’t always a sin to say no, but it’s a sin to always say no. The problem isn’t an occasional “no” as much as it’s a pattern of saying “no” most of the time.

    It is heart-breaking to hear from spouses who experience sexual refusal in the deepest, most fragile places in their hearts. As a wife who spent a lot of years sinning unrepentantly in this way, I have been surprised as I discover how much I was depriving myself–not just my husband–of God’s wonderful gift of sex.

    1. Wow, that is a great thought: “it isn’t always a sin to say no, but it’s a sin to always say no.” You are a wise woman! (Which I already knew.)

  4. My question is this: at what point does saying NO to sex becomes a sin? For example, if sex only happens once every 3-6 weeks, is refusal evident? What if one spouse has some medical issues and uses this as reasons for refusal but does not seek help? And I could go on with various scenarios. My point is this: for me, sexual refusal is such a grey area and calling it a sin is troublesome. It is much easier to call adultery (having sex with someone that is not your spouse) a sin. And yet, I know sexual refusal is a big problem in the church. I have been to many marriage retreats and conferences and never has sexual refusal been addressed during the topic of sex. I only heard about sexual refusal 4 years ago when I started reading Christian sex blogs. Keep up the good work J!

    1. I think it’s one of those things where we can all agree on these extremes being sin, but it’s harder to know where that crossing line is. That’s up to God. Much of the time, however, I think refusing spouses are a bit like “forgive them for they know not what they do.” Which is one reason I do what I do — to promote how sexual intimacy should be a part of a godly marriage. Then wives, and husbands, know what God’s design for sex really is and can take action from there. Thanks, Anon!

  5. Angry About Sexless Marriages

    I appreciate you taking on this issue and I am a man who gave up on his 20 year sexless marriage and I’m divorcing my verbally abusive wife. We had great sex before marriage, she knew it was important, but she was never willing to take the steps to make it happen or to compensate in other ways. I get tired of the marriage sites “preaching” to be patient, treat her right, invest, invest, invest. I did, only to have my desires in the relationship (verbally and sexually) rejected over and over. If you keep fishing at a pond that provides no fish, you will either die or need to move to a different pond! I choose life …. I’m divorcing her. Call me a sinner, etc., but I’m not going to put all my needs second, be verbally abused, and live like bad room mates for the second half of my life.

    1. Believe me when I say that I ache for you. And I wish Christian women would have stepped in and dealt with your wife’s refusal of sexual intimacy.

  6. J, another thoughtful, compassionate post. I’ve really enjoyed 3 of your recent posts – Two Important Aspects of Sexual Intimacy, What are the Real Purposes of Sex and this post. I feel they are tied together in theme – why sex is important in marriage beyond what we normally hear and think. I believe this post ties in because you are speaking of constant, ongoing refusal and how to address it so one can experience the intended gifts from sexual intimacy. Your take on Belonging and Desire in the 2 Aspects post was absolutely beautiful and answers the question of why sex is intended for marriage. A message I wish all youth could hear.

    I was in a sexless marriage, by definition, for over 20 years. I have some thoughts to add. A couple you’ve already addressed in the comments.

    —What is refusal? I think this question is important. The term gets thrown around a lot and is used to describe a wide range of situations. In this post, you did a great job of specifying what you meant – sexless marriages where sexual intimacy is cut off. I feel the same way about the terms “low drive” and “high drive” spouse. They are way overused and can be applied to too many situations. Also, they are not always accurate as to what is really going on behind the scenes.

    —I love how you stated this. “Cutting off sexual intimacy in marriage is sin.” Cutting off is the key here and something I can’t understand. How can anyone think it’s okay to sentence their spouse to a life with no sex just because they don’t want it for whatever reason? I’m not sure I will ever understand this, but I know what you said in the article to be true. — “It’s often that way with sin: We’re doing the wrong thing for reasons that make sense to us. Sometimes it’s because a spouse doesn’t understand what they’re doing; they truly don’t realize how important sexual intimacy is, the benefits to your marriage, or how their refusal is breaking your heart.”

    —In regards to saying “no”. In the beginning of my husband’s refusal, the ability to say “no” was one of the first things I noticed as a loss. Because his initiation of sex was becoming so infrequent, I felt I no longer had the ability to say “no”. I rarely said “no”, but this was probably the first recognition I had of what was taking place. It didn’t take long before he stopped initiating completely. Now that our marriage is no longer sexless, I still feel this burden. I have anxiety around the thought of saying “no”, meaning “raincheck please”, for fear of too much time passing. My husband recognizes this and feels it will be a sign our sexual relationship is completely healthy again when I can start saying “no”.

    —“Your spouse doesn’t need you to beat them over the head; they need your support to work their issues out.” — Yes, yes, yes!!! This is something I knew all along, but didn’t know how to get him to discuss the issues so we could work on them together. I wonder how things might have been different if I’d done a better job of verbalizing my hurt and letting him know I was in his corner. But, we also don’t know if this could have pushed him away more.

    —Regarding leaving — I’ve done a lot of soul searching on this one. I think every situation is unique, and as such, the answer is unique to that individual. I view sexual refusal (cutting off of sex) as a form of abandonment and/or adultery. When this happens, the refused spouse can fall into great temptation and/or begin to harbor contempt for their spouse. I think if the temptation or contempt become too much for the refused spouse to handle and they’ve clearly expressed the issues to their spouse, divorce may be necessary. But, ultimately, the refused spouse has to make a choice. Stay in the sexless marriage and find contentment in that situation or let it go. If you chose to remain, you should work hard to keep the other aspects of the relationship growing while continuing to hold hope and fight for the sexual relationship.

    1. Excellent comment. Thank you for your insight and your story. I’m so glad that your marriage is healing!

  7. What if you have sex frequently, but your spouse refuses to do what it takes to give you an orgasm?

    “Yeah, but you have sex.”
    “Yeah, but I don’t get to orgasm.”
    “But you have sex…..”
    “But, once he is done, it’s done. No orgasm for me and he refuses oral and manual, and I can’t orgasm from intercourse alone.”
    “But, you’re having sex….”

    Thankfully, we are in a better place, but I went 3 years living like that in my marriage. I was beginning to be unable to imagine living decades in a marriage like that.

    But getting anyone to acknowledge that I was sexually refused when I was having sex was a challenge.

    1. You make a good point: Refusals aren’t just about the act of having sex. Some are refusing their mate by refusing to really engage in the experience, which is another frustration. Some spouses who could have sex have even backed away because the experience feels so one-sided that they no longer enjoy it. Which is sad.

      I’m really glad you’re making progress though. Step by step, I know things can improve in many marriages. Blessings!

      1. Yes, and pity sex, while it may not be flat out refusal, is just as bad. It’s like your spouse is saying “well, you’re not really good enough for me, and I’m not all that attracted to you, and I don’t find you sexually appealing, but I’ll do it with you because I’m supposed to.” Um, no thanks.

        I slept on the couch for many nights because I did not want my husband giving me “pity sex”. I’d rather go without than be made to feel like a “chore”.

    2. @libl,
      I do think you were being refused of the “intimacy” part of sex and some of the physical. What you describe sounds like it’s just about physical pleasure for your husband. I can relate, in that, the few times we did have sex over the course of our sexlessness, it was all about physical pleasure (mainly his). I knew that’s what it would be, but chose to participate because the need for the physical experience with a real person was so great. Even though I didn’t often orgasm during these encounters, there was an aspect of physicalness (is that even a word?!) I couldn’t get without partner sex. For all refusing spouses who think, “why don’t they just masturbate to get release?”, it will never be the same as the physical contact with another person even if it is just for physical release. Tie in the lack of emotional connection during the experience because your spouse won’t engage, and it can make the heartbreak so much more.

      Is it possible your husband actually has some type of performance anxiety? It could be that he is deflecting the problem onto you because he really feels he is inadequate. It’s possible he is just taking what he can get out of fear of letting you down. This may not be the case, but I urge you to give it some consideration. What seems like selfishness (and is), could be stemming from something painful for him. Anyway, just a thought.

      1. He told me he just doesn’t like oral and manual. They hurt his hand/tongue, and I take too long (5-20 minutes). We “compromised” in that I started masturbating during intercourse because I was councelled to do something to take charge of my sexual needs since he wouldn’t. At first he didn’t like it and would pull my hand away, but I persisted, and now he loves it. It absolves him from having to put in the clitoral effort, and he gets the benefits of feeling me climax during intercourse. Since then, he has put in more effort towards me in sexual play while I’m busy doing my thing and we actually found a satisfying rhythm for both of us, but I still miss manual and oral….both giving and receiving.

        I will say, though, being on top all the time is a great workout and my hips buns and thighs have never looked so good!

  8. Pingback: Making Sexual Changes: What Is Your Story? - The Forgiven Wife

  9. Grat post, J. Many thanks for addressing it.
    Where I see a possible allowance for divorce in the case of sexual refusal is in Matthew 19:9. Neither fornication nor adultery accurately translate the Greek word “porneia”. Sexual immorality is the best translation, but it’s vague and open to interpretation. The Jews of Jesus’ time, as well as early Christians, used the word to cover all sexual sins. Give that Paul makes it clear refusal is a sexual sin we can do if A=B and B=C then A=C. Never my preferred way of getting an answer, but still valid.
    But just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should, nor does it means it’s what God would have us do. I think plenty of folks with the technical right to divorce are showing their hardness of heart when they do so.

    1. I appreciate what you’re saying, but that would be a very unusual use of the word porneia. In the 26 instances that the word is used in the New Testament, almost every one refers to an act of commission. Sexual refusal doesn’t fit into almost any of those verses, so this interpretation appears to be a stretch.

      What I think is clear that we aren’t uses the resources of the Church and other Christians to address the sexual sin of refusal in many marriages. I’m sure you’ve seen this in your extensive ministry. If we did a far better job of helping spouses in sexless marriage reclaim their God-given gift of intimacy, I expect the question of whether to leave wouldn’t come up so much. Thanks for weighing in, Paul!

      1. Of course Paul calls it a sin of commission – he uses a Greek word that means to rob someone of something that belongs to them.

        I agree it would be a much less common issue if the church did what it should.

  10. To me it is no sin to refuse your husband sex when you are not in the mood. At the same time why should you refuse your husband sexual pleasure if you love him? Sexual pleasure should be a mutual enjoyment of both parties and no denial of this pleasure should be obtained from both parties.

    1. If we apply the idea of refusal until we are in the mood in all areas of our life … I think all of us would be in a world of hur …
      – God says “do this” … you reply, meh … I’m not in the mood …
      – You boss says “I need that done by the end of the week” … meh … I’m not in the mood …
      – Your wife says “honey, its time to go to the hosptial, the baby is coming: … meh … the game is on, I’m not in the mood …

      Ultimately the response of “I’m not in the mood” (as I read it from your reply) is, very often, born out of selfishness and laziness. With that said — yes — there are times the mood, or atmosphere, is not right for physical intimacy, but that is different than not enjoying time with your spouse physically because “you’re not in the mood”.

  11. I wonder if we’re asking the right question. When I think of whether something is a sin, I start with the presumption that I can do whatever I want so long as it is *not* a sin. But, Jesus didn’t live that way. He repeatedly said that he came to do his Father’s will. He did not come to do his own will so long as it wasn’t sinful. So, I reframe the question: Under what circumstances is it God’s will that I refuse my wife’s request for sex? Put that way, I think about it differently and may come up with different answers. It also works for the high drive spouse. Under what circumstances is it God’s will that I insist upon sex when my wife doesn’t want it? In both situations, it would seem that a Godly, loving answer would require more than “I’m not in the mood” or “See, the Bible says you have to give it to me.”

    1. I agree. But I get that direct question about sexual refusal and sin, so I wanted to answer it as best I could. Too often, however, I think we are concerned with where the line is that we shouldn’t cross, rather than how close we can get to Jesus. Thanks for your insightful comment.

  12. I’ve been married 29 years and faithfull to my wife the entire time. The past few years she has consistently refusing me sex. Now I know my wife and I’ve tried every angle. I do a majority of house work, cook, clean, laundry, take care of the house and vehicles too, I romance her, surprise her with flowers, go to her work and leave a tulip on the windshield of her car. I work full time as she does and still she refuses. The list of excuses is nothing new to you I’m sure but it’s gotten me to a point where I want to leave. If there is no intamacy in my marriage then I think I’m not interested in having a female roommate. She tells me that I need to understand her feelings and concerns. I do and I have but she refuses to understand mine. I’ve read many books on menopause and its effects on marriage, on her and on me. I’m trying and have been for a few years. But I’m trying to be as honest and open as I can. I can not go on like this. I want a partner, a confidant, someone who wants me as much as I want the. She has pushed me to the edge and I’m seriously thinking of packing my bags. Now we’ve talked and she just won’t see how serious this is. She has zero energy when it comes to me. If a frien calls and wants to go out she leaps into action. I had a feeling that maybe she was having an affair. I hired a PI and he found nothing. I check her personal electronic devices and nothing, no red flags. Our kids are grown and out of our house. She is 53, I’m 54. Both on good shape. We enjoyed a great sex life 2-5 times a week for most of our 30 years. Now, maybe 2 a year and it seems like a chore. I often ask her why? What can I do? She just shuts me down. I try to engage in conversation about us, our future and she is into that 100%. Lately I stay away from future plans as I really don’t see us together come spring. We tried counsellors and she hated it. I tried the go alone and really didn’t get anything out of it. The PI found nothing at all and he spent 2 weeks. Looking over the time we are apart she really doesn’t have time for an affair. Do women just shut us down and lose all concern and become inconsiderate? I’ve already started to hide money and plan to rent an apartment. Other that the intamacy or lack there of, we get along very well. I don’t want very well. I don’t want a sister in my bed. I want a lover, I want passion, I want total commitment. And yes, I’ve told her this. It makes no difference. I hate the fact that I’m about to just give up on us. But as I see it there is no us. I’m sure you can see that I may be missing something. Please help.

    1. Clearly something happened, but from the information you gave me, I don’t know what. I do wonder how you’re approaching the conversation? Does she feel like you’re mad or disappointed every time you bring up the subject of sex? Or does she feel safe to explain what’s changed for her? While can’t make her talk, you can help to create a better atmosphere for her share. Maybe check out my post on How to Talk about Sexual Problems with Your Spouse.

      And please don’t throw away 29 years too quickly. My own marriage was in trouble for years, and we found our way back and have a good relationship now. I’m very glad neither of us walked away. Praying for you.

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