Not long ago, I posed a simple question in my higher drive wife group.
Over 100 Responses
The 111 answers I received reveal a lot about how a spouse regularly rejected in marriage feels.
Of course we’re not talking about the occasional no or not-now answers that are entirely reasonable within the course of a marriage! Rather, these are emotions experienced by spouses who see a pattern of sexual refusal or disinterest from their spouse.
Instead of writing a lot about their responses, I simply want to share the list of emotions, in hopes that:
- Frustrated, higher drive spouses will recognize they are not alone.
- Refusing or gatekeeping spouses (not just lower drive, which is normal) can see how emotional sex is for the HD spouse.
Related posts: Is Sex Disconnected from Love for Men?, Do You Personalize Sexual Rejection?
Take the Vow
One caveat, though: We higher drive spouses will now raise our hands and promise the following:
I will not use this post to feed my resentment or anger, but rather to grieve through my own situation and sympathize with others. Moreover, I will not use this post to challenge or berate my spouse for not giving me sex.
Later this week, I will share what those same HD wives believe their LD husbands feel about their situation. Because a big gap in sex drives affects both spouses emotionally. And it’s important to also consider the feelings our spouse is experiencing.A big gap in sex drives affects both spouses emotionally. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
Here’s the List
Question: What primary emotion do you feel as a result of not getting the frequency and/or quality of sex you desire in your marriage?
Jealous (of others)
Don’t Give Up
Those are heavy words to process. But I want to leave off with the encouragement that many couples who’ve been in this place found their way up and out. We hear success stories in that higher drive wife group too, as sexual intimacy in marriages begins to improve with love, intentionality, prayer, and perseverance. The road isn’t always easy, but it’s a path worth taking.
As the higher drive spouse, do you relate to any of these emotions? If you’ve been a reluctant sexual partner in your marriage, did any of these emotions surprise you?
48 thoughts on “How the Sexually Rejected Spouse Feels”
I can feel so many of these. I guess unworthy could be the best description.
I know you do not want me
beyond the mere platonic;
far from being misery,
it’s something of a tonic.
No more am I held in thrall
to instinct base and cloying,
and I am free to play football,
raise hell, and be annoying.
I wanted life in open air,
and not between the sheets,
a place so blithely free of care
where joy and danger meet.
But know this, dear, and hold it true,
that it’s not reduced, my love for you.
As usual, your poetic talent comes through!
Of course, your situation is quite different, with cancer taking away the desire and ability to engage sexually. As I’ve long pointed out, there’s a difference between being unable and being unwilling to have sex in marriage. I don’t consider what you’re going through a sexual rejection, but rather an insurmountable obstacle. I pray for you and your wife both!
Each and every word you presented is perfect match for me:I don’t know a person has so many feelings unless o saw ur post:I am stunned by accuracy and my situation: u must did a great research
It really has more to do with attraction, motivation, and passion. These are all things that actually take a little work and decision making.
I don’t see the motivation; therefore,
I don’t see the attraction being displayed; therefore, no passion is being constructed.
People seem to believe these things should just happen without much effort but that is NOT true.
This is why people say, “be fully present.”
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I’m unclear about the direction they are taking. Do you mean the emotions listed here are because effort hasn’t been made? That people who are rejected by their spouses are Just not attractive, so why should there be motivation snd passion?
You seem to have thought about this a lot. I would be interested in your further clarification and advice.
One husbands biggest problems not just regarding sex but with most things is lackmof motivation☹️
Could you please help us know what to do to when a spouse is feeling neglected sexually and the other partner has a low sex drive? We can acknowledge the person’s myriad feelings but what should we do?
There’s a lot addressing this very issue here on my blog and in my books. Rather than me summarizing (which I really can’t, because there’s no one right answer), I recommend you run some searches using the search bar above. Also, for wives check out the blogs of OysterBed7 and The Forgiven Wife. Blessings!
Disappointment would best described my feelings. However, I have contributed to my feelings of disappointment. My expectations were so high when I got married, it placed an undue burden upon my wife. As we aged, her health issues also contributed to the low frequency and quality of our sex life. I need to remind myself that there is usually two sides for every story…
Undesired and unimportant top my list, but a lot (most?) of those emotions apply to me. I would not call my wife a refuser or gatekeeper, we are intimate about once a week on average. I’ve made a huge effort over the years to address any issues she’s had with me: being an emotionally present friend to her, helping around the house, spending lots of time with her. From my perspective, she always has things that are more important to deal with, no matter how much I take on to offload from her. She struggles with working on intimacy, has a hard time thinking about intimacy and showing desire for me (except when we are in the moment), and has a hard time putting time into things that are hard for her (like intimacy). I see the time she spends in other areas, and wonder if she just took 10% of that time and focused on intimacy, how much better would our love life be?
Well-said, Brother. women want to drag any and all kinds of peripheral issues into the bedroom. Sex is only granted if you get a “passing grade” on the report card she always keeps running in the background of her mind. More often than not, even if you get an “A” she’ll hold out, and use it as a bludgeon to get you to an “A+” grade. The most salient , and missing descriptor for me is “humiliated”
I almost never publish things like this, because what’s the point? Comments like these don’t spur conversation, solution, or even empathy. But I’m letting this one through to show that this is what sometimes happens. Look, I sincerely feel for you and your resentment, your frustration, your anger. However, step back and read what you just said about women in general and your wife specifically! Dude, what self-respecting female would sleep with that?!
Unwittingly, you are likely making it all worse. Even if she was 98% of the problem, now you’re a bigger part of the problem because you’re lashing out. It’s understandable, but that doesn’t make it right or useful.
I pray that you’ll read the post I just put up today (How the Sexually Disinterested Spouse Feels) and aim for some empathy, because I suspect underneath the surface, your wife is hurting too.
It saddens me, J, that you read my remark in that light. I certainly wasn’t intending to troll.
You may be exactly right, though. For many of us, at times the anger is hard to contain, and that is certainly off-putting to others. But at some point that seems to be all we’re left with. Maybe you should write a piece on “How to deal with the negative emotions caused by long-term rejection.” I, for one, could certainly use some help there.
Bill, I’m sorry. I re-read my own comment—which I will leave up, to show the progression—and it is too harsh. I apologize for pigeonholing you. I do believe we need to be careful not to paint with broad brushes, like saying “women” or “men” and applying that to everyone in the gender or presuming motives that might not be there at all. Giving each other grace is very important in marriage. BUT it’s also important on my blog, and I didn’t do it. And yes, the resentment that can build over time from sexual refusal is so deep and difficult to handle. It can be addressed, but it does take intention, effort, and time. I will consider that post.
It’s not just women who drag peripheral issues into the bedroom. Men do this too. They can be gatekeepers and “graders” too.
First, yes, there’s hope. I never believed that when I was deep in the middle of this, but our marriage and sex life has improved.
As someone who struggled with being a much higher drive wife for many, many years, a willing wife who was more often than not rejected, I’d say ALL of the “un” words expressed my feelings. Undesireable. Unwanted. Unloved. Unworthy. So unworthy. I had to learn to find real love and worth in Jesus, instead of trying to get those things from my husband. It was a painful but very worthwhile experience.
But the word that would repeat over and over in my brain was – repulsive. I felt absolutely repulsive. It’s a tough place to be.
We are proof that things can change. It’s not easy. It has been so hard for me to learn to accept his love and the changes in our marriage, because I had convinced myself of so many ugly things. But we are healing. There is hope.
Beautifully written. This is my story too as the hd wife.
I am commenting here to STRONGLY ENCOURAGE you to take your communication with your spouse and your sex life, VERY seriously before it is too late. I, the wife, am the HD spouse, but that was not always the case. We are only in our 50s and can no longer have intercourse because of medications my husband HAS to take. He has tried changing medications, taking ED meds, injections in his penis, etc., with no good results. When we were first married, we knew very little about sex, so it was very vanilla. Then we got busy with kids, life, etc. Then he had an affair (unrelated to frequency of sex) and it took time to heal emotionally and to want to be intimate again. Now that my sex drive is the highest it’s ever been, he cannot physically have intercourse.
Because we never communicated about it before and I never told him wanted more than plain missionary until only he reached orgasm (no oral, no different positions, no experimenting to find ways to give me an orgasm), I don’t feel comfortable talking about it now. He feels very extremely guilty, embarrassed, and unmanly because of his inability. I have tried to encourage him that it is not his fault, to no avail. So I don’t want to tell him now that he could still be sexual with me by doing things other than intercourse, so I won’t be physically frustrated.
All of that was to reiterate to all of you – DONT WAIT to tell your spouse what you want and feel because you might be too late.
Oh, I’m so sorry. Your story is heartbreaking! I pray for you to find comfort and strength. Thanks for sharing honestly about your struggles.
J, your work is beautiful. This list is very powerful. Chris at the FW has a post of what men wrote about their feelings specifically. These let me know that my feelings of shame were understandable. These stories gave me the courage to demand the martiage my wife and i promised each other on the alter. My 7 children can now see that marriage is not a bitter life, but one of joy. We Christians must do a better job of teaching our children His plan and how beautiful it is. Thank you for your part in Evangelizing His people.
Thanks. That can be a difficult conversation to have, but done lovingly, it can make a real difference.
J, I have had that conversation with my spouse more times than I can count. Sometimes lovingly sometimes not. I feel trapped and condemned to misery. I think my wife would say the same. It is a vicious cycle of unhappiness that keeps churning.
I’m so sorry.
I think this might be the link that Greenbean950 was referring to. Readers be sure to scroll past links down to the bottom where testimonies start. Looks like a collection of posts when you first open it. Get a cup of coffee, it will take a while, and maybe some tissues, to get through them all.
I’ll admit, I’m naïve about a spouse having a higher drive and one with a lower drive. Does lower drive actually mean “no drive”?
Are you talking about a HD spouse typically waits a couple of weeks to a month (or longer) to be intimate?
Throughout our marriage, our professions (and kids) pushed back opportunities to be intimate which felt agonizing for both of us. Sometimes when I was out to sea a month or two at a time it reached boiling points.
(I can’t imagine what service husbands/wives go through waiting a year for a tour to be completed)
There were times for years, we were intimate daily other times a once or twice a week and we were way more spontaneous, more quickies.
Also during those times the desire could be stronger for one and less for the other based on exhaustion, stress or during a certain time that occurred every month. (her cycle, which created enormous anticipation for both)
If HD and LD means one spouse arousal elevates high enough to want sex nearly everyday and the other spouse’s arousal elevates high enough to want sex once or twice a week, can’t the anticipation create a thrilling experience of passion and desire and make the intimacy more fulfilling, when the couple makes love?
Arousal by itself is a euphoric feeling as anticipation continues to climb and keeps cycling up as the level of arousal and the level of intimate euphoria reaches new heights. It is a feeling I like to embrace, a feeling that makes us feel alive, whether one is HD or LD or somewhere in-between.
Mismatched drives aren’t a problem if they can be negotiated and both spouses are reasonably satisfied. I thought I covered that with this statement toward the beginning of the post: “Of course we’re not talking about the occasional no or not-now answers that are entirely reasonable within the course of a marriage! Rather, these are emotions experienced by spouses who see a pattern of sexual refusal or disinterest from their spouse” (emphasis added).
So I’m not talking about a pattern of refusal or disinterest, not mutual seasons of struggle or minor differences.
“Naive”. Thats a good one. Yup. Naive.
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Just a question for you that could apply to either side. Do you think in the Church because we are told from a young age (rightfully so) that you can’t get divorced unless there is infidelity that it causes both spouses to feel “safe”? I just wonder if the Bible said that divorce was allowed if you weren’t having sex more says than not of a lot of Christian marriages would find a way to figure out how to mesh their different drives? Would the low drive spouse feel more confident in voicing previous pain and or physical struggles because the church would be more likely to help in order to save the marriage? Would the high drive spouse be more willing to not “go along” with a sexless marriage and have a church aggressively teach the importance of frequency knowing that if they don’t it can end in divorce?
Short answer: Yeah. I think that some Church teaching that has focused exclusively on where the line is for divorce have missed the whole point about marriage and thus given cover to all kinds of bad behavior from some spouses who knew that their mate wouldn’t divorce them without harsh consequences. Not just sex, but other things.
That said, I don’t think the answer is to ease up on how much God hates divorce — which I believe He hates because He sees the hurt it causes His children — but rather to direct the focus on what God loves — two people united in such a way that it represents God and His people, Christ and His church (Isaiah 54:5, Ephesians 5:31-32). Yes, we need to address sin, but Christians need to talk far more about living out our Christianity day to day, in every one of our relationships, including marriage.
The standard isn’t “don’t get divorced” — rather, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Thanks for your response J. No, I would never want to ease up on the do not divorce message. I have just noticed that churches (at least the ones we have attended) have classes and services for people going through divorce, support groups for people dealing with infidelity and porn and that’s it. There isn’t really any good classes to help women who may have been sexually wounded etc and no classes aimed at maintaining healthy intimacy in marriage. We seem to only react after a major crisis has hit and sometimes for somethings resources seem scarce. I appreciate your insight you have seen far more churches and have more examples than I do.
We just recorded an episode for the podcast, going up in mid-November, about creating community for women to address these issues. Our guest was Ruth Buezis, who runs the Awaken Love classes!
J, I want to thank you for giving voice to the higher drive wife and the struggle that it is. I agree with B, the “Un” words along with “rejected” resonate with me . I would add “weary” to the list. Some health difficulties have slowed my drive, but when we do have an amazing mutual orgasm it blasts me back to my full drive, which is hard to settle down from, because I know it will likely be a week or more before we do anything again. Then the loneliness kicks in.
It is hard to find information for the higher drive wife. So much of the information- especially in Christian circles or marriage seminars is geared towards the low drive wife. I have come away from marriage seminars feeling embarrassed and misunderstood, not saying anything because once the speaker even told husbands with high drive wives they were “lucky” and was met with laughter & then continued with the sex talk! Again, thank you for addressing this. I saw a lot of lonely/alone/isolated and mentioning this issue begins to break that down.
I have requested to join your Facebook group that was linked in this article and am hoping it will be a safe space to find support with this issue.
Unworthy, unwanted, unsexy, undeserving, unloved, disgusting, hurt, sexual deviant, etc. Just because I want sex more than once or twice a month.
I’m so sorry. That’s tough.
I’m a very sexually driven wife with a sexually apathetic husband. It’s been a struggle our whole marriage and if I had known it would be like this I would not have married him. It’s so hard not to turn my hurt into hate. I have tried to talk about it (lovingly and less than lovingly) but the fact is that men don’t talk. At best I’ll get quick pity sex and at worse I’ll get a sheepish apology and no change. At this point, bringing it up again is just humiliating. I don’t know what to do.
I’m so sorry for your struggle! Please know you’re not alone. I do have a bunch of posts for higher drives, and something within them may help. But don’t give up. You are married to this man—whom you presumably fell in love with!—and I hear plenty of turnaround stories.
During our Christian courtship, I said to her that being a good mother to our children was really important to me. Six years and two daughters later, I began to understand this and its ramifications. Boy, did the pendulum swing from me to the children (and stuck). Not only was it about our kids but now the next generation has taken first place. She has spent the majority of her energy on the kids and grandkids. Lavish Christmases, memorable birthdays, big holidays. The mother of all vacations was when all eleven of us went to Disney World!
I would be content if she would spend one-hundredth of her effort on our relationship. Sex dried up years ago (been sexless for fourteen years). If I had sex twice a month, I’d think I died and gone to heaven! Frustrated and hugely disappointed.
Disappointing indeed. She has also missed out through all these years! Since you had that conversation with her years ago, and it stuck, it seems that you could have conversations with her now about how much it would mean to see her family attention include you. Praying for you as you try to address the absence of sexual intimacy in your marriage.
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I would say another important emotion to note is weakness.
Like I should be able to handle this why am I struggling so much with it? Not wanting to be selfish but still feeling that need for closeness with my husband. Weak because I should be able to be more understanding of my husband’s need for a lack of sex to.
Ooh, that’s a good insight. Thanks. (And hugs!)
I’m new to all of this, I just found this article online due to the way I’m feeling with my partner. All of those above words resonate with me in a lot of ways.
It’s been over 2 months now since we last were close to one another, I believe from what I’ve read that I am the one with the higher drive. He just isn’t interested. But he is aroused enough in himself to use pornography to pleasure himself. I feel so low and rejected finding this out. Like I’m no longer good enough for him. I’ve tried to talk to him about it but all I get is that it’s off putting me “going on about it” al the time.
It’s like I’m losing him, I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this with him. We have been together for 6 years, had a child together. Am I wrong to want to feel sexually close to him?
No, of course you’re not wrong to feel that way! Sexual intimacy is a intimacy—a form of uniting with your spouse. It’s not the only one, but it does matter. If you’re interested, come check out my community for higher desire wives.
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