Tag Archives: sexual rejection

How the Sexually Rejected Spouse Feels

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:

  1. Frustrated, higher drive spouses will recognize they are not alone.
  2. 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
Ad for Pillow Talk: 40 Conversations About Sex for Married Couples

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?

Adrift

Alone

Angry

Anxious

Apathetic

Ashamed

Betrayed

Bitter

Brokenhearted

Bummed

Cold

Dead inside

Depressed

Desperate

Devastated

Disappointed

Disconnected

Embarrassed

Empty

Fearful

Frustrated

Glum

Grieved

Heartbroken

Helpless

Hopeless

Hurt

Inadequate

Irrelevant

Irritable

Isolated

Jealous (of others)

Lacking confidence

Lonely

Misunderstood

Naïve

Needy

Neglected

Numb

Overbearing

Oversensitive

Pushy

Replaced

Resentful

Resigned

Robbed

Sad

Self-deprecating

Self-doubtful

Selfish

Tearful

Trapped

Ugly

Unaccepted

Undesirable

Undesired

Unimportant

Unloved

Unwanted

Unworthy

Weird

Worried

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?

When I Rejected My Husband’s Advances Outright

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?

When I Rejected My Husband's Advances OutrightWell, 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.

Does Your Husband’s Rejection Make You Doubt Yourself?

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.

Woman DoubtingBeing 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.
Psalm 94:18-19