I’m just curious why people seem to assume it’s the woman who doesn’t want to have sex. There are men who don’t (uh, like mine).
Going on a year now. I keep telling him, “There are men who have to beg their wives. You have one who wants to be with you, and THAT is a problem! Must suck to be you.
The thing that is so distressing is I pray for God to change things. For some reason, God won’t, and it’s really shaken my faith. Any words of wisdom are welcome.
I thought I’d try answering the questions posed above, starting with why it’s often assumed it’s the woman who doesn’t want to have sex, and moving on to some suggested resources and how wives can respond.
To start, there are a few reasons that I can think of. One is by virtue of percentages – from what I’ve read, approx 30% of men don’t want sex in marriage compared to approx 70% of women.
Another is that women also tend to be more open to sharing their struggles. For men, particularly in the area of sexuality, I think it’s much harder because of the standard stereotypes of men being naturally more sexually inclined. So it’d be akin to a man admitting that he isn’t so ” manly” in a culture that defines men by sexual prowess.
I think one of the advantages of being in a more liberal culture is that finding compassion and understanding is slightly easier, and there’s greater freedom of expression. In the past, I don’t think women had any avenues AT ALL for expressing that their husband didn’t want sex, without being shamed and shunned, and labeled as wanton.
Ok, to be fair, I’m pretty sure there still aren’t many avenues, but I think there is a greater openness for dialogue in light of things like ED as well as sex and porn addictions among both men and women.
I definitely don’t claim to be an expert in this department, so here’s one of the blogs I follow: http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com where Sheila Wray Gregoire writes on marriage, and often on the sexual parts of it, the things that affect intimacy between husbands and wives. I think that’s a great resource with lots of helpful articles and a vibrant and compassionate community who’ll encourage you.
Some of the points below are influenced by her writing and her perspective. Here’s what I’d like to highlight:
Sexual Intimacy In Marriage Is Built on The Foundation of Emotional Intimacy
The state of your sex life is often affected by the emotional environment of your marriage.
As women, we are more naturally gifted to not just cultivate but discern the emotional atmosphere around us. This means in your marriage, you can ‘sense and know’ when you’re not spending enough time together, when you’re’re losing that emotional connection etc.
In such situations, the advice in my previous post In Seasons When Your Marriage Is Sexless is still relevant , even though it was more for men whose wives aren’t keen on sex, based on my experiences as the reluctant wife who had issues. In short, rather than just focusing on the sex, focus on (re) building your friendship and strengthening the relationship with your husband. Being able to talk, trust one another and communicate helps make towards making sure you’re only going through a season of not sex, not a permanent state.
Sex done right is about being open, honest and vulnerable
All this is to say, more than what’s going on in between the sheets (or not), when you get your relational and communication issues sorted, it’s much easier and clearer to determine additional underlying issues, whether it’s physiological or psychological, whether it needs medical intervention, or whether it just takes time, talking or therapy.
At the end of the day, make sure you’re dealing with the roots, not just the fruits – the real causes, not just the symptoms.
I’m sure you’re distressed and frustrated with what’s happening in your marriage, but from your comment, it sounds like you may be taking out those frustrations on your husband in your words and tone. If that’s the case, you may be wanting to draw closer to him, and you may be trying to make him understand that you’re hurting and feeling rejected by his lack of sexual initiative, but in the process, it’s possible that you may be self-sabotaging and exacerbating the situation – destroying what little emotional intimacy remains by comparing him to other men, in some senses mocking & belittling him, and making him feel like less of a man. That’s not a turn on.
Your disappointment with your spouse can influence how you respond to one another, not just sexually but emotionally, and it can be reflected in your day-to-day interactions where you become brash, short tempered and mean to one another, especially if it continues unaddressed and turns into deep seated resentment and bitterness.
It’s hard to be intimate with one another when one of you is angry, hiding stuff from the other, or emotionally disconnected because sex done right is about being open, honest and vulnerable, and finding acceptance despite our obvious (& not so obvious) flaws. Sex done wrong leaves you feeling rejected, and in extreme cases, feeling dirty and used, husband or wife.
Sometimes as women we forget that men do get hurt emotionally, too, and it’s something you need to examine your heart and your actions to see where this might be coming through. If you have trustworthy female friends, ask them to hold you accountable in your words and attitude towards your husband, and to encourage you when you’re weary of doing good. Again, please be careful not to use this as a platform to badmouth or dishonour your husband. Don’t do the right things with the wrong motives.
Build Support Systems Around Your Marriage
If goes without saying that it’s unhealthy for a marriage to continue without sexual intimacy (especially where there are no extenuating factors) for a few months, let alone a year or more. This is likely to happen when one spouse doesn’t really see the value or put in the effort to change, which in itself is an issue of the heart since marriage is about putting the needs of the other first. When each person follows their own agenda rather than taking care of the needs of the other, that’s a hard marriage probably on the rocks and doomed to failure unless something drastically changes.
At this point, I think you’d need to bring in other people who’ll keep you accountable and give you a different perspective on things. Get therapy, counseling, accountability, discipline… Whatever you want to call it, just do it.
Yes, it’s awkward, but the alternative isn’t any better.
I’m not talking about out of the blue stuff here. I mean, try talking to one another. Talk about the possibility of getting other involved. If at all possible, make the decision together or at least agree on it. It’s not going to go down well if you just spring it as, “Surprise, honey! They’re here to talk about our sex life!”
If you choose professional therapy, go ahead. If you prefer a more cost effective method, find an older couple whom you both respect, who have a healthy marriage of their own and who have their heads on straight, and ask them to dinner. If you’re a Christian, talk to your church pastors or leaders. In ant case, it needs to be someone you can trust not to take sides or try to bring you apart, but someone with the desire to see you as a couple both grow in love and maturity. Don’t just pick someone you think will see things from your point if view – that’s just manipulative. Be open to being corrected, too.
It takes 2 hands to clap, and no one spouse is ever entirely to blame.
Whatever the case, please, please be careful who you choose to open up to. Be wise. This can literally make – or break, your marriage.
Break Bad Habits
With 24 hour access to the internet, pornography is just a click away, adultery is prevalent, and depending on which part of the world you’re in, it’s possible to get sexual needs met in places other than your marriage bed. If either one of you has a porn habit or other sexual addiction, you do need to deal with it, all the more if it’s a secret habit. Sex is about intimacy, and it’s hard to be intimate when there’s parts of you hidden away and you’re keeping secrets from one another.
This may not be the case in your marriage, but it’s worth looking into, just to be sure.
Christians Aren’t Immune to Difficulty in Marriage
We live in a broken world. There’s many things that can go wrong from before birth and long into marriage. Emotional hurts, faulty mindsets, bad habits, inappropriate exposure, unhealthy family patterns, you name it. Getting married means you’re exposed to the best and worst of someone, along the reasons we love them come packaged in with all the baggage.
What Christians have is the ability to overcome the challenges we face, because we know what the blueprints for marriage look like. By golly we ain’t there yet, but we’re a work in progress. In a way, we know what our the future looks like, and that gives us hope and courage for today.
God will sometimes deliver us overnight, but I’ve found that often He wants to grow us through, not just carry us over. He wants us to be strong, able people, who aren’t just tossed to and fro, but like a house built on a firm foundation, we can stand firm in the midst of the storms of life. He promises not that our lives will be storm-free, but storm-proof. That means not just being rescued, but learning how to live life well so that we don’t make the same mistakes and we can help others avoid the pitfalls we had to deal with.
Marriage is the best discipleship
My pastors always say, “Marriage is the best discipleship course “. It’s 2 imperfect people coming together and learning what love looks like, day in and day out. We are the microwave generation who can get to the other side of the world and back in 48 hours, but the renewing of the mind, the taking up of the cross, the daily following of Jesus, the growth from glory to glory doesn’t happen nearly as fast as we wish it would, but that doesn’t mean God’s done with you.
As a Christian, it starts with us, with removing the log from our own eye, and the same principle applies in marriage. It’s laying down my life, daily, serving others, doing unto them as I want it done unto me. I’m sure your husband has many good qualities, and even as you work through the issues in your marriage, focus on the good, on the things you’re thankful for, the things he’s done right.
I recall reading that it takes something like seven or ten years to unlearn our single hood, to learn to really think of the other first, to naturally consider their needs. It’s unfortunate too many people get divorced before they reach that stage. At the same time, those years are crucial for establishing good family patterns, otherwise we’ll find ourselves way off course from what marriage really is – a union of mind, heart, body and spirit.
Marriage is a union of mind, heart, body and spirit.
I don’t know the details of your situation, and I’m sure I’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s going on, but I do believe it’s possible for things to turn around. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, but what we’re do have is real hope for transformation from the inside out. So hold on, keep praying, and do what needs to be done.
Additional thoughts, suggestions and encouragements can be shared in the comments below.