The Sexless Marriage Catch 22

Brad says…

Over and over again people are finding an old post of ours that has turned out to be one of our most popular. Apparently people all around the world are taking to the web in search of help for sexless marriages. “We Haven’t Had Sex in over a Year!”  has been our number 1 post for several months! We receive several comments and emails every month from both husbands and wives who find themselves in sexually absent marriages.  In each of these messages there are two themes that are repeated over and over again: “I’m desperate” and “My spouse doesn’t care.”

I think that many people assume a sexless marriage is just a problem for husbands.  Honestly we have received emails from just as many women who express the same pain, the same sexual longing, and the same sexual desperation. That being said, this post is directed specifically at marriages where husbands are desiring for more sexual intimacy and the wife is for one reason or another, reluctant.

Sexual Desperation

Fact: Married couples are not designed to go without sex for any long duration of time. God’s word is actually quite clear on this:

“Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
(1 Corinthians 7:5 NLT)

The reason for Paul’s abundant clarity in this message is probably because sexless marriages were an issue even back when he with writing. Paul says it as clear as possible; “If you stop having sex, make it only for a short period of time.”

Catch 22

Unfortunately, whenever sex is absent from marriage a Catch 22 quickly develops.  No wife wants to feel that sex is just about a physical release, yet the more time that goes on, the more that “need” for physical release becomes a reality.

Wives, you need to recognize that sexual desperation is a real thing. Sexual desire does increase after several days without sex; it will continue to build for several weeks.

Husbands you need to fight this catch 22. Quoting scripture to your wife won’t work. Telling her you are tempted to look elsewhere for sexual release doesn’t help! Saying “I need you” is just not a turn on to low sex drive wife; she only hears “let me use you for my pleasure.”

Reject Apathy

If you feel that your wife is apathetic about sex, or more specifically about your sex life then you need to change your approach. She already knows the 1 Corinthians verse. She knows that it isn’t good for you or your marriage to not have sex. Her lack of knowledge about the need or your desire is not the issue leading to a lack of sex. You need to discover what the real issue is.

Why Doesn’t My Wife Like Sex?

There are dozens of answers to this question here are just a few:

  • She doesn’t feel emotionally connected to you
  • Sex is painful for her
  • Sex is messy
  • Sex doesn’t ever feel good to her
  • She may be taking a medication which has lowered her sex drive
  • She has unrealistic romantic expectations about your sex life
  • She has learned to feel shameful about sex
  • She has emotional effects from past sexual abuse
  • She has too many other priorities that “need” to get done before she is willing to think about sex.
  • She may just not really like sex, and doesn’t understand why it is important.
  • She may have a hormone imbalance which is causing her low sex drive

Guy’s there are many different reasons that your wife may be refusing your sexual advances. You will never discover what your wife’s reason is by convincing her to say yes one time. You need to give up trying to get her to say yes, and instead try to discover the real reasons why she is saying no. I’m not saying that she is hiding the real reason per say, but more likely that you have not actually asked the right questions.

Sexual Connections

At OFM we often write about the strong connection that happens in a sexually intimate one flesh marriage. If you are living in a marriage where you have sex less than one time a month then you might not know this connection even exists. However, your wife still desires to have a greater connection with you, maybe not a sexual connection, but she is yearning for an increased emotional connection. In order to have a different conversation about your sex life then has happened in the last dozen arguments, you need to emphasize your desire for greater connection.

Explain that your desire is not simply about sexual release, but is a desire for your marriage. Tell her you have been struggling, but then allow her to tell you how she has been struggling. It is so easy for her struggling to be lost because she knows (at least deep down) that having a sexless marriage is a problem.  It is essential that you listen to her struggles, listening is the only way to start to get at the root causes of the issue. That is the story that gets lost when you are pressing for sex. Listen. Hear.

Take another look at that only partial list of reasons that might be behind your wife’s refusals to have sex. These are not minor issues; they will not be easy to talk about. You need to be prepared to actually hear about these things. You need to be able to hear, “It’s broke and I’m not sure I ever want our sex life fixed” without going into convolutions. I’m not saying that is where the conversation ends (obviously) but unless you are prepared to have that level of conversation you are not going to uncover the core of the issue.

Coming Soon: What Next…  We’ve talked now what…. We’ll give some ideas and links to resources to think about.

79 Responses to The Sexless Marriage Catch 22
  1. Another Husband
    April 16, 2012 | 7:36 am

    And then there are cases when a couple has sex once every 4-8 weeks. In a way I feel like I cant complain because once every 4-8 weeks is better than not at all, but its also far from satisfying. There is absolutely a catch 22 though, because the longer its been since you had sex, the harder it is to talk with your spouse about it, especially if you have had fights over sex in the past (I am a recovering porn addict). We have tried the 10 day challenge twice now. The first time we made it 3 days, the second time we made it one day. Both times a series of unrelated external stressors completely shut down my wife’s desire. Now, I am really reluctant to try it again because I dont want to set my self up for disappointment. How sad is that?

    So just to be clear, I do understand that I have some responsibility for our lack of marital intimacy, and I don’t blame my wife for it all. I hardly ever bring up the subject of sex with my wife, and I am sure that our lack of communication on sex is part of the problem. But being a recovering porn addict makes me reluctant to approach sexual topics with my wife … as if im somehow not allowed to have sexual feelings and needs because of my past. Not sure what to do with those feelings.

    • Brad
      April 16, 2012 | 1:58 pm

      Another husband,
      Thank you for writing! I’m really glad that you did. These stories are the exact reason that I wrote this post. It is important that you recognize that the lack of sexual intimacy is not just “her problem”.

      When you say you are a recovering porn addict that means that your wife is recovering too! Unfortunately, this recovery often gets overlooked. Her recovery might look very different then yours has. She needs to get to a place of healing before sexual intimacy will be able to become one flesh again.

      I understand the reluctance in approaching sexual topics with your wife given your history, but this is the wrong approach. Your fear is based on the thought that talking about it will hurt her. But the opposite is true, she lived through a time where not talking about it meant that temptation was taking you to pornography. She remembers this, and when you get quiet about sexual desire her worries increase. Talking about it probably brings you more pain, because you are reminded of the consequences of your actions (even if they are forgiven there are consequences).

      I recommend that you put aside the uncomfortable feelings and talk about how your recovery is going. Tell her about how you have been tempted, and (hopefully) how you have escaped temptations. (see God’s Exit Ramp for ideas). Then ask her how her recovery is going. You might learn something new!

      Keep working on intimacy! It is a journey to together!
      Blessings Brad.
      (feel free to comment or email me if you want to talk more!)

      • Bill
        June 12, 2013 | 6:53 pm

        But what if it is her? What if i go through that list and it’s all her? What if she’s had two past affairs. What if I meet all her emotional needs. Then I get the same response. Oh it shouldn’t be THAT important. Then when she ‘gives in’ she just lays there. It’s lame.

        • Sharon C
          November 7, 2013 | 9:01 am

          I’m sorry Bill, but in all my years of going through counseling, it is never one sided. And I fear if you come to the table with that attitude you may find it will never be fixed.
          My husband has also cheated on me. So I pose this question to you, the same one I have asked myself over and over. Do you fear that you won’t perform as well as the people she was sleeping with? Does this run through your head even in the slightest? Then I say you might be holding back just a little bit. How could you not?!
          Next you say ” what if I meet her emotional needs, the I get the same response?” Sounds to me that there is some fear of rejection, which again is holding back. I know because I have been there.
          And my husband has also said the same thing ” when she finally gives in, then she just lays there.” You know why? Because I felt he was in his own world trying to meet his physical needs and I could have been a blow up doll, he wasn’t there for me, he was there for himself.
          You see love making isn’t supposed to be about what I can get out if it, but what I can give to my partner to make him feel loved. Then it becomes love making and no longer just a sexual act.
          Good luck to you and God bless, I hope this helps.

          • too many problems
            January 5, 2014 | 6:12 pm

            ” love making isn’t supposed to be about what I can get out if it, but what I can give to my partner to make him/her feel loved.” – that sounds great, and has always been my approach. But you need to give yourself permission to enjoy yourself too, or you will end up with severe performance anxiety and possibly Retarded Ejaculation (male anorgasmia). If you spend all your efforts on pleasing your partner, and none on enjoying his/her attentions, your own pleasure responses will die.

    • x1134x
      April 10, 2014 | 7:15 pm

      Sex once a month or every other month is MUCH MUCH worse than NO sex. Cut HER off. Trust me its the lesser of the two evils.

  2. Do Not Disturb
    April 16, 2012 | 8:30 am

    Great advice. I truly believe that if we understood all the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits involved in sex we would never refuse to engage with one another. That being said, we ALL choose at times to lay aside God’s best and follow our own ways. Sex may not be that issue for you but if we take time for reflection we will find an area or areas that we need to realign to God’s best for us.

    Megan

  3. Nicole G
    April 16, 2012 | 9:39 am

    Great post, Brad. It’s so important to figure out why one spouse has a lower sex drive. Exhaustion and low body image are two other reasons that women may not want to have sex.

    • Brad
      April 16, 2012 | 1:33 pm

      Nicole,
      Great additions to the list especially low body image.
      However, I think many women use exhaustion as the reason they give when there are other deeper issues behind. I get being tired, but if you are tired forever then something else is going on and needs to be addressed.
      – Maybe he needs to help out more
      – Maybe there is other illness
      but this needs to be explored if it is ongoing!
      thanks for your comment Nicole!

  4. Marie
    April 16, 2012 | 1:13 pm

    What about when the tables are turned….when you have a husband who has no interest in sex? It has been devastating and is slowly getting worse. I read all about wives who don’t want it…but what about wives who do and husbands who don’t?

  5. Minister Miller
    April 16, 2012 | 10:42 pm

    I thank GOD for my lovely Bride every day! I have never had this issue in my marriage, and pray I never do. But Brad and Kate no what there talking about, that’s why I have a folder on my desk top just for there stuff. Another great one, keep up the good work!!!!

    • Brad
      April 17, 2012 | 6:50 pm

      Minister Miller,
      Thank you for your comment! I totally agree there are times that I just have to turn to Kate and say Thank You! I am so very blessed and it is easy to sometimes forget how much of a blessing she is! I aim to never take it for granted!

      • Hugh Jazz
        October 30, 2013 | 5:47 pm

        Minister Miller and Brad… Those of us suffering out here in sexless cyberspace are so glad to know that your sex life is going so well and that your brides are willing to put out. Perhaps next time you could simply e-mail or call each other to celebrate.

        • Brad
          October 30, 2013 | 10:03 pm

          Hugh,
          Sorry but I have to disagree. We are bombarded with messages that marriage sex is not something worth waiting for. When it is we need to celebrate it!

          • Barney McGrew
            January 5, 2014 | 6:17 pm

            I think Hugh was simply saying that when others seem to be having a great time, it just makes the rest of us feel worse when they rub it in.

  6. Anne
    April 17, 2012 | 3:19 am

    Could the reasons in your original post above, be the same reasons why Husbands are not willing (or seem to be) to have sex regularly? In our marriage its every 6 weeks or so…if I push it. Could my husband be having the same “thoughts/feelings” or are those strictly referring to woman. (may I add its been just over a year since he last viewed porn, so I’m thinking that we should be more intimate now??)

    • Brad
      April 17, 2012 | 6:48 pm

      Anne,
      Thanks for your question, the comments have had quite a bit of traffic from women who are desiring more sexual intimacy from their husbands, proving my point in the first paragraph that this is not just a women’s issue.

      To answer your question, yes any of those reasons could apply to men too. Some probably more likely then others, and there are some that I would list for guys that are not there (performance anxiety for example). Kate is writing an article to wives who’s husband’s have low desire next, and I’ll post again soon to husbands who have low or no sexual desire for their wife. We know these are really important issues too!

      • Brad
        April 17, 2012 | 6:56 pm

        Anne,
        I forgot to answer the 2nd part of your question….

        (may I add its been just over a year since he last viewed porn, so I’m thinking that we should be more intimate now??)

        I’m only guessing here not knowing your specific situation, but I would guess that if your husband had porn issues, and is in recovery from them, that he would LOVE to be more intimate with you, BUT he probably doesn’t know how to ask. In recovery sexual desire can seem like a double edged sword to a guy. He might be desiring you, but he doesn’t know how to tell you of his desire without raising your fears of his pornography use.

        I hope that makes a bit of since, it is a topic I can explore more later in another post…. Please let me know if you have more questions!

    • Another Husband
      April 18, 2012 | 11:52 am

      its been 5 years since I looked at porn, but I still find it difficult to approach the subject of sex with my wife. Part of it is that when I think of discussing sex with her, images of the pain on her face at the first discovery of my problem come flooding in just as fresh today as they were 5 years ago. Part of it also is that most sexual addiction recovery literature (which I have read a lot of) admonishes us men to give over control of our sex lives to our wives to create trust. Well, I did that, but now I don’t know how, when, or if to take it back.

      Perhaps, if your husband tends to be passive/introverted, like me, he may not know how or when its appropriate to start taking control back? If I ever figure that out, I will be sure to share.

      • Kate
        April 24, 2012 | 8:38 pm

        Hi Another Husband! Thanks for writing and sharing. This is Kate responding, so my take may be different from Brad’s, but here it is . . . I hear you and completely understand where you feel lke you are in a Catch 22 with taking the reigns again in the bedroom. You are right, and so is the literature (I feel) that there needs to be a time where you hand the reigns over completely to your wife so that healing and trust can begin. You have done a very smart thing within that. Yet it has been 5 years and it is time to start moving forward together in your one flesh connection. Talking about your past will always be painful for both you and her. But if you want to move forward, to grow, then you as the hubby needs to step up-slowly. If you and your wife are in a better place and trust is established, then share with your wife, your desire for her. The desire to show her how much you love her and think she is beautiful. These too, have to be baby steps. You would not want to take steps backwards by pushing to hard.

        You being passive/introverted, will definitely make it a bigger hurtle to get through, but you can and I believe your one flesh connection will grow. Truly, your wife wants you to lead her in ALL things-including sex. You are right in that she also wants to trust you in sex. Talk to her, as hard as it is. Share your feelings of devotion and how you want your sexual intimacy to grow and be something very special between the two of you. Then take things slow. You know what she likes . . . wine and dine her. Recommit yourself to wooing her and showing her how much you adore her.

        Another big part of making her feel safe sexually, is to make her feel safe emotionally in all other areas! Hold her lots, hold her had, whisper in her ear how much you love her, leave her notes, send her emails, etc.

        I believe you can start to slowly take back leading your marriage, even in your sexually intimacy. Know that we will be praying for you and your wife! Blessings, Kate

        • Barney McGrew
          January 5, 2014 | 6:26 pm

          “You know what she likes . . . wine and dine her. Recommit yourself to wooing her and showing her how much you adore her.”
          My experience of trying this just leads to a contented wife who sees no need to “go all the way” and just wants to stop at a hug. When she has everything she needs, why should she even consider her husband’s needs? She doesn’t.

  7. Elizabeth-Lady in Waiting
    April 17, 2012 | 2:46 pm

    I, too am in a tables turned situtation. The longest time period has been a month and when we did do anything it was very painful for me. My thing is I can’t tell him that it is paingful without the fear he will pull away more than he has already. I start to feel depressed and not wanted by my husband. This is very much a struggle for me.

    • Hugh Jazz
      October 30, 2013 | 5:54 pm

      (comment removed)

  8. Edward
    April 17, 2012 | 2:55 pm

    Great article. Seems like there is an explosion of sexless marriages in the last few years! Bottom line is we live in a stressed out society. And it comes home with us and into our bed rooms.

    • Brad
      April 17, 2012 | 6:43 pm

      Edward,
      We are seeing the same thing too, which is why we decided to bring back this article. I’m not sure if anything has really changed though. I’m guessing that at least in North America the nice weather makes everyone think about the birds and bees! Then their awareness that everything else is alive and green kind of reminds them that this part of their marriage is lacking. I hope that some couples can use this info to elevate their marriage and maybe start to get things back on track!
      Thanks!

  9. XY
    April 17, 2012 | 7:02 pm

    Just wanted to mention that Athol Kay’s Married Man Sex Life (book and blog) has a lot of helpful things to say to men who find themselves in this situation. He is not a Christian and some of his ideas are not acceptable to Christian men, but there’s still a lot to learn there. I really don’t think, for example, that many men have any idea what kinds of things cause their wives to be sexually attracted to them (as opposed to feeling comfortable or happy with them). A lot of Christian men are posting there and saying that they have found ideas that really helped them.

    • Kate
      April 24, 2012 | 8:26 pm

      Thanks XY for the resource! Blessings!

    • mrdaver
      November 13, 2013 | 2:47 pm

      XY,

      I just wanted to chime in on this in case someone new reads this blog post. I started reading Athon Kay’s MMSL book and blog.

      Changed.My.Life.

      Honestly, it messed with my head at first, because to many of his concepts are counter intuitive to what we’re taught being brought up in 21st century Western civilization.

      And yeah…there are a few things that I have tested by the scriptures and have omitted. But a good chunk of his basic principles are biblical.

      Before I go on a full on tangent; I’ll just say that I was doing a lot of counterproductive things in my marriage. My wife liked me, she just wan’t attracted to me…

  10. Pearl
    April 17, 2012 | 10:00 pm

    Wonderful wisdom in this post. Once hurt, women have a hard time seeing ‘his’ side of things. Re-establishing the emotional connection was paramount in the return of my libido. Just today in my blog, I spoke to married women about the physiological necessity of male sexual orgasm for our husbands to bond with us. Understanding this helped me on our marriage’s road to recovery and success.

    • Kate
      April 24, 2012 | 8:27 pm

      Hi Pearl! Thanks for your wise words. We appreciate you sharing them and your blog! Blessings, Kate

  11. Kate | Fix Your Sexless Marriage
    June 10, 2012 | 11:19 am

    Brad,

    A few notes:

    1. A sexless marriage is defined as a relationship in which sex occurs 10 times a year or less. However, many people feel rejection even when sex is more often.

    2. One needs to look at physical reasons before they jump to conclusions. Various medications and issues can lead to a reduction in a person’s sex drive.

    3. People need to understand that this is more common than they believe and that there is no shame in this. It is simply something that happens.

    • Brad
      June 10, 2012 | 12:14 pm

      Kate,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure where your definition of “sexless” is coming from. I would agree that 10 times a year is very minimal, but we have heard from many many couples that have a sex life well under 10!

      I agree that it is much more common then we realize, or people want to admit. There is no shame that it happens, but it is very important to pay attention to!

      When a marriage lacks sexual intimacy it has vast impacts in other areas of their marriage too! It is very important that couples take this seriously and look at all of the potential causes.

      Thanks for your comment!
      Brad.

  12. Frustrated
    July 29, 2012 | 3:13 pm

    I keep coming back here. It’s hard to be a husband who loves his wife, but she has no interest in sex. She wants to hold hands and a kiss goodbye but anything past that is a bother to her. Its hard to hold her hand in church thinking she won’t go any farther in our marriage. We end up making love every 2-4 months. The problem is that gives me hope, she enjoys it, but then goes another 2-4 months before I can get her to commit. I see why its so easy to give up on a marriage.

    • Brad
      July 29, 2012 | 3:39 pm

      Frustrated,
      Thank you for your comment! We hear these same sentiments again and again! You are not alone! Don’t give up, but it might be time to switch your strategy.

      Stop asking,pleading and begging for sex.

      No I’m not crazy. I know you’re thinking if I stop asking we will NEVER have any!

      The problem is you are at the point of desperation. You have reached the place where the lack of sexual intimacy causes you to question the whole relationship. The answer is not just to have sex.

      Having sex is like giving a cracker to a starving man. It’s nice but it doesn’t change the situation.

      Stop asking for sex, and start asking for change in your marriage.

      Your wife might not even know that her denial has made you question giving up on the marriage. You don’t even know why she doesn’t want sexual intimacy because she seems to enjoy it. You must start dealing with these root issues.

      I encourage you to read “Life in Sexual Drought Begging for Change” Hopefully that will give you some ideas of next steps to start the very important conversations!

      God Bless! I’m praying for you both!

      • Barney McGrew
        January 5, 2014 | 6:44 pm

        “I know you’re thinking if I stop asking we will NEVER have any!”
        That’s exactly what happened to me. I decided to stop asking. And she was just relieved. Frequency went down to her level (once every 3-4 months) and because I wasn’t asking anymore, she thought I was OK with that. In reality I had just given up.

        • x1134x
          April 10, 2014 | 7:25 pm

          Me too. I don’t expect we’ll have sex at all for the next 15-20 years. Then my kids will be gone and we can separate.

          Its MUCH better than trying to have sex, and getting turned down constantly. Zero sex a year really is better than 12 or so times. Sex around 10 times a year is akin to torture. Like feeding a starving man the absolute minimum to keep him alive rather than having the mercy to let him die.

          At first I thought I’d just put her in charge, and only have sex when she initiated it, depriving her of ever being pursued, but now I’m determined to tell her no or avoid her when that time of the month comes and her body overrides her personality and she wants sex. Maybe if she feels how the rejection actually feels she’ll stop doling it out. But since she only wants sex every blue moon, its going to take a while.

  13. Adam D. Oglesby
    July 29, 2012 | 11:39 pm

    We can go through all kind of politically correct mumbo jumbo but what I think it really comes down to is this:

    The reason your wife won’t have sex with you is because she doesn’t like you anymore.

    That, I think, is the cold hard truth of the matter. Now we can delve deeper into the why of it. But really, that’s a different issue.

    Does that answer the question for every couple? No. But for probably 90 percent of them, yes.

    If she likes you–I mean, really likes you–she can’t wait to spend some quality time with you, in your arms, in your bed.

  14. Brad
    July 30, 2012 | 1:28 pm

    Adam,
    I really appreciate you putting voice to what I think alot of men think. “If my wife won’t have sex with me then she doesn’t like me”.

    But I have to disagree with you. This is looking at the issue only through the brain of men. We couldn’t imagine NOT having sex with someone we love. So using that theory in reverse. If she won’t then she doesn’t.

    This really is an over simplification of the issue. There are many many many legitimate reasons why some women don’t like or enjoy sex. I say legitimate because they are real, not because it give a “pass” to not work on these issues.

    I do agree that sexual intimacy is critical for a marriage! Guess what, the Bible does too.

    Yet, just saying “my wife doesn’t want sex so that means my wife doesn’t love me”, is totally missing your 1/2 of the equation. I’m sorry but Ephesians 5:25 does NOT say “Husbands love your wives as long as they have sex with you”. Nope! there is absolutely nothing in that verse about loving in response. In truth it is the opposite, we are to love sacrificially, like Jesus did.

    Adam, I really do appreciate your comment because I think that many men feel the exact same way you do! Please keep reading, asking questions and commenting!

    God Bless,
    Brad

  15. Danny
    August 3, 2012 | 9:58 pm

    Brad & Kate,

    Thank You for your site & comments. I need to say that I am in a “sexless” marriage. It has been over 5 years. Both my wife & I are Christians and we both know what the Bible says about the sexual relationship. I am a minister who is seriously in love with my wife & will stick out the marriage because not only is a life-long committment between my wife & I, but it is covenant between us & God. I do need to say that I have had discussions with my wife with zero results. I am considering giving up the ministry because I feel my house is not in order and I feel I am no longer qualified to be a leader in the church. Please keep us in prayer because I know that miracles can happen.

    • Brad
      August 7, 2012 | 11:41 am

      Danny,
      Thank you for your honesty! What a challenging position you find yourself in. I don’t disagree with your thoughts, not because you aren’t qualified, but because I fear the temptation that will come your way. (As you know that is Biblical!).

      Does your wife know you are thinking of leaving the ministry and why? Do other church leaders or pastors? Do you have a support system around you that you can discuss these important decisions with?

      It sounds as if you have taken all of this very seriously, however, I would still challenge you not to approach your wife with simply the lack of sex. You need to recognize and own that the lack of sex is a reflection of deeper issues. Approaching your wife with only no sex, is approaching only seeking to meet your needs.

      Make sure you understand what is lacking in her needs. Only after she says “everything is perfect in our marriage” can you then add the lack of sexual intimacy.

      I know that isn’t easy! I would be happy to talk further about it! Feel free to email me. We’ll be praying

      Blessings.
      Brad

  16. Josh
    September 29, 2012 | 10:40 am

    Hi Brad,
    I actually first stumbled upon your wife’s posts, but have discovered yours this morning; and I want to say thank you to the both of you. You may have addressed my question elsewhere and have just not found it yet, but here goes.
    Is there a point at which a sexless and uncaring wife can be divorced from a Christian perspective?

    A little background: We have been married for 10 years, and for the last 9 1/2 years we average having sex twice per year. Giving you some info about my life and wife: we have 3 kids ages 2.5 to 6, she is a stay at home mom, we make enough money, we are very connected in church and a small group, sex is not painful for her (in fact I can count on one hand the number of times she has not had an orgasm during our sexual encounters). About me: I work 40hrs a week, am not fat, I usually do all the cooking, clean the main floor regularly, yard work, etc., I love and engage with my kids and give her time away from them when possible, and love my wife more than I can express.

    I have brought up and talked about our sex life every single year, usually a couple of times. Her reasoning for not having sex with me is that she has no desire and that she does not want to just lay there because then she will resent me. I have told her how I feel, how hurt I am, that this is destroying our marriage, and that more than anything I want the closeness and intimacy in our marriage that should be there. We have seen a councilor, been to the Dr. (she does have low T, and is being treated to a point where it is now normal), and about four years ago I told her that if we could not find a way to change things I felt that I should leave the marriage. Well, things changed for about 3 months, and then we got pregnant, and then it was complicated and Dr. says no sex (which I completely got, and was okay with), but after the birth and ever since: back to the old way.

    I have just done what I consider to be my last ditch effort and brought in the Church in the form of our Small Group Leader (which she was really, really mad about). I know that God can, and does, change people (I am a living example), but despite years of prayer and asking this has not changed. I believe that she values herself more than anything but her kids and dogs. I do not think that this will make a difference. She thinks that the verses in 1 Cor. 7 do not tell the whole story, that a woman’s body is still her’s too and that she has the right to “protect it”.

    All of this is to say that I do not know how to live in a home with a woman I love and want so much, and yet cannot have and who is unwilling to change. I am absolutely willing to see how she reacts the Church (though I think that she might actually want to find a new one after this after I ‘exposed her this way’). If that does not work however I am trying to decide on next steps. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Brad
      October 3, 2012 | 1:09 pm

      Josh,
      Thank you for your comment and your compliments. Your question is not an easy one to answer, but I will try my best.

      First. Your assessment of your involvement in the family and emotional connect to your wife is excellent. This is for obvious reasons where I often focus when there is a question of not “enough” sex in a marriage. Given your assessment the only question I would ask is does your wife agree? Would she say that you you “love and engage with your kids and give her all of the time you have possible” and that she feels “loved” by you? I’m going to assume that the answer is yes, she would agree, but that is the first thing to consider.

      Second, It sounds as if in the past you were able to take appropriate steps on the path toward change. Visiting the doctor, seeing a counselor. It actually sounds as if you were on a path towards healing until pregnancy occurred. As you said that changes everything. At least for a time. You said “things changed for about 3 months, and then we got pregnant” I know that isn’t a long time, but there was positive change. It is so easy to see and feel the pain of “it returned to the old way” rather then hanging on to the victory of “it changed for 3 months.”

      It sounds as if what you need is to take the same steps you did 4 years ago, as an effort to get BACK to the progress you were making. If you (and your wife know) she has medical issues, address them. You’re wife has shown willingness to in the past. If she is ashamed to talk to anyone in church, then go back and find the counselor that helped.

      Last but not least, we have written many posts on this topic, check out the OFM Library, and visit the Sexual Intimacy for Husbands and Sexual Intimacy for Wives pages. You might find some additional thoughts and ideas.

      I know that doesn’t actually answer your question if is it Biblical to divorce in a sexless marriage. I’m not going to answer that question. If I give you any answer you are either going to love it as proof, or reject it as wrong. The only way you can answer your question is to search it out yourself. Check out scripture, what do you see? Pray, what does God tell you?

      Thank you again for writing!
      God Bless!

      • Barney McGrew
        January 5, 2014 | 6:56 pm

        Brad,

        the divorce question is a serious one. What if there was no answer from God through prayer? What if checking out scripture just led again and again to 1Cor7:5 which she knows but rejects? What if divorce has taken place through this? the Christian community is very condemning of failure, especially in any matter relating to sex. Can such a man ever recover his self-respect, his worth or his position before God? Can he ever love again without feeling guilty about doing so?

  17. Nancy
    October 20, 2012 | 5:42 am

    we stopped having sex as soon as my husband’s adult, biological daughter who was given up for adoption at birth began a relationship. At first I encouraged them to get to know each other. It turns out they were attracted to each other and started dating. He flew to her home state and moved her to our home. I had to leave because he moved her into our bedroom. I was sleeping on the couch.

    • Jenny
      October 23, 2012 | 3:03 pm

      Oh my God….that’s disgusting, sick, and perverted. I’m so sorry. I wish I could slap both of them for you.

    • Kate
      October 23, 2012 | 4:45 pm

      Hi Nancy! I wish I knew what to say, but clearly there are no words. Anyone would feel hurt among many other things and then you have the unusual side of that story. Keep relying on God to be everything you need in that darkness! Please know that we are praying for you! Blessings, Kate

    • mrdaver
      November 13, 2013 | 2:55 pm

      Nancy,

      I. Have. No. Words.

      This reply is a year late, because I just read this when they reposted it, but I am praying that you are out of that marriage. I do not normally condone marriage (as the bible only gives one clear reason for divorce: sexual immorality) but this man is sick.

      I know that as Christians we are called to repent and forgive and reconcile…

      But I hope you left him. He is a bad man.

  18. Amy
    November 23, 2012 | 12:09 am

    Our marrage has been like seeing a bad horrer film. Married 45 years and we hadn’t slept , had sex, intimacy, no sleeping in the same bed all this time. He distances me as far away from me as he can. He eats and sleeps in the basement, and I was told to leave him alone and don’t bother him. As of right now I’m way past my prime for sex, but I have never experienced it so I don’t miss it. But in time it will all end and I will not have to think about the depression, and hate I feel.

    • Andrew
      November 28, 2012 | 6:52 am

      My heart breaks for you, Amy. I am so very sorry you have been denied what God intended for you for all those years.

      • Kate
        November 30, 2012 | 10:06 pm

        Hi Amy, I second what Andrew has said, my heart truly breaks for you. That is not a situation any person desires to be in. I hope you know that you are loved my Jesus and that he would never leave you or forsake you! Never!

        I also want to say that when someone is being mistreated as you are, you have the right to put boundaries in place, therefore placing the ball in your husbands court. If you are uncertain as to how to place boundaries and where, I would find a good Christian counselor and seek their guidance! Please know you are not alone out there! I am praying for you! Kate

        • Amy
          December 19, 2013 | 11:48 pm

          Almost another year has went by, and I’m still in this very lousy marriage.
          Putting up boundaris is OK, but he just really doesn’t care. I now have the whole house to myself he has moved to his brand new garage, apartment thing he built out in the back corner of our property. We have a couple of acres and his home is now way out in the furthest corner, has his own drive way. He now personally has changed his whole appearance. Long scraggly hair and a beard to match. Plus old 60s type clothing. Now the only time I see him is when he does chores around our property. I want to leave so bad but really can’t, I have no money weve always lived on the edge. Now that he built his fancy garage were in worse shape and owe a lot. I think in his mind why save money for future things. Just a horrible place to be.

  19. Hugh Jazz
    October 30, 2013 | 6:32 pm

    Based on the post dates and the cobwebs it looks like I’m the first person (other than myself) to post in quite a while. Anyway, here’s the quick version of my sad story. Married 20+ years and haven’t had sex for the last 12 months. Have had sex maybe six times in the past five years. My roommate (wife) just ‘doesn’t have any desire’. Given just one word to sum up our arrangement (marriage) I would select ‘Misery’. I’m becoming increasingly resentful of her and would love to find a biblical passage giving me permission to divorce for sexual abandonment. It appears this passage does not exist. So now it appears, based on this blog’s advice, that I must convince my roommate to jump through many hoops to communicate with me, counselors or whoever to figure this thing out. I already know that this will not work out because she is not interested in me or working through her lack of desire (for me). If I were to die tonight, she would be remarried in a year and making her new husband fall asleep with a glow and a smile on his face each night. Seems that it would be so much easier to solve my problem of a sexless life to move on (if I could just find that passage) while simultaneously giving her the opportunity to solve her problem of being desired by someone she doesn’t. I’m really having trouble coming to grips with the scripture quoted in this blog. My current relationship is the same relationship I have with my secretary… idle chit-chat, news of the day, absolutely no sex, task lists, etc. I have the power to fire my secretary but I must continue to live with my roommate? Granted, I don’t sleep in the same bed as my secretary because she sleeps at her house with her husband (who always seems to have a grin on his face). I’m to the point where I feel like… okay roommate, you don’t like me, don’t want me and definitely don’t want to get naked with me. No problem. I don’t want to make you do anything you do not want to do. However, unlike you, I cannot continue this life of sexlessness. As Kevin Cronin sang with REO, ‘its time for me to fly’. Unfortunately, biblically, I cannot do this. Again, I am having serious trouble coming to grips with this. I see myself as a guy with a lot to give but my roommate is not interested. Its all I can do to refrain from trying to hook up with the female posters on this blog. Its all so pathetic. I think I’m getting sick…

    • Brad
      October 30, 2013 | 9:53 pm

      Hugh,
      Thank you for your comment. I do appreciate it! It is abundantly clear the amount of hurt and pain that you are in. I can hear it dripping from every word. I wish I had a magic answer, I don’t. There are no simple reason that marriages end up in this difficult place. Even if it is difficult to face, you have a positives going for you, above some other men I’ve talked to. You say that if you were not I the picture, your wife would choose to have sex with a new husband. That says to me that your wife still has a sex drive, she still has desire, only that something in your relationship is causing that not to turn in your direction. Believe it or not that is hopeful.

      I’m positive that you both have much you can do to change. The key is not waiting for her to be the one to start. Figure out what she is missing, what is lacking in intimacy, romance, communication… Then do everything to fill it.

      If you say no way to that, then just know you are just as much the cause of the lack of sex in your marriage as your wife is!

      God Bless!

    • mrdaver
      November 13, 2013 | 3:08 pm

      Hugh,

      Question.

      How is your friendship with your wife?

      What was sex like 5 years ago?

      Was there ever a time that you and your wife were sexually ‘free’. with one another?

      The most terrible thing about female desire is that it is responsive desire. And yes there are a lot of possible ‘desire killers’ (SSRI’s post partum depresson, weight gain, lazy husband) We as husbands have to kindle that. The bible tells that God loved us first; before we loved him…our love is in response to God. So if we are to image this to our wives as the head of our marriage we must love our wives first. And too many men seem to think that loving their wives means making them happy…instead of coming along side them and helping them to be holy.

      I know that a small response like this isn’t going to fix your marriage. But maybe it can be part of the conversation that gets something moving in your life.

      I’ll be praying for you brother…

      • x1134x
        April 10, 2014 | 7:36 pm

        What if the answer to “Was there ever a time that you and your wife were sexually ‘free’. with one another?”
        is “no”?

        What if you thought dumping this “perfect on paper” wife for sexual incompatibility was “shallow”.

        What’s the advice? That was by far the worst decision of my life.

  20. Anonymous
    October 31, 2013 | 3:10 am

    I am a woman in my second marriage. Who I am now as a sexual being is night and day to who I was then-I am now sexually confident, feel good about enjoying sex, love to where lingerie, and appreciate my less than perfect body (most of the time). Maybe my perspective can help a couple in a near sexless marriage start the process of healing and change. On reflection of how and when I was raised (Midwest, female, white, Catholic, born in the ’60s)-it was ingrained in the fiber of my being that it was not ok to be a sexual being, not ok to enjoy sex, want sex, think about sex-ever, males only want one thing from a female. Sex=being used. Sex=being immoral. A teenage boy who was curious about sex was a boy being male a teenage girl had better not be curious and if she experimented in anyway she was a “slut” or “whore”. I was never taught in the home or church that sex was a gift in marriage and never heard that a husband and wife express love to each other in making love. I was sexually molested by a distant relative as a preschooler and date raped in college. Sex was only presented as something that was a sin outside of marriage. I could go on but I would guess most American women my age have similar stories. When I got married at a very young age I was not a virgin and had no better understanding of God’s gift to us as sexual beings. My then husband was a decent man with the same level of understanding, ability and skill to communicate about this topic as me-pretty much none. Getting married did not change the fiber of what my whole life I had learned about sex. Also my ex and I were completely ignorant to and about the differences in the way a man and woman each perceive the world, how we process, feel, need, etc differently-no clue. Really no idea that we think in such different ways. (A woman needs unconditional love and man needs unconditional respect and what that looks like to each)

    Yes men your wife probably does enjoy sex. But–she needs to learn to permit herself to enjoy the sexual part of her womanhood. she needs to feel safe, protected, emotionally connected, understood, beautiful and accepted in every way by her man. And the physical act and desire itself is much more complicated for a woman-as in if you are trying to build a good sex life be patient in every way. Learn!

    I would say the suggestion to work on your marriage being better and you two being more emotionally connected and working as a team-as one–is the best way to promote change. I think being willing to be completely vulnerable w your feelings is necessary. A wife in a sexless marriage may be fine w the marriage as it is-the facade to family and friends and community–but I would guess she gave up hope for how she wanted her marriage to really be and got used to feeling very lonely and unknown long ago. If you are this unhappy do you think she could be truly happy and fulfilled? You will both need to take chances w your true feelings.

  21. Jesse
    November 1, 2013 | 6:23 pm

    I don’t imagine anyone finds this blog without some firsthand experience. I’m not the exception.

    I don’t have decades in this situation, but I have a couple years now. And the more clearly I’ve seen that I didn’t want sex (thirsty, yes), what I wanted was her to want me. Unfortunately, that has lead to resentment because I gave up a lot and still do for her, and still don’t get that foundational joy that husbands and wives are supposed to share.

    I’ve since realized, especially as I read blogs like this one, that there is no “solution”. Nothing I do “will” fix the problem. It’s an act of God or nothing. As long as I hold to the false hope that I can fix what’s really wrong, I will always be frustrated when it doesn’t work. “I did my part, what is wrong with YOU?!?!”

    It’s kind of left me in the place of just learning to accept that as Messiah suffered with us. I must suffer with my wife. In a sense I get to help bear the burden of the sexual abuse in her past, as she also bears the burdens from my past.

    It doesn’t make it better, but sometimes it allows me to see that God is allowing me to truly love as Messiah loved. It’s still suffering, but its suffering for the ministry, for God. So what’s helped me is three things:

    1) Forgive. Daily, I’m beginning to acknowledge that I have been wronged. This wasn’t the relationship I agreed to. But I forgive her. I can’t keep dragging forward all the past hurts. It’s too heavy.

    2) Pray, because I’ll never be able to do this on my own. I can’t solve her needs, and neither of us can solve my needs. I have to bring it to the one who knows the depth of my hurt and is also the one in position to heal it.

    3) Trust that when God says He can restore the years that the locusts have eaten, that includes marriages.

    But, one thing I wish would come out of this blog . . . maybe you’ve written about this and I haven’t found it yet. But I wish there were more stories like the one above. The comments are filled with people in the depths of despair, do you have any stories of people who’ve seen this turned around?

    Then again. Maybe that’s just this false hope. It doesn’t matter what’s happened for anyone else, only faith in what God will do in my own.

    • Kate
      November 1, 2013 | 8:46 pm

      Hi Jesse,

      Thanks for taking the time to share so openly! You are right that there is nothing you can do to fix this. You can only be the best spouse you can be!

      Your last questions . . . the reason we write on this topic is because we ARE a couple that has been turned around. I (Kate) have shared that sex was a huge struggle for me and I knew it hurt Brad and yet I didn’t want to care. So if you search some of my older posts, I share how I came out of that, how God changed my heart and the ramifications of all of my earlier choices. That being said, Brad will share openly that he was not prefect in the area either! We were both VERY selfish in our marriage. So I would encourage you to read further into our story! There can be change, we are living proof of that and THAT is why we right on this topic-ALOT!!! Blessings, Kate

      • mrdaver
        November 13, 2013 | 4:00 pm

        Kate,

        I’m going to disagree with something you said…sort of.

        “You are right that there is nothing you can do to fix this.”

        I would say ‘There is nothing you can do to fix HER.’

        But Jesse can be the best Husband he can be, he can fix him! He can grow as a husband and head of his house and as a man. There are two main problems in any marriage…man and wife. And one thing sexually starved husbands usually bring to the table is an odor of desperation and helplessness…which helps perpetuate their wives not being attracted to them. And Jesse has the power of the Holy Spirit (since I’m assuming he’s a brother in Christ)dwelling within him. The power which raised Christ from the dead can empower change in our selves that we never imagined possible.

        Jesse,

        Brother. I don’t know if these words will reach you, but you can change. I know this hurts, but you can change you, and God can change your heart. You can love your wife well, and You can grow into a leader that she can trust and depend on.

        Especially if she has sexual abuse in her past, this will be critical on your part. You will need to earn her trust way more than any ‘normal’ husband (whatever that is…). And is she talking to anyone (pastor, counselor, biblical counselor) about her past abuse? This may be something you lead her in…not tell her to do.

        And Jesse, I’m not saying that you have the power to do this. You don’t. God does. I believe that God wants godly marriages with two of his children walking in holiness…

  22. mark f.
    December 9, 2013 | 1:58 pm

    Thanks! I really like your website.

    Intimacy in marriage is a desperate problem among Christians today. And a symptom of that underlying problem is the rampant divorce epidemic in the Church.

    1 Corinthians 7:15 is an extremely important verse, and, even though the husband is the spiritual leader of the family, this verse should be heeded, in love, by both husband and wife equally.

    The same Holy Spirit who dwells in a godly husband, dwells in a godly wife.

    One can debate over the wife being the “weaker vessel” and many other valid truths. But here’s the bottom line. Jesus said,

    If a man (or woman) loves Me, he (or she) will keep My commandments.”

    Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. And then love your neighbor (your spouse is your closets ‘neighbor’) as yourself.

    When a husband or wife who struggles with a lack of sexual desire for their mate, or for intimacy itself, contemplates this difficult topic, what must become the all-important question, is, “how much do you love Jesus?”

    I can say I love Jesus, but if I am not keeping His commands from the Scriptures, then the proof in the pudding is, I simply don’t love Him as much as I say, or think I do.

    “This people draw near to Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” said the Lord, of a people who give great lip service, but their actions reveal hearts that didn’t really love Him.

    Agape love is a sacrificial love that seeks to love his or her mate even if it is not reciprocated. Nevertheless, we as human beings are weak in our flesh. We have needs. Strong needs. God created us this way after all.

    The divine purpose of marriage is companionship; “It is not good for the man to be alone”, said the Lord, after he created man who did not yet have a companion.

    So, the question Jesus would pose for all spouses here today, is; ‘How much do you love Me?’ ‘Will you love Me enough to minister to your husband or wife’s sexual needs, even though you don’t feel it or desire it?’

    Satan [only] comes to steal, kill, and destroy. And his first act of destructive division was to come between husband and wife in the Garden. And we’ve been letting him continue this for the last 6,000+ years.

    If I really love my wife (and I DO), then I am going to esteem her needs (sexual and otherwise) above my own; because I do love her, and because I really love Jesus.

    It’s all about love, and putting the needs of others; especially our spouse’s, before our own feelings or needs.

    If a wife or husband understands that the Enemy of our souls (and of our marriages) seeks to destroy us by tempting us in our sexual weakness, because our spouse has forsaken us in that area, then if they really love one another, they will send the Enemy packing by submitting their hearts to God by loving their spouse and ministering to that sexual need.

    It’s all about love.

    If you really love Jesus, then esteem the needs of your spouse above your own needs or feelings.

    And by this shall the Lord be glorified.

    God bless,

    -Mark
    http://marriage-miracles.blogspot.com/

    • mark f.
      December 9, 2013 | 2:37 pm

      Sorry, it’s 1 Corinthians 7:5 (not 7:15).

    • Barney McGrew
      January 5, 2014 | 7:17 pm

      Mark,

      it’s clear from your post that you really love Jesus and you esteem the needs of your spouse above your own needs or feelings and that by this you glorify God.
      What do you have to say to someone who the Enemy of our souls (and marriages) has destroyed by tempting us in our sexual weakness, because our spouse has neglected us in that area?

      • mark
        January 6, 2014 | 7:41 pm

        Hi Barney,

        My wife has neglected me in this area for many years. And I am not perfect, and am ashamed to say that I have given in to temptation at times.

        But Jesus said, “It is he who loves Me, who keeps My commandments.”

        I have had to step aside and allow the Lord to work on my wife’s heart (and mine) in this matter. I don’t know if our situation will ever change. The ball is in her court, so to speak. This is extremely painful.

        But what it comes down to is this: Will I choose to love the Lord more than my needs or my personal pain?

        The Bible says we are not tempted beyond that which we are able to bear, and with the temptation, the Lord always provides a way of escape.

        So when I am tempted and don’t choose the way of escape, it’s my fault and no one else’s. It’s because at [that] time I chose the needs of my own flesh over loving Jesus.

        This is not an easy thing for me to say, but that’s a form of self-idolatry.

        God bless you,
        -Mark

  23. mark f.
    December 9, 2013 | 2:03 pm

    (sp) in paragraph 6 – ‘closets’ should be closest. :)

  24. Bonnie
    January 18, 2014 | 2:06 am

    My husband became suddenly and completely unable to maintain (or sometimes even achieve) an erection in 1999 when he was 39 and I had just turned 40. We have not had any intimacy of any kind since July 1999. (We had been married 18 years at the time.). He never sought medical treatment–which from what I understand is unusual. Because he had never had this problem before, I assumed the problem was psychological; he argued it was physical. That is pretty much the extent of our discussion of the subject. He is selfish anyway, and since there was “nothing in it for him” there was also no attempt to recognize that just because he was unable to perform did not mean I no longer had needs and desires. There is no foreplay, no kissing, no oral, nothing. And, as is to be expected, I suppose, he is “mean as a snake”–for almost 15 years now!

  25. […] Sexless Marriage Catch 22 […]

  26. Anonymous.
    March 4, 2014 | 12:47 pm

    After 19yrs of marriage, I’m at point where I hate sex. I spent so many years forcing myself to have sex, be loving, do my duty as a Christian wife….being told that the Bible teaches me that my body is not my own….having my husband mad at me for days when he didn’t get the sex he thought he had a right to and mad at me for days when he DID get it ’cause it wasn’t to his liking. I wasn’t “into it” enough, I guess…..
    It’s gotten to the point where I’ve decided that, I won’t refuse sex. Because God has commanded me to have sex with my husband, but the quality and richness of the experience will always reflect the emotional intimacy of the relationship and how much he actually pays attention to what I tell him. 19yrs of marriage and I have NEVER had an orgasm. I’ve asked him to do and not do some things – just preferences, I guess….I’ve graciously reminded him and asked him more than once, but he doesn’t remember, or doesn’t care, continues to do them and these things become a big TURN OFF!!!
    I’m usually last on the list after his work, stress and the kids….even church sometimes…..
    I’m applying 1 Cor. 13 love, but in that passage I see nothing about passionate sex.
    I’m at a loss. We’ve been to counseling. Nothing has changed.
    Everyday, I choose to love him and to turn my resentment over to God…..
    I’m tired.

  27. Withheld
    March 9, 2014 | 3:31 am

    Thank you for the forum. I hope someone would be able to help in my situation. I don’t know if there’s a way for my and I to start having sex, but I really hope there is.

    My wife and I have been together for nearly 12 years, married nearly 9. Our son was born 7 years ago. Up to the beginning of the last trimester, the sex was frequent, fun, and satisfying for both of us. Out of fear for hurting the baby, I suggested that we cool it with the sex, but that otherwise I found my wife more attractive than ever (not sure if she believed me but that’s a different matter altogether).

    After the baby was born, I felt that I would leave it up to her to when we could have sex again. I wanted to make sure her body was fully healed from such an ordeal, plus I could only imagine how exhausting it was to take care of a brand new baby, and I didn’t want her to think I only cared about the sex. Well, 3 months passed, and I decided to try initiating sex, at first nonverbally, then outright asking. In all instances I was routinely rejected. Furthermore, she refused to teach the baby to sleep in his own crib, preferring to have him sleep between us. Don’t get me wrong, I love my son more than anything in this world, but I really craved to have time with no one else but my wife. She was not interested and at the slightest whimper from my son, she would go up and take him back to our bed, saying “he’s only this little for a short amount of time.”

    After six months, I got tired of all the rejection, so I felt that the best thing for me to do was to expend my sexual energy somewhere else that wouldn’t be destructive like cheating or porn, so I decided, and I distinctly remember the night, that I would release the pent up sexual tension by getting out of bed, into the kitchen and cooking. I know it sounds silly or crazy, but I rationalized this by saying that the whole family would benefit from my learning to be a better cook, it would be a creative outlet for me, and it would help nourish our family (my wife and I, and my 2 stepkids). I was still being rejected, but it didn’t hurt so much because I comforted myself with food. I continued to try, but the frequency of attempts diminished. Finally, it was Valentine’s Day, nearly a year since my son’s birth, and after bringing gifts for baby, stepkids, as well as my wife, I essentially received no reciprocation or hardly any acknowledgement. I told my wife I was frustrated by how little thought she put into the holiday meant to celebrate lovers, as well as all the other meaningful days, like holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, days I always imagined would be overflowing with sex (at least those occasional blips on the calendar anyway). She reacted to my frustration, was apologetic and we had sex. But it wouldn’t last longer than that day.

    Ever since, we’ve been on a sexual life marred with fits and spurts, never gaining momentum. We’ve moved twice since, and both times it would be at least 4 months before we had sex in our new house. We’d have sex once every 2 or 3 months, but over the past six months or so, I’ll be in bed next to her, I verbally ask if we can have sex, when she agrees, I’ll have an erection but when I try to move into position, the erection goes away. I don’t know if it’s because of all the weight I’m carrying, or because I forgot and can’t get that sexual connection going again, or that I truly stopped caring. It’s something I want to do at this point because now my wife is concerned that we’re not having sex (even though she hasn’t made a move on me… ever, I believe) but she thinks it’s something we should be doing. I’m hoping someone here can give some direction on how to proceed.

    God bless all who may read this post.

    • Scott
      April 29, 2014 | 11:28 pm

      I started having the same problem with my wife. When she would agree to sex, she would still push me away some during it and she would make a face or something. I knew she wasn’t into it. I would often lose my erection when that happened. I wasn’t just there to use her body, I wanted to make love to her. I wanted her to want me as much as I wanted her. Duty sex is no turn on. Not sure if that is the case with you but it’s what happened with me.

  28. Never enough
    April 4, 2014 | 10:07 pm

    My husband and I have been married for 4 years now and we have two beautiful children. Our problem started when see became painful for me while i was pregnant. And for the longest time after the baby was born, or sex life was non existent. Fast forward a few months and I’m really trying to meet his needs after many talks and fights. But it seems the more I try the more it isn’t enough for him. We are up to having sex twice a week from once every 3 months. He’s begun to sit me out emotionally and will only “spend time” with me when we are intimate. Any other time he goes to bed early or will go on the computer. He says it is his way of protecting himself from rejection. He says that it is still not enough for him. He used to have a porn addiction and would spend the whole day in his bedroom. I feel like he had channeled that into our marriage and I can not keep up with it! At what point does this become an issue he needs to work on?

  29. Scott
    April 29, 2014 | 11:17 pm

    I gave up on sex in my marriage this year. We just had our 20th anniversary a few months back. Sex has always been a struggle but it had been getting worse. It seemed every time we tried I felt rejected and she ended up mad. I finally decided it wasn’t worth the heartache and that I have to accept that it is just not something that will be a part of our marriage. The fights have decreased but my loneliness and resentment have not.
    I feel like I am having to choose between being loved and being faithful. If I obey God and stay faithful, I will live a very lonely and rejected life. I know now she will never change. I also know I cannot go on without some kind of physical expression of love. I know that will only come from outside my marriage. I’m struggling trying to hold it together for the sake of my kids.
    I would love to hear advice on helping people cope who choose to stay in a sexless marriage for the sake of their kids. Most articles try to tell you how to fix your love life. That’s not always possible nor realistic. Some times you just need to know how to endure and end up with some kind of sanity.

    • Brandon
      July 3, 2014 | 4:46 pm

      Scott, this is exactly how I feel. Surely God doesn’t want our lives to be miserable and lonely? I continue to remain faithful but at a cost.

  30. Megan
    May 3, 2014 | 12:18 am

    I really liked this posted. I always look for scripture in regards to marriage and introspection of believers.
    And here’s why. Once legally married and then later the marriage wasn’t legally recognized as in being joined together. That was many years ago and I could careless about what is legally recognized as a marriage anymore. I’m a deportee’s wife. I’ve spent too much time, effort, traveling to make a separation in marriage (forced separation) work. I haven’t found my true “happy” ending yet; and most laugh at my situation. It’s really not funny because it brings me pain, but I laugh with them when they listen to things we both tried to do to make it work. Deportation basically means separation in terms of marriage. My marriage is like a catch 22 in and of it’s self if it should even be called one.
    And also mostly a sexless marriage too; another catch 22.
    Well at least I’ve learned one thing in all of this, is that I would rather have sex with someone who knows me, and it’s not about another person’s merits.

    Even after all these years the person who knows me best is my husband. Even after transitions of trying to make a change to other people in both our lives, we’ve found something that didn’t work out with them; and that is the person who grew to know you best good and bad is going to have the best sexually intimate connection (marriage connection) with you. Not all the time, but it carries an intimate meaning of feeling recognized. And sometimes we don’t see it that way because they are constantly there. And sometimes we see a conflict and withdraw. And sometimes we want to know if others have the same needs or sometimes it’s just plain adventurous needs. It doesn’t matter; the person you knows you is the person that has the potential to have the best possible sexual connection.

  31. Juan
    May 18, 2014 | 11:33 pm

    I have recently learned of these websites that offer such a variety of thoughts and insight. My wife and I have been married for 34 years. We struggled like many couples raising 4 children and providing for them. But we did it with a lot of help. The kids have been gone now for 8 years and it has been the last 12 years that my wife first mentioned she was having the change in life and would I please put up with it with her without her using medication. Then the less sex started to come into play, once it was twice a week, then twice a month, then twice a year, now no penetration, but she would agree to helping me out by hand. That seemed to be the last straw for me. I can’t stand the rejection. I find her very desirable but if I mention it or even touch her, she thinks I want to hop into bed. She says I am always badgering her for sex. But it is not true. I can go weeks or months without mentioning sex and as soon as I do, I am badgering, demanding, all I want her for is her body, etc, etc, etc. I am so Mad! But mostly, I can’t stand the rejection.

    She was never the one to say I love you, or to give me a kiss, or to hold my hand. I have always had to be the one to initiate this. Now I can’t even do that. I lover her dearly, but the pain that I feel is immense. She does not either understand or believe that this is so heartbreaking. She says no one ever died for lack of sex. I disagree. I am dying on the inside each and every day that goes by.

    She won’t go to counseling, doesn’t believe there is anything wrong with how she feels toward sex and that I should just accept the status quo. I can’t ignore my desire for her. I miss the intimacy afterwards and the just cuddling.

    I recently invited her to go away for the Memorial day 3 day weekend. She at first said yes. Then that night, instead of coming to bed in our bedroom, she went to bed in the guest bedroom. When I asked her about it in the morning, she said we were just not getting along and she did not want to do this anymore. She said no more sex. She went from going away for a weekend to rebuild relationship to moving out of our bedroom and being roommates! It devastated me. I can’t get over it. I am so upset. I have tried books, counseling, praying with partners, but nothing has happened. Everyone says be patient, but I have been living thru this for over 10 years. We have not been intimate on our birthdays, anniversary, valentines day for the last 5 years. If you were to ask her, she would say we have had sex recently, but if you pressed, she would not be able to give you a date. She is perfectly content with this. I am not. It doesn’t matter to her that I am unhappy. She does not want to make any changes. When asked if she is aware there is a problem, she acknowledges there is, but when asked if there is anything she is doing to help resolve it, she just shrugs her shoulders. In effect, it is my problem, not hers, she is happy without sex. To me that means she is happy without me in her life. I have not stayed in this marriage to have sex. I stayed because I love her deeply. But to just have a roommate? This is beyond painful. Juan

    • Nate
      June 23, 2014 | 11:07 am

      Juan. This woman has left you. SHE HAS LEFT YOU. So feel better about making it official. If what you say above is objective and true, then take joy in your kids and leave this woman. Leave everything behind. Cut off all the material bondage of that marriage. Shake the dust of that house from your feet.

      Buy a futon and start fresh. You’re alive, you have living to do, and you’ve been left alone, my friend. Are you Catholic? Talk to a priest, describe how you believe she never understood her commitment to you. Set up an annulment. Clearly she never understood what marriage is. Don’t you know how little western women understand and embrace marriage? Isn’t it clear? The evidence is in your heart. Continue being a gentleman towards here. Be loving, but leave and start anew. Be at peace. Pray for clarity and grace.

      If you proceed as above, you might get her attention. Maybe then she will struggle with her weakness and then fight to keep things together. If she lets you go with no effort to heal the marriage… then that is the last evidence for a clear conscience that you need.

  32. Nate
    June 23, 2014 | 10:35 am

    I’m sick and tired of marital advice websites treating women like gossamer puzzles that aren’t expected to behave as adults and act pro-actively in their marriage. I don’t accept the idea that women must be “figured out”. I reject the notion that women need psychological tweaking in order to perform sexually. That’s ridiculous. I reject the idea that husbands must engage in elaborate psychodynamic choreographies in order to “court” a woman they’ve married!

    MARRIAGE. MARRIAGE. She said: “I DO”

    “The reason you’re not sexually fulfilled in marriage is because you’re not asking the woman the right questions.”

    Geez. How little is a woman’s intelligence respected within this sentiment!! My wife is a whole, full, responsible person. She’s not my child, she’s not mentally incapacitated. Why can’t she be expected to exert effort towards the marriage? No enigmatic tea-reading required here. She’s supposed to LOVE me! Remember?! She’s supposed to LOVE me!! I’m in a MARRIAGE and I should be LOVED!

    Love. Is. A. Verb…. PERIOD.

    If I can offset my sexual identity for months on end out of love for her, and desire for her to be happy, then she can be expected to extend LOVE to me on occasion. LOVE, people. Respect and regard for the person you MARRIED. Remember that novel concept?

    There’s no riddle here. I’m right, she’s wrong, I’m patient, she’s frigid, this website is full of western, post-feminism, quasi-egalitarian nonsense, and I’m fed up with listening to it.

  33. Frustrated and hurt
    December 5, 2014 | 8:21 pm

    My wife of 30 years tells me that sex to her is as much fun as eating breakfast. Not wrong, not evil, not “messy”, just not worth it. I do not want to be seen as selfish. I self-medicate with alcohol and am trying to stop looking at porn. She’s also super-spiritual and works 50-60 hours per week at a Christian organization. My ED doesn’t help matters but I’m thankful for the once a month ration I get from her. Glad to hear other couples enjoying themselves but I see little hope for us.

    • justino
      December 10, 2014 | 1:44 pm

      How ironic, she works at a christian organization, but is living in direct disobedience to those values she promotes. I wonder what marriage advice she would give someone else?
      I would take a good hard look at yourself first, porn is only feeding your lust and enhancing your ED situation, stop the porn, and let God heal your body. Are you meeting her needs? perhaps that is why she doesnt meet yours.
      I dont think divorce is neccesarily the right option all the time, but a separation for a time might help. Obviously she doesn’t realize how serious this is, it sounds to me like she doesn’t care. When she is crying out to God because she is lonely and can’t understand why you left in the midst of her ‘christian service” to Him, God can then speak to her and let her know how she is destroying her marriage. Like an abusive husband that doesn’t realize how he mistreats his wife until she leaves, it takes a major situation like separation to wake people up so they can hear from God.
      Good luck

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