Recently, I received a message from a wife who was desperately looking for some advice. She shared with me that her husband is a kind, loving, and wonderful man in every way EXCEPT he rarely, if ever, wants to have sex with her. In fact, they have gone months at a time without making love, and the absence of intimacy and connection in their marriage is breaking her heart and making her resent her husband. I could feel her frustration and pain as I read her heartfelt message. In the end, she asked me if I had any advice on what she could do to address this issue with her husband and make sexual intimacy an active part of their marriage once again.
Sex is an important part of marriage, and any time one spouse is withholding it or seems uninterested in it, we should immediately address this crisis and do whatever we can to get help. The hard part about this issue is that God designed sex for both the husband and wife to be engaged in it physically, emotionally, and mentally, so when one spouse is disengaged, it brings sexually intimacy to a screeching halt. When you feel undesirable, unloved, and unfulfilled, you get frustrated and become prone to lashing out. After all, your husband is the one, Biblically legitimate avenue you have for sexual connection and satisfaction, so when he refuses to make love, it stings deeply on a physical AND emotional level. So, what can you do?
First of all, you need to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your husband, but it must be in the most loving and honest way possible. When you haven’t had sex in a long time, it’s so easy to be edgy and snarky, but this kind of approach will only limit our conversation and possibly lead to a fight. When a husband refuses to have sex, there is an underlying problem of some kind, so the aim of the conversation is to get him to open up as much as possible. Calmly ask him the hard questions, and patiently wait for him to answer. A kind, understanding, and non-intimidating approach to this issue will go a long way in helping him to do this.
Secondly, you must prepare your mind and heart to hear some hard truths from your husband. There are a whole host of reasons why men disengage from sex with their wives including low testosterone levels lowering his sex drive, his use of porn to meet his sexual needs, depression and anxiety depleting his sex drive, his wife’s previous ongoing denial of sex leading to feelings of rejection and a lower drive, extreme exhaustion zapping his energy for sex, his involvement in an emotional or sexual affair with someone else, and other circumstances. Each of these situations can greatly affect a man’s desire for sex with his wife, but these can be hard for a wife to hear—especially when sins—like porn or an affair—are involved. Even so, you must be ready and willing to listen to the truth that your husband will hopefully share with you or the issue will never be remedied.
Lastly, once you have asked hard questions and willingly listened to hard truths, you need to come up with a plan of action. If your husband is dealing with anxiety and depression, help him to find a doctor and Christian counselor to address these struggles. If he has a porn habit, help to put filters on all phones, laptops, and other devices as well as find resources to help him overcome this toxic habit (go to XXXChurch.com for more on this). If he feels rejected and inadequate due to previous ongoing denial of sex, talk about this and see a Christian marriage counselor together to find a healthier way to communicate and regain one another’s trust when it comes to sexual intimacy. If he confesses to having an affair, the first step would be for him to cut off all contact with the other person and then both attend a crisis marriage retreat to take some time away to engage in some intense Christian counseling and important conversations to save the marriage. For more information on Christian counselors and marriage crisis resources, go to MarriageToday.com.
Whatever the hard truth may be, you can lean in and actively help your husband to find the help and healing he needs. If he is caught in the grips of sin, pray that God helps him to clearly see that this sin is tearing him, the marriage, and your own heart apart. When your husband asks for your forgiveness, give it quickly just as God willingly forgives our repentant hearts time after time—and this isn’t easy. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that your husband’s sin didn’t hurt you; however, it makes your husband’s quest to regain trust possible, and this process of earning back your trust takes a lot of time, prayer, and patience.
Just as you willingly and actively help your husband get the counseling, medical help, and healing that he needs, you must also seek help for yourself. When you feel rejected and hurt by your spouse, your heart can become a breeding ground for resentment, negativity, retaliation, and even self-loathing. Therefore, it’s extremely important to talk to a Christian counselor to help process all of these emotions and replace these negative thoughts with God’s truth found in the Bible. Prayer is essential as well. Ask God to give you strength and grace through this time, and He will. Ask Him to heal your hearts and give you the right words and actions to approach your husband in the best way. On those days when you feel discouraged and angry, you can cry out to God and ask Him to fill you with His hope. When you focus your mind on His truth and trust that He is working ALL things—even the gut-wrenchingly hard times in your marriage—together for your good and His glory, you will persevere.
It often takes a lot of time and patience from both spouses who are trying to process and heal from a marital trial, but this time, prayer, and effort is so worth it. Little by little, you will feel a deeper connection to one another and the physical intimacy will follow. Don’t lose hope. Keep leaning into one another and doing whatever it takes to keep talking and getting the help that you need to make your marriage and sexual intimacy as healthy and vibrant as possible.