Living With a Refuser

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5

A healthy sexual relationship with your spouse is one of the keys to a healthy marriage. If someone is the perfect spouse in every way except that they hold back sexually from their husband or wife, then it is my conviction that they are living in sin. God told us that our bodies belong to our spouse. If they have a sexual need, we ought to freely give ourselves to meet that need. I take the position that I am the only lover my husband gets and he deserves the best one I can possibly be.

The only reason God has given allowance for us to abstain from sex in marriage is so that we can be devoted to prayer and then, only for a time. It is holy for us to be passionate in the bedroom and on the contrast it is sin for us to hold back and resist God’s plan for the marriage bed to be a place of freedom and joy. Often in the church, women especially, are lead to believe that the opposite is true. That to be godly it requires that we keep all things sexual at arms length, including our own relationship with our husband. Having said that, women are not always the ones acting as refusers in a marriage. Sometimes the wife is the one who is left with a sex life that isn’t meeting her needs.

Understand that the refusal I am talking about goes beyond having to work out frequency where both the husband and wife enjoy sex, but have different drives. They are two very different problems. A refuser believes lies about their sexuality and the importance of emotional and physical intimacy through sex in marriage. This causes great pain to their spouse as year after year one of the most basic needs in marriage is either withheld or given reluctantly.

To say that living with a refuser is difficult is a severe understatement. There are many contributors that make the problem a complicated one. One is that someone is sinning against you perpetually and does not acknowledge it. This is hard because you essentially need to live in a constant state of forgiveness in order to have peace about someone who doesn’t even believe or see that they are doing anything wrong. Another contributor to the problem is that God created you with physical and emotional needs and gave you someone to meet them, but when your spouse doesn’t see their role in meeting those needs you are left with a feeling of discontent. Masturbation isn’t the cure all either because, to begin with, some people feel guilt about it and then even if they don’t it only serves to met the physical need. Since what we all really desire is a sexual relationship, masturbation is not meant to be our main outlet for sexual release and does nothing to satisfy a husband or wife’s desire for closeness.

So how does someone handle living with a refuser? My suggestions will not solve the problem, only manage it. In order for the problem to be solved, your spouse needs to be set free which is something that only God can do. So my first suggestion is to pray for your spouse. This will influence a change in them like nothing else. If there are issues of mental illness, pray for those too and seek out help. Pray also for yourself, that God would change you in the ways that you need to change. Develop a strong relationship in prayer with Jesus. Be sure that you are well aware of what He thinks of you. Your identity should never be influence by your spouse’s sin of refusal. And the closer you walk with Jesus the easier it will be to forgive your husband or wife when necessary.

My other suggestion is to be willing to commit to communicating with them about it even if it is uncomfortable. Be non-accusatory and share your heart with them. There is a fine line between stating what you want and need in a way that causes your spouse to feel forced into a sexual relationship with you, and inviting them into your heart so you can show them why you want and need intimacy with them on every level. While the latter will be uncomfortable for them and may hurt them as you show them honestly how their behavior affects you, the former may very well cause them to dig their heels in even more. I believe that a lot of the time when a person is showing anger, what they really are feeling is either fear or pain. That isn’t the case all the time, but expressing anger feels less vulnerable that fear and pain so I can see why people often default to that. If you or your spouse are expressing anger, consider whether the actual feelings might be rooted in fear or pain.

Also, continue to love your spouse and treat them with kindness despite their sin. While you are clear that you feel that they are sinning against you by holding this part of themselves away from you, keep speaking words of love to them and let them know that you care for them no matter what. I have seen couples where one of them was living as a refuser and then got free from their lies, but the other spouse was too hurt to receive them at that point and actually became a refuser themselves.

I want to touch on one other thing and that is that I do believe that there are circumstances where it is legitimate to withhold sex in marriage. Namely, when your spouse is living in sexual sin. If they are having an extramarital sexual relationship, I think it is wise to abstain until things are resolved both for health reasons to protect yourself against STIs and for purposes of prayer. The same holds if they have a porn addiction that they do not take responsibility for. This again fits with the admonishment to abstain for purposes of prayer. I believe that the husband or wife is consenting to abstinence if he or she is having an affair or is involved in pornography that has not been confessed. If on the other hand they have confessed their sin and are taking steps to live with sexual integrity, then this is the time to step up and ask God to restore what was stolen from your intimacy.

My heart goes out to all the wives and husbands who read our blog and are living with a refuser. To receive better support than we can offer you on our blog, we would encourage you to visit The Marriage Bed Discussion Forums, which have an entire section devoted to helping people who are living with refusers. Please know that you are not alone and know also that many marriages have been saved and restored after such a situation. God is a God of restoration and redemption.

40 Comments

  1. >A refuser believes lies about their sexuality……pray for your spouse. This will influence a change in them like nothing else…<
    There are few things more powerful than this. Through prayer, God has released my husband from his addiction, released me from my fears, inhibitions, and the lies of the Enemy, and provided us with a renewal and awakening that shakes our bed nightly. And I am absolutely LOVING IT. I have always loved my husband, but through prayer and God’s hand, I have allowed myself to feel the intensity of that love for the first time in a long time. I simply cannot give God enough praise for this–or for you ladies here as you help me understand and work through my own issues in order to love and bless my husband better. 🙂

  2. It’s testimonies like yours that give people hope, gen224. Thank you so much for sharing!!!!

    God Bless!!

  3. Oh this post has made me weep! I am obviously a “refuser.” My husband is so good and completely and only attracted to me. And I want someone to know what it is like from the refuser’s perspective. I have gone over this passage of scripture so many times and I try my best to “do my duty” for my husband. But every time it injures me even more, over and over again. Oh how my heart aches because I wish I could enjoy it. This article discusses the abuse of my actions towards my husband, and I am so sorry for that. But what do I do about my own soul? It is not simply a matter of “refusing.” It is not a choice at all. I have been through some group therapy but I can not brake this bondage in my heart. My passion is Christ and I am growing in love for Him deeper and deeper daily. I love the Word and prayer. But I am lost in my sexual relationship.

  4. I am so glad to hear you say that you love the Word and prayer and that you have a passion to follow Christ because it shows that you seek God, and my friend, God wants you to be free. He can work mightily in a heart that is seeking Him.

    You may feel like you do not have a choice, but that is actually a lie. You feel powerless because satan has convinced you that you are. You have more power and authority in Jesus than you realize. It’s time for you to start speaking out some truth and telling the enemy to give back what he has stolen — your freedom to be who God made you to be. We’ll stand with you, but you need to choose not to bow to his works in your life any longer.

    If you can do some prayer counseling about this issue that would be best. You need to hear the truth from Jesus about your sexuality and when you hear HIM speak truth, lies can not stand. If you can not find someone in your region who can doing prayer counseling with you, spend a little time every day asking Jesus to remove the lies you believe and ask him to replace them with truth. Feel free to email us through the Got Questions? page if you want more information on prayer counseling.

    Like I said, we will stand with you, but you need to choose that you don’t want to live under this sin any longer. You are right that YOU can not break the bondage in your heart, but surely as a God-follower, you know who can, right?

  5. Thank you so much. I sincerely appreciate your response. It is true, I know the Lord is so much bigger than my weakness. And I have taken up the issue and prayer, and will continue to do so. Also I am going to look into prayer counseling, as I have never heard of it. I know the Lord is working in me, but it is such a slow process. I don’t know how to not let more damage be done in the mean time. I think a huge part of that is like you said, proclaiming truth even when I don’t feel it.

  6. Hi MaryofBethany,

    Upper case on purpose as I mean to respect you.

    I was a passive refuser for 23 years towards my body builder….go figure…hunk of a man!!! I so hear what you are crying out loud to us all.

    I am a new visitor to this marvelous site so I will not write as one who has any answers as these ladies have blown my formerly religious mind every time I have read their posts.

    Please take a bit of time to speak to yourself to allow yourself to actually go down this path. You need to give yourself permission. Without doing that, everyone could go blue in the face trying to convince you that sex is fantastic and you will not ‘go there’.

    I literally mean to stand in front of a mirror, and cry if you must, but audiblhy speak to yourself that this is a good girl thing to do with your husband and not a bad girl sin.

    Once I actually released my spirit to take a tiny step on the path to sexual study, it was like a glass was shattered and I saw for the first time ever in my married life the pain I was causing MYSELF.

    My husband was getting satisfied,either with intercourse or I would satisfy him orally but I was as cold as ice. How many ways I learnt to sleep in a foetal position from sheer agony at my passionless sex life can be imagined.

    Grief is not powerful enough of a word to describe how much I yearned for the closeness that I knew could be mine and that my man longed for all through our years.

    Until I made the decision to walk on the road to becoming a woman in my body, I justified my asexual responses from every angle.

    My man and I have always talked about everything and I have always listened to him as he has achingly pulled on my being to open to him and to trust him and that he did and does adore me .

    Something happened in my heart when I saw him resigned for the first time ever to his lot, that he had a lovely wife but that she never nibbled on his ear in passion EVER.

    It is not going to help you if we try to tell you how much beautiful freedom we have all found in our sexuality without you letting yourself start to explore the entire walk.

    You are hungry for this change and you will never be able to be the same person again once you open the door of your heart to God’s leading regarding your passionate nature. It is from Him and blessed by Him.

    I love praying for marriages….ironic huh….so I will pray for you with much compassion and faith that you will also come to see what we have seen (and are seeing) and feel what we are feeling.

    As a sister in Christ, I pledge my support towards you even after you are a rocking sexual fox for your man. I will continue to pray for you as a vote of confidence as I am so grateful to be able to even write this to you.

    If a hardened, closed bodied and minded and spirited woman like me can be turned on to her man, you can be, too. Just decide to be a sexually charged woman (not girl) before the Lord and towards both yourself and your man.

    I AM EXCITED FOR YOU. YOU HAVE A RIP ROARING PASSION JOURNEY AHEAD OF YOU LIKE YOU NEVER EVEN IMAGINED.

    I began by letting myself really look in the mirror

  7. Thank you so much for your advice and testimony! My situation is so similar. And I know it stems from my wrong views. I do think I am ready to look in the mirror… though I have not done it yet 🙂 But I truly appreciate your prayers and support, as they make all the difference. If you are ever want intercessors to stand with you, check out http://www.ihop.org.

  8. That is a GREAT ministry. I totally affirm the suggestion of utilizing the ministry at International House of Prayer.

  9. Hi Mary of Bethany,

    Checked back here and glad to read your post. You go girl.

    We are all rooting for you to be totally and amazingly healed so that you can be a joy and fountain of blessing for those who you come across in their time of dire need.

    You do have my prayers and I am a long time serious prayer warrior for the Lord without wishing to sound boastful.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed for people from many years ago. I will step up my praying for you as I go about my daily stuff in my own family.

    …..That you will see more and more of God’s greatness towards you and your man in your everyday life.

    What a wonderful experience you have in store for you.

    He is so faithful to meet us just where we are at and He is always right on time.

    Keep reading on this site as these ladies have got something VERY SPECIAL to say to all of us ‘healing ones’. Till next time.

    smokeypuss.

  10. Hmmm. I seem to have the opposite problem from most people here. My husband never wants to have sex with me – I have to beg him. When we first got married we had never had intercourse with each other or anyone else, and sometimes it was hard for him to maintain an erection so I would get upset and feel too ugly or fat or whatever. I want to please him, but he doesn’t even want oral sex – he never has. I don’t know how he can go so long, I am always the aggressor. I finally told him that I EXPECT sex at the very least twice a week – and he was very begrudging about it – I don’t know if it will happen or not. I don’t want to be a nag about it, but I feel like we are living in sin if we are not actively seeking to serve one another in a sexual manner, and no I do not feel like I am serving him if I leave him alone. In one way, that’s very easy because then there’s no friction, but I am also not holding him accountable. I am lucky to get once per week. I pray daily about this, and I have for awhile. I could use some prayer regarding this and some prayer from protection from bitterness toward my husband and toward other women who don’t share this problem. Also, I am not adverse to hearing hard truth, so any discernment about this I would welcome.

  11. SJ- You are not alone. Keep reading the blog and you will find many women who have commented about the same thing.
    There are many things that could be contributing to a husband who isn’t pursuing his wife.
    Could be anything from a high amount of stress to a secret sexual addiction to sexual abuse in his past.
    Keep praying. Ask the Lord to reveal the source of this. I’ll agree in prayer with you on that, SJ.

    Whatever it is that you will have to work through it is better to approach it with an awareness that the two of you are working towards a solution from the same team. It’s not you against him. God has made the two of you one. When you said, “I finally told him that I EXPECT sex at the very least twice a week” I can see two different heart issues that may motivate such a statement and it could come out two very different ways. One way is sort of like hand-on-hip with finger pointing, very antagonistically. You against him. The other is more like letting him know that the current situation isn’t working for you and that you have a vision for how great it could be and you really need him to get on board with you. It’s the two of you working towards something better. Does that make sense? But I do think that in order to work through this, you are going to have to get clarity on the root of his withdrawal from you.

  12. dear SJ- You are not alone in this! I know that society portrays men as only needing food and sex,but it’s not the case for everyone. I completely understand what you are going through and will pray for you. My husband too,doesn’t need as much as I do.And it makes me bitter and feeling ugly when he doesn’t seem to want me.I get tired of being the one to pursue the issue,only to be left unsatisfied.cinnamonsticks was right in what she said.I found out later that the times when my husband was least interested in sex was when he was looking at porn.Also some medication kills the drive for men,if he is on any.Communication is key.Withdrawing in your anger or hurt doesn’t help the situation.Just maybe he’ll open up to you and you’ll find out things about him that you never knew.You need to approach him at the right time and with the right attitude.

  13. I totally know where you are coming from. I had this struggle with my husband for the first probably 5 years of our marriage. I would cry myself to sleep at night, because I felt lonely and unwanted. I finally found out that my dh had a big problem with internet porn, and masturbation. He would take care of himself, then not care for anything with me, because his desire was already quenched. It was a horrible time, and when I think back to those times, I almost think of them as us dating, rather than the early years of our marriage, because we were not one at all. But once the issue got brought to the light, we started working on it. It has not been any easy road, there have been setbacks, but now I can say with confidence that I am the only one my husband looks at and desires, and we have a very active, satisfying sex life now.
    Now, that being said, please don’t be totally convinced that your husband has a porn problem! But in my opinion, maybe you should ask him? Or honestly, I know this sounds sneaky and wrong, but maybe you should do a little digging first. I know that many times I confronted my husband about it, and he lied right to my face, only when I had proof would he admit it! And my husband is not a bad person, not a liar in general, he just knew how much it would hurt me to know the truth, so he lied. And like cinna-sticks said, definitely pray that God would reveal to you the source of this issue. It might be something totally innocent. I will say a prayer for you right now that you and your husband work through this together, with the truth (whatever it is) being brought totally to light, and that you will come out stronger and closer than ever in the end. God bless.

  14. Hi SJ,
    Your post gripped my heart as I prayed for you this morning.

    I echo what Cinnamonsticks suggested and am so grateful for her discernment. Cinnamonsticks, you are a treasure of a woman.

    From my personal experience, if your man does not have what you wish he could have towards you, the worst thing in the world is to confront him with his lack. Getting in his face will only make him bury his true self deeper into his self-constructed cacoon of protection. Sexually, he will become colder than ever.

    Some people do not handle being faced with their inadequacies and by your post, I can tell that you can take a head on, talking down if you are in the wrong. Some people cannot even handle being looked at in a disapproving manner! They retreat into a never-never world of safety where no amount of badgering or nagging or crying or screaming or sultry seducing will make them budge. Confronting a man’s lack of sexual prowess has the potential for tremendous blow back at you.

    I decided to grab myself by the roots of my hair and get my own life in order. I joined a gym. I began to take great pains with my physical appearance because I did not respect myself. I began to laugh more instead of scowling at all the silly quibbles we had as a couple. I began to tell my husband how much I absolutely appreciate every little thing he does. In short, I allowed myself to blossom as a woman instead of worrying about how he did not answer my every need. Our love life has become so very beautifully sensual and sexually charged. My man adores the ground I walk on….truly.

    Biblically, ‘a joyful heart does good like a medicine’, ‘love your neighbor AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF ( ouch) give unto others as you have them give unto you – ever thought of a smiling, happy, wife’s face as a gift ? and so on. Take heart and do what you can do for yourself to make yourself a happier person in your marriage THEN be concerned about how your man responds to you. I will pray fervently for your relationship as I believe things will turn around as you seek God.

  15. I think this is very good advice, smokeypuss. I hope my post didn’t sound like I was encouraging SJ to hunt down her hubby and give him what for!! I guess I am going off my experience, where my husband DID have a problem, and the problem called for me calling him on it, and holding him very accountable. (At his request-once the issue was out there, he wanted my help to pull him out of it.) So that is what was needed in my situation. But then again we have been there more than once, so there were times when I was much more merciful about it too, and I think that’s where prayer and the Holy Spirit comes in. (And I was always loving, even when I was a little tougher…) Only God and SJ’s husband know what it is that is causing this problem in their marriage, and I believe he will reveal to her how to handle it. Still praying for you SJ!

  16. Thanks everyone for your prayers and thoughts. I will continue to pray for a revelation of the source of the lack of interest. It’s a little scary to not know what lies ahead, but I sure would rather have Christ and have to go through whatever it my be than be in this stagnant relationship for the rest of my life. mdcccc6 – it really hit me what you said about your husband lying to you about it – I have asked all the questions in the book and he tells me no for all of the questions and I truly believe him. That really knocked the wind out of me. I’m not sure I’ll dig any – I suppose the Holy Spirit is more powerful in shedding light on the problem.

    Thank you so much for your encouraging words everyone and your prayers! I’ll let you know what’s happening! SJ

  17. I think you are doing the right thing. You are absolutely right about the Holy Spirit, and if it wasn’t God’s will for my marriage at that point for any of that stuff to come to light, no amount of digging would have gotten me anywhere. 🙂 Just keep praying, we will too. And no matter what it is, big or small, God will bring you through it stronger than ever. I know He will. 😉

  18. wow.. my heart just aches over these past words because i can relate. our marriage has been there for 14 years. i am the wife of a man whose intrest is wayyyyy lower than mine. he’s happy to make sweet gentle love (which of course is wonderful) once every other week or so. this has been heartbreaking for me as he has never understood my need, want, desires, etc… it’s a hard place to be. there has been alot of tears. BUT i know that the Lord is good. i know that He put us together. i know that He is faithful. i know that my husband loves me. i tell you though, i was so grateful to find this website. to know that i was not the only woman who loves being with her husband…often. praise the Lord that He gave us this wonderful gift. in that i trust that He will be glorified even in this. – Father, may our marriages please you in every way..

  19. One of the other issues that can be going on is a true chemical imbalance. I’ll see if I can contact someone from The Marriage Bed forum who had experienced that with her husband. Maybe she can bring more light to this….

  20. My dh was diagnosed with a chemical/hormonal imbalance after many years of refusing. We began our married life with certain expectation…I thought we would have regular sex…to my dh that meant a couple times a week..for the first year or so..and then we dwindled to once or twice a month..on omonths..when I intiated…
    I expected more like 3-4 times a week.
    Dh and I did talk about this…but really got nowhere…when I first brought it up to dh..male refusal was not written about…this was several years ago..now it seems sometimes to almost be an epidemic.
    I would try to talk to dh but i was always met with..”you just have a higher than normal drive”…I have a normal drive”…and thne of course there were the excuse…”I am to tired…I am too stressed…i jut need down time…my muslces are sore…”…so I would just slink away thinking…”maybe I am abnormal…maybe I do want it (sex) too much”

    Then after many years of prayer and the easy cwe all obtained to be able to “surf the net” I began to seek anwers again..and prayed that God show me what I needed to know..that if I was “oversexed” as dh put it..that I could find the answer to fix that…
    I had sought anwers in my church..but so many there were still under the impresion that men alwys want it and have to fight to get sex from their wives..not the other way around…
    so I began to search..God opened my eyes and led me to research hormonal imbalances..
    so I learned about Low Testosterone..and what health effects it could have on a man…it can cause cadiac problems..bone density problems, mood swings, mucsle loss, depresion..and can lead to metabolic syndrome…it also is one of the MAJOR caused of low sex drive in men!

    I then decided to appraoch my dh again..I began talking to him by presenting the health concerns to him ( I knew he would listen to this , because his dad had two heart attacks..the last one killing him)…after I told him about the health concerns I broght up that it also causes low drive…since the test for this is a simple bloodwork..dh agreed to see his dr and get tested…

    I think he was really surprised when his levels came back low..in fact his levels would have been low for a man in his 90’s! He began hormone replacement therapy 2.5 years ago and it has been awesome the changes it has made ..all for the better..

    I will admit..I was very apprehensive about mentioning hormanes to dh..like all men, I knew he would be “senstive” to this…almost as if it was immasculating…but it was just too important NOT to say something..

    Refusal comes in many forms…and for many reasons..but in my opinion, it needs to be confronted…and dealt with..it will , if left unattended, become almost like an infected sore in the relatonship..it will grow and fester until gangrene sets in..and then the time to talk may be lost ..
    Never stop praying and seeking answers..the anwers ARE out there..we just need to be led and find them.

  21. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with our readers, mom210.

  22. I wish that churches did much more in their PRE-marriage counseling to address refusing, and wish pre-marriage “classes” were much more blunt and assertive about sexual union in marriage.

    The issues seem very difficult to judge well. Yes, love is more important than sex. Why not have a loving partnership of husband and wife who both have very low desire for union, and call it beautiful and just fine?

    Taking it further, why not go along with the (very common) teaching that the person with high desire is supposed to control and stifle their desire and that the couple should have union according to low-desire spouse? This sounds very Christian.

    We don’t seem to see nearly as much teaching in the modern church that the low-desire person should learn to give their spouse fulfillment as an act/gift of love. What about the lower-desire spouse learning to love so that there is joy and fun in making their spouse feel fulfilled and happy … ?

    I keep thinking the bible seems to teach that each spouse should actually **increase** the amount of sexual giving UP to the level of their partner’s needs — so that neither spouse lives through the marriage frustrated all the time.

    A non-believing couple does it when both of them simultaneously selfishly “feel like it” but what about a Christian couple? It seems as if the Christian couple should be sexually involved MORE than a non-believing couple. But I hardly ever hear that from a teacher in the modern church.

    We don’t seem to see a lot of teaching in many modern churches about how miserable it can be for a person who doesn’t have a “gift of celibacy” to live sexually frustrated all the time. We don’t see a lot of teaching about how selfish it can be to ignore your spouse’s need for sexual expression and intimacy (or to insult them for it.) The bible seems more blunt about these things than the modern church.

    Pre-marriage counselor: ask the couple that is engaged how they would be expressing love by causing sexual un-fulfillment and frustration to their spouse for the rest of their married life together? (“I love you so I’m going to cause you to be unfulfilled for the rest of your life?”)

    Maybe ask them how they will handle mismatches in desire. Ask them how they interpret biblical teaching and how they plan to apply it. These are very sensitive and graphic topics for an engaged or dating couple to talk about — but with so many problems in marriages I think it might be well worth the communication.

    Kevin Lehman wrote that if you are thinking about getting married, and don’t intend to have union with your spouse at least two-to-three times a week for the rest of your life then you should NOT get married! Kevin seems to be one of the few people taking this seriously — pretty consistent with the bible I THINK. In view of all the pain that so many married people are expressing I wish something like Kevin’s advice were incorporated into pre-marriage counseling in churches everywhere.

  23. Sadly, I’m finding out that I have refused my husband for so long, he is confused by my “awakening” and seems to be too hurt to accept the change. What can I do (besides prayer)to melt his hurt and confusion. Maybe he thinks that I deserve to be refused now?

  24. This is very common. It is hard for men who have been refused to switch gears. Sometimes they are afraid that it won’t last, especially if you unknowingly have had times in the past where you were more open to sex and then reverted back to what was normal to you. Sometimes they are so hurt that they can not accept the change. Have you repented to him for your sin against him during the years of your refusal? Does he know that you see what it cost him? Ask him to share with you what he needs from you. If you are going to get through this, it is going to require that you both commit strongly to communicating honestly. Don’t let uncomfortable conversations keep you from working through your fears and anger. Give him time to adjust and keep praying for him.

  25. Thank you so much for your prompt reply. This website has blessed me so much the past couple days. My husband and I have been married 23 years next week. This past year and a half have presented some serious road blocks in our relationship as I have seen Satan sweep in and do damage so quickly(there were other issues besides our intimacy). Anyway, I will talk w/ him and share some of the things you suggested. I know he is thinking that this is short term and quite frankly I’m scared it may be too. I am perimenopausal and certain times of my cycle have been so hard to “think sex”. But I want things to change.
    One more question…do I keep approaching him sexually? If he refuses me at night, do I go ahead and try again the next morning? I can’t ask him to approach me b/c he has told me in the past that he won’t approach me sexually anymore. The more I type, the more hopeless this all sounds. 😦

  26. I would ask him, “If you did not have to initiate, what kind of sexual frequency would you like?” Then you will have a gauge to know how often you should be asking. You can also ask him what you can do to communicate love to him. You need to learn how to let him know that He is important to you. He also needs to learn the same for you.

    If you are not in the habit of having a date once a week, I would encourage you to start that. Think back to your early days and recall the kinds of dates you enjoyed together and start doing those things again.

  27. Another great resource is “The Five Love Languages” by Dr Gary Chapman.

    I’ll say a prayer for you and your situation!
    Blessings!

  28. I’m glad I found this post. I’ve only been married for 3 months, but I’ve found that my sex drive is significantly higher than my DH’s. He’s content with once a week–perhaps even less–while I would prefer every other day. We didn’t have sex before our wedding night, but the desire was DEFINITELY there for both of us. What gives?!

    I have a tendency to embrace negative thinking and low self esteem, so I’ve got to be careful of the little lies that creep into my mind such as, “I guess I’m just not as attractive as he thought I would be,” and “He sees me naked and in my underwear all the time; there’s nothing left to be desired now.”

    Judging by the level of passion in our engagement, I never thought I would have to commit our sex life to prayer and ask for God’s help. I was hoping our newlywed life would be a little spicier…

    Thank you for this article. It’s nice to know that husbands having a lower sex drive than their wives is a common issue in marriages and that I’m not simply undesirable.

  29. Please know that it is very common for a man to have a low sex drive. It just isn’t talked about as much. My husband’s drive goes down when he is under a lot of stress. It should still be discussed, but please know that it’s not a unique situation.

    You do have a lifetime to grow in your intimacy and love making experiences. Your efforts to learn how to communicate well with each other will be so beneficial to this process of growing intimacy. This growing depth of knowing one another is a greater blessing than I ever imagined it would be.

  30. SJ, I have a very similar problem with my dh. We, however, have been married 17 years and honestly we have had some years with no sexual intimacy. I’m worried if we’ll make it to 18. This has become such a huge issue in our marriage – much more for me then him. He doesn’t understand why I’m so sadden by this part of our marriage when we are so blessed otherwise. Until I found this site and your post I thought I was alone. I thought I was expecting too much from him. I have let my hurt turn into resentment toward him. Resentment is a very dangers thing and I don’t know how to rid our marriage of it when I know there is no change ahead for us.

    I like the others advice about praying for insite and direction.
    Thanks so much for being brave enough to start this string.
    Blessings.

  31. Living with a refuser is so very painful. I am 53, and although I have always had a higher sex drive than my husband, it has gotten worse as the years roll by. It’s always been a dangling carrot out there…he has always told me “if only”…If only I lost weight, if only I acted sweeter, and on and on and on…THEN it would happen more often. I have finally realized it’s NOT about me…it’s about him! I know that in my mind, but in my heart it’s very difficult to remember that when I am repeatedly turned down. For the most part, I have finally quit asking…I know the answer varies, but it’s always no. I have told him my greatest sadness in life is that someday one of us will die..and I will die feeling like he never wanted me sexually….and that is painful

  32. wow I know how you feel my husband is a refuser it hurtd I feel in pain, physical pain as the tension is building up I hate feeling like this, he make it out like its my fault also but I know now its him, I think i’m starting to be out off him now cos he’s always trying to solvw everyone elses problem but dont realise that the biggiest problem is at home.

    he dont realise i’m not happy and havent been for years, if and when I get it, its very short and hes only pleasing him, he roles off then sleeps arrrrrrrrrh

    We both go to church I’ve turned my life around and now living for God and putting God in all I do, I’m just finding it hard cos i’m getting weak about this now, and really need my husband to be by my side maing me happy.
    But I dont see that happening any time soon.

    pls kaap me in your prayers gbu xx

  33. To 200282simone,

    I am lifting you and your husband up in prayer. You stated that you have turned your life around and are going to church, but have you given this situation to God. Have you prayed about it? Have you told GOd how you feel.

    I was once the refuser in our relationship. I didn’t care for how my husband ML to me. I could care less if at times if he even went inside me. I desired to be caressed, and because he didn’t understand that need, I withheld. I could make myself not be turned on. I ignored his signal for desires because when the truth was known, I was terrified of the act. It grossed me out. I didn’t like the dirty feeling of it, and I thought why do it if we can’t have any more children (I can get pregnant easily, but my OBs have discouraged me to not have more because of health reaspns). I didn’t feel I was good enough for my man because I had saved myself for him, and didn’t know how to meet his needs. I though his need was just to get inside me. And I sure didn’t see what the big deal was about him thrusting himself into my body. I had a wrong attitude and I now know that my thinking was all wrong.

    As I seeked God’s Word to be a better wife, I discovered my sexual revolution. I would challenge y’all to do a couple’s devotional study. As y’all draw close to the Lord, and learn to be 100% truthful and honest with one another, you can help each other discover your fears and weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

    Good luck, and may your husband soon discover what a lucky man he is to have a bride who loves him do much.

  34. Thanks for this article. I’ve been married for about 3 years and I’ve become a refuser. I love having sex with my husband but I don’t want to have it so often. For me, twice a week is great, for him, every day or so. I started downright saying no which hurt him a lot. We talked about it and I prayed and tried to work at it. Then I started moving sex to a more convenient time like “in an hour” or “in the evenings after work”. He didn’t like that either because when “the hour” was up, I would not initiate, he would have to initiate having sex again. So now, he decided that if I didn’t initiate sex during the week, I was indirectly refusing him because I was reducing the amount of times we could be together. I don’t initiate sex partly because i’m shy, partly because I don’t feel like having sex and partly because I haven’t gotten over the “good girls don’t do that” syndrome (which i am working on).
    I know I must not deny him my body but I find myself struggling with the feeling that I have no choice, I must have sex with him whenever he wants. I know it’s not all about me but I find myself being angry when he asks or dreading going to bed because he may ask. He is trying to be kind and patient but I can see that it is running thin.

  35. I feel for you two, that’s tough situation to be in. My relationship is the other way around — I’d love to have sex 9 or 10 times a week, minimum, he’d only initiate once a week if I left it up to him. (He teases that I’m payback for his behavior at 15.)

    Something I really appreciate is when he says, “no, I want to hold you on the couch while we read/watch TV/nap,” instead of just refusing. It’s not sex, but it’s contact and affirmation that he likes touching me, and it doesn’t get my hopes (and libido) up only to be dashed the way the “maybe laters” used to. (I *hated* that.) I’m trying to get him to make out with me more often without it being foreplay.

    In regards to feeling shy and pressured, have you considered creating non-verbal cues? Like, if you wear a particular perfume he picked out, that’s you declaring that you want to have sex that day? Or if you see him in a particular pair of socks, that’s him saying that he’s not going to initiate that day, but he’ll say yes if you choose to?

  36. Very interesting article….

  37. I agree. Living with a refuser, and how toxic is it to a marriage is one of the most underrated and burdensome issue’s a marriage can face. It virtually imprisons your spouse. There can and never will be fufillment in not being desired along with nothing to look forward to other than rejection in large bouts of frequency. I think Step 1 should be…. that the spouse or the “refuser” imagine how hurt they would be if they were in place of the person being cast away. This sets the tone for compassion, understanding, and communication which is essential to this being overcome.

    On a flip side……. I feel that being a “refuser” being defined as a “sin” against your partner is a bit inappropriate as well. It sounds more like guilt, and that would draw someone away from the true beauty and clarity of what this article was intended to do. Noone should be made to “feel bad” about being a refuser. It’s far too complicated, and many times a spouse is refusing due to a major issue, and pointing the finger at them will only make matters worse. The key is to be abnormally determined in facing the reasons WHY you have taken the role as the refuser. You need to decide that both you, your spouse, and your marriage is worth its weight in gold.

    DO NOTHING about it…… Now THATS the real sin against your partner. Sometimes nothing speaks laoudly than action. And it may be time to move on. Forgive and heal. When your ready, invest your energy and passion into another person that cherishes and embraces a ‘sexual relationship’ you deserve. The way our creater intended. Sadly, the refuser, is the one now being refused

  38. I wanted to comment here on your belief that it is inappropriate to call sexual refusal of a spouse a sin. The Bible tells us that our body is not our own, but it belongs to our spouse. If we are not giving in our marriage and following God’s word and commands, then we are in sin. So many people don’t like that word, but we didn’t use it first…God did. Yes, it will make the refuser feel bad. I was a refuser, and it made me feel terrible to think that I was sinning against my husband, but it was the truth. Thank the Lord that I have been freed of my sin and forgiven not only by my Father in Heaven, but my husband as well.

    The key to it all is to be sure that you tell the truth in love. Sure, if you slap someone in the face it stings! But if you are gentle with your words and actions, communicate your needs and also make the refuser aware of God’s word and how we are to follow it, the sting is not so great. Sometimes a little guilt isn’t bad…it’s God’s way of allowing a person to know that they have stepped away from his will and his commands, and it helps them to come back to him for help, love and guidance.

  39. I’m Sorry, I may have mis-interpreted your last paragraph.

    “And it may be time to move on. Forgive and heal. When your ready, invest your energy and passion into another person that cherishes and embraces a ‘sexual relationship’ you deserve. ”

    Are you advocating DIVORCE as an option!!!!

  40. Absolutely. I think we should do everything in our power to save our marriage. But if it’s gets to the point where the other party has totally checked out mentally and physically, and you’ve exausted every angle, what other choice do you have? Further reduce yourself to Begging? Like a dog? Be further treated like a “nuisance” for just wanting a deeper and spirtual connection? I’m not advocating divorce. I’m advocating wisdom.

    Wisdom. Wisdom. Wisdom.

    Everything you said is amazing. But I also think times have MAJORLY changed in regards to the bible, especially sexual dysfunction and the causes of sexual dysfunction, and theres a call for flexibility on a case by case basis.

    Maybe I’m taking this all wrong or too “literally”. But, there’s so many reasons as to why one would be a refuser. Sometimes its far deeper than just being shy, and wanting to be a good girl. For example: It could be hormonal, abuse, mood disorders, depression, and literally a plethora of unresolved complex mental and emotional issues that are absorbed from living in the world we live in to chalk it up as an act of “sin” What if thier broken? Are you going to further beat a dead horse with calling to a sin?

    Now, IF someone IS mentally and physically well, and there’s no major issue’s, and the other party is STILL being refused… then yes I think time to perhaps suggest the “D” word. The ugly truth is they no longer value the gift that you are to them. I sure wouldnt want my husband to do something that he didn’t want to do against his will. What’s the point?? Do you want someone to have sex with you, because thier first thought is the guilt of being a “sinner” ? (Cmon, does that even feel right to you? Does that really arouse you?) Shouldnt your mate be driven by what a hot and wonderful and spirtual sexual being you are?

    Think about it… why even marry someone and invest your life, your soul, and all that you are… if it even has to be this constant “struggle” of returning the favor? If your constantly being refused… it seems like more of a “compatibility” issue, more than a “sin” issue. Your mate cant help how they feel. You simply cant force sexual desire and feelings on someone. If you have to sell yourself over and over again, it’s as about as useless as trying to fit a square peg through a circular hole. Only invest into someone that treasues you, who is inspired by you, and your worth, as much as you do them. Find someone who sees sex with you as an honor and godly gift that it is


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