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Wifey Wednesday: When HE Doesn't Want It

Every Wednesday on this blog we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all comment or, better still, write your own Wifey Wednesday post and then link up below!

Today, I want to talk about sex perhaps in a different way. Last fall I spoke at a conference, and they also asked me to give a breakout session on my book, Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight, where I talk about what to do when you're in the mood and he's not.

A bunch of women came up to me and asked if I'd be considering the other point of view--when he's not in the mood. They didn't want to sit through a session, they said, where everybody complained about how high their husband's sex drives were, when for them it was the opposite. So I amended my talk, looked at both perspectives, and I think it was quite informative for all of us.

If you're going through something similar, though, I hope that you understand that you not alone. I know many women who go through this in marriage are often greeted with jeers from their friends--"I wish my husband would give me a break sometimes!". That doesn't help. You feel like a freak because how come everyone else's husband wants sex, and yours doesn't? But you're not a freak.

It used to be that in about 30% of marriages the female had the higher sex drive. We're not sure of the numbers now, but many experts say it's approaching 50%. In some cases, it's simply a physical issue. If he will, get him to talk to the doctor. In others, it's a case of stress at work (or stress of unemployment). If it's stress, find ways to spend more time together, and talk more. Don't try to fix his problem; that can emasculate him. But let him know that you believe in him.

The main culprit of a low male sex drive, though, of course, is pornography. The more men are into pornography, the less they are into sex in real life. It trains the brain to be aroused by an image, and not a relationship, and is extremely destructive. If your husband is into pornography, get help! Talk to a pastor. Talk to a mentor. Visit It's not okay to be a porn addict. It's not harmless. It just isn't.

Let's assume, though, that it's not pornography just for a moment. There's no sexual sin involved per se; it just isn't working for him. Let me suggest something. Often when there is a problem in the marriage it shows up in the bedroom. But because the SYMPTOM is in the bedroom, we often think the SOLUTION is too. So we concentrate on solutions that have to do with sex--buying lingerie, playing risque games, getting toys, trying new things.

In reality, often the solution is found outside the bedroom. Sex embodies our spiritual, emotional, and relational selves. What I often suggest to women whose husband have a low sex drive that isn't due to a physical problem is that you work on your friendship. Spend more time together. Take a walk after dinner. Find a hobby you can enjoy together. Do something that he likes, even if you don't (like watch hockey games) simply so you can be together.

Often couples get into a rut where they spend their lives doing errands and watching TV. That isn't going to help your relationship. If you want to spice things up, don't look at the bedroom. Look at the gym. Or the ice rink. Or the restaurant. Do stuff together. Cultivate a real relationship. Start talking again.

Often this helps you feel connected, and then, even if the sex doesn't always follow, at least you feel more kindly towards each other.

Finally, I'd really recommend that you look at how you talk to your husband. It's amazing how easy it is to undermine our men. I know many good, Christian women who belittle their husbands in public quite a bit without apparently realizing it. When you open up your mouth to say something about your husband to others, make sure it's laudatory. Praise him in some way. If he's telling a story and he's getting it wrong, don't correct him all the time. Let it go. And when you're alone, make sure that you express gratitude as much as you express criticism. Even more. I have known men who have withdrawn sexually simply because they had ceased to feel like men in the relationship. The woman had taken over everything, and she hadn't even realized it.

If sex is an issue in your relationship, then, and it's not an issue of stress of work or a physical problem, look at those three issues: pornography, friendship, and your communication dynamic. Work on them, and you may find that your intimacy gets better! But it doesn't happen overnight. It takes time. And that means it also takes a lot of prayer, too!

What about you? Do you have any thoughts on this? Or do you have marriage advice of a different sort? Why not leave a comment, or write your own post and then enter the link of that post in the Mcklinky!

If you liked this post, you'll love Sheila's audio download: "Protect Your Marriage". We all want strong marriages, but if we don't tend them and protect them, outside influences can easily steal our joy and intimacy. Download it now!


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At 8:19 AM , Blogger Courtney said…

Hubby and I have experienced this in our early months of marriage. For us, I think it was a combination of several things: the stress of having a baby early on in marriage, his new job, moving away from all of our family, our was everything. After spending months and months crying and argueing we finally broke down and started trying to fix things.

It took a lot of prayer and a lot of rebuilding, and we still work on it today. You're right. It took much more than just lingerie and 'spicing things up.' That helped some, but nothing like the quality time we started making for one another and the conversations we had. What a great topic. I'm glad to know that we weren't the only ones to have experienced this.


At 8:56 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

What a great post, Shelia!

This was an issue in the 4-6th year of our marriage. And here is why:
1. Pornography (him)
2. stress of him being in school full time while I was home raising our 2 little ones at home.
3.still learning to communicate with one another.

Thankful, eventually with the grace of God, the porn habit was dealt with (was a long process of healing...not a quick fix!), we learned to deal with the stress of life better and we worked on communicating. It's no longer an issue and we love our intimacy together. I certainly do feel compassion towards woman who are being "rejected" in the bedroom though. Much time has passed but I remember the pain of it all. Much blessing to you all who are right now walking through it. I encourage you to do just that: get through it...there is hope! :)


At 10:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

This has been an ongoing struggle in my marriage.

Stress + erectile dysfunction + infertility = sex as a chore and something to be avoided.

Making the focus of our relationship our friendship has helped a lot -- and me taking the pressure off of our sex life helped the most.

We have three kids now, and you can add sleep deprivation to the above list. But we do make intimacy a priority -- and not just physical intimacy. We don't have a lot of sex -- about twice a month -- but it's good and it works for us!

Thanks for a great post.


At 10:40 AM , Blogger Shana said…

This is something we have struggled with also. We went through the sex is a chore also because of PCOS and Infertility but we finally overcame that. then we went through it because of having a child in bed with us. Right now we are going through it but we are working together on this issue and trying to strengthen our relationship through God and each of us is working on it. We haven't ever dealt with porn issue thank God. I do have a habit of correcting him. I am working really hard and trying to be a more submissive Christian wife. It is hard for me because I have a lot of trust issues because of abuse I suffered and a child and teen but I am so thankful he loves me like he does. We have been together for 15 years and married 9 and a half years now.


At 8:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Ditto on the PCOS and infertility, which was just so incredibly stressful, followed by my experiencing postpartum psychosis after our youngest was born (big reason she's the youngest). We've had some huge stresses in our marriage so far. Most of the problem, though, is just physical. He has health problems that have made sex a consistent problem. He's had various medications that have caused problems with everything from libido to erectile dysfunction. Unfortunately, I have a very active libido, which probably would have put us out of balance with each other even without his health problems.

It's been very difficult at times. There are days when I just want to cry and I ache so badly for him to desire me or regard me with passion. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm married to a whole person, not just a body, and that I love him and want to be with him regardless of this problem.

What I find most difficult about it is struggling to find a way to control my desires so that I don't fall into temptation. I have to be very careful about what I watch, listen to, and read. I keep other men at arm's length and don't let myself have male friends. I'm too physically lonely and too vulnerable to take chances in this area. (Which is also frustrating, since I thought I wouldn't have to deal with this type of problem once I got married. There are times I feel as frustrated and lonely as I did when I was single.)


At 8:56 PM , Blogger sarahe said…

This is such a devastating issue for women to go through--my husband and I struggled with this a LOT during the first year of our marriage. Thankfully i had a good friend (who got married on the same day)who also had the same issue w/her husband at first in their marriage so we were able to help each other through it. It really messes with you as a woman though b/c our culture in constantly drilling into our heads how much men are obsessed with sex and when your husband isn't you feel like less of a woman.

I'm not sure exactly what happened, but my husband pursues me in that way now and it really makes all the difference! We still don't "do it" as much as some people but we've found a good balance for us. For our relationship, I think a lot of it came down to me allowing him to lead and not being overly aggressive in that way.

In general, I think sex is hard for Christian women b/c we have these high and often unrealistic expectations of what it should look like, and many christian women are too embarrassed to discuss it so it never gets fixed. Being able to openly and honestly discuss sex both with your spouse and with a close female friend is so helpful.


At 4:26 PM , Anonymous Robin said…

My man reads my blog, so no post on this and I was super busy yesterday, so I am late. Also, I've been on a blog break lately due to a surgery and Christmas...etc

In the early days, we were both equally "needy". Then stress set in. BIG time. Now, he is tired and stressed a lot. He is also in school again.

He says that it's not that he doesn't want to. I think his tiredness just takes over. For me, it doesn't matter how tired I am...or anything else.

He wants me to initiate more. But I am SO self-conscious and due to baggage that still plagues me from my childhood, initiating does not come easy for me. Plus, then I just feel like he's doing it for me, not b/c he wanted to.

From the length of these comments, I think you hit a nerve for several of us.

Thank you for this post!


At 4:30 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Hi Robin (and all):

I think I did hit a nerve! Thanks for commenting, everybody. I know it's a difficult subject.

Unfortunately sex is one of those things that impacts the rest of our lives, too. Robin said her baggage makes initiating hard; others say that they're really battling temptation now. It is a rough road, isn't it?

I don't have easy answers, except to say that God is always there with you. I hope this becomes a safe place to talk about these things (even if you do have to do so anonymously!)


At 4:10 PM , Blogger Joanne Sher said…

With my hubby, it's a health issue. He has a variety of medical issues and is on QUITE a few medications. This has been going on a while, and I'm sure it's also partly "being out of the habit."
But God is SO good - things have begun picking up a bit.

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Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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