SEX: What If You Just Don't Want To?

Got a question (What to do with low libido/low "want to"?) from a friend, and here's what I wrote in response...


I'm just gonna ramble. Hopefully some of this will help you or someone else.

[First of all, I'd like to frame this in terms of what you like for your husband to do for you. For example, if you like him to talk, give you gifts, go shopping with you on Saturday, attend special events together, etc.... whatever it is... first, frame this question in terms of that, "what if he just didn't want to?" Hopefully, his love for you would compel him to work through his "not liking it" so that he can learn to love you in ways that speak love to you. So, as a wife, whether we "want to" or not is actually a side issue.]

WHAT TO DO
Just say yes. And tell him you'll just say yes. Don't say no or beg off ever again.

When you're 85, I don't think you'll ever look back and say, "Wow, I wish we hadn't have connected THAT time. That sure did stink to kiss and hang out nekkid together. That sure was awful to reconnect and refuel in the midst of our busy lives." But I'd bet many a widow DOES look back and wonder why she ever turned that precious man down. Even when he was imperfect (which is ALWAYS). So, don't turn him down. That's a big step, but a GREAT one.

Meet this need for your husband. LOVE HIM the way you'd want him to LISTEN to you. And then, over time, let him know how much it helps you to be heard, or how much it helps you if he'll just x, y, or z. But frankly, don't expect him to change. He may not. We can only change ourselves.

Biblically, and WONDERFULLY, you're the gal. You're the one person that can rightly meet his needs in this area. (And if you don't, then you're disobeying 1 Cor. 7--perhaps unintentionally, but nonetheless, still disobeying.) AND that's the way God intended it-- for OUR good, individually and as a "one flesh" unit, and for HIS glory.

GOD MADE IT THIS WAY
You know how all these boys (I call them boys because that's what they act like) who are 25-35 sit around addicted to video games? And porn? Studies have shown that the neurons and chemicals in their brain that fire are the SAME ones that fire off during making love. The very things that GOD built into their biology to bond them to their wives are bonding them to the computer screen or TV screen. GOD intended this great action to get your husband to be WILD about you. To connect him to you. To give him an AWESOME physical motivation to keep -- and HONOR -- that covenant. Take advantage of that beautiful plan and connect with your husband.

It's been said that women make love after they feel emotionally connected, and men make love TO feel emotionally connected. It's not always true, 100% across the board, but it IS true for the majorities of both men and women. So that helps me remember, that it's really NOT just a physical release he is looking for-- he wants to know we're OK, he wants things to BE OK between us. For me, I need to talk it out. For him, connecting physically lets him know that things ARE "OK" between us.

IT AIN'T JUST FOR HIM-- IT'S FOR YOU TOO!
Another amazing thing that I've found is that the more we do it, the more I want to do it. It's like a fire that needs tending... if I let the coals burn out, it takes a lot longer the next time to get things heated back up and cooking. So, the thing I need to do is "cook" often enough that the coals don't ever get cold. When we regularly tend the fire, it never goes out. But if we do it and then wait a while and then do it again, it seems like such a duty, such a chore.

Also (I'm really going off here, but I haven't blogged all summer, can you tell?!), practice marital hedonism. Just like God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him, seeking our joy and delight in HIM alone... our husbands are most delighted when they know we are so delighted by them. Don't be afraid to let loose and have a rip-roaring good time... to take real pleasure and delight in the bedroom activities you get to share with your husband. He'll love it! God gave us women all those sensitive nerve endings for EXACTLY that purpose!

Interestingly, the media has just reported about a study that shows that optimal sex only takes 3-13 minutes. We make time for everything else in the world-- three to thirteen minutes ain't NOTHIN.

A SIMPLE CHOICE
But besides all that, I guess, for me, what it comes down to is a simple choice: I made a vow to love and honor and cherish this man ... and I want to do it -- not begrudgingly, not because I feel obligated, not because I took the right vitamin to balance things out in my body (although if there is something, then take it!)... but because I LOVE HIM AND HE IS GOD'S PRECIOUS GIFT TO ME. AND THE BIBLE SAYS THAT MY BODY IS HIS BODY-- AND PRAISE GOD, HE WANTS MY BODY-- STRETCHMARKED AND LUMPY THOUGH I MAY THINK IT IS. HE WANTS IT!

This is one area of our marriage that I absolutely focus on... it's not perfect, and it's not what everyone else may desire-- but I really focus in on what HE desires, and I revel in that. Out of all the stuff that takes up our time, our husband is the #1 human being on our list... we're to help him and serve him. It's not popular, but it's true.

We have this fun, laughter-inducing, amazing way to help and love and serve our husbands. Praise God for such a great, creative gift! Let's put it to good use.

81 comments:

CarynB said...

Hi Jess,

I can't remember how I came across your blog exactly, but somehow the Lord brought me here and I see that we are quite likeminded. 8-) Loved your post. I've linked to your blog from mine so feel free to stop by sometime and say hi.
Blessings,
Caryn
www.5andgrowing.blogspot.com

Karen said...

Great advice!
...and appropriately given, too. I appreciate that.
Your husband is blessed.
As is mine!
;)

Mom Of Es said...

Jess -
I love your honesty, and I love the fact that I know I can come to your blog and read things that I need to hear.

There were two things in this post that really got my attention. First, was when you addressed the issue of not "wanting to". I had never thought of this in that way. There are tons of things my husband will do with me just because he knows that I enjoy them. It is certainly not his idea of fun to spend hours at the library! :-) If I ask him to do something with me, whether it is window shopping or taking the kids on a playdate, it is a very rare occasion for him to say no.

The second thing that you mentioned that caught my ear was when you spoke of a widow missing her husband. My husband has had some scary near-accidents at work in the last couple of months, and that has brought my mind to thinking of what it would be like to not have him in my life. I don't want to have regrets in the way I have been a partner to my husband.

Thanks for another great post!

Anne

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jess.

Always good for me to be reminded of this as its something I struggle with :(

You describe my husband very well - he WANTS me to WANT him - those are his words. You are right, he wants to make sure things are okay between us. Believe it or not, my OB gave me this same talk last March when I went in for my yearly - she said "does he empty the dishwasher for you, watch the kids so you can take a bath, etc. I bet he doesn't want to......." you get the idea.

Thanks again!

Jen

Cat said...

Okay, I'm ready to jump to put this into action...too bad hubby is deployed! ;)

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have run into difficulty in this matter.

Sometimes, I experience pain. I've seen a doctor about this, but it might be worth revisiting.

Also, I'm about six months pregnant right now. It's difficult to find a workable position, ya know?

Despite our issues, I don't want my husband to feel neglected. So, we try to be physically intimate in other ways during this time.

-Anon, simply due to the subject matter :)

Polly said...

I totally, completely, 300% agree. In nearly 9 years of marriage I have declined my husband's (frequent) advances ONCE and it was for an extraordinarily good, and unusual reason. My policy is to say yes every time--even when I don't feel particularly attractive, or I'm tired, or I've had a rough day. it really doesn't take *that* long (as you point out!) and it reaps rewards in our relationship far, far greater than the time invested.

I honestly believe this is one reason we still have a very physical, healthy, close, happy marriage...even with a baby, and even after close to a decade of marriage. Nothing can replace that intimacy!

Ansia said...

Hi there!

I have been reading you blog for a little while now and always come away challenged. Thanks for that. This is yet another post that has got me thinking.

Just a quick question. We are parents to 3 little ones very close in age and there are nights when I get very little sleep. At the moment I have got 2 sick children and I am getting about 2 hours sleep on average. So my issue is not that I don't want to, but that I am truely exhausted.
Is it ok then to say no, not tonight? If so how do I do so gracefully so that he knows it is not him, that we are ok, but that I NEED to get some sleep.

Hope you have got an answer, because my darling husband is a wonderful partner, father and friend who does many, many things not just because he wants to.

Thanks

Ansia

Tammy L said...

Jess, what a great post! I totally agree with all that you said! Sex between a husband and wife is fun, free, and has tons of health benefits... I know my husband feels like he's extra special to me because he gets as much from me as he wants, and I never, ever have to wonder if his eyes wander -- I keep him that "full". :) Always saying "yes" (and initiating frequently as well!) has blessed our marriage. :)

I think this topic isn't talked about often enough.

Allena said...

I agree with you totally! I don't think i've ever told my DH no in the 9+ years we've been married. Thanks for the reminder b/c i know I do need to check my additude during my period b/c i don't always feel pretty, or loveable at that point in the month. We do other things then but it takes me a while to "warm up" so to speak. I will def be thinking about your analogy then.

ps you didn't sound like you were rambling.

Laura said...

Can I just say, on behalf of single ladies like myself who read this blog: THANK YOU. Thank you for discussing marital intimacy with discretion and tact as well as candor and obvious joy and delight, in a way that gives me something to anticipate without adding to the struggle of not-right-now-but-maybe-someday. It's not often (or... ever...) that I come across a frank discussion of sexuality in marriage that actually encourages my personal purity (and doesn't encourage bitterness), but this is it, girl.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

I hope you don't mind if I keep this anonymous due to the sensitivity of the topic.

I loved this post; thanks for posting it :) I think I have totally bought into the worldly idea that beauty means tall, thin, blonde, leggy... so much so that I just DO NOT believe my husband when he tells me I am beautiful. I look in the mirror and I just don't see it!!

I find it such a mood-killer, trying to figure out what he sees in me; why can I not just revel in the joy he gets from my body?

It is just one more way that a marriage is like Christ's love for the church, His love for us even with all our faults and imperfections. Even with all my physical imperfections, my stretch marks, my cellulite :) my husband loves me anyway!! It is so amazing.

Anyway, all that to say, this post was a great encouragement.

Miss Marian May said...

As a bride-to-be (and another ten months between now and the wedding day), this isn't a problem that I have...

BUT someday it could be. And it's something that I should be prepared for when things aren't quite as...honeymoon-y anymore because that day will come, and it's nice to be able to keep that little nugget o' wisdom at the back of my mind.

Rachael said...

Hi Jess! I just found your blog today through a friend's blog. I LOVE this! A good friend and I are actually getting ready to lead a small group through our church called, "Intimate Issues". We are studying a book by the same title that talks about sex in marriage and specifically addresses issues like your post talks about. My friend and I have noticed that this particular topic comes up sooo many times when we have "mom's nights out". Thanks for blogging about this! It's really not talked about enough. :) :) Do you mind if I post it on my blog? www.themontgomeryfam.blogspot.com

I won't post until I hear back from you. :)

Sharon said...

While I agree that a wife shouldn't give her husband the cold shoulder all the time, I can't agree that she should NEVER say no. I think having sex when you don't feel like it is a MUCH MUCH harder favor than your husband emptying the dishwasher or going shopping. I know if I'm not in the mood for sex, it can actually hurt.

If you're having sex when you don't feel like it, do you pretend that you do feel like it? I don't think my husband would want me to do it when I really don't want to and pretend that everything is great. I don't understand how that can help my marriage. I'm sure he'd much rather wait for a time when I'm truly in the mood.

dkt said...

Thank you so much for this post.

I've been so convicted about this lately...it was good to get a good edefying, kick in the pants! :-)

Jess said...

Rachael,
Post away! :) I'd be glad to "say" this to more women!
Jess

Tanya said...

"Marital hedonism"....woohoo...LOVE it....what a great term!

Great post Jess.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Dear Jess, thank you for addressing this very important issue once again. It's crucial to not just say "yes", but to do so lovingly, enthusiastically, and very, very encouragingly.

Some men might be satisfied with just a "yes". Others, and I hope it's not too far-fetched an assumption on my part, need to feel wanted. We women talk a great deal about our emotional needs, but we don't often acknowledge how emotionally vulnerable a man can be, in a situation when he wants and needs intimacy, when he needs to be wholly and lovingly accepted, but is refused or accepted only grudgingly.

This may lead, eventually, to alienation and, I believe, even problems of sexual function. Not all men are always "ready for action". Some may just lose this zeal after they are rejected, or accepted less than enthusiastically a number of times.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post. What advice can you offer women who face the opposite problem? I feel like I have to practically BEG my husband to be intimate with me. (This started within a few years of getting married.) It's so frustrating, not to mention what it does to my self-esteem.

Anonymous said...

What are your credentials for giving marital advice? Why do you assume it's always the husband that has a higher sex drive than the wife? Why do you assume that husband's don't want to go shopping or spend time talking with their wives? What would you say if the wife "wanted to" and the husband didn't? Have you asked men what they think of having their wives offer up sex like it is some kind of dreary obligation? What would you advise a wife to do if she is not able to achieve satisfaction within the 3-13 minute window of time? I guess this is a failing on her part. Should she fake it, or just mentally rehearse her to-do list for the following day so as not to waste precious time

This post is extremely offensive, in appropriate, and out-of-line. You have no business telling anyone what to do in the bedroom.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jess! Just curious if you could define "marital hedonism" (if you don't want to publically that's cool). I think I get it based on the rest of that paragraph - I guess what I'm saying is does anything go? I too am keeping this anonymous, just because of the sensitivity of my question!

Amity said...

Thank you for this!! This is an area I struggle with. Mainly because Hubby gets home late on a daily basis and I still have to get up early. But really I could find a better way with dealing with those issues (maybe taking a nap during the day??). Also I have not been very good with getting the 2 youngest children to go to bed at a certain time every night...we (or I) let them stay up till they just fall asleep (NOT good). So sometimes we are "waiting" for the kiddos to fall asleep...which in turn results in me being tired, him being frusterated and crabby kids. I am REALLY going to work at getting the kids to go to bed at a decent hour and on trying to not say no.
Again thank you for this I really needed to hear it...although I KNOW it..sometimes I just need someone to say "hey, this is how it is supposed to be".

Anonymous said...

This is good advice, for those whose husbands actually have the desire.

Unfortunately for wives like me, it only reinforces how painful it is to have a husband who rebuffs any physical intimacy.

Two years and counting...

Anonymous said...

I do not understand how any woman can actually enjoy having sex. I ask myself the question of being 85 and looking back and all I can see is being glad for all the times I didn't do it. I just don't understand how a woman can feel loved when a man is using her body for his pleasure. And to hear it compared to washing dishes makes me think that it really is a chore.

Is there anyone else who views it that way - who doesn't feel loved during, who doesn't enjoy it? I have tried to be as unattractice as I can hoping to discourage advances so when he still acts interested, I'm convinced it isn't because he finds me attractive, but simply because he wants to do "it." Which only perpetuates my belief that it isn't about love at all.

If it were about love, then why do people who aren't in love do it?

Laura

Jessica said...

This is a great reminder for women...something I have to remind myself of as well (and not to do it out of duty). Thanks for posting this...it's funny, edifying, and what more people in the Christian community should be talking about--I mean, God did invent sex, right? ; )

- Jessica

Jessica said...

Thank you so much for the refreshing post! What you said was biblical, it needs to be said, and so often it isn't.

I would like to chime in if I may...In answer to Ansia, who asked a question about honestly being too tired with young children. I have 4 kids less than 5 years apart, so I don't get much sleep either. I know, it can be hard to "feel" like it. But even if you don't feel like it, take these 15 minutes with your husband. It is only 15 minutes, and it will really help him. Talk to him (honestly, respectfully, and NOT when you are in the bedroom or just after he has asked) about how tired you are. Don't complain, just be open with him. But when he asks, give him what he needs. Not that he would, but remind yourself that you don't want him to be tempted to get these needs met elsewhere. You are helping him by keeping him out of temptation. He has needs, and I know you want to be the one to fulfill those for him. :-)

As for how to help you, figure out what you can do for yourself, like taking a nap during the day. Remember, this is a season that will end (sleep will come again, someday!), and when this season ends, you want your love life to be as alive as ever. So don't let it die right now.

Deb Burton said...

Hi Jess, I also just found your blog today, and what a blessing! For those couples who have children, there's another aspect to this. When the kids see that mom and dad are still romantic, even after several (many?) years of marriage, this is a healthy teaching of respect and love for them. The kids still tease my husband and I about the time I broke my toe because he was chasing me around the house! After 12 years of marriage! Yes, sometimes love hurts.... :D

Anonymous said...

I, too, will keep this anonymous as I think this is a very private subject.

Because of numerous health problems on my part, and raising children, and being tired alot...etc. etc. etc....and because my husband is very busy with his job and we have very little time to connect and be alone...unfortunately ...we come together maybe once a month at the most. Other than that, our marriage is ideal. He is a wonderful husband and father, and I am honored to be his wife.

I have hated the fact that we have gotten used to this, and have wanted to change things. My children are older now, and I am starting to look for ways to serve my husband in this way. It's hard to break a "habit" of the way things are, but I know that our marriage could be even better than it is. Reading your posts on this does remind me of how important it is, and to see it in the right perspective.

I think that, for the most part, you handle this subject in a very discreet fashion, and I appreciate that. It's okay to talk about these things, but I think there is a fine line there as it is a private and personal thing.

good job.

Meghan said...

I'm a first time commenter, long time sporadic lurker. :) Thanks for such a great post! Good to see you back from the summer, as well :)

Meghan

mrs. thomas said...

Jess

I started reading your blog through Terry and Lylah and I must say that today you are dead on. I am a newly wed ( 3 months yesterday!!!!) I am also 9 weeks preggos and sicker than a dog and I miss being intimate with my husband. today you have inspired me to push through the nausea and hormones and pray for the strength to give my husband what is rightfully his. He has been so wonderful and you have just made me realize a potiential mistake I could be making in my marrige! Thanks so much!

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Interesting. Good post!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it is hard to remind myself that my husband is a gift
from God. Recently though after a personal loss, my husband showed me such compassion that afterwards I had a heartfelt need to connect with my him. This coincides what you wrote.
Thanks for the reminder that God gave me the gift of my husband.
anon

Jess said...

Anonymous #1,
RE: PAIN
Yes, I'd definitely see a doctor about it and revisit it, if it were me in your shoes.


To all of you who walked away encouraged, I'm glad!


Sharon,
I see your point, to a point... but I think sex is different than doing the dishes in that I may not be "in the mood" to start with, but I can GET in the mood as things progress. With the dishes, they just need doing done, even if I have a scowl on my face the whole time. I'm certainly NOT suggesting that we just paint a smile on our faces and "do it". I'm suggesting that, more often than not, we need to follow the principle that feelings follow action. And I'm NOT talking about abusive marriages or that sort of thing. I'm talking about normal, Christian marriages that get battered and worn down by the business of life.



Anna,
You're absolutely right about truly desiring our husbands.


Anonymous #2,
I hear from so many women who "want it" more than their husbands. The answer is a difficult one... and I am no expert, but from those friends that I have who have been through this sort of thing... prayer is the biggest combatant. Pray that his desire will increase. Pray that he will see a doctor to perhaps handle any imbalances. And sometimes (I've seen it happen), changes will happen.

But sometimes they don't. I know it can be so discouraging and do such a number on a woman's self-esteem. I don't have any great words of wisdom except that God is sufficient and nothing is impossible for Him.


Anonymous #3,
My "credentials" aren't anything special, if you're looking for degrees. But I'm a wife and mother and a woman striving to know God. I read His Word and I like to learn about this particular subject and encourage women in it.

I don't assume that men have the higher sex drives. That is often the case, but certainly not always. I do, however, write to women and not to men. I have no business teaching men about this particular thing. I don't believe my post is offensive, inappropriate, or out-of-line. But if you think so, then you can certainly feel free to not read any more of my future (or past) posts on this subject.

I don't claim to be an expert. Just a woman trying to help and encourage other women to love their husbands, so that the word of God won't be blasphemed, like Titus 2 says.


Anonymous #4,
Hedonism is, essentially, seeking one's own pleasure. I'm not saying that it's no-holds-barred in the bedroom as long as we're satisfied... what I AM saying is that many men are more satisfied knowing that their wives are feeling pleasure- so there's value in being hedonistic in that sense. I've addressed what I believe is biblically OK and not in other posts (see the "Being Sexy for Your Husband" link in the sidebar).


Laura,
I think you may have written before. If not, you sound like many other women I hear from from time to time. I'm so sorry that sex is such a clearly painful and denigrating experience for you. I would strongly encourage you to seek biblical counseling so that you might see sexual intimacy as God intended.


Thanks to everyone for the insightful and transparent comments! This has been a good discussion so far!
~Jess

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, Jess.
I'm going to be married next year, and I always feel that I benefit so much from your posts about marriage. Through this blog, I think you're living out the command to teach younger women.
Thanks so much for passing on your wisdom, even when you face criticism for it sometimes.
- (another) Jess.

Carolyn said...

Just be careful not to tar all men with the same brush - much as none of us would like to be stereotyped and overlooked as individuals, neither do men. Having said that, certainly this post is good food for thought, no matter what your opinion or view on it.

Laura - I hear you. I love my husband but I don't desire him. We had a particulary bad patch a few years ago but through communicating and compromise we are now at a place where we are both content, and can both reach some degree of satisfaction, if not sexually through sex, at least affectionately. I hope you can do the same. My heart goes out to you.

Laura said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I found your article through Biblical Womanhood. Oh and my husband thanks you too!! :)

Kim said...

Jess,
I like to peak in on your blog from time to time. Your latest topic is something my husband and I have discussed before and we would agree totalyy with your comments.
I recently told my husband about a couple that agreed to have sex daily for 101 days. They had a very positive experience and were both surprised at how it made a good marriage even better. My husband posted this secular article to me today which talks about the couple:


http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/09/05/health/webmd/main4421065.shtml
Thought you might find it interesting.
Keep up the good work!
-Kim

Mrs. Anna T said...

Laura said:

"I do not understand how any woman can actually enjoy having sex. I just don't understand how a woman can feel loved when a man is using her body for his pleasure."

Laura, I certainly believe NO woman can feel loved when she knows she is simply being used. However, sex does not - must not, in fact - be this way. I'll venture far enough to say that when I'm together with my husband, the first thing he cares about is MY comfort and pleasure. He wants me to desire him, and wouldn't be the least bit interested in a situation when I just grit my teeth and "bear it". Without pleasing me, the majority of pleasure and fun is lost for him as well.

That's why I make my best effort to get "in the mood" - which is sometimes a challenge when you're pregnant and ill. I remember times when I planned a romantic night for my husband and I, and ended up diving into the toilet or kitchen sink with a hand over my face - right in front of him!

Laura, I understand not all men are like my wonderful, treasured, gentle, loving, tender, appreciative, caring, sweet and romantic husband. However, I believe this is how godly men should treat their wives: focusing on THEIR needs, while the wives in turn focus on their husbands' needs. Pleasing each other is the true joy in married intimacy. Of course, since Jess here writes to women and for women, she chose to focus on the aspect of us meeting our husbands' needs.

If you are married, I will second what Jess said: solid, godly counseling together with your husband can be a good option. If you aren't married, it can still be an option for you, to help you obtain a healthier view of sexuality.

God meant for us to "become one flesh". He intended for this intimate union to be pure joy and blessing for BOTH husbands and wives. When it becomes linked to suffering, you know something is wrong.

Anonymous said...

Another person keeping it anonymous due to subject matter...

To those whose husbands don't desire sex, I offer up our testimony to hopefully encourage you.

When my husband was young, he was sexually abused (Yes, it does happen to guys - at a higher frequency than we think...it goes unnoticed and unreported in the "statistics" because many boys - my husband being one of them - do not report it).

Needless to say, he and I had absolutely no problem waiting until we were married to have sex! Unbeknownst to me at the time, the sex act pretty much repulsed him. It was not ME that repulsed him at all - he actually assumed that once we got married, he would be fine and that he would not have any problems in the desire area.

Fast forward 4-5 years later...he is still not loving it any better, and does not really understand why. It took about a year of counseling for him to make the connection between why he did not enjoy sex, and how he could learn TO enjoy it.

There were a few things that we needed to change in our sex life - a few things he asked me to do (and a few that he asked me NOT to do, things that would "trigger" a bad memory of what he'd gone through).

We also had a discussion about what "having sex regularly" meant to us, and set our OWN standards and guidelines - not worrying about how often other people were having it - and stopped comparing our marriage to other people's (Since when is it "okay" to compare and contrast your sex life with other people, anyway?). The Bible does not give us a specific guideline as to how often we are supposed to be having sex, but it DOES say that we are not to deprive each other. So we do need to come to an agreement with our spouses.

We have been married for 10 years now, and although things are not absolutely "perfect" yet, they have gotten about 300% better. And things are only going to keep getting better!!

I am not saying that every man who has a low sex drive has been sexually abused - but I did want to share our story to let you know there is hope.

Keep praying - ask the Lord to give you insight as to why your husband has a low sex drive, and (if he WON'T seek help), ask God to show you ways that you can support him and improve things.

I am living proof that some of these stories really do have a happy ending!!

Ticia said...

I knew that you would get some nasty comments as I have read other blogs that have touched on this subject.
I just wanted to tell you that I thought you handled all of them with dignity and thoughtfulness.
Leticia

Laura said...

(Jess, I hope this is alright. I'm a newbie, but this has been weighing on my heart today.)

From one Laura to another... you said: "I have tried to be as unattractive as I can hoping to discourage advances so when he still acts interested, I'm convinced it isn't because he finds me attractive, but simply because he wants to do "it." Which only perpetuates my belief that it isn't about love at all. If it were about love, then why do people who aren't in love do it?"

First of all, dear sister, people who aren't in love have sex because every part of our humanity is impacted by sin. People desire their own pleasure more than the will of God, and they think by taking intimacy outside its proper place (the marriage bed), they can have their cake and eat it too. But God's plan for Christian marriage is to redeem human sexuality and return it to the beautiful expression of oneness he created it to be!

And, my friend, I think that you are beating yourself at your own game. You seem convinced already that your husband is just using you for the "release" he gets from you -- a demeaning thought, to be sure. But then you work hard to make yourself unattractive to a man you love, and who loves you (I presume). If he shows his "interest," you interpret that, not as a husband longing to express his love for his wife, but as more "using," which just re-affirms what you already believed -- that it was never about love to begin with. Do you see how self-defeating this cycle is?

I hurt for you, I can sense how hurt you must be to express such hopelessness in your marriage. And so my question is: Do you agree with the Lord when he says that, "He who finds a wife finds a good thing?" Do you believe that you are that good thing, that beautiful gift God himself gave to your husband?

I pray that you will take the sisterly counsel of Jess and others, and seek the help and encouragement of an advisor or counselor. Please don't be afraid or ashamed -- God designed us to live out our faith in community with other believers, and you can find peace in Christ as you work through your pain together with those who have gone before you.

I am praying for you, dear sister, and am confident that Christ who conquered death can bring hope and joy to you more and more each day.

Emily Kay said...

Jess-you are truly awesome. I know you are not blogging this stuff to win the approval of man(or women, in this case), but I just have to say, "you go girl":).
Thankyou for blogging about biblical sexuality. What a breath of fresh air! And, I praise God for His sovernity. This is something that I am struggling with right now. It may be a hormonal thing...I am 8 weeks post partum. I had REALLY bad tearing with this(my 3rd) birth. I think I am just scared to get back into it or something. Plus, I feel pretty lumpy right now. I still have about 15 pounds to lose. But, my sweet husband is still wild about me. I guess I should appreciate that more, huh? You know, I still feel pretty 'mushy' about him, too! This post came at a perfect time for me. I think we, as godly wives, need to take this as a challenge. No more 'begging off'! Jess, I could use some accountability on this, though. Any thoughts? Thankyou so much for posting this. I can't wait to put in into action ;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder and encouragement.

One thing I'd add, mostly as a reminder to myself, is to initiate sex myself sometimes. My husband loves it (he feels sexy and wanted) and it makes me feel sexy too!

Another Jess

Anonymous said...

Jess,
I'm just wondering, do you ever have times when you don't want to do it?
I mean, I know you've been practising this "not saying no" thing for a while now. So, would you say that has completely changed your attitude to sex, or do you still have times where you are only doing it for the sake of your husband?
-anon.

Jess said...

Latest Anonymous,
I normally would not answer this kind of question, as it is intensely personal. But I also want to be transparent.

I will say this: my thinking has changed. Whereas I used to think, "but... (I'm tired; it's been a long day; we just did it last night; etc.)", those kinds of excuses don't come into my mind now. At first, they continued to... but over a little while of changing my thinking on this (no longer saying no; preparing my heart to not only respond to but to actually desire and pursue intimacy), sex becomes the norm. I don't know if I can explain this right, but intimate times no longer are an interruption or something to fit in-- they are an expected, normal, and even delightfully anticipated part of marriage.

For me, the key is to ditch all the cultural baggage and mindset that's so often brought to the marriage bed (from TV, movies, perhaps inherited family attitudes growing up, etc.) and instead look to your husband. What does he need? What does he crave? What blesses him? How can you be a part of that? And then change your mindset, actions, and expectations based on his needs. For probably a strong majority of men, that will mean more frequent and more fun/carefree times of intimacy.

Please know that I'm speaking from norms based on what I read and what my friends share. If your marriage or your husband doesn't fit this "goal" of not saying no, feel free to drop kick my advice straight out the nearest window. :) Hope this helps give you a little more insight into how this can change a woman's perspective.
~Jess

Jess said...

Emily Kay,
I'm glad it was encouraging and timely for you. E-mail me @ makinghome@pobox.com and I can share with you one option for accountability and encouragement in this area.
~Jess

erica said...

Thanks for this post. I found it very encouraging and also a great challenge. If I may add to your very wise advice, I would say to those who are having a hard time wanting too, to pray, every day for your husband and that God would give you a desire for your husband. I try to take some time every morning to thank God for my husband, naming all of his amazing attributes, and then asking God to increase my desire for intimacy with my husband. This makes such a difference! Our God hears our prayers!

Anonymous said...

i wasn't going to comment because so many already have but i think my comment might help anonymous.

i too seem to "want it" more than my husband. we have been married 3 years and it has been a struggle almost all of them. i feel rejected when he turns me down. even if it is because he is exhausted, i still let my mind tell me it is because i am not pretty enough. however, i think that sometimes i would initiate out of the feeling that we hadn't done it in awhile so i better initiate so he didn't ge his kicks somewhere else. well, it turns out he was. he wasn't cheating on me with another woman physically but he was struggling in the shower with himself. (get my drift?) i also found out he was sometimes looking at images on the computer. i was heart broken, feeling like i wasn't enough yet again. i was so mad but the Lord helped me love him anyway and support him through it. we sought out Godly counsel from our pastor who is also a close friend and now my husband meets with him weekly. he has not done anything to himself in 3 months, a record for himself he tells me. sometimes i still have a hard time when he is too tired but it is way less often.

i guess what i am trying to say throughout all this rambling is that there was something behind my husband's lack of desire for sex. he felt guilty that he had already pleasured himself that morning and didn't want to face me that night in bed. it is still hard and i still sometimes have a hard time believing him that he has not done it in 3 months but i have to because i can't drive myself crazy like that. also, when you pray, the Lord works. we can't nag our husbands into change, only God can. i hope this helps someone out there.

n

Bethany Hudson said...

I find it almost funny that so many women today consistently turn their husbands away from sexual intimacy. In many cultures, notably Ancient Greece and Rome, it was women who were seen as the sexual ones, while men were viewed as being too cerebral to be too fanatic about love making. Thank for sharing this wise and very timely advice.
~Bethany

taralynn819 said...

Wow, there are a lot of comments, and I don't have time to read them all, but here's my thing.

I can say yes till I'm blue in the face, but if I don't feel that "magical feeling" that he feels, he knows I'm not into it, even though I try hard to get into it. I actually enjoy him rubbing my back more than anything, but for him it is not enough for me to enjoy just that. How can you enjoy something in a way that you don't know how to enjoy except for "helping" yourself? He never gets me there and we've tried everything.

So yes isn't the only answer. My husband knows when I say yes and my body says no, and he gets frustrated in the moment and then I feel like I have ruined yet another "moment". So now I am overall frustrated and feel hopeless.

So, what about those of us who regularly say yes mentally and emotionally, but cannot follow through completely with the physical?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. I, too, struggle with this and it really is a help to know that others are "with" me, too. Due to the extremely personal comment here, I am being another "Anon". I have never voiced this to any other human, so I'm taking the chance of explaining myself and asking for prayer, all the while keeping my self unknown (for God knows who I am). :0)

I don't know why, but I've "lost" my desire. Not for my husband,for I adore him! But for sex itself. I haven't had the desire since I became pregnant with my 5th child. And he is now 8 months old. I have been very serious about not using this as a reason to say "no" to him. But it is still something that bothers me. I've never struggled with this before, not even through any of the other pregnancies.

I'll be honest here. I don't get fulfillment easy (meaning it takes much longer for me than it does for him) and so I have come to dread that part. I don't dread giving him pleasure, that I adore and look forward to! But it takes so long for me to get that pleasure ... it makes me feel so bad for him. It's not him that has the problem, though. It's me. I know this. He desires ME (and after 8+ years of marriage, I still haven't figured out WHY!).

Because it takes me so long, sometimes I have impure thoughts running through my head, to help "get me in the mood", so to speak. I have prayed and prayed for the ability to keep my mind clean. And when I am successful with that, it takes me even longer! I am totally at loss of what to do!! Maybe I'm subconsciously trying to avoid all this conflict within myself, and so I've sabotaged my desire for sex? I don't know. I just know that I'm really struggling with this and I'm tired of feeling like I'm cheating on my husband, that while having intimate relations with him, I'm having these impure thoughts! I could really use your prayers for me! Or any suggestions!

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Laura,

Wow! Your response stirred up some things in me I haven’t felt in a long time! I have totally been in your shoes. How I wish I could give you a hug. There were times in our marriage that I grinned it and beared it because I thought that was what God wanted me to do. Afterwards, I found myself in the restroom with dry heaves because I felt so used. I tried everything I could to keep him from asking me to do it. I knew I was not to withhold from him so instead of just saying no I pretended to be asleep, went to bed earlier or later than him and withheld all affection because that seemed to get him fired up. I love(d) my husband but I did NOT understand his need for sex. The more I read about the male sex drive the more I found it to be animalistic and completely unemotional. I thought that sex was nothing but a way to meet the need for a physical release. I thought that my husband would be just as happy having sex with a stranger as he would with me. I thought the only reason he chased me around the house was because I was the only one he was permitted to have sex with. Why doesn’t he just take care of it himself? They say boys/men do that all the time. It was so selfish to ask me to do this repulsive thing!

It was obvious to me that he was frustrated and even disappointed. After a while, he even came out and told me so. Then my feelings of inadequacy made things worse. It wasn’t until my husband confronted me in tears that I realized I was breaking his heart. I didn’t know what to do. I really wanted my husband to be happy but I didn’t know how to change my feelings. I begged God to give me a sexual desire that matched his. It never came. I bought every Christian book on sex I could find. One in particular really spoke to me. It’s called Solomon on Sex. I don’t know how accurate this interpretation of the Song of Solomon is but I certainly got the picture. God intended for us to ENJOY sex. The wall I built was starting to crack. We had many more nights where we were both in tears. These are actually the only times I’ve seen my husband cry. It was in these conversations that my husband made it clear how inadequate HE felt. It wasn’t just a sexual release for him or he COULD take care of it himself. He wanted to “rock MY world.” This is a way he could express his love for me. And no, he didn’t want to do it with me because I was the only one he was allowed to do it with. The fact that sex was reserved for our marriage made it special. It was a special gift that only we could share. When I said I’d never say no, so that his needs would be met, he said that the physical release was not his primary need. He needed the intimacy that love making brings. He wanted me to want him. Just like me, he wants to be loved and needed! This was SO hard for me to understand. All my life, I’d seen women treated as sexual objects. It was reinforced on tv and everywhere. I assumed my husband saw me the same way.

Laura and my other friends, don’t put your assumptions about men on your husbands. He loves you. If he only wanted you for sex, he probably would have left you by now. He loves YOU! All of you! Do you know why he wants you even when you let yourself go? Because he loves you for who you are and he doesn’t care if you’re skinny or fat. He just wants to love you in a way that only he can. It’s a way that should be treasured. He’d appreciate it if you’d love him this way too.

I beg you to do what you need to do to change your attitude. Pray about it. Read about it (I also recommend Intimacy Issues). Get counseling. Talk openly to your husband. I can tell you that it feels sooooo much better to enjoy sex than to dread it. And you won’t believe it, but you actually can draw emotional AND physical pleasure from the experience. But you have to let down your wall. You have to trust your husband.

We’ve been married 12 years and we have 4 children age 8 and younger. I still struggle to keep loving my husband a priority. And that’s what I am going to call it, loving my husband, because “sex” brings up animalistic connotations with me. I am so appreciative of women like Jess who encourage me to strive to make this area of my life better. I need it! I still haven’t received much of a sex drive. But I have learned to enjoy sex most of the time. I certainly don’t resent my husband’s desires anymore. In fact, it would break my heart if he didn’t want me in that way anymore. I am working on being more aggressive and initiating. It’s uncomfortable for me but I know the more I do it the more comfortable I’ll get. Hang in there, girl! I am praying for you. I am proud of you for being so honest. That was a big deal!

Nancy

Laura said...

Latest anonymous... if you are married and fantasizing about your husband, there is nothing wrong and everything right about that. As a single gal, I can't WAIT for the day when God says it's right and good for me to daydream that way.

Anonymous said...

Follow up from "Laura" -

I appreciate all the comments that have been left for me, even if I don't take your advice, your thoughtfulness does mean a lot to me.

The thing is, I don't want to want sex. I know that many have suggested counseling. I don't want to "get better." Imagine if you saw couples punching each other in the face and calling it "making love." They all told you how great it felt and how close it made them feel toward each other. You are standing there in amazement that people are hurting themselves and are actually proclaiming it is love! That would be ridiculous.

Now take it one step further. Imagine only the husband is punching his wife and telling her he is doing it to show his love for her, that he wants to bring her pleasure by punching her in the face. And the wife is actually believing that it is a loving act to be beaten up!

That is how I see sex. It is like a man violently punching his wife over and over again and then telling her he only does it because he wants to show how much he loves her. It is just sick and I will not allow myself to be convinced that being hurt will make me feel closer to a person who would want to abuse me and call it love.

I have prayed that my husband would lose his desire so that I can feel safe in our marriage. I have been angry at God for creating such a disgusting way to bring children into the world. I am scared and angry that one day my daughters will be married and have to endure a man "loving" them in such a violent and ugly way.

I'm sorry if my comment sounds stupid or "funny" to some of you. I don't know where else to express these feelings.

I'm hoping for a miracle.

Laura

Jessica said...

Wonderful post! I really needed this today!

Rebecca said...

Laura you may not want counseling but you need it. You need to understand why you feel this way. Is intercourse painful? There are ways to overcome this. Have you discussed this with your husband? Have you never desired sex? All of those things need to be discussed in a safe and secure way with a Christian counselor that has training with sexual issues. Even if you never have sex again do you really WANT to poison the minds of your daughters against it? Please, Please seek help from someone trained in sex therapy.

Jess said...

Laura,
Your comments display all the more why you need to seek biblical counseling, and more importantly than that, counsel yourself biblically about this issue. When I read your comments, it is clear that you are not coming from a biblical perspective at all. It sounds like you are coming from the perspective of one who has been molested or raped. Whether you realize it or not, your perspective is not accurate at all... nor is it biblical. I am so sorry for the way you have been so hurt and discouraged by intimacy. What you have experienced and believed is not at all what God would have us experience and believe about His incredible gift.

Jess

Anonymous said...

Let me just add to anyone out there that if sex is physically painful for you, there are ways that your doctor can help you. On rare occasions, the hymen does NOT break the first, second, or 23rd time that you have intercourse, and your doctor may have to manually break it for you. This can cause discomfort.

Another myth is that KY Jelly and other lubricants are only for post-menopausal women, and that younger women shouldn't need it (and that there's something wrong with you if you do!). It's actually more common among younger women than you'd think, so go for it!!

I definitely agree with Jess and all the other posters who say that if sex is not desirable for you for whatever reason - physically or emotionally - you need to get professional help. This is something that God has created for us, not only to reproduce, but to express our love to our spouses.


Remember, "The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but I (Jesus) have come that you might have life, and more abundantly." [John 10:10]

Anonymous said...

Laura-

I think it is incredibly selfish of you to put your personal problems off on your daughters. Just because you believe all heterosexual sex is akin to rape, doesn't mean that your daughters should feel that way. I see you as no different that a deaf person that wants their children to be deaf or a homosexual who wants homosexual children. You need to deal with your issues instead of saying that everyone else is wrong. Satan is winning because you believe that your body is your own, but you were bought at a price and you are not your own. We are called to serve others. We are called to be slaves. Anyone who loves self more than God is not worthy of God. The Bible specifically says that husband and wife are not to deny each other physically. That is what the God who purchased you says.

Tara said...

Wow what a subject. I will admit in first reading your post I was slightly irritated lol Only because its not as easy as it sounds at times. Because, in theory, its wonderful lol but when a woman doesn't "feel" like it well we don't. Having children also changes things.. our bodies aren't the same our desires aren't the same. There are many things we do through out our days that are an act of duty. Making beds, laundry, dinner, bathing the kids, ect.. then when it comes to intimate things.. to look at it as if you have to respond out of duty I would rather wait until I actually wanted to and it be genuine then to act out of duty. We (women) all know its not fun or comfortable when you physically aren't not in the mood. lol Ok perhaps this is too much info. lol I am not angry or anything.. I understand what the Bible says about marriage and its roles. I will give your post some thought..just had to share my opinion. :) Thanks for sharing your views.

Jess said...

Tara, I think our culture teaches us to make a lot of excuses, but I just don't see the biblical validity for that.

I'm certainly not advocating sucking it up and "taking one for the team", operating out of duty rather than delight. I'm trying to remind us of our commitment to our husband in marriage, and what the Bible says about that commitment... and how THAT should motivate us to look on this with delight rather than duty. When we look at this act NOT as something to get out of, or to "be in the mood for" but rather-- to be something that is normal and good and healthy... I think it changes the whole perspective.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous -

I already know that I'm a horrible person. I don't need to hear it from you. I have not put my personal issues off on my children. These are fears and thoughts I have inside and I try with all my might to make sure my children do not hear me say such things. How dare you assume that I want to hurt my children. I love my children very much, more than life itself.

I never said sex was akin to rape. I tried to use the analogy of being punched in the face to illustrate how badly the act makes me feel. Not physical pain, but emotional pain. And no, I have never been raped or molested. Just told way too many times I was loved by men who only said it because they wanted to sleep with me.

I never said everyone else is wrong. I just don't understand how the majority of women can enjoy sex. It's like being in a country where you don't speak the language. Very lonely and frustrating.

I open up on this blog because it's the only place I know to say these things and to hear what godly women have to say. I know enought that, even though I don't want to hear it, it is the truth. And perhaps, through some miracle, someday it will make sense to me.

But hearing harsh, ungracius comments like yours make me question whether this is a safe place.

Laura

Anonymous said...

Laura,

Honey it sounds like you have been sexually abused in your past and present. It sounds as if you have never witnessed what a healthy relationship looks like. Were you abused as a child? Is your husband physically abusive during sex? If so, know that that is not normal or healthy. It is not what God intended at all! Please, please, for the sake of your personal safety and that of your daughters, please get help. What he has done to you is not ok! God loves you and desires for you to have a healthy, happy marriage relationship. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 that
Love is patient, love is kind. it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. Love never fails. God created sex to be a wonderful expression of that love, but Satan has perverted it. Don't let him lie to you anymore. There are many resources available to women who are in abusive relationships. Please go get help. You deserve better and so do your daughters.

Mrs. P said...

Hi, this is for the Laura who is hurting. Are you in an arranged marriage or did you choose your husband of your own volition? Either way, if there is some sort of abuse going on, then your first priority os your health and your life. God does not want us to be a punching bag for anybody. If that is the case, go to your family or a womens shelter immediately. If your husband is not abusing you (and his wanting sex isn't abuse dear) hen you've got to find the strength and courage to go to God and ask him to help you with your intimacy issues. I'm not blaming you my dear. Somethinghas obviously happened to you to make you feel the way you do. But if you will not or cannot get counseling (that would be my first suggestion) then please go to a trusted older woman, perhaps pastor's wife? and talk to someone about it. Above all though, spend time in prayer. God is faithful and He loves and cares about your wellbeing. Be blessed my dear.

Praise and Coffee said...

Great post!! I do a lot on marriage and family too...how did I not find you sooner???

Blessings,
Sue

Anonymous said...

Jess, thanks for being brave enough to post this! :) Regular reader here but anonymous for discretion.

I think you are right on! I wonder if many women consider the effect of their rejection on their husbands. How does a man feel if his wife considers his wanting physical intimacy to be disgusting or piggish? It's almost as if some women use their husband's as "sperm donors" and then expect them to live the rest of their lives as celibate monks. Nice.

I also wonder if sometimes it's exaggerated expectations that lead to bad feelings about it. For us it's never been candles and perfumes and heady romance. Just a quiet, comfortable, sweet way to reconnect at the end of the day. Rarely earthshaking. Just *nice*. Because neither of us expects earthshaking, neither of us ends up bitter or disappointed if it doesn't happen that way. I will say though, in case it helps anyone else, that doing the kegel exercises like crazy to prevent a prolapse after my third baby had surprising but wonderful side-effects. :p

To Laura--I don't think you are a bad person. I do think though that instead of being angry with God for not lining up with you, you should work on lining up with *Him*, on this issue as with everything else. God created sex and in his eyes it is not disgusting but something wonderful. I am sad for you and sad for your husband that you have such a horrible view of physical intimacy. Just because people misuse it does not mean that it is inherently bad.
Here's my analogy--a well-kept fire in a safe fireplace is cozy, warm and beautiful. For thousands of years fire was essential for the survival of humankind, in fact. It is a good thing. The fact that a bad person can take fire and burn down a house or kill people with it does not make fire inherently evil. That label belongs on the arsonist, not on the fire. Likewise, because men used you for sex does not make sex bad. Those *men* were bad. Direct your anger at them, not at the beautiful thing they misused and degraded.
I hope you find some healing.

Dr. M. said...

As a man looking at this, it seems clear to me that Laura is a victim of the sexual revolution. I used to watch the same kind of guys in college that she undoubtedly encountered when she was younger. We called them 'players'. Every weekend they had a new 'flame' they'd woo to the bedroom, usually successfully. It was sinful and disgusting on the men's part, quite frankly, which is undoubtedly why she feels this way about the marriage privilege now. I don't know what to tell Laura to do about the emotional scars she has from that. What I hope she can take from this, though, is that most of us men aren't like that. True, most of us do struggle with lust (it must be part of our punishment for original sin...women have their own set of problems that we generally don't struggle with as much...jealousy and gossip come to mind), but the 'players' accounted for only a (very active) minority. That sort of behavior was damaging to them in the long run too, btw.

When it comes to our wives, however, marital relations is a VERY emotional experience for us. As an example, just the other day I was mad at my wife about something...that night she initiated, and you know what? all my annoyance with her melted away completely in that act. Women don't realize this because we don't talk about it ('too emotional' :-) ) In fact, I'm telling you about this now, but I never said a thing to her about it.
The same is true with a denial. Although you may have a good reason for it, we can't help but take it personally regardless. There is nothing more emotionally damaging to a husband than to be turned down on a regular basis.

Mrs. Anna T said...

"And no, I have never been raped or molested. Just told way too many times I was loved by men who only said it because they wanted to sleep with me."

Well, THAT - despite what our rotten culture teaches - is a form of socially acceptable *sexual abuse*, which hurts women no less than rape. Even more than rape - because it's alright to be upset after you are raped, but wishy-washy to feel the same when you are taken advantage of.

What you mentioned happened to me once. Just ONCE, and it took me years to get over it. Years when I thought I would never be able to have sex again. Getting married was a huge plunge for me!

What helped was simply reading God's plan. Did God say sex was to be painful, or joyful? Obviously to me, *I* was the one off the mark, not God. God's Word serves like a compass, and He "heals the broken-hearted, and binds up their wounds".

Spiritually sound counseling with a rebbetzin, and every bit of honesty with my wonderful husband, created an incredible change in my life. I know the same can happen for you, because nothing is beyond Him.

Mrs. P said...

It's amazing the amount of discussion this post has generated, but I really hope it helps a lot of people. I know it's helped me :)
I wanted to mention a post I read on another website that I thought might help Laura and others. It's a story about hate and what it can do to a person. The context isn't marital intimacy, but I think that the underlying emotions are exactly the same. If you are interested, please go to www.sidroth.org. There is a tab at the top on the right that says "articles and more". Click that tab and you'll see a list down the left side. If you click on "They thought for themselves" Ch. 3 has a story about a woman, Rose Price, who had a lot of negative emotion and how she dealt with it. Hope it blesses you!!
Be blessed everyone!!

Anonymous said...

Laura,

I am sorry some of the comments seem harsh. Please don’t let them stop you from expressing yourself here and wherever else you need to. It takes a lot of courage to share your feelings and I am proud of you for doing it. I remember the first time I expressed my feelings. I was in love with my husband to be. I knew there were issues physically. My husband could sense it to. I told him that since we were planning to wait, it was just a defense mechanism. I hoped that was true but I knew it was more. I called the local Christian counseling place. I asked them if I got counseling would my insurance cover it and if so would my parents find out. I was on my parents plan at the time. She said yes they would. The poor secretary asked me what I needed counseling for. Boy did she get an ear full! I balled and balled on the phone. Well counseling wasn’t an option. Later on I wrote my husband to be a letter. I didn’t go in to detail. I couldn’t. I just told him I had been hurt and I didn’t want it to affect our relationship. When he asked me about it later, I told him I wasn’t ready to tell him anything else. Over the years I have been able to tell him a little more. Please remember that you are not the only one who feels or has felt the way you do. My question for you is why do you want to stay this way? I know it seems safer and easier to stay in this world you have created for yourself, but the truth is you are in a lot of pain. You don’t have to live in this pain! I really believe that you are under emotional and possibly spiritual bondage. Break Free! John 8:32 says “you shall know the truth and the truth will make you free!” Cry out to God and don’t stop till you get right! Get into counseling if that’s what you need. Maybe marital counseling would be appropriate. Maybe you’d feel more comfortable talking to a mature woman in your church. Surround yourself with God’s word and Christian books on the subject. Please talk to your husband. He can help you understand how he really feels about you and sex. If not for yourself and not for your husband, do it for your girls. Don’t you want them to see men as God sees them? It is not wrong for you to feel the way you do. You were hurt and your response is a natural defense mechanism. However, I do believe it is wrong for you to do nothing to change. Your attitude toward your husband is unbiblical and therefore sinful. We both know your attitude toward him is not going to change until you get some healing. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it. Please let us know how you are doing. I’ll be praying for you.

With love,
Nancy

Anonymous said...

This is a great post, Jess, and I thank you for speaking aobut it.

I have a few thoughts to post.
First, to Laura...
Your posts have grabbed my heart and I will be praying for you.
I first want to say to you that I think that it is a great and awseome thing that you have worked to get help and to try to understand the truth about this subject, and I am sure there are others... You are to be commended for your guts and grit. Not everyone in your position can make the choice that you are making to push for answers in this area.

I wish that I could give you a hug, so consider yourself hugged from a friend! :)

I would like to encourage you to keep on keeping on in your search. You sound like a seeker of truth, even though you have endurded great pain. Keep seeking. There are answers to your questions and pain. There is freedom for you. God is no respecter of persons, meaning He doesn't have favorites. Others have been set free from this and other worse things.

You describe your world as a lonely one. My heart breaks for you. You have been stolen from in a hidious way.

But you have hit on the key, I think when you said that you know that the TRUTH is different than the way you feel about it. (I paraphrased your statement, but I think that is what you meant...?) I believe that you will get your miracle. If you keep hanging onto the truth that God's way is true, right and good even if you don't understand it, you are on the road to healing!!! Keep ahold of that, even as you wrestle with everything else, and you WILL come through this. What the enemy has stolen from you, God will restore as you continue on.

I do not think that your analogy is strange or funny. I understand it perfectly. Not from experience, but I do understand what you are trying to say. What is supposed to communicate love to you only communicates pain, horrible pain. And then to see some saying things like "Isn't this horrible pain a wonderful gift?!" I can imagine the strangeness of that. :-)

I will be praying for you to have healing and revelation from the Lord. His love and truth is the only thing that will break the lies of Satan. For it is only evil that holds you in this state. I hope that this doesn't sound easy or trite. I am very serious.

One more thought to share on the issue of wanting to or not...
I have been preggo 6 times in the past 8 years. (2 were miscarried) I have also dealt with severe morning sickness. I do not want to sound like it is always easy, but I have usually found it to be possible to have sex. Sometimes I do not enjoy it to the level that I would in a different state phyically, but I have learned one thing as a wife. My mind has more to do with how I feel about how things feel than how things really feel. Does that make sense? I am not talking about psyching myself or something, but if I choose to rejoice, I can really rejoice. As I choose to honor God and His word, and truly open my heart toward my dh, then something happens. Times that I think I am going to have to tell dh that I just can't turn into an awesome good time, or at least something more pleasurable than I thought it was going to be! :)

Last thought...

Those who have dealt with a dh with less drive than you...

I have dealt with this in my marriage from day one. I came into my marriage ready to be "all the wife he can handle"...and I was shocked, hurt and angry at how little it seemed that he wanted me. I wanted to scream and lash out at him. I cried when he didn't know. As a new wife I realized that I had a choice. Demand or serve. Oh, yes. You can serve in the place of not 'doing it.' I prayed for him and asked God to use me to minister to my new dh in the way that He wanted me to. It was the hardest thing that I have ever done.

I still don't totally understand all that God did during tht time. But I am pleased to report that things are not that way anymore. :) We have a very open and loving relationship and I praise God for it.

I would encourage anyone dealing with something like this, or any other issue to pray. Walk in the Spirit, not the flesh. Don't reason with your mind. Follow the principles of the kingdom. Lay down your life, serve, and find the joy waiting for you in what seemed like misery. Easy? No. Possible with God's help. Totally.

Thanks, Jess for all you do!

A Wife Still Learning

Anonymous said...

I usually have my blogger ID on when I comment. But with what I am going to say, I wish to remain anon. I hope my comment is not too offensive.

A few years ago my husband and I had some serious marital problems. He never cheated on me, but things were very rocky for us. I am ashamed to admit that a went online and chatted with other men during this time, most of which were married men. These men seldom connected with their wives sexually and were searching for a substitute. I also got "together" with two married men during this time. I am so extremely ashamed now of how my behavior was.

Today my husband and I are happily married. We've had to go through alot in the mean time, but we've worked it out.

All of this to say that many men who do not get it from their wives DO search for other women. I am living proof of that!

Lizzie

Stacie said...

Hi Jess! I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about your blog. I came across it yesterday while searching for info about intimacy in marriage. I have struggled with this the entire 4 years I have been married. I thought that my desire NOT to have sex was more important than his desire to have sex. Boy, was I wrong. I look forward to participating in your blog and learning how to be a godly wife in this area. Lord, I'm ready to obey!

By the way, my church is starting a sermon series on "Making your marriage sizzle". If anyone lives in the area, please accept this as my invitation to come. If not, you can listen to the sermons online or download them to your iPod. God has given my preacher the gift of being an incredible speaker and I'm sure it will be worth listening to!

http://www.newhorizonchurch.tv/

A. Moose said...

Hello Jess,

I'm a husband who has been begging for a passionate, affectionate marriage relationship with my wife for nearly seven years.

I don't want to stray and I do need sexual expression as a person.

My wife went through a long period of putting me down and insulting me because I needed intimacy in marriage.

She worked with a CHRISTIAN marriage counselor who taught her that sexual intimacy was really an optional feature of marriage, a shared treat that some couples could partake in if they both felt like it.

She taught my wife that during extremely long periods without intimacy (lasting multiple months for example), there was no moral reason for my wife to share intimacy. Any dissatisfaction on my part was my fault and that the full burden should be placed on me to deal more "maturely" with "my own" disappointed wishes.

The involvement of the counselor actually increased the division and strife in our marriage as she taught and enabled my wife to refuse intimacy for however long.

There was absolutely nothing of the sort going on but the counselor decided to spend one meeting suggesting that maybe lack of intimacy was really because maybe I was having an affair. (Again there was nothing of that sort going on at all.)

This "Christian" counselor seemed to be much more influenced by her feminism and her secular schooling (sometimes anti-Biblical in my experience) than by the faith.

The consequences have been that spiritual sharing, emotional intimacy, and tenderness in the marriage have been completely and utterly destroyed.

Over seven years I have been programmed not to notice or be attracted to my wife.

I have also been programmed not to draw near to my wife emotionally because when we did (in the past) draw close emotionally that closeness was almost never celebrated and consummated with physical union but instead ended with forced abstinence (and sometimes insults and conflict going along with the physical rejection.)

Now of course there are some scientific studies that show married people who have generous sharing of sexual intimacy are healthier; womens' sexual response and even hormone regulation work better with generous (frequent) lovemaking; men are less prone to heart-attack, and so on... not to mention consequences on the relationship.

I'm writing in part because I'm sad about what happened in this marriage. I experience longings for a completely different marriage - one that is emotionally close and in which my wife shares natural affections with me.

I'm writing in part to warn you about so-called Christian counselors who defy Biblical teaching because (for example) they think they have something more "modern" and "better."

And, I'm writing to share with you that I personally think you're moving along a good track with your posts (this and a few others I read).

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post, but it was thought provoking. I had to say to Laura, I know how you feel.
Before that sounds trite or you are thinking yeah right, but I hated sex.
I did not reject my husband, but gritted my teeth and cried through it at times. I do not do that anymore most of the time, it is rare and I have actually gotten to enjoy it, but it has taken years.
For me actually pregnancy caused me problems with this area.
I still think sex is incredibly disgusting and I have trained myself to not think about it deeply and enjoy it. When I do not have feelings for it, I am honest with my husband, but we still do it. He likes it when I want it, but otherwise it is better to be honest then pretend you love it. Anyhow, hopefully this gives you hope that if you keep trying, you can learn to enjoy it. -I am sorry for not signing my name, but because of the subject...

Anonymous said...

As a husband, I'm writing to mention just how much PAIN can be caused by a wife when she rejects affectionate union in the marriage (as a pattern of behavior).

I have read numerous writings by men who have been in this situation. Some examples of impact on a husband include these: The marriage relationship can feel like it is afflicted by a kind of horrendous cancerous sickness which is destroying love and affection. A man can feel deeply personally rejected by his wife .... who he expected would love him and make love with him to express her love and acceptance of him. A husband can feel that his wife has no tenderness or human compassion because she has little or no understanding of his need for human kindness, generosity, tenderness, and affectionate touch in the sexual relationship with his own wife. Men can feel that the marriage relationship has been sorely violated, commitment has been broken, and the vows / covenants have been broken. (i.e. consistently rejecting a relationship that you had vowed to participate in!!)

These are only a few of the long list of very painful impacts. There are many impacts because rejection of intimacy touches a husband's heart in many, many ways. Again, I will say that the emotional pain for a husband in a sexually depriving marriage can be excruciating.

If your husband has been reasonably well-intentioned and acting in good faith and intends to stay sexually faithful in the marriage, then sexual rejection of him is NOT a minor issue: it is a RELATIONSHIP issue of the highest possible order of magnitude. (You vowed to be mates!)

If you're a married woman and are having trouble understanding the strength of the impact on him, try this exercise: think about how many women would feel severely violated if he had a sexual affair? Are the feelings very, very strong on this issue? Now - that is how seriously he feels about being rejected within the marriage.

There are many research studies that have shown negative health consequences of sexual deprivation or health benefits to both husbands AND WIVES that come from regular generous sexual sharing.

(I am referring to the research because some people may be motivated by these points, but really the Biblical instruction on how to conduct the marriage doesn't need research to have authority.)

Please, I would urge, do not take this issue lightly.

Now, I turn thoughts to the very saddening situation of women who perceive sexual expression in marriage as negative; who think of or experience marital union as disgusting, bad, negative, or even "abusive".

The women describe their own strong negative feelings (which is very sad), but yet there is loss to the husband as well. What kind of impact is there on a husband's heart for his wife to think and talk of him as "disgusting" because he is a male? Did he anticipate acceptance and kindness and warmth from his wife when he married?

I pray for healing to come into these heart-breaking and heart-wrenching situations!

For those who are not yet married, and for those who are involved in giving counsel to people considering marriage, I have one more idea:

I suggest that culturally we may be so focused on "romantic love" and "emotions" in our society that we don't like to think of marriage as fundamentally a sexual relationship. Consequently we don't take the commitment very seriously. This seems ironic when we refer to our culture as "over-sexualized" but I think it is still true in spite of the seeming irony.

I discover wives who seem "surprised" that their husbands expected the marriage to be sexually active.

I discover wives who think of intimacy as optional and "icing on the cake" and are disgusted to consider the sexual nature of marriage (as fundamental to the relationship). They are quickly forgetting that they didn't marry a woman -- for some reason they specifically chose to marry a male.

We expect guys to remain faithful but we make guys feel guilty or crass for believing that marriage includes a commitment by the couple to walk in sexual intimacy. (I think) young men in our culture are placed under a great deal of shame and false guilt for wanting sexuality to exist within the marriage and we are not doing them any favors this way.

In view of the deeply serious problems that people experience in this part of life, and in view of the problems I've mentioned, I think that unmarried and those who counsel unmarried may need to be far more BLUNT, DIRECT, and PRACTICAL about marriage as a committed sexual partnership.

Everyone likes to refer to Dr. Kevin Lehman about emotional preludes to sexual sharing and husbands starting intimacy by dish-washing. But this very same man wrote this: "If you don't plan on having sex with your spouse two to three times a week for the rest of your life, DON'T GET MARRIED." (My capitalization and my best memory of punctuation.)

Who quotes Dr. Lehman on that second idea? I think maybe we should start quoting him in pre-marital counseling classes.

In the case of single women who view sexual expression as disgusting or who view men as disgusting, or "animalistic", ... I don't think these woman should be marrying a man. Not until those beliefs and emotions have been resolved. (For example, what you are doing to tell a man you love him and yet believe internally that his being made by God as a male is disgusting? How could you be taking vows to be sexually involved with him while simultaneously thinking that sexuality is bad and disgusting and that once married you will try your best to avoid it at all costs?)

In the case of counselors, I might urge steps aimed to create fewer devastating, problem marriages:

(a) consider quoting Dr. Lehman -- ensure couples understand that they are committing to walk together as sexual partners and mates for their spouse.

(b) ASK couples hard questions about their commitment to active sexuality in the marriage .... this may seem unnecessary when a couple is looking at one another with starry eyes, but the sad reality of tragically marred married couples says differently.

(c) Educate, educate, educate, keeping in mind that many single young women may disregard and minimize the sexual commitment involved in marriage and meanwhile many young men may feel pressured or shamed into not discussing this issue seriously to find out how their prospective MATE really views this issue. Other young men may assume that their wife will not turn out be one of the rejecting wives after the vows have been exchanged. This means that you (the one giving advice) may have to be the one who is blunt and who helps address sex as a commitment. You may have to help the couple un-cover differences in their level of commitment and help them resolve their differences before those differences slam into the marriage.

(d) For a single who has experienced past childhood abuse, perhaps ask them to commit to a QUALITY Christ-focused counselor starting before and continuing during the marriage? My underlying thought here is that a marriage with a previously abused person is going to need the extra help and commitment to bless the marriage should be demonstrated and arranged early. The person who has been abused and who is unable to accept QUALITY counseling is almost certainly still wounded in ways that will make a marriage extremely difficult. (Regrettably some counselors are really bad (even certain Christian ones) but that does not disqualify the point I'm making.)

The overall idea for unmarried and their counselors is to be very realistic about sexuality in marriage, very committed to active sexual partnership as a pre-requisite, and thereby help to "head off" very deep problems in marriages later. Perhaps by being attentive, we can help younger people who are nearing the point of entering into marriages ... and have a positive impact on a generation or more of marriages to come.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous above wrote that "sex isn't about love"; the words seemed to convey bitterness, anger, and possibly disappointment.

Here's one way I have thought of this issue:

As a woman or a man,

1. Our CAPACITY for sexual expression, involvement, and enjoyment, and our DESIRE for sexual enjoyment and expression are facets of who we ourselves are. It is totally correct to say that these attributes are not all about how wonderful our spouse is or how much we love our spouse. These were built into us by God and we were probably aware of them before we ever met our spouse.

2. Our choice to ENTRUST A CERTAIN PERSON with our capacity for sexual relationship, to give ourselves to a certain person, to share our sexual capacity with one person exclusively, to be intimate with and to give rise to children together and to raise a family, and to remain faithful to that one person .... these things are about love of our spouse and trust in the relationship.

I hope that this reflection is helpful and constructive.

One more thought is that it seems women are often looking for marital intimacy to be all about how much he loves her. What seems forgotten and neglected is to make make marital intimacy about how much she loves him. (Her outward and active expression of love.) I don't know but wonder how many women have wounded themselves and report complaints in this area because they have made marital intimacy about getting love from him instead of loving him.

Anonymous said...

I'm a new reader who is going through your year review. This comment "I find it almost funny that so many women today consistently turn their husbands away from sexual intimacy. In many cultures, notably Ancient Greece and Rome, it was women who were seen as the sexual ones, while men were viewed as being too cerebral to be too fanatic about love making. Thank for sharing this wise and very timely advice." struck me as funny.

I doubt the sexual desire levels of men haven't changed. The men of Ancient Rome and Greece had PLENTY of sex on their minds. It was just with each other. All depictions of women from that time were created by these same "intellectual" men, who usually had very negative ideas about women. Not exactly something to be making a comparison to in regard to intimate relations today. Just a though.

Love this blog!

Ansia said...

Dear Jess,

I somehow stumbled on you blog many moons ago and have been slowly digging through it. I read this post about 6 months ago and decided that I too will change my attitude to sex in our marriage and just start to say yes. What a blessing!

I lost my husband last week. He was only 32 and we had been married for just 7 years. I have cried many tears but I have not once cried about the kind of marriage we had, as ours was a happy one. And my greatest memory is that I did not say no when he approced me the night before the accident. You are right, you do not regret saying yes, rather those times together have been a source of encouragement.

Thanks for Godly advice.

Jess said...

Ansia,
Thank you so much for sharing your story here. I'm so sorry for your loss.
~Jess