Withholding Sex, Is It Really That Bad?

28 Aug

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Okay ladies, this post may not be what you were looking to read today, but I feel like I need to address some of these issues.   See, Gerad has been getting a lot of comments over on mission:husband from husbands who aren’t satisfied with their sex lives and feel like their wife couldn’t care less.

Here’s an anonymous email:

Like many marriages, I have a stronger physical desire than my wife. Nothing new there. However, I don’t feel like I put out much pressure toward this. Sure, it is important to me, but I know she needs her space, so many times I let my desires fall by the wayside. Likewise, I am disappointed when I am turned down, which happens most of the time, but I also don’t request it that much (our frequency is around once every 10 days or so). Here’s the problem. My wife recently revealed to me that my desires for her “make me feel like a prostitute” (said with obvious disdain), and that “that is all you need me for”. I love my wife. She is a great person. I do all she asks, provide for what she needs, listen when she needs someone to talk to, and never lay out any requirements for what she needs to do or help me with. However, now I am mostly paralyzed to inaction to the point that I have lost desire for my wife. How can she feel this way? What am I not doing right?

I feel like I can address this because as I was reading this comment my heart broke for the couple, but also, because Gerad could have written that a year or two ago.  I was causing him so much pain and had no idea.  My views on sex in marriage were skewed. I grew up in the “don’t have sex until you get married, at all costs” camp.  Not a bad place to be, but I didn’t have anyone tell me how great it could be in marriage.  I mean I had the normal, “just wait, it’s so great,” comments, but no one really spoke into my life and told me how great it really is, and how important it is, and how much work it is. 

I started our marriage off like every other couple who don’t have sex until they get married, we had a lot of sex. Then life happened and I began to buy the lies.  I didn’t feel like having sex, I didn’t want to tonight and I tried my best to be loving in my rejection.  I didn’t understand why Gerad wanted or needed it all the time.  I bought the lie that says guys are just pigs, they don’t really need sex this often, it’s just their way of fooling us women,” 

I felt like if I was expected to “just give it to him” every 3 days or so because “my body is not my own.”  I didn’t know why didn’t he have to go without when I didn’t feel like having sex then.  I started to get frustrated with certain preachers on the topic of sex because I didn’t want to HAVE to give Gerad sex.  I was tired, I was working full-time, taking care of a 1-year-old at work, keeping a house etc.  You know, life.  Fast forward a year, I was a stay at home mom with 2 kids, under 3 trying to potty train one and clean the house while chasing the other. 

I NEVER wanted to have sex.  I still expected Gerad to meet each and every one of my needs, I certainly made sure he knew if he wasn’t meeting my needs in the way I expected, and it wasn’t usually in the nicest way.  I expected conversation, help around the house and with the kids, and if he even looked at me before that was done, I was irritated that he didn’t care that I wasn’t in the mood and therefore didn’t care about me. 

I started reading some marriage books on sex, hoping they might let me off the hook, they never did.  I started reading Is That All He Thinks About? How to Enjoy Great Sex with Your Husband by Marla Taviano at the recommendation of One Flesh Marriage. This book definitely didn’t let me off the hook, at first it really kinda irritated me.  For some reason I kept reading and it changed everything!

In reference to a man’s heart she says,

It’s give and take.  We women give to a lot of people, but when it comes to our husbands, we often just take. And harp and complain when we think they’re not giving enough. “He’s just using me for sex,” we whine self-righteously.  And what are we using him for? A wedding ring? His sperm? …

OUCH!  I read this and saw myself in her paragraph.  I was the whiner, the complainer, the one who thought all my husband wanted was sex all the time. 

Okay, so you wonder if sex is really a “NEED” for him?  He just wants it to feel connected and for physical release you say? Here’s her reply

Whether or not sex is an actual ‘need’ for a guy is beside the point.  It sure feels like a need to him, and when we willingly meet that need for our husbands, they become very grateful indeed.

Ok, here’s my take on what she says, it may sound harsh but its the reality I’ve come to live with: I AM SELFISH! Utterly and immensely SELFISH!  I wanted to control when we had sex according to how I ‘feel’. 

I didn’t change overnight, it took time.  It wasn’t easy, I had to sacrifice, to choose to put Gerad above me.  I had to learn how God created him different from me, not poorly or needy, just different.  I began to look at Gerad the way God created him and to praise and appreciate the masculinity in him instead of trying to take it away and make him my girlfriend.  (You know, cuddle on the couch, listen to my day and then watch a girly movie with me, maybe have some ice cream and then go to bed type of girlfriend.  Sounds like a teenage girl sleepover to me.  Definitely not the way God wants me to see my husband.) I need to see him as the masculine figure God wants created him to be.  In turn, he treats and pursues me the way God desires for him to.

I belong to my lover, and his desire is for me.
Song of Solomon 7:10

May her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.
Proverbs 5:19

I’m pretty sure my husband can’t be intoxicated with my love if we have sex once a week, or month … I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be satisfied if we only had sex when I feel like it.  I have had to learn it’s not all about me.  Sometimes I wish it was, but it’s not.  And the beauty of God’s creation of sex in marriage is, he knew that once a wife has given herself to her husband that way, life seems to get in the way less.  I’m happier, I have more grace, more patience.  I speak kindly to my children when they annoy me.  Not because of the physical act of sex, but because I am honoring God in my relationship with my husband.

How can you do this? 

  • Pray
  • Pray
  • Learn what God says about sex, not the world.
  • Pray again

I can’t say it enough, pray!  Prayer is such an important tool in changing your attitude about sex.  I know it seems weird to pray about sex, at least it did to me first.  Then I realized it was something God created for our marriage.  When I was willing to be open and honest (not that God didn’t know anyway), the walls in my heart that were holding up the lies came crashing down.  I learned I was being selfish in so many areas, but if you would have asked me I would have never thought I was a selfish person.  I just bought the lies our society has pushed upon us about how guys are pigs…God changed my heart, there is no other explanation.  I dug deep and saw the selfishness, desire to control and have my way in other areas of our marriage and started working on it.  I’m a work in progress, I still have days where I struggle to want sex, or I complain that he’s asking again, it was just yesterday.  But I know this, you can do it!  God can change your attitude about sex, it won’t be easy, but it’ll be life changing!

That’s all I have for now, I’m going to address why sex is so important to our hubby’s in an upcoming post. 

If this is something you’re working on, or worked through I’d love to hear your story.

Linking with To Love, Honor and Vacuum

34 Responses to “Withholding Sex, Is It Really That Bad?”

  1. The Water Bearer August 28, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    I was once very selfish just like you have spoke of here. I still can be at times, much to my regret, but at least I can actually see it and admit it these days. It is so true that when you change your mindset your whole relationship will change. He will be blessed by your loving attitude towards him, and the effort you put in to making Him happy. I still have to force the lies and lack of motivation out from my mind, I refuse to let the enemy attack my marriage, and in such a ridiculous way! By using something we can both thoroughly enjoy if we try. Great post! :)

  2. Anonymous August 29, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    My husband rarely shows me any type of physical affection so naturally it’s no different in the bedroom. We have sex, at most, once every 6 months and those are times when I finally initiate first contact. Hubby is a great provider and father to our young children and fulfills most every other aspect for me. However, I’m to the point of feeling completely un-connected with him with zero self-confidence and “the void” spills over into every aspect of my life. Do you have any advise/suggestions for my situation?

    • missionhusband August 29, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

      He has to be getting his sexual needs met somewhere. Do you have any reason to suspect him being involved in viewing porn? No normal man can wait 6 months at a time, and not care about sex. Just seems odd.

      • Anonymous August 30, 2012 at 10:49 am #

        I have no reason to suspect any porn issues or that there is anyone else meeting his need; but I asked anyways. ;) He confirmed to me no porn and no one else, whew. I agree that it’s odd behavior but I don’t think that he “does not care about sex”. I think he does care about it—-but we just don’t do it! We’ve had this discussion of “no sex” a trillion times before over the span of our marriage (almost 12 years now). In other words, this is not a new issue. There has been zero progress made and I’m close to being completely defeated.

      • Jessica August 30, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

        I agree, it seems odd. Thank you for a great post. In my former life (with late husband) I would often feel the same way until late husband had brain cancer for three years which affected his libido and then the tables turned. I will never again take a good sex life for granted.

      • Valerie @ Mission:Wife August 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

        Thanks for sharing your story Jessica. I am so sorry for your loss.

      • joe February 8, 2013 at 7:38 am #

        In my case when my wife rejected me it wasn’t long before I found another. Our marriage (not much of one) is hanging by a spiders web. When the man goes elsewhere it isn’t because he doesn’t love his wife. As I’ve been accused. It’s very painful and shameful and degrading to get sex outside the marriage. I’m a military guy whose been gone far too often over the entire span of our marriage. But even when I was home, she would berate me and make me feel like a criminal for wanting sex. An interloper in my own home. The hell I have lived at home crushes me. I’ve gone through the ranks and achieved tremendous recognition over 20 years of service. While she’s been able to stay home with our two children. I get told how easy I have it. How I am a cheater. Etc. Too far gone. I will retire soon and probably single too. I have two daughters; perhaps when I see them in the years to come I can share my cautionary tragedy. If you don’t make love to your husband, someone else does. Once every 5 days is about right. If you go a month, he’s got it already if he can. Ive spent 20 years living with Americas fighting men from all walks of life, every faith, every rave, every economic background. We *all* need sex. All of us will get it because sex is hope, reassurance, validation. Withhold sex and you will end your marriage, he will cheat, and hate you for it.

    • Valerie @ Mission:Wife August 30, 2012 at 7:30 am #

      I would talk to your husband. Have a conversation (probably a difficult one) about what you are hoping for, how you are feeling and see if you can come to some conclusions. I’ll be praying for you both.

      • Anonymous August 30, 2012 at 10:53 am #

        Thank you Valerie—It has always been a difficult conversation but always ends with good intentions. But the new found behavior does not ever last long. I’m weary of the same old conversation time and time again with no lasting results or progress.

      • Valerie @ Mission:Wife August 30, 2012 at 11:03 am #

        I feel for you both there, I know when I was working on changing my attitude about sex it took MANY nights of the SAME conversation and I didn’t change. I wanted to and had good intentions but I didn’t, I would fight about anything else just so we didn’t have to have the SAME conversation over again. Offer grace, and remind him of previous conversations in a loving way. He may desperately want to change but not know the right way to go about it.

    • Robyn September 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

      Hi Anonymous (I realize i’m a little late to this convo but) your story sounds very similar to what our story was. I did the talking to hubby, the praying to God – more talking to hubby — more praying to God … on and on the 3 to 6 month cycle went … for years. Finally, I stopped talking and stopped praying … yes I stopped praying! What I realized was that I had talked enough and prayed enough, now it was time for me to act. I started initiating … all the time.

  3. Jen Stinson August 29, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    My husband could probably write the letter above too. And I struggle with it. But I also don’t think he provides what I need.
    I have sex with him because I’m suppose to. I had someone ask me recently if we make love often and I replied no, but we have sex. Within the last 24 hours he told me that I was lazy, I don’t do anything, I’m selfish, I don’t do anything to pull my weight. I spend the day at home with three children under the age of 4, keep up with them, help a friend with her daycare(for pay), make meals, clean up, am potty training our 2 year old, caring for the baby, homeschooling preschool with our 4 year old and trying to build my business. But, the laundry wasn’t all done, so that made me lazy and means I don’t do anything. With this most recent outlash, I reacted back, badly. I did not have the right response and later that night (after he went to work) I sent him a message, apologizing for my reaction being wrong and asking forgiveness. He came home this morning and was cold and unresponsive, so I asked if he got my message. He said yes, he just wasn’t sure if I ment it. He smiled and walked upstairs. I spent the morning getting the kids ready, breakfast, cleaning out the van and then lunch and down for rests. Next thing my husband is going to bed and asking me to come with him…which I did. And we had sex.

    I too feel like a prostitute, that it’s just my job. There isn’t any love or caring in the other areas of our life. He doesn’t kiss me unless he wants sex. He doesn’t ever hold my hand or just cuddle with me. If I stand too close to him when we are out somewhere I’m crowding his space.

    I’ve been praying and praying about it and still unsure how to feel differently. We finally are going to marriage counseling and I’m praying and hoping this will help fix some bigger issues so we can enjoy every aspect of our marriage.

    • Valerie @ Mission:Wife August 30, 2012 at 7:29 am #

      Jen, I’m so sorry you feel this way in your marriage. I’ll be praying for you and your husband and for your counseling, that God works through both of you and molds you into the person your spouse needs and the person God created you to be.

  4. lisameade August 29, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    As I read this tears are streaming down my face. As a victim of sexual abuse as a child, sex is the hardest thing in the world for me to do. I absolutely love my husband with my whole heart but I don’t give him sex often (once a week). I guess I’m failing miserably. I don’t ask him to be my girlfriend, we don’t/can’t have children & we just opened a new business. I feel even more like a failure so I’ll spend more time in prayer.

  5. lisameade August 29, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

    As I sit here & read this post I have tears streaming from my face. We have been married for 3 years & if you ask him he would say that we have a good sex life when the truth of the matter is that we don’t. We have sex once a week & I hate it. I love my husband with my whole heart but as a victim of sexual abuse sex is super hard for me. I turn him down a lot which I hate to do but it’s just what I have to do.

    I realize after the blog that I’m failing miserably & I’ll give in to my husband more. I’ll ask God to break those chains that have me bound.

    Thanks,
    Lisa

    • Valerie @ Mission:Wife August 30, 2012 at 7:18 am #

      Lisa, I’ll be praying for you. I can’t understand what you’ve been through, but in your comments I see a wife who desires to change, I know God will work mightily in your life. Besides prayer, being open and honest with your husband about how you are feeling is really important; I’m sure he’ll offer you grace in this area, especially if he knows you are trying.

    • Elizabeth@Warrior Wives August 30, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

      Lisa, your pain is so evident and I am so sorry! I can’t help but be reminded of a study I did a few years ago (and maybe you’ve already done it), but Beth Moore’s Breaking Free talks about so much of what you’ve mentioned. As a victim of sexual abuse who then also struggled with promiscuity, she has such an awesome testimony of what God can do in the most difficult of circumstances.

  6. Pearl August 30, 2012 at 6:33 am #

    Prayer is thee key! Great post.

  7. Wendi August 30, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Great post, Valerie! And I love that you take on the hard topics… sex is sooooo important in a marriage! Clearly it’s a tough issue for many.

  8. Elizabeth@Warrior Wives August 30, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    I read this on my phone earlier and meant to come back and comment (I hate trying to comment on the phone) but just now remembered…this was so, so good. I think it’s such a needed message that many of us marriage bloggers have been writing about and I just so appreciated your transparency.

    • Valerie @ Mission:Wife August 30, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

      Thanks Elizabeth :) I too greatly dislike commenting on my phone, and if its been awhile since I commented on your blog, know that is the reason :) Thanks for sharing the Bible study with Lisa, I love the blog community for that reason!

  9. viviene September 2, 2012 at 6:02 am #

    Ok, so after reading this and all the comments, I had to ask my husband how he views our sex life because we don’t really do it so often. And just as I thought, fatigue and uncomfortability are the main issues. We are living with my parents now for a few months and their room is next to ours! 8l I hope to be able to move to our new home very soon! We’ve been waiting!

    Anyway, thanks for this post. =)

  10. military wife September 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

    Ugh, I don’t like these posts. Because that’s all I ever read about! The man has the higher drive and the woman needs to make sure she pleases her husband. NOT true!!!! I grew up hearing that message and went into marriage thinking we would have sex every other day. Ummm….. wow, was I wrong. He has a low drive and we are doing good to if it happens once a week and it’s always with me initiating. We have had conversations many times about it and he just says he doesn’t know why it’s so low, but doesn’t have a desire to do much about it. He isn’t into women, porn and doesn’t masturbate.

    I just have a hard time not feeling bitter about being fed the lie that the man’s sex drive is higher.

    • Valerie September 26, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

      I’m sorry that you feel like it is a lie, it is the absolute truth in my marriage. I try my best to be as interested as I can in sex, but I just don’t need it as often as my husband. I do know that in most marriages the husband does have the higher drive, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t women with the higher drive. You are not alone in that fact, in our sexual satisfaction survey we’ve been seeing a lot of wives upset with the frequency of sex in their marriages. Here’s a couple of links to posts by another blogger I greatly respect about when you have the higher drive. I do not know if they fit your situation, but maybe they will help. http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2012/03/why-doesnt-my-husband-want-to-make-love/ and http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2012/03/when-your-spouse-isnt-interested-in-sex-communicating-your-needs/
      Thanks for your comment!

    • Valerie October 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

      I did just find this blog, from a wife who is the higher drive spouse. I thought it may be of help to you.
      http://spiceandlove.wordpress.com/

    • Scott October 23, 2013 at 10:32 am #

      I think the misconception you have fallen victim to is that this situation and advice only applies when the man is the Higher-drive spouse (HDS). But the roles can easily be reversed in this, and everything that Valerie said still applies. I think there is quite a diversity of marriages out there that fall on the spectrum at different places for each spouse’s sex drive, and this problematic dynamic can be addressed using Valerie’s situation and advice.

      I don’t think it was inappropriate for Valerie to cast her article as she did though, with the man in the HDS role, because in her situation that’s how it happened and this was a post about her own life, and also because it is certainly the more common dynamic in society.

  11. Francis Brigo November 12, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

    My wife began he passive aggressive sexual with holding the night we married. We had sex before marriage but stopped a year and a half before we got married, so there was plenty of anticipation atleast for me. We discussed our sex life before we married and I expressed how I had a very healthy appetite. She assured me that it would be great and hers was the same.
    For the last ten years I’ve tried to be better lover, friend, cleaner, provider, have a better body, better personality to gain her sexual interest. She pretends she has no clue when I persue her sexually it leaves me confused, angry, dejected. It’s incredibly painful when the person who is supposed to love you the most shows no interest intimately after so many discussions and attempts to have a healthy sex life. Often Attemps are denied because my approach wasn’t right etc….
    Yet she would even inappropoatly flirt with other men. Devastating.
    Well after discovery what passive aggressiveness is, how with holding sex is tool number 1 for many (even christian women) and realising that this problem isn’t with me dispite what she says. I am looking forward to see what God has planned for my life after a divorce. I know the pain with be enormous, the damage will be severe. It will affect our children very negatively. It’s the lesser of two evils. They don’t need to grow up in a unhealthy home with a distorted sense of normal.

  12. SadHusband April 1, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    This is an old post, but I just came across it. I was searching the concept of my wife withholding sex. We can go weeks (if not months) and it terrorizes me. When we finally “do it” it feels like she is more just going along to get it over with. As a Christian couple I believe in keeping the fidelity of our marriage, but with these long periods of time without any intimacy I struggle and fail mightily in that regard (not with other women, but through pornography, which only further makes me ashamed of myself). I’ve tried hard to serve my wife, but I fall short of her expectations. As long as things aren’t perfect, sex is off the table. Things are rarely perfect. The lack of physical intimacy erodes my self-confidence and that impacts the rest of our marriage too. What do I do?!

    PS – I read your husbands list of the 10 (11) things wives could do and he was spot on.

  13. DLady April 2, 2013 at 2:26 am #

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I saw myself all through this article. I shall begin to pray.

  14. Confused! April 8, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    A very interesting post indeed

    I am in a position at the moment where, after being married to my wife for 15 years we would go for in some cases upward of 9 months without sex. I understand all of the guys here that say that it rips apart your self image.

    While I note long gaps, generally my wife would relent every month or so. I the end she ended up having an affair with another guy and proceeded to tell me how much better it was with him….she is now filing for divorce.

    All of her family have been shocked by her actions as have all of her friends. Somehow she believes that god understands her situation and justifies it?

    She told me that she too felt like a prostitute and that I was some dirty sex addict for wanting to engage with her. In the first year if our marriage we probably had sex 10 times. This includes the 2 times on our 2 week honeymoon!

    To be fair there was some abuse stuff that she had not worked thru, but this really doesn’t explain or excuse life post counselling. In the end of the marriage she just wanted to have sex ?..and i quote “when I have needs”

    I love one of the comments in the article about being her girlfriend…and I think that is what I became, I would watch chick flicks with her and do housework, believing the old adage ‘foreplay starts in the kitchen’ for my experience whoever made that one up was deluded.

    As a full time mum, she was provided for, had a nice house, but still could not be bothered to clean, which I ended up having to do.

    It is interesting to note looking back at the marriage for be last 14 years that the passive agressive behaviour was not limited to sex, but far wider. In the end I got the whole ‘I never loved you’ line, but you are my best friend….roughly translated ‘ your are my girlfriend ‘

    Now my 3 kids are the ones that will wear the consequences.

    Maybe we need to better educate our daughters what marriage is About…i

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