At some point, between the refusing and gate-keeping on one end and the journey toward full intimacy on the other, there is a moment.

I’d like to invite you in to my moment—the moment I first knew what I had done to my husband in denying him sex.

The Time Before

It was a Sunday morning—September 5, 2010. I sat on the couch in our living room. I was angry at God for the troubles in our marriage and couldn’t bring myself to walk into church, so my husband had gone without me. It was just a battle we fought each week.

I was worn out. I was tired of all of our fighting about sex. (I think we’d had one the night before, since we usually did on Saturday nights.) I was worried because he wasn’t asking as often and he had said he was trying to resign himself to a sexless marriage. I was scared because his depression was making him withdraw from me and from our family. I didn’t want to think about these things, since they upset me too much.  I tried to distract myself by checking out news sites online—and I saw an article about Christians and sex. I clicked on it—and my life turned upside down.

I knew that I was denying my husband sex. I also knew that it was a bone of contention in our marriage, and that if I “put out” more, we would have less tension in our marriage. However, because I also knew that I, too, was hurting, it never occurred to me that denying him sex was wrong. I had no idea that I was truly hurting him. That is something I didn’t know until my moment.

My husband had tried to tell me. He had opened his heart and was vulnerable—and I would reject it. I wouldn’t hear what he was saying. So he sent me links to articles and blog posts, all written by women. He figured that since they had been written by women, I wouldn’t be able to dismiss them as just another man trying to convince women that they should be providing more sex.

I read the links, but I didn’t like them. They were showing me a picture of the kind of wife I didn’t want to be, that I didn’t know how to be. When my husband asked me if I’d read them, I lied. I was afraid that if I said I did and acknowledged even one bit of truth in what I read, he would jump on me and say, “See? I told you it was you!” And then I would have to be the one to change who I was while he got to lie back and enjoy it.

Not only was I refusing my husband sexual and emotional intimacy, I was also refusing to seriously address the situation. A few months earlier, I’d wondered about really trying to figure out what was going on, but then I had the thought, What if it turns out it really is me who is the problem? What if I’m wrong? I don’t think I can bear to be wrong, and even if we fix sex, what about my feelings? It was easier to not face what I suspected would be hard.

As I read the links my husband sent me, some ideas started to sink in despite my best efforts to keep them out. I was beginning to recognize that I wasn’t a very good wife. It occurred to me that my husband deserved better. Since I didn’t know what to do, or how, I did nothing and hoped things would get better on their own (in other words, with no effort on my part)—but I understand now that God was using those women’s words to soften my heart for what came next.

The Moment

So there I sat, on that September Sunday morning—worn out, worried, and frustrated, with a heart that had begun to soften toward my husband. I clicked on the article and then looked at some of the links in the sidebars. I began to click and read. I ended up at The Marriage Bed, reading through articles and discussion forums. I read marriage blogs—and this time, I read the comments. I was exposed to the hearts of countless men whose wives denied them sex. I hadn’t believed my husband’s words—but somehow the words of all these men got through to me.

It was awful.

My husband’s anguish began to take shape in front of me. So many men wrote about how unloved they felt by the one person who they thought would love them the most. As I finally allowed myself to imagine how that would feel, I felt like my gut had been punched in. It was a moment of very hard truth.

I sobbed—soul-rattling sobs. It took me some time (over a year) to fully acknowledge that my refusal had been sin, but at that moment, on that morning, I knew something I had not known before. I knew that I had made my husband feel rejected, unloved, and unworthy. I had done that to my own husband out of my own selfishness.

It took days for me really process my realization of what I’d done to my husband.

But, oh, that moment . . . it was the moment I was broken.

It was the moment I began my journey of healing.

As hard and soul-wrenching as my moment was, once that moment was over, I knew that healing had begun.

The Moment After

I have been praying today for wives who are close to that moment. I am praying for some whose hearts are still in the process of being softened. I have heard from some women who hate sex or who are so hurt that they cannot see how to knock down even one brick in the wall around their hearts. The thought of facing this moment frightens or angers them. It is hard to let go and face it. I remember my moment, and I also remember the moments leading up to it. The hurt in my own heart and my confusion about intimacy in our marriage left permanent impressions in me.

I am praying, too, for wives who have recently lived through that moment themselves—wives who have been confronted by husbands, who saw the prospect of a lonely future, or who finally got tired of the way things were. These wives have been through the moment and are figuring out their first or second steps on their journey.

We may not all get to that moment in the same way. My moment was hard for me—but it was such a relief when it was over.

And in that next moment—the one that follows after the moment of hard truth—you can find hope, faith, and love. There is hope for doing better. There is faith that your marriage can heal. And there is love for your husband.

It is the moment that comes after that moment—the next moment—when your journey begins.

Have you faced such a moment? Has your journey begun?

Image courtesy of sheelamohan /

27 Thoughts on “A Moment of Hard Truth

  1. belovedalways on March 5, 2014 at 6:44 pm said:

    I remember when the same thing happened to me. June 2012. I was reading a food blog that had a marriage/sex blog that they followed in the sidebar and having already made the first move to improve our marriage a couple days before, I was curious about what might be said in such a blog. It was the Christian Nymphos blog and all I have to say is that I metaphorically dove into a bottomless I-didn’t know and I-need-to-know vortex. From CN, I found TMB just like you did and started reading and kind of freaking out. SO MUCH INFORMATION that I just didn’t know. SO MUCH that I didn’t understand or had misunderstood. I felt terrible that I had totally NOT understood the relationship with how my husband felt emotionally and why he wanted sex all the time. I had no idea that sex made him feel loved by me. I apologized to him for months.

    The insight/comments by the men at TMB forum shored me up and gave me the confidence to continually step out of my comfort zone in an effort to correct everything that I had been doing/thinking wrong. My ‘gunner’ personality had me moving forward with my new knowledge so quickly that it was hard for my DH to keep up with me. He wasn’t sure what had happened to turn our marriage bed upside down and inside out, but he was quite willing to join in for as long as it lasted. Now, nearly 2 years later,we are comfortable in the knowledge that our marriage bed has forever changed. I’ve made it clear that it’s going to be like this until we die and he’s relaxed knowing that’s it’s not going to go away as quickly as it started. Definitely good times.

    • trixie1466 on March 5, 2014 at 6:55 pm said:

      That’s a great testimony Beloved!

    • I apologized for months, too–until my husband told me to stop, that it was in the past.

      Have you seen the movie The Matrix? To learn something new, they just download a new program into their minds. The first time visiting Christian Nymphos is kind of like that, only with sex instead of fighting.

      • Wow. A reference to The Matrix The OW had a fixation with the movie and referred to my H and herself as Trinity and Neo. Could this be God’s way of telling me to reclaim my husband and our sex life? He does work in mysterious ways.

        • He does, indeed. Maybe He is telling you to live in the reality of your marriage instead of in the imagined reality of an affair that is over. It’s a part of your process of letting go. Keep on working at it, my dear.

  2. belovedalways on March 5, 2014 at 7:17 pm said:

    Downloading new skills—If ONLY it were that easy. Unfortunately, learning things the old fashioned way doesn’t automatically come with the confidence that you will succeed. Nor does it automatically make us feel attractive/desired. There’s a lot of stuff like attitudes, assumptions, and just plan bad/false information to adjust and change on the inside as well as behaviors, demeanors, and clothing choices on the outside. Humility and flexibility are definitely key character qualities to use and hone during the change/improvement period.

    What ended up working really well in my situation was me saying, “The answer is yes, ask me anything.” My DH had to hear me say this and then see me follow through by doing what he asked or answering his questions honestly FOR MORE THAN A YEAR before he started feeling really confident that life had indeed miraculously changed for the the better (the best?) and THEN he felt free to really be vulnerable himself.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing! This resonates so much with the process my wife & I have walked through. Especially appreciate where you said, “And in that next moment—the one that follows after the moment of hard truth—you can find hope, faith, and love. There is hope for doing better. There is faith that your marriage can heal. And there is love for your husband.

    It is the moment that comes after that moment—the next moment—when your journey begins.”

    That is so true! We would tell all couples that it is worth it! Working through the disconnects unlocks true joy. Thank you again for sharing.

    • Yes, it is worth it! That moment was heart-wrenchingly difficult, and it was followed by a lot of hard work on myself that didn’t have anything to do with sex–but the marriage we have now is worth every moment of that journey.

      • Absolutely! The visible “symptom” of sex really is not the issue, at least from our experience as well. We have found that vulnerability at our core of who we are has been the most freeing, and connecting.

  4. Humility really hurts; physically, I mean. I think that’s why God calls it being broken.

    The hardest part to accept is that people can’t shut down one part of their heart. Although they might start at a pivotal point it eventually reaches into other areas; into other relationships. So when a husband shuts himself into a sexless marriage and tries to kill off that part, it will, sadly, kill off other relationships. This leads down a lonely road.

  5. Someone once pointed out to me that our hearts and lives are like Christmas lights. You try to pull on one area, and it’s tangled with the whole mess of the other lights. One area of the heart is so tangled up with the rest that the heart begins to strangle itself if you try to shut down just one part.

  6. Thanks so much for your honestly. Sometimes I have husband say they share my articles and sites like yours with their wives, and their wives don’t respond well. At that moment, I wish I could say, “I’ll be there in 20 minutes to take your wife out for coffee.” Because I’d love to tell her personally that I get it, that this stuff can be hard, that some biblical teaching about sex goes against so much we’ve heard and bought into, that I understand her wondering if her husband only wants her for sex…I get all of that. But I also hear stories like yours, and others, where a breakthrough occurred, and the other side was so beautiful, so fulfilling, so love-building that it’s truly worth the risk and effort. Thank you for encouraging withholding wives!

    • I have that urge, too, J, and I hear the same thing from husbands about their wives’ responses to my posts. (It’s why I’ve created my “For Husbands” page. It’s still a work in progress, but I made sure to write about how an un-ready wife might be likely to respond.

      The other side of a breakthrough truly is so beautiful, as you say. There’s another moment that I don’t remember so viscerally, but I do remember how my heart felt. The refusing and gate-keeping were over, my husband had begun to trust that he would not be turned down, and our sex life took on a frequency that it had never had before. Everything seemed fine. We were healed. But then I began reading, in earnest, posts and articles in which women shared the joy in their marriage that was connected with intimacy. And I realized, at this moment, that there was a joy I had never experienced or even imagined–and I wanted that joy, too. Up until then, we’d been healing. When I decided to reach for joy, though . . . that was when real growth began.

  7. Thank you for your blog. The refusal & gate-keeping as you call it have been in full effect ever since I got pregnant with my first child. It wasnt the pregnancy, but rather the lack of connection I felt with my husband that started it all. He was very distant during the pregnancy & I felt very alone in this monumental, life-changing event. Now we have 2 kids and I have been trying to tell him for over a year how I need more from our emotional connection, but I think all he feels is rejection & that he is not bring loved in the way he wants. I have been at a crossroads for months now, knowing that one of us has to give and so far it hasn’t been him. I can really tell it is impeding my relationship with God. Every Sunday, I am convicted of the issues in my marriage and think about it all week. I found your blog because I was looking up something about sex and lent, but what I’ve decided to do for lent is give up my “right” to refuse sex. For the next 6 weeks I will be an active & willing participant however often my husband wants. To me, that feels like a real sacrifice and is definitely something I’m hoping will renew my marriage and also break that barrier with God as well. Thank you so much for your posts and your prayers for women like me.

    • Thank you for taking time to comment, K. I, too, waited for my husband to go first . . . and waited . . . and waited . . . and waited. I pray that what feels like a sacrifice now (and I do remember that feeling) is a joy to you by Easter morning.

  8. Thank you for carrying the torch to others!

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