When I was a child, we lived next door to an elderly couple around the age of 90. Several years ago, my mom mentioned that one day, she and the neighbor woman were talking about childbirth. The neighbor told my mom how horribly painful her son’s birth was. She told her husband that she would never go through that again.

In those days, the only way to avoid pregnancy was to not have sex. They had been married less than a year when their son was born. My mom made a comment about how it must have been nice when she (the neighbor) went through the change, and the neighbor said that by then they just weren’t interested. By then, who knows? Maybe they weren’t, or maybe he just figured there was no point asking again. Or maybe neither one of them remembered how to be intimate with each other.

Are you living in a sexless marriage?

A sexless marriage is defined as a marriage with less than ten sexual encounters per year. Our neighbors had been married for seventy years and had sex only during the first year. It’s pretty clear that this was a sexless marriage.

From 2009 to late 2010, we came close. Weeks would stretch between some encounters. I always had my reasons for “no”—too tired, too disconnected from my husband, too overwhelmed by work and parenting, too stressed about our finances, unhappy with my body, and a husband who was grouchy and then depressed.

The Bible tells us that marriage is a sexual relationship. 1 Corinthians 7 tells us not to sexually deprive our spouses. We are told in multiple places that a husband and wife should cleave to each other. The Song of Solomon is richly full of a vibrant sexual relationship. In no place are we told that it is ever okay for sex not to be part of the marriage relationship.

A sexless marriage is not God’s design for married couples.

I was hurting and angry. Saying “yes” to my husband’s sexual advances felt like I was giving in or caving. It felt like I was letting him win. I just wanted to know that he still loved me. I didn’t realize yet that sex plays such a key role for men in making an emotional connection. I also didn’t realize that sex was just as much for me as it was for my husband.

To my shame and regret, my internal experiences of hurt spoke louder to me than the Bible did.

I have come to realize that none of my reasons for “no” is actually a valid reason for a consistent “no” to sex. Still, these experiences and perceptions were part of the truth of my life as I saw it. During a twelve-month stretch when we managed sex barely twelve times, I realized one other truth: the longer I went without sexual activity, the harder it was to do it. This wasn’t just about libido or arousal, although these things were affected by the sexual desert. The fact is, it was hard to actually be in a sexual situation with my husband. I didn’t remember how. Everything felt awkward and weird.

How do you . . . ?

Once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget how. I figured the same thing should be true about sex, but I learned that for me, that wasn’t the case. The longer we went without sexual activity the harder it was for me to be in my husband’s arms. He would kiss me, and I would think, Who is this man? He practically ignores my pleas for attention, and now I’m supposed to open myself up? Didn’t I used to like sex? How can I not remember what to do with the arm that I’m lying on? Kissing didn’t feel natural. His body was strange to me. My own body felt strange to me. It took me so long just to get relaxed enough to even start sexual activity. Having sex with my own husband was hard. It wore me out emotionally. And the next time, knowing what I was facing in difficulty, it made it even harder to choose “yes” over “no.”

I’ve received messages from quite a few women who want to make changes in their sexual refusal and gate-keeping. Many of these messages ask, “But how do you . . . ?” When it’s been so long, it can be difficult. I think this is especially true when other aspects of the relationship are struggling as well. Married sex happens within the context of a relationship. I had my heart so walled up and protected because of our relationship that I was walling myself in sexually.

Leaving Your Sexless Marriage Behind

Sex was such a bone of contention in our marriage. I was beginning to sense that my restriction on the frequency and variety of our sex life was a problem—but I had no idea how to change it. Being sexual with my husband was tangled up with all sorts of other things—my hurt, my feelings about myself, the realization that our marriage was in bigger trouble than I’d realized. I knew that if I pulled on just one strand of the mess, I would end up having to deal with the whole thing. (Imagine untangling Christmas lights and you’ll understand what I was thinking.)

So I began to wonder about how to prevent myself from having to deal with it . .

Maybe he’ll have a heart attack and be told he’s never allowed to have sex again.

Maybe he’ll get so desperate for sex that he has an affair. Then I can use that as a reason for no sex for the rest of our lives.

Or maybe if he has an affair, I’ll get a divorce. That’s a socially acceptable reason for a divorce, right? And people will sympathize with me. I can live with that.

We could look for jobs for him far away, and then he’ll have to move out for a while. This will give me a break and he’ll remember how much he needs me for things besides sex. He’ll come back and it will be okay—or we’ll decide that we’ve grown so far apart that the marriage will be over.

I had realized that a sexless marriage was somehow wrong, and the only solution I could see was to end the marriage.

Or maybe . . .

 . . . It is better to end the sexlessness than to end the marriage.

In this post, I wrote about a time early into my changes when I allowed my husband to see my naked breasts. I had to take a lot of deep breaths. I had to engage in a lot of self-talk. I remember thinking, I’ve done this tons of times before, but it’s been so many  years. I know it was okay. I know it will be okay. What kind of wife can’t even let her own husband see her naked chest? Why is this so hard? I was in tears. I had to force myself to let my husband see my breasts. Please God. I’m so scared. I don’t know why, but I know this is important. I just don’t think I can do it. Please help me. And He did.

Footprints in the Sand

The only reason I was able to find the courage and expose myself to my husband was that I had asked God for help. As I saw my husband’s face, full of shock and joy at seeing my bosom so blatantly displayed for him, I heard God say, You done good, kid. It was an important step. The next time I let my husband see my naked breasts, I was able to draw on this one experience and remember that I could do this—and that God would be with me then, too.

You’re probably familiar with the poem “Footprints in the Sand.” It ends with these words:

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

Have you been living in a sexless marriage, or one that is close to sexless? Do you know what your first step should be? Has it been such a long time since you’ve taken that step—or is a step you’ve never taken at all—that you are scared or nervous? Are you seeking for the courage to take that first step in healing your marriage? Are you wondering if you can really do this?

The journey toward a sexually healed marriage is a journey of many steps. The first steps are the hardest—but you don’t have to take those steps alone. Whether your marriage has been sexless for one year, or five years, or twenty, or seventy—you never have to take those steps alone.

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman /

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119 Thoughts on “Leaving a Sexless Marriage

  1. trixie1466 on January 27, 2014 at 4:57 pm said:

    You made me cry again. 🙂

  2. For what it’s worth, it is the same for me when we have not had sex for an extended period. As much as I might desire to be with my wife, it feels awkward, clumsy and un-natural. Such a sad thing to for one spouse to say of another: that sex with them felt un-natural. There is so much discomfort that you do the last thing either of you needs to do and push through it just to be done without savoring the long-awaited experience. As a man, as much as you want to share sex with your partner, you find it difficult do have desire, not for the sex, but sex with your partner (I am not saying you are thinking of having sex with someone else here.). It’s difficult to become aroused when you do not feel the desire is mutual or there is a lack of respect or love. Chronically infrequent sex erodes self-confidence and confidence in the relationship for both partners.

    • You are absolutely correct on this. Knowing my wife dreads sex or will have sex only begrudgingly erodes my confidence and can even set up the sex act to fail mid-act, so to speak.

      It is hard to get all of those negative thoughts out of your mind, and they destroy the very fabric of your mental well-being as a man, head of the marriage, and leader of the family.

  3. My husband and me have been together for over 20 years. We had sex ALL the time, We had no children back when we were dating. We got pregnant and that was that. I however, was not ok. Went to the docs and was told I had post natal depression and was going to get better with meds. 4 years later we had another baby. I had to go back to the docs and he put me on medication again. sex was basically non existant. Then we got pregnant again, there was a 7 year gap. I felt the depression coming back, I couldn’t take any meds while I was pregnant. I felt the depression coming back. Sex was the last thing on my mind. So after doing tests etc The doc said, I have Bipolar (anxiety and depression) Because I was so misserable most of the time. The doc decided to try a Bipolar med. and sex well , What was sex.? I HAD NO LIBIDO AT ALL. My husband asked me when are we going to have sex? I just said I don’t want to have sex .right now. My poor husband 🙁

    • KT, have you asked your doctor about bipolar meds that don’t affect the libido as much? I don’t know what’s available, but it’s always worth asking.

      Here’s something else to think about: as a woman, you can have sex even when you don’t feel like it. It’s normal for women not to experience desire until after arousal has begun. When I was beginning to say “yes” more, there were many times when I didn’t feel interested at all. But I would think, Well, I love Big Guy, and I can at least enjoy the experience of being held by him and knowing that I am doing something he needs. And then after we got started, my desire kicked in. So when he would ask if I was interested, the answer was always “no”–but I said “yes” anyway. It meant a lot to my husband, and even the times when I couldn’t get into it, I came to enjoy just being with him.

      You could just say to your husband, “I have no desire right now because of my medication. However, I love you, and I love knowing that you want to be with me. So, I am willing to have sex because I love you and I know it’s important to our marriage. Can you be okay with that for a while?”

      Regular depression can be enough of a challenge in intimacy, and a bipolar diagnoses certainly adds some complications. I’m sorry you’re experiencing this right now.

  4. I am in the opposite situation. My husband no longer has any interest. I don’t get it. We have been married 21 years and had sex regularly for the first 16. He claims low testerone, but has not been tested and refuses to be tested.
    I have prayed and prayed. It is even affecting my faith. Why won’t God do anything about this? I just don’t know what to do. I’m considering leaving.

    • Michelle, I’ve heard that it’s pretty common for a man with low T to refuse to be tested. Low T can lead to depression and irritability. He may feel it’s hopeless to see a doctor about it. Or maybe it’s just too hard to face this reality about one’s masculinity or something. My husband has low T, and although he has always been good about going to the doctor about other things, this was different. He was tested only because he had to go to the doctor about something else and I asked to go along. Both he and the doctor thought I was wrong, but it turns out that my WebMD medical degree was right. Keep pressing for a medical checkup–even if it means calling the doctor and explaining what you think needs to be done and letting the doctor figure out how to convince your husband.

      It is so hard to have a heart that hurts about something and wonder why God doesn’t change it. Even when we have faith that there is a purpose and there is hope, it’s still hard. Pray for your husband, and I’ll be praying for you.

      • susan jP on September 10, 2014 at 8:07 pm said:

        same here…he was tested for LT… meds, doesn’t use them.
        said they gave hime a rash.
        I suggested he go to Dr. and explain it, call the doctor, anything.
        he always agrees but never DOES.
        I have bared my soul in this regard many times, it does no good.
        I think he is passive aggressive, I don;t that in k ‘true’ Christian man should be acting so passively.
        he nows all the right things to say and looks good to other people, but he is very withdrawn,
        we went to Christian counseling and he ARGUED with the counselor, I have no hope any longer.

        • I’m so sorry you’re hurting. Have you talked with a counselor to help you develop some strategies for coping with your pain? I wish I had some wisdom to share with you.

  5. I found this site while looking for other relationship advice, but this is a topic that weighs heavy in my life. My wife and I have had sex about once a month for about 5 years or more. Physically, my wife has so many problems (most related to depression, and psychological I believe) that she always has a reason for not being in the mood. If I didn’t initiate, I don’t think it would even be once a month. When we do have sex, it is either on all fours or on her back. That’s it. She has never turned me down if I initiate strongly, but never says yes if I mention it in passing. Like Dan said, it is hard to have desire for someone that has no desire for you. I am angry inside, and wonder how long must I endure this. This is not the marriage I thought I was getting when I sought God years ago to make sure this was the woman he meant for me to be with. I mean, I prayed to God about this woman, put a fleece before the Lord, I think is how you say it. It is just sad and disappointing. I would give any thing to be desired, to be wanted.

    • John, has your wife been treated for her depression? My efforts to change began around the same time as I began treatment with the right anti-depressant. (Although SSRI anti-depressants can lead to sexual dysfunction, not all anti-depressants do.) Once I was past the lowest of the depression, I was able to see more clearly what was happening in our marriage. It’s worth a conversation with her doctor to help her wife be treated–or for you to advocate for a change in the treatment. You both deserve a more vibrant sex life.

      • Yes, my wife has sought treatment for her depression for several years now. Our bathroom cabinet looks like a pharmacy. She has been on and off multiple depression medications. She is currently on about 10 different medications for everything from cholesterol to arthritis to anxiety and depression and other issues.

        • Would she be willing to talk with her doctor about the sexual issues or be willing to work on them in any way? I wonder how much the other conditions are contributing to the problems. Chronic pain is wearing on the spirit and the body. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I can’t imagine that your wife is very happy, either

  6. My wife is willing to talk, but nothing seems to change. Anyway, that is just one aspect of what’s wrong with the mess our marriage has become. There are more issues than I have time to write. Her issues. My issues. I just wanted to say that I identified with what Dan stated about not desiring your wife the way you would like to. Even knowing that if you push for sex you will get it, you stop asking for it because you know before it begins that it is going to be disappointing. Nothing like hearing “come on, let’s finish” to ruin the mood. We are working on things though, but I am having to push her to move forward.

  7. I never imagined that I would write this for anyone to read, but I must admit that I felt some degree of solace when I read some of the others…so here are my problems and thoughts:

    I can relate so well to Dan (for reasons other than the namesake), but I also relate to Michelle with the feeling that it has greatly affected my faith as well…but not because of unanswered prayer, but due to a different reason. I love what Dan said, “As a man, as much as you want to share sex with your partner, you find it difficult to have desire, not for the sex, but sex with your partner.” As such, because I felt so guilty praying for years that God change my wife, just like Michelle prayed for her husband, I changed my prayer and began to pray that God change me instead. I asked that I not find my wife so sexually attractive. Then I found myself lusting at women everywhere else I went (grocery store, mall, work). So now I just try to find all women unacceptable. As you can guess, no easy task given today’s advertising climate. Both my wife and I are attractive people, but I try to keep myself out of possible tempting situations.

    The issue for us began right from day one of our honeymoon. Neither one of us was a virgin when we got married due to youthful indiscretion in college (or, in my case, it was for a short while right after college), but we had not had sex with each other. Our pre-marital counseling discussed sexual expectations and we agreed that 3 to 4 times per week would be adequate. The mistake I made was that I never took her to task about this point. I guess I figured it would take her a while after the marriage ceremony before a normal routine would kick in, but the weeks waiting became months waiting. Then during our second year of marriage, we became pregnant. We have been to marriage counseling more times than I care to remember, but most Christian counselors steer clear of the sex thing, or if they do tackle it, there’s only so much they can say or do. Between the two of us we can recite I Corinthians 7 verbatim in several translations – doesn’t mean a thing.

    The biggest problem I have now is more related to my faith, much like Michelle. Our oldest daughter just started middle school this year and has started to ask questions about sex. I have, thus far, done a superb job of deflecting questions, especially when my wife is in the room with us, but I know this won’t last for much longer. In my younger days (except for that short while after college) I used to feel that sex was to be saved for within the confines of marriage. Now, with my own experience to reflect on, I see sex is much better with my friends that used to laugh at virgins in college and had all the sex they could handle, or got divorced and remarried, or even the ones that stayed single but are living with a girlfriend. How do I tell my daughter the same thing my extremely devout Christian wife tells her? I don’t know that I agree with it anymore. “Don’t have sex until your married, then find out you’re sexually incompatible and go to years of counseling so that you’ll feel legitimate when you vent all of your frustrations out into cyberspace for virtual strangers to read”. Is that what I am supposed to say?

    • One man once wrote to me that his wife’s sexual refusal was the most difficult thing in his life. It is beyond me how a Christian counselor wouldn’t address sex–but you’re right that there’s a limit to what anyone other than your wife can do. I think we need to strengthen premarital counseling. Simply talking about frequency as though it’s completely disconnected from relationship and past experience is not enough. Newly married couples need mentoring from experienced couples who aren’t afraid to talk about sex.

      Have you spent time trying to figure out what led to your wife’s refusal? Has she ever tried to figure it out? Is it possible that what you see as sexual incompatibility is a consequence of premarital sex on her part? I wrote about that in this post. I would love to have you wife find her way here. Devout Christian women can love sex, too.

      As for your daughter, don’t deflect her questions. You need to answer so she is hearing about sex from both her parents, not just absorbing the lessons from her mother. Tell her that a vibrant sex life is God’s design for marriage. Help her learn the good lessons about what married sex should be.

    • Did you wait to have sex with your wife until after you married because you thought that would bring you the most and best sex? Or did you wait because it was what God commands us to do? I think it might be worth examining your heart on that question before you decide what to tell your daughter.

      God’s design for sex was within marriage. We mess this up all the time. Often times the sexual sins we commit before marriage come back to haunt us. Please be very careful that you don’t share your bitterness about sex with your daughter.

      I’m sorry for your suffering and hope that things will get better for you. I believe God uses all these struggles to conform us to His image. I’ll be praying for you and your wife tonight, Danny.

    • Such a great comment, even though it is very sad. I also am questioning my faith because of sexual issues with my wife and have kids just hitting the teen years. I have had the “wait until marriage” talk and can give a great talk on why to not have sex until then (pregnancy, STD’s, etc.) But in my heart, the most exciting sex I ever had was when my wife and I gave in to temptation before we were married. I hate that we couldn’t wait until the honeymoon and feel guilty, but I also remember it fondly. How do I reconcile that, especially since I spent most of my married life having to ask for sex and being rejected? Where is God in this?

  8. You’re awesome, Trixie, thank you! Also, I never let my kids know any information that would harm them. Besides, I believe sex is wonderful and glorious gift, but I understand what you mean. I just want to make it clear that I’m not bitter about sex, I’m disappointed in the discrepancy between my desire for it and my wife’s. I love my wife and she loves me. She has told me dozens of times over our 16 years of marriage that she will improve – the latest was this years New Year’s resolution, but here it is mid-February and so far nothing.
    To answer your first two questions, it was most definitely because it was the Christian thing to do. My wife had only been a Christian for about a year before we met but has embraced it with renewed and stronger vigor every year since. She’s a very “Type-A” personality and she’s either all in or nothing with everything she does.

    Chris, I agree, we should strengthen premarital counseling. One popular radio talk show psychologist suggests 6 to 9 months for engaged couples! I tend to agree.
    In regards to figuring out my wife’s refusal I can’t say that we’ve ever discussed it in terms of why she’s rarely in the mood (except that she’s always too tired or too busy). It’s not a topic she likes to discuss. She’s never once told me she has a headache, she just doesn’t respond to my advances and never initiates. To add to the complexity, she adores sleep. The moment she hits the bed, she wants nothing more than to sleep. She usually has me rub her feet or massage/scratch her back while she falls asleep. She always wakes up early and likes to give her first fruit of the day to God. She has her quiet time with God reading the bible for an hour or two before the day begins. Two things we’ve learned in this house to never interrupt: her quiet time and her sleep.
    I do indeed believe she carries a lot of guilt for the choices she made before she was a Christian. I know she knows of God’s forgiveness, but it’s probably a lot more difficult to live in it.

    • Danny,
      So glad to hear that you’re not bitter and that I misunderstood your comment.:) I can understand how your wife has difficulty forgiving herself. I wasn’t a Christian when I met my husband and I wasn’t a virgin by any means. That was so disappointing for him and I felt terrible for the sins I committed against God and my husband. It’s really easy to try to “over correct” by turning off your sexuality. That’s what I did. I believed that it was just “fleshly” and carnal. Something we should have overcome if we were just spiritual enough. My husband tried to tell me that’s not true, but I thought he was just like every other man that told me whatever it took to get me to have sex.

      It took me reading over and over again that sex is a gift to married people from God and hearing other Christians talk about sex in a positive way and reading this blog to help me overcome those very bad ideas and feelings.
      If your wife hasn’t read “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn I would very much recommend it.

      Be blessed,

  9. OK, ordered it. I’ll let you know how we liked it.

  10. Great, great book, Trixie! Only at Chapter 2 and so far it is fabulous. Hope my wife will read it too. She recognized both the book as well as the author right away. At the very least, it will help me to articulate many of my thoughts.

  11. 1myr on March 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm said:

    My sexless marriage was a major cause of my husband’s infidelity. We are still together (and affair over), trying to rebuild our marriage and basically build a sex life. My worry is that I am competing with his recent memories of good sex with her. How can I compete with that? I want to heal our marriage, all aspects of it, but how do I get past this? Any advice?

    • Are you seeking counseling, both as a couple and individually? There are quite a few online resources to help couples move past infidelity, and I know I have seen this very question addressed before. Here are just two that come to mind.

      • Marriage Missions International has some good resources. Click on Surviving Infidelity over in the topics list on the right to find them.
      • Affaircare has a list of helpful articles, separated by different stages of the recovery process.

      I also encourage you to read Is My Husband Comparing Me to Former Lovers? on Pearl’s OysterBed. Although it is for women worried that their husbands are comparing them to lovers before their marriage, I think you may find some heart healing there as well. No matter what you husband did sexually with another woman, you are the only woman who is his wife–and that is beyond comparison.

      Both you and your husband have some work to do to heal yourselves. I pray for blessings on this journey and a stronger marriage at the end.

      • We are in counseling. Our sessions alternate between couples and individual. It’s only been a couple of months since the discovery of the affair, so we have a lot if work to do on all fronts. Thanks for your advice and I’ll look at the resources you recommended. – MYR

      • Hi Chris,

        I tried to register with Marriage Missions International on Saturday and as of today (Tuesday) I am still inactive and cannot log on. It says to contact the administrator if there are problems, but it does not really explain how to do so. I do not even have an email address for the administrator. Do you have any ideas?

        It is a great site. However, I like this site better.

        May God continue to bless you for the encouragement that you have given all of us!

  12. We’ve been married for over 15 years and we have sex maybe once every two months if I instigate it. I’m tall, fit and good looking yet she doesn’t find me attractive enough for sex. Lately I’ve have begun to pull back from initiating sex. I’m so tired of the rejection, the doubt, the self loathing and the crushed ego. My life sucks more than I could have ever imagined.

  13. I have to agree with Alec!!!! We’ve been married over 20 years and haven’t had sex at all in about five years….and before that, the only time we did have it was if I instigated it…and even then, it never lasted more than maybe 3 minutes 🙁 🙁 I’ve been so unhappy from the very beginning of our relationship, but because he is such a “good” man in every other way (works hard, responsible, great father, even tempered, doesn’t drink, do drugs or flirt with women), I convinced myself that “sex shouldn’t be so important”. So, I made the mistake of marrying for all the wrong reasons…..having all those “great” qualities, but not showing love and making love with your wife/husband does nothing but put the marriage in a very unhappy state. I’ve told my husband that I got married to not only have one man to love, but for that man to love only me….and to be able to have sex anytime we desired it. Fifteen years into our marriage, I am not proud to say that I would look for attention and affection from men on the internet. I never cheated on my husband in “real life”, but I’ve been really tempted!!!! But, I won’t because I believe in “if you’re not happy, and there’s no solution, then get out of the relationship before starting another one”….As a result of my feeling unloved and unwanted, I resorted to food to fill that void, which has made things worse because I’ve gained 150 pounds since we got married!!!!! 🙁 🙁 Yeah, so, I know how you all feel……it’s misery, desperation, confusion, unworthy, unattractive…. I can go on and on…..So, in the past five years, we have discussed getting a divorce, but I haven’t had a full-time job in years, no money saved up, and no outside financial help if I were to leave…..I would be homeless! So, here I am….feeling hopeless and unhappy, when I shouldn’t be!!! This is not what I expected from marriage at all…..thanks for listening to my rambling…. Mary

    • Thank you for sharing Mary, I completely understand. And I also find a sexual outlet on the internet, but I have never met anyone in person. Although I could not imagine going 5 years with out sex. I feel much better since I have shared my story. I am going to stick this out till my youngest is out of high school (5 years). The kids are more important than my sex(less) life. I feel selfish even considering leaving because of that.
      I’ll continue to take care of my needs in a private way but I am still rolling over and instigating anything under the covers in bed. Rejection can kill an ego.

      • Does your wife know that you intend to leave? You say that the kids are more important than the state of your sexless marriage. Have you wondered what your kids are learning about marriage from you and your wife? You have five years to try to turn things around. If she knew you were planning to leave, do you think she might use that time to work on your marriage with you?

        Sexual outlets on the internet are a bad idea. Using porn, sexual chatrooms, and webcamming are sinful enough, and they invite even more sin. A chatroom can lead to a private chat can lead to a webcam can lead to a “hey, I happen to have a business meeting in a town just two hours from where you live.” Please be careful with your soul and tend to the gift of sexuality in a God-honoring way. (This link has several articles about masturbating without sin.)

        I am sorry for your pain.

    • Mary, I can completely understand EVERYTHING you are saying. In my case, it’s even more extreme. We’ve been together 23 years, married for 20. No sex in somewhere between 15-18 years, and before that it was almost non-existent. I was a very sexual person before marriage. I’m now ashamed to say that because I now get how sinful that was, and even wonder if that’s why I’m in the predicament I am. He’s told me he was never very sexual. But in our early years, though I knew there was a problem, I loved him so much…even the limited sex was better than any other. I have suffered so much…being married to the man I love, and he has less than ZERO sex drive. We did counseling, viagra, testosterone therapy, you name it. Nothing has made a difference. We don’t even sleep together. He barely touches me, except for a quick hug or kiss. I became physically ill, emotionally ill, and broken through this. Before getting married and for the first 10 years of marriage, I was beautiful and had a nice figure. Then, I too, began turning to food for comfort. Now I’ve also turned to sleep as well. I’ve gained 120 lbs, now have diabetes and other weight-related illnesses…now I’m in my 50s and I feel sick, totally unattractive, old, fat and depressed. I’ve lost me. I feel pretty sure that sex is a distant memory and after so much rejection and damage done, I wouldn’t even want it with him anymore. And he spends almost all of his time at home in a recliner watching TV! This is how he wants it. I’ve stayed because he swears how much he loves me, treats me very well in other ways, and mostly because God hates divorce. We have a daughter and in many ways I do still feel like he’s my best friend. My utterly platonic and oblivious best friend. He will never talk about our problems and acts like everything is fine. It’s NOT! Sorry this is so long….I’ve just been holding it in so long! Kay

      • Helen S. on March 9, 2015 at 5:36 pm said:

        I can completely understand your situation Kay. I have been married for 15 years and the last 10 have been purely platonic. I have stayed for much of the same reason as you; and I would not want to hurt him by leaving. He is a good man and treats me well, but like you he will never talk about what this issue does to me.. It is certainly not the married life I had hope for. After all these yrs it really does feel like we are just room mates

        • I am so sorry. You and your husband both deserve better, but it would mean that you would have to push the issue. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing for your husband to experience some hurt if it were to lead to change–but it is very hard to hurt someone you love.

        • I had a Christian counselor tell me that maybe I’ve made things too easy for my husband. That he sounds like the kind of man who won’t change unless he’s forced to. And she even said that
          separating is not divorce…and maybe that’s what I need to do.
          He will never change, sexually…because I’ve come to believe that he is asexual. But the part about me living on my own again does sound intriguing. I start thinking about it and how I if I were on my own, maybe I could “find myself” again…ya know? Like pursuing my own interestes, getting in shape (which frankly I have had little deisre to do under the current circumstances), and getting more involved in church and volunteer activities. I used to be creative and inspired…I don’t even know that old me anymore from all the years of frustration and feeling undesirable. Cheating is not on the agenda. I don’t want to commit adultery! I’d just love to not have daily reminders of how dysfunctional our marriage really is. Also, my husband says he’s Christian, but doesn’t walk the walk. And on top of that, I’ve been the major breadwinner all these years! When he’s away on business, I think about separating a lot, try to mentally plan, but then he comes home and is so sweet to me, I don’t know what to do or think. He really is like a super sweet and dear best friend…just not like a husband in the biblical sense of the word…at all. I know no other will treat me like he does, but still, without physical intimacy and sex, that’s not enough.

          Helen, how are you handling it in your life? Can I ask how hold you are? I’m in my 50’s, but these days, I feel a lot older!

  14. I’m sorry you’re stuck in this cycle. What has your husband said about why he hasn’t been interested in sex? Is there a porn problem or medical issue that could be addressed?

    Food doesn’t fill the void, and connecting online with other men is a form of infidelity and doesn’t work, either. What have you done so far to try to address this issue in your marriage and the sadness in your heart?

  15. Hurting wife on December 22, 2014 at 2:43 pm said:

    My problem is my husband and I have been together and married for a little over a year. I found out he was into internet chat with other girls talking extremely sexual to them and things he wanted. And though we are getting counseling, he has no desire to love me properly. He works from 6am -4pm. And then wants dinner and falls asleep on the couch. We were watching a movie or TV show that had a romance scene, but not the full blown sexual act, and just the leading up, and I asked my husband, if just for once I could have the passion and roamance they had and he flat out said NO. He never showed sexual interest in me except when we first started dating and I seriously wonder if that was to feed his addiction, and oops in that, he fell in love with me. I have gotten to the point of why do it to him. My counselor and my hubby both say I should, yet, he doesn’t want it, I don’t think he ever did, and I have a problem with my uterus where I cant have kids really. So if u don’t can’t have a kid to show as a result of your love, why bother. And the sad part is I’m 27 and he’s 31. I don’ know how to bring it up to him because even in our conversations about it, he still doesn’t see the problem. And he gets real quiet when I talk about it. He doesn’t wanna talk about it. And yet, I am still the faithful wife and have never cheated on him. I cool, and clean the best I can, and trying to juggle friends and family, while attending a Floral Design course online to get my degree in that. And I feel like he has checked out. I don’t know what more to do. We get along great if we were friends, but as lovers, that doesn’t exist. I also don’t think some medical issues should stop sex. Yes he has back issues and some vericose vein issues, but yet he will push himself at work despite and pain, and yet, he can’t show me the same dedication? And all he talks about is his work. He never stops!! Ugh!! I have back issues myself, but they NEVER stop me from doing my wifely duties. And I am sick and tired of ALWAYS initiating the time of romance. He has NEVER initiated any time with me. I am starting to thoroughly convince myself, he never truly loved me. How do I go on like this?

    • I am sorry you’re hurting so much. I wish I had a magic formula I could give you that would work overnight in giving you both a wonderful marriage. I believe that marriages can heal, even from things more difficult than what you’re describing, but it takes hard work from both spouses. I am encouraged by the fact that you are in counseling. I would like to recommend individual counseling as well as marriage counseling. You need to support and guidance in working through the challenges you face–and the more equipped you are to deal with things, the more your husband has the space and opportunity he needs to work on his stuff–and it sounds like he has lots of stuff to work on.

      Although he may be struggling with the thought of not having children (and he may not know how to talk about it yet), it sounds like the big issues predate your marriage. Men with sex addiction often have no idea how to be in a real relationship that requires vulnerability, intimacy, and giving. He can learn, but he has to decide that he wants to. What has your counselor said about all of this

      I would like to suggest that you join the Marriage Bed forum. It is a place for Christian spouses to get support from others specifically in relation to sexual intimacy. You are not alone in dealing with this stuff.

      Hopefully, some of my other readers will see your comment and offer some suggestions to you for how to move forward. You can’t make your husband change–but you can work on yourself so you are better able to respond to your husband’s problems.

      • Hurting wife on December 22, 2014 at 4:30 pm said:

        My hubby knows about the kids situation. And he has always wanted a child. And he thinks that maybe a few procedure or check into it can change it and fix it. And maybe, but I at the same time have struggle with being ok with even having Children in the first place. But I have recently become accepting of my fears and ok with going through the fear of pregnancy and child birth. But as for our marriage, it seems so much like I give and give and give, and I get sooo little in return. I am trying to fix this mess, I am trying to make sex fun or try and make it work. And though he agreed to the counseling, he is doing it because I got to a point of counseling or no marriage. And because he says he wants to change. He’s had done this internet sex thing once before. I caught him, and he promised not to do, then he did it again. And at that point I had enough. One time I asked him if he found me still attractive and he said, no he didn’t. And when I expressed my shock, he said that wasn’t exactly how he meant it. He says he needs help and asked for my help and I know he has wanted to change. And he has improved on not looking at the junk. And I do random checks now and then. But I feel the counseling is helping the friendship aspect, and not fixing the sexual part of the relationship. And yet, in our counseling we are suppose to talk to each other about it, and our counseling encourages that. So I am afraid to talk about it at counseling because it will cross boundaries, that I don’t really know if I can cross. He doesn’t wanna talk, and yet, the counselor does want to help, but this deep of hurt and confusion, I don’t know if I can. I did suggest a sex counselor one time and my husband had a Fit, there was no way he was gonna go see a sex counselor. But yet there is no passion in our love making, it seems too much like a routine. Yes, I feel satisfied for a night or two, because I am denied it so much, but I do all the foreplay and such. I have to ask him to touch me. He won’t do it on his own. I need a lover sooooo bad. I need sooo bad to be wanted. I need sex on a regular basis. I want soooo much to make him want me. I have the healthy, Godly perspective on this despite my own screw up with another man. All I want for Christmas this year is one night of all the stops of romance pulled out, the candles, the dinner, the flowers, the hot passionate filled romance I can have, him leading sex, instead of me. And then for the romance to continue. Because as soon as we make love one night, I want more and more with him and yet, I feel by his actions I am not allowed more. He can make me laugh, and take care of me when I am sick, and he tries his best to keep food on the table and as many bills paid as he can, and everything else besides sexually, we get along great. But like I said, sexually, we are sooo different and I am so broken and hurting, I am tired of the tears, and headaches from crying, and the deep hurt in my heart. And I soo often think, maybe if I lost some more weight. Maybe if I do the dishes or house work more often when my back feels stronger, or maybe if I was more like the girls on the internet that he wanted to do all sorts of crazy sexual things with, or maybe if I….., but nothing can be farther from the truth. There is nothing I could do, that to me seems acceptable enough for him to sexually love me properly, because I don’t think he wants that intimacy between us as far as I can tell. And I can talk about it, and he can agree and promise yes he’ll change. And it lasts for all of about a few days, and then it’s back to, I’ll give u sex when I find it convient. I made sorta a joke last night at church during a game night, that because of the cards he played on me in uno, I would get him back later(meaning sex) and he said no, and I said yes, and he said no because he would be sleeping. Then he tells his brother who is just starting to date a new girl, that sometimes u gotta do the things to make the woman folk happy since we double dated to the Nutcracker. But yet he can’t have regular sex with his own wife. I don’t needs this and I can’t live like this anymore.

  16. Dear Hurting Wife, I am so sorry you and your husband are struggling. I agree with Chris that there is hope. Even the worst of marriage situations can be healed through hard work and the Holy Spirit. I am married to a man who has struggles with pornography addiction. We have come a long way and it does take work on both sides.

    I have two books for you to consider reading. The first is “Surfing for God.” It’s about sex addiction. It’s written for men. However, it may give you insight into why your husband is like he is and it offers tools. You may even be able to convince your husband to read it. The second book is “Boundaries” by Cloud & Townsend. This book will help you see what you are responsible for and what your husband is responsible for. I had some things confused and was carrying burdens that weren’t mine to carry.

    Long term fixes usually require a long term process. I’m sure you are already praying for God to send you resources and ideas and help. Chris is a wonderful resource and help! The Marriage Bed, as Chris mentioned, is also a wonderful place of support and guidance.

  17. I mourn the loss of my wife.
    She has abandoned me emotionally, leaving me to suffer and die inside.
    Every day has been like a roller coaster, the irrational fantasy that somehow, this time she will realize the torment that I live as an unloved husband.
    We live in a sexless marriage. I have heard it said that a sexless marriage is defined as a marriage with less than ten sexual encounters per year. This year is almost over, and we have had only five, and with Christmas eve two days away, I am doubting we will catch up.
    I am 6’2″, 235 lbs and I cry. I am resentful. My soul screams in agony at the injustice, and yet, I have no recourse. I want to leave.
    It tears me apart because she is my wife and I wanted to spend our lives together, until death do us part. I am dying. The sadness is killing me inside. I have been faithful our entire marriage. The thought of any other woman does not even appeal to me, but the dream of being loved does. Oh, to be loved, really loved. Smiling, playfulness, cuddling, a kiss, a loving touch, even a glance. It is not even all about sex. Some say unloved, un-nurtured animals will eventually whither and die. I feel it.
    The realization that I will, In order to be faithful to my vow to God, spend the remaining years of my life grudgingly celibate is excruciating. If I am sitting and the thought comes, my head sinks almost to the floor, if I am standing, my knees buckle. How can someone be so cold, cruel, so soul-less. It affects every important aspect of my life, from my relationship with God, to my kids, to my work. I struggle to let anyone even close as a friend because the one who is supposed to be the most loyal has betrayed me.
    It sickens me to think of her “allowing” me to have sex with her out of obligation, duty or pity. A dutiful hug or peck of a kiss is like a knife in my throat. I would rather be dead. I have considered it. But, there are the kids. For them, I keep on. One more day. I don’t know how long I can keep this up. I don’t know what else to do.

    • Hurting wife on December 22, 2014 at 10:32 pm said:

      I know what u mean. I love my husband too, but the sexlessness is unbearable. And it seems so tuff to deal with it. Although tonight, I finally got to a point where I had to tell him how much I was hurting and that I was sick of the deep feeling of brokeness and the feeling of forgotten. And that I was sick of the tears I quietly cried to myself. And maybe if u could tell your wife that u feel this way, she may listen. And also gently let her know that God wants her to be the woman He made her to be. And let her know how much it hurts you to not see her love u the way God instructs her to. I think maybe that is what u gotta do. Is let the other know how broken and shattered you feel. And if they have any form of compassion left for u or even just humanity at all, they hopefully should feel some sort of remorse or upset at themselves. And I even told my hubby that I want a night of just pure romance for Christmas. Even if it had to wait a bit due to his pay and money. But just a night to rediscover the romance u had and use sex as the healing your soul needs. I don’t know it what I have said is of any help, or even specifically what should be, but maybe people like us, need to use our voice more and not just bottle it in to ourselves. I thoughr maybe my hubby would ignore me or get upset, or just pure not answer, bit once I started my voice, he came and listened and held me and cried a bit. And maybe if u do the same, I hope she will do the same for u.

    • Scott St. Onge on September 17, 2016 at 8:19 am said:

      I understand.

  18. on December 22, 2014 at 11:34 pm said:

    Thanks, but she is beyond htat. all she can do is blame. Too much sinful pride.

    • Hurting wife on December 23, 2014 at 6:14 am said:

      That’s when I kindly challange u as the husband to say to her, u don’t wanna hear the excuses, u are no longer gonna accept the excuses. I can say that because my husband tries sorta the same thing from time to time. When it gets serious I get the answer of “I don’t know” to why are you doing that. And it stops there. And I have gotten to the point with him of I want more than an I don’t know. I want an answer. And won’t stop bugging him till I get one. And on top of it, when u think, forget it, she won’t listen. She doesn’t love me. She doesn’t care. She will keep blaming people or me. And u keeping stuffing it, the deeper the hurt becomes. And I can tell u are getting to the point I was, and maybe still slightly in. I wanted the love soooo bad my heart literally hurt due to my deep, unbearable longing. As a husband You are to make her listen. I am not saying tie her up, that is just mean and won’t accomplish anything. But sit her down one night, depending on how old the kids are, if u you can get them away, or if they are little, put them to bed for the night. And u tell her, ” Baby, I love you with all my heart. But lately I have been sooo saddened by wondering if I am enough for you anymore. And am I still sexy to you. I don’t wanna hear the excuses of Bobby always needs me, or Suzie was throwing food and I had to clean it up, or my family brought me up this way, or any other excuses, I don’t care about that at the current moment. I wanna love u the way God loves you. And I want you to know that you I appreciate all that you do, but I so often feel forgotten and alone. I know you have the kids, but I as your husband need to know you still need me. I want to know why you have forgotten about me and don’t show me the love we use to have anymore. I want to know why you always blame me or others for things. There are so many times I cry to myself quietly because my heart hurts sooo much, regardless of how ridiculous a man crying sounds. It is true. I am tired of the If only I….., I am tired of wondering if you even wanna be close anymore. I feel sooo broken. Baby please, don’t continue to me hurt this way. Do u want us still, because baby, I still want you and want at least some more romance back. I love you unconditionally.” That should hopefully get you somewhere. As a side note though, also as a husband, if the kids are super little, like under the age of 2, you gotta realize that she as a mother needs to tend to them. And can get overwhelmed and maybe her blaming really has nothing to do with u. And if it does, maybe she just needs a little help. But that is not an excuse to forget about you. But find every possible way to get her kindly backed into a corner where excuses are not acceptable, and distractions are not available, and that u make her to speak talk. It could also be she feels that due to your silent hurt she’s doesnt know about, that you stopped showing her the love she needs. She needs a deep feeling of love, and ask her what she needs to feel loved and do it, despite your natural instinct of I am done, she doesn’t respect me anymore. And like I said as men, you have a deep need for respect, as well as love. But u feel most loved when she respects you. For my husband and I, our situation was not caused by that, it was caused by his internet lust issue. He loved me and I respected him, but he had a problem with internet lust. One way or another the cycle needs to end. And I hope you get to the point it ends with u. If she still tries excuses, or just says you are being ridiculous, or whatever other hurtful thing she can think of, then say, “I wanna make this work, and I ask we go to counseling. I can see if mom and dad or a friend can take the kids(if they are that little), or I’ll tell the kids we gotta go somewhere (if they are old enough to be left alone) and we gonna talk because I wanna what is going on. If you won’t do it here, then we need help.” And then go to counseling. But be persistent. I know u love her, but u need answers. And take whatever means necessary to get them. And if it goes as deep as the love is gone, then u can deal with that. And I am sorry she feels that way, but let’s hope that isn’t it and that she just is tired, a little wired, and could use a little appreciation. I know it gets tiring trying to always give and give and not feel like you are getting not even a fraction of the effort you are putting out there. But put this last effort in. And see where it goes. You may be surprised. I know every kiss and touch feels like a knife because you want more, but can’t get more, but try and give it one honest, selfless try and make up your mind today to say enough is enough, this stops NOW!!! And get mad enough in your heart to make it stop. But again, don’t blame her, don’t go to he level. Just let her know her know you still love her and this is literally killing you and it needs to end now.

      • Hurting wife,
        I can identify with you and Vern so much, because my religious beliefs are the only thing keeping me in my marriage, and even that is beginning to fail. You are young, and have many years of disappointment ahead of you if choose to stay in your marriage. I know. I have been married 21 years, and my wife and I are barely hanging on. Unless you get a miracle that I haven’t, your spouse is not going to change.
        My wife and I have had an almost sexless marriage for years. Not much has changed since I first posted back in February. I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed to God for help over the years. I am not the best Christian, but I try. I know you have to live for God in order for your prayers to be heard, but just how good do you have to be do get an answer or help? I am having a crisis of faith at this point.
        I feel there comes a time when you just have to make a break and move on to be happy. I have not reached that point yet, but I see it coming if things don’t improve soon. Right now I am only with my wife because of our two daughters. I have decided that I will leave when they graduate high school, if I can wait that long (5 years), but I am doubting I will make it.
        I guess i am saying that if I were in your shoes, with no kids to complicate things, I would leave. Ask God for forgiveness after you leave, if you feel the need to. I don’t see how God expects us to live in circumstances like this.

  19. Hello All,
    This issue has been on my mind a lot over the past year, both from personal experience and from those around me. I am thankful for this post and hope others will come across it. For myself, I have been feeling frustrated at a lack of sex with my wife for the past few years (we have been married for 18 years), but until now I never knew that my marriage would be considered ‘sexless’ as defined at the beginning of the article. I have been thinking, “Well, I get to have sex about once a month, so I should be happy.” But as my frustration grew, I felt more and more guilty about it. As many others on here have shared, I am sick and tired of the rejection and how it makes me feel. So, it has gotten to the point where even if my wife makes a comment about a possible sexual encounter, I hope something will come up so I can “reject” her. I know this is not healthy. 🙂

    The other issue, and maybe others can chime in if it is part of their experience, is that my wife was very sexually aggressive during our dating years. For much of that time, I had to be the “strong” one and stop us. Well, right before we got engaged, it was too much and we went for a few weeks having sex. After growing up as a Christian, this was a very dark time in my life (and for her also). Both of us asked for forgiveness, sought counseling and accountability and were able to not do it again until our honeymoon. But even after all these years, I know that I hold that against her. I feel like she used sex as a “bait and switch”. I thought she was going to be a very horny wife, but now I often wonder why I got married in the first place. If the Bible tells us to marry so that we will not “burn”, I felt better about my sexuality (and ability to control my desires) back before I even had a girlfriend.

    So, right now, I know this issue is driving a wedge between me and God. I hate how sex controls me, controls my thoughts about my wife, and controls my self-esteem (when my advances are rejected). I have also recently found out about some marital problems with a couple friends of mine, both sexual, and one couple are planning on separating soon. My heart is aching right now and the one thing I am feeling is that we, as Christians, have got to figure this out! If our lives are better in Christ, why are so many Christians sexually unfulfilled in their marriage?

    In my heart I believe in a God that can move mountains and raise the dead. But why can’t I bring Him into my sexual life? I spent many years as a music director/pastor and gave out spiritual advice over and over. It seems I believe God can help others, but not myself. I really hear pain in Vern’s posting and I also don’t understand why God doesn’t step in with the same power that caused 3,000 people a day to join the church in Acts.

    As most others, I am also tired of Christian platitudes. “God understands”, “just pray”, can only go so far. Can we really help each other out? Vern, I know God can do miracles, so how we release that power?

  20. Starla on January 7, 2015 at 2:19 pm said:

    As I read this, and comments, I find myself even more frustrated with my situation.

    I married a man who initially had no issues in the bedroom. Once pregnant he started using me for a place to release, (he would have sex with me while I was asleep, or initiate sex and remove my pants only to last a few seconds). I found a questionable email one day when he left it open (when it dinged I noticed it) from a man who was inquiring about the next encounter he would have with my husband… Almost immediately (within a minute or so) there was a response sent from the iPhone app requesting a lunch time meeting… Then poof, the emails were deleted and the trash mail emptied.

    Of course I questioned him (and this wasn’t the only email as there were several more with time date stamps for months prior.) I messaged one of them and they had a lot of details about my relationship, my husband and our home. He swore it wasn’t him and that his ex wife must have hacked his account. I obviously requested his email password and now his emails are all spam, promotion or from me, like its become an invalid account to keep me quiet.

    I could go on but I think I’ve made that point.

    FF to today (only 4 years later), I’m lucky if we have 2 encounters a month, usually 1 doesn’t include intercourse as he will finish before we even start and the other (if I get another) is almost like he isn’t here.

    I don’t want a failed marriage… Aside from this our issues are minimal. He provides for us and is a good father.
    But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say
    I’m beyond frustrated…. With not just the trust issue but the feeling of confirmation due to his lack of sexual desires of me (which is how I stumbled onto.this thread).

    • Starla, I wish I knew what to say to encourage and comfort you, but I’m afraid I don’t. It sounds to me like your husband is hiding some pretty big things from you. This deception is not good for your marriage, and your husband needs to stop. Are you part of a church, and have you shared this with your pastor? I think your husband may need to hear, man to man, that his actions are wrong.

      I hate to have to ask this, but have you been tested for sexually transmitted infections? From what you describe, it sounds very much to me like your husband is not being faithful to you. I do hope I’m wrong, but it could explain a lot about why he doesn’t have sexual energy for you. It sounds to me like the sexual problem is one that is rooted in deception, and I would not say your issues are minimal. A deceptive and selfish heart will show up outside the bedroom eventually.

      I would like to suggest that you talk with a pastor and come up with a plan. Remember that not only are you affected by whatever he is doing, he is as well. Every time he sins, he separates himself further from God. It would be good for him to hear this.

      One more thing–I know you don’t want a failed marriage. No one does. Remember, though, that a failed marriage is not necessarily a failure on your part. You can do only so much. It’s up to your husband to do his share of marriage work, and it sounds to me like he’s dropping the ball big-time. God can do mighty work on a sinful spouse’s heart, so there is hope. But seek real-life help. You shouldn’t have to bear this burden without the support of people who can help both your husband and you.

      • Starla on January 8, 2015 at 2:20 am said:

        I agree, deception is big and obvious in our marriage. And I feel like a fool for many reasons… Some that even sound foolish just thinking about typing them.

        We have been tested, and will be again. It was my very first request (even before requesting passwords).

        It also sounds like he is unfaithful to me too, and short of following him around or having him followed I have no way of honestly knowing. And that make this all so much harder…

        He is in weekly mentoring and has recently started reading the Bible throughout the day, however without some serious proof I’m scared to open that can of worms at our church. We recently moved here and its a new church that doesn’t yet have a permanent pastor (the last one retired at the close of 2014). Speaking to a pastor is certainly on my list once it becomes a more approachable situation.

        Thank you so much for your response.

  21. This made me cry… tears of healing. So glad I found your blog!

  22. Christopher on April 11, 2015 at 9:00 pm said:

    Vern, my scene exactly. I cry internally daily from the rejection. 27 years! It’s slow death.

  23. Angie on July 4, 2015 at 12:51 am said:

    What if your husband is the one who won’t have sex with you?

    • I’m sorry, Angie. I think it is probably hard to be a sexually refused wife than husband in our society. It contradicts the stereotype, and a refused wife often has to hear other women complaining about the very thing she yearns to have.

      I write to wives who have refused to have sex because it is my experience. However, I do have a few resource suggestions for you.

      • Spice and Love blog, written by a higher-drive wife – Although the writer is no longer posting, spend some time reading through the archives. Be sure to check out her First Time Here? and Marriage Resources pages.
      • The For Husbands page on my site – Scroll down to Other Resources and read the posts listed from The Curmudgeonly Librarian. He has a series on addressing sexless marriages, and you may find some of his suggestions helpful.
      • The Marriage Bed – Join the discussion forum. You’ll find others who are walking the same journey you are–including other women. You should find good encouragement and support there.

      Do you know why your husband won’t have sex? Some of the common explanations are low testosterone, pornography addiction, and past sexual trauma. One of the first steps you can take is to insist on a full medical workup that includes a check on testosterone levels. If low T is the problem, it is something you can address.

      Take a look at the resources and see if anything looks do-able for you. And please know that you are not alone, even though you may feel like you are.

  24. JeffR on July 10, 2015 at 9:18 am said:

    Married twenty seven years and the first seventeen were great in terms of sex. The last ten, a living heck. I turned fifty this year, my wife is forty eight this fall. We have two kids who are 22 and 21 and our 22 year old just got married. I am so alone and that is how a sexless marriage impacts me. I am never acting on it, but I need the physical touch, the wanting you kiss and look in a woman’s eyes for me that tells me that she WANTS me, wants me emotionally, spiritually and yes, physically and sexually. I have lost 75 lbs over the last year. And will lose another sixty to secure that from someone and to secure my health. We are getting everything set up financially and then I am going to divorce her. My wife knows I am unhappy and does nothing to correct it. So I am done. God does not want me to endure this pain and misery. I could have cheated early on and over the last year, I won’t. I placed it in God’s hands and have forgiven my wife, it is her issue and since she won’t deal with it, I am going to find someone who will meet me on equal ground, and if not, I’d rather walk through life alone. No more of this patience and I’ll endure this and wait for her or since I love her I will endure. I’m done and if your the spouse who is causing the sexless ness. Realize this is the risk you take by not changing.

    I will take the stigma of divorce on a chance for happiness, then misery for the time I have left. At least there is no rejection of me. Sad really because we have an excellent marriage in so many ways. Truth is my wife still makes my heart go pity patter when I am with her, my heart aches to be touched, caressed, to be kissed by her. But I know now that will never happen and I would rather be alone then live in a marriage of no physical intimacy of any kind. I admit I am not perfect, but I am a very good man. A man who does the dishes, folds the laundry with her, spends time with her because I want to. No more, I am done. So if you believe a sexless marriage doesn’t hurt your spouse, it does, more than you can know. It ends the holy habitation of marriage long before the divorce attorney are hired. That is the formalization of ending the relationship that truly ended years ago. Bag this happy ending stuff. There is a time to change for the sexless spouse and there is a time to move on. My advice if your spouse is sexless towards you and has been for more than five years is to forgive them, place them in God’s hands and with God, move on. If they choose to be sexless, that is their choice and they must live with the consequence of it. I doubt a spouse who is sexless is truly going to change back or transform into enjoying sex. Time to look forward with faith and hope, secure that with God, even if alone, I am better off than being alone in a sexless, unwanted marriage.

    • I can’t help but wonder what happened in year 17 that led to such a change in your marriage. I am also curious about what else was going on in the marriage.

      There are many who will say that the lack of sexual intimacy does not justify a divorce, but I am not one of them. There isn’t much of a marriage without intimacy. However, I do hope you have worked hard on your contributions to the marriage so you can be assured that you truly tried. If there was a relationship problem that contributed to your wife’s reasons for avoiding sex, it would be a shame if you hadn’t worked to address them. You may be right that the relationship truly ended years ago–but was that a result of the sexlessness, or did it come before the sexlessness?

      Pray for your wife’s heart to grow closer to God. Do what you need to do, and do ALL that you need to do. I can’t tell from your comment what you have tried in the way of seeking healing in your marriage. I hope you have. Your comment to place a time limit and expect the change to happen from the spouse who withholds sex sounds reasonable–except that there is often a lot of work that the deprived spouse needs to be doing for the marriage as well. My husband could have done some things that would have encouraged my healing years earlier, and we would have had more years of true intimacy. Seek God in all you do, and know that he loves both you and your wife very much.

    • @JeffR
      As a long time refused spouse (25 plus years of a 35 year marriage) I can really and truly feel your pain, but I would ask you to seek out a good marriage counselor before going the route of divorce. Even if you have to see a counselor alone it will help you work through the pain and issues in your marriage. I can see from what you wrote that you still love your bride, you just hate the loneliness and pain that the refusal brings. You are in my prayers, brother.
      May God heal your marriage.


  25. Missionary to Mexico on July 20, 2015 at 2:06 pm said:

    My wife announced to me last year that she never thought it would happen, but she no longer wants sex. The gynocologist said that at her age she has almost lost all of her estrogen. I asked him if it would be dangerous to her health to have sex and he said no. We haven’t had sex since April of last year. She also thinks that hugging and kissing are not necessary, that love can be shown in other ways. I am 76 years old and she will be 68 soon. We have been married for a little over 5 years. We live in Mexico but she is from Colombia, and has expressed the desire to go back there, with or without me, because she really misses her family there, especially her youngest son, who is 34 years old and has been begging for her to come back (she called him 32 times in May).

    I stayed celebate for 27 years before marrying her. It was not easy, but God gave me enough grace to do it. However, I told her that being celebate living with a wife is something I cannot do for the rest of my life. 1st Cor. 7:5 says that it opens up the person who wants to have sex to satanic attacks. Therefore, I told her that when she goes back to Colombia to visit (probably in November or January), that she should stay there until we get this problem worked out. In other words, I told her that I did not want a divorce, that I still loved her, but that we need to separate when she goes back to Colombia. The worst that can happen is that she won’t want to come back here, which, for me, is a lot better than living in a loveless marriage.

    In short, God does not expect us to be in celebate marriages. Frankly, I was much happier when I was single and living alone than I am now.

    • Thank you for sharing your pain here. My prayer is that a wife sees this and has her heart softened. One spouse should not be sentencing the other spouse to a marriage of celibacy. Your wife sounds as unhappy as you do. Is it possible that she is experiencing depression related to loneliness (being separated from her family)? Depression can interfere with interest in sex and with the willingness to address problems.

      I’m glad you took the time to comment.

      • Missionary to Mexico on July 20, 2015 at 2:58 pm said:

        In Latin America, family is much more important than in the United States. I was concerned about this when I first met her. I told her that God had called me to Aguascalientes, Mexico and that any women who wanted to marry me would have to live where I have been living. She said, “I want to do God’s will”. Apparently, God has changed His mind (at least, as far as she is concerned)!

        When I first visited her in Colombia, her then 29 year old son was living with her. He did not have a job and did not contribute to the household expenses and pretty much did what he wanted. I hoped that the “umbilical cord” between him and her would be cut when she moved to Mexico, but it just got longer! In Latin American culture, it is common for many men to cling to their mothers more than their wives.

        When we were communicating on the internet, we became more and more romantic with each other. I asked her to be my girl friend without ever having met her in person (they say there is no fool like an old fool). When I first met her in person at the airport in Barranquilla, Colombia I expected to get a big hug but what I got was a cold response. We went to a park close to her house and I expressed a lot of concern over this, telling her that i had something for her if she wanted to go on with the relationship. She got a lot friendlier after that and i gave her the engagement ring that i bought her when we went to her house.

        We had a great honeymoon in Colombia! However, after that our sexual relationship went downhill to where it has now disappeared. She refuses to get Christian counseling. It appears to me that she values the relationship with her children and grandchildren a lot more than our marriage relationship. She also was used to doing pretty much what she wanted as a widow, living independently and being the head of her household. She wants to have that same lifestyle with me, traveling wherever she wants even without me. i have not restricted her and have given her plenty of liberty. I have also done my best to be a good husband and provider for her, expressing my love for her frequently.

        I now suspect that she married me for reasons other than love. I was much happier as a single man than living with a wife who does not love me. I would love for us to get godly counseling, but she is not interested. I would much rather be happily married than being single. I did not get married just to have sex, but to have a romantic relationship with a lifetime partner, doing God’s work together.

        However, an unhappy marriage is worse than being single.

        • However, an unhappy marriage is worse than being single.

          This is true. When good-faith efforts to heal a marriage are not enough, perhaps it is time for a divorce. After all, that would allow someone to live as a single person again, but without the constant reminders of loneliness and feelings of rejection that come in a sexless marriage.

          I am sorry for your pain.

  26. Missionary to Mexico on July 20, 2015 at 2:16 pm said:

    Thanks for having the courage to do this website! I believe that it helps men who are tempted to be bitter towards women because of this problem to know that there are women like you out there!

    • It’s a mixed bag. On one hand, I do believe that some men find hope as they read the posts and comments from other women who have worked to make positive changes in their marriages. However, I know that sometimes the posts here foster bitterness: If she could change, why won’t my wife change? If a man finds that reading here makes him sad or bitter, he needs to step away for a while.

  27. Missionary to Mexico on July 20, 2015 at 3:05 pm said:

    I am praying for my wife to change so that both of us will want the type of marriage that God wants us to have. Those who appear to be provoked to be bitter against their wives because of this website need to realize it wasn’t this website that provoked them to be bitter, that this bitterness was already in their hearts. I still love my wife and i never want to be bitter towards her. God will never be able to heal my marriage if i have any bitterness towards my wife!

  28. Missionary to Mexico on July 20, 2015 at 5:38 pm said:

    I have a specific question: When a woman is older and her estrogen is almost non-existant, is that a valid reason to never have sex anymore? I really haven’t had any Christian counselor answer this question yet from a health standpoint.

    • Unless a woman has some unique medical circumstances, a lack of estrogen is most definitely not a reason not to have sex!

      Low estrogen can cause some symptoms that make sex very uncomfortable for many women. There is usually a decrease in vaginal lubrication, but the use of a personal lubricant such as KY Jelly or coconut oil takes care of that quite well. Some women also experience vaginal atrophy–and the absolute best way to maintain healthy vaginal tissue is regular sexual activity.

      A woman who experiences a decrease in her libido can and should continue to participate in sexual intimacy with her husband, as it helps maintain other kinds of intimacy between the two of them. Even if the symptoms of low estrogen truly prevent intercourse, there are other ways of staying sexually intimate. (See this post for some ideas.)

      It can be good for her health to stay sexually intimate, and it is definitely good for the marriage.

      • Missionary to Mexico on July 21, 2015 at 10:16 am said:

        Thanks for this excellent advice! You answered my question completely and thoroughly!

        Unfortunately, my wife does not believe that physical affection is necessary in a marriage, that love can be shown in other ways instead (such as her cooking a meal for me, etc.). For me, a marriage wthout physical intimacy is not a marriage!

        I did not get married just to have sex, but to have romance! Before my wife and I got married, we communicated with each other on the internet almost every day (sometimes several times a day) and told each other that we loved each other often, even though we were not having sex then. I felt like I was on cloud nine then! Unfortunately, not only has the cloud come back to earth, I feel like I am under the earth!

        Thank you for all of your encouragement to those of us who are going through this very difficult time in our lives!

  29. Chrisy on August 1, 2015 at 11:24 pm said:

    I am in need of prayer. I waited until marriage. I was married less than a year before my husband was diagnosed with cancer. He is cancer free, but the surgeon cut a nerve and we haven’t been able have sex since. I am so very thankful that God gave us a child, as I don’t know how we would have made it this far without heartbreak. It has been over two years since we have had sex. My husband is not interested in the only option that would help, and I understand as it is rather painful and has risks, so we are living in a sexless marriage. We almost divorced six months ago as my husband has struggled with resentment for getting the surgery that led to this and anger. The last six months have been great, God has healed our marriage, but I can’t numb the ache for an intimate relationship with my husband. I know there are people with far worse situations, but it is hard to not hurt when I waited until marriage only to be with my husband such a short time before sex left our lives. I love my husband, I am so thankful for my marriage and the family we have built together, but it is hard praying….hoping God will one day answer my prayer but not knowing if it my prayer will be answered with my desire. I suppose I am reaching out for prayer? It’s also nice to let it out. A sexless marriage is a pain so personal and private, I often pray for alone as so few know my hurt.

    • I will keep you in my prayers, and I’m sure others will as well.

      Your heartache is evident in your words. It is so unfair. I imagine your husband is suffering as well. Have you sought counseling (individually or as a couple) to help you learn to navigate this season of life?

      Although intercourse is not an option, there are other paths to sexual intimacy: manual sex, oral sex, masturbating while he holds you, etc. Those things may not be what either of you would prefer, but they are better for your marriage than doing nothing.

      I know a woman who was married to her late husband for ten years before his death. They never had intercourse at all due to some medical conditions–yet they had a very active sex life.

      I am praying for you and your husband, dear sister.

  30. Hi Chris,

    It seems like you mentioned that you have some medical background. If so, could you please mention what it is and how much experience you have?

    We have an appointment with a nephrologist, who is a woman and a pastor’s wife. Could she determine whether it is safe for my wife to have sex with me or not? Or would we need to go to a gynecologist? We went to one last year (a non-believer), who explained that my wife does not want to have sex because her estrogen levels are almost non-existant (she is 68 years old, I am 76). When I asked him if it would be dangerous to her health for her to have sex with me, he answered no, but medically her desire is not there. I might ask this nephrologist if she could recommend a good gynecologist if my wife needs another opinion. What do you think?

    Wordly people do not see anything wrong with having sex outside of marriage. However, many wordly people think that it is O.K. for one spouse to refuse the other if one of them does not want sex. This is completely backwards from what the Bible teaches! One woman doctor, who supposedly is a Christian, but does not attend church, told me that it was selfish for me to want sex when my wife doesn’t want it. She said, “How would you like it if you were impotent and your wife always wanted to have sex with you?” At the time, I could not fathom how a man would not want to have sex with his wife, unless he were an adulterer or a homosexual. (However, lately I have seen posts from a lot of wives who are just as frustrated about this problem as I am. Men seem to be losing a lot of their masculinity these days.)

    • My medical background is that I research a lot of things that affect my family. I had several years of extreme gynecological pain and have worked extensively with a women’s health website. So no, I don’t really have a medical background. I just know a lot of stuff. 🙂

      Quite frankly, I’m puzzled that safety is even a point of discussion regarding your wife’s estrogen levels. Other than vaginal dryness (which can cause pain but which is also alleviated by the use of an artificial lubricant), I’ve never heard of any woman’s health being damaged by sex with low estrogen. There certainly are medical conditions that can lead to pain and damage and require medical treatment, though.

      A nephrologist is a kidney doctor. (I know this because my husband has one.) I think estrogen levels would be better discussed with a gynecologist but, any doctor should be able to provide some basic information and can help you understand what questions and concerns you should bring up to a gynecologist. I recommend sharing your concerns with the nephrologist and asking the best way to proceed.

      • Thanks, Chris.

        My wife also says that she has problems with her thyroids, kidneys, and low blood pressure, which are other reasons she gives for not wanting to have sex.

        Other reasons she gives me is that I am overweight and has never had romantic feelings towards me, that she married me because she felt pressured to do so.

        When I talked about separation, she seemed to be more willing to work with me on these issues. However, it appears that she is still not open to having sex with me. Also, she still refuses to receive marriage counseling with me, saying that God can help us directly without us having to go to a marriage counselor.

        She is planning to go back to Colombia to visit her family in December (she would like me to go with her). If the session with the Christian nephrologist does not go well on Thursday, I will tell my wife that she has two choices: A.) To make a sincere commitment and effort to be the wife to me that God has called her to be or B.) when she goes back to Colombia to visit, that she stays there until she chooses to obey God in our marriage. This may sound hard-nosed to some people, but at times we men need to be men and stand up to our wives when they are in constant rebellion against God’s plan for our marriages. I believe that deep down most women will respect a husband who will stand up to them when they are rebelling against God in the marriage. In order for us to stand up to the rebellious person, they need to understand that their continued rebellious attitude will bring very unfavorable results to them (such as the spouse who wants to make the marriage work leaving them).

        I’ve decided that I would rather have people criticize me for separating from my wife than living in a sexless marriage for the rest of my life. As many have said in these posts, the constant rejection is much more difficult to bear than a separation. Plus, as has been mentioned, trying to live in a sexless marriage brings a lot of ungodly temptation to the spouse who wants a sexual relationship with the other spouse (1st Cor. 7:5).

        • Your wife’s health problems can legitimately lead to a lack of desire. However, she could still choose to connect sexually.

          What kind of real-life support are you getting for yourself?

        • Hi Chris,

          I’m getting real life support mostly from this website and others like it. I have received a great deal of support from the founder of the BiblicalGenderRoles website. He is the one who encouraged me not to tolerate my wife’s sexual refusal.

          As far as where I live is concerned, there is one pastor that knows more about deliverance than anyone that I know of here where I live. He knows my wife and has talked to me several times over the phone. He has offered to counsel my wife and me, but she will not go to any counselor. She does not want anyone to know of our marriage problems. This is why I am getting most of my counseling and encouragement online. She saw me writing the previous post, but did not say anything since she does not understand English.

          In my experience so far, you and the founder of the website BiblicalGenderRoles seem to have more expertise on this subject than anyone that I know here or even anyone with my missions organization in the States. Even though there have been marital problems within the leadership of the ministerial organizations that I have credentials with, these problems are pretty well kept hush-hush.

          Those who love God, have been through these problems, and are transparent about them can help me a lot more than those who have not. It’s like someone who is struggling with alcohol going to a Christian pastor who was raised in a Christian home, received Christ at an early age, has served the Lord practically all of his life, and has been married to the same woman for over 40 years with a happy marriage. This pastor would have a hard time identifying with the alcoholic whose life is a disaster. However, those who are with AA could identify with him and at least be sympathetic towards him.

        • You have a real-life marriage problem, and the fact that your wife won’t get counseling doesn’t mean you can’t or that you shouldn’t.

          The founders of two websites are just two people, human, with their own biases. The mission at my site is to support wives; there is a limit to what I can and will say to you. Even in my responses to you here, I have your wife’s heart and experience in mind.

          You need assistance in developing tools and perspective that will help you. You can know that you shouldn’t tolerate your wife’s refusal, and you can know that what your wife is doing is not right–but that doesn’t in any way help you with the process of actually working through it. No matter how wrong your wife may be (and we’re not hearing any of her voice here, so we don’t know what else may be going on), how you address it matters. You need support in working through your own feelings and thoughts even as you address the refusal with your wife.

          I’d like to encourage you to join the discussion forums at The Marriage Bed. There is victory in an abundance of counselors, and you certainly will find that there. You’ll see that you are not the only husband to suffer through this, and you’ll also get suggestions for how to talk with your wife. While it is not the real-life support that I think you need, it at least it is more than support from two people who may not even agree with each other. You need help from other men who have lived through this experience.

        • Thanks, Chris.

          Of course, I realize that I need all the support and help that i can get for myself for this problem! It’s just that I don’t know where I can get it here. Especially without letting my wife know about it.

          There are some people in the States that I could call, but most of the time they are not available.

          Thanks for the tip about the other web site. Again, you and the brother at BiblicalGenderRoles have helped me more than anyone else so far. You-all have been a lot more available than others in the States to give me godly counseling.

          I’ll admit if I could find someone here where I live who could help me through this process without my wife knowing about it, it would be great! If she goes to Colombia without me I will be a lot more free to pursue helpful counseling here.

          Again, thanks for all of your help and may God bless you richly!

  31. Hi Chris,

    Another thing I have been thinking about lately is a couple who would do marriage intervention with me for my wife. My wife has a woman friend who with her husband pastors a church here. Her and her husband are in their sixties and they seem to have a happy marriage. Unlike my wife, she is very affectionate.

    My wife might be very upset if I contact them and ask them to do an intervention, since she does not want anybody to know about our marriage problems and has steadfastly refused to go to marriage counseling with me. However, if she gets so mad at me that she leaves me, I won’t be any unhappier than I am right now with our marriage. Should I ask this couple to intervene? This means, like an invervention set up by a family for drug addict, I would not tell my wife about it in advance. Is this a good idea?

    • I would think that many women would feel ambushed. Likewise, calling it intervention says that she is the problem. While she well may be, it perpetuates an oppositional relationship rather than a collaborative one.

      However, you could tell her directly that you need support in dealing with the hurt you’ve experienced in having a sexless marriage and that on, say, October 1 you will see a counselor or speak with a pastor.

      That said, perhaps the pastor’s wife could make an effort to befriend your wife and looking for opportunities to mentor your wife in marriage.

      I know that if my husband had set up something like that, I would have been deeply hurt and embarrassed. I would have felt even less like I was part of a one-flesh marriage than I had before.

      Have you joined the forums at The Marriage Bed yet? You need support from people who’ve been through this, and I’m not comfortable counseling a man on how to be a husband. I can speculate on how a wife might feel or respond, but men need to hear from other men on how to walk through these kinds of situations.

      • Thanks for your input, Chris. It is very helpful to me to get a woman’s point of view. Any counseling that I get I take to the Lord in prayer. I believe that men not only need to get advice from godly men when they have marital problems, but to get input from godly women, such as yourself, as well.

        That being said, I am praying about the advice you have given me about seeking counseling. I have decided that rather than have an intervention with my wife like I was thinking about doing, that it would be better for me, as you have said, to seek counseling. The older couple that I mentioned would probably give us the best counseling, especially since the woman is a good friend of my wife. In this way, my wife could not really accuse her of being biased.

        However, since my wife does not want anybody to know about our marital problems, there is the danger that she might get very angry with me for sharing them with one of her good friends. But, the worst that could happen is that my wife would leave me. For me, that would be less painful than living with a wife who never wants to have any physical intimacy with me.

        So, I have decided to wait until the middle of September and if the situation does not improve, I will call this woman pastor who is a good friend of my wife. If it looks like she and her husband can help us, I will tell my wife that we need to go to counseling with them. If she refuses to go, as you have suggested that I do, then I will go by myself. If my wife leaves me, they could be a great help in giving me the love and encouragement that I desperately need right now.

  32. One reason my wife says that she does not want to have sex with me is that she has never been romatically attracted to me. That she married me because people presurred her to do so. That being the case, can she ever enjoy having sex with me?

    • Of course she can–if she decides she wants to. I think we put too much value on romance and romantic attraction. Many arranged marriages develop into relationships with deep love and respect.

      • Thanks, Chris! This confirms exactly what I believe! I just wanted to hear a woman say it!

        I have a romantic attraction for my wife, but she says she has none for me and never has. I know that my wife cannot decide to love me with romantic love (the Greek word for it is “eros”, which is not in the Bible). But she can decide to love me with agape love! When a woman is driven by agape love, as you are towards your husband, the woman realizes her husband’s needs in this area and tries her best to satisfy him regardless if she feels romantic love towards him or not. I am so glad that you and other women who have posted on this web site have made this decision! Please pray that my wife will do the same!

  33. Victoria on September 16, 2015 at 1:40 pm said:

    Im not living in a sexless marriage anymore, yet in the past i have refused. I got married as a virgin with a very little understanding of what sex was. I thought sex was intercourse and it was mainly for him. Foreplay really only consisted of stripping me down and a couple of kisses, which did nothing. After a year of saying yes because he wanted it my husband, in his frustration, told me we weren’t going to have sex until I wanted it. I told him I really didnt want sex, it was either uncomfortable or painful for me and I didnt get much out of it. Not long after that we went a whole month without sex, it hurt so much. I couldn’t even use a tampon during time. After we had a baby I couldn’t have sex for 6 weeks because of the stitches from my episiotomy. When we did try to have sex after that he couldn’t penetrate, it felt like a wall had replaced my vagina. I cried our first few attempts, he was frustrated saying i wasn’t even trying to relax – it was all in my head. The next time we tried he held me down and forced his way in. I cried and cried begging him to stop, he told me It couldn’t be hurting since he was being gentle. I never wanted to have sex again. My mother made me get help after I told her what happened and i was treated for Vaginismus. It took longer than it should have, I couldn’t have sex during the treatment and manual and oral sex weren’t the same for him. I caved and had sex before I was ready and had to start over many times. Last night was the first time penetration didnt hurt, but im still having a hard time getting into the mood for sex.

    • I am so sorry that you experienced such pain for so long. I am glad you have now been able to experience penetration without pain, and I suspect that it will take a lot of work for you to become relaxed about it. When sex hurts, in can take quite a while for our minds to stop making the connection between sex and pain.

      You and your husband could benefit from relearning how to be physically intimate with each other. Foreplay should involve more than a few kisses and the removal of clothing (unless that is exactly what both spouses want at that time). You may want to take a look at the process outlined in this post. Your husband needs to learn to pay attention to your body and acknowledge what you are experiencing, and you need to become comfortable enough to enjoy touch–which might help you get in the mood.

      Sex is just as much for you as it is for your husband. Sexual intimacy can be far more than intercourse. The effort to work through this together can lead to amazing intimacy in non-physical ways as well. You’ve already made progress, and I encourage you to keep up the good work. And let us know here how we can pray for you.

  34. Jillian on November 5, 2015 at 8:18 am said:

    This is horrible. I will never understand how wives “justify” not sleeping with their wives. I’m in a marriage in which I’ve not been touched in THREE years. You claim to have been “hurt and angry” when in fact you probably have no idea the world of hurt and BETRAYAL you yourself have inflicted. I have twins and a very demanding job and I always wish that my husband and I could have some special moments to reconnect at the end of the day. You “allowed” your husband to see your naked breasts. COME on. You’ve got a lot of forgiveness to work for lady. Ugh.

    • Jillian on November 5, 2015 at 8:19 am said:

      I meant partners not wives in that first sentence, excuse me.

      • Julian, I’m glad that you sympathize with us husbands whose wives refuse to have sex!

        As I told my wife, when I was a single missionary I could live a celibate lifestyle, but not when I’m married! My wife has no real medical issues that would put her health in danger by having sex with me. I’ve decided that it would be better for us to separate than for me to try to live in a sexless marriage, which I cannot do.

        My wife is going back to Colombia on December the 6th to visit her family there. She has been begging me to move back there with her for some time. I told her that God has placed me as a missionary here in Mexico and that I must obey Him. But, she says that she has no family here. If I am not part of her family, then who am I to her? Her 34 year old son has been begging her to move back to Colombia. My wife calls him on the average of more than 30 times a month. The emotional umbilical cord between her and him has never been cut! I believe that if he were living here she would not want to move back to Colombia.

        So, I have told her that when she goes back to Colombia that she should stay there until we get our marital problems worked out. I told her that everyone who is turned down by their spouse when it comes to sex feels very rejected, that I am not the only one who feels that way. She still doesn’t understand. She told that I need to pray that God would take the desire for me to have sex away from me. I told her that I couldn’t do that, since God put that desire in me for my wife.

        Please pray for our marriage!

    • No, I don’t have to work for forgiveness. What I did was wrong and caused my husband a lot of pain–but even once I realized that, it took me a while to get comfortable being able to do the things I should have been doing all along. I worked hard–not for forgiveness, but to learn to do better and be better going forward.

      My husband has completely forgiven me. In fact, the last time I apologized, he told me it was done and that he would rather enjoy where we are and where we’re going than dwell on the past. He asked me not to apologize again, so I haven’t. I repented (in both words and actions) and asked for forgiveness, which was freely and lovingly given. The fact that I hurt my husband and betrayed him by not following through with the “to have and to hold” part of our marriage vows does not mean that I had no right to feel hurt. One person’s hurt does not negate another’s.

      Do you know what is going on with your husband that he isn’t interested in sex? I am sorry you are suffering in your marriage. When you’re in the midst of your own deep pain, everything is a struggle.

      • Jillian on November 5, 2015 at 12:35 pm said:

        From what I gathered, and please do correct me if I am wrong, you felt hurt by sporadically giving yourself to your husband. No? I’ve just never understood how someone who iniates a hurtful situation then turns around and claims hurt and pain for themselves. Forgive me for being blunt but it just doesn’t make much sense.

        • My hurt was primarily from my own sexual baggage and from non-sexual aspects of our relationship. I emotionally couldn’t bring myself to have sex with my husband when my heart was hurting. I didn’t realize at the time how a sexual connection could heal.

          I’m not sure if that answers your question or not, but there’s a whole lot that I look back on now to see that it didn’t make sense.

  35. This blog post is two years old, but I just came across it today for the first time. I too am in a truly sexless marriage. My wife and I are approaching 3.5 years since the last time we had sexual relations. I can remember the exact date (Oct 3, 2012) because I was leaving on my last military deployment and usually that happened in most cases prior to any deployment I went on.

    But since I got back and on after my retirement from the military, there has been nothing. She is repulsed at my advances, she cringes when I try to kiss her or even try to hold her hand. 🙁 When I try to get to the root problem, she clams up or wants to change the subject to things I am doing wrong as a husband. She doesn’t like me staring at her when I see her in a bra and underwear, or has a complete ensemble on top, but looking for pants to cover her bottom half and asks why I am staring at her. I get the impression that she’s too self-conscious around me when I stare. I can’t help it! 1. I am her husband. 2. I am still VERY attracted to her as my wife. I don’t understand, not like I have never seen every inch of her naked body before for her to tell me to stop staring at the woman I fell in love with and married.

    Some things that I wonder may possibly contribute to why we have a sexless marriage:

    – Four very active children… between the ages of 3 and 14
    – Slightly overweight (I think that it going a bit extreme in calling it that) from pregnancies with 4 kids
    – Stay-at-home mom where she has little time for herself during the day while I am at work and obviously stressed
    – Lacks effective sleep from being a lite sleeper whereas I am the polar opposite

    What it has contributed to for me as a result:

    – Increased anger
    – Feeling rejected
    – Loneliness
    – Increased vulnerability and temptation
    – Distancing myself from her and our children due to her constant criticism of any failings I have as both a husband and father, leaving me hurt.

    I’ll say this, it has put a strain on our marriage. I told her two weeks ago that if she is so repulsed by me, refuses any physical contact (even something as simple as hand-holding) and simply rejects the idea of sex, then I will honor her request. I really don’t know what else I can do.

    Divorce has crossed my mind, but I really don’t want to go there or approach that territory. God despises it for a marriage. There is too much to lose in the process, but my patience is being strained. Even IF it were to happen, I would never reconsider another relationship and remarriage (thusly remaining single) because I fear the same thing would happen again and I don’t want to deal with that a second time.

    • It sounds like you’re both stuck in a cycle of hurt. I’m so sorry. Would your wife be willing to do some reading about how other women have managed to maintain sexual intimacy despite children, body changes, stress, and exhaustion? Is it possible there is something else going on? Please seek counseling–and if your wife won’t go, go alone so you can have some support in dealing with your own pain in your marriage.

    • Chad, I have a lot of empathy. My wife and I are trying to put things back on track after a lot of drift, distance and background anger and resentment. We’ve been married for 35 years this summer and have two completely amazing adult sons. To give you some idea of the state of things, I don’t think we’ve had any physical contact in 15 years until very recently, and had been sleeping in separate rooms for many years. I think we are on a return trajectory after having been in a stationary orbit over the dark side of the Moon, though it’s early days yet and I don’t know whether our marriage is going to burn up in the atmosphere or skip off it and head for parts of the universe where the temps are absolute zero. Here’s what I would offer you from my own experience.

      You need to assess yourself very honestly.

      I found I had developed a lot of bad habits in my own life. I had become in many ways lazy, sloppy, passive, disengaged and unreliable.

      I was measuring myself by what others wanted me to do or be, rather than according to my own values and who I am when I’m living my life in a way that reflects my best self, the self I want to be.

      In all of my relationships, I was looking for other people to give me approval, rather than living within my strengths (and limitations) and letting them deal with me as I am and as I want to be.

      I had lost touch with the things that make me happy and whole.

      I had lost confidence in myself – in my self – and had really stopped loving myself. I realized that from time to time I was getting some kind of perverse pleasure from just tearing into myself when things went badly.

      I needed a deep, thorough personal change. I needed to say I was done with a lot of stuff that I was doing. And I can tell you this is not simple, it is not quick and it will be very painful at times. The pain is not purposeless, it is redemptive. But you need to at least try to count the cost. If you are not prepared to dig in, set your jaw, turn your face into the storm, and move forward come hell and high water, you may want to stay in your current cocoon.

      The only person you can change is you.

      The next question was what I was going to do about this. I could have quit my job and divorced my wife and started looking for a “better” job and a “better” wife. The problem is that all the baggage I discovered I had been carrying was going out both doors with me, and that didn’t seem like a very good start. In particular, we all know if we are at all honest that we can’t get our spouse to change. We certainly aren’t going to get the boss or our co-workers to change. We can only change ourselves and let things sort themselves out, which may shake up a lot of things and people, starting with yourself.

      I started out trying to change bad habits and acts that I thought were relatively easy – outward behaviors like leaving things around in a messy clutter, not doing things I said I’d take care of, and not paying focused attention on my wife when we were talking about something. (Among other things, I learned that I simply cannot multi-task. If I’m talking to my wife, I need to give her 100% of my attention and not try to pay attention to the phone or computer or TV or whatever.) I found these things were fairly easy – they’re basically just decisions. Put. The. Crap. Away. Now. Pay. Attention. To. Her.

      Where it has gotten a lot harder is dealing with things are less concrete. Making decisions to look for the good things in my wife. Making decisions to trust her when that has not been my mindset. Learning how to say (and live) “this is who I am…this is what I want” and have it come from a place where I’m comfortable with who I am instead of having it come from a place of needing someone else’s approval or feeling badly about stating my “wants.” At the same time, giving her space to state what she wants and then figuring out when to cave, when to flex, and when to say no and let her deal with it. This is a whole different journey than picking up after myself, being a more reliable contributor around the house and paying attention to my family, friends and co-workers (and strangers, too, by the way).

      I can tell you that there is no place of greater vulnerability than telling the people you live with (I went into high gear on this just before the Christmas holidays, when my two adult sons were in the house visiting) that you’re done with the old crap and going to start living like a new man. They know you better than anyone else and are close enough to see every slip. If you’re lucky, your wife will say to herself “hey, what’s this all about…I wonder where he’s going and whether this is for real?” On the other hand, you may have to deal with much greater skepticism or even hostility.

      You may be wondering why you should work on yourself, make these changes, if other people aren’t promising something in return. For me, there were really no downsides. I didn’t like the person I’d become – it wasn’t who I thought I was and wanted to be. That was reason enough. But I also knew that these changes were the only way I was going to change my marriage (and, by the way, my other relationships, such as those at work). They might prompt my wife to make changes in herself that would save our marriage – that would be good. If they didn’t, I would be a better happier person living alone or in a new marriage.

      Actions need to have consequences.

      I want to challenge you to re-think your statements that you don’t see divorce as an alternative and would never marry again.

      I have read about guys who said to their wives “the way we’re living causes me incredible pain…I’m going to clean up my act, and I hope you’ll meet me in a new relationship, but I am going to stick with this marriage regardless of what you choose.” OK…for them…if that’s really how you feel, understand that YOU have made that CHOICE. As far as I know, there is no definition of “marriage” that includes “celibacy.” Understand also that if this is your approach, you have put your wife in a place where there is honestly no motivation at all for her to change anything. If she’s comfortable with the current version of your marriage, why would she want any change? For me, in my opinion, sexual refusal or significant gatekeeping is a flat-out violation of any marriage vows you two made and it’s fully as serious as a significant sexual affair. Having said that, there are lots of very serious consequences of divorce, and each person has to weigh those very carefully. I have taken a very sober, detailed look at that and even with the kids grown up and out of the house, the consequences would be enormous, completely life-changing.

      The other thing I want to challenge is your statement that you’d never marry again. I want to tell you that I completely understand that because I’ve been there myself. For years when our relationship was really in the trough, I swore I’d never get married again if anything happened to my wife.

      But as I’ve taken a hard look at my life and my goals and started to heal myself, I’ve realized that while marriage certainly offers the possibility of a great deal of pain and frustration, it also offers the possibility of a truly practical, real-world, unique, supreme love that makes both partners truly their best selves. It’s hard, it involves real risk every day, and it often brings hard love, not soft, warm, fuzzy love. If for some reason my wife and I cannot get ourselves onto the same path forward, I know that I will continue on the path myself, and that I will be a much better person. I also know that I will be a much better partner next time, and that I will be willing to take the risks that go with trying again if it comes to that.

      May you find your path.

    • You are a good man, Chad. I had originally written to this post two years ago this month and had all but forgotten completely about it until I received an email about your comment.

      My original letter that I was writing to you only moments ago disappeared somehow so I’m going to simply leave you with, “Keep fighting the good fight and stay strong in your faith”. My experience over these last two years has shown me that divorce is not worth it. There is a reason that God despises it…I do too. Now more than ever.

      • I think God hates divorce because it causes His children so much pain.

        • I mean this in the most friendly and holy way – pain is inherent in life. 🙂 🙁 I think the question is whether the pain comes from following and obeying God’s call or ignoring God. I cannot tell you how painful much of what I’ve been through in the last three months has been, but I would do it again and expect that in fact I will be doing it for quite a while. Change can be and often is painful, but if we are facing God and moving in that direction, God will redeem our pain – it will not be wasted. Schnarch talks about this as part of one of his four cornerstones – meaningful endurance, I think he calls it. He means the ability to endure pain for long-term gain. God can be a terrifying physician – he will not stop until we are fully healed, and for some of us this is not an easy, quick or painless process.

        • Yes, there can be purpose in pain, and pain can be a by-product of doing what we are called to do. As a parent, I often watch my children experience difficult things that I know serve a higher purpose–but that doesn’t mean I want to see them hurting. God is a parent, too.

  36. I am disillusioned with my marriage, my wife and to a certain extent with God. I have been divorced before. my last marriage was a sex-less one for 10+ yrs, when she divorced me and took up with a much younger man. I had not followed God during much of my life and knew much of the fault was my own. When my present wife and I started dating, we made a deliberate choice to abstain from pre-marital sex. We both were determined to have a Godly marriage. The first year was pretty good, but there were several hurdles; step-parenting issues were (and still are) very trying- We both have children from previous marriages. Also, I have some anger issues, in part due to some PTSD from my past. At her request, I sought counseling and with Gods help, have dealt with those issues. I no longer react in the old patterns.

    Our sex life (and any affection) has dwindled to nearly zero. This has been going on for several years. I have told her many, many times, including during counseling how much this hurts me and how I feel that it is destroying our relationship. She is very unwilling to address the issue. Only recently was she even willing to admit there even is a problem. Yet, she is still very unwilling to DO anything to change things; books and suggested resources (by myself and counselors) such as your site are ignored.

    I sincerely have asked for God’s guidance in making every change in my life that she has asked of me. From previously mentioned anger, to parenting and domestic duties. Yet she has made no attempt that I can see to accommodate my request for a more affectionate marriage.

    I fully identify with ‘Vern’ above; the daily pain, frustration, and resulting resentment are brutal to a man’s heart and soul. I was unfaithful in past relationships. But I am determined to not travel down that path ever again. I have done my very best to be the Christian father and husband that my wife deserves, and that God expects of me.

    But I find myself in a very one-sided relationship with a selfish woman who seems to not care about how I feel or how this hurts our marriage. Satan is really having a great time trying to get into my head right now, and God seems to have gone silent as well. Part of me is mentally shaking my fist at God and my wife, saying “I have done everything you asked of me! So why am I stuck with a self-centered woman who obviously doesn’t love me?!?!” Every single day I fight the temptation to be unfaithful, and the temptation to begin the divorce process. I truly wanted a Godly marriage, what I have is a cruel and painful joke! I do not want to spend the rest of my life like this.

  37. Saved & Grateful on April 6, 2016 at 5:15 am said:

    Oh, I am so sorry for your suffering. I have been in a sexless marriage for 20+ years, so I totally understand the heartbreak, pain, sadness and suffering that co-exist with this issue! I must admit that I’ve blamed my past pre-marital sexual relationships and some promiscuity for my marriage not being blessed in that area…like God is punishing me and I deserve it because of my pre-marriage sexual sin. I’d thought about divorce before, but I love my husband and he is wonderful in many other ways. He just has no interest or ability to perform sexually. He has always been that way but he faked sexual interest during our dating years. Still, even then I definitely knew something was wrong.

    I’ve always thought that if something happened to my spouse or if my marriage ended…I, too, would remain celebrate until I married again, so that my marriage would be blessed in “that” way.
    But you are telling us that that is what you did…to no relief! I know God wants us to have oneness and a fulfilling sex life with our spouses. It seems so strange (and of course so painful) that it would happen to you again! I do think its so good that you are honoring God and not cheating though. With it happening to you now in two marriages, I cant help but wonder if it might have anything to do with your approach…or something else? Do you focus on pleasing your wife sexually? Could there possibly be anything you do that may be a turn-off…but she’s afraid to tell you? I’m not saying its your fault your wife isn’t cooperating, but maybe there is something else you could try. Probably 80% of of a woman’s sexual response starts with her head…meaning feeling sexual, tuned on, desirable, wanting it and you…has to do with how you make her feel as a woman, wife, object of your desire. There has to be some way to reach her and repair this fractured area of your marriage. I hope you can. In my marriage, I know that unless God performs a miracle, it will not ever change and I won’t have sex for the rest of my life. He just is not physically or mentally capable, and he’s perfectly content that way.

  38. Believe me, I have reviewed every angle; from God punishing me, to my own inadequacies or poor techniques. In my past, I at one time had a GF who was involved in the porn industry . Without being graphic, suffice to say, I learned a lot about attending to the needs, wants and desires of woman.

    In trying to be a caring, patient, attentive, and loving Christian husband; I have changed everything about how I approach my wife. From making her favorite coffee in the morning, to hour long massages – w/o expectations or strings attached, (I surprised her by last year buying a professional grade massage table, candles, lotions, oils, etc… the whole nine yards). I do her laundry EXACTLY the way she wants done, raise the kids, do most of the cooking, you get the picture. Yet I’m still playing ‘wack-a-mole’ trying to meet her ever changing demands.

  39. Sorry I was just venting in the last 2 posts. The real question is “Stay or Go”? To leave would be the selfish thing to do. I believe that the opposite of love is not hate, it is selfishness. Arguably, all sin is based upon selfishness. Leaving (at this point) would be a sin against my wife and against God.

    I can’t change my wife’s choices, if they are a sin; that is between her and God. All I can do is Pray, and seek God’s will for me to be the best husband and dad that I can be for my wife and kids. So for me, there is really no choice. Staying is the right thing to do. In 2 Thes., Paul said “Never tire of doing the right thing.”

    But I am tired, tired of hurting, tired of feeling rejected by the woman I love with all of my heart, tired of it all. The selfish part of me wants daily to hang it up and walk away from it all. However I know what God wants me to do – STAY. I feel a bit like Jonah wanting to disobey God. I have learned from personal experience that is a very bad idea! So I will recommit myself to staying; I will probably have to quietly do that every single day for a very long time. I just hope that God might see fit to throw a little bit of that peace and joy my way that I have read so much about. I could sure use a big heaping helping of that right now.

    Satan is having fun reminding me of my past and telling me this is God’s punishment for a mis-spent youth. Yet, I know that is not how God works. God forgave me (though I do not deserve His Grace). He put my sins away – “As far as the East is from the West”. Even with that assurance, it is still a daily task to fight my selfishness; and stay. Please God, give me the strength everyday to STAY!

  40. Theresa on June 20, 2016 at 3:08 pm said:

    I have been married to my husband 24 years this August. I love him & stuck by him through all types of chaotic health issues. Two years into our marriage Bipolar showed its ugly face, the medications didn’t work, so he began drinking. His drinking combined with long bouts of Bipolar depression limited he sexual desires. Being sexually intimate once a month was consider by me lucky. Often he would leave me hanging three to even six months. I compensated by placing all my attentions to caring for my 2 son’s (now grown) & working. In 2004, a day or so after Hurricane Charlie, he waited for me to be out & climbed onto the roof to nail down the tarpaper. (He waited because I told asked him not to & warned him that it was dangerous) He not only ignored my warning, but also had a few drinks. He fell off the roof, broke his back and inured his neck. Even after this, he attempted to be sexually intimate at least 3 times up until 2006. We have been in a sexless marriage for 12 years now. Over the years, he has requested that I find a man, to simply care for my physical needs. In addition to loving him, I was accustomed to going for long periods without sexually intimacy & with the onset of pre-menopause at an early age, refused to do so. He was diagnosed with spinal degeneration. Over the years, his physical and mental health has deteriorated & for the past year it has been spiraling downward fast. We no longer sleep in the same bed. Soon we & our son’s, will have no other choice except to consider a Rehad facilty. He is now begging me to find someone to care for my needs. I feel helpless, lost, angry, lonely, and confused. Confused because I want to say “Alright, I will” , however I am concerned because with or without my husband’s blessings on the subject, I do not want to sin against God. Therefore, my dilemma is in the direction of my choices, which will affect my future life here & in eternity. (Please excuse any typos)

    • I’m so sorry. Medical conditions (both mental and physical health) are so hard to deal with. I think you are right not to follow your husband’s suggestion. It would be good to ask him to never suggest it again.

      I’ve written a post about sexual intimacy in times of pain: You may be able to find some suggestions there. Even if full-blown intercourse is no longer an option, is your husband able to give you oral or manual stimulation? If he can’t maintain it for a long time, he could still get you started or finish while you do the rest of the work. Masturbating while your husband has his arms around you or is in the room with you might also be an approach that still allows for some intimacy and for him to be part of your sexuality. If he is in a rehab facility, it might be good to ask the staff how sexual intimacy is typically handled. They may even have some suggestions for you.

      I am praying for you to find a solution that strengthens your intimacy.

      • Theresa on June 20, 2016 at 4:46 pm said:

        I have, many times over the years. I believe he is bringing it up again, because his memory has been suffering & the CT scans showed abnormal brain skinning for his age (possible Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s). He & I met in our early 20’s, while caring for the elderly with these diseases.We both are fully aware of the path. He knows that he will one day no longer remember me. He & he wants me to have a life beyond his current & forth-coming conditions. Only I continually tell him, this is all part of the spinal degeneration & therefore no surprise to me. I joke & tell him that, when he doesn’t remember me, I will just take advantage of him & say “shhh don’t tell your wife” Of course we laugh with bitter-sweetness. But still he feels guilty because he did this to himself, when he went against “my better judgement” , knowing his was always lacking. That is a truthful joke btw.

        Thank you for listening. I will g to the link you share.

      • Theresa on June 20, 2016 at 4:53 pm said:

        An answer to all your questions is No. We have tried everything. But he is in such pain he can no longer sit, stand, walk, move in anyway, or even think clearly. He can not even hug me gently, without wincing from the pain. Kisses are a rare occasion and words are all we have left that we may share. I am aware that God prepare me for all of this, throughout my life. I know God has a reason & a plan, I understand I must be obedient & patient….It is just that my shoulder are weakening & I feel lost & helpless, to the point where I am asking God to unburden me. May he forgive me.

  41. Married for 8 years. Dated for 4 years before that. No sex before marriage because I believed what I had been taught in church. I fell for a lie because sex has been limited to a few times per year since day one. We only made love once on our week long romantic honeymoon. I am trapped in a slow, painful, depressing, uncaring, unloving hell. I don’t know why I bother getting out of bed in the morning anymore.

    • I am so sorry. 🙁 What do you understand about why your marriage is in this state? What were your wife’s attitudes and experience with sex that she brought into the marriage? What have you done to address the problem so far?

  42. Scott St. Onge on September 17, 2016 at 8:23 am said:

    What a great article!

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