My husband had told me, countless times, how he felt about the lack of sexual intimacy in our marriage. Sadly, it wasn’t until I read those words in the voices of other men that I began to believe and understand.
Your husband’s pain does not invalidate yours in any way. Let a deeper understanding of your husband guide you as you work to heal your marriage.
The posts below look at what our husbands experience when sexual intimacy is missing in their marriages.
- I’m Sexy and I Know It?
- If Only Real Life Had Thought Bubbles
- In Real Life
- Not My Problem
- “When They’re Most Unlovable . . . “
- Extending Grace
- Naked and Broken
- Is It Time to Leave?
- Interview with Big Guy
- With a Naked Heart
- How My Husband Sees Me
- Hearts, Echos, Answers, Prayers
- A Powerful Touch
- The Value of Showing Up
- My Heart’s Desire
- Sexuality as Superpower, the Sequel
- A Damaged Heart
- His Eyes
- A Place Deep Inside
- A Moment of Hard Truth
- Rebuilding His Trust
- Six Things to Know About Sexual Refusal
- I’m Changing, but My Husband Doesn’t Seem to Notice
- When He Wants You to Initiate
- Care for Your Husband’s Heart
- The Other Side of the Wall
- A Husband’s Emotional Need
Our Husbands’ Voices
In this post, I invited refused husbands to share their hearts and the pain they experience in sexual refusal. (Guys, if you want to contribute you can use the contact form at the end.)
Ladies, please open your hearts to understand the anguish they feel without the deep intimacy available only through sexual connection with us.
For me, gate-keeping is like a billboard in my home that says “you are not good enough.” I am wanted by my wife only when her hormones dictate, and even then, only for her physical release. Any other attempts at intimacy are disregarded with such a cavalier attitude, it would astonish you. When her needs arise, she knows she has a willing participant, and that is all that matters to her. My desire to woo my wife or seduce her is completely diminished due to the constant rejection I have faced over the years.
It has caused me to battle bitterness, envy, jealousy (of husbands who have wives who actually want them) and even struggle with pornography for the first time in my life. While I am ultimately responsible for my sinful actions, I do believe her refusal is what opened my heart to attack in these areas. In marriage, we are supposed to have each other’s back. By refusing to share intimacy with me, my wife has opened me up to all sorts of attack from the enemy that I never would have faced had she not severed that bond. Now, I am left with the guilt of my actions and the inability to effect change.
What refusal (or gate-keeping) is like for me . . .: It’s heart crushing, you feel inadequate,unloved, not worthy, wondering if its a problem with me. My wife had a injured hip and for years I or we (kids) would do everything around the house. When she got better and asked to have sex and get NO for an answer it just hurt inside real bad. After so much I just quit asking cause I couldn’t take that refusal any more. I didn’t go to porn but did go to more drinking and started smoking. This was something that I could at least do and not feel rejected. I’ve talked to her about this and now she tells me that it’s low sex drive and just have to deal with it. Now I feel I’m not of importance to her at all with that comment. We’ve been married for over 25 years and this just kills me inside.
I have been married for 27 years. The woman I married is one of the finest women around. Anyone would be lucky to have her for a friend. But you would be as lonely as me if she were your lover.
I live in a world of confusing mazes and rabbit trails that never seem to lead anywhere. Rules that change on a whim and funhouse mirrors where the reflections are unpredictable.
I can spend 5 nights home with her and on the 6th night if I have to work late or even have a family thing that gets us home late, if I want to be romantic, it’s “shouldn’t we hang out first, I don’t just want to jump in the sack”.
My thinking is “Why not, haven’t we been hanging out all week?” But if I even act hurt or rejected, that could close off access for another week.
I am continually trying to “crack the code” and figure out how to just have my wife WANT TO LOVE ME!
I feel so unloved and unwanted. I’m embarrassed, ashamed and heartbroken at how little I am desired by her. What kind of man am I that she would love me so little?
I know she is smart. I also know she has understood me when I have shared with her how much this hurts me. I have to conclude that she is either indifferent to my hurt, discounts its validity or intentionally inflicts it.
I have suffered 25 years but for some reason I still believe my wife has it in her to change. Not one day has passed in that time that I haven’t had to fight demons. NOT ONE DAY!!! My faith alone is why I am still married.
My wife has absolutely no idea the devastation this has on me. I feel like a zombie, just unemotionally existing.
My heartfelt attempts to communicate this usually is twisted into a fight, which I refuse to play along. She has abuse and distrust in her past that I am paying my life for. She claims to love me more than anything and tells me I’m a wonderful husband. But do you know what I feel when I hear this? I feel deep pain, like when your being lied to by a loved one. I feel pain when I hug or kiss her. She has no idea because she can’t handle me having sad feelings.
She would be devastated and even feel blindsided if I leave.
Please God give me strength.
There was a recent thread on The Marriage Bed that tried to merge the two terms, refusal and gate keeping. I could relate. For me, while not refused in the typical usage of the word, I am refused. Refused the potential of experiencing new things, refused the possibility of living out a fantasy, refused the chance of giving my wife the intense pleasure that God made her capable of, refused the closeness and intimacy of being so consumed by our oneness that my ‘person’ and her ‘person’ no longer exists, there is just one, and refused seeing my wife give herself to me with no rules or reservations. I didn’t have a hard time saving myself for marriage. But once in a marriage, I totally expected to live out the joy and liberty God intended in a blessed and sanctified, Christian marriage. Based on typical life-spans, I am well past half-way and I see no hope (based on human sight, NOT God’s sight) of experiencing sexual freedom, pleasure and deep connection with the woman I committed myself to ‘until death us do part’. There is no difference between refusal and gate-keeping to me. So even though I know what the physical (or should I say mechanical) act of intercourse feels like, there is an emptiness that breaks my heart. But, no matter how I try to share it with my wife, my words fall on deaf ears.
Refusal doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an actual occurrence that is demonstrated. Refusal is display throughout the days/ weeks/ months/ years. It’s an attitude and how a person carries them self. Refusal can simply be the spouse being on the computer for hours on end with FB, paying bills, games, or researching something yet when it comes to YOU … you are just not scheduled in.
Refusal is the lack of “I love you’s”. The lack of receiving attention and being ignored.
There’s nothing worse than lying in bed while your listening to your spouse sleep and breath while you’re awake and the mind is racing and you’re praying to God, “Please just end this already. I just can’t take it anymore!”
I am a business partner. I don’t consider it marriage any longer. We’re a business and good friends but lovers??? Ha! I’m not so convinced we were EVER lovers. If we have sex then it is equivalent to her permitting me to “use” her body and just lies there. Oh of course she has a VERY good time and I’m all about her reaching fruition. Her lack of participation is nearly equal to me raping someone and it just feels yucky. Her lack of enthusiasm SCREAMS the words, “I’m not really all that into you and maybe I’m not in love with you or maybe I never really was….!”
Good friends, good business partners, NOT lovers at all.
Breaks my heart every minute of the day of EVERY FREAKING DAY..
I am alone in this world yet at least I am for God.
Simply put, being refused has been the worst part of my life. It’s worse than physical injury, illness, or being laid off (all of which I have experienced). How do I feel? Read on…
“Being good” before marriage was like walking along a sidewalk, hungry, and looking in the window of a restaurant and seeing happy people enjoying sumptuous meals. Unfortunately, the restaurant door was locked to unmarried people. Fortunately, my fiancee had a key and promised to use it to let us in. We enjoyed springtime strolls hand in hand along that sidewalk, then finally we both said “I do”, and we got into the restaurant…once or twice.
But as spring turned to summer it became clear on our walks that my wife obviously hated to even go near the restaurant; she seemed satisfied just to eat crumbs of stale bread at home. Besides, she said, she had lost the key to the place. It did not matter that I was malnourished and still practically starving. I did not enjoy the crumbs, and finally stopped begging for them.
More than 30 years on I’m still starving. It’s always a cold winter night and I’m permanently stuck outside that restaurant, engulfed in delicious fragrances, entranced by the sight of sumptuous meals that I had once been promised, but I can’t get in. I have no key to this place, or to any other place like it. I suppose I could scrounge through the dumpster out back for my food, but I don’t want to live on filthy garbage, so I’m forced to go completely without. I survive only by the grace of God.
What refusal (or gate-keeping) is like for me : A deflated balloon, A complete rejection of me as a person. What is so wrong with me that my wife, who married me, doesn’t want me? How do I go out into my profession and interact with people I don’t know and expect them not to reject me?
What is refusal like? Something I am an expert on sad to say.
Have you ever been head over heels happily in love? But then suddenly and shockingly out of nowhere you discover you’re being cheated on & lied to and so the relationship ends? You feel constant pain in your heart and stomach which just never goes away. Day after day. You are physically and emotionally exhausted and merely exist with zero zest for living.
Why don’t we add the awesome pressure of God commanding you stay married.
I believe my wife will have to answer this to God and suffer for this sin.
This may be off topic, but how can infidelity be a God given reason for divorce but not a sexless marriage? Isn’t it the same thing? I now firmly believe a sexless marriage is infidelity to the marriage contract and a God given reason for divorce.
It’s really simple, men are fools ladies! Just enthusiastically give them just a little sex and they will work endlessly to provide, care for, love, protect, and sacrifice everything and give it all to you.
A sun-shriveled plant dying
In sight of the well.
~ ~ ~
I live alone (together) in the Hollow.
Dry rivers through an empty basin run
mute — their currents deaf and dumb.
No channel for a happy brook to follow.
I drown amid the deepening shallow
words–piled on plates devoid of cake or crumb.
The Hollow has no feelings left to plumb:
It’s emptiness– a field unplowed and fallow.
In a Hollow carved by acts of love untold,
I’ve claimed a homestead — financed it with pride.
And fed my hopes with silence ’til they died:
Lonely corpses — too freezing hot to hold.
Refusal tells me that not only am I unloved, but that I am worthless. That everything else in her life is more important than feeding our marriage. There is time to monitor all of the twitter feeds, but none for the man God entrusted to her love.
I think it was TheGenerousHusband who said that for women, sex is like cake; an enjoyable treat that you don’t need to, and in fact should not have all the time. Yet for men, sex is like food; sure we can skip a meal from time to time, but regular meals are essential to survival. Keeping with the food analogy, what if your husband was incapable of feeding himself but when he asked you for food you say you don’t feel like feeding him right now. Days go by and he comes to you and says he is starving and could you please give him something to eat, anything at all. And you scream at him and say is that all you are to him, a source of food. Days go by and he sees the man next door looks happy and well fed, and he begins to wonder if the woman down the street has any extra food she could feed him…but he can’t do that! Besides he wants your food not hers. So he suffers sometimes in silence, because it only makes you angry to know he needs something from you that you are unable or simply unwilling to give. Would you watch your child starve to death, hating them all the while for their hunger, like you look at your husband?
Refusal is like calling out to God for help in resisting the evils of this world, and God says “here, I have given you this woman who is gifted with the ability to shelter your soul within her body”. And then when the devil comes for you again, you run to your partner and she turns and walks away from you.
I know you are hurting too. You have demons from your past, and I have to be very careful that I don’t further damage you by my words or actions. But have you ever considered that your husband was once a lost little boy who has demons of him own? Fears of abandonment, both physical and emotional. Have you ever thought that his need for your touch is more than buildup of sperm? That he would die for you while you will not open your body to him to offer him shelter.
Do you even care?
For me, refusal is like being a child who has to ask permission to have a cookie, only to be told, “Well, we do have some cookies in the house but you don’t deserve one.”
It’s horrible. It’s being told by the person whom you love more than any other in the entire world that you aren’t wanted back and that your needs are selfish, unimportant and not necessary.
Approximately 25 years for us. There is always a reason not to. Always a reason to wait. She usually won’t say “no” these days, but there’s still never a reason to want me. Never a reason to look forward to me. She pretends to enjoy me for about 5 minutes, and thinks I can’t see the truth. When a wife wants her husband, she doesn’t wait till the door is shut to show it.
Disrespectful, undermining, she drags her feet, questions everything, and subtly sabotages when she can’t get around what I ask…. she appears to be a martyr and a model submissive wife to everyone else. I get accused of being a lousy husband and possibly abusive. I’ve been depressed for several years, now. Couldn’t even get a job. Of course that becomes a reason to be cold, but the problems have been there all along. My heart is torn, but I’m told I’m not spiritual, and that I don’t need anything but Jesus. I have Jesus… He says I need a wife, and gave me a wife — I just want her be my wife.
What refusal (or gate-keeping) is like for me . . .: I remember what I thought sex would be like inside marriage. I was so incredibly hopeful and excited, and finally my desires would come to fruition. Unfortunately, I had engaged in premarital sex with my future wife, as well as a girl before that. I felt such shame and regret about those sins and failings (even though it was not on me alone). However, being married to the woman I loved would finally free me from shame and regret, and from continued failure of my self control. I couldn’t wait to love my wife and make love to her as much as my heart and body wished.
My wedding day came, and with it the honeymoon. I might have been the most unhappy man on a honeymoon that has ever been. We did have sex, but it was like pulling teeth to get my wife to make love as often as I wanted. She also didn’t participate actively, and usually just laid there. I thought, “what is going on? ” Why is this happening? Did I do something wrong? Is this what marriage sex is? Is this why there are so many unhappy married men? Is this why men joked that I was signing my life away by getting married? I was devastated. The one person that I could trust my sexuality with without judgement or shame was my new wife, and she didn’t seem to want to satisfy me. I felt betrayed.
Then it hit me: maybe I didn’t deserve a good sexual marriage. After all, I had sinned sexually before marriage, so maybe this was my punishment. And then, the hurt would turn to frustration, and then to anger. Anger at my wife for not satisfying me, and anger that I had no recourse other than to sin. And then, finally, the anger became numb resignation with a deep-seated pain. On many occasions I secretly thought to myself, “if I’d known it would be like this, I never would have married her.”
My wife tried to love me in many other ways, and I did know she loved me. It’s just that what I craved was a deeper sexual connection with her. I would have given just about anything for it. Instead, I became bitter. I expected her to say no, or when I asked for something besides “vanilla” sex I expected her to say “not this time”. Or when she said yes, it was “if we’re fast”.
The words burned in my heart from her that I heard so many times were “we’ll see how I feel”. When I heard those words, and I heard them so many times, I went into shutdown mode because I already knew what it meant. I wouldn’t wish that on any man.
I’m now a husband recovering from my wive’s refusing/gate keeping, because God didn’t let us stay in that pain. However, my heart is still mending and the shards of lingering bitterness are still there. Even the occasional “no” these days from my wife, even when it’s extremely understandable, is a possible trigger to make me shutdown emotionally, and I have worked hard to get better in this area.
I wish I could tell every single wife what this does to her husband. But because God is good, things don’t have to stay the same. Thank God for this Blog and for others like it.
At work, church, with friends and social functions, I am often viewed as a leader. One that can organize people, create connections, and come away with positive outcomes. I truly enjoy seeing people engage in new ways and come away with new understandings. I love my wife and try to be a help-mate. She is also loving and does many great things in our life together.
So it is with such great sadness and hurt that I feel powerless over our sexual relationship. At work, I feel successful and respected, but when I initiate sexual encounters and am refused I feel small and insignificant. The power she holds over this aspect of my life is crushing to my ego and self-esteem. In all other areas of my life, I think people see a strong, vibrant person. I am scared to be real about this, even with my other male friends. I have struggled with this for so long that it is now affecting my faith. If God is always faithful to us, why do I burn with temptation all the time? If we are called to marry in order to help with our “burning”, then why did I get married? I would feel better being just best-friends with my wife than being married.
What refusal (or gate-keeping) is like for me . . .: I feel like I don’t matter to my wife. I love her and try to make her happy but I just feel like a roommate. I gave up initiating a long time ago because the rejection hurts too much. To hear no again and again just makes it worse. I wonder what’s wrong with me. Is she not attracted to me anymore or does she just not care about me. I feel unwanted, unloved, and worthless. Even when we do have sex, the look on her face tells me that I am just some disgusting thing she tolerates from time to time. The feeling is too much to endure and most of the time now I can’t even finish to get the release I needed. I feel alone.
What refusal (or gate-keeping) is like for me . . .: Oh where to start. I’ve been married for 30 years and in reading through other posts found myself saying ditto, ditto, ditto. All I can offer is variations on the themes. I love my wife dearly but feel it’s more or less superficial. As someone else said we’re business partners. We see eye to eye on most issues, on those we don’t there is a mutual respect for the other’s opinion but sex is an entirely different issue.
I should have suspected something was awry on our honeymoon, making love didn’t happen. Our first time after getting married was two – three weeks later. During the first couple years of marriage things quickly settled into once every month or two and after two – four times a year. I think she enjoys sex or at least puts on a good show, at least she doesn’t just lie there. I still feel as if it’s duty sex and as such, needs to be very carefully rationed out.
When I brought the subject up it was made clear to me that the problem was mine, I was/am the one who needs to change. First, it’s obvious I have a higher drive than her. Second, I need to be more romantic, tell her I love her more, be more physically affectionate, i.e. holding hands, back rub, foot rub, go out on dates and so on without expecting sex. So I can say “Been there, done that” long, long ago. Gave up on that long, long ago, there’s nothing in it for me, even as a “reward.” In that same time I’ve tried to bring up my frustration in different ways, nasty, friendly, hurt, upbeat, you name it. On occasion I’ll hear something like yeah, it’s something we need to work on and for a couple weeks I might get lucky a couple times but then it’s back to business as usual.
I’ve read several self-help books on the subject, trust me they’re a waste of money. The one or two that make it a couples venture she has brushed aside with an attitude that I feel made fun of or that I don’t know what I’m talking about. She won’t even read them. How I would love to show her what I’ve read here but I don’t think she could make it through the first one without a snide comment and walking away.
Over the years I’ve been able to partially “crack the code” so to speak, in that I often know within the first 30 minutes of the day that this isn’t the day to mention sex. Whether by a certain phrase or tone of voice, there won’t be any lovemaking today. But the code is only partially cracked because when the hundreds of things that seem to be necessary to fall perfectly into place happen and I oh so cautiously and with as little excitement possible mentioning making love I get to hear the dreaded words “How about a raincheck?” A raincheck that rarely materializes. Or if I’m really lucky I get to hear “How about a quickie?” Wow, I wait three months and that’s the best there is?
I’m pretty good with home maintenance and improvement. Over the years I’ve completed several projects and repaired a lot of broken things. My wife is appreciative, don’t get me wrong, she does say thank you or tell me and others what a handy guy I am. I’ve never had a thank you romp in the bedroom though. If I mentioned that she’d look at me like I’m some sort of pervert and there’d be at least a three month punishment period for vocalizing something that hints at sex. We have some improvement projects that she has wanted done for some time now but I just haven’t felt any urge to get started. It dawned on my recently that the reason I don’t want to do them is there’s nothing in it for me other than the gratification of looking at a job well done when each is complete. Since that recent discovery I feel ashamed that I feel little guilt about not doing something she wants and would normally be something I like to do.
Gate-keeping, refusal, rationing, they’re all the same. My anger over this is now subdued, the white-hot rage I used to feel has turned to a desperate numbness, quiet defeat and silent resignation. It bothers me greatly that for this one thing in our marriage she’s totally in control and refuses to see it as that or even entertain the notion that something isn’t right. I feel that I’m being punished for something that I’m supposed to determine the cause of and fix it if I want it fixed but look no further than the mirror for who’s to blame. It’s a cruel, cruel joke played out 24/7 with no end in sight.
This is the most frustrating thing to me in my life. Trying to do something to minimize my frustration when there is a moving target or targets with obstacles thrown in the way. I’m now old enough to have had several people near and dear to me pass away. The loneliness I feel with those deaths is natural and expected which makes it tolerable, along with knowing I’ll one day join their ranks and see them again. That loneliness however is nothing compared to the loneliness I feel when I can reach out and touch my wife. She’s right here yet it’s as if I don’t exist to her. Since I’ve been rejection trained since day one I absolutely will not share any but the most basic of emotions, fears, joys, dreams and desires. I feel my presence is tolerated for security purposes. The biggest three things though are feeling unwanted, unappreciated and unloved in spite of my efforts to “be a good husband.”
What refusal (or gate-keeping) is like for me . . .
Total and utter rejection – to have someone who knows you more deeply and completely than anyone else on the planet, some one (the only one) who you have bared the deepest most intimate parts of yourself to, someone you have saved yourself for, someone who you chose above all others and have been faithful to – even when there have been many opportunities and offers to cheat (without consequences) – to have this person then turn their back on you and constantly reject you – the deepest, most sensitive parts of you – over and over again – well there aren’t words to express the deep, deep pain, devastation and hollowness that crushes me every moment of every day.
It has been over two years since we were last intimate – before that if we had sex twice a year that was a lot!
I can’t take the anguish anymore – clearly I am not worth anything – so I am going to get rid this nuisance once and for all – it will look like an accident so she won’t have to worry about the stigma of it all.
May God forgive me…
I can hardly say it better than all those who have already commented. Simply put, I am frustrated. Have been for ages. It hurts that my needs are disregarded whilst I do my best to serve hers. Apparently, I’ve scored many a “brownie point”, but have no idea how to cash them in.
I know my wife loves me. And I love her now more than ever. I have just given up.
I’ve brought this up before, but, sadly, most of the time, she just laughs it off. It’s just not a priority. After 25 years and after praying for my wife, praying for myself to change, praying for God to help, doing the 40 Day Love Dare twice (all without any notice), serving her in her love language, I am done. I am now resigned that this is it.
Over the years, I have not felt truly desired and wanted. I have had to initiate just about every time. I try to pick my time when I may get lucky. But even then, it’s always a quickie – eyes closed and lights off. Not once can I recall ever having her make love with me with her eyes open. Sure she enjoys the moment physically but I wonder if she gets anything from it emotionally. I know I get very little.
My concern is there is something holding her back, but I have no idea what it is and it is not something she wants to discuss or open up about.
Refusal, gatekeeping? I have no idea and I don’t want to label it. I just want our marriage to be fulfilling on every level. I love my wife and just want to enjoy it as fully as God intended.
My wife 53 and I 60 have been married for 33 yrs. I have been a good husband and father. I am in good shape, attractive and so is my wife. I cook and help doing household chores daily. We have never had a good sex life. My wife has never been a refuser but she is a really good “Gatekeeper”. We have sex on her terms, meaning plain vanilla sex. When we had our children she went into “Mother Mode” and I became secondary to her. Over time I became resentful and withdrew emotionally from my wife. We went years without having sex. Now the children are grown up and we have duty sex maybe once or twice a month. Her heart and soul is not there and it’s like she is “Zoned Out” when we do it. She was sexually abused when she was a child. I new this before we married but at a young age I couldn’t relate or comprehend the ramifications from it. Now after 33 yrs she says it’s to late in life for therapy. She told me the other day that every time we have sex she has flashbacks. After hearing my wife tell me this I feel like I am the abuser. She must grit her teeth every time we have sex. How do I approach her now? What do I do that causes flashbacks. I feel guilt because with the lack of sexual intimacy that makes me feel unloved then I have great empathy for her because she was abused. I am so torn! On the outside I am an outgoing guy and not shy at all but inside I am a shell of a man. I feel like I go through my days with my head hanging low, lonely and undesirable yet feeling guilty for wanting to be sexually intimate with my wife because she was abused. We are talking more about this. I can tell she just wants to sweep it under the rug but I have had enough and I am going to keep pursuing it. I am going to introduce her to this Blog starting with “Unbearable Lessons”. I am a good man with a great heart and I just want my wife to love me and make love to me with all of her heart and soul. Thats All.
Not being able to experience love making in its purest form with my wife is likely the most heart breaking thing in my life. I love my wife dearly. I cherish her and want nothing more than to take her up in my arms and show her that I cherish her. While her reluctance is not so much on the physical side, I feel as though she is numb to my need for emotional and spiritual connection through sex. Having sex treated as a quick encounter for physical release is just as heart wrenching as refusal itself and leaves me just as lonely and depressed. I often try to coax her into true lovemaking but she seems to be blocked off with emotional barriers. There is seldom any eye contact, caressing or slowness. And forget about communication and cuddling afterwards. I feel she believes these are things that only women desire out of marital sex and since she does not seem to require them she believes she is doing me a favor. What she doesn’t realize is that I need these things to feel that we are truly one and that I’m not kept around for her own physical relief. I have tried to bring this up by explaining that I need us to grow closer and for her to be open to true lovemaking with me and that I cannot survive on casual quickies when she is in the mood. But she puts her walls up and becomes so defensive I end up hurting her. This pains me to my core. To have the earthly person I most treasure available and yet so unavailable at the same time is surely one of the greatest tragedies a man (or woman), can experience. I’m often left lying next to her at night crying, wishing she would let me hold her and pleasure her, down to her very soul. Her gatekeeping by way of restricting the way we relate to each other physically, emotionally, and spiritually is killing me. I can only hope she understands this soon..
Refusal is…knowing I am trapped by marriage. She knows that I have too much to lose (child,pensions,church community,etc) to ever push the issue. I travel for work but pull my weight, plus some, when I am home. She says the she loves me and wishes she knew of a way to show me how much she appreciates all my help. I replied that sex would achieve that and she huffs and walks away. Having never been a selfish lover, I discovered how to help her to relax and experience the sexual satisfaction most women desire. That was all for naught. I suggested the Love Languages approach, she completed her questionaire and emailed me the results. Then became hostile when I recommended discussing them. End of that. I recommended the 10 day challenge from The One Flesh Marriage. A month later I am still waiting for her to find the time to read and discuss it with me. I have coworkers and friends ask me what has happened to me, noticing my change of personality. I lie and tell them stress, knowing I could never speak of this with them. I stuff the frustrations and disappointments down, but clearly they are noticeable by those around me. Just not my wife. I mentioned therapy, and that she could pick the therapist. It was met with “I was only looking for someone to agree with myself, why can’t I just accept her as she is?” I have died inside. I feel nothing when she hugs me. I resent it when she says she loves me, suspecting that is a lie. How can she love me and not desire showing it or have any concern for my needs? Always having a list of reasons to follow her “not tonight” statement, I have lost most all desire for her love. Clearly those reasons are closer to her heart than I am. This must be my penance for something, but what? How many years of hard time must a man serve? Having told me that she thanks God for me coming into her life, I struggle with why God would bring this unto me. I work hard and provide well, yet feel that I am merely the financier in her life. Going through the motions awaiting the carnal rewards of being a good and committed husband to my wife is no way to live, but I do it. In the eye of the community, I am married to a perfect wife. Our friends suspect I am lying when I briefly describe the vast differences between reality and what they believe to be our sexual relationship. Even now I become aggravated at the number of times she has told friends of ours of her intent to “reward” me later, only to never follow through. No explanation, just the old bait and switch. Her promise of to have and to hold, much like myself now, is hollow. Till death I swore, I just didn’t know the years of a married lifetime could be this lonely and painfully long.
Gatekeeping moments by my wife are like a slow death by a thousand cuts while you look into the eyes of the slasher and wonder why they want to do this to you. It is an excruciating sensation to feel your life blood slowly draining out of you in such a helpless way without any understanding of how to stop it.
Refusal moments are like being thrown into solitary confinement in the maximum security prison you are already sentenced to a life term even though you have been a model, good behavior prisoner. It is a bewildering, isolated, dark pit where the only person who knows why you are locked away is the warden and you’re not allowed the privilege of speaking with them regarding this matter. You must simply wait patiently, silently desperately hoping that good behavior will lead to the solitary confinement door being opened to release you from the darkest reaches of the prison with the prison.
I am a Christian man and lean on God for the strength to run a good race and to love my wife but I am just flat worn out by this struggle and simply don’t know what to do about it. As others have experienced I too have tried to open up dialogues regarding this and have offered books that hit the mark with describing my struggles however there is clearly no willingness to pursue the conversation with me. In fact there seems to be more of a desire to just act like the topic never came up. Shouldn’t surprise me I guess but it still does because I am an eternal optimist who hopes we can break out of this prison one day.
I am grateful that someone was willing to try to create a mechanism for this very difficult but crucial topic to come out of the closet and into the open. While the truth can hurt it is better than continuing to live a life of denial that is nothing more than just a lie lived in perpetuity. I regret to see that your blog site has led many to lash out at you. It has been helpful to me.
My wife and I have been married 24 years. Our sex life ultimately began grinding to a halt after our last child was born. I began to noticed that the only time we would become intimate was after my wife had a little wine, or some other alcoholic drink. I also noticed that I was the only one initiating a good-bye kiss and the only one that showed any physical affection. So I asked about my observation. Well, things didn’t have the expected effect. What little interest there had been was now virtually gone.
I stopped showing any affection to see if she would ask what was going on. Nothing. Then, basically, things progressed like the experiences discussed above. Over the next few years, my attempts to find resolution were always met with silence. The years and years of no responses to attempt after attempt to discuss why things were the way they were would lead to nothing, or a change for a day. And, like many of the brethren above, the pain has truly killed me inside. Depression, along with thoughts of suicide, expressed to her were met with an empty stare. I have told her how alone she makes me feel, how I feel that we are just roomates. Nothing. She once told our children that we were best friends. I had to laugh! I told them that best friends talk to one another. Share their dreams, their hurts, etc.
I am getting help from a psychiatrist now. The meds are keeping me sane. I truly do feel dead inside. The excited happy boy feelings that I used to have are now so burried, in order to protect me from the pain, I am not sure what the future holds. My love for her is still there, but if she loves me, I have no ability to comprehend it’s expression.
Rejection is the worst feeling on earth, something you have no control over. Something you don’t expect or can’t explain and can’t fix! And when she does “agree”, it’s like obligation or duty sex. Vanilla sex, in spite of my best intentions & efforts. How are we as Christian husbands supposed to resist all the temptations in this world when made feeling so unwanted, undesired & small. How are we supposed to raise our children by example of a Strong & Confident Father when inside you feel empty & worthless. The toll it takes emotionally & spiritually is getting too much to bear! 🙁
We had a sexless (0 times) marriage for 25 years. I felt mean, angry, uncooperative, spiteful, unloved, and a lot more negative feelings. I made a commitment to her so it did not lead to divorce or infidelity (in many others it has). One day I challenged my wife that I missed having sex with her. She took me to bed and she gave me oral sex. The transformation was immediate. I suddenly felt loved and loving, cared for, cooperative, and would do anything for her. I still feel that way after 6 months of almost daily sex.
Has anyone read “Intimacy Anorexia” by Douglass Weiss? I highly recommend it to all men whose wives refuse to show affection, attention, physical touch, sex or share life openly and fully without reservation.
It was freeing to me to know (besides seeing these blogs and such) what I’ve experienced is not isolated, manifests itself in several consistent symptoms and is not my fault. Just knowing the root of a problem helps
Your psyche in dealing with it in an ongoing manner
I’m a loving caring man of 38 married 17 years and I’ve lost my way in life. I am married to my soulmate and we have two beautiful children. I have a successful business and need not work another day in my life. Yet I’m empty. I have been through the Anger followed by depression culminating in wanting to end my life. Now I feel only the numbness. WHY. I feel unwanted, unneeded, unloved, unappreciated and uncared for. I feel refusal and gate keeping has not only affected myself spiritually, It’s affected my innocent children and my poor wife. I try not to let it control my life. But in reality it eats away every waking moment. I am the most successful failure I know. I just want peace and a hug. Yet to my wife I am asking too much. Her ‘I love you’ feels false. Actions speak louder than words. If only she could walk in my shoes for a day. Understanding would free me from this emptiness. She is my world.
I’m happy to say that God has restored us completely, nothing short of a miracle. We’ve been married almost 36 years, and until a few moths ago, we had had no sex at all for four years, and according to the usual definition of sexless marriage as less than once a month, probably for at least the 20 years before that.
I can say that I felt utterly worthless as a man. It was particularly hard on me in that God had freed me from bondage to same sex attraction before we married. She knew about it and accepted me, knowing I was completely free from that. I entered marriage with some doubts about my manhood, even afraid that I may not be able to sexually perform. I was thrilled that our sex life was active and very fulfilling, I felt so masculine and strong.
After our second son was born, everything went south, very rapidly. I became an afterthought to her. I provided well for my family, worked my butt off with two jobs, tried to be a spiritual leader, but little by little I sank into a pit of despair. I was sure that this was God’s punishment for me for my past sexual sin. It never occurred to me that much of the problem was in my wife.
I became desperate when I realized that I was little more than a live in handyman, there to provide money for my family and fix things around the house, but I had no place in my wife’s heart, or at least I sure didn’t feel it.
I began to get pulled in the direction of pornography, and even began to wonder about my sexual identity again. If is was so undesirable to my wife, what kind of man was I?
I don’t remember what prompted me, but I wrote a letter to my wife, trying to explain my frustration, especially as the one thing I had the privilege of as her husband, namely access to her body, was being denied, so I was almost begging her for sexual relations again. Her reaction was predictable: Is sex all you think about? Am I only valued for being a place to put your penis?
I don’t know what triggered it in her, but somehow she came under conviction that sexual refusal of me is a sin, and even if she had no desire for sex, she would be obedient and resume sexual relations with me. At first, I was a bit offended, feeling that such access to her body was less than love, merely toleration. God convicted me about this, and I accepted that it was a sacrifice for her, and that was obeying God because she loved me.
Something about that lit my heart on fire. After so many years of utter despair and depression, doubts about my manhood, blaming my wife, blaming God, seriously considering suicide several times, my life has been renewed in a miraculous way.
We each had to learn a lesson about sex. She had come to view that sex is fleshly and that Christians are supposed to be “spiritual” not carnal. In some ways it was an honest mistake. She was trying to follow Jesus, but she didn’t understand that sex within marriage is one of the most spiritual things a husband and wife can do.
My lesson was that I finally learned that what is wanted wasn’t sex, at least not just for reasons of relief and release. I realized that when I craved sex, I was really craving my wife an a relationship with her. If I took care of my own sexual release, it was not what I really wanted. An orgasm doesn’t cure an empty heart.
I pray that other men and their wives who are in the midst of this kind of sin and bondage, will also be freed by the Lord and renewed in their marriages. Men, try not to despair, and realize that many men are in this sexless prison. But God can really change things. Pray for a miracle.
And you women who are refusers or gate keepers, please realize that what you are doing is sin, plain and simple. You may have reasons, but those are not excuses, just as if your husband turns to porn because of your refusals, he has reasons but no excuses. Ask God to change you and him, to restore your marriage, to turn you two into a couple who communicates and is bonded together on every level, including sexually.
Due to health issues my DW and I don’t have PIV sex at the moment and she has a low libido and would be happy to never have sex again. She sometimes gives me a hand job which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t finish if you know what I mean. We are working at meeting my needs by talking a bit. I suggested a while ago that we would do it on Tuesdays and Saturdays and my wife seemed ok with that saying ‘but it will probably only happen once a week’ which I ignored.
We’ve had a couple of lovely times doing this (and btw I’ve often said she can have a backstroke which she likes or anything else including oral which she doesn’t really want). I’ve also asked that we don’t leave it until the last minute if it’s not going to happen on that day for some reason. It rarely happens on the day and last Night (Saturday) at 11pm in bed after I’d been looking forward to it for more than 24 hours she said ‘I tend to think we’ll do it on Sundays and Wednesdays!’ Hey today’s Sunday, so what am I complaining about!!! :). I don’t think she gets it and she’s definitely gatekeeping. I’d like to be able to explore how we can make it work better and how to give each other as much pleasure as is humanly possible. She doesn’t seem to get that either. I am hopeful though, if I can just pluck up the courage, that we can talk this through and understand each other.
Using . . . masturbation to survive in a sexless marriage is like living with a gourmet cook and watching food network with a full pantry and being told by the chef I don’t feel like cooking I’m not hungry. So you eat some dry bread and drink some tepid water and die a little more each day from malnutrition.
And worse you feel guilty because you are only allowed to eat what the chef makes even though the chef doesn’t like food or seem to need it and it is huge bother for her to even consider the time and effort.
This blog and the above contributions are very meaningful to me as well. Decades of gate-keeping in our marriage have worn me down. However, I have sympathy and understanding with my wife, who struggles with a number of emotional issues based on her upbringing. This impacts on me in many ways but most of the time I can be accepting and supportive. But sex is the area where I most feel I suffer in silence and that no one knows my pain. Like others here, I am a leader in others areas, but I have huge unfocused anger and pain about sex that I don’t know what I can do about. There is no solution but “be supportive.” Been there, done that.
I don’t blame my wife for her emotional struggles, but I do have plenty of blame for the church (we are lifelong evangelicals) which I feel installed all kinds of poor attitudes to sex but now has nothing to offer me here.
In particular, I have felt unable to connect with men’s ministries for a long time, because while they have a lot to say about sex, pornography, temptation etc. (sometimes that’s pretty much the only thing they have to say), they are the LEAST likely to have any space for gate-keeping and deprivation. So many men’s events and speakers just leave me angry; to be told that “if you want more sex, you should wash the dishes sometimes” or that porn is bad because “you should be focusing on your wife” puts me in a seething rage. It inevitably just drives the secret deeper because I feel nobody will understand. Because sex is at the heart of my identity as a man and yet my sex life is so unsatisfying and conflict-ridden, I find it hard to connect honestly and deeply with other men.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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