I’ve had some questions on my mind lately.

The comments on The Generous Husband’s recent post “Did God Make Women to Want Sex… A LOT?” have seen a lively discussion of what is necessary to convince women to end sexual refusal in their marriages. One commenter argues for the importance of calling women out on the sin of refusal.

In a reply on one of my own recent posts, I share my view that most women respond better to discourse that is relational and demonstrates understanding and a sense of community than they do to discourse that is strictly informational with clear instructions about what to do. I was thinking primarily of written discourse, but I know that this is true for me of oral communication as well. But that’s just me. Women have their own stories, their own journeys that lead to patterns of refusal and gate-keeping. Each marriage is a unique combination of two unique humans. What worked to move me out of refusal into the realm of joyful married sex may not apply to other women.

I believe my sexual refusal was sin. I am coming to understand the things in my life that made it easy for this sin to take root. The process of understanding my sin is helping me heal in ways I didn’t know I needed.

But I’m curious—what are the things that work in helping other women see their sin and moving forward past that sin?

If you are a wife who used to refuse (or be a gate-keeper), what convinced you to change? How did you come to recognize that what you were doing was wrong? If you are still stuck in the habits of refusing or gate-keeping, what kind of thing do you think would help you understand the need to make changes?

How can we (the church as a body and as individuals in relationship with others) be loving and nurturing while still being firm about refusal as contrary to God’s design for marriages?

What persuaded you to learn to say “yes” rather than “no,” and how can we carry this to other refusing wives?

What is the loving way to help a woman out of the sin of refusal?

I would love to know your thoughts on these questions. My experience alone does not offer a path to recovery.

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21 Thoughts on “Persuasion to Change

  1. When our marriage was miserable, we were both sinning. But, either one of us calling each other out on it would have cast gasoline on the fire. It wasn’t sin that convicted or purposed me. It was love.

    I have a strong personality. Coming alongside of me and saying, “Hon, you know you are sinning when you tell your hubby no to sex,’ would have made me furious and would have the exact opposite effect as desired. Because that person didn’t know the whole of it. (And none of us know the whole of any marriage as bloggers or commenters. We see one side, what is presented.)

    Would my reaction be prideful and full of sin to the above statement? Probably. But, that’s the truth of it. What changed my attitude toward sex? My husband. That’s why it is love that convicted me. We both started working on our marriage problems diligently and he inspired me. He became a servant leader. I couldn’t believe what he was capable of. Every marriage is different. What convicted me was more along the lines of Romans 12:10, ‘…outdo one another in showing honor.’ I didn’t want to outdo my husband, I just wanted to keep up. (Although he wasn’t reading The Generous Husband at the time, he began doing many of the things The Generous Husband suggests.)

    It will be a rare female that responds positively to being called out harshly about sin. Ladies need to mentor other ladies. In the same post you mention, C, is a female saying that she can find no friend who has a positive attitude toward sexual intimacy. We need to change this. We need positive female voices. I believe the positive voices will influence more than labeling someone harshly with the big red letter “R” of refusal.

    We need to change the cultural paradigm that wives don’t like sex. My question, is how do we start the discussion about sexual marital intimacy with our girlfriends? Even my best girlfriends, who know about my blog, really don’t like talking about it. (Maybe because they think they’ll be the next post’s example….. 😉 ).

  2. Thank you for replying–and with some good questions. I haven’t yet figured out how to start discussions of marital intimacy with my friends–but I have made an effort to jump on the opportunities that do arise. Your story is a good example of the transformative power of love..

  3. April on July 16, 2013 at 10:04 pm said:

    Very recently, I have ripped out my gate. What started it all was the fact that all of the sudden my libido went through the roof. I couldn’t stop feeling turned on and I felt like I was going crazy. I told my husband, who has recovered from porn addiction, and he said, now you know how I feel the longer I go without sex and that’s why it’s so tempting to go to certain websites. I lost it! I apologized for all the times I was selfish, which was almost all the time! I’ve ALWAYS loved my husband, but I don’t think I ever really desired him. BIG difference! I’m 33 and we’ve been married for 12 years and I’m falling in love with my husband again with a whole new level of respect. Just today I got a little hot and heavy when he was mowing just because of the thought of him providing for me and our 9 year old. He owns his own business and works out of the house so we’re together all the time. Not really a fairy tail, but God has been turning it into one! I hope this makes since.

    • oysterbed7 on July 17, 2013 at 10:40 am said:

      You story makes total sense!!! What a wonderful and sweet journey you’ve shared, April. God gave you the ability to finally understand your husband!! God is so good and amazing. I pray you can share this revelation in real life with your married lady friends, too.

    • That’s a lovely story. Several months ago, I was overcome with desire as I listened to my husband talk with our young adult son, man to man, just as years ago he talked to him man to child.

  4. For me it was linking the submission and authority. I struggled for many years to surrender to my husband. I was ‘surrendered’ on the outside, in my head – the obedience part; but it wasn’t real – like really in my heart – I thought I could ‘bluff’ it. (for lack of a better word) I didn’t really WANT to submit – I only did it because God told me to. The light bulb went off when I realized that it wasn’t a ‘have to’ but a ‘want to’. God didn’t make Jesus go to the cross – He went willingly – it was a ‘want to’.

    I went back and re-studied submission with a view to the bedroom – the ‘want to’ part. Told my husband to start praying for me to adapt to his sexuality preference. I prayed as well, and made active steps by advancing on him at every opportunity. I used to have a switch that was very difficult to turn on. Now I can’t shut it off!

    It took a year. I called it my 365 day journey and journaled it all. It was a fight within myself.

    • Do you recall what kinds of things led to the lightbulb getting turned on? I sometimes wonder what kinds of things we can make more visible and explicit in our own lives that can be enlightening for those who see us.

      • My view of men, sexuality, marriage etc. had been twisted by my mom (not intentionally) but through the course of watching my parents interact. I never saw my mom surrender to my dad unless it was to her benefit (not sexually of course – but just in day to day living). And by music, movies, media etc – you pick up little things – and it shapes you. I learned that: men couldn’t be trusted. They are on a ‘different team’ of sorts. Fear them.

        I couldn’t understand why God would wire men to be so sexually orientated but not women – it didn’t make sense to me. Yes, there are exceptions in both females and males – but generally, it’s a pretty accurate generalization. It seemed cruel to me that God would wire us in, almost … opposites in this regard; but then tell wives to submit and surrender in all things – outside the bedroom as well as inside of it (it goes w/o saying He doesn’t mean to break the law; but it also goes w/o saying that sex between husband and wife is not breaking the law). This thought pattern seemed to line up with – God being male and what I had ‘caught’ from observing my parents in marriage. This didn’t seem like a ‘loving’ or ‘compassionate’ God. Something had to be wrong in my understanding – somewhere!!

        Also there was a conflict in my own heart: how could I love my husband so much and hate this side of his nature – his sexuality … so much? Moreover, how could I ‘believe’ that I really loved but behave so unloving towards my husband by denying this part. Where did this ‘distaste’ — this hate of it come from?

        It came from ignorance. I once saw an episode of, “Touched by an Angel,” where they said that, “racial prejudice comes from hate – hate comes from fear – fear comes from lack of knowledge.” For some reason it stuck in my brain.

        I hated what I lacked understanding in.

        I stopped wanting my husband to learn about ME and switched gears and started to study him. I stopped putting myself first and put him first. It doesn’t magically happen and it’s not easy – killing off selfishness and self seeking is very hard.

        I know a lot of wives won’t like this or agree and that’s ok – this is how God taught it to me. But to deny anyone anything, that is within your power to give, is the sin of selfishness. When I don’t/won’t give because of what I don’t/didn’t ‘get’ – it lacks love and it lacks faith. I prayed (not once – but repeatedly) to WANT to have a heart that was adapted to my husband – whatever it looked like. God said, “INTO THE DEEP.”

        “When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon (Peter), Put out INTO THE DEEP [water], and lower your nets for a haul. And Simon (Peter) answered, Master, we toiled all night [exhaustingly] and caught nothing [in our nets]. BUT ON THE GROUND OF YOUR WORD, I will lower the nets [again].” -Luke 5:4-5

        God asked me to trust Him by pushing past my fear in faith – in Him.

        • Robyn,

          I LOVE this! Such words of strength – I want to paint them on my wall!

          Have you by chance seen the movie “Facing the Giants”? It has a scene with a similar message based on Revelation 3:8. Here’s a clip of that scene:

          from that scene:
          “I heard a story about two farmers who desperately needed rain. And both of them prayed for rain, but only one of them when out and prepared his fields to receive it. Which one do you think trusted God to send the rain? Which one are you? God will send the rain when he’s ready. You need to prepare your field to receive it.”

          I also love Ephesians 3:20:
          “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” He is able!

          I am at the point in this journey of repeatedly praying for victory in the battle against myself. Many days there are victories, but some days defeat. On the ground of His Word, I will prepare the field for rain, and keep lowering my nets into the deep.

          Thank you for sharing – what a blessing!

        • Thanks for that Heart to Know! I’m so glad that you were blessed, that’s an encouragement to me!! I’ve not seen that movie but I love the message in the clip that you posted, there is so much truth in it. Having your field ready is akin to, “Do you REALLY believe it … or not?” Do you REALLY believe Peter walked on water? And do you REALLY believe that power is there for you too? Isn’t God just fantastic!!!

          I’m happy to hear that you are having many days of victories. I found that the ‘some’ days of defeat got fewer and shorter and at this point they are barely a whiff of a memory.

          Keep up the great work of trusting God to send your rain, I’m glad you are a sister in the faith!

        • This speaks to my heart. It is on us to seek our own growth in this area.

        • Awesome, Thank you for sharing!

  5. Rebekah on July 17, 2013 at 12:37 am said:

    I always struggled on and off, trying to be a better wife, and on one of the strecthes of trying I statted doing alot of reading. What really got me, I think, is that I didn’t really think of sex in marriage the way God meant it to be, or the way my husband my husband saw it. Not sure if it was the specific how sex was portrayed in a way that clicked with me, or if it just xlixked after reading it so many times. I wish now that I had heard my husband all the times he tried to communicate a new way of thinking to me, or that he could have communicated it dfferently, without the “I need” arguments clouding my view.
    PS In learning to submit, I totally relate to the why do I have to change monolouge. It is really tough. I want to encourage you to keep pushing through. God will blow your mind, and then your husband will too.

    • It was when I heard the voices of other men–using the same words my husband had–that it all started sinking in with me. Having gone through the process of making the sexual changes makes it easier to know that I am capable of working through all the words that go through my head as I’m trying to get through learning to respect.

  6. Jana on July 17, 2013 at 3:58 pm said:

    I have always felt that sex was a way to serve my husband because he has needs. I think that Mark Gungor taught me that. So I have to be honest in saying I do not refuse my husband. He refuses me. I enjoy make my husband happy that way:-)).

  7. Alicia on July 17, 2013 at 4:19 pm said:

    I decided that it was time to change when I got off of birth control. I knew I was sinning by refusing, but it was just so hard. Once I got off birth control, in really saw the light. It was messing with so many areas in my body that I couldn’t see before. My husband was deploying at the time (is actually still deployed, but coming home soon!!), and so I decided it was time to make a change. I would have some extra time to study up on marriage which lead to a study on sex.

    I didn’t realize how badly I was hurting my husband until I had my eyes opened by so many wonderful marriage bloggers (for which I am so thankful). Needless to say, I can’t wait for him to get home so that I can show him the new me!!! So many things have changed while he was gone, but that’s another story for another day.

  8. Thank you to all you ladies who have responded to this. I am saddened that there seem to be so many marriages in the church that are having this problem. I am encouraged that I am seeing many ladies work to make the changes to help make their marriages better. I believe you are encouraging a lot of men.

  9. ForgivenWife – Before your change, did you know, somewhere inside, that it was wrong to say no so often?

    My theory is that we usually know when we are in sin, we just work hard to not admit it.

    • Funny you should ask. I’ve been thinking about this question all day. You’d think it would be a simple question to answer, but it isn’t for me. Did I know it was wrong? I don’t know.

      What I did know was this:

      • Saying no hurt my husband.
      • Saying no was hurting our marriage.
      • Everyone else would probably think it was wrong to say no.
      • God would think I should have sex with my husband.
      • Although I sometimes complained with other women about our husbands’ interest in sex, I never told anyone I said no. If anyone had asked me, I wouldn’t have admitted it. If I’d ever accidentally admitted it, I would have downplayed how frequent it was.

      All these things should have told me that saying no was wrong. But in my mind, one thing trumped all: my husband had hurt me emotionally (it was largely a communication issue at a time in our lives when we were both in major transition). It was unreasonable for anyone–even God–to expect me to have sex when my husband hadn’t apologized and wasn’t willing to let me talk about feeling hurt. I completely believed that saying no was justified and that everyone who would think I should say yes (including God) just didn’t understand.

      So did I know it was hurtful? Yes, absolutely. Did I know it was wrong? No, because I could see my saying no only within the context of my feeling hurt. Did I know that I had the power to make our sex life better? Yes. Did I know what I needed to do? Yes. Did I have any idea how to do that, how to get past my feelings of hurt and justification to be able to make the first move? I had absolutely no idea.

      The first clue I had as to how to shift my thinking in a way that allowed me to get out of my rut was in reading The Generous Wife. It gave me an example of a different attitude, one that showed me a way of reframing my feelings so I could be able to take the first step. So, for all that happened in your marriage that led to your ministry, I thank God.

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