Gerad at Mission:Husband hit a nerve a few days ago in his post “Five Things Your `High Drive Spouse’ May Never Tell You.”  

His intention, I believe, was to help low-drive spouses better understand their high-drive spouses’ thoughts and feelings about sex. The comments on that post have been interesting. He has elicited some strong reactions. [Note: The previous sentence has been edited to correct an unintentional misreading of comments on the Mission:Husband post.] I confess: although I no longer refuse my husband, there is still part of me that understands every one of the comments he’s received.

His post and the ensuing comments have gotten me thinking about some of the mantras I used to justify my refusal. These were sacred cows, assumptions that I did not examine and that were not open to questioning:

1. He needs to deserve it.
2. I am not a sex object.
3. He and I are on opposite teams.
4. My feelings should dictate my actions.

Every time my husband attempted to initiate sex, these four mantras would spin through my head and provide a standard against which all was measured.

1. He needs to deserve it. I put the responsibility for my sexual interest entirely on my husband’s shoulders. I had expectations (some that I communicated and some that I’m sure I did not) about what kind of husband he should be, how he met my emotional needs, what he did around the house, how he parented, etc. If I couldn’t check off the entire list, he didn’t get sex.

2. I am not a sex object. Like many women, I was often not interested in sex until I was already in the process of having it. Therefore, when my husband expressed interest, my honest answer was always “no.” I didn’t want any, not at all. After expressing my lack of interest, any persistence on his part would be seen through my lens of, “I’ve already said I’m not interested. Since he is pressuring me, that means he doesn’t acknowledge or care about my feelings, and therefore he sees me as just a sex object.” This interpretation was then applied to the first mantra as evidence that he didn’t deserve it.

3. He and I are on opposite teams. We didn’t want the same thing. He wanted sex. I wanted emotional connection. Our needs and desires were in contrast with each other, I thought, so sex became a battleground.

4. My feelings should dictate my actions. If I don’t feel like having sex, how could he expect me to actually do it? Why would he even want to have sex with someone who didn’t want it? What kind of man was he, anyway? (And this applied as evidence that he saw me as a sex object.) I pointed out to him many times that having sex when I didn’t feel like it was like being a prostitute. One day, he finally snapped back at me that at least a prostitute would pretend she was interested. Ouch.

How did I begin to slaughter these sacred cows? I am pretty sure that it was largely due to desperation. My husband was depressed, and I was beginning to see apathy from both of us. It was clear that our marriage was broken–not beyond repair, but broken and in need of healing. Living with a sad man with no physical or mental energy frightened me. Something felt off. I knew that something needed to change. And the only thing I could think of to snap him out of it was sex. The one thing we’d always fought about the most just might be the path to healing.

First, I slaughtered #4–but not right away. Rather than thinking about my feeling of not wanting sex, I would think about my feeling of fear that our marriage would fall apart. This feeling made it easier to follow through with the actions. As the actions became more normal and less of an issue, the feelings began to change. I didn’t begin to want sex at first, but I did come to feel that sex was comforting and not negative. Around this same time, I read an article that included a phrase I hadn’t seen in years: “Love is not a feeling. It’s a daily decision.” I turned that over in my mind and decided I could use that. Love wasn’t about how I felt; it was about what I did. As I looked at love and sex as action rather than feeling, the feeling began to grow.

The second sacred cow to go was #3. I hadn’t known it would happen, but as I began to perceive sex less negatively, I began to experience more emotional connection. This led to a feeling of being married and part of the same team. I didn’t have to slaughter this sacred cow. It just faded away on its own.

Then I realized I was facing #2, that I was just a sex object. By the time I realized I was dealing with that one, I realized that I was kind of good at sex–or at least good enough that I was seeing my husband respond in some pretty interesting ways. I’d never realized how powerful my breasts were. Simply taking my top off would make him crazy. Touching him, and letting him touch me, elicited amazing compliments. It was like sex was my newly-discovered superpower. I realized that it no longer bothered me to be thought of as a sex object. I was good at being one, and I rocked it. Plus, by that time, I was starting to realize that even raucous take-me-now kind of sex was more than just sex; it was part of a full relationship.

And the sacred cow that was left was #1. And I knew that it no longer mattered. He didn’t need to deserve it. By then, I’d read enough and let go enough of all these mantras to know that it wasn’t about him or me. It was about what our marriage needed. When my husband married me, I promised I would have sex with him, and he promised he would have sex with me. He sometimes didn’t deserve it–but deserving has nothing to do with needing.

I can still connect with the feelings behind those sacred cows. I remember them, in a visceral sense sometimes. I can read one comment from a refused husband that sounds like something my husband once said, and I find my shoulders tensing and my irritation rising up in my belly. But then, I breathe, and I choose to set those feelings aside. I remember that because I made a decision to do better and be more sexually generous, our marriage as a whole has grown and strengthened. My husband and I have both benefitted. We both deserve the physical and emotional intimacy that grows from sex. Every day, he shows me–and my eyes are open enough to see–that he sees me not as just a sex object but as a whole person. We are on the same team.

Most important, marriage is not just about feeling. It is about doing. It is about serving. It is about honoring my covenant to God. It is about making a decision that what God has joined together, I will work hard to keep together.

And there go all my sacred cows. Are you ready to slaughter yours?

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11 Thoughts on “Sacred Cows

  1. God’s blessing is that through time and with Christ’s healing, the visceral nature of the sacred cows diminish and eventually nearly totally disappear. So glad you’ve discovered your superpower!!! 😉

  2. #1 has been my biggest “sacred cow”. It’s funny how in other areas of my life I could recognize that when I am sinned against and I might have a “justified” feeling of anger or hurt, that doesn’t make it right to act on that feeling, but I need to love and forgive. Yet I was so blinded to it in our marriage bed.

    Thanks for saying “hi” to me, it was nice to “see” a friendly face in the forum!

    • I suspect lots of us are blinded in the marriage bed. Everything sexual is so connected to deep feelings and hormones that what happens there matters more. We’re too involved to be able to see clearly.

      It was nice to see you show up there. I give the people on the forum credit for helping me know how to change my marriage.

  3. Nicole on May 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm said:

    Wow, please, followers of The Forgiven Wife, go to the blog in question. “Women who refuse”? Every woman on that thread who offered a differing opinion… has sex frequently with her husband. Go check it out for yourself. I am incapable of doing anything with any comments, I’m in no way shape or form related to either of these pages or authors, and not one woman who made the mistake of disagreeing with the author doesn’t have frequent sex with her husband. Don’t make the same mistake. Agree with this woman or you will be lied about.

    “Women who refuse”.

    • Nicole, I don’t see it as agreeing or disagreeing with his article, since I don’t think he put forth any argument in the first place. He was sharing his heart and wanting to provide some insight into a higher-drive spouse’s point of view. Because he wasn’t even making an argument, I imagine he wasn’t prepared for how the comments developed.

      And all I’m doing here is sharing my heart as well. Sexually refusing my husband hurt my marriage. By simply stopping the refusal and deciding not to make sex into a battle anymore, I made a dramatic improvement in my marriage and my husband has done his share of work to improve as well.

      If you and your husband are both happy with your sexual relationship, then all is well. If one of you is not, then think about whether there is anything you can do about it to stop the cycle of disappointment and sadness.

      • Nicole on May 8, 2013 at 12:32 pm said:

        My point is that you out right lied. The women who commented on that page, including myself do not “refuse” anything and we made that very clear. My husband and I have sex daily. He would like it multiple times a day. I would like 3 to 5 times a week. I think we’re both satisfied with where we’re at.

        My personal point was that both people in a loving marriage should work towards a common goal. Not just have the wife shut up, get naked and put a smile on her face. Personally, I understand that I can only worry about myself, I can only keep my side of the road clean, draw near to God and He’ll handle the rest. I don’t think the author of that blog cares about his wife at all, and that is why he’s not able to come together with her as often as he would like. His instructions were one sided. And THAT is all that was being discussed. There was no reason to lie and create a new blog based on that lie.

  4. I didn’t quite understand your first post here, so I appreciate the clarification. I’m puzzled as to why you say I’m lying about you, though.

    My unintentional misunderstanding of other people’s comments is a far cry from a lie. Because so many of the comments I read there could have been written by me three years ago, it should be no surprise that I was reading through the lens of a refusing wife–since I was one. I apologize for misrepresenting your position, and I will edit that in this blog post.

    Note that there is only one sentence here where I have inadvertently misrepresented your views: “He has elicited some strong reactions from wives who refuse.” I will edit that to remove the “from wives who refuse.” That does not invalidate my perspective as a wife who refused and had many issues to work through. It certainly does not invalidate my belief that we should all be looking at our unexamined assumptions to question their validity.

    I shared my experience and challenged my readers to question their own assumptions. This is not a lie. My only misrepresenation of you or other posters on that blog is to refer to you as refusing wives. For you to say I am lying about you is to suggest that my blog post is completely and intentionally based on an untruth. It is not. The comments there got me thinking about my own experience, and that is the basis of this blog post.

    I prefer that this blog not be used to insult other bloggers, so I have removed the comment in which you do that. Yes, this is censoring. It is contrary to the mission of this blog. I truly don’t understand the anger and frustration I’m sensing.

    • mission:husband on May 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm said:


      Are you serious? Is this some kind of an April fools joke that got played in May?

      Ok, first of all WHO EVER SAID that YOU were not giving your husband sex, because I NEVER DID. If you feel guilty about something, or just wanted to make that up, that’s your deal, not mine. I NEVER said you weren’t, and I NEVER said anything about your sex life, or your marriage, or your dog, or kids, or what type of car you drive. The blog post I wrote intended to be a help for the LDS spouse to maybe better understand her/his spouse, and if that doesn’t apply to you, GREAT! I’m glad you have a great marriage, and sex life with your husband! That’s the whole goal here, and I’m glad you don’t need the help.

      For those tho DO however, I was hoping my article may shed some light on how the HDS thinks.

      I’m sorry if I somehow offended you with this article. Was not intended, and really, I’m kind of confused where the “he’s hurling insults” comment came from. If you think I’m hurling insults, you’ve never been insulted before, because believe me, I’ve heard about all of them.

      As far as treating my wife badly, she happens to run the blog Mission:Wife, and seems to think I’m doing ok in how I treat her. If you are worried about her though, and want me to have her email you and let you know she’s ok, I can do that. Something tells me she would be more than willing to fill you in.

      So in closing, please put down the picket signs, and call off the dogs. If my post wasn’t for you, congratulations. I hope you and your husband have many more great years together.

  5. Nice… good for you!

  6. It does seem there are some raw nerves in this area of refusing wives. Mismatched drives is a serious challenge in many marriages. There are wives who are the higher drive spouse, and the roles can reverse at times. Even for the wife who is making love regularly with her husband it can still be less than he desires. A few times a week may not be adequate for him. Hopefully, spouses can work for a win-win compromise – but defensive attitudes do not help here.

    Let us not lose sight of the seriousness of refusing sex to your spouse. I have seen comments on some marriage forums where wives have been critical of other wives about refusing for whatever reasons. Do you want to frustrate your husband until: “he uses porn”, or “masturbates in the shower”, or “has an affair”? Oh, and I have also seen comments from husbands saying that they were filing for divorce for lack of enough sex or a cold attitude from the wife during the couple’s infrequent sex.

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