Sex can be the means to reconciliation just as much as it can be the reflection of it.

In recent comments on a post from last year, a woman asked about having sex with your husband when you’re mad at him:

“I don’t know about anyone else but I can’t have sex when I’m angry. I have to make up first and have good feelings about my husband. Sex isn’t just physical.”

I think it’s true for a lot of women that it is hard to be sexually intimate with our husbands when we are angry and hurting.

In some situations, the state of anger and hurt is a wife’s response to her husband’s on-going sin: physical or emotional abuse, infidelity, pornography, financial irresponsibility, etc. I am not going to address those situations here. If you are dealing with these kinds of issues in your marriage, please seek support from a pastor or professional counselor. This post is not about the burden you carry.

For many of us, though, our anger and hurt stem from other kinds of things, such as our husbands not listening to us when we’re trying to talk about our day, a disagreement about parenting, a dispute over a division of labor, a joke at our expense, getting home late without calling, or a minor argument.


I used to feel angry at my husband a lot. It was usually about something he didn’t do (that I thought he should have done) or something he said (that I thought he shouldn’t have said).

When I was feeling so hurt and angry, the last thing I wanted to do was have sex. In those moments, my husband felt like an opposing force to me. Inviting him into my body and heart would be like throwing the castle gates open to the marauders. I just couldn’t fathom how I could possibly do it, not to mention why I would even want to.

I don’t feel that hurt and anger much anymore, but it does still happen sometimes—and the last thing I feel like doing is having sex.

But that’s exactly when I know it is needed the most.


Why do I have sex when I feel angry and hurt?

Sex isn’t just physical–and that’s exactly why it helps restore our connection.

When my husband and I have been arguing, his desire for sex is about reconnecting emotionally with me. The drive for an orgasm is secondary.

Before I understood how emotional sex was for my husband, his request for sex after an argument was adding insult to injury. I’m already hurting, and now you expect me to do something for you? Aaarrgghh.

When I learned that sex is the very thing that helps my husband feel emotionally connected to me, I was able to understand that his request for sex was a yearning for our relationship to be restored.

At first, having sex when I was upset with my husband required me to do a lot of deep breathing and mental gymnastics.

Now, I have additional approaches to use if I am struggling. My marriage is now healthy enough that I can say to Big Guy, “I’m really upset with you, so this is going to be hard for me at first. I need for you to be patient when I need to take a break or want to talk for a few minutes while we’re making out.” And he does what I need him to, because he trusts that it isn’t an effort to avoid but an effort to do what will bring us both healing.


When I was looking at his desire for sex as just physical, it felt very weird and fake to think about having sex when I was upset with him. As I began to understand that he didn’t see sex as “just physical” any more than I did, I was able to step back and see the big picture differently.

For my husband, sex provided the best means of emotional reconnection after an argument. By requiring him to do things the way I wanted (talking), I was prolonging that process for him—just as by doing the things he wanted (having sex), he was prolonging the process for me.

Now that our marriage is stronger, it is easier for both of us to meet the other’s needs in healing after an argument. Sometimes we heal through conversation first; other times we heal through sex first.

On those rare occasions when I’m upset with my husband these days, it is easier for me to understand that sex is one of the ways we can heal the breach. It is not a personal affront that adds insult to my existing injury.

Instead of insisting that I feel emotionally connected to my husband before we can even think about sex, now I remember that sex can be just as healing as conversation.

Sex can be the means to reconciliation just as much as it can be the reflection of it.

Image courtesy of Ambro at

16 Thoughts on “Why I Have Sex When I’m Upset with My Husband

  1. Hm, interesting. So I get what you’re saying and, on one level, I agree. But the problem is that this is not always the answer. I’m just speaking from experience here. At times, that hurt and angry feeling IS a clue that something wrong is going on and you’re not seeing it. This was true for me, and I want to clarify when I say “not seeing it’: I was aware there were some issues, I had just lost track of how big they had gotten and how they were dividing us. And on the road back to marriage recovery, this is the hardest piece that I’m struggling with right now. Broken trust breaks deep down in terms of sex and really needs to be healed deeply. Just my 2 cents, but certainly an interesting take here!

    • You’re right that it isn’t always the answer. When there are bigger issues involving broken trust, that goes beyond what this post can cover (and is generally beyond what I address in the blog). I do have some posts about rebuilding trust, but they are about dealing with my own trust issues, not dealing with trust that has been broken in a relationship.

  2. Toni on May 30, 2015 at 4:39 pm said:

    These statements really speak to me, “that’s exactly why it helps restore our connection.” And “Sex can be the means of reconciliation just as much as the reflection of it.” And I agree it can be the means of reconciliation and help restore our connection to the point where you want to have sex with your husband/spouse more. 🙂

  3. Orlia on May 30, 2015 at 7:57 pm said:

    I would be more open to this idea if I knew there would, afterwards, actually be some reconciliation. My husband seems to think that sex means everything is okay and then that means the problems are never resolved. If I have sex with him with unresolved conflict and then bring the problem up again a few days later, he will lose it because we had sex after all and therefore everything is fine.

    • It wasn’t until after I had been working on sexual intimacy in general for about a year that I was able to see that reconciliation could happen as a result. Perhaps it is because our relationship had begun to heal in deeper ways that this could happen. Sex can reconcile for us now because it happens on top of a healthier foundation.

      This isn’t an approach that can work in all marriages, and it may not help with all kinds of conflict–but there are times when it can work. That said, there have been a couple times when we’ve proceeded to have sex and I’ve said something like, “We’re doing this now because it’s important for our relationship and I know it will help me feel better about you. Later this week, though, I still need for us to talk about this issue and work toward a resolution.”

    • IntimacySeeker on May 31, 2015 at 4:35 am said:

      I have heard/read that one of the reasons husbands think having sex means everything is okay in the relationship is that they have been taught their wives cannot enjoy sex unless everything IS okay. So some clarification is needed.

      It can be frustrating to witness how easy it seems for our husbands to be “over” a conflict, just by having sex. I dealt with a lot of anger over that and also struggled with the cycle you mention: our issues were not resolved because we never talked about them. Or the talking did not lead to any behavior changes.

      Chris gives some good advice in her response here.

      • Orlia on May 31, 2015 at 8:22 pm said:

        I can’t enjoy sex if the person using my body doesn’t care how I feel. Sex will never negate the need for an apology and validation of the other person. If he calls me names and insults me and laughs when I say I’m hurt, and then wants sex, it ain’t happening. I don’t see, for one second, how that is part of “God’s plan”. I have never heard God’s voice saying “spread your legs, lady!”. I hear Him telling me to forgive my husband, but not to be a robotic pleasure toy.

        If you are talking about disagreements about where to go on vacation, that’s one thing. But when someone is hurtful and unkind, sex is no apology. That’s not “love”.

        • Your husband should not be treating you like that. I would consider that to be a husband’s on-going sin I referred to toward the beginning of the post. This post doesn’t apply in your marriage.

        • Orlia on June 2, 2015 at 8:09 pm said:

          Thank you for the comment below. I keep reading these sites for women and I keep reading that I just need to give him more sex and give him what he wants and then he will care about me. But this has made me so angry and resentful and I feel very alone.

        • Sometimes, this is what works–but it’s a process that can take a year or two. It isn’t a magic formula, and it isn’t a guarantee.

  4. I feel weird initiating when I’m mad, and initiating when my bride is angry is perilous to say the leas, so I was never able to understand the concept of “makeup sex”. But reading your post definitely shows the merits.

  5. IntimacySeeker on May 31, 2015 at 1:09 pm said:

    A few more thoughts: As Chris states, sex won’t fix the major issues in a marriage. Those require conversation and often counseling. And while sex does not “fix” the minor things, I find that regular sex makes it easier to let those little things go. Their significance has evaporated over time. And I’m more aware of my own shortcomings, so I’m more forgiving. Regular sex and growing intimacy makes it easier to love my husband. It’s like getting on a positive roll that improves with time.

  6. heavy heart on June 1, 2015 at 6:09 am said:

    Those little hurts don’t get resolved anyway. My marriage has become a refinery daily. I can’t go a day without being convicted of my rebellion towards him. It’s not a big thing it’s just all the little things that add up. It doesn’t go away with more sex or after sex. It’s my rebellion and I want to change my husband. One post you mentioned focusing in on the good parts of sex has helped.

    • Little things do add up. I began with just a change in sex. As I worked on that and life got less tense, I began to see all the other areas in myself that needed my attention. I have watched my husband grow so much during the past couple years. Now that he is no longer having to guard himself from the pain of my sexual rejection, he is growing in God. That doesn’t mean that sex will always fix everything, but it was a first step toward improvement in my marriage.

  7. If my wife is angry with me, I will NOT engage in sex with her. Sure it might make me feel good for the moment, but immediately after the guilt for having “used” her would flood in. Furthermore, if I detect that my wife is “doing me a favor” or would rather “get it over with”… I will put the brakes on it immediately.

    The thing is… I have value and my wife has value, and it doesn’t do either of us good to have sex when we’re angry. But after we have talked it through… and listened to one another… and let the adrenaline subside… the restorative effect we have during sex is nothing short of amazing.

    • If either my husband or I thought he was using me when we’re upset with each other, we would have a restorative conversation instead.

      I think this is one of those things that depends on the individual relationship.

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