Does it help to understand why we say no to sex?

Dandelions are lovely little flowers, all full of sunshine and happiness—until they turn to seed. Then they become eyesores. They are considered weeds by quite a few folks, despite some medicinal and nutritional value.

My grandfather used to come visit us for long stretches of time during my childhood. He always took on the job of rooting out the dandelions. I would count all the dandelions to see how many we had to do. Then, my grandfather would sit on the grass next to me with a dandelion digger, roll up his sleeves, and tell me, “If you don’t get the whole taproot out, the dandelion will just grow back. Dig all the way down until you see the end of the root—and when you pull the plant out, take a look at the root and make sure you got it all. If you didn’t, you need to keep digging until the root is gone.”

So we would sit on the grass, moving from one dandelion to another, until they were all gone. I remember getting blisters on my hands and mud below my fingernails. I also remember looking at the bucket full of the dead dandelions and knowing that we were making progress in ridding the yard of weeds.

The Roots of Refusal

I’ve explored the roots of my sexual refusal a great deal. To someone who has not been a sexual refuser, this may seem a pointless exercise in frustration. Every reason, experience, or feeling I identify comes across as, well, an excuse.

To a refused husband, sex seems like such a simple thing for his wife to do—and the fact that she doesn’t do what he perceives as simple makes his hurt even deeper. How hard can it be to lie back for five minutes right?

In a way, it is a simple thing. A refusing wife is sinning, and she should stop. So does it even matter why she’s doing it, if we know it’s wrong?

Does the “why” behind her refusal even matter?

I believe it does.

But why? Why does “why” matter?

Sin Is Heart-Deep

When Jesus tells us that a man who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart, it is pretty clear that our hearts are at the heart of our sins.

It sounds simple to say that a refusing wife should stop refusing—but if she stops refusing, has she automatically stopped sinning as well? If her behavior is right but her heart is wrong, is she still in sin? If her behavior is right and her heart is right, then is that all there is to deal with?

Once I began making changes, it was clear that my behavior was right (most of the time) and my heart was right. I was moving out of sin—so why was it still so hard? On the surface, the sin was gone—but something remained beneath the surface.

 Why did it sometimes take so much courage for me to touch my husband? Why did I have to take so many deep breaths just to agree that we could have sex? Why did I find myself having anxiety attacks in the bathroom before sex sometimes? Why did it take me so long for me to get myself mentally ready for some sexual acts I didn’t want to do at first?

My sin was heart-deep, not surface-deep.

It is only in digging into the roots of my refusal that I have been able to get untangled enough to develop a healthier view of sex and my sexuality. Digging into the “why” uncovered some difficult things about my childhood and my young adult experiences. It opened a window to explain some of my heart’s feelings about my husband. It showed me that sexually refusing my husband was an outgrowth of things that really had nothing to do with him.

It was only when these things were brought into the light that I could work through them. Knowing why I’d been refusing showed me a path for true and deep healing.

My sexual changes began with my heart in the right place and my behavior adjusted. With my heart problems still intact, though, I don’t know how long the changes would have lasted. Maybe the changes would have lasted but my heart problems would have led to other problems. Maybe I would have continued to feel resentment boiling below the surface. Maybe everything would have been fine.

On the surface, the weed of refusal was gone. However, the taproot remained.

If the weed has been pulled but the taproot remains, it will simply grow back.

When we talk about the “why” of our sexual refusal, it can sound like a list of excuses, a justification that what we did was the right thing to do.

I laid most of the blame on my husband and the things he did or didn’t do. My avoidance of sex was a response to things that I perceived as truth. When I acknowledged that my response to these things was a sinful response, I was only pulling the top part of the weed away. The root was still there. Some version of the dandelion would have grown back.

As I exposed the roots, I learned that my refusal and gate-keeping weren’t responses to my husband as much as they were reactions based on some baggage I’d dragged around since childhood. And as that baggage came into the light of day, I was able to dig down until it was completely exposed—and then root it out.

The Process of Digging

Sexual refusal is rooted in different things and how we react to them. For me, it was about childhood insecurities and my premarital sexual experience. For other women, there may be a key relationship event that caused a breach of trust. Some women have bad teaching about married sexuality to root out. Others have to dig out trauma.

Listing the reasons behind our refusal is an important early step in the process of healing. It may sound like excuses or justification—and if you stop at a simple list of reasons, that’s really all it is.

True understanding goes far deeper than making a list. A list is on the surface only. It goes only as far as just counting the dandelions.

You have to keep digging below the surface, below the reasons as you understand them, to get to the real root of your refusal. Keep asking yourself, “Why?” at every step.

My list was something like this:

  • My husband wasn’t sharing himself with me emotionally.
  • He’d had a harsh tone of voice and didn’t deserve sex.
  • He didn’t really love me and only wanted sex.
  • I couldn’t be sexual with him because he wasn’t sharing himself with me emotionally, he had been short with me and didn’t deserve sex, and he didn’t really love me and only wanted sex.

Every time my husband asked me why I wasn’t interested in sex, I gave him some variation of this list. To him, it sounded like excuses. To me, it was the truth as I perceived it—yet when we tried to address those things, I still wasn’t interested in having sex with him. What I saw on the surface didn’t even touch the roots—but it did show me where to start digging when I was ready to do so.

Digging looked like this:

My husband had a harsh tone

►Harsh tones made me feel like I was in trouble.

►► Being in trouble as a child made me feel unloved and unworthy.

►►► I didn’t know how to open up sexually when I felt like my husband didn’t love or value me.

And that was what it all boiled down to: I didn’t know how to open up sexually when I felt like my husband didn’t love or value me.

That was the exposed root. Digging it out meant that I had to learn two things: 1) how to believe that my husband loved and valued me no matter what tone he used, and 2) how to open up sexually despite my feelings. These changes were on me to do, not on my husband.

Even when we know that our refusal is a sinful response, the weeds are not going to go away until we can pull out the taproot.

I want to be clear: my belief is that the sin isn’t as much in saying “no” as it is in refusing to address the underlying problems.  I don’t believe that a woman whose heart is making a genuine effort and working to do the best she can–even if the best she can is to be able to respond with a “yes” and no panic attack and the sexual variety needs to be very limited–is not in sin. In the case of a woman who has survived childhood sexual trauma, for instance, I would say that the sin of refusal would not be in refusing to have sex but in refusing to work on her own healing and growth for the sake of her self and her marriage.

Our hearts will not mend, our minds will not learn good teaching, and our bodies will not develop positive patterns of response until we dig out the roots.

“Why” Matters

Digging isn’t easy. It’s bound to leave some blisters on your spirit, and you’ll likely come away with some of the dirt still clinging to your skin.

My old feelings and habits sometimes try to poke their heads through—but they are the kinds of weeds that can be yanked out quickly because their real roots are now gone. They are now just superficial habits.

The real work of recovering from refusal involves digging out the taproots so you know the weed is gone. Still, you have to know where to start digging, and “why” shows you just where you need to go.

Look at the reasons behind your refusal. Yes, they look just like excuses—and if you never dig down, that’s all they will be.

So let your reasons be more than excuses. Let them be a step in the process. Let them show you where to start digging—and then roll up your sleeves and dig.

Image courtesy of franky242 /

59 Thoughts on “Why “Why” Matters

  1. trixie1466 on May 23, 2014 at 12:51 pm said:

    Thank you for writing this. Often times when I read about how sinful refusing is and how selfish refusers are, I still get defensive. I haven’t been a sexual refuser in quite a while. I fully acknowledge that refusal is sin, but perhaps there are roots still needing to be dug out. You’ve given me something to think about today.

  2. As always, your analogy is terrific. I have a little bit of trouble seeing that sexual refusal that’s rooted in childhood sexual abuse is sin, at least in the same way as refusal that’s rooted in, say, selfishness or anger. It just seems like the scars, sexual and otherwise, of childhood abuse are so deep and painful that it’s unfair to say “You’re the sinner. Stop sinning.” (I know you’re not saying that.) I certainly agree that sexual refusal based in abuse should be dealt with, for the sake of both the abused and the marriage. Because clearly, sex that’s meaningful and enjoyable for both spouses is part of God’s plan for marriage. I know I’m rambling. It just seems hard for me to think of behavior that’s rooted in something a person had no control over as sin.

    • You’re right Gaye–and by the time I remembered I wanted to address that a bit more, I was where I couldn’t get online to do anything about it.

      I don’t think the refusal is sin in these cases. In fact, refusal can be an important part of healing in that it allows a woman to regain control over something that was stolen from her.

      I do think someone who brings that kind of trauma into marriage should be working toward healing and growth of some kind. Is the choice not to try to heal sin? Some would say yes. I’m not sure what I think. Full healing may never get someone to what others would consider a healthy and joyful view of sexual intimacy.

      • “Is the choice not to heal sin?”

        I think yes, at least in my case. There is a need to deal with past trauma, which as you said may mean saying no occasionally, if my heart is right and loving. But at some point, holding on to the pain of the past turns into finding my identity as a victim, not in Jesus. And that’s a sin.

  3. My husband and I had a looooong talk about this a couple of days ago. We locked ourselves in a room and told the kids not to kill eachother, lol. I think we came to somewhat of a breakthrough. It helped me SO much to hear him admit that as much as my “just lay back and go through the motions” attitude hurt him on a deep level of who he is, his “just sit there on the couch and nod” attitude hurt me on a deep level of who I am. We learned that both of us THOUGHT we were meeting the other’s need by passive participation. I would lay there, carefully not rolling my eyes or crossing my arms or making negative comments, getting completely naked and letting him do whatever he wanted, though I was terrified inside, I tried HARD not to show it. But I wasn’t truly engaged in the process. Because, you know, I was terrified. And when this wasn’t “enough” for him, it felt like a rejection of ME, of who I am and what I felt. But for him, the sexual connection with me was seriously lacking, because he needed me to long to engage with him the way he longed to engage with me.

    What we realized was that he had been doing the same exact thing to me. When I would try to converse with him, he would passively listen, and nod, and not roll his eyes or make negative comments. He stayed off his phone. He would basically sit there and let me say whatever I wanted, my deepest thoughts and feelings, just like I was doing to him in bed. And he couldn’t understand why I felt that he wasn’t truly connecting with me. I need to have him ENGAGED in the conversation, or the connection is lacking, and there’s not a real intimacy.

    We learned that we were both doing our best to provide a safe place for the other to pour themselves out at that deep level. But neither of us felt fulfilled because the other wasn’t ENGAGED and RESPONDING. It’s not intimate to pour your deepest self into the other person unless that other person turns it into a circle and pours themselves right back into you. That was the missing ingredient! But it turns out, my hubby feels as terrified to “open up” to me emotionally as I feel terrified to “open up” sexually. Once we realized that, we could investigate why the other felt so frightened, and see how each of us can help the other to trust better. But now, I had a context to understand his hurt, and he had a context to understand mine. We realized that we both basically wanted the same thing.

    And then we realized that it’s beautiful that God has set it up this way. We were both craving intimacy in the way that feels most NATURAL to us. But we had built walls against the form of intimacy that feels most VULNERABLE for us. And, so, each of us is blocking the other’s deepest need. Despite the fact that we had good intentions and were trying to supply this need passively! For the first time, both of us have this glimpse of what it might feel like to be intimate not only in the way that feels most natural, but in the way that feels most vulnerable. That must be a whole ‘nother level of intimacy!

    Which is an AMAZING realization, because it makes me want to try to reach that new kind of intimacy. For my own sake, not just hubby’s sake. Even though I’m still scared. Turns out, hubby would rather have the REAL me there, openly admitting my fear and turning to him for comfort, rather than an actress trying to block it out and pretend to be calm. It’s true that realizing these things alone is not enough to fix our problem. But, wow, I feel hope for the first time in years 🙂

    Anyway, sorry for the long comment, but I was excited about all this, and your post about getting to the roots about what I feel seemed appropriate.

  4. Thank you for your posts ladies. I’ve been in a similar pattern for 30 years. And at this point, I am so resentful of the person my husband has become, because of the way I’ve treated him. Your analogy of the dandelion root makes sense. I need to start digging.

    • “I am so resentful of the person my husband has become, because of the way I’ve treated him.”

      This is so true. Once we are able to step back from our own actions, we see that we see how we have contributed to the problems we now have to deal with. Some of the things that frustrated me the most about my husband are habits that developed in response to my long-term gate-keeping and refusing. Breaking the patterns that we have built can take quite some time–but as I dig things out, I see more and more of our marriage and not just problems that stick out.

  5. IntimacySeeker on May 24, 2014 at 5:07 am said:

    Thank you, Chris and CW. The same wall keeps popping back up for me as I try to forge through the process of becoming fully engaged. Your comments give me hope.

    • If you keep seeing the same wall, then you know where to start digging. If you haven’t done so already, you might ask some others to brainstorm some ideas of what might be really going on in your heart and mind. It’s easier for those outside our walls to see what the bricks are made of.

  6. bob in lenexa on May 24, 2014 at 9:02 am said:

    Powerful Chris, very powerful

  7. Wow Chris, this is such a perfect analogy – especially as I spent a lot of time today digging dandelions out of my yard. I started with just my hands; but then realized I needed to use a small shovel so that I could really get down to the root. In the same way here, I believe that sometimes I can think that alone I can handle past hurt or trauma – but sometimes I need more tools than I alone have! Blessings on you and thank you for your transparency and willingness to share your struggles as a testimony and encouragement to others.

    • Yes, sometimes we do need to use different or better tools. It’s tempting to go around and use herbicide on dandelions, but then you end up taking out some of the surrounding plant life as collateral damage.

  8. rebecca on May 27, 2014 at 9:24 am said:

    This post was very helpful to me. Do you have any advice on how to stop closing myself off emotionally from my husband during sex? I often am not able to have sex and not shut down emotionally, then I end up crying and feeling awful.

    • For me, what helped most was to begin simply by noticing when I was shutting down. Then, I began to take some deep breaths and refocus myself. I would do a lot of mental pep talks, reminding myself that my husband loved me, that sex was important for our marriage, that it would just be for a few minutes, that it was okay to relax, etc.

      It helped me to know why I was shutting down, too.

    • IntimacySeeker on May 27, 2014 at 10:33 am said:

      My heart is connecting with yours as I read your post. I have been working with a therapist for several months and as Chris states, it does help to know WHY you are shutting down emotionally. But learning this about yourself can be a frightening, painful, exhausting experience.
      For me, it’s about fear of abandonment. If I let myself feel loved, if I experience the emotional connection some speak of, I give my husband permission to hurt me, and that scares me. So it feels safer to check my heart at the bedroom door.
      The wall of protection we build can be very difficult to dismantle. Once in awhile I peak over the top, and sometimes I even remove a brick or two. It’s a process that takes persistence and faith. God bless you!!!

  9. IntimacySeeker on May 27, 2014 at 10:53 am said:

    “Digging it out meant that I had to learn two things: 1) how to believe that my husband loved and valued me no matter what tone he used, and 2) how to open up sexually despite my feelings. These changes were on me to do, not on my husband.”
    AND your husband should use a kind tone with you. You are his wife, not a new Army recruit. He should take responsibility for his behavior too, especially behavior that pushes your “feeling unloved” buttons.

    • It always helps when a husband takes responsibility for his behavior, too. I can’t make my husband change, though, and I had to get to a point where I knew I was doing everything I could to make things better. I had a history of justifying my behavior as being a response to his, so it was important for my healing to learn to not always be thinking about what my husband should do.

      It isn’t surprising, though, that as I made changes that removed some of the tension from his life, he became less inclined to use a tone that upset me.

  10. lonely husband on May 27, 2014 at 2:32 pm said:

    I know that you didn’t mean it literally when you said “how hard is it to lay back for 5 minutes?”, but please be careful when you write things like that. As the husband of a gate-keeper, NOT a refuser, that is a painful statement. She will have sex, she will lay back for 10-15 minutes. BUT, she will not participate. That is also a very painful situation, knowing that the one you wish to share so much with is unwilling to try to engage with you in meaningful sexual intimacy.

    • I’m sorry my words hurt. My lack of participation was the most difficult thing for my husband to deal with, and I am aware of the pain that those words can elicit, just as I am aware of the pain the words reflect. When I was doing more refusing than gate-keeping,my refusal would sometimes push my husband to say those very words–which is why I chose them.

      Sexual intimacy is much more than lying back and being a receptacle.

  11. IntimacySeeker on May 27, 2014 at 3:29 pm said:

    I wonder if one of the reasons husbands long for wives to participate is to lessen the guilt they feel for the fantasizing they can’t help but do, even while having sex with their wives. If she participates and enjoys the experience, he is less likely to feel that he is using her. Men instinctively want to have sex with all the women they notice and by whom they are aroused, but must settle for their wives. If we participate fully, they are off the hook for any wrong-doing.
    From a maternal or platonic perspective, I feel compassion for them. From a naked, in-the-bed, ready-to-have-sex perspective, it is difficult to feel valued.

    • Do all men fantasize during sex, and does it truly feel like settling to have only one wife as a sex partner? I don’t know about this. I’m inclined to say that you’re making some pretty big assumptions about men and selling them short–but I don’t actually know that, not being a man.

      I wonder if there are some guys who can lend some insight into that idea. I’m stymied.

      If you do work from the assumption that men fantasize during sex with their wives, try thinking about it this way: Perhaps an engaged wife is part of what helps him stay focused on her instead of letting his mind wander. Maybe it is our full participation that prevents the wrong-doing in the first place.

      • Speaking to the whole fantasy thing, I would say when my wife and I are intimate, I DO NOT think about anyone else but her, and how she’s responding. That being said, I am older, being in my late fifties, and have been married for 38 years, so maybe younger men are different, but I kind of doubt it.

        The thing is, it is a really big deal to me if my wife enjoys and is fulfilled in our intimacy.Even “players” boast of their ability to please their women. It’s kind of a respect thing among men if their wives desire them in this most intimate of ways.

        Hope that answers your question Chris. I would like to hear other men’s take on this.

        • IntimacySeeker on May 28, 2014 at 1:43 pm said:

          Thanks for sharing this–very helpful. But the boasting part is troublesome for me. On occasion, my husband has gloated about his ability, and that made me feel terrible. NOT a loving thing to do or say.

        • Is it possible that your husband’s gloating is actually a reflection of insecurity, sort of fishing for compliments? My husband has done this at various times, so I try to be sure to thank him when he does an extra good job! 🙂

        • trixie1466 on May 28, 2014 at 2:01 pm said:

          Did it make you feel terrible because he got the experience with someone else? I’m trying to understand why you would feel bad. I totally get why it would be upsetting if he was gloating to his buddies or something. I would also understand if you thought it wasn’t good and he was bragging, but that doesn’t sound like what you’re talking about. 🙂


        • IntimacySeeker on May 28, 2014 at 2:15 pm said:

          I don’t think he was expressing insecurity nor did he get the experience with someone else nor was he boasting to buddies. I just remember that statement and feeling awful when he said it. As if I was just a conquest, not a cherished wife. Even now as I write about it, my heart is racing and I feel a sense of panic.

        • IntimacySeeker on May 28, 2014 at 2:19 pm said:

          I felt that he was making fun of me.

        • trixie1466 on May 28, 2014 at 2:51 pm said:

          Do you understand his behavior differently now? Maybe you can reshape your memory of that event and see it as your husband enjoying you, his cherished wife.

        • IntimacySeeker on May 28, 2014 at 3:06 pm said:

          I understand his behavior differently from an intellectual perspective, so that’s a start. Perhaps I can reshape the memory by changing the words he used. As it is, the memory makes me feel unsafe, exposed, exploited. Something that for me was tender, vulnerable, frightening, was for him an ego boost. As if he got a big thrill out of scaring me. (Thanks for the opportunity to think out loud here.)

  12. lonely husband on May 28, 2014 at 9:47 am said:

    I also think it is a wrong assumption to say men want to have sex with women they notice. I want to have sex with MY wife. Fun, Adventurous, Frequent, Passionate Sex. That is one reason I chose her. As a visual man, I will admit that I notice an attractive woman, but that doesn’t mean I want to have sex with her. Once again, (for me) it is far more than an urge or a ‘conquest’ that I need to satisfy. I want to “know and be known” in the deepest physical way with the woman I entered into covenant with. I DO NOT fantasize about other women during sex and DO NOT ‘settle’ for my wife. But like TC said, I want to be desired by my wife in this most intimate of ways and to please her as much as I can. But marital intimacy takes two to create. Without both partners involved, it is just an act not much different than animals being instinctive.

    • For the men here who are mentioning their (legitimate) need “to be desired by my wife in this most intimate of ways” … can I ask a question that might help you? What is the most intimate connection for HER in your marriage? Maybe you already know the answer to this question and are pursuing it, I’m not saying that you aren’t. But physical union is probably not her most immediate need for intimacy. And whatever form her need for intimacy takes, it’s as real and as legitimate as yours (I didn’t say it’s more real or more legitimate, but still)

      Speaking for myself, and I suspect for most other women as well, we didn’t enter into marriage thinking “I hate sex, and I hope this dude doesn’t bug me about it too often”. Not at all. It’s not a bait and switch situation. Where a wife is refusing / avoiding / being passive during sex, SHE is in as much pain as you are. That doesn’t mean that what she is doing is right or justifiable. It doesn’t mean she isn’t obligated before God to work on it. But for a wife, opening up sexually to a man who she doesn’t ALREADY feel intimate with can be terrifying – I’m talking panic attack, trying not to hyperventilate scary. There have been times when just being there and available – even if more passive than my hubby would prefer – has been a MASSIVE effort of love for me towards my husband, trying to do what will please him even when at times, it’s really, genuinely, deeply difficult. As a frustrated husband, that may not make much sense to you, but it’s true. As a lonely wife, I felt frustrated that my effort (which felt HUGE to me) was perceived as “not enough” by my husband.

      If possibly you can try to find out where her heart is hurting, and achieve intimacy in other areas outside the bedroom, it may help your wife to open up and find healing in this area. Again, I don’t know you and you may be trying to do this already. And I’m not trying to minimize a wife’s need to change. But it’s easier for a woman to follow a husband into physical intimacy when he’s stepping up to lead her lovingly into intimacy in other areas.

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  14. lonely husband on May 28, 2014 at 2:43 pm said:

    I just want to say that my last comment was in response to ‘Intimacyseeker’ and the statement about fantasy and men wanting to have sex with every woman they notice. I never wanted to imply that a wife should just warm up to a man if he is being a slug. You are totally correct in saying that her needs are just as real as mine. In fact, please note that toward the end I said marital intimacy takes two to create. The next line about animals was not well chosen, I’m sorry. Marital intimacy is not just sexual. I try (and fail often) to meet my wife’s need for companionship and emotional attachment, NOT to get sex, but because I know that is a legitimate need of hers. When the natural return of my need is not there however, that is painful. I’m sorry if I offended.

    • I’m certainly not offended, and I didn’t mean to sound critical. I was just trying to offer a possible wife’s perspective. This is something my hubby and I have been working through lately – we have work to do, but after years of hopeless feeling, I can begin to see light at the end of the tunnel. I only wanted to offer what we have discovered in hopes of helping another couple. For what it’s worth, I said a little prayer for you and your wife, that God might bring the gospel to touch and heal this aspect of your marriage.

  15. tjcox53 on May 29, 2014 at 11:23 am said:

    My comment was intended to address the issue of fantasies. the second part concerning “players” is intended to be understood as a worldly view, that is an imitation of a very real desire in husbands to please their wives.I hoped everyone would understand it as an attempt to explain why it’s important to a man for his wife to be engaged during sex., not an endorsement of bragging about one’s abilities in this area.

    • I understood what you were saying. 🙂

    • IntimacySeeker on May 29, 2014 at 12:52 pm said:

      @TJ Thanks for clarifying that you did not mean to endorse bragging. I hear you saying that it is important to a man for his wife to be engaged, but would appreciate knowing more about WHY. If it is not for bragging purposes, then what is this desire really about?

      • I think about it this way: When I’m having a conversation with my husband and trying to connect with him, I want him to really listen and respond to what I say. The conversational equivalent of duty sex is when my husband nods and says “uh-uh” on occasion but really is paying attention to the TV.

        • IntimacySeeker on May 29, 2014 at 1:28 pm said:

          Thanks. I understand this analogy, but sense there is something deeper than a need for connection/response/affirmation in a husband’s desire for his wife to be engaged and/or for him to please her. I would like to hear husbands articulate this.
          The conversational equivalent of passionate, joyful sex would be for husbands to cry, laugh, hug, shout, cheer, etc. So something is missing in the analogy. In conversational intimacy, it’s enough to know you’ve been heard and understood. In sexual intimacy, the expectation seems much greater.

        • Duty sex doesn’t communicate to a husband that he has been “heard and understood” – it communicates that he has been tolerated, like you don’t view his need for this expression as legitimate or valid, but you are just putting up with it. When my hubby wants me to be actively engaged, it doesn’t necessarily mean he needs me to be going over the top crazy. He just wants me to be THERE with him. Putting myself out there the same way that he is, and sharing that part of myself. Practically, that means touching him in a loving, honest way (not “like a robot” he says). Or speaking loving, positive words that affirm him as a person and a lover. Anything to communicate to him that I don’t hate or reject or look down on his sexuality. And if I can get more excited and enthusiastic, even better, but only if that’s honest. He does want that sometimes, but understands it may not happen multiple times per week or whatever.

        • He says he doesn’t want a porn star, just a loving wife. Actually, what he said is “naked and smiling” but I’m pretty sure that’s just man – speak for “loving wife” 😉

      • The way my hubby explains it is that in sex, he is opening himself up in a way that is deeply intimate and personal for him. He needs to have that part of himself affirmed, not just tolerated. It would be like if you told your husband a deep, tender secret, and he responded with “umm, ok, that’s nice, dear”

      • To put it as simply as I can, her enjoyment of our encounter makes up (or is the main ingredient in) roughly 75% of my enjoyment of the encounter. Contrary to society’s belief, it is NOT just about the orgasm for men who actually want to love their wives and please God at the same time. The entire journey is what makes up the encounter – not just the finish line.

  16. IntimacySeeker on May 29, 2014 at 3:13 pm said:

    Understood. I didn’t mean to imply that duty sex makes a man feel heard and validated. Let’s revisit TC’s original comment: “The thing is, it is a really big deal to me if my wife enjoys and is fulfilled in our intimacy. Even “players” boast of their ability to please their women. It’s kind of a respect thing among men if their wives desire them in this most intimate of ways.” I sense a desire for more than acceptance and engagement, especially with phrases like “really big deal” and “boast of their ability.” Those phrases don’t match up with “being THERE with him” or “naked and smiling.”

    • IntimacySeeker, what specifically has your husband said to you about what he would like? I hope some other men stop by to give us some insight, but ultimately, what is going to matter in your marriage is what your husband means when he asks for something other than duty sex.

      • IntimacySeeker on May 29, 2014 at 3:33 pm said:

        He hasn’t asked for anything and our encounters far exceed duty sex. I enjoy sex immensely on a physical level, but find it very frightening emotionally, which I believe is preventing me from reaching orgasm. Perhaps I’m wondering if this is enough and I can stop pressuring myself to do/be more.

    • tjcox53 on May 30, 2014 at 12:11 am said:

      What I meant about it being a respect thing was referring to Her respect for her husband (coming from the book Love and Respect). No mater how well she speaks to and about me, if my wife has no desire for intimacy, it kind of rings hollow. No matter how much resepct a huband outside the home , if he doesn’t feel respected at home, he sees himself as a failure. For me, my wife’s desire for intimacy, is a direct barometer of her respect for me.
      Does that make it more clear?

      • IntimacySeeker on May 30, 2014 at 4:04 am said:

        Can a man feel respected by his wife if he knows she feels emotionally unsafe with him? (Yes, my husband and I are talking about this. However, he is in the “don’t say anything that might rock the boat” phase, so I appreciate others’ input.)

  17. IntimacySeeker on May 29, 2014 at 3:29 pm said:

    Also, needing his wife to “enjoy and be fulfilled” is desiring more than active engagement as you describe.

    • tjcox53 on May 30, 2014 at 7:26 am said:

      I certainly would not feel respected, if I knew my wife felt emotionally unsafe with me. And yes for me, it is important that she not only be actively engaged, but want to engage, and orgasm. In this respect, I don’t claim to be like all men, from my conversations with other men, I don’t believe I am. But for me, my goal is to not only have her orgasm every time, but eager the next time we have the opportunity to be together.

  18. lonely husband on May 30, 2014 at 8:47 am said:

    (This is in response to TFW’s request for husbands to give insight to what he would like. Obviously my experience and desire.)

    Let me say this up front. As I’ve said, my wife is NOT a refuser, but more of a gate-keeper due to an enjoyment of sex on HER terms. But we have different love languages. What I would like is for her to see the effort I make to serve and please her in her LL, and reciprocate by making an effort to serve and please me in mine. To notice that I honored a request even though I was dog-tired, or went with her to some event that I really wasn’t interested in. Realize that I don’t do these things to swing some “now you owe me” balance in my favor, I do them because I love her. However, my hope is that she will simply compromise and give a little in order to meet SOME of the sexual dreams I had when I said, “I Do”. There is such an emptiness in my physical life that she could fill if she took the opportunity to step outside of her comfort zone and say, “I love you so much and appreciate you, so I’ll try.”

  19. trixie1466 on May 30, 2014 at 9:04 am said:

    @Lonely Husband,

    Your words touched me so deeply just now as I read them. I wondering if you have ever given your wife a note expressing your feelings in exactly the same way you did in this comment? I just don’t know how a wife could hear that and still have a hard heart.

    I initially thought maybe you should print this out and give it to her, but I would be concerned that she might feel like you were violating her privacy by talking to people on a blog about her. You know her best of course.

    I’m so sorry you’re hurting like this.


    • lonely husband on May 30, 2014 at 10:42 am said:

      Yes, I have written and talked, all to no avail. Talking is very difficult because it is such a deep subject. But that is an issue in and of itself. Why can’t we talk about something so connecting to a husband and wife? But I don’t think she has a “hard heart” as you said. I just don’t think it registers with her because sex is such an ‘earthy thing’. She is a very tender-hearted’ person when it comes to loving people and sharing God. I honestly think that she has some bad teaching or messed up ideas on sexuality’s impact in a marriage and specifically to a husband.

      You are spot on with the ‘talking to people on a blog’ statement.

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