Care for Your Husband’s Heart


What can happen when you help heal your husband's heart?

In Lessons from a Wife’s Heart, I said I wanted to share three lessons for wives that arose from a series of posts addressed to men at The Curmudgeonly Librarian:

  • Conquer your complacency.
  • Deal with your feelings.
  • Care for your husband’s heart.

These were hard lessons for me to learn in my own journey to restored sexual intimacy—maybe because they are the three most important things I did.

Every one of these things was necessary in healing my own heart as well as my marriage. I’ve written about the first two lessons here and here.

I’ve put off writing about the last one, but a message sent to me today reminded me how critical this is.


It is often a struggle to keep my balance in writing about the importance of sexual intimacy in marriage. Some of the importance has to do with your husband. If he is like most men, sexuality is inherent to his sense of self, he experiences emotional connection best through sexual intimacy, and a pattern of sexual rejection in marriage is likely the most difficult thing in his life. During the disconnected years in our marriage, I would have looked at the previous sentence and had several thoughts: he shouldn’t be that way, he needs to grow up, he needs to control himself, and it’s his problem not mine.

I would have dismissed anything that suggested that I should be having more sex. It was an imposition on my rights and it discounted all the reasons I didn’t want to have sex–mainly that my husband rejected emotional connection with me. As soon as he fixed that, I was pretty sure our sex life would fall back into place.

When I would read anything that seemed to be guilting me into sex, I felt like I was being diminished in importance. Having sex was important in meeting my husband’s needs—but what about my needs? Didn’t I matter?

Every time I write about the importance of sex for our husbands, part of me feels like I am letting down the wives who are hurting and need their own hearts healed as part of the restoration of intimacy in their marriages.

Fortunately, keeping my balance allows me to state a truth just as powerful as the fact that sex is important to our husbands.

Sexual intimacy has brought deep and lasting healing to my own heart. I wrote about some of that in this post, but it barely touches the surface of what it has done for me and for my marriage.

Here is the truth as I see it:

The major benefit of working on sex is not so you can be meeting your husband’s needs. It is so you experience the fullest and richest intimacy possible on this earth.

Sexual intimacy connects us physically, emotionally, and spiritually with our husbands. It gives us a glimpse into the intimacy we will experience with God.

Sexual intimacy is every bit as much for you as it is for your husband. You may not feel like that right now, just as I didn’t for many years. I began working on sex for my husband’s sake, but I believe I benefitted far more than he has from my efforts.


Balancing is a weaving back and forth from one side to the other while moving forward.

Our rights and needs matter in our marriages. Sex is for us and for our marriages. It meets needs that we may not even know we have.

Yet . . .

Our husband’s rights and needs matter, too. It is your husband’s marriage just as much as it is yours.

Our husbands have hearts, just as we do. Our husbands seek an intimate connection with us. It is a deep and real emotional need. Yes, it is an emotional need, one that taking care of himself in the shower can’t begin to touch.

When that need isn’t met, our husbands hurt. They feel unloved and unlovable. They feel abandoned. They feel alone.

Sexual rejection hurts your husband deeply. It does not negate your hurt to acknowledge that your husband hurts.

Most husbands experience emotional connection best through sexual intimacy. Their desire to connect with you through sexual intimacy is how God designed them.

When our hurt makes it difficult for us to enjoy sexual intimacy with our husbands, our husbands hurt, too. Even if their words or actions are what caused our hurt, our sexual rejection is still painful for them. They have a right to their feelings, just as we have a right to ours.

I would venture to say that in most marriages where sexual intimacy is not healthy, both spouses are hurting.


I’ve put off writing this post because it is hard, this balancing act:  writing about your needs and his needs and your rights and his rights and who sex is for is a struggle for me. I know what it is like to read some of these things and to feel angry and dismissed. I truly do. I don’t like to upset anyone with what I write.

Yet today I am taking that risk. I received a message today. Sadly, it isn’t the first such message I’ve received. I doubt it will be the last. Those of us who write about sexual intimacy in Christian marriages know all too well what it is like to see something like this in the inbox.

One of the resource pages on this site is Your Husband’s Hurt. It lists links to posts about how our husbands may experience the lack of sexual intimacy in their marriages, and it gives you the words of men who have opened their hearts to help us understand. At the bottom of that page is a contact form and an invitation for husbands to contribute to the page by sharing what a pattern of sexual rejection is like for them. When I receive a contribution to that page, I add it.

Your Husband’s Hurt shows us the pained hearts of men who are not permitted to experience the deep connection of sexual intimacy.

A man submitted a contribution today. He used a fake email address so I am unable to respond to him directly. Although I have some reservations about sharing this, I am doing so after prayerful consideration for two reasons:

  1. These words were submitted through a contact form which clearly indicated that responses would constitute a contribution to be added to that page.
  2. Wives who resist sexual intimacy must understand the very real effects of that resistance on their husbands.

If you are a wife who resists sex or restricts your shared sex life in some way, I ask you to take a deep breath. If you are hurting, your hurt matters. Your healing is important. My prayer for you is that you experience deep healing in your heart.

I want you to think about a man you know and care about—your father, your brother, your son, or your pastor. Imagine this man in his deepest anguish. Imagine that he says these words that I saw in my inbox today:

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…

To the man who wrote this: you are worth so very much. God loves you so much. Let His arms embrace you where you are and help to bear your pain. Without your email address, I am left to say this here–and thereby invite others to witness your pain and offer prayers for your heart. (If you see this, I would love to know that you’re okay.)

This, my dear sisters, is the depth of pain that Christian husbands denied the connection of sexual intimacy can experience. The pain is so deep, so real, so desperate that the prospect of continuing like this is simply too much to bear. The lack of sexual intimacy has made him hate his life.

In 5 Dangers of Regularly Saying “No” to Sex, Julie at Intimacy in Marriage says it this way:

Though his heart, hands and feet may not wander to other beds, his eyes and thoughts easily could.  I hear from husbands all the time who…

…hate the situation they are in.

…hate the desperate loneliness of constant sexual rejection.

…hate feeling trapped by Christian morals they have grown to resent.

The lack of sexual intimacy—a necessary part of the path to full and glorious intimacy in marriage—can make a man hate his life.

Absorb that for a moment.

You may be experiencing hurt, and it may be that your husband has contributed to that hurt. Your hurt is real—but your husband’s is just as real, just as deep, just as painful as yours is.

The Bible says much to us about sexual connection: Song of Songs, 1 Corinthians 7, Proverbs 5:19, Proverbs 18:22, Genesis 2:24, and more. It says much to us about how to love one another.

Marriage is often a balancing act. Back and forth it goes: your needs, his needs, your rights, his rights, your responsibilities, his responsibilities, what the Bible says, and what the world says.

Your heart.

His heart.

As your husband’s wife, you have a unique privilege of caring for his heart. It is also your unique responsibility to do so.

Yet . . .

The major benefit of working on sex is so you and your husband can both experience the fullest and richest intimacy possible on earth.

Addressing my husband’s heart pain was my motivation in taking the first step on this journey I’ve traveled.

And . . .

It is a journey that eased the emotional pain in my own heart as well.

Healing my husband’s heart healed mine.

What would happen in your own heart if you tried to help your husband heal his?

What can happen when you help heal your husband's heart?

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9 Comments on “Care for Your Husband’s Heart”

  1. I pray that the husband who wrote this letter experiences the peace and healing from God’s embrace before he does anything drastic. I do know many of the feelings he has expressed but I continue to pray and hope that change will come some day.

    1. Dave I agree with you. I pray this man finds peace and does not take his own life.

      I am proud of you for continuing to have hope. My hope has dried up at the moment. I’m a walking zombie going through the motions of life right now…or so it seems to me.

      I am praying for the gentleman and his wife as I will for you Dave.

      Another great post Chris. One that hits home for a lot more men than people realize.

  2. Chris, thanks for posting this. I can feel your pain through your words so it must’ve been a huge challenge for you to write such a heartfelt passage. Thank you.

    To the unknown husband (who will be reading Chris’ post hopefully) – you’ve been so unselfish in your loyalty to your wife so far please don’t then turn this right around by doing something drastic. I find huge strength through blogs and forums such as Chris’. They truly help me carry on – its been over 4-years since my wife and I were intimate but we are now getting professional counselling and talking openly about our hurting hearts. Why don’t you show your wife Chris’ post? In fact, I think any hurting husband should forward this post to his wife!

  3. While I have never thought of ending my life. The lack of sexual intimacy with my wife is by far the worst thing in my life. Nothing else even comes close. It consumes a large part of my thinking and prayers. Even when I try to push them aside. It is a constant heavy weight crushing me and everything I do. Sapping me of nearly any desks to strive for anything. It is the Kryptonite to superman. Zapping his very being from being able to function and be the man and the hero he was meant to be.

    I have prayed endlessly for years for God to heal my wife or to please remove the curse of my sexual desire. As my sexual desire Is THE source of unending pain.

    She routinely provided “duty” or “chore” sex for years. But that was completely felt as a dead fish and while the physical was present. The emotional was absent. Making a mockery of the meaning and total lack of intimacy was absent. She once said to me that the two best parts of sex was that it didn’t happen every night, and that and when it does, at least it is over quickly! I have never fully recovered from that utter devastation. It has completely crushed my soul.

    We have made love twice in six months. And both times have resulted in Disasters. Jim not expecting much from the next 6 months. As I would be a fool to get my hopes up only to be crushed again. Like every other time for decades!

    We are both in counseling both individually and as a couple, but I’m losing faith that this will work. So I’m stuck with the real prospect of being a prisoner in a sexless marriage for the rest of my life. I’m stuck between an unacceptable sexless marriage, and religious belief that divorce is unacceptable. There is no way out except for her healing. That thought alone is beyond depressing. I try not to think about it. But it is always there. Like an anchor around my neck.

    It is only my faith in God that keeps me from thinking about what the man in the email is contemplating. And the sliver of hope that counseling will actually work. I pray that the man who wrote that email to Chris finds the solace he needs to somehow persevere. It is the same prayer that I pray for myself and all the men (and women) who are in similar sexual refusal situations. It is not just pain. It is never ending torture.

    1. (Chris when you moderate this, I hope you won’t think I’m just ranting. I hope the husband you mentioned will find something here. Sorry it is so long — then again, I guess I’m rarely brief 😉 )

      I thought about suicide about a dozen years back. I realized she didn’t love me and that all my efforts were useless. I thought about my children finding my body and was repulsed by the thought of doing that to them, and couldn’t imagine ditching them in such a callous way. That was the thing that kept me from doing the unthinkable. Growing up, I *never* could imagine why anyone would do anything so drastically destructive to their own selves.

      Now I understand. Completely.

      It isn’t just that a man isn’t getting sex frequently enough. It isn’t about hormones, physical release, or even temptation. A man gets married believing that this woman will stick with him through thick and thin, for better or for worse. Then, he comes to realize that she doesn’t value him at all. May sound harsh, but of all the people in the world, who does he think will actually care when he says he hurts? His wife! If she doesn’t pursue, doesn’t like his pursuit, and responds coldly to his expressions of pain, then he knows he is no more important than a pet or an appliance. That is contempt — which is widely known to be a very good predictor of divorce. The thing is, most christian men believe divorce is an awful sin, and won’t go there.

      My wife won’t say no. She discovered that people at church would not approve if she were to withhold sex outright. If I asked for help with our marriage, the counsellor would see that she was treating me poorly. So now she goes through the motions if I ask. She says it’s not a sin to avoid pursuing being in love. Sex in that context is more painful now than it was to be refused. It amounted to rubbing my face in the contempt. Unfortunately, she now has the support of counsellors because they have no insight into these issues. She is willing to use half truths to put the blame on me. It is hard to get a fair shake as a christian husband, anyway. One christian counsellor actually told us that wives are not commanded to love their husbands. Thanks a lot. Others have said that my only godly recourse is to pray for her and automatically forgive her — not even a hint of compassion or empathy.

      I have given up. I haven’t asked for sex in over two months. She hasn’t noticed, and functions just fine with a smile on her face. She treats me with sweet contempt and mistakes that for some kind of love. If she is “nice” to me, she thinks I am obligated to ignore the dishonor (other situations) and her disregard for my spirit and for our vows. She actually seems to believe she is very spiritual. Since she hasn’t had sex with anyone else, she thinks that fulfills her vow. My depression and crushed spirit affects my ability to function, and she simply sees me as weak and sinful as a result. She refuses to see how hard I have worked over the years to pursue her despite the rejection. The absence of simple encouragement and affection has inflicted huge spiritual wounds, but I guess bleeding from wounds shows weakness.

      By an act of determination, I don’t consider suicide anymore, but I hurt everyday (while christians tell me that I must not be following God or I’d have joy as a fruit of the spirit). Dying in my sleep would be a merciful reprieve. My beliefs about divorce have been changing. I am miserable, alone, and without recourse or hope. I am here for the kids, but have exhausted all the energy I have in pursuing and loving her. I have lost all desire for her.

      I’m not writing this just to vent. If that husband who wrote the comment mentioned in the post happens to read this, I want him to know that someone here understands. Please allow God to decide when the life He gave you is done. Please don’t end your life. Your life is valuable. *You* are valuable. God, who is always just, will reward when it is the right time. Knowing this doesn’t make the pain stop. I feel the pain right now, in the pit of my stomach. It rarely goes away.

      My anger is justified, but I will not let it move me to steal from God the vengeance that belongs to Him. My sorrow is justified, but God is near to the broken hearted. I will not let that sorrow move me to destroy my life. God may have a blessing in store for us, yet. And in the end, He has promised to comfort us. He will be just. Our reward will be good. You will not be sorry you endured great pain and unfaithfulness. I look in scripture and see that God’s bride, Israel, was unfaithful. To whatever degree I understand your pain, God understands that much more. He is worthy of our trust. It is worth it to endure, and receive the reward that He has promised. He died for us, so we can trust that His love isn’t shallow. It’s the real thing.

      I mentioned before that I haven’t committed suicide because of my determination. I didn’t mean that it was simply the force of my will. I meant that I am determined to believe that God is worth staying alive for. I am determined to trust God, to believe that He is faithful, even when NO ONE else is. He is worth it.

      1. The deep pain men feel in marriage is hard to express, hard for us to even know WHAT it is we’re missing, or frustratingly difficult to say the right words that adequately relieve the anger we feel.
        We werent created to completely express our deepest, darkest things. It can be learned, but even that takes teamwork.
        In counseling with couples, Ive learned that Even great marriage is a delicate balancing act of GIVING more than we take.
        Prayers for you, AND, other men in this type relationship. From a guy who understands the struggle…

  4. Chris,

    Although I could have written parts of this man’s note, my primary concern right now is for him. Over the years I’ve had too many people in my circle of friends and family kill themselves. The last, about a year and a half ago, was a very near and dear friend who committed suicide and none of us, even in hindsight, saw it coming. I have no death wish, and it is somewhat scary to me, but I can sort of understand and comprehend how someone would want to kill themselves, not just for the topic at hand but most anything. The man’s plea in his message brought me to tears and to my knees praying that God will please, please show this man an open door out of his abyss and pull him through if necessary. It’s all there in his message and he needs help a whole lot more than I do right now.

  5. I hope this man finds a better way out. I admit, I have thought about going down the same path at times. So far, fear of the eternal consequences has been the only reason I can find not to. I hope he finds peace and writes back so that we can all hear of his success and maybe even learn how to find peace ourselves. I know that sounds selfish but sometimes we can learn the most from the ones who come back from the darkest places.

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