Dear Sister


Do you feel like you're all alone in trying to figure out the sexual intimacy in your marriage?

Dear Sister in Christ,

Your husband has sent me an email that just about breaks my heart.

You’re probably thinking, “Well, of course he did. He’s always complaining about our sex life. You’re a sex blogger and probably don’t understand what I’m going through anyway. He probably wants you to tell him how to get me to give him more sex. Why does he have to make sex into such an issue anyway? Why can’t he just leave it alone?”

I’d love to sit down with you, with some coffee and a yummy treat, and just listen. Since I can’t do that, I figured I could write you a letter. My guess is that you’re as miserable as your husband is, even if it seems to be for different reasons.

A few years ago, my husband could have written practically the same email as I got from your husband—but this isn’t about me. The reason I wish I could sit down with you is because I have a heart for hurting women, seeing as how I’ve been one much of my life.

If I were sitting with you in real life, we would have our coffee and treats and chat about life stuff. You’d tell me where you grew up and what’s going on in your life. I’d complain about housework and tell you about how wonderful and sad it is to watch my kids become adults.

And then, because sex is why your husband wrote to me, I’d try to guide the conversation to your marriage. And I’d ask you some questions. I would tell you it’s okay not to answer me, that the answers aren’t for me. They’re for you. I just want you to take these questions into your heart and mind.

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Do you know why sex is an issue for you? What are you thinking and feeling when you refuse sex or insist on keeping the lights off or won’t perform oral sex for your husband? I’m not talking about the reasons you tell your husband when he asks you about it. I’m asking you what your real reasons are.

For me, the reasons I gave always had some truth: I was tired, I didn’t feel good, I had my period, all he ever seemed to want me for was sex, etc. But the real reasons, the deeper reasons, really didn’t have anything to do with those things. Sometimes, they didn’t even have anything to do with my husband. For me, sex was an issue because it required so much emotional vulnerability. My childhood, adolescence, and early adult years taught me not to trust. My inability to trust became such a part of me that I often forgot it was there—but it was. I was afraid to trust my husband. I was afraid of bonding to him too much I was afraid that if I had sex and gave my whole self to him, I might start to need him—and then if he left, I would completely fall apart.

Maybe this resonates with you, or maybe you have completely different reasons. Maybe you’re afraid. Maybe you’re punishing him for something you’re afraid he might do.

No matter what you tell your husband, do you know inside yourself what the real issue is inside you?

Have you ever set aside your own reactions and your frustration with your husband’s sexual advances to really wonder what’s going on with him? Do you lie there late at night and wonder why your husband can’t let go of sex? Do you ever think about what he really feels?

My husband, who isn’t especially good at recognizing his own emotions, much less talking about them, was eloquent in sharing his feelings about the lack of sex in our marriage. He told me he felt emasculated. He felt unloved. He felt lonely. He felt alone in his marriage. I always had a response ready for him, and it usually began with, “Well, if you would only . . . “ or “Maybe you’re the one who needs to change . . . “ I always assumed my husband was trying to tug on my emotions only for the purpose of getting sex. Why did it never occur to me that his words were truth?

What does your husband say about how the state of your sex life affects him? Do you assume he is just saying that to get sex, like I did, or has it occurred to you to consider the words as his truth? What if he is telling the truth?

Are you taking care of yourself? Women are really good at giving to others and putting themselves—and sometimes their husbands—last. If you’ve been feeling depressed, have you talked with the doctor? If you’re on an anti-depressant, are you on the right one? (Zoloft and other SSRI’s are libido killers; fortunately, there are some better options. Wellbutrin is what works for me.) Are you getting enough sleep? If not, what can you let go in your life to get more sleep? Who is feeding you spiritually?

I worked full-time when my kids were little, so I had a huge dose of mama guilt about spending time with my husband when the kids were awake. I was the nursery coordinator at church, and then that was replaced by a Wednesday night kids group and teaching adult Sunday school. Trying to be a good mom and church member while working full-time meant that I never had time for myself. I was so busy serving others that I rarely was able to simply soak in God’s presence and let it feed me. My mind was always running through several different to-do lists.

Are you running yourself so ragged that you simply have nothing left to give? What can you let go for a season in order to be more refreshed and able to be there for your marriage? Who do you have in your life to just wrap arms around you and hold you while you let go of sorrow and stress?

Are you tired of fighting about sex? Do you feel worn out sometimes? Do you ever wonder what’s wrong with you that you can’t just have sex like other women seem to do? Does it ever feel like you end up spending so much time and energy on avoiding sex or preventing your husband from making an advance? Do you ever wonder what it would be like if you just let it go, even though you have no idea how to actually do that?

I would sometimes lie in bed at night while my husband was downstairs drinking his refusal whisky, feeling like I’d fallen down the rabbit hole. How did I get here? How did our marriage become this? If I’d just agreed to have sex in the first place it would have taken half the time as our stupid fight did. I’d feel like a bad person, but I wouldn’t have any idea how to start. How do you reboot a marriage after all these years? Will it ever get better?

Does the state of your sex life wear you out and weary your soul? How bad does it have to get before you are willing to do something about it?

Are you working on your marriage at all? Maybe your husband has asked you to read some blogs. Or maybe he’s asked to do a study with you. Maybe he’s asked you to seek pastoral or professional counseling with him. Maybe you’ve thought to yourself that maybe you should do something. Maybe you’ve even agreed to some things your husband has requested.

It was really easy for me to agree to something—and then look for reasons I couldn’t follow through. I preferred to avoid making any effort on my marriage. I’m not sure why. I was afraid I might learn that I should never have gotten married in the first place. I was afraid I’d find out I was the wrong one in the relationship. I worried that I would just cave in and become a doormat kind of wife that I’d promised myself I would never be. I wanted my husband to love and accept me as I was, and I was afraid that making a significant change would change me somehow.

As I said earlier, my guess is that you aren’t a whole lot happier in your marriage than your husband is. You have so much anxiety and tension about sex. What if you were to really put some time into working on it, just to see how it goes? What is the worst that could happen if you give it a genuine try? Seriously. If you tried, what is the worst possible thing that could happen as a result?

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You may feel like you’re all alone. I mean, who can you really talk to about this stuff, right? Even if you have good Christian women in your life, when it comes down to it, intimacy is hard to talk about. I have always been close to my mother-in-law, and while I could go to her about many things, I just couldn’t bring myself to talk to her about having sex with her son. And the women at church? Well, they seemed like such better Christians than I was and I was afraid they wouldn’t really understand the feelings I was dealing with. Being selfless sounded so hard to me, and they seemed to have it all figured out. It never occurred to me that they might understand.

And the sad thing is that in so many other areas, my husband was the one I could talk to—but I couldn’t talk to him about this, because he was biased.

I’d like to close out this letter by sharing some things I’ve learned—the hard way, of course:

  • For your husband, sex is far more than a physical release. He wants to have joyful sex with you because it is the thing that makes him feel closest to you emotionally. This isn’t a character flaw. It’s the way God made him.
  • Your husband loves you—ALL of you—more deeply than you can imagine.
  • If you decide you want to change, you can. You can start right now. You don’t have to become a sex tigress overnight. Just get started, and keep on moving.
  • Making sexual changes can be hard work at times. It has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. You know what else? It’s completely worth it.

I will respond to your husband’s email. I’ll suggest that he pray for your walk with Christ. I’ll recommend that he work on growing as a husband. I’ll pray for both of you. And then I’ll click the Send button, with tears in my eyes for his heartache and for yours.

Dear Sister, I wish I could wrap my arms around you. The best I can do is send you some virtual (((hugs))).

Please know that I’m praying for you. If there’s something in particular you’d like me to pray about for you, know that you are welcome to write me back.

With much love,


Image courtesy of Iamnee /

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47 Comments on “Dear Sister”

  1. Chris – This may be the best post I have ever read on the issue. You hit all the issues, and you did so with grace and love. I’m praying this is read by MILLIONS of women.


  2. Yes, millions should read this and there may be healing in many marriages.

    From your post: “He told me he felt emasculated. He felt unloved. He felt lonely. He felt alone in his marriage.” This is on target. Marriage is about togetherness and bonding. Lovemaking helps to achieve the bonding in many ways. Men do feel emasculated when their wife refuses frequent sex. And, they do feel unloved. More wives need to understand this. Thanks for your efforts, Chris.

  3. I have wished to write letters to wives also, and I wish that they could come to me to talk, to share, for prayer, support and encouragement. I have prayed for many marriages, husbands and wives and I will continue to do so because I want them all to find freedom and healing from the different chains and wounds they have.

  4. This is so well said… something I will be forwarding to many friends. So thankful for your heart for women and their marriages! Praying along with you for all those who will read this.

  5. You nailed it. This so perfectly sums up how I, as a husband, feel. The only problem is, my wife is ever so content with our almost sexless marriage that any attempt I make at addressing what I see as an issue just leads to a fruitless argument. I would love for her to find this article, but alas, she knows nothing of your blog, for I am the only one investing in our marriage… I pray it speaks to the wives who do find it, though.

    God Bless,


  6. What is even worse is being a Husband who wishes to be with his wife.
    Love his wife, care for his wife, and be dedicated to his wife.
    Yet all she seems to do is find fault in anything I do.
    Yell at me, and blame me for everything.

    Just to find out almost 8 years later that since day one of your Marriage has been a lie.
    All because she has chosen to be with several different other men.
    Treat you like the enemy.
    Find out that she has treated these other men better emotionally, as well as physically.
    In doing things for other men that she refused to do for you.

    All while your walking closer to Christ and doing what you can to Love your wife.
    Because anger does equal unresolved pain in her heart that she takes out on her Husband.
    I am tired of being the Saint while she continues in these affairs.
    To finally end it with her chasing yet another man that truly does her no good.
    She is trying to fix and care for.
    As you are separated and things end in a Divorce.
    With you small kids asking why does it have to be this way.
    All when you have not made the choice.
    Your Wife has.
    All she says is that now she doesn’t have to worry about committing adultery behind your back anymore.

  7. I saw this on twitter and the title caught my attention. I have tears in my eyes – actually, I am crying. Sobbing. I’ve been married 6 years and I keep refusing my husband. We were not sexually active prior to getting married and prior to dating him I wasn’t sexually active at all. But it’s been 6 years and I still find it emotionally hard to give myself over to him physically. We also have 2 year old twin girls, I mostly tell him I’m exhausted from running after them all day and while that’s halfway true, it doesn’t have anything to do with why I refuse him so often. I know what this does to him, but I can’t get beyond how I feel about all the things that are not right with our marriage. I am constantly asking God to help me die to self in order to serve my husband. Not sure what else to do…

    This article was helpful though! It is honest and I appreciate you for that!

    1. Thank you for taking time to post a comment.

      I had several moments early on when I sobbed about what I’d been doing, wanting to do and be better but overwhelmed by the thought of what that would involve. I’m definitely sending you some extra (((hugs))) right now. Click on the “New to this blog? Start here.” page (at the top of your screen if you’re on a computer). Read that page to get a sense of what else you can find here to help you. You may also want to read this post about dealing with our feelings.

      My approach was to simply work on sex, and the other problems in our marriage began to heal as a result of that.

      You know, when we think of sex as dying to self, it still feels like a sacrifice, doesn’t it? Perhaps you can change your prayers. Instead, ask God to help you desire your husband and crave oneness with him.

      My twins are 19 now, but I remember how uniquely exhausting it was to parent them. It won’t be like this forever with them. It really does get better.

      1. I meant as far as the marriage as a whole is concerned that is my prayer. I also pray that God helps me to desire my husband, but often get discouraged when I don’t feel things have changed. Not sure when I became so impatient. Thank you for your reply. I will definitely peruse your site a bit more! God bless!

  8. As much as I can appreciate this. I am finding it more and more frustrating that there are more and more blog/forum entries being written to favor the husband who’s being “denied”. Why arent there just as many blog posts/articles for us women explaining to men WHY we are denying them. Everywhere from lack of interest, exhaustion, lack of romance, disconnect, unsatisfaction with the sex, ect and HOW THEY CAN PUT IN THE WORK to change these issues? I find it incredibly one sided and unfairly biased against us women. Some, heck more than that most men have many issues they need to help rectify so we wont want to or plainly wont deny our men in the sex area.

    What about those of us women who arent exhausted, have “headaches”, have no emotional discourse within the relationship and simply loose interest in sex because our men have ED or PE, we find it mundane and to predictable, lack of romance and spice? How come this is never addressed and we are to full blame in denying the men? When in reality maybe we would be more willing and enjoy and look forward to sex if these issues the MEN were rectified…. Just an opposing view point.

    1. If I were writing for men, I mostly certainly would address many of these things so men would have an idea what they can work on. They are very real reasons that many wives withhold sex. However, I don’t think they’re good enough reasons.

      This blog has quite a few posts that address the context in which I was refusing my husband for most of our marriage. Having worked hard to change sex, out of desperation for the state of our marriage, I now see that for me, those reasons were excuses.

      I come from a perspective of believing that refusal is (usually) wrong. I also believe that it is just as wrong for men to emotionally refuse their wives, not look for ways to address ED or PE, or any other number of things. However, I don’t think that as Christians we can be placing the responsibility on the other person.

      One person’s sin does not justify another’s. When our husbands are, in essence, emotionally refusing us, that does not excuse us sexually refusing them. Likewise, our sexual refusal doesn’t make it okay for our husbands to withhold themselves emotionally.

      I encourage wives to end their sexual refusal because that journey is such a freeing one. Once he no longer had to feel stressed about sex, my husband began to heal–and now he is working on his emotional connections with me and some other issues we had. I worked to be a better wife, and now my husband is working on being a better husband.

      For the record, when men write to me, I do challenge them on some of the things they should be working on. I don’t write posts about it because this blog is written to minister to women. Most of us who write about sexual refusal aren’t favoring anyone. We are simply saying, “Stop sinning.” Sexual refusal hurts your soul, your husband, and your marriage. Work on yourself to understand your own refusal and how you can move forward.

      It may seem that there are a lot of pieces being written against wives’ sexual refusal. I’d like to encourage you to read this post.

      We are not writing for or against husbands or wives. We are writing for marriage.

      Bless you for sharing your views, which will resonate with quite a few women. I hope you stick around a bit and read what else is here.

      1. Socal-gal,

        Speaking as a husband, the majority of the blogs I read are ones that encourage me to love and accept my wife in spite of her “gatekeeping” tendencies. If you were to read the blogs written by husbands, to husbands, you would find a recurring theme of “lay down your own desires, connect with and nourish your wife emotionally, bear her burdens, then you can think about sex”. The point is, both sides- the husbands and the wives- are encouraged to own their piece of the issue, regardless of who is to blame. The goal is to glean what you can from those who have been where you may be. I appreciate seeing both sides of the story, but I know that the only side I can change is my own.

        Don’t feel like you are being picked on or the blame is being placed on wives until you have perused as many husband-authored blogs as I have. Trust me, we get quite a whipping as well 🙂

        God Bless,


      2. Thank you for the response. I do understand where you are coming from and mostly agree. I just find I bang my head against a wall. Its a cycle for me. We have regular sex, however, not satisfying for a few weeks/a couple months(4-5x week). Then because of the built up frustration of it ending too soon leaving me unfulfilled physically(meaning its been months since I have reached an orgasm) leaves me resentful and beyond angry. So I shut down. One refusal turns into 3, then 10, then before ya know it we have had sex 2x in a month with the same result of me being unfulfilled physically. Then of course comes “the talk” trying to address this, why I deny him, what can we do it help make sex last longer then a couple of minutes, what we have tried that doesnt work, and lastly how he is not looking into other ways whether a dr’s visit/medication/store bought numbing aides/ANYTHING and to no avail it goes unsolved. I can only do so much to help him and be patient, I am only human. I do want a great, loving, fulfilling sex life. I love him and am a sexual being just like he is but I can not keep going on like this. I do not look forward to sex with him at all. Not even to be close and intimate on an emotional and spiritual level because 2-3mins does nothing for that. And I’m sorry but I just cant get behind the “say yes to him even when you dont want to/want sex” thats borderlines spousal rape to me. We women have rights to say yes and no if we dont want to have sex or not.
        I will say this, he is incredible in every other aspect. He is romantic, he helps around the house just as much if not more at times than I, he surprises me with things he knows I like(I am pretty easy in that area, I get excited when he picks up my favorite fruits from the farmers market or store, or picks up a bottle a wine and cheese for a movie night at home, or heck takes the dogs for a walk if he gets up first so I can sleep a little longer on weekends…. I am definitely not ungrateful or high maintenance), he still dates me, He is incredibly loving and is an amazing provider….its just the sex area that’s lacking I promise you.

        What can I do here?

        1. Socal girl, the wonderful man in your life just needs a course in bedroom intimacy. He needs to understand that love making is not crossing “the finish line” but how you run the race. And marathons are much more fun than sprints. I would encourage him to find some great books on the subject. When he learns how to bring his romantic efforts into the bedroom and put your pleasure first, I think you will both be surprised how amazing your love life can be. My wife still drives me crazy after 18 years, and it all starts with putting her needs before mine, then mine get met everytime! Praying for the best.

        2. To second the opinions of Chase, your husband just needs to slow down and focus on you for a while. What my wife and I did was switch to focusing on her before ever considering me. The shift of focus made all of the difference. Being under pressure to “last” is enough to limit most guy’s endurance severely. But knowing her need has already been met makes it so much easier to relax when it is “my turn”.. also, if you are dead set on achieving climax from intercourse, you may have to change your expectations- that isn’t always doable… but if you are capable and willing to receive pleasure from other methods, I think a wise move would be to have a talk with your husband, ask him if he is willing to place you first, and tell him you are truly seeking longer sessions of intimacy with him. You might also add that the process of getting you where you want to be will just cause his excitement to be all the greater. Never give up on honest communication: I credit all progress my wife and I have made to this one element.

          God bless,


  9. Chris, I envision a book of Letters to Sisters. We all have our own stories to tell. Thanks for sharing yours so candidly.

  10. I agree Michael, we do get quite a whipping sometimes and we need it.

    Chris, this is wonderfully done. And I will venture to say that as a man who reads your blog…we men/husbands learn a lot about how we affect our wives in all areas of our marriage not just sexually.

    Thank you.

  11. As one of the few wives who has suffered by being refused, I can tell you the pain is deep. It makes the person being refused feel absolutely worthless. Ugly, unloved, and undesired. Now this is from a woman’s point of view, but I would imagine being refused is hurtful for men as well.

    So please, if you are one of the women who’s husband wants you, enjoy it! Embrace it! Delight in his desire for you. Be thankful that he loves and desires you. Trust me, there are some of us wives who absolutely love sex, and would love to feel as desired as you are. Count your blessings!

    1. Thank you for sharing how it feels to be refused. Reading about refusal as it feels in a refused wife’s heart is what finally helped me translate what my husband had been telling me.

    2. Exactly! Ladies, if your husband wants you realize what a blessing that is. Don’t take it for granted. I realize I’m in the minority being a wife who was always on the being refused end but it hurts your marriage when you refuse or just aren’t interested. Overtime I slowly started to give up on the idea that my husband would ever truly want to be with me. Don’t let your husband get to that point by refusing him over and over. Start saying “yes” today! 🙂

  12. I sure would like to know why I am being denied. I try to place myself in my wife’s shoes (ouch). I try to understand why ANYONE would choose to be consistently, actively involved in some task at hand while always choosing to ignore all of those nearby unless it’s to control or yell… IE: kids and spouse. Heck! the cats are given more attention and petting than I am!
    It’s the absence of a relationship.
    What is right: To do many tasks for God or have a relationship with him?
    God wants this for His people as well. Don’t just do works for people…. grow a relationship!
    Sex can be good and all but what truly makes it outstanding is KNOWING that this other being “chooses” to do for “ME”!!
    This person is setting aside their “self” just to make me feel good by doing things “I” enjoy!

    What sounds better?
    “Ok… lets just get this over with…”
    ….. OR ……….
    “I have been thinking about you all day and I can’t wait to ……. ”
    Seriously, which comment will cause me to become unfaithful?
    Which comment will give me strength?

    This isn’t rocket science!!

    1. Yes, it is the absence of relationship that is the real problem. In my case, doing the tasks (of sex) with a willing heart (albeit not a cheerful one) did lead to growing the relationship. It is on you to stay faithful, but your wife is not making it easier for you. I would love for your wife to find her way here.

    2. “Seriously, which comment will cause me to become unfaithful?”. Really Sir? My husband cheated and blamed me for it! Thank God, I was not dumb to take it and carry it like my fault. From the get go I told him he was not going to pin that one on me. Yes, I do know we had problems that needed to be addressed and were not, they mounted.I was unhappy and frustrated, he was unhappy and frustrated, we both feeling unloved by the other. Guess what? It never even crossed my mind to find all that outside of my marriage. The worse case scenario to me was divorce, not adultery. Unfortunately, I see a lot people carrying the burden , of the spouse’s sin. I asked him to show me in the bible were anyone have permission to be adulteres based on whatever problem the marriage carries, do not have that text in mine. He used 1 Corithians 7:3-5 to defend himself and pin the responsibility of HIS adultery on me. NO WAY!!!! I am responsible to keep MYSELF faithful. He did not have an answer when I asked him : how come with all the problems I did not think of getting my needs met elsewhere? How come couples with so many problems manage to stay faithful?By the same text, I could do the same, right?
      No. I could not, because there is not an” ünless you are deprived of sex, love, respect, etc…”in said text. Not in my bible. Here is how I see it.”You be good, meet all my needs or else, I have no choice , but cheat , all your fault.”Really?????????????? How about communication? Counseling? Divorce? Are they not more honorable, honest choices?
      That is why I love the commandments : “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery”. Does not even mention the faulty, culpable spouse or the bad, unhappy marriage.. YOU do not do it. Period. Plus, there are people who do not even believe there is a God, Creator and giver of moral laws, never set foot in a church or any other religious sect, and still see faithfulness as the moral thing to live by. It all boils down to one’s character, not the marriage or spouse. It is a very convenient, but lame excuse to betray and get out of it clean. Nobody can drive anybody to commit adultery .
      Here are some of my reasons to be faithful:
      1- “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery”.
      2- it is my obligation to honor my vows, I made them before God and man. And I meant what I promised.
      3- To honor my husband. No matter how bad I think he is sometimes.He has a right to not be betrayed because of his flaws or my unhappiness.
      4- I hold myself 100% responsible to be 100% off limits in ALL areas to any other man. No matter how unhappy I may be, because I have a husband. As simple as that.
      Sorry for the huge text. But it hurt so much to be betrayed and on top of it be blamed for an adultery that I did not commit. The adultery is on the adulterer.

  13. Unfortunately, this is me.. but only with oral sex! I love, love sex with my husband and I oblige most of the time and initiate some too. I don’t know why I have such an aversion to performing oral sex on my husband! I just hate it and I know it’s awful of me. I try to think I’m better because I like having sex but I know it’s not true, I am the exact same as the refusing wife. I have to change.. but how?

    1. I encourage you to work through the steps described in this post about working toward being able to do something you resist. I used to be the same way about oral sex, but with time, effort, and persistence, this is no longer the case.

  14. Simply thank you for the post and all the comments. I invest a lot of energy in our marriage and work to encourage, support and uplift my wife in all things. As a result, I love her more than ever. That said, regardless of who refuses who, how much, when and why, this is a great piece to open up a discussion. Thank you again.

  15. I don’t think I have ever read any article that addressed this topic so well. Thanks for hitting the nail on the head. As a husband, I feel hypocritical for not asking much anymore…can’t survive the continued refusal

  16. Chris,
    You write with such tenderness and open hearted honesty. As others have noted, it is sad that it takes so long to realize how our behavior injures our spouse.
    Since sex is such a physical need for us husbands, we do not understand why our wife is not all for it. We often become resentful since we do not understand why our wife refuses us any part of her life. This misunderstanding often goes the other way from the husband to the wife as well.
    Various activities mean so much for one partner and much less to the other that we must seek to understand before we are understood. Serving our life partner is never easy especially when we misunderstand their motives.

    Thank you for your willingness to be so bold in spite of the obvious internal pain you went through in your own marriage to reach such a valued emotional plateau.
    When we go back to the best source possible and see that a husband craves respect from his wife and his bride craves love from her husband, it becomes clear that God always knows the best way to treat each other.

    And thanks to Paul Byerly for pointing his followers to this heartfelt love letter from one sister to another in Christ.

    Jerry @ CrackingTheRomanceCode

    1. The biggest transformation was not in our sex life but in my heart. As my heart became aligned with God’s desire for our marriage, things started to click into place.

  17. Full disclosure: I was extremely skeptical of this blog (I found my way here from the Out of Sorts Launch Team). I have read similar things before and they have all been triggering for a number of reasons, I was half expecting this to be the same, while at the same time hoping it wouldn’t be. And here I am in a puddle of tears, feeling your hugs and your support. I’m sure I will have more to say as I make my way through your posts and try to find some healing for my struggles with intimacy, thank you!

    1. Oh, sweetie, lots of (((hugs))) for you! Some of the posts here are triggering and upsetting–but that’s because it’s so easy for our own baggage to show up in what we read. If you look at the blog as a whole, though, the encouragement outweighs the other stuff. Since you mention triggering, I assume you are dealing with some past trauma. If that’s the case, you might want to read Trapped by Trauma (and follow the links at the end for the rest of the series). I’m glad you’re sticking around for a bit.

  18. I have felt so very lonely for so very many years. Including in my marriage. My husband moderately pursues sexual intimacy. The “moderately” is likely due in large part to my more-often-than-not refusal, and when my refusal kicks into gear more so than usual due to seasons of increased strife in the marriage, he rarely pursues me sexually at all which I understand. His ability, willingness, and effort to pursue the *emotional* intimacy I so deeply crave and need is sorely lacking. My heart breaks and I feel so unable to be with a man I am not close to in this way. Being with him, no matter how kind, tender, or loving he is to me during those moments, feels so painful because it feels like a lie (that he doesn’t love me because emotional connection is how I most deeply feel love). I want to crawl outside myself emotionally when it’s happening, even if there is physical pleasure. It’s like a war is raging in my mind and body during the act. I often want to cry when it’s over and sometimes do. I feel used no matter how incredibly good or kind he may be to me in the bedroom. I often refuse because it is too painful emotionally and reminds me of what it feels like I will never have in my life. I realize as an adult that I have had almost no emotionally close relationships in my life including my childhood (parents, “best” friend, etc). This has always been an incredibly deep desire of my heart and now that I am married (7 years), to discover that it seems this forever relationship that is to be my closest one next to God will seemingly still not include such emotional closeness is heartbreaking to me. To top it off, the lack of emotional and sexual closeness is (I’m sure obviously) contributing to increased conflict in our marriage (although the conflict is only occasionally directly about these things). And when the conflict increases, the emotional and sexual closeness dwindles even more in what seems like a neverending cycle of hurt. I am lost and so discouraged. I cry out (literally crying) to God sometimes asking “why?” Why did He make me this way, with this deep desire for emotional intimacy with another human and give me a husband who has nary an emotional bone in his body and who has virtually zero desire to connect with me on that level even though I have expressed many, many times my feelings about the matter and how important it is to me. I’m sure a good portion of that didn’t make sense and I know I’ve been rambling but I felt so strongly I needed to get all that out tonight as I’ve been led though a trail of links (just like you were to the forums) here to this page and this letter. This letter that nearly had me in tears because it is the most tender anyone has “spoken” to me in ages. I so wish I was truly in front of you, tea in hand and pastry on the coffee table, able to talk with you face to face about all this. But in place of that, your letter serves an incredible substitute and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for it. For speaking to my heart about the topic of refusal, even though I’m still not quite sure where all this leaves me in my pain. I feel like I’m somehow “called” to give into sex (I know that’s a terrible way to look at it/word it) even though it so often causes me such deep emotional pain. And I’m honestly both confused and hurt by that notion.

    1. Oh, sweet woman, how I wish I were there with you face-to-face right now as well. So much of what you describe resonates with me.

      It really is a never-ending cycle of hurt, as you say—for your husband as well as for you. The cycle can be broken—but one of you has to take the first step. Even then it can take a while before the cycle slows down enough to be able to reverse.

      The cycle of hurt in our marriage was interrupted when I gave in to sex. Whether or not the wording is terrible, it is exactly how I felt. I know how painful and difficult it is to face that.

      I’d like to suggest some other posts I’ve written that address some of what you say in your comment.

      These two posts look at that cycle of hurt from two points of view—one from the perspective of a husband who is deprived of a sexual relationship with his wife and one from the perspective of a wife who feels emotionally disconnected from her husband. Both perspectives are equally valid. Both spouses are hurting.

      In these next two posts, I share a bit about the sorrow and grief I experienced—both during the time when I was refusing and as part of the process of change.

      None of these posts will show you what to do, but they may show you a bit about your heart (and your husband’s). Sometimes it just helps to know that we aren’t alone.

      A journey begins with just one step, and you’ve already taken at least two: you’ve read blog posts and you’ve made a comment.

      I know it is hard, but change is possible. And my dear, the fruits of all that effort are truly worth it. I would go through every bit of it again now that I know how much better marriage can be.

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