Naked and Broken


This past weekend, my daughter and I went to see a performance of Wicked—you know, the musical that gives us the Wizard of Oz story with the Wicked Witch of the West as the heroine. I’ve always been a sucker for other perspectives, for the people we don’t hear much about. What happened to Hagar after she was sent away from Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac? How did Judas feel when he betrayed Jesus? Was Eutychus embarrassed when Paul returned him to life? How would they tell their stories?

As much as other points of view intrigue me, there were some years when I refused to step outside my own point of view. As far as I was concerned, I was the only one who could write the story of our marriage bed.

During my refusing and gate-keeping years, I didn’t do such a good job of paying attention to any perspective other than my own. Countless times, my husband became vulnerable and shared his heart with me about how the lack of physical intimacy in our marriage was affecting him. My walls were so strong that I didn’t absorb his words or feelings. If a discussion hinted at our sex life—or hinted at anything that could potentially lead to a discussion of it—I put the brakes on. I got defensive. I attacked. My intent was self-protection. I couldn’t let my husband fully into my heart. My goal was not to hurt him, but sometimes hurting him was the only path I could see to protecting my own heart. I would not let myself see his point of view at all.

The moment my walls were penetrated will always stay in my mind. I had landed in an online forum, smack dab in the middle of a thread where refused spouses were sharing how refusal and gate-keeping made them feel about themselves. Reading these comments—many of them using the same words my husband had used—was like getting knocked over by a 2×4.

The words of these strangers showed me how my sexual resistance had affected my husband physically and emotionally. It broke me—and that’s when my heart was able to change.

How would you tell the story of your marriage bed? Some women reading this blog are not yet at the point of being able to make any changes. If this applies to you, I’d like you to try to set aside your own point of view, just for a few minutes. I know. You have a heart that hurts. Sometimes sex takes courage. You’re tired. Life feels out of control. Everyone needs something from you, and nobody nourishes you. Your husband’s always on your case about the lack of sex. I know. That’s your perspective.

Now I want you to think about these things, which are true for most men:

  • Sex is a physical need for most men—not just a desire.
  • For most men, sex is the way they experience love. You can express love in a thousand other ways. Sex with you still counts for more than those thousand ways together.
  • Your husband has one legitimate sexual outlet—you.
  • When you deny your husband sex, you are denying him a physical need. You deny him access to feeling loved.
  • You alone in this world can do for your husband what no other person can do. You have the power to make your husband feel loved, and you have the power to make him feel like the most unloved and unvalued person he knows.

How would your husband tell the story of your marriage bed? Read these words, from husbands who have posted comments on this blog or who have sent me messages. If you can’t open your heart to your husband, open your heart to these brothers in Christ. Hear their anguish.

Having been married for 30+ years, with my wife basically gatekeeping for that time, I have, unfortunately, begun realize that it isn’t going to change. I have tried to express the hurt a few times in the past, but it never ends well. . . . I pretty much gave up ever initiating about 7 months ago. . . Too painful to consistently be rejected.

The feeling of abandonment and put at the bottom of my wife’s priorities list has been going on for years and nothing I have said, no matter how kindly, has moved her to acknowledge my point of view. Is this what marriage is supposed to be like?

Yes, you can spend a lifetime waiting for the right moment …

I am a husband of a woman who has yet to start a sexual recovery. She has been stand-offish our whole marriage and it has killed me inside.

She knows that I will never leave her unless she cheats on me and even then, I doubt that I would leave her, because I think that would be even harder on the kids.  Sometimes I think she uses that knowledge for her benefit and knows that I would never leave her or cheat on her.  However, I have to say, the longer that she denies me, the more I find myself checking out other women and having to fight having a fantasy life with other women. (I fight against those things because I know they are wrong.  It is just harder to fight at times.

It is the most difficult thing in my life.

As it stands, affection, attention and compassion is all but gone in my marriage. . . Holding out on the things that your spouse has sworn to seek only from you, does nothing but seal the demise of the marital relationship. . . . A dead and cold marriage does more damage over time, and passes on to the next generation (they will repeat what they grow up with). Dealing with hurtful issues is painful and hard, but that is the only way to get past them.

If you have been gate-keeping or refusing, chances are pretty strong that these words could have been written by your husband. (Who knows? Maybe they were.)

I know. You are hurt. Or angry. Or just plain confused about why your husband is so different from you. If you aren’t that interested in sex, meeting your husband’s sexual needs just sounds like another item on your to-do list.

Your husband has been broken and in pain—by you. You have the unique ability to heal him in a way that no one else on this earth can do.

A Samaritan found a man on the road, broken. He set aside his own travels to care for this broken man. Jesus tells us to go and do likewise. Can you show your own husband as much mercy as the Samaritan showed a naked and broken stranger?

Can you rewrite the story of your marriage bed?

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49 Comments on “Naked and Broken”

  1. I am a recovering gatekeeper, married 23 years – in recovery since 2010. Part of this ongoing process has included therapy in various forms (Christian counseling & Celebrate Recovery). I, too, remember exactly when God broke me – when I realized that I was actually outside of His will by not providing sex to my husband. (1Cor. 7:5 do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self control.) By saying yes to my spouse, I realized I was actually saying I will obey and trust You, Lord and this will be a form of worship to You. It worked well for a while but then my old friends, resentment, what about me, and selfishness came back. See, I said yes to God but never dealt with the reasons I was a gatekeeper. Denial is such a funny thing. What I know now about myself is that it is much easier for me to forgive a stranger (the Samaritan) than my spouse. You see, my spouse has hurt me too and continues not meet my needs where the stranger has not. However, this does not give me the right to harbor bitterness and unforgiveness in my heart. (Col 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.) Once God revealed this to me, I had & continue to confess my sin of unforgiveness of my spouse. Only then, through true repentance will God be able to work within me – He cannot work if I harbor sin in my heart. I have to daily (easier said than done) ask God to create in me a clean heart for me to see my spouse through His eyes of compassion and love. I can try all I want but know that I will never achieve true freedom and healing or provide grace to my spouse without the power of Christ. (2 Cor. 12:9 but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.) Through my power, I can provide sex through obedience to God’s will. However, without my heart involved, it really isn’t true obedience at all. Grace is easy to strangers – not so much to spouses or family. When I acknowlege my weakness to God and ask for His power to help me, only then will I be successful. It is a process of sanctification for me and for that I am thankful.

  2. This is a very thought provoking essay and ought to be widely read by both wives and husbands.

    Many wives do appear to be hurt or angry or confused that their husbands are different from them. What is unclear to many husbands is why this is so. The sexes complement each other in so many ways. Why do spouses have to be in conflict with each other? It does not have to be this way in a loving marriage. Work on being a more giving spouse. The more effort you put into your marriage, the more benefits you can get from it. Alienating your husband is the last thing you should do.

      1. Can you ladies tell me how you deal with your own emotions and frustrations towards your husband? For me, I find it very unfair when my emotional needs are not recognised, while I’m supposed to meet his needs all the time?
        I feel humiliated and rejected in many ways. It doesnt feel healthy just to deny those feelings and focus on the needs of my hb.
        How do/did you deal with this?

        1. This has often been a struggle for me. I have tried to invite God to meet my emotional needs and remove the frustration and bitterness from my heart. I am not denying those feelings. I’m just not expecting my husband to be the one to meet them.

          I also try to focus not on what my husband needs but on what our marriage needs.

          This is all easier said than done, but these things have helped me in this area.

  3. Would you please tell us husbands what blog you were reading when the Lord opened your heart to your husband?!!!!!!!!

    1. I was on the forums at I think my heart was ripe for a change when I arrived there. If your wife is ready to explore growth in your marriage, you could both join. If she is not yet ready, I encourage husbands to join for themselves. There is a section specifically about dealing with sexual refusal that is supportive. If your wife is open to reading about marriage in general but not just about sex, I always recommend as a starting point. I would NOT recommend sending your wife to an online forum expecting it to “work” right away. Give her what she is ready for so she is able to absorb it and then move forward.

      1. What is the exact link for the section dealing with sexual refusal? I could not find it on the Marriage Bed website. Thank you!

        1. It’s under Sexual Sin. If you’re a member (membership is free), you can go to your user control panel, click on the Usergroups tab, look for Sexually Refused, select the box to the right, and click on the Submit button at the very bottom right. (You can join only one group at a time.) Then when you go back to the Board Index, and you should see Sexually Refused listed in a Sexual Sin section. Let me know if it works for you.

  4. My story would sound Exactly the same as his! My husband pays me no attention unless I practically beg…and even then there are excuses. If I do get lucky then it’s usually a quick 2 mins and he’s asleep…and I’m frustrated and upset. Keeping my mind pure has become harder and harder – every night I dream a different man is in love with me!
    You ladies who have men with great sex drives – you are SO blessed! He wants you and needs you and craves you. You are beautiful and enough as you are. Don’t look that in the face – be so happy and thankful you have a great husband who wants to be one with you!!

  5. The Marriage Bed blog is where it really began to turn around for me as well. I would sit and read for hours after I took the kids to school. It literally changed my thinking from the inside out. Blew my husband away. Things are so much richer now, it is amazing what reading a different person’s perspective can do for your own thinking and actions.

  6. I suppose I will never understand why spouses refuse sex. All I can talk about is the pain it causes, the deep emotional scars! As a woman, I would like to speak to the women first. If you have preconceived notions about why your husband wants you, ask for clarification. If you think that your husband doesn’t hurt inside just like you, simply because he is the man, you would be wrong. If your husband isnt living up to YOUR EXPECTATIONS, and you deny him sex because of that, that would be YOUR issue to fix. You don’t like sex? You set the tone and bring about the changes. Whatever the reason is, that you deny him intimacy, closeness, love and a connection, you are causing him deep, deep damage. This is NOT a selfish need, sex is a GIFT!
    Now, as a woman, who is denied let me tell you exactly what your husband feels every time you deny him. He feels unloved. He feels rejected. He feels emasculated. He feels unworthy. His self esteem hits an all time low. He wonders if he is being punished. He is in confusion. He questions himself. He feels unattractive. He faces an inner battle. Is this really the message you wish to convey to your husband? You are causing him to feel these things about HIMSELF! He is not bullet proof! He has feelings! He may be the stronger of you two, but trust me, denying him is killing him slowly.

    To the men, keep praying for your wives. Pray out loud, for her and in front of her. Be sincere in your prayers, let her hear you pour your heart to God in regards to this matter. I wish you all the best!

  7. I must say I’m there with Emily – I have a husband who rarely wants to have sex. I could at least a few times per week and we are down to maybe twice a month. It makes me so sad and breaks me so much. Talking, begging, crying, pleading, doesn’t change it for me. It’s been an issue since we first got married and it’s heartbreaking. I believe it’s carried over into other aspects of our lives. I know it’s made me feel less attractive and changed my self worth in my own eyes. It’s a hard thing to deal with and I still don’t understand. I feel just like Emily does, I would give anything for my husband to want me all the time! To tell me I’m sexy, to kiss me and hold me and want to be alone with me.

    1. I am not so much “denied” in the sense my dh doesn’t want or like sex with me, but his work hours get him out of bed at 3am and back to bed by about 7pm, except on the weekends. As a high drive spouse I would love to make love more than just on Saturday mornings and possibly Sunday morning or evening, but I have come to accept that nothing will happen during the week days. And honestly, it hurts, even though I do understand he is tired. It still pains my heart and makes me feel unwanted.

      As a wife who only gets to have sex with her husband when he’s in the mood and often has to push aside those hot and heavy feelings I get for my dh, I can feel for the husbands out there who want frequent intimacy with their wives but are pushed away.

  8. Emily and Anonymous, thank you SO much for sharing your point of view. The initial impetus of my change was learning about what I was doing to my husband–but reading about refusal from the perspective of a refused wife put my husband’s pain into my own heart’s language. It was the pain of refused wives that truly convicted me and made my heart truly want to change.

    I pray that refusing wives see your comments and take them to heart. And I pray that your husbands hearts change.

  9. As a wife who has struggled with physical intimacy since the birth of our daughter in December 2009, I know the trouble it has caused for my husband. Although the issue was something I had no control over and has only recently been fixed by surgery (it took this long to find a doctor who took me seriously and knew that the problem was), I still felt like it was my fault and I was, in the back of my mind, wondering if I just wasn’t it for him. It isn’t going to get better overnight. Over the past three and a half years, I have been frustrated and hurt, whether or not it “should be” that way or not. How could my husband continually want sex and try for it when he knew the amount of physical pain it was going to cause me? I’m not talking about first time sex pain…I’m talking about feeling like I was going to come apart, like I was ripping, like he was constantly hitting a wall. I wouldn’t be able to sit or walk, just lay in a fetal position for hours after. I would cry, but try not to let him see. I would tell him to just leave me alone afterwards. He himself told me that he felt like he was raping me if I tried to get through it, but he would get angry with me if I told him I was fine but in reality I was in a huge amount of pain. But then he would get frustrated if I couldn’t continue or if I said no….well, go figure. Well, I was angry and hurt because he kept trying anyways. The situation never changed. But here’s another thought that I can’t help but have sometimes….if our needs are being met as women and as wives, how are supposed to just lay there and give in to what he wants? (I know that isn’t a healthy frame of mind, but sometimes that’s just how it feels.) Sex isn’t all about him. Sex is meant to be something more, although sometimes it is hard to see it that way. Now that I am going to be “cleared” by the doctor soon for sex, my husband….is having problems with performing. That in turn, is hurtful to me….that after all of this time of him continually trying and pawing at me, he can’t perform. Yes, I know that isn’t fair….I know that a lot of it is in his mind because he’s thinking about me hurting so much for the past three and a half years. But it’s still….hurtful. I want to be cherished and wooed, even though we have been married for five years. I want to feel like I am more than a piece of meat…that I am his wife, his woman. Yet, I don’t always feel that way. I’m trying so hard to change my frame of mind so we can have a healthy sex life once I am cleared physically, but I also need my husband to work on his frame of mind, too. We are praying for change and for God to move in our marriage, but like I said…it isn’t going to happen overnight. We are both wounded and frustrated.

    1. Maybe this is inappropriate, but here is a web page that discusses many causes of erectile disfunction:
      I wouldn’t pay much attention to the older man/younger man categories. Your husband could have a problem from either group – or more than one problem.
      If he hasn’t been evaluated by a competent medical professional, that needs to be the first task.
      If his problem is related to blood sugar, blood pressure, obesity, vascular narrowing I would consider looking for advice regarding carbohydrate restricted diets. There are many good sites.
      He might also benefit from a moderate degree of resistance training. There are many body weight programs that do not require any equipment or trips to the gym – essentially they are free.

      1. I appreciate that link. My husband does have a medical appointment at the end of this month. I know he is hurting just as much as I am about our situation. I know that a lot of his trouble is in his mind because he is afraid of hurting me, but I also am trying to understand that there may be health reasons, as well. Even though my doctor gave us the go ahead last week, my husband has chosen to wait until after he sees the doctor before we try to have actual intercourse again. I respect his choice and I’m trying my best to be there for him during this, just as he has been there for me while I had such a strong physical problem. We are both hurt and frustrated, but he has taken steps on his side to find out what the problem is. I’m trying to understand that it isn’t me. That it isn’t that I don’t turn him on or that I’m not doing the right things, but that there is a bigger issue at hand.

  10. I truly believe that women who are gatekeepers do not fully understand the damage they do. I also believe that when it first starts happening, the husband calmly approaches the situation with the desire to “fix it”, yet as time goes by with no change, the pain causes them to resort to other ways of “fixing it”, usually doing the exact opposite of what they want. Not all men will react in this way, but many will. Throwing Scripture at her won’t bring about change. Demanding it from her won’t either. Crying, begging, pleading…none of this works. Learn the language your spouse speaks and try that route, but never at a time when things are already stressful. I truly believe that praying aloud for her in front of her while you openly bare all your pain to God can move mountains! Prayer is so sacred and private, open and honest, and if she is of the faith, its going to touch her soul. It isnt a one time thing, its daily. Tell God how you desire her, want her and need her. Thank God for sending her to your life. Praise the good things you love about her. If she only ever hears about sex in a negative light, she will withdraw further.

    This method works for those of of wives who are denied as well. My husband has gotten better, but I did quit pursuing him some months back due to the pain of refusal. It takes time for others to understand and bring about change. The other thing I noticed is the more I focused on my pain, the harder it became. God has many areas of my life that need attention, not just one. I had to let go of my dreams and ideals of what I had expected in my marriage just to survive day to day. I am not saying I gave up or am giving up, I am just not letting this rule my mind any longer.

  11. @twoprissies, I’m praying for you, your husband, and your marriage. I am so sorry for the horrible pain that you endured. You know that forgiveness is crucial for your relationship; bitterness will destroy it. Forgiving your husband and helping him to forgive himself may be a difficult task. Would a Christian marriage counselor be something that the 2 of you might consider to help both of you work through this? May He that “makes all things new” (Rev. 21:5) give you and your husband a fresh start in your marriage.

    1. Lisa, that is something my husband as mentioned to help us work through it. We are both hurt and frustrated with the situation. To me, even though I know the other possible causes of his problem, it seems like no matter what I do that should cause him to soar to the moon, it doesn’t do anything. I know that there are deeper issues there because of the struggles I’ve had since the birth of our daughter. I know that. But it doesn’t take away the hurt and the fear that I’m not…it. That I don’t turn him on, that I’m just not doing it for him anymore. He assures me that I do turn him on and that I am more than it for him. He’s a good man. Such a good man. We just….have to find a way to work past both of our issues. My physical cause may be fixed now, but I’m still going to have to train my mind and my heart. And he in turn, needs to realize that (hopefully) it isn’t going to hurt me….but to also be patient with me and give me time to adjust to it being pain free. Kinda like baby steps.

  12. I am another one who was a low drive refusing wife for the first few years of marriage, but after going off birth control I became the higher drive spouse and have been the one refused for the past few years. So much hurt and other issues grew over my refusals in the beginning have contributed to a lot of our problems now, as well as stress and having young children and a pornography problem. I wish I had done things differently at the beginning of our marriage, but since I can’t change that I only wish I knew what to do now to change things. I know God can help, and I am working on myself and our marriage, but sometimes it feels so hopeless. Thanks for the great article and to others for sharing their stories. It’s very encouraging to know I’m not alone.

  13. A few things:

    Rarely are marital problems entirely the fault of one spouse or the other. It’s usually both. Most marriage blogs are written by women, so someone needs to be hard on the guys.

    Women are designed to enjoy sex and are have a much greater capability for pleasure than men. If a woman is “gatekeeping”, there is usually a reason WHY she is gatekeeping. Often she’s not missing sex because HE’s not giving her that much to miss. Husbands have a duty to satisfy their wives. If he’s just in it for himself, then he’s going to be begging.

    Second if HE’s the one who isn’t interested in sex, either there is a serious physical problem or he’s “taking care of his own needs” and most men don’t have health problems. Once again, husbands have a duty to satisfy their wives.

    Finally, hormonal birth control (the Pill) is a real intimacy killer. It makes women less interested in sex and men less interested in their wives. Hormones matter. Phermones matter. (I think that’s one of the ways it works. Less sex = fewer pregnancies.) There are much better and healthier ways of preventing pregnancy, such as the various fertility awareness based methods.

  14. What I find most frustrating is there is so little support for wives with the higher sex drive! It makes both of us feel like something is wrong with us! I feel like a sex freak and he feels like he is not as much of a man as he should be. I am one female who can certainly sympathize with the men on this one. As the “rejected” spouse I can certainly say all of the pain they are feeling is valid.

    1. Agree wholeheartedly with your comment. It is sad that this situation is present in so many marriages. More open and honest communication may help, but does not always help. Both husbands and wives ought to realize that they need to take their spouse’s needs seriously and if that means making sacrifices, so be it. Marriage is more about giving than taking, or it ought to be.

      I do sympathize with those wives who are the higher drive spouse and whose husbands are not paying attention to this. (There are essays on this issue by various Christian marriage bloggers.) More frequent and joyous lovemaking makes the loving marriage bond stronger.

  15. How do you “fix” it? I can go a whole month and really never desire sex with my husband. I love cuddling, hugs, and kisses but I can really do without the whole sex act. I know that this is a need for him so I make it my business to at least once per week have sex with him. Some weeks we don’t. I feel bad about it because I do it out of obligation. I have to talk myself into it and I’m mostly “faking it” while we are in bed. How do you fix this? I love my husband and do not want him to feel the way that was described in this article but on the other hand, I hate having to fake it. I want to have sex out of desire and not out of obligation.

    1. Once you get started, do you find yourself getting into the mood at all? One of the things that has helped me when I’m just not feeling like sex is to think of it as naked cuddling and hugging. I can focus on how happy I am to have my husband’s arms around me and have his total attention. I’ve always had a hard time making the transition to sex from whatever it is I’m doing. That used to get in the way of me fully participating, so I asked my husband to help me with the transition by spending at least five to ten minutes giving me a backrub or letting me talk about whatever was on my mind. As I would relax, it got easier for me to switch into sex mode. My neighbor has told me that when she is least in the mood, she asks her husband to either provide her with pubic grooming services or paint her toenails. The loving attention helps her.

      Many women find that the more they have sex, the more they want it–and the less they have it, the less they want it. What if you just decided to try to have sex every day for a week? Or maybe three times during the next week? Would that make it easier? I always found that it felt more artificial and fake when it had been a while–like I didn’t even remember how to get started and get my mind in the zone. When we have frequent sexual activity, it’s like I always have sex on the back burner in my mind so it’s easier to get it boiling again that if I started from cold.

  16. Ha! Change the time frame in HIS letter that you’ve included and I’d swear it was me writing it. I’ve always been frustrated about it from day one and it hasn’t become better, rather we’ve become more distant “in this area”. Great friends and always will be. Lovers? Eh, not so much. I don’t see a solution if a person does not want to at least work it out and try. I’d be insanely happy if I knew she was at least reading articles and such.
    At this point, it’s not even about sex anymore (probably never was). I’d much rather just be happy going on through knowing and relying on the fact that she actually loves me. Man, that would be so cool!

  17. I have greater sexual desires than my husband does, I always have. My husband has set up this unique little game of cat and mouse which after 34 years I’ve stopped trying to understand. If I am interested in him and things seem to be going well, ie, having sex, kindness, compassion, I’m actually having a glimmer of hope that things can work well for us, BAM! he changes. He becomes indifferent, aloof, withdraws, ignores me, and becomes immersed in the most menial of chores or projects, actually LOOKS for something else to throw himself into. In shock (amazingly stupid how it STILL shocks me), I step back to give him the space he so wants at this point, hurt, confused, humiliated and I just let him go. Yes, I’ve become angry about it, asking what happened. He’s told me its all in my mind, he’s busy, he has so much to do, etc, etc, etc. I refuse to chase him. I really think he WANTS me to become angry. He feels superior. THEN he becomes the cat and chases the mouse again. Attention, desire for sex, blah, blah, blah.
    Of course, I’ve explained all of this to him, we’ve been to counseling, counselors have talked with him about this ad nauseam. He admits his pride and arrogance and moves on beginning the whole sick process all over again. And, yes, I have loved him and let him have his little power play and sat and waited in the wings until he has time or desire for me again. But it all happens again.
    I have become a refuser. I feel like an addict/alcoholic…My name is ___, and I’m a refuser. I am a failure. I am angry, bitter, cynical, lost and broken. I don’t love my husband, I don’t feel anything. Is there anything left to do?

    1. I hope someone with some wisdom and experience with this sees your comment and has something to offer. You have deep heart-hurt. Have you worked with a counselor for yourself in dealing with how your husband interacts with you?

      1. Every counselor we’ve been to has ended up with my husband. We’ve never moved past him dealing with his pride and arrogance. No, I have never seen a counselor just for me. My faith/trust in counselors has taken a real dive. We’ve probably just never had a good one. They seemed to want to drag sessions out and focus on his childhood, Freudian kind of stuff. I homeschooled 5 children for 27 years and there just didn’t seem to be enough time to spend the huge amounts of time going to a therapist 2-3 times a week. No longer homeschooling and one child left at home now gives me the time. I guess I just don’t know where to begin or how to look for a counselor who is any good. To be honest, I’m just expecting to be told to submit to my husband, bear it, and trust God. I’ve done that. I’ve prayed, begged God to change me, him, something. I’m still in the same place. I’m tired, I’m scared and lost. Ok, that sounded really dramatic, but its true.

        1. Perhaps you could start with your pastor and ask for a recommendation for a counselor for yourself. You deserve it Being tired, scared, and lost isn’t a good place for you to be–for yourself or for your marriage.

    2. Maggie, I can feel your pain, literally. I guess the only thing I can say is God can fulfill and fix whats broken inside. I had to get to that point and quit thinking about what I was going through, because the more I focused on what I wasn’t getting and the pain it caused, the more I grew angry, bitter and hurt. You cannot change him, you can only change yourself. I personally, was not and am not willing to live daily in anger, bitterness and hurt. I have a life too, one full of promise and good things. Being refused doesn’t have to define you or rule you. I am praying for you! Please, if you feel the need to seek help so that YOU can heal, then do so! Start caring about yourself and doing things you enjoy (and I am not talking about sexual things here, as infidelity is a sin). If you dont care for and love yourself, you can’t give or receive love yourself. Daughter of God, your potential is great, so go and achieve that greatness!

  18. Thank you for your kind words. I do need a life, and yet I’m not even sure what that means. I don’t know what I enjoy anymore, and I’m afraid that if I do find new things to enjoy and meet new people, I’ll never want to come home. In truth, I’m afraid that I fall into the arms of the first man who looks at me twice. I’m sorry to dump all of this drama here but it’s the only place that I can. I have no friends but my children and surely can’t dump this on them. My family thinks that my husband is wonderful (and he is, just not as a husband), my church, well, it’s church-y, and everyone is fine. I do hear all of the excuses that I’m spouting. It just seems like I’ve tried so many things and now I’m just so scared to step out of my “safety zone”. I’m scared to sin even more than I already am. I do so appreciate your prayers, thank you !

    1. Ahhh yes! I can relate to not having a life, as I threw myself into my marriage and my husband, completely losing myself, and this is where you are at. That makes this doubly painful for you, because you feel no sense of purpose any more. But, I am here to tell you, you can start rebuilding your life! And maybe that is part of your husbands issues, he has taken you for granted, and he no longer sees the woman he married because you chose this path of being only his wife. Sister, this is exactly what I have done: I went out and bought myself some modest, yet sexy clothes, because thats who I am, but you wouldnt have known it by recent times, lol. I got in contact with friends I hadnt spoken with in years, and we started going out and having fun. I am laughing and playful again, the woman he married. Losing yourself for the sake of someone elses happiness, or what you assume will make them happy, in reality will crash the marriage. I present an air about me that my life is all about me and my happiness, per his request. Yet it has brought him around to my side in the bedroom. He pursues me twice a week these days, which is a huge step up from once a month. I still do not pursue him due to the pain of refusal, and I refuse to put myself in that situation again. I know making new friends can be tough, so my suggestion is trying new hobbies at first, see what it is you enjoy, then meeting people through those hobbies. Bowling, scrapbooking, reading, dancing…really the sky is the limit to hobbies available where people gather! :). I know you can do it! Start living for YOU! He will see that and hopefully make a change, but if not, at least you are finding enjoyment outside the house without sinning.

  19. But the question I have is WHY were you a gate keeper and a refuser?
    You said: “You have a heart that hurts. Sometimes sex takes courage. You’re tired. Life feels out of control. Everyone needs something from you, and nobody nourishes you.”
    Don’t you think your husband often has all of those feelings (except the courage part, although apparently from the starved women comments that may be a problem for some men)?
    For over 30 years (beginning after the birth of our first) my wife was one just like you. I have never really heard an explanation of why. Oh, there are of course “some” reasons she sometimes offers: body image, too busy (now she realizes) and a few others, all of which I could say myself. Doesn’t she realize that making a living isn’t always the picnic that she thought it was (now that the kids are gone and she has gone to work some as my part time office manager she has come to realize this)?
    The good news is that late last year she seemed to change her attitude some. She has stopped being negative, stopped complaining and even sometimes has a positive attitude and tries to initiate some. That’s all good and I am grateful. But WHY did this happen? I finally asked her the other day and her response was that there was no big change, she had just slowly made changes. That really isn’t my perspective. Could the changes have been going on incrementally inside? Could be. The truth is we don’t really know what anyone else thinks. All we can do is watch what they do and listed to what they say. But I am certain that even 1 year ago there was a lot of gate keeping and refusing and bad attitude going on.
    Why do I care? If I don’t know why these changes were made how can I have any confidence they will continue? It is clear from your narrative that you can trace your change in attitude to a pretty specific moment. And your reasons for changing are explicit and clear. It is clear that you have had to beg your husband’s forgiveness (which is as it should be: you were breaching your marriage covenant just as surely as if you had been having an affair). Having come to these realizations it is quite unlikely you will ever retreat (your husband must be very happy about that). I am not so confident. I want to hear a real explanation of why I had to suffer through all this. I was always faithful to her. But she broke her covenant with me. Over and over and over and over. Why in the hell was that?

    1. She may not completely understand why she was gate-keeping and refusing. I am able to pinpoint some specific moments in my marriage when I could feel my walls go up. It’s only been in the past six months , though, that I’ve been working hard to understand why I had gotten into the habit of sexual restriction. Have you asked your wife why she decided to make some changes? Have you asked if she is happy with the changes she’s made?

      There are no guarantees. I occasionally have moments when refusing and gate-keeping habits bubble up. The difference now is that I take time and think through the “why” so I can adjust. Plus, as the changes in our sex life have led to overall improvement in our marriage, my husband and I are better able to address these issues as they arise. Work on continuing to build your communication with your wife.

      1. Thank you for your response, but it doesn’t really answer my question. Of course you can’t answer for my wife because only she knows the answers. My question is why did this all happen? She wasn’t gate keeping the first year of our marriage. And we were virgins when we got married (of course I know that about me and believe it about her). We had a very passionate and happy courtship while keeping the law of chastity. So I had no reason to believe when we got married that she would change into this stingy, cold and prudish person. We didn’t have pre marital sex that might be the source of issues for some women. I did ask my wife why she made changes as I related in the first post, but she dodged the answer.
        I will say that there is one thing that might have helped. A couple of years ago I also stumbled into The Generous Husband and The Generous Wife. I subscribed to TGH husband at work and sent them home every day. I suggested that she subscribe to TGW and she did. I read those on the home email. I have to say that the husband is a LOT more hard hitting than the wife, although it is clear to me that she is getting a lot better during the last year. I do think that getting those messages across on a consistent basis has probably made a difference. And seeing what I was reading every day, and that is was hard hitting, and that, for the most part, I actually do most of the things TGH talks about has also helped.
        You know, as society, if a man has an adulterous affair and is unfaithful to his wife we expect certain things from him if he wants to save his marriage. We expect him to apologize profusely. We expect real and audible and continuous contrition. We expect that there will be a significant change in behavior. We expect that there will be an extended period of time of trying very hard to win back the trust of the wife. And we expect that this kind of behavior, which is a breach of the covenant of marriage to never ever ever happen again.
        But when are the refusing women ever called out on this? Why doesn’t society condemn a refuser’s behavior just as much as an adulterer? Our church, about which I otherwise have a very high opinion, is silent on this issue. So no help there.

        1. No, I didn’t answer your question. I don’t fully know the answer for myself, although I’m working to understand it. For me, refusal was the visible part of a complex mess of stuff going on in me and in our relationship. For your wife? As I said, she may not know for herself. One woman’s refusal is not the same as another’s, though. You need to continue to develop your relationship with your wife to help her feel safe in really thinking about (and then sharing with you) what led to hers. Maybe she doesn’t know. Or maybe, somewhere deep inside herself, she does know but isn’t even able to say the words. Or maybe she thinks the answer will upset you.

          Churches should not be silent on the critical importance of a healthy sex life in marriage, but how should it be addressed? I don’t know. I do see it as a breach of the marriage covenant.

          You’re being too hard on The Generous Wife. The Generous Husband is addressed to men. Typically, men need firm and direct (aka, hard-hitting) discourse. They want information and clear instructions. He is hard-hitting because it is the most effective way to address men and help them understand the need and process of moving forward.

          The Generous Wife, on the other hand, is addressed to women. Women respond better to discourse that is relational and demonstrates understanding and a sense of community. The Generous Wife is gentle because it is the most effective way to address women and help them understand the need and process of moving forward.

          The fact that you think something needs to be hard-hitting in order to be effective is no different than a woman saying it should be kind in order to be effective.

          It’s great that you’re both reading those blogs. The Generous Wife’s gentle and non-condemning approach was part of what helped me open my heart and begin to change.

  20. Just my PERSONAL opinion but I’ve always thought the Gen. Husband blog has been very stero typical and soft. I’ve never perceived it as hard hitting thus why I usually do not read it. I guess it may assist some guys but I’ve always found it to be shallow instead of diving deep. I’ve always gravited toward the woman’s sites because those seem to touch on deeper subjects; plus I’d like to know my wife better than I do.
    I’m VERY glad to have located this site and am so thankful. I just HOPE and PRAY that my wife is reading the emails.

  21. Wow. This one hit me hard. I’m glad that you posted some comments from husbands. Before I got to the section where you listed the comments, I was searching online for some of the comments that you keep mentioning, but I couldn’t really find anything. I made the decision on Saturday to stop gate keeping. In just these past two days, my husband has seemed happier, and as a result he gives me the attention I want, and we seem so much CLOSER. I left for work this morning with a smile on my face and thinking happy thoughts about my husband instead of scowling while I think about an earlier fight. I had no clue this would pay off so quickly, though I thank God it did. I have a hard time following through sometimes when I can’t see the results/benefits. It really helped me to hear the husbands’ point of view. I’m also glad to hear it’s not just MY husband with these needs, but that God created EVERY man this way. Your blog has been a HUGE benefit to me, and allowed me to see what I have been doing to my marriage. My husband would tell me that it was ME, but I always thought it was HIM, and that HE needed to change. I thought he expected too much, and felt much of the same way you have. Thank you for chronicling your journey with this issue. I thought I had every right to refuse, and dictate how things would be sexually until I found this blog.

    1. Oh, sweetie, you sound like you are an earlier version of myself. I used to think it was just my husband, too (although really, even if it was just him, it should have been enough). I’m glad you made a decision to stop gatekeeping. Letting go of control over the marriage bed can be freeing in some ways. Until I stopped, I didn’t realize how much of my mental energy was being channeled into preventing or controlling sex.

      The comments from husbands are heart-breaking, truly. I’m glad they touched your heart.

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