Out of Control


 Are you afraid to lose control?

“Why do you get to control our sex life?” my husband would ask.

The answers made perfect sense to me, whether or not they were spoken:

  • It’s my body that’s being invaded.
  • If I don’t, who will?
  • I’m afraid of liking sex so much that I come to rely on it. If you leave me/betray my trust/hurt me emotionally, I’ll completely fall apart.
  • I don’t completely trust you with my heart.
  • Your insistence on sex is a sign that you lack self-control.
  • My ability to say “no” is a sign that I am morally superior and somehow more godly than you.

Control Issues

I admit it. I have control issues. I always want to be in charge. I want things to make sense to me. One of my greatest frustrations is not understanding something–how it works, why someone did or said something, etc. Control is, in part, about creating a predictable structure that makes sense to me.

My control issues stem from junk I’ve been dragging around since childhood.. I promised myself that a man would never control me. By extension, that also meant that a man’s sexual desire would never control my sex life. My difficulty in trusting is tangled up in there as well. If I come to rely on something, that something will disappear.

I have to be honest. The first part of 1 Corinthians 7, where Paul talks about self-control over one’s sexual self as an ideal, didn’t help me much either. I thought this meant that the inability to control your sexual desire was wrong somehow. If self-control over sexual desire is ideal, then I thought that was the goal we should all strive for.

My husband would point out the sexual imagery in Song of Solomon. I would dismiss this as being in the Old Testament and therefore less relevant than what Paul said in the New Testament. I would point out that it was written by a man, so naturally he would write about sex in general and oral sex in particular (“his fruit was sweet to my taste”). Besides, what does a man with 700 wives and a bunch of concubines know about intimacy in a monogamous marriage? To me, this was just another example of a man trying to convince wives they needed to have more sex. Solomon was just another man trying to control me.

And then there were the fairy tale princesses in the movies of my childhood. The princesses would lie in some magic-induced slumber and would be awakened by a gentle kiss from Prince Charming. Before puberty, this was the height of romance in my mind, and it was nearly non-physical. Prince Charming had self control, and he never asked for anything his princess wouldn’t be willing to do. That image stuck with me for years.

Meanwhile, as I continued to control our sex life, I was beginning to lose my husband’s heart. My marriage was fading away, yet I continued to justify the importance of controlling our marriage bed.

Letting Go

It would be so nice if I could tell you that I was convicted that my control was wrong and that I immediately set out to change my ways. That would be lying.

My journey of sexual change did not begin because I recognized that my need for control was out of control. In fact, it began because I was trying to control even more. My husband was depressed, and sex was the only thing I could think about that a) might work, and b) was in our price range (free). I was trying to control his mood.

I began to make my changes. First, I participated in sex more actively (no more duty sex). This was relatively easy. Second, I worked to stop saying “no.” This was a bit trickier. As I thought about learning to say “yes” instead of “no,” I realized that I was running smack dab into my control issues. I kept finding myself thinking those same responses that I’d had to my husband’s frequent question of why I got to be the one to control our sex life. I realized that in order to work on being able to say “yes,” I would have to face my control issues. I still didn’t think my need to control was wrong, exactly, but I did recognize that it was interfering with my sexual plan.

An important step in learning to be less controlling of our sex life was to acknowledge that I was doing it. For a while the most I could do was acknowledge with qualifications: “Okay, yes, I’m controlling, but I have to be because [insert justification of choice].“ That acknowledged the behavior but not the fact that it was a problem or unfair to my husband.

Letting go of control required a huge shift in my thinking. I had to force myself to think about my husband’s point of view. This was NOT easy for me to do. Even being able to say, “I’m controlling” without adding “but” to it was progress. I began to understand that this control thing of mine had a negative effect on our relationship–outside the bedroom as well as inside.

I’d like to be able to say that this was a first step, but I confess that while I’ve made much progress, it is an on-going effort. I still believe that I’m always right, and I still think I need to be in control of many things. The big difference now is that sex is no longer one of those things I try to control.

My control issues come from my attitude. Even while I worked on that in my heart, I knew I needed to change my behavior. Specifically, I needed to learn how to change my responses to my husband’s sexual advances, as that’s when he was most affected by my control issues.

The first piece of changing my behavior was simply to become aware of when I was being controlling. If I found myself thinking, “But I was going to do laundry, “Turn the lights off,” or “I don’t know why we can’t just do regular x instead of y,” I tried to notice what I’d done.

At the beginning of my efforts to control my control issues, I would give my same old responses, which would elicit the same old reactions from my husband. When I would realize later that I had responded in a controlling way, I would muster up the courage to go apologize. “I’m sorry I flipped out when you said you wanted to have sex. I was being controlling. I was wrong. If you’re still interested, I’d like us to take you up your offer.” Oh, was this humbling! I forced myself to do it, though, because I knew there was no other way for me.

Slowly, I became able to identify my efforts to control while I was still in the middle of a sentence. And I would stop, close my eyes, take a deep breath, and say, “Okay, but could you give me five minutes?” I was still controlling the time frame, but I was learning to let go of my immediate “no” response while also working on not controlling every aspect of the encounter.

Eventually, I was able to simply say “yes” to any sexual advance he made toward me. I no longer tried to change the timing, the frequency, or activity in order to be controlling.

As I began to let go of my insistence on control, I was able to recognize the stranglehold it had on our sex life as well as on me. So many small choices I made throughout the day were attempts to control my husband’s sexual desire or our sexual activity. Until I let go of control, I didn’t see how much time and energy I had put into being in control. I was able to see that “our” sex life should not be controlled by one person–even me. As I became more comfortable in our sexual relationship, my ability to trust my husband grew. I began to reframe my thinking so that instead of feeling like my body was being invaded, I could feel like our bodies were being united. I started to experience sex as fun playtime with my husband. I recognized that I, too, sometimes wanted to have sex, that this was a desire that came from God, and that the loss of self and control during sex could be absolutely delicious.

My “reasons” for controlling our sex life had begun to fade away. My husband and I have ups and downs, naturally, but in giving up control, I gained so much: my husband, trust. and my marriage.

I know quite a few women who admit (or sometimes take pride in the fact) that they are controlling. I hear variations of the same things I used to say to my husband to justify my control.

Are you one of these women? Does the thought of giving up control frighten you? Do you have a list of reasons why you need to control your sex life? Do you know what it would take for you to let go?

Losing control can be scary–but when you lose control, you have so much to gain.

 Are you afraid to lose control?

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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30 Comments on “Out of Control”

  1. It’s too bad giving up control in the rest of our lives isn’t as enjoyable. Or maybe it is and I just don’t know it cuz I’ve never done it, LOL I’m a work in progress.

  2. We once had a woman tell, with much authority and pride, that the more spiritual you became, the less you wanted sex. The sad thing is this is Gnosticism, which is the very thing Paul was battling in 1 Cor 7.

    Personally I see a great many parallels between married sex and our worship of the Lord. The Bible more than hints at this as well. Given that, I would think becoming “more spiritual” would actually tend to result in a better enjoyment of sex.

    But then I am a bit of a hairy tic!

    1. I used to think that as well about more spirituality equated with less interest in sex. In my case, this was complicated some by my premarital sexual activity. I felt bad and less spiritual, and instead of connecting those feelings with my decision to act outside God’s design, I equated them with sex.

      Now, sex is when I feel closest to God and to my husband.

  3. You’re a rare one….at least from my perspective. Your former self is a lot like my wife is now and it’s a tough one to deal with. I get all of the ridicule of ‘all you men think about is sex’ and why do you have to have sex anyway. She does control it and I’m always made to feel bad for even showing desire. It’s not always this way…there are some times where there’s more ‘activity’ in a week than we might see in months, but then there can be months at a time in-between. I feel like she avoids closeness with me to avoid having me ‘ask’….like coming to bed an hour or two after me or going to bed early (claiming exhaustion) when I do stay up to spend time with her. The fact that I have to “ask” is itself a problem because I feel like she has zero desire for “it” or me sometimes. I get to a point where I no longer want to even “try” and that’s the part that scares me. Again, not always this way, but it’s enough that I see it as a problem in our nearly 20 years together. I have never done nor had desire to go aside of the marriage, I believe in staying in the trenches and taking care of things. At this point I’ve gotten used to it, but I also live with this fear that one day I’ll just flat out give up and it won’t even matter… the encouraging news from your story here is that things can and do change and my faith is that I will see that as well. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Is your wife willing to do any reading about marriage in general? (I’m assuming she wouldn’t be interested in reading something about intimacy.) It may be that some other marriage resources might help to get her thinking about some things differently.

      Meanwhile, I encourage to work on yourself and your relationship with God. Perhaps if your wife sees you working hard and growing, she will be inspired to give it a try as well. Meanwhile, keep praying, and know that God does change hearts.

  4. Okay this is going to sound confrontational, but I promise you I am not trying to be. I am just trying to ask a question that has plagued me for awhile. I don’t even know how to really ask it without making us out to sound horrible. So, please read this with just an inquiring attitude, from a wife of 16+ years who has been through many ups and downs with our sex life. I have read this and several other articles on the subject. I know it isn’t my right or duty to control intimacy. I get that. And far too long I didn’t. I, too, have control issues. I have worked on confronting those and giving up control. But what I have found and that no one is addressing is the fact that when I give up control, then, by default, my husband is the person controlling intimacy. I have come to terms with it in my own marriage, and we are fine now. But it is something that I would have loved to have been warned about as I began the journey. Why don’t people talk about that?

    1. I’ve been thinking about this, and I had similar thoughts every time I would read anything about not being controlling. Perhaps because of how this letting go of control happened slowly and in conjunction with my growth in other areas, I never felt like I was handing control to my husband. As I loosened my hold, I was also feeling more of the one-flesh nature of marriage. I felt more like I was handing control to God than to my husband.

  5. Some thoughts to ponder:

    In my experience, “being in control” was an issue ONLY when there were feelings of “having to” do something I was not wanting to do. (And logically, why wouldn’t anyone WANT to do something that had a positive association with it – something that was a predictably pleasant & fulfilling experience?)

    In my marriage, “attempting to control sex” was a symptom, and not the cause, of a marriage that wasn’t healthy. I attempted to control sex by avoiding it. My husband attempted to control sex by pressuring me (in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways).

    Sex is the barometer that tells whether or not BOTH spouses are having their emotional needs met. A spouse who is less-than-enthusiastic about engaging in sex with their spouse is most likely not having their emotional needs met… which was the case in our marriage.

    I didn’t want my husband to have unmet sexual needs, but often times I didn’t like meeting them. I felt overwhelmed by his higher drive. Most of the time, my lack of enthusiasm came from “not feeling connected” to him. I felt like I was just a place for his sexual release (of course, not true, but that’s how it felt because my needs weren’t being met either).

    Unfortunately, a negative association with sex can begin when a wife (or husband) attempts to meet their spouse’s sexual needs (whether out of a spirit of generosity or out of obligation), despite their own emotional needs having not been met. (you can read about sexual aversion here: http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5047_qa.html). And, that’s what happened in our case. It was like Pavlov’s Dog experiment (classical conditioning). Whenever my husband would mention sex in any way – whether it was a gentle request, an innuendo, a physical advance, etc. – I would instantly respond in a negative manner. I would feel really stressed, and sigh. and find I needed to “collect myself”, and then proceed to talk myself into being intimate with him because he had a need that only I could meet… It was such hard work to try to overcome my negative response by attempting to manipulate my thoughts and invalidate my own feelings, that eventually it was easier to just try to avoid sex as much as possible.

    I know it sounds very unromantic, but by using this Marital Negotiation Worksheet, we eventually figured out the real issue. (http://www.marriagebuilders.com/forms/Harley_HeWinsSheWins_MaritalNegotiationWorksheet.pdf) What we had really been arguing over for many years were “the conditions for sex” – whether my desire was required or just his desire was enough.

    He shared his perspective with me:
    that he wanted the freedom to have sex whenever he desired (frequency), in the way he desired (initiation, positions/variety), and for me to be in the mood, too.

    I shared my perspective with him:
    that I wanted the freedom to say no – to refuse participation when there wasn’t genuine desire, that we should be together when it was a genuine outward expression of inward feelings for both of us.

    Interestingly, we discovered that sex would only be fulfilling for both of us if I was “in the mood.” We discovered we both really wanted the same thing, and that there was no longer anything to argue about, but rather a problem to solve. We worked hard to come up with a solution that met the conditions of The Policy of Joint Agreement, (http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi3500_policy.html), a solution that we were both enthusiastic about – one that benefitted both of us and didn’t hurt either of us. We worked to figure out what created feelings of connection for me and therefore genuine sexual desire, and what caused feelings of disconnect. And then we had to be intentional about doing and/or avoiding those things.

    In our experience, following The Policy of Joint Agreement (never do anything without an enthusiastic agreement between you and your spouse) has created a sustained healthy marriage. It was the way for us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-40). And, happily it was THE key to sex becoming a predictably pleasant, fulfilling, and even desirable experience for both of us.

    Honestly, because of my experiences, I cringe every time I read a blog post that encourages the lower drive spouse to just give up control and have sex with their higher drive spouse. I’m aware of the damage that can be done by “just doing it” – so for some marriages that can be harmful advice. And yet, I’m equally as sure, that there are marriages that benefit from that advice.

    So, for what it’s worth, I thought I’d throw my experiences out there. I appreciate your heart to help hurting marriages. 🙂

    1. ” Honestly, because of my experiences, I cringe every time I read a blog post that encourages the lower drive spouse to just give up control and have sex with their higher drive spouse. I’m aware of the damage that can be done by “just doing it” – so for some marriages that can be harmful advice.”

      Giving up control might look different in different marriages. In my marriage, “just doing it” was what worked. In other marriages, it might be more about learning to get comfortable with the light on.

      In our case, drive was never really the issue; it was more of an emotional and relational problem.

      For me, “just do it” worked–because I was doing it for my own reasons. Giving up control and just doing it helped me retrain some ingrained habits that were causing problems in our intimacy on many levels.

      Thank you for sharing those links. They are good concrete tools that can provide a process and structure. I don’t think I trusted my husband enough to even be able to count on the ground rules working.

      I love that you and your husband worked together to solve your shared problem.

  6. “I love that you and your husband worked together to solve your shared problem.”

    There’s a great quote by C. J. Mahaney from his book, Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God, “Nothing kindles erotic romance in a marriage like a husband who knows how to touch the heart and mind of his wife before he touches her body.”

    I’m grateful that God created the love of my life with a high sex drive! I believe it’s what kept him motivated him to “touch my heart and mind before touching my body” (to meet my emotional needs.) My husband really did all the work – I just provided the positive reinforcement. 😉

    And, yes, those tools provided us with “a process and structure” to replace our ingrained bad habits – our ways of communicating with each other. We had to learn a completely new way of doing things.

  7. Of course, the topic here of control is about a wife saying No to her husband. But if the wife would have a more sex-positive control attitude of saying “yes, dear, let us get it on as soon as we arrive at home”, then that would be more welcome. I have read, a spouse who controls sex will almost always try to control other areas of life.
    Even something as small as this: wife will buy a bag of mixed nuts. Then I proceed to open the bag, but her first reaction is to tell me “no, you better not eat those nuts, they are mine.” What ?? It doesn’t matter that I paid a big amount for a car or house repair, or paid the property tax or insurance. Selfishness and control can extend to everything in a marriage.
    Her overall attitude is this: nobody can control me, only I decide what I will do. So much for being on the same page.
    As a brief statement I observe that most churches do a very poor job at holding marriage in high regard, and try their hardest to avoid talking about marriage verses and the roles of husbands and wives.
    Either the pastors and elders are ashamed of certain parts of the Bible, or are afraid they might hurt someone’s feelings, or think talking about any pleasure is not a “holy” topic. There could be some other reasons, I suppose. This all could contribute to the decline in attendance at church events; too many think God and the Bible have little relevance in their lives, possibly ?


    Concerning your bullet points : I swear you’ve written down the exact things I’ve been contemplating. Those bullet points are what I’ve been witnessing to the tee. It must be in the air to think about.

    There are so many little things that you’ve touched on that I could spend hours responding – that’s not going to happen.

    Guys prefer a “connection” prior to having an intimate moment. 90% of the time I’ve ever had sex I’ve longed to have a deeper relationship with my wife. The physical part of it is only a portion of it all. Most guys want their wife to be as “mutually enthusiastic about their husband” as the husband is about being with his wife! I cannot stress that enough. Let me clarify that “enthusiasm” is NOT restricted to the bed room (how lonely would that be?).

    If a spouse never makes advances (even throughout the day) and just lies there during sex thus doing THE MINIMAL at every moment, that is nearly just as awful and dibilitating as flat out rejection. And what of rejection? A spouse may “agree and submit” to having a sexual moment but if the heart doesn’t want to be there – believe me IT SHOWS and it breeds further distance and disconnect. After so many years of the same pattern the mind becomes frazzled and the emotions, raw. Why? When it can so easily be altered and everyone is happy!

    Understand this, for a guy it’s NOT only about the release as much as it is about the connection! I can’t stress that enough. Truly if it was only about the release then why bother getting married?!

    Control – I am convinced that if the controlling spouse would submit to God and WORK ON THE MARRIAGE WITH THEIR spouse happiness would grow within the marriage, everyday life, their kids, as well as the relationship with God. Too often I see only one person working on the marriage. I hear all the time that a person can only change themself only and that should be where the focus remains. However, THAT is NOT working on the relationship nor the marriage!! Sure a person can work on themself but the marriage relationship IS STILL SUFFERING because there isn’t ANY efforts being made to change, grow, and nurture the marriage and the relationship.
    A controlling person is like an octopus: They have their tentacles touching everything around them.

    My observation within my own marriage is that my spouse will NOT allow her heart to be FULLY given to me. I believe there is so much fear that the control is seen as a necessary protection. It’s been this way since day one. Meanwhile, just like today and everyday, I’m the one who gets to carry the emotional load. It’s extremely unfair. It makes me walk in the void and the distance created by refusal.

    Let me clarify that refusal begins with the heart. We keep talking about refusal being a physical act and event when in reality refusal is an inward confusion that is seen through physical moments.

    I’ve been married a long time and I can see the inner refusal; most of the time I just prefer to ignore it to keep the peace. Of course, it doesn’t do anyone good by continuing to ignore it all.

    Doing nothing is NOT an option. It’s not much unlike me telling my youngest son to TRY his dinner instead of NOT doing anything at ALL. I tell my son to WORK on changing his mind-set. I ask my spouse the same thing – at least try to work on our relationship please!!

    1. I don’t typically approve long comments from men, seeing as how this blog is for women and all. 🙂

      However, every so often, I want wives who are controlling their marriage beds to see how their actions look for a refused husband’ perspective.
      I want to make a couple comments about some things you’ve said.

      My observation within my own marriage is that my spouse will NOT allow her heart to be FULLY given to me. I believe there is so much fear that the control is seen as a necessary protection.

      Do you know what your wife fears? Does she know? (I’m not asking you to tell me; that is your wife’s story to tell.) As you say, until the heart changes, the relationship will not be what it should be. How are you supporting your wife in understanding and addressing her fear? Refusing wives have to do some hard work—and having husbands who nurture and support can make it easier. You can’t make her willing, but you can make it easier on her when she does decide the time is right. If you can help her get control over her fear, perhaps it will be easier for her to ease up the control in your marriage.

      It’s been this way since day one.

      Why? What reasons would your wife give for her refusal? What happened to hurt your wife so early in your marriage (or even before)? I can think of four women (five if I include myself) off the top of my head who refused for years because they perceived something hurtful from their husbands relatively early in their marriages. Look back over the years. What are the comments, complaints, anxieties, and hot button issues that have come up time and time again? What is the pattern that emerges when you look at how your wife has related to you over the course of your marriage? Don’t stop at saying she’s controlling. Continue that to finish, she’s controlling because . . . why? Don’t dismiss anything that comes to mind simply because it is small to you or because it happened so long ago. Hurt can stay in a woman’s heart for decades. Until it is addressed in some way, it can continue to interfere with full intimacy.

      Regarding the bullet points that you say match what you’ve been seeing . . . each of those bullet points comes out of a heart problem I had to work through. Some was from childhood baggage, some was from choices I’d made, some comes from hurt I felt when I was too self-focused to be able to see my husband’s point of view, and some came from bad teaching about the role of sex in marriage. If your wife says these things, then ask her . . . where do they come from? And how can you help her address those things?

      The real work of change is on your wife. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some things you can look at as possible ways to encourage her growth.

      I’ll be honest. My husband used to ask me to work on our relationship. And you know what I heard? “I don’t get enough sex and I’m not happy so you have to do all the work and change. Get moving.” I was a woman with control issues. Telling me what to do to make someone else happy was not an effective approach. So my advice to you is to stop saying it.

      Does your wife read any marriage resources? Is there anything you can encourage her to read for her own sake that might help her begin to heal what hurts in her?

      And I’m curious about something. If your wife saw what you posted here, how do you think she would respond?

  9. Thanks Chris.
    I do apologize for the lengthiness and for being a man.
    You’ve brought up a lot of interesting things which obviously cannot be easily answered. I will work backwards.
    I believe my wife would take this as you would have – that I am demanding SHE changing. When in fact, I just want her to TRY to work on our marriage and our unity. I find it insanely difficult and even hypocritical to outwardly worship and appreciate God and go to church when this awful relationship exists between. I say awful because it needs work and I cannot do it alone.
    She refuses to read articles and what not through her owning prompting. I’m sure my insistence is partially to blame for that but again, I just want to work on the marriage and I need her to be involved.
    Bullet Points – these aren’t necessarily within my own marriage as I see them for a lot of marriages. Yes, some apply but I tend to contemplate marriage in general so as a gauge for taking inventory and analyzing my own.
    REFUSAL – Oh sure, we can just do it but her heart isn’t into it. My heart is deflated. Her resistance was much more in the past. I’ve heard the refusal statements like, “OK… I can see that I’m not going to get to sleep tonight unless we just get this over with so come on…. ” OR “Beds were made for sleeping!”
    Or my all time favorite, “Well, What’s in it for me?!” Man, I love that one!
    Again, the refusal starts in the heart much before night has fallen. Refusal is a stance and mind-set. It has nothing to do with night, day, bed, kids, career, exhaustion, etc. It has everything to do with the heart. Refusal is a deceptive worm that was consumed by Eve when she ate the forbidden fruit and that worm now eats away at every marriage. Little by little like grains of sand in an hour glass until the day we meet our Creator and He says, “What have done with your most important Earthly relationship?”
    Before Marriage – I do think there is something psychological here because it began prior to our marriage – probably from her fraternal relationship. However, I’m certain I didn’t help out matters because I was so young and new to it all.
    FEAR – She works so hard at trying to avoid emotional pain that she actually creates and introduces the emotional pain for the both of us. It’s like running away from a fire cracker just to run head on into an on-coming car! Life is full of surprises; learn to enjoy them! Give thanks to God whether good or bad life events!
    I’ve noticed a lot of woman refuse to fully give their hearts over to their husbands. I don’t get it. Sure and YES, you ARE going to get hurt. You WILL feel pain. Welcome to life and love!
    What do we do then? Spend our entire lives being depressed and consumed with trying to avoid pain? Wow.. what a stupid way to live. JUST LIVE! Have fun. Take chances. So what!
    I would much rather be with my wife knowing she is giving her FULL heart to me on a daily basis – fully trusting me; otherwise it’s just two people existing in the same household.
    You can count on the fact that I’m going to let you down. I am not Jesus. I am your second most important relationship you will ever have.
    What are we doing about it?!

    1. What are you doing to help her want to work on it?

      There are things my husband could have done that would have reached out to me in a way that made me want to take a step forward. I’m not going to share those here, but I could see so plainly what I needed from him emotionally and how I needed his help.

      Your wife’s refusal is on her shoulders, not yours. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be loving in a way that she needs. I’m not saying you aren’t doing this. I’m just asking you what it is that you do help soften her heart. Instead of telling her to enjoy the surprises in life, help her be able to respond to them in a way that hurts less. Your comments about fear are dismissive of her feelings. What can you do to change that?

  10. @Nunia bizness

    ” Refusal is a deceptive worm that was consumed by Eve when she ate the forbidden fruit and that worm now eats away at every marriage”

    Obviously this isn’t true. Every marriage doesn’t suffer refusal and women aren’t the only ones that refuse. Refusal is a protective mechanism for many women. Perhaps one should spend some time contemplating what and why someone is feeling the need for this kind of protection.

    “I’ve noticed a lot of woman refuse to fully give their hearts over to their husbands. I don’t get it. Sure and YES, you ARE going to get hurt. You WILL feel pain. Welcome to life and love!

    What do we do then? Spend our entire lives being depressed and consumed with trying to avoid pain? Wow.. what a stupid way to live. JUST LIVE! Have fun. Take chances. So what!!”

    Your compassion is really overwhelming here. I’m sure you are going to win many women over to your side by calling them stupid and minimizing their pain and telling them to JUST LIVE! Have fun. Take chances. So what!”

    Wow, what a compelling argument.

    “I would much rather be with my wife knowing she is giving her FULL heart to me on a daily basis – fully trusting me; otherwise it’s just two people existing in the same household.”

    A woman would be rather foolish to entrust her heart to someone that tells her to “Just Live” rather than putting in the effort to figure out what is so painful in her heart that she would refuse comfort from the man that’s supposed to love and cherish her.

    Perhaps your post doesn’t accurately reflect the love you have for your wife, but that makes me wonder if you express that love so poorly here, how well do you do in person.

    Refusal is wrong and harmful to marriage. I feel horrible for the pain I inflicted on my husband for those years. Thankfully my husband feels horrible for the ways he “didn’t love you the way I should have”. Those were his words to me just last night.

    If you feel like I’ve been a little hard on you here, think of it as tough love.

    Be blessed,

  11. @Nunia Bizness – hello, another husband chiming in here now again. Concerning many of your comments, I could not have said them better and they relate so closely to my marriage, too.
    In brief: my question to current and former controllers and refusers
    ( be they husbands or wives): why did you want to get married and how did you envision a loving and mutually enthusiastic marriage would be ?

  12. I wanted to get married to spend my life with the man I love. I didn’t anticipate having any problems with sex. Unfortunately I’d had plenty of sex outside marriage and didn’t realize what a problem it was. I also didn’t anticipate that my husband wouldn’t know how to love me the way he should anymore than I anticipated that I wouldn’t know how to love him the way I should.
    Sometimes when I hear husbands that are refused talking about their wives, it seems they think that it’s some kind of conspiracy or like their wife purposely chose/is choosing to “defraud” them of their rights to sex. While I really empathize and sympathize with your pain, you should remember that your wives are also in pain. It’s painful to know how hurt/angry/bitter/resentful you are making your husband. Knowing you are broken, but feel unable to fix yourself. To feel you can’t trust the one person in the world you should be able to trust because he may or may not have your best interest at heart.
    Whether her feelings are an accurate reflection of what is happening in the marriage or not, the feelings are very real for her. She may have things influencing her feelings about sex that she is unaware of. She may really feel there’s just nothing that will help her. While she may put up a front that she doesn’t care and that the problem is your’s, I think many of us cared deeply, but didn’t feel safe enough to let that show. That might lead to more hurt and more hounding to change.
    The bottom line I think is that she’s protecting herself from more pain. Some of that pain you probably didn’t cause. But some you did. I think women have a harder time with “just get over it”. We can’t just put our feelings in a box and shut it. Everything is connected with everything else so it needs to be worked through in loving relationship. That can be difficult I’m sure when you’re sexually frustrated, but “JUST LIVE! Have fun. Take chances. So what!!”

  13. Trixie –
    You did read more into my post than exists in reality. I would like to make it clear that I did NOT call my wife “stupid”.
    [Text removed here]
    I think people keep getting hung up on about sexual refusal when in fact I think it all starts within the heart. I could almost care less about the sex refusal when it comes to the witnessing the stubborness of the heart. All I request is “WORK ON OUR MARRIAGE”!
    I’m not in the wrong about that.
    So is it ok that men have to put their feelings shut away in a box? Because that’s what happens when woman continually control the scene. How long does a guy live with that? It’s insanity. A guy has to be delicate with a woman’s emotions but a man hasn’t any emotions or it’s ok if his emotions get dismissed and/or trampled on everyday of his married existence?
    Maybe I’m just growing more callouse. I’ve been dealing with controlling aspect for 27 years. The roller coaster is getting old. I don’t enjoy the ride. I don’t enjoy feeling like I’ve been beat up everyday. [Text removed] However, I’m supposed to keep my chin up and maybe that neglect and abuse will stop.
    You should try this… you should try that… no one can change another person but you can only change you….
    Ya know, all of those statements are like sending a “get well soon” card to a funeral.
    All I ask of her at this point is to read articles, books, watch videos that have to do with marriage.
    She is and always will be my best friend. We’re great roommates.

    1. You should try this… you should try that… no one can change another person but you can only change you….
      Ya know, all of those statements are like sending a “get well soon” card to a funeral.

      So what would you like us to say instead?

      It isn’t okay that men’s emotions are dismissed or trampled on, and no one has done that here. The replies you’ve gotten have been the honest perspective of women who have lived in your wife’s shoes. The pain of refusal is deep and difficult to express. In what ways have you communicated your emotions to your wife in a way that she can hear?

      I’ve asked you what you have done to help her want to make changes, and instead of answering the question, you deflect it and complain. Yes, it is all on her to change. But I haven’t seen you describe any of your own efforts to improve your relationship other than tell her to work on the marriage and read things. A relationship involves two people. There is no guarantee that effort on your part will result in what you want, or in the time frame you would like. However, it would allow you to know that you truly made the effort, and it would demonstrate to your wife in a very real way that you value the marriage and that you are willing to work as well. Are you making it easier for your wife to consider changing, or are you making it harder?

      The purpose of this blog is to support women who are trying to make the changes that you want your wife to make. I think it is helpful for women reading this to understand the depths of the feelings, which is why I’ve approved your comments up to this point on this post.It is not helpful to simply come here and complain. This blog is not a place for men to vent. If all you want is to hear us say, “Oh, your wife is horrible. You poor man!” you’ll be waiting for a long time. I want your wife to change her behavior–not for your sake, but for hers and for the sake of your marriage.

      It is not helpful for women who want to change to come here and see a man simply complaining. You can ask questions that you want honest answers to. You don’t have to like the responses. But it is important that you stay respectful and loving of your wife. I’ve removed some text from your last comment where I felt this was not the case.

      I am sorry for the pain you are experiencing. I am also sorry for the pain your wife is experiencing. If you are both so wrapped up in your own pain and misery and unwilling to be the first one to take a step toward healing and generosity, nothing will ever change.

  14. For whatever reason this website causes my cursor to jump around a lot; as a result I just lost my initial reply. I am not going to type it all over again.
    I apologize profusely if I am causing anyone here to become rattled. I tend to joke around a bit and sometimes throw some poetic language here n there especially when it comes to heavy issues.
    Understand that my entire 27 years with my wife have been well… lets just say interesting. I’ve attempted just about everything and anything in hopes of making our marriage better. One person cannot do a two person job.
    All I ask is that she pay some attention to our marriage. Doing nothing is NOT an option. We’re living like roommates and it’s silly. She a great friend. I wished she was a great wife. Unfortunately, SHE has to choose that for our relationship. Currently, if she would just read articles or books or watch videos …. ANYTHING that assists marriage that would be a HUGE step for our marriage relationship. If I hint around nothing happens. If I submit a link to an article online she becomes angry because it’s as though I’m pushing her. If I try to openly discuss things she attempts to ignore me then move on to another topic of become engaged in something to occupy herself.
    Again I deeply apologize if I’ve stirred the waters here.
    I am a little surprised that I’m seeing so much tension though.
    Chris I greatly appreciate the time you put into this. I am amazed at all of your efforts! Keep it up.

  15. I have a question I’ve not seen covered in the comments. I’ll be direct. I’m afraid to give over control because I know if I do, my husband would try to have anal sex. This is a no go for me as I believe it is akin to sodomy and therefore sinful. 4 years ago, he admitted to being addicted to porn for over a decade. We’ve worked through this, but I can’t help but think that his desires are sometimes still shaped by porn. What is your opinion?

    1. Jewel, that is a tough question.

      First, let me suggest that you set aside the anal sex issue for just a moment (although I completely understand how hard that is to do!). My post wasn’t about specific sex acts as much as it was about controlling every little aspect of our sex life–timing, lighting, positions, etc. Talk with your husband about control and trust. The process of you letting go of control can go hand in hand with him demonstrating that he can be completely trusted in the marriage bed. Talk with him about what that means for you. And share what kinds of things would feel like a betrayal. Perhaps you could come up with a nice long list of acts and say that for the next three months, you are going to work on letting go of control and he is going to promise to stay within that list so you can build trust and get comfortable with not being in control of the marriage bed. Even if everything on the list is pretty vanilla, it would be a good first step–and if your husband understands that it is a first step and not your end goal, it might be easier for him to go along with it.

      Second, although you say you’ve worked through the porn, I don’t think you have. If you are still afraid that his desires are shaped by porn, then you may still have some healing to do in that area. Your concern is very common, unfortunately. Here’s the thing about porn: although it is unrealistic and objectifying, the acts in porn are nothing new. People desired those acts before anyone every depicted them in art or video. Some women have been successful in approaching it this way: even if the initial desire came from porn, a husband’s desire to do that act is because he wants to do it with her. It is still about wanting her. Many men like a sense of adventure and enjoy doing new things–not because their wives aren’t good enough but because it’s fun to do new things, and who better to do them with than his wife? If we refused to do anything that is in porn, no one would ever have sex at all.

      Although my husband has not been an avid porn viewer, there was a time during our marriage when he was watching fairly regularly–and he began to do some new things in the marriage bed that I didn’t really like. Sometimes, I think he’d seen it and thought, Hey, that looks fun! Other times, he saw how much the woman on the screen was enjoying the act (forgetting that she was acting) and it stuck in his mind that maybe this new thing was the trick to getting me to like sex more. There are times even now when he does something that I know he got from porn (although he may not even realize it). I have made a choice not to dismiss something just because he got the idea from porn–but sometimes that isn’t so easy. I remind myself in those moments that he is with me and that I am the woman he wants to please. Even if he initially got the idea from elsewhere, at that moment, I am the only woman in his mind.

      Third, you and your husband need to have a good conversation (outside the bedroom) about anal sex. Many Christians do not agree that the bible says it is sin. Also, it is hard to know whether it is actually as harmful as some studies have indicated, since most of those studies have been with homesexual men in non-monogamous relationships. Ask your husband to help you understand his desire–and truly listen to him. In another conversation, share your concerns and beliefs about anal sex. Pray specifically about this act together–that God will show you both whether this is okay, that he will help you both come to agreement, and that he will bless your marriage bed.

      Although I don’t agree that anal sex is sin, I also don’t think this automatically means that a woman is required to have anal sex with her husband. A man who continues to pressure his wife for something she feels so strongly about is not being loving. Likewise, a wife who refuses to re-evaluate her beliefs and think about the possibility is not being loving, either. (Note that I am not saying that re-evaluation will lead to a different opinion. I just think it’s important to look back at what the bible says and be certain that it says what we’ve always assumed it has.) It’s a tough thing. I’ve written about a process for trying to think through an act that you really resist in this post. It may be that you work through the process and still say no–but the process of working through it can sometimes open up other options that can work for both spouses.

      Here are posts on a couple other marriage blogs that address anal sex:

      The Generous Husband
      Hot, Holy & Humorous

      Giving up control in the marriage bed doesn’t mean that you are giving up the right to consent. It means that you and your husband share in the control and look for ways to please each other. Sometimes, this might mean that you try something you aren’t interested in. Other times, it means you set aside the desire for something that would be upsetting to your spouse.

      1. Thank you for your prompt and thoughtful reply. You’ve given me a lot of things to think and pray about. I really appreciate your godly input. Blessings

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