Silver Linings


It was bound to happen sooner or later. I wrote something that caused some women to feel hurt. I felt heartsick. I questioned a whole lot about myself. I was deluged with comments and hurtful emails.

There was a storm, and I was caught in the middle without an umbrella.

I’ve thought and prayed about whether I should write about this. I decided to do so because of the comments. Rising from the anger and bitterness of some comments were important questions:

What is our responsibility when neglect or sin from a spouse hurts us? What obligations do we have in marriage? What rights do we have in marriage? What is the Christian response when a spouse tries to interfere with those rights? Whose rights matter more? When you sin against your husband in marriage, how would you like him to address this with you?

I hope to discuss some of these questions in future posts. I have some research and learning to do before that, so it may be a while.

Although I am not ready to address these questions now, I want to honor the time these readers took to make such passionate comments. I’ve never had so many comments on a post before, and in between the attacks on the post and the support for it, I saw conversation and insight begin to emerge.

Although I doubt that many (if any) of the commenters will be coming back to see this post, it seems irresponsible for me to just carry on as though nothing happened.


Some women were quite angry. For those coming from backgrounds of trauma, abuse, or oppressive church teachings, I can understand that. We all read through the lenses of our own experiences. While I understand why these readers saw what they did, I didn’t actually say most of the things I was accused of. I certainly didn’t mean to say what they believe they read.

Being misunderstood is one of those deep issues for me, and so is being liked. As the angry comments and hurtful emails began to roll in, I wanted to go in and soften everything I’d said. I wanted to explain myself over and over until I knew they understood me. Although I did attempt to clarify a few things, I decided it was important not to dilute the truth (more about that later) just to be liked—not that I could say anything that would change anyone’s opinion.

Language matters. I acknowledge that I was not careful enough in my language. I could have used “might” and “many” more, and I could have added more qualifiers and links back to other posts that address things from a refusing wife’s point of view (that always feels self-serving but I guess it’s necessary).  I could have qualified more in specific places rather than stating once or twice that I was generalizing. I could have added a disclaimer, saying that I was writing about marriages with generally good-willed spouses—marriages without abuse, addiction, or unrepentant sin in the background.

Rather than go in and rewrite the post with these things in mind, I have added them into the original post in a different color, making transparent what I have changed. Pretending I’d written something other than what I did seems disingenuous.

Both in the comments made on my post and in a few other blogs, I have been blamed for guilting women into thinking they need to be sexually available 24/7, saying that wives have no rights, accusing women who never give oral sex of being in sin, and spiritually abusing my readers.

Accusations of spiritual abuse should never be made lightly. (Another post I wrote recently was labeled as spiritually abusive for saying that premarital sex is sin.) These accusations shouldn’t be taken lightly, either, so I will be reviewing the post looking for places where that might have come through although it wasn’t my intention. Please know that I will be in prayer about that.

I can understand why some things in the post have been interpreted as they have been. I really do. In fact, I agree with many of the comments. I just disagree that what they are responding to is what is actually said in the post.

It is somewhat laughable. I still consider myself a feminist (although not by the standards of many feminists) and am definitely more liberal than conservative on most things. When men write to me to complain about their wives, I am always pulling things out of their messages to show them areas where they clearly have some work to do on themselves. I do not think that a spouse should be made to feel guilty about wanting to feel rested or about wanting to have some pleasure, too. And when I’m not careful, I have pretty salty language. I am horrified at some of the ideas and movements I am being compared to. My guess is that some of the commenters might actually like me in real life.

The storm was swirling around me—and in the middle of the week, I walked home from work in the pouring rain. It felt like a perfect metaphor for what I was experiencing with the responses to that post. I felt bedraggled, in body and spirit.


But . . .

Although I wish I had said some things differently, I stand by the core of what I said—not because I believe it is God’s truth but because it is a truth about how many men experience long-term sexual rejection from their wives.

  • I didn’t make it up. Every single one of the six things I list in that post has shown up time and time again in communication from sexually refused husbands. While their words don’t speak for all men, they speak the truth for many husbands.
  • The post does not say, “and therefore, go forth and do differently because if you don’t, you’re a bad wife and you’re in sin and should be ashamed of yourself.”
  • It does say, “Open your heart to your husband. If you frequently say `no’ or `not like that,’ please seek the courage to ask your husband if he has experienced these six things in your marriage.”
  • There are some who believe that marriage grants automatic and constant sexual consent; I am not one of them. I believe that wives have a right to say “no.”
  • Likewise, I believe that husbands have a right to feel hurt when they are sexually rejected. Having the right to say “no” does not erase the right of someone else to feel hurt when we do so.
  • Guilt is “a bad feeling caused by knowing or thinking that you have done something bad or wrong.” The purpose of that post was not to evoke feelings of guilt; it was to evoke feelings of empathy. In all my posts about how husbands experience refusal, my goal is to help refusing wives develop empathy for their husbands. If someone’s words convict you that you have done something bad or wrong, then guilt is an appropriate response. If you are not convicted that you have done something bad or wrong, then there can be no guilt.
  • With rights come responsibilities. When our past trauma interferes with the ability to fully participate in marriage, we have a responsibility to do some work on ourselves—not so our husbands can have more sex but so we can have healthy and joyful marriages.
  • 1 Corinthians 13 tells us not what we should expect from others but how our love for others should look. Wives should be able to expect their husbands to be loving toward them. Husbands should do things for their wives out of love and not out of a desire for sex. I am not writing to husbands, though. That is for them to hear from others. 1 Corinthians 13 is not a weapon or a defense. It is a set of instructions to us.
  • There is such a thing as sin. It is not spiritual abuse to point out what we believe the Bible says about sin. I do have a couple posts in which I say that refusal is sin. These posts specify that I am referring to a pattern of refusal, not an occasional “no,” that women who are working to heal from sexual trauma are not in sin when they say “no” for the sake of their own healing (although saying “no” and not working on the healing may be a sin), and that “no” in the face of major relationship problems in order to be able to address those problems is not included when I say I believe refusal is sin.


So where’s the silver lining in all this?

Several readers have contacted me to share that the post and ensuing comments have provided an occasion for them to discuss marriage with their spouses. While I am saddened that anyone was hurt reading what I wrote, it is good that it encouraged conversations about marriage.

Regardless of whether your reaction to the post was positive or negative, I encourage you to use it as a starting point for a conversation with your husband about your sex life and how you both view marriage.

How does your husband feel about your sex life? Is there something you could be doing differently?

What is our responsibility when neglect or sin from a spouse hurts us? What obligations do we have in marriage? What rights do we have in marriage? What is the Christian response when a spouse tries to interfere with those rights? Whose rights matter more? When you sin against your husband in marriage, how would you like him to address this with you?

Search your Bible (not blogs or marriage books) and spend some time in prayer about marriage. Ultimately, the way you live as a wife in your marriage is between you and God. Be sure to include Him as you think about these important questions.

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25 Comments on “Silver Linings”

  1. This is a perfect follow-up. I hope it’s received with as much love as it was written.

    Seems to me this is a good example of how Christian’s respond to criticism. Even when it’s not deserved.

    Well done!

  2. I’m sorry you were misunderstood by so many, and hope that those who responded harshly will take a good look at what you wrote and how they responded. Hurt often causes us to distort what we see and hear, but you, Chris, should not blanch from sharing what men are telling you or God is leading you to.
    I did my share of gate-keeping, and had no one to mentor or set a good example for me. By God’s grace, and the power of His Word, I am becoming a God-honoring wife. My husband endured much heartache at my hands, but has graciously forgiven me, and still loves me well. Your blog is an encouragement and a reminder to me to give my all in my marriage; for my husband and for myself.
    (Since when is pre-marital sex not a sin?!)

    1. Thank you for your comment. To be completely fair, my own hurt in this process may have distorted what I have seen and heard. That is part of why I will not be reviewing the post in question for a while yet. I want to be in a place where I can more easily see with eyes unclouded by my own emotions.

      I appreciate your encouragement. I rejoice that you are working to become a better wife. May God bless the growth in your marriage.

  3. I am really surprised that your post generated such a “poop” storm of comments! As a guy, when I read the “Six things” post, I was really jealous that a woman could have such a thorough understanding of men and how we think! You pretty much nailed it. I guess it’s a difficult truth for some people, but in the end, the truth always wins.

    Now, if you could write a similar blog post that lets us men understand completely how women think, that would be great :-).

    Don’t let any negative comments drag you down. Anyone who has a goal to build stronger families is going to come under attack by the enemy. Your blog is great!

    Now, I will go away and let you women carry on, please pretend I am not here! :-).

  4. As I read the comments again, I have concluded that some of the women & one man who were offended are current refusers or at the very least are gatekeepers, and are in denial. Maybe they saw more into what you wrote because they heard the message before elsewhere, and conviction is setting in. Sometimes the truth hurts. It was a way to say their peace, trying to justify their sin. A couple of gals in particular have serious issues. Brianna isn’t even married and perhaps lacking life’s experiences. Why is she even responding on this blog? I pray my sons never marry women who are refusers/gatekeepers. Oh, by the way, I was raped when I was 16. Even issues like that can be worked on and be resolved. There is no excuse for putting your husband on the no schedule.

    Did you notice how the men who are in sexless marriages responded? They were grateful for you to address how they feel. They said you nailed it. Wow! You have such a gift!

    Your blog helps Christian women as they walk closer to a Godly marriage by honoring their husbands the way God intended. If they are saying no more than yes, or if the spouse has stopped asking for sexual intimacy, then it’s time to repent. I can easily see how women who don’t follow scriptures would be offended, especially unsaved gatekeepers. It’s so easy to get into a the mode of “What about me?” and “Why not have my needs met first?” and “Me, me, me, it’s what I want.” Jesus never had that attitude and neither should we. It sounds like entitlement to me. I dislike the word entitlement more than the word gatekeeping. It’s just something to think about.

    What I saw going back and forth in the comments section was gatekeeper/refuser attitudes and men who live an unhappily married life as a result of that type of attitude. It was a moment in time to see both sides conflict because they are truly on opposite sides. That you Sandi for it was a joy to read your responses. There was very good Godly comments from others as well.

    I have nothing but love for you, Chris. {{{{HUGS}}}} I got your back. Please consider some of those comments/emails as just static. The truth sometimes hurts to the gatekeeper/refuser, but that is what you address here on your blog. The truth will set them free. Keep on, keepin’ on.

    1. Some of the women who commented have been in difficult situations from what I understand. Healing is hard when a spouse is a major part of the problem, and I can’t imagine what that experience is like.

      That does not excuse us from working on ourselves. We can maintain healthy boundaries and still find ways to be giving and caring while we work on our own growth. For most of my marriage, I was caught up in an attitude of entitlement. I was selfish and unloving, and as I began to thinking about my husband and not just myself, our marriage began to improve.

      My prayer is that we all see what God wants us to see.

      Thank you for your encouraging comment.

  5. I really am encouraged by your heart for The Lord. As a previous disobedient wife I too was angry with God requiring soo much of me. I avoided, made excuses, lied, anything to hide my sin of pride. Really I deserve hell, and by His Grace I see that now. I cry have mercy on me a sinner. Keep on pushing forward! I do have a question now that I’m more in sex he is less interested? I do not want to be controlling or usurping so I let it go and give it to God. Any bible verses will help thanks 🙂

    1. Heavy heart, your marriage is in my prayers. I understand that the uninterested sex aspect, on his part, is a typical response. The change in pattern is making him wonder about things. His response could be a way to protect his heart. I have very little experience in this area, and I’m only repeating what I’ve read.

      Oh honey, I hear your hurting heart. Please understand that God sees you through the eyes of Jesus. You are one of His. Take comfort in knowing that God will see you through this journey.

      Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…

      Interestingly enough, the word “now” was inserted in there for our benefit. It means the present state. If you asked forgiveness and repented, then your past sins have been forgiven. It’s a done deal, as far as the Lord’s perspective is concerned. God does not keep tallies and neither should you. Your walk, from here forward is a new journey. Continue to love and respect you husband. Be unwavering with your love for your husband, the way God loves us.

      I don’t know your history, but from what I was reading, these things take time. Thank you for the update. Just know that your marriage is in my prayers.

    2. The Bible verse that helps me in just about everything is Psalm 46:10: Be still, and know that I am God. I appreciate that reminder that I just need to settle myself down and be still–and that God has a plan and looks out for me even when I am hurting.

      It takes time for husbands to heal from sexual refusal. I had trained my husband to try to suppress his sexual feelings, and it takes time to unlearn that. Plus, if a man is experiencing less sexual desire because of medical conditions or medication, I thing that may slow down some of the healing. When you say he is less interested, does that mean that he is initiating less? Or do you initiate and he is now the one avoiding sex?

      1. Thanks FaraboveRubies and Chris for the scripture verses. 🙂 Sets my affections above. I can understand the refusal pattern that was ingrained in our marriage bed. Along with a load of other issues I caused from my sin. Hes a young healthy man, and hes not iniating for months. I sense we need to be together (time,mood changes and time of month coming) and he has been thinking possibly I could be controlling? is that possible to be controlling in the marraige bed? He will say Im ok but if you need something. It sounds like the wording i used with him for years. Its hard to communicate this in writing but we are having sex, but mostly by me. I like that promise Ruby. Walking by the Spirit sets us free. By Gods grace I shall wait upon The Lord! It’s a daily hourly choice to be thankful for all circumstances. Its a new journey everyday as my mind is being renewed in the light of His word. Thanks for praying for me. I need it.

  6. I read the post you’re referring to before all the comments you mentioned, so was unaware of how nasty things got. I’m sorry all that animosity was directed at you, It is completely undeserved. I believe your ministry here helps many husbands and wives understand each other better.I pray that the reaction to your posts do not dissuade you from sharing your perspectives on marriage and intimacy. I have learned a lot about my own wife from your posts.

    May God bless and keep you.

  7. You should see so many comments, both negative and positive, as affirmation that you are doing what God is calling you to. I follow tour blog and find comfort in knowing that there are others ‘brothers’ who understand that I feel in my life. If you are getting such a response, I believe to are hitting home with some truths. In time those who were negative to your comments may begin ti see some part of themselves in so of what you have written. If that is the case, healing can then begin to happen.
    God bless you,

  8. I would be complimented, if I were you. Being under attack like that clearly means you’ve hit a sore point, which means you’ve hit the nail on the head, so to speak. Which means you are right. I am sorry for the stress that this has caused you, but you are doing a good work and as with Sheila Wray Gregoire’s website, being under attack means a good work is being done. I know that you have assisted me greatly in changing my thinking and I know I have still a long way to go, but I am grateful (very grateful) for the insight you have given me on my journey to the wife that God wants me to be. And for that I thank you. You are right – it is between a wife (or husband) and God. But blogs like yours often help to point us in the right direction…

  9. I felt bad for pointing out that the original post had accidentally got deleted and when it was restored, all heck broke out in the comments. I saw it when I was on vacation, I was up late one night with my head spinning from a time when I desperately wanted to connect with my wife while on vacation, but am stuck in the refusal loop of hell. The post spoke to me that night, it was very very relate-able to me and I bookmarked it to hopefully share one day with my wife. The thing I like most about this blog, is I finally feel like someone understands. I don’t feel quite as alone and hopeless. I feel like some day, maybe, things have a chance of getting better. I found this blog on one of my darkest hours, when I had no hope and was feeling like divorce was my only course of action. It may still come down to that but at least this helps me understand my feelings, as well as what my wife is going through at the same time. It has at the very least softened my heart a little to see that she is most likely in pain about this too although she may not know exactly why yet. Keep doing what your doing Chris, and know that for every negative comment, there maybe another person silently reading your words that your helping give that last little glimmer of hope to. That person at least feels like they are understood by someone out there, even if it is a complete stranger on the other end of a keyboard halfway across the world. If God helped you and softened your heart, maybe someday he will find my wife and help her as well!

  10. I am a husband who was refused by my wife for almost three decades. I can confirm that Chris’ “6 Things” post is a very accurate description of the feelings a refused husband has. Actually I think it is the most accurate description I have ever read – it’s better than when we try to express it ourselves!

    The problem seems to be that very few (of those who attacked Chris) actually understood that Chris described husbands’ feelings and tried to argue that their feelings count and are valid. They seemed to think that it was all about wives losing all their rights and becoming enslaved. Chris never said anything like that.

    In many ways it is sad that (some) people have not been able to read Chris’ post for what it is: A description of men’s feelings! When, for instance, “becky” wrote (to women): “You are valuable, you have rights. You cannot take him to your bed unless it is your bed. You cannot offer him your body unless it is truly yours.” I have to say that I agree with her completely! Of course my wife is VERY valuable and she has rights. Of course it is HER bed and HER body, and she has all the rights in the world to say no. But the fact that she CHOSE to say no and NOT take me to her bed and NOT to offer me her body was exactly what hurt tremendously! What validates Chris’ post is that it takes this hurt seriously and recognizes it as valid. This is something that I hardly think I have seen before (at least not where I live).

    On the other hand, it is obvious that several of those who attacked Chris did it from a state of deep hurt themselves. It is important to remember that those feelings are of course also valid and count just as much as the feelings of refused husbands. It seems that some of them have had very bad experience with men and it is very sad to see that there are men out there behaving in a way that has caused so much pain to those women.

  11. As some others have said, I think you stirred up some issues in some of your readers lives. Either issues they are aware of and aren’t ready to deal with it, or perhaps things they were aware of and are on the edge of conviction.

    Hopefully it will lead to refining and healing in their lives, but that is a process that always comes with pain, and the first thing we do when we feel hurt is generally either run away, or hit back.

    I’m proud of you Chris. Don’t stop poking at people’s sore spots…maybe they’ll finally go see a doctor…

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