How do you think a husband should respond when his wife won't have sex with him?

The Mark Gungor Show recently had a podcast that addressed how a husband should deal with a wife who won’t have sex with him. (You can find the podcast here; the bit I’m describing begins at around the 15-minute mark.)

As a wife who used to refuse to have much of a sexual relationship with her husband, I was curious about what the show would have to say. Read More →


Once I got the hang of not refusing, I was on a roll. No more “no” for me!

In some ways, it was easy—and got easier with time.  Many of the reasons I used to have for refusing had evaporated. As I met my husband’s emotional needs through sexual attention, it became easier for him to give me the emotional attention that I needed—and that made it easier for me to be sexual with him.

“No” was out of my vocabulary, and as our relationship healed, I didn’t miss it at all.

Read More →


A recent conversation with a friend reminded me of how overwhelming it can be to face the need to work on sexual intimacy in our marriages.

When we are in a habit of withholding sex from our husbands—no matter why the habit began or whether we’ve even been aware of it—the challenge can be daunting. Read More →

This blog exists for the support of Christian wives who have restricted the sexual activity in their marriages and want to change that. I write to help these women seek fulfilling intimacy in their marriages–for their own sake as much as for the sake of their husbands.

Non-Christian women, unmarried women, and Christian wives married to men in unrepentant sin against them may find some useful information on this blog and in this post–but most of what I say is not going to apply in their situations. Moreover, some of what I say may be very difficult to read as people process my words through the filter of their own hurt.

While I understand that this post has triggered strong reactions, it was never intended as an invitation to a debate. This blog exists for support and encouragement, not for confrontation.

I have allowed far too many comments here that I would not approve on any other post. I appreciate the strong feelings, and I know that while some women have come away from this feeling angry or oppressed, others have come away with new compassion.

If this is your first time seeing this post, I urge you to read the clarifications in blue, most of which were added to help new readers understand the context of a blog they may not have visited before. This is not, after all, a stand-alone post. It is part of a body of work that sometimes asks readers to consider their husbands’ views and quite often encourages them to grow in their own sexuality.

Every time the post is picked up and shared by a new site, it brings a new wave of comments, both positive and negative. I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, but I’ve seen far too many personal attacks on me and on those who have different views.

I want to make a flippant “my blog, my rules” reminder and be done with it, but that doesn’t sit well with me.

I believe that the lack of sexual intimacy hurts marriages. It is important that people have conversations about sex, consent, rights, and promises in marriage. Despite my frustrations with the comment section on this post (and on other blogs that have written about this post), I have seen such conversations happen.

I know that this post has helped spur conversations in real marriages. It has given husbands words to use in describing their emotional pain. It has given wives an understanding of why masturbation just doesn’t cut it for their husbands. Marriages have begun to heal, and for that I am grateful.

Frankly, though, managing the moderation on this post has made me weary. Waking up this morning to a comment that begins by calling me an idiot was the last straw.

Therefore, I have decided to close the comments.

If you need to share with me how this post has affected you, you are welcome to email me. If you want to engage in genuine dialogue, I will likely respond to your email. If all you want to do is attack me, I likely won’t.

June 3, 2015



Due to the comments on this post, I have attempted to clarify a few things. I have done so in blue font in order to be transparent about what I have added to the post. If you have not been to this blog before, you may not be aware of what this blog is about. The mission statement is available on the left side of the home page. For the convenience of anyone reading on a mobile device, here it is:

The mission of The Forgiven Wife is to encourage Christian wives as they break away from sexual refusing and gate-keeping. After 20 years of being a sexual gatekeeper and refuser, I have learned to dance with desire and enjoy the full intimacy that comes with passionate and joyful sex with my husband.

Please be kind in your comments. We can all respect the depth of feeling surrounding some of the issues discussed here. However, comments which are accusatory and disrespectful will not be approved. It is mean to heap hurt onto an already hurting person.

(There has been a question about when the clarifications in blue were added. This was done on September 11, 2014, to address issues raised in the comments. This note in red is being added on November 18, 2014, in response to an erroneous assumption about when and why the clarification was added.)

My refusing and gate-keeping developed over a period of years—but at no point during that time did I truly understand it was wrong.

Read More →


Four years ago, I was beginning to see that our marriage was not at all in a good place. My husband and I were having another argument about sex. There were so many arguments, with each of us on opposite sides. It’s your fault. No, it’s yours. You need to change. You’re the one who thinks it’s a problem so you need to change. Back and forth, we went, pitted against each other. Read More →


In A Moment of Hard Truth, I shared with you the moment when I realized what my sexual refusing and gate-keeping had done to my husband:

My husband’s anguish began to take shape in front of me. So many men wrote about how unloved they felt by the one person who they thought would love them the most. As I finally allowed myself to imagine how that would feel, I felt like my gut had been punched in. It was a moment of very hard truth.

This moment came when I had landed on the discussion forum at The Marriage Bed and began reading the collective voice of refused husbands. A reader recently suggested that I share specific posts from that site that influenced me, thinking that if they were so powerful that they affected me, they might also make a difference for other women. Read More →


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

Dear Sister in Christ,

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

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


We walk different paths on the way to and from sexual gate-keeping and refusing. While I’ve shared much of my own story here, my story is only one way this journey might look.

Today is the first of three posts from Janna Allen (a pseudonym) in which she opens her life to us to share how the journey has looked in her life. I am thrilled to be able to share Janna’s story with you.
Read More →


For nearly twenty years, I withheld sex from my husband—not all the time, but enough of the time that he developed an expectation of “no” rather than “yes” when he approached me for sexual activity. When I did agree, I imposed so many conditions (lighting, timing, activities and positions allowed, and so on)—and even then, it was more duty sex than anything mutually pleasurable.

Read More →


The Scales of Justice

One evening last month, I received several messages from a man who had found my blog. Unsigned (but with a valid email address), he proceeded to tell me what he saw in my posts:

  • I am a tool of Satan in hurting my husband.
  • In his failure to address the fact that we were unequally yoked, my husband “has given in to his own sense of damnation, deciding he doesn’t deserve any better.”
  • I view my compliance with my marriage vows as bestowing a blessing on my husband. I am a forgiven wife “for being kind to a pet that used to be a man.”
  • I am still married only because my husband surrendered and makes no choices. What I see as forgiveness is “nothing more than the mewling plea for mercy of a slave.”
  • I defrauded my husband of the purpose of marriage; I destroyed the marriage.
  • While I’m clear about the fact that I was wrong, I fail to admit that my husband (“the hapless man you cheated”) was right. I show no gratitude or respect. I show no contrition, and I broke my husband.
  • The only thing of value in my posts is “the caution that a self-centered woman remains so even when she starts acting otherwise.”
  •  I am the source of my husband’s eternal doom, I am forgiven by my husband only because every dog is happy at feeding time, and I haven’t groveled enough in apology to my husband.

He told me about a genre of fiction that focuses on revenge against cheating wives—women who intentionally defraud their husbands of sex, engage in affairs or casual sex with other men, and spend the money earned by their hard-working husbands. He told me, “More often, we men who read them fantasize about being strong enough to resist and reject the pleas for forgiveness of such wives.”

I briefly wondered why he’d included this information in his messages to me. After all, I didn’t cheat. I did, however, defraud my husband of what his marriage could and should have been for a long time. Still, isn’t it a little strong to compare that to blatant infidelity? To cheat is, among other things, to deprive of something expected. In marriage, sex is expected, so I couldn’t outright dismiss the comparison. The fact that his mind had made the connection between outright cheating and refusal stayed with me.

Reading this reader’s messages and a couple revenge stories I found online made my heart heavy. What happens that makes a man so bitter that he writes stories of such horrible revenge? What happens that makes a man see refusal as something comparable to infidelity? What is it about refusal that twists a knife in a man’s heart and lets hatred loose?

Which Is Better?

I recently invited husbands to participate in a survey about duty sex (sex in which the wife lies there waiting for it to be over rather than fully participating). (I’ve written about the results in several other posts, linked at the bottom of this one.)

One of the questions elicited evenly divided responses: Which is better—duty sex or no sex? I haven’t known what to make of the responses. Since I opened the survey, the ratio has been consistent. About half the men surveyed said they would prefer duty sex due to the need for a physical release and the occasional hope that they could persuade their wives to participate as they went along.

The fact that half the men said they would prefer no sex at all is what has me puzzled. It has forced me to recognize that for these men, sex clearly isn’t about just a physical release—and that’s what the other half of the respondents said, too, even though they preferred duty sex to no sex. Still, it is important to note that for half the men who did this survey, real, fully engaged sex is so fulfilling that a substitute for it is undesirable and unacceptable. When their wives don’t fully participate, these men feel deprived of what married sex should be.

They are deprived. They are cheated. It isn’t about the sexual release. They’re cheated of a deep emotional and transforming connection with their wives.

It is easy for women to underestimate what sex means to their husbands. Many of us may have a lower drive than our husbands. We may truly believe that our men think about sex too much. We have emotional connections in so many areas of our lives that we don’t see that for our husbands, the only emotional connection may be us. I think we get more non-sexual touch than men tend to as well. When we sexually refuse or restrict, we deprive our husbands–even if we don’t feel any deprivation at all.

Becoming Bitter

In an earlier post I wrote about what some of the men said in their survey comments, I wrote, “When we provide duty sex, we damage our husbands’ hearts.” I’d like to look at that same idea from a different perspective:

When we deprive our husbands of sex, we damage their hearts.

Sometimes, I think this damage happens right in front of my eyes. I see comments posted on various marriage blogs. I’ve looked at the #sexlessmarriage tweets on Twitter. I’ve seen the heartbreak conveyed in emails to me.

I see men who are full of despair. They say their wives’ sexual control (including gate-keeping and outright refusal) is the most difficult thing in their lives. They feel powerless, disrespected, unmanly. They plod through their days, feeling they’ve sacrificed so much of the joy they could have had. They have a roommate rather than a wife.

Some men work on themselves and try to be the best husbands they can, convinced that they have the power to change the sexual refusal. Other men may give up completely, resigned to a life without sex and all the deep emotional intimacy it brings. They come to terms with facing a shell of the life they should have. Some men make escape plans with the intention of leaving once the kids are out of the house, or their wives finish their degrees and become employable, or they pay down one more debt so they can afford a divorce. Or they stop caring for their health. They become careless with their lives, thinking that maybe they will escape the chains of the misery they’ve found in their marriages.

Or maybe they become very, very bitter. They fantasize about revenge.

A Sad Story

I think about the man who sent me the messages about how I broke my husband. I wonder what his story is. I’ve prayed for him several times to find peace, and to find God. I’ve prayed for him to see forgiveness and grace in his life.

What is it about refusal that twists a knife in a man’s heart and lets hatred loose?

When we deprive our husbands of sex, we damage their hearts.

At the end of one of his messages to me, this man with a damaged heart said, referring to my husband, “What a sad man, and sad story.”


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Other posts related to the survey:

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