Does the Way You Avoid Sex Add to the Emotional Disconnection?

Is the way you avoid sex adding to the emotional disconnection in your marriage?

My hormones have been wonky lately as I head into menopause. Part of this has included an increase in vivid dreams. Sometimes the dreams relate to what I write about on this blog.

Recently I had such a dream that has stayed with me.

I was in a house where I used to live. Into the room walked a man. He was one of the husbands who have written to me over the past few years—a man who is articulate and expressive in discussing the emotional disconnection he experiences in the face of his wife’s constant avoidance of sex.

He sat down and watched me, saying nothing.

I glanced up from what I was doing. I put down what was in my hands.

“How are you?” I asked.

He began to weep. “My wife avoids me so much,” he said, “that I can’t remember the last time she asked me how I was. My own wife doesn’t care how I am.”

At that point in my dream, his wife walked into the room, took one look at him, said that he must be complaining about sex again, rolled her eyes, and walked away.

Having been the wife who often rolled her eyes and walked away, I saw myself in this woman. I understood the feelings of annoyance and anxiety when a husband is expressing dissatisfaction about the marriage in general or about sex in particular. I understood how a man’s tears can feel like an attempt at manipulation. I understood the pressure that a wife can feel about sex.

In my dream, I saw myself in the wife—and I also saw the husband. His words stayed with me long after I woke up.

I can’t remember the last time she asked me how I was.


It got me thinking about how I’d treated Big Guy.

Avoiding sex became a special talent. With all the attention I put into avoiding sex, I was probably more sex-focused than I accused my husband of being.

Feeling guilty about giving a direct “no,” I preferred to prevent him from asking me altogether. I was preemptive by making him feel guilty about pressuring me, making him feel bad about himself, or letting an argument develop where none needed to be.

I minimized visual stimulation in order to not give him any ideas about sex. I donned my “don’t touch me” pajamas, low-cut tops were a thing of the past, I stopped wearing anything he complimented me on, and I made sure I didn’t bend over in his presence (or, if bending was unavoidable, I would angle my body in a way that would minimize his view).

These preemptive strikes were directly related to our sexual connection, but there was something else I did that was worse:

I avoided communicating any care or concern at all for Big Guy.


I can’t remember the last time she asked me how I was.

At one time, my husband could have said these same words.

I was afraid that if Big Guy thought that I really cared about how he was doing, he might see it as an open door to sex. Protecting myself from sex had become more important than treating my husband with more than a distant civility.

I thought I was just avoiding sex—but my approach to avoiding sex hurt my husband’s heart as much as the sexual disconnection itself did.

My husband rarely heard me express care or concern for him. I can’t imagine what it is like to go through the day, day after day, never hearing your life partner caring about how you are—yet that was his reality for quite a while.

In Matthew 7:12, Jesus tells us, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” I had failed at the golden rule with my own husband.

The husband in my dream showed me what my husband must’ve felt for so long. He wept the tears of a man who was lonely and knew that he always would be. He had a look in his eyes that I had often seen in Big Guy’s eyes—a look that spoke of sadness, loneliness, and feeling unlovable. It is a look I wish I could un-see.

In my dream, the man’s wife left the room. I saw what the man, in his own sorrow, could not.

On the other side of the door, she dropped to the floor, arms wrapped around her knees, her own eyes full of pain and tears. She, too, as lost and lonely, feeling unloved and unlovable. Her avoidance of sex to the point of avoiding any expression of concern or caring had deprived her of the same things she denied her husband.

In my strategic avoidance of sex, I eliminated almost all pathways of emotional connection with my husband. Why would a man who feels his wife doesn’t love him want to reach out to her?

I craved emotional intimacy yet made it impossible to find.

Like the wife in my dream, I often sat alone, full of sorrow and oblivious to the fact that I was preventing the emotional connection for which I yearned.


Wives who avoid sex often do so for reasons that are complicated and difficult to understand.

The process of untangling it all can be overwhelming and slow. It may take a while just to decide to even make the attempt to work through it all.

If you are still trying to figure out how to work on sex, you may be employing the same avoidance strategies that I once did.

Even if you aren’t yet ready to commit to addressing sex, I want to encourage you to consider this question:

Is your avoidance of sex interfering with non-sexual connection as well?

Is the way you avoid sex adding to the emotional disconnection in your marriage? Are you inadvertently making things worse?


Asking your husband how he is won’t solve problems of emotional disconnection—but it can be a step in the right direction.

Most husbands find that sexual connection is the pathway to emotional connection with their wives. Words of love and concern without sexual action seem hollow—but imagine what it is like to not even hear the words.

Speaking the words of care and concern are as much about you as they are about your husband. Small acts of love and care can lead to regular habits that can lead to real, lasting heart change.

Speaking words of care can help your heart grow in genuine love and care for your husband.

Next time you see your husband, make an attempt to connect. Pause. Look him in the eyes. Ask him, “How are you?” And then open your heart to listen to his.

Could your husband be the one who sat and sobbed in my dream? Could you be the wife who sat and cried on the other side of the closed door?

Even if you aren’t yet ready to reach out and touch your husband, perhaps you can at least reach out and ask him how he is. Keep the emotional pathway open.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

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11 Comments on “Does the Way You Avoid Sex Add to the Emotional Disconnection?”

  1. Thanks for writing this. Somehow, to read you words gives me the slightest hope that my wife will one day open her eyes and see what she, we, are missing. The past 15 years have been a long season for us as my wife withdrew more and more emotionally, then physically. Three years ago she left completely. I still meet with her weekly to try and salvage something, anything. But she is unable to get free from the invisible bonds holding her. She is trapped in the pain and the darkness of some unresolved emotional trauma. I know that my task is to keep trying to love someone who acts like they don’t want to be loved (I know she needs love more than anything else.) But how do you love someone who pushes all attempt at love away.
    I write today because of the inner pain that I live with, my own personal pain from experiencing rejection and abandonment, my kids pain of living with parents whose marriage covenant seems to be failing, and the pain of my friends and family who don’t have any answers for us.

    I can completely identify with the husband in your dream. I cannot recall how many times I have cried, pleeded, begged for her just to smile at me, to open up and tell me what the issues are, to let me know what I need to do so we can be reconciled! But she is in-prisoned by an inner demon that hold her mind captive and mouth shut. Wives who read these articles, I beg you, get the healing that YOU need in YOUR soul. I imagine that your husband has made mistakes. But his humanity is not the real issue. He is not the reason for your pain. Your pain is something that exists inside of your own soul. Take your eyes off of his short comings and look deep into the pain of your own life. Allow the “Comforter” to lead you into your pain to find healing that only God can provide.

    1. So much marital pain grows out of our own deep issues. I’m sorry that your wife is in such deep bondage that you have become trapped as well. Your wife needs healing for her own sake, regardless of what happens with the marriage. I will pray for both of you.

  2. Every time I read anything from “The Forgiven Wife” I cry. It makes me think, it says what I need to hear. How is that? God knows what I need, that is how that is. I don’t know what made me cry more the words and wisdom of Chris or the above response from Rick Moyer. Thank you both. As I wipe away the tears that is all I can say. Thank you. Thank you for helping me see the light.

    1. I hope these are tears of healing. God often guides us to the things we need to read. Praying for you to use what you have read to bring you and your marriage closer to God.

  3. Thanks Chris. You have a real ministry of the Lord to women. The healing of the church starts in marriage and you are helping cleanse the wound and exposing to the light of the Word and Spirit. Blessings in the all powerful Name of Jesus. Dave

  4. Emotional disconnect leads to all kinds of disruption in the marriage up to and including divorce . Men are not as strong emotionally as women want us to be but honesty between the two can be instrumental in getting around that weakness . Two are stronger than one , it’s not all about sex . I’m almost 69 (pardon the erotic inference) and sex simply is not what it used to be, but closeness, intimacy, knowing I’m wanted and cared for is still major .

  5. Is there truly emotional connection via sex if only one spouse feels it? I hear men say they want their wives to desire them, to enjoy sex, to initiate, etc., etc., etc., BECAUSE they want the emotional connection. But if sex is not how she feels emotionally connected, if sexual pleasure is purely physical for her, if he feels connected but she doesn’t, then what?

    1. I would say this was true to an extent when I began working on sexual intimacy. At first, sex did absolutely nothing emotionally for me. However, after I got into good habits with sex, i was able to think about how much my husband would feel loved from what we were doing. During sex, I would make a point of thinking about the emotional value to him and to our marriage of being a fully present sexual partner. Over time, I found that these thoughts about loving my husband and him feeling connected to me began to weave themselves into my own sexual response. Eventually, I began to feel that emotional connection because my sexual response tugged on all of those threads.

      If only one spouse is feeling the emotional connection, I still think it is a true emotional connection–even if it isn’t simultaneous and mutual. There are times when I feel emotionally connected to my husband because he sent me a funny text or because I feel really heard during a conversation. He may not be feeling particularly connected, even though I very much do.

      Maybe full emotional connection is something that builds over time, with both spouses making a point of meeting each other’s emotional needs.

      1. My experience has been similar and the way you describe it makes more sense than the “a + b = c” type comments I sometimes see. Some indicate that if sex is frequent and the wife initiates, enjoys, orgasms, everything about their relationship is immediately, almost magically, wonderful. As if it is a linear process rather than an organic process. In my experience, sex isn’t in and of itself the emotional connection, but facilitates the process of emotional connection. Likewise, the lack of sex prohibits the process of emotional connection. Thanks for humoring my tendency to over-analyze.

  6. Wow, I could have been the husband in your dream, and I’m pretty sure you might have been describing my wife as well. We were both trapped in our own little world of hurt and isolation. I am so blessed that we have moved a great distance from that place, but the ghosts still haunt me from time to time, when a text isn’t responded to, or a phone call is neither answered nor returned. It takes a deliberate effort on my part to believe that she is busy, or left her phone at home. Thankfully, I am home so much more that in the past, and while I occasionally feel like I am in competition with the TV, the pets, or.the neighbors, we do spend a great deal of time actually enjoying each others company instead of living separate lives under the same roof, and that gives me strength thru the times when I might find myself despairing. I know that what was once very real, is now just a fear that I have inside myself. Still, the effects linger, and I do wish she would be more.deliberate.

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