Marriage Missions International

When a Wife Doesn’t Want to Have Sex

I’m going to approach this article a bit differently than others I’ve written because I feel a need to address both women and men on this matter, because it DOES matter. It’s a struggle, whether you’re the wife or the husband. Both feel very strongly about this part of their marriage.

I totally agree with something Dr Phil McGraw has said on his television program,

“Sex might not be everything but it registers higher (90 percent) on the ‘importance scale’ if it’s a source of frustration in your relationship. If your sex life is unfulfilled, it becomes a gigantic issue. On the other hand, couples that have satisfying sex lives rate sex at only 10 percent on the ‘importance scale.'” (From Ten Relationship Myths)

For both husband and wife, it’s a huge problem if they aren’t in agreement.

First, to the men who are struggling because their wife doesn’t respond to your approaches. I can’t even start to know the frustration you’re experiencing. I can guess, and I’ve listened to men (and my own husband) as they’ve voiced their anxiety and grief and utter angst over this issue, but not being a man, I don’t really understand it in the same way another man would.

So, when I came across a series of articles written by Paul Byerly (who along with his wife Lori, have a web site called The Marriage Bed —Paul also has web site called The Generous Husband), and I saw the value of what Paul has written, I determined to let him address this issue from a man’s perspective. So men, please read the following series of articles posted on web site (and you may even want to question him about this matter):




And then Neil Black, on the web site, Power to Change, wrote the following articles, which you may find helpful:



I hope men find the above series of articles, from both Paul Byerly and Neil Black, helpful!

And for wives who are saying no to having sex with your husbands, I realize that this is a complex issue, as well. There are so many reasons why you may not want to make love to your husband with some of them being lack of desire, his cleanliness, his demanding, abusive, controlling ways, which turn you off when you consider having any loving, physical contact with him, pornography issues —either his or yours, where satisfaction is being achieved through false, sinful entertainment. We deal with many of those issues in other topics of this web site. Please search for them.

There’s also busyness, where  you’re just plain too tired to make love to your husband because of the demands of children and job obligations, household chores, etc. Lori Byerly, of wrote a blog on this, that you may find insightful (I sure did —probably because I have had to make similar decisions):


These issues are also addressed in other topics of this web site (with links provided to others). Please seek and you will find. It’s not that they will give instant answers, or every answer, but I believe you will find the inspiration and at least some help to make necessary changes so you save at least a part of your energy to connect with your marriage partner.

Also, there is the problem of past abuse from other men and how it may be haunting you today. When your husband touches you it sends off memory triggers, which remind you of the horrible hurt you went through earlier in life. It may also have stripped your desire to have even a loving husband touch you.

I can relate. I’ve been there and have worked through that extremely difficult situation. I write a bit about it in the article:


If this is what you are dealing with, there’s also a few other articles you may want to read:

SEXUAL OBSTACLES: Healing an Emotional Wound


There may be other issues, such as addictions (yours and/or his), and bitterness over marriage situations (we have articles on those issues on this web site, as well).

But whatever it is, please work on it. They say that “whoever wants sex the least has the most power in bed.” That seems to be true. If a lot of withholding is going on, there is a power struggle going on and the bedroom is “a lousy place for a battle of the will.”

I agree that there are seasons where we need to work on issues, pertaining to our sex life together, but when it drags on to more than a “season” then there are problems. The Bible tells us,

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and like-wise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)

You had to have known that before you married that isn’t good to deprive one another. Being intimate and exclusive with each other is all part of being married. If you wanted to withhold having sex with your spouse, you shouldn’t have married.

Perhaps you have changed or your husband has changed in your libido or your desire in wanting to make love. Keep in mind that marriage is not all about you. This is a partnership. And just like your husband needs to work with you on compromises, you need to work with him on compromises too.

But be careful in how you do this. Don’t just lay there and let him have his way, while you pout and think, “just get it over with.” Ultimately, that won’t satisfy your husband (or you) either. Marriage is about giving. If you look in the Bible, you see throughout it, that we’re told it’s more blessed to give than to receive. We’re also told to serve one another, with a good heart. Jesus was our ultimate example in being a servant. As we’re told in Philippians 2 we’re to, “have this same attitude.

You know deep in your heart if you’re being difficult with your husband. You know deep in your heart if you’re asking more of him than you should —letting him know that he won’t get it from you. And yet you’re expecting him to be celibate because you also expect him to stay faithful in all ways.

Yes, he should stay faithful. That’s what God expects of him too. But if you are not being intimate with him if he wants and needs you, you’re putting temptation in front of him. You’re putting him in a corner where he can feel trapped. He can’t be intimate with you and yet he has needs. A life sentence of celibacy can be a frightening life for someone who needs that connection with the one he loves and has sexual desires that won’t quit plaguing him.

I have to admit that there have been times when I didn’t “want it” when my husband approached me. There was even a LONG period of time when I was dealing with past sexual issues where I denied my husband. I now know that I was wrong in what I did and what I expected of him. It’s not that I needed to meet his every need when I was hurting so deeply inside. But I was wrong in not getting the help that I needed so we didn’t stay stuck in that place for as long as we were.

My husband pleaded with me and I just looked the other way thinking, “he just needs to control himself. He should understand how painful this is for me.”

And yes, it wouldn’t have been too much for some of that to happen, where he could “control himself” for a period of time while I was in therapy. And yes, as my marital partner, he should understand (to a certain degree) how painful this was for me. But I took it way beyond reasonable. He COULDN’T understand. He had never been abused in that way. He couldn’t have known the depth of pain. And even if he tried to understand (which he did), I needed to get help so I could work through my issues and we could work together on ours so this wasn’t something I expected from him without an end in sight.

I was being unreasonable in my expectations of him. He married me in good faith that we would be marriage partners and I was withdrawing an important connection in that partnership. And whether it was because of past abuse or whatever, it was not reasonable for me to ask my husband to stay pure and yet not be with me either. I feel that is true in most every marriage.

If there are physical, emotional, or whatever reasons why you can’t get together, please work on them. Don’t deny your spouse and sentence him to a life without you or anyone else. He wants you and no one else. Please work on your issues.

If the reason you cant be with him is because of physical pain or because of some other physical reason, then work with doctors on this. If it isn’t something that can be resolved (and you’re truthful —that it really can’t be resolved), then find other ways to satisfy him. But do it with a good attitude. And if you can’t do things in a “conventional” method because of physical limitations, then find ways to satisfy each other in other ways. Be creative. Keep in mind that the important thing is that you are together, man and wife, without any other human being involved (physically or visually). This is YOUR time to be together. Please don’t ask your husband to lead a celibate life if that is not what he desires.

As I admitted before, there was a long, long (unreasonably long) season where I pulled back from being intimate with my husband. Eventually, I woke up and realized that I had a good guy I was married to. He didn’t deserve to be another victim to what had happened to me in the past. I got help and we eventually came together and have loved on each other since.

But even so, even though my past is not an issue any longer, there have been a few dry spells where I haven’t wanted it as much as my husband has. The book, Sacred Sex: A Spiritual Celebration of Oneness in Marriage, written by Tim Alan Gardner, and the book, Intimate Issues: Twenty-One Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex, written by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus helped me. I now “get it” as far as understanding better the emotional and spiritual connection that comes from making love as husband and wife. It’s not ONLY physical connection (although that’s an important one —especially to the marital partner who needs it), but there is more to this whole thing than many people (especially most women) realize.

God showed me that when my husband needed to be close to me in that way, to try to never deny him. Sure there are some times when I fall to bed exhausted or I’m not feeling well, when he approaches me. But instead of totally denying him, I either offer a “quickie” or ask him if we can be together at another time (and then I make sure it’s soon). My husband is a reasonable man and that has worked for us.

And if it’s just because I don’t “feel like it” —even then, I offer the same. But most of the time, even if I don’t feel like it, I’ve learned to pray. I ask God to give me the desire. I know that there is a spiritual component mixed into the intimate time my husband and I have together.

I’ve had times where I’ve started out with NO desire to make love to my husband when he has needed it, but as I pray and concentrate on giving love to my husband —lavishing him with love that comes from a heart filled with the love of God, eventually, I’m totally into it. I’m enjoying loving my husband as much as he is in loving me. It becomes TOTALLY satisfying and enjoyable. I never knew that God would answer that type of prayer, but He sure does!

I hope what I’m writing here helps in some way. I know that there are circumstances where we just don’t want it. And most husbands have those times too, but please make it your mission to work on whatever it is that is standing in the way of intimately connecting with your marriage partner in this important way.

I want to close with something that was written in the above mentioned book, Intimate Issues:

“Making the right decision is never easy but there are benefits to adopting the right attitude. When we choose to love selflessly, we honor God, we make our husbands happy, and we find more pleasure in our lovemaking.

“Dying to self is difficult, but it is necessary if you want to grow in godliness. Being godly means having a godly attitude. Godly attitudes result in godly actions, such as giving your body to your husband. This is easier if you surrender to God and allow His Spirit to work within you. ‘Nothing is impossible with God(Luke 1:37, NIV). He is able to give you desire where none existed before. He can help you exchange wrong thinking with godly thinking. He can cause you to enjoy deeper intimacy than you ever thought possible.

“God, I confess that I have not always appreciated Your gift of sex —or even wanted it. I have shunned You and withheld my body from my husband. Forgive me. I want to be a willing and creative lover —but it’s hard. Please stir up in me passion and desire for my husband. help me get my mind off myself to You and humbly ask that You behind now to work in me.”

This article was written by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International.


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94 Responses to “When a Wife Doesn’t Want to Have Sex”
  1. Vance from United States says:

    They no longer feel they have to be sensual or sexual. Men on pause, hormones, they are fat and or skinny and out of shape. Thin does not mean sexy or in shape. They got ya and many men are in the same category as the women. They have just given up and it is disgusting.

  2. Amy from United States says:

    It’s not me the wife not wanting sex, it’s my husband that doesn’t want any sex from me. Our problem started the day after our wedding night, we had sex and it was clumsy because neither one of us had sex before. I thought it was OK I guess, but my husband had other ideas, he hated it and thought it was disgusting and in human thing that two people could do to each other. To him it was disgusting, vile, smelly, messy, not worth the effort and time plus he got nothing out of it. He told me he never wanted sex again, that was 45 years ago. He won’t talk to me or associate with me, he eats and sleeps in the basement where he has live all 45 years. He works constantly on the midnight shift hasn’t any friends, no TV, radio, computer, phone, books he’s a hermit. He has long ugly hair, beard and dresses in old polyester pants, shirts with no buttons a real slob.

    He isn’t gay or pokin some little hottie some where. I had him followed many times and they say he’s not doing anything out the ordinary. I should have left years ago, I didn’t have money or any where to go, and this is my fault. I got used to being treated like crap and wasted my life away. Here I’m going on 68 and things will never change for me, not enough money and no where to go.

    • The Truth from Brazil says:

      You have a screwed up life (no offense) but there is nothing normal about that. He needs medical attention… He sounds like a serial killer.

    • Duane from United States says:

      Amy, I mourn with you. I thought my relationship had issues after 23 years of marriage. Know The Lord Yeshua the Christ sees all and our time on this earth is but a grain of sand on a beach compared to eternity. Focus on The Lord even more and keep the faith. I’m sorry I don’t have great words to comfort you. Stay in the word (Bible) and know Yeshua is Lord.

  3. EdwardO from United States says:

    To the original author, I want to thank you for a really great article. In reading the comments, it is obvious that many saw this as blaming either the wife or the husband. What I read was a call to invest in our sex lives with the same committment as anything else in our lives (both men and women).

    I have been a husband for 18 years and struggled with our sex life for all those years, despite being a strong Christian and even a pastor for many years. During our dating time, my wife pursued me sexually and as much as I tried to say “let’s wait”, there is only so much a 20 year old male can be tempted with and not give in. We ended up having a sexual relationship for a period of time, but did stop for a time before we were married. I was so excited that once we got married, I would not have to deal with sexual issues. Well, it wasn’t long before her desire for sex disappeared and now I think fondly on those days. I don’t know what to tell my son, who is now a teenager. The Godly answer is “wait for marriage” and of course I believe that, but in my own life, pre-marital sex was better.

    I feel as if I need to say that I help around the house, hold a good job, NOT abusive, NO drinking, and do love my wife and think she’s very sexy. So, what’s my end point? This is a huge issue for Christians and we need to really TALK about it in our churches. I don’t feel like I can share this side of my life, and my wife and I need to keep up appearances of having a good, whole marriage. Why can’t I say I struggle to my church friends? Why can’t I say that I have sought out sexual relationships? (Haven’t actually done anything.) Why can’t I let on that I’m tempted every day to look at porn? That I look at other women and wonder what their sex life is? These are all temptations that God should help me with, so why do I struggle all the time? In the article, it says a man can feel trapped and I TOTALLY do. Why am I a part of a great church, but only feel I can be real in the comments section of an online article?

    If any other men who read this want to chat online and try and help each other in a Godly way, I would be happy to talk.

    • Joe from United States says:

      Good talk, we are in the same situation.

    • Mark from United States says:

      I feel the exact same way. Your comment was dead on. I have been married almost 13 years and haven’t had any sex with my wife in about 3 Months. No one to talk to about it.

    • Nick from United States says:

      EdwardO, I’m in the EXACT same position as you. My wife and I just went through a 3 month drought. I’m 34 years old and have been married to her for 12 years now. To be honest, she has nagged me to the point of near insanity. I’m such a calm and easy going person that used to be incapable of getting mad, but now she can set me off into a rage.

      We were both very attractive before we got married and our sex life was great. We still are attractive now but she rarely wants to have sex. It seems like I’m always trying to be nice to her and do what she wants but she gets mad when I try to get intimate with her. I can’t be the perfect guy she wants me to be.

      Anyways, I don’t know if I can accept the lifelong celibacy. I’m almost to the point of shutting down on her and giving up. Why would I want to spend the rest of my life with someone who is not attracted to me and wants to treat me like a roommate? I really do love her but I just don’t feel she loves me in that way anymore. I can’t leave though, for we have two beautiful boys together. I would rather be miserable in a relationship than to not be there fully for my kids. I just don’t know what to do, if anything

  4. John from United States says:

    Excellent article. Thank you

  5. Terri from United States says:

    Thank you for this article. I have never thought about praying about having desire, but I will now!

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