When a Wife Doesn’t Want to Have Sex

No, I do not want, forget it - Pixabay

I’m going to approach this article a bit differently than others I’ve written. 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. This article addresses the issue of when a wife doesn’t want to have sex. But it also addresses what it is like for the man to be refused.

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. It is a gigantic issue, if your sex life is unfulfilled. 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. It is truly frustrating. I’ve listened to men (and my own husband) as they’ve voiced their anxiety and grief and utter angst over this issue. However, because I’m not 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, and I saw the value of what Paul has written, I determined to let him address this issue from a man’s perspective. He and his wife Lori have a wet site called The Marriage Bed. Paul knows what he is talking about on this issue.

So men, please read the following series of articles posted on The-generous-husband.com web site (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!

For wives who do not want to have sex with their husbands:

I realize that this is a complex issue for the wife who is denying her husband, as well. There are so many reasons why you may not want to make love to your husband. Some of these reasons may be lack of desire, his cleanliness, his demanding, abusive, controlling ways, which turn you off when you consider having any physical contact with him. And then there are pornography issues —either his or yours. 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 too tired to make love to your husband because of the demands of children, job obligations, household chores, etc. Lori Byerly, of The Generous Wife web site 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 within other topics on this web site. Please seek and you will find. It’s not that they will give instant answers, or every answer; they won’t. But I believe you will find inspiration and at least some help to make changes that are needed in intimately connecting with your marriage partner.

Past Abuse Nightmares

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. These triggers may 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, and bitterness over marriage situations. Just so you know, we have articles on those issues on this web site, as well.

But whatever it is, please work on it.

They say, “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 it 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 in your libido or your desire.

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 be intimate with you, while you pout and think, “just get it over with.” That won’t satisfy your husband (or you) either. Marriage is about giving. It is stated throughout the Bible, that 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 as Christ Jesus.

You know deep in your heart if you’re being difficult with your husband. You also should know that you’re asking more of him than you should if you keep rejecting him sexually. 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 wants. His sexual desires won’t quit plaguing him, just because you say no.

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. I know I didn’t have to to meet his every need when I was hurting so deeply inside. But I needed help to get past the mental torture I was experiencing, and it was wrong of me not to get it. We didn’t have to stay stuck in that place for so long.

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.”

A Time for Everything

Yes, it wouldn’t have been too much to ask my husband to “control himself” for a period of time while I was in the depths of 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. Steve really COULDN’T understand my reactions or the depth of my pain. And even if he tried to understand (which he did), I still needed professional help to work through my issues. And then we could work together on ours so this wasn’t something that would go on and on 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. Yet 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 not be with me either. I feel that is true in most marriages (unless there are untreatable physical reasons).

Work on your issues.

If there are treatable 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 can’t be with him is because of physical pain or because of some other physical reason, then work with doctors on this. If it truthfully can’t be medically resolved, then look for 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.

The important thing is that you are together, as a man and wife. Just don’t allow any other human being to be involved with both of you (either physically or visually), in your time together. 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.

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 that I married. He didn’t deserve to be another victim to what had happened to me in the past. I sought for, and received the emotional help I needed to work through my issues. We eventually came together, and have loved on each other since.

Helpful Resources:

There have been a few dry spells, even after I dealt with my past, where I haven’t wanted it as much as my husband desired. The book, Sacred Sex: A Spiritual Celebration of Oneness in Marriage, written by Tim Alan Gardner has given me insights. Also  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 better understanding the emotional and spiritual connection that comes from making love as husband and wife. It’s not ONLY physical connection (although that’s important —especially to the spouse who needs it), but there is more to this whole thing than many people (especially women) realize.

God showed me I am not to deny my husband when he needs to be close to me, whenever it is possible. Yes, some times I fall into bed exhausted or I’m not feeling well, and then it happens; 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 I make sure it’s soon.) My husband is a reasonable man and that has worked for us.

But what if you don’t feel like it?

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. There is a spiritual component involved, when my husband and I are intimate 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 eventually, I’m totally into it as I pray and concentrate on lavishing him with love, coming from a heart filled with the love of God. I’m enjoying loving my husband as much as he is in loving me. Making love then becomes TOTALLY satisfying and enjoyable. I never knew that God would answer that type of prayer, but He does!

Here’s a quote from Sheila Wray Gregoire to consider:

How often have you done this? You’re lying in bed, feeling guilty, wondering, ‘Is he expecting something tonight?’ And then your brain goes into overdrive. ‘Do I feel like it? I don’t know. Is he due? How many days has it been, anyway? If we start right this moment, how many hours of sleep will I still get?’ If you had started making love in the beginning, the silly thing is, you’d be asleep by now! We women often forget that our sex drives are primarily in our brains.

“Unlike for our husbands, arousal usually comes after you start making love, not before. But instead of jumping in, we tend to overanalyze things. Tonight, silence all those thoughts running through your head, and just decide, I am going to feel good, and I am going to feel close to my husband! When you are mentally excited about having sex, your whole body tends to follow. So stop thinking so much, and start doing!”

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’s blocking the way of intimately connecting with your marriage partner in this way.

In closing:

Please prayerfully consider 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). God is able to give you desire where none existed before. He can help you exchange wrong thinking with godly thinking. And God 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.”

Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.


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Filed under: Sexual Issues

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308 responses to “When a Wife Doesn’t Want to Have Sex

  1. I came to this site accidentally because am staying late all by myself doing pretend things just to pass some time. I build music tracks sometimes and sometimes I read novels that can take my concentration far away. I slept alone; my wife had an excuse of sleeping with kids – older girl 8 yrs and smaller boy 6 years. Sometimes when I complain too much she came and gave me what I wanted but wow! So fast! then without any conversation went to sleep again. Days go by and I start to feel tired and forgot sex and make myself useful by those tricks I told above. I’ll be honest, I thought I’ll get myself a mistress or a divorce or a sex robot from shopping mall and yes I am not lying. I am amazed when my wife wakes up in the morning she was so nice but by evening most of the time I keep waiting but no movement and I just know that is I need a movie so this is my problem. And right now I smoke more when am depressed and yes I am non alcoholic because I am a catholic man 29 yrs old. We’ve been married 8 years and I still have lot of other issues with my marriage but what to say? I have never got to hug her, touch her hand, or kiss her since my smaller went to school and also about affection she said she’s ashamed if someone outside sees us doing that and I’m like, ok fine lets not touch and sit more distant and that how my life goes. Still I can’t divorce. I love my kids. They are beautiful and handsome and yes they influence people more than I do so I can’t lose that but I am suffering too much when night comes, please help!

  2. Hi. As Christians we need to realise that the true enemy is the devil and his evil spirits, not each other as spouses. Is it not funny why when outside marriage, fornicating the sex is plentiful but once in marriage it tapers off. The devil is at work. A lot of people do not acknowldge this but there are anti-marrige spirits which work to divide marriages, as well as spiritual husbands and spiritual wives. Some men will confirm this. Before things took a turn for the worse, if you closely look at your dreams, you had dreams of having sexual intercourse with a woman, but that woman seemed to power you into sex. If you talk to your wife bout this they can confirm also that a man may have spiritual intercourse with them. This is one of the many signs that your marriage is controlled by anti marriage spirits or spiritual spouses.

    Unfortunately, many may dismiss this as sexual fantasies etc, but trust me, if you really want to save your marriage, take heed of this. The blood of Jesus is the only thing that can break the bondages of the devil. I advise men to pray together with their wives declaring the blood of Jesus over their marriages. If you know any living ministry which does deliverence go and seek spiritual freedom from these evil spirits.

    I have come across real life cases where the husband just felt too tired to have sex even though he spent the whole day at home doing nothing. Same also for the wives. A family that prays together stays together. As Christians we need to wake up and take control of our lives. The blood of Jesus will always triumph. I am from Africa by the way. If anyone wants more info on this, let me know.

    1. So it’s the Devils fault my wife doesn’t want to have sex with me? So then it’s God’s will if she has sex with me all the time?

      1. It is too simplistic to say that “It’s the devil’s fault.” It is more realistic to acknowledge that the devil IS at work to make life miserable- “to steal, kill and destroy,” (1 Peter 5:8), but on the other hand, to remember that, for believers, all things are possible (Mark 14:36), and that Is it God’s will that we “have life more abundantly” (Ephesians 3:20). Of course this means an exciting sex life- God invented sex, not we….

        That all sounds great, but, as Mercedes is asking, How do we (in other words) get there? Qmon sounds a little sarcastic here, I’m sure you would be surprised if the answer to your question would be “yes.” On the other hand, we all know deep down that it is NOT God’s will that married couples NEVER have sex. Here we have the two extremes- neither of which is sustainable.

        It is God’s will that you two together enjoy sex as an expression of your love and care for one another. This means that both husband and wife operate from the standpoint of “giving to the other.” This means that sometimes the man says, “OK” when the wife prefers to go to sleep… without making the wife feel like he is being a martyr, and she is the “bad guy.” It also means that the wife should be prepared to say with conviction, “How about tomorrow night instead?” and then making sure she comes through… and may I add, “in innovative ways?” It means that both “give and take” so that the wife doesn’t feel used, and the husband doesn’t feel neglected. Of course we should reverse the genders in the above scenario in the situation where the husband tends to refuse and the wife is more often the initiator.

        Come on people!! Let’s stop making sex the battleground… and just meet each other in the middle!!

        The following websites say this far better than I can:

        Hope these ideas are of help…..
        WP (Work in Progress)

  3. If a woman isn’t wanting sex she may be pregnant, sick, suffering from depression and the medication for depression lowers libido. Unfortunately, everyone goes through dry spells and if the spouse loves the other spouse then they can come to an agreement. Communication is key. However, if a spouse is ok with having sex with his or her other spouse while they are not into it… there is something wrong. If you are 9 months pregnant and or 1 month pregnant, if you are going through chemo. IF your close family member passed away. There are many reasons a spouse doesn’t want to have sex or simply can’t due to medical issues.

    Unfortunately, not everyone is a Christian when they got married or are unequally yoked and perhaps they did not know the Bible because they didn’t know God. There are too many factors to go into in understanding why a husband or wife do not want to have sex. In fact… many people stay single and celibate their whole lives so it is entirely possible for a spouse to go without sex and not cheat. However, many Christian women read articles and magazines that say whether they are in the mood give it up.

    I will say this… if a woman continually gives it up and her husband doesn’t care that she’s in the mood and has sex with her anyway and this continues the wife will become resentful and bitter and may cut him off permanently. We are not blow up dolls, we are not porn stars, we are real women that go through many changes in our lives that links to hormones and having children and menopause.

    If your spouse cannot see what you are going through and together find modifications… perhaps she’s not up for sex but would give him a massage or fix his favorite dinner ect. Cuddle up on the couch and watch HIS favorite movie. Buy him tickets to his favorite sport. Do things for him that let him know that even though you aren’t up for sex that you still love and appreciate him and that in time you will be able to make love again. Sex isn’t and shouldn’t be about some guy or girl getting off. It is an experience between two people that want to be with the other person to show that person how much they love them.

    That is what is wrong with so many writings. God wanted us to not enjoy ourselves but to show each other how much they love them. And if you love them… you will wait.

    1. Your suggestions aren’t a substitute for what is needed. If your spouse isn’t there for you, a back rub or chinese takeout isn’t a substitute, it is an insult.

    2. Becky, your comments are well said, and of course the husband should be conisderate of the wife under the circumstances you describe. And yes, of course, if the husband loves his wife he will wait. As a husband married 37 years I would agree with that completely.

      Your second paragraph which begins with “I will say this…” also very well said. I would again agree completely.

      However, the reverse is equally valid. If the wife loves her husband, she will give. (I did not say “give in,” I said “give.” There is a big difference. I don’t have to explain any further I think.) Is it “reasonable” to ask the husband to have eyes only for his wife, when she CONSTANTLY refuses him?

      You say above, “God wanted us to not enjoy ourselves??” Have I got that right?? This is flatly not true. If God didn’t want us to enjoy sex, why did He make it so pleasurable for both man and wife? The wife’s clitoris serves no other function than to provide pleasurable sensations for her with her husband. If God did not want us to enjoy eating, He would not have given us a sense of smell and taste, nor would He have made all the different things we ENJOY eating.

      Anyway Becky, I like what you have said, As I have stated in another post, if both man and wife operate in the mode of “giving to the other,” I think much of the conflict taking place in the area of sex would evaporate very quickly :))

      WP (Work in Progress)

  4. I have been married for 29 years, and to make a long story short, my wife stopped being intimate to me for over 8 years now. I desire her and I tried every approach imaginable with no success to show her that I want her. I talked to our priest about it and he couldn’t do anything. I brought presents, flowers, new cars, you name it and it did not work. I am feeling totally frustrated, angry, and feel like I have no dignity in my own house because my desire for her turns me to ask her for sex and she keeps rejecting me. She won’t even hug or kiss me any more.

    She left the bedroom years ago and made herself another bedroom upstairs. I tried for a long long time to know what have I done wrong and I did not know. We were okay, we were not the best man and wife, but we were okay and life was “livable”. Then I had to leave the country for a little bit over years – went to war in Iraq – and since I came back she has not touched me. I could not get myself to divorce her as I am still in love with her. I even went to a lawyer and was about to start legal process for divorce but I backed out of it and changed my mind. We have one daughter that we raised as well as we could and put her thru college, and she graduated, moved out, and lives and works in a different town for over 3 years now. I do not know what to do and I do not want to cheat on her; I am in my mid fifties and I have not done that before, and I do not want to start now. Heck I would not even know how to go about doing it – I mean cheating. My wife is the only woman in my life. I fell in love with her when we were in college and married 8 years later and been together since then.