Frustrated husband whose wife doesn't want sex

Doesn’t the Bible say a man is head of his house, and has a right to sex with his wife?”

“During those long months when she was getting chemo other women started to look awfully appealing.”

“My wife and I are Christians, but I can’t seem to get her to agree to have sex with me when I need it.”

You can struggle greatly when your wife does not or cannot respond to you sexually. It’s a little ironic: here I am a woman, talking to men about sex. That’s because I’ve been asked about this specific question more than once, and this post is my answer. You may be struggling with this in your marriage and have told no one. I hope this helps you in some way.

But you also need to hear from other men. Check the bottom of this post: there are a few resources listed there that I believe you will find helpful.

I suspect some men asking this question may be looking for a Biblical excuse to get sex from somewhere outside of your marriage. Sorry: I’m not going to provide one. It isn’t there.

I suspect some other men asking this question may be looking for a Biblical reason to demand that their wife allow sexual intimacy whenever they wish her to. Again, sorry to disappoint you. I don’t find that in Scripture either. You are not entitled to sex.

But most men asking this question are truly struggling with the feelings of rejection, frustration, sexual tension, hopelessness, or even anger that come from being sexually unfulfilled in your marriage. You feel “slapped in the face” over and over again, and it reaches to the innermost part of your soul. Part of you wants to honor God, but you find your sexual drives difficult to manage when your wife is unwilling or unable to respond. Engaging in sexual intercourse is a big part of what makes you feel like a man, and right now you don’t feel much like a man at all.

What the Bible Says

  1. God made you a sexual being. If you could have seen Eve, you would not have been able to resist being aroused. Sex in marriage was God’s idea. (Gen 1:27, 2:22-25) If the church has led you to feel that expressing your sexual nature means you are less godly, I want to apologize. With Adam and Eve, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Gen 2:25) You can be that way too.
  2. Don’t go anywhere else for sexual stimulation/satisfaction. As far as sex goes, your wife is the only legitimate object of your desire. (Prov 5:18, Mal 2:14) That means no flirting with anyone else, no pornography, no lingering glances elsewhere, no emotional or physical affairs. That’s the Biblical standard. “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.” (Job 31:1)
  3. If you’ve messed up, there is hope. God offers forgiveness for sexual sin just as much as for any other. (1 John 1:9) Remember David, with Bathsheba? David wrote Psalm 51 as a response to that very incident. If you struggle with guilt or shame, you’re not alone. This is one area where it is so important to connect with other Christian men.
  4. God may ask you to sacrifice for your wife. Loving your wife as Christ loved the church may at times mean pain, sacrifice, and not getting your own needs met the way you would like. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Eph 5:25) If she cannot or will not respond sexually to you, God calls you to still love her. That doesn’t make her right: it just means that your call to love her is not dependent on her sexual response.
  5. You are like God when you allure your wife, and help her respond to you. God pictures Himself as a husband wooing a wife. “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2:14) Will your efforts always be rewarded the way you wish? Probably not. God is often rejected as well, and He understands how you feel. But He keeps on wooing, and you can too.

Check out the many resources on our Relationships page

Is it difficult to remain sexually faithful to your wife when you are not getting the sexual connection you were made to need? Is it difficult to live with the feelings of rejection and frustration? Of course it is. God knows this. (1 Cor 7:5)

Yes, God’s design is that husband and wife be sexually intimate often. It helps both of them be what God created them to be. But you cannot use Scripture to force your wife to have sex with you. 1 Cor 7:4 gives your wife just as much “authority” over your body as you have over hers. “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.”

And finally, a few thoughts from me:

  • If trust has been broken between you and your wife through any sexual indiscretions, it takes a great deal of time to rebuild. You cannot rush your wife’s responses. Prayer and time may be your best friend here. And don’t do it alone.
  • Showing that you value your wife as a whole person is the best way to become irresistable to her. That means wanting HER, not just her body.
  • Learning your wife’s love needs may change things between you significantly. It’s worth your effort to do so.
  • Remember that Jesus was a man, and understands exactly the difficulties and frustrations you face. He will provide the wisdom and strength you need.

Now, a few resources where you can hear from other men struggling with these same issues:

My prayers are with you as you become the man God created you to be!

Your Turn: What do you believe the Bible has to say to a man who is sexually frustrated in his marriage? Leave a comment below.

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How’s Your Intimacy?

You said “I do” expecting lasting love, connection, sex, and joy. But you may now be feeling more loneliness, frustration, or anger. What happened to “happily ever after?”

In one important sense it’s not your fault. Nobody ever taught you how to do marriage, intimacy, sex, and relationships well. Our Fully Alive Marriage online course shows you how to overcome marriage challenges, learn to love well, and build an intimate and Fully Alive marriage that lasts!