Unhappy wife

They were sitting across the table from me, both hurting badly. Married over twenty years, they really wanted to make things work. Both were practicing Christians, and felt it would be wrong to even consider divorce.

But things were not going well. Among other things, she was struggling with his desire and need for sex about twice a week. She had several other current challenges in her life, and giving sex to her husband seemed like asking something of her that she didn’t have to give. The disconnect in their sexual needs was leading to a lot of resentment between them. Neither wanted to cause the other pain, but they were hurting each other consistently and didn’t know how to stop.

How many marriages have been harmed by this kind of sexual disconnect? Does any of this sound familiar?

  • You avoid your husband as much as you can, hoping he won’t pursue you for sex
  • You give in to sex and end up resenting it, and him
  • You pick a fight with him, hoping that will keep him at bay for a while
  • You go to bed early or stay up late, trying to avoid being nearby at the most likely times for sex
  • You find every excuse to be sick, and you’ve got fifty variations on “I have a headache” to try
  • You fantasize about being single again: at least you wouldn’t feel guilty about saying No
  • You wonder if there’s something really wrong with you, but you’re too tired to find out

As I tell women regularly in my OB-Gyn practice, a woman’s sexual response is very complicated. She has a much harder time compartmentalizing sex than a man does. If other things in her life or relationships are not going well, it may be hard or even impossible to respond sexually.

I’m going to assume for a moment that you have a genuinely good man for a husband, not perfect, but one who truly wants to be good to you. You recognize that sex together as husband and wife is important to him, and you’d like to handle it better. Here are some things you can do if your husband wants sex and you generally don’t.

NOTE: Some marriages are destroyed by the use of sex as a weapon. I do NOT believe that it a woman’s duty to say Yes to sex any time her husband wants it, or that he has no responsibility for creating an environment that helps you be interested. In this post I am simply focusing on what YOU can do yourself to improve intimacy with your husband.

  1. Get a medical evaluation. Physical pain during sex is a serious mood killer for a woman. There are also a few hormonal problems and some medications that can decrease a woman’s sexual response. Your gynecologist is a good place to start.
  2. Face your sexual past. Did you have unwanted sexual experiences as a child, or an adult? Are you struggling with guilt from previous sexual relationships, infidelity, an abortion, or an STD? Face the issue head on. Get some help if you need to.
  3. Take care of yourself – physically, emotionally, spiritually. Sexual intimacy is meant to be a mutually giving experience. If your cup is empty, you won’t have anything to give. Take responsibility for doing what you need to in order to stay filled up.
  4. Nurture the emotional climate in your marriage. A man can often overlook unfinished business and go right to sex: a woman often cannot. Invest in learning how to communicate, forgive, be a friend, and connect with your husband in other ways also.
  5. Talk about sex. That’s right! Talk about sex with your husband. At a time when neither of you is likely to feel sexual, bring up the subject and verbally talk about how both of you see your sexual relationship. What’s good? What’s not working? What do you want? Can you plan ways to come closer together to improve the sexual part of your relationship?
  6. Make the mental leap. A huge part of sex happens in your mind. In many cases you can CHOOSE to respond sexually. You may initially choose to try and respond out of respect for your husband, but then your body may well respond as well. Give it a try.
  7. Pray about it. God invented sex. Talk to God specifically about the challenges in your sex life, and ask for His insight. Perhaps there is some healing you need to experience from Him. He can fill your soul, and give your wisdom in your marriage in this and every other area.

Twice a day. Twice a week. Twice a month. Even twice a year. There’s no RIGHT answer to how often to have sex with your husband. The important thing is how you value this gift, and how you and your husband work together to both meet each other’s needs.

Your Turn: What grade would you give your sex life with your husband? What can YOU do to make things better?

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