Julie of Intimacy in Marriage has a great letter from a woman who spent years avoiding sex with her husband. If your wife is saying no, I highly suggest you go read Sexual Redemption. Could Her Story Be Yours?
The wife does not in any way blame her husband, nor does she have sexual abuse in her past. Her problem is body image. She couldn’t believe her husband when he said she was beautiful.
I suspect few men can comprehend avoiding sex over body image, but this is huge for women. Virtually all women struggle with this, regardless of how they look. We have set the bar of physical perfection so high no woman can reach the “goal’. We’ve also taught women how they look is more important than anything else about them is. Our entire society is sick, and women saying no to sex because they don’t think they look good enough is a symptom of that sickness.
I suspect this is also a primary factor behind Christian women thinking their husband is using them. In her mind, she’s not sexual – no man would choose her for sex because she doesn’t look good enough. That must mean her husband is only seeking sex with her because he has no choice, because he’s not “allowed” to have sex with anyone else. Can you imagine how that must make a woman feel? No wonder so many women hear “I want you” as “I want to use you”. Given this, reminding your wife she’s the only person you can have sex with is a very bad idea as it may play into her fears.
The big question is how a man can help his wife get past the lie she is neither beautiful nor sexual. Tell her often and in many ways you like how she looks. Compliment her when she “dresses up” or tries a new look. Saying such things repeatedly is certainly a good thing, but at best, this brings about only small, gradual, changes. I’ve heard many women say what the woman writing to Julie said – it was God who got through to her. Given this, a great deal of prayer seems a wise choice. Also, be aware of things you might be doing that could communicate to your wife you place higher value on women who “look good”. As she’s hypersensitive to this, anything along these lines is going to be blown out of proportion in her mind. I’m not saying you’re responsible for her over reacting, but trying not to feed it seems like a good plan to me.
Finally, I can’t close this without a word about porn. Porn plays into this big time, and she will see any use of porn as proof you don’t think she’s attractive or sexually desirable. Arguing those points with your wife is a total waste of time. Accept the fact any porn use, or threat of porn use, will be seen this way. Also, understand any past porn use has communicated to her you don’t think she looks good enough for sex. I know it’s not the truth, but getting her past it is going to take a lot of time, effort, and prayer.