WHY She’s Refusing Matters. A LOT!

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of comments on this blog from men talking about their wife limiting or full-on refusing sex. Some are articulate and kind, some are so full of anger it hurts to read them. All of them are in pain.

WHY She's Refusing Matters. A LOT!

But there is an important difference in their stories. Some of the wives are limiting or refusing because of something they suffered in the past, while others seem to be more motivated by selfishness. Of course, it’s impossible to tell by hearing from just one spouse what’s really going on. But Lori and I have talked to enough couples to know there are various reasons why a woman says no to sex, and why she does matters a whole lot!

I can break the why’s down into a few big chunks:

She’s Broken:

This was the reason my wife said no far more often than yes when we got married. Among other things, she was molested by multiple people as a child and lost her virginity by acquaintance rape in college. Those things are good reasons to see sex as bad rather than good. 

Other women who have suffered things less horrible than my wife are just as broken. Abuse hits women differently for a variety of reasons. Something that would be devastating to some women is only mildly harmful to others, and vice versa. We can’t judge how hurtful something was on a set scale.

BTW, one cause of being sexually broken is being exposed to a lot of negative messages about sex as a child and teen. These messages include sex is bad/wrong/evil, sex is gross, sex is unspiritual, sex is painful, and sex is just for men.

She’s Too Tired to Care:

I talk about this often because it’s one of the primary reasons women don’t want, won’t have, or don’t enjoy sex. Lack of sleep can easily destroy a woman’s sex drive. If she’s not getting at least seven hours of sleep a night that may be the reason you’re not getting sex most nights. Her saying no isn’t about selfishness, it’s about self-care.

She’s Manipulative:

Some women use sex as a punishment and reward system to get their husband to do what they want. Or to not do what they don’t want them doing. 

She’s Selfish:

Yes, some women are just selfish. If sex has never done much for her and she’s selfish, she may say no just because she doesn’t want to. 

He’s Selfish:

Men can be selfish too. If you ignore her until you want her to get naked, or treat her badly until you want sex, you’re being selfish. If you think she should put out regardless of how you treat her, you’re being stupid. And if you think Jesus expects her to be all about having sex with you when you’ve been a jerk you need to work on that log in your eye.

By the way, if you think she should just “get over” her abuse, or should spread her legs even when she’s likely to fall asleep during sex, that’s selfishness too. I’m not suggesting she’s allowed to say no to sex for the rest of your marriage, but expecting her to ignore emotional pain or exhaustion is neither kind nor right.

Other Reasons:

It’s not uncommon for sex to cause women physical discomfort or pain. For some, this is cyclical based on her cycle, for others sex hurts every time. 

Some women have little to no sex drive, or have never had pleasure from sex and thus don’t have any interest. Another face of this is the man who doesn’t care enough about his wife’s pleasure, or doesn’t have any idea how to make sex enjoyable for her.

Relational problems are a factor for some women. You can want and enjoy sex when you’re mad at her or feel disconnected; her, not so much. 

Your sin, be it porn, adultery, open lust, or pressuring her for sex before you were married, can also be a problem. These things are far more hurtful to a woman than men realise, and trivialising it and telling her to get over it just make it worse.

Depression is a killer of sex drive, and also makes it difficult to enjoy it if you have it.

Medication can mess with sexuality in various ways. It can reduce or eliminate drive, and/or make it difficult to get aroused or reach orgasm.


It would be nice if each instance of sexual limiting were caused by one and only one of the above. In reality, there are usually multiple issues at play. 


First, you need to know why she’s saying no to sex. The problem is she may not know, and if she does she may not want to admit or discuss the real problem. Or, she might identify a lesser issue as the primary problem. It’s common for a woman to overplay her husband’s selfishness or make relational issues bigger than they are to shift the blame to him. And men tend to downplay these same things, so knowing if she’s really exaggerating can be difficult.

Be quick to own any part of this problem that’s yours. Even if it’s a minor part, deal with it. This might help the situation, and it does show you’re willing to do what it takes. It also removes your part as an excuse for her.

If she has injuries from her past be loving and understanding. Yes, she needs to work on it, and yes that needs to happen sooner rather than later. If she doesn’t deal with it, it will just get worse. However, dealing with it, really dealing with it, will probably mean even less sex for a time. Making too much noise about that can slow or prevent her healing. Some skilled third-party help is a good idea for this, and for many women, it’s the only way they will ever get free.

If she’s too busy and/or not sleeping enough, the ONLY solution is to change those things. Of course, that’s easier said than done, and it’s going to require some changes on your part as well as hers. If you have a baby lack of sleep is a given and there’s no fix – just live with it and don’t get nasty about the lack of sex because that will only give her reason to not want sex in the future.

Regardless of why she’s resisting sex, or if she doesn’t know or won’t tell you, you must deal with the issue ASAP. (Uness it’s a situational issue that should change with time.) Very few women move past this on their own, and the longer it goes on the worse it gets and the more difficult it becomes to deal with it. Don’t let her tell you it’s not important or that your sex drive it too high*. Beyond your need, God intended married couples to have regular sex. Sex is good for our bodies, our minds/emotions, and very good for our marriages. Infrequent sex hurts a marriage, and it needs to be dealt with like any other marriage crippling issue. Make sure your wife knows you find the situation wrong, and you want it fixed. If she won’t get help alone or with you, get help for yourself to deal with your broken marriage.


*  Regarding high sex drive: If you’re having sex more days then not and still complaining she’s refusing you, you need to back off. 

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20 Comments on “WHY She’s Refusing Matters. A LOT!

  1. If this is true then it matters a whole lot why he cheats or looks at porn……. oh wait there is no bibical basis for either if they are Christian.

    Their bodies do not belong to themselves.

    They are to serve each other.

    It is not maybe selfishness it is SELFISHNESS .

    If men can sacrifice themselves daily at work at jobs they hate so their wives can be stay at home moms. Then wives can fulfill their job.

    Or there is no reason to get married for men. And with mra and mgtow were seeing just that.

    Not to mention how comon abuse toward men is that we make jokes abt it when the injury is small and excuses when it is bigger.

    50% end in divorce 70% filled by women. Women don’t value men or their vows.

    And as far as dealing with the issue right away…A) what man wants to tell another man his wife hasn’t touched him in weeks/months/years? B) what is he to do when the church only tells him to be more humble and death to self which stretches of the time. C) when the only advice he can get from her father is to extend more grace. Again stretching out the time and pain.

    What you get is men who love Jesus leaving the church (because it was useless in solving the problem) who are now dead inside due to years of “death to self” being misused. And who have run out of grace to give. (They can get more from Jesus but it takes effort)

    We are to flee sexual immorality outside of marriage and embrace one flesh inside for the exact purposes of helping our SO avoid temptation.

    So please someone ANY one show me where/why the Church and Christian fathers got this passivity toward sins of women in the Church and why we don’t call it out. And in not talking some blog or only in hushed crises marriage counseling.

    You say don’t let it go on or seek help… And when she refuses? What recourse? To many men death seems the only way out and they often take it. Just look at the suicide rates for men and divorce v women.

    Sorry for my rant I’m just really hurting tonight.

    • Men don’t sacrifice so wives can stay at home and are owed sex for it!! Stay at home motherhood is part of the betterment of family and society and just as much and important a job as your paid position! It isn’t some priveledge we allow a wife who in turn must pay for it with sex. If that were the case, I would have just married some old sugar daddy. Marriage isn’t prostitution.

      That being said, I do believe we are too kid-gloved about sexless marriages in church. But, that doesn’t negate Paul’s words. I am a high drive wife who never refused her husband, but I recognize that women do need more care than they are getting. Not because we are pampered princesses who must be catered to, but because we are the weaker vessel, no matter what feminism says.

      It needs to be taught that if you do not intend to have regular sex, at least twice a week, then you ought not to get married. Male or female.

      My husband refused me sex because he felt I took too much work, that I required too much effort to achieve orgasm and that I put it all on him. He also thought I was manipulating him to try to get pregnant.

      Once I took that weight off his shoulders, he stopped refusing.

      • Your opening line makes no sense.

        Yes mothers staying home can be a good thing unless they are idk tearing down their marriage/spouse. Marriage come first before kids before the house. Before “society ” marriage and sex within marriage is building block of society. After all society at its most basic is one individual looking after another with reciprocity.

        Are men slaves when we hand over 100% of our paychecks to our wives? Please take your inflammatory prostitution remarks elsewhere. If we just wanted sex we would not have gotten married or would cheat. Please don’t add emotionally charged accusations into an already emotional situation. A man who goes with out sex for 6+ months is not treating his wife like a whore….

        I agree with your 2&3 para with one caveat my woman is getting all the care I can give and then some. ALL of my money all of my free time back rubs foot rubs neck rubs you name it but dare I show the slightest frustration due to lack of intimacy and I’m a worthless unloving unchristian heel.

        Your 4th para makes me sad. Children are a blessing and gifts from God. How often a week or month do you have sex? Are you hard to O and if so have you seen a Dr? Or looked in to sexual aids like pt141 or toys? Or are you / were you putting it all on him?

        So he stopped refusing that is great. My wife is still refusing and were looking at divorce. In here own words “she wishes I would file and stop bothering her” I put up with refusal so long now she gets a huge %$ and has threatened to take the kids.

        Thanks for your helpful responses

        • We have sex 3 to 4 times a week, and I can orgasm within 5 to 20 minutes of clitoral stimulation. The problem arose because I cannot orgasm through PIV alone and hubby decided 8 years into our marriage that he was done giving me oral or manual to get me to orgasm. Now, in order to orgasm, I must masturbate during intercourse. He will not give me an orgasm by any other means as that is, according to him, putting all the work and responsibility in his court.

          I hear your pain and acknowledge it. If your wife is not contributing to the household as she ought to as an adult, and I assume christian, then you have a big problem. Her statement of wishing you’d divorce her sounds like your marriage is critical and needs major action and intervention. I question her mental health! This is where the church needs to step in, especially women, who need to stop coddling and start issuing some major grow the fig up towards other women. I am sick of namby pamby women’s ministries and churches skirting serious issues and avoiding confrontation.

          My firm opinion is marriage is a default yes unless there is a good reason for a not now. No is only reserved for major sin issues. For example, I told my husband that if he cheats on me, I will not have sex until he is repentant and cleared of STIs.

          Stay at home motherhood is WORK! I am the first one up, the last one to bed, I make 3 meals a day, do all the bills, errands, appointments, school work, take care of the yard, farm animals, load the woodstove, and I have eager sex with hubby frequently.

          • Stay at home motherhood CAN be work. My wife claims every illness under the sun that cant or won’t be proven and then turns around and refuses to seek treatment. Fibromyalgia which we begged for the diagnosis so she could try med pot in Illinois. Migraines which her neurologist says he cant find on scans. And the latest is some pelvic disorder she self diagnosed. And has yet to seek treatment or even do the physical therapy she is supposed to do. But when her family (her parents bros and sis) are in town she goes sledding and all manner of fun physical stuff she is to tired/disabled to do with me and our children.

            She does get up early most days…out of habit of avoiding me. She then gets herself breakfast and sits in her recliner until lunch. She constantly is yelling at the kids (she demands absolute obedance from them) and they fend for themselves for breakfast lunch and dinner. After lunch is her daily 2hr nap. Dinner is at 5 and she is in bed watching her shows Blue bloods /ncis is the latest.(but when I worked and did not know she watched Grey’s anatomy and cougarvill) she spends most of her time in the recliner on social media or reading “romance novels ” on her smartphone. Her phone is locked and all social media is PW protected. I gave my pastor my PWs for accountability.

            The two things outside of that routine that she does do is shopping she loves to shop. And she pays the bills with my disability va/ssdi. She has no income of her own hasn’t worked in 16y she worked the first 2 years and then quit abruptly bc I had before we were married said she could be a SAHM. Even though it ment I had to work 3 eventually broke my back in Iraq our 4 year. Yes I literally went to a desert to get away from my wife.

            I am not “allowed” to pay the bills. She claims i am being controling when i offer. She even went to pastor and said it was “our” money and for me not to cause conflict over it as lond as the bills are being paid.

            I am a disabled vet and do the best I can and team up with my 17yo collage student daughter to keep the house running (clean meals etc)

            I am not perfect but I love my family. My children are my world. And I even love my wife I could overlook most everything on going for some genuine intimacy. And of course I can forgive everything to move forward in to a real christian marriage covenant.

            I like to think that for the most part I am kind and generous husband and father. But when I’m sexual frustrated and no one will help I have been less loving then I should be and end up yelling at her I called her a shrew one time this last sept and now I’ll never hear the end of it. I do not swear at or in front of my wife or children. Most of the time I just yell abt how alone I feel and how hurt I am. I once made the mistake of posting my feeling of being alone on FB she told me it was hurtful. So sharing my feeling or even having them is hurtful.

          • I am sorry you are dealing with that. She’s the kind of woman I have all I can do to not hit with a two by four. I was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia and was going to be put on SSRIs for anxiety. A veteran told me it was all in my head and I needed to just chill the f out, and grow up a little. I am a smart, hard working woman, there is no reason I should be ill, and no indication on my blood work that I am anything but healthy.

            He told me to get a little more sleep, exercise more, and stop taking things to heart and feeling sorry for myself. Within days…DAYS, I no longer had any fibro or anxiety symptoms.

            Your wife is either extremely selfish or she has found herself in the pit of modern womanhood that denegrades men, calls women victims, and feeds them lies and diagnoses with confirmation bias junk.

            Seriously, how did our foremothers survive.

            I forgot to mention that I also work a part time job, run an at-home business, and do whatever it takes to keep us productive.

            Thank you for your service to our country. I wish I knew your wife personally because I would be her best friend and worst enemy to get her to grow up. She seriously needs a major intervention.

          • We are heading to a FOTF retreat in Branson NO very soon she initially complained abt the cost (marriage not worth the 4k) but quickly backtracked when she thought what pastor would think and she can’t stand outsiders to think poorly of her. She was very upset when my adult daughter 17 wrote pastor an email..(She monitors her email).

            Please pray that we can be healed and given tools to move forward.

      • @Libl – “It needs to be taught that if you do not intend to have regular sex, at least twice a week, then you ought not to get married. Male or female.”

        Amen to that!

        • Perhaps the FDA should require a warning label on all marriage licenses that says this. In lieu of that, how about pre-marriage counselors get their act together and create informal pre-nuptial agreements (morally binding if not legally) that stipulate regular sexual relations as an essential component. Then when a couple comes back after a few months of sexlessness, the question to the refusing spouse won’t be “Why don’t you want sex?” but “Why did you agree to have sex before the marriage and break your word once you were married? Don’t you know that is fraud?”

          • @RickyB – I absolutely agree premarital counselling needs to include a good deal on sex, and should discuss reasonable expectations. Our standard has become “Sex more days than not: – something I got from J of http://hotholyhumorous.com .
            Of course, this would only help the minority who do any real premarital work,

    • @hurting418years – I hear your pain.

      What some will hear in your words is “I don’t care that your father raped you 200 times, I’m horny and you owe me sex.”

      For the record, I think why a man looks at porn is important, because in the why is the key to his escape.

      Also for the record, I’ve been very clear that sexual refusal in marriage is wrong.

      • No history of abuse for my wife it has been asked repeatedly just abt as much as often as she has been begged to seek professional help but refuses insisting I just need to get used to NO kissing NO foreplay NO just being naked together. I can count on my fingers and toes the number of non peck kisses in the last 19 years. And here I thought we were just waiting for marriage….oh and the peck kisses number less 100. And when she wants to buy something the church has flat out told me it is “our” money even though MY body earned it. So yes being of one flesh I’m not owed because owed denotes it isn’t mine. But the bible says my body and hence labor is hers. If she wants to hold hands or wants a hug I never withhold good to make her feel better.

        Modern church is failing to follow the whole gospel. When will we have another Luther that says something is VERY wrong.

        And I will never care what the some people hear. Why care about those that willfully misunderstand you. That knowingly inject what is not there. And that leave out what was.

        • My struggle with porn began with the conception of my last child that led to an emotional crisis brought on by the realization that I was going to face several years of sexlessness because that was the same pattern that happened with every child. My wife only wanted sex for procreation and refused once she was pregnant and then breastfeeding.

          Our marriage counselor told me I didn’t “need” sex so my wife took that and ran with it. I felt abandoned and it seemed no one gave a crap if I ever had sex again. I would have moved mountains for my wife if she had just given me a smidgen of encouragement that my self-sacrifice of sex meant anything to her. But it didn’t because she felt she was entitled to be left alone since she was carrying our child and that meant more than my insignificant sexual urges.

          After a few years of this I finally gave up porn just because I realized it was a dead end. It was mostly tame stuff and pretty much just to supplement sexual fantasies around being desired and wanted by a woman.

          Now I focus on work and the kids and hope she’ll come around some day. I still have the fantasies but I generate those myself, no porn necessary.

  2. As a wife whose husband has decided without talking to me about it that he no longer has any desire for sex, I am mad more about him making the decision without conversing with me, and now he thinks and has stated that he does not want to talk about it he just wants it to go away, no resolution. I feel hopeless

    • @Debbie – I’m very sorry for your situation. If it’s really a lack of desire I doubt it was a decision, but rather a realisation.

      Tell him this is not okay with you. Tell him it hurts you and hurts your marriage. Ask him to talk with you or get some help because you love him and want to have a good marriage.

    • I am very sorry Debbie. I never will understand spouses that are unwilling to seek medical or professional psychological help. For these issues. It could be as simple as low testosterone.

      • @hurting418years –

        Your story is one of many that has finally pushed me to the realization that there are some things that God hates more than divorce. You are in an abusive relationship and your wife has abandoned the marriage bed. Sexlessness is not grounds for divorce, IMO. Even a lot of sexual refusal is not given that it is a complicated issue.

        But your situation, IMO, is tantamount to full abandonment. It is not only a sin, it is blatant and perpetual cheating which she is completely unrepentant about.

        Under the circumstances, you need to start moving to protect your assets and your right to see the children. The family courts are not your friend and sadly the church, from what it sounds like, is also not your friend.

        I pray you found your way out of this mess but divorce makes everything messy even in cases where it is justified. Courage will be required but, if what you are saying is the truth, your courage will send a message to your wife and others (including many husbands) that the marriage bed is not to be defiled by infidelity nor abandonment.

        • Ricky B we are attending a focus on the family crisis marriage counseling retreat in a few weeks please pray for us.

          • Please do me and everyone else a favor and give us a full report on this blog. I would love to hear if the retreat is effective and whether they treat the sexual refusal seriously. It might be something I look into myself.

  3. Paul,
    Thank you for this post. If nothing else, it describes the complexity of human sexuality.

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