Scared of Initiating Sex

Jay Dee

Scared of Initiating Sex

Mar 19, 2014

I think a lot of spouses are scared of initiating sex and I think that fear exists on all sides: high drive, low drive, husband, wife, they may have different reasons for being scared, but I think many of us are scared of initiating sex

Scared Of Initiating SexI think a lot of spouses are scared of initiating sex and I think that fear exists on all sides: high drive, low drive, husband, wife, they may have different reasons for being scared, but I think many of us are scared of initiating sex with our spouses. This is sad really, and there is a skill to counter it that I hinted at briefly in my post about Valentine’s Day. So, today I’m going to try and tackle this. I’d love to know other people’s results, because I have only my own to work with. As usual, Christina (my wife)’s comments in purple.

Why are we scared of initiating sex?

So, first off, why are we scared of initiating sex? I don’t know everyone’s reasons, but I can guess at probably the majority.

High Drive Spouses

For high-drive spouses, this fear of initiating generally comes about because they get rejected. Being rejected hurts, and so, eventually, we naturally build what is really a fear of rejection. When most initiations are responded to with rejection, it becomes harder and harder to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and try again the next time, knowing that there is a better chance of being rejected than of being received. And for those spouses who don’t understand why it’s a big deal, why rejection hurts. I’d like to offer up my post Is There A Good Way To Tell Your Husband “No Sex Tonight”? to try and explain why it hurts.

Low Drive Spouses

Now, this one is a bit more subtle. I think for many, it boils down to one of two things (or perhaps both): guilt, or lack of practice. Particularly in the case of refusing low-drive spouses, I think, on the occasions where they want to have sex, they end up feeling guilty, or they are worried that their spouse will question them, and it’s an uncomfortable topic that they often don’t want to talk about. Another reason, I think, is that there is also a fear that they will do it wrong. I’ve heard this called the Christmas Principle. Christmas is often a disaster, because it only comes up once a year, and everyone has high emotions. So no one gets to practice often and everyone is on edge. Whereas most people can pull of a regular dinner, because you practice that nearly every day. So, initiating sex, when you rarely initiate sex, is frightening, because it has a strong emotional impact. It feels weird, and you feel ashamed, and self-conscious.

What’s the solution to being scared of initiating sex?

Well, the solution is simple, but difficult.  This is an advanced skill people. Basically, initiate more, initiate fearlessly, and be content regardless of the outcome. This is incredibly hard to do, especially when you aren’t having much sex, or when you are getting rejected left and right, because it requires switching your mindset instantaneously depending on the response. It requires that you initiate with full confidence, fully expecting sex to occur, and then, if it doesn’t, to immediately change to be content with the fact that it didn’t, but if it does, you need to be fully engaged as if you always expected it to happen. I remember times as Jay trying to learn how to do this, and having some nights where he was disappointed that I just didn’t have the energy, and he just didn’t realize how tired I was. I could FEEL the disappointment without him saying a thing.  This always makes me think of Philippians 4:11.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” – Philippians 4:11

Now, Paul was not writing about sex in marriage at this time, but I think it still applies. We are to strive for the kingdom of God, expecting it to happen. We are to evangelize, expecting conversion. We are to pray to God, expecting miracles. And if they don’t happen, we should immediately switch our frame of mind, and be content with the outcome. In fact, we are told that it is our faith that will move mountains.  God can move mountains at any time, but it is our belief that He can that makes it happen.

While I understand this is going to be a stretch for some (I’m sure someone will accuse me of twisting scripture to suit my needs), I believe this has applications in married sex as well. Here’s what happens:

First, we initiate, believing sex will happen. This leads to a perception of confidence (whether or not it actually exists), because that is basically the definition of confidence: expecting a good outcome. Don’t you find it’s a lot harder to say “no” to someone who is confident? Well, I find this same principle works when initiating sex within marriage. Confidence (or perceived confidence) increases the chance for sex (note: doesn’t guarantee it).  It’s a lot like faith that moves mountains.  We COULD have sex every night, but it is our faith that it will happen that increases the chances of it actually occurring.  Now, this has to be done in a particular way. It can’t be with the attitude that we are owed it, that our spouse better pay up, or that it is their responsibility to please us.  Instead, we have to come with the attitude that our spouse loves sex and wants to have it all the time, and that can be really hard to do when all the evidence is stacked against that belief. As well, it needs to be initiated in a way that assumes it’s a fore-gone conclusion.

So, an example: If my wife asks “What do you want to do tonight?” My answer “Well, let’s get the kids to bed, then work on this week’s blog post, then some sex, then sleep.” And then I think to myself, “Then we better get started on those things quickly if that’s gonna all happen.”

Even if I’ve been getting signals all day that say “no sex”, I’m still going to work on the assumption that we’re going to have sex, and that she wants it.

Another example: My wife asks me to get her something. I don’t mind helping, and I’m not doing anything crucial, while she’s confined to a chair breastfeeding our youngest. So, I get it, hand it to her, she says “Thanks”, and I respond “No problem, you’ll make it up to me later.” And I grin back at him thinking about what I’ll do for him later. It’s all in the attitude.

The key here is to keep it light and fun. It’s a joke, without being a joke. I full expect that she will “make it up to me”, but even if she doesn’t, I still would have gotten it for her. But, it also plants the idea in her head of my expectations. Assuming there is nothing seriously wrong with the relationship, putting the idea of sex into your spouses head is generally not a bad thing.  And sometimes it doesn’t happen, but sometimes, she comes to bed and says “So … I believe I owe you something”.  Of course, she’s smiling.  It’s not a real debt to be paid, just a game.  But the prizes are fantastic.  Also, it “gives her an excuse”.  As I said, it can be hard to initiate for a low-drive spouse, but, this game sort of gives her an excuse, it’s a way of tricking her brain into not having a choice, so she might as well enjoy it. It can be hard to play the game when you know your brain is being tricked sometimes, but like I said, it’s all in the attitude.

So, next is the actual outcome. What do we do when we are in bed, both naked, and our spouse clearly indicates they aren’t up for sex tonight. Something like “I’m way too exhausted to have sex tonight.” I’m not talking about a normal “I have a headache” excuse, but a real, valid one. Here is where the real test is. Because, now we have to actually be content with not having sex, and that can be really hard to do. Honestly, I don’t quite pull it off, but I’m getting better.  It wasn’t that long ago that I would be devastated by being rejected, even if for valid reasons.  I would feel that I had been betrayed, or misled, or a promise was broken.  It hurt, because I felt lied to and abandoned, that my feelings were not being met, cared for, nor cared about.  We can get into this endless self-pitying cycle in our minds about how mean our spouse is, and how much we deserve sex, and how unfair it is to be refused. And that’s where I FEEL him slipping into that place of feeling bad that it’s not what he wanted/expected, and I feel really guilty about it. I tend to then blame myself for sex not happening that night. It’s got to be someone’s fault (No it doesn’t). I have really struggled with the whole gatekeeper thing. Someone has to be in control of the decision of whether or not sex is happening.

Instead, we have to reverse that cycle.  Remember that our spouse loves us and cares for us.  Remember all the other indicators that let us know that they do care about our feelings, needs and wants.  Recognize the difficulty they are in, and what is causing them to say “not tonight.”  It gets easier with practice, and hopefully the frequency will increase slightly, making it easier again because it’s easier to be content with no sex that night if the next occurrence is a day or two away at most. Since it has only happened twice that I can remember where Jay was too tired when I initiated, I just want to say that I do try very hard to “make up” for it the next day/night. Trying to reinforce that I wasn’t trying to “get out of it” like I used to.

But this reversal, this being content, if it is genuine (or at least you genuinely want to be) can have a fairly large impact on our spouse as well.  If we whine, complain, sulk, detach, etc. when sex is turned down, then our spouses feel guilty, or that we only want them for sex, or frustrated by the events.  This associates a negative feeling with sexual initiation, which is the last thing we want.  So, instead, if we react with patient, loving understanding, this will leave a good feeling about initiating sex, so when we fearlessly initiate sex next time, our spouse won’t feel scared of us initiating sex in return.  Plus, it’s a time to inject yet another initiation for tomorrow.

Christina – I’m sorry, I’m just too tired tonight, and I really need to sleep.

Jay – No problem, I can wait until morning.

Christina – Grinning, “I’ll do my best”

Now, morning sex with 4 young children in the house rarely happens (but it does occasionally), so, we go back to the same cycle:

  1. Initiate fearlessly, assuming sex, not in a “you owe me sex” sort of way, but in a “my spouse loves to have sex with me” sort of way
  2. If we get rejected, take it gracefully, understand our spouse’s situation
  3. Initiate fearlessly, assuming sex

Of course, if our spouse responds positively to our initiation, we have to not act with surprise, or shock, or like we won something.  We have to respond as if we always knew it was going to happen.  This will make it easier for them to respond positively the next time around.

It is hard to do this, to maintain that frame of mind that our spouse wants us, that they desire sex as much as we do, and yet not be disappointed when the evidence clearly says they don’t.  It is uncomfortable at first, to initiate fearlessly, it will and it will not feel comfortable for the first bit.  But there is an interesting cycle that occurs.

The first time it works (when we normally wouldn’t have had sex), we feel like we won something (though it’s important not to show that).  This triggers a dopamine response, and actually starts to rewire our brains in minute ways.  So the next time, it’s just a little bit easier.  The next time we are a little more confident, and so our chances improve slightly again, and, again, our brains rewire slightly.  And it keeps going until we are initiating multiple times a day, rejections fall off of you like water off a duck’s back, not hurting at all, but having sex more frequently and having better sex than before.

I think also, part of it is the attitude, when you initiate all the time, it’s more of a mindset of playfulness with your spouse. It really helps you focus on what’s fun and your mind away from thinking of reasons why you can’t tonight. Instead you start planning how you can make it happen.

Is sex all you care about?

While this sounds like it’s all about sex, and getting more sex, there is a lot more to it than that.

  • It will make your marriage more playful.
  • More sex generally leads to a deeper emotional and spiritual connection as the physical connection increases.
  • Less hurt feelings about rejection mean more positive feelings persist.
  • Often we hide our sexual desires so much that it cannot help but create a rift in our marriage, as anything we don’t share does.  By initiating whenever you feel desire, you show more of who you are with your spouse, instead of hiding a part of it worrying it will be rejected.  This leads to greater trust.

This year we will celebrate our 13th year of marriage.  We have 4 small children, whom we home school.  We are climbing out of debt like so many are, and I’m sort of going through a mid-life crisis trying to figure out what I want to do with my career and ministry.  Yet we are having the best sex of our lives, are more transparent with each other than ever before, and we have a lot of fun together.  I initiate at least a half a dozen times a day (usually not for right now sex, but for promises of later in the day sex), the vast majority get turned down which isn’t surprising, because some of my initiations are ridiculous.

Christina – Want do you want for supper?

Jay – (without so much as a millisecond pause) You.

Christina – Well, that’s not really possible is it?

Jay – Well, dessert then.

Christina – After the kids are in bed.

I mean, I know that there is no way she’s going to delay supper, run upstairs, get undressed for some oral sex fun, while the kids are running around the house.  Really … I do know that, I just choose to ignore it while initiating.  But, it gets her brain at least thinking about sex for a second, and it has the added benefit of planting the idea of sex later in her mind, and actually getting her to set the appointment, so there is buy in from her side as well.  Now we have something.  But once in a while, some of my crazy initiations do pan out immediately, and they’re a lot of fun and exciting for both of us, and without learning to initiate constantly, to do it fearlessly, we would miss out on those times.

It is a lot of fun to be so playful all the time, but I used to think, “sex is all he thinks about isn’t it?” or “How can he possibly think about sex so much!” But I’ve learned to just run with it, have fun being a tease and giggle and give “that” look. You know the one! March 14th was just last week, and that day, while a little stressful for me for other reasons, was also fun. Jay was throwing line after line at me about what was going to happen that night, it was a bit of a distraction from the other stuff that was stressing me out (If you don’t know, March 14th is “Steak and Blow Job Day”, the “Husbands Valentine’s Day” as it were).

Your Turn

How are you at initiating sex?  Do you come like a beggar asking for food?  Or fearlessly believing that your spouse wants it too?

Looking for help?

51 thoughts on “Scared of Initiating Sex”

  1. onewomanman says:

    Great post Jay. “difficult to do” is an understatement!!

    March 14th? Really?! There’s a calendar for that!? 🙂

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Well, you can do it on other days as well (I’m trying to institute a regular Friday event in our household …), don’t feel restricted to only that day.
      Coincidentally, 3.14 is “PI” day as well, so it might as well be Steak, BJ and Pie day … but I didn’t get any pie that day …

      1. onewomanman says:

        Well. At this point I’d be happy with just once. Still waiting… All in good time I suppose. On my calendar, March 14 is….the 14th of March. Comes after the 13th and right before the 15th. And Fridays, well, that’s the last workday just before the weekend.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          It took us years to get here. This is the first year we’ve celebrated it.

  2. LatterDay Marriage says:

    I did my share of avoiding rejection in the past. I`m not a fan of trying to deal with rejection by employing some kind of self delusion though. Better to try and remove the source of the rejection IMHO.

    Sometimes that fear of rejection has more to do with how we look at ourselves than with our spouse too. I`m the HD spouse, but when i went through a long period of unemployment it really took a toll on my feelings of self worth, and at time even though I desperately wanted to connect sexually with DW, I was too beaten down by circumstances to muster the confidence to do it. Even if she said yes, I would have attributed it to her `doing her duty`and not to the kind of emotional acceptance and desire I needed from her. I would come away feeling like I used her and I`d be down on myself even more. A LD spouse can be afraid to initiate because they do not want to raise the bar on what I expected from them in the future. Sometimes we can resist change because it implies we were somehow wrong before.

    When DW is ill or something and can`t be intimate, I don`t feel rejected since her saying no has nothing to do with how she feels about me. But there is still disappointment and a sense of loss or longing. That is a reflection of the fact that I am not going to get something I dearly love as soon as I hoped. The only way I could shut those feelings down would be to emotionally disconnect from my wife and reduce sex to nothing but the physical and I`m not going to do that.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I see your point, but you cannot change your spouse. Only your self. And I don’t see it as a self-delusion at all. Rather, a change in mindset, and a healthy one at that. It’s not healthy to be constantly frustrated. But you can’t argue with the biblical principle of being content in all things. Well, maybe you can, I don’t know. If you can, let me know.

      1. LatterDay Marriage says:

        Depends what you mean by being content in all things. A positive attitude and having gratitude for what God has given us is a good thing to have, but I don`t think the intention of that counsel was to avoid striving for something better in out life or our marriage. If we are taking something as rejection when it is not, certainly we need to adjust our frame of mind to fit reality, but if the reality is your spouse is rejecting you I would see that as a call to action. While nobody can force their spouse to change, we can do what we can to influence them and pray for God to help change their heart. You do the best you can and pray for God`s help without obsessing over it to the point of losing the joy of the gospel.

  3. Romantha Dearne Harrison says:

    If you are opposed to celebrating Valentines Day, why arent you opposed to celebrating “steak and a blow job day”?

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Well, two things I think:
      1) I would not be devastated in the way that many wives are if my wife completely forgot the day, or if something interrupted our day. This is our first year celebrating this holiday, but I didn’t get upset in previous years that we didn’t.
      2) No expectations of gifts or anything of monetary value. The meal doesn’t cost any more than a regular meal, nor did it require any more work than a regular meal. And blow jobs are free.

      Steak and Blow Job Day is about showing your love through service, which I think is central to marriage (service I mean, not blow jobs, though those are good too).
      Valentine’s Day is the opposite: It’s about proving your love through material gifts, which is appalling (the idea that you can “buy” love. To me, it sounds like prostitution).

      1. Romantha Dearne Harrison says:

        Valentines Day is not about monetary gifts in my marriage. Its just a day that we get to go above and beyond what we normally do for each other. This past valentines day, I got an old picture of my husbands mother (she passed away when he was a teenager) and i got it blown up and framed and placed it over the mantle, it was all less than 10 dollars. He gave me an “at home spa day”, he did his best to pamper me and it didnt cost him a dime. And I’ve never seen anyone make valentines day all about the wife in their marriage, in fact, in my experience its usually the wives that do way more for their husbands. But “steak and a blow job day” is totally centered around men,and that just doesnt seem very fair to me. But to each his own, i guess.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          I have no problems with a valentine’s day like that. Good for you guys. That’s not what I’m seeing happen according to blogs, twitter, Facebook, or people I talk to though. Perhaps it’s different in our areas/circles. And I think my wife enjoyed the day as much as I did. Definitely wasn’t just about me. We both had a lot of fun. Actually, she’s the one who brought up making it a more than once a year tradition.

          Anyways, if my depiction of valentine’s day doesn’t match yours, then disregard the post, you weren’t the intended audience in that case. You’re doing fine.

  4. Robyn Gibson says:

    Great post JD!
    “I see your point, but you cannot change your spouse. Only your self. And I don’t see it as a self-delusion at all. Rather, a change in mindset, and a healthy one at that. ” You cannot change your spouse but if you open yourself up to the changes God wants to make in yourself — God changes your spouse into exactly what you need. The trick is being willing to change IN FAITH because it’s what God wants rather than a guarantee a spouse’s changed behaviour.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thanks Robyn

  5. EssentiallyJess says:

    There’s so much good stuff in here. Will get my husband to read it too I think

    1. Jay Dee says:


  6. Anonymous says:

    1. Initiate fearlessly, assuming sex, not in a “you owe me sex” sort of way, but in a “my spouse loves to have sex with me” sort of way
    2. If we get rejected, take it gracefully, understand our spouse’s situation
    3. Initiate fearlessly, assuming sex.

    How do you continue to do this day after day for months on end when the answer is always NO. Pretty tough on your self esteem. I know, I know we are suppose to smile in the face of adversity and act as if everything is perfect. BS

    1. Jay Dee says:

      No, we are not to act as if everything is perfect. If you are dealing with complete refusal, of a sexless marriage, then it’s time for serious action.
      Matthew 18 has guidance for how to deal with conflict that you cannot resolve yourself, and I think we can extrapolate the principles.
      1) Confront your spouse. Show them the Truth in the scripture of how they are harming you, your marriage and themselves.
      2) If they won’t listen, confront them again with a married couple that you both trust (I’m adjusting, given the topic)
      3) If they still won’t listen, bring it to church leadership (pastor / elders) and ask for help

  7. Amy says:

    This is such a great post and one that I really needed to read.
    I am a higher drive wife, partly due to my husband having medication and age-related libido and ED issues, and extremely long work hours which make for plenty of exhausted week nights. Sex pretty much only happens when he wants to (or can) get things up and going. 😉 Whenever I initiate I am usually turned down and over time it does take a toll on a person as you wonder whether you are still desirable to your spouse.
    It is so easy to get caught up thinking all kinds of negative thoughts about how your spouse just doesn’t want you, doesn’t find you attractive, doesn’t care about sex as much as you do, etc. And when I let those feelings take over the real truth of the matter that he is just really exhausted or needs one more day to get his engines revved up after the last time, then I end up throwing the biggest pity party there has ever been…complete with an extra glass of wine and maybe some chocolate too. LOL

    I feel really excited to actually have some tools now to deal with our situation. I’m going to pray hard to stop being afraid of initiating for fear of rejection and approach it in the manner that we BOTH want sex at that moment. Then if he turns me down I will pray for peace and contentment as I try hard to turn any negative thoughts around to focusing on what is really true at that moment…he is too tired, he is too stressed or he just needs a little more time to get in the mood.

    Thanks again for the great post.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I hope these new tools help.

  8. Adam D. Oglesby says:

    Fascinating, frank discussion.

    I would tell anyone that sex is probably the most important ingredient in any successful relationship. It is the wheel from which all the other spokes radiate. You mess that up–all other aspects of your relationship tend to suffer.

    Folks–oftentimes the female in a relationship but not always–will get confused about why their man married them in the first place. Let me clarify: Women may marry for all kinds of reasons, love, security, children.

    Men marry for one primary reason: Sex.

    They want it. They want it frequently. They want it with their particular proclivity occasionally thrown in.

    Yes, your husband may love you. But he married you because he was under the impression that he would have sex in a plentiful supply.

    Everything else is secondary.

    To turn him down with any degree of frequency is to suggest that making him happy is secondary in your life. Do that too frequently and you will become secondary in his life.

    If that doesn’t sound like a recipe for a happy union then you’re absolutely right.

    My advice: Do it to your mate. Do it whether you have a headache. Do it while it’s your time of the month if he can stand it that way. Do it when you’re pregnant.

    But do it.

    No, it doesn’t have to be an academy award winning performance every time. But you get all manner of points for just making the effort.

    If it can’t happen vaginally, do it orally, manually, but find someway for him to get his cookies.

    Then sit back and watch all manner of benefits accrue your way.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Respectfully, I would disagree. Sex is not the primary reason I married my wife. I married her because I wanted a partner that would stand beside me, one that I could strive for my vision and achieve my mission in life. That is the primary reason. Sex is a method of achieving unity in order to pursue those goals more efficiently and productively. But, is it a method, not the goal, and not the reason. I could still achieve my goals without having sex (it would be done as well, and I probably wouldn’t be as content, but I could do it). On the other hand, if I sat back and had sex all day, every day, but didn’t work towards my vision, well, then I would be completely unproductive, and probably not very happy in a deep fulfilling sort of way.

      1. Adam D. Oglesby says:

        Jay, thanks for responding so soon.

        Your reasons for marriage sound admirable. I suspect they are not the most common marriage reasons-particularly for a young man. They sound so wholesome and mature. Did you marry as an older man?

        That said, your reasons also sound rather sterile and unromantic. Oddly enough, you didn’t mention love as playing a role. I’m sure the missus would be interested to hear that!

        So, for you sex was not the primary reason-but did it play any role at all in your desire to marry?
        Obviously, all men don’t marry for sex. Some couples marry well into their octogenarian years and have little interest or even ability to be humping and bumping beneath the covers.

        I maintain , however, that for most men-crass, self-centered, superficial dudes that we are–sex is the catalyst for marriage. If it’s not the number one reason-it is certainly high on the list.

        Do you disagree?

        1. Jay Dee says:

          They may not be common, I’m not sure. I decided to marry my wife at 16, a month after we started dating. We got engaged at 18, and married a month after my 20th birthday.

          And if you think working together for to achieve your life purpose is unromantic…well, I’m not sure how to help you. I can’t think of anything more romantic. I didn’t explicitly mention love, but I thought it was implicit in my statements. My wife is always interested in hearing what I say, and this was no different. Her only comment was “He (you) doesn’t understand.”

          Did it play a role in my desire to marry, of course. Without sex…well, why would we marry. We could just be colleagues, or housemates. But, then we wouldn’t achieve a large part of our vision for life, so that would invalidate the purpose of being together.

          Now, you say obviously all men don’t marry for sex, but your prior comment was “Men marry for one primary reason: Sex.” That sounds like an all-encompassing general statement, and that is what I had to disagree with. I think a lot of men marry for other reasons.

          And now you seem to suggest that desiring sex is a crass, self-centered, superficial reason. I don’t believe that at all. God created these bodies. He created the genders. He created sex, and our desire to have it. So, unless God is crass, self-centered and superficial…I’m not sure how to hold up that point of view.

          So, do I disagree? It seems I do disagree with much of what you said.

          Now, if are you trying to say that sex is important. Then yes. I agree with that, but not only for men. For the marriage. Sex is a need in marriage, not a want.

          1. Adam D. Oglesby says:

            Thanks, Jay. Fascinating discussion. Be happy to stop by your site from time to time to see what’s cooking.

            1. Jay Dee says:

              Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to more discussions.

          2. Junebug says:

            Jay Dee, there have been times that I have not always agreed with you on some of the subjects, but you answer to Adam was spot on. Thanks!

            1. Jay Dee says:

              You are very welcome.

  9. jeff says:

    What if the husband has been unemployed so long that he is more of a dweeb than a husband? Also, she reasons that he is a poor husband, father and is “unloving” even though I fix all the computers, care for our special needs child, etc. Initiating is something that quite startles her when I attempt it. 30 yrs of marriage and she is way, way, way too modest, yet not in the past.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m not exactly sure what the question is.

      It seems that in this situation, there are far more fundamental issues to deal with than this topic.

  10. jeff says:

    well, I initiated this morning as she woke…she pushed me away, not just a few inches, she pushed me to a full arms length away. It is day number three where she suggested I come to bed before she goes to sleep so we can have sex. All three nights she does the facebook thing then rolls over and goes to sleep.

    1. Matt W says:

      Jeff, I don’t know any back ground, and I am new to this site. However, this sounds as though things are really tangled. Since I am new, perhaps you’ll forgive me if I restate what many might have said before.
      Firstly, weekly, prayerful support from honest believing brothers may help, and not just about sex. It’s hard to sort out sex if the rest of our life is a complex knot. If you’re taking responsibility for working on a large spiritual and practical task (any task) it is intimidating.
      Secondly, in the midst of your pain and frustration, it sounds as though your wife needs help too. In my experience, this is usually rooted in thinking outside God’s grace and kindness for us. Experiences start to tell us life is hard, unrelenting, and so God must be. That attitude leads to a ‘lock down’ approach, (see the one talent man in the parable of the talents, Matt 25:24-25). This seems extra hard to shake when physically tired. Without sounding trite, any thing that might help you as a couple to see kindness and hope in your situation may help, and this may best come from good believing friends at church.
      My apologies if this has all been said before, I often find it easu to overlook the obvious.

  11. Jeff says:

    Well, its hopeless now. Her vaginal pain. no effort to see any doctor in 6 months! then telling me she is tired (everyone is tired) and that I need to get a job after being mr mom for the last 3 years! (oh, uh, I’ve been unemployed 4 years) Then its that I am mean to the kids etc, etc… Hopeless.
    My interest in other things gone. depression increased. self esteem gone. no hope. no hope. concentrate on job I don’t have, right? how about a new job? well no one calls, resume redone 20 times (or was it 30?) no hope means a pattern of behavior that my wife has in which she is supposed to fulfill my sexuality. Then, when sexuality is fulfilled, temptation, self esteem is better, etc. But, no.
    no hope means no hope.
    I’ll do what I always do; go to church, smile play the act. Perform home duties for special needs kids, look to bleak future that proves itself over and over. And lets just justify HER attitude;
    If she is sick, injured, lack of interest or just thinks of me as a dweeb (in my case), therefore, as a result, my sexual desire will diminish right?…………..we guys can just turn off sexual feelings like a switch right??……

  12. Megan says:

    I can relate to a lot of the things that have been said. I have a huge fear of rejection when it comes to my husband. I have a daughter but am no longer with her father and I wasn’t this way with my ex. Now with my current husband though I am just terrified!! We have been together for over 3 years, and I have probably never initiated any sort of intimacy. There is an age difference between my husband and I but I am just constantly terrified of him saying no. I am extremely self-conscious of myself, I don’t look the same way I use to due to health reasons. So I don’t feel attractive at all even if he tries to compliment me or anything. Recently we had a discussion and he had told me he wants me to show more affection towards him. So I sit there and think of ways to do it, so I plan and I plan but when it comes time to show it, I back down. He knows I have this fear but I can’t voice to him how big the fear is, or what I feel. We have such an amazing relationship but when it comes to being intimate with him, I just wait til he initiates it, I never say no, but I just have to wait for him to say something first. I just don’t know what to do…

  13. Megan says:

    Any advice on what to do, would be a huge help!!

  14. x1134x says:

    Yeah “scared” doesn’t describe it. “Terrified” is better.

  15. Victoria says:

    For the first 2 1/2 years of my marriage i didnt want to have sex. It was painful and I’d always have to ask if it was almost over. This continued until he could no longer penetrate (felt like shards of glass were being forced into my vagina and he said it felt like he was hitting a wall). I had to be treated for Vaginismus and now sex doesnt hurt and we use foreplay (instead of a hurried “quickie” just to get it all over with as fast as possible). Only now Im a bit perplexed, im actually initiating sex and wanting it but he turns me down. It’s like we can only have sex if he’s in the mood. It’s very confusing for me, I thought he’d jump at any chance to have sex.

  16. Inny says:

    Good advice if both parties have a desire to support each other. When one spouse is selfish and only wants to do what they want to do, the rejection (15 years) creates so much pain for the other spouce. I agree with your article, but wish it applied to my marriage. I truly regret making my vows to God. Anyhow, good article for those it will apply to.

  17. John says:

    The idea of this advice is good but when your spouse rejects you 99% of the time this article doesn’t help. 29 years of trying and being accepted maybe 5 times times a year puts a real negative attitude for what you are saying. Marriage counseling also doesn’t help as all counselors we have seen so far say the same things. Give her time and she will be ready when she is ready. I’ve given up trying anymore and let her control when and if sex happens. Bible scriptures are no use when your spouse is spiritual but not religious. For all those this helps I’m happy for you .

    1. Jay Dee says:

      You’re correct, this post does not address that situation. The problem is, there isn’t a big enough hammer in the world to get you what you want. She has to come around on her own. I know, that’s a very unsatisfying answer, but it’s the answer, none-the-less.

  18. RichSummons says:

    Help? Maybe? I really don’t know what to think. I am in my second marriage.. the first was 13 years.. a combo of high fueled sex and exploration, combined with being the sole break winner in a high stress job that was also high in hours. It appears I could not keep up… I was blindsided with infidelity… Tried to forgive and move forward, but just wasn’t possible.. I moved on… we divorced and I found myself with the woman that I feel I was meant to be with..
    It has been such a journey of not wanting to repeat any ‘errors’ from the past.. (I was told I was controlling… I disagree with that, but it is what it is.. I was told I looked at my wife as a sex object.. I again disagree, but take the criticism) by councilors.
    NOW in my current marriage I feel it difficult to initiate.. like a beat dog.. I almost recoil at the thought of being controlling, or treating my wife as a sexual object.. In the beginning my wife initiated.. a few occasions I was exhausted and “refused” and she doesn’t want to initiate anymore… I understand this.. but find myself in a very very uncomfortable position of not wanting to pressure her.. so she waits, I wait, and we both become dissatisfied and on edge until it just kind of happens… and the cycle repeats.. WE recognize the problem.. but I seem to be somehow defective… I now feel awkward, initiating sex. I never had this issue before, I feel guilty and under pressure which causes a great deal of anxiety even when we do seem to ‘will’ sex into our lives..

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Unfortunately, often counseling does more harm than good. I’m sorry you got stuck with that.

      In coaching, we try not to blame anyone, but rather see what the spouses need to do together to move the marriage forward. The idea is to work as a team to achieve the goals you want, not to cast blame and find out who’s “fault” it is for not being perfect.

      So, if you want to have a better sex life, I’d not look much at the fact that your wife isn’t initiating because she’s scared you’ll reject her (though that’s good to know), or that you aren’t initiating because you’re scared of treating her like a sex object (though that’s also good to know). Instead, we’d look at what baby steps you can each do to move the situation forward.

      I’d suggest, if this sounds reasonable to you. That you have a conversation about how often you’d like to have sex. Let’s say it’s twice a week. Then you find a way to make it so each of you is responsible for once a week.
      Perhaps you have a goal of initiating between Monday and Wednesday, and your wife has a goal of initiating Thursday through Saturday. Sunday is free for anyone to initiate, or not, as they feel.

      This way, the initiation is expected, but not forced. You aren’t surprised by it, but you have a chance to gear up. If you both understand that you both want sex twice a week, then it’s easier to initiate knowing they’re more likely to say yes.

      Of course, adjust the numbers as you see fit.

      Would that work for you?

  19. Daniel Kidder says:

    I’m married too and hopelessly in love with a non-believer. My wife and I have been married for almost a year and a half have yet to consummate our marriage. She had spoke to me about not having any desire and me not turning her off she is in menopause which does not help. We had a discussion the other day we had a discussion the other day she said I was not trying hard enough that was some of the problem. So this article hit home for me as I do have confidence problems because of being turned down and being made to feel unattractive. Don’t know what to do can’t just split up she has health problems and is dependent on me. My pastor advised me and in my case it would be appropriate if we divorced. Also she spent many years before us having same-sex relationships but no longer does that. I’m sure that’s part of the problem though. Maybe you could speak a little bit two exactly how to get your mind geared up to have more confidence and approach sex like it’s going to happen. Don’t think this is all of our problem but it is one step of going in the right direction. At this point I just feel like I have been used and decieved.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Married a year and a half and your pastor is suggesting divorce? Shame on him.

      I think you need to talk more about this. Whether she feels spontaneous desire or not, the question is whether or not she’s willing to be aroused. Most women won’t feel “in the mood” until sex actually begins. If she’s unwilling to even try, then the issue is one of selfishness, not desire.

  20. Sarah says:

    This may be an older post but I do appreciate it.

    I may have different beliefs than you (assumingely)… for example I don’t not consider religion in my relationships… though I do believe it is still an important subject to discuss. I just have a belief system that is different… no judgement here, and hope visa versa… Regardless… this article helped me a lot. It helped me initiate to my boyfriend just last night (the night I read this) of two and a half years. We have had sex before but I was presented with a great way to initiate sex… AND IT WORKED. So well that I didn’t feel weird the day after, and I t gave confidence in my stride. When I say weird I mean I feel like I had disappointed him in the past… or felt like I was just doing a “service” (not that he has said anything like that). I got to give a different way of how I try to initiate sex and it gave me a burst of happiness… and I think him too. I feel amazing.

    I guess I just want to say thank you… and your wife. I feel empowered and I can already feel my brain being slowly re-wired.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m glad it helped you where you’re at 🙂

  21. LD Non Initiator says:

    This was a great read. I’m the LD person in the relationship. My husband is HD all the time. We have been together for 14 years now.. We went through a long phase of me rejecting him and him getting extremely hurt and frustrated. It hurt me badly that I made him feel that way and the guilt was overwhelming. It didn’t matter if I said “its not you, its ME.” Well, we are in a place now that he rarely initiates and I never do. I adopted a “just do it” attitude when he initiates because I always have a good time once I’m at the party… just hard getting me to go for some reason. I want to be an initiator, and I lay next to him sometimes and think of all the ways I could lean over and try….but I never do. My anxiety shoots through the roof and we pass out. I dont want this problem to persist and have the issue of us growing apart because of the lack of intimacy. I don’t know how to apply my just do it attitude to initiating. I have no reason to be scared or nervous.. I am anyway.. and I sure hate it. 🙁

    1. Jay Dee says:

      You might be interested in this: Where did my sex drive go?
      As well, we just had a bunch of wives go through our newly revamped course called Becoming More Sexually Engaged – it’s a course for Christian wives who have many of the same struggles you do. Stay tuned as they’re going to be sharing some of their experiences as testimonials soon. It may be something you’d be interested in.

  22. Anon says:

    I found this really difficult to read…
    As someone who struggles with confidence to initiate I was hoping to find something helpful. Unfortunately the phrase ‘I’m sure you’ll make it up to me later’ I feel isn’t a very kind thing to say, joke or not. I know in myself that I would feel a huge amount of pressure if my partner said that to me, which would only lead to feelings of worthlessness and guilt if I felt too nervous to initiate. Especially ‘tricking’ people into believing they are going to have sex (your words). From my perspective I feel worse having read this article than before I found it.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Just because the phrase doesn’t work for you, doesn’t mean it isn’t a very kind thing to say. It makes my wife laugh and eases the tension. The point was to find a way to make initiation not so scary, to keep it light and fun. That might mean using different phrases, or a different framework for you. For us, this is what works.

      As for “tricking” people – we do things all day long to try and trick our own brains into doing the things we want to do. Having a spouse to help you do it makes that even more effective. That’s not a problem unless someone is being coerced into something they don’t want to do, in fact, I think it’s an amazing benefit to marriage.

  23. Mike says:

    Sorry, but this article, and all of the comments afterward, is of little use to me. I cannot just presume on my wife’s responding, knowing what I know of her and of our relationship. Like many, I’ve pretty much quit asking. I mean, you’ve got a favorite movie, right? You can watch it for the twelfth time, and it will still end the same way. Now factor in a less-than-satisfying ending.
    We’ve averaged about monthly for around 20 of our 25 years. She knows it’s not enough, and I know she loves me, but she exerts little effort to increase it. And when we do, recently there have been occasions where I’ve had, um, problems, which I attribute to her feeling obligated or guilty instead of genuinely desirous. I can’t just ignore that. Many years ago, I waited for her in a bubble bath. She made excuses. I still can’t forget the humiliation, and I’ve never mentioned the bathtub since. We used to talk playfully about what we’d do for one another, as you suggest. But when it becomes plain that it’s just talk, even that fades.

  24. Kathy says:

    Interesting take on this. I will pray about it. In my mind I’ve thought of this possibility, everything is based on faith and what we believe in all aspects, including our sex life I suppose. I would be happy even for just once a week, my husband seems content to go weeks on end, and it is has been very hurtful over the years the frequent rejection. It is so hard to muster the courage to try again when I am so frequently rejected.

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