October has nearly come and gone, so it’s time to get September’s questions answered and published so we can make room for October’s.
Before we get to that though, take a minute and check out our latest survey if you haven’t filled it out yet. We’re hoping to hit over 2,000 responses again, but need some help as we have a shorter time frame this time around.
As well, Christmas is coming up, and that means our Intimacy Advent Calendar will be opening up for purchase again. So, here’s what we’re going to do. If you become a supporter of our blog during the month of November of $5/month or more, you’ll get it free as our thanks. For those who are already supporters in that tier, don’t worry, you’ll get it free as well.
With that out of the way, let’s get started on the questions.
Question 1 & 2
There are actually two similar questions here, so I’m going to read them both as I think the same answer applies to both of them.
Hi, my question involves having a spouse that has continuously refused sex. I know it is uncommon but it is my husband refusing sex. We did not have sex before marriage and his lack of interest started from day one. We had sex more regularly while trying to conceive but after my daughter was born six years ago we likely have had sex less than six times. Currently it has been two years since any intimacy. Honestly it has broken me – my self esteem, my desire to serve him as I should as a wife and homemaker, I don’t sleep well at night and my health has suffered. He has been sleeping in another room for over a year. Being in the same bed is too painful for me. He is fine with this arrangement. There is sexual abuse in his past. I have tried to get counseling but he always says he doesn’t want to go because they will just say everything is his fault. Is this grounds for divorce? I am 47 years old and this is my first marriage, his second. We have been married for seven years. We are literally roommates. Yet he says he loves me and can’t imagine life without me. There is no emotional intimacy for us whatsoever. Is this considered abandoning our marriage? Thank you
Hi. My dilemma seems to be scarcely discussed. Any time someone looks for advice regarding a sexless marriage, it’s always a woman saying “no” and the Christian community attacks her with the fury of a thousand suns. They quote scripture and shred her to pieces for not doing her God-given duty of putting out when and where her husband demands it.
My situation is a little different. See, I’m a woman. And my husband has decided that sex is off the table. Period. End of Conversation. Full Stop. I can quote scripture all day long. We can see therapists, pastors, and the occasional “friend who’s been there” – also always a man- and come to no resolution. For some bizarre reason when a woman chooses to become celibate within her marriage, the wrath of God is conjured. If a man does, then it’s probably a medical reason, or the wife isn’t attractive anymore….etc, etc, etc.
I’m lonely. I want a physical relationship. I WANT TO HAVE SEX! What am I supposed to do? Live a life as a proverbial nun? Leave him and find someone else? What do I do?
It’s not as uncommon as you’d think. My best guess is that in about 1 out of 10 marriages, the husband is actively refusing to have sex. That doesn’t help a whole lot, except to say that you aren’t alone.
Now, you say you’ve tried to get counseling, but he refused – what about getting counseling for yourself? Whatever his decisions, you need support for you. I’d start there. Book the appointment for you, and tell him you’d love for him to join you, but either way, you’re going to counseling.
If you are at the breaking point where you simply can’t take it anymore, then I’d probably let him know that. If it were me, I’d probably say something like “Dear, I love you, but I can’t continue like this. I want to have a relationship with you, but I can’t keep suffering like this. I either need you to get some help, or I need to leave. I’ve booked an appointment with a counselor for us. I’d love for our discussion to be about how we can move forward. Otherwise, my discussion with them will be how I can move on with my life. Will you come with me?”
That’s a clear message about where you are. It’s not an ultimatum of “do this, or I walk”. It’s “this is what I need in order to stay healthy – if you can’t do it, then I need to make a difficult decision for my health”.
As for whether or not it is grounds for divorce – I feel like I say this every month now, but that’s up to you and God. You vowed to God to love him unconditionally – now you’re breaking that vow. Be sure the cost of breaking that vow is worth it. Because getting divorced will damage you, him, and your daughter. And not in a “this is going to hurt” esoteric way. All the studies we know about divorce tells us that it has a lasting, measurable, negative impact, particularly on children. It will likely affect her relationships, her education, and her income. It increases her risk of divorce as well – and it increases your chance of divorce in any subsequent marriage.
So, is it grounds for divorce? You’ll have to decide that on your own – just be sure you know what the cost is. I don’t think people often think about that.
If you want to know more about my thoughts on divorce, you can check out this post.
My husband and I have been married for just over a year and have only had sex once (a few months after marriage). We have done love-style tests and I am a physical touch kind of person whereas he’s an acts of service kind of guy. But he won’t do more than hold my hand outside of the bedroom, and that’s always only if I initiate it. The topic of intimacy, that doesn’t necessarily mean intercourse, keeps coming up but we keep getting stuck. We are in a long distance marriage so we spend extended periods of time apart so initially I thought he was scared of getting me pregnant and the complications of a child while we were still long distance.
But today he told me that when it comes to sex/intercourse, for him that is limited to the purpose of having kids. He says he can be physical in the bedroom but shuts off when it gets to sex. However, even that has been maybe 4-5 times where he hugs me, kisses me, touches me, dry humps and then rolls over and says good night.
I’m stuck and am having major self-esteem issues because I feel like something is wrong with me and that’s why he isn’t turned on or attracted enough by me to feel that way.
TL: DR : Married just over a year. Long distance. I crave touch and he thinks intimacy is only for procreation. Causing conflict and self-esteem issues for me. Is there a way to save our marriage?
Is there a way to save your marriage? Yeah, absolutely. But you both have to want to. Does he know how big of an impact this has on you? I mean, not just that you’re annoyed or unhappy. Does he know you’re considering leaving him? Similar to the above, I’d recommend a clear and unambiguous discussion about how you feel and what is at stake. Chances are he doesn’t know how serious this is.
I’d also ask him why he believes that sex is only for procreation. His answers would probably determine what I’d try next. If it’s for religious reasons – I’d ask if he’s willing to do a Bible study like Intimacy Ignited. If it’s because of past abuse – I’d ask him to see a therapist. If it’s because of a lack of desire – I’d ask him to see a doctor and get his hormones checked.
Is there hope for your marriage? Yeah, definitely, but you have to both want it and talk about what that marriage will look like and then how to get there.
Embarrassing amount of wetness. Whenever we have sex or any kind of intimacy I get really wet to point where it is embarrassing especially if spending night at friends. Even hotel sheets need to be changed. I don’t squirt or anything like that. Any suggestions?
As a matter of fact I do. This question comes up from time to time and it turns out that Married Dance actually carries a blanket to help with this exact thing. The description for it reads “creates a soft playscape that protects your bedding or furniture from your wettest erotic adventures”. It has an inner moisture barrier to help prevent leaks through it, so your friend’s beds won’t get wet. So, I’d say get one of those, toss it on the bed before sex, then take it off again to sleep.
My wife came to me with the idea of pegging. It makes her horny. Is this something new for women that want to feel manly?
I don’t know. Why don’t you ask her why she want’s to do it? It could be that she wants to feel “manly”, or it could be that she simply thinks you’ll enjoy it due to the prostate stimulation.
I have had a few dreams that included my wife. When I woke up I was really angry with her for what she did in my dream. I know, intellectually, that it did not really happen, but that does not take away the feelings of anger and separation. Can you give me some advice for dealing with this?
For me, I think the first thing to distinguish is that it wasn’t your wife in the dream. It was something that looked like your wife in a dream. It’s sort of like if your wife was a twin, and the other twin did something awful, would that cause you to be upset at your wife? Likely not. You’d be used to the separation. So, maybe think of the “dream wife” as a twin, not actually your wife, rather than it being your wife that didn’t actually do the thing you dreamt of. I’m not sure if that distinction will help or not, but it’s worth a try.
Other than that, the best way I know to create feelings of love for someone is to act as if you love them. Our brains are sort of funny in that it doesn’t care a whole lot about the order of cause and effect. For example, if you smile, you’ll become happier. In fact, even holding your mouth in a smile position without actually smiling will make you happier. Our brains don’t care if you were happy first or smiled first. It just knows “Oh, I’m smiling, I must be happy. Oh, I’m happy, I should smile”.
And there have been times when I was quite upset with my wife. So, I did the dishes for her. By the time I was done with the dishes, I wasn’t upset anymore. However, the trick is, you have to do them out of love – not out of anger. You can be angry while doing it, but the motivation has to be love.
So, act as if you love her, with your motivation being love, and I think you may find that those negative feelings might dissipate.
One of our supporters in the forum shared what she does, and I thought it was so good, I’m just going to cut and paste it here:
When this happens, I will tell hubby about the dream, expressing I know its silly. I understand my need to work through those feelings. Talking about the dream helps in a few ways:
- I’m communicating, which helps bridge separation.
- It helps him know the reason behind any weird attitudes or actions on my part.
- Talking it out actually helps me work through a large part of the issue itself (I am an auditory learner, so hearing myself say it out loud helps me process).
To touch on the above, talking about it could also open up a conversation if there is an issue that has been avoided.
And just to piggyback on what she said, with point #3, our minds have this part that we call the critical faculty. It’s the part of our mind that decides what is true and what isn’t, based on our beliefs due to past experiences, learnings, etc.. Now, your critical faculty is struggling, because it experienced something in a dream and doesn’t know how to reconcile that. Now, when this part of our mind thinks it knows something, it’s hard to convince it otherwise. We will tend to ignore facts, arguments, etc. that go against our belief. This results in a critical bias.
However, one of the ways to shortcut reprogramming our critical faculty is to say things out loud, because our brains tend to believe what we say. After all, it’s us talking, and we take ourselves very seriously. This is why negative self-talk is so bad. It literally reprograms your brain so that you can’t see positive things about yourself. But, by contrast, it’s also why personal affirmations actually work. It’s not new age spiritualism, it’s just how our brains are wired.
So, telling your spouse how you’ve been feeling, and how you are choosing to think about them can actually change how you feel. It might not be instantaneous or immediate, but it can help.
Anyways, there are some practical things to try.
My husband introduced me to your podcast and it has been extremely helpful and enlightening. I first off would like to thank you for being willing to speak openly about sex and all things sexually related and answering all of our questions. A little background on myself, I am from a very abusive family when I was a child. I was sexually, mentally, physically abused by family members repeatedly growing up. It didn’t stop until I met my now husband. I thank the Lord every day for him removing me from such a toxic atmosphere and influence. We now have two children together and I have seen my sex drive plummet over the years since we’ve been married. It’s so confusing for me because at times certain ways my husband touches me it will turn me on and others it will bring up a painful memory and I will completely shut down and won’t be able to climax and suddenly lose all interest in any kind of sexual activity. I feel horrible because I know it is hard on my husband because I want to please him and not to withhold anything from him sexually. My husband has always been 100% respectful to me and will never do anything I’m not comfortable with. I feel as though the same kind of foreplay every time is not productive for me, and I have a really difficult time reaching any kind of climax. I guess my question is could my past have a hindrance on not reaching climax? Or could it be needing alternate forms of foreplay?
Alright, so the good news is that you need different kinds of foreplay each time is not unusual, and it’s likely not because of your history of abuse. Women who have not dealt with abuse still have the same struggle. It’s a topic of constant frustration for both wives and husbands (about their wives). Because generally men think logically – if A produced B, then A should produce B every time. However, women’s sex drives aren’t logical – or at least, they’re so complex than we can’t understand them logically. And I don’t mean we men, I mean we humans.
Many times, my wife and I will cycle through a few different foreplay attempts before we find something that works. Sometimes we can’t find one that works and we just try again the next night. It happens, it’s normal, you’re not broken.
Now, there are some things you can try. If you want something physical, massages tend to work for a lot of women. If your husband doesn’t know how to give a good massage, I suggest taking couples massage classes from Melt – I can’t tell you how many people have emailed me saying it changed their marriage.
Now, that said, mental foreplay has a tendency to work for women more reliably than physical foreplay. That’s one of the reasons I made a bunch of foreplay games. The guys tend to really like the activities, but for women, it’s more about the context – there’s mystery, because you don’t know what’s going to happen, and there’s a loss of control, but in a good way, because the game is making the choices, and that sense of adventure without responsibility, for many women, is really arousing.
So, that’s my best guess at what’s going on with some ideas to try.
How widespread is “polyamory” ? Our oldest married son is in this sort of relationship .
So, for those who don’t know, polyamory is the philosophy that you can be romantically involved with multiple people at the same time. How widespread is it? Under 5% of the population in the US engage in this sort of lifestyle as far as I can tell – and by far the majority are those who also profess to be pan-sexual or bisexual or “other”, as often these individuals don’t like to be labelled. Unsurprising, the majority (85%) of people in polyamourous relationships are agnostic, atheist, or part of some fringe religion. In short, this is a lifestyle that isn’t compatible with the Bible’s teachings. Some may disagree with me on that (there are some “Christians” who engage in polyamory), but to them I say that you have grossly misinterpreted the Bible, either intentionally or not. It also tends to be younger people who engage in this behaviour, though many grow out of it – sometimes when the relationship ends and they’re disillusioned by reality.
So, ultimately, I fear it will end poorly for your son I’m sorry to say. As far as I can tell, the vast majority of those types of couples implode with everyone involved hurt. Often it’s a marriage adding a third person, and when the relationship devolves, the marriage does as well. And sadly about a quarter of those relationships involve young children in the mix, which damages them as well.
That’s a difficult place to be in as a father. I don’t envy having to watch that from the sidelines.
I am trying to talk to my wife about cuckolding. Is that uncommon?
It’s a little unclear what you’re asking. Are you talking about cuckolding as in her having a child with another man despite being with you? If so, the statistics are about 1% of children are the result of cuckoldry.
Or do you simply mean the behaviour of women sleeping with men other than their husband – in short, a specific form of adultery. That tends to occur about 13% of the time, according to self-reported statistics.
And then there’s the question of what do you mean by trying to talk to your wife about it? Are you trying to talk to her about the occurrence statistics from an intellectual perspective or a commentary on society? Are you trying to convince her to do it? That’s not something I’d recommend. Or are you concerned your children might not be yours?
To answer them all in rapid succession:
- Yes, it happens, and it’s deplorable
- No, you should not engage in or encourage this behaviour
- Chances are your children are yours, but you could always get a DNA test to prove it – though even asking might damage your relationship with your wife.
That’s it for September’s questions. But October is wrapping up, so I’ll be starting next month;’s questions soon. If you have a question of your own, you can email me at email@example.com, or submit it anonymously on our Have A Question page.
And as always, I want to thank my awesome supporters, without whom, this ministry wouldn’t be possible. If you’d like to see the questions as they come in, participate in the discussion and possibly have your thoughts contributed to the posts, check out our supporters page for more info.
37 Questions for spouses to ask each other about sex
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