How to talk to a refuser

Christina Dee

How to talk to a refuser

Jan 01, 2014

The other day on our way home from a Christmas party we were talking and Jay was telling me he doesn’t know what to say or how to answer people’s comments and emails when they say that they are being refused and are hurting. This

How to talk to a refuser, How to talk to a spouse who doesn't want to have sex. How to tell spouse you need more sex.The other day on our way home from a Christmas party we were talking and Jay was telling me he doesn’t know what to say or how to answer people’s comments and emails when they say that they are being refused and are hurting. This got me thinking back to old days and how I realized what my sin was and what it had done to our marriage and how I turned from it. I used to say, “no” to Jay so very often but have since turned from my ways and now gladly say, “yes hunny!” and I’ll even initiate on a regular basis.

Our History

One thing I was thinking about was a time I remember Jay was sick with a really bad flu bug and I just so happened to be raring to go. He had a fever, was shaking and just down right miserable. And I was a horny girl that day, I wanted sex! I wanted my hubby to want me that night. But he said, “I just can’t, I am too sick” as he nearly fell asleep while I was trying to kiss him. My heart hit the floor. I couldn’t believe he just turned me down, and on our honeymoon!  I started second guessing myself; did I buy the wrong outfit for our honey moon? What could it be that he wouldn’t want me? I tried so hard to brush it off because I knew he was sick, but it was always there, I always wondered from then on, if I ever initiated, would he turn me down? I don’t think I initiated much after that. And I started saying no on a regular basis soon after.

I do believe that when one spouse refuses the sexual advances of their spouse they know that what they are doing is wrong, on some level.  We rationalize it in their minds, thinking things like, “But really, we have the right to say no!” because everything in the media and our society tells us this.  If you are a wife that actually enjoys and pursues an active sex life, you are perceived as strange. Society tells us that we don’t have to have sex, and that we shouldn’t want to. I used to be a rather enthusiastic girlfriend. We loved being physical.  Then once we were married, everything changed. Jay often said to me, “I don’t know where my fiancé has gone.” He would say it with this kind of sad tone of voice. Not angry or mad at me about the change, but with longing for what was lost. This kinda made me angry, because I didn’t see the change.

Mentality of a refuser

Ever since we got married, it is not like I’m ready at a moment’s notice anymore.  I work hard to keep my motor running idly all day, but back in the day I used to think that if my motor wasn’t raring to go, then I didn’t want sex, so I would say that I was too tired or I would actually feel too tired to do anything at that moment never really trying to get into the mood.  There is this thought process that we go through:  We think, “He’s gonna want sex tonight, and I am just not wanting that tonight, I know he’s going to be disappointed and I even feel a little bad, I know he really loves it, but it’s just not in me tonight.”

Where do you go from here?

So, how do you get out? Is there any hope? Everyone gives the answer, “There is always hope in the Lord, never cease praying for your spouse”. You’ve heard that before, I’m sure. Lots of people write lots of different things like that to try and help “awaken” the refusing spouse. So let’s go back a few years, probably like 5 or so, Jay was trying so hard to gently lead me to figuring out my issue. He would always talk about this one Christian website that focused on marital sex and it annoyed me. I resented him because he wasn’t happy in our marriage and I thought he was trying to blame me by saying look at these people and how much sex they have, and look at these people and how happy they are etc., etc.. I know I wasn’t as happy as I could have been either, but I don’t know if I blamed him. Probably, but I know I put more on myself.

How to talk to a refuser

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.

-Proverbs 3:3

So how do you talk to a refuser? My advice is to be patient, I know you have been so patient, and any spouse that has been refused on a regular basis and stays faithful deserves a medal in my books. It is amazing that you can still love your spouse and honour your wedding vows and cherish your spouse despite being refused for so long. I want to encourage you to continue being patient. I also want to suggest you talk to your spouse when you feel the time is right. When they are actually willing or wanting to have sex, and you could say no, maybe take that time to let them know and say something like, “Hunny, you know I am always up for fun, but we need to talk about this”. Plan what you want to say a head of time, make it about you and your feelings (make lots of “I feel…” statements), not what you expect from them, which is implied.  They know you want more sex. And I know that it will take so much will power to actually stop and probably miss the chance to have sex to talk about sex and what you want to change about it. I will warn, when you actually do something like this, you will probably be greeted with a defensive and angry spouse that doesn’t see what’s wrong.  I’d like to argue that they, in fact, know that something is wrong.  Your spouse showing anger isn’t a bad thing; it shows that they actually know, deep down, that something isn’t right. How can they get angry at you and defensive when you are sharing your feelings, you are allowed to do that, I’m sure they do it all the time.

Men have feelings too

I finally came to realize men have emotional connection with sex! It’s not just a physical release; this is how he shows and feels love and acceptance. He got that same sick feeling every single time that I refused him that I felt on our honeymoon. I’m usually a pretty empathic person, but for some reason I didn’t make the connection. Perhaps I thought he was just a guy, and no real emotions behind it all. It took me a long time to realize that Jay didn’t feel loved by me. So perhaps your refusing spouse just doesn’t realize the emotional turmoil that is caused by saying no. This would be a good thing to talk about. Emotional transparency is so important for a healthy marriage and sex life. I get that it is hard when you feel so shut out to open up the doors and really share your feelings!

Communication is key

Think about how you and your spouse communicate. Do you guys argue a lot? Does it get heated? Is there a lot of blame? I encourage you to check out Jay’s previous post on how to resolve conflict more effectively. He’s got some great tools and tricks on how to change the way you communicate. Realizing your behaviours and your spouse’s helps dramatically in understanding what you actually mean to say to them and what they mean to say to you. It really helps to lessen the amount of misunderstood feelings that come in an argument. Once you’ve developed good communication skills, your trust levels will grow, you won’t automatically get angry or defensive, and neither will they. So perhaps it is wise to work on this first before jumping in on telling them how you feel about their refusal.

Here’s a hypothetical situation that might give you an idea on how to start talking about your feelings and opening up more to your spouse. Everything is looking right for tonight to be a good night and you’re feeling hopeful about how things will go. You’ve both had a great day, you came home and things weren’t too chaotic, dinner was good with the family, communication between the two of you was great over dinner, you cleaned up together afterwards too. You go to hug your spouse a few times through the evening, you let them know you love seeing them happy and you’re having a good time tonight. You don’t make any sexual advances just yet. So now the kitchen is tidy again, you make sure the coffee pot is set to be ready in the morning.  Now your spouse is still nearby, go up to them, and give them a nice squishy hug, and end with a fairly passionate kiss. You tell your spouse you want to continue this good night upstairs. They will give you the excuses; you give them a solution to that obstacle they just presented to you. In the mind of the refuser, these excuses really do seem like valid reasons. It can be really hard to get the brain to focus and stay on task. When they say they are too tired, you tell them that’s why there is coffee, be pleasant and even playful about it. If they say they have a headache, you tell them you have a cure, or a way to distract them from it. You use your imagination. A simple, “not tonight hunny” opens the door for discussion about it all. Don’t let down, don’t let them “win”. Men especially: be in control, be the leader.  Most women love it when their men lead!  (Now I don’t mean rape your wife, but don’t just give up too easily either).  It takes so much pressure off when men show that they are leading and showing what they want/need from their wife. I don’t have a lot of experience when it comes to the wife who is refused, but ask yourself, does your man feel respected and appreciated? Respect is HUGE for their confidence and if they feel respected and appreciated, they are more likely to desire you. When things like this happen the refuser starts to see what they are doing is wrong.  They start to see that sex really is important to you. So even though it may be frustrating for you to have to “persuade” your way into sex, it helps them realize their mistake/sin/wrong doing. So be consistent, keep at it and be strong and persistent about it. And pray, pray all the time that the Holy Spirit guides you through it all.  Your spouse will come around.

Improve the rest of your marriage

If all this that I’ve written doesn’t sound like it would help you and your marriage. I encourage you to look at your marriage and see what needs improving besides your sex life. There has got to be something else that you can work on. Men, how are you doing with being spiritual leaders of the home? Do you pray with your wife? Women, do you take time alone with God? I know it’s so hard to find the time, trust me with being a homeschooling mom of four kids including a toddler who doesn’t like to sleep, I know! Even just having the bible app on your phone and reading the verse of the day before you get out of bed will help you keep your focus on God. I try to turn off my phone at night with that app open, so when I swipe that screen on, the Bible verse is the first thing I see. Also try to think of ways that you could tell your hubby how you appreciate him. He will love you for it; he’ll be on cloud nine when he gets that random text from you saying thanks for taking out the garbage, or doing whatever he did. Even if you asked him to do it the night before, or it’s his job, thank him anyways!

Get help

I know that there are people out there that have done all this, and they don’t know where else to turn or what else to do. We are not professionals on this blog, just a married couple who are willing to share our story. If you really are at a loss and don’t know what to do or how to continue on or you are thinking of doing something you might regret in the future, please go seek help! Talk to your pastor, a church elder, or even just a good friend that you trust. You got married to that person for a reason, keep your focus on that and hope that your fiancé comes out from under whatever has buried them.

Your Turn

Where you a refused spouse?  What made your spouse change?  Are you a recovering refuser like me? What made you stop refusing? I’d love to hear how things changed or if anything here relates to you and your marriage.


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