Most of you who read this blog regularly are here because you want to make your marriage better.Some of you may be in a great stage of marriage and just want to make sure it stays that way, but if you look at the search terms by which people end up on this blog, it’s often because you readers are lonely and frustrated.
You’ve been struggling to feel connected, or perhaps sex isn’t going well. You feel distant, and you don’t want to be like that anymore.And so you try to change things–which means, of course, changing yourself and how you react to your spouse (since you can’t change anyone except yourself).
But what do you do if you were the one who was holding back in the marriage, and now you ARE changing, but your husband doesn’t trust you?I had a letter from a low libido wife recently which said this:
My husband finds our lack of sex particularly hurtful. When this comes up, I often rush to read a book or post about sex, to try and fix the issue, but this would only ever work “for next time”. A sincere “sorry, (insert attempt at explanation), I’ll try harder from now on” just doesn’t cut it – my husband is hurt and I can’t fix it. What do I do to show him I’m serious?
This scenario applies to many different marriage scenarios–you’ve been distant and you’ve been hurting each other, and now you want to change the dynamic. But your husband isn’t buying it quite yet. What do you do?Please note: I’m not talking in this blog post to women whose husbands have ALWAYS had low libidos. If that’s the case, this series on why your husband doesn’t want to make love is likely more applicable. But if your husband used to have a high libido, and now he’s turning you down–read on.
Live out the change–Initiate sexKeep living out the change. If the problem is that you’ve had a low libido and you’ve been refusing sex, then initiate sex. Buy some lingerie. Talk to him about it.
Here’s a scenario I see quite frequently: she is a low libido spouse and so she refuses him. He spends several months, or years, asking, or even begging for sex until he gets so discouraged that he just turns his libido off. He decides that he really doesn’t want anything to do with her sexually.
So he stops asking.
Eventually she realizes that he’s no longer pursuing her, and she starts to panic. She does a 180 and realizes she doesn’t actually want a sexless marriage. So her libido comes back and she starts pursuing him–but by now he’s turned himself off. He doesn’t want to be hurt, and he almost likes the fact that he can hurt her back.
And he doesn’t want to go through all the hassle again of being vulnerable to someone when that just hurt him. So he’d rather stay that way.
So what do you do? You keep at it. You have an open conversation with him where you admit all of your faults–without blaming him. Even if his behaviour was part of what gave you a low libido, you own what you did. In the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, you take the log out of your own eye (you deal with your own issues first) (Matthew 7:3-5).You tell him that you realize what you did to him, and you’re sincerely sorry. And now you’d like to rebuild your sex life. And keep initiating.
You can even ask if he’d be willing to schedule sex, so that you can show that you’re serious. You can pick 2 or 3 nights a week where you’d like to make love, and pencil it in. And you can tell him that you promise you’ll only cancel on him once a month at the most–unless you’re genuinely ill with a fever or something.
He still may not be appreciative. He still may withdraw. Or, when you do make love, you may find it supremely unsatisfying because he’s only interested in pleasing himself (he may seem almost angry), and so you don’t get much pleasure from it.
Give him time to be angry and to see that you’re serious. It takes a lot for a guy to break down a wall that he’s built, especially if he’s built it out of self-preservation.
Don’t withdraw or sulk if he now refuses sexWhat if you’re hurt? What if you feel lonelier than you’ve ever felt in your life because he’s rejecting you (or being selfish in bed)? How can you deal with these feelings?
My suggestion: don’t withdraw from him and don’t sulk. Say to him, “I’m feeling really lonely and discouraged right now, but I want you to know that whatever you do, I’m not going to give up on this. I want our marriage strong and I want to have a great sex life, and I’m going to hang in there even if you don’t feel loving towards me right now.”
Acknowledge how you feel, but don’t withdraw. And remember: this process may take months–or even years. Changing the dynamic in marriage doesn’t always happen immediately.
Go to God for your emotional needs if you feel rejected sexually and emotionallyAnd in those lonely days, draw as close to God as you can. Pray blessing over your husband, very specifically, in every area of his life. The more you pray about these specific things, the more your mind gets turned to what God is doing in his life, instead of what your husband is doing to hurt you.
Go to battle for your marriage, and your husband, by praying blessing over him, and by praying for your marriage. And spend some time everyday just in prayer and in reading Scripture, listening to worship CDs, or anything that gets your eyes on God. Keep your eyes there and you’ll find that you’re better able to withstand rejection from your husband.
Push through the tension and LOVE him–with or without sexIt will feel tense when he’s testing you. You will be tempted to lash out. Don’t. Learn to love him despite his actions. And don’t just initiate sex–initiate other things that make him feel loved. Study his love language and live it out. Make your husband your special project where you can think and pray about how to make his life better. Maybe it’s helping him organize a work project, or organize the garage, or complete an application for a job or internship he’s been wanting. Maybe it’s encouraging him to pursue a dream. I don’t know–but become a student of your husband and find practical ways to support him even outside the bedroom.
If you haven’t been connecting sexually for a long time, chances are he has not felt connected to you hardly at all for that whole length of time. It will take some serious effort for him to allow himself to trust you and become vulnerable with you again–and that vulnerability is necessary for real intimacy.
Don’t rush the process of reconciling sexually
Let him go through the needed emotional steps. And you need to go through it too–to understand what he felt, to figure out how to love him, to figure out how to go to God with your issues.So pray for strength and grace for yourself, and remember: When your heart’s desire is to act like Christ and love someone unconditionally, God gives you that strength when you seek it. That is a wonderful desire and a wonderful prayer. But it can’t be a manipulative one–see what I’m doing? Now I’m being amazing to him, so he really should change!