9 Surprising Reasons Your Wife Doesn’t Want To Have Sex With You

“Anyone who believes that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach flunked geography.”

     – Author Robert Byrne

So today we’re going to talk about something really important to men.

Sex.

Man sleeping on couch.

Photo credit: bp6316 via Foter.com / CC BY

In fact, research shows clearly what the quote above suggests indirectly: that sex is the most important part of marriage for about 80-90% of men.  (No doubt many of you wives can confirm this!)

Despite Hollywood’s portrayals, though, sex is also one of our biggest areas of frustration.  For most couples, there’s a difference in sex drive, with guys typically wanting it a lot more than most women.

But you already know that.  This post is about 7 surprising reasons our wives may not be as interested in sex as we’d like them to be.  And, what you can do about it.

By the way, guys, if you’re not married yet, this post is for you, too.  I had no clue about most of these things and had to learn the hard way.  I hurt my wife along the way big-time, too.  You can avoid a lot of that by learning from my mistakes.

If you are married and experiencing some frustration in your sex life, putting some work in on one or more of these areas will help.  And, more importantly, bless your wife, too.

Seven Surprising Reasons Your Wife Doesn’t Want To Have Sex With You

You’re not spending quality time together

There are a million different reasons for this.  You (and/or your wife) might be working too much, for example, leaving little time or energy left for each other.  If we’re not regularly slowing down to talk about important things and share our hearts, our wives won’t feel connected to us.  Which means they won’t want to connect physically, either.

You’re not getting enough sleep

If you’re not getting enough sleep, your sex drive takes a nose dive.  Same thing for women.  (Oh, and it makes you dumber, more forgetful, more prone to serious accidents, and look older, too.  But I digress).

You’re being harsh

In Colossians 3:19, Paul gives husbands one piece of advice.  ‘Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.’  For the first few years of our marriage, I spoke to my wife pretty bluntly.  I didn’t understand God created her differently, and I wound up hurting her.  Think before you speak and dial back the intensity.

You’re giving into porn or an impure thought life

Sexual sin is an absolute train wreck for your sex life (see Proverbs 9:13-18, for example). When my wife and I do premarital counseling for couples, guys who are into porn or other sexual sin struggle with guilt, shame and diminished desire for their wives. Not to mention the devastation for their wives.  All of which leads to less – and less satisfying – sex.

You’re married to your work

Truth be told, many Christian men are polygamists and don’t know it.  They’re married to their wives, but they’re also married to their work.  One frustrated wife confided to my wife that ‘I feel like he’s got a mistress… his job!’  While there are occasionally special circumstances (like a medical resident), we need to remember that God has made us one with our wives, not our work (Genesis 2:24).  They need to know, without a doubt, they come first.

You’re making sex all about you

It’s so easy for us to put the focus on our pleasure.  To get lost and ‘forget’ to care for our wives during sex.  Translation: we fail to ‘look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others’ (Philippians 2:4).  So it’s no surprise when our wives gradually lose interest and resent sex.

You’re scared

You’d never guess it from movies or TV, but sex is scary.  In the best sex, both of you bring all of who you are – without anything (literally) – between you.  But that’s really hard because we’re no longer in the ‘naked and unashamed’ position of Adam and Eve before they fell (Genesis 2:25).  So we’re always hiding from one another, just like they did (Genesis 3:8).

Sometimes, men hide by being tentative during times of intimacy.  If we don’t find our identity Christ, we’ll be scared of being fully present, and failing in, the bedroom.  We’ll be physically present and emotionally absent.  That can leave our wives thinking that we’re not all that interested in them (like #5), even when the opposite is true.

You’re compartmentalizing your life

Most guys think of life kind of like the silverware dividers in our kitchen.  Everything has its place.  Knives don’t touch forks, spoons don’t touch knives, and so on.  But most women don’t roll like that.  Life is more like a bowl of spaghetti.  It’s all connected.  So when I’m driven all day, or, raise my voice with our kids, that will affect what happens in the bedroom.

You’ve forgotten what marriage and sex are all about

In Ephesians 5:22-33, Paul tells us that marriage and the gospel explain each other. When people look at the way we relate to our wives, they should be reminded of the way God relates to us.  As Tim Keller puts it, ‘The Bible views sex not primarily as self-fulfillment but as a way to know Christ and build his kingdom’.  The only way to consistently make loving choices in the bedroom is to internalize that on a growing level.

I’m Convicted!  Now What?

If you’re anything like me, you’re feeling seriously convicted right now.  We’ve spent a lot of time on the potential problems, but I want to move forward with you in a very practical way that leaves you encouraged.  Not overwhelmed.

Here’s a quick plan to get started.

  1. Scan through the list above and identify the biggest problem for you.  (Maybe it’s something else).
  2. Have an honest conversation with God about it, confessing anything you need to.  Our confession should include both deeper (‘heart’) and practical elements.  For example, if my times together with my wife tend to focus on me, I should confess that but also the deeper selfishness and fear that’s driving it.  This takes courage, but brings freedom.
  3. Based on what you identified above (#1), think and pray about what change would look like.  If I said being scared is my biggest challenge, I can picture trusting God and being okay with trying something that doesn’t work.  It doesn’t have to destroy me.  And I can take initiative instead of waiting for my wife to always come to me.
  4. Let a friend know and ask him/her to pray for you.  Not only for accountability, but for encouragement.  Change is hard, so we should ‘exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of [us] may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin’ (Hebrews 3:13).  Getting real with others helps us stay true to Christ – and our wives – for the long haul (see Hebrews 3:14).

This isn’t astrophysics, right?  It’s just the normal things that help us become more like Christ, applied to the area of sex.  The key is Spirit-empowered follow through in all its boring but-oh-so-important forms.

Over time, we will change and experience the blessings that God wants for us – and our wives – in this important area of our lives.

Let’s live it out: What’s the biggest obstacle in this area of your life?  Share it with us in the comments below.  I’ll go first!

 

5 Early Marriage Hurdles & How To Overcome Them

The early days of marriage are awesome.  You get to wake up every day with your best friend, experience physical intimacy and enter into everything you’ve been waiting for.

But it’s not all butterflies and violins.  Many couples go through some really deep waters during their first few years together, trials they were not expecting.  Let’s talk about the hurdles you can expect, and how to handle them so that your marriage thrives.  (Even if you’ve been married for awhile, a refresh never hurts!)

hurdle photo

My wife and I had a really tough time our first few years together.  We had some conflict before the wedding, but afterwards it got worse. Much worse.

We argued about which way to put the toilet paper on the rack.  Whether or not we’d turn inside-out laundry right side out.  How much time I’d spend on my studies.  And… you get the idea.

The hardest part, though, was that we didn’t expect all of that.  Older, battle-tested couples told us that it wouldn’t be easy, but looking back we didn’t really believe them.

5 Early Marriage Hurdles

But you don’t have to be as naive as we were.  Here are some of those early-days-of-marriage hurdles you can anticipate.  Later, I’ll talk about how you can handle them in a way that helps you move forward, together.

Preferences

When you live together, you find out that you do things differently.  These aren’t issues of right or wrong, but little things you’ve taken for granted (like the toilet paper) when you were single can become surprising annoyances when you have to work a bunch of them out with someone else.

How much time you’ll spend together

Almost invariably, one person needs more alone time than the other.  It gets tricky to work out how you’ll spend discretionary time you’ll spend together.

Differences in how you spend money

When you get married and share finances, all of a sudden this area comes into focus. Early on, my wife was much more generous than I was, and we had some conflict around that.  With limited resources, how we spend money reveals our differences in priorities, which can be painful to work through.

Disappointment from experiencing the other person’s flaws

The key word here is ‘experiencing’.  Before you’re married, the other person’s weaknesses and flaws can annoy you, but now there’s no escape!  Also, when you were dating, you were trying to impress each other, and willing to do the kinds of things that make a relationship great. Over time, you discover that this wasn’t sustainable, and, that you’re both more selfish than you realized.

Arguments and conflict

When you put two sinners together, fighting of one kind or another is bound to happen. If you grew up in a home where conflict was avoided or swept under the rug, this can be especially discouraging.

I’m sure you can add to this list, but these are some of the things you can expect after tying the knot.

How To Overcome Your Early-Marriage Hurdles

But what do you do about all the problems?  What difference does following Jesus make?

These are the things that helped my wife and I, and the things we share with the couples we meet with for premarital counseling.

It’s totally normal to have disappointment and conflict

In fact, if you’re not having any a few months into your marriage, you should probably check your pulse.  When two people who are deeply committed to themselves come together, there’s bound to be some eruptions.  Adjusting our expectations helps a lot.

Look for God’s work in the challenges

‘I am with you always, to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20) applies to your marriage, too.  Instead of wishing whatever’s negative would disappear yesterday, start looking for what God is doing in you and your spouse. For example, when my wife and I were fighting daily, God showed me he was exposing how much I wanted everyone (especially my wife) to like me.

Look for the issues of your hearts

In Mark 7:14-23, Jesus makes it clear that he’s ultimately concerned with our hearts – our innermost selves.  In marriage, we tend to focus on what we can see.  Like an angry comment or ongoing disrespect.  But Jesus says that these things come from a heart that is ‘evil’ (see Mark 7:21, 23).  When we own that and seek God’s forgiveness and healing, then our behavior starts to change.

Pray

We prayed before we got married, but the early challenges we experience there show us how much we really need God.  Let that lead you to ask for God’s help, on your own and together with your spouse.  It does wonders for our trust to see Him come through time and time again.

Listen first

When someone calls us out, our first response is to be defensive.  God tells us to do the opposite: ‘let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger’ (James 1:19). When we look for what’s right in what our spouse is saying, we become more like Christ, they feel loved, and our marriage flourishes.

Seek forgiveness when you blow it

Don’t let an offense blow over… it doesn’t.  Ask God to help you be truly sorry for what you did, then go and confess it as soon as you reasonably can.

Rely on your friends

God makes it clear that we need others to do life well.  Make sure you’re really connected with other couples of a similar age and marital stage.  Let them in on your joys and challenges and invite them to do the same with you.

Find an older, godly couple

Make sure you have an older couple who can encourage you, share some wisdom, and (above all) model for you that God is faithful in the ups-and-downs.  And don’t be afraid to get biblical counseling if you’re stuck.

No magic bullets

The American poet Robert Frost famously said, ‘The only way out is through’.  He was right.  The only way to get out of your early marital struggles is to go through them.  One conflict, one forgiveness, one undeserved act of grace at a time. If you’ll be faithful in the little moments, they add up and your marriage will be transformed.

Remember what marriage is all about

When things get rough, remembering the meaning of marriage is like the North Star.  It keeps you on track and serve as a point of reference when life gets disorienting. Your marriage will make you happy at (many) times, but that’s not mainly what it’s for.  God’s primary purpose for your marriage is to be a living, breathing picture of God’s love for us (Ephesians 5:22-33).

So there you have it: 5 early marriage hurdles, and 10 ways to clear them.  I hope that your early days of marriage are filled with lots of bumps in the road so that you see God at work and become more like Christ, together with your spouse.

Questions for reflection:

  1. What hurdle are you facing most intensely right now?
  2. What would help you begin to overcome it?

Could Your Family Of Origin Ruin Your Marriage?

Getting Ready For Marriage Series #3

Imagine with me, for just a moment, your perfect wedding day.  From the moment you wake up, everything is going exactly as you had hoped.

Celebrities everywhere are seething with jealousy as your guests shut down Instagram with one perfect photo after another.

Finally, it’s time for you and your (almost) spouse to exchange vows.  You get misty-eyed as the pastor says, ‘Repeat after me…’

I, John, take you Elizabeth…

your parents and your extended family…

to be my lawfully wedded wife…

As you start to mindlessly repeat the pastor’s words, something doesn’t sound quite right… After exchanging an awkward glance at the pastor and Elizabeth, you notice that she’s not alone.

There, just behind her, are her parents, brother, sister and other relatives.  As you look more carefully, you see that each one has a heavy suitcase with large lettering.

Her father’s says ‘kind but aloof’.  Mom’s reads ‘sweet but controlling’.  Seized with fear, you frantically try to make out what the other suitcases say without looking too obvious.

After all, 200 pairs of eyes are locked in on you.

One by one, the family hands their baggage over to Elizabeth, who receives them with a bizarre mixture of eagerness and regret.

With a look of fear and hope, she tries to hide the uglier suitcases under her dress.  All of a sudden, she turns back to you, awaiting your response.

As you try to remember what you’re supposed to say, you wake up in a cold sweat, thankful it was all a dream.

Or was it?

Who Do You Think You’re Marrying?

In their book Great Expectations: An Interactive Guide To Your First Year Of Marriage, Toben and Joanne Heim write, ‘Let’s face it; you marry more than just your spouse. In a sense, you marry your spouse’s family too.’

Over the years, in our premarital counseling with couples, we have found this to be true.

Many hopeful couples are like ‘John’ above.  They’re surprised to learn that their family of origin has shaped them in quiet, profound ways that will powerfully impact their marriage.

Other couples look more like ‘Elizabeth’.  They seem to recognize that they’ve inherited a lot of (mixed) baggage from their families.  While they’re still excited to get married, they worry that the negatives will bubble to the surface at some point and cripple their marriage.

Of course, many couples contain both a John and Elizabeth.  What about you and your future spouse?

And, how should you think about the role your family of origin may play long after you say, ‘I do’?

Your Family Of Origin & Your Marriage: Biblical Insights

So which is it?

Can we easily overcome what we’ve inherited from our families growing up, and go on to have a great marriage that proves them all wrong?

Or, are we bound to eventually succumb to the damaging patterns we picked up from our families?

When we look at the ways families influence their children and future generations in Scripture, here are some quick observations.

Sometimes children follow directly in their family’s footsteps.  The Books of 1-2 Kings provide many examples of this.  For example, after Israel was divided into two kingdoms, the northern kingdom never had another good king.  Every son followed the bad example of his father.

Other Scriptures, thankfully, paint a more positive picture.  Timothy, for example, had a ‘sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in [his] grandmother Lois and [his] mother Eunice’ (2 Timothy 1:5).  Timothy’s strong faith appears to be – at least in part – a result of the investment these godly women made in him.

Sometimes children walk away entirely from their family upbringing.  Returning to the Books of 1-2 Kings, sometimes kings with great fathers turned out to be lousy rulers. This happened when Ahaz took over for his father, Jotham (2 Kings 16-17).  Other times, the reverse happened, as when good King Asa followed on the heels of his evil father, Abijam (1 Kings 15).

I know a million caveats are in order, but these passages show that, spiritually-speaking, our relationship to our lineage isn’t always entirely linear.  There’s a real tension here, and it’s not always easy to sort out.

So let’s look a few more verses, see if we can make some headway, then end with a quick thought or two for your future marriage.  

Your Family Of Origin & Your Marriage: Biblical Insights, Part 2

Exodus 20:5-6 says,

I the Lᴏʀᴅ your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me.

Verses like these seem to say that the sin of parents can somehow (we’re not given details) become the sins of their children, too.

But then other verses, like Ezekiel 18:20, seem to contradict this.

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son.

So again, which is it?

If your parents struggled with anger, are you destined to import that into your own marriage?  Or, can you pretty much leave it behind you?

While it appears – from the bible and our own experience – that the families we come from can predispose us to certain patterns of sin, God’s grace runs far, far deeper.

John Piper mentions that the bible makes this abundantly clear.  For example,

  • Leviticus 26:40-42: ‘If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers . . . if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant with Jacob.’
  • Acts 10:43: ‘To him [Jesus] all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’

In other words, as Piper puts it, ‘Nobody is trapped in his father’s sins — or even in his own sins.’  Is that great news or what?  

Three Takeaways For Your Future (Or Current) Marriage

As you think about your family of origin and its possible implications for your marriage, here are three observations.

  1. The key themes and patterns of your home growing up may well be the default in your own marriage.  What are three positive, and three negative, patterns from your childhood?
  2. God’s amazing grace means our marriages can be free from poor patterns we’ve inherited from others.  And, even our own!  Ask God to free you from repeating the negative patterns you identified in #1.  And, your own sin.  (See 1 John 1:9.)
  3. Because we’re broken in a broken, distracting world, we can’t assume that we’ll just keep doing whatever was good from our upbringing.  Grace is still required.  Ask God to help you see the good you’ve inherited, and pray for power to keep living it out.  

Regardless of your story, your marriage can be the beautiful picture of God’s relationship to us, his church, that he intended all along.

If you found this post helpful, you may be interested in the other posts in this Getting Ready For Marriage Series:

Marry Someone Who Will Call You Out In Love

‘Hey, I meant to tell you something.’

It was just a kind, casual comment. But years of experience had taught me that my wife had something important to say. Something I probably didn’t want to hear.

Without warning, I felt like I had two people inside of me.  The first was a ninja, ready to dodge any incoming criticism. (And maybe launch a counter-attack).  The second knew she loves me and had learned her criticism always makes me better.

I didn’t know who was going to win.

Continue Reading »

1 Incredibly Hard Thing Husbands Must Do For Their Wives

Anyone who’s ever been in a romantic relationship knows how awesome, complicated, and just plain hard it can be. What if someone you trusted could make it simpler and easier for you?

I’m a guy. I like to keep things simple and straightforward. So I’m thankful for Ephesians 5:21-33, the Apostle Paul’s cheat sheet for marriage. There, he tells us guys the one thing we absolutely must do to have a successful marriage. If we do this, the other things tend to take care of themselves.

But even if you’re not married or in a relationship, you can do this in your other relationships as the best way to prepare.

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9 Topics You Absolutely Need To Cover In Your Premarital Counseling

So, you’d like to get married.  You’ve heard that premarital counseling is a good idea. (Good call.)

But not all premarital counseling is created equally.  How do you make sure you cover the things that matter most?

happy young couple in field of yellow flowers

Photo by Micah Camara

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7 Signs Your Relationship Isn’t Marriage Material

Getting Ready For Marriage Series #2

As he described the pain and frustration in his marriage, it tore me apart.  Although his wife identified with Christ, her lack of spiritual interest had only grown worse over the years, leaving him lonely and unfulfilled.  At this point, all he could do is pray.

In my first post in this series, I wrote about whether Christians should date people outside of the faith.  That certainly happens, but most Christians find themselves in a much murkier situation: wondering whether the Christian they’re dating (or thinking about dating) is really marriage material.

As this short story from my friend shows, getting this decision right is absolutely critical.

So let’s take a look at 7 warning signs that your relationship may not be marriage material.

This post is the second in my monthly Ready For Marriage Series, designed to help you cover essential premarital topics so that you can a great marriage that honors God and brings life to others. You can sign up here to make sure you receive future posts.
deep water sign photo

Photo by ell brown

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Six Ways To Pursue Spiritual Intimacy In Marriage (Guest Post at Desiring God)

If you find it difficult to consistently connect spiritually with your spouse, you’re completely normal.

But there’s hope in Christ for marriages like yours.  And mine.

couple holding hands photo

Just a quick heads-up that I’ve written a guest post over at Desiring God about this: Six Ways To Pursue Spiritual Intimacy In Marriage.

I hope that it helps you pursue greater spiritual intimacy with your husband or wife.  (Or any couple on the road to marriage, really.)

Re-Thinking Spiritual Intimacy In Marriage (Part 2)

Spending time with God, together with our spouse, is one of the hardest things most Christian couples face.  Whether it’s full schedules, interruptions from kids, fear of being vulnerable or spiritual warfare, pursuing God together is very hard in most marriages, including mine.

husband wife smiling and hugging photo

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Re-Thinking Spiritual Intimacy In Our Marriages (Part 1)

As we laid in bed together, lights out, it had become later than I realized.  Even though we were both exhausted from a long day, I wanted to lead us in finishing the day with prayer.

But every time I wanted to say something, something held me back.  Frustrated with myself, we eventually just drifted off to sleep.  When I woke up the next morning, I felt a little smaller than the night before.

If you’re married, or in a serious relationship, I bet you understand.  You want to be spiritually intimate, but it’s hard.  Really hard.

Some of you may not experience much struggle here.  You have no problem praying or reading the bible with your spouse.  And yet, you may still not feel entirely connected, either.

What’s going on?

Some things – like sin in its various forms – are obvious, but I suspect it’s partly in the way we’ve defined ‘spiritual intimacy’, too.  When we think about it more deeply, we get a bigger picture that I think will both encourage and challenge you.

close-up of husband & wife hold hands (black & white photo)

Photo credit: mescon via Foter.com / CC BY

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