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?

5 Ways To Deal With Difficult People

Are you in a difficult relationship?

Actually, the real question is not, ‘Are you in one?’, but rather, ‘How many are you in?’

And, ‘In how many are you the difficult party?’  But I digress…

The truth is, whether it’s a boss, spouse, one of our kids, or an annoying neighbor, difficult relationships will always be part of our everyday lives.  So, we better learn how to deal with them.

Let’s look at 2 Timothy 2:24-26 for some practical, biblical guidance for how to navigate those relationships we’d rather not be in.  (Hat tip to counselor Jeff Stark for sharing this framework with me. If you live near Philly or Wilmington (DE) and need a solid biblical counselor, he’s a great place to start.)

oscar grouch photo

No doubt this is someone you know (and/or you).  Photo by al.star

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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.

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Are You Friendly Distant?

How We Keep People At Arm's Length With A Smile (And How To Overcome It)

On a warm autumn day, for five minutes or so, we talked about our lives.  Our jobs, our kids, our weekends, and (of course) the football game later that day.  It was enjoyable, and we sped off with a smile and quick goodbye.

As I drove home, though, I felt a strange dis-ease about our interaction.  It was friendly and nice.  There was no tension.  And there was some back-and-forth.  It’s not like my friend talked my ear off.

But, our time together still felt empty.  We had held each other at arm’s length with a smile.

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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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Should You Date Someone Outside The Faith?

Getting Ready For Marriage Series #1

‘Well, I’m in a relationship now.’

After over 15 years in ministry to college and (now) graduate students, my wife and I often hear this when we ask how they’re doing.  Our first response is to rejoice, remembering how thrilled we were on our first date.  Very few things in life are more exciting than a relationship that’s heading toward marriage!

At the same time, relationships are anything but easy, so we need to learn from those who have gone before us.  While my wife and I don’t have anything like a perfect marriage, we’ve had a little experience (since 1998) now.  Many older couples have poured into us.  And – somehow – a number of couples have told us our marriage and counsel about relationships has benefited them.  So, as promised, this is the first post in a new, monthly series about important topics to cover as you think about saying ‘I do’.

(To make sure you don’t miss a post, you can sign up right here.)

Before we dive into those key areas, though, we need to pause and ask a more foundational question:

Is this relationship one that you should even be in?

My stepdaughter's socks are channeling Flickr's logo colors Lee Bennett via Compfight

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How Can I Experience God More Personally? (Final Part)

Drawing Closer To God In A Way We Might Not Expect

Sometimes, we need to look for answers in unexpected places.  Like when we’re having a hard time experiencing God personally.

In the last few posts, I’ve been talking about this struggle that we all experience.  None of us feel as close to God as we want to, at least most of the time.  It’s so easy to just give up and accept it.

To begin changing that, in my first post I suggested we bring the hardest things in our lives to God, while my second mentioned three ways reflecting on God’s character and work better can really help.  

While I hope those posts are helpful, I think it’s pretty obvious that talking to God honestly and biblically reflecting on him and what he’s done are good ways to move toward him.

In this last post of the mini-series, though, I’d like to tackle something I’m not sure we think about much when our relationship with God is kind of crusty.  So instead of ringing the doorbell, let’s try a back door approach.

Non-descript back door

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Worthy Quest: In Search Of Real Community Among Men

Why We Struggle With Real Friendship And What It Looks Like

Today we’re going to start with a little quiz.  Our theme is community, but that’s all I’m telling you for now.  Ready?

What do all these have in common?

  • John Wayne
  • toddlers
  • Teddy Roosevelt
  • tigers
  • The Grinch

Stumped?

These are all examples of people, animals or creatures who think they can do life on their own. John Wayne saved the day, single-handedly, in every movie he starred in.  Toddlers are infamous for declaring that ‘I do it myself’. TR, one of our most famous presidents, is the poster-child of ‘Rugged Individualism’.  Tigers spend their entire adult lives on their own.  And the Grinch lives high up on a cliff, in seclusion, far from Whoville below.

I’d like to add one more ‘creature’ to this list:

The typical, American male.

Like the characters from our quiz, us guys tend to think that we can do life on our own.  Without being in the sort of rich, deep community God calls us to.

In most cases, it’s not that we consciously believe not having ‘real friends’ is fine.  It’s more that we just don’t see it as a pressing need and don’t actively pursue it very hard.

Maybe you’re one of those guys.  Or, maybe not.  Either way, we can all benefit from pursuing community with other men more deeply.  So let’s take a look at why we struggle, and what real, biblical community looks like.

It’s a worthy quest.

Cowboy overlooking valley, as if in search for life and community Bill Gracey via Compfight

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How To Pick A Holy Fight With Your Wife

Early in my marriage, I was afraid of my wife.

No, not physically.

I was afraid of challenging her.  Of rocking the boat.

Here’s how it went.  Maybe you husbands (fiancés, and boyfriends) can identify.

  • I’d notice a pattern in my wife’s behavior that needed to be challenged.
  • Option #1 (my first, and usual, response) – I’d be afraid of challenging her, stay silent, and grow resentful.  Oh, and feel like a coward.
  • Option #2 – Eventually, after I got bitter enough, I’d call her out in anger.
  • Option #3 – In other cases, she could see my bitterness, ask what was going on, and I’d either respond with Option #2 or kinda sorta bring things up in a mousey way.
  • Then we’d have more conflict about the way I handled it.

Good times.

My wife brought her own issues to our marriage, but that’s not the point of this post.  The point of this post is for us men to own our issues with conflict, understand what’s going on, and take steps toward the healthy conflict that will help our marriages (current or future) thrive.

30s couple fightCreative Commons License Adair733 via Compfight

What’s At Stake

It’s easy to feel like conflict just isn’t worth it.  But in a fallen world, it’s unavoidable and essential if our lives are going to be all that God is calling them to be.

And yet, in the moment it can feel like death, so we need some serious motivation to engage in what I’ll call holy fighting.  There are probably more, but here are three important reasons to pick a holy fight:

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