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What Every Husband Needs to Understand about His Wife’s Need for Sexual Intimacy

When you ignore God’s command to cultivate physical intimacy and romance with your wife, she is left with a void in her soul.

By Dennis Rainey

Let me make something clear up front. You might be tempted to think that there would never be a time when you, as a man, would turn down the sexual advances of your wife. Or, if for some reason you did, your rejection would be as rare as the appearance of an albino zebra. I understand that feeling. But you might want to read on to better understand what is becoming a growing phenomenon among men.

Take, for example, a husband in Croatia named Svetin. When he came home from a hard day on the job, his wife was in the mood to spark a little romance. But Svetin was too tired and wanted to be left alone.

His solution?

White hot with anger, Svetin stormed out of his house and started a fire in the woods behind his home. Pause with me to consider the irony of this true story. Here’s a guy who was too tired to be physically intimate with his wife, and yet he had enough energy to launch a fireball in the backyard! It boggles the mind.

As you might imagine, the flames quickly blazed out of control. Local firefighters had to race to the couple’s home and evacuate them. When police asked Svetin what inflamed him to do such a thing, he explained that he was fighting fire with fire. He did it so he wouldn’t have to have sex with his wife.

Talk about a burned-out lover.

Frustrated wives

Granted, most men don’t go to such drastic measures to avoid intimacy in marriage. And while Svetin was an extreme case, male passivity toward physical intimacy is a very real problem in many couples we hear from. I’ll give you three examples. Casey writes:

It seems like every article I read talks about a man’s high sex drive and how women are typically tired and not inter­ested in sex. The opposite is true of my husband and me. I try to get him aroused and interested in sex, but he is never really in the mood nor is he affectionate to me.

He expects me to let him know when I want to be intimate, and I need to do the seducing. This is really hurting our marriage, and I am resentful of his lack of interest. I try to be as attractive and sexy as I can, but nothing seems to work. Do you have any advice?

Likewise, Laura, the mother of three children, feels abandoned by a husband who leaves the loving to her. She writes:

I fear that my husband and I have reversed roles in our marriage. I am always the one who initiates intimacy and sex. He is the one who doesn’t have the time or energy to be with me. He doesn’t ask me out or make special plans for us to be together. His list of “reasons” is endless. This leaves me feeling unloved, undesirable, and rejected. I don’t think that my husband looks at our physical intimacy as a gift from God

that should be celebrated.

Another letter reveals how devastating such rejection can be for a woman. After attending one of FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember marriage getaways, Amy included this note in her evaluation:

My husband and I have been married for 8 months. I am 38 and he is 44—both first time marriages. However, intimacy in our relationship is almost non-existent. He seems pretty much disinterested and 99 percent of the time rejects me when I try to initiate lovemaking. I have tried to talk to him about it, but he says there is no problem. I, on occasion, will arrange a “special evening” to get him in the mood and then it seems to be okay. But this is few and far between. The rejection I am experiencing has become almost too

much to bear.

If you have been rejecting the advances of your wife, my intention is not to heap guilt on you but to help you understand what may be going on in you and in your marriage. When a man shows little or no sexual interest in his wife, she will experience several emotions.

First, she’s going to feel she is undesirable as a wife and a woman. She will wonder if she’s still attractive, or if something is wrong with her, or if he still loves her. Then she will feel profoundly rejected (just as a man feels rejected when his wife shows a disregard for his sexual needs).

A void in her soul

God’s design is for a man to “hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). God created sex in marriage to be shared, not withheld. And when romance, tenderness, and sex are not shared, a sense of loneliness sets in that can ultimately result in emotional and sexual temptation.

Physical intimacy is not optional in marriage. When you ignore this God-given command to cultivate intimacy and romance with your wife, she is left with a void in her soul. Your romantic and sexual advances have tremendous power to set her apart as a woman and affirm her value. But rejection in the bedroom places her on emo