Sex Is A Means to An End

Working through the comments on several recent posts, I’ve come to understand a pretty fundamental difference in how most men and women think. Certain things are inseparable from a relationship for women, but not for men. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that women’s brains are better wired for social skills than men’s brains are.

Sex Is A Means to An End

A problem arises from this because we all assume others are as we are. She expects him to make relational connects just as she does, and he doesn’t expect her to make such connections because he doesn’t. This makes it easy for her to read into what he says and does things that are not there. And then it makes it difficult for him to understand why she’s upset.

One area where this happens is sex. Men see sex a means to an end. Sex connects them to their wife. It makes them feel close and intimate. Sex is a way to make her feel good on many levels. Sex is a relationship tool, a way of connecting. But sex acts aren’t automatically bound to a relationship in a man’s mind.

I realise women generally see sex as inherently relational, but even for women, this isn’t always true. Women who engage in prostitution or pornography are having sex apart from a relationship. This is the exception for women, but the norm for men.

Please don’t take this information to mean men don’t care about relationships. We do care, we just don’t make some of the connections women make. A husband chooses to limit sex to the woman he married. It’s a commitment, a choice, an act of integrity born of love. This then forms a connection between sex and his wife.

And, a confession. I was going to title this post “For men, sex is a tool” but a female blogging friend convinced me women would hear something in that which I didn’t intend. Sex as a means doesn’t make women “things”. If a man’s desire is to love, bless, and care for his wife, he will use all the “tools” at his disposal to accomplish that. Those tools include touch, gifts, affirmation, quality time, acts of service, and, yes, sex. 

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I get by with a little help from my friends! 


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108 Comments on “Sex Is A Means to An End

  1. So, perhaps the differences in the way we think might help explain this…

    A beautiful woman walks by. My husband notices. He might be thinking “wow, that woman is really attractive.”

    I think he’s thinking something more like this: “wow, that woman is gorgeous. She’s perfect! Why can’t my wife look more like that? This woman walking by is everything I’ve ever desired. She’s petite and brunette with an amazing butt! How’d I let myself get stuck with this tall blonde woman? What was I thinking? Why didn’t I hold out for better when there’s so much better right here walking by? I think I’m in love with this gorgeous brunette. Why oh why did I ever get married? Man I wish I could have this much better woman!”

    Then he wonders why I got so quiet. Well if he heard the conversation that just took place in my head, it would be obvious. And he also wonders why when he turns to me and says “I love you, you’re so pretty.” – that I simply cannot believe it.

    Please spare me the lecture about how a person could like vanilla, AND chocolate, AND strawberry ice cream. If I served you a bowl of vanilla ice cream because you said it was your favorite, and then someone walked by with a bowl of strawberry and you noticed and looked at it like it was so delicious, I would think you had lied to me when you said vanilla was your favorite. Now you’re telling me that maybe vanilla IS your favorite and you just thought the strawberry looked yummy when it went by but you’re happy to have your vanilla and enjoy it?

    Ok so I’m bad at analogies, but you get my point. This post is telling me that maybe my husband isn’t thinking what I think it is so obvious he is thinking?

    • It’s natural for a man to look. When I was single, I looked to compare her to my “ideal”. Now as a married man when I look I compare the other woman to my wife, not my wife to her – my wife is my “ideal” that other women do not stack up against. Just a thought –

    • @B, I feel like you are looking for a reason to find rejection in your husband. Your husband’s thought process ends with “wow, that woman is really attractive”…..then he sees another and thinks the same thing, there isn’t a deeper internal conversation that goes on.

      Yes, you can like more than one thing. I love Halo Salted Caramel ice cream, about my favorite. My wife likes the Oatmeal Cookie. I also like the Oatmeal Cookie, she also likes Salted Caramel. When I look over at her ice cream and think “oatmeal cookie is really good” it does not mean that I am not enjoying my salted caramel.

      If I were to design how my ideal woman would look like, it would look a lot like my wife. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t date attractive women who looked differently, and it doesn’t mean that I don’t find other women attractive. That isn’t a slight against her, it definitely doesn’t mean that I don’t find her attractive. She likes looking at the bodies of the male swimmers in the olympics, they are pretty to look at, does that mean that she wishes she could get rid of me for one of them? No, it just means she likes looking at them, that’s it. I’ll even pause the tv if one comes on I think she’d like. Life is way too short to spend time inventing issues to be neurotic about.

    • @B – I think you’re right. No man has that many thoughts about a passing person.
      Some men dismiss their “looking” because they don’t see anything wrong with what happens in their mind. That’s nice, but if it causes problems in their wife’s mind it seems like a bad plan to me.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: Post Sex TouchMy Profile

  2. B, is your first paragraph a window on the way a women would think about a man she would consider more desirable than her husband? I don’t mean sexually, but in all the ways that a woman considers a man desirable. I’m not being judgmental, just curious. I would, also, be interested in input from other ladies.

    • Largely, no — women don’t tend to be that focused on male physical appearance. I am a million times more likely to compare my own appearance to another woman’s than I am to compare my husband’s to another man’s, and much more likely to weight appearance as important in my case and it isn’t really a factor for my consideration of my husband.

      Women tend to relate to partners emotionally, and it’s really hard to do that with a quick look at someone.

      I think the closest thing would be if there were a close male (coworker, PTA, church) with fairly regular contact who treated a wife in a certain way, and then the comparison would be more like, “Joe held open my door / remembered my big, stressful project / complimented my appearance. Why didn’t my husband do that? Why can’t he care about me like Joe does?”

      Which is just as pernicious, maybe moreso, but not as rapid or as frequent.

      • @sunny-dee – But there is the ability for women. I’ve read about the things that go on at “hen parties” – which is what the Brits call a female bachelor party. Male strippers (many of whom are actually gay) say you get a group of women together and give them each a drink and they get full on wild. I don’t know if it’s the booze or the peer pressure or both, but there is clearly the ability somewhere in those women. They just control it far better than men do.
        Actually, I saw a study along those lines, it said men and women feel very similar levels of sexual urges, but women choose to limit themselves more.
        Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: Post Sex TouchMy Profile

        • I have absolutely no desire to see naked, gyrating men. Even when hubby does stuff like that for me, it is funny, not sexy. Sexy is getting my neck kissed. Sexy is a back massage. Sexy is getting something fixed that I asked to be repaired. Sexy is running me a bath, telling me how hot I am, desiring to be alone with me. Sexy is being a good dad, cheerfully helping me clean the house or make dinner. In other words, sexy is relationship.

          Oh, sure, there are a few fellows out there whose looks alone have made my heart skip a beat, but mostly it is connected to something relatable, and I don’t want to have sex with them. Nor do I desire to see them naked. If I desire anything, it is to form a relationship with them, get to know them better. Sexy thoughts come way later, and even then it is about relationship and not just seeing them naked and getting off.

          • Yeah…there’s not much controlling when it comes to looking at and fantasizimg about mens bodies. I think when a girl gets it on at a party she’s actually making a conscious decision to do so. It doesn’t just happen to us automatically like it does for guys. Now, if a guy gives me attention (laughing, looking at me in the eyes, etc), then I am automatically attracted to that and have to work to resist the temptation to wonder what a relationship with that man would be like. The physical aspect doesn’t even enter my mind…..

      • @sunny-dee, throw an Amex black card down. Every time my boss does it women magically come out of nowhere to come talk to us, that’s the equivalent of walking by in a revealing bikini

    • when I went through that in our marriage, I felt like I was being used

        • Women say they are being used when a man is seeking sexual fulfillment without emotional connection or relationship commitment, men say they are being used when they are providing commitment and or emotional fulfillment for said woman but not getting laid. If you were not married you’d call this getting “Friend-zoned”

          • I agree with Andrew entirely. It’s like a form of rejection all over again.

            btw, on an unrelated note, I don’t get notifications about extra comments on Paul’s blog any more even when I click to receive notifications. Is anyone else having that?
            Nick Peters recently posted…Is Jesus An Avatar?My Profile

  3. This is a pretty accurate assessment on the guy’s part. I’ll say what Paul probably intended, but wouldn’t because women probably won’t like it much: If you take a specific act like we discussed in another post, a guy looks at it like “I like oral”. I liked oral with all the women before I met my wife, I like oral with my wife, and if my wife were to leave me I would like oral with the next woman. The act isn’t tied to a specific relationship. What makes the guy feel connected to his wife is that she knows this is something that he likes, and she goes to great effort to be really good at the thing that he likes. Re-read that last sentence again, that is what makes her special. When he hears “that’s gross, i’m not doing that” is when that connection gets severed.

    Sex is a requirement for connection, but it isn’t an automatic connection. Your husband will not feel connected to you if you are rejecting him regularly, no matter how emotionally intelligent you are, or how many things you do for him. Sex does not guarantee the connection either, living in the land of reality, most guys had sex with someone they aren’t connected to in the past, or several someones. But if you are married to a guy, and you aren’t having sex but looking for a connection, you are talking to a closed door. Sex opens the door.

    • Let’s add in something else. Not just having sex, but having sex that isn’t duty sex. No man wants to feel like he’s a responsibility. He wants to be a privilege.
      Nick Peters recently posted…Is Jesus An Avatar?My Profile

      • No woman wants to feel like she is a sex object. She wants to be special.

        When a couple figures this out, sex is amazing!!

      • And no woman wants to feel like an obligation. Duty sex is the worst. A woman wants to be desired and pursued, at least once in a while. Women get rejected sexually, too, and it’s painful. It made me feel very ugly and unworthy. I’d much rather have no sex than be given duty sex. Duty sex made me feel like something on his list of jobs to do.
        Things are getting better here, just pointing out that women suffer from this too. It’s not just a guy thing.

  4. @Andrew – Well said. I would say “Sex is a requirement for A GOOD connection.”

    It may be difficult for women to understand sex without connection. Honestly, it’s difficult for me to understand because I never did it, never wanted it, and turned down at least one chance to have it. Even in high school, I couldn’t imagine sex without a romantic, intimate relationship first. I know this is unusual for men, but it does give me a better understanding of what women must feel when they learn how easy it is for most men to have sex without any relationship.
    Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: Post Sex TouchMy Profile

    • I can see that, and I agree with your addition. I come to it from a different perspective, the majority of the partners I had there was no connection to, aside from my wife, maybe only one other person was I emotionally involved with. Even when I started dating her, the emotional connection part of it was separate, ie I didn’t have sex because I was in love, I had sex because I wanted to have sex…..the love part came later. Sex without emotion is probably my default position, and I’d argue for the majority of men that is probably the case, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be added….it can, but it would be an error to assume that sex is based on emotional fulfillment.

      I grew up in church every time the doors were open, and the second I had the chance to stop, I went the complete opposite direction with everything, sex included.

      • And I hit enter too early….but what you said is the way that I was taught growing up. Every time my dad caught me with Hustler or whatever magazine I wasn’t supposed to have (this was the 90s), he tried to tell me that sex had a lot of emotional connection to him. But that never really registered with me, to be honest it still really doesn’t. Don’t take that as me saying I don’t love and cherish my wife, I absolutely do. I have a marriage that would be enviable to to most people, but sex and emotion are separate compartments of the waffle. In church I find it annoying that we pretend that the emotional connection is the main part for every couple, after three or four marriage courses our class has gone through, most of the guys just check out because when they say “it doesn’t work like that for me” they are told they are wrong, and god designed it to be the woman’s way and the men just screw it up because of porn. When in reality, no it isn’t so clear cut, porn meets a need for emotionless sex for men, women have equal opportunity to view it, they choose not to because most of them aren’t into it… doesn’t fill that need for them.

          • So Andrew, if sex can mean connection to you, but not always, and men also have a need for emotionless sex, how do you feel about duty sex?

            • I’m fine with duty sex, it is just a part of having different drive levels. We have duty “cleaning the kitchen” “doing laundry” and “grocery shopping” too. If it all becomes duty sex, that starts to take a toll on the ego, your husband will start to feel less desirable. Duty sex is also the opportunity to do something your partner likes that you maybe aren’t into.

              Emotionless sex doesn’t mean you aren’t desired, it just means “i want you, you want me, let’s go for it”. Think “right here, right now” whether that is on the kitchen table, or the back of a car, or the floor.

              • This morning was duty sex. I love sex. I initiate and am more adventurous than hubby, and for much of our marriage I had the higher drive. But, I am sick and in pain. Not enough pain to not be able to have sex, but too much pain to focus on achieving climax for myself. So, I had duty sex for hubby, and he appreciated it.

                I don’t mind giving hubby duty sex when needed. I would say of our sex stats 1/3 of our sex is duty sex. We have sex on average 3 times per week, and usually one of those times I could skip the effort, but have sex, anyway.

                The only thing that bothers me is that it is not reciprocated. I never get sex for me, the way I want it. However, he will tuck me back into bed and take care of the family while I rest as a way of saying thank you.

                • @Libl – Men don’t seem to do “sex just for her” much. (I prefer “just for you” to duty sex.) It should be more of a thing.
                  I’ve done it for Lori a few times. It’s pretty rare because my drive is usually up to hers, and even if it’s not I have to be pretty far gone for doing something for to not get me going.
                  Given how much “sex just for me” most men have had, you would think they would be all over doing it for her when she wants it and they don’t.
                  Paul Byerly recently posted…#TheOtherMeTooMy Profile

                • Paul,

                  Sex just for me wouldn’t even really just be sex for me because I would want him in me. BUT, even with that known reality, he won’t do just for me sex because it would require oral or manual, which he will not do on me. So, it is either mutual intercourse or sex just for him.

              • @Paul, thought of a good analogy that is better than emotionless, with regard to other comment, men want to have one night stand sex, they just want to do it with their wife

              • Sorry Paul-
                Andrew said that men have a need for emotionless sex….hence their need for porn. Not my words nor wishes.

                • I do not read that as he is saying all men have a need for emotionless sex but rather that for men who feel they want it that way that porn fits the bill for them. I think this was my husband’s case and even though I can understand it intellectually, emotionally it is still devastating.

        • We are all unique Paul, one woman reading may have a husband like me, another might have a husband like you, neither is wrong or right, just how we are. Hopefully one or both of our perspectives is able to provide benefit to someone’s marriage :)

  5. Glad you decided against your original title. Sex is a tool does indeed sound awful.

    But this is still puzzling. If sex is a means to an end
    1) why do men get so hung up about specific sex acts?
    2) how does hooking up and one night stands work?
    3) Why do men get so upset about sexlessness? They apparently survive just fine without it when dating. If it’s just one tool, why is it such a big deal to not have it? You still have romance, talking, shared experiences, cuddling etc that connects you and makes your wife feel good
    4) solo masturbation with or without porn.

    Maybe men have an easier time making a distinction between purely physical/ recreational sex and relational monogamous sex. Hooking up, porn and masturbation goes in the first bucket and wife/ marriage in the second.

    Because it seems like men can be weirdly emotionless about it and be 100% into the physical pleasure and nothing else and they can get really weirdly emotional about it. Like those men who leave the heart breaking messages about wanting to kill themselves because their wives won’t sleep with them.

    Men are weird. Sex is weird.

    • Since I have a good bit of time today, I’ll help you with some of this
      1. Because the act is what most of us are into, when you reject the act you reject the person
      2. I don’t know what your question is? You go meet someone, you have sex, they go on their way or you go on yours.
      3. Two fold, it is like being miserably hungry all the time. It is also ego deflating (imagine if your husband told you you looked fat every day, that is what denying your husband sex does to him). Most guys do have sex when dating, and most women have absolutely no clue how much men masturbate, especially when they are younger. If it is a guy under 25, it is every day, and most likely more than once a day. If you have teenage sons, twice a day would not be uncommon. Also part of the reason that men start making less stupid decisions after getting married, having regular sex calms them down. Cuddling, romance, whatever is all tertiary….sex is the most important part of the relationship, the younger the guy the more true that is.
      4. Depends. When I was a teenager and porn was harder to come by, the sears catalogue or victoria’s secret catalogue worked. In college porn became much more available with the internet and being of age, so everyone transitioned to that. The amount of masturbating didn’t change because we had porn, age and ng/dl of tesosterone determines that, unless someone is truly an addict.

      The emotional part for men is the rejection. Sex is the most important part of the relationship for them, if you asked most young men “you can be in a great emotionally fulfilling relationship with this woman, but you’ll never have sex” 99% of them would turn it down. It is your wife telling you over and over “you are worthless, you aren’t important, you are disgusting”. Men consider withholding sex emotional abuse.

      • Andrew-
        You do realize, that it’s often men’s attitudes toward sex being more important than the relationship (or the person they are having sex with) that causes many women’s issues with sex in the first place? As you mentioned above….it makes them feel used. They are a mean’s to an end, but an end in which they aren’t included except physically. Men get angry and impatient when women have issues around sex. Do men realize that many of those issues are due to the way women have been treated by men themselves (how ironic)? If you hit a dog one too many times, they will cower from a raised hand.
        I think men are often their own worst enemies when it comes to women and sex. What ever happened to gentlemen?

        I find it interesting that you can separate emotions from sex while at the same time, feel rejected if a woman/wife isn’t “into” a specific act. Really?! A specific sex act defines you as a person? Or is it the fact that she isn’t interested (no matter the reason), because of course, it’s what YOU want that counts….even when SHE’s half of the equation.
        When you don’t take her thoughts and feelings, likes and dislikes into consideration, you are telling your wife she is “worthless and unimportant.” When you reject her feelings, you reject the person. You are telling her that her sexuality doesn’t matter. Are you sure you want her to absorb that message?

        • Jolie, the argument works both ways, women’s rejection creates the problem with men which exacerbated the problem with men. I’m giving you one perspective , not sure why that makes you mad. I doubt very many men will disagree with much I’ve stated. Not liking the answer doesn’t make the answer less valid. Being female doesn’t make your perspective the correct one. He is half the equation too, to re-emphasize your statement.

          I’m really not sure what your suggestion is? Just do whatever the woman wants? The wife’s emotional fulfillment is more important than her husbands? What answer are you looking for?

          • Andrew-
            I’m neither mad nor looking for an answer. Just expressing A female view.
            Point counter point.
            Perhaps my words and thoughts will enlighten or give a perspective to a husband who has a reluctant or withholding wife. Never know.

            I do appreciate your energetic perspective. Explains a lot.

            • @jolie, I think a better way to put it which encompasses both of our perspectives: there is a cost to withdrawing from the joint relationship account. When you put your needs above your partners, there is a price to pay for doing that, you need to ensure that you have balancing deposits. It applies equally to men and women. What the price is for the specific withdrawal is unique to each individual. If you withdraw too much and don’t fill the Love tank back up, you create a problem. To your point disregarding the wife’s feelings on something creates a debit, not doing something that is important to your husband also creates a debit. So every time we make that choice we are spending relationship equity, knowing that people should be prudent on what they choose to spend their equity on.

          • @Andrew & @Jolie And what’s really sad is much of the damage done to women by men, and to men by women, was not done by their spouse. So everyone is mostly paying for the sins of others. Not only is this wrong, but if you didn’t cause the harm your ability to help fix it is limited.
            Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: Post Sex TouchMy Profile

            • Couldn’t agree more.
              Everyone pays for the sins of others, life doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
              Though their ability to fix the problem is limited, without a supporting spouse, healing may never occur.

              • Yes. Support and understanding are healing balms but they can only be applied to those that will acknowledge they have a wound and allow you to touch it. And, people can and should be God’s instruments but only He is the true Healer. Sometimes I wish He used a little more anesthetic when He is performing surgery.

            • I have told my wife that she is sitting on a reservoir of grievances from past relationships that all gets fired at me alone. One of the aspects of this tendency is that she hangs on to certain things I did long ago and throws them at me as the explanation for why she doesn’t want to have sex with me. I called her the “b” word 15 years ago and apologized (several times). But she doesn’t forgive because she needs it as her explanation for sexual refusal.

              But compare that to one of her boyfriends who kidnapped her after she tried to break up with him. Or the boyfriend who got her pregnant twice leading to two abortions. Or the boyfriend that was sleeping with another girl when she came to visit him at his apartment. Or the boyfriend she was planning to marry who dumped her because he wanted his old girlfriend back.

              She had a lot of relational damage when we married and a lot of it I knew nothing about until much later in the marriage. And now I am supposed to believe that she doesn’t want sex because I called her a bad name once and have apologized dozens of times? Or because I was in a failed business? Or because I lost my temper six months ago?

              • @RickyB And you’re surprised your wife doesn’t want sex? That’s a whole freight train worth of baggage right there. Any one of those factors would have been enough to make me write off sex and men permanently. You probably should go read the curmudgeonly librarian series and do the work and make though choices before you absolute insist your wife gets serious counseling. Like Paul said, she probably should have gone before y’all were married. You should probably try and deal with your heart before you approach this. You sound (understandably) quite angry. Your wife is right in one respect. You should pray to Jesus for strength. You’re going to need it. I’m sorry you’re paying for other men’s crimes.

              • @RickyB – It sounds like her previous boyfriends have far more to do with her lack of interest in sex than what you’ve done. She may or may not believe what she says about it being your fault – it depends on if she is lying to you or to herself.
                It totally sucks that you are paying for the sins of others, but it sounds like you are blaming your wife rather than the men who did those things to her. Your love and understanding would help her face her past; your anger is pushing her away from doing that. And please know I have every right to say this because I’ve been there and doen this with my wife who went through worse than your wife did.
                I suggest you start by working on you. Find, or refind, compassion for your wife and what she’s been through. Then you will be in a place to help her face and deal with those things.
                Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: Live PeaceablyMy Profile

        • Jolie, when a wife is sexually confident and desirous of her husband amazing things happen. I contend that men with great sex lives in their marriages do better overall. It isnt that we wives bear the burden or responsibility of how our husbands live, but we do have great influence. And, if we are married to good men, it only benefits us, too. Yes, our husbands should treat us well, but it is only natural that it is easier to treat someone well when you are head over heels in love with them.

          If women waited until men were perfect, and if men waited until women got horny, marriages would never last. I decided to be the one taking the steps in my marriage and it has gotten better. Granted, hubby seems to have a selfish streak and he takes advantage of my willingness to do the relationship heavy-lifting, but it is better than doing nothing and pouting in a corner.

          When I was last pregnant, I masturbated 6 times a day and still had a drive. My hormones were nuts! I started rubber necking at men (and women). I started watching porn. I felt insatiable. (Hubby was also refusing me at the time and we were nearly 2 years into him refusing to give me an orgasm). I decided this must be what a healthy, sexually frustrated man feels like. So, I have the unique ability to understand both sides of this issue, and frankly, it is futile for either gender to pull the “you first” argument.

          Do the right thing. Have sex with your husband.

          Men, do the right thing and love your wife.

          • Proud of you Libl. Glad things are going better. Will pray they keep progressing.

          • Libl,
            I appreciate your comments.

            I am married to a truly precious man. The love of my life.
            Neither one of us are perfect, though I feel we are perfect for each other.
            We have and have always had (30+ years) an active sex life.
            I have seldom felt physically horny let alone insatiable. I envy those women who have physical sexual urges. Must be nice. I’m sure it makes the decision to be sexual much easier.
            I may be unusual, but orgasms never did much for me. Mine were very mild and no big deal. I’m post menopausal and haven’t had one in years.
            Though sex has never been physically great, I have conscientiously made the decision to be sexual for the sake of my husband and the sake of our marriage.
            I guess in that way, sex is a means to an end.

            • That must be very difficult. I think you are a rarity amongst people that feel that way. Thank you for trying to meet your husband’s needs even if you don’t feel the same way yourself. That takes a lot of courage and unselfishness. I hope you reap many blessings in your marriage because of it.

      • @Andrew “Sex is the most important part of the relationship for them, if you asked most young men”

        I can’t agree with that. It’s very important, and for most men, it’s absolutely necessary. But I don’t think it’s the most important for the majority of men, and I’ve seen surveys that support that.

        But I do agree few men would knowingly marry into a sexless marriage no matter how great everything else was.
        Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: Post Sex TouchMy Profile

        • Paul, find me a guy who is not happy with his sex life but happy in his relationship, I bet that would be extraordinarily hard to do. The two variables that determine men’s happiness are 1. How much sex they have 2. How much criticism they get. I could cite ten surveys that show that. Sex is the most important component to a happy relationship for men, it isn’t the only component though. Your agreement that men would not knowingly enter a sexless relationship doesn’t dispute that.

    • @alchemist
      1) Better enjoyment. Physical pleasure is one of the ends, just not the most important for most men over the age of 23.
      2) Since I can’t do it, I’m not sure. But if you can have sex apart from emotions and relationship, it would be easy. In this case, physical pleasure and maybe a sense of conquest are the only ends. There are a few women out there who do it just as well, but they are the exception.
      3) Men masturbate… OFTEN. The day we marry we assume we will never have to do that again, and we feel cheated when it doesn’t work out the way we think it should.
      4) For me masturbation is first and foremost about release, and then about physical pleasure. It’s totally empty emotionally. I don’t see that as a problem because I don’t see masturbation as sex any more than I see an IV as a meal. It takes care of some of the basic needs, but it falls way short of sex with a woman.
      As for porn, for me it was a way to get highly aroused. I didn’t’ use it when I masturbated, I used it before. I suspect the use of video porn can become an attempt to convince one’s self that there is a woman there. I think it’s an effort for some semblance of relationship, but that’s just a guess.
      Yes, most men can have emotionless sex. I would think that becomes far more difficult once they know something better, but again, I don’t know.

      “Men are weird.”
      Back at you!
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: Post Sex TouchMy Profile

      • @Paul & @Andrew

        See that’s the thing your answers seem to directly contradict the post. If it’s a means to an end why is it (sex) so important? If I need to need to get something done, how it’s done isn’t that important. Some ways may be easier than others, but I’m not going to get emotionally distraught if I need to make a sign and I need to manually paint it instead of doing it on PowerPoint and printing it. Or if I type my dissertation in Latex or Word. Or if I need to use the synthesis form 1890 instead of the modern one cause I don’t have the equipment. It’s annoying and may take longer, but it gets done so… Your whole sense of self worth doesn’t get tied up into the means. Like the very fact that the rejection of an act can be seen and felt as the rejection of a person is like what?? You want to bond and have an orgasm, yes? Who cares how you get there?

        I think I sort of kind of get what you’re trying to say. But it doesn’t really make any sense.

        Maybe a tool is a better analogy after all. If you really need a flathead screwdriver the wrench or the hammer just isn’t going to do it.

        • Sex is validation that you are important and desirable. The physical stress is alleviated via orgasm, masturbation is effective, it’s not validating though.

          • Almost all guys who have self esteem issues about sex, it started in adolescence where they were rejected by potential partners, marriage exacerbates the problem because they go into it with unrealistic expectations, see Paul’s #3 above

              • Andrew’s right. It is extremely hard for a man even to ask his wife for sex. Every time no is said, we get the message. “Not desirable.” Yes. Men struggle with self-esteem issues. I’m a 120 pound weakling. You know how much it means to me that my wife actually wants my body?
                Nick Peters recently posted…Is Jesus An Avatar?My Profile

        • @alchemist – There are at least two factors:
          1) As you say, the tool analogy does play into it. I can maybe drive a nail with a rock or a pipe wrench, but it’s going to take more effort, I’m more likely to hurt myself, the nail is more likely to bend, and the final job won’t look as good. A hammer is a far better tool.
          Likewise, there are things sex does much, much better than any other “tool”.

          2) Sex is a biological drive, much like our hunger for food. Think about all the ends we meet through eating that have nothing to do with getting the food we need. When Lori and I go out to a restaurant it’s not the fastest, most efficient, or least expensive way of eating. We do it because we enjoy it. We do it because eating together bonds people (oxytocin is involved). If we didn’t eat for those other ends, we would still need to eat.

          As for a particular act, that can be several things. For me, it’s not as much about wanting the act as wanting my wife to be open to what I like. If it grosses her out or causes pain, then I don’t want to do it. If it does nothing for her, I’m okay with it occasionally, especially when sex is “just for me”. If she just refused to even discuss it, I’d be hurt by her attitude more than any “refusal”.
          Paul Byerly recently posted…#TheOtherMeTooMy Profile

    • Since all the other guys are asking.

      #1. Why do women get hung up over specific restaurants and such and favorite TV shows or anything? For me, I don’t care what the act is as long as my wife is excited about it and wants me.

      #2. Chesterton said years ago that when a man knocks on the door of a brothel, he’s looking for God. Everyone is looking for something greater than themselves. Sex is as close as many people get to God. It’s a transcendent experience that draws you out of yourself and into the other. It’s kind of similar to why some people take drugs always looking for that high.

      #3. And why would a wife not want to do what makes her husband feel good? You have something good you can do with your husband that is free, affirms him, and can be done often. Why not do that? I could just as well ask why does a wife make a big deal about being dated after marriage and being told that she’s loved and beautiful and such? For us, our masculinity is tied to our sexuality. If you do not desire us sexually, then we do not see ourselves as men. We are glorified roommates. Of course, we couldn’t when we were dating, but if marriage doesn’t change anything about the relationship, why marry?

      #4. I don’t watch porn at all. Still, it’s all tied to arousal. If a man feels aroused, he feels like a man. The truth is he wants his woman to do that the most by wowing him with her body. My wife’s body is the most beautiful and sacred sight I ever see. That is what I want to think about the most and be turned on the most. Being around my wife and not getting to enjoy her body is rough. I would tell a woman it’s like you being on a diet trying to lose those extra pounds and having to walk through the ice cream or chocolate section of the grocery store.

      And no, sex is hardly emotionless for me. It is one of the most exciting events of my life. I can be having one of the worst days of all, but if my wife does something sexual with me, my entire outlook changes.

      And yes, we are weird and sex is weird, but it’s all God’s idea.
      Nick Peters recently posted…Is Jesus An Avatar?My Profile

      • Nick, that was beautiful!
        I read through your descriptions and hung on every word.
        A little bit like a romance novel.
        So refreshing.

        If I had grown up knowing that’s how men truly felt about sex and being Treated as though that’s how men truly felt about sex, I wouldn’t have gone into marriage with so many sexual hang ups. Sadly, your description was NEVER my reality.
        I am married to a wonderful man who can usually express his feelings, but he has never described our sex life that eloquently. When he wants to talk about sex, it’s usually about the gory details and about what feels good and what doesn’t physically. It’s about the sex, not the experience.

        Between, my growing up with a rather negative reality of male sexuality, working with sexual assault victims, and never having felt a physical urge for sex, I’m assuming
        that’s why sex has never done for me what it seems to do for others. I have Never experienced sex as you have described above.

        Sad, really. Sounds nice.

        • Jolie. I have told my own wife and therapists when we’ve been together that you could take me to see the Taj Mahal, the city of Jerusalem, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Mona Lisa, The Statue of Liberty, the Sphinx and Pyramids, etc. Those would all be wonderful to see. None of them compare to my wife’s body. I love to see her so much.

          There was a time not too long ago when I was in a debate with someone related to a close friend of mine. It was racking my day and I was hardly sleeping one night from it. Then my wife surprised me with a good make out session.

          The situation was the same, but my stress was alleviated.

          She has that much power over me.
          Nick Peters recently posted…Is Jesus An Avatar?My Profile

      • @Nick Peters – Excellent! Most men would agree with most or all of that, and you expressed it very well. Thanks.

        I don’t think most women have a clue how much they can affect us with sex. The power to make a bad day go away probably doesn’t make sense to a woman, but it’s a very real thing.
        Paul Byerly recently posted…#TheOtherMeTooMy Profile

  6. So, can a husband that rarely wants sex and puts little or no effort into it when he has it, ever be connected intimately on an emotional level to his wife? If that is how most men connect emotionally and he chooses not to but chooses to watch porn and masturbate instead, is there any likelihood of real relational intimacy? And just for curiosity’s sake as in a chicken/egg debate, which is the cause and which is the effect? Is his inability to form an emotional connection the reason he refuses sexual intimacy with a real woman or is his refusal of sexual intimacy the reason he can’t sustain an emotional connection either?

    • I am just really curious if there are spouses out there that feel a deep, positive, emotional connection to their spouse if they are being rejected sexually. I’m not talking about if they “get along”. I am talking about feeling loved, connected, accepted, and appreciated in the relationship as a whole in everything but sex.

      • And I’m not talking about 2 asexual people or couples that are just arguing about a difference in frequency from 2/3 times a week to 4/5.

    • Yes, but the root cause of it has to be addressed. Why is he going to porn? Assuming he is normal, and not someone prone to addictive behaviors, or clinically depressed, he’s using porn to fill a perceived void. Almost every guy I know who is depressed has a porn problem. Assuming neither of those, my off the cuff guess would be that he is really into something that he is either embarrassed to tell his wife about, or something that his wife refuses to do. He’s allowed the issue to fester, and created a dependence problem. If this is the case, drag it out of him. If it is something weird, be understanding and not judgemental. If it is something his wife won’t do, the realistic answer is that he doesn’t stop craving that because she decided she doesn’t want to do it, he’s just getting it from porn.

      • Supposedly my husband was a PIV virgin when we got married. I was not because I had been raped. I had lots of emotional issues from it but not the usual ones of sexual hang ups cause I did not remember any of it up to the point of entrance and then he ran away when I came to. The idea of married sex with my husband was in no way connected to that experience so I, being a very sexual person, looked forward to it with great anticipation and a complete and total willingness and desire to experiment with everything and anything except anal penetration and S&M. In many ways, he seemed to have a normal amount of desire before marriage but looking back, there were some control and withholding issues I didn’t see at the time. He didn’t pressure me for PIV sex but he did pressure me for manual and oral. I knew nothing about the porn and didn’t for a long time into our marriage.

        There was no honeymoon period that cooled off. He flat out hardly ever wanted sex from the day of our wedding on…we were both early twenties. I felt ugly and undesirable for well over 20 years and it crushed me when I found out about the porn and realized it couldn’t just be low libido cause he apparently had no problem getting off to pictures or fantasies. It was devestating but I kept trying until I couldn’t take his abuse anymore. He was prone to addictions and I think he has serious mental health issues. A few times, he has said he was going to change his life around and he wanted our marriage to work but the last few years when he has said that, he has said BUT…… “I don’t think I will ever be able to have the sex life you want” (I guess movement is too much to expect). We have been separated and I finally filed for divorce awhile ago. I am at peace with my decisions because I know God has released me and I do not believe the abuse cycles will ever end. But, the last couple years we were together, I felt guilty constantly because when he was in a “good” phase, I rebelled against the idea of an essentially sexless marriage even if we could be friendly roommates otherwise. To be totally honest, I am happy I don’t have to decide to live like that or not. But, I am trying to honestly examine my part in our relationship because I know I need to let God heal and change me too. The awful sex life was only one aspect of an awful marriage but I would really like to know if the substance and emotional abuse would have stopped if we could still have a intimate, connected relationship without much sex.

        • I am so sorry you had to go through that for 20 years. Nothing I could say fixes or makes it ok. My heart hurts for you

          • Thank you. It does help, though, because I feel HEARD and that is one of the most healing things I think there is.

        • And Andrew, just to answer and clarify, I did think there was something that had gone haywire in his sexual thinking and feelings but he would never talk about them or sex in general except to show me a dirty joke his friends sent him. He had some very odd hang ups and sometimes I wonder if he regarded me as more of a mother to take care of him than a wife. I never criticized him or rejected him. I tried to be as gentle as possible with a fragile ego that I believe was bruised long before I met him. I know I should have confronted him and set boundaries but that is still something I have no clue on how I could have gone about it with any success. I started reading articles and blogs long before we split in an effort to try and I came up empty. The slightest misstep could cause the switch to flip and Mr. Hyde would appear.

          • Google Imago theory and see if anything with his family dynamic or yours resonates

            • What I read was very interesting in the brief amount of time I had. I think a lot of it sounds valid on initial perusal. In some ways, my husband had the worst of both worlds; he had a cold, distant, alcoholic father and a sweet but clingy, dependent mother that used him as her surrogate husband. His dad also cheated a lot and he saw the hurt it caused his mom and so he vowed never to do that. I wonder, as some in the purity culture have expressed, if he looked on desire as such a bad thing that it crippled him sexually.

              The how we choose a spouse part was interesting too. Probably too much to go into here but I will definitely be reading more on the Imago theory.

          • And that was I never criticized him or rejected him sexually. I’m not trying to say I was a saint in every aspect of our marriage.

    • @WhereIwas – If a guy is just not that into sex, then maybe he can feel connected without it. But if he is all about porn and masturbation, it’s not a lack of sex drive. If his wife is willing and able and he’s choosing his own hand I’d say he probably has some significant attachment issues, and if that’s the case he’s not going to feel connected regardless.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: Post Sex TouchMy Profile

      • I think that is true and I will myself to find my worth and my beauty through God’s eyes alone but doubt still creeps in that I was/am undesirable and unlovable. I asked God to help me see my husband through Jesus’s eyes of love but frequently have a hard time seeing myself that way. I know they aren’t Godly thoughts but sometimes it is hard to find healing from an invisible, spiritual being when your body cries out to feel loving hands and your ears long to have someone tell you that you are wholly seen and known and still found appealing and loved. Sometimes I think it is harder for either a Christian man or woman in a marriage that is devoid of sexual or emotional closeness than it is for a single person. (I’m not negating their pain) You know it would be wrong to seek intimacy outside of marriage and frequently neither do you feel right about ending the marriage but you have a spouse and the normal expectations are there but never or rarely come to fruition. It’s like being given a wonderful new toy that you are told is ALL YOURS and only yours but it sits on the shelf and you are never allowed to play with it.

  7. I read the blogs and I read the comments and I try to think about what people are saying and I ache for them because most people on here are trying to heal hurts or have a genuine desire to correct faults or make their marriage better. Writing a reply is usually painful to me cause it dredges up bad memories or fear concerning the future. But, it is very therapeutic. I just realized in rereading my reply, that my feelings of not wanting a marriage without sex were not wrong; they aren’t wrong and I refuse to label them as “unChristian” any more or waste my time mulling over them with guilt. The sexual rejection and abuse are all tied together in my life and sometimes I do wonder if all habitual sexual rejection without a meaningful biological or psychological reason is a form of abuse. Even if I could have lived in peace with my husband, it would not have been wrong for me to want more, both an emotional and sexual connection. It probably doesn’t matter which comes first. I think they are both necessary for spouses to feel loved and respected. I have no problem with sex as a means to an end because you can fill almost all other emotional needs outside of marriage but looking to fill the emotional need of sexual fulfillment and desirability outside of marriage is a sin. Sex is what makes the difference between being just roommates or business partners vs being a husband and wife. I didn’t give my life and heart to another in the hopes of being good roommates. And once you find out a roommate is a bad one, it’s easy to just say so long but that is obviously not what God intended for marriage. It is to be s bond and sex is what makes that bind different than all other relationships.

    • Absolutely love this comment. Saves me a lot of typing. As a male recipient of longstanding “abuse” (in your context not physical) I could not agree more wholeheartedly. I have sincerely wondered over our 32 years now if my other half was a lesbian that decided to “obey God” and get married if that makes any sense. But even gay people want sex, just not with opposite sex partners!
      I have tried everything I could think of to try to no avail. She refused counseling over and over because SHE doesn’t think there is a problem at all.

      I am at the point now that if my cancer ever comes back, I will seek no heroic treatment. Hopefully all those years of desperately remaining faithful in a sexless marriage will be enough to make up for any other faults and failures. Situation has caused me to just about lose whatever faith I had. Just white-knuckling it until the blessed end now. However it eventually comes.

      How do protect your “eyes” when your wife NEVER even let’s you take a peek? HA!

      The sickest part is that wife thinks no sex somehow makes her better, or more holy in some twisted way. There are no nuns in our denomination. If you wanted to become one, why get married? Or convert from Catholicism in the first place for that matter? Corinthians says “mutually agreed time” does it not? And believe me when I tell you, when she always turned me down she WASN’T in the middle of prayer or Bible study or something.

      Saddest thing is the more she pulled away from me, the madder and further away from God I got!

      Anyone have ANY idea what this is POSSIBLY supposed to teach or accomplish! I agree 1000000000% with Andrew I think it was. No man gets married thinking there will NEVER be a sexual relationship. Nor one that reduces a man to a desperate, pleading, angry, emasculated shell of what he once was before marital “bliss”! Talk about stress hormones! HA!

      Marriage is a rip off! Why isn’t a sexless marriage recognized as grounds for divorce when it is clear that this is NOT what God intended for the institution?

      Sad thing too is wife has told me over and over again she is not into flowers and all that emotional “girly” stuff. She doesn’t even have a gaggle of “girlfriends” like other women do. Never told me what she does want either though. Only answer I ever get is “I don’t know”.

      I still don’t either.

  8. Best I can tell, I have identified six main components (individual desires) of my sex drive (in no particular ranking):

    Connection – Feel emotionally linked to my wife. Bonding. Intimacy. We are a team. We are friends. Her positives (in my mind) completely eclipse her negatives.
    Confirmation – Validation of me as a person, I am good enough, I have value and worth. I matter. She matters. She has worth. She is validated.
    Consolation – Everything is going to be all right. Stress release. Wholeness. Feeling integrated to my body again. Shalom.
    Physical Release – A pressure/fullness feeling (ranging from uncomfortable to downright painful).
    Mental Release – A mental train of thought (ranging from mild annoyance to incessant distraction) that is constantly alert for, seeking, thinking about sex.
    “Visual” Pressure – A need/hunger to see the (preferably unclothed) female form.

    Imagine horses pulling a stagecoach: pairs of horses, some on the left, some on the right – linked together in rows as well as columns.

    It is possible for any horse to “steer” the whole shebang by pulling to a side (it saw a snake, it’s hungry, etc.); one horse can do all the pulling work or multiple horses can pull to the side. “I” am the stagecoach driver trying to keep the coach on the road, in one piece, and still arrive at the destination (e.g. love God, love other people, etc.). If we say “sex drive” and just leave it at that, that is like looking at the coupling between the coach and the horses as the “towing force” and not acknowledging the horses.

    1-2-3 are linked on the left side as emotional drives. 4-5-6 appear to be linked on the right side as more physical aspects (e.g. 4 works on a recharge timer, 5 and 6 are friends with 4).
    1 and 4 appear to be the general lead horses, although there have been times when I can easily identify which of the other six is pulling. Each of the 6 appears to have roughly the same amount of strength if they choose to use it; each of the six has days where they have been incredibly dominant and I can identify it as 1) a horse 2) the one leading.

    Just one horse pulling is enough to move the coach at a good clip… then there are the days where all six are wanting to run as fast as they can.

    There are also several sub-drives (for me, at least):
    a. Spiritual protection as a Christian – There is a protection against sexual immorality that is met with my wife and not through other means (at least not the same levels).
    b. Transcendence / Feeling connected to God – I know God loves me (head knowledge); after sex I feel God loves me (heart knowledge).
    c. Pleasure – feels good
    d. Enhanced sleep – Sleep better after sex
    e. Enhanced colors – Colors always seem to be more vibrant for about 15 hours after sex
    f. Mood reversal – depression/bitterness/irritableness immediately change to joy, walking on air, etc.

    These desires are there; but they have never been strong enough to say that “this one by itself is pulling the whole thing”. Pleasure, for example, is not confined to sex. I can get pleasure from eating good food or a good book or a good movie or an activity I enjoy.
    I can not point to any instance where I wanted sex solely for pleasure with all the other 1-6 drives being silent.

    Masturbation can partially (never 100%) meets the needs of 4, 5, 6, c. It can take the physical pain away, give me a break from distraction so I can focus on other things better, quieten the hunger for the form, provide a little stress release and pleasure, etc. Masturbation does absolutely nothing for the other eight.

    The other components can be met in other ways. If I spend time together with my wife doing an activity, if we have good conversation, points go into the Connection category.
    Confirmation can increased by people at my work, my family (e.g. kids running to me after work), wife thanking me for something, etc. And these are all parts of life and living in community with other people. “No man is an island” and so forth.

    However – even mediocre sex partially meets needs of all twelve (1-6, a-f) at once.
    Good, intimate take-your-time lovemaking sex can meet the needs of all 12 fully at once.
    Even if the driving force was more physical, the emotional needs are met at the same time.

    So sex as a means to “a” end… not so much. This leads to the “sex for physical release, wife=tool” thinking. Sex as an efficient means to lots of ends, including connection with wife and building a better future and marriage and community for us both… absolutely.

    • @Wynd,
      Wow! Beautifully written and quite explanatory.
      You should write a book.
      Conclusion? : Sex drives a man’s life.

      Reading your excerpt left me a little uneasy.
      I don’t think I would feel comfortable having my whole outlook on life, my feelings towards others, and my mental focus rely completely on sexually engaging with another human being.
      Do men ever feel bothered by that?

      • To use a computer analogy, it is like my entire operating system was changed/overwritten when I was married. Virgin when we married; suddenly I had sexual fulfillment and emotional fulfillment and intimacy and transcendence all rolled up together. Having my whole outlook warp, my mental focus shift, my priorities drastically shift, my sense of self-worth and acceptance suddenly (over the first year of marriage) depend on sex was a very uncomfortable thing mentally – no one mentioned that as a “side affect” of marriage.

        There is part that is very bothered by this; this is not how things “used to be” (e.g. when I was single); I have vulnerabilities and dependencies where none existed before. There is another part of me that acknowledges that this is how marriage is supposed to work, that these are things God designed as a deliberate weakness in order to make a marriage stronger.

        • @Wynd “I have vulnerabilities and dependencies where none existed before.”

          You state that well! And I think that’s a part of why God made men as He did with regards to sex. I does make us vulnerable to and dependent on our wives, and as uncomfortable as that may be, it’s a good thing for us, for them, and for our marriage.
          Paul Byerly recently posted…That’s Not RespectMy Profile

  9. Paul, and all the male commenters: I really really appreciate your insights here. My husband had a one night stand several years ago and while our marriage has been successfully repaired I still struggle inwardly to understand how my husband could have sex with another woman while loving only me (as he professed.) You guys have really helped me understand better at least at head level.

  10. The female commenters views are also helpful. Ladies, I didn’t mean to leave y’all out!

  11. I just confronted my wife with an email quoting this and other websites about a man’s need for sex. She was irritated and unmoved. The gist of her handwritten response was, “Why can’t you just be happy with how well things are going for us in life, finances and children? Why make sex so important?”

    As I talked with her, however, it became clearer that she has hung on to grievances against me that are mixed with (unadmitted) junk from her single years as I mentioned in a previous comment. She is convinced that I should exist without sex or step up the pressure on her to provide duty sex and risk her wrath. If I masturbate, she will add that to her list of grievances. If I use porn, she will demand that I submit to accountability and add it to her list of grievances. If I have an affair, she will kick me out of the house and add it to her list of grievances. If I complain, she will call me a guilt-manipulating whiner and add that to her list of grievances.

    Her suggestion is that I pray and ask God for strength.

    • @RickyB – Based on what you’ve said your situation is way past what you are going to find here. You need third party help, and you need it yesterday. If your wife refuses to get help then you have a very difficult choice to make.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Change Can Take A Lot of TimeMy Profile

  12. Here is a partial transcript of the handwritten letter from her. Remember, the last time we had sex was three months ago:

    “Christ asks Peter in John 21:15, ‘Simon Son of John, do you love me more than these?’

    We all have our own “these” things that we sometimes choose over Jesus. Has the importance of sex become this for you? I am not saying it is not important in marriage, it’s just not the only thing that makes a marriage great.”

    In her email response she simply said she just doesn’t want sex. In person she said, “We had it in July. Why are you coming to me now wanting more?”

  13. RickyB, I read some excellent information about sexual refusal on another blog, Chris at She endorsed another blog called The Curmudgeonly Librarian which has a whole series offering steps a sexually denied husband may consider prayerfully taking to rectify the situation. Here’s the link:
    Paul, if this blog isn’t one you could endorse, please feel free to delete it.

      • I have read both blogs extensively. I think Chris Taylor was finally convinced of the gravity of her refusal when she realized how much she was hurting her husband. Her compassion for him finally helped create the breakthrough. She is a wonderful person and her ministry is excellent. Unfortunately, convincing my wife to read her blog would require a similar provocation of her conscience, for which I will have to go to God in prayer.

        CSL is also good and he was the impetus for me to begin the process of confronting our sexless marriage directly with her. His wife, as I recall, was not refusing but simply lacked awareness of the significance of the sexual problem because he was experiencing a lot of back problems. He got his wife to agree to a twice a week schedule where he initiates once and she initiates once.

        I tried to get her to pick a day where she would just let me know she was interested in having sex and that just meant three weeks went by without a word. My first confrontation was last February and I said something along the lines of “I believe our sexless marriage is a sin and I am willing to own my half of the blame but I think you need to be open to acknowledging your responsibility as well.”

        Sadly, I got a groan and an eye roll and no acknowledgment and no agreement to work on it since she didn’t see it as a problem.

        I continue to read curmudgeonly librarian but the longer this problem goes on I find his words that used to comfort me just now leave me angry and feeling hopeless. The only path forward is to become her mortal enemy by confronting regularly until she finally gives in out of frustration. Would that happen before she completely shuts me out? That’s a risk I may have to take.

        In a healthy church environment, members could go to the elders and ask for an intervention in this situation. But has anyone ever heard of church discipline or even some kind of intervention being performed on a wife (or husband) for sexual refusal? The very idea sounds absurd? Adultery, of course. Porn addiction, absolutely.

        Curmudgeonly Librarian had a fascinating 4-part blog series on how this issue was handled by Jews in the Old Testament times:

        It’s great reading but does beg the question: So what? Who cares? That was then and this is now. Ugh.

  14. You have appealed to Caesar, to Caesar you must go! I feel like the genie who has been summoned.

    Ricky, you end with “So what? Who cares? That was then and this is now. Ugh.” The “ugh” I get. But the “that was then, this is now”? I can read that in two ways, so I’ll have a whack at both, just to be thorough…

    Reading #1 – “That was Old Testament rabbis, etc., and has nothing to do with Jesus and the Church.” If that is where your thoughts were running, I’m learning that you couldn’t be any more wrong. The rabbis who developed the teaching that I referred to in the posts you cite were Jesus’ predecessors, compatriots and fellow rabbis. It wasn’t that the Jews had this teaching/practice in the OT, but that Jesus was as Jewish rabbi, teaching a Jewish thoughts and concepts to a Jewish audience. He wasn’t looking down the centuries to 20th century Baptists.

    Also, we know that Jesus partook of the debate about proper rabbinic teaching & practice concerning divorce. If he could plump down on one side of a Pharisaic debate on divorce, we know that He was perfecting capable of correcting bad thinking about marriage. Since He didn’t correct the rabbinic teachings that I presented, we can safely assume that the principles of their decisions were valid to Him, and thus still valid today.

    Oh, as to someone going to the church about refusal, Luther actually counseled that very thing in his 1522 On The Estate Of Marriage. Just because we are too Christian to follow the Bible’s instructions doesn’t mean that the Bible is wrong.

    Reading #2 – “CSL’s articles are all well and good, but that’s just so much theology and doesn’t have anything to do with my situation.” My comeback on this is that it’s up to you if it is relevant or not. I read your line about feeling that the only way to make progress was to become your wife’s “mortal enemy”, to continuously confront her about the sexless marriage.

    Um…. yeah.
    1) One guy I know of said that the worst two years of his marriage were the two years he decided to not accept a sexless marriage as status quo. After a couple of years, he says, his wife eventually stopped fighting him, and his marriage turned around.
    2) Someone above has mentioned Chris Taylor of Forgiven Wife. I read her material constantly; I remember that she said that the worst time in her marriage was when she started to realize she was in the wrong, but started acting as a pure witch toward her husband in trying to avoid the inexorable truth.

    So, yeah, I get that someone invested in maintaining a sexless marriage can get ugly about it. I also know that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got. Or as I like to put it, “as long as you maintain the status quo, the status will always be quo.”

    I also get that we Christian men don’t want our homes to be battlefields, and want to maintain peace at any cost. That’s why I wrote my article,
    and why Paul wrote his article

    But it comes down to this–if it’s not intolerable, then tolerate. It’s only when the tolerable becomes intolerable that we don’t tolerate it any longer.

  15. Reading #3 – “CSL’s articles are awesome and completely applicable to our current situation within the church. I find tremendous support and value in them. On the other hand, I have never before heard these arguments made with such incredible intellectual depth, even to the point of referring to aspects of Jewish history that are transforming my perspective in so many ways. I have never before seen the church concern itself with sexless marriages and, while I haven’t been around as long as CSL, I have paid some dues of my own and been in church a long time. If the church was ever going to care about this, I think some evidence might have presented itself before now. So my conclusion is: Who cares? I care, but nobody else does. That was then and this is now. Today our church’s are dealing with how to confront pornography, gay marriage and transgenderism. Who cares if RickyB ain’t gettin’ any action in the bedroom. Hey, life is tough everywhere buddy. Just suck it up and deal with it. Let the church to take care of the big stuff.”

  16. Re: “the worst time in her (Chris Taylor’s) marriage was when she started to realize she was in the wrong, but started acting as a pure witch toward her husband in trying to avoid the inexorable truth.”

    But how much of her realization was instigated by her husband? Hard truths are barely accepted when they originate with the Holy Spirit. When they originate from the spouse, they are rejected very easily and often with indignation. Am I signing up for two years or more of sheer agony for possibly no actual benefit?

    • As to Chris, I’m not sure how much was to to the Hubs or the Holy Spirit. But from what I’ve read, she has stated that she knew something was truly wrong.

      Which leads me to something I recently heard…
      I listen to a few podcasts, one of which is Sexy Marriage Radio (Corey Allan and Shannon Etheridge). Shannon conducts an in-home workshop for women entitled Woman At The Well. On a recent podcast, I heard her say that there are two types of women who usually attend her workshops. The one that caught my ear was this one: “women who want help with their libido because they know that they have something to lose if they don’t do something to change things.”

      In other words, these are wives who come to realize that they truly have skin in the game, and stand to lose something if they continue on in their complacent ways. They realize that the status of their status quo might not remain quo and are motivated to do something about it.

      • @CSL – It’s sad when a couple’s marriage dies because the woman never accepts sex as a necessary element.
        BTW, I’ve talked to a couple of women who did the Etheridge thing, and they both found it excellent. Painful and revealing, but very helpful.
        Paul Byerly recently posted…That’s Not RespectMy Profile

  17. Further complicating my situation is the fact that we have legal guardianship over a special needs adult (22 year old son with severe mental disability) that requires us to submit to oversight from the county court. If there is any disruption in our status quo that requires one of us (inevitably me) to leave the household, it could complicate the status of our guardianship. If I issue an ultimatum to solve the sexlessness issue, I will either be grossly insincere and not taken seriously or I will be sincere and accused of being willing to put our disabled son at risk of being placed in a state-run group home. Forcing my wife to get “skin in the game” (a lot of double-entendre there) is risky and possibly destructive. At that point, I start asking God why he hates my sex life so much. Obviously he doesn’t, but when I go through all the scenarios in my head it definitely makes me wonder.

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