Involuntary Celibacy

Reflections from a Sexual Desert

The following writings were sent to me by a man who has spent many years in a sexual desert in his marriage. He has agreed to let me share some of the heart piercing and profound reverie he has had regarding the intimately starved marriage in which he is living. This stuff is the sacred ground of the soul. What an awesome and humbling thing it is to glimpse into the soul of another.

He has graciously consented to let me share these personal writings in hopes that it may bring hope to others who find themselves in similar situations. His hope is that through his pain maybe he can be an instrument for good somehow.

I hope these writings will be received in the manner in which they were written. I know his words profoundly affected me. These writings and the many others like it are the reasons I see it as such a high priority to strengthen marriages sexually.

In recent months I’ve begun to use the phrase “involuntary celibacy” to describe my current sexual status. I keep the phrase (and the truth behind it) mainly to myself (and my journal) with an occasional exception, when I find a listening ear.

It’s really quite tragic. But the term is rather fitting, since I have about as much of a sex life as a typical priest. I like to joke to myself that the difference between me and a priest is that the priest wears a collar. But it’s also that the priest entered his lifestyle willingly. On the contrary, part of the reason I married was because I knew I couldn’t bear to be celibate. What a sick twist of fate.

The part that’s a real clincher is that I took a vow about “til death do us part”. And since my wife will probably outlive me, I’m pretty much looking at living the balance of my life, which could easily be four more decades, in this condition of involuntary celibacy. At least single people have the hope that one day they might get married and have a lover. For me, every month void of intimacy just reinforces the pattern as less likely to ever change.

And one thing that’s taken me years of “sex deprivation” to realize is that it’s not just orgasm that I crave. You can have those on your own and still feel void. And it’s not just “sex” per se, either, that I need. It’s an emotional intimacy, a bond, a joy-filled exchange of love; being with another person who wants to be with me and wants to please me and desires me to please them.

I don’t really care for the song very much, but Cheap Trick definitely captured the essence of how I feel with these words: “I want you to want me; I need you to need me.” Most men never get this. They’re programmed to think that all they want and need is sex. But for all but the coldest-hearted men, there’s a need to be needed. And so the years after years of being reinforced that my interest in my wife is unwelcome, and that there’s apparently nothing desirable about me in her eyes, it has really beaten down on me emotionally. It’s enough to destroy a person.

I won’t go into all the 101 things that I have tried and that we together have tried over the past 17 years to “fix” the situation, except to say that they’ve ranged from “exercises” to psychotherapy to medication to laying on of hands.

The point that needs to be clear is that if God wants you to NOT be in a sexually intimate relationship for some reason, He can thwart your efforts to the contrary to make sure it doesn’t happen.

God might have let me give in to having an affair with someone, but He didn’t. Sometimes I feel it’s a miracle that I haven’t. Sometimes, perhaps when He’s most concerned with the outcome (or perhaps when He’s dealing with a particularly stubborn subject), God will intervene in our lives, for our own good, despite all our efforts to the contrary.

Look what happened to Jonah when he tried to hop on a ship headed for the other side of the world when he knew God wanted him in Ninevah. God was on his tail. You can’t run from God. So when He has your attention, you might as well try to listen. Maybe He’s trying to tell us something. And maybe only when we hear it will He let us go. Maybe there is still something I need to learn before I can experience the sexual relationship I so desire.

God could have allowed me to find the solution to whatever is causing my wife and I to not have a love life, so that it would be fixed, since we’ve certainly done enough searching that one would think we’d find an answer by now. The fact that we haven’t has me wondering if there’s a higher purpose He’s trying to achieve by preventing the answer from being found.

Maybe He wants to make sure that I’m not going to let sex “turn my heart away” from Him, like all those foreign wives did to Solomon. Maybe He wants me to be a more mature recipient of that blessing, so it doesn’t replace my passion for Him.

Maybe I have been running away somehow. I’ve been sort of whining and complaining to God about wanting a lover for so long, while I have perhaps been “running” from a deeper spiritual relationship with Him. Maybe that must come first.

Perhaps I have turned my desire for intimacy into an idol. I’m sure I want it more than I want God, which violates God’s greatest commandment to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Perhaps instead of seeking first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness, I’m seeking first for sex. Whatever it is, I need to try to sit still and listen.

I think God does want me to have a good sex life. (Man…that was really hard to say! I’ve never said this before and have spent more time journaling as if I’m Job and that God’s trying to kill me. I need to focus on the truth…) But if I’ve begun to want sex more than God, He might take the drastic step of holding back the sex to prevent me from idolatry, while trying to lure me to truly love Him first.

Now, do I think this life of celibacy is God’s original plan for us? No. I think the sexual dysfunctionality of my marriage will, when all comes to light someday, be attributable to a combination of my sin, her sin, the impact on us of a world of sinners living around us, and the Devil himself. It’s not unlike the forces causing sickness, war, and all the other griefs of this world. And I have to believe that in heaven there will either be perfect sex or something much better yet.

So what now? Well, my latest theory is that, at the core, my wife’s problem is really spiritual. Her sexual “shutdown” is part of an emotional shutdown, which itself comes from a spiritual shutdown, and the indications support my theory. (I have, after all, had a lot of time to think about the matter, time when I would have rather been rolling under the covers.)

And so it has to be fixed in the appropriate order, starting with the spiritual. Seek *first* God’s kingdom, and let God take care of meeting our personal needs.

I just think it’s important for God’s children to realize that sex isn’t a right, even for married people. It’s a gift from God. And I think that having the right attitude of humility before God should be our first step in reaching that wholeness.

I certainly don’t have things figured out; if I did, I probably wouldn’t feel like the 40 Year Old Virgin. Like Job, I want to be able and willing to receive counsel from anyone God puts in my path. God created us to grow in the context of community. Lord willing, I will continue to be open to learning as I continue to seek for answers.

For now I’m going to focus on my wife’s needs and try to show her God’s love. I have to believe it can break through even the hardest of hearts.

Related Posts

  • JJ November 8, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Laura, thank you for posting this. Although my wife and I are not completely celibate, it almost seems to me that we are. Sometimes we suffer from the “grass is greener” syndrome- from the outside, it seems like others’ lives are free of trouble, pain, and problems. As “sad” as it sounds, it does help to realize that we are not alone with these problems. Just a few other comments in the form of a reply to the man whose writings you posted….

    I am no expert, but you seem to be searching for a deeper reason for what you are going through. In my opinion, often we just experience these types of things in life. We make choices and consequences follow. Sometimes things happen to us that have nothing to do with choices we have made but rather choices that others make. And sometimes things just happen independent of the choices of anyone involved. That’s not to say that God does not care about us- on the contrary, he loves us more than we can comprehend. But I don’t think He’s behind any of your problems and is not trying to teach you anything through this, although you very well may learn a great deal in the process.

    I admire your desire to focus on your wife’s needs and to show her God’s love. As you said, sex is a gift from God, and so is the ability to love others unconditionally, despite the pain, disappointment, or hurt that you might feel.

    • Time2LearnSeasonOfStrength December 7, 2007 at 1:17 pm

      I feel so much compassion for you.

      To some degree I can understand the pains of loneliness that come from the lack of desire for intimacy from a spouse. I can say that trying EVERY avenue for help is the correct thing to do. Then accept it.

      Trials came for me, that ended up to make those pains turn around for me. I KNOW that WITHOUT A DOUBT, Heavenly Father who was your father first, knows completely the depth of your pain. One day He WILL make that depth of pain, into extreme joy and fulfillment. YOU are his son, and although you may suffer by the choice of another, he is also a God of Love and Mercy.

      I strongly believe that Heavenly Father has greatly blessed me for being faithful to covenants and commandments. Also for enduring those trials that came from the choices of another. If I could be blessed in such a way, you can to.

      You are a son of God, HIS son.

      Stay strong in your faith and covenants of God and he will strengthen you. When it is the right time for you to let go of the pains, reguardless of the esteemed choices of another, the power of the atonement can make you heal from this even in the midst of it.

      “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah40:31)

      Remain faithful and endure fully to the end.

    • James March 12, 2017 at 9:18 pm

      After many years looking at spiritual and what many would call esoteric fields of religion, I have come to ‘my’ understanding that God, who created us in his own image (which actually makes us beings of light, but most don’t know it yet), gave us free will, which also refers to freely experiencing negative situations. To those of us who pander to ‘God wills you do this or that,’ they completely miss the purpose of their creation. We are here to experience an existence outside of Gods pure love, and his hope is we find Our way back to the original source before we return to the realm of spirit. If you made a choice to marry and the other half is disengaged, could be that through your free will, you chose another whose free will doesn’t want to follow your path. That said, if you ask God for strength and it is given, you can maintain a sexless partnership, like a friendship or business. Vice versa, if you ask for strength and it never comes, could be that it’s time to pull all your good energy out of a bad situation and funnel it to a better cause, whether that be a new relationship with another person or God directly. All those who say God wants me to suffer to learn a greater lesson are missing the larger picture. We are here to learn, and that means making mistakes, hurting, growing and changing. God can help you in times of trouble but only if you will it, as he gave you complete free will. I believe that if you ask for answers and none are given it means God is allowing you to place your energies elsewhere. Fighting negative and destructive behavioiurs while yourself being repressed and distraught can only help harbour and promote increasing negative behaviours and energies, and we know what that feeds. It’s a fine line between feeling and knowing what is right. Your heart, which is yourt connection to the divine, will tell you when you are in a place of quiet contemplation. Those who attack you for choosing to leave a damaging situation, understand neither the true nature of Gods gift to you, or the nature of what divine love encompasses.

  • Random Surfer December 8, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    I stumbled across this post while searching for information on “involuntary celibacy”, which is what I suffer in my own marriage. We have been celibate within the marriage for over 5 years now, and largely asexual for years before that. I felt frustrated, angry, resentful, humiliated, unloved, depressed, insulted, abandoned, and desperate. Like the author of the post, I tried everything.

    But unlike the author of the post, I gave up. Please understand — I never, ever, ever, in my life wanted to become an adulterer. But I could not face living the rest of my life like that.

    The first time I cheated I thought I was going to be consumed by guilt. But guess what? I didn’t feel guilty at all! I felt like I was finally getting some control back in my life, and finally getting back something of myself after all those years of abuse.

    In the three years since then I’ve enjoyed several “friends with benefits” type relationships with other married people. I am always safe and discreet with my partners. I don’t feel great about myself, but I feel much better than I did before. My marriage has actually improved — our relationship no longer suffers all that stress over sex.

    I wish I didn’t have to do this. But now that I do, I’m happy with the compromise.

    • Laura M. Brotherson December 8, 2007 at 5:38 pm

      Hello Random Surfer,

      (Additional comments added 12/10/07)

      I wasn’t sure whether to approve your comment for posting or not, but decided that although I in no way condone the actions you have taken, I do realize that this is a path that unfortunately many people ARE taking.

      My heart goes out to you and to the many others who struggle with the depth of pain they feel regarding the lack of a fulfilling sexual relationship in their marriages.

      I don’t know your religious convictions, nor am I the judge of anyone’s actions, since I nor anyone else are sufficiently privy to the heart, soul and circumstances of any other. Your actions are between you and your God. But I do wish that you had found another alternative to infidelity.

      Maybe your wife doesn’t yet know about the affairs, and maybe you don’t have children that will someday learn of their father’s behavior, but being a God-fearing Christian, I do think that the Lord is saddened both by the state of your marriage prior to the affair and to the choices you feel it led you to make.

      I can see how it might seem that the affairs have “solved all your problems.” Your situation is such a sad one for all who are, and will be, affected by it now and in the future. Your actions reflect the seriousness of the sexual relationship. Your situation is one of the sad realities that propels my efforts to strengthen marriages sexually.

      I hope you will consider stopping the affairs and believe instead that with God’s help you can heal your own heart, your marriage and your family. Knowing even what little I do about the sexual wiring of men (and some women), I applaud those who are able to resist the temptation to go elsewhere to get their “needs” met.

      One other thing your situation reemphasizes for me is the encouragement I give couples to be sure that the spouse is fully aware of the seriousness of their situation before either spouse does something that has such profound implications. I would consider an extra-marital affair a “marital suicide attempt” where one spouse has decided that their “plea for help” (or for a change in the marriage) must be taken to the life-threatening level of “acting out.”

      Just as in the case of a child having thoughts of suicide, I would hope and pray they would try with all their might to get me to listen to the seriousness of their situation before pulling the trigger. I thought it no coincidence that a recent church magazine that I stumbled upon made this statement that has relevance here: “Inform family and friends that you’re lonely [unhappy, etc.]. We often assume they know and don’t care. In reality, they may be surprised about your needs [or the seriousness of your needs]” (Ensign, Dec. 2007, p. 16). I would encourage any spouse within the sound of my voice to be sure they have been very clear in communicating the seriousness of their sexual situation before taking life-threatening action.

      I’m sure sex has been a topic of contention for some time between you and your wife, but sometimes a heart-felt letter or a joint visit with an ecclesiastical leader or a professional to discuss the issue is a necessity to be sure both spouse’s fully understand the depth of the situation in their marriage. Even just letting your spouse know of your fears concerning your own vulnerability to temptation can be enough to bring about some necessary changes. No spouse wants to hear such confessions, but it’s better than after the damage is done for them to say, “I didn’t know you felt this way.”

      Of those couples that I know or have worked with, an affair is not usually just about sex anyway. There are usually many other issues involved.

      As long as we continue to have a culture where “good girls don’t” even in marriage, and where we can’t even discuss sex intelligently between husband and wife, parents and children, or have a respectful conversation about it within society, then we will continue to produce spouses who don’t understand the importance of a healthy sexual relationship, nor understand what it takes to create a mutually fulfilling sexual relationship in marriage.

      Resources on Infidelity/Affairs

      For some helpful resources on infidelity in marriage visit our Resources Page (click on Filter Topic by “Infidelity”) or check out these resources listed below:

      Smart Marriages resources on Infidelity

      Smart Marriages books (search for those that address affairs/infidelity)

      Beyond Affairs Network (BAN)

      • ctrstandards December 9, 2007 at 3:26 pm


        I couldn’t agree more with your comments to Random Surfer; I wanted to say something similar to him. I also think of the passage in the New Testament where a woman was caught in the very act, the Jewish leaders were so ready to convict her but wanted to tempt Christ and see if they could pin Jesus on this issue. What wisdom, infinite wisdom, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Christ knowing this woman’s heart neither condemned her but said unto her “Go and sin no more.”

        I pray that Random Surfer will have the strength and the courage to ask forgiveness from his wife in all sincerity and seek forgiveness. In most cases, spouses find out the hard way and making repair is 10 times or a 100 times harder to fix compared to a sincere confession and complete repentance.

        Random Surfer, I only wish you, your wife and all others who are involved the best of luck and God’s direction and mercy in this situation.

        • Jdog January 29, 2014 at 12:02 pm

          I have always believed that divorce should never be an option. In fact, I have a seminary degree from a very conservative and well known seminary and I know all the arguments. Divorce is sin. So far, I find no biblical basis for divorce due to a wife’s refusal to have sex. Nonetheless, I am probably going to divorce my wife, remarry, and have sex. Sin? Yes. But what am I going to do? Divorce.

          • volleyballjerry November 11, 2016 at 11:58 am

            Jdog – I am where you are at my friend. After 10 years I’m done. The last two years have been especially difficult when she finally gave me permission to have affairs outside the marriage which I do not want. I took that as an insult against me and the very covenant of marriage itself. My pastor explained to me that her permission is strong evidence she is already with someone else.

            She has become abusive to our children and has refused counseling. I go to marital counseling on my own. I believe she is likely having an affair with someone where she works. I have thrown everything I could into this marriage and have pretty much raised two teenagers singlehandedly. She does not participate.

            Furthermore, despite having never cheated on her, I have been accused of cheating since the early days of our marriage and she later confided in me that she was having an affair all throughout our engagement. I also have zero interest in pornography and do not view it.

            As for the kids, she made it clear she does not want them at all. I will get 100% full custody and she has zero interest in visitation. For those of you who can hang on for decades with a new covenant and vow of celibacy *within* the marriage, you have faith and endurance I simply do not have. But I remind all of you that celibacy within marriage (medical complications notwithstanding) was never God’s intended plan for marriage. This trial has not brought me closer to God. It, instead, is destroying my faith in God. Whatever it was that got God so angry at me as to allow this disaster of a life, I am sorry.

            The living hell that my daughters and I have endured will be ending soon. I have already met with an attorney. I file for divorce in January. Case closed.

    • IlDingDong December 15, 2015 at 8:07 am

      RandomSurfer- I’m not sure that you ever go back to this post, but if you do I have to say that I admire you.

      I am not overtly religious but I don’t believe that God wants us to suffer. I’ve been married twenty years and lived in a largely celebrate marriage. It’s not like we are never intimate, but the infrequency is tortuous. When we do connect I can see the difference in both of us; stress level diminishes, communication improves and the general mood of the household improves.

      Ironically the best six months of our marriage came after we started a mutual affair with our neighbors which we both enjoyed. I know that this will rankle the feathers of many on this site, but we were swingers with our neighbors and it was liberating.

      The energy of that diminished and we are back to the same old humdrum lives that lacks affection and energy.

      I’ve been thinking about finding a lover for my own good. I’m sad, my jaw is locked all of the time and I have a hard time interacting with anyone because my stress level is so high.

      I had my haircut a few months ago and got the MVP which includes a hot towel and a brief facial massage… the energy that railed through my body from a 30 second facial massage sustained me for days.

      We need to be touched and without it we wither and die.

  • Abandoned December 21, 2007 at 1:19 am

    I knew I had made a mistake on my wedding night. My husband spent the first week of our marriage on the phone with a friend talking about his hobby.

    He never told me he had been molested as a child and couldn’t stand sex.

    Finally after 35 years of grief, he told me he never loved me sexually. I am destroyed. I thought that if we had nothing else, we still had love.

    I spent 15 years in therapy trying to “fix” myself so he would love me.

    All I think about is suicide but I am sure I would be thrown out of heaven because I didn’t “endure to the end.”

  • ctrstandards December 29, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Dear Abandoned,

    Please, seek a new counselor or other trustworthy help. You can get past this. Suicide is never a good option.

  • UnderTheSun February 1, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Hey Laura,

    I was reading about your comments about an “Unspoken Sexual Contract in Marriage”:

    “”I expect you to be faithful to me, but don’t expect me to meet your sexual needs.” ”

    I’ve been thinking about this topic for some time. It’s a very unfair contract; I know it’s not one I ever signed. She would be horrified if I were unfaithful. But to ignore me sexually for years doesn’t seem to phase her in the least. Worse, she doesn’t seem to have a clue that her practice of depriving me is at all related to my temptation towards infidelity.

    “The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” 1 Corinthians 7:3-5

    I seem to recall vows about “to have and to hold”. And it seems to me that the one who’s being unfaithful is my wife. I spent some time thinking about this in light of Scripture a while back. In short, I don’t think it’s inconsistent with Scripture that this type of “passive unfaithfulness” is a legitimate grounds for divorce. A theologian friend told me that the Puritans held married couples accountable for having active sex lives because they knew the danger of the alternative. And if legitimatizing divorce in this situation is difficult to grant, consider this: she’s already divorced me emotionally. So which is really the more significant and tragic: the spiritual and emotional disassociation or the legal divorce paper?

    Still, while I’m not prepared to say divorce might not be the right choice for someone else, I have other considerations. Besides 3 children and years of friendship at risk, I have a higher concern: there’s a reason she won’t or can’t be intimate with me, and I’m quite certain that it’s very much linked to the same alienation she feels towards God. And I’m concerned about her spiritual and emotional health. If I left, how would I be helping her? What would that tell her about God’s steadfast love for her? Isn’t this what the book of Hosea is all about? No man has ever wanted to share love with a woman more than I do right now. If I’m feeling this hurt by not be connected to my wife’s heart, how much more must it hurt God that she has essentially written Him off as worthless? Is this what God is trying to teach me?

    [Jonah] said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

    9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?”

    “I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”

    10 But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (Jonah 4)

    God wants His people to feel what His heart feels. Is this why He has me living is this hell of emotional isolation? Is that how it feels to have your own creation do the only thing worse than mock you: ignore you completely?

  • Jim Cox August 5, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    I am also an involuntary celibate. My wife announced 10 years ago that she was no longer interested in marital intimacy. That means we do not even hug or kiss passionately.

    I have experianced being lonely while married.

    I have questioned ‘Does God really intend for us to be so hurt by his stance regarding adultery, when our partner unilaterally chooses to end all intimate contact?’ I also agree with Under the Sun when he states that ‘she’s already divorced me emotionally’. I continue to try to be loving and considerate while living in an emotional desert. The only solice is that I have found that since there are others in the same circumstances.

    • Frustrated December 20, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      Dear Mr. Cox,

      If I could meet you I’d give you a warm hug. While I’m not at the 10 year mark it has been years. My response to my wife’s announcement of celibacy was to avoid ALL physical contact. Read that again ALL of it. No hugging. Ever. Not under any circumstances. No kissing. Ever. No touching. Ever. Again, not under any circumstances. My logic is this “Why be close to something you cannot have?” It will just frustrate me even more than I already am. I don’t stop in motorcycle dealerships even though I really like them because I know if I see one I’ll want one. If I sit on it I’ll want it even more. Next thing you know I’ll be trying to figure out how I can afford one, when, in fact I can’t. I’m sure you get the analogy here. Basically I live with my sister. That pretty much sums it up. Lonely? In spades, baby, in spades.

  • DaddyFixIt May 4, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I’m so glad I’m not alone. After 23 years of marriage I find myself in an emotional dessert. For the past ten or so years, our intimate times have gotten less and less that now I look upon myself as celibate. The few times that I do commune with my wife are wonderful and yet once or twice a year doesn’t constitute a fulfilled marriage.

    Although I have found peace in the writings of JohnPaul II in his “Theology of the Body”, I also found frustration. In his writings, the one-flesh union is meant to be an affirmation of the wedding vows; a giving of oneself completely to the other; a physically human manifestation of God’s spiritually divine love for us. That’s what intercourse is supposed to be and I’m joyful to know that yet frustrated because that’s not what I have. With that said, I feel more alone and distant now than ever before.

    In an attempt to fulfill, reassure and express my love for her, I have written love letters, cards, text messages and given them to her when she least expects it. Yet her heart apears un-turned. She says that she feels close and endeared to me and for me to just relax and not worry about it. So I do. I’ve relaxed and allowed intimacy to ‘Just Happen.’

    But it doesn’t.

    She says, “The time will come.” So I’m patient, relaxed and treat her with tenderness. Days turn to weeks turn months and then if I do say something, she’ll say, “You’ve got no complaints!” As if I should be greatful for what I get and I should be happy with that.

    We exchange “I Love You’s” frequently and with out a doubt they are true expressions. I love her more than life and I don’t doubt her love for me.

    I’ve identified with every post on this thread. The thought of getting a “Friend with Benefits” has certainly crossed my mind. Divorce I don’t think is a option at this time yet I’ve thought about it more in the last year than in those gone by.

    I feel as though I’ve at the end of my rope, holding on to the last knot with all that is in me. I’m not a quitter and like a dog on a bone, I want to hold on. I don’t know how long I can.

    Daddy Fix It

    • SirJohn May 7, 2009 at 9:56 am


      I am sorry to hear about your struggles. You are in a painful situation. It is extremely frustrating when the one you love casually dismisses something so important to you. I pray that you and your wife will be able to talk about this issue in a way that helps her understand the importance of making intimacy a priority. True intimacy takes effort and commitment. I think too many wives expect to “fall into intimacy” they way we “fall in love.”

      There are numerous resources on Laura’s site for those of us in the sexual desert. I would encourage you to read from the articles section, the open forum, and the blog entry titled “Help for Husbands Stranded in the Sexual Desert.” All of these were extremely helpful to me.

      If your wife is still open to discussing your sexual relationship, you should talk to her about it. Make sure that she understands the importance of sex for you. Describe for her, what you feel when you have sex with her, what it does for your feelings about her and your relationship. Describe how you feel when that intimacy is lacking. It may be helpful if you formalize this conversation. Let her know that you want to talk about your sex life and schedule a time to sit together and talk. This may help her realize how important this issue is for you. Do your best to make the conversation non-accusatory. Don’t blame her for anything, just explain that you would really like to improve this aspect of your relationship. Make a conscious effort to listen to her concerns and opinions.

      Even if she is open and wants to work on this with you, she may have no idea how to begin. For many women, developing their own sexuality is not an intuitive process. They have no more idea where their on switch is than their husbands. Not knowing what to do or how to make it better, she may naturally slide back into the “wait for it to happen mode.” See if you can convince her to study Laura’s book with you. It may open her mind to new concepts about developing a sexual relationship. If she will read it with an open mind, I am sure that she will learn a great deal about herself, your relationship, and the importance of sex in marriage.

      I certainly hope that you will not consider an affair. No good can come from it. Your pain now comes from your longing for deeper intimacy with your wife. An affair will only damage that intimacy further and the relationship with your new sex partner will be the opposite of intimacy. Affairs sacrifice intimacy for deceit and shallowness. Commitment coupled with emotional intimacy between husband and wife allows the soul satisfying sweetness of sexual union that you crave. It cannot come any other way. Please don’t be misled. It may feel good physically for a time, but it is guaranteed to end badly.

      Don’t loose faith! It sounds like she has not shut you out emotionally. That’s an extremely positive sign. I am positive that things will get better for you soon. God bless you!

      Sir John

    • Frustrated December 20, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      With no disrepect to your wife, clearly you DO have a HUGE complaint. Too bad she can’t see the elephant in the room.

  • NoLoveForJeff September 16, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Wow. I feel a little better now. I thought I was alone in this. I’ts almost like misery loves company, but that’s trite.

    We’ve been married nearly 30 years, and she “unilaterally” cut me off about 4 years ago. She has her blanket reasons like “I’ve hurt her so many times” in the past although she can never cite one single example. I’m a good and faithful husband and father of two boys, 8 & 13. I’m a good provider and I help with everything (except spending money, that’s her job or I die)

    Now if I bring up the subject of sex, she tells me to go get a girlfriend. I’m not like that and it really has me depressed. I’m in therapy, I think about suicide a lot.

    She really has me confused, and it’s been spiraling downhill rapidly in the past couple months. No matter how nice I am, what I do, it is seldom right.

    I too, married for better or worse, and boy am I getting worse.

    Yesterday I placed and ad in Craigslist for a girlfriend. I explained my situation in it, and I have tons of replies. I think I’m really too chicken to go through with it though. I haven’t been with another woman since 1979.

    I’m desperate, I’ve tried everything.

  • JustGettingBy September 17, 2009 at 4:08 pm


    I was very sad to see your post and so sorry to hear you are in such pain. There are those that can sympathize, but that sympathy only helps up to a point.

    There are several things on this web site that are great resources. I would suggest you study many of them.

    I am no expert, but it seems like you are in a position that getting some help – and soon. Given the topic, it is hard to have a conversation with many people that would help for other issues. I know that this aspect has at times added to me spiraling down into depression.

    I doubt very seriously that trolling for a girlfriend is really going to bring you happiness. Depression and suicide are serious conditions and if they are not treated can cause you and others (such as your boys) quite a bit of pain. Go get some help. If for some irrational reason don’t want to do that then at least go talk to your Bishop or Stake President if you are LDS.

    I will tell you that the things that have helped me the most in the end is to (a) pray (b) realize that I may have contributed to my wife acting how she is, but it could be mainly be one of many issues on her part (I tried really hard for well more than a decade to “just be a better husband” before I realized that wasn’t the issue).

    Best of luck.

  • Morguerat September 21, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    NoLoveForJeff, I’m deeply saddened by your plight. I’ve wandered the desert in my marriage, and now, divorced, at least I have that as an excuse, and a balm when I ache for love. As Laura has mentioned repeatedly, an affair is simply a pale substitution of the real thing, much like pornography is a pale imitation of the act of physical love. I don’t know if you’re LDS, if so, I would talk to your priesthood leaders about your feelings, her reactions, and your pain. If you don’t think they’ll help, find someone to talk to about it. A friend, counselor, clergyman (when I was military I talked to the Chaplain a lot, despite being LDS, because they do have a lot of counseling training and it’s a significant part of their jobs). Your local community probably has a lot of resources to help you. Satan strikes you where you hurt the most because it’s where you’re most vulnerable. But you don’t need us to tell you that. And whether you’ve made a decision or not, pray, and pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. He does not want you to do something to endanger your family, friends, and soul.

    She has said you’ve hurt her, find out why, and see if she’s willing to go to counseling together.

    Good Luck, *hugs*


  • Laura M. Brotherson September 23, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    In response to NoLoveForJeff

    Post from Sept 16, 2009

    Hi Jeff,

    Welcome. I’m glad you’ve been able to find some common ground with others in your struggles. You are definitely not alone. Your situation is certainly a painful one. I wish there were easy answers for you. I suspect you’ve read through what has already been said here on the matter. I hope you may find some helpful suggestions.

    You are wise to be working with a therapist. I would encourage you to look into couples therapy if there’s any chance your wife will go. You can find good marriage-friendly therapists on the Resource page of my site under “Finding a Counselor:” You may also want to consider looking into antidepressants to help with the suicidal thoughts. That’s something to take seriously to get you through a particularly difficult time.

    I can understand the desperation in placing a Craigslist ad. I hope you will be hesitant to play with fire while you are in such a vulnerable state. Infidelity can only add to your pain in the long run. Have you tried writing a letter to your wife explaining your feelings in as compassionate a way as you can? Non-verbal communication can provide a way to share things without each of you being reactive and ineffective at getting to the heart of the matter. Make yourself a list of ways you respond to her behavior that may not be helping the situation. Choose one response that you could change that might shake things up a bit. I also recommend getting yourself a notebook or posting here your struggles to process them more effectively through writing. Writing is a therapeutic process that can help one through any trying situation.

    Please hang in there. Keep searching for help. Be prayerful and you’ll find some light and strength to get you through. You’re not alone here.

  • Ladyinwaiting November 14, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    As one of the two women who posted, may I also comment that it’s nice to not be alone in this. I too share feelings of being alone in a marriage. In addition, there is a incredible amount of bitterness as I, as one of the above comments stated, got married so that I could have sex. I would have been perfectly happy single, but I could not stand being celibate.

    As the first man so perfected worded, the abscence of sex, is so much more than physical. It affects your emotional health and your confidence.

    There is nothing more that I can do to try to solve this dilemma. We have talked about and tried everything including the blue pills. I suspect as the other woman found out, that he was molested as a child. Ironically, his first marriage broke up because he was unfaithful.

    I am an attractive 40 something woman, who is always being hit on. The oppourtunity to cheat is available everyday. It’s a kind of torture to be able to turn other men on, but not my man. I can’t tell you how many times and how close I’ve come to cheating on my husband. Fortunately, the Lord, using some of the most incredible circumstances, has prevented me from dishonoring Him, defiling myself and hurting my husband.

    Therefore, I am trying to embrace celibacy. I have a wonderful husband! He’s one of the best “girlfriends” I’ve ever had. He respects and honors me. He provides and protects and showers me with every other form of love you can imagine. You can’t imagine how awful and ungrateful I feel. Still, no amount of drugs, food, or alcohol can ease the pain I feel from the constant rejection.

    • Laura M. Brotherson April 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm

      Dear Ladyinwaiting,

      I am so sorry to hear about your situation. Thank you for sharing your heartache, especially as it is often the reverse that people hear about when it comes to intimacy issues. There are others that too struggle similarly.

      It’s just amazing to me how often two people with very different needs/makeup get attracted to each other in marriage. In my counseling work with couples I often find that there is a profound (even divine) purpose in the dilemma for both husband and wife. The challenge itself holds the keys for both individuals to learn and grow in ways that they may not have otherwise been able to do. But that is really no consolation while you are in the thick of it!

      I would like to recommend Michele Weiner-Davis’ book “The Sex-Starved Wife” to see if it might not provide some helpful insights and suggestions. (The precursor to that book is “The Sex-Starved Marriage.” That may be a good read for you as well.)

      It may also be helpful if you’d get in to see a good counselor to help you both (or even just you if your husband won’t go) to better understand each other and work through a few things.

      I have some resources for finding a good counselor on my Resources Page — under “Finding a Counselor” ( I especially recommend finding someone that is either an LMFT (licensed marriage and family therapist) or has an MFT degree, as they are trained to think more holistically and relationally about such matters. I believe that makes a big difference. I wish you well. I know it’s not easy, but you are not alone!

  • jaycee January 23, 2011 at 1:23 am

    I am 51 years old and I have been married for 22 years. My wife and I live celibate lives and have for many years. I’m afraid I didn’t understand the marriage vows completely before agreeing to get married. I understood that we were, as of that day, morally allowed to have intimacy. I never even thought that it was a requirement of marriage. I am Catholic and I understand that intimacy is a requirement unless there are serious reasons for anything otherwise.

    Well, things did get in the way of intimacy, many things. Illnesses, bad feelings increased, I lost physical interest in my wife, especially as she became much heavier and less attractive and most of all, she seemed to prefer the children to me, willingly spending all of time with them and none with me. Then one evening some 19 years ago she blasted me for everything I did wrong from the way I made love to the way I breathed. I later suspected that she did this because she may have been depressed. Nevertheless, the damage had been done and I vowed to myself that evening that I would never seek to use sex for pleasure again and that I would always be there to provide her pleasure.

    That lasted about 5 weeks and then I quickly became disinterested in sex. I was in my early thirties at the time. The situation has lasted and deteriorated ever since.

    At first this was hard to accept but now I can’t imagine life any other way. For several years before final breakdown of intimacy, I would have sex with her just so she would stop complaining and with the hope of making her happy. I really did want to make her happy. But I did not enjoy those sessions. I felt used in fact.

    So, at 51, I began to ponder the thought of making a vow of celibacy, just so any lingering doubts about all of this can be settled. I would have to approach my wife about this first and since we haven’t even mentioned sex to each other in years I don’t look forward to bringing up this subject to her.

    Perhaps the most amazing book I have ever read was Chris West’s Theology of the Body for Beginners. I actually felt good about myself for a week after reading that and that was at a time when I wasn’t comfortable with living in this state. I highly recommend that book to anybody. Thoery and practice though, seem to be 2 totally different enterprises.

    Someone above mentioned damage what a marriage like ours can do to the children in the family. Our children don’t remember a time when their parents slept in the same room. I have always slept in the basement of whatever house we lived in and on a camping foamy for many years of that. I hope and pray that our children do not use our marriage to model their future lives on for their own sakes.

    At this point, I cannot see how there can ever again be intimacy in our marriage. Hence, the consideration of the new vow. But, this idea requires much study before I even bring up with the other half. Any ideas anyone?

  • grottokid333 March 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Jim Cox
    I am also an involuntary celibate. My wife announced 10 years ago that she was no longer interested in marital intimacy. That means we do not even hug or kiss passionately.
    I have experianced being lonely while married.
    I have questioned ‘Does God really intend for us to be so hurt by his stance regarding adultery, when our partner unilaterally chooses to end all intimate contact?’ I also agree with Under the Sun when he states that ’she’s already divorced me emotionally’. I continue to try to be loving and considerate while living in an emotional desert. The only solice is that I have found that since there are others in the same circumstances.

    My wife, over 10 years ago told me that “Intimacy is gone”. I took that to mean both emotional and physical intimacy. There is no possibility of reconciliation. Up to this point in time she has rejected, thwarted, stonewalled, and turned a deaf ear to all my efforts and attempts to try to bring peace, harmony, collaboration, relationship, reconciliation, and friendship to our marriage. She has treated me with total disrespect, unforgiveness, rejection, put-downs, condemnations, insults, threats, unkindness, ungenerousness, belittling, mocking, blaming, shame, malice, derision, and negative comparisons to other people, i.e., extended family members, friends, and acquaintances. When I pleaded to her for friendship and emotional connection, she said that I married the wrong woman. In counseling with one of the pastors of my church he said that in accordance with 1 Corinthians chapter 7 we have a broken marriage covenant.

    “1 Now, getting down to the questions you asked in your letter to me. First, Is it a good thing to have sexual relations? 2-6Certainly—but only within a certain context. It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it’s for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it.” (The Message)

    Because of the broken marriage covenant and her refusal to repair the covenant, and has numerous times expressed her desire for divorce; I am therefore not bound to stay in this abusive and hurtful relationship. My only option is divorce.

  • grottokid333 March 11, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    I forgot to mention that I have been married for 33 years. The last 15 years have been rather hellish.

  • Geezer March 25, 2011 at 9:29 am

    I have found that there is eventual relief from the frustration of involuntary celibacy, and it came naturally over time, relieving me of much of the frustration of being married to a woman who doesn’t want me. And that solution is age. As I got older (60+) I realized that I no longer have any desire to have sex with a woman who has no desire to have sex, and I don’t enjoy having sex with a woman who doesn’t enjoy sex. Since I no longer have any desire for sex, I also no longer have the frustration and anger that I used to have at not getting much. From the time my wife began showing me that she was no longer interested until reaching this point has taken me 20 years, but now things are OK. We’re not passionate, we’re not romantic, but we get along fine and remain what we’ve always been: best friends. I used to pray that God would help me find a way to change my wife into a passionate, sexual person, but obviously that never happened. I have accepted that this prayer will never be answered affirmatively and that this is just what I have been given in my life to “endure to the end”.

  • clayjars June 1, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    I know this is an old post but…My wife has a small tumour in a part of her brain that affects several aspects of how she feels (sleep etc), one of which she believes is sexual desire. The other symptoms are treated with medicine that also dulls desire and her illness has thrown her into early menopause. The result is for several years we have rarely had sex and over time the sex we did have (every couple of months) was pretty much just “a quickie” for me. I’ve just turned 40 and have realised this is a turn off for me. I feel like this is just using her as a tool to masturbate and not at all “making love”. About a year ago I just stopped initiating it and consequently we haven’t had sex during that time. I feel ashamed that I’m not desirable to her
    I love my wife and I can live without sex, but emotionally I feel pain at our situation. I worry that a celibate marriage will contribute to us falling out of love with each other. I can feel my heart go this way and that around other women too as if I was a teenager having crushes. How safe is celibacy in marriage? I would never act on these impulses but she deserves my whole heart too so I resent them being there.
    Recently I’ve begun to think of celibacy as the right paradigm for my situation but is it wrong to just give up on sex or is it love to not place that burden on her?

  • JustGettingBy June 4, 2011 at 1:40 pm


    I am no professional, but I would be concerned about a celebate marriage not lasting. You are increasing your chances of eventually drifting apart. It sounds like your situation is complicated and not just that your wife has a case of the good girl syndrome. My advice would be for you to tell your wife that this is VERY hard for you to deal with and even though you don’t blame her for her symptoms, you need her to go to counseling to help work out something that will keep your marriage strong.

    Best of luck and do drop a note on progress.

  • clayjars June 13, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    To be honest I can’t imagine wanting to make love if the reason we are is because she’s had counseling and thinks she should. Isn’t that degrading for both of us?

    • sadlysadone May 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      This comment addresses the 800 pound gorilla in the front room that the others ignore.

      I fell hopelessly in love at first sight while on vacation. The sex was great at first, but deminished rapidly after the vows were exchanged. Gradually, she asked for and received dispensation from cuddling in bed (I generate too much heat), from snuggling on the couch (she feels claustrophobic), from holding hands (my hands sweat), and from hugs (they invade her personal space). She was never a big kisser (No, halitosis is not a problem on either side). This happened so gradually, that I didn’t even consciously realize that we eventually could some up the total voluntary physical contact time to that which occurred during sex.

      I did anything and everything to make her happy and was always quick with praise, flowers, and gifts. I took on most of the housework. At several points along the way, I asked if I was doing something wrong or what I could do better or different, but was always assured that everything would be well if I just stopped hugging, kissing, touching, and cuddling. I wanted so much to believe this, that I stilled the inner voice screaming alert messages by telling myself I was just being insecure.

      Though she didn’t say so, I thought the long hours at work were to blame, so I changed to a job that gave me more time at home. We had a child, and she became a stay-at-home mom. There was no financial stress from this, though. Then the strategically timed bickering started. She would wait ’til just before bed time and demand to know why I hadn’t taken out the garbage out in the morning or mowed the lawn, or failed in some other minor way to be the completely diligent domestic. It didn’t matter how conciliatory I became, she would storm off to bed in a huff. Sex all but stopped.

      One day she started one of these fights about the lawn not being mowed in the evening and got all worked up. I reminded her that I had mowed the lawn that day. She still stormed off to bed. I finally tweaked. I asked her before she could pretend she was asleep what was going on and addressed the constant bickering and the fact that sex was now down to once every other month (and then only after begging) -no response. The strategically timed bickering stopped but the migraines started – every day. I was in denial. I thought she had a brain tumor and had her see specialists, but nothing helped. She continued to reassure me that the marriage was fine and that she would love to have sex, but for the migraines. Then one day after telling me she was having a terrible migraine her sister called. Suddenly she was laughing and chatting away ’til the wee hours. Finally, I forced myself to face reality.

      I confronted my spouse. She told me that counseling wouldn’t help because a counselor can’t change the way she feels (or doesn’t feel). She told me there wasn’t anything I could do, that it wasn’t going to get better, and that it was probably going to get worse. she attributed the problem (a complete lack of a sex drive, and an inability to get ANY pleasure from sex) to early menopause (it’s possible but rare at age 39). I researched this problem, and found several clinical and homeopathic approaches. She refused hormone replacement therapy (HRT) due to the increased cancer risk. Even variations on HRT and homeopathic methods were rejected for the possible increase in cancer risk (she assumed there must be a cancer risk). She told me if I must have it (sex) that I should make a date a week in advance, so she could prepare herself, and get it over with as soon as possible. Like she was being asked to run the gauntlet.

      The next day, I tearfully told her that I could not accept the life of a married celibate, and that sex under her conditions was more like rape or prostitution or masturbation with someone else present. I told her that after ending sex and all other forms of intimacy, our marriage was now a desert of lonliness for me. I brought up divorce. She said she didn’t mean what she said, and that everything would be ok. She made suggestions for improving things. I was always quick to bring flowers, gifts, praise, but I redoubled my efforts for I so wanted to believe this was fixable. I followed every suggestion and researched new ones. I couldn’t face the fact that our last chance had already been destroyed by making the above implied ultimatum…

      Eventually, we tried again. The sex was worse than no sex at all. I felt so dirty, ashamed, and guilty. Worse, it poisoned my memories of happier times, as she clearly was faking her participation in a manner that caused me to doubt if she had ever felt any joy in sex wth me.

      I spent the next 20 months in a terrible depression. I now doubt if any of my happy memories from my marriage are real or just my wishful thinking. I stopped trying to initiate sex, and cringed when she would suggest it. We’re celibate again. Our marriage is in a worsening cycle. I feel rejected, unworthy, and unloved, so I become distant and surly. She gets defensive, and rationalizes the situation as my fault.

      For a while I tried to think of my wife as the maid or a really efficient nanny. Unfortunately, when I looked at her, my heart would break all over again, and I remember. But for our child I would have left long ago.

      Now, I’m done. I’m ready for divorce. Truely, I am one of God’s cursed for I still love the woman. For an unsolicited carress, or a joyful and spontaneous kiss from her, I would bow down and kiss her feet in gratitude and forgiveness. But I accept now that this is not going to happen. I love my sanity and what’s left of my self-esteem too much to live like this. I can not live in grief for the next 20 years. I accept that this will alienate my child from me, and that I will be ostracized by our friends, and that I will suffer great economic hardship for many years. But it must be.

      I hope this wall of text is not too depressing for you. When I read back through it, I weep all over again.

      • Rob4Hope May 14, 2012 at 6:14 pm

        After reading your post, I have to say it broke my heart. You are in considerable pain, feeling a deap rejection from the woman who you gave your heart to. You feel as though she is stringing you out, finding excuses to NOT be there for you, and at the same time expecting you to just hold on and be there for her when she needs it. You do lots of the work, and the language of love (sexual expression for you) is not invoked in gratitude, nor to even pull you close.

        I wish I had some advice or something I could say that would help you. I know people who have changed their primary love language to something other than sexual expression. I have tried to do that myself, and it has been difficult–I chose acting out as a way to “medicate” myself. That was a dead end, and just caused more damage.

        Those who have changed their love language have taken up hobbies and such, and have found a great deal of happiness that substitutes for the hole left from rejection in marriage. Sad, but this was the only answer they had. Some people, as Laura indicates, don’t get to have their cake in this life and eat it too. I can’t say you are in that position, but it sounds like you are in a very sad and low place.

        How is your faith with God? Are you clean and sqare with Him? Religious or not, I do know there is help from a “higher power” as I have found that out for myself. Just a suggestion as sometimes the pain can be unbearable (something I know about as well).

        The book “Sex Starved Marriage” might be useful for you. Laura Brotherson’s book is also recommended. Regardless, I wish you all the hope and happiness you are able to find.

        Please keep writing here if you can.

      • Rob4Hope May 21, 2012 at 11:54 am

        Sad,….you out there? Please write if you can.

  • NinaDee68 June 26, 2011 at 12:56 am

    I am a woman who is in an involuntary celibate marriage. The loneliness I feel is crushing, even though he is physically present. I have to initiate any type of contact–hugs, quick “peck” kisses, or even just holding his hand.
    He barely lets me do this! In bed, when I try to snuggle with him, he seems to recoil and tells me to go to sleep.
    I could never imagine cheating, as I love him, and my greatest prayer would be for him to want to be with me.
    We are great friends, but I never planned on being married to a room-mate.
    I have tried to discuss this with him, multiple times, but he shuts me down. I swing between accepting my fate–maybe exploring Asceticism to somehow make my pain worthwhile, and trying yet again (unsuccessfully) to somehow make him want me.
    I feel I have to qualify that I am not a bad-looking woman, and what mystifies me is that we can be such great friends, sharing everything, but intimacy.

    • Rob4Hope March 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm

      Hello NinaDee68. I have to comment on your post. You have NO IDEA the mixed feelings I have sometimes when I read that a woman feels so similar to myself. I grew up in a family and culture where sex was never talked about–EVER. When it was time for me to learn the “Birds and the Bees”, I was given a book at school and told to read it. At home I was reading the book, and my mother came in very embarassed. She asked me: “Is there anything you need to ask your father about?” I felt her embarassement and said no. That was the end of it. The COMPLETE end of it. Now, fast forward some 35 years, and I can honestly say that I do not know a single woman personally who has any sex drive at all, with the one exception being one of my sisters. Otherwise, it is behind closed doors and kept so secret, confidentual and private that it is refreshing to know there is actually a woman out there who feels something. For years I have felt, and frankly believed to a large extent, that women just didn’t feel anything; that when a woman had sexual realations with her husband, she did it out of duty; and that sex was a “necessary evil” in religious communities and families.

      To know that a woman has sexual appitite is — frankly — kindof weird to me, but refreshing anyway.

      Now, lest I give you a completely innapprorpiate message, I want you to know my heart goes out to you thoroughly. You feel tremendous pain and rejection, as though you are repulsive to your mate–the man you hoped to spend the rest of your life with in a beautiful, fulfilling, and complete relationship. That isn’t happening, and it hurts. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Oh, how I understand a little of your pain from my perspective. I reach for my wife and am rejected over and over. I can count the times on one hand where she has initiated in the past several years. I feel unwanted, undesired, and discardable. If that is how you feel, I am very sorry you are enduring that pain. I don’t like to see people hurt.

      I’m sorry that this sexual mess happens to all of us. I wish to God I could find a way to get through. From what you have written, you are also quite moral in your choices. I commend and respect that greatly. My own struggles have challenged my belief in moral law, at least from my religious background. It is difficult for me to believe that the highest form of love is to endure agony indefinately, and that God wants us to sacrifice everything, including our chance for happiness, for the sake of marriage. In your case, you are willing to dig really deep and press forward. This is an example to me, and knowling a little of your pain–at least from my perspective–I can appreciate and admire the choice you have made.

      I want to find ways to hold on better. I don’t know if I believe my marriage problems can be solved. I fear the future because I believe in an afterlife and that marriage can continue. Do I get to look forward to this forever? That thought puts a chill down my spine that frightenings me more than anything else I can imagine.

  • JustGettingBy July 22, 2011 at 12:59 pm


    I am very sorry you find yourself in this position. It can really be emotionally crushing. If he shuts down as you say he does, I think you need to demand that he attend marriage counseling with you. Don’t yell, but be firm and don’t back down. I worry he will not change the longer time goes on.

  • kralling July 25, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Thanks for the article. I stumbled across this article it was helpful. I find myself in this situation for the past 5 years. I found out my wife was cheating on me and has bi-polar 5 years ago. Since then either the medication or the situation she refuses to acknowledge this problem. I cant sleep without have nightmares or serious sexual dreams. I pretty much do not exist to her. It so hard and painful, like the person above said it becomes less about sex and more about really waiting your wife to want you and vice versa. The Lord will hopefully continue to give me grace and humility to walk through this and joy when encouraging other couples who might have a small spat but at the end of the day when the demons come to poke your wound its does get hard but it does make you rely on the Lord more than ever.

  • breaking July 27, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I found this site by googling “involuntary celibacy within marriage”. I have to confess that instead of helping, it makes me feel more depressed. Due to my wife’s various health problems and more specifically, the medications that were prescribed by well meaning, but misinformed, MD’s, our sexual intimacy has been very limited for over 20 years. Over a year and a half ago, due to some new problems and meds, it stopped completely. She has absolutely no desire for me to touch her and cannot bring herself to touch me sexually in any way. She did submit obediently a few times when I couldn’t stand it any longer and placed her hand accordingly, but I have stopped doing that as it felt like molestation. I have tried everything – communication, romance, all the self help advice – she knows how I’m affected, yet she can do nothing. I read similar stories here about people who have lived like this for a decade or longer, and I am crushed. After less than two years, my ability to function in other areas of life is grinding to a halt due to this consuming void in my life. I cannot imagine going for years more like this. We’ve been married for over 30 years, I have never committed adultery (rarely even in my mind, as the Bible speaks of). Through everything, my desire has been for my wife. The pressure is indescribable. After all, my mind tells me, “she can’t help it, it’s her meds”. The Bible tells me, “be patient, pray, get closer to Christ, be more spiritual, etc.”. Yet, so much of my mental, physical, emotional, and yes – spiritual being screams “I need intimacy, love, and yes – sex.” The guilt of such desire is oppressive. Does God want me to turn myself into a eunuch via chemical means in order to remain faithful? I cannot imagine that he would. Another thing I cannot imagine is letting one’s spouse suffer like this. I know my mind – even if I had no libido, I would find some way to pleasure my wife if she so desired. In fact, that is one thing that is truly disturbing – that she has to know what this is like for me (we were very happily sexually active for many years, and also I’ve told her), yet she lets me live like this. This sounds vain, but I classify it with Paul’s description of boasting not being profitable, but sometimes necessary (for explanation); I am very hygienic, in good health, fit, and attractive for early 50’s. Still, knowing how much I am tortured with this, she cannot bear to touch me, which means the thought must be completely revolting to her. I could never be a “ships in the night” adulterer. I fell in love early and never had any regrets about never having multiple lovers. But, I am so tempted to find another person to permanently be a part of my life. I would never leave my wife. She loves me and I love her, thus making the whole situation even more difficult to fathom. I am truly at the breaking point. I don’t expect any answers to my problem here. I just had to get this out – I have no one else to share this with.

  • markbbb July 29, 2011 at 8:26 am

    I struggled with a low sex marriage for many years before I realised that it was God’s will to humble me. I had a vain and demanding attitude to sex with my wife, and if I did not satisfy this with her I would indulge in the “sin” of Onan – OK, Onan did something different but I agree that “spilling seed” is not what God intended for men and is not the union of the flesh which glorified him in creation ( still applies even after a vasectomy!). How can you humble yourself before God if you cannot be humble in everyday things – i realised that by submitting to my wife’s reduced sexual drive I would be learning a real lesson in self control and humility. So that is what we did. Now I use sex to give my wife pleasure but we deny my own urge completely until she is happy to give her approval – a very limited commodity indeed. I am much more attentive, no longer gratify myself, and pray to God so much more than when I used to use those wasted minutes honouring my own fantasies. By learning to love, serve and obey my wife, I learnt how better to love serve and obey Him. When my wife shared with me her dislike for the “mess” of sex, we also agreed that, as we were not using the act for procreation any more, she would no longer have to put up with the physical consequences of her husband’s act, so we restrict my release to, well, strictly coitus interruptus or manual means. Learn to serve your low sex wife – it is great training in service and leads to a mind attuned to worship.

  • Big B September 17, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    I greatly appreciate everyone being honest about the struggle we face when our spouses have no interest in intimacy or sex. I was put up for adoption when I was 5 weeks old and finally adopted when almost 3 years old. The one thing I have wanted my entire life is to be loved passionately. The taking away of all intimacy from my wife is somehow equal to not only the death of that dream, but the murder of it.

    I thought I found the girl who would love me, but I was wrong. Don’t get me wrong. My wife is a wonderful woman, mother, homemaker, cook, etc. But she has always had displeasure with intimacy and especially sex. She finally cut me off in March 2003 prior to my deployment to Iraq. Imagine knowing you’re going to war and your wife refuses to make love to you or have any physical intimacy prior to leaving. That’s something I’m still not over yet. It’s an insult.

    She says she has multiple vaginal diseases and I totally believe her, but she has said that since the day we got married and did little to remedy the problem. She claimed that she couldn’t get an appointment to see the gynocologist or that when she was examined, they found nothing. Yet she knew something was wrong, but didn’t seek to find the solution until she was afraid that I might divorce her.

    She has always done nice things for me and I am thankful for that, but she believes that her acts of kindness will somehow repay or replace the desire and need I have in my heart for passionate and physical love. She does everything she can to avoid any discussion about sex or our marriage because she knows we can’t avoid that issue.

    I really struggled with what to do for about 4 years and still do sometimes. I felt so rejected and hated. I’m STARVED for love! THIRSTY, HUNGRY AND EMPTY. So far I have not cheated on her with another woman. I find myself thinking about it though. There are so many women out there who are advertising themselves. I’m only an average looking guy, but even for me some women communicate a desire to “hook up”. My wife tries to help relieve my frustration. The manual release she gives me is in no way intimate. It’s just another chore for her to do before she goes back to work in the kitchen.

    About three years ago I finally gave up and told the LORD that I give up my legitmate right to sex from my wife. I thought it would cure the problem from my end, but now I lust like 98% of the time. The last few months I have been looking at porn at least twice a week and am concerned that I am addicted to it. I don’t have any feeling for her at all. She’s a nice person and I really respect her, but don’t feel any intimate connection with her. We have three children and have joint bank accounts, otherwise we’re two separate beings.

    We’ve gone to marriage counseling and retreats. I have spent years trying to come up with a solution. The ball is in her court because there is literally nothing I can do. I considered divorce, but concluded that I don’t have biblical grounds to stand on. I’ve also prayed about it and felt an emphatic “NO” from God on two occasions.

    So here I suffer.

  • Ms. Mystery November 29, 2011 at 9:11 am

    My husband and I divorced one year ago after a two year separation. Due to some dire circumstances, we joined households again almost 8 months ago but are still divorced. He said he would change and make love to me since he realized our divorce was primarily due to a sexless marriage. He was a heavy drinker as well and said he would quit. I am so sad that I am in this situation. He has quit drinking to the best of my knowledge but still no intimacy. I am a Christian and he is not. I wish I had not believed his “promise” to be intimate and love me. I would still have my job and apartment. He thinks I am cruel for wanting to move away from him for this reason.

  • Lonely in Love February 18, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Reading these various notes of involuntary celibacy strikes very close to home. I, too, am in a largely sexless marriage. While our intimacy may be once a month or so on average, there is no reason that I have been able to learn for the lack of intimacy.

    We kiss (sometimes passionately), she hugs me tightly, she puts her head on my shoulder in bed, and she says “I love you.” I support her, we communicate, and we’ve even talked about this. She was never abused, nor was I. Yet ever since we were married, our times of intimacy decreased. During our honeymoon 28 years ago, perhaps 2 or 3 times on a 10-day trip. These days, I’ll wait as long as I can and then take care of it myself. It’s not much, but it’s all I have.

    I don’t get it. It makes no sense, and I’m not buying the “it’s just God’s will” lie that many will try to make it be. It’s not His will, I won’t accept it, and there are answers that require a bit of direct messages from others.

    I’m fed up. If I could find a “friend with benefits” arrangement, I’d probably be all over it. I don’t expect it to happen, tho.

    • Rob4Hope March 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm

      Geezer,…OMG! Your post put a chill down my spine. I have 15 years to go, and for the past 20 I have struggled with marriage. Do you believe in an afterlife and that marriage will continue? If not, it makes what you have written a lot easier for me to accept. If you believe in afterlife and marriage, how do you reconcile your marriage with what might be forthcoming? Whatever you believe I respect,…but you might have some wisdom that I could sure use right now. My whole belief system is being challenged and frankly, re-written at best, and flat out discarded being more likely.

      I have to also mention that I have prayed that God would take away my libido. My wife doesn’t want me either, and it hurts deeply, even as much as having a child stray and make bad choices–at least for me this is true. But, you have found peace as your body has aged and “natural” affects have take place.

      What did you do during the “difficult” years?

    • Rob4Hope March 9, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      Lonely in Love, I can relate to your pain and frustration. You have drifted into the “marriage desert” or whatever Brotherson calls this sexless place we have bewildering fallen into.

      You ever wake up and look around, wondering how in the world you got where you are with your marriage? Ever wonder if you should have gotten married in the first place?

      I hope these musing questions don’t bother you–but for me, they happen quite often. I struggle because I don’t know the answers to either.

      Anyway, when you said you don’t believe things will change, I can really appreciate how that feels and the pain it generates. I also believe that for my marriage, and from a moral perspective, I struggle to know whether I should take my desires elsewhere. My wife doesn’t want me, or if she does, it is so sparse as to be virtually meaningless to me. Actually, it seems almost like it mocks me–the sparsity that is–as though she sometimes says to me: hey, I want you,…….maybe. Anyway, the moral questions become difficult for me. I believe in an afterlife, and it frightens me to think I will be yoked in a sex starved marriage for eternity with someone. So from my perspective, heaven (or whatever happens in the hearafter) isn’t a comforting nor desirable place to be, especially if my marriage remains the same (and I have no reason to believe it will change). So, this all puts me in a position where I wonder whats the use?…why not just cash in and look for happiness and acceptance elsewhere?

      I appologize in advance if my comments seem brash or non-moral, etc. They are honest feelings. I can also empathize with the things your are going through.

  • Ron March 9, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    My wife and I have been married 32 years. We gave up sex about 20 years ago. Things have been fantistic ever since. We are best friends, companions, partners, and are truly “in love”. We have a better attitude towards others, give more to our church, and are so much more focused on our ministry to Christ. Sex in not love. Love is so much more. Giving up sex was the best thing we ever did. Til death us do part.

    • Rob4Hope March 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      Hi Ron. I know several couples who have done this,…gone into celebacy. Some have done it by choice, but others have it forced on them because one spouse or other makes a unilateral decision that they don’t want sex, and that is too bad for the other spouse–either deal with it of leave. Those are the choices. But, like I said, some have done it willingingly together, and it was positive for them.

      You mention that for you this has been a very positive thing to your marriage and your faith. I have also contemplated “[giving] up sex” with my wife, but my feelings inside don’t agree with that. My body and soul, physically and emotionally, have a desire to connect at that level with my spouse. When it happens, it brings me closer to my wife than anything else I have ever experienced, including spiritual aspects. Now, spiritual aspects bring me closer to GOD, but I wonder if what you are suggesting is that sex in marriage, and devotion and commitment to God, are mutually exclusive. Is it possible to have a wonderful and sexual marriage, and also be devoted to God? Also, please let me know how you made the transition into a state of celebacy. I respect your choice completey–please know that right out–and I have genuine curiosity as to how you feel about these things.

    • JustGettingBy June 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm

      I must admit I am having a hard time believing that Ron is, “fantastic” with this. I think for virtually every man a sexless marriage would be the opposite of “fantastic.” I wonder sometimes if these virtually anonymous posts are from a wife that does not like sex just trying to counteract the prevailing posts confirming how terrible a sexless marriage is. Ron – feel free to clarify and explain more, such as if you felt you had a strong desire before, was sex rocky in your relationship from day 1, did it get better only after several years with no sex?

      • Rob4Hope June 29, 2012 at 7:50 am

        JustGettingBy, I completely understand what you are saying here. I know three people (personally), men who have been placed in celabacy situations (not including my current situation which hurts like hell by the way–but I am NOT including myself here). Those men, each one of them, have been hurt by the turn of events. Two were involved in pornography — a way to substitute the “illusion” of being wanted, and also just plain sin — and the third is a VERY clean and honorable man. The two who made mistakes have and continue to deal with them. All three of these men are now “card carrying” individuals (if you know what I mean here); however, the pain of a sex starved marriage continues. All of these men have been forced to make peace with their less than ideal situation–and they ARE making peace with it. But that doesn’t mean their needs are being met, nore does it mean they are just “turning themselves off” either. They have feelings, and sexuality to them is a need, not just a want that can be easily swept under the rug. So, they deal with the pain, turning it over to God and hoping that God’s grace can carry them through until somehow, some way, (any way!!), things can be repaired. I wonder if some people find a solution by just killing their desires-either through SSRI drugs or perhaps some type of serious suppression–to deal with a sexless or sex starved marriage. Now my third friend–his wife doesn’t want to be touched (literally!), so I asked him what he does in the evenings when they are together. His reponse is he sits and reads or plays with his children (they did have those–but she believes sex is for children ONLY), and she works on projects. Does he like this situation? NO!!! Does it hurt him? YES!!!!! What is he doing about it? Everying he can…but to no avail. He sais things are slowly changing–SLOWLY,…but he wonders if they will ever change to what he would consider more “normal” in his lifetime. All three of these men are hurting. All three have spouses that for one reason or another are not “in” the marriage for being lovers.

        I just spent a moment before reading this going over Laura’s post at the beginning from the man who is in “involuntary celebacy”. I SOOO understand that!

        All three of these men are now “honorable”…and all of them have been porn free (one never got into it) for at least 4 years, and one for 15 years. I wonder if the wifes of these men understand how much pain they are causing? I actually don’t think they get it. Honestly,…I really don’t. They feel it is their “right” to say no. Very very sad.

        To some men, when the sex stops in the marriage, the marriage stops. It is so very sad that marriage vows can yoke people together, and those vows become chains. Its not suppose to be like that. I don’t believe God wants or intends for it to be that way. Marriage is suppose to be “delicious” and “incredible”.

        I, like these three men, want my marriage to be “delicious”, “yummy”, “incredible”, “fantastic”.

        May God’s grace carry us through!

  • RobnHopeH June 4, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    So many thoughts going through my mind, not really sure any of them would be beneficial or helpful to anyone because this simply isn’t what my marriage is and I can’t imagine being in this situation. Sex has so been cheapened in our culture and reduced to such a small portion of what God designed it to be because of all the abuse it has received. What God designed to be good, Satan will destroy. And yes, I fully believe God created sex and gave it to us for far more than just to procreate. I pray that each of you living in a marriage with involuntary celibacy finds grace and peace from God and the revelation that He can be all you need. He wants us to be most intimate with Him and that certainly doesn’t come in a sexual manner! May each of you find that with Him.

  • Rob4Hope June 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Everyone, I haven’t posted in a while. I am currently separated and working through some recovery with spouse and God. I confess my faith has been hurt, as has my spiritual “obedience” to what is right–at least what I know is right. Anyway, I am working to “give it over to God”. I am NOT happy with a sexless marriage, but even more than that, inside I want more than just sex: I WANT MY WHOLE WIFE, and something that hasn’t been posted much, I also want to be wanted. I can’t think of anything more discouraging than coming home to indifference, and when in the bedroom, finding that sex is something that is tolerated,…but “unh….whatever. I’m here for you, but I don’t really need to be sexual with you, but that’s OK. I just care about you, not about sex.” YIKES!….that kindof attitude can hurt hurt hurt! OUCH!!!! Having said all of that, I am taking a massive leap of faith and moving forward with some plans to turn this part of my marriage over to God’s care. I really don’t have any other choices. I’m seeking forgiveness for my sins (and there are many of those), trying to forgive, and at the same time looking to God to care for me; and if that means He gets to fill my soul because my wife is just not going to be there for me–and is not going to ever “want” me–then that is OK. Surely God has the power to help people stay the course, even if it is difficult.

    I recognize that there are two great commandments, and Loving GOD with heart, might, mind,…is the first. I also confess that I have replaced my faith with God in hopes of getting sex–a BIG MISTAKE. But, I am also cognizant that God was the one who said: “It is not good for man to be alone.” He said that while he was right there WITH MAN–so He wasn’t talking about himself: he was talking about man needing a woman. So, putting GOD first in my life does NOT replace my need for a woman. But, in my case, it certainly is an appropriate reorganization of priorities.

    How can I secure the blessing and help of God if I worship sex and not him? However, that doesn’t mean sex is not important–because it IS VERY important–it just means that my allegiance needs to be directed toward God first and formost.

    I am working on a MASSIVE priority adjustment. It hurts, but I am honestly trying. Wish me luck.

    I hope there can be more “activity” on this site. Could probably help more people if there was.

    Singing off,…I’m Rob4Hope,…sexless and “HOPING” to have that change in the affirmative!

  • MonsterWife July 30, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Alright. So I’m the wife who has cut off sex. But I felt that in my situation I had no other choice. Let me tell you my story and hopefully someone can help me see the flaws in my reasoning so I can fix it.

    I will have been married 21 years next month. My husband and I got married after knowing each other for a very short time. We had a ‘spiritual experience’ and felt that God wanted us to get married, so, being young and full of faith, we did what he asked. Both of us married someone whom we did not love and really didn’t like very much, but we felt that if God wanted us to marry, He would help us make it work well. And maybe He would have if we would have been more diligent in doing our part.

    Although we were not emotionally connected, we started our marriage with consistent sex. I can’t say I was really physically attracted to him, but sex was new and I had looked forward to it for many years, so it wasn’t bad. I had one orgasm when we had been married just a few months, and that is the only one that has been unaided in our marriage. I can work with that. We had sex probably 3-4 times a week the first several years. After about three months of marriage I remember not really being in the mood for sex and letting my husband know this, but he still insisted. I laid there with tears rolling down my temples while he did his thing. I realized this was where I was. I cried more the first year of marriage than I ever had in my life (married at 23), but realized I had made a covenant and was willing to keep my promise to stay married to the man God had told me to marry.

    I will say that for several years I was pretty angry about the whole thing. I felt I was a pretty good catch and here I was married to a man who didn’t have to do anything to get me. No courting, no dating; just quick engagement, lots of working and school, and then married. Despite my efforts and pleading, he would not engage in activities that I hoped would help us build a friendship/relationship. Over the years he always said he needed a wife, not a friend. It took me about seven years (and two children) before I finally realized that it was my choice to marry him and I needed to do what it took to make it work. During all this time we were having sex 2-4 times a week.

    This is the time, however, that my husband’s depression kicked in. And it kicked in bad. He was suicidal at times. I didn’t know what to do. He wouldn’t get help b/c he was in the military and felt it would ruin his chances for advancement if they knew he struggled with mental illness. (Interestingly enough, during counseling he recently told me he had been seeing a counselor during this time but he never told me about it and had always been adamant that he didn’t need help in that way. ) I had two small children and he was useless around the house. To keep things going I felt I had to just kick it in gear and get on with things. He didn’t respond to anything I did. He always told me that he couldn’t respond to me emotionally until he was physically fed (sex), so I kept up the sex because that was my only hope for a real relationship.

    Years pass and nothing gets better. I make a conscious effort to give him sex 2-3 times a week because that’s what you do. I didn’t always want it, and I know he could tell. But there was very little emotional connection between the two of us. He wouldn’t discuss things, he wouldn’t pray or do anything spiritual with just me, although he would always go to church and serve and give. There was just no desire for that type of connection with me.

    About 9 years ago while away on a military assignment my husband got involved with another woman. Although they never had sex, I was told at one point she was naked. Apparently they had a great connection and could talk about anything, something we have never had. He would get mad at something small and leave the house, not coming back for several hours. He had gone to his office and called her during these times.

    When I found out I insisted that if we were to work it out he had to get help for his depression and we had to start counseling. We went to counseling for 2 or 3 times and then he wouldn’t go again and he never did get help for his depression. But, we had once again settled into a superficial relationship that works. I kept up the sex and even engaged in some behaviors I felt very uncomfortable with because that’s what he wanted and I was trying to be a good wife. Again, although he continued to insist if he got enough sex he could engage emotionally. But there was never enough sex. Although I have made conscious effort over the years to try to give it to him 2-3 times a week, it was never enough and he consistently told me he could have it several times a day.

    About six months before I ‘cut him off’, I read Dr. Laura’s book “Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands”. I decided I just wasn’t giving him enough sex so I started something I called Operation Happy Husband. I decided we would have sex every day for 30 days. After about 7 days he started to avoid me. He denies this, but he did. I would try and drag him away from the tv into the bedroom, but he wanted to finish the show first and would come later. By then I would be asleep. So OHH didn’t go so well. Still, he was usually getting it about 2-3 times a week.

    Then last summer I was reading a parenting book and it was speaking a lot about enabling our children. It hit me like a brick that I had been enabling my husband all these years. He was getting what he wanted/needed, (sex) without giving me anything I needed (emotional connection). He wasn’t helping around the house, he wasn’t fulfilling many of his patriarchal duties, he was completely disengaged and was still getting sex. Why change? All his physical needs (food, laundry, car/house maintenance, parental discipline, etc.) were taken care of and all he had to do was go to work, coach his children’s soccer, and fulfill his church commitments. I literally did everything around the house, inside and out. I tend to be very independent and I’m sure this doesn’t help, because rather than wait for him to get something done, I just do it myself. The point being, I realized I was enabling his poor behavior because he still had everything he could want (except daily sex) without investing anything in our relationship. I realized that I felt completely used and abused, and I was done.

    I went to a counselor and discussed my plan with him and he felt I was on the right path. I then discussed this with my husband, telling him I expected him to get help for his depression and that we would go to counseling before we would start having sex again. It took about six months before he stopped trying to engage me in sex, with no medication or counseling. He was begging for me to just help him ejaculate. I refused. I was done enabling. It was time for him to get help.

    He finally got on medication for bi-polar, which does not address the depression issues and we did start going to counseling, but that does not equate to wanting help from a counselor. He won’t discuss any marital issues with me between sessions. He is quick to tell me how I am ruining our marriage because I have cut off sex. He was much more content and happy before I made this choice.

    I would be ok with hugging and kissing, but he won’t do that because it is too painful and then he just wants sex. But he was that way before I cut him off. He would turn his head when I tried to kiss him after work or just stand there with his arms at his sides when I tried to hug him because then he just wanted sex. So there was no affection outside of the bed.

    So, I feel bad that I am hurting him so greatly, and I would love to have a great sexual relationship with him, but I don’t know how to get to that point. For me a great sexual relationship would go hand-in-hand with a great emotional relationship, but I can’t get that.

    At this point I am looking at just living platonically until our four children are gone (8 years), but that seems pretty empty and lonely. I know my husband is miserable, but so am I. At what point do I stand up for myself and not allow myself to be treated as a masterbation object? I do have to say that this last year I have felt better about and happier with myself because I don’t feel I am being used and abused anymore. I was only a sex object and was not seen as an equal partner and companion. More like a maid and a prostitute. At least that is how I felt.

    So, all you men who are in (somewhat) similar situations as my husband, give me your best. What should I be doing to fix this? Do you feel, given the circumstances, that I am on the right path or not? Help me see the flaws in my plan here because I’m having a rough time fixing this with my monsterwife eyes.

    Thanks. I need to see this through a man’s eyes.

    • SirJohn August 1, 2012 at 11:24 am

      That sounds very rough. You’re in a tough spot. There is not always an easy solution to these complicated situations. Serious mental or emotional illnesses make it infinitely more complicated as well. Personalities don’t often change 180 degrees. Basically healthy people who have a few bad habits change those habits all the time. But personality disorders are rarely “cured”. It’s more often a “thorn in the side” for the rest of their life.

      I would caution you that the vast majority of the advice you hear for these types of situations are applicable to two basically healthy people who are struggling to make their marriage work. They don’t often apply to situations where one partner suffers from a mental or emotional illness. Especially if the sick one refuses to get help. These are very serious problems that require specialized expertise. Trust your counselor on this before you trust some random blokes on the internet. If you feel you need a second opinion, go to another counselor or to a religious leader. Understand, however, that most religious leaders have no training specific to bi-polar or any of the various forms of depression. They can provide clarity on the moral issues involved.

      Consider your decisions (both the major decisions and your moment-to-moment actions and attitudes) from the “personal growth” angle. Whether he ever changes or not, you need to be a person of integrity, strength, generosity, cheerfulness, peace, etc. Make a list of qualities that you would like to develop in your own character and then base your decisions on whether it will help develop those traits or erode them. This type of focus on self is not as selfish as it sounds. A hollowed out shell has nothing to offer anyone else. Only a healthy, strong person has anything nice to offer.

      Create a happy healthy life that invites others to draw close to you. Invite your husband to join you in the happiness. Don’t let yourself be sucked into his depression. I know this seems like an impossibility, but with God’s help, I know it’s possible. Your husband may never change, that’s his journey, but you will be in a better place, and your children will be in a better place. They need to see at least one parent build a happy life or they will never know how to do it themselves.

      Work to maintain a healthy attitude about the parts of your life that are missing or painful right now. A vibrant, passionate, loving, sexual relationship with your husband is the ideal, even if it is not possible right now. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “I hate sex”, or “all grapes are probably sour anyway.” It’s possible to understand the ideal, maintain a hope in it for the future, and still have a happy life right now. It’s not easy, but it’s possible, and it provides the greatest happiness and peace.

      It sounds like you have given this particular decision considerable thought and planning and consulted with your counselor. I’d say you’re doing it right. Pray often. Talk to your religious leader often. Talk with your counselor often. A happy life so close to someone with bi-polar and depression is usually beyond mortal power alone.

      Good luck and God bless.

    • Rob4Hope August 2, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      Hello MonsterWife. WOW! Ouch Ouch Ouch! I wish I didn’t have experience in this area to comment, but I do,—and for that I am a bit hurt as well. I am in many ways similar to your husband. In my case, when my wife and I conceived our first child, she went into post pardum depression, and our relationship shifted. The sex didn’t happen as often as I needed, and I didn’t know what to do because I was unlearned and inexperienced with recognizing depression problems, let alone helping someone in that situation. Consequently, I found answers in ways that were — to be frank — rather evil. BIG mistake! Made everything worse. Stupid stupid stupid choices!

      That period of time, happening close to 20 years ago (similar to your situation) put my wife on a roller coaster ride that is similar to yours. In my situation, I have neglected her emotional needs and concerns as I have sought after sexual connection. Neither of us have gotten our needs met, and in the process, my choices in the past have led to some very unhealthy cycles. Those cycles have been very difficult to break. VERY difficult.

      Now, fast forward 20 years and here we are: my wife has actually found her footing (as have you), and I don’t like that one bit! She has been cut off sex, and regardless of how much I beg, complain, plead, threaten, sulk,…etc,…she is holding her ground. I’m going to say something I wish didn’t hurt so much,…but here goes…..I am grateful she is holding the line!

      OUCH!! OK. I said it.

      I’ve learned something as I have been forced to step back and look at her motives. For years she has felt as though I was prostituting her for my own sexual lust. When we have been together, the emotional connection hasn’t been good,…especially outside of the bedroom (as I was doing bad things regardless of what she did),..and it just hurt. To be sexual with me, she actually had to disassociate herself, and the whole experience produced trauma in her sexual self being. For her, sex has become associated with being used, hurt, and devalued. All of that is horrible,…and OH DO I REGRET WHAT I HAVE DONE TO HER! I wish there was some magic wand I could wave and undo this hurt,…but there isn’t. There simply is no easy way to recover. HOWEVER,….I am amazed that my wife WANTS to recover. Whether that is even possible is left to be seen, but she believes it is possible, and she is willing. So, my work is cut out for me.

      What my wife has done is exactly what Sir John has written about in answer to your post. She has gone through a very serious and sincere surrender process where she has given me over to God,…and she has focused on what makes her happy, alive and brings personal development and growth. She is working to enrich her own life, and she invites me to do the same with mine, all in the hope of eventually growing back together, healing the rifts, and allowing for sexual expression to reenter our relationship.

      The problem with your relationship doesn’t appear to be sex. It appears your husband has emotional/mental difficulties, and is unable to connect with you at a deep emotional level.

      MY wife and I have been involved in therapy patterned after Emotional Focused Therapy,—Sue Johnson being the founder. That stuff is profound and really good. I recommend you google her name and watch some of the material. The validation skills I have learned have been invaluable. Wanting to connect emotionally sometimes isn’t enough– sometimes you need to have a little bit of skill to get there. The therapy my wife and I have been involved in has helped.

      Anyway, I know you have an unwilling partner for therapy. Regardless, you are NOT making a mistake by holding the line. Your husband will probably up the anti if he doesn’t get what he wants, and you need to be careful about becoming co-dependent if you find signs of external relationships or porn/masturbation usage. I wouldn’t be a single bit surprised if your husband has been involved in that for years, hiding it well. I say that because such things DO directly interfere with emotional connection. The depression and lack of emotional connection when you have been willing to be sexual, at least to me, are potential warning signs.

      Stick with the therapist, and what Sir John sais is so relevant it jumps off the page. God help you and your husband heal,…as I hope he helps my wife and I heal.

      I want her back–ALL of her.

  • Rob4Hope August 2, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Laura and others who post on this site…. I want to say thank you.

    I am a believing religious man, meaning I believe there is a God and a devil both. I can ONLY believe that the devil has convoluted and twisted the entire idea of sexuality to such a mess that is has become almost incomprehensible.

    I have family members who believe sex is a very inconsequential and almost unnecessary part of married life. The focus, they believe, is exclusively on love–but that doesn’t seem to include physical expression; and the idea of sex for fun between a husband and wife?–you can forget that. If such a thing were to exist, it could only be a very unnecessary thing, even a waste of time.

    They would argue that sex is a piece of the pie,…but it really is a VERY SMALL piece,…and as such, shouldn’t receive that much emphasis or recognition.


    Do you know how much such thoughts hurt and have hurt me in the past! I have felt broken because I feel differently–as though my feelings didn’t matter; or worse, they were wrong right from the beginning.

    Whenever I hear someone say such things that deemphasize the importance of sexuality in marriage, I am suspicious. I think it matters. I think it is important.

    This site supports that belief.

    I would be most grateful to hear some others weigh in on this topic. I want to know what others think.

  • MrShorty August 3, 2012 at 9:54 am

    [fixed the quote…]

    “They would argue that sex is a piece of the pie,…but it really is a VERY SMALL piece,…and as such, shouldn’t receive that much emphasis or recognition.”

    I find this an interesting attitude. What might be most interesting about it is that there might be some truth to it. I’ve seen this is several places, almost never with any kind of documentation, so maybe Laura can fill in the research blanks for me. The most authoritative place I’ve seen this come from is in the book Rekindling Desire by Barry and Emily McCarthy (quoting from page 4). They state:
    “The adage in sex therapy is that when sexuality goes well, it is a positive, integral but not major component — adding 15 to 20 per cent to marital vitality and satisfaction.” So maybe your family members are (partially) correct, and we should be happy for them because it indicates that their marriages are doing better than ours.

    The McCarthy’s continue:
    “However, when sexuality is dysfunctional or nonexistent, it assumes an inordinately powerful role, 50 to 70 per cent, robbing the marriage of intimacy and vitality.” So, perhaps sex is less important as, “the glue that holds us together.” The real importance of sex in marriage might be as “the (potential) wedge that drives us apart.”

    President Kimball (12th president of the LDS church for the non-LDS following this site) stated (without any documentation that I can find) that sexual dysfunction was the root cause of most divorces. Without documentation, it is hard to verify his claim, but it indicates that he, too, saw the potential for sex to be a real problem in marriage.

    • MrShorty August 3, 2012 at 9:56 am

      sorry. didn’t get the quote tags to work right at the start of my post. the first sentence is taken from Rob4Hope’s previous post.

    • Laura M. Brotherson August 4, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      Hey MrShorty,

      I fixed your block quote as you had suggested. I also agree with your comments from the McCarthy’s. When sex is going well it’s just a really great foundational part of the marriage, when it isn’t it is, as you suggest, a huge wedge!!

      My fear with the quote you refer to in Rob’s comment is that it’s also quite likely that many couples (read lower-desire spouse) put less emphasis on that vital dimension of marriage cuz they don’t like it so much. The other spouse is often left to kinda just deal with the lack of connection sexually. That’s a tough dilemma for sure. This is very much what I imagine Rob4Hope is dealing with. It’s very neglectful/disrespectful of one spouse to discount or disregard that important aspect of marriage, especially since it is often of higher importance (at least initially) to one spouse (often the husband). It’s a very sad thing that I see a lot in couples! : (

      And yes, President Kimball did make that statement and I quote it on page “xx” in the Introduction of my book under the section “Dangers of Sexual Dissatisfaction.”

  • Rob4Hope August 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Two comments, in response to MrShorty as well as Laura. The 15 to 20 % comment makes sense to me,…if things are going well,…but if not, the 50 to 70 % does as well. Interestingly, when I have counseled with “Priesthood Leaders” on this topic, they can’t understand why it is such a big deal. I mean, after all, “sex is just not that important.” It makes sense–sadly–that they are speaking from a place of much more success–the 15 to 20 % arena. Because they are not in that lonely place, I believe it clouds their perspective. Unwittingly, they actually invalidate my feelings and damage my ability to trust that they have my best interest in mind. But, that is beside the point.

    Now, another comment about this topic,…15 to 20 % is NOT an inconsequential piece of a pie. It is a pretty big slice. Suppose you were talking about your body. How would you feel if 20% or your body was cut out? Would it be a small and inconsequential piece then? I don’t think it would. So, in my mind, regardless of how big or small the “success” piece of this scale is, having successful physical intimacy is an essential piece.

    I have a comment about the Kimball quote. I have read it in many places, not just Laura’s book. It is unqualified, as far as I can see. Often we assume it means that the couple doesn’t get along because there isn’t enough sex. However, it could also be taken to mean there is too much. Consequently, I am aware that this quote can be used to justify that sex is too important, that it should be curtailed and diminished, and that two people should learn to “just control themselves”. Interestingly, when things are provided without qualification, it can be taken on either side with just as much validity. I think there are many women out there who feel they would be significantly happier if they could just forget about sex. I am VERY sad to say I know several of them. In each case, however, they have horrible marriages,…with one exception only,…and that is my buddy Steve, who has given up sex for the sake of his marriage.

  • MonsterWife August 7, 2012 at 6:36 am

    SirJohn, thank you for your wise counsel. Because my husband seems to get along so well at work and with coaching his children and in his church callings I often forget about his depression/bi-polar struggles. You reminded me of the impact those have on his behavior and that he is not healthy and emotionally stable. It’s so easy to lose your perspective when you’re stuck in the middle of a challenging situation. Along with your counsel to strive to live my life in a Christlike manner, you were really part of an answer to my prayers and contemplations of late. Thank you for taking the time to respond. I followed your challenges and triumphs in a discussion a few years back about “Being Stranded in the Sexual Desert” and I gained a great respect for you during that time in your life. Your current counsel was wise and timely for me.

    Rob4Hope, I also appreciated your perspective. I hope my husband sees as well that I am not making these choices because I am mean and heartless and selfish (as I’ve been accused), but because I want him to take the steps to be healthy and happy. I know that there have been pornography/masterbation issues in the past (and really probably in the present although I haven’t seen the signs), and several times I have come to the point that I feel as though I am done here. But the Spirit always lets me know that I’m not and I just need to wait and be more patient. Your comments were also part of my answer to prayer and helped to remind me that his recovery is why I’m doing all of this. It’s easy for me to lose that focus in the day-to-day struggles of this relationship.

    With all of my husband’s anger and accusations it is challenging to keep my perspective and I often second guess my decisions, but your comments have validated what I feel I am trying to do here. Thank you. I actually was expecting to be a little blasted for my choices, but I wasn’t. That makes me feel as though the many accusations on my husband’s part are not all true. He frequently tells me he will never get healthy without sex, but at this point I don’t believe he will get healthy with sex. I’ve needed some confirmation of my thoughts and recent answers to prayer, and both of your comments have helped put the pieces together in my mind. All the little bits of answers I have been receiving haven’t been clear in my mind until now.

    Thank you, Laura. I loved reading your book and have enjoyed your blog for many years although this is the first time I have ever posted.

  • Rob4Hope August 7, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Everyone, it’s me again. I’m being forced to accept some things that are frightening. The pattern I am in with my spouse is very unhealthy and I am unsure if it can be broken in a good way. One of the things our therapist points out is that my wife gets to have her feelings just they way they are, and that she is just fine for having those. It is appropriate for me, her husband, to respect her feelings, treat her with kindness and dignity in all situations, and accept her as she is–no pressure, no manipulation, no expectations, etc.

    I don’t know if the therapist or my wife really understand some of the implications with this “respect” pathway. Now, I agree with this pathway (it is WAY over due), and mutual respect is absolutely essential if things are going to heal,….but there are two people in this relationship. I am unwilling (and I believe unable) to accept a sexless or sex starved marriage for the rest of my life. I have been in a situation that oscillates between those for a long time,…and only through pressure has my wife responded. BIG MISTAKE!!!! The pressure hurts her, and I accept responsibility for that–wishing I could undo that damage and hurt. However, with this therapy approach, my wife has the choice to continue to be inaccessible for as long as she wants,…and it is my job to respect her wishes and boundaries. But, if that is the way things are going to be, how do I respect myself and the things I had hoped for and need in marriage?

    This opens up a realization in my heart, and it is frightening. VERY frightening. If my wife and I can’t heal this rift where she chooses to be with me romantically, and be with me enough (I’m tired of a sexually starved marriage–20 years is enough!), then I have an honest choice of whether I want to stay in this marriage or exit.

    Divorce is an option I have had to place on the table as a real possibility. Next month I will be meeting with a attorney to get an idea of legal ramifications, and also understand what things need to happen when and how if this choice needs to be pursued.

    What a mess. What a total and complete mess!

    I have a faith concern as well. I know several people who feel they should remain in a very unhappy marriage, even for the rest of their lives, because they have prayed about it and God told them to stay. MonsterWife, at this stage in your marriage, you have been told to stay–at least for now. In my case, I haven’t received an answer. To tell you the truth, I am afraid God will tell me to stay and the frustration and anger I will feel will be more than I can handle–eventually resulting in direct rebellion against God. I’m being very open here, and this is something that frightens me. Because I know this is a challenge, I am working daily, and more vigorously all the time, to humble myself and be willing to do what God asks. I hope he doesn’t want me to be in an unhappy situation if healing the rift isn’t possible. But, I don’t arrive at this crazy conclusion without some good reason: I have at least 5 close friends who have horrible sexless or sex starved marriages, and they are there because they believe it is God’s will for them to stay. IN each case, they have to table the matter out of respect for their spouse’s wishes. . In each case, the problems have lasted — well, probably about 5+ years in each case.

    If your spouse tells you that sex is not something they want to discuss, and they explain to you in so many words that “sex is important to you, it is not important to me, will be faithful to me regardless and we will not be discussing sex further”,…then you have to make a choice. Or, if your spouse says, “I know sex is important to me, but I just don’t feel like it.”…then you have to be respectful–no acting out, no pouting, no sulking, just deal with it. When this goes on and on,….at that point, I think you have a choice. If God says: “Hey, stay in the marriage.” Well, perhaps at that point you do have the choice to kill your feelings.

    Sometimes it seems like problems can’t be solved, but it is God’s will for you to stay there in the pain anyway. That is what Neal Maxwell would call a “Hard Doctrine.”

  • MonsterWife August 13, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Rob4Hope, I’ve spent a week thinking about your situation and I feel really bad for you and your wife. Answers don’t always come easily or quickly. I have spent the last year with an intense focus on the course of action I am to take. Basically the bad choice of leaving or the bad choice of staying. For me, once I started asking what was best for our children and once I was truly willing to do that, the answer finally came. I just know that God will compensate me (and my husband) for our loneliness and hardship at some point that will be most beneficial for both of us.

    I know our situations are different, but like your wife, I currently have no desire whatsoever for sex. Let me explain to you a little of what I feel and maybe some of it will apply to your wife.

    I have been in a situation where for the majority of our 21 years of marriage I have not felt loved nor appreciated. However, I still felt obligated to give sex. Constantly obligated. I tried to enjoy it, and did to some degree, but what I gave was never good enough or frequent enough or wild enough. Although I was anxious to have a sexual connection with my husband, hoping it would help him to connect more emotionally with me, I always felt disconnected because it was just sex, no love involved. Over the years I was told I was frigid because I couldn’t let go. I believe I have had a hard time letting go because I didn’t feel safe emotionally. Safety in every form is huge with women.

    So when I finally hit my breaking point, I was done trying and pretending. I no longer have any desire at all to have sex with my husband. I don’t think about it, I don’t dream about it, it rarely crosses my mind. I have not felt so safe and happy and unviolated since before I was married. Feeling violated and abused does scary things to women. We shut down and turn off, not only physically, but emotionally. Like I said, feeling safe is huge and in those situations we don’t feel safe nor do we feel loved. I could fake it pretty good in that condition, but I didn’t enjoy it and slowly my self-respect eroded away. I felt like an object only to be used for my husband’s satisfaction. That was not healthy nor pleasant.

    Right now I feel more content and have more self-respect than I have had for years, and I’m not about to give that up for a few cheap promises. Before I will give myself again I will feel emotionally safe, I will feel respected by myself and by my husband, and I will trust him not to abuse me. Until that time, sex isn’t happening and I have no desire to make or allow it to happen. I feel as though I have paid my dues and sacrificed way too much over the years. I am worth more than what he is willing to pay.

    My prayers are with you Rob4Hope. I believe the answers from God come when we ask the right questions.

    • Rob4Hope August 14, 2012 at 11:09 pm

      MonsterWife, I had to spend a moment and reread all of your posts because–forgive me for saying this–I thought you WERE my wife!

      Our situations are quite similar. I’ve done some of the same things to my wife that your husband has done to you. It is so sad to be in this situation. I hate it! From what you say, you are in a more healthy place than you have been in years, and you are content without sex: it doesn’t cross your mind, doesn’t come up, and you are just fine without it. That is exactly how my wife feels. Unfortunately, men don’t turn things off as easily, especially when it is a high priority, as it is for me.

      According to Dr Leman, men normally think about sex 2000% more than women (or 20 times more often), and though it is normally #1, 2 or 3 on the man’s list of priorities for marriage, it is number 17 on women’s lists AFTER gardening!!!! (I am NOT making this up!!!)

      Some women don’t understand that when they discount their husband’s feelings, they are actually invalidating him as a man, let alone a companion. It is a stupid thing to do because men ALSO file for divorce. In your situation, you have been hurt and driven to the extreme that you are currently in. But, from how you have written I don’t think you are the type that wants to hurt your husband. What frightens me for you (and my wife) is that the feelings are gone–just poof and they are completely removed. I’m currently working very hard (as best as I can) to reconnect with my wife,…but if her feelings can’t be found and reignited, I don’t know how I can stay in the marriage. In her case, I guess she will have “taught me a lesson”. But, she will be paying a price herself, whether she thinks she will or not. No one goes through a divorce without their being struggle and pain.

      It is also difficult to try to be healthy and live a clean life because this world offers men sex everywhere, not just through the internet. Many women, without knowing it, actually tell their husbands: “sex is important to you, it is not important to me, you will be faithful to me regardless of your feelings, and we will not discuss this again.” I know at least a dozen men who have heard this message,…and their wives wonder why satan targets their husbands?…and then they have the audacity to blame their husbands for straying when they themselves have broken covenants to love their husbands with all their hearts?

      I don’t think you are in this boat, and I also apologize because I have some strong feelings coming out as I write this. I agree with Laura on the whole idea that sex is a mutual stewardship for both husband and wife to work together as a team. If one partner makes unilateral decisions, that violates the agreement. In your case, (and in mine unfortunately), husbands have made bad choices and violated the agreement.

      With all my heart I hope you and your husband can work things out,…and I hope you can find your sexual feelings when the time is right. If you can’t, then his repentance and your forgiveness will be tinged with regret that will not go away, for you will not be able to ever find true union, both emotionally and physically,…at least in this life. Perhaps that is no longer a goal. In my wife, I fear that this is where things are.

      My wife and I have a plan to move forward but I have to do certain things to “win” her back. I think she realizes that there are two people involved, and that we are opposite sides of the same coin–if she feels turmoil and polarizes one way, I am feeling the same turmoil and going the other way. You know, marriage isn’t suppose to be like this. I thought that emotional and physical intimacy was suppose to be delicious, wonderful, and just plain fun. My experience has not been that way.

      Keep writing MonsterWife. Putting feelings down in this blog helps me, and I appreciate your posts. They get me thinking.


  • MonsterWife August 17, 2012 at 8:27 am

    A little analogy. . .

    I play volleyball with a varied co-ed group. Different people come and go each week. I’m a little short and we play on a men’s net, which means when I jump I can’t even reach the top tape, so although I can hit, sometimes it’s hard because I’m just short and don’t jump as high as I did in my 20’s. But I’m a pretty good player and can usually hold my own in this group. There are a lot of men I play with who will completely let me play and are always willing to set me at the net. Other men who come constantly run in front of me to hit balls that are mine and will never set me. On the nights when I’m on one of those teams, I slow down and start to shut down. I just get frustrated with never getting a chance to play. And then when they do set me or let one past I catch myself not being ready because I’m used to them not letting me play. Then they get mad because I let a ball drop, but I see part of it as their responsibility because they have pushed me out of the game all night.

    I feel as though my married sexual life has been similar to playing volleyball with the men who run in front of me.

    For almost all of our 21 years my husband has been running in front of me. I’m not good enough for him sexually. Nothing I did was right. I could never be ‘dirty’ enough for him, etc. He gets involved with another woman because of it and blamed me for it (we were still usually having sex 2-3 times a week) because his needs weren’t met. The sex he got wasn’t good enough and the sex he didn’t get he constantly hung over my head. Eventually I stopped trying because I couldn’t win. He is the only person I have ever had sex with. The sexual being I am is, in part, his creation. He has pushed me out of the game and then is not happy when I don’t perform to his standards.

    I was pretty revved up about sex before marriage. I always looked forward to it as something that would be wonderful and that would create a great intimacy. I don’t think I suffered too much with the good girl syndrome, although my husband would beg to differ because I don’t want to do all the things he does (thank you pornography). But when I am constantly being told I am not good, that I am frigid, or that I am too uptight, why would I want to continue doing it? Very few people like to do things they don’t feel like they are good at. I didn’t enjoy feeling like a failure everytime we would have sex.

    When you throw the lack of emotional intimacy into the picture, then I really don’t want to have sex. With him. Sometimes I feel like he created me sexually and now he blames me for what he created. I know that’s not entirely true because I have had my agency all these years to allow that creation, but I was just trying to make it work. I should have put my foot down years ago on the emotional issues because now we’re so disjointed in this area that I don’t know how to fix it.

    Rob4Hope, your comment, “Some women don’t understand that when they discount their husband’s feelings, they are actually invalidating him as a man, let alone a companion.”, goes the other way as well. When my husband refuses to be engaged with me emotionally, he is invalidating me as a woman and a companion. Argh. I wish we could cut all these coins through the middle and lay them out flat so we could both see both sides at the same time.

    One more thing. Knowing that currently I don’t want sex right now and I feel no emotional connection to him, my husband would still take sex in a heartbeat. That creeps me out a little. I makes me feel no more important than an object he may use to masterbate. It makes me realize that sex for him has very little to do with love and fulfilling my needs. It has everything to do with him. I don’t want that kind of sexual relationship. To keep my end of the covenant, do I really need to become an object and give him sex when I don’t feel he is keeping his end of the covenant? I’ve done that for years, and now I don’t want to do that anymore.

    So there’s my little rant, Rob4Hope. I have to admit there were a few times I wondered if you were my spouse when I was reading your previous posts. Maybe you and I can help each other see the flaws in our thinking and figure this thing out. You know, I don’t want an easy relationship. I just want a workable one.

  • Rob4Hope August 18, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    ARGGGG!! I just had a long response Monter Wife,…and my screen went “BOING”,…and gone.

    I will post a reply when I get the patience up to recreate it.

  • Strong Man August 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    This has been an interesting exchange.

    Perhaps, though, both of you seem to be okay with the idea of using sex as a bargaining tool or weapon to get the other person to do what you want. Your thoughts about “enabling” may have some merit, but I think this is also a dangerous tactic.

    I’ve had moments when I was so mad with her, I didn’t want to give my wife the satisfaction of providing that sexual release I so badly needed biologically–but then when I gave in and let go, it turned out to be a very helpful healing step for the relationship.

    I believe withholding sex is breaking a marriage covenant. I also agree with Laura’s recommendation on being clear with just how important, regular, frequent that is before you do anything drastic.

    No matter how much you try to describe this need and be clear about it, however, your wife is not a man and will never really understand. That’s okay. But, you may have to show her with more than just words.

    Rob4Hope–you say you’ve harmed your wife and you feel really bad–and maybe she is justified in withholding sex. Was it porn? A severe daily habit that regularly compromised oher activities, or an occassional use? I agree that either way, it’s harmful and not at all helpful. At the same time, I sometimes feel we sometimes get too uptight and feel too much guilt about this.

    Sex for me is a biological need, just like food–the pressure builds and builds until it just needs to be released. When my wife gives me that release, it becomes an emotional, intimate, bonding experience with her. Then–it’s love, companionship, gratitude–everything–not just a biological release.

    A woman shouldn’t be “creeped out” as MonsterWife suggests, by this God-given biology–any more than a man should be “creeped out” by the fact that his wife does NOT have this same need.

    To all the men above who seem to just live with a sexless marriage–I say, “Man Up!” Withholding for years in the way you describe is abusive, violating the marriage covenant, and you shouldn’t put up with it. First, make sure you have your act together–you’re healthy, physically fit, financially stable, and that you’re basically a nice, respectful and responsible adult. Then, be clear that you’re not willing to live the rest of your life–or ETERNITY like this!

    Although many have recommended counselling, from what I’ve heard, including comments above, that can also be harmful and dangerous on this issue and lead to some really bad advice.

    Finally–on MosterWife’s comment “thank you, porn” about her husband’s desire for creativity in the bedroom: Long before I got married, I was very religious, wanted to be completely righteous, did everything I was supposed to do as a religious young man, and also had LOTS of creative ideas and hopes for experimentation with my wife, even with no experience with porn. Even if a husband has been caught with porn, he may have had plenty of ideas before he ever saw them acted out.

    It may be time to loosen up and relax a bit and not refuse to try things to find out what you both like.

    • Rob4Hope August 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      StrongMan. You mentioned in your post that sex is a biological need. In my post I mentioned that the idea of sex being optional and completely unnecessary is something I have had a struggle dealing with. Your idea and my “struggle” are in conflict.

      I also mentioned that I struggle to let go of this “struggle”. Part of the reason is because the church says that the sexual drive is a complete myth–it doesn’t exist. They also say that you can shut it down at any time, for any reason, without any harmful affects (now I don’t think they were talking about marriage in this). But, this type of stuff, pusblished by the LDS church, adds credibility to sex being non-essential. This all opens up frustrations inside of me. Sexual drive is a myth with the LDS faith. However, marriage–an essential thing–has as it #1 divorce causing issue, sexuality.

      Does the LDS faith beieve sex is important in marriage or not? Is it essential or not? Do they care about the divorces that happen after people get married because they don’t get along sexually or not? Why does the focus seem so exclusively on protecting AGAINST sin, and not what do do while IN the marriage to keep the home fires burning? Are the home fires also a myth or not?

      It is a mass of confusion to me.

      I feel like you do with this being a biological need–but this is not the position of the church. And, my wife doesn’t think sex is a need at all. It is a want, and only a want.

      Send your thoughts. This whole topic is a MOST interesting one for me. I’m also interested in MonsterWife’s feelings. She has a different perspective as in her situation, she probably doesn’t feel a need much. She also has soul wounds.

  • Rob4Hope August 25, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    I’m outta the loop on these posts. I’ve had so many things going on that I have not been able to process some of the things going on, nor the feelings.

    When I say I have hurt my wife, it was with porn and other things that are very serious. Went through church discipline(s) for it and had it coming. I’ve been in counsling currently with wife for over a year, and trust is so completely destroyed on both sides that it is a miracle we are talking, let alone trying to resolve problems.

    My wife has been told 3 times by the Spirit to stay in the marriage, and that things are going to be better than they ever have been. She shared that with me, and I am holding onto that with BOTH HANDS!!!!!

    24 years ago, wife got PPD and our relationship shut down. Since that time, we have not had a normal physical relationship at all. Counseling 10 years ago fed me the line that “sex is completely optional and 100% non-essential” (direct quote),…and that did damage. I felt broken for having the feelings in the first place,…and when shame set in, who cares about marriage, God, church, or addiction–I’m broken and going to hell anyway, so why try. Yep, …. I went there and did nothing but damage everything along the way. I’ve been a mean, nasty SOB.

    I’ve had some dark times,…really dark. During that period, I would be what you would call a “high bottom drunk.”

    Fast forward to now…… my wife doesn’t withold sex,…her situation is similar to MonsterWife,…she is hurt way down into her soul. She is unable to have sex with me. Her heart is closed off. In my case, I also have soul wounds, and this connection injury feeds what we call “the catch 22″. It is a cycle of death in our marriage that has been going on for 2 decades.

    We are both seriously damaged and hurt. Both of us have mortal wounds in our souls. Each of our wounds feed into the poisoning of the other person’s wounds. It is a horrible situation.

    I find it interesting that church leaders who I have counseled with often say,…”Just stop doing those things.” What they don’t understand (and they don’t) is that porn and such things often cover up wounds that are further down. I’ve got some good counseling now, and it has been invaluable in helping me learn this. My actions and “sins” are being used to cover soul wounds.

    No one has ever acknowledged that such wounds could exist, let alone try to help heal them,…until now. Laura’s book is one of the first I have read from a LDS perspective that emphasizes that sex is good and from God,…and that GOD WANTS US TO BE HAPPY IN THIS AREA. Strong Man,…I confess this idea is so foreign to some of the things I have been taught that I am still unable to accept it fully.

    The counseling firm we attend is ARCH Counseling in SLC Utah. My wife and I have been led to this counseling firm by God. There is no doubt in my mind in the least about this. And, this firm espouses Laura’s book, and also has counselors that affirm sexual realtions in marriage ARE essential and necessary,…and that a sexual stewardship is a true principle.

    Two things go on inside of me: 1) I have a desire to be wanted both emotionally and sexually by my wife. This is core and fundamental to who I am; 2) I have addiction concerns that cover this pain, and they have a life all their own.

    Recovery folks, priesthood leaders, and well meaning people focus exclusively on #2 above,…and when I find myself having “sobriety” growing, it doesn’t hold. Why? The main concern is never addressed. The main concern has NEVER been addressed.

    I can say with complete honestly, I just want my wife. Satan serves up a counterfit, and there is nothing there. But it is difficult to lay in bed night after night, want to put your arms around your wife, and realize that if you do that, a rejection is the ONLY thing you can expect to receive.

    I’ve heard my wife cry herself to sleep on many many nights. I’ve been in that situation myself on many occasions as well. Our soul wounds go both directions.

    I don’t wish what is happening to us on anyone out there in this world. Satan is wreaking havoc in this world by teaching women (generally I think it is women) to assert their rights to pull away, and then providing men alternatives to an empty marriage bed. This is my story. It is a horrible mess.

    MonsterWife, when I said I sincerely hope you can work through your concerns, I really mean that. For the first time in a LONG WHILE, I really want to heal my marriage. I really want to have something I havn’t really felt for over 24 years–to be wanted emotionally and sexually by my wife. In our situation, things happened and took off out of control so early and were never addressed. I hurt her and she is acting in her own self interest. Yep,…her heart really is closed off. It will take a miracle to get it opened again, let alone heal the wounds in there,…so I am praying for miracles.

    • Laura M. Brotherson September 29, 2012 at 6:56 pm


      I’m reading from newest back to oldest, so I am just catching on to some of the previous part of the conversation…I am soooo grateful you have found good help that understands the true nature of sexual addiction. It’s not something you can just stop at will because it has gone from something that agency has access to and developed into a well rutted addiction in the brain where willpower is not enough…and yes it is generally something used to cover or ease deeper “soul wounds.”

      I am so glad to hear that you both sound like you do want to save and heal your marriage, but I suspect you both realize how difficult that will be. For most couples that will require 1) a group therapy process, such as the LifeSTAR Addiction Recovery Program, 2) individual counseling, 3) couples/relationship counseling 4) a 12-step support group, and definitely 5) your wife involved with her own similar sources of support (wives groups)…not to mention a whole new, stronger, intimate relationship with the Savior. That’s a lot of work!!

      You say “the main concern has NEVER been addressed.” What do you believe is your main concern that has never been addressed? You want to be sure someone is helping to get that addressed!

      It’s so true that both husbands and wives want to be wanted…men especially want to be wanted sexually and women especially want to be wanted or attended to emotionally!

      I really appreciate all the effort you are making to try to sort things out and get some answers. I especially appreciate any efforts you are also making to reach out to your wife despite both of your souls wounds! Keep hanging in there! : )

      • Rob4Hope October 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm

        Hello Laura. It is good to see you post. A special thanks to Sir John and Monster Wife (and others) for posting.

        You made a suggestion and also asked a question of sorts. With regards to addiction concerns–yep, I know I have a tendency toward that, and the story is long and painful–so it will NOT be repeated here. But I wanted to say something about the LifeStar program in both SL County and Utah County.

        I attended the 2nd or 3rd LS program ever to be offered by Todd and Dan in SL County some 10+ years ago. During stage one, I was shocked to here them say that: “Sex is completely optional and 100% non-essential.” That statement, in the current context of my marriage and where I was at emotionally, was devastating. Part of the damage was because it was made without qualification and justifies at least the following:

        1. Sexual anorexia is completely acceptable.
        2. Children are non-essential.
        3. The command to leave mother and father and cleave unto you wife is really just a suggestion,…
        4. MANY MANY OTHERS….

        These reactions are all insane, but they necessarily follow with the way the LS statement was presented. I was unable to directly address these concerns in the LS program–they were swept away and basically discounted. But these were the experts! These were the authorities! The whole expereince for me was shaming, discouraging, and opened up a wound inside.

        Laura, I re-took stage 1 for LS in Utah County about 2 years ago,…and the exact same phrase and emphasis was applied–10 YEARS LATER. Ouch!!!

        I feel fortunate that I have been able to make some progress with this problem. You see, Dr. Mark Chamberlain is a counselor at ARCH in SL County, and I ran across him in the hallway where I asked if I could e-mail a specific question to him; he agreed to help. So, I proceeded with a carefully worded but very direct question. You see, he was an observer in that first LS class I attended, and is aware of everything discussed there.

        His response was affirming–he could see that the statement had devalued me as a sexual human being, meddled with my marriage and even my understanding of commandments and God himself, and that it was a serious mistake the way it was handled in my case. He explained that the statement was meant for “the moment”,…meaning that having sex this very moment is optional and 100% non-essential. The rest of the story, and where this quote was actually taken out of context from,…is that the person who said it had sex thousands of times before, will probably have sex thousands of times again,…but right now, this very moment, it wasn’t necessary for him to have sex.

        So, the meaning? — when the urge hits us addicts, we do NOT have to act on it. It is optional and non-essential for the moments WHEN the urge hits.

        Well, in the beginning LS and subsequent LS classes, this perspective wasn’t given to me Laura. I felt broken BEFORE I took the first LS class, and then I felt really broken–ouch Ouch OUCH!–after taking it.

        Because I am in this place and hurt, it REALLY makes it difficult to accept that sex is optional and non-essential FOR NOW (which could be the rest of my life) while I build safety for my wife–emtional safety like you suggest–when the whole idea of optional sex is toxic poison in the first place. My wife will give me no guarantees. She will make no promises other than to say she wants to heal and work toward a marriage we have never had. I have to take this on complete faith,…and that frightens me deeply. I have lost most of my ability to take things on faith.

        Wonder why I seem desparate to find out if God does or doesn’t believe in sex in marriage, and why I am such a dificult person to convince? It is a reflection of how seriously I have been hurt. And, it is a reflection of how ideas like “sex is completely optional and 100% non-essential” can twist your belief systems, especially when given by those who are experts, and when given without qualification and supported by what appears to be a lack of interest by the LDS church, except to focus almost all proportional resources on emphasising “THOU SHALT NOT!”

        Mark Chamerlain has spoken with me subsequently, and he indicated that I am not the only one who has been hurt by statements presented by authorities and taken out of context nor qualified, including in therapy and LS as well. I have felt sincere gratitude for his tenderness and the care with which he has tried to dress wounds that have been open inside of me a long long time.

        I don’t know what has or is happening with the LS materials,…but I hope that Mark and others (like you Laura) can understand that sometimes staements like what hurt me, when offered by “authorities”, can actually cause pain and hurt.

        Sometimes sexual problems DO grow out of sexually starved marriages. Simply accepting that a sexually starved marriage doesn’t exist because, after all, “sex is optional and non-essential”, doesn’t address the problem,…it just infects the wound more.

  • Rob August 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Part of the reason is because the church says that the sexual drive is a complete myth–it doesn’t exist. They also say that you can shut it down at any time, for any reason, without any harmful affects (now I don’t think they were talking about marriage in this). But, this type of stuff, pusblished by the LDS church, adds credibility to sex being non-essential.

    Different Rob here.

    You say you’ve read Laura’s book, but did the first couple of chapters with Prophets and Apostles talking about the importance of sex and its God-given nature really sink in? I don’t know what sources you’re referring to. What you’re saying is wrong. Sex drive is a myth? A couple of the quotes in the book speak directly to God’s purpose in giving us a sex drive. Does your sex drive feel unreal to you? Mine sure doesn’t!

    It is not wrong of you to feel sexual desire towards your wife. Never be confused about that.

    There are needs and then there are needs. A teenager with hormones raging might need to be told that living without sex won’t kill him, because it’s not a need like eating and drinking. But, in the marriage context, it’s no less of a need that good communication, affection, etc. You can technically live without that stuff, too, but they’re needed to have a marriage patterned after God’s intent and for the happiness of the couple.

    • Rob4Hope September 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm

      Hello Rob. The concern comes from emphasis more than message. Let me give you three examples:

      #1. A man named Dan Grey (LifeStar therapist from SLC Utah) was commissioned by the Area Authorities of the LDS faith to visit individual wards on the 5th Sunday and talk openly and candidly about the problem of morality sweeping the people in the church. When I heard about his visit, I made a special effort to be present and to take notes. It was an interesting visit.

      During his visit, he illustrated a problem that exists in the culture of the LDS church. Among other things, he said that adults tell youth something like this: “You need to protect and respect your body. Lustful feelings are wrong, and you need to control such evil thoughts. You need to remember who you are, and such things are discusting and wrong… should save those feelings for someone you love.”

      Now, if you didn’t get that,…you need to read it again. He said something just like this to illustrate that we, as a culture, attempt to control sexual feelings so much in youth that we often poison it. Laura’s book talks about the “Good Girl syndrome.” We are talking about the same thing.

      Dan Grey indicated that this “problem” is systemic and part of our culture.

      Oops. Sometimes when I look at my wife,…well, I have “lustful thoughts.” WRONG!!!! Why?…no one ever said they were right,…just that you shouldn’t have them.

      #2. The emphasis of the church, from my perspective, is on “THOU SHALT NOT!!!”,….not on thou shalt. Consequently, the message is extremely lopsided. An example that is clear goes along this line is the book Miracle of Forgiveness.

      I have had two Elder’s Quorem Presidents tell me that during their time at the LDS MTC, they were told by the president that if they had that book, they were to send it home immediately–that it wasn’t approved literature, and that they were not to have it in their possession. The reason for such an approach? Apparently many of the missionaries were going home in a state of complete demoralization BEFORE THEY EVEN GOT THERE MISSION GOING. Why would this happen? The book hits so hard on emphasizing the discusting and vile nature of sin, that before you have hope you feel hopeless. The emphasis is on THOU SHALT NOT,…and many have already sinned, so they are destroyed before getting to the good stuff.

      I struggled with that thought in the Miracle of Forgiveness book. For example, Kimball used the parable of the Prodigal Son. He made it very clear that the prodigal had lost his birthright, and that he could never get it back. That usage, and use of phrases like “seems to be forgivable” make it difficult to understand if it really is or not.

      Emphasis about sexuality has been treated similarly in a lot of the circles I have been in. It seems treated primarily as a THOU SHALT NOT in a strong manner.

      Furthermore, I’ve made some pretty bad mistakes. So, I feel like I have lost my birthright, and sexuality (something I had hoped would be part of a good marriage), seems out of reach. But the message is that with regards to sex, it is better to control and NOT engage in it, than to engage.

      The whole idea has been presented to me as though sex is a substitute for those who can’t control themselves. (This really is a message people have communicated to me with the THOU SHALT NOT emphasis)… It is similar to the idea of repentance being a remedy, and a second rated one, for not being obedient in the first place–something that is “infinitely” better (according to Kimball).

      #3. Marginalization is a problem. If sex is essential and important in marriage, it would be nice to have someone in authority finally come out and just say it. It is not treated as such in general ways. For example, if I were to rank priorities, I would probably choose like this: faith in Christ, reading scriptures, praying, paying tithing, being kind, fulfilling church assignments, spending time with your children,….etc. And then, way down at the bottom of the list:……. .

      Marriages are falling apart because of sexual disharmony,…so says Kimball. However, harmony in marriage in this way is treated almost as though it isn’t even an issue. It isn’t talked about much. Of if it is, it is “code”. Unfortunately, I don’t understand code too much, so I miss it.

      I found it interesting that Laura’s book drew so much material from “dead” apostles and also those who have no responsibility to speak for God at all (Barlow and Cline). No offense toward those men,…but if marriage is so important, and if sex is messing many up, then why does the church not talk more openly (which CAN be done appropriately) about it?

      I think that perhaps they leave this up to the local leaders. But, I was not raised to take such problems to my bishop,…and when I have, his attitude is “Even if you never have sex again, it is still worth it to keep the commandments.” (Direct quote).

      Notice something subtle. Sex is expendable. And, you can go without sex and keep ALL the commandments,…which emphasizes that sex is not part of the commandments in the first place.

      I mentioned that I am working through some of this stuff. I accept what Laura says in the book–you have to take this to God and find out what HE sais about it. What I have gotten from the Church is so confusing that is just makes my head hurt.

      Sorry for the long post. I dumped what I feel.

      • Laura M. Brotherson September 29, 2012 at 6:35 pm

        Hi again Rob4Hope,

        I just had a thought…if you get a few minutes sometime, I wonder if you might be willing to share what you wish living prophets and apostles might say about sex. I’m trying to think through what you think they aren’t saying and how you think they might go about it…

        I’m struggling with the idea that you don’t think “The Church” sees sex is an important part of a healthy marriage, when that seems to be the case at least from my point of view…even the Proclamation on the Family speaks of sex as being ordained of God and I imagine it as one of the “wholesome recreational activities” it mentions as well! ; )

        The difficulty I see for husbands is that because of how women are wired emotionally a husband’s push for sexual needs to be met may feel like unrighteous dominion while a push for emotional needs to be met by a wife does not so much…not sure what that connects to here…?

        There’s no question we tend to hear a lot more Thou Shalt Not’s than affirming statements about sex. I can also imagine how difficult it would be to really go there from a “official” stance. We did get some of that from Elder Holland’s “Souls, Symbols and Sacraments” back in the late 80’s. I would be interested in your thoughts though on what you’d like to hear from church leaders…!

        • Howlong September 1, 2016 at 9:25 pm

          Sorry to hijack this thread, but I didn’t see where your questions were answered. I wish (before I was married) that living prophets and apostles would have clearly stated “Brethren, when you marry your sweetheart you must not think that you have any right to engage in sexual relations with her except as she consents in her sole discretion. You see, it is the obligation of men to marry and assume the lifelong responsibility of providing for a wife and children. Women are under no such commandment. Accordingly, your wife may, without consequence, withhold all intimate relations from you for any or no reason, for any length of time or for the duration of your mortal life. After all, she only consented to marry you, not to have sex with you. So, on the issue of marital relations, it’s nature, frequency or even existence, it really is between you and your wife, but we believe any thoughtful person would be able to conclude that a major asymmetry of power exists in that relationship unless you are willing to be as celibate after you marry as before. Brethren, choose wisely. ”

          Regarding the second question, I think you are missing about half of the human family if you read section 121 verse 39 as pertaining only to males. The fact that it is the nature and disposition of almost all “men” to exercise unrighteousness dominion when they get a little authority (or power in a relationship) is as universal as “Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.” Women are just as guilty of unrighteousness dominion when they use sex as a weapon to force compliance from their husbands. And I have not met a single woman that doesn’t do it. Every time I hear a woman tell her spouse “Do this or do that (invariably extremely unpleasant, expensive or humiliating action) and I will make it worth your while” with a lilt in her voice and a come hither look I just want to hurl.

  • MonsterWife August 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Rob4Hope, I can’t answer for your wife, but I can give you my perspective from being in a very similar situation.

    The reason I stay around is because I have a hope that someday my situation can be fixed. I see so many good and admirable qualities in my husband and I hate to walk away from them. Also, I feel that God has let me know that the best situation for me and my children is to stay.

    That being said, I don’t trust my husband. I don’t trust what he does or says, I don’t trust his motives or his judgements in many areas. I know I made marital covenants, one being to have a sexual relationship with my husband, but I also don’t feel Heavenly Father wants me to sacrifice the most intimate parts of myself with someone I don’t feel I can trust or respect.

    Do I feel I can trust him again? Maybe some time in the future, but considering he won’t talk to me about anything but scheduling and basic surface talk, he won’t make any effort to spend time with me, and he schedules himself out of my life with soccer, I don’t know how that trust will come about. He is showing no signs of wanting to build a relationship. I realize that much of this may be his way of coping with not getting any sex, and I feel bad about his struggles in this area. But we have basic relationship issues that should have been established before marriage and before sex that were not, and before we can be fixed I feel we need to address those issues.

    If he were to begin trying to build a relationship with me we could start to build back the trust. But I don’t feel safe with him. At this point there is no way I see myself having sex with someone whom I don’t trust and feel safe with. (I say ‘at this point’ b/c for many years I have had sex with someone I didn’t feel safe with, but now I don’t feel I can anymore.)

    What do I want/need to built back the trust? I would love to have my husband admit to me that he has lost my trust and ask me how to regain it. And wouldn’t it be icing on the cake if he were to actually do what I suggested? The pouting and silent treatment gets old and exhausting. Even doing what I suggest the trust will take a long time to build back. A few token actions won’t do it. I will need to know that he is fully committed to me and to our relationship. The proof in that area for me is consistency and constancy.

    Ours is not an easy fix, and I imagine yours won’t be either. But I believe all women want to be wooed and won. I want to know I am worth some effort and some sacrifice. I want to know he can put me and my needs before his own. Personally, I have rarely felt this in our 21 years of marriage. But once I feel safe I believe I will be able to begin to trust him.

    And then there’s the matter of respect. . .

    But I think we’ll go there another day. 🙂

    • Rob4Hope September 2, 2012 at 8:53 am

      MonsterWife, your post is creeping me out! I mean it is really creeping me out BIG TIME!

      I don’t play soccer, and so unless you are being sneaky, you could be my wife.

      There are some differences here: I do talk to my wife, and she wants “safety safety safety”. What is difficult is what builds safety for her negates safety for me. We call this the “catch 22”.

      My wife will NOT have sexual relations with me, nor will she give me any ideas of when such relations can be resumed. Last night (literally), I had a recurring fear–a vulnerability inside–that wouldn’t leave me alone. For two years now, our anniversary has been a disaster. Two years ago, we had a massive fight and just gave up trying to do anything about it. I think we decided finally to treat it as any other day–as though nothing special about it existed. Last year, for the sake of peace, we decided that we would have dinner, but that there would be no sexual expression afterward at all–she would go back home, and I would leave and go somewhere else.

      Well, fast forward, and I am struggling because I don’t think I can emotionally go through another anniversary like those again. When I say I can’t go through that–I mean I CANT GO THROUGH THAT AGAIN. Frankly, I will just want out of the marriage,…the big “D”.

      I recognize that rebuilding a relationship is difficult, but my wife will not give me any guarantees, even about the anniversary. I wanted to address this fear and how it gets into my life and causes havoc, so I carefully shared my concern with her last night.

      She is unable to give me any guarantee that she will be there for me. She hopes she can,..but banking on it?…nada. I told her that when she talks to me like this, it makes me feel as though she doesn’t want to be “dependable” for me, and how can I build the hope and trust I need inside when something as important as sexual relations are completely undependable for me? Her response is she is sorry I feel that way, but she will not be pinned down, will not give me a date, and will not commit to being there for things like our anniversary. She is shut down inside. She needs safety first, and then she hopes she can access her feelings again, but she doesn’t know if she can or can’t. I have to wait and see.

      I don’t think this is fair. I feel like she is saying to me: “Because you sinned and hurt me, now it is your turn to feel the pain and have to deal with the problems going forward.” She denies this is what she is saying to me, but it sure feels like that.

      Folks, I struggled with the “Sex is optional and 100% non essential” line fed me by LifeStar in SLC Utah, and it seems like that is what my wife is saying to me again.

      Think on this: if sex is optional and non-essential, then so is marriage. Why? because sexual relations are the ONLY thing in marriage you can’t have anywhere else without breaking moral law. Take the sex out of marriage, there is no longer the bearing of children, and there is no longer “becoming one flesh.” MY wife has decided that sex is no longer a part of our marriage. That choice hurts me. I wonder if she want to stay married?

      I’m sorry she is broken and shut down inside. So am I. Does her feelings mean more than mine? Is her pain greater because I was the one who “sinned”?

      MonsterWife, good luck in your situation. But remember, you might be pushing your husband to a place where he is also trapped, and just because you are forcing the issue, it might not be the best approach. Just something to think about. If my wife were to give me ANYTHING to believe in that this can end in a good way, and a way that doesn’t take a dozen years, I would be most grateful. She is pushing me to the edge.

  • Litekeeper September 1, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    I, like others, have just stumbled onto this site. BIO: married 37 years, involuntarily celibate for the last 17 years…extremely limited intimacy for at least 35 years.

    I appreciate the input of others in this thread.

    It is only in the last several years that I have used the term “involuntary celibacy” – and I also find it interesting to discover others call it the same thing. In fact, I just discovered Wikipedia even has an entry by that title, also referring to it as “InCel”.

    For now, I will close with this…I have accepted my current state, have resigned myself to the fact there is no “fix’ for this condition at my age (late 60’s), and channel my energy into work, teaching, and such other things that I come upon every once in awhile to occupy my time and energy…and, an affair is by no means one of them.

    I will continue to monitor this thread. It should be interesting to see where it goes from here.

    • Rob4Hope September 6, 2012 at 6:07 pm


      How did you make the transition? I don’t want to resurrect pain in you, but I really do wonder how men can turn this thing off.

      Ever do an internet search on how to turn off your libido? I have,…and was amazed at how many men are looking for that option,…and most of them (the ones I read) are in the same boat as I am: they have a spouse who rejects them, and they just want to kill their feelings and accept that they don’t exist.

      I personally know 4 men like that, and others who deemphasize their feelings, thus taking sex out of their lives,…or at best, treating it as a very sparse and optional event that sometimes happens, but not to be looked forward to or counted on.

      Keep posting. I wish there was more action on this blog site…

  • MonsterWife September 8, 2012 at 7:06 pm


    Funny, isn’t it, how both sides of a situation can see something entirely different and yet neither side is seeing it clearly? Men’s and women’s needs are met so differently and we often have tunnel vision, focusing only on our own point of view. If you haven’t yet read the thread on here about being “stranded in the sexual desert”, I would suggest you do so. When I first finished reading Laura’s book a few years ago I read through that post in its entirely and was amazed with SirJohn’s experience. I actually cried when he spoke about his relationship with his wife and how he chose to be Christlike through it all. She eventually came around. I ache for a husband who will treat me that way. Thinking on how SirJohn wooed back his wife, I was thinking about Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs. (Here’s a link to the most trusted of all informational sites, wikipedia!'s_hierarchy_of_needs)

    Abraham Maslow wrote a paper in the 1940s describing the basic needs of all human beings. On the first level are things such as food, water, sleep, breathing, and sex. The second level is safety. He speaks mostly about physical safety, but as a female, I would like to think that also refers to emotional safety. This level is much more challenging for a woman to achieve than a man because physically we are generally not as strong and find ourselves vulnerable occasionally. (There’s not a time I walk through a parking lot at night that I don’t take the most lighted path, with keys between my fingers, ready to scream for help.) The third level is love and belonging, to include family, friends, and sexual intimacy.

    This is where I have to stop and think for a minute. Maslow puts sex in level one, but sexual intimacy in level three, after safety. Not having done extensive research on his theory, I have to wonder if sex is on level one for men, before safety, but sexual intimacy is on level three for women, after safety. Could this be where a major breakdown occurs in our lives?

    Sex is a basic, level one need. For men. 🙂 I have been perfectly happy not having sex because for me it’s not a physical need, but an emotional, love and belonging one. And when my second level of safety is not being met, I don’t feel as though I am in a position to engage in level three, sexual intimacy. Maybe this is where men and women are looking at this situation from completely different levels. Men need sex as desperately as they need food, water, and air. In my situation, my husband was getting sex a few times a week, but he was still starving. But because he could never feel full, he could not move on to level two to help me feel safe. Because I could never feel safe I could never get to level three of sexual intimacy.

    Alright. If there are any psychology buffs out there who can blow this to pieces, by all means do it! 🙂 But right now it is helping me to make sense of all this nonsense.

    At some point, I have to either go to my husband’s basic level and give him sex several times a day or he has to temporarily bypass that need to help me feel safe so I will then have a NEED for sexual intimacy.

    I did not give my husband sex several times a day as he feels he needs. I guess that is where I am wrong. I tried the best I knew how at the time, but it was never good enough for him. But you see, for me it’s not a need yet. It’s the milk before the meat issue. Before I can feel sexual intimacy I need to feel safe. And I don’t. I’m not sure I ever have.

    So how do we resolve this issue if both of us refuse to cross over and care for the other’s needs before our own? I don’t know. At this point I refuse to cross over because although I didn’t have sex with my husband several times a day, I really did try to have sex with him 2-3 times a week for many years and he still could not feel satisfied enough to start caring for my needs. This is why I finally got fed up. Emotionally he has some serious issues which need to be dealt with, but he refuses to acknowledge them. How many years am I expected to continue this cycle? I chose 20. Then I was done. A year later I’m not happy with where we are, but I am happier with where I am.

    So Rob4Hope, coming somewhat from your wife’s perspective, let me ask you a few questions and I really want you to answer honestly:

    Why doesn’t she feel safe?

    How have you contributed to that?

    In your gut, what is the one thing you know you could be doing for your wife to help her feel safe that you are refusing to do? (Answer honestly.)

    Why aren’t you doing it?

    Do you care that she doesn’t feel safe?

    If you care, what are you doing about that?

    From my side of this issue, my husband has spent years being selfish not only by witholding anything from me that he knows I need, but also by only focusing on his own needs. I would be rich if I had a dollar for everytime he told me that when his physical needs were met he could then invest emotionally in me. Maybe we’re just not a good match because sex several times a day is waaaay too much for me, but that’s what he says he needs. However, maybe if my need for safety were met my sexual intimacy needs would increase and I would want it several times a day. Unfortunately I feel I will never know the answer to this hypothetical situation.

    I fully understand that I am pushing him away; I know how powerful his sexual needs are. But I also feel as if I have sacrificed and given all I can give and now have nothing left to give. He has drained me completely dry of all desire and emotion and now to get me engaged in this marriage again he needs to start priming the pump. That’s a lot more work than keeping it primed and ready to go, but I feel like that’s where I am.

    My husband is not willing to prime the pump. He has too many unresolved emotional issues to be able to do anything outside of himself. I hope you are willing to prime the pump. Your wife sound very, very hurt. I’m sure she needs you to acknowledge that you have hurt her and selflessly do all you can to love and cherish her and make her feel safe again. But if the sex issue keeps coming up, she will not feel safe. For her, sexual intimacy is level 3. You will have to work and work for a long time before you can break down the walls around her heart and satisfy her level 2, but the fact that she is staying with the hope that you will do that speaks volumes. From the information you have given and my My Point of View, the ball is in your court, my friend. Play it well and prime the pump. And read SirJohn’s posts in Stranded in the Sexual Desert. He’s brilliant! 🙂

    Rob4Hope, I apologize if I got a little preachy here. My heart just aches for your sweet wife because I feel I understand the depth of pain that she is going through. She is hurt and scared and she just wants to feel safe in your love. Give her that gift and I think you will be pleasantly surprised what lies beneath all the pain and fear. Just give her time to heal.

    God Bless. MonsterWife.

    • Laura M. Brotherson September 29, 2012 at 6:13 pm

      Hi MonsterWife,

      Just wanted to say I really appreciated your comments about our hierarchy of needs. That’s a good way of seeing where husbands and wives may get caught in a vicious cycle.

      It also reminds me of the diagram (Intimacy Needs Cycle) I have in my book (also in the slides here: where we see the general pattern of women needing emotional connection in order to connect sexually and men needing sexual connection in order to connect emotionally. It can certainly create a vicious downward spiral or be a positive upward spiral.

      It’s so tough for any of us to be able to set our own needs aside and focus on the other’s needs–especially when we are coming from a place of so much hurt and pain. I can imagine things are so tough for you as well!

      In my experience when a man is truly demanding of sex multiple times a day then something else is generally involved–childhood issues/abuse and maybe even some kind of sexual addiction. These issues can certainly put someone’s “need” for sex in a unique situation.

      I hope you are finding some help in the conversation here and may even be able to experience some vicarious-type healing by being able to converse with others who may be experiencing something similar to what your husband may be going through…! : )

  • Rob4Hope September 8, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    I need some time to process,…and I will post and answer your questions. “The truth shall make you free”. And perhaps someone can benefit from my answers.

    Are you my wifes twin sister? Your post freaks me out…REALLY BAD!

    • youremyfavorite September 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      Let my share two things here. There’s a lot of pain evidenced in this thread. My two cents are what I offer after viewing this thread through the filter of my life and experiences. We all view and judge EVERYTHING through our own lens… Just as what MonsterWife and also you have offered.
      First – I’ve experienced my share of pain in my own marriage. Without going into great detail here, that pain involved what Laura Brotherson teaches is the different “wiring” of husbands and wives, and “bumbling” through those first years. I think in her book, she says even she wandered in the wilderness (my own wording) for the first 11 years with her marriage. The intimacy in our marriage went from the first three years of marriage with an incredible closeness (without a single argument… Paradise) to real differences in emotional and sexual intimacy needs on the part of each of us. “I don’t like or need it” and her accusation of “You have a problem” were eventually shared in painful sincerity.
      My wife (and I) watched her sister’s marriage hang by a thread due to her husband’s infidelity. Their relationship problems reached much deeper than the bedroom. But she couldn’t see that at the time. We were on a “senior mission” at the young age of 50 and in another country. We seemed to be the only ones in the family who believed in her husband and in saving their marriage. They have both thanked us repeatedly for believing in them and in our small roll in saving their marriage. They both had incredible pain, but made the necessary soul-searching effort and changes necessary to enrich their relationship. It took a few years of working with the Lord and each other. The degree of their problem was an eye opener for my wife and for me as well.
      My own vastly improved and improving intimate relationship with my wife mostly came from work we did and continue as a result of Family and Marriage Relations classes at BYU-I Education Week over the years. This has included classes given by Laura Brotherson, Lund and others.
      Second – I learned in a wonderful success seminar some years back that others’ observations of us are frequently more accurate than our own… Mine, of your response to MonsterWife, is that you are possibly missing her point and thus an opportunity for finding the solution you seek. Open your mind and heart and read again, “Men’s and women’s needs are met so differently and we often have tunnel vision, focusing only on our own point of view. If you haven’t yet read the thread on here about being “stranded in the sexual desert”, I would suggest you do so”.
      Consider, are you on this thread to seek answers or gain validation for your point or pain? MW offered something you are not wired to automatically see and (while not perfect) she is. Your first response was good. “I need some time to process”. But then the next one is concerning, “And perhaps someone can benefit from my answers. That person would best be you if you’re on here to seek answers.”
      Good luck

      • Rob4Hope September 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm

        Several people are posting on my emotional dumps. Yikes! I don’t know how I feel about that?…

        I don’t know if my posts are doing anyone any good either, including and expecially myself.

        After posting this, I am going to seriously consider if any more posts will be forthcoming. I sometimes come aware from posting feeling frustrated, though my feelings are authentic and honest.

        Yes, I have read Sir John’s post,…again and again and again. I have read what Mark Chamberlain wrote, and have spoken with him personally about this.

        My wife needs safety…. safety…. safety….
        I struggle with what this means.

        It means that she needs to be able to tell me no to sexual advances at any time, for any reason, for any length of time.

        It means that she does NOT need to roll over in bed, ever.

        It means that because I have hurt her and done the most horrible of sins, she can choose whether she is ever going to be there….

        It means I need to accept my situation, and be calm and content with least around my wife. This means that when she rejects me (and she does all the time), I need to be content to accept the rejection without showing any dissatisfcation or “pouting/anger/frustration”. In my case, it means that I would do better if I never asked in the first place.

        I’ve been involved in infidelity,…and I regret it. The pain and suffering I have experienced, let alone others in my life, have made this the most horrible mistake ever made. Part of the pain is ongoing and never ends,…. I want to be wanted,…and that is not something I expect to receive in this life. Not feeling wanted has been going on for a long time,…24 years. My wife and I agree that we have been disfunctional for that long. Not feeling wanted and feeling disconnections happened years before my bad choices. My wife was sick, and that started up this pattern.

        It has been difficult to not “self medicate” with pornography and masturbation over the years when therapists have told me that ‘sex is 100% optional and completely non-essential’,…and when that information invalidates how I feel, making me feel broken in the first place. Shame (which is BEING a mistake instead of MAKING a mistake) is a horrible satanic tool. I have been very hurt, and have thrashed as I tried to solve that.

        My struggle is coming to grips with the empty feelings I have inside of not being wanted “that way”. It is difficult to accept that what my wife wants and needs makes what I want and need non-essential to our marriage. I feel like I have to cut a part of myself out in order to take care of my wife’s needs.

        I confess that I wish I didn’t feel sexual feelings at all–they cause nothing but pain and suffering. I am trying to do like Sir John indicates above,… and that is going to God who will take care of my needs, even if sex is not one of them.

        It is difficult also to struggle with wondering if marriage was a good choice for me in the first place. I also am TEMPTED STRONGLY to start taking a SSRI medication–not for depression, but for the libedo killing affects. Those medications seriously affect my libedo, and new research is showing that even when cessation happens, the libedo killing affects are permanent.

        The most difficult part of my sitaution is feeling that these problems will never end, and they will follow me into the next life. THAT CONCERN has not been addressed, and because of that, I actually find myself seriously wondering if church or faith is worth it. It appears I am suppose to learn to “bridle” my passions, which, in my circumstance, means just going without and learning to be happy when something as important as “wanting to be wanted” is left unmet and festering.

        I do NOT have a testimony that God intends “perfect sex or something better” on the other side, as Sir John says he believes above. I have never been able to find anything written about that,…other than anecdotal reference, or those that are interpreted in ways that to me are not convincing. This is a stumbling block of large proportions for me. Because of such a barrier, having sexual feelings seems almost flawed in the first place.

        There is an honest assessment.

        Anyone ever watch “Sleepless in Seattle”? Remember when little Jonah called his dad into the room to talk to Doctor Marsha?…and Sam (the father) asked his son,..”Whats this all about?”. His son Jonah replied,…”Oh, this is where all the people get to call in and dump on what you said.”

        Well,..I guess I have opened up a bit here. I can only speculate on what types of responses I will get! I think it will be interesting……

        Question: are there any women reading this post who would be happy and thrilled to know that their husband doesn’t want them at all in this way? That they are never treated as ‘sexy’ and ‘hot’?….even ‘desirable?’. Well, sometimes us guys feel the same way. It really does hurt.

        • Laura M. Brotherson September 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm

          Hi again Rob4Hope,

          Just wanted to give a shout out to MonsterWife too. It’s really great that she is willing to share some of the other side of the story to keep us all honest! : )

          One thought on your wife needing “safety…” What that tends to mean is that she needs “emotional safety.” She needs to feel that you will be there for her emotionally. She needs to know that you can hear her pain and her concerns and not have it blow up in her face. That emotional safety is also her “emotional foreplay.” This is the context in which women find it easier to move toward you sexually. My guess is that she still has a lot of primary healing to do first.

          I know that despite what you may have done to cause additional pain in your marriage, we all tend to do the best we can given all the context of our life. Unfortunately no one but our Heavenly Father knows what all goes into the decisions we make in a given moment.

          I have many clients where the wife is the “softer” personality and they often feel like they never have the chance to even voice their thoughts and feelings because their husband jumps in with a rebuttal or correction or whatever and it just shuts her down further. If you would like to work toward providing an emotionally safe place for your wife you might consider letting her know you plan to listen to her better and not interrupt or correct or try to change her perceptions. It’ll be tough, but this is something that can open the lines of communication and allow some emotional connection to re-occur. You could also invite her to share her feelings in writing with the promise that you will hear them out and not “punish” her in any way for them even if they are painful to you. Many times written conversation is especially helpful for such difficult discussions!

          I have a few clients who are in a similar situation, where the marriage wasn’t really connected in the first place, which lead to vulnerability and infidelity only to find that the pain is even greater now and the road even harder to bring about the closeness that was desired in the very beginning. I pray that you will find your way Rob4Hope! I pray that this forum is in some way of value to you!

  • MonsterWife September 10, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    To answer your last question, my husband feels (or used to) that I am sexy, hot, and desirable. I would be thrilled with that. . . if he loved and appreciated me in any other way as well. But he doesn’t want or need an emotionally intimate relationship or even a friendship with me. Therefore, I don’t find his advances enticing. I would love to be engaged sexually, but not if that’s all there is.

    In blunt, initial response to your post: When your main focus is helping your wife heal from her 24 years of pain and emotional rejection, she will start to. But when all she hears is how bad it is for you and how she is rejecting you, she will never heal, because it’s all about you. 95% of your post was about your struggles and how hard it is for you. If that’s how your discussions are with your wife, she will never come around.

    Make it about her. Really make it about helping her heal. Her wounds are very deep and they won’t heal quickly. But you have to focus on her for a long time. Then you will see change. I believe you can find the happiness you seek, but I don’t know if you want it bad enough to pay the price. One of the steps in the repentance process is making it right. In this case that may involve helping her heal. Just a thought.

    In saying all of this, I am not trying to negate your feelings at all. I know they are very real and very strong and very disturbing for you. For that I am truly sorry. But from what I have read, I also see a lot of selfishness that is not allowing you to dig deep enough to do what needs to be done to fix this. Do you want it to get better or is wallowing in self-pity just easier and more fulfilling? Make a choice and then make it happen.

    Of course, this is the pot calling the kettle black. 🙂 But I agree with youremyfavorite. Other people can see our faults and situations much more clearly than we can. I obviously see things from your wife’s perspective more than from yours. Hopefully that is helpful to you. I feel like I’m walking a tight line of hypocrisy.

    That was very blunt. You’re welcome to return the favor. But my thoughts and prayers are with you. Choose wisely, My Friend.

  • MonsterWife September 11, 2012 at 5:21 am


    So after sleeping on this, I realized why your post frustrates me so much and why I felt the need to be so blunt. In many ways you sound just like my husband. Personally, I have done everything I possibly know how to fix our relationship. But the ball is now in his court, and all he wants to do is whine and complain. He is unwilling to do anything to make it better and it won’t get better until he mans up and does something positive.

    My husband has loads of medical diagnosisis (sp?) for which he won’t do anything about. He won’t take the meds, he won’t use the cpap machine, he won’t go to counseling. He loves the diagnosis because it gives him an excuse to whine and complain. I gives him an excuse to be how he is. But he doesn’t want to actually fix it because then there would be no excuse for some of his behavior.

    So I apologize if I took out some of my frustration on you. However, if you are finding so much joy and satisfaction in the whining and complaining, you, like my husband, may not be willing to do what it takes to fix it. It’s a lot harder to fix it than it is to complain and the small satisfaction found in self-pity is immediate where fixing it would not bring satisfaction for some time.

    Please, for your wife’s sake, and for yours, put yourself on the healing road. You sound miserable and the only way to fix that is to help her heal.

    • Rob4Hope September 11, 2012 at 10:45 am

      I’ve tried to write something 4 times,…and I stumble.

      All of your points are well taken. I’m not offended. You all write respectfully. There are things going on inside me that I don’t understand,…nor how to even begin to address.

      A lot of my life experience has enthroned isolation: emotional and spiritual. Spiritually I do not have a foundation from which to work…some things happened with church discipline that have destroyed most of my faith in looking to the church for answers, and my faith in God has also been severly damaged. I don’t have time to explain, nor the desire,…so believe what you will.

      I don’t know how to hang up my feelings and accept that for the “time being” I am not wanted “that way”. It doesn’t help that this is how I have felt for 24 years either.

      But to meet my wife’s needs, I have to not only cope with the isolation I feel, I have to also become and island of sorts. To focus on her needs and to do this in a genuine way, requires me to suspend my needs and feelings.

      I have no way to validate that things will change MonsterWife. In my case, the evidence actually supports that things will not change. So, when you ask me why I don’t focus on her needs to make the changes needed,…well, that is also asking me in a very real yet indirect way why I don’t just accept that sex is optional and nonessential in my marriage.

      I don’t know how to explain that,…but those are very closely tied. It is a trap, and getting out of it has not happened yet.

      My response to your post came from this place. You were, to me, asking more than one question, and the second one was alarming.

      does this make sense….?

      Can I get some of the guys reading this post to chime in and tell me how you got help from God to “meet your needs”? Sir John talked about this above,…but I could sure use some ideas with specifics. I need to hear faith promoting stories….. Why?…cuz I ain’t got no damn faith!

  • JustGettingBy September 14, 2012 at 4:39 pm


    What I am reading is someone that is emotionally starved in one area and yes you made a big mistake, but you don’t have the reserve to “prime the pump” as your just emotionally exausted.

    I think in a normal healthy marriage the general two different needs of husband and wife feed off each other as they try to bless their spouse. They want to return the love they feel.

    When that reciprical dynamic is not working, the relationship tends to stall and either drift apart or the couple starts bickering.

    So I think you know what needs to be done (suck it up – do everything for her for some time to see if she can heal and respond), but you don’t have the emotional energy to get that done.

    Having identified a possible dynamic, I am sorry I don’t have the magic key to give you that strength and energy. I have a much different situation in one way from yours, but I am in the same situation – how do I get going on placing my needs aside for who knows how many years before she might respond (or might not). I have mixed in with that the fear of depression. On several occasions over the last few decades I have made a valiant effort to be the best husband ever, only to give up a few months later exausted and heartbroken feeling nothing changed.

    I have been reading a bit about “the Mr. Nice Guy syndrome” and I think it describes me quite well. It is hard medicine and I am trying to swallow it, but I have not yet.

    Best of luck.

    • Laura M. Brotherson September 29, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      Hello JustGettingBy,

      It’s been a while. How are ya! I just wanted to put in a plug for learning about “the Nice Guy Syndrome.” That can be helpful to many men. I’d also like to suggest that people look into the book “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud as the Nice Guy Syndrome is really about understanding and developing healthier emotional boundaries with others.

      We sometimes hear the word “codependency” though it’s kind of a negative term, but many of us get our personal well-being overly wrapped up in another person. It takes away our personal power and puts undue pressure on the other person as well. Developing healthier boundaries is a great concept for anyone to look into! : )

  • Rob4Hope September 14, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Well, you about summed it up. Right on the numbers.

    I wrote a few months ago (might have been that long) about my friend Steve (name was changed). I asked him about his situation, and actually heard from his wife’s mouth that she had sexual relations with him “because it is important to him.” I asked him about that later, and he said that they are together 1 time every two weeks, and then for only about 10 min, maybe 15. After the “event”, she gets up and leaves, ready to start on a new project. To her, that is enough and that is all she thinks he needs. They do not cuddle after the “event” is over. It is a cut and dry experience, by her choice.

    To deal with the marriage, he takes her side and agrees with her feelings and assessment.

    I’ve asked other people about this, and they all say they think Steve has brain-washed himself. But, when I talk to him, he has really made that shift. He has told me on more than one occasion that he hopes nothing changes–that he is OK with things exactly the way they are, and that even if this persists into the next life, he is happy with things just the way they are.

    What can I say. There are some people who just don’t get what they want in this life,..and they accept it so completely that they change what they want so that when the next life comes, they don’t carry any expectations there.

    That seems a lot like Zen philosophy to me–eliminate the expectation so that when it isn’t met, you are not disappointed.

    I am employing something Steve told me he did at the beginning–I have pictured my wife in a hospital bed with tubs coming out of her body, and her body black and blue, injured seriously, and her being on life support. In such a situation, she doesn’t need me trying to have sex with her–she needs me to be compassionate and deal with self denial, perhaps for a LONG time (like the rest of my life). Steve use to do this, and he made a shift inside, right down at the bottom of his soul. He doesn’t look for ecstasy or passion–and if he does, he does not dwell on it at all–but he looks for peace and serenity, just a level of calmness and tenderness that has no big spikes at all. Sex to him is no longer necessary, and in many situations, even wanted or desirable. He was told spiritually that his wife is acceptable to God just the way she is, and that he needs to focus on her needs in such a way that his cease to be important. He does that, and yes, it is done religiously to a VERY high degree.

    He told me recently that if he never had sexual relations again, he would be OK with that. He has prepared himself to not value that as important, and he accepts his situation the way it is. AND!!! (this is important),…he is NOT broken for having these feelings or doing this. He is someone who has done something that few people can do–he has accepted things the way they are, doesn’t force or even desire any changes, and is happy to just bloom where he is planted.

    If I think about this long enough, I believe that my problem is not that I want sex; it is that I refuse to accept things just the way they are. Folks,…all of the messages from my wife is that sex is optional, non-essential, and even unimportant to her. In the scriptures it sais you are to love your wife with all your heart. In my case, Steve’s approach is a lot better than mine. Perhaps I should simply focus on meeting my wife’s needs of emotional connection, and not wanting anything in return, especially not sex.

    I don’t expect things to change. I’m in the hospital bed on a different floor with tubes and life support coming out of my body, and I’m bandaged over my entire body so you can’t see the black and blue lacerations there.

    I have never experienced such heartache in my entire life. It never goes away. My sleep has become filled with nightmares even.

    Sorry for the sad conclusion here. I don’t have any strength to go on. My desire to mend this has given way to a desire to just let go and learn to morn the death of physical intimacy in my marriage.

    I hope you all better success than I have had. Like I said in a previous post, I don’t wish this on anyone, not even my enemies.

    • Laura M. Brotherson September 29, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      Hi Rob4Hope,

      Your friend Steve’s story continues to warm my heart as he has done the very difficult work of truly surrendering his will to God…at least that’s how I imagine he’s done it. Steve seems to have truly come to trust God enough to have faith that “all these things shall give him experience and be for his good.”

      God IS in the details of our lives and I believe has a purpose for all things. Sometimes that purpose is simply that we learn patience, compassion, faith, understanding, etc. These are very painful things to learn sometimes, but it is usually worth it in the end.

      Steve reminds me of the scripture in Mosiah 3:19 that the natural man is an enemy to God and will be forever unless he yields (yielding is tough!)…and putteth off the natural man and becomes willing to submit to all things that the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him…even a wife who cannot or will not make her husband’s sexual desires or her own sexual wholeness a priority! That’s tough stuff!

      Helping husbands come to love and accept their wives as they are–despite the fact that their own “needs” are being neglected is some of the most difficult work I do as a counselor! What many husbands (and sometimes wives) find is that if they continue to push or pressure their spouse it only makes things worse and pushes their spouse further away.

      It’s something I call the “SeeSaw Effect” (recently referred to in a tele-seminar I did for The Dating Divas — Sometimes the best, but often the most counter-intuitive way to bring about a change in our relationship is to decrease the energy and focus we are putting on the very thing we are wanting to change. The toughest part is that this can’t just be a simple “hold” on our part, but a true surrender and turning this issue over to the care of God to work it out in His own perfect time and way. Steve sounds like he is exhibiting this difficult effort in action!

      Steve, is very definitely not broken or crazy, but could probably see that what he had been doing wasn’t working! When you turn things over to God that you don’t have the power to change or control there comes a peace that in many instances brings about the desired change…it’s just that it’s no longer “needed” but a delightful, welcome gift!

      I so get that you Rob4Hope are on another floor of the hospital on life-support too! My heart goes out to you! This is where the Lord is hoping you will turn to him in a way you maybe never have before. He is the only true source of relief from our earthly heartaches. I imagine your wife has her own version of heartaches that can someday be healed too… but in the meantime I wonder if the Lord is looking for another good soul to turn his heart over to Him!

      Do you remember what the Lord asked of us after He came and fulfilled the Law of Moses? He asked for a broken heart and contrite spirit. He wants our hearts! He wants us to surrender to Him. These exquisitely painful experiences, such as what you are experiencing are a tender invitation to truly come unto Him! You will be changed as Steve has been changed. It’s not an easy go, but I wonder if all these sexual challenges in marriage are simply an opportunity the Lord can use to draw us nearer to Him…

      So, how might you do that? How do we lean on the Lord for our unmet emotional and even sexual needs? The enabling power of the Atonement can fill these voids, but it’s not easy…some clients have found that by having daily or regular conversations with God in writing that has helped. Some have found that by filling their lives with more of God–through listening to scriptures and/or church materials or conference talks on the Mormon Channel app to and from work, etc. –that has helped…

      These are just a couple ideas, but there are more to be found by each of us individually! Rob4Hope (love your name here), I pray you will find the healing balm of Gilead that you seek. I pray for your wife too, cuz there’s inevitably pain and heartache on her side too…! Try to hang in there! Keep talking to and learning from your friend Steve…it might rub off on ya! : )

  • SirJohn September 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm


    I know this is long, but you asked for experiences from some of the men on the board, so here’s a little of mine.

    I was not as sex starved as some, but I know the piercing, biting ache in the chest and the long, dark, lonely nights in the same bed with with the wife of my heart. As men, we often pride ourselves on being strong, confident, and capable, but the women in our lives can effortlessly turn us into a simpering pile of goo, in both good and bad ways! I researched methods to turn off my sexual desires. I could never get too far into the research, however, before the scripture “bridle your passions” came into my mind, and convinced me that eradication was not part of God’s plan.

    I saw no escape from the living Hell I was in. At one point, I determined that I would show her that I don’t care any more. I would show her that I can be a strong, independent, capable man without her love and affection. Then she’ll be sorry. Then she will come begging me for table scraps of love and affection! But I, no longer needing such things from her, will carelessly push her aside. Then she will know the bitter pain I suffer! Yea, I can be a bit melodramatic at times. I tried this, several times, but never long enough for her to notice anything different.

    I think it’s important to note that while my stated goal was personal growth (be a strong, independent, capable man), my true goal was to get my wife to want sex. These are entirely different things. This is part of why these experiments always ended in the same position or worse than how they started. I was trying to be manipulative and to change her. As close as a husband and wife ought to be, each person’s personal development is between them and God. It’s a sin to try and force someone in a direction you think they should go.

    Gradually, I came to understand that I needed to work on my own personal development. My goals were rather fluid but I would state them in retrospect, something like this:
    Learn happiness independent of others’ actions and choices.
    Strengthen my relationship with God.
    Don’t allow my difficult situation to taint my thoughts and feelings about sex.
    Seek to know God’s will for sex, both the ideal and in my specific situation.

    The sex struggle had become such a major factor in our relationship that I determined it would be best for a time, and possibly indefinitely to take this fight off the table. I resolved to not make sex an issue. I resolved to be the most content, happy, kind, helpful person I could be regardless of anything my wife chose to do or say. This included what some refer to as the “fake it till you make it” principle. I was determined that I would act happy even when I did not feel happy. Some have pointed out that this is a lie and being dishonest. I disagree. I believe that throwing a tantrum, because you feel like throwing a tantrum is not honesty, but giving in to temptation. I believe that it’s noble and good to be polite and pleasant to those around you in spite of your personal struggles. This did not mean that I would not discuss my personal struggles with others, or admit that it’s a challenge to be happy at times. It did mean that I would not walk around in a grumpy mood, and that I would behave better than I felt. One surprising result of this is that I genuinely felt happier most of the time.

    Part of my goal towards personal development was to be more well rounded. For a long time, my primary focus in life had been “how can I get sex?” I had been doing the recommended “chore-play” like a maniac. From 5:30 in the morning to 10:30 or 11:00 at night, if I was not at work, I was doing house chores that I thought would grease the wheels for sex later that night. When I finished the chores, I would join her on the couch and give her a foot massage while she read her blogs or watched TV often until 1 or 2 in the morning. Lack of sleep was taking it’s toll. I determined to do a little more self care, take time to relax a little and enjoy hobbies that I used to enjoy. I was conscientious about balancing this with my goal to be a good supportive, helpful husband so I still worked hard around the house. I was mindful of my attitude during house work and fought against feelings and thoughts that, perhaps she’ll reward my efforts with sex.

    Part of my determination to be a good husband was to be there for her with any level of affection she wanted. This was, far and away the most difficult part of my new resolution. I anticipated times when she might want to cuddle. I don’t believe that most women have a clue how difficult it is for men to just cuddle when we are sex starved. I was determined to succeed, but the terror I felt towards this particular challenge was acute. If it ever came up, my goal was to be warm, relaxed and affectionate in spite of the raging beast wanting to burst out of chest. It did come up several times and I think I came close to my goal. I’m not sure if my wife new I was fighting to bridle my passions or not.

    I also had a goal to not initiate sex at all. Unlike my other goals, I saw this as a temporary goal. I did not know how long but vaguely anticipated this lasting some months to possibly a couple of years. At the beginning of this time period, I determined that the ideal marriage is one where sexual desires are freely discussed and explored, both partners feel comfortable initiating and no one is devastated by a turn down. I wanted to keep this ideal in mind but felt that it would be best for a period to not initiate. First Corinthians 7:9 kept coming to my mind: “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time…” I decided that I would not deny her if she ever initiated but that, for a time, I would not. I feel that I was guided by the spirit in this.

    I did have some small hope for a better sex life as a result of my new goals, however I fought against dwelling on those thoughts and tried to focus on my own personal improvement as the goal and a more peaceful and happy life in spite of challenges as the reward.

    I have gained a personal conviction that peace and happiness are possible in spite of painful situations. This was the first and perhaps the most important result of my experiment.

    Did my sex life get better? Yes it did. Better than it was at least. We still have issues that we are working through. It will likely never be what I imagine a perfect sexual relationship ought to be, but it’s a tremendous comfort to see changes and to feel like we are working together on things. It took a long time before our sex life started to change much at all. I first saw signs about 6 months after I started working on my new goals, but it was very brief and things went back mostly to how they were before for the next year to a year and a half. Then my wife expressed an interest in working on our sexual relationship. I won’t say it’s all been peaches and cream since then, but many things that used to eat at my soul are almost a non-issue to me today. Not because they are not there, they just don’t trouble me to the degree that they used to.

    I believe that my finding peace and happiness probably has more to do with my wife’s changes towards sex than my goals did. I’m sure that I was not a very attractive person when I was whiny about not getting enough sex. I like to think that she’s just more attracted to me now than before. I’m sure she also feels more comfortable talking to me about sex and intimacy since she’s less afraid that I will push her beyond her comfort zone or that I’ll complain about frequency.

  • SirJohn September 19, 2012 at 3:45 pm


    I had a few thoughts while reading through some of your recent posts that I would like to share. First, it’s dangerous to get into a discussion about needs versus wants. These words are so differently defined in each person’s mind that no good can come from the discussion. For example: it’s simply a scientific fact that men do not die from lack of sex. Does that mean that it’s not a need? I believe that the sexual relationship is hugely important in marriage. I believe that in marriage we should be interested in what makes our spouse happy, not simply what will keep them alive. My personal approach to the needs issue is to not apply the term to my own needs (or desires) but to listen carefully to others (especially my wife) when they say they have a need. The issue is compounded with the intimate nature of and deep emotions associated with sex. While the intent is the same, “I need sex” and “I need you” have a very different feeling. The woman who hears “I need sex” is likely to feel that her husband doesn’t care who or even what he has sex with, as long as he gets his physiological release. I know that I have been guilty of giving my wife this same impression. When she finally told me how she had interpreted my words, I was devastated. It was not in my head or heart, but that’s what she heard.

    The last thing I wanted to write about was the issue of heaven and hell. I have recently heard several people, you included, express the concern that you might not be happy in heaven. The concern, as I understand it, is that a person could follow God’s words as best they can, repent of the times they haven’t, die, be judged, be told that they have qualified for heaven, but then find that they are miserable. As it’s usually expressed, the cause of the misery is the choices of another person. I remember when I first heard this idea, I was dumbfounded. Heaven, by definition, is a happy place. If your not happy there than your not actually in heaven. Hell is, by definition, a place of misery. If your miserable for all eternity, than you are not in heaven, you’re in Hell.

    Sometimes, scriptures are used to back up this concern, but it’s almost always a bit convoluted. I don’t believe there are any scriptures that say some people will be miserable in heaven. A common scripture is that the same spirit that posses us in this life will posses us in the next. Then you follow the rational that we are bound to our spouse and they will not change. Their bad behaviour makes us miserable in this life, so we will be miserable in the next. Another common scripture states that the only sadness people will feel in heaven, is the sadness for the un-repented sins and consequent suffering of others.

    I believe in the simple, primary version of heaven. It’s a happy place. I believe in God. I believe that God loves his children. I believe that he is mighty to save. I believe that he has a plan that perfectly satisfies the demands of justice while leaving him at perfect liberty to dole out mercy to his hearts content. I believe that he is anxious to bless his children. I believe that no blessing will be denied those who obey him. I believe that this includes those who repent when they don’t obey him.

    I wish to talk specifically about the idea that the same spirit will possess us after this life as what possesses us in this life. I believe that this application of that scripture defines the spirit in a much more shallow way than was intended. My wife’s actions are not her spirit, they are only skin deep manifestations of her spirit tangled up with a lot of influences specific only to this fallen world. Her intent is closer to a what this scripture means by spirit, but intent is very difficult to know with any kind of accuracy. I don’t believe that my wife ever intended to hurt me with her attitude towards sex. In the next life, I don’t believe that she will either, but then, her good intent will be coupled with perfect physiology and greater knowledge and understanding. When God says that he looks on the heart, I believe he’s talking about a much deeper place than man’s vision is able to penetrate. I know that my wife battles against some serious demons. I don’t and can’t know all the gory details of her inner struggles but I know that she struggles against them. It’s her noble spirit that struggles against them. It’s that spirit that will posses her in the next life. I may find on the other side of the veil that through her struggles her soul has become more capable of deep, passionate love and intimacy than my own.

    It’s simply impossible for man to sort out each of the contributing factors that go into someones behavior. There are gene sequences that make some people more prone to anger. A person who inherits those genes may exert a greater effort towards kindness and patience with much less success than other people. In the life after, those types of temptations will be removed and such a person will likely be the kindest and most patient in the kingdom of heaven (if there are degrees among the perfected souls who reside there).

    If a spouse genuinely desires to hurt their husband or wife, and they do not repent before death, than they may still struggle with that after this life, but then they may not be qualified for heaven and their spouse will not be bound to an abusive spirit. In such a situation, I believe that the righteous person would not be denied any blessing in heaven. I believe that such situations will be extremely rare.

    I feel very strongly about this. Heaven is a happy place. It’s the place we want to go. I have seen time and again that the happiest people in this life are consistently those with a deep personal relationship with God. The more we come to know Him, the happier we can be, not through the absence of hard times, but in spite of them.

    • Laura M. Brotherson September 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm


      I may have to quote you! — “It’s simply a scientific fact that men do not die from lack of sex!” — Love it! : )

      You are so right on regarding the fact that many wives hear “I need sex” rather than something like “I need/want you and want to express/share my love with you by making love! This is how I feel really close and connected to you!” Hearing simply “I need sex” does little to turn a wife on if she feels her needs are being disregarded!

  • Rob4Hope September 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    SirJohn,…I’m processing. I’m processings……

    I’ve read your posts carefully. I didn’t think I would get any responses from anyone other than getting blasted. I’m surprised at the tenderness with which you have written…

    Thank you.

    My mind is spinning…. I will post when I can work through my feelings better…

  • MonsterWife September 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    SirJohn, You confirmed it. You are brilliant. I love your insight.

  • Rob4Hope September 26, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    I found a PDF file that has a LOT of the research I was looking for. I haven’t read all of this, don’t know if it is apostate information, and don’t have time to comment at this moment…. but above I mentioned that I struggle with wondering if the LDS faith believes in sex in marriage or not. That is an honest concern, and many of the concerns talked about in this PDF address exact references I struggle with. What I have read so far makes a lot of sense.

    If you’ve read any of my posts, you understand where I am on this. Anyone who is interested, please look at this PDF and if you feel motivated, I would be interested in your opinions…

  • SirJohn September 27, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Hi Rob4Hope,

    I have several thoughts about the Mackelprang article you shared. First I agree with it for the most part.

    I think that there is some confusion in how to interpret some of his statements. In the first part of his article it appears to be an obvious call for greater clarity from Church leaders regarding sexual issues. But in his conclusions he seems, several times, to side with the church’s policy of providing very limited and basic guidance leaving the details up to each couple: “Personal responsibility and spiritual guidance (when necessary) would replace ecclesiastical proscriptions.”

    As to the question of whether the church should change it’s approach, he left me a bit confused about his position. I’ll give you my opinion.

    I think there is some variability in the approach taken by local leaders and some stories I hear trouble me. I’m convinced from my studies that the apostles are affirming and encouraging of sexuality in marriage when the issue is discussed. I’m not convinced that it should be discussed more than it is. From the statements that have been made, it seems evident to me that they are very contentious about how they approach this topic. I’m sure they given the mater it’s fair share of prayer and study. I’m not sure that I understand fully the reasons for taking more of a “let them govern themselves” approach than they do with other topics, but I have some suspicions.

    The scriptures are replete with the principle of “oneness” as applied in numerous situations. God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are one. The church body is counseled to be one, and if we are not one, we are not his. We are commanded to be one flesh with our spouse. I see the application of oneness with our spouse to be more than, but not different from, the other kinds of oneness. It is not simply a physical oneness. It is a oneness of purpose, of decision making, of spirituality, of emotional sharing, and also physical. I have had for some time a nagging suspicion that the ultimate goal of this marital oneness may be something greater than our goal of oneness with God. This ultimate goal (if it is true) would not be attainable in this life. In fact, due to our present imperfect nature, if we try now to place it above our oneness with God, problems are inevitable. However, it may be that in an exalted state, when we have been made perfect through the grace and power of Christ, that our oneness with our spouse will become more important than our oneness with God. If this is true than it is understandable that it would be necessary for each couple to learn, explore and develop this relationship largely independent of ecclesiastical direction and guidance. We must learn and develop certain aspects of oneness with our spouse largely independent of outside influences in order to develop the type of character necessary to enjoy the ultimate and limitless joy of this type of oneness for all eternity. Understand that this paragraph is speculative on my part, but to me it seams logical and fitting, both with doctrine and with apparent “attitudes” of the apostles regarding sexual intimacy.

    In response to the complaint that the teachings of the church have changed over time, I agree with Mr. Mackelprang that the doctrine has not changed. I believe that the approach taken by the apostles has changed and can see reasons why the change is needed and appropriate. It was not too long ago that “sex as a wifely duty” was a much more common societal philosophy than it is now, both in and out of the church. When this was coupled with the idea that sexual fulfillment is a male “need” it sets couples up for the unhealthy sexual relationship where the husband pressures the wife to fulfill his physiological urges despite her feelings and desires at any given moment. I believe that this is still a dangerous trap, especially in the church, despite greater sexual (meaning sexual relations) equality between the sexes (meaning genders). The sexual relationship in marriage ought to be mutually pleasurable and fulfilling for both partners. This requires extreme patience, and understanding on both sides. In light of this, I see the oft repeated counsel specifically to the men in the church to “bridle their passions” not as statement that sex is bad, but as an encouragement for better sex in marriage. A horse is bridled not when it is ignored but when it is ridden. Bridling our passions does not mean to ignore or suppress them. It means to make them useful.

    I would also like to say that the most egregious examples of statements from church leaders condemning sex in marriage do not come from the apostles and prophets but from other local leaders or professors of religion at BYU or others who are not authorized to define the doctrines of the church. There are numerous statements from the apostles and prophets affirming and blessing sex in marriage. I’ll post some of these in a separate post. Many of these statements come from the same individuals who also have statements counseling young people against the evils of sexual practices outside of the marriage covenant. I think we need to see all their statements in light of their intended audience to get a clear picture of their opinions of sexuality as a whole.

    I believe that many if not most of the people who decide later on in marriage that sex is only for procreation may have an incentive to see the teachings of the church in that light. If a husband has been overbearing and demanding with sex and it has not been a pleasurable experience for his wife, why would she want to continue? Hence the importance of the council for men to bridal their passions. I think that anyone who sincerely studies the teachings of the church regarding sex in marriage will come to the conclusions that it’s good, and encouraged, both for procreation, for pleasure, and for building the bond of love and connection between husband and wife.

    I want to say a few things about the idea that the sex drive is a myth. I can see many good and appropriate ways to make that statement and context is desperately needed. It is a myth that men (or women) should fulfill their sex drive regardless of the feelings and needs of their spouse. Many in society who talk about “sex drive” intend to reduce the beauty of marital sexuality to an animalistic reflex. This is indeed a myth. It’s not a myth that we have physiological sexual urges. It is a myth that these should govern our behavior. The official teachings of the church recognize the existence of these urges and encourage each spouse to bless the other by filling their physiological needs. Yes, it even uses the word needs of which I am very cautious.

    With the emotional weight associated with the topic of sex, it’s impossible for anyone to make any single statement regarding sex without many people latching on to it and applying it to situations that were not intended. The church can hardly be responsible for these misunderstandings.

    • Laura M. Brotherson September 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm


      I really appreciate the spirit in which your comment on these delicate matters. Your tone is very inviting! I think what you have to say is pretty right on! Things have changed in our culture and I can see the wisdom in the “Church” having little to say officially about sex. As I quote in my book a statement was made at the first General Leadership Training Broadcast (March 2004?) right before my book came out that basically confirmed that church leadership were not to involve themselves in bedroom matters, but that topic was to be between husband/wife and the Lord.

      While I think any little positive comments about the sexual relationship of marriage can be valuable, I’m not sure a big discussion about it would be necessary or wise!

      • Rob4Hope September 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm

        I wish I had known that the church’s position was to stay out of the bedroom and leave it to husband and wife, and that this governed why they even seem to avoid direct reinforcement of sexual connection in marriage.

        I am learning about this position in the process of time,…..but it is some pretty serious information to “stumble upon!” Thank you Laura for your comments on this leadership training broadcast. I was NOT aware of these things,…so I was left with just blanks–something that I believe Satan loves to fill in my mind! Dangerous!!!!!

        Not knowing this position policy, for me, actually has sent a miss-message. You see, the absence of information says something just as loudly as having the information not be absent. For example, in the school system (I use to teach), there are strict rules (or at least there were when I was in the system) about what you could and couldn’t say about God. I was cautioned that the topic should not be addressed,…ever. But, did you now that not talking about God at all, as though he doesn’t exist, is a tenet of atheism? No God, no God discussion, and no God acknowledgment is atheistic in many ways… So, was I really not teaching anything? You have to judge this for yourself…

        You all ever watch Star Trek? That is a cool show, but completely supports humanism–God doesn’t exist, there is no faith at all except occasional esoteric beliefs, and they solve their own problems with their own knowledge, power, efforts. You ever read in the Book of Mormon the teachings of Korihor? ” every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength…” The philosophy of Star Trek could be written by Korihor in a large degree…. (Sorry to the trekkies out there..) The lack of religion in that movie DOES say something.

        What I am trying to convey by saying all this is that absence of this knowledge — that the Church will stay away from condoning or absolving sexual relations in marriage — has sent a message to me that is also rather clear. The message actually has devalued sexual relations. Why? because they didn’t appear important enough to receive any “air time.” This to me means it just wasn’t an important topic–not worth the time, not worth mentioning, generally just worth–less.

        I really hope you are accurate on this information Laura. This information can be used as an attack on some of my belief systems–and I mean that in a good way.

        I struggle with trying to “unlearn” what has been taught to me my whole life by the absence of information,…and try to replace that with the reason why that information has been absent.

        I have to tell you something personal–and I hope you will forgive me. Your 2nd chapter of the book didn’t persuade me as much as I had hoped. The reasons were some of the comments came from non-General Authority folks,…and I was told by my Stake President that unless it comes from an Apostle or Prophet, and is published, it IS NOT SCRIPTURE. Take that comment for what it is worth,…but it means what you pulled from Barlow and from Victor Cline, as well as a lot of the information you pulled from the other authors,…was discredited–at least as far as my belief it was doctrine or church approved…

        Also, some of the comments you pulled from Kimball have trailing barbs in the full address that he delivered and from which those comments were taken. I posted on what I mean by “trailing barb” elsewhere, and unfortunately, Kimball really peppers his written material, and a LOT of his talks, at least on this topic, with overt as well as contextual reversals that are introduced with barbs.

        I was also confused by how many of the quotes in your 2nd chapter were taken from “dead” authorities. I actually asked myself,…why has she pulled this information so much from those who have passed on, and not more from contemporary sources? At that point, this is when I began to see that in comparison to the “thou shalt NOT!”… there just wasn’t that much “thou shalt”. Does this make sense?

        I am going to reread your book… so please don’t take what I am saying disparagingly,…especially from me. You book is a TRAIL BLAZER by all accounts!!!! I confess,…I’M MESSED UP! so, my words might not mean anything. But, I hope you can understand how difficult it has been to try to “believe”,..when from all kinds of sources, I run into things like “this is not scripture.”

        Bye the way, the reason I went to my Stake President was because I found that complete article written by Brent Barlow in the Ensign,…and knowing of the editorial rigor that magazine goes through BEFORE it is distributed,…and also knowing that it carries the seal of the LDS faith,…I really wanted to plug up any holes of disbelief and FINALLY BELIEVE that the LDS faith DOES support healthy sexual relations in marriage, and that those things are important. I wanted to believe that, because of where it was published, that Barlow’s message COULD be considered scripture….or at least something that had the full endorsement of the 12–which in my opinion, and to me, would have made it personal scripture. I was VERY disheartened by my Stake President’s comment. It caught me offguard, and he really has no idea what the struggle was or is inside of me, and why I went to him in the first place. He chose, I believe, to play it “by the book.”

        Anyway, sorry for the long post. Again,…I will be processing!!!!

  • SirJohn September 27, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Encouragement for sexual expression within marriage.
    Quotes from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

    If we truly love others and desire their eternal joy—if we are our brother’s keeper—our intimate relations as husband and wife will uplift rather than degrade. ~ A Parent’s Guide

    Virtuous behavior, however, does not reject the feeling and joy of the physical senses but provides a full and satisfying enjoyment of them. ~ A Parent’s Guide

    The challenges and rewards of marriage come as two people learn to be one. It is no easy task for two previously separate individuals to learn what is needed to become physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually one while retaining healthy self-esteem. Becoming as one requires the best effort from both spouses. But since their goal is eternal life, all the effort is worthwhile. ~ A Parent’s Guide

    If the two people take care separately to inform themselves of the body and all its parts and functions and practice basic, virtuous courtesies together during courtship, their sexual adjustment after marriage will likely be all that they want it to be. In fact by giving proper attention to social, emotional, and spiritual matters, the couple will create in courtship a foundation upon which deeply pleasing intimacies are built after marriage. ~ A Parent’s Guide

    He has ordained that all married couples should participate in the union that makes them one flesh (see Genesis 2:24). ~ A Parent’s Guide

    Once the couple is married, sexual expression is ordained of God. The Savior taught that a man should “cleave to his wife” and the two should be “one flesh” (see Matthew 19:5-6). ~ A Parent’s Guide

    In the context of lawful marriage, the intimacy of sexual relations is right and divinely approved. There is nothing unholy or degrading about sexuality in itself [between a husband and his wife], for by that means men and women join in a process of creation and in an expression of love” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], p. 311). ~ A Parent’s Guide

    And, they must realize that the greatest passions of marriage lie ahead, to increase over the years through experience and growth. A truth not generally known to newly married couples is that in virtuous marriages passions increase over the years between the couple. ~ A Parent’s Guide

    Both husbands and wives have physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs associated with this sacred act. They will be able to complement each other in the marriage relationship if they give tender, considerate attention to these needs of their partner. Each should seek to fulfill the other’s needs rather than to use this highly significant relationship merely to satisfy his or her own passion. ~ A Parent’s Guide

    Couples will discover differences in the needs or desires each partner has for such a relationship, but when each strives to satisfy the needs of the other, these differences need not present a serious problem. Remember, this intimate relationship between husband and wife was established to bring joy to them. An effort to reach this righteous objective will enable married couples to use their complementary natures to bring joy to this union. ~ A Parent’s Guide

    Husbands and wives are not compelled to mate because their genes or hormones order them to do so. Sexual powers are voluntary and controllable; the heart and mind do rule. While sex drive is a myth, husbands and wives do have physical and emotional needs that are fulfilled through sexual union. If they perceive and appreciate their masculine and feminine natures as important, complementing, but not controlling, parts of their lives, becoming as one flesh can be one of life’s richest and most rewarding experiences. ~ A Parent’s Guide

    There are times within the marriage when complete abstinence is appropriate for extended periods of time, such as during ill health, difficult pregnancy, separation due to employment away from home, or a need to restore respect and mutually decent emotional and spiritual relationships. There also are times when a spouse’s emotional and physical needs would make it desirable for the other to be especially affectionate. ~ A Parent’s Guide

    We would do well to ever remind ourselves of our first mortal parents. Instructing them, Heavenly Father commanded them to give attention to the whole range of their powers and passions. They were to subdue the earth, create and nurture posterity, become one flesh physically, cleave unto each other socially and emotionally, and learn to serve the purposes of God. They, as we, were endowed with bodies, parts, and passions after the image of the Creator. This implies that as we, the children of God, develop virtuously within marriage we will discover ever more profound enjoyments of all his creations, including our own emotions, bodies, and spiritual capacities. ~ A Parent’s Guide

    There is every reason to enjoy sexual intimacies among the various intimacies of a virtuous marriage. ~ A Parent’s Guide

    Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love within marriage. ~, Gospel topics, Chastity

    Within the enduring covenant of marriage, the Lord permits husband and wife the expression of the sacred procreative powers in all their loveliness and beauty within the bounds He has set. One purpose of this private, sacred, intimate experience is to provide the physical bodies for the spirits Father in Heaven wants to experience mortality. Another reason for these powerful and beautiful feelings of love is to bind husband and wife together in loyalty, fidelity, consideration of each other, and common purpose. ~ Elder Richard G. Scott, “Making the Right Choices”, Ensign, November, 1994

    The lawful association of the sexes is ordained of God, not only as the sole means of race perpetuation, but for the development of the higher faculties and nobler traits of human nature, which the love-inspired companionship of man and woman alone can insure. The word of Scripture is explicit as to the Divine intent and command with respect to the sexes. It is not good for man to be alone; and therefore hath it been ordained that “a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.” [See Genesis 2:18, 24.] ~ “Chapter 18: Chastity and Purity,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith

    Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife. ~ “Sexual Purity,” For the Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God

    Sex is for procreation and expression of love. It is the destiny of men and women to join together to make eternal family units. In the context of lawful marriage, the intimacy of sexual relations is right and divinely approved. There is nothing unholy or degrading about sexuality in itself, for by that means men and women join in a process of creation and in an expression of love. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], p. 311). ~ “Lesson 41: Sexual Purity,” Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1

    The powerful sex drives are instinctive, which is to say, God-given, and therefore are not evil per se. In order that these instincts may be controlled and directed into proper channels, they should be indulged only within the divinely instituted sacrament of marriage (Hugh B. Brown, The Abundant Life [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965], p. 70). ~ Young Women Manuel 2, Lesson 33: The Sacred Power of Procreation

    Much of the happiness that may come to you in this life will depend on how you use this sacred power of creation. The fact that you young men can become fathers and that you young women can become mothers is of utmost importance to you. [Show the picture of a young couple with a family.] As this power develops within you, it will prompt you in the search for a companion and empower you to love and to hold him. (Elder Boyd K. Packer, ???) ~ Young Women Manuel 2, Lesson 33: The Sacred Power of Procreation

    Then one day you can know the full and righteous expression of these powers and the attendant happiness and joy in righteous family life. In due time, within the bonds of the marriage covenant, you can yield yourselves to those sacred expressions of love which have as their fulfillment the generation of life itself. (Elder Boyd K. Packer, ???) ~ Young Women Manuel 2, Lesson 33: The Sacred Power of Procreation

    Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love within marriage. ~ “Chastity,” True to the Faith, (2004) ~ For the Strength of Youth, pg. 26

    But we also believe in the good that can be derived from the appropriate use of intimacy in marriage. We are well aware of the joy and unity that can come to a married couple when this particular dimension of the marital relationship is nurtured. ~ Brent A. Barlow, “They Twain Shall Be One: Thoughts on Intimacy in Marriage,” Ensign, Sep 1986

    In reality, however, sexuality is a beautiful power given to mankind from God. President Kimball has observed: “The Bible celebrates sex and its proper use, presenting it as God-created, God-ordained, God-blessed. It makes plain that God himself implanted the physical magnetism between the sexes for two reasons: for the propagation of the human race, and for the expression of that kind of love between man and wife that makes for true oneness. His commandment to the first man and woman to be ‘one flesh’ was as important as his command to ‘be fruitful and multiply.’ ” (Quoting Billy Graham, Ensign, May 1974, p. 7.) ~ Brent A. Barlow, “They Twain Shall Be One: Thoughts on Intimacy in Marriage,” Ensign, Sep 1986

    It is also of interest to note that the word sex or sexuality does not appear in the scriptures. Rather, it is described in holy writ with the words know or knew. This idea of “knowing” or “becoming acquainted with” connotes a deeply satisfying aspect of married love. ~ Brent A. Barlow, “They Twain Shall Be One: Thoughts on Intimacy in Marriage,” Ensign, Sep 1986

    Some problems in this aspect of marriage occur when one spouse or the other either unwisely limits its use or uses it inappropriately. Sexuality should be an integral part of loving and giving. Any use which doesn’t include these feelings is improper. ~ Brent A. Barlow, “They Twain Shall Be One: Thoughts on Intimacy in Marriage,” Ensign, Sep 1986

    In my work as a marriage counselor, I have found that there are some couples who feel that sexuality should be restricted to one dimension—reproduction. Yet President Kimball has said: “We know of no directive from the Lord that proper sexual experiences between husbands and wives need be limited totally to the procreation of children.” (Ensign, Oct. 1975, p. 4.) While creating children is an integral and beautiful aspect of marital intimacy, to use it only for that purpose is to deny its great potential as an expression of love, commitment, and unity. ~ Brent A. Barlow, “They Twain Shall Be One: Thoughts on Intimacy in Marriage,” Ensign, Sep 1986

    When we see sexuality as a vital part of marital harmony and happiness, it becomes more than something we simply give or receive. I like to think of it as something a husband and wife can share. It might be called a sexual guardianship. ~ Brent A. Barlow, “They Twain Shall Be One: Thoughts on Intimacy in Marriage,” Ensign, Sep 1986

    The union of man and woman is sanctified and glorified in marriage and becomes an expression of the love, unity, and potential godhood of man and woman. ~ Achieving a Celestial Marriage, pg. 78

    Some forms of communication transcend that which can be spoken or written. Such is the ability of love’s intimate expressions: to say a thousand things more than the poet or the essayist, in a more sublime manner. That enduring love which unites two hearts finds its most poignant expression in the kiss, the caress, and conjugality itself, and brings its most complete mutual understanding in the attendant unity that makes a man and a woman virtually one flesh. ~ Achieving a Celesstial Marriage, pg. 78

    A single man or woman is socially and biologically incomplete. The one needs the other to set up the family, which is the basic unit of society. And the one needs the other to find wholeness and appropriate satisfaction of those yearnings that have their origins in God and his creations. ~ Achieving a Celestial Marriage, pg. 212

    … the proper expression of physical intimacy in marriage is approved by the Lord. It brings great blessings to a married couple, helping them unify their souls and strengthen their love for each other. ~ Marriage and Family Relations, Lesson 3-Nurturing Love and Friendship in Marriage

    Pure love presupposes that only after a pledge of eternal fidelity, a legal and a lawful ceremony, and ideally after the sealing ordinance in the temple are those procreative powers released for the full expression of love. (Elder Boyd K. Packer, Things of the Soul, 105-17) ~ Eternal Marriage Student Manual, Intimacy In Marriage

    Participation in the mating process offers an experience like nothing else in life. When entered into worthily, it combines the most exquisite and exalted physical, emotional, and spiritual feelings associated with the word love. Those feelings and the lifelong need for one another bind a husband and wife together in a marriage wherein all of the attributes of adult masculinity are complemented by the priceless feminine virtues of womanhood. (Elder Boyd K. Packer, Things of the Soul, 105-17) ~ Eternal Marriage Student Manual, Intimacy In Marriage

    When we obey, we can enjoy these life-giving powers in the covenant of marriage, and from our fountains of life will spring our children, our family! Love between husband and wife can be constant and bring fulfillment and contentment all the days of their lives. (Elder Boyd K. Packer, Things of the Soul, 105-17) ~ Eternal Marriage Student Manual, Intimacy In Marriage

    I think of the words of the sealing ordinance, which cannot be written here. I understand, in a small measure at least, the sacred nature of the fountain of life which is in us. And I see the joy that awaits those who accept this supernal gift and use it worthily. (Elder Boyd K. Packer, Things of the Soul, 105-17) ~ Eternal Marriage Student Manual, Intimacy In Marriage

    As a righteous couple grow and mature in their love, they will come to know that the fine blending of the spiritual and physical dimensions of their relationship forms a solid foundation for their eternal union. (Elder Marlin K. Jensen, “A Union of Love and Understanding”, Ensign, Oct. 1994, 46-51) ~ Eternal Marriage Student Manual, Love

    Abstinence, of course, is also a form of contraception, and like any other method it has side effects, some of which are harmful to the marriage relationship ~ Eternal Marriage Student Manual, Birth Control

    Prophets have taught that physical intimacy is a strong force in strengthening the love bond in marriage, enhancing and reinforcing marital unity. Indeed, it is the rightful gift of God to the married ~ Eternal Marriage Student Manual, Birth Control

    Abstinence in marriage, Paul says (see 1 Cor 7:4-5) can cause unnecessary temptations and tensions, which are certainly harmful side effect. ~ Eternal Marriage Student Manual, Birth Control

    Tenderness and respect—never selfishness—must be the guiding principles in the intimate relationship between husband and wife. Each partner must be considerate and sensitive to the other’s needs and desires. ~ President Howard W. Hunter, “Being a Rightous Husband and Father”, Ensign, November 1994, p. 51

    • Laura M. Brotherson September 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      This is a great list of affirming statements about sex from Church materials! You’ll also find a bunch of the best quotes I found in my research included in Chapter 2 of my book And They Were Not Ashamed! There actually are a lot more good things said about sex than some might imagine! : )

  • Rob4Hope September 27, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    SirJohn, thank you for the post. I believe (or want to believe) what you have posted, exactly the way it is posted. Some of the posts you have there I struggle with because of ambiguity and confusion. You see, when you place those quotes into their parent document, often they have trailing “barbs”.

    Kimball’s book Miracle of Forgivness is replete with these. He will say something,…and then there is a “but,…….”. That “but” in there is called a trailing barb.

    A good example of what I am saying is this: “You got streight ‘A’ grades on this report card, but what about this ‘B’ grade here?” You see that “but” in there? OUCH! I grew up with some of that stuff,…and it muddies the water. All of the ‘A’ grades don’t matter; what matters is that damn ‘B’ grade that somehow became a reason why I didn’t measure up.

    This is a “shame based” approach, and I have talked to people who believe that the LDS church, unfortunately, is a shame based organization. Sexuality certainly seems like such a topic in LDS circles. The focus is, as Mackleprang indicates, almost exclusively on “THOU SHALT NOT!”…which is the negative aspects of the law of chastity.

    Trailing barbs do two things to me: 1) they demphasize what proceeds them; 2) they shift focus and emphasis directly on what follows.

    Mackleprang made it clear that emphasis of the church is on THOU SHALT NOT–as well as the other negative aspects of the law of chastity. Very little is said positive about marital sexual intimacy compared to the “voluminous” (his word) amount on the negative side. I agree with him completely on this.

    I am HYPER HYPER sensitive to trailing barbs, in both language and overall context. Some of the quotes you gave above have trailing barbs when the statement is placed in the original document for full context. It makes a mess of everything for me.

    I will continue to process and will respond. Please keep the channels open. You are actually talking to someone who has seriously considered thowing marriage away and leaving a church that he feels completely flawed and broken to be a member of. I am really hurt and to say I am bone tired is a BIG understatement.

    I am also going to re-read your first post as well. Your personal “testimony” — to me — is potentially more powerful than the quotes you supplied.

    I come here for help. I post for help. Don’t quit just yet. I am going to process what is being said,…and I am going to pray HARD about this all.


  • Rob4Hope September 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Just re-read everything. Still processing…..

    Every time I write something, it comes out garbled and twisted….

    So, I take it that this means I need to keep processing!

  • Rob4Hope September 28, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Laura,…do you ever read any of these posts? (I’m curious as I haven’t seen you post for a while….)

  • Laura M. Brotherson September 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Hi Rob4Hope,

    It’s funny you should ask, cuz I had just decided I’d take my laptop on our travels today and try to at least read all the posts I’ve missed and try to respond some if I find internet access. Sorry I’ve been a little absent. I do check in as often as I can. Having three teens on top of everything else has kept me hopping! I am here! And I’ll try to do better! : )

  • MrShorty October 2, 2012 at 10:28 am

    I decided to read through SirJohn’s list with Rob4Hope’s question about the importance or even necessity of sex in marriage in mind. It seems to me that our dialog in the Church around married sexuality states that it is allowed and not sinful, but we never talk about it as important. Sex is an unessential “perk” of being married, the icing on the cake, that you can engage in as you see fit. And when one of you doesn’t see fit, that’s alright and should carry no consequences.

    So, I decided to extract those statements from SirJohn’s list that promoted an attitude of “should” or “ought” towards sex in marriage. Naturally, it was a much shorter list (bold are my emphasis):

    5) He has ordained that all married couples [b]should[/b] participate in the union that makes them one flesh (see Genesis 2:24). ~ A Parent’s Guide

    8) Both husbands and wives have physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual [B]needs[/B] associated with this sacred act. They will be able to complement each other in the marriage relationship if they give tender, considerate attention to these [B]needs[/B] of their partner. Each [b]should[/b] seek to fulfill the other’s needs rather than to use this highly significant relationship merely to satisfy his or her own passion. ~ A Parent’s Guide

    11) There are times within the marriage when complete abstinence is appropriate for extended periods of time, such as during ill health, difficult pregnancy, separation due to employment away from home, or a need to restore respect and mutually decent emotional and spiritual relationships. There also are times when a spouse’s emotional and physical needs would make it [b]desirable[/b] for the other to be especially affectionate. ~ A Parent’s Guide

    26) Some problems in this aspect of marriage occur when one spouse or the other either unwisely limits its use or uses it inappropriately. Sexuality [b]should[/b] be an integral part of loving and giving. Any use which doesn’t include these feelings is improper. ~ Brent A. Barlow, “They Twain Shall Be One: Thoughts on Intimacy in Marriage,” Ensign, Sep 1986
    28) When we see sexuality as a [b]vital[/b] part of marital harmony and happiness, it becomes more than something we simply give or receive. I like to think of it as something a husband and wife can share. It might be called a sexual guardianship. ~ Brent A. Barlow, “They Twain Shall Be One: Thoughts on Intimacy in Marriage,” Ensign, Sep 1986

    37) As a righteous couple grow and mature in their love, they will come to know that the fine blending of the spiritual and physical dimensions of their relationship [b]forms a solid foundation[/b] for their eternal union. (Elder Marlin K. Jensen, “A Union of Love and Understanding”, Ensign, Oct. 1994, 46-51) ~ Eternal Marriage Student Manual, Love
    38 & 40) Abstinence, of course, is also a form of contraception, and like any other method it has side effects, some of which are [b]harmful[/b] to the marriage relationship ~ Eternal Marriage Student Manual, Birth Control. Abstinence in marriage, Paul says (see 1 Cor 7:4-5) can cause unnecessary temptations and tensions, which are certainly harmful side effect. ~ Eternal Marriage Student Manual, Birth Control

    Out of 40 some odd quotes, I pulled out 7 that suggest that sex is more than just allowed in marriage. 8 is problematic for me because it seems to imply that selfishness in this aspect is always doing something that the other doesn’t want to do (a “sin of commission” if you will). That implication kind of leaves out the possibility that refusing to do something (a “sin of ommission” if you will) can be just as selfish and damaging. I almost left out 11 because the word “desirable” doesn’t quite suggest the level of importance I think it should carry, but this quote does begin to talk about the contrast between abstinence and making sex important. By combining spiritual and physical in the same foundation, 37 might allow someone, like Rob’s friends and relations to say that sex is not a necessary part of the foundation if the spiritual part of the foundation is strong enough. 38 and 40 are also problematic because, in my opinion, they don’t go into enough of the “harmful side effects” of abstinence–choosing only mention “temptations and tensions,” and we tend to really despise the idea of making the refusing spouse responsible for the refused spouse’s sins.

    As Rob noted, one problem that essentially all of these statements share is that they are all “unofficial.” Dr. Barlow’s statements don’t really carry the same authority as a statement from Pres. Kimball. It can easily be argued that even a publication as “official” as “A Parent’s Guide” doesn’t carry any real authority in it. It seems that, if you really dig into the “authoritative” stuff, there is very little said that makes sex more than just “allowed” or “permitted” and no discussion of sexless marriages and sexual refusal.

    I made another observation as I was reading through SirJohn’s list. I think a lot of these quotes are, in part, coming from an assumption that our sex drives (in spite of #10 that tries to call sex drive a myth) naturally push us together to have sex. It seems that the Church’s dialog around sex always assumes that sex happens naturally, and that the only important part of this discussion for married people is to give them “permission”. I can’t think of one discussion from a semi-official source that discusses sexual refusal, sexless marriages, or what to do when sex doesn’t come naturally. While I can understand the Church’s desire to avoid any official statement about anything to do with the marriage bed. Where an estimated 1 in 5 or 6 marriages is clinically sexless, I think a chapter/section in one of the church’s many marriage manuals tackling some of the issues around sexless marriages would be appropriate.

    • Rob4Hope October 2, 2012 at 11:53 am

      “It seems to me that our dialog in the Church around married sexuality states that it is allowed and not sinful, but we never talk about it as important. Sex is an unessential “perk” of being married, the icing on the cake, that you can engage in as you see fit. And when one of you doesn’t see fit, that’s alright and should carry no consequences.”

      This is worded perfectly! This is VERY accurate to how I feel.

      I really wish there was something more said from “official” channels–if ONLY to say: “Hey, we aren’t going to talk about this.” Having this topic seem like a vacume is maddening!

      • Rob4Hope October 2, 2012 at 1:46 pm

        I’m sorry, but have to comment again…

        MrShorty, you hit the nail so squarely on the head with this that I am spinning! I am stunned, just stunned.

        I know at least a dozen men who feel EXACTLY the same frustration that I feel, which is how to accept repeated rejections and meet it simply with “no consequences”–meaning, no hard feelings, no hurt, heartache or sorrow, and simply brush it off because after all, what they feel inside is really just a “myth” anyway.

        MrShorty, your conclusion is a summary of what I believe. I believe this is the position of the LDS church. Everything I have read, when taken together, paints this picture for me. This is why statements like “Sex is completely optional and 100% nonessential” is not something that I can easily discard. You see, I’ve had my children already,…so that part of the “multiply and replenish the earth” part is complete. Sex is no longer about reproduction. And because of that,…well, it just isn’t needed anymore anyway? ….its just an “unessential perk?” Sure seems like it has been treated that way by the church since what I feel is a “myth”.

        It is because of this belief that I feel so broken. Why? because I was born wrong–I have a libido in the first place–and my wife is entitled to reject me at any time, for any reason, for any length of time–and if I were a good LDS man, I would be able to simply accept this with “no consequences”.

        Well, there are consequences–it hurts me when I feel things that I suppose I am to bridle for the rest of my life–but shouldn’t kill (president Packer sais that your libido shouldn’t be killed). But is the goal for me to be frustrated for the rest of my life, laying next to my wife and knowing that she never has to roll over toward me, and I sure as hell better not roll over toward her,…and then just blissfully fall asleep night after night and feel “no consequences?”

        What a mess.

  • SirJohn October 2, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    MrShorty and Rob4Hope,

    I agree. I would love to hear the importance of marital intimacy emphasized more. I don’t know the reasons why it isn’t. I just have to trust that there are reasons. I have been convinced that the church is aware of the issues and understands the problems. I have faith that the direction they have taken is for the best.

    The times I feel strongest that I would like the church to have more clear statements about the importance of physical intimacy it is so that I can convince my wife to up her game! Perhaps that is the reason that they don’t. Perhaps those types of statements are too easily used in an “unrighteous dominion” sort of way. Ephesians 5:22-27 comes to mind. Our wives ARE supposed to submit to us, but it is not for us to demand submission. Submission must be freely given out of love. It is the husbands job to give his life for his wife. I believe that bridling our passions is a big part of giving our lives for them.

    Also, when I am most honest with my self, I don’t want a “submissive” wife in the way that most of us envision that word, especially in the bedroom. I want a passionate, energetic, loving wife. I don’t want her to feel that sex is an obligation towards me. Yuck! I want her to want me.

    I feel now that most of our sexual dysfunction is my fault. I pushed too hard in a way that turned something that should be pleasant and loving into something that filled her with anxiety and stress. It was not something malicious on my part. It was mostly ignorance of the female sexual response. I did not understand why she was not hot for me the same way I was hot for her.

    There are likely very few wives who’s only road block to a good sex life is a perception that the church does not encourage it. My guess is that most who use that excuse have other reasons for wanting to believe it. There are likely many men (myself included) who would use any very strong statement about the necessity to engage in sex as a bludgeon to coerce his wife. Perhaps not even maliciously. At the times when I pushed the hardest, I convinced myself it was for her own good. “If she would just get going, she would see how wonderful it is” I would say to myself.

    I could see where any clear statement of sex being a necessity, might do more damage to loving sexual relationships than just letting each couple figure things out largely on their own.

    Beyond the basic affirmation that sex is approved in marriage, all the other problems are solved by the primary tenants of religion: “Be Nice” and “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” I know this paints the many very serious issues of sexual dysfunction with a very broad and overly simplistic brush. It will not, for example, teach a couple how to overcome premature ejaculation, or female arousal dysfunction. It will however encourage couples to seek solutions that bless each other rather than simply giving up and shutting down. The details beyond that are not within the scope of religious leaders. Those “how to” questions rightly belong to professionals who have studied the subject and possible solutions. Laura Brotherson, for example, is supposed to talk about these details, the Prophet is not.

    The sexual relationship requires greater selflessness and sacrifice than any other aspect in life. Demanding or even “encouraging” (as I used to call it) does not help. It’s possible, although extremely difficult, to tell your spouse that the sexual relationship is important to you without ever putting pressure on her to engage in sex.

    I see it as a catch 22, but not of the Church’s creation. It’s a problem of human nature. We should have wonderful sex, but you can’t get there by telling wives to put out. Wives should be active in developing a passionate sexual relationship with their husbands, but the nature of the female sexual response is more analogous to a flower slowly opening after many hours of tender care from the gardener. Only after considerable experience with warmth, security, and tender devotion from her husband is she capable of open sexual expression. For men it’s more like, if we’re awake, we’re ready to go, but if we’re asleep there’s only a 50/50 chance!

    • Rob4Hope October 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      Tell me more about this: “I have been convinced that the church is aware of the issues and understands the problems. I have faith that the direction they have taken is for the best.”

      Two questions here. If I can come to believe what you believe on both of these, it will help me. Please share with me what you are saying….and why you believe it.

  • MrShorty October 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Rob4Hope, I wish I knew what to tell you. I do not really believe that that is the “official” position of the church re: sex in marriage, but I also think it is the position many of us perceive (and perception is 9/10’s of reality). I think this perception is an extrapolation from our single days, when sex could not be a litmus test of love, all sexual desire was considered selfish and lustful, true love was supposed to be “asexual”, and so on. (for the record, I’m not sure these attitudes towards sexuality for singles are 100% correct, either).

    As Sir John says, I don’t think we want to blame all of our sexual dysfunction on the Church and how we perceive sexuality in religious communities. One observation I make is that, in general, the Church has avoided or otherwise not seen fit to address the issue. Like SirJohn, I’m not sure to what extent they should deal with it. I think it might be better dealt with by MFT’s and similar professionals with the credentials to navigate the issues that cause and are created by sexual refusal and sexless marriages.

    Unfortunately, another attitude I think appears in our kind of religious community is a strong fear of letting our sexuality be influenced by “worldly” attitudes. We are so afraid of this, that some of us decide that only a Christian or LDS author/MFT is a suitable source. Some like your wife and her friends and relations seem to have decided that any source outside of “official” church sources (even if the author is LDS) is not good enough, which doesn’t leave much concrete to go on.

    All that pontificating, though really doesn’t help with “what to do” about it. If I may make one observation, the way to describe this problem reminds me of what Dr. Gottman describes as a “perpetual problem” that has deteriorated into “Gridlock.” I don’t know that it will help, but you might look at this description of gridlock and see how many of these apply to you and your wife’s discussions about sex. One thing Dr. Gottman says is that divorce and/or staying happily married is at least partially determined by how a couple deals with these gridlocked issues.

  • Rob4Hope October 10, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Thanks MrShorty and SirJohn (and others). I’ve read through some of my posts, and they frighten me–I feel like I often teeter on the edge of flat out apostasy. YIKES!!! That is NOT a good position–for ANYONE! and I make a public opology for that attitude.

    Neil L. Anderson’s talk resonated with me. Removing myself from the Church in moments of crisis–because I “perceive” they don’t have the answers–is a very unwise thing to consider, let alone take action to implement.

    My wife and I have had some very long talks about some of this stuff. She feels differently about sex than other family members–and those family membes have not or are not currently married–and I am grateful for my wife’s attitude. She has consistently communicated that the issue is not whether she likes or dislikes sexual realations–it is really 100% about safety.

    With the problems happening in the world, in marriages, (and the church is not immune to those problems) and across the whole world, I would be surprised if Church leaders are not aware of concerns. Ultimately, I really am finding it necessary to look to God exclusively for answers to my questions; I have been unable to find them elsewhere. Several of the talks over this past weekend also addressed that.

    So, all of you people out there who read me,…please recognize that my feelings are often rather raw and exposed. It colors my writing, my attitude, and unfortunately in many instances my faith.

    I hope to someday have better faith so that answers from God are a little easier to obtain. I think it is possible to get to a place like that,…I’m just not there yet.

  • gramdaman October 31, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    “For now I’m going to focus on my wife’s needs and try to show her God’s love. I have to believe it can break through even the hardest of hearts.”

    Wow. That’s a pretty big sacrifice to lay at the altar of the Lord; one’s lifetime of sexual desires. It makes other, more temporary marital struggles look rather small. I know that the atonement pays for or makes up for all the injustices in the world and that depending on the atonement can alleviate burdens, but that’s a new context to consider the atonement in. The Saviour even paid the price for sexual incompatibility and dysfunction and can make up even that great difference.


    Just wow.

    Thanks for providing a new way to conceive of marriage, sex, and the atonement.

  • supertbone November 11, 2012 at 9:26 am

    I think my wife takes satisfaction in how infrequent we have sex.

  • Rob4Hope November 24, 2012 at 7:28 am

    My wife is completely happy in all other aspects of her life except for her marriage. She wants me to be “safe” for her. What she doesn’t understand is that when I give her safety, it gives her license to not even think about intimacy. I mean, it doesn’t even cross her mind. If (and that is RARE) if does, it is easily moved around or discarded.

    I found in the past that if I don’t push, NOTHING happens at all. But, she resents the pushing, so I stop,…and then NOTHING happens. She would be happy if we only had sex a few times a year.

  • Anonymous February 25, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Update from 2007. Although I am still celibate, things have changed. My husband of almost 47 years has dementia and is going downhill. I think of him as my special needs child because he has never been a husband. My health is not good either.
    I met a woman and fell in love with her. I never said or did anything to indicate my feelings. Our friendship ended badly. It turns out she had a mental illness which I did not detect until it was too late and our friendship ended.
    As a result, I have stayed away from most people for the last 6 years. I have found that it is easier to care for my husband because we did not have an intimate relationship. As his mindlessness increases, I don’t have to worry about losing a lover.
    I can’t think of anyone I know that I would want to have sex with. I think I have become so distrustful of men and women that it would not be possible. That is actually a good thing. A lot of angst is gone from my life.
    My uncle, who raped me in my mouth starting when I was three years old, died and I put the whole thing in God’s hands and didn’t fret about it anymore.
    I am still working on my feelings about my deceased parents. I was unwanted and felt like I was always something to be “dealt with” by my Dad. My mother was a raving lunatic and took out her rage on me. I became the family scapegoat. There were occasions that she tried to strangle me to death, burn down the house or blow up the furnace and kill us all.
    I don’t understand why my life has been filled with so many negative actions by others which were directed at me.
    The important thing is – there is a reason all of this has happened. I don’t know what the reason is but I feel sure that it will be revealed to me at some point. I know too that I am much much stronger than I thought I was. I spent my whole life waiting to be loved and now I know it won’t happen here.
    I am not sealed to anyone but my husband and I am not sure what will happen there either. I am a work in progress.

  • Laura March 17, 2013 at 8:56 am

    I did not read every post, but the ones I did read seem to be written only by men. Am I the only wife who adores her husband and has been almost celibate for our entire marriage, and completely for the past 1-2 years? I was nearly 40 when we married (he, almost 42), 1st marriage for both. All my life I prayed that God would let me be married, so that when we had sex, it would be “morally OK”. I’m not stupid; obviously I wanted to be married for many other reasons, and most of those other reasons have been fulfilled. When I met him, the thing I told everybody was that he was “so nice”, and he still is. There is so much more to this, because I’ve been holding it in (& holding back the tears) for 12 years, but I don’t have time to put it all down right now. Just wanted to know if I’m the only woman craving passion/sex?

  • JustGettingBy March 18, 2013 at 7:55 pm


    You are NOT alone. I am reading this on a cell phone, but if you look on this and other sites (even LDS oriented) you will find it is common. It may not be talked about as much, but I would have to assume it hurts just as much – if not more. So keep researching and clearly tell your hubby how much this hurts – even if it makes him squirm.

    • kiss March 19, 2013 at 12:15 am

      Laura, have you read the book? Do you think hubby would read the book? Maybe he has good boy syndrome ? Was he raised lds? If you want to share anything here, it is all anonymous and maybe we can give our 5 cents.

      If letting it out helps…go right ahead. No one will judge you.

  • Rob4Hope April 8, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    I’m still out here…believe it or not.

    Sir John said this at the top of this page: “I have to believe that in heaven there will either be perfect sex or something much better yet.”

    You ever see the movie “Second Hand Lions?” The kid is having a conversation with Uncle Hub at the pond, and he asks Hub how he can believe some of the things Hub is saying because: “How do you know it is true?” Hub’s response is classic (and WISE!!!)…. “True of false doesn’t matter. The reason you believe those things is because those things are WORTH believing.”

    I have wondered about Sir John’s statement for over a year. I didn’t accept it,…I couldn’t accept it,…because there was no way I could find to validate it was true (other than personal revelation on the subject which I have yet to receive). So, I didn’t believe it.

    I GET WHAT SIR JOHN WAS SAYING. He wasn’t saying “I believe this,…”; what he was saying was: “I HAVE TO BELIEVE”.

    Who would have thought that wisdom would come from a fictional character Uncle Hub!

    Unless I believe, there is no reason to keep trying. True or not, if any progress is to be made to save my marriage, “I have to believe” just like Sir John.

    WOW. what an epithany!

  • JustGettingBy April 11, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    I was asked in another LDS forum why I had not left my wife. I have to say that it is that I believe it can get better. Even though I am quite discouraged I have to admit I still have hope for change.

  • mark@suncrestcounseling May 14, 2013 at 7:14 am

    Hi Rob, I love that you are writing out your experience. Looks like it’s already helping many people! It is so important to know you’re not alone. I imagine many other Robs out there, earlier in their process, who may not have to travel through some of the painful places you’ve been because they’re hearing your story at this point in their journey. If only you’d had your own Rob4Hope ten or fifteen years ago!

    I am very glad you found our discussions helpful. I think highly of you and have a lot of compassion for you and am pained at your situation.

    I do want to clarify something. You said “Mark Chamberlain has spoken with me subsequently, and he indicated that I am not the only one who has been hurt by statements presented by authorities and taken out of context nor qualified, including in therapy and LifeSTAR as well.”

    I think you and I discussed some of what I am about to add here when we talked: as therapists we may make strong, unequivocal statements in an effort to teach more effectively and influence more powerfully. It is amazing how often people will take any wiggle room to justify why certain principles don’t apply to them. However, I am aware that it puts us at risk of seeming to support extreme positions. I learned myself just this month how hurt someone was by something I said. I felt bad after the fact but could see why they took what I said the way they did.

    I say all this to put myself in the same boat I put all other therapists. Regarding LifeSTAR therapists specifically, I actually can’t remember ways that clients were hurt any more by them or what they teach than by any other therapist. In fact, to the contrary: most clients find their program and the individual therapy they receive from LifeSTAR therapists extremely helpful. If you and I spoke of a specific concern, I can’t remember what it was.

    I make this clarification in part because I’ve learned from LifeSTAR founders, Dan Gray and Todd Olson, much of what I know about how to help sex addicts. I remain very appreciative and I would feel very ungrateful to be seen as taking potshots at what they’ve built. I’ve seen them go to great lengths to make the program as helpful as it can possibly be. I have referred loved ones in need to their program and for individual therapy with LifeSTAR therapists. When I served as an LDS bishop I referred ward members there. I wrote my last book, Love You, Hate the Porn, with Geoff Steurer, director of the LifeSTAR program in St. George, Utah. I have a lot of trust for LifeSTAR therapists and admiration for the program they run. I don’t want to be misunderstood to be someone who is finding fault with something that does so much good in so many lives.

    I think your concerns are legitimate, but I don’t see LifeSTAR as being to blame. Your story is a tragedy, but one without a villain in my opinion. I can see how any therapist in the process of teaching would make similarly unqualified strong statements such as the one you heard there about sex being 100% optional. In fact, you and I talked about how many sex addicts find this to be a very liberating truth. They used to assume they would die or explode if they had to go without sex for longer than they wanted to. I am so sorry that what was great medicine for them ended up being poison for you.

  • Rob4Hope May 14, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Hello Mark. We talked about this after I posted on this site, and I was appreciative of your clarifying comments. I subsequently visited with Dan and asked him to his eyeballs why he presented the topic the way he did. For those who are wondering what the topic was,…in a LifeStar meeting–the second group in Salt Lake County,…I was told: “Sex is 100% optional and completely non-essential.” There were no qualifications in this meeting with how that was taught. It shocked me,…and then through the rest of the LifeStar meeting, with that statement and how forcefully it was taught in the background, I began to wonder if I was fundamentally flawed because I had a libido in the first place.

    Dan assured me that the context of this statement was important, and was geared at helping those with addictions to understand that they will not physically die if they go without sex. It was not the intent of LifeStar to address anything associated with marriage problems, or whether sex plays a part or not in marriage. That statement was ment to have a narrow focus. Unfortunately for me, the context in which it was presented didn’t set the ground work for this “narrow focus”. It hurt me.

    In subsequent talks Mark, you and I have discussed this, and you understood my concern, and also how and why I could have interpreted this in this manner. I appreciate your kindness in this matter. I am also grateful to Dan for his frank remarks. I should have gone back to him and asked about this a LONG time ago. It is something I have wrestled with for a long time,…..close to a decade. It is sad how a seed can be planted, and if not carefully watched, might grow up into a carnivorous plant that drinks life out of your soul. Such has been the case with this statement and how I bought it when I was so very vulnerable.

    Mark, I appreciate that you are allowing me to maintain my anonynimity here as well. I know you know who I am. You have always been kind and thoughtful with me. Thank you.

    Folks. The statement about “sex is 100% optional and completely non-essential” was meant to indicate that you will not die without sex. It does NOT mean you can be married and deny your spouse forever without any negative impact at all. That was NOT the intent. Because that statement was presented without any boundaries, spilled over in my mind to marriage and other things.

    Unfortunately, because I have struggled with understanding how to interpret several statements made by high ranking church officers, it actually made sense that sex and marriage didn’t have to ever go together. That is a trap, and for me a very dangerous one. I’m working through it.

  • WillHeAnswer October 20, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    I relate to the author completely!

    I am in my 50’s and have been happily married 21 years. I have been involuntarily celibate for at least the last 10 or so. I have lost count.

    The thing is that my wife is so wonderful in every other way, and I do love her deeply & without condition. I know she loves me deeply too, but just not in “that” way. Our marriage is otherwise enviable!

    It was like thieving during the years we did have sex. I just can no longer take from her something she is unwilling to give freely. it is gut-wrenching for me to try.

    To keep the peace, I no longer make issue of it but rather have put the issue squarely between God and myself in prayer.

    I love God deeply and seek His counsel all the time, and He has blessed me in so many other different ways. And for that I am thankful. However I have become perfectly convinced that He never purposed for me a rewarding physically intimate relation. Not in my single years, not now, not ever!

    I know I would probably cave out of desperation if a woman ever attempted to seduce me, just as a man on the verge of death from thirst might drink raw sewage, were it presented to him.

    But I am convinced that God simply will not allow that to happen. it has never once happened in my 21 years of marriage, and the truth is that, so exceptionally rare was it during my single years, that If I severed the fingers from my hand, I could probably then count the occurrences. I am just not wanted like that…period!

    And I just can’t actively purpose to cheat on my wife. I just can’t do it… just knowing the grief it would cause her.

    I have, for years, shed countless tears and prayed countless hours to God for Him to provide a way or to reveal the purpose behind it all, and He won’t.

    I don’t know. Maybe my purpose here on earth is to be that one, true, loving, faithful, trustworthy husband to a wonderful soul of a woman who, for some reason, can’t be intimate, but deeply loves and trusts her husband nonetheless. I just don’t know.

    My only hope for peace in this matter is death, so that I can then understand the reason of it.

    But, lo, I am fit and healthy and probably have another 30-40 years of life to ponder it all.

  • mrj October 23, 2014 at 9:33 am

    To start, I am so, so, so very sorry for your present situation. Reading through the blogs here make me wonder how long all of this has been going on… how long have people been sexually frustrated? And, more importantly, why does it seem we’ve just begun to discuss it?

    These blogs have been a Godsend for me — they provide hope and strength. Granted, my hope for a happy and fulfilling intimate life in this realm is fading. Not being pessimistic, just realistic. But I gain strength in reading how others, like yourself, have placed this huge duffle bag of physical and emotional pain on the altar of the Lord and said “here, I don’t know what to do with it anymore.”

    You mentioned “He never purposed for me a rewarding physically intimate relation.” And like someone born with a missing limb, or missing other aspects of an otherwise “normal” or “expected” life, maybe we really aren’t meant to have that opportunity right now. But, as someone else wrote earlier, I have to believe that we will have it in the next life.” Douglas Brinley gave a talk at BYU’s Education Week a few years ago and mentioned that if he wasn’t going to be with his family in the next life, he and God were going to have some words.

    I feel the same way about sexual fulfillment. In this life, I’m now fairly certain that’s not going to happen. As imperfect as I am, I have to rely on another imperfect being in order for me to have a happier, more intimate life. She doesn’t see that as a necessity, and I have to be okay with it. I have put that on the altar and walked away. I can’t carry that particular load while trying to lead a functional and otherwise happy life.

    This experience has taught me more about the atonement than I ever thought possible. Not so much about forgiveness of my shortcomings, but using Lord’s atoning love for strength and hope. I have to believe that there will be something better in the next life. It’s the only thing that gives me any sense of peace while wrestling with my Italian-like libido. I have to believe this will be made up. I have to believe there will be a solution, a reward for this experience. I just have to believe — if, at the end, this isn’t the case… then God and I will have some words.

  • Incel1993 November 27, 2014 at 4:42 am

    Finally found men in my shoes via this website/blog…i’m so sorry for them, for i know personally the anguish they have been through, now going on for myself for over 20 years 🙁 NEVER have had sex with my wife since we were married (only sex i’ve ever had was with her in 1993 when she initiated it and then suddenly refused it, never ever again. She promised we’d work on it once we got married, but she subsequently, VIOLENTLY refused once we were married. Just like the gentleman in the initial post, i won’t go into all the details but everything has been tried in my marriage to no avail, psychoanalysis, meds, therapy, counseling. I have come to figure out that my wife has borderline personality disorder, (and has drifted away from Christ), and that is probably key. Still, i married her for better or worse, even if this is worse. Pastors have disagreed amongst each other about me leaving the marriage. I’ve never had a physical affair, but been close to a superficial emotional one once. Even began having same-sex attractions for a time, because i was so broken and desperate for affection. But only in my mind. Never acted on anything sinful, except occasional porn which was disgusting but sometimes necessary to find a release emotionally while masturbating. Suicidal for decades but determined to be faithful to my vows before God and my wife, i have only survived this true living hell by giving EVERYTHING including my sexuality to God, so that He is ALL i have to desire, and put NOTHING else before him as an idol, not even sex. That has brought me to my knees, but so close to His heart. People laugh or are horrified that such situations exist. And, yes, I still mourn for my sexuality that was never used in my sexual prime, as i am now old enough to feel age taking its physiologic toll on my sexuality. Consequently, i mourn but still try to go on, although severe depression and occasional suicidal thoughts still recur. I am not LDS (although my LDS friends pray for me constantly as well), and so i don’t believe in families/sexuality in Heaven, but I do know God loves me more than even I love myself, and so all will be reconciled in the end, His way. I pray for every man/woman suffering from involuntary celibacy and that loss of one on one emotional closeness with the spouse that they dreamed of making love to one day, but never got to. That was a dream of mine ever since i was in my early teens, but unfortunately i only got a brief taste of God’s gift before it was sealed away. I ask for prayer as well, as it, at time, is still an unfathomable “life” to keep living, particularly when you see Godly love everywhere with couples, friends, kids, at church, etc., and you feel so alone. I’m well past “the forty year old virgin” now with some gray in my hair. When this started, i was in college. Hard to believe i wound up here, like this… Most people would never know the feelings in my heart, when i smile back at them, restraining my tears. “How are you? Great! Awesome! And you?” Look closer at the next person you meet. It could be me, devasted, decimated, forlorn, but fighting to go on behind a fake smile, goofy laugh, and comedic antics. Funny…people usually call me the happiest, funniest person they know. But they don’t know. Only God does. That’s not me they’re seeing…it’s just a shell of some other person i no longer recognize. Anyway, blessings to all…

    • lone55 February 1, 2015 at 8:22 pm

      Sitting here watching the Superbow, l found this blog post and couldn’t believe I was reading more and more stories about summary of my life of 30 years of marriage. We fell in love in college, raised four beautiful children, but after 15 years everything changed when her career became her number one priority. Everything became secondary; our children, our marriage, our sexual life, (as it was never much to speak of but at least momentary monthly glimpse of intimacy.)
      My wife is very attractive and all my friends think I must be such a lucky guy to have a sexy bride ( little do they know the hurt that is felt with every new sexy outfit that I can just watch her and know it is all a false front). A friend of mine gave me a book to read about narcissism and it describes her to a “T”. I’ve tried marital counseling (alone), psychiatry, (it’s all my problem, ” just take a pill and get over it”, depression, it has basically ruined my self esteem, my professional career, and now that the kids have moved on to college just lonely and alone. I can’t believe that Jesus meant for men like us to live in this life of loneliness and despair. All of my friends, (even my children) ask me why I don’t get divorced; I just don’t feel it is the right thing for me. It has caused me to suffer with a lifelong addiction to pornography and eventually fall to the ultimate marital sin. Only Jesus’ forgiveness and love saved me from myself but now I am still left with a lifetime of loneliness ahead of me. Where are men like us supposed to go; I am still a physical being with physical needs,and no one to share a life with. like all of you I did not take a vow of celibacy but what else is left to us when the one we built a life together with has rejected all intimacy, friendship, or affection? I thank all of you for listening to my plea; it is hard not to hear our Savior’s reply.

  • Incel1993 November 29, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Found another awesome website with lots of scripture on this topic, for anyone who’s interested. Hope it helps 🙂

  • mrj January 20, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Here’s a little issue I’ve run into lately — so any input will help.

    As is commonly the issue, the low-libido spouse tends to control the amount of intimacy within the marriage. I’ve come up against a small bump in the road with this scenario:

    I’ve noticed I have to keep my nose clean and be on my best behavior ALL the time, or I suffer consequences. Namely, if I’m upset by anything, or react poorly to any situation within the home, I kill my chances for intimacy.

    Conversely, my seemingly low-libido wife has carte blanche to do just about anything she wants. She can become angry, react poorly, take offense, make all sorts of demands and I am left to simply say “yes dear.” Thankfully, my wife has a good heart, but she’s been aware of this situation for a little longer than her dullard husband. She applies it with subtle turns to wield control.

    I hadn’t seen this before, but since I’ve sort of given up on the intimacy area of our relationship (really, it’s better — just hoping for the next life being better), my eyes are beginning to open.

    The sad part is this newfound realization is creating a bit of a stir in our relationship as I’m not falling for it anymore. I’m not returning bad behavior for bad behavior — but taking a sort of apathetic approach to the issue-du-jour. She’s catching on that her power is diminishing and doesn’t appreciate the change. I don’t like it either — there’s extra contention as she’s pushing the envelope to find where the new edges have been placed. Problem is, there really aren’t any more edges, so I’m not sure how this will end, or how it can be remedied.

    Input, por favor.

  • DavidsFaith March 16, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Before I begin I just want to say a special thank you to SirJohn who has done wonders for my Faith and to MonsterWife, who, unlike her web name suggests, has beautifully re-enforced to me what I believe The Lord revealed to me just a few weeks ago.

    Like a lot of things in life, we always believe that our situation is so bad and we feel sorry for ourselves. After reading a lot of your stories, I admit I feel a bit of a fraud. My pain is real to me but my situation could always be worse.

    I married my wife 4 years ago. I am 49 now and she is 46. We have both been married before.

    She has been a Christian for 25 years although backslidden for a period and I gave my life to Christ just before we married.

    We both knew of each other’s worldly past. I had been in the world for most of my life and she had too.

    My story is that I had abused women all my life. I didn’t know I had. When I say abused I mean in the context of who I am today. Most men would say I was just a bit of a ladies man. Guess I was proud of that before I was a believer. Now I am not. The circumstances around our coming together were typical of me. I had just ended my first marriage and wanted sex and intimacy. We started seeing each other and I slept with her on the first night.

    Her story is that she has been abused by men all her life.

    Started when she was around 17 … she said she felt like a rabbit in the headlights and had to go along with what was happening.

    Into her forties, she ultimately was abused in the worst possible way, where a wealthy businessman who masqueraded as her boyfriend, encouraged her to be a play thing for strangers at a nightclub. He got off on this I understand.

    When we married, it was fine to begin with, but she hadn’t dealt with all this.

    And I didn’t even realise there was anything I needed to deal with!!

    She began to feel a huge amount of resentment towards men generally but she continued to make love with me.

    As time went on, it was clear that I wanted sex more than she did. This was puzzling to me because when we met and we were sinners, we had sex sometimes 3 times a day and she seemed to love it as much as I did.

    But it was changing now.

    I felt rejected and put more pressure on her.

    She felt that pressure and began to move away from me, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

    The further she went away from me, the more I pouted.

    I started to have visions of her being unfaithful … after all look at how she had behaved a lot of her life!

    It is scary how Satan can put these ideas in your head when you don’t stay close to The Father.

    Over the last 4 years we have tried to talk about this and I know what I needed to do but I just didn’t make the sacrifice.

    A couple of weeks would go by and I would feel indignant that I wasn’t getting any and say something – and that put her back to reset and we would have to start all over again repairing things.

    A lot has been said about a woman feeling safe – I understand this now.

    My wife needs to feel safe – emotionally.

    We are now at the point where she literally doesn’t want me to touch her. We haven’t kissed or even held hands for months.

    I knew this was coming to a head recently but didn’t know how.

    I was invited onto an Encounter weekend to be close to God.

    I went.

    I pleaded with him to either change me or take me to Him NOW!

    He changed me!

    There was a violent encounter followed by tears and He left me with a very clear mission.

    He said to me,

    David, you have abused women all your life. It’s not your fault because you didn’t know me then. You thought it was your right to have any woman you set your eyes on. You thought it made you feel more of a man when they wanted you. You especially made it your thing to take women who belonged to another. I am not giving you this mission David to punish you. But my words in Scripture say that I will take what is bad and turn it for good. So, instead of being a predator of women, you will now be a protector of your wife. You have taken sex like taking candy. Whenever you wanted it you took it. Regardless of the consequences. I never meant sex to be used that way. So now instead of living this life of entitlement you will now live a life of sacrifice. I want you David to completely give up all advances towards your wife. You must leave her alone sexually and intimately so I can heal her. She has been abused by men all her life … men like you David. So now you need to make this unconditional sacrifice and give her the space to heal. My promise to you David is that you will have her again one day. She will come to you and with her heart completely healed, she will see you as the ONLY man that has ever not tried to take that special thing from her. She will willingly give it to you … and when she does … it will be completely and forever. But … you can’t control this. I am The Lord and I will say when she is healed. Until that point I want you to love her in the way she needs not in the way you need.

    Well, I can’t tell you the emotions I felt when He delivered this mission to me!

    I felt extremely scared and at the same time, completely overwhelmed with excitement … I mean this was God giving me a mission!!!

    I had waited years to hear from Him!

    But if you think about it, it’s perfect!!

    His perfect plan!!

    My wife gets to see a man make the ultimate living sacrifice … for her and her alone.

    And she knows it is … because she knows how much I want her!

    All men have ever done is take from her sexually and here am I the man she loves who she wants to love in every way but cannot even stand to touch because she is so hurt by men … including me.

    I know with such faith and conviction and the Power of The Holy Spirit that she will melt …. I don’t know how long it will take but I have heard fro The Lord!!!!

    If this is His plan, then He will pour His Love and Glory through me and into her … he has promised to heal her while He works on me.

    And I am assured of the outcome.

    What a privilege and what pain too.

    But what a man I will be in the end!!!

    A real man … to have the opportunity to make this kind of sacrifice.

    A hero!

    To conclude, God re-enforced his message to me in the movie, Fury.

    Here is the part where Brad Pitt and his men have to hold a strategic crossroads to keep the Germans from passing through. 300 SS soldiers approach these 4 men stuck in a broken tank sat at the crossroads.

    Here is the scene where they realise that God has invited them to take on this task, to carry this cross and they have willingly accepted … they all realise the weight and glory of this as Shia LaBeouf recites Isaiah 6:8 …

    Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

  • Cepa May 22, 2015 at 7:57 am

    I’m glad to have found this. I too am living involuntarily celibate. It was a process that has been four years in the making. For the past year my wife has gotten to the point where I am not allowed to even see her in less that a full state of dress. Hugs are still ok but if they are too long she will push me away. Cuddling is completely out of the question. If I try to hold her at night even with no intention of sex she will push me away and reiterate that she is asexual now and needs her space.

    I’m trying very hard to be respectful of where she is and everything and have made it clear that I’m ok for now without sex but I still crave some form of intimacy like kissing and being able to hold her. We talk about it quite a bit. Especially when I get overwhelmed with my own urges. She is a beautiful woman and so sweet and loving in every other way that it’s so difficult to be with her every day and feel so much love and devotion but be totally restricted in showing it through the act in which God gave us to strengthen and show our love and devotion.

    I struggle with severe depression, and a crippling self esteem issue. Sometimes I turn to the bottle in the hopes that it will stop me feeling sexual desire for her. I’ve even beaten myself in the hopes that the physical pain would take away the emotional pain. I even lost 50lbs. in an effort to make myself more attractive in the hopes that would help things. All that did is increase my frustration. She now tells me that I look wonderful and am incredibly sexy but she has no desire.

    We have three children together and throughout our 18 years together we had a fantastic and totally fulfilling sex life until four years ago. We had sex 10 times in three years and then nothing for the past year. The 10 times we did increasingly got worse each time with it ending with her laying on her side with her back to me telling me to hurry up.

    She has no real reasons to explain the sudden change. Just says she doesn’t want it anymore, that she is asexual and ready to be celibate for the rest of her life. But then throws me a bone and says that maybe some day it could change. I hang on to that bone for some reason. Hoping.

    I’ve thought about finding it elsewhere. Joined dating sites and stuff. It was kind of nice getting attention that showed I actually was desirable to some women but I never went on a date. Occasionally I’ll think about getting back on those sites again.

    For now I just manage to make it through each day trying to remain motivated.

  • Hoping4Hope December 3, 2015 at 9:21 am

    I fear this thread may have gone dormant as I see no one has responded to Cepa’s post in the last six months. I hope he found some respite so many months ago.

    I found this last night in a desperate search for something to hold on to. I’ve searched so many times for some forum to discuss my pain and learn from others without success. I was really desperate. I can’t remember what I searched for this time that found this, but I was exhilarated when I saw something that was so close to where I was emotionally.

    Then, as I read some of the posts, I started to lose all hope. Metaphorically speaking, when I read the experiences of others here, I couldn’t believe they had been in MY desert for decades! I’d been there just under a year and had never seen anyone. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen them before, and I was crushed to discover there was no oasis. What I had thought was a small desert that I only needed to cross to find refreshment, looked endless and foreboding.

    I read for a couple of hours and found myself even more depressed than when I found this page. I focused on the stories that were similar to mine. I read how others had experienced the same thoughts and same temptations. Mentally, I had been down the same destructive paths that others had experienced physically. It looked so hopeless. I quit reading because I believed I was destined to stay in the desert the rest of my life and beyond.

    I contemplated suicide, again. I’ve never acted on my thoughts, but it’s a logical (maybe illogical) progression that I seem to follow.

    1. I’m strong and able to find fulfillment in my life’s activities
    2. I miss marital intimacy (physical and emotional)
    3. I contemplate finding intimacy elsewhere but think of the consequences and realize it will not solve the problem
    4. I feel I can’t live without the intimacy and contemplate suicide
    5. I debate whether item 3 or item 4 is worse
    6. I fall asleep
    7. I start all over again

    Just to be clear. 1 can be almost any duration from minutes to months. 2-7 never last more than a day.

    This morning, I woke up and decided I really needed to do something. I have recently had a physical injury that has mad it difficult to work and the combination of physical pain and mental anguish helped me feel justified in taking a sick day.

    I was drawn back to this thread because not only did I see common experiences, I saw common beliefs. Unfortunately, other than ecclesiastical leaders, I have not found that in therapists. In fact, I’d almost given up on finding anyone to help because even those of my own faith seemed too “worldly” in their council.

    I decided to take a different approach to this information. I searched the entire thread for Laura’s comments. Some of those comments pulled me back into the earlier posts and later responses. I can relate to bits and pieces of most of the individual experiences. My approach has not always been the same, but I could see some of my failings because of the experience of others.

    I’ve always joked in general that I know the right things to do, but I seem to only be able to do them for a limited time (1 above), before I start down my progression of 2-7. Unfortunately lately I’ve almost been hoping that something takes me from this world so that the cycle will stop.

    I often try to determine how to best execute the council in Matthew 5:29-30. It is my mind and my eyes that constantly offend me. How do I pluck them out? I try to immerse myself in listening or reading good books, or THE Good Book, but I’m not finding solace there either.

    I know that Matthew 5:28 applies to me because I often find myself lusting for emotional and physical intimacy with my wife and with others. Seeing another woman simply caressing her husbands back in a public setting brings me great sorrow. I am regularly closing my eyes, turning my head, changing the channel and then begging forgiveness and strength to make it another day.

    Wow, this went longer than I expected. In retrospect, it was good to know that I am not alone. It is hard to accept that I just need to keep on trying even though my situation may never change. That draws me back to a favorite scripture, though it is sometimes painful and my faith is not always up to the test. In this case, I’ll modify it slightly and hope it’s not considered blaspheme:

    “…My God, whom I serve is able to deliver me from this fiery desert, and He will deliver me. But if not,” I pray for strength to find hope that allows me to carry on. (Daniel 3:17-18)

  • k1ss December 14, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Can you tell me why the wife stopped touching you ? And how long ago. What’s her reasons or has she always been repulsed by any touching ? Just trying to understand why a bloke doesn’t up and go seeing she isn’t fulfilling her covenant to have sexual relations with her husband . ( unless she isn’t a temple patron that is then I guess she can do as she likes as she isn’t under covenant )

  • Kajin March 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    I do need help and am not reviving it in therapy

  • kiss April 10, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Kajin, what’s not reviving in therapy ? Your marriage ? Have you read Laura’s book?

  • chercher October 8, 2016 at 6:50 am

    It’s voluntary if you are are accepting it. When a couple marries you are agreeing to a sexual relationship. She is withholding from you as a form of punishment – she is being cruel. You both need to talk to a professional about why she is withholding and why you are staying in a relationship where you suffer. God doesn’t want that. It’s abusive.

  • ekarr July 21, 2017 at 2:04 am

    Your husband may suffer from low testosterone. I recently found a book on Amazon “I Want Sex, He Wants Fries.” It described my situation perfectly and was very informative about the symptoms, health risks, and how to approach your husband about this touchy topic.

    Personally I have learned to surrender to the Lord in my circumstances and to embrace sexual purity while I’m in the process of figuring things out. I pray the same for you all.

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