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Wives Withholding Sex

QUESTION and COMMENTARY
Can you please show me where in the Bible God tells a wife it’s OK to withhold sex from her husband. I know that a husband should do Eph 5:25, does it say that if he doesn’t at all times it’s OK for his wife to withhold sex? When I’m doing Eph. 5:25 and my wife still withholds sex it’s hard to continue with Eph 5:25, I do still try but I am only human and I am here in the flesh.

I have found that sex within marriage is not a negotiable thing, God says a husband and wife should satisfy each others sexual needs, (1 Corinthians 7.3). And not withhold sex only when both agree and for a time to pray and then resume their normal sexual relations with each other, and this should be on a regular basis.

However, if you cannot control your desires, you should get married. It is better for you to marry than to burn with sexual desire. (1 Corinthians 7.9).

I am married and still burn with sexual desire when my wife withholds. Did I miss something in God’s word or am I just stupid?

ANSWER
First, let me say that I have no reason to think that you are stupid!

Ephesians 5.25 does not have a sexual context. There is nothing in the text that speaks about the subject of sex.

Second, the 1 Corinthians passage (7.9) does speak about marriage partners withholding sex during a specific time devoted to prayer, but then they should come back together. This passage is a correction to those in the church at Corinth who may have thought that once they had become Spirit-filled they no longer had to involve themselves with mundane human stuff like sex. Paul writes to correct them. I don’t think that Paul is saying that every day that you are going to pray that mates should abstain from sexual intercourse.

As a pastor for many years, I know that sexual problems within a marriage are only a sign of deeper marriage problems. You might suggest that you both talk about what might be causing your wife’s response (remember, I am only hearing one side of the story here). Problems within a marriage are usually not one-sided and there is usually fault on both sides.

If you cannot talk about it in private between each other, you might want to seek professional help.

DrWinn
Winn Griffin’s participation in the church spans about 60 years, ministering in four different denominations, serving on the staff of three mega churches, and functioning as a pastor in four churches. He has a BA, MA, and two Doctor of Ministry degrees. In addition, he has authored two books and eight eBooks. Winn's focus on AskDrWinn is to give space for folks to ask about Bible stuff that they have questions about. He is married to Donna Faith and they have two adult children and live in Washington State. » Read Winn's Full Bio
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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Joe January 17, 2011, 8:36 pm

    Another useless answer for those seeking help…I been there done it, see proffessional help, its all useless, after awhile the wife will just say she is not doing what the proffesional help suggest. She is determined its over, as she is filled with HATE for her husband, he can be a very good man, and God fearing, and truely love his wife. And yet she will treat him in this way. Preachers mostly have wives that love them and they never have to go years with out sex, while having a women in the house. Its terrible stress for the man, living with desires that will never be met, sex, love, romance, a touch, a soft word..all he gets is hate and discord. I was married 19 years and year 2 started of and fast went to a no sex marriage. I stayed as long as I could as the marriage got worse, she would hunt me in the house to come and bitch me out, I built me a room in the basement to get away from her, she would then come down there screaming at me. She screamed at me upstairs, She screamed and hated me so much, I was truely surprised after my divorce when I could see more clearly her total hatred for me. I then could begin to stop loving her. I wished I left sooner for my sons sake.

  • DrWinn January 18, 2011, 4:54 am

    Joe, thanks for you response. Sorry you think it was useless. From your response, it sounds like a horrific place to be in. However, as I said in the original answer to the post. You are only presenting “your” picture of what happened. There is always two sides to every complaint. Thanks for sharing yours.

  • EJA July 13, 2011, 12:59 am

    The male sex drive is a gift from God. Clearly, the only legitimate place a man can direct his sex drive is with his wife. Its very clear in Corinthians what the rules are… In many cases we see women withholding sex with their husband because they are mad at them for struggling with temptation or sin. God says, Women need to respect (affirm) their husbands AND men need to love their wives like God loves the church, it must work both ways. But when a man is trying, I believe the wife needs to stop using sex as a penalty, all it does is crush his self image. Men put a very high value on their ability to please their wife thru the gift of sex and when the wife says no, the rejected man hears “you can’t please me” or ” I don’t want you” No wonder sex eventually turns into a routine. Fearing rejection, the husband shows no romance, puts his head down and charges the bed hoping he can convince his wife to participate, if he is persistent she may say” no” a few times and gives in but says something like “do we have to do this every night?” (that’s not love or respect on either part.)…. could this be why God said “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” I believe a lot of problems would be resolved if more wives observed this scripture, however (men need to do their part too, it won’t work without love.) Maybe husbands and wives could benefit from the communication that takes place during sex, it may be the most productive time they spend together during times of trouble and times of peace. 🙂

  • DrWinn August 5, 2011, 9:28 pm

    EJA,

    It surely is true that withholding sex from a partner can be painful. But, it is a two way street. When men complain, it is usually directed at the wife, but the opposite is also true, women could and sometimes do complain and that is directed at the husband. It is difficult in this kind of a forum to hear both voices. If this is a male writing, don’t know by the initials provided, but seemingly from the tone of the post it is, then you might want to ask the question of you wife, what are you doing wrong that causes this dysfunction to occur. So, when the wife uses withholding sex as a penalty, what does the husband withhold or what has the husband withheld from the wife. As I said in the original post, there is always two sides to the story.

  • dwaine November 17, 2011, 6:35 pm

    It’s preaty much all the same, before marriage the women will do anything and act exactly perfect. After marriage, especially after children, the hook is there, then starts the non essential sex or just get it over, pretend.’ve been married for forty three years and this is the hardest part. I talked, explained, prayed for help, none of these will last for more than a couple of days. It kill men of faith to go through these times, because of the strong drive God gave to them. Women, and I’m convined most of them are the same way, become such do gooder’s and of course that no one could condem them, it’s always the poor stupid man’s non affectionate and ineppeness that is the real cause to them. Society stands firm, it must be the man’s lacking somewhere. Somehow the words in Epheseians and Cor. seem void to most women. But yet as a man we are to stay the course, without blemish’ this is torture. And I agree with some of the other men – Dr. Winn your not listening – We been to psycholgist – the will always take the side of the good looking women- so sweet-

  • DrWinn November 22, 2011, 7:59 pm

    Dwaine,

    First, I’m not sure of what I’m not “listening” to you means.

    You write, …”before marriage the women will do anything and act exactly perfect.” I find that to be the case for both men and women when they are courting, not just the woman. As I said in a previous post, there are two sides to every story about sexual malfunction within a marriage. It is never one sided. Because I don’t know your wife’s side of the story and am only hearing yours, which seems to be painful for you, I can’t take a side. While you may think that the “words in Ephesians and Cor[inthians] seem void to most women,” it is just as possible that most men might not understand what Paul is saying as well. I trust that you figure a way to resolve your sexual issues with you wife. I really do!

  • ALISHA January 3, 2012, 4:43 pm

    I have only been married for 3 years. My lobido is higher than my husbands so I have had to control them, however when we do make love my husband does not followthru and satisfy my desires after his are met. I have tried to explain what to do to help him, but he declares I am just fussing at him. I wrote him letters, made his favorite dinner, gave him backrubs, tried all the things he has asked for. I am at the point that when he is ready is it him or me withholding from the other? I want to bring this to this blog. It is hard for me to have terrible feelings and be forgiving. I am trying to not look at what he is doing wrong but to look at myself and I keep trying new things that he asks for and try over long periods of time to listen to what his concerns are and respect them. It is the toughest part of my life because it feels like rejection when It does not seem to get the results I need, but for some reason I know God is telling me to do them willingly and without getting anything in return. Maybe one day whatever baggage I harbour that makes what he does feel like rejection or what he feels I do makes him feel like I am nagging will be answered in seeking answers in all aspects of the bible. That may be why prayer is so important. Either way BELIEVE that God will answer our pain and sorrow in the time we will be open in our hearts to recieve it. Forgiveness is one of the toughest things especially when we are so close to someone we feel has hurt us. But if he puts a crown of thorns on me, or my son whips me and tears off my skin, cuts my side with a sword, drives nails in my hands and feet and puts me on a cross to die, can I forgive? I am supposed to. I am pretty sure if I continue to look at it that way, these hurtful feelings I HAVE will eventually find their perspective, but because I am human, it doesn’t mean it is easy to do the right thing. Stupid devil in my closet makes my life a living hell, he always makes doing the wrong thing look so easy for the moment and then I realize the moment is fleeting, and wrong moments turn into baggage I will carry with me.

  • DrWinn January 3, 2012, 5:02 pm

    ALISHA,

    Usually most problems in a marriage concerning sex occurs because of no information or bogus information. Maybe a good place to start is by gathering some information that you and your husband can listen to together to open up a channel of communication between you about the problem you are sharing. In light of this here is a set of material that you might listen to along with your husband.

    Starting The Conversation: Engaging Sexuality in the Christian Church, by: Tina Schermer Sellers

  • Paniym January 3, 2013, 2:10 am

    DrWinn,
    I am (again) a sex starved man, trying my best to serve God. It’s just about impossible. It looks to me that you believe that there are two sides to every issue. Many times there are not. Many times one spouse is living for themselves. Though they pray and read the Bible every day they are witches in saints clothing. They can be nice and kind to other family members and outsiders. Only us who live with them see the ugliness and selfishness. They have no objectivity to look at the situation honestly. It’s torture living with them. I’ve been faithful but it’s just about over. Trying my best but I’m about done.

  • DrWinn January 3, 2013, 4:56 am

    You picked up my position quiet well. There is always two sides, never one. One may be significantly small and the other large, but two never the less. One might wonder without knowing the situation of the spouse being mentioned why she is “living for” herself. What responsibility in part do you as her spouse have for her position. Are you providing her with the idea that she is a “witch(es) in saints clothing? Again, I have only your side of the situation which you think is objective, but possibly from her point of view is subjective. I am surely not taking her position because I don’t know her position. But, neither can I offer you any solution based on your point of view.

    So, what can you do? Find a “professional” to help you interact with each other and find out what the real problem is for you being “a sex starved man.”

    My own experience from dealing with folks for many years is that if you “cut and run,” the problem your are facing will most likely still be there when you settle down in a new relationship. Better to attempt to solve the problem now which would be a mark of wisdom on your part.

  • JM August 8, 2013, 11:56 am

    I understand you say there are two sides. My wife uses sex as a doggie treat. If I do things for her or around the house I get sex . Although its only 3 or 4 times a year. She refuses to go to counseling because she sees nothing wrong with our routine. She doesn’t want to take a chance some professional might tell her to treat me better. I feel alot like the guy that had to build a room to get away from his wife. Mine fusses and uses that as excuses to negate good deeds and withhold sex.

  • DrWinn August 9, 2013, 3:36 pm

    JM,

    Thanks for sharing your side. But she does have a “side” and you might not be the best advocate for her side. Who does she confide in about you and your difficulties in this situation? BTW: Sex for either party should not a payment for services rendered, that’s prostitution.

    The following link is a series of talks by Tina Schermer Sellers. Maybe you could get your wife to listen to the talks with you and then talk together about the content.

    http://vineyard-cc.org/podcast/category/speakers/tina-schermer-sellers/

    Here is also a link to Tina’s website:

    http://tinaschermersellers.com/

    Hope these resources help you and you wife solve you difficulty and offers you and her a new journey toward sexual health.

  • Brenda October 18, 2013, 11:50 pm

    I have been with my husband for 27 yrs. & married to him for 25 yrs. In all these years it is my husband that has withheld sex. We have sex less & less as the years go by & in the last nearly 2 months he has completely left our bedroom & bed & sleeps in the livingroom. I have never pressured him about sex, even though I spend a lot of time feeling lonely & unfulfilled. He never wants to talk about it & if I mention it, it just makes things worst! I am in the process of planning our divorce & moving on with my life. I know a woman who’s husband has not slept in the same room or bed with her for 2 years! I a not going to waste all that time pretending I have a marriage!

  • J.O. May 7, 2016, 7:25 pm

    No, DrWinn (which, BTW, is rather pretentious since you are a double PhD and NOT a medical Doctor), you really AREN’T listening. What is a spouse to do to relieve the tension of refused sexual relations?

  • DrWinn May 9, 2016, 1:34 am

    J.O. First, let me clear the confusion. I am not a double PhD. I have two earned Doctor of Ministry degrees, which are professional degrees vs. academic degrees. Interesting how you jump to conclusions without having your information correct.

    Not sure what the No, exactly refers to. It would be helpful to know if you are male or female. If you would like for me to address your question, that would be helpful to know.

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