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What Can a Wife Do When Feeling Neglected Sexually on a Regular Basis?

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Based on God’s summary statement on marriage in Ephesians 5:33, we conclude that above all else, women desire to feel loved unconditionally and that men, above all, desire to be respected for who they are as a man.

However, when it comes to marriage, does the emphasis on unconditional love mean wives do not want sex? As long as they feel loved, do they have no desire or need for sexual intimacy with their husband? Absolutely not! Wives and husbands mutually need and desire sex, but that need and desire are not the same among the genders.

For women, relationships are about love. Women want to love and be loved. Why wouldn’t they? Within their nature, they nurture. They care. To use a double negative, they "cannot not" care. They forever tend and mend someone, or at least they want to. Furthermore, it is about unconditional love. It is about being loved even if they were to be disfigured in an automobile accident.

To a woman, if sex should be an expression of love, and arousal sexually comes when feeling unconditionally loved, then how meaningful is sex when someone does not love you unconditionally and only wants you for sex? Countless women have told me, “I feel like a prostitute.”

That being said, let me reiterate: women need and desire sex just as much as men. And many wives are hurting in their marriage right now because for whatever reason they are feeling sexually deprived. If this describes you, please let me assure you that you are not alone. As well, you are not powerless in your struggle! The following is a brief survey of questions for you to answer honestly, followed by specific actions you can take today if you feel any of the situations fit what may be going on in your marriage.

God gave both you and your husband a need and desire for sexual intimacy—with each other! I have complete confidence there is a win-win for your marriage in this area.

Questions to Answer to the Best of One’s Understanding When a Wife Feels Sexually Deprived

1. Does my husband feel that I have contempt for who he is as a man? Yes​/No/​Unsure

2. Am I sexually unappealing to my husband? Ye/s​No/​Unsure

3. Is my husband ignorant about my sexual needs because I have not told him of these needs? Yes/​No/​Unsure

4. Does my husband feel he cannot fulfill my romantic and sexual standard so he has stopped trying? Yes/​No/​Unsure

If you answered “Yes” or “Unsure” to any of the above, strongly consider these actions you have the power to do yourself:

  • For #1, stop your contempt toward the spirit of your husband.
  • For #2, work on being more appealing, since this is probably more about him feeling honored than about him trying to be unloving toward you.
  • For #3, if he is ignorant, humbly explain your sexual needs and how he can meet those needs.
  • For #4, if he feels sexually inadequate and like a failure, help him succeed by having him do small things like give you a seven-minute shoulder rub so you can thank him and honor him. 

5. Does my husband fear that I will get pregnant? Yes/​No/​Unsure

6. Does my husband have a medical/physical condition hindering his sexual performance? Yes/​No/​Unsure

7. Is there stress that overwhelms and distracts him (i.e., excessive debt, unemployment, children who might hear through the bedroom wall, etc.)? Yes/​No/​Unsure

If you answered “Yes” or “Unsure to any of the above, strongly consider these actions you have the power to do for your husband:

  • For #5, if he fears pregnancy, find out why (i.e., he cannot provide) and address his anxieties without accusing him of disliking children and not loving you.
  • For #6, if there could be a medical/physical condition, ask him if you could honor him by making arrangements with a physician who can provide suggestions.
  • For #7, if there is excessive stress for him, ask him if you could honor him by finding ways to relieve some of the stress.  

8. Does my husband think the amount of sex I have with him is enough? Yes/​No/​Unsure

9. Does he not grasp God's call to meet my sexual needs as set forth in 1 Corinthians 7:3–5? Yes​/No/​Unsure

If you answered “Yes” or “Unsure” to any of the above, strongly consider these actions you can respectfully invite your husband to do:

  • For #8, if the amount of sex is fine for him, ask if he, as a man of honor, would honor you by meeting you halfway between what is fine to him and what you desire.
  • For #9, if he is a Christ-follower and believes in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, ask him as a man of honor if he would pray over this scripture and ask God for wisdom on how best to meet the other's sexual desires and to protect each other from satanic attack.

10. Does my husband resent me for some reason and is even vindictive by depriving me of sexual intimacy as a way of retaliating against me? Yes/​No/​Unsure

11. Have I had an affair, which now sours my husband toward me sexually? Yes​/No/​Unsure

12. Has my husband had an adulterous relationship and is less interested in me sexually? Yes/​No/​Unsure

13. Does my husband view pornography and/or masturbate? Yes/​No/​Unsure

If you answered “Yes” or “Unsure” to any of the above, strongly consider these actions you can do when the dark side has taken a toll on your sex life:

  • For #10, if a husband is resentful and vindictive by withholding sex, where appropriate express sorrow for dishonoring him and ask, "Will you forgive me?"
  • For #11, if you have committed adultery, your husband probably feels something sacred has died so you need to take steps to reestablish T.R.U.S.T., which means for you to be:

➢ Totally Truthful

➢ Really Remorseful

➢ Utterly Understanding

➢ Sufficiently Safeguarded

➢ Tactically Third-Partied

  • For #12, if your husband had an affair and you need sex but he is disinterested, recommend meeting a godly-wise counselor that he respects since the concerns you both have require soothing and savvy input.
  • For #13, if your husband is addicted to pornography and/or is masturbating and thus is disinterested in you, moving forward requires godly-wise counsel with people who understand him and you.

Note: Each of these can be unfair to the wife. But she needs to ask if her former approaches have worked. The hope is that over time, these approaches will enable and motivate a husband to meet his wife's sexual needs and desires.

Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider