The phrase I’m a sexual being is a cry I frequently hear from Christian wives who are living in sexless marriages. They suffer in silence and sob into their pillows at night because they do not wish to emasculate their husbands by sharing their pain and sorrow with others.

These women want you to know the message prevalent in media, movies, and church about it’s the woman who frequently turns her husband down is a fallacy. According to social psychologist Roy Baumeister, “the idea that men have a stronger sex drive than women is probably some obsolete, wrong and possibly offensive stereotype.”

In a recent study by the Cleveland Clinic, 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men report some degree of sexual dysfunction. The difference between men and women is not as far apart as we are lead to believe, yet many people are hesitant to discuss this aspect of sexual dysfunction.

Sexual dysfunction generally is classified into four categories:

  • Desire disorders – lack of sexual desire or interest in sex
  • Arousal disorders – inability to become physically aroused or excited during sexual activity
  • Orgasm disorders – delay or absence of orgasm
  • Pain disorders – pain during intercourse

Numerous factors contribute to lack of desire in men. For purposes of this column, I chose the four factors I hear most often from women who share their stories with me. I must also add a disclaimer – I’m not a medical doctor. This is not intended to provide medical advice, but a way to start a dialogue that leads to understanding and healing.

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Factor # 1Stress/Anxiety

While it is difficult to know all the details of a husband’s load at work and home, a wife can lend an empathetic ear. Let your wife into your world to help her better understand the pressures you face. Let her know how much you still love her. And allow her to plan something to take your mind off work; it can provide the restoration you need for intimacy. Adequate sleep and exercise also play a huge role. When your spouse says, “We need to get away” or “Let’s go take a walk,” pay attention to her intuition.

Factor #2 — Depression

There are many different types of depression and symptoms vary. However, recognizing common symptoms is important: i.e, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, insomnia or excessive sleeping, loss of interest in activities or hobbies, and overeating or appetite loss. There is one more contributing factor for depression in men – low testosterone levels. According to S. Mezitis, MD, PhD, after age 30, most men experience some decline in testosterone. A quarter to a third of men who are tested have levels below normal. And since testosterone is a hormone, it affects mood, sex drive, and energy. If testosterone tests normal, then the next thing physicians look at is thyroid function. If you’re concerned about side effects of hormone therapy or thyroid medication, investigate holistic alternatives. If your leg is broken, you’re going to see a doctor. If the alternator in your car dies, you’re going to see a mechanic. If your sex life is broken, see a physician or a counselor.

Factor # 3 Diabetes/Coronary Heart Disease/High Blood Pressure/High Cholesterol

Encouraging a husband to eat healthy, watch his weight, and go to the doctor is challenging. Nagging will not motivate your husband into a doctor’s office. But genuine loving concern might: “Honey, I love you deeply and want to keep you around for a long time. I’m concerned by what I’m seeing and how it affects our intimacy. I’m on your team, which means we can come up with a game plan together.”

I know several women who go with their husbands to doctor visits – mostly because they remember more details. Unfortunately, many of the drugs used to treat medical conditions also suppress libido and make it harder to maintain an erection. This is where talking to a physician about the sexual side effects of medication makes a world of difference. One small change in medication can restore desire.

Factor # 4 Pornography/Masturbation/Fetishes/Sex Addiction

Many men are introduced to pornography from a very young age. This secret addiction is extremely detrimental to what happens in the bedroom once you’re married. It’s time to speak up and share this struggle; get the help you need. Men, your wife wants to support you in your difficulties, and the best thing you can do is openly share this with her. Otherwise, you’re likely to lose your marriage.

Places to go for help:

  • Celebrate Recovery — a Christ-centered Recovery Program
  • Bethesda Workshops — Nashville, Tennessee
  • Every Man’s Battle —3 day workshops
  • Faithful and True Ministries — 3 day workshops

Dear hurting wives, I hope and pray you know, when your husband turns you down, it has nothing to do with your worth, beauty, or sexiness quotient. You are a dearly loved woman of the most high God and a beautifully created sexual being.

Men, your wife desires you. She longs for simple things — hold her hand, give her a hug, kiss her on the lips, and snuggle. This type of atmosphere creates the connection God designed you to engage in with abandon for each other.

Small sparks lead to bigger flames.

• Also See Counseling  | Sexual Intimacy