Alison took the steps two at a time as she rushed upstairs to their bedroom. She flung herself onto the bed, pounded her fists into a pillow, and wept. This was supposed to be the room where Allison and her husband would enjoy the pleasures of sexual intimacy. But after two years of marriage, they’d experienced those pleasurable moments only a few times—and only when he initiated, which was rare.

She’d always believed the messages from her church, parents, and friends—that as a good Christian woman, she should let her husband initiate sex. But after months of abstinence, she couldn’t understand why he didn’t. She’d dropped hints that she was a ready and willing partner, but those hints seemed to fall on deaf ears. She eventually decided to be the initiator.

When her husband openly rejected her, saying he was too tired, Allison gathered her hope and decided to try again when he was fresh. But still he said no, always offering some excuse that, frankly, seemed lame. Though she continued to hope that things would get better, the months wore on and nothing changed.

Talking openly about sex wasn’t something Allison felt comfortable with, but she finally concluded that she needed to communicate both her feelings and her frustrations.

Maybe he says no all the time because I haven’t actually communicated my desires to him—that I want to have sex with him, she rationalized to herself. Maybe if I just help him understand that, then he’ll get it.

Allison waited for what she believed was the perfect moment. Her husband was in a good mood, they were interacting easily and enjoying the day, so she brought it up. Though she was nervous, she tried to state her case logically and clearly—only to be shut down immediately.

“Why are you constantly harassing me about this?” he asked her angrily. “Seriously! I don’t want to talk about it. Why are you making it such a big deal?”

When Allison eventually tried again to state her case—that other husbands were eager to have sex with their wives—she was met with a snide comment: “Who are you comparing me to?”

Now Allison lay alone on their bed, feeling lonelier, more rejected, and more hopeless than she’d ever felt before.

She’d mistakenly believed that if she could somehow get through to him, then things would be different, that her husband would change. I desire sexual fulfillment. How can he believe that I don’t need it? I do! She hit her pillow again. If only he could understand what I’m feeling!

Have you been there?

The problem isn’t only that many husbands don’t want sex, it’s that they fail to understand why that’s a problem for their wives. Just like plenty of wives, many husbands (including Christian husbands) believe false narratives about women and their desire levels— narratives that usually begin with “Good, godly women don’t . . .” This false mindset reduces the issue to the wife’s problem: “Other women don’t need sex as often, so why do you?” these men ask.

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In turn, many wives don’t know how to approach or communicate with their husbands effectively. They wish their husbands would simply “get it,” but wishing won’t solve this problem.

No Apologies Needed

Before we proceed, I need to state a simple truth: Some husbands don’t understand their wives’ desires because they don’t want to understand. It’s easier for them to justify not wanting sex by placing the blame on their wives.

Have you ever heard comments like these? 

  • “Good” women don’t pursue their husbands for sex.
  • Wives who want sex more than their husbands have a problem.
  • Why is she so obsessed with sex?
  • She was raised by her father, so she isn’t feminine.
  • She doesn’t let me be the pursuer.
  • I don’t need sex, and I’m a man. She shouldn’t need it either.
  • She never wanted it so much before. Why now all of a sudden?
  • She just needs to back off.

Rather than owning one’s own issues, it’s easier to find fault with a wife who is merely asking for what her heart and body crave within the union of marriage.

“The apostle Paul says not to withhold or deprive each other of sex except for a period of fasting and prayer, but my whole marriage has been one big, long fast, and I’m starving!” one woman told me with tears in her eyes.

“When I try to express my frustrations and explain that what I want is good, my husband stomps away and refuses to speak to me. On the rare occasion that I get a response, I’m accused of exaggerating the issue. But I’m not . . . am I?”

No, this wife isn’t being overly dramatic. She’s simply asking to be loved by and intimate with the man she chose to spend the rest of her life with.

I’ve talked with women who are so confused and hurt by their husbands’ lack of understanding that they apologize for feeling this way, for believing that maybe they really are exaggerating the issue and comparing their husbands with the men they see in movies, on television, and on social media.

After all, numerous cultures and churches have long suggested that women are the less interested sexual parties in the marital relationship. If women want more sex, they must be smoldering temptresses or even “Jezebels.” They have promoted the message that women should never pursue men, even their husbands, sexually.

Some people reading this article might have grown up in a culture that suggested women were responsible for making men lust, even though Jesus clearly stated it is a man’s responsibility not to lust (see Matthew 5:28). Some women were told that they should never even acknowledge having any sexual desires prior to marriage. Compare that with how the message rapidly shifted after marriage: Once wed, they were told to be ever eager and willing to meet their husband’s desires, once again to keep him from having lustful thoughts or being tempted to seek pleasure outside of marriage. In this view, his pleasure and his thoughts took priority over his wife’s. Pleasing herself through marital sex might even be viewed as selfish or inappropriate.

Thankfully, this teaching has lost favor in recent years, but it hasn’t disappeared completely. Some Christian women are still confused about whether it’s okay to feel sexual desire, much less act on it.

As these women were taught, sexual desire leads to immodesty and the potential for immorality. So if a wife has a stronger sexual desire, then something must be wrong with her, right?

Wrong.

The “something must be wrong with her” mindset is an inherently distorted belief about women, one that compels us to light a match and blow this concept to smithereens. This thinking suggests that the sexual well-being or sexual decay of a marriage lies entirely at the wife’s feet. Husbands are absolved of any responsibility. Yet a wife should never have to apologize for wanting to have a regular and mutually satisfying sexual relationship with her husband.

God created both men and women to be sexual beings. In fact, women have more sexual arousal spots on their bodies than men. I love that God designed us that way! Humans are one of only a few mammals in which the females experience orgasm. We desire sex not only for reproduction, but also long after childbearing years. Many women enjoy sex even more after children leave the nest.

This isn’t some fluke. God designed women that way. We can’t turn off those desires; we’re wired for them. Sexuality is a gift that God has given us.

Arousal and desire don’t apply only to husbands, but to wives as well. Women were created to enjoy and crave sex too. No wife need apologize for, regret, or feel disheartened over wanting what she has been wired for.

Adapted from I Want Him to Want Me by Sheri Mueller, Copyright © 2024 Sheri Mueller, Used with Permission, Published. by Focus on the Family.

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