A Husband’s Rejection Hurts!

Julie GanschowFor Those Giving Help, For Those Seeking Hope50 Comments

When a husband is emotionally and physically unavailable to his wife she feels rejection, and rejection hurts! Guest blogger and biblical counselor Julie Ganschow counsels, speaks, and trains folks on heart change leading to life change. Here she helps wives discouraged by a husband’s rejection and gives helpful biblical advice. This post first appeared at Julie’s blog at BiblicalCounselingforWomen.org. 

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I am aware there is a shockingly high percentage of Christian women who are discontent in their marriages because their husband is not emotionally or physically available to them. I have several cases in which the husband refuses to be intimate or give any physical affection to his wife. They live together like friends.

This kind of marriage can leave an enormous gaping hole in the life of a woman who wants a biblical marriage. It creates a great deal of discontentment within her. She doesn’t want a divorce, she doesn’t want to commit adultery; she wants her husband to love her! Most women won’t talk to anyone about their situation because it is too embarrassing to reveal their husband doesn’t want or desire her.

Rejection Leads to Depression and Anxiety

Often, the abandoned wife struggles with feelings of depression because she cannot change her situation. She cannot force her husband to love her! Her emotions are turned inward and over time she may be diagnosed with one of several anxiety disorders or depressive disorders. What I typically find is the women overeats for comfort or under-eats for control.

What do I say to that woman who is discontent for what appears to be a very good and biblical reason? Even in such terrible circumstances as these I must apply the same biblical solutions — I must teach her to look at her own heart.

She has to be willing to admit and repent of any self-pity she indulges in. It is hard to think about being alone in a loveless marriage because her husband does not emotionally connect with her anymore. Many women really struggle with being angry at their husband for rejecting them and their love. They are
confused and often tell me they cannot figure out what they have done or said to turn him away. Because she cannot control her husband and make him love her again there are great feelings of hopelessness.

She is lonely and struggles with rejection, shame, and embarrassment. I have had a woman tell me when she attempted to seduce her husband he ridiculed her, laughed at her, and even told her to go put on some clothes! She was devastated. Through her tears she asked me if I knew what is wrong with her that he rejects her that way, that he is so cruel to her now.

Like other women in this situation, she is full of fear. She is anxious and worries about the reasons he rejects her. She’s always heard men are very sexually oriented, What is the reason he no longer desires her? Her imagination runs away concocting scenarios that are too horrible to dwell upon for long. If he is not interested in her then who is he interested in?

Biblical Solutions to Rejection

Every one of these are common feelings and reactions to being abandoned within marriage, and all must be addressed biblically in the counseling relationship. Gently and compassionately, we must help her discern what her own inner heart issues are, and teach her to see this problem through the lens of Scripture.

If you are biblically counseling a woman in such a situation, you will have to listen closely to what the counselee says to determine where her thoughts, beliefs, and desires are focused. Is her heart focused on herself or on what God is doing in her as a result of this sad situation? You may need to challenge what she says, and always point her back towards Christ. When her personal sin in the relationship is exposed, it must be worked through and repented of.

It is critical she understands that even this deep, deep sorrow and all of the aspects of her situation are under the sovereignty of God. As challenging as it will be, she needs to accept that she can become content in her marriage despite the sin of her husband.


Are you discontented in your marriage? Whether you face a husband’s rejection or other marital difficulty, biblical counselors at Biblical Counseling Center will listen to your heart, discern the problem, and walk with you toward God-honoring solutions. Check out our Marriage Challenge or simply contact us. God bless.

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50 Comments on “A Husband’s Rejection Hurts!”

  1. I am really disappointed in this article. Not one mention is made of the scripture that clearly states that we are not to deprive one another of physical intimacy in a godly marriage (1 Corinthians 7:5). It is surprising to see you state that it is the wife’s problem and that she should examine her own heart for possibly indulging in self-pity (are you serious!?). I am really stunned by this article. The husband is destroying her worth as a woman; yes, I know that her real worth is always predicated on the love of God through faith in Christ, but the scripture also clearly states that it is the husband’s responsibility and privilege to love his wife like Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). He is actually putting a stumbling block (Romans 14:13) in her path and could be responsible for contributing to weakness in her which could dispose her to sexual sin and/or any depression or emotional problem that this ongoing problem might present. He is depriving her of her marital right. This is a hostile act by the husband, and he needs to repent immediately.

    1. Sarah,
      Thanks for your comment. Blog author Julie Ganschow recognizes that, yes, the husband is sinning against his wife and needs to repent of his sin. Abuse is always 100 percent wrong and a sin against God as well as the spouse. Julie also encourages the wife to see her part in the marital difficulties and to seek Jesus. This may mean she needs to own her sin and repent, and seek comfort from Christian women who are gifted in listening well and providing encouragement.

      Does this clarification help?

    2. Sarah, I agree 100% with what you have said. I am that woman who fell into both depression and sexual sin after being rejected and emotionally neglected for many years. I wish I would have separated from him years ago, so that perhaps he would have realized just how much he was affecting my emotional health and perhaps made changes. Now, I must wear my scarlet letter and deal with being judged by others, even some with whom I have been very close. I know I have been wrong, but it is also naive to think rejection and emotional neglect from a husband will not change his wife.

    3. Excellent response to this harsh article. I totally agree with you that I was also disappointed with this article. It was merciless. Jesus is not merciless. He understands all things, especially a woman’s heart that has been hurt. Thank you Sarah for your comment.

    1. We’re honored that you found the post on a husband’s rejection helpful and that you took a moment to tell us. God bless you! If you ever need counseling — we counsel by Skype all over the U.S. and the world — please make an appointment with us. We care.

  2. That last line: she needs to accept that she can become content in her marriage despite the sin of her husband.

    Ok… So, how?

  3. I Agree with Sarah. We should always examine our own sin daily and repent as needed as Christians. The Article is disappointing.

  4. I agree that this article is disappointing. I am actually a wife who is going through this very thing. While I understand the Grace and love Jesus Christ has for me.. Prayer is needed. Asking God to reveal our sin to us personally is never wrong but sometimes God may have us separate from an emotionally abusive husband. I didnt say divorce but I said , separate for a season. Sin leads to consequences. If God desires to teach a husband how he must treasure his wife then that is perfectly in Gods will. A husband must not defraud his wife nor must he abandon her emotionally. It is not sin for a wife to separate herself for a season and pray and fast for her marriage. he works all things together for good … I amm not saying every wife should do this.. It depends upon the circumstances and what God has …

    1. Yes, often it is wise to separate from an abusive and unrepentant husband while maintaining the hope of reconciliation. The husband needs wise counsel for his problems of control as well as his hateful, unloving actions; he needs to obey God. Thanks for sharing.

      1. Hi! As I’ve been reading, I’m going through the same thing. He’s been hateful, disrespectful towards me, hostile and blamed for a lot of things I’m not aware of. He says he can’t serve God because of me that he is tired of supporting kids that are not his. He’s also called me the worst names you can imagine possible. That hurts very much. He complains about everything and God knows that because I have been in prayer everyday reading his word everyday, constantly battling Satan through prayer. There are times where I start thinking maybe he’s with somebody else or has he fallen out of love with me? I one weeks time he has gotten very hostile towards me and my kids he wants to blame and find flaws in my kids and me all the time. He has told that he doesn’t even know what’s wrong with him. He told me that he is problaby broken beyond repair and has given me the option to leave. To find my own place he said there’s a lot on his mind, and that sometimes he wants his own room just to be away from us just to leave him alone. But then, when I talk to him and tell him that I’ve been praying for our marriage and tell him there is hope in Jesus he tells me he doesn’t feel like praying and that he doesn’t feel the same for God like when he first gave his heart to the Lord. And after every argument or fight not physical he just starts apologizing and saying I’m sorry and gives me a hug and that’s it. It been to the point where I told him let’s pray together and refuses. So what I’ve been doing, I’ve been putting my hand on his forehead and chest while he sleeps and pray for him giving all these problems and my husband to God. Still am in continuous prayer I don’t know how else to go about it. But wait on the Lord. Please help me in prayer for my marriage it feels like my marriage is hopeless at this point but I’m not giving up.

        1. Connie,

          Praying for your husband who is hateful toward you and your children is important. God hears, God heals. May we also suggest that you get wise biblical counsel from your pastor and/or a spiritually mature woman at your church. Healing in community is God’s way. If you do not belong to a church, we encourage you to reach out to a female counselor at Biblical Counseling Center. Some counselors meet by Skype; all meet in person in greater Chicago. Please keep in contact and let us know how we can help.

  5. I agree mostly with Sarah. I do agree that we need to examine ourselves, pray and seek wise counsel. But I am going through this and have been for years. There comes a time when the lines of being a nice Christian wife and no longer allowing the abuse get blurred. I try to be nice but then he gets happy and thinks all is okay. He then openly continues to emotionally neglect me. He also thinks I am agreeing with him that I am the problem. Yes he tells me I am the problem for not wanting his type of love. But then when the pain gets to be too much and I cry.. he ignores me, has no problem sleeping while I’m crying, in fact he can put on his ear buds and turn up his Christian music and sing praises and dance while I am crying. So now I have been trying not to talk about my needs only for him to ask me what is wrong (he won’t let me not talk cuz he says that solves nothing) and it never fails; every time I tell him he gets mad at me, tells me I’m wrong for the way I feel and my needs, tells me I need to accept things as they are or I am just wanting to fight. ( he is an alcoholic and a porn addict also). I can’t win for loosing. I can’t be silent, I can’t tell him my needs, and I am not really allowed to talk about my needs or issues. He tells me that my needs are the problem and why can’t I just be happy with the way things are? He has ignored me when I couldn’t breath and wouldn’t take me to the ER, he has said that I’m making my illness up for attention, he has told me that he would not do the porn if I gave him sex like he wanted it, he has broken promises to me over and over and said he no longer felt he needed to keep them, and I could go on. Seriously???? I am being told by you as well that I should find a way to be happy with the way things are??? This is what a loving Father would have me do?? I am so lonely that I no longer trust myself to resist advances from other men. I told my husband this because I need him emotional so badly and I told him that also. I was crying and wanting, needing him to realize how serious this has become. He says he prays and hears God and that I am just wanting to fight and now I have just admitted my sin by wanting to have adultety. I DO NOT want that. So I am sorry but there are times when you should NEVER tell a woman to find a way to be happy. So disappointed here. The trouble with marriages today is men are checking out and the women are taking the blame. When are people going to call a leopard a leopard and tell the men they need to man up and seek forgiveness from God got their cruelty towards their wives?

    1. Debbie,

      It is hard to hear the counsel to “look at your own heart.” It sounds uncaring and harsh, as if you are the problem in the marriage.

      Clearly your husband has significant problems, as you’ve described: alcoholism, porn use, and extreme selfishness. You are not responsible or at fault for his sin. It is right for him to confess his sins to God and to repent and to also seek forgiveness from you and anyone else he has hurt.

      What do you make of biblical instruction such as “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39 and other verses) and Matthew 7:5 — “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”? These are Jesus’ words. Matthew 7:5 call for self-examination. Every believer still sins.

      The author of article isn’t saying to deny what’s happening in your marriage. Rather, get help. Get wise counsel from your pastor OR a trusted woman at your church OR a biblcal counselor.

      Do not be happy with the way things are in your marriage. They are horrible. Keep turning to Jesus. Keep do what is right when it’s hard. Talk with a truly caring Christian woman. Contact us — we counsel by Skype and in person — or another Christ-centered counselor. Let us know how it goes.

      Praying for you,
      Biblical Counseling Center

  6. I was married for 24 years, I forgave my husband several times, after each affair, I was reminded. ” Isn’t that what good Christians do?” Arrogantly, he told me once, “It isn’t my fault that I’m so attractive. Why should any woman be deprived?” He hated spending time with the family, and rejected any counseling. I attended counseling alone, and was advised to examine any faults I might have. About 21 years ago, he divorced me to marry one of his many mistresses. At the time of our divorce, I had no dignity, self-worth, or self-respect, and no money. Our now adult, children are still struggling with their painful past. I have never remarried and I am very happy in Christ. I am finally free! I always get what I have always wanted for Christmas, PEACE

    1. Connie, you went through almost unimaginable suffering. We’re happy with you that you found peace in Christ. Your ex-husband acted like the fool that Proverbs speaks of. No doubt you are praying for your hurting adult children. Let us know if we can help. God bless you!

  7. I agree with the last person to post.. it is not all the woman’s fault.. why is the blame always turned towards a woman? Why don’t the guys ever get told where they’re wrong? I am going thru this scenario and I can guarantee I have not done wrong to my husband to deserve the treatment I get from him.. I came in to this relationship loving him wanting to do everything possible to make him happy.. to be accepted. He came in to this relationship a sick perverted molested sex addict. I too have been raped and molested by my own family. Although i don’t use that as an excuse to go around being promiscuous so neither should he. It is his responsibility to love his wife.. it goes both ways love and respect.. a husband is to love his wife in turn she respects him.. how do you expect a woman who’s constantly rejected to respect her husband? There is nothing honorable and worthy of respect when your constantly rejecting your wife and sleeping with everyone else.. I don’t know about you but it’s impossible for me to submit to my husband and be nice when he’s being so ugly.. and the more he rejects me the more hateful angrier bitter and resentful I become.. I cannot honor or respect something as disgusting as the things he does.. people should start looking at the real problem.. MEN.. and as far as God goes, there is no God, I have prayed since I was really little and realized all the abuse around me and have asked for someone to love me, if there was a God why doesn’t he answer prayers? If he’s all about marriage why are there wives being so hurt by there husbands? And then we get the world telling us husbands don’t do anything wrong it’s all our faults? I think you should check your facts before blaming people and posting lies online

  8. I loved this article. My husband has recently rejected me intimacy and it hurts. I am tempted to bitterness and to manipulation and this article was a wonderful reminder to search my own heart and ultimately find joy in Jesus. He suffered the worst things at the hands of sinful humans, including myself. Although a hard command, there is joy in obedience to Him as we seek to grow in the area of forgiving our husbands. I am praying God will give me grace to remember Christ when I am tempted to bitterness. Thank you!

  9. So very sorry for the suffering you are going through and have been through. Reading “Why Does He Do That” gives understand into the confusion of what should not be apart of any marriage and especially a Christian marriage. Hope this sheds light on the confusion(not of God) in what was suppose to be a sacred, love filled relationship. Not every man takes God’s Word seriously and are certainly not living His Word. The truth is not in husband’s words but his actions. Does he live up to God’s definition of love or is it god’s(his)definition of love. Of course no one is perfect but this is a level that goes far beyond realizing pain our action caused, repenting, never to repeat what caused the pain (because caring people would never intentionally choose to cause anyone pain)especially those closest to us. These men do not see importance of putting you in the place God intended to make a whole and loving relationship. Hope this book helps to bring some light and removes confusion. There is hope if they choose to get help to stop their learned or chosen methods of dysfunction. It does not take two to destroy a relationship. One bad apple will destroy the whole bushel if not removed. Do not allow the rottenness of unrepentant sin to effect your life. Do what God instructs when there is no repentiveness and the decision to live in sin is exalted above humility and turning from sin. It is a debilitating life choice that you do not have to facilitate. God bless you and give you peace as you search for His path of peace and His understanding in every step we must choose to walk towards Him. He will never fail us and is always waiting with open arms to care, understand and hold us close. His love never fails us. Please do not think or feel you are walking alone or it’s your fault. . Praying for you and those who knows this walk, stand with you. God stands even closer.

  10. I agree that we should seek God first and repent for any wrong on our part but,
    having lived in a loveless /sexless marriage for many years and ( not saying everything is my husband’s fault ).
    None of us are perfect and I have done my share of wrong.
    I have sought help from Christian Counselors and begged my husband to seek help and he refuses and doesn’t even acknowledge that there is a problem. He has told me that I have a roof over my head and food to eat and that I don’t have it that bad.
    I am disappointed and saddened that many Christian Counselors and Christians in general advise people to seek friendships and occupy themselves in other ways which is good advice but, in the end it does not address the problem in the marriage and is sometimes just avoidance of the real issue.
    One thing I have learned in these painful years is that God loves me if I stay in the marriage or if I leave the marriage. I also believe that there are times that we have done all we can to save the marriage. I read one article where someone said that we shouldn’t make marriage our god. Sometimes people are just plain abusive , whether it is mental, emotional, spiritual or physical. I watched a video called ” The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” by Leslie Vernick that describes what these relationships look like. Staying in some of these destructive relationships does affect your physical health. I believe there are times when staying in constant abuse can demoralize you and cause you to sin. I pray all of God’s best for each one who is living this nightmare. Stay close to Jesus. he will never leave you nor forsake you.

  11. If we look at the OLD testament – a wife had reason for divorce if he neglected her. There is nothing that I see in the bible that says a wife has to endure his neglect. What a joke this article is. The bible says by mutual consent is the only time they should abstain and if then, only for the purpose of prayer and fasting. I’m sick of pastors and writers not pulling the husbands up on this sin. What a joke.

    1. Hi Melanie,

      When a woman is being abused, the wisest action is for her to contact the police or go a woman’s shelter for safety. Neglect by a husband is sinful, for he is not loving his wife as he is commanded in scripture to do. The Christian wife can speak the truth in love to her husband. If he fails to respond rightly, then she can appeal to others in the church who would call him to repentance. This is indeed a very difficult and complicated issue. Thank you for your comment. Could you please share the verse in the OT that speaks of a wife divorcing her husband for neglect? Very sadly in ancient times, women had few if any rights and were treated like property.

  12. I agree with this article to an extent. But from my own experience, this is what I’ve come to see: Men are challenged appropriately by other strong, godly men. Some of these women seem to be married to men who are at least professing Christ and attending church. If so, where are the men standing up for these women? Where are the men in the church leadership taking these husbands to task and even administering church discipline? Because what I often see is the following: “Yes, you have an abusive, unrepentant husband. Now, go home and see how you can be a better wife.” The wife goes home and does all that she can while the husband continues (even laughingly) to carry on the way he does. I do believe that a wife should always look to her own heart and dig the log out of her own eye before pointing out the one in her husband’s. But all too often, the wife does, and she still finds herself under abusive and destructive behavior. And the men in the church aren’t willing to take the husband to task. The onus for ends up in the lap of the wife. This is such a failure amongst the church and the men who have been entrusted the care of the women in their congregations. I absolutely hate feminism as much as anyone else, but I have little sympathy anymore for when the church complains about it. They can’t continue to either turn a blind eye to abusive marriages or put the onus on the wife without bearing the ugly fruit of feminism. Godly men seriously need to step up.

    1. Yes. Rebecca! Where are the Christian men to challenge the abusers? Nowhere to be found. I don’t have answers. All I know is that many many women want to obey God and do right in His eyes. And suffer tremendously because their husbands are never called out about their awful sinful behavior. We are told there are answers in Scripture. Well, what happens when a woman goes to her Pastor to ask for help? Exactly what someone earlier wrote. Go home wife and pray harder. And serve your man in loving ways.
      I truly do not have answers. But I know there are hurting female hearts all over the churches and only Jesus Himself gives a rip.

  13. Oh sorry..,
    It’s actually Exodus 11:10&11.
    He must not neglect her in these 3 ways….her rights for food, shelter and what happens in the marriage bed.

  14. Oh Good Grief!! I am certain I have dislexia!!! Hopefully this time I get it right …..EXODUS 21: 10-11

  15. I am currently in a marriage where my husband is emotionally and sexually unavailable. As I’ve looked back through the history of our marriage and even our dating life, nothing has really changed. My husband has an addiction to pornography that started long before I came into his life….I love my husband and his rejection of me has caused me to sin in many ways, not the least of which, has been seeking the approval of my husband so voraciously, that I’ve become angry, despondent, anxiety ridden and depressed when he hasn’t responded. My self worth has been destroyed and I let it be destroyed. The running dialogue in my head has been “why doesn’t he love me, why doesn’t he want me, why is every other woman so much better than me, why am I not good enough”. The simple/not so simple answer to this heartbreak, is that I can pray and seek what God has to say about me. The self pitying dialogue doesn’t help me, doesn’t make me less hurt, and doesn’t change my husband. Changing my dialogue with myself can help me heal as a wife, even in a marriage that hurts. Changing the source of the approval I’m so desperately in need of will heal me and my heart. And lastly I can pray for my husband. God’s hand is on our marriage. He sees my husband’s brokenness and loves him and wants to heal him. He sees my brokenness and loves me and wants to heal me. When heartbreak and self pity are not bettering a marriage, those are the things that need to stop, and I believe that God will heal us.

    1. Hi Grace, please reach out to a mature godly woman at your church to help you respond well to your husband’s enslavement to pornography. Thank you for sharing. As you apply God’s Word to your situation, no matter how you feel, you’ll walk in the Spirit and hold up under the temptation to sin. Your family is in our prayers.

  16. Husbands are rejected by their wives all the time, and it’s no big deal. Excuses like “I’m too tired, I’m not in the mood, I have a headache” etc. After several years of excuses, I’ve finally reached the point of giving up. Now, my wife comments that I’m different, and that I seem distant. But hey, its no big deal. Right?

    1. Hi James,

      It is a big deal. There are two sinners in a marriage and they sin, right? Many ways to sin too. The Bible instructs how to handle sin. We turn to the Lord Jesus in faith, for he paid our debt on the Cross. And we confess our sin and repent. This is humbling and often difficult when we’ve been sinned against. But God gives us his strength and peace and every thing we need to live a godly life for his glory and our good. May you find comfort in him.

  17. This article blows my mind! So women are to just stay and enable the sinner. That’s absurd. She then becomes a stumbling block to his ability to take a look at himself.

  18. I’m learning after 13 years of intense pain emotionally in marriage that it is not for me to continually try to hold it all together. I’ve surrendered it to the Lord through much prayer, and believe the marriage will end without a miracle. I do not believe that I can experience healing needed when the scab is continually being pulled off. I have almost zero confidence, anxiety, anger, and depression issues from living like this for so long. I definitely believe in forgiving my spouse, but almost feel like I need to be away from him to even do that fully, bc by the time I can work through any thing more scenarios and crude words are piled on. I do believe that to stay would not only be somewhat enabling as someone previously stated, but also a waste of life bc almost all the energy one has gets invested in trying to make something work that has proven time and time again that it won’t without mutual consent. This also, my dear, turns into marriage being an idol, bc even though you may not think you even like the person or relationship all of your life is consumed with it.

  19. I don’t think this article is saying anything about it being the women’s fault. My take is that we, can’t control what our husbands do. As we well know. How are we productive as a Christian women if we are only led by what our husbands do. We are here to serve Christ only. As we serve and obey Him, our path is lit in a direction of wisdom and grace, outside our own understanding.
    Our husbands do these things, because they do not know who they are in Christ. If they did, they would never treat us this way.
    But if we don’t focus on what they do, and only focus on our relationship with Christ…this is where our freedom is found.
    God’s compassion is on us, And in us, if we know who He is. This is the only way to see the way to freedom from ourselves, and our needs.
    That has nothing to do with not having compassion for our needs, it’s everything to do with surrendering them to the only one that truly understands what we need! BELIEVE. FAITH. TRUST. God IS good.

  20. Joy, I agree with you. What we center our thoughts on effects us greatly. We can’t change others. We live in a broken sinful world and have to deal with it daily. God is very concerned how we respond to the difficulties He has Soveriegnly allowed into our lives. It is true, that if we make loving and knowing God more important than anything else, we will find the things that we think we need, will not have such power over us. There is freedom and healing in a loving, growing relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. Psalm 16 in the ncv version says “no, the Lord is all I need he takes care of me.” I want to have a heart that is so content like that. I’m not there yet but it is my goal. And in case you were wondering I too am in the same circumstance with my husband. And I have to keep bringing myself back to the truth. I can only fix myself. God is all I need. He is more than sufficient for all my needs.
    God is most glorified when we are most satisfied, in him. (John Piper)
    We make a god out of whatever we find the most Joy in. So, find your joy in God and be done with all idolatry

  21. My goodness! So much said already. But, I’d like to take a chance at offering a little additional help and to encourage you to find a counselor that shares your values and beliefs. Someone you connect with and someone who is Biblically grounded. I have been involved in ministry (mostly women) for over 20 years. Abuse in marriage is an on-going, growing problem both inside and outside of the church. The pain of being abused in marriage cannot be overstated. I felt the pain, rejection, disrespect, abandonment and neglect that was indicated over and over in the above posts. Just a few comments: !) Remember: If it’s not your problem, you can’t fix it. You can encourage, pray and do your part but you cannot “fix” another person (your abuser). That person must invest in their own healing. Many times applying reasonable boundaries will help make a difference. However, you may need the assistance of an experienced counselor to assist you. When there has been a lack of boundaries, your abuser may feel threatened by them. Therefore, it is helpful to have some guidance as you incorporate your own new behaviors and expectations. All healthy relationships have boundaries. In fact, boundaries are what keep healthy relationships healthy. Boundaries help identify and maintain our identity as an individual. Though we become “as one” in marriage, we still have separate identities. If you do not have good boundaries that promote safety and healthy emotions, could it be that the lack of boundaries enable your abuser? A Godly counselor can help you incorporate timely/healthy boundaries. 2) Try not to spiritualize or minimize your problems by covering it up with scripture. Do take responsibility for your own actions. God’s Word is true from beginning to end but it was never meant to be used as a substitute (avoid) for dealing with reality but rather the foundation of dealing with reality. 3) Understand if your spouse is involved in pornography, the common result is desensitizing the emotions of that person. The truth is the addiction is now the partner and the individual’s needs are met through the addiction and emotions are seared and the individual becomes emotionally unavailable. (Refer back to #1) 4) When marriages go south, the root problem must be determined and resolved for healing to take place. It usually existed prior to the marriage. It is not uncommon for both partners to have unresolved, adverse experiences that project into the relationship and that need healing. 5) Forgiveness and trust are not the same thing. We would be foolish to trust an abuser who has not changed their behavior and been repentant. Trust should be earned … not expected. 6) Where physical abuse is involved, your safety and the safety of your children should always come first. Seek the advice of a domestic violence advocate/professional to understand how to do this. If you go to your states web-site, there may be resources to help you……just type “domestic violence” in the search space, your spiritual leaders and other county mental health services should be able to provide helpful resources. Dr. James Dobson’s book—“Tough Love” and “Boundaries in Marriage” by Townsend and Cloud and “False Intimacy” by Schaumberg are excellent resources that are Biblically sound. There are no easy solutions to all the stories told above, but, I hope the resources will help you. In closing, please remember that God created us for relationship. We are driven to be in relationship with others. He never meant for us to walk alone. A trusted counselor or confidant can be such a powerful help when we feel cast down, betrayed and abandoned. It may take more than one attempt at finding that person but Jehovah Jireh — the God Who provides will be faithful—his mercies are new every morning! Continue to call unto Him (Jehovah Rapha—the God Who heals) and He will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you do not know. That’s just the kind of God He is!!! May God bless each of you as you seek His will and wisdom.

  22. So what is a sexually deprived woman suppose to do when her physical body needs sex from her husband and the only, safe thing she knows to do, being a Christian, with that feeling is to masturbate or cheat and think of any other man but the husband who continuously deprives, rejects and emotionally abuses her?

  23. What about when the husband is not a believer? I find myself apologizing for him a lot and wonder about how forgiveness works for nonChristians living under the law and not the new compensation? I can’t restore him to righteousness, that’s God’s job. But if he’s not seeking it, what does my forgiveness actually mean when I truly believe if we were more equally yoked, I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed by the responsibility of being the only Christian example he has! My husband and I have come a long way in our relationship. Growing up I was always in church, church camp, youth group and strayed for a little over a decade. It took years of situations like being rejected sexually and emotionally and being lied to for me to come home to God and dig for some truth. I went thru a period when I denied my Christian faith and clung to a more “spiritual understanding” (which was wrong) but because he could understand that, but there was no faith. He picked at me and made fun of my “beliefs”. Now that I’m back in the Word he doesn’t, and he is actually willing to hear the Word and reading Stormie Omartian books :), but he still hasn’t accepted Jesus. He still holds to his blasphemous vices. Like certain music and unsavory images. And all of this reservation I have still stems from the rejection and the wrongs from years ago and some recent. I don’t know how to make him understand that we need to be on one side of the fence or the other, and I’ve picked the side I want to be on. Most of the books I’ve read have said the same… look inward, pray for insight and be kinder and more accepting and there does not seem to be much emphasis on what the man can do or is wrong for unless he is physically abusive. So, I’ve come to the realization that I just have to walk my own walk and that is my ministry since he doesn’t get the concept of faith. And just show him what it means to love unconditionally. I can’t beg and scream and cry enough because I cannot change him, only God can. And more so than praying for God to change him, or even change myself; it’s more frustrating that all I can do is walk my walk and that I have no control over his faith. He is seeing the changes in me and is more eager to sit down and read the word together. One more thing. I had been contemplating how to even bring up the topics of more intimacy and Christlike behavior, and I saw a picture that said “The best way to get what you want is to ask” and that sparked all of this. Ask God and one way or another you’ll get your answer. Might not be what you WANT to hear and there are probably truths about yourself that you don’t want to face, but when you overcome and succeed… isn’t that what the journey is all about?

  24. Amen Sarah. While I would have like counseling, I do know my part as a Christian wife & done so for nearly 15 yrs. Being neglected most of them. But I don’t want counseling from anyone who’s going to tell me about looking at my heart. Been there, done that and so I’ve kept on to try to be right in my Father’s eyes. But I spend everyday hurt from his neglect. No, I don’t need to look inward, my husband does. And yes, men who neglect their wives can’t be surprised when she changes or her eyes turn somewhere else for a split second. It’s temptation. Don’t put unreasonable expectations on her and make her struggle everyday to be the wife and mom she was called to be, then fail on your part!

  25. As a woman enduring this kind of marriage, I can relate to the pain, anger, bitterness, and deep sorrow expressed in some of these comments by the women who aren’t receptive to the counsel given in this article. To those hurting women I say, with the utmost compassion and tenderness, that I understand you; that your suffering Savior understands you and sees you; but I must also confess to you that the author is absolutely right, and her counsel is Biblically sound, and can and WILL bring you the healing your heart so desperately needs and desires if you will have ears to hear. I have been in Biblical Counseling for two years now learning some very difficult, yet sanctifying and beneficial lessons through my painful marriage. I promise you, there is One whose love is far superior to any kind of love that your heart desires from your sinful, broken, imperfect husband.

    Let me also say that God is not okay with the calloused and unloving ways your husband treats you. You must trust that God will deal with your husband in His own time and in His own way. Until then, you must try, for your own joy and healing, to look at this situation from an eternal perspective and from a Biblical perspective.

    Run to Jesus, my dear sisters. Pour out your heart to Him and allow His compassion, love, and comfort to bind up your broken heart. But also, through the paralyzing emotions, you must ask Him to help you to see and understand how He’s wanting to use this to comform you into the image of His Son. Don’t forget, beloved, that this is why He saved you and called you out of the world. His will for your life is to be conformed to the image of Jesus. Do you believe He knows better than we do how to accomplish this? Do we trust Him? Do we truly believe that our souls and our lives have been bought with a price, and that we are no longer our own? Do we want what WE desire above what God wants for us? Do we believe that He is our all good, perfectly loving Father? Do we believe that He is sovereign over every single thing in our lives, including trials and tribulations? Have we made our desire for the “ideal Christian marriage” an idol in place of living to serve and glorify God regardless of how others, including the one that should love us most, treats us? Have we considered how Christ was treated and all that He was willing to suffer for the joy of accomplishing God’s will? Have we deceived ourselves into believing that God owes us the marriage we desire? These are all difficult questions to answer, but nonetheless, they must be answered if you are to be pulled out of this pit of sorrow you are dwelling in. You must, my dear sister, examine your heart. I had made my desire for a Christian marriage, and love from my husband, my idol, and I couldn’t be happy or peaceful unless I had it. What is the first and greatest commandment? God is jealous for you. He will not share the throne of your heart with anything, anyone, or any desire above Himself. Desires for good things, for Biblical things, are not sinful, but when we cannot be content not to have those desires met then that is an indicator that we have made that desire an idol. We must repent!

    I was reading in Hebrews 12 this morning to remind myself that God has soveriegnly allowed this pain in my marriage to discipline and chastise me for my own good. To remind myself that my loving Father is more concerned about my holiness than he is my happiness derived from rosey circumstances.

    It is my most sincere hope that this has been an encouragement to you. I would love to answer any questions and offer any counsel I can. Again, as one whom the Lord is profoundly changing through my painful marriage, I have much hope and encouragement to offer, and it would be my joy to do so.

    May the Lord’s will be done.

  26. Ladies, I admit I was shocked at the number of you who considered this post to be uncaring and harsh. I have to wonder what led to such responses, for as I reread this post I did not find the accusations and blame some of you found there. My heart aches with the realization that some of you commenters believe I was blaming you for your husband’s sin.

    A number of those who commented mentioned an abusive husband. I wish to clarify that this post is not written for a woman who is living in a physically, spiritually, sexually or emotionally abusive marriage. To further clarify, I understand that when your husband is emotionally and physically unavailable to you it can feel or even be emotionally “abusive” depending on other factors in the relationship. I do not encourage women in abusive marriages to remain passively in such marriages; there is help for those who suffer in this way.

    This post is written for the purpose of helping a woman who has been essentially emotionally abandoned by her husband in the marriage to biblically assess HER responses to her situation. The only heart issues you can deal with are your own. As Joy said in her excellent response, there is nothing you can do to change your husband. The only person you can work on is you. This does NOT mean you are at fault for how your husband treats you! Perhaps I could have been clearer in how I wrote that…

    I appreciate all the feedback, however negative it is.

    May God give you grace and mercy in your situations.


    1. Thanks, Julie, for helping to clarify the main points of your article and to graciously respond to commenters with negative responses. –LAM

    2. A lot of women seem incensed here by the very thought that a wife might need to accept the rejection in her marriage and just endure. Don’t feel too bad! Enduring this has been the way of life for many if not most husbands since the dawn of time. In fact I don’t doubt that many of the wives here are just being asked to take what they themselves have been handing out for years. I’m not surprised though that they can’t take what they dish out. Never thought you’d Have to?

      I am astounded though about the sentiment here that women are always blamed. Where? Certainly not in Church or “Christian” writings. And very rarely in counseling. On the Internet perhaps. It’s the only place where the obligatory rules of praising and pandering to women are not enforceable simply by the threat of women leaving unless they’re being flattered. We’ve all heard the compulsory Man-Up sermons, read the articles of the same. Woman-Up is so unspoken it can’t even be said without sounding strange. Why is that?

      Grateful to be a single, never married man. There’s a lot of us out here. All of us just does wonders to convince us to stay that way.

  27. I wish I hadn’t read another Christian-based article on this topic. Almost always a waste if time. Because of course we, as wives, have responsibility in our marriage, but so does the husband. It seems that this faith always finds a way to blame shift to the female.

    My husband isn’t interested in his wife except as a friend and roommate, with occassional fringe benefits. I am struggling to overcome this heartache, to find solutions, ways of approaching him beyond the many ways I already have. The “support” we need is not saying “look into your own heart” and pray about it. “don’t feel self-pity, though this is so painful that you might spiral into depression and anxiety. But no, you can’t feel that way.”

    This is just another “boys will be boys” approach, dressed up under religious auspices. This sort of thing is why I walked away from this faith after generations of ministers in my family: If you are a woman, you are a scapegoat.

    Yes, I am angry and I am hurt. I came here looking for guidance, support, maybe some validation beyond, “yup it hurts. Now try really hard to see how you, as the woman, are at fault, accept that your man will treat you however he sees fit… and live with it, girlfried. Cause after all, you are just an extension of Eve.”

    Yes, I read between the lines. Maybe I am simply jaded by my husband and my church. Maybe it is all my fault. That doesnt mean I won’t look for REAL solutions, real validation, real support, as I navigate one of the most agonizing realities I have to live with daily for the rest of my life. You honestly believe we aren’t already searching our souls? How do you think we fall into the depression trap you mentioned? Because we flay our hearts open in our search for answers, we judge ourselves more harshly than anyone else could. Why lay more blame at our feet? Don’t you think we have enough of that?

    1. We appreciate your comment, dear reader. You’ve been hurt badly. Scripture clearly states that a husband is to be a loving servant in the marriage, and the wife is to respond in submission to his loving leadership. A loving servant-leader would not intentionally hurt his wife and if he did, he would ask her forgiveness. When a husband acts hatefully to his wife, the wife had options. On one hand, when there is violence she would be wise to involve the civil authorities and seek protection. On the other hand, if there are constant arguments (or similar ordinary marital problem), the couple might speak to their pastor or with a trusted Christian friend or with a biblical counselor to identify the root problem and solve it biblically.

      I hope this helps.

  28. I can relate i feel rejected by my husband at times

    When i want to be intimate, its one excuse after another.

    Tonight’s classic excuses: “I’m tired” “ my stomach hurts”

    But all evening you flirt like you are in the mood!

    When he is the mood its game on but when its me time out! Excuseville

    I get so angry, I cry and I say things i don’t honestly mean.
    Its frustrating

    But i come back to the cross and seek Jesus to ask for forgiveness, and to help me through this because I don’t know what to do or why this happens

  29. This is passive, luke-warm “Christian” advice. God’s forgiveness of us is unconditional. But reconciliation of our relationship with him is CONDITIONAL. Our eternal salvation is CONDITIONAL. How could you even suggest that a woman put up with her husband’s neglect, rejection, humiliation and emotional torture? How could you even suggest a woman put up with what is clearly vow-breakage? The bible says DO NOT WITHOLD FROM EACH OTHER LEST YOU BE TEMPTED. If you really truly were on the side of woman and fought for a BIBLICAL marriage, you would urge these women to 1. Seek God. 2. Put boundaries down AS SOON as these things began happening to protect themselves. I do not think this is sound biblical advice at all. It feeds codependency. It also PROMOTES sin. Wow, I am in shock. I question the author – have YOU ever experienced this? If you have, where did it get you? How long has it been going on for? How is YOUR state of emotional being, your sense of self and self-worth? Sounds to me like you have no idea.

  30. WOW! I came across this article and the many excellent responses while doing a search for: Is it Biblically ok for a wife to reject intimacy and treat her husband with disdain, hate and rejection in an ongoing manner, I already know as believer that its not but I am desperately seeking answers after almost 18 years together and an increasing downward spiral…

    I simply want to say that for all the women here I feel your pain and to tell you that the answers for how to deal with that pain were and are the same ones I got in Christian Counseling; as a hurting Christian Man…Basically to get over myself and accept that the only thing I can change is myself that if my wife chooses to never change I am to focus on the Lord and accept that as my yoke… I know I have my faults and one is that after weeks and months of this rejection and hateful treatment I get frustrated and angry which she then uses as an excuse as the cause of all our problems a continuess crazy cycle we live in.

    I am an extremely Loving and Romantic guy I think my wife is the most Beautiful Woman in the World because I look at her through my Lord’s eyes and my love and desire for her is rejected constantly. I have tried all Five of the Love Languages and beyond she has almost zero appreciation for me…I fully know and understand your hurts and frustrations.

    I have changed in so many positive ways through my walk with the Lord but have come to believe that I will probably never meet her expectations of what she considers to be a perfect and acceptable husband, father and man… to be honest I don’t think she even knows what they are as they change like the wind… Please do not blame men in general because the reality is we wage war not against flesh and blood but against the evil forces of our enemy Satan Ephesians 6:
    I Pray constantly for the Lord to show me my failings that I may make the changes in my life to truly be in His will and I pray for peace and restoration in my marriage and family and I pray these things for all of your lives…in Jesus name…Amen

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