Truly Miserable?


Lately, in several of my posts, I have spoken of husbands who are miserable. I’ve said that the mantra “Everything in our marriage is great, except…” is really a statement of misery. I also said, flatly, in a post about working on getting healthy, that reading my blog is tantamount to admitting to misery. However, recently I’ve been doing some thinking (which is a heck of an easy out when asked why I don’t appear to be doing anything) and wondering if the sexless marriages of my readers has truly made them miserable, or merely inconvenienced them.

I’m doing something a little different here, but I might be saying to some of you readers, “You don’t need to be here.”** I wrote the Addressing The Sexless Marriage series (which included a post on different things to do to try to move your marriage) for miserable husbands. It’s my firm, bedrock belief that until your marriage situation is intolerable, you will tolerate it. It’s the same principle that drove the prodigal son to his senses; it was only after he realized just how far he was from his Father’s will that he created a plan on how to change his situation: “I will arise and say to my father…..”

Which he then did.

Guys, if you are not yet completely starved by living off the leavings of your marriage and are willing to maintain your situation, please bookmark this site and come back in a year or ten when you are truly miserable.

“Wife, Are You Happy?”

This post is a spin-off of the “Except” mantra that I’m always reading, i.e., “except for this one area…”

Recently, I read yet another of these statements, and this time, it was bundled with a companion statement from the husband that his wife was completely satisfied with their marriage. Then someone must have had a stroke of genius (or inspiration, or snark, take your pick) because it occurred to this person to wonder if the wife cared that the husband wasn’t happy. I could see what the questioner was getting at: how great a relationship can be if one person in the marriage is satisfied knowing that the other is experiencing marital misery?

And that’s when that questioner made a connection I didn’t see coming. S/he asked the Hubs if his wife knows that he is unhappy. This person made the connection that this husband didn’t; in order to keep the peace, in order to maintain the facade of a good marriage, these husbands aren’t willing to communicate the depth of their true feelings, and instead, just “go along to get along.” It’s one thing to ask your wife, “Are you happy?” This questioner realized that it’s quite another altogether to let her know that you aren’t. After all, as I like to say, “It’s not her marriage, it’s not your marriage; it’s Y’ALLS marriage.”

Wake-Up Call

I know of two instances in which something akin to this happened. In the first instance, the wife was doing one of those Ladies Home Journal/Redbook type of questionnaires that purports to show how happy a marriage is; the wife concluded aloud to her husband that their marriage was really good, and asked if he didn’t agree. He decided that honesty was called for and told her for the first time that, in essence, HIS marriage brought him no joy. He tells how his wife felt like she was stabbed in the heart, but it did lead to extended discussion and a turn around.

In the second instance, the wife was planning a wonderful vacation to a popular getaway spot. She noted that a milestone anniversary was approaching, and wouldn’t it be great to celebrate their anniversary by renewing their wedding vows while on their vacation. The husband, who had been enduring imposed celibacy for years, in an unaccustomed fit of candidness, simply asked, “What have we got to celebrate?” He wrote that for a few seconds his wife looked stunned, but then began a 2-hour verbal assault. But, he said, she knew that behind all her anger and vituperation, she could no longer hide behind the facade of the Good Christian Marriage™.

And that is important, isn’t it? As long as we can hide behind facades, as long as we can hide behind our masks of being the GCW™ or having the perfect family, as long as we can maintain the pretense that “All’s well”, then we don’t have to face reality.

“Well, That Makes One Of Us”

“Whoa, CSL! That’s kind of harsh, isn’t it? Are you trying to cause a divorce?”

Actually, I would hope to prevent a divorce; I would love for you and your wife to be able to work on your marriage and make your home a true sanctuary. But as long as facades and masks are allowed to be maintained, I believe that the chances of divorce continue to grow. Why? The “Walk Away Spouse” syndrome.

If you google the phrase “Walk Away Wife”, you will get over 45 million hits. While many talk of the Walk Away Wife, what isn’t discussed is the Walk Away Husband. Google that phrase, and you come up with over 35 million hits. When you do any reading about this Walk Away syndrome, you quite often find that when it happens, the “Walked From” is shocked, saying that the divorce came “out of the blue.”

I was surprised to read one article, several years old, that made an interesting observation. According to many researchers, most divorces in the U. S. are initiated by women. However, according to the article,

One recent study found that a greater number of women may initiate divorce because of laws that in most states are written so that women have an advantage in receiving child custody. In states where there is a presumption of shared custody, the percentage of women initiating divorce is much lower, according to a recent article in the journal American Law and Economics Review.

Did you get that line, “the percentage of women initiating divorce is much lower…”? That means that the percentage of men initiating divorce in those states is much higher. Unfortunately, it seems that husbands are just as willing to check out of their marriages as wives. Hence, the need to worry about Walk Away Husbands.

I’ve been reading blogs and forums for five years now, and there is a phenomenon that I have observed as I’ve gotten involved with them. Quite often, a refused husband will take umbrage at the idea that he’s got to do something ‘drastic’ in order to shake up his marriage. Many times they have said that they will continue to pray and trust God to change their wives. In essence, they elect to maintain the status quo. After all, “We’re men! We don’t complain, we can just suck it up and keep on going. Marital peace must be maintained.”

But here’s what I’ve seen countless times: after a year or two more, a sense of despair and defeat creeps into their tone, and I know of several who have said, “I can’t go on like this.” In that short period of time, their misery has forced them to ‘check out’ of their marriages, and, I believe, it will be only a matter of time before they become Walk Aways. It wasn’t another decade or two down the road, it was only a few months or a couple of years. They underestimated the corrosive effect that continual refusal would have by overestimating their strength in the face of this refusal. They are at-risk, pure and simple.

“Let Him Speak, Or Forever ….”

To my mind, it has to be better to be open with your wife about how you feel about your marriage than it is to suffer in silence and passive complicity. The old phrase “constance dropping wears away a stone” applies here. A marriage cannot be healthy, cannot stay healthy,  if it is characterized by constance refusal and rejection by one spouse for the other. This can only lead to walls being erected between husband and wife, resulting in isolation in the marriage. From there, it’s not a long drive to separation and divorce; it’s a short putt.

Be willing to speak up. Yes, her sensibilities may bruised, but that and communication is better than divorce.


** And here is the line that I referenced in my Great Minds #6.🙂


Filed under Marriage & Sexuality

25 responses to “Truly Miserable?

  1. IntimacySeeker

    Excellent post. I am grateful for the day my husband made the depth of his emotional pain clear to me. I had known he was somewhat frustrated occasionally. I did not understand he felt unloved, disrespected, vulnerable. I unknowingly abused him.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. resigned

    An experienced well seasoned old sufferer here. It always seems something is unique to your own situation. In my case, when I have tried to attempt to discuss my feelings over the past 25 years she masterfully somehow twists and turns it and uses her temper to put it back on me. I don’t feel she has the ability to listen with a compassionate heart. WAY too defensive and sensitive! I believe it’s a sad result of having two parents who did not have the ability to love or care. Nonetheless, in my case, talking does not work at all!


    • Talking doesn’t work? Try walking. As in ‘walking away’. I see that I need to do a post on therapeutic distance. Stay tuned, sir. One new post on therapeutic distancing will come out by the end of the month.


      • resigned

        I have no doubt the abuse she endured in her childhood is at the root of our problems. So at what point will God support my decision to walk and give me a pardon for the commitment ” in sickness and in health” that I made before him? I was aware of the emotional issues before marriage, just not the physical.


      • In looking over this post to check out a new comment, I discovered that you had made a second comment. To answer your question, I would ask you if your wife has abandoned your marriage? By that I am asking if she has settled in her emotional issues and adopted a “that’s the way I’m built” attitude, or is she actively seeking to get well?

        My take is that a wife who knows that she has issues due to past abuse or sin and refuses to work on them has abandoned her husband and her marriage, and has abrogated the marriage contract/covenant. Basically, if your wife is satisfied with her abuse giving her an out from being intimate with you, you are free to choose your own course of action.


      • resigned

        Have I neglected to mention that the wife is in complete denial of any emotional or control issues stemming from her upbringing. She doesn’t even believe we have a problem. Many thanks to the therapist who failed to address it or address our sex life! That’s why we were even there! She truly believes and feels she is just like all her friends. Thanks ladies! So, she doesn’t “know” I am being defrauded.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “Just like all her friends.”

        Ah, doncha just love it! A coterie of like-minded wives affirming each other in their gatekeeping. I always think it’s wonderful when we can set scripture aside just because “My friends say I’m normal.” *snort*

        Maybe you should ask why her friends get to tell you why you shouldn’t feel defrauded. Heck, why not get the husbands involved, as well? Ask your wife for the names of her friends that are affirming her gatekeeping, so you can invite Friend and her Hubs, so you can ask why they think gatekeeping you is such a good idea.

        You get my drift – push back against invalid, irrelevant excuses. Push back, don’t ‘settle.”


      • Object of Contempt

        Hmmm… It’s *real* easy to start “mind reading” in these cases. I have found that one of the biggest drains on my energy (beyond the depression) is all the work to distinguish what is a lie, what is a distortion, what are my own misperceptions, and if she is aware of a misperception on any level has she built on top of that… etc. ad mortem.

        It’s not fair to assume out of hand that she specifically knows that she is guilty of defrauding you. But, just trying to be sensible about the actions that you and she can actually see, sometimes you can come to a confident knowledge of what’s happening with her. If she is like someone *I* know, she will sometimes deny what happened right in front of both of us! This is more than just lying. This is gaslighting. She doesn’t simply want to misrepresent the facts. She doesn’t simply want to control me. She actually wants to make me feel like my mind is broken so that I can’t trust my own perception! It’s cruel and sometimes hard to detect. But, if you see something like that happening, then you *know* something about her and your circumstances. You can go on from there even if she denies every thing you ever say.

        I hope she isn’t doing that. But it seems to me that she *must* know something. For example, she has to be aware that she is resisting and fighting against you. That isn’t a throw-away piece of information, even if she doesn’t connect it to her lousy childhood.

        I haven’t figured out how to get my wife to listen or admit to the truth, but I seem to get deeper into her defenses when I make things real concise and direct. In this case you could point to the fact that she sides with and holds close to her friends, but fights with you… even though she promised to love, cherish, and *honor* you. Then stop there. Don’t debate or get sucked into a word salad. My wife would not think twice about denying it all and calling me mean for thinking something so awful about her. But maybe your wife would react differently.


  3. Phil

    Dear CSL, fresh from my re-visiting the psalms & proverbs and contemplating my journey with God I have been sitting on my hands recently but……

    I would like to share with you that, until I became rather stubborn in my disatifaction at the lack of intimacy in my marriage, life was okay, perhaps even pleasant. Now that I am reguarly highlighting how wrong I feel the total lack of sex is, life in my marriage has become more than a little strained. My wife truly believes that if I loved her then I should put up with her total lack of libido and when I mention that perhaps the opposite should apply from her point of view she simply admits that she knows she has a mental block regarding intimacy (caused by many reasons according to our counsellor) and that I should love her for ‘better or worse’ as per our wedding vows.

    There are two things that I conclude from this –
    1, A great deal of women know, conciously or sub-conciously that they hold the key to a man’s desire (ie sex/intimacy) and many use that power to get what they want. Once they have what they want they simply do not see a need to carry on with sex. In other words, women view sex in an entirely different way to men.
    2, I’m starting to view sex as a selfish act that destroys otherwise happy relationships and maybe my journey with God is to live a celibate but otherwise pleasant married life. As a fundamentally unselfish person much of me see’s this as the right thing to do.

    I reckon my plight is very common, why else would we have the phrase ‘hell has no fury like a woman scorned’ and how come we all know men get grumpy in their old age!

    With regards therapeutic distance, I recently spent a week apart from my wife (she was away for a few days then I went away). We did miss each other but she was no closer to intimacy when I returned whilst I wanted her more than ever!

    Finally, I’d love to hear from a husband (just two will do) whose wife used to refuse for many years but now gives him all the intimacy he desires because he discussed his need for sex with her… there aren’t many of you!!

    Sorry to be so negative/pragmatic……..maybe I’ve recently realised that my journey with God is a bit crap.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike

      I would say that I was one of those husbands who would have said “everything in our marriage is great, except….”. Married 24 years to a beautiful wife who is a wonderful mother to our children, and we really enjoy each other’s company. But the sex life, although not completely absent, wasn’t what I would call frequent either. For me it was a huge problem. And now I am ready to proclaim this problem in the past, thanks to this post:

      Seriously, it’s been a game changer.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just for my edification, which of the two tactics from that post was the game changer, scheduling or “on the clock”?


      • Mike

        The scheduling was what worked for us. I think it helped me to get my expectations more in line with reality, and it helped her to kind of be aware how often things were happening, or not happening. I am honestly surprised at how well this has worked, and I wish I had tried this a couple of decades earlier! I was happy with every area of our marriage but that one area before trying this, so now I am going to have to search hard to find something to complain about!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Not having much time, I’m just going to give a brief reply and come back to this in a day or two. You ask to hear from a husband or two whose wife used to refuse…..

      A quick challenge – join The Marriage Bed forum (the link is in the sidebar to the right), and post your request on that board. See what kind of response you get.

      (You did see the very first comment, above, by IntimacySeeker, right?)

      I’ll get back to the rest of your comments in a day or two……


      • Phil

        Thanks for the timely reply CSL, much appreciated.

        I’ll lay down my challenge on that forum later this evening.

        Intimacy Seeker’s comment was written by a woman, right? Not quite what I was actually asking for…….


      • Well, there’s Mike, above. 🙂

        Do go to TMB, and ask. In fact, if you email me, I can show you a thread by another husband on TMB, who did the same.


    • Object of Contempt

      There are so many possible causes for this kind of situation. Talking about it hasn’t ever helped my marriage either. Some women are emotionally abusive and believe they are justified before God and man. They are cruel but are very good at making it look like it is the way life is supposed to be. When a wife tries to make the husband believe that her withholding of affection and intimacy (spiritual, emotional, physical) are normal, and/or that the husband is being selfish, mean, or controlling because he wants that intimacy, she is being disingenuous. In fact, the manipulation and deflection of any effort to get close and address the real issues is more damaging over the long run than the sexual refusal itself. It is damaging because it reveals contempt. Contempt is the opposite of love.

      When you say that trying to change things makes your marriage more difficult, it shows that she is willing to be vindictive in order to shut you up. It may not be violent, but it is /her/ action/withholding that is causing the misery. I’m in the middle of this myself. For a long time I was unwilling to see the truth of what my wife was doing. Really, I was unwilling to admit that my wife regarded me with contempt — that she never intended to love me or pursue me. It still hurts, a lot, but at least I’m not deluding myself.

      The thing is, once I was honest with myself about what she was doing, I could no longer convince myself that it was accidental, unintentional, or some kind of reflex. If she loved me, and wanted to be *married*, then her love would have provided the motivation to correct and heal problems (especially after I told her how it was hurting me). She would at least have allowed the real issues to be addressed rather than deflecting, blaming, gaslighting, etc… Wives know when they get married that their men want to be intimate and sexual with them. To evade that is to defraud. It’s wrong. Wives generally enjoy and desire sex. Their drives are different, but they don’t hate sex as a rule. Suggesting otherwise is a manipulative lie.

      Leading a wife and loving her as Christ loves the church isn’t about just allowing her comfort to rule the home. I have come to the conclusion that allowing my wife to continue like this is not only dangerous for my spirit, it is also wrong in that I would be enabling her to walk in sin.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Phil

        I agree with what you say but I’m yet to find anything that will change her contempt, have you? I’ve been studying books and scouring the internet for some little gem that will start to unlock the intimacy in our marriage but so far nothing. I’ve read of poor souls praying for change as if they think were praying for a winning lotto ticket – sorry to burst the bubble but that’s never going to work. You only have to see the misery the people of the world are inflicting on each other at the moment to realise that an individuals marrital bliss is way down the list of Gods to do’s! The nearest I come to making any sense of sexual refusal is to look at what happens to the creatures all around us…..generally the male of any species has to prove himself worthy as a mate and only when he’s done that does he get what he wants. If our wives don’t see us as worthy or if they are secure in the knowledge we are worthy but won’t go looking elsewhere then they’re not going to try very hard at providing the intimacy we crave. This is even more apparent after they’ve had all the children they want. Sorry to be blunt about this but if God created the majority of creatures to behave this way instinctively then why should we be any different?


      • Object of Contempt

        Answering your last question first, we aren’t like the animals. Animals work in numerous ways sexually. The comparison isn’t really possible, but there is a comparison to be made… We have been made in the image of God, male and female. This is a very big deal with lots of implications. I found it a blessing to think about that and revisit various Bible verses with that in mind. Buzzards, guppies, hyenas, earthworms … nothing to do with us and how we are made to function in marriage.

        Now the first question… No. I am hurting and crying as I type this. I have found no way to convince her to change her contempt. It has always been there. Red pills won’t fix it. Better job didn’t fix it. Explaining candidly, sharing blog posts, reminding her of her vows, nothing gets through. It sucks. It hurts. It pisses me off…. Intimacy can’t happen even if sex does, because she is determined to prevent it.

        I don’t think that means that God just relegates good marriages to the end of His “todo, but only after hell freezes” list. It matters a lot to Him. People with terminal illnesses could blame God for being unloving and unfair because He hasn’t healed them. This seems foolish to me. The one thing that helps me keep my head on straight *right*now* is His word, His compassion, His truth.

        Our marriages aren’t a shambles because God hasn’t cared about them. They’re in shambles because of human sin and destructive actions. God is able to redeem it all… even if it is after we die. Abraham was looking for the fulfillment of the promise. He will get it. I’m counting on Him to keep his promises because He is the only one keeping my spirit from imploding. I truly hope this doesn’t sound like empty platitudes. Until now, I never knew how practical and lovely His promises were. Now they are all I have to comfort me. I cling to them in desperation, and have never seen Him let me down.

        N.B.: I’m pointing to God’s faithfulness, but not trying to say anything positive or negative about separation or divorce. I’m far too raw in my spirit to even describe what I think about those things. God is good and faithful regardless.


      • Phil

        Dear Object of Comtempt

        I’m afraid I have been hurt by God’s actions and so don’t have your all encompassing faith. My father, a good christian man, died of cancer when I was a teenager and my little brother died of a embolism in his heart when he was just 25. Both were entirely natural causes. I’m not sore about it and I still believe in God but more as the creater of the world we live in rather than the ‘He will fix all’ blind faith that many have. Those that choose to rely on every word the bible says must surely realise that it was written by men, translated by men and read/interpeted by men.

        I have to say I am truly sorry to read of your anguish. I recognise your emotions as I have hurt in much the same way. Thankfully I am in a better place now and this is because I recently realised that my upset & sadness wasn’t very attractive…..if I were my wife why would I want to be intimate with me! This is where my reference to other creatures comes in – if you make yourself attractive to your wife then she may get over her anger at you and things may progess. When I mean attreactive, I don’t mean better job or bigger house or even less weight, I mean be attractive as a person, make her laugh, make her see the person she married. I don’t propose this will have an overnight affect but it certainly is helping my marriage right now and I’m only a couple of weeks into it.


      • Phil

        PS – sorry about the spelling earlier….big fingers, a small phone and too little time!


  4. Phil

    Thanks for the input Mike, so good to hear that something worked for you. Like CSL, I’d love to know if it was the scheduling or the notification of a bail out date that worked for you?

    The calender method stands zero chance of working for me. It’s been almost 3-years since we got close to sex and the time before that was over 4-years ago. It’d be rather a blank calender!!

    Putting her on the clock is also unlikely to work as I get the “if your so desperate for sex then why don’t you go and find someone who wants it” message when pressed. She doesn’t mean it but it does take the sting out of things plus I’d be a pretty lousy husband if I did.


    • Hi, Phil,

      I’ve been waiting for you to post your challenge on TMB, and I’m glad to see that you have. In this reply to Mike, you say that your wife would dismiss your clock by telling you to go find someone else. There are two ways that that thought has been expressed, so I’m not sure what your wife’s statement would mean, so I’ll address both possibilities:

      1 – I’ve read where husbands have had their wives yell at them, “Well, go to a prosititute, then”, or something along that line. I believe that that would be the easiest thing to deal with. If this is what you think your wife would say, just ask her to help find one that she approves, and tell her that since she wants to have her husband have sex with another woman, that you and she need to go see the pastor of your church and ask him for pre-affair counseling. I’d love to see your wife explain sexual refusal to the pastor, and even why she would want to push you do commit adultery. I make this suggestion because I believe that destroying the facade of the GCW™ is one of the best things you can do, as it is the currency that she deals in.

      2 – If your wife is saying that she prefers celibacy to marriage, and that if you want sex, get a divorce, that’s your call. I’ve cited Corey Allan’s advice, in several of my articles, about seriously thinking about and deciding whether or not sexlessness is a deal-breaker for you, or not. I will tell you that I know of one marriage that ended a year ago, when a wife let her husband know that she preferred celibacy to marriage. If this is your wife’s position, then the ball is in your court. Is sexlessness a deal-breaker, or can you be a monk for the rest of your life? It’s your call.


      • Phil

        HI CSL,
        I’m rather flattered that you had been thinking about me & my situation and very impressed that you found my post on the TMB forum as there is a lot going on there….it took me a month to read through the forum to make sure I wasn’t going to annoy people by posting in the wrong place or duplicating some other thread….I know how delicate some of these forums can be.

        To reply to your points –
        1 This is exactly what she says but not what she means. My wife is very good at saying one thing and meaning another! It’s a test if you like, just to see where we’re at and my reaction of “but I don’t want anyone else, I just want you” always makes her feel guilty enough to stop ranting. With regards exposing her, I have done this with the counsellor we are currently seeing and to some extent with a few close friends and although she doesn’t like it she seems to prefer this to the thought of sex with me which leads me rather neatly on to your second point…
        2 Her reasons for not wanting sex are many, some physical and some mental, but the brutal truth is if she really had any care for me she would find a way of sharing some form of sexual intimacy with me. Whilst I do believe she loves me I think it is because of the strength, protection, confidence I bring to her life, it certainly cannot be for the wild sexual passion hmph! Yes, the ball is very much in my court with regards what happens next and with the way the counselling is heading I can see a decision having to be made before too long. The very odd thing here is, and I understand that medically this is quite common, since I’ve started to realise that my wife would rather we were celibate my desire for sex has dropped significantly thus taking a lot of the pressure away and massively reducing the stress I was suffering. This stress was not only making me short-tempered but it was starting to cause hair loss and weight gain. One thing I do know, when the time comes for me to make a decision I will be calm and considered and at peace with myself.

        God bless you.

        PS – The TMB forum responses to my post do rather indicate that once sex has stopped in a relationship for a prolonged period it is unlikely ever to return.


  5. Phil

    Well Mike wasn’t actually being refused…..I know I’m being pedantic but the detail makes all the difference.

    Email on its way shortly, thanks.

    And before someone says “Well your wife is being lousy” I’d just like to point out that I don’t believe two wrongs make a right.


  6. Pingback: Therapeutic Distancing | The Curmudgeonly Librarian

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