Two Black Holes

readers respond

This is going to be short (well, by my lights, anyway), and certainly won’t answer any questions. But if it prompts someone to action, then well and good.

In response to my last post, one reader wrote a comment and included this at the end of his comment:

In my reading of many of the marriage blogs by wives, I’m starting to think, a lot of the lack of desire in wives for husbands, is a symptom of lack of respect, and appreciation for what the husband does and is.. All the comments about only wanting sex, to me as a man, is very disrespectful. As if my desire for my wife, is perverse or sinful.

And as seems to be the custom of my commenters (my readers are perscipacious, if I do say so myself), he put his finger squarely on something that I’ve been thinking about for a couple of weeks. Oddly enough, I’ve even run some thoughts by Wife. The fact is that while Christian marriage bloggers and writers (I include myself) deal very earnestly with trying to help husbands and wives to improve their relationships and their marriages, there are two specific target audiences that seem to have little to no support at all. These two audiences I refer to as the Black Holes of Advice.

Black Hole #1 – Refused Wives

As you might surmise, I do carry a concern for husbands who are going through the hell of sexual refusal in marriage. (If you haven’t surmised that, you’re blind. jes’ sayin’.) But I am hardly the only one out here addressing the matter. Yes, I am possibly one of the oldest and most obnoxious and obstreperous writing about it, but I’m hardly alone.

But there doesn’t seem to be much support for refused wives. Oh, a couple of years ago, an anonymous woman started blogging about living in her sexless marriage, but after a few months, she stopped. I do know this, that many of the bloggers I visit who address sexless marriages receive feedback from wives saying “My situation is the opposite, it’s my husband who doesn’t want to have sex.” And while these bloggers (whom I do admire, I assure you) sympathize and offer prayers for these wives, I notice that there aren’t too many referrals or resources for these refused wives.

That’s not to say that there aren’t a few resources, but they are few and far between. Michelle Weiner-Davis followed up her Sex-Starved Marriage (2003) with The Sex-Starved Wife (2008), and she has a website that builds on the book. I’m ordering her book, and I’m hoping to find that it will be a good resource. However, I just went to YouTube to re-watch her great TEDTalk of a couple years ago, and noticed that while she paid lip service to the fact that both men and women suffer in sex-starved marriages, her examples and solutions tended to the archetypical, including the Nike solution.

All is not lost, however, as one of the bloggers that I spoke of, above, decided to address the issue head-on. Her article was so good, it inspired me to refer refused husbands to go read it and to heed her advice to sex-starved wives. I’m referring to Sheila Wray Gregoire’s Do I Have To Live With A Sex-less Marriage. I’m hoping I’m wrong, but it seemed to me that her post was ground-breaking.

Black Hole #2 – Disrespected Husbands

There are any number of writers and bloggers who address the topic of disrespectful behavior by wives toward husbands. Just about every Christian blogger focused on women readers addresses the need for wives to be mindful of showing respect and not contempt toward their husbands. April Cassidy, of Peaceful Wife, has made that a touchstone of her blogging and vlogging.

Emerson Eggerichs has written a excellent book on marriage dealing with the eponymous topics of Love & Respect. I have the book on my Kindle and it has me pondering, and will probably show up in my  blog in the form of several new posts. However, I have noted that all these wonderful writers don’t seem to have any advice for husbands on how to deal with disrespect.

While I highly recommend Eggerichs’ book, I have noticed that he relies on the assumption of good-will, saying that a good-willed husband and a good-willed wife can break The Crazy Cycle (his term for the downward spiral of a marriage relationship). Reading that set me on my own crazy cycle, the one in which I spin out contradictory questions, and I had to wonder how all this would work if one spouse wasn’t all that inclined to ‘good-will’. What if the disrespect has turned to contempt?, I began to wonder.

And I realized that there isn’t any Christian support, print or internet, for husbands of disrespected husbands. Yes, there are many who are willing to help wives learn to be more respectful, but I don’t see anyone coming alongside Christian husbands who are having to deal with blatant disrespect.

I’ve No Solutions, I’m Afraid

This is not my normal modus operandi. I don’t like posting without solutions; after all, I’m a guy and I prefer to put puzzles together, not take them apart. However, tj’s comment to my last post decided me on this post. He may or may not be right with his comment about lack of desire being due to disrespect. I suspect he’s correct for a certain percentage of sexless marriages. But be that as it may, he set my mind to whirling on this matter of lack of support and advice for refused wives and disrespected husbands.

I have no solutions, I’m afraid. I hope that someone else will consider the matter and discover a solution.



Filed under Marriage & Sexuality

34 responses to “Two Black Holes

  1. belovedalways is the blog of April’s husband. He may have some solutions for disrespected husbands although he writes a mixture-mostly to men, some to women.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I went to check it out, and in the Search box, typed in “disrespect”. Five articles written over 4 years. Good articles, but do they reflect a calling? 🙂

      I will be using some info from a couple of them, tho.


  2. Phil

    How about this article I found the other day –


    • How about it for what? Refused wives? Not even mentioned.
      Disrespected husbands? Not the topic of the article. But if he’s saying, “Guys, it’s your fault that she’s disrespectful,” doesn’t he border on blaming the victim? As I mentioned, I’ve been thinking about this for a week or two, and being a librarian, I did some searching. The reason I’m not enamored with Hartley is that I believe that I found this “blame the victim” mentality in another of his articles-


  3. tjcox53

    I’m afraid I’m at a loss too. I think it takes to tango, and if both partners are not good-willed, other than disengaging there’s not much that can be done. Ultimately,the only one we can control is ourselves. That’s hard for me to accept as a man, ’cause I’m all about fixing things.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Phil

    When there is so little helpful advice available one tends to clutch at straws!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s what’s been bothering me lately. I know that my audience is to refused husbands, but I’ve seriously thought about trying to write something that wives could use to get their husbands back on board the marriage. Can you imagine me writing for a female audience? I don’t do well with Kleenex and cuppas.

      Liked by 1 person

      • tjcox53

        Being older myself, I find the lack respect does have an affect on my level of desire for intimacy. I think this is what Phil in some of his comments has noticed. Not that the desire for intimacy has lessened, simply the desire with the particular person in question.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Go back to “Lost Toys, Lost Joys”; give it a read and see if you think it might be something your wife should read. Not a magic bullet, but who knows? Maybe it might sink in.

        Also, Eggerichs’s ch. 19, which I mentioned above, also speaks of wives who realized what they were doing.


  5. The disrespectful, contentious wife always has a reason for it. It seems to me that there is a ton of advice out there, it just tends to line up with the reasoning of the wives. LYWACLTC is intended as advice for men in this situation, for example. You have been looking for good, healthy, Biblical advice and found a black hole. If you “turn around” you’ll find a large pile of manure… that’s what we’re expected to use.

    I hope you’ll forgive my cynicism. Thank you for pointing out the problem, that’s a big deal whether you have a solution handy or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Have you managed to get a copy of Eggerichs’s Love & Respect? While he does presume “good-will”, he does write some interesting stuff that had me putting down my iPad with a loud exclamation of “Wow! Did he just say that?” His section in ch. 19, about no longer believing in infallibility of women’s intuition is insightful.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I did read parts of it. My wife feels empowered every time a pastor tries to make me change, and says I need to earn what she promised… so I’m hesitant to bring home a book that teaches mutual submission.

        Looking back, I can see that she regarded me with contempt from the very beginning. I’ve given up on our marriage. I am trapped in several ways… financial, kids, ptsd, isolation, but she functions fine while I’m hurting. No remorse, no concern, no effort. I am no longer looking for what will heal my marriage. I am looking for a way to heal myself. She is so sweet to everyone else that I doubt I’ll be able to escape with the kids, even if I could afford to rent a place and get a car.

        The divorce itself will probably alienate the kids from me. They only see a sweet, sacrificial mom.

        Liked by 1 person

      • My reading of the book is just the opposite,,that he doesn’t teach mutual submission.


  6. Phil

    Its the lack of ‘good will’ from the refusing/disrespectful wife that is the problem though.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. IntimacySeeker

    A wife for 35+ years, i believe there is a strong correlation between admiration and desire. If I am intentional about focusing on my husband’s positive attributes, I am more likely to initiate and/or enjoy sex. The more frequent and enjoyable the sex, the easier it is to focus on the positive attributes.

    I think of respect in terms of differences in how we are created or in how we are raised or other circumstances beyond our control. I think of admiration in terms of choices and actions that make someone stand apart from the crowd.

    I RESPECT that my husband has a sex drive because God created him that way, but I don’t necessarily respect (nor disrespect) my husband for having something so commonplace. If my husband communicated that sex was all that mattered in our relationship (I don’t want to KNOW you, I only want to DO you), I would wonder why he married.

    I ADMIRE my husband for desiring only me, as I have come to understand this is a choice on his part. I admire him for his tenderness with our grandchildren. I admire him for the invaluable service he delivers to his clients. I admire him for consistently reaching out to friends. These are the attributes that connect with my sexual desire for him.


    • tjcox53

      Well said! This is more what I had in mind IntimacySeeker in my comment on the correlation of respect and desire. Admiration is probably the word better suited to what I was thinking. Every woman when she married,men too for that matter, thought there was something special about their mate, or they wouldn’t have married them. Time,and the enemy of our souls tends to make us forget, the wonderful attributes of our spouses, which I think leads us into “The Crazy Cycle”.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting ideas, IS. I like the way you express it, but there might be one facet that is missing. While this may deal with interpersonal reaction, it doesn’t address PROaction.

      At the end of Eph. 5, Paul says that husbands are to love their wives and wives are to respect their husbands. It doesn’t say anything about admiration and desire.

      Q – How did my “Unconditional Love” Marries LYWLCLTC ( post, of last year come across to you? In it, I proposed that if Paul were teaching ‘unconditional love’, he was also teaching ‘unconditional respect’. If that be the case, then how does the ‘respect’ vs. ‘desire’ dynamic manifest itself, in your paradigm. Not being snotty; just wanting to understand how you see it playing out “in real life.”


      • IntimacySeeker

        I should have mentioned I was replying (mostly) to the quote at the beginning of this post: “In my reading of many of the marriage blogs by wives, I’m starting to think, a lot of the lack of desire in wives for husbands, is a symptom of lack of respect, and appreciation for what the husband does and is.. All the comments about only wanting sex, to me as a man, is very disrespectful. As if my desire for my wife, is perverse or sinful.”

        When I read Ephesians, I take into account the consensus of many Biblical scholars who believe these letters (along with Colossians and 2 Thessalonians) were probably not written by Paul, but by someone writing under his name which was common at the time. Some scholars will add that these letters reflect a desire to temper Paul’s radical teachings.

        I believe both genders need both love and respect and feel we overdo the “men need respect while women need love” theme. Still, who could argue that love and respect do not belong in a healthy, fulfilling marriage?

        Interesting to think about love and respect as reactive, proactive, or unconditional. For most of my marriage, I respected my husband in a reactive (conditional) mode. When he said and did things of which I approved, I then FELT respect for him.

        Now I respect him in a proactive way by CHOOSING to focus on the many qualities he brings to our relationship, by understanding, accepting and celebrating his heterosexual male perspective as best I can, and appreciating the contributions he makes to our life together. This mode of respect is also conditional, but upon MY choices and actions, not his.

        I think unconditional love and unconditional respect require careful definitions of those terms. Loving someone does not mean allowing them to mistreat you. Respecting someone does not mean always agreeing with them or not speaking up when appropriate to do so. I have seen this emphasized in many of your posts. One very powerful way we love and respect one another is in speaking the truth and clarifying boundaries.

        In my own real life, I showed my husband deep respect when I was honest with him about my feelings regarding his alcoholism. I did not hand him an ultimatum, but dared be vulnerable enough to let him see me and my pain. Keeping those feelings hidden and not taking care of myself for 30+ years was a breach of my marriage vows.

        You asked a couple of simple questions and I’ve rambled on. Hope this insight helps someone along the way.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I often wonder how much women (particularly Christian women) see themselves as being responsible for those feelings, particularly admiration and desire?

      (Assuming good-will and sincere love) I think that each spouse would want to do and should do what they can to be desirable and attractive. At the same time, each spouse should direct their respect and affection toward the other spouse. This can be hard to do when you’re trying to love someone through their difficulties or sinful actions, but I think it is an implicit part of the meaning of the wedding vows.

      In contrast, my wife has told me she can’t do anything and the ball is in my court because I don’t cause her to fall in love with me. I was told long before that I’m wrong to burden her with my happiness, but now I am also wrong because I haven’t *made* her feel love for me. It’s crazy-making. The contempt is deep and I don’t expect a change now.

      Even with good-will, though, many people seem to believe that emotions can’t be self-controlled at all. Honestly, if we can’t control our own emotions at all, then the wedding vow would be impossible to keep.

      Clearly some emotions are more difficult to keep self-controlled. Yet, God apparently wants us to do so. He commands us to love, respect, be compassionate, be angry without sin, not to be embittered, not to fear… and, although our actions are the only way others can assess our emotional state, it isn’t generally okay to just “act” as if we feel a certain way. That would be hypocritical.

      As an example, my wife told me how she tries so hard to make me feel loved and/or respected. This is actually very subtle DARVO. She wants me to bear the guilt for not feeling loved. She wants to do things that will get her credit for loving me when the feelings and good-will aren’t there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • IntimacySeeker

        My marriage vows: “I take you, [INSERT NAME] to be my husband and I promise before God and all who are present here to be your loving and faithful wife. I will serve you with tenderness and respect and encourage you to develop God’s gifts within you.” (Yes, I remember those words from nearly 36 years ago.)

        I did not promise to “feel in love” with him. I promised to BE loving and faithful. That means smiles, kind words, loving touches, sex, honesty, vulnerability. I promised to SERVE with tenderness and respect. That means to see his point of view, learn his perspective and honor it, listen attentively, treat him as God’s beloved child. I promised to ENCOURAGE him to grow in his faith and to use his gifts. That means walking WITH him versus doing FOR him and praising him for his accomplishments and for following dreams and callings.

        None of these promises are conditional, and I believe that’s intentional as marriage is a reflection Christ’s relationship with his church: God’s love and grace are unconditional–we can do nothing to earn them. We respond faithfully, joyfully, gratefully.

        Emotions are part of our being and should be acknowledged and expressed and when appropriate, released (aka forgiveness.) Our actions should not be based solely on emotions. My experience has been that emotions often follow actions, and erotic love follows agape love. Let us love our spouses faithfully, joyfully, gratefully as a response to God’s unconditional love for us in Christ.

        Liked by 1 person

      • IntimacySeeker,

        I don’t mean at all that our actions should be based solely on our emotions. I only mean that marital love has an emotional component, and that it is important to keep that part going as strong as possible. If a spouse doesn’t do that, they aren’t really loving — they are going through the motions.

        Your vows differ from the ones we took (I remember mine, too). Still, it appears that you still had/have an understanding that “being loving” entails the touch, sex, physical affection and affirmation. These things don’t show love (on the long term) if they are only physical acts. There is a spiritual and emotional desire that makes them valuable acts. When men comment on this blog and explain that the sex matters because it provides an emotional connection, this the emotion they are talking about. Many men know what it is like to be tolerated during sex. My wife wanted me to be okay with her saying that I should realize how much she loves me to put up with sex. She wants me to equate it with agape love, while she refuses to build emotional intimacy. That emotional intimacy, romantic pursuit, is different than infatuation, but still has a varying amount of passion to it.

        I find, however, that one big objection to all of this is the idea that we don’t have any ability to control our emotions at all. Maybe we can’t control it all, but we can control our love to a large degree. I think that telling a spouse, “I promise to love you as a husband/wife,” entails providing that emotional part that is universally known to be only available in a marriage relationship. I don’t personally know anyone who got married thinking that this devotion to keep passion burning was optional (except my wife). I know it fluctuates… I’m talking about the overall pattern.

        I don’t think it is a one-sided task. A spouse should be willing and pleased to receive expressions of affection, romance, and efforts to be attractive, and simultaneously be looking for ways to be attractive and romantic. I hope that is more clear. I didn’t get the impression we really differ that much.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Even without a solution, I enjoyed the post! I can’t help you out with refused wives, I struggle with the opposite issue!

    As for changing wives, who are disrespectful, I believe that it is up to us to be the example. We are to be like Christ, the bridegroom as our wives are to be like the church. That is not easy, my brother!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, but ……….

      If you will check out my Abbreviations widget to the right, you’ll see that I’ve written some about that topic. Being a Methodist, I would say, “All things in moderation,” even LYWACLTC.🙂


  9. Charles

    Jeez mudgy, I kinda thought all this time you were my go to man for dealing with a disrespectful wife!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sirrah, you are too chippy! It is “Mudgy” with a capital a-HEM! 🙂

      As to being the source to go to for a disrespectful wife, I don’t think I ever claimed to be that. Or anything other than a cuddly old Coot, for that matter.🙂
      But, I am a Librarian and I am never without resources, however tentative they may be.

      The first comment above, by BelovedAlways mentions the Peaceful Husband blog. While not prolific, it is not to be dismissed. When searching the site on the phrase “disrespectful wife”, one article that came up was written by the man’s spouse, Peaceful Wife, and had some useful material:
      Some of the suggestions passive and plaintive, but still good.

      A second resource isn’t specifically about disrespect, but has serious ramifications for dealing with disrespect. Townsend and Cloud wrote a book on setting Boundaries on learning to say “no” and when to say “yes”. They have written a second book, Boundaries In Marriage, that seem to address the area of disrespect. From Amazon’s blurb: “Only when a husband and wife know and respect each other’s needs, choices, and freedom can they give themselves freely and lovingly to one another.” The book has a 4.5 star rating, so it must be quite good. I am going to have to add it to my Must-Read pile.

      You can explore sample pages of Boundaries In Marriage at:

      Like I said, a Librarian would be lost without his/her resources.🙂


  10. A word that has become an increasingly common part of my vocabulary is “contempt”. In my opinion it is the opposite of love. Sometimes respect is the real issue at hand. However, when disrespect is joined with a lack of good-will, I think it is really hard to avoid admitting that contempt is the real issue (except that it hurts like nothing else to realize your wife regards you with contempt. “Cognitive dissonance” is how we go about denying it.)

    Google for “Gottman contempt” and pick any of the first 2 – 3 results to see what a psychologist (non-christian, I presume) says about it. I generally conceptualize contempt as the flip-side of arrogance. Arrogance says I/mine are inherently best , invaluable, gold. Contempt says you/yours are inherently worse, valueless, offensive, refuse. Of course there are shades and degrees in between.

    The point is, a wife who doesn’t know that she should extend effort to keep her heart to respect her husband could get it wrong and benefit from instruction. She will still regard her husband as worth the effort. A contemptuous wife is always contentious (even if she seems quiet and shy), and doesn’t think the husband is worthy of the effort to do much of anything.

    I am aware that life is complex and my description is simple. Still I think a contemptuous wife truly requires a miraculous touch to change. In the meantime, most Christian teaching and cultural values seem to be “empowering” disrespectful wives. I sometimes wonder if it results in creating contemptuous wives. At the very least, I know I couldn’t find anyone brave and wise enough to simply tell my wife, “hey! that’s not only wrong and contemptuous, it’s also cruel!” That’s just observing and describing behavior, not even looking at scripture yet. I know… I ask too much, but I still wonder what would’ve happened.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. IntimacySeeker

    It seems to me that much of marriage is about doing what does not come naturally, and I wonder if the love and respect language speaks to this. Respecting my husband does not come naturally because we live in a patriarchal society that naturally oppresses women. We are inclined to believe we cannot stand up for ourselves without standing against our men –an “either / or” predicament. I am daily mindful of my tendency to be snarky toward my husband and my need to be deliberate about my tone of voice, choice of words, seeing him as my partner versus my enemy, etc. When others feed these negative tendencies, we are indeed empowered to disrespect our husbands.

    Treating me with a sacrificial love as modeled by Christ may not come naturally to my husband. Could this also be because we live in a patriarchal society? Is he empowered by others to see me as an object for his gratification rather than as one created in God’s image to be his life partner? Is he empowered by others to refer to female employees as “the girls” rather than by their names and titles?

    The truth is I can be strong AND kind. I can be powerful AND feminine. He can be masculine AND loving. He can be kind AND strong. We can be loved AND respected.

    I agree that women need to call out other women who treat their husbands poorly. Similarly, men need to call out other men to treat their wives poorly. And we need to call out others who treat humankind overall poorly.

    I sing in a community choir. At our recent spring concert, we included some songs from “Fiddler on the Roof.” The lyrics in Matchmaker, Matchmaker offended me: “he’ll beat you every night, but only when he’s sober, so you’re all right.” I was amazed that no other women (or men) saw fit to mention that IT IS NOT OKAY to make light of that!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pat

    I’ve referred a friend of mine to your writings. She’s many years into a sexless marriage and it’s tearing her apart. I had to tell her that I found it hard to read because I am a wife who didn’t say no, but certainly wasn’t all in. I’m 3 years into working through issues from 40+ years ago and it’s hard. I am doing this for myself and my husband because we deserve it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. tjcox53

    IS, are you referring to society at large, or Christian society within your church experience? I must admit, I have not seen much female oppression in my lifetime. Admittedly, I’ve never been a member of some of the stricter denominations. I was raised in the South, and was taught to respect women as the weaker sex. My experience has more been the controlling, nagging wife, and the passive withdrawn husband. I do agree that the beating of wives, or husbands for that matter is no laughing matter, and I find it offensive. I don’t mean to discount what you’re saying, it just hasn’t been my experience in life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • IntimacySeeker

      Hi TJ. I am speaking of society at large. For example, the percentage of women in our legislative bodies or in leadership roles in general is not representative of the percentage of women in our overall population. Media teach us the most important part of our identity is our physical appearance and that we can never meet the standards. We continue to be paid less than our male counterparts for the same work. The 19th Amendment to our constitution was passed less than 100 years ago and women suffered and died in the process.

      I also speak of the church at large. Although I serve in a denomination that is considered liberal overall and ordains women, we’ve done so only since 1970 and the same pay scale inequities exist there too. On a global scale, rape is used as a battle strategy, young women are sold into prostitution, and so on.

      Since men hold most positions of power, it is natural to feel anger toward them when they make no effort to challenge or change these injustices. And sometimes that anger is directed at one’s own husband, especially when women feel their anger at these social injustices and their love for their husbands are mutually exclusive. I’m not saying they should feel this way, just that it can be difficult to sort out.


  14. MrShorty

    New to your blog, and I like a lot of your thinking and style (that’s my 2 cents worth, and that 2 pennies is probably more than my endorsement is worth).

    I don’t know if have any answers for these black holes, either. A thought to consider. As I have read discussions about refused wives (black hole #1), I have almost always noted that, at their core, the frustrations and experiences of those women are essentially the same as my own. I have sometimes wondered if the solution to #1 is to eliminate or reduce the amount of “gender stereotyping” we do in this realm. What if, instead of talking separately about “refused husbands think/feel/do/don’t…” and “refused wives think/feel/do/don’t…”, we started talking about “refused spouses think/feel/do/don’t…”? It seems to me that Christian sexologists/authors/bloggers really like these gendered stereotypes, but I see secular sexologists who report that they see more variability within the genders than between the genders (as only one example: ). I’m sure that we might still have cause to talk about how “refused husbands” are different from “refused wives”, but what if those discussions were the exception rather than the rule, because the vast majority of our dialog focused on the commonalities experienced by “refused spouses”.

    I am less familiar with the Eggerichs’ book, though I have seen enough talked about to be less interested in it, probably because it sounds like another variation of men and women come from different planets (I’m obviously also thinking of John Gray here) that I am not sure is needed for understanding relationship fundamentals. You talk about contempt, which Dr. Gottman lists as one of his “four horseman”, but he does not make any distinctions about men or women (stonewalling, on the other hand, he does suggest is more male than female). Again, what if, instead of needing to separate it out so that “men need respect and women need love”, what if we talked about how “people need both respect and love, and contempt is bad for relationships, independent of whether it is aimed from the man to the woman or the woman towards the man”?

    What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

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