Understanding and Handling a “No” – Sexual Rejection

Those of us bold enough to initiate sex will eventually hear the dreaded word “no” from our spouse. How we react to that “no” will either move us toward disconnection or create greater intimacy in marriage. Though hearing a “no” is never easy and can literally throw us into a tail spin, we have the power to choose how we react. We can refuse to make the “no” personal and instead lean into connection regardless of whether we have sex.

I have experienced both sides of that “no”. Years ago, I said it more than I should have. Until I experienced a “no” myself, I had no idea how well my husband had been handling hearing “no” all those years. It has caused me to think about why I did say “no” and what I actually should have communicated.

Many times, the reason women say “no” to sex has nothing to do with whether they love their husband.  In fact, their saying “no” might be an indication that they need their husband more than ever. A “no” might actually be a cry for help.

Reasons for “No”

Women might feel totally exhausted and just need sleep. We might feel insecure about our body and embarrassed to share it during sex. Our mind might be filled with worry or stress over trying to manage life. Or maybe we feel insecure about whether our husband really love us. Maybe we feel like every time our husband pursues us, all they really want is sex.

When a “no” causes a husband to retreat in rejection, start pouting or become harsh, they move towards disconnection. They communicate without words that all they really wanted was sex. Once sex is off the table, they loose interest in us.

When a husband leans into connection, even when we say “no”, they prove with their actions that they care more about their wife then an orgasm. They declare they did not just initiate because their body yearned for a release, but because they yearned for connection. Sex was not driven by selfish desire, but as another way to say, “I love you.” When they don’t turn away after a “no” but continue to pursue us in other ways they build trust.

Sometimes a woman saying “no” to sex, is really a plea for help. A cry for our partner to come along side of us and pull us up. To insist on taking care of our needs by sending us to bed early or helping with the night feeding. To affirm our beauty by looking into our eyes, touching our curves and saying, “You are so beautiful”.  When we feel stressed, a husband asking about our day will help us process and stop worrying. A back rub might ease our tension a husband’s strong arms comfort us. Our “no” means something and we need you to move toward us and not away.

A woman in class, said, “When I say ‘no’ I don’t really mean no.” She was not trying to insinuate that she wanted her husband to force himself on her. What she was saying was that she’d like to say “yes”, but she needed some help. Her husband’s pursuit, even when she didn’t want sex, would help her move towards trusting him in the future, or maybe even that night.

So much of sex comes down to communication. Interpreting the meaning of a “no” is like asking a husband your mind.

Understanding Our “no”

Ladies, we need to understand the meaning of our own “no” and communicate what we really need. Share your fears, your insecurities or your frustrations. Help your husband be your hero and give him a chance to succeed. Seek connection by honestly sharing why you can’t say “yes” right now.

Final Thoughts

Even when we don’t communicate well, we still communicate. Our “no” means something. How you handle a “no” also says something. You have the power to change the dynamics in your marriage by not taking things personally and leaning into connection in ways that feel scary and hard. Ground yourself in God and continue to pursue each other. Even during a “no”.


Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot – Encourage Your Husband

As much as we want our husbands to be more romantic, work on intimacy or better meet our needs, we have a hard time not shooting ourselves in the foot. Even when our husband tries, we complain, or negate their attempts until eventually they just give up. The best way to encourage growth in your husband is to get excited about the small steps he takes.

In A-L Men’s Edition, rather than assign reading, we focus on hands-on-learning. The other day, Jim and I asked for feedback about the hands-on-learning. One of the husbands immediately replied, “I tried doing the ‘hug every day until your wife relaxes’ but she said, ‘this is your homework, isn’t it?’”

I almost cringed. This husband had not only stepped out of his comfort zone to take a class on sex, but he followed through on the assignment. Because he loved his wife, he willingly did the hands-on-learning to try something new for his wife. Rather than feeling thrilled or just going along with the flow, his wife shot herself in the foot. She negated what he did because it wasn’t his original idea. She relegated his action to “you’re just doing it because it’s homework”. And she decreased the chances that he will try again.

We wives shoot ourselves in the foot all the time. We ask our husband to buy flowers for us. Then when they do, we complain about how much they spent, or what kind of flowers. Or even worse, we dismiss their effort because they did what we asked instead of surprising us.

We ask our husband if we look good. When they tell us we’re smoking hot, we don’t believe them. We think they are just saying we’re beautiful because we asked.

When we ask our husband to learn more about sex, and they try something new, we analyze their intentions. Instead of being thrilled that they put in some effort, we pout and think they only tried because we asked. If they really cared, we wouldn’t have to ask.

Most husbands are much lower maintenance then we are. A hot meal, help on a project, sitting by their side to watch their favorite show, and sex once in a while is all they require. We on the other hand are quite the opposite.

We want our husband to read our mind, constantly think of ways to make us feel special, share deep meaningful thoughts and make us feel like a princess.

But the worst part is that when they try, we knock them down. We negate what they do because they didn’t think of it themselves.  Or we point out how they did not quite meet our expectations.

Ladies, if we want our husband to stretch and grow to meet our needs, then we need to encourage them. We must notice not only results but effort. Instead of pointing about how they missed the mark reward them for the effort they put forth. When they do things that are completely uncomfortable, even when it feels awkward or scripted at first, appreciate them. Don’t always question and doubt their motives. When they try to meet our needs, even those specifically requested, they do so because they love you. Build them up,  encourage their growth and watch them start to thrive.

Does Your Husband Initiate Sex?

I have this theory that in many marriages, wives train their husband not to initiate sex until we give the signal that we are open for business. We like to control our lives, including when and where we have sex. So, we develop subtle, or not so subtle signals. Maybe we linger as we kiss, or we touch more than usual, or we just tell him, “do you want to have sex tonight?” And our husband simply waits.


Creating Community at Awaken-Love

When I first found Christian sex blogs, I quickly realized that I learned as much from reading the comments as from the articles. The information authentically shared by individuals gave me a window into the struggles and triumphs of men and women just like me and my husband. But this window didn’t just inform me, it spurred me on towards growth. As I heard the testimonies of others I began to believe that God could change me too. Community creates growth, whether in person during an Awaken-Love class or anonymously on the Awaken-Love blog.


The Importance of Dreaming

This weekend I met a young mom at a craft fair selling beautiful pottery and we struck up a conversation. I shared that I also used to create things during naptime to help keep my sanity as a young mom. When I admitted that I don’t get down to the woodshop much anymore, she asked, “So what do you do now?”

Without missing a beat, my oldest daughter replied, “She’s writing a book.”

“What about?”, she asked.

In a split moment I had to discern, am I supposed to tell her what I really do?

“The book is going to be about sex. I actually teach sex classes to Christian Wives”, I quietly offered.

“That’s awesome!”, she said, “It is so needed! I would totally be interested in something like that. I’ve got to introduce you to my husband!”

As she enthusiastically shared with her husband what I do, I heard him quietly say, “I thought we were doing okay.”


The Power of Righteous Anger

“Does anyone else here feel angry!”

It wasn’t the first time a woman had said this during an Awaken-Love class. A righteous anger boiled up as she realized how God’s gift of sex had been distorted. That same distortion had impacted not only others, but her own marriage bed. A righteous anger that I pray fuels the power for change – not just for herself but for others.

Messages About Sex

We had just finished sharing how we learned about sex as kids. Women were aghast as they realized how few good messages they received. People with the greatest influence in our lives, parents, pastors and extended family, shared few positive messages about sex. “No wonder we struggle so much with sex” we thought to ourselves.


The Importance of Non-Sexual Touch

In February I speak to a couple of Moms groups about sex in preparation for Valentine’s Day. It has been years since my 4 girls were babies, and much of it seems like a fog. Sex definitely was not at the top of my priority list and I have been thinking about what I wish I had done differently to navigate through baby land. The place I would start would be having a conversation about touch.

I remember spending long days at home chasing little kids, wiping noses, reading with a full lap of girls, and rocking babies to sleep. When my husband arrived home, the last thing I wanted was for him to touch me – especially if it might lead to sex.  And so I kept my distance from him. I didn’t linger with my kisses, I didn’t cuddle too long before I rolled away from him in bed, and I pushed him away.

I suppose part of my reasoning was to protect my husband. I didn’t want to lead him on and later disappoint him. But what it really did was train my husband to expect sex on the days that I allowed him to touch me. So the pattern began.


Using our Words during Sex

Sometimes, more than touch, I need my husband to take me someplace using his words. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because it helps me get out of my own head. Words can be powerfully erotic and can immediately take me to another place. They can turn vanilla sex into steaming hot sex, even though we are in the same bed, wearing the same outfit and doing the same things. Words can transport me in a way that touch cannot. They communicate a presence and a connectedness beyond the physical to your mind and soul.

Words are powerful, just look at how women devour erotic novels. Wives would rather read about sex than actually enjoy it. Chat rooms are filled with people that would rather seduce each other anonymously than communicate to their spouse about what turns them on. We can easily fall into twisting the power of words to avoid the hard work of developing intimacy with our spouse.


Today’s version of Sex Education – Teen Vogue?

Teen Vogues article in July titled Anal Sex: What You Need to Know – How to do it the RIGHT way created an uproar from both parents and conservatives. People were alarmed about the subject matter and whether Teen Vogue has the right to provide that kind of information.  The article really just resurfaced the timeless issue of sex education. What is the difference between appropriate knowledge to help kids make good choices and information that leads to poor decisions?

Who should educate kids and what if they aren’t?


The Importance of Community

Something powerful happens when people minister to each other about sex.

When we get rid of the silence and start sharing our stories and experiences.

God moves.

Sometimes that starts through the anonymity of commenting on a blog. I remember the first time I found Christian sex blogs, 6 years ago. The comments impacted me as much as the actual articles. Reading questions women posted and the replies, encouragement and prayers that followed blessed me and gave me hope. I am glad you are part of this community and I pray that you will find a safe, encouraging environment that always points back to God’s truth, grace and goodness.

Thank you for allowing me to take time to refresh this summer by pulling back from writing. I spent time connecting with God and discerning next steps to minister through Awaken-Love. The more I read about the state of sexuality in our culture the more I consider it an opportunity for change. The church, parents and marriages are becoming painfully aware that “now” is the time to do “something”.

“Something” starts by bringing sex into the light by talking about it in good and healthy ways. We must create safe environments that teach God’s amazing design for sex but that also extend grace and encouragement for growth. Community may happen initially on blogs where you can be anonymous. I hope and pray that someday you will encourage and minister in person to others in your church or friendship circles.