This seems to be a serious issue in marital relationships. Lets be honest for a moment. I have gotten dozens of emails over the last few months about this particular issue and a shocking number of personal inquiries, especially over the last few months on the subject of husbands denying wives intimacy. Not exactly what you might expect to hear – but the complaints against husbands are running 5 to 1 or so over complaints about wives withholding intimacy.
Lets put the locker room talk and jocular speech on hold. Let’s not pretend this isn’t happening, or that it is not embarrassing for the men involved. Both are true, and both are deeply hurting marriages. I will explain. Embarrassment over an inability to perform due to any variety of valid reasons, is the leading cause of the rejection of intimacy. The sad side effect is that it also is something men don’t want to discuss even with their wives or doctors. As was so aptly put in the movie Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here, is a failure to communicate”. Seriously, secrets are bad for marriages. Anything which affects you is your wife’s business, especially when it affects her too.
She cannot nurture, comfort, or help you if she does not understand what is wrong or what is going on – nor can she help. In all fairness, there may be nothing more she can do than hold your hand – but let her at least do that. Do not dismiss her and ignore her ever. Such a course of action simply leaves her mind reeling with possibilities (none of them good) for why you are suddenly detaching yourself from marital intimacy. Marital Intimacy is not just sex! It is holding hands, displays of affection, cuddling, touching – not necessarily involving coitus. To deny your wife all these things because you are for some reason incapable on the action you consider the “Big One” is deadly sin in a selfish wrapper. Marital intimacy is not about you, or your groin. It’s about sharing and being close to each other, touching, caressing, and in general emotionally, physically, and spiritually bonding.
In short – you need to take care of your wife both physically and emotionally, intimacy is critical to marriage. Carefully explain the issue(s). Work through what you can. Work around what you cannot work through, and tackle the problem as partners like God intended. Your wife cannot support you if you do not tell her where to raise you up! Stop and think for just a moment how you would feel if she suddenly refused you for weeks on or months on end, gave you the silent treatment, and offered no real explanation? Now be honest with yourself, and tell me that you would intentionally inflict such hurt into your marriage as actions like that cause. If you do not already do it – I strongly urge you to consider prayer together. A strong marital bond requires physical, spiritual, and emotional intimacy. Husbands, even if it is just holding her hand and saying responses as your wife leads a rosary, or for the more adventurous – a recitation of the wedding night prayers from Tobit. Keep spirituality in your marital intimacy. Personally, I keep a crucifix up in the bedroom as a reminder never to act or not to act towards my wife in a manner that I would be ashamed for Christ to witness. Remember, God is always watching.
Wives – the reverse applies to you as well. Men tend to react very quickly and negatively to a sudden disconnect in emotional and physical intimacy. Communicate if accommodations for some issue are necessary – allow them to be part of the solution and not yet another problem.