An incredibly significant problem in marriages is spousal rejection. Now, I know that you might be thinking at this point that I am going to discuss husbands being rejected by their wives. Yes. I will cover that scenario, but as I said previously, it goes both ways. Though the paradigm of the husband as the victim and the wife as the “bad guy” is popular, it is in no way exclusive. Many wives are rejected by their husbands, even sexually.
Rejection by a spouse will slowly erode a marriage in ways we may not be aware of. Now, when I speak of being rejected by one’s spouse, I am referring to repeated rejection over a long time (months or years). The rejection that is a typical response to prompts for intimacy from your spouse (sex, conversation, cuddling, etc.) is considered spousal rejection in this article.
I hope to provide insights into spousal rejection in marriages, how it manifests, how it affects the marriage, and what you can do about it. The goal is to repair a marriage that has been damaged by spousal rejection so that it can move on to the desired state of happiness.
It Goes Both Ways
This article is written from the perspective of the husband, i.e., a man. Therefore, the illustrations herein will typically involve the husband being rejected by his wife. However, it goes both ways in a marriage relationship. Many wives are rejected by their husbands, e.g., sexual advancements are rejected. So, in no way is this article about bashing wives for rejecting their husbands or making the wives out to be the “bad guys.” A happy marriage requires effort from the husband and the wife.
How Wives Reject Their Husband
If a wife consistently does not engage her husband when he makes advances towards her for intimacy, then she is rejecting him. He may start to rub her back, caressing her intimately, try to start a conversation, or just enter the room where she is to be with her. If she does not respond favorably, continues to watch television, does not put her tablet or smartphone down to engage her husband, then she is rejecting him. This situation is exacerbated if the husband’s love language is spending quality time with his wife. Now, remember that I am not referring to a single instance, but rather a consistent behavior over months and years.
Why Wives Reject Their Husbands
The husband as a victim paradigm many times misses the mark on explaining why she rejects him in the first place. She may not be rejecting him at all, as we shall soon see. However, sometimes she may very well be rejecting him out of ignorance or for good reason.
She is stressed about something.
Don’t take for granted that your wife simply doesn’t want to be intimate. It may simply be that something is causing her a lot of stress. Of course, you should wait for a couple of months or years to say something about this. Talk to your wife and discover what is bothering her, if anything at all. The good news here is that stress can be dealt with if the stressor is identified. Resolving the stress could lead to your wife being herself and open to accepting you.
She is clueless about marriage and the importance of intimacy and sex.
There are many men and women who get married with no idea of how to make a happy marriage happen. They start out on cloud nine during the honeymoon phase of the relationship. Then they move to the disillusionment phase and things begin to be real as the novelty of the wedding day wears off. That’s when bad things start to happen to the marriage.
Your wife may seem to be rejecting you because she has no clue about what it takes to have a happy marriage. This situation is exacerbated if the husband begins educating him about marriage so that he can do his part to have a happy one. Start working together to purposely build a happy marriage instead of just assuming it will happen or giving it no thought at all.
She feels bad about her body
A woman may be reluctant to have sex with her husband because she feels bad about her body. She may feel that she is not sexy or desirable. This could cause her to shut down when her husband makes sexual advances at her. Even if she does acquiesce to sex, she may want all of the lights off so that he doesn’t see her.
She is responding to your behavior over time
Husbands and wives must realize that their spouse is human. Humans respond to things that happen repeatedly over time. If a person treats us a certain way, then we tend to respond behaviorally to that. Likewise, if the husband has been treating his wife in such a way that negatively affects her, then quite naturally, she is going to resist you, i.e., reject your advances.
The important thing here is not to take the stance that your wife has to adjust her behavior so that she no longer rejects you. The truth of the matter is that you may have already caused a behavior adjustment by the way you have been interacting with her. It seems reasonable that your wife would not want to be intimate to someone who keeps hurting her. It’s like trying to hug a rose bush full of thorns.
There is a medical or psychological condition
Your wife may be rejecting your sexual advances because there is a medical or psychological condition that has a negative effect on her with regard to sex. It could be something that happened to her many years ago that has resurfaced now that she is married. Perhaps there was sexual trauma in her past such as rape.
She, therefore, may not be rejecting her husband, but rather responding to the things that have produced a negative response to sexual stimuli in her life.
She is really tired and not in the mood
It is important that husbands consider all that their wives do. Women work hard just like men. They come home and stereotypically are expected to cook, clean, wash the dishes, care for the children, etc. She could be overwhelmed by all the things she has to do. Therefore, instead of complaining and trying to get your wife to have more sex with you or to be more intimate, try to reduce her workload. Wash the dishes at least sometimes. Share more house chores and children’s duties. The goal is to take the stress off her so that she can be more herself.
How Rejection Affects You and the Marriage
Spousal rejection has a negative impact on marriage. It seems reasonable to believe that someone who is constantly rejected will eventually stop trying and fade away in the relationship. Consistent and prolonged rejection by your spouse can cause feelings of inadequacy (i.e., “I’m not good enough”), depression, anger, and resentment. Those subsequently can easily lead to infidelity, separation, and even divorce.
Read my article, The Consequences of Wives Rejecting Their Husbands” for details on how rejection affects the marriage. Remember that it goes both ways, so even though my perspective is from a man’s point of view, the concept is just as valid from a woman’s point of view.
What To Do About Rejection
It is important to understand that being rejected by your spouse may not be personal. For example, your wife may not be rejecting you, but rather expressing another issue where pulling away from intimacy is a symptom. It is important that you monitor your relationship to help identify issues and to work to resolve them together.
The first thing that you should do when you are rejected by your spouse is to communicate your feelings about it. Here you have to be careful because the delivery of this information can be just as significant as the information itself. Sometimes people do not respond well when they perceive that they are being criticized. Your wife, for example, may think that you are attacking her or belittling her if you tell her how you feel about the marriage relationship, especially her constant rejection of your advances.
Communication is critical to not only resolve issues but also to establish a happy marriage in the first place. Read my article, Effective Communications in Marriage: Advice and Tips for more information.
Seek the Cause
If you feel that your wife is rejecting you then seek to find out why she is behaving that way. She may not be rejecting you or she may very well be rejecting you for her own reasons. Be understanding and empathetic because the truth may not be pleasant for you, but it will help to get you to a resolution and clear some debris from the path to a happy marriage.
I pointed out earlier that your wife may be rejecting you because of how you treated her for a long period of time. This is why educating yourself about marriage is so important and could help you identify any issues that erode a good marriage relationship. Therefore, it is very beneficial for you and your marriage to improve yourself. Perhaps you let yourself go physically and your wife doesn’t like the way you look anymore. You’ve lost that sex appeal that she was attracted to when you were dating. Perhaps she misses the gallantry that you once expressed with her.
Do not equate spousal rejection as something being wrong or unfair with your spouse. Both husband and wife must work together to forge a strong marriage. Therefore, work on yourself first. Work to change you and not try to change your spouse. You can control yourself and those changes could very well elicit a favorable response from your spouse.
Pursue Your Own Happiness
Husbands. It is not the responsibility of your wife to make you happy, though you desire that she contributes to it. Therefore, you must take responsibility to ensure your own happiness. Pursue those things that make you happy. Now, I know what you might be thinking. You might say, “Yeah, but I have been doing that. I want my wife to be part of my happiness.” Even if your wife does not contribute to your happiness, but rather to your frustrations and pain, that is no reason to stop trying to be happy.
A happier you is much more capable of enduring marital hardships. A happier you can contribute to solutions instead of complaints and blaming your wife for your pain. A happier you may also spawn happiness in your spouse and create an environment to push forward towards a happy marriage.
Seek God’s Help
Pray and ask God to help your marriage. Ask him to reveal those things that are hindering you from establishing a happy marriage. He will help you. He wants your marriage to work. Through prayer and listening to God’s Spirit talk to you, you will be able to objectively and sincerely work with your spouse to establish the happiness that you both desire.
Do What is Beneficial For The Marriage
I learned a long time ago at a men’s conference in a church that sometimes you should do what you don’t feel like doing, but what you know to be good for the marriage. If a husband feels as though his wife is rejecting him, then that is no reason to reciprocate or retaliate. Do what is good for the marriage and for your wife.
For example, your wife may come to you to talk about something that is troubling her, or she may want to cuddle together in the chair. However, you’re thinking in your mind that you don’t want any parts of it because she keeps rejecting you. Why should you accept her when she keeps rejecting you? Why should you be the one always giving, when she doesn’t give to you? Why should you try to meet her needs when yours go unmet? Put all those types of thoughts and questions aside and do what is right for the marriage.
Love Her Anyway
Many people have the wrong idea about love. I remember my father telling me before I was married that love is not a good reason to marry someone. However, the love he was talking about, and what most people think about when you use that word, is infatuation, which is emotional. You should never marry someone because you fell in love with them. A marriage based on emotions is doomed to failure before it gets started.
Instead, the love that makes a marriage push forward to happiness is a decision. A husband decides to love his wife even if he doesn’t feel anything towards her as he once did. He decides to take care of her, do right by her, protect her, provide for her, etc. She likewise, does the same thing for him. What a man does for his wife is not motivated fundamentally by emotions, but rather a decision. The wedding vows that you made to each other was a decision, not a feeling.
Therefore, even if your wife continues to reject you or treat you disrespectfully, you must continue to uphold what is right for her and yourself. This kind of love is unconditional. You don’t love your wife because she loves you. You love your wife because you have decided to. A wife loves her husband because she has decided to.
Now, you may be thinking that what I’ve said sounds like a good idea but you’ve tried it all. You have tried being nice to your wife. You have tried loving her unconditionally, communicating with her, improving yourself, etc., but still, your wife constantly rejects you. Perhaps you have been married for 10, 20, or 30+ years and you have lost hope for a happy marriage. You have come to an intersection in your life where you have at least three choices.
- Resolve to remain in an unhappy marriage
- Find another woman that will accept you and love you
- Divorce your wife
The point here is that there may come a time in your unhappy marriage where you decide that you have reached your limit in dealing with the unhappy marriage. You do not want to continue in the misery that you experience each day with your spouse. What should you do? Let me discuss the three major options in dealing with reaching this limit.
You decide to stay
You may have done all you can to establish a happy marriage but to no avail. You are still in an unhappy marriage and you can’t even see the tunnel, let alone the light at the other end. You decide that divorce is not an option and building a relationship with another woman that would accept you is out of the question. The only other option is to continue in an unhappy marriage and make the best of it. Perhaps things will get better in the future. There is always that possibility.
You find another woman
Another option to dealing with a wife that consistently rejects you is to find another woman that will accept you. This may seem logical, but it violates the sanctity of marriage (a Christian perspective). However, I have found through research over the last 30 years, that a man’s interaction with his wife is improved when he cheats on her with another woman. How can this be? They reason that they are getting what they want from the other woman and therefore, do not need to get it from their wives. This could be affection, respect, sex, or any number of needs the husband may have. The same goes for the wife who gets her needs met by another man since her husband isn’t meeting them.
The consequences of this option are usually devastating. It is almost impossible to keep a clandestine relationship from your spouse. Suspicions of cheating will also cause even more friction in the marriage relationship anyway. Cheating on your wife is a sure way to end the marriage, though some marriages do survive this incredibly damaging act. This option is not recommended.
Divorce and start anew
Why continue in misery with your spouse when you can end it and start over with someone else. This sounds like a good idea but leaves out some significant assumptions. You must assume that the problem with your marriage was your spouse’s fault, so the solution is to get rid of the problem and start over. However, what if you were the problem? What if your wife was responding to you? Assuming that your spouse was the problem in the marriage is no guarantee that the next marriage will be better. You may just bring the same problems and results with you.
“My wife constantly rejects me,” is the complaint of many husbands. Likewise, some women complain that their husbands constantly reject them. It goes both ways. Marriage requires the effort of both husband and wife to make it work and to work well. I discussed several ways that wives reject their husbands (and vice versa), the impact rejection has on the relationship, and tips on what to do about rejection. I made the point that rejection in this context is sustained over a long time and not merely one instance. Infidelity or divorce will not necessarily resolve rejection issues in a marriage. Remaining committed to loving your spouse unconditionally has the potential of a great reward, namely a happy marriage.
Don’t give up on yourself or your marriage. Work together to make it better. Work together and make it right