Do I Have To Wear Sexy Clothes To Meet My Husband’s Needs?

Morning friends,

I survived pickleball camp. Four days of intensive training broke some bad habits and instilled some new ones. Yet, now that I’m back, I have more work to do. I have to drill and practice in order for my new habits to become a consistent part of my game. In the same way, real change in any area of our life doesn’t just happen because we want it to. Even when we see what we’re doing wrong, to change it requires consistent intentional action steps and often coaching and accountability.   

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Question: My husband of 15 years and I have had many, many arguments about what I should wear in general and during sex. When I am vacuuming or doing dishes he will come over and lift my shirt when I’m wearing leggings or workout pants so he can see my butt. I tell him I don’t like this but he thinks I’m ridiculous and that I don’t understand his needs. He says he doesn’t look at other women’s butts, etc. This past time his response was, “Well then look like a butch and expect me to be okay with it.” 

He’s called off plans because I changed my clothes and didn’t wear the tights or leggings I had tried on earlier. In the past, we’ve had arguments – huge blow-ups because I don’t want to wear slutty clothes during sex but would rather wear a cute teddy/nighty/dress. He says it’s all about me and I’m not meeting his needs. I’m so frustrated with not knowing what to do. If I put on the clothes I feel stupid so then I’m not “into sex” and he gets mad. But if I stand up and say these make me feel stupid he gets mad. I want to meet my husband’s needs but am I being selfish? I don’t like to dress girlie but I am definitely not butchie.

Answer: This is an important question because so many women silently suffer from this kind of pressure and control from their husbands. It might be around their dress, their hairstyle, or even being pressured to have surgical enhancements to their breasts or butt in order to create a visual their husband wants. A husband might pressure his wife to participate in sexual practices that she doesn’t like or want and if she resists or refuses, she’s told she’s wrong, unloving, prudish, or unsubmissive, especially if she’s a Christian wife.

First, let’s get something crystal clear. Your husband does not need you to look a certain way.  He may like you to dress in a certain way, but it is not a true NEED. He will not die or shrivel up if he can’t look at your butt when he wants to or if you don’t dress the way he prefers when you go out together. Please take that pressure off yourself.

But the bigger question is: does he have the Biblical right or authority to tell you how to dress and punish you if you refuse to comply? The answer is no. I get it. Men are visual and we all have preferences about what looks good to us and what turns us on. It is not wrong for your husband to share with you what he’d like you to wear in the bedroom or when going out together. Just like it would not be wrong for him to say, I love sushi and I’d like to go out for sushi tonight. 

The problem is not in his desire or his request. The problem happens when you refuse to comply. Then you are called selfish and there is a blow-up and argument. It seems you are not allowed to have your “no.” It is disregarded, demeaned, and devalued. You are “the wife” whose sole purpose is to “meet his need” however he defines it. You are not a person in your own skin, who has her own likes and dislikes her own style and preferences. You are to be what he wants you to be. That is suffocating and soul-destroying to you. It is not the mark of a healthy marriage.

You said you want to meet his needs. Let’s call it his desire because we’ve already established it is not a need. How might you do that in a way that doesn’t feel inauthentic to who you are and how you feel? To succeed in doing that there are two main issues you must tackle if you want to move through this problem in a positive way.

First, you have to stop allowing him to make you feel guilty for saying what you like and don’t like. You have to give yourself permission to be you, even if it disappoints him. Even as a wife, you are called to be a God-centered woman, not a husband centered woman. You are not selfish by saying to him what you like and what you don’t like. Let’s go back to the sushi example. If he loved sushi and you hated it what’s next? Are you forced to eat sushi because he likes it? Are you allowed to not like it without being selfish or bad? Is there a compromise so that you can go out to eat someplace where he gets to eat sushi and you can also have a meal you like? Or is the only solution for you to pretend you like sushi so that he gets exactly what he wants?  

Doing your own work here will help you not be so easily intimidated or bullied by a man who believes you should like what he likes. It will help you speak up and stand up to his selfishness and objectifying behavior in a godly way.

God wants you to be you. He made you to be you, not him.  Your main goal is not to please your husband, but to please God by being who He made you to be, not who your husband wants you to be. Click To Tweet

The second issue that must be addressed is your husband’s inability to handle your no without punishing you. You said that he will call off your plans when you don’t dress the way he wants you to. He tells you it’s all about you but I believe that’s a projection. It’s all about him. What he wants, what he needs, what he feels. And even when you’ve tried to dress as he wants, you feel slutty and uncomfortable, not sexy and he gets mad because you don’t feel like he wants you to feel.

A wise and godly husband wants his wife to feel comfortable and safe in the bedroom, not scared and dirty. Marriage, especially the sexual relationship, is all about safety. If there is no safety, there can be no intimacy. There can be sex, but it is not mutual, loving, or connected sex. It is greedy sex, which Paul strongly speaks about in Ephesians 5 where he writes:

“Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes – these are not for you.  Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins…..”

Just because a man is married doesn’t entitle him to objectify or misuse the precious gift God has given him. It sounds as if your husband’s view of sex is more worldly than godly. You can’t change his view, but don’t let him infect you with it. Sex is an expression of love, safety, and commitment. Love does not demand its own way. It is not selfish. From what you wrote, you are willing to compromise and see if there can be a middle ground here in order to have a mutually enjoyable sexual time. However, it sounds as if it’s his way or the highway. Who do you think is being selfish here?  

Stop defending your right to be you. Stand firm yet loving, fighting for a healthy marriage in every way.

Friends, if you were this woman, how would you love your husband best in this?


  1. Free on February 26, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    I would tell her to look up the definition of objectification. What a selfish, dirty man!

  2. Greta on February 26, 2020 at 8:34 pm

    I would love my husband by, when I say “no”, reinforcing safety. For example, “No, I do not feel emotionally safe doing that, wearing that”. When he blows, I would have my exit plan ready–“I’m leaving now, let me know when you are done being mad about this”. I’ve known men like this; I am aware that it might be days or even weeks of him being angry about this, so I would need to have a lot of engaging activities planned to keep my mind off of how he is treating me. I would love my husband by teaching him about who I am–my safety needs, my boundaries and allowing him to feel natural consequences for his immaturity. I would love him by believing that he is teachable and can be taught to love me as I am, by giving him the benefit of the doubt and recognizing my responsibility to teach him about his wife! Easier said than done…lots of love ladies 🙂

  3. Annie on February 29, 2020 at 12:54 am

    If your relationship was loving and mutually respectful to begin with I dont think anything you wore would have the power to make you feel stupid. Insulting your sexual identity or sexual preferences is demeaning. It seems your husband is acting abusively with just a bit of a different twist. Amazing how many variations they can come up with.

  4. lg889775 on February 29, 2020 at 2:56 pm

    I love your answers. Could he be getting some of these strange ideas from some inappropriate place presently or in the past? No matter, he is still not following some basic Biblical principles like Romans 14:19 “So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” His actions are not building you up. In building you up it could become a benefit to him. This way, over time and if you sense he truly is changed, your spirit or heart could be more open to be intimate with him. So while employing the good boundary of distancing from him presently could you also let him know what does turn you on? He may only be able to receive one idea at a time as he is so full of what he wants; but could you try to say something like…”I know you want me to be enjoying you without negative feelings, so this is what will help me feel more positive (fill in the blank).” Please check with Leslie… she is definitely best in her counsel.

  5. Awake & Aware on March 1, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    Sounds more like “his marriage,” not “our marriage.” When toddlers or little boys don’t get what they want (not a vital need) or won’t compromise, they sulk, lash out and tell you that you are the one that’s in the wrong. They are incapable of seeing the whole picture. It becomes “their” marriage, not “yours” or “ours.”

  6. ruth8318 on March 1, 2020 at 11:43 pm

    Leslie’s response was very good.

    I feel bad for this wife. She must be demoralized after the constant badgering from her H to dress in ways that violate her conscience. She said she was willing to wear classy lingerie, but that’s not good enough!? I guess he wants her to wear kinky costume stuff. Well,
    if you’re into that kind of thing WHOOPEE but if you’re not, then wearing that garb would make you feel awkward and self-conscious – definitely not aroused. I went through this to a lesser degree with my H. ☹️

  7. Joyful on March 3, 2020 at 8:49 pm

    My husband is like that also
    Everything is about sex and money.
    He has history is sleeping with prostitutes and pornography too
    He even told my pastor that “ a wife should act as prostitute for his husband”

    Sad thing is even if o try to dress and act the way he wants depending on his kids he can say
    Take that off I want you naked or cunningly move me to be in his favorite position which make me feel as if we are fighting in bed.

    He also brag about having great sex luge before he married me or telling me he will go outside and get it.
    The church always preach how a woman should be sexually ready to satisfy the husband even when they are not in the mood to prevent adultry

    • Autumn on March 4, 2020 at 10:30 am

      Why are you with this man? He doesn’t get permission to degrade you and has a history of adultery. Please value yourself and leave this destructive relationship. I would also recommend you get STD testing regularly. I hope you are in counseling, precious woman do not allow evil to rule over your God given body.

      • JoAnn on March 4, 2020 at 12:30 pm

        I agree with Autumn. Joyful, you don’t deserve to be treated this way, and what is wrong with your pastor that he didn’t set your husband straight about his ungodly, sinful attitude? His history of adultery is grounds enough for a divorce. If you will stand up for yourself, the Lord will open the doors for you to get out and be safe. You are a precious child of God, and He doesn’t approve of your being treated this way.

    • Connie on March 4, 2020 at 12:43 pm

      Being available sexually does NOT prevent adultery, at all. The church and the world have a history of blaming the woman for the men’s sins, but the Bible says we are responsible for our own sins. In fact, a little self-control practice probably goes a lot farther to prevent acting out. Sexually addicted men are very often asked to go at least 90 days without any sexual activity, to teach them self-control and that they will not die. Many of these men (if they are sincere in their recovery) say that those 90 days change their whole life’s outlook. Of course, they need to also renew their minds, as the Bible teaches, meditating on the Word and gratefulness, etc.

    • Annie on March 5, 2020 at 9:42 pm

      Oh dear Joyful. It is not your reponsibility to ‘ prevent adultery’. His reaction to whatever the situation at home is always his choice. You have no control over that choice. Therefore no responsibility. I’m sorry your church seems to support this. Please continue to read more and more of Leslies teachings.

  8. Jan on March 11, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    It sounds to me like your husband is watching pornography and he wants his wife to be his porn star. I would tell him he needs to get help, and he gets have you and porn. He needs to chose.

  9. Rose Smitj on April 1, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    I went through something similar. On our honeymoon the hotel room was freezing and I wanted to wear a sweater to bed but he got furious and angry and insisted I wear the little lacy nighty I had! He was happy making love and I shivered the whole time it was miserable for me and he didn’t even care. He turned out to be a narcissist.

  10. Jim on January 30, 2023 at 6:21 pm

    You know Leslie, it’s sad how you introduce a reasonable idea, namely that a man “asks” his wife to wear something special during sex, with a story about an asshole of a husband. there are a lot of red flags with this guy, but just because he’s a worthless fellow doesn’t mean all requests like these from men towards their wives is wrong. You did that with this story and is an injustice to men and and healthly relationships. You go too far in your “this is the kind of thing loser husbands ask” example. I know your ministry is about problem marriages and more aptly problem husbands, but you through the baby out with the bathwater on this one and it kinda sucks.

    Men make ALL KINDS of concessions for their women and they can be just as disruptive and immasculating to them as a request like this (asked by a good man in a healthy way) might be scary and seemlingly objectifying to a woman. Your story, and most of the comments, empower othe women to stand up for their rights and identity and to claim their power. Yes, a battered or abused woman needs help to see the reality of healthy relationships. But that advice needs to be seasoned with salt, as it were or you’re no better than secular feminist movement who just bash men.

    I get that this site may be directed to readers who have a situation which is categorized by a disproportionate amount of abuse coming from the husband, but it seems a lot of the commenters might not (except for Joyful–leave that guy if he’s acting up, eh?).

    And before I am bashed for giving a contrary opinion, I’ve been married for 26 years, which I know may not mean anything in itself as a number. But I can tell you I’ve learned a thing or two about changing yourself because it is neccessary for the spiritual and mental growth of your spouse. Before your commentors bash me, I’ll have them ask themselves if they have accomplished the same.

    • Leslie Vernick on January 30, 2023 at 9:43 pm

      Actually Jim, the “husband” that I describe in the blog is the husband who is punishing his wife for not dressing like he wants or happy that he pulls up her shirt when she doesn’t like it. I didn’t make him up – he’s the one she has to live with day in and day out. So although I think your answer would be appropriate if there was mutual respect in this relationship, this particular question was from a real woman who was facing a real dilemma and needed an honest answer. I stand by my answer. A woman usually desires to please her husband. Yes there are lots of compromises and growing up in any long term marriage. However, when a woman (or man) is objectified, not allowed to disagree or say no without a punishment from the other (not just disappointment but punishment) then the relationship is toxic and that is who and what I was addressing in this particular response.

  11. Michael on October 25, 2023 at 10:51 am

    My issue is the way you differentiate need and want. Does a wife need a house? She could live in a tent. It will not make her shrivel up and die! Does a husband even need sex? Plenty of people live in sexless marriages, they don’t die. I think someone can need something in their marriage, to be happy and fulfilled. If those needs are not met, its not the person that dies, the marriage does.

    An interesting question is why a husband would want his wife to do something that makes her uncomfortable? I would never even propose a sushi restaurant if I knew my wife did not like it.

    Now if sushi was truly a need for me, the option would be:
    – We do sushi sometimes. My wife does something she does not like from time to time purely for my needs, and I learn to adjust my sushi need to a sometimes basis. That would be a compromise.
    If either of us dug in our heels and we could not come to agreement of what sometimes means….well we would be truly incompatible and the marriage would fail.

    Obviously this would work both ways, with the needs of the wife.

    BTW I am completely against punishing your spouse. That just creates resentment.

    • Leslie Vernick on October 25, 2023 at 2:41 pm

      Michael, thanks for your comments. I completely agree. I too am against punishing a spouse. AND, sometimes someone’s personal boundaries for safety creates a feeling or belief in the other that the boundary is to “punish” What if her boundary is done not to punish but to protect herself? For example, if a woman feels used and disrespected 99% of the time in her marriage, and yet her husband asks her for sex, she may say no. Not because she’s punishing him, but because she is no longer willing to disrespect herself by allowing her body to be used by someone who obviously does not care for her. This is biblically called stewardship which is her biblical responsibility to do. And, it invites a conversation (if the other is willing) on what can be done to create safety and trust in the marital relationship so that BOTH feel good during sexual intimacy. Otherwise, she is just functioning as a body to use, not a person to care about, and that is not God’s will for women or for marriage.

  12. Doreen on April 1, 2024 at 12:48 pm

    Thank you for speaking about this issue. Just yesterday evening my husband made me feel like a selfish wife after telling me that I dress up for others instead of for him. Then he proceeded to tell me how important it is for me to remember what turns him on are the short skirts and other things. I told him that dressing up before sex makes me uncomfortable. As a believer I feel his actions are selfish because he wants his way in the bedroom without considering mine. I cry and cry and hate when I do give in. But I’m putting my foot down regardless of how long he pouts and/or ignores me.

  13. Mg on June 20, 2024 at 9:23 am

    This is how men act when they’re addicted to porn, so I promise he doesn’t really love you. He loves what your body can do for him and that’s about it. This is someone who is deepen in an addiction.

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