Question: My husband moved out almost 3 months ago. I don’t think he is seeing someone else. He just wants space and freedom. I used to be driven by anxiety, jealousy, and insecurity and these issues caused a lot of our problems coupled with some childhood hurts that he will not discuss.
When he left he said that he was not moving out to divorce, but he was not going to go to counseling to work on the marriage either. He does provide for us, and we do stuff as a family but refuses to work on the marriage. He regularly spends the night at my place and wants to be intimate. Before he left he slept on the couch for weeks only coming to bed for sex and then back to the couch. I have not denied him. My question is: Is he using me? Should I deny him sexual intimacy until he decides what he wants? He refuses counseling, doesn’t go to church anymore, he has no accountability or Christians in his life. We have been married for almost 10 years and have two girls, 3 and 8.
Answer: Your husband is giving you mixed messages and it’s hard for you to know how to handle it. He has moved out, but he hasn’t shirked his family responsibilities entirely. He still financially provides for you and the girls and wants to spend time as a family as well as enjoy a sexual relationship with you. But he’s not interested in improving your marriage or even discussing it. You also aren’t sure what “freedom” means. Does that mean he wants the freedom to date and have sex with other women in addition to you? You don’t think so but sometimes if feels to you like he wants the perks of family life but not a committed marital relationship.
Without talking together, it’s hard to know what he’s thinking or where he is. But at the very minimum, I think you have a right to ask if he is being sexually faithful to you. If he refuses to answer, then I think you need to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases for the sake of your children and their future. It sounds to me as if he doesn’t know how to verbalize his feelings or how to have emotional connection. Perhaps it scares him, or he’s bitter, or he’s been wounded by some things that have happened in the past either in his life or in your relationship and he doesn’t know how to move beyond it. Men don’t like to admit they don’t know how to do something and often it’s easier for them to avoid it than face it.
I would encourage you to be patient right now if he is being sexually faithful and not seeing other women. This is a season for you to pray for your husband and your marriage. It is an opportunity for you to work on yourself to become the woman, wife and mother God wants you to be. I don’t think it’s wise to just allow yourself to be used, but from what you describe, I’m not sure that’s what’s happening. Your husband is confused and has closed himself off to godly counsel or influence – except for you. Is that not what Peter describes when he says that “ even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” (1 Peter 3:1-3)
I can’t tell you how long to be patient, but 10 years is a long time to be married. You have 2 girls who would be better off if you and your husband could work it out. Perhaps by patiently enduring his confusion right now, even if later it doesn’t work out, you will know that you’ve done all you could to reconcile your relationship.
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If he is going right back to the couch after sex, he is using you. If he wants to enjoy a sexual relationship without working on the marriage, he doesn’t care about the future, he cares about getting his desires met right now, and that is all. Speaking from painful experience. I was separated from my ex for about a year before we divorced. Having sex, which we did, did not bring us back together.
His best friend, who had been very interfering in our marriage, a genuinely hostile influence, died quite unexpectedly of a heart attack just 2 or 3 months after the divorce was final. The ex called up to share his pain and invited me to dinner. I said no because I was not going to take the chance of getting sexually used again. I thought since we weren’t married anymore, I would probably never see him again and I was not about to set myself up for that kind of hurt So, his behavior had unexpected painful consequences for him also, that wouldn’t have normally been foreseen. You set an example for your daughters. Men, even Christian men, have not very nice things to say about us when we let them take advantage of us. They use the word “stupid”. Ouch, I know, but they really do use that word and I am not about to let it be applied to me again. He can deal with some discomfort. Let him be a man. Having a sexual boundary with him will help you to have the dignity and self-respect to deal with him as you see how the relationship is going to sort out. And, if he is not invested in the marriage, wouldn’t that be like having sex outside of marriage? Not trying to be mean, but I think if I had set a sexual boundaries all those many years ago, my marriage might have had a fighting chance. Men do not value what they do not respect.