My husband says he’s divorcing me but still wants sex. Do I have to?

Last week we had quite a number of interesting responses to my blog post answering the question of whether or not to give her husband another chance. I even got a response in Chinese although I’m sorry that I can’t read it and don’t know anyone who can translate it for me. But it’s encouraging to hear people’s experiences and how it’s not a one size fits all approach.

Here’s this week’s dilemma/question, again concerning a marital problem.

Question: My husband and I are evangelical Christians. He has a daily quiet time and bible reading and prayer. We have been married 20 years and have 2 children, the youngest a sophomore in high school. We have had our struggles and have gone to counseling off and on much of our relationship. This past fall my husband informed me that he had no intention of staying married after the kids were out of the house. I have since asked him more about this (wondering if he just said it in the heat of the moment). He has it all planned out that the housing market will be better in 3 years and we can sell our house, split the money and go our separate ways. He has no interest in counseling. He says, “been there, done that.”

My question is this: Several times this winter, my husband has shown interest in or asked me about sex. We are still married but I have conflicting thoughts about what my response should be. When he acts this way, I have tried to talk to him about my thoughts and feelings but he walks away and says he thought we could just “have a little fun but it isn’t worth it.”

So, am I called to meet his physical needs while he totally neglects my emotional needs because we are still married? Or can I still be a godly wife if I insist the talk of divorce is off the table (or at least we are working with a pastor/counselor), before we resume a physical relationship?

Answer: Here is another situation where a simple answer will not fit every situation. Some of the decision you make will depend on what you have done in the past, how much you have tried one approach over another. My response to last week’s question was influenced by the fact that the wife had gone the extra mile in forgiving her husband and reconciling with him many times and her husband had not changed his ways. Because of that history it was time for a different tactic.

Without knowing your particular history, other than you describe a troubled marriage over the long haul, one approach is to say to yourself, “If I can show love to my husband in the only way he can receive it right now, perhaps that will speak to him about my commitment to him and to our marriage and he will change his mind.” That thinking requires a sacrificial kind of love that God gives us and asks us to give to one another. You will not have a mutually giving kind of marriage, but one where you are the primary giver. In the long run, if nothing changes, you may stay married, but it will not be a happy marriage, but perhaps a more peaceful one than you have right now. However, since your husband is daily reading God’s Word and apparently interested in his spiritual life, you can fervently pray that God would speak to him about his indifference toward you, his resentments, and his lack of commitment to his marriage vows.

Often times over the course of a marriage, one person in the marriage does give much more than the other does and it is that kind of unfailing “hessed” love that becomes the glue that binds the couple together. If you choose this approach, you will need to draw yourself close to the Lord because it is only in his strength can you continue to give love when you are being personally rejected. This approach doesn’t guarantee that your husband won’t follow through with his plans to leave in 3 years, but it is the reality of where you are at this point in your marriage. It’s possible that through your attitude of humility and graciousness, your husband may come to his senses and realize that he has a good wife and he’d be a fool to walk away.

However, I also believe that an equally biblical approach would be to speak the truth in love to him and say something like, “I don’t understand how you can so easily invite me into the bedroom but really want nothing to do with me? That really hurts.”

He may minimize your feelings again or say it takes too much work to talk through things. I think your attitude of humility and desire to genuinely listen to what has caused him to become so unwilling to continue to work on your marital difficulties will play a big role here. I’d recommend listening to my CD, on The Hidden Power of Humility which you can order on my website at

Only you know the history you’ve shared and your own part that you’ve played in where the marriage is at this time. I’d be reluctant to advise you to draw a line in the sand and say “unless you go to counseling, or stop talking divorce I won’t have sex with you.” Instead, I’d try a gentler approach saying, “I know I’ve done some things to deeply hurt you (or whatever you think your part is) and I’m very sorry. I want our marriage to work. I want to enjoy a fun and healthy sex life with you and want to spend the rest of our years together. But I can’t make that happen all by myself and you have given up. Please tell me why?”

I hope that gives you some things to pray about. Readers – I welcome your comments.


  1. jenny on October 21, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I am just reading through some of your posts now because of a situation I am going through at the crisis pregnancy center where I volunteer. I am wondering about your Chinese comment. I know that Google has a translator. Can you put it through that and translate?

    Regarding my situation with the crisis pregnancy center, it is confidential so I cannot comment on it, of course. I am going to purchase your book on emotionally destructive relationships which I think will help me in helping this girl. This is the most difficult client I have had in my three years of volunteering there. I may send you a personal email.

  2. Cheri on December 17, 2011 at 1:47 am

    I to am in pretty much the same situation (sort of). My difference is that I was hospitalized for a full year and am still having medical issues. During a stay at a skilled nursing facility, my husband, of only 4 years told me that he wants a divorce. That was just this past June 2011. He told me that I could stay at the house until my recovery. So nice of him! 🙁
    I am home now (for the past 75 days) and he still wants to be sexually satisfied. He wants but does not give back, if you know what I mean. And Stupid me, give unto him.
    I feel very used and very sad and of course very confused.
    I am a very good wife even though I am I'll. Imdo more than I medically should be doing in order to keep him happy and the home in order. Neither of us are working and the financial hardship is horrible, to say the least.
    I pretend that my spirits are up and try to appear positive. When I am alone, I just cry and pray and cry some more.
    I Am angry and hurt! How can can ANYONE leave their spouse when they are I'll? Why would anyone even think of leaving me? I would marry myself if I could.
    As far as the sex issue goes, I am sure that I will continue to "give in" even though I am hurting so badly.
    Is this right? I am not sure. But, I promised to keep him happy in "All Ways" so I do it.
    I know that I am allowing the emotional rape, but, I suppose I have issues telling him NO.
    I have plans for MY future. As soon as I am financially able
    to move on, I am so outta here.
    My thoughts of my new future and the knowledge that God is with me and will guide me keep me going these days.
    I will pray for the original poster on this topic, for I UNDERSTAND!

  3. Patricia on May 19, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Only the Lord knows the full story that this couple has faced and the challenges that need to be overcome.

    From what I could see, and feel, there is a lot of tension on both parties. The marriage for the both of them has become a battleground, which ends up with one or both parties needs not being met.

    Your husband has gotten to the point where he feels it's easier to give up then work on your relationship. Often once it hits this point the house becomes a constant battleground. The woman crying out, and the husband pulling away.

    I have one suggestion, lay down the sword, put the sword away. Just love him as the Lord loves you in all his faults and imperfections. Remember our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the devil who wants to destroy the sanctity of marriage.

    Instead of battling against your husband, take the battle to the Lord. Put on the whole armor of God and take it to God in prayer. Lay it before the Lord. Our battle is not against our spouses, the battle belongs to the Lord and is against the enemy who wants to destroy our marriages.

    Marriage represents the relationship between Christ and the church and if he can skew our view of that then he can skew our view of the love that Christ has for us and the world.

    Stop responding as the devil would have you respond, and just start loving with the same love that Christ has for you. Show your husband that you care in every way that counts, in any way you can.

    Pray for your husband, pray on his behalf. Stand in the gap for him…but in all this, don't forget to ask the Lord what he wants to show you as well. Often these things happen because the Lord is shaping us and molding us into his likeness and without these trials we would never learn some of the lessons that he wants us to learn.

    Take it to the Lord! You may be surprised:)

    • Ethel Craig on October 3, 2019 at 6:39 pm

      I am learning to walk out a similar situation. Your advice her is so true. I know this situation in my marriage is so about me and my relationship with the Father. I have placed my marriage relationship above my relationship with God and God is always to remain first. Even in marriage. I am getting myself re align with my Heavenly Father and then all other things in my life have to line up. It’s not been easy and my husband rejection has been hard. But I have given it to God totally to do what only he can!

  4. annemarie conrod on May 20, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Regarding the last comment, you are asking this woman to continue to allow herself to be used and hurt by allowing this selfish idiot to enjoy all the pleasure of a good, faithful and God serving husband which he is not! God wouldn't approve of his selfish actions and it says so in the bible, a man shall love his wife as he loves himself! He doesn't show love to her, only sexual fulfiiment on a very selfish level! Take this to God in prayer, ask him to lead you in the right direction and I'm sure your answers will come in the right form from God what you should do! I am positive it isn't to continually love a selfish uncaring husband as you have been! I'm praying too for you to be whole and happy in your marriage the way God intended! May Gods blessings be with you.

    • Liv on July 12, 2016 at 11:36 pm

      Have you ever read the book of Hosea?

  5. landy on July 11, 2016 at 12:36 am

    my husband wants divorce me and moved out of our home three weeks ago but asked me to hang out with him every weekend and have sex with him. I got confused, does he really want divorce what he still want sex with me and said he loves me so much ?is he just using me for sex ?

    • Lara on September 4, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      Yes l. He’s using you to satisaying his sexual needs cuz we are sexual beings n there is a need for intimacy.

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