Rejection. That gut wrenching feeling you get when you want something and you’re told no, dismissed, or ignored. It can be embarrassing, humiliating and painful on so many levels. Rejection can start a narrative running in your head that quickly starts a spiral of negativity.
Most of us have been rejected emotionally before and while that hurts, it can usually be repaired with a conversation or two with our spouse that starts off with “when this happened and you said…., I felt rejected/unloved/unwanted, etc.” to which our partner may clarify their meaning or apologize for the way they responded, triggering your feeling of rejection.
What about sexually? Have you ever been rejected sexually or are you the one who does the rejecting?
Being naked in front of someone is the most vulnerable position we can ever be in. Often we use sex as a way to connect with our partner and when we’re asking for sex, we’re asking for that emotional connection. The vulnerability that asking and agreeing to be naked takes also means that when we’re rejected, the wound that comes from that cuts so deep. It hits different than emotional rejection. Not that either of them are more important than the other, just different.
Sexual rejection knocks on the doors of doubt, shame, guilt, and lessens confidence. The narrative in the head of the one who’s been rejected starts to replay questions like “Am I good enough? Does my partner still desire me? Has our marriage gone stale? Is my partner having an affair? They aren’t having sex with me so they must be getting it somewhere, right? Am I no longer attractive?” Insecurities and self-doubt increase while your emotional and physical value decreases.
Being rejected sexually also starts a vicious cycle that destroys connection. Couples are already not getting enough connection. In fact, the average couple only spends 4 minutes a day alone together. So you’re not having sex so you’re disconnected and you’re disconnected because you’re not having sex. Oy vey!
So what if this happens over and over and over again?
Well, we have to look at the intentions behind the rejection. Are they intentional or unintentional?
Unintentional rejection looks like
- flirting all day, sending texts, anticipating the act and then a kid gets sick, there’s an emergency, time management and energetic boundaries aren’t great so you’re left exhausted
- not being in the mood at the same time your partner is
Intentional rejection looks like
- Not being the one to ever initiate sex
- when your spouse initiates, you say no, not tonight, or give an excuse with no secondary plan to make it happen
- saying something like “you’re only doing this so you can get sex”, “all you want is sex”, “you’re only touching me so you can get sex”, “you’re such a sex addict”
- pretending to be asleep or have a headache or that you don’t hear them when they initiate
- Now listen, this is not just women or just men being rejected! It’s BOTH. Both parties are feeling the pain of this topic deeply rooted in their core. Also, it’s completely normal to not have the same libido, be in the mood at the same time as your partner all the time, and always be willing and able when your partner says let’s go for your entire marriage. That’s not realistic. What’s not “normal”, healthy or ok is to shame your partner for desiring you, to blatantly ignore their bid for connection, or to be rude, condescending, painful in your rejection or to use sex as a weapon.
**If you have an issue scheduling sex, you don’t have the whole lesson on how to schedule it right. It’s NOT just putting it on the calendar and going in with it being another to-do list item! It’s intentional and still requires foreplay, connection, and flirting!
So what can you do to have a healthier sex life?
1. Talk about it. Be open, honest and vulnerable.
What would you never change about your sex life? What turns you on/off? What could you live without? What does your partner do well? What would you like to try that you haven’t before?
2. Instead of rejecting and going your separate ways (because this only amplifies the disconnection in your marriage), give an alternative. “I’m not really feeling that right now but would you like to cuddle and watch a movie, play a game or sit and talk for a while?
3. Saying something like “I’m really just not feeling it right now but please understand that I’m not rejecting you and I still want you. So what if we make a plan for it on Thursday night date night or Saturday afternoon while the kids are at the birthday party?” Then, on the day you scheduled it, if you were the one to reject your partner before- it’s YOUR responsibility to initiate now.
4. Make it all about them. Marriage is all about letting go of your pride to be selfless and put your partner’s needs above your wants. Please your spouse and fulfill them even if you know you’re not going to get off.
Of course, these are all options. You’re not going to use all of these in one night and I would suggest rotating through the options as well. These are going to build trust, lessen the blow of rejection and pull the two of you together versus driving you apart.
You’re rejecting sex but you’re still pursuing each other.
Lastly, make sure you’re handling your conflict and your stress in a healthy way. These two things can be an absolute libido killer! Sex can be a stress reliever but if you are too stressed to get in the mood, that leads to disconnection as well. Conflict that isn’t handled in a healthy way breaks down the marriage, trust, love, and if I haven’t said it enough- emotional connection. By handling both of these in a healthy way, you’re strengthening that connection instead of breaking it apart.
If you need more ways to build connection- check out my monthly membership that gives you 40 connecting conversation starters, access to the monthly workshop (this month’s is about overcoming resentment- recorded and emailed directly to you), and several coaching videos.
If sexual rejection has been a topic of conflict for a while now, reach out and get help! I have one spot opening in September.
If your sex life just isn’t on par with what it used to be, libido, energy, wetness and/or stamina are low and slow, check out this product! It’s a TOTAL GAME CHANGER!
Your sex life can be great! It can be HOT and steamy like it used to be! It can be exciting! I’m here to help you get that back! Sex isn’t everything but it’s pretty dang important in a marriage!