Jump directly to the Content

Real Love, Real Sex

I'm taking on your toughest questions

My Passive Husband

"My husband is so passive that he makes Jell-O look stiff. How can I get him to take charge?"

Remember the "which came first, the chicken or the egg" question? It's worth asking, "Which came first? Do I take charge because he's so passive, or is he so passive because I take charge?" Unfortunately, we often create the exact behavior we abhor.

To visualize how this dynamic can be changed, imagine a see-saw. One side is the "assertive" side and the other is the "passive" side. The further you venture out on the assertive side, the further he'll venture out on the passive side to maintain balance. However, the more you venture toward the middle, the more he'll likely do the same.

What would "venturing toward the middle" look like?

Rather than saying, "You pick the restaurant. I'm tired of making all the choices." Try saying, "Let's go to one of your favorites. What are you hungry for?"

Instead of, "Why can't you take initiative in the house?" Try, "I have three honey-do's I could use your help with, and #3 is to let me give you a back massage to thank you for doing #1 and #2."

Rather than, "Why haven't you paid these bills yet? Can I not trust you?" Try, "I see some bills piling up. Do you need extra time this weekend to get caught up?"

You get the idea. Next time you're tempted to take charge when you really want him to, remember the great dancing pair Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. She didn't require his leadership by stepping all over his toes. She inspired him to lead by simply following along gracefully.

Childhood Sexual Abuse

"Every sexual experience brings up bitter memories of childhood sexual abuse. Is it possible to have a happy marriage without sex?"

To have a happy marriage, both individuals need to be happy. Would your husband really be satisfied with a sexless marriage? Wouldn't you both be happier if you could heal the scars of sexual abuse and enjoy a healthy sex life together?

With one-third of women having experienced sexual abuse, many have walked wounded in the area of sexuality, myself included. But rather than withdrawing from my husband, I managed to invite him into my healing process. When I tearfully told Greg how disgusted I felt by my uncle's mustache when he forced me to kiss him, Greg gently asked, "Is that why you don't kiss me as often since I grew a mustache?" I hadn't made the connection. The next morning Greg shaved off his mustache, and we caught up on months of missed kisses. Very healing.

Be sure to let your husband know your struggle isn't with him, but with unresolved trauma from past sexual abuse. Discuss ways that you might feel more safe and secure. For example:

  • Incorporate relaxation techniques as foreplay, such as lighting a candle and praying while in each others' arms or taking a hot bath together.
  • Leave the lights on. Make the visual connection that you're with your husband who loves you, not someone who wants to harm you.
  • Use a non-offensive code word (such as red light or molasses) if you begin to feel negatively about a certain activity and want him to stop. His willingness to do so will help you re-establish a sense of safety as your boundaries are respected.

Don't let your sexual abuser continue robbing you of the joy, passion, and pleasure God intends both you and your husband to enjoy. Seek professional counseling if you need to. You were a victim once, but you don't have to be anymore.

Check out:

Shannon Ethridge, M.A. is the bestselling author of the Every Woman's Battle series and The Sexually Confident Wife (Broadway). She lives in east Texas with her husband and two teenage children.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

Free CT Women Newsletter

Sign up for our Weekly newsletter: CT's weekly newsletter to help you make sense of how faith and family intersect with the world.

Read These Next


Join in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter

Follow Us

More Newsletters