Abandoned in Marriage

Is it possible that there is a legitimate form of discontentment? I am aware there is a shockingly high percentage of Christian women who are discontent in their marriages because their husband is not emotionally or physically available to them. I have several cases in which the husband refuses to be intimate or give any physical affection to his wife. They live together like friends.

This kind of marriage can leave an enormous gaping hole in the life of a woman who wants a biblical marriage, and it creates a great deal of discontentment within her. She doesn’t want a divorce, she doesn't want to commit adultery, she wants her husband to love her! Most women won't talk to anyone about their situation because it is too embarrassing to reveal their husband doesn’t want or desire her. 

Often, the abandoned wife struggles with feelings of depression because she cannot change her situation. She cannot force her husband to love her! Her emotions are turned inward and over time she may be diagnosed with one of several anxiety disorders, or depressive disorders. What I typically find is the women over eats for comfort or under eats for control.

What do I say to that woman who is discontent for what appears to be a very good and biblical reason? Even in such terrible circumstances as these I must apply the same biblical solutions - I must teach her to look at her own heart. 

She has to be willing to admit and repent of any self-pity she indulges in. It is 
hard to think about being along in a loveless marriage because her husband does 
not emotionally connect with her anymore. Many women really struggle with 
being angry at their husband for rejecting them and their love. They are 
confused and often tell me they cannot figure out what they have done or said to 
turn him away. Because she cannot control her husband and make him love her
again there are great feelings of hopelessness. 

She is lonely and struggles with rejection, shame, and embarrassment. I have had a woman tell me when she attempted to seduce her husband he ridiculed her, laughed at her, and even told her to go put on some clothes! She was devastated. Through her tears she asked me if I knew what is wrong with her that he rejects her that way, that he is so cruel to her now. 

Like other women in this situation, she is full of fear. She is anxious and worries about the reasons he rejects her.  She's always heard men are very sexually oriented what is the reason he no longer desires her? Her imagination runs away concocting scenarios that are too horrible to dwell upon for long. If he is not interested in her then who is he interested in? 

Every one of these are common feelings and reactions to being abandoned within marriage and all must be addressed biblically in the counseling relationship. Gently and compassionately, we must help her discern what her own inner/heart issues are, and teach her to see this problem through the lens of Scripture. 

If you are biblically counseling a woman in such a situation, you will have to listen closely to what the counselee says to determine where her thoughts, beliefs, and desires are focused. Is her heart focused on herself or on what God is doing in her as a result of this sad situation? You may need to challenge what she says, and always point her back towards Christ. When her personal sin in the relationship is exposed, it must be worked through and repented of.

It is critical she understands that even this deep, deep sorrow and all of the aspects of her situation are under the sovereignty of God. As challenging as it will be, she needs to accept that she can become content in her marriage despite the sin of her husband.