How To Battle Rejection In Marriage


The deepest need all of us have in life is love. And because love is our deepest need, our greatest fear is rejection. In marriage, we seek a lifelong companion who will help meet our love need. Even though only God can meet that need on the deepest level, our spouse is the second most important source in life for intimacy and faithful love.

We need to understand how profound our responsibility is to our spouses to make them feel significant and loved. We are God’s primary human vessel to reveal His love to them. Truly, this is how we can know that we are succeeding in marriage. When our spouses are experiencing God’s love through us, we are hitting the mark and will have a healthy marriage and a happy spouse.

However, when we aren’t paying proper attention to the love needs in our spouse, they will begin to feel rejected. This is one of our most primal responses when we feel as though we are being ignored, taken for granted, or put in second place. Men feel rejected when their wives aren’t sexually responsive or are putting the children or other things before them. Women feel rejected when their husbands are emotionally passive toward them and show greater interest in work, friends, sports, or something else.

When we feel rejected, we often respond in unhealthy ways. Some people respond openly with graphic complaints and open displays of anger. Others internalize their rejection and become passive-aggressive (retaliating through negative behaviors without openly admitting their anger) as they silently withdraw their affections.

When you are feeling rejected by your spouse, you need to tell them in a loving manner. Tell them specifically what they are doing that makes you feel the way you do. As you are telling them, don’t make threats or raise your voice. In fact, it is a crucial time to communicate your love and commitment to the relationship.

If they don’t respond as you would like, you need to keep loving them faithfully. Don’t fight fire with fire. You’ll only get a bigger fire. Love your spouse and show them the kind of love you want from them. Also, pray for them every day. This is what Karen did for me and it was the key to God changing me and turning our marriage around.

The last resort is to go for help to a Christian marriage counselor or a pastor. It is best if you go together, but, even if you go alone, it can give you the strength to stand for your marriage.

Prioritize your marriage above everything else except for God. Never take each other for granted. Be verbally and physically affectionate. Let your spouse know every day how much they mean to you. It will keep the passion in your marriage strong as it vanquishes the spirit of rejection.

This blog post was written by Jimmy and Karen Evans of Marriage and Family Today. For more resources or information check out their website. You will find invaluable information there to help your marriage stand strong!

So what crossed your mind today as you read this post?

~ by pennymaxwell on January 22, 2009.

27 Responses to “How To Battle Rejection In Marriage”

  1. Thanks for sharing this,just what I needed to hear to help in renewal and strengthing of our marraige.we had adry period in our marraige last year, after 22 yrs. we have made a joint pact to start off the new year before God to renew ourselves by focusing on each other more ,working together , showing love and attention to each other and continuing to pray for each other and with each going to post this as a daily reminder!

  2. God’s primary vessel that reveals His unconditional love to me is my dog

  3. just kidding

  4. What crossed my mind was how beautifully simple this all sounds, and how the topic of “what to do when you’re spouse’s work is for God and there’s so much of it that there is ABSOLUTELY nothing left for his wife” wasn’t covered…and what to do when you’ve done all of these things only to continually face rejection and loneliness and to then be informed that you are selfish and asked “who do you think you are? do you really think that you are more deserving than God of my attention?” Clearly there is no response that can possibly stand up against that one. So since we aren’t to divorce, and we aren’t to get in the way of God…are we not still sinning by living a life of utter despair? In turn constantly battling the thoughts that “God” is at fault for the disparity in this marriage?

  5. Anon, you need to go back and see that a “calling” is not equal to “God. My husband is a minister and he is fully aware that his FIRST ministry is to his family. How can he care for God’s people if his own house is not in order, does your hubby remember that bible verse? Ministry should never come before your marriage, EVER! My husband tells our church that “God has called him to feed His bride (meaning the church) and he (my hubby) was called to marry his bride (meaning me). It should not be the other way around. Your hubby should be married to YOU not the church.

    I am not trying to be mean when I say this but you are seeing the fruit from not doing this the right way. Your ministry and marriage should be from an overflow of a healthy relationship not loneliness and despair. I am concerned that if something does not change you guys are going to be headed for trouble. Please find a great Christian counselor to help you guys. People who are attending our churches need good healthy role models to follow. There is way too much of the other. Please tell your husband to go with you. A godly counselor will not let him get away with the ministry being more important than you.

    If you live in or near Charlotte, I will be happy to recommend someone to you!

  6. I am married to a man who was loving until shortly after marriage. I feel like a beggar just asking for hugs, kisses, and physical and emotional intimacy of any kind. I have tried everything, no response, or blames me for some trivial thing, in other words, I am not lovable…and his “love” is conditional upon what I say or do, and that depends on the day of the pleasing him…so I gave up.. It is a cold and lonely life. I finally told him that it is counseling or the door. He can been very controlling, angry, and cruel, and does not take repsonsibility for the hurt he causes to anyone. In fact, he treats me like he does his Mom, whom he harbors anger and resentment. He has caused strife to push my children away (ages 20-28, not living with us)
    Without God, it is impossible for him to change. How long do I keep hanging in there, hoping for a miracle, hanging on to my self esteem by a string. He has gone to 1 or 2 counseling sessions in years past, but quit when they “put him on front street” about his behavior. He feels no rules are made for him.
    I don’t feel he is really “committed” to this marriage, and has not been for a long time. There was a time a few years ago where I was relatively sure he had at the least, and emotional affair with a co-worker, and that was shortly after the marriage…I am still trying to get over that, but he does not admit fault, says they were “just friends” “she cared about him, and he cared about her” how wrong is that ? She made comments to me, that were obviously said to hurt, and to me pain, and he got mad ansaid I was paranoid and crazy jealous…basically took her side it- chose his “frinedhsip” with her over our marriage, was very angry with me over it for a very long time.Please keep us in your prayers, we need a miracle. I am fighting anger, resentment and unforgiveness.

  7. Lilly, sounds like a lot is going on there. I am terrible sorry that is all happening.

    The best thing I can tell you is to get a great counselor, wherever you live and get in there ASAP. Much of what you are going through can be eliminated with the proper help. You see all of us have some baggage and we need to unload it so we can do what God has for us to do. I am going to believe that you and your husband will the the help you so desperately need.

    If you live in or near Charlotte, let me know. I can give you someone. Thanks for your post. Sounds like you are on the right track with getting help.

  8. What do you do when the Man you married he’s acounselor and he’s treating you like Billy’s Husband . I’m in the same situation.

  9. Margaret, I would get a pastor or another counselor involved. You need someone who is unbiased to help out here. I am sorry that is happening to you. Please try to get the help you need as soon as possible. Are you in Charlotte? I could recommend someone if you are.

  10. I married the love of my life, or so I thought. All we ever hear about is how women fail to meet the intimacy needs of their husbands. One cannot describe the heartbreak of loving and longing for a man who has no interest in intimacy whatsoever.So I married a roommate who occasionally wears me as a fashion accessory and enjoys everyone knowing he has a pretty wife. Then I come home and go back into the trophy case until he needs to show me off again.

  11. We’ve been through a lot in our 20 year marriage and have come to a time where my need for intimacy FAR outweighs my husbands. In fact, he doesn’t want intimacy AT ALL. Neither one of us have taken enough care of our bodies and are both overweight. I’m sure that has something to do with his lack of desire but after 2 years with hardly any physical contact, I’m ready to say goodbye and would if it weren’t for my children. I need a reason to stay.

  12. very intresting subject, I been experiencing this simarlar circumstance,
    Its been hard excepting, the actual, of what Im going thru.

  13. I understand this very clearly. Also we need to understand that rejection comes in many forms including dishonesty, lack of compassion, neglect… etc. And with it comes the tendency for the other spouse to start rejceting as well. Counselling will only help to those that want the help and are comfortable with the help and the persons doing the counselling. Couselling for the first part is about the separate persons and dealing with their individual issues before couples counselling. This is something people do not talk about. Everything is go to counselling. Guidance and understanding is needed. Also persons going through these hardships do not have the enlightenment to notice that they actually need help. Sometimes you do need help and don’t understand how, where, why, what to get it. Intervention from family members and the support and guidance is extremely critical.

  14. I am a Christian and I want more than anything (earthly) is for my marriage to work and bring joy to me and him. I’m having a real hard time concerning feelings of rejection from my husband. I feel that he much rather have 40ozs. Of beer than me. It may be time for me to walk away. I don’t receive rejection well. I try talking, but we just push fault back and forth. Nothing ever gets results and never will as long as he continues to drink, daily. Pray for us. Thanks

  15. I am a minister, counselor and currently separated from my husband. Today marks our 19th wedding anniversary, but we’ve been separated for the past 8 months. Reason why I left: Our courtship was 6 months, I was so sure that I can marry anyone! I am a very quiet and reserved person, love God passionately and very active in Kingdom service. It started right from the beginning of our marriage that my husband does not have a single trust in me; I was thinking it was because I was more educated than him, so when I married him, i encouraged him to further his studies which he did after lots of persuasion. But the suspicion and lack of trust did not stop, he does not want to see me talking to Christian brother without him standing right there otherwise the guy is my boy friend. He stopped working without carrying me along, he said God asked him to leave his job. He was staying at home but will not help with domestic nor with children. When he was working he doesn’t give me money for upkeep, he does what he wants with his money; only contribute when he feels like not as a matter of duty. I was keeping quiet as a Christian woman that was willing to build her home, but it was hurting me badly. He loves investing his money in ventures that are not well thought out, and I think he does this because he does not have a sense of responsibility for us. The children refused to stay with him, because he has injured them severally, despite all my pleas. He has not been calling us, he refused to see my parents when they call him for reconciliation, he said he has no business with them. He told me that I am the problem of his life and that he will never beg me to come back. When bills started growing bigger I decided to look for another job and God shined His light on me, I was able to change my job to a better one that requires traveling, my duties involve handling of conference/training logistics. That was when my problem was aggravated; any call i receive must be scrutinized and my bags, and wardrobe are searched endlessly to see if he could find a exhibit to accuse me off. When these failed he started verbal abuse, waking me up in the night and asking me to swear with Bible if my colleagues are not sleeping with me. He has told all our neighbors that I am sleeping around, though he has no evidence to back this up, I tried so much to convince him but he just seems too difficult to convince. Many respected men of God have intervened, our parents too. My problem now is this I am a minister of the gospel and counselor, I speak at retreat and seminars too, since I move out of the house, I have been receiving invitations for ministration but I have been turning it down because of my challenges, should I go ahead and accept the invitation? I love serving God but my marriage is a big hindrance. Second, i don’t want to remain unmarried, is it right for me to remarry or must I go back even with all these treatment, I don’t want him to kill me as a result of baseless jealousy and suspicion.

    • Your marriage comes before your ministry opportunities. In fact it is your first ministry. I would work on getting that healthy and then the other stuff will come from an overflow. I would find a Christian counselor to get involved. It is never one-sided when there are issues and a great counselor can help you get to the bottom of family patterns that existed way before the two of you met. We are a sum of our childhoods unless we vigorously choose different, and that is difficult.
      See help from a balanced outside source and get your family healthy! 🙂

  16. I hope to hear a reply. I’ve been married for 30 years. We have four children aged 16 – 24. My wife and I had a close relationship until our fourth child came along. The demands of a young family and both of us working in challenging management jobs, left little time and energy for each other. Intimacy, including sex, suddenly was reduced from a few times per week to a few times per year. All daily physical affection and sweet terms of endearment completely stopped about a decade ago. Communication is almost entirely about practical things, which is often short. My wife tends to be a bit naggy, and I can be a bit defensive or blaming. Now that our three oldest are in university, two are still at home, my wife seems to be putting more into her work. She will often ! buy nice new clothes (a change in the last three years) and looks very nice for work, as well as the several long business trips she makes per year.

    For me personally, I am feeling resentment, perhaps even some lack of trust, given that she often buys new clothes and travels. I do know I have some anger and hurt inside me from a decade ago when my wife physically (angrily?) rejected my loving advances and to be very honest, I HAVE A TREMENDOUS FEAR OF REJECTION and I ALSO HAVE A VERY HIGH NEED FOR MY WIFE’S LOVE. However, in order to cope over the last decade I have shut myself done and I have not taken any risks in being tender, gentle, caring, loving, giving, affectionate,…. for fear of getting hurt.
    I probably have become very selfish when meeting my sexual needs on my own and with regularity. My wife knows that I am selfish.As for herself, she doesn’t care too much about the sexual part, even though she has shown that her drive is still there (no problems there). I have, however, seen her enjoying the company of other men (smiling, laughing) and then return to normal for me. Our communication is short, not great, but once, when checking her phone logs she’ll log a fifteen minute call with one of the coaches of our daughter’s team, a couple of times. This also shows a bit mistrust on my part. I do check her logs regularly, but there’s almost no evidence to suggest anything suspicious.

    Anyways, fifteen years ago my wife and i had a close relationship. Now we’re two old roomates in a less than ideal relationship.

    Can you please reply with questions, understanding, and suggestions. Thank you.


    • I am not sure where you live but whatever city you are in I would get into counseling right away. None of the things you are describing are unusual but can be incredibly harmful if not dealt with right away. It is difficult to address all of the issues you mentioned in a blog post but hopefully you will get some help in the city you live in and maybe even ask for a godly couple at your church to help you walk through the toughness of it all.
      When people feel like a failure at home they often throw themselves into work. It is not unusual but with the right people in your life and with God at the helm I am confident that you can turn the difficulty around. A good church, a good counselor and a will to change are the key elements you need to help you get on that right path.

  17. Thank you for your reply, Penny. I’m not as hopeful as you sound. The marital situation that I’ve described to you has been firmly set by the passage of 15 years, as well as my own personal experience of a long slow process of hurt –> confusion -> anger –> frustration –> disullusionment –> seeing counsellors –> some hope –> more disillusionment –> hopelessness –> acceptance –> hopeless apathy <– where I'm at today. I care, but I'm not hopeful. As for my wife, she may or may not care, but she's too busy with work and life to even think about this.

    You suggested seeing a good counsellor, which I did, about five years ago, when I experienced disullusionment with my marriage. I also read every book (over 50) on marriage and intimacy. Over the course of a couple of years I saw three counselors, to whom I gave a written description of my purpose and marital challenges. Each counselor, over the course a few sessions, asked a lot of questions, none of which addressed the real issues. They kept asking questions that furthered their analysis of my character, which I understand, but unfortunately, were unhelpful to me and my marital issues. I have no need to continue, Penny.
    You also suggested a good church, which we attend. However, we have very few close relationships, and to be frank, I wouldn't trust people I know with such personal and vulnerable information. I'll be honest, I keep a lot of stuff to myself. A lot of stuff in my life is compartmentalized and I can carry on as if there is no real problem. In fact, most people would guess that everything is going very well in my life. But the problem is, at a certain point, one gets tired, and I sometimes, wonder if it's actually taking away my own energy, for lots of different things whether it's people, work, home, or whatever.
    Penny, you lastly mention, the will to change. It seems difficult to have a clear and certain will after 15 years of less-than-good habits of communication, as well as arriving at the point of apathy and disillusionment. Will comes from hope. And hope, in this case, comes from a personal experience of true and authentic heart-felt love. And to be brutally honest, I am not feeling it. I am not feeling my wife's love – neither in words, tone of voice, body language, affection, and in our bedroom.

    But thanks, Penny. I do appreciate your reply and hope to hear from anyone who can be of help.

    Philip M.

    • Ok I hear all that you are saying and I totally get it, but not one time did you mention the God factor. If He can make a coin come from the mouth of a fish, part the Red Sea, rain manna from heaven, help Peter walk on water, make a donkey talk, cause blinded eyes to see, lame to walk, deaf to hear, and the list goes on, do you think he is big enough to heal your marriage problems? I sure do!

      Your marriage is worth fighting for. The fat lady has not sung and God can turn around any situation. You just have to decide if you think he is big enough. It is not going to be about feelings, it is going to be about faith.

      Please understand that I am not trying to beat you up but encourage you past what you feel. If one, two or three counselors didn’t work, maybe there is something you yourself aren’t seeing. Maybe part of the problem is your ability to trust anyone?

      You see Philip, our lives growing up play a much bigger role in our relationships than we often realize. I would encourage you to be the man God wants you to be for your family and not worry about what your wife is or isn’t doing at the moment. You lead and the family will follow. Work on you and that is all that you can do. See how your past might be playing into your now and your future!

      I wish you would have gotten to this much sooner because after 15 years of pain piling on top of pain, it is much harder to get through all of the layers but it is not impossible. Want me to go through my spiel again? 🙂

      Get BACK in counseling and stay there, even if you feel like you want to quit or run. They ask you questions so they can help you. It’s for a reason even if you dont understand. GO BACK TO COUNSELING! Just in case you missed it in lower case.

  18. I do appreciate the thought and care you put into your blog, as well as your prayer to God who can do anything. Yes, He can move mountains and soften hearts.
    He also uses the words of others and I appreciate your encouraging words here to look beyond feelings or past experiences. Yes, counsellors can also greatly help, but it just hasn’t been my experience. To be honest, I was willing to address the real issues; they just didn’t bring it up, for whatever reason, eventhough I had written about it. I wanted them to bring it up. I was not afraid, I trusted each of them, and I had answered all their questions honestly.
    However, I felt like I was wasting my time because I thought they were steering me in the direction of nice navel gazing when I wanted to understand and see things about the real marital issues more clearly. (Why doesn’t my wife love me?) I do appreciate your advice, Penny, but after three honest counselling attempts and at quite a financial cost, I believed that to continue would be unstewardly. I could save money, use more of my off-time for home and children, and press on to be the best person I could be: be there for our 4 kids, be patient and kind, try to be encouraging and supportive, …….. However, the lingering questions continued to remain after my efforts to be the best I could be: does my wife love me, why doesn’t she show it, why does she give so much to work and others, and why do I get so so little, if anything? Why no physical intimacy for months and months at a time? Why so little interest in this very important part of our relationship, Why no physical affection, love yous, or anything, and why do I feel so rejected? These are the questions that brought me to your web page. I know you suggest that I be a leader, which means to take the initiative. You make a great point, but to initiate is take a great risk. To initiate and fail is another detrimental blow, and makes me feel very unloved, very uncared for. Sadly, I have a high need to be accepted , respected, and loved. If I never had this need, there would be no problem. But I do have this honest human need which, try as I might, is hard to ignore. And it’s my wife who is only able to meet this need. And when she ignores the intimate part of our relationship for so so long, or reluctantly participates, at the best of times, a few times per year, then I am reminded that I am not truly loved . I could go on, but I won’t. Do you see my dilemma?

    Philip M.

    • I do see your dilemma but what I know is that all of us have unhealthy patterns that we need fresh eyes to see and I still think you need the right counselor. Yes it does cost but divorce costs more and a miserable marriage even more than that. I would give every dime I had to make sure that my marriage was the best it could be, no cost is too great. I get that fact that there are years and layers of pain on both sides, I totally understand that. The reasons you are guarded are understandable but I am sure that your wife is feeling some things too and her lack of intimacy is her guarding herself. We tend to push each others buttons and unless someone takes the first step, the cycle might not ever be broken. My suggestion, well the Bible’s suggestion actually, is you lead that charge. It won’t be easy but it sure would yield a high reward. If you just focus on YOU getting healthy and not on your wife and her issues, it might help you a lot. Just determine to make yourself better and see what happens.

      Some great books to help you are Approval Addiction by Joyce Meyer, For Men Only by Shaunti Feldhaun, Marriage on the Rock by Jimmy Evans and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (forgot the author). Hope those things help!

      • Penny, you are too kind to keep helping me here. Thank you. Thankyou for replying and not letting me get by. A couple of your suggestions resonated with me. One, your comment that my wife’s lack of intimacy is her guarding herself. I never considered this idea. I thought that I was the vulnerable one because in the past it was I who initiated intimacy, and she merely responded, sometimes reluctantly, always with no affection (kisses), or sometimes not at all.
        I never interpreted her reluctance or lack of response as her guarding herself since my initiating is an opening to love, acceptance, closeness, and affection. To be rejected or to sense one’s reluctance after one has carefully initiated is hurtful. Actually, it seems to have affected me in ways I don’t understand. So, I have become very intentional about not initiating intimacy. I am also waiting for my wife to initiate, but after waiting a long while, I suspect it will not happen. The strange thing is, however, that my wife seems to be okay with the lack of intimacy or affection or words of love. She seems, actually, quite happy on her own and with others. Recently, after being away on a business trip, she confessed that she didn’t miss me.
        Perhaps because I am the one who is hurting deep inside and over the long haul, acquiring a vague sense of being a little depressed –
        – maybe.

        yes, I do have a high need for acceptance and affection. You suggested reading the book Approval Addiction by Meyer. I got online and read part of the pdf document, and yes, I would probably acknowledge a need for approval. Problem is though – that my wife seems to apply this reward -punishment system in our relationship, where if I do the ‘right’ things, I will be rewarded with her smiles and joy, and if I don’t, I will get ‘punished’ with silence, a cold feeling, and neglect, which is rejection. This is, in my opinion, somewhat manipulative. My own response to my wife’s ‘game’ is “I’m not playing this ‘game’ and I don’t really care what you think” because if I cared, I would get caught into trying to earn her approval. Does this make sense?

        Anyways, is it okay if I continue chatting on this blog because I think you might be onto something here. And you are probably right, I might need to see the right counsellor, whomever that might be.

        Thank you again.

        Philip M.

      • Philip, if you wait for the woman to initiate, you might wait a long time. 🙂 You need to understand how women are wired and I can tell you I think you might need a little help there. I think if you knew that, you would not see some of this as rejection and more along the lines of you two have communication issues. Communication issues will always play itself out in the bedroom. Women (and yes I am generalizing here) do not compartmentalize like men can. The events of the day are very important to us. If we do not feel a connection, for whatever reason, we are not even thinking intimacy. We are thinking about all that transpired in a day; work, kids, arguments, bills, etc. That doesn’t excite an woman I can assure you. A healthy emotional relationship with her husband? Well that is attractive.

        Now, I am gonna hit hard a little bit so you can see something, you are always bringing up your wife and what she did or didn’t do. I think it would be very helpful and healing for YOU to just focus on YOU. You can’t change her but you can darn sure see to it that you are the best you can be. You will have to give account to God for that. You will not have to give account for what she did BUT you will have to give account for how you lead her. It is your responsibility in God’s eyes. You cannot lead her until you lead you.

        I don’t mind giving you a few things to consider using this forum but you need REAL accountability and help. That is going to come from someone local in your area and with real connections in your church. It is going to be hard to step out at first but it’s what is healthy. I’m not gonna let you (and I am smiling when I say this) hide behind a computer and chat with someone whom you don’t know (namely me) and who can’t provide you what you really need. I want you to REALLY go after help and lead your family well. There are many lives depending on you, starting with your own.

        Go for it Philip!

  19. God brings emotional all with Him.we can’t always depend on Men to make us happy.GOD CAN BE EVERYTHING TO US IF WE GIVE HIM A CHANCE IN OUR LIVES.

    • Amen to that comment! Jesus is 100% the answer to all, situations like this
      make me lean more and more on him.

  20. I am rejected by my husband everyday and it is taking a toll on me now.
    i have been married for 13yrs now and i think i had the perfect and loving and kind husband in the whole world. for the last 3yrs my husband has change. he pays no attention to me anymore, we don’t have sex I would try to hug him and he turns his back on me. when we lie in bed he is either tired or he is watching TV and don’t want to be bothered. He critized my body my looks, but praises other ladies out there. When we go out he compliments other ladies about them selves and disses me about how fat i am and i need to diet. I am only 132lbs, have a 9yr and 5yr old.
    I feel like running away but i think about the kids and what will happen if I leave. I cry every second of the day. I told him about my feelings and he said to me ” so go get a divorce if you are not happy” these words rip my heart out. I am desperate in need of help. I want my marriage. I love my husband to death but cannot live like this any more.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: