How to Say NO to Marital Sex? | How to Reject a Love-making Proposal Without Hurting?

By Prapoorna M

Last Updated: November 27, 2021

Sex is the most common physical need to be fulfilled and the driving desire to be quenched. Sex involves a mutual coordination for it to happen in a memorable way. There occur times in our life when we want to or maybe need to reject that love-making proposal from the spouse. Though you don’t want to sound rude, it might hurt him/her. Sometimes, you just don’t have the patience to convey it better and you could blurt out.

Well, this article provides you with some really good tips to communicate well with your partner on saying No to marital sex without hurting your spouse. Read to also know when you can reject that sexual proposal.

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Pleasure or Pressure?

Well, it is widely said that, “A No means a No” which doesn’t seem to be acceptable to many, as there are many instances when we reject something while still thinking about it. In case, you feel like you’re expecting them to turn you on, let’s save that topic for later. But if you’re not at all interested in making out and want to convey it smoothly, just say it because pressurizing someone to have sex is never okay.

Be clear in your statement that you are not in interested in the act right now, but not in the person. If you don’t want to have, let your partner know it. It’s never good to remain silent. Non-consensual sex is an offence. Forcing sex, even after marriage, without his/her consent accounts to marital rape.

Couple having intimate moments
Couple having intimate moments

Read more: Why saying No in a Relationship is a Good thing?

Saying a ‘NO’

When your spouse is too emotional, too dramatic, and needs too much of your attention, then you need to set strict limits. When you say “no, thank you”, you should sound polite, yet firm. Say that without any expressions like disgust, anger or frustration. Keep it as simple as possible. Many of us have the notion that saying a No could hurt the relationship. Remember that saying yes or no won’t cause any harm to the relationship. Most importantly, if you get a negative response from your spouse, accept it and don’t push or humiliate him/her. But, when the act of saying no or yes is repetitive for a longer period, then it could really have some effect on the relationship.

Not having sex in marital life, for a longer period is actually not good for your relationship. Having good sexual intimacy, lessens many problems . This is the time that you both have to build your relationship stronger. So, if you don’t feel like having sex, you could at least cuddle up, kiss and have intimate conversations or watch a movie together.

Strategies for Communicating “No” Without Hurting Your Partner

Be Direct but KindUse clear, empathetic language to express your current state without blame or harshness. This approach respects your feelings and your partner’s emotions, facilitating a supportive dialogue.“I love you, but I’m not in the mood tonight. Can we cuddle instead?”
Offer AlternativesInstead of outright rejection, suggest other forms of intimacy or different activities. This conveys your willingness to maintain closeness and connection, showing that your refusal is specific to sexual activity at the moment, not to intimacy as a whole.“I’m not up for sex tonight, but I’d love to watch our favorite movie together.”
Plan for Another TimePropose a specific future time or occasion for sexual intimacy. This reassures your partner that your refusal is temporary and that you are interested in intimacy, just not at the current moment. It helps in keeping the promise of future intimacy, reducing potential feelings of rejection.“I’m really tired tonight. How about we spend some special time together this weekend?”

Also read: Better ways to communicate in relationships

How to Say it?

Mention it clearly but looking straight into the eyes and in a clear tone. Don’t humiliate the person, also, don’t feel ashamed to express. Make sure that you say how much you love them but not in a mood for it. Well, the most common excuses like “I don’t feel well” or “I’m tired” might not work if you have used many times. If it is your partner who initiates all the time, in that case, it hurts though you reject only less number of times. Instead, if you also initiate as equally as your partner does, it is understood positively, without getting hurt, even though you do reject sometimes. So, never leave all the responsibility on your partner, everyday.

It is much better to offer your partner another date and time that you would like to have, rather than rejecting straight away. This saves them from the fear of approaching again and getting rejecting. After you reject, if you want to make your spouse comfortable and understanding, you can invite your partner on a sex-date on a planned date and time, when it is convenient to both of you. In the end, don’t forget to put a response question like, “what do you think?” or “It’s a great idea, right?”

Is your partner addicted to porn”?

In case, your partner watches porn to get aroused and wants to have sex to let that out, it’s better to say a No. If you encourage your partner to have sex, after watching porn, you are cementing that addiction which could lead to erectile dysfunction in the long run. Ask him to sort it out as real sex doesn’t arouse him, after addiction. This is the same in the case of women too. If the brain gets addicted to porn, it’s hard to get that arousal and climaxes normally.

In case, your spouse pressures you or belittles you when you don’t do something that you find objectionable, you can clearly say a No to sex, because, that’s humiliating and a form of marital rape. For example, if a husband suddenly uses some sex toy in the middle of the act, without any warning, that is a wrong thing to do.

Learn more: How to Overcome Lust? What is lust and what causes lust in the brain?

Feeling Bad?

Many of us have that upset feel lingering in mind when we reject our partner. But it is common that we get tired or don’t feel like. Understand that there is no need to feel guilty about expressing your thoughts as they are. In fact, when rejection is continued by anticipation, even rejection could feel sweet.

We could be having random thoughts on saying a “No” like

  • Disappointing the spouse
  • Hurting their feelings
  • Fear of harming our relationships
  • Feeling guilty of turning them down
  • Having random negative thoughts
  • Fear of spouse-cheating
  • Comparing our sexual frequency with others
  • Unable to meet the sexual desires of the partners

All these fears are common, but having a dialogue with each other is really important. Both of you should know about the preferences and likeness of your partners. So that though you reject and they get hurt, you will know how to get back to him/her and make things fall in place.

Know more about our article on The secret to a good marriage | Marriage tips for a long-lasting bond

Understand Each other

Everyone wants to and needs to feel desired. To have a pleasurable sexual experience, both the partners should be comfortable with each other. If one of the partners is not comfortable, then there is a need to express the pending desires and lack of satisfaction in a clear way to the partner and such a communication should be as smooth as possible without any emotional outbursts or dissonance.

Be confident and understand what you want before going for sex, like the need for arousal to make the body ready or maybe that you need rest or mood is not yet set for that. Most people have their sexual fetishes when it comes to arousal. Such things have to be discussed in advance to avoid any mismatch. One should remember the need of women’s sexual desires and pleasures too. It is enjoyable only when
both the partners desire for it.

If one person is doing all the giving and the other person is receiving it all the time, that’s not a mutual sex experience. It’s just one-sided experience.

Know what you want and how you feel to create a mutually satisfying relationship. Sometimes fulfilling your spouse’s fetish desires could also satisfy them, in case you are not interested in sex but want to satisfy them. Also, when you feel you are being taken for granted in your relationship, just back off a little without any kind of drama. Your partner will sense it and move towards you. Balance in relationships is often obtained by doing so.

Explore more on How to handle Cracks in Marital Relationships

Understanding and Respecting Boundaries in Intimacy

ConceptDescriptionHow to Implement
Establish BoundariesClearly define what you are comfortable with in your sexual relationship.Discuss your likes, dislikes, and limits in a calm and open manner.
Check-in RegularlyMaintain an ongoing dialogue about your sexual relationship.Set aside time for regular check-ins about your feelings and desires.
Respectful RejectionLearn to say no in a way that respects your partner’s feelings.Use phrases like “I’m not feeling up to it right now, but I still love and desire you.”
Emotional SupportOffer emotional intimacy and support, especially when physical intimacy is not possible.Engage in deep, meaningful conversations, offer hugs, and spend quality time together.
Seek Mutual PleasureFocus on activities that both partners enjoy and find satisfying.Explore new forms of intimacy that are enjoyable for both of you.

Is your relationship getting toxic?

Couple bored with each other at bed
Couple bored with each other at bed

In case, it turns out that you both started to have an argument, ask about something that your partner said before and let your partner speak about it and listen patiently. You will get more information to work on. You will understand that there’s so much to talk about. Find a suitable time and environment and talk with a cool mind. In case, things are not working well or if something doesn’t seem right, never hesitate to seek the help of a psychologist to get a couple counseling therapy.

There are some conditions when you need to have patience. For example, when a woman is pregnant or under some medical conditions, the husband should understand and cooperate. In the same way, when the husband is having medical or psychological issues, the wife should support. Humiliating each other or searching for pleasures out of marriage is always a threat to your marital relationships. Remember, once the trust is lost, it is hardly gained. If your partner threatens you to leave the relationship or if they try to seek pleasure outside of marriage, then you are in an unhealthy relationship and you need to work on it to repair it.

Know more: Essential Guide to Relationship Counselling


The article emphasizes the importance of communication and mutual respect in a marital relationship, particularly concerning sexual intimacy. It highlights that saying “no” to sex should be communicated clearly and respectfully, without hurting the spouse’s feelings. The article suggests offering alternatives like cuddling or planning a future date to maintain intimacy without necessarily engaging in sexual activity. It also addresses the importance of understanding and respecting each other’s desires, needs, and boundaries to ensure a mutually satisfying relationship.

The importance of a wellness hub in this context cannot be overstated. A wellness hub offers resources, support, and guidance for couples navigating the complexities of marital intimacy and relationship dynamics. It serves as a safe space for individuals to explore and understand their feelings, desires, and boundaries, promoting healthy communication and emotional well-being. By encouraging honest dialogue and offering tools for conflict resolution and mutual understanding, a wellness hub plays a crucial role in fostering healthy, satisfying, and lasting relationships. This reinforces the article’s message that mutual respect, clear communication, and understanding are key to navigating the challenges of marital sex and intimacy.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How can I say no to sex without hurting my spouse’s feelings?

Communicating your feelings clearly and kindly is essential when you’re not in the mood for sex. Emphasize that your lack of interest is temporary and not a rejection of your partner as a person. Be honest about your feelings and suggest alternative ways to spend quality time together, such as cuddling, engaging in intimate conversations, or enjoying a shared activity.

2. Is it normal to not always want sex with my spouse?

Absolutely, fluctuations in sexual desire are a normal part of any long-term relationship. Various factors, including stress, health issues, emotional states, and life changes, can affect your sexual desire. Communicating openly about these fluctuations can help both partners understand and adjust to each other’s changing needs, preventing misunderstandings and fostering a deeper connection.

3. What should I do if my partner reacts negatively to my refusal?

If your partner reacts negatively to your refusal, it’s important to stay calm and approach the situation with empathy. Try to understand their feelings and express your own reasons without blaming or shaming. Discuss how you can meet each other’s needs in different ways and consider setting a time to revisit the conversation if emotions are too high. If such conflicts persist, seeking couples counseling might provide a safe space to explore underlying issues and improve communication.

4. How can alternative forms of intimacy strengthen a marriage?

Engaging in alternative forms of intimacy, such as cuddling, kissing, holding hands, or sharing hobbies, can significantly strengthen a marriage. These activities foster emotional intimacy and a sense of closeness, which are crucial for a healthy relationship. They show your partner that you value and desire them beyond sexual interactions, contributing to a deeper, more meaningful connection.

5. What role does the Wellness Hub play in marital sexual health?

The Wellness Hub serves as a comprehensive resource for couples looking to improve their sexual health and overall relationship wellness. It offers access to articles, workshops, and counseling services designed to address common sexual health issues, improve communication skills, and provide strategies for enhancing intimacy. The Wellness Hub supports couples in navigating the complexities of their sexual relationship within the context of a healthy and balanced partnership.

6. How can couples maintain sexual intimacy during stressful times?

During stressful periods, maintaining sexual intimacy requires patience, understanding, and creativity. Couples can focus on maintaining physical closeness through non-sexual touch and affection, communicate openly about their needs and limitations, and find stress-reducing activities to do together. Planning intimate moments or mini-dates can also help reignite the spark, allowing both partners to reconnect in a pressure-free environment.

7. What if one partner’s sexual desires are significantly different from the other’s?

When partners have differing sexual desires, communication becomes even more crucial. Discussing each other’s needs, fantasies, and boundaries openly and without judgment can lead to a better understanding and compromise. It’s important to approach the conversation with an open mind and consider exploring new activities that both partners are comfortable with. If necessary, a sex therapist can provide guidance and support in navigating these differences.

8. How important is sexual compatibility in a marriage?

Sexual compatibility is an important aspect of a satisfying marriage, but it’s not the sole determinant of relationship success. While compatible sexual desires can enhance intimacy, emotional connection, mutual respect, and effective communication are equally vital. Couples can work on their sexual compatibility by exploring their desires together, maintaining an open dialogue about their sexual relationship, and being willing to adapt and grow together.

9. Can a marriage survive without sexual intimacy?

Yes, a marriage can survive without sexual intimacy if both partners are satisfied with their level of physical connection and find fulfillment in other aspects of their relationship. However, if the lack of sexual intimacy is a source of frustration or sadness for one or both partners, it’s important to address these feelings openly and seek solutions that may include medical advice, therapy, or exploring new ways to connect sexually.

10. What strategies can couples use to improve communication about sexual desires and boundaries?

Improving communication about sexual desires and boundaries involves creating a safe, non-judgmental space for open dialogue. Couples should practice active listening, use “I” statements to express their feelings, and dedicate regular times to discuss these topics away from distractions. Utilizing resources like books, workshops, or counseling can also aid in exploring and expressing desires and boundaries more effectively. The aim is to build trust and ensure both partners feel heard and respected.

About the Author:

Prapoorna Mangalampalli

M.Sc., M.A., (Dual Masters in Psychology & English) – Counselor (6+ years of experience)

Prapoorna armed with a passionate dedication fueled by dual Master’s degrees in Psychology and English, Prapoorna sheds light on and elevates human experiences. Over 6+ years of experience fuel her insightful approach to counseling, offering profound empathy and guidance across diverse areas like online, marital, relationship, child, family, and career counseling.

At Wellness Hub, she thrives in a team environment that values innovation, compassion, and achieving results for their clients.

Connect with Prapoorna to learn how she can help you or your loved one find their voice and build a brighter future.

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