When Your Husband Doesn’t Want Sex

What not having sex is doing to your marriage, part 2

Ok, ladies. You’ve asked for it and here it is.

We sent out Part 1 of this topic (which focused on women not having sex), and within minutes we started receiving comments from women complaining about their husbands not wanting sex.

So many people wanted to know why I took the slanted approach of wives who are refusing their husbands. Honestly, I took that approach because that is what I have been seeing in my office in droves lately.

But listen, the problem goes both ways, and by the end of the day, it was obvious I was going to have to address this issue from the opposite point of view.

Women who find themselves in a sexless marriage have many of the same frustrations as men.

They feel frustrated, alone, embarrassed and angry.

They also feel insecure.

They wonder if they are sexy enough, attractive enough or thin enough.

It is confusing to hear female friends complain about husbands who want it all the time and then come back to a home where no one is pursuing her. Our culture feeds the notion that men are hypersexual, so if you are married to a man who isn’t all that interested, well…there must be something wrong with the woman.

If you are a woman whose husband isn’t interested in sex, you feel like a freak.

Marriage is a partnership. You enter it voluntarily and there are spoken and unspoken agreements.

One of those agreements is that there will be a sexual relationship. When one partner refuses to participate, it is exceptionally selfish.

A sexless marriage feels so powerless and frustrating.

There just isn’t any way around it. Sex is important in a relationship.

It is the one thing that keeps you from just being roommates sharing the same bed.

There are several reasons why a husband doesn’t want sex with his wife.

  1. Physical reasons – It’s always good to start with a checkup to make sure there isn’t something going on physically or hormonally. Low testosterone is fairly common, but I find that raising T levels doesn’t always fix the problem. Still, this is the easiest place to start and begin ruling out factors.
  2. Pornography – This is a touchy subject for many people. There are experts out there who will tell you that pornography enhances sex for couples. I strongly disagree. I find porn causes many more sexual problems than any other single item on this list. Porn changes the brain, and not in a good way. Check out www.yourbrainonporn.com to see what I mean. I don’t recommend it for either men or women, and I’ve seen it cause a lot of harm in relationships. You can also check out the posts we have here on porn use. If your man doesn’t want sex, it could be because he is using porn. If this is the culprit, the fix is cutting off the porn use cold turkey and retraining his brain to increase his desire for a real person.
  3. The quality of your relationship – I think everyone knows that women need emotional connection to increase physical desire. This same thing can be said for men as well. If a man is feeling criticized or belittled by you, he will shut down sexually. (See also: Help! I don’t find my wife attractive). You can’t rage at him or tell him he needs to “be a man” and then expect him to want to have sex with you. A man needs to feel respected by you. If you are talking down to him, treating him like a child, telling him what to do and when to do it, your sex life will suffer.
  4. Performance Anxiety – Men have a lot of pressure to perform. They cannot fake what they don’t feel. Some men are so worried about maintaining an erection or ejaculating prematurely, they shut down and avoid sexual contact altogether. Anxiety is certainly a mood killer. Please don’t minimize the impact performance anxiety can have on a man. I worked with a couple where the man had one episode of not being able to maintain his erection. All his wife said was “Well, that was disappointing”. He became so worried that he would have a repeat performance that it happened again several times. After three or four failed attempts, he shut down. They couldn’t resume a normal sex drive until he dealt with his anxiety. Drugs like Cialis can help but many men are resistant to taking them. The best defense is to deal with the anxiety.
  5. Lack of non-sexual touch – Many women don’t believe this one but I see it quite a lot actually. Not every man needs a lot of physical touch like holding hands, hugging and kissing but many of them do. If you are stand-offish and you are constantly thwarting his attempts to be close to you, he will likely pull back sexually as well. When your guy comes up behind you and puts his arms around you, he is risking rejection. If you stiffen or push him away frequently, he feels unwanted and unwelcomed. This carries over into the bedroom as well.
  6. Depression – Men often get depressed and the symptoms go unrecognized. Depression in men often looks like anger and withdrawal. Sexual desire would be one of the casualties of depression for both men and women.
  7. Your attitude about sex – You may not ever openly reject your husband’s advances but if your attitude is “get this over with quickly” you are certainly dousing the mood. For a woman to have good sex, it requires skill on her lover’s part. For a man to have good sex, it requires an eager partner who is obviously enjoying herself. I have heard many men tell me they would rather masturbate than have sex with a woman who just lies there.
  8. He is having an affair. I can’t count the number of times I have had a couple in my office where the man doesn’t want sex with his wife but comes to therapy to work on the relationship and it comes out later that he is having an affair. This disinterest in sex is usually accompanied by a general disinterest in being together at all. He may say he is working on things, but if he remains very detached and disinterested it is certainly a factor I would consider.

If your husband doesn’t want sex, it is time to find out what is going on.

Too many people keep ignoring this situation and hoping things will get better on their own. Sometimes they do but if things have been going this way for months or years, stop waiting and start pressing for some answers.

If you ask your husband why he doesn’t want sex, he is almost certainly going to tell you he doesn’t know. And that may very well be the truth.

He may have no idea why he doesn’t want sex.

He may not be able to make the connection between how he feels and his libido. He just knows he doesn’t want it as often as you do.

So your conversation needs to go something like this:

“Honey, we aren’t having sex enough for me to feel like I’m getting what I need and want from this relationship. This is really a problem for me. It is very important to me that we get to the bottom of what is going on. I’d like for you to make a doctor’s appointment for a physical checkup and if everything is normal there, I will make an appointment for us to see someone who specializes in this area. I know this may make you uncomfortable, but I love you and our life together too much to just let this go any longer. I’m building up some serious resentment and I’m afraid if we don’t tackle this problem together, I will continue to detach and continue to feel hurt and rejected.”

If he refuses to talk to anyone with you, let him know you will be going alone. If you are at the point where you are considering leaving the marriage, I would respectfully let him know you are disappointed in his decision to avoid the subject and you aren’t sure what this means for the future of your relationship. You aren’t giving idle threats. You are just being honest and letting him know this is serious.

Then the most important part is to FOLLOW THROUGH. Make an appointment with someone who is comfortable and knowledgeable to talk to you about sexual problems.

Contact us online or call us to make an appointment today. Calling us can be your first step toward restoring the sexual pleasure in your relationship.

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21 thoughts on “When Your Husband Doesn’t Want Sex

  1. I appreciate you taking the time to write this. I am in a completely sexless (more than 5 years) marriage. I AM becoming extremely bitter. We have tried counseling and I hear the same complaints over and over but nothing changes. It’s heartbreaking. I truly don’t know what to do. I will give him kudos for getting testosterone shots but that’s been three months now with no changes. I live a very sad, isolated life. He doesn’t understand my complaint that we are just roommates and I’m just the secretary.

    1. Tonya, sad and isolated are words I’ve heard many times from clients who were in sexless marriages. It’s lonely and that’s why I do everything I can to help my clients identify the cause and change it. For a man to seek medical help for an issue like this takes courage so kudos to your husband for his willingness to do so. Low T however may not be all that is in play here. There could be other issues at play. Or, it simply may be that being intentional with intimacy after a long hiatus can be awkward at first. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to seek help with a coach or counselor trained to help couples improve their intimacy. If you’d like to talk with one my team members please call us. Regards, Kim

      1. Ive accused my husband of many things, and now I’m paying the consequences.. I use to blame him for what he said about me and then I did the very same thing ..I feel sick over it and totally sexless now

        1. It’s good that you can see your part in the situation but don’t let things go at that. Seek help and guidance from a marriage and relationship expert on how to start repairing your relationship. Hopefully, your husband will be willing to seek help with you, but even if he isn’t, there are things you can do on your own that will make a positive impact on the relationship. TL for Kim

      2. Ive accused my husband of many things, and now I’m paying the consequences.. I use to blame him for what he said about me and then I did the very same thing ..I feel sick over it and totally sexless now

    2. I am a man who doesn’t want sex either, it seems like a caveman instinct that I am supressing. I have good testosterone and just don’t require sex, what is wrong with that? Also sex is stink, wet and gross. I prefer to just master bate and get on with life. What is wrong with that?

      1. Sean, Not wanting sex is absolutely your choice and it’s an okay choice if you are 1) not in a relationship or 2) your spouse is agreeable to live in a sexless marriage. Where it becomes an issue is if you’ve chosen to be in relationship with someone who sees things differently and needs/wants sex as part of a fulfilling marriage. It’s not unusual for couples to have different ideas and views on sex, but marriage is about compromise. It’s also about considering the needs of your spouse, neither of which does it sound like you’ve fully considered. I hope that your spouse is a part of your decision and her needs are considered here too. If this is an area of conflict, I hope you think about reaching out for help. Warmly, Kim.

  2. I just got married 4 months ago, and once we came back from our honeymoon, I was lucky if we had sex once a week. That’s still the case 4 months later and sometimes its 2 weeks. We live with his father, which I feel is part of the problem. Also, because our room wasn’t ready (and still isn’t), we had to sleep in his dad’s bed, and his dad sleeps on the couch. Well, my husband says his dad’s bed makes his back and hips hurt, so he actually has been sleeping in his old bed. He sometimes comes and lays down with me and we’ll touch each other and make each other cum, and then he goes back in his room. There’s hardly ever sex though. He works 2 jobs and doesn’t get home till after 11 every night during the week, so he’s really tired. Then on Saturday mornings, when his dad is at work, I try to wake him up around 9 or 10 to make love, but he says he needs his rest. When I confront him about wanting to spend time with him and make love, he says our marriage isn’t going to work, because I’m not happy and he doesn’t feel like he can give me what I want or meet my expectations. I love him so much, and I don’t know what to do.

  3. It has been so long sense my fiancee has touched me, I blame myself all the time but deep down inside i know I am not ugly and I wouldn’t have any problem finding a man that would find me sexually attractive, but I tell him he should be proud and glad that I desire him in that way. But now it’s just a big joke Every time I try and discuss this issue, he shrugs it off like it’s one big joke, meanwhile I’m dying inside and i desperately want and need to feel wanted again not to mention I have so much frustration and anxiety built up I could just birthday litterlerly if I ever get touched again, LOL I’m so lonely I cry daily

    1. Carol, I can feel your hurt and pain in your words. My first thought was “She needs a Sara Snyder”. Sara is one of the coaches on my team and she’s helped many women dealing with some of the same issues of lonliness and self worth you are dealing with now. If you aren’t doing so already, I encourage you to consider working with a counselor or coach. And, if you are interested, I’d be happy to put you in contact with Sara. Wishing you the best, Kim

  4. I am living in a sexless marriage. It is the second marriage for both of us. It’s been well over a year with no physical contact of any kind. He won’t even kiss me with his mouth open. I have cried my eyes out to him about how much this hurts me. I have told him that it makes me wonder what is wrong with me, am I that disgusting. I didn’t know it was possible for your self esteem to be this low. I told him eventually my pride would kick in and I would stop begging my husband to touch or god forbid have sex with his wife. He always says it’s not me. He says he’s just at a point in his life where it doesn’t matter to him. I find cum stains in his underwear…..he says it’s from heavy lifting. He doesn’t understand why on Earth I think he could be having an affair???!!!!!!! I found porn on his browser history. He came up with the most ridiculous excuse I have ever heard to explain it. He denies masturbating, porn use or having an affair. Now his thing is that I never try anymore. OMG!!!!! I am so angry and hurt. I am filled with resentment that has spilled into every area of my life. Please advise.

    1. Lisa, I’m sorry you are living in a sexless marriage. I’m not surprised though as I see this often in my practice. And when you consider how many don’t seek help for a sensitive topic like this, it means even more couples are struggling with this issue in silence. I commend you for speaking up! When a marriage is sexless, there is always a reason or reasons. Always. Porn and affairs are two of them. Emotional disconnect or physical issues are others. I have a specialist on my team, Eric Tooley, who specializes in sexual issues. If you’d like to know more, consider calling my office (972.441.4432) and requesting a free consultation with Eric. He’ll want to know more about your story and will be able to tell you if you (or you and your spouse) would be a good fit for coaching with him. Warmly, Kim.

  5. I have suffered silently with my sexless marriage, and frankly I thought I was in the “few “. I’m at this point 7 years in at an emotional bottom. I have solved my feelings of seeming inadequacy with the consumption of food. 100 lbs. worth. I now know I’m not the only one living this way. I can identify with all former comments, and now I know I’m not the crazy one.

  6. We have been married for 3 yrs and have a 19 mo son. I do not know when and where our sexual relationship went wrong. We would have sex once and then it wouldn’t be until another month or longer but I always have to ask. I ask with the hope that it happens and I end up being rejected. He’s always tired but yet has time for friends and tv. I do not feel loved and the connection we had is no longer there. I have been so angry and upset and I always try to make him happy but it seems like I am no longer enough for him. Despite all this I am still attracted to him and I yearn for the day that he wants me as much as I want him.

    1. Amy, I’m so sorry for the rejection you feel in the relationship. Clearly something is “off” in the relationship. It’s impossible for me to know what simply by the few sentences you’ve written here but some of the most common reasons men don’t want sex are 1) medical issues such as low testosterone or 2) he is satisfying his sexual needs through another outlet such as porn. I would encourage you to have an open and honest conversation with him about your needs and see if he can meet you there. I’d also encourage you to seek the guidance of a professional who can help you process your feelings, set healthy boundaries, etc. If you’d like some help now, please call my office and we can get you started with a free consultation with one of my coaches. Warmly, Kim

  7. I am so glad I am not alone in this because it certainly feels that way. I have tried for over 8 years to get my husband interested in me. I have heard every excuse in the book. First it was i never initiated so I started to initiate. Then I heard things like it’s too late, it’s too early to go to bed, it’s morning, it’s the middle of the day, you’ll be tired if we do it now, or he would pretend to fall asleep and many other things. I also tried telling him how much and how often I want him even how frustrated I am. He says I want it all the time to honey we just don’t have time!!!! I found out in the past couple of years that my husband prefers pornography on his cell phone, and sending pictures to another male friend and sharing what they want to do to these women. My husband makes sure I am on his list of things to do on most Saturday mornings but I feel
    Like a chore and once a week is not enough when it is the main way I connect with him. He denies he has a problem and continues to say he wants sex all the time like I do. I am beyond frustrated and have completely shut myself down to him emotionally.

    1. Maggie, I think I just responded to your other comment. Please call my office and ask to set up a free consultation with Eric Tooley. He is one of my most experienced coaches and he specializes in porn addiction and the impact it has on relationships/marriages. Warmly, Kim.

  8. Hi, this is the first time I have written a post on any site but I could do with some advice. I’ve been with my husband for 10 years, married for 6. I’m 38, he is 51 & we have a 6 year old. I am his third wife & when we meet we had a healthy sex life. We have now not had sex for nearly 4 years, which coincides with him suffering from a second episode of severe depression, PTSD & more recently a diagnosis of aspergers. He tells me he loves me but just doesn’t want sex, he has no interest in it. I understand his mental health can affect this & I don’t want to sound selfish but it’s becoming a big issue for me. He will give me kiss in the morning & at night but I’m not sure now if this is a learnt behaviour or just something he does as a routine. We talk about it & have been to a counsellor. He says he provides for me, which he does & he is a great dad but there is no fun or desire. Am I being selfish & should I stop moaning?

    1. Hi Christine, thank you for sharing your story. No, you are not being selfish! If you are communicating your needs in a respectful way and you have empathy for your husband whose wants or needs may differ from yours, you are absolutely correct in expressing your concerns. Mental health conditions such as depression can affect both sexual desire and performance. Medications commonly prescribed for these health issues can also impact sexual performance. If he hasn’t done so already, I’d encourage your husband to consult with his physician to make sure there aren’t other issues at play. Kudos to you for being courageous enough to communicate your needs in the relationship! Kim

  9. My name is hira I’m 23 yr old & my husband is also 23 .inact 4 month younger than me.1.5 year spend we together.. n still we have not sex. In starting days he tried 3-4 times but not successful.then he said “I have not interested..we are young .. I tried each n everything to look more sexy in bed … but he even not give me single look.he even not kiss me … we sleep together but I can’t touch him.. when I touch him he got angry … this depression make me mad… plz help me what to do plz

    1. Hira, I am so sorry you are going through this. Most 23 year old newly married men would be thrilled to have their wives desire them sexually. The fact that your husband does not, tells me something more is going on. I don’t have enough information here to know what that something might be. If he was willing, I’d definitely recommend he consult with a physician to check for any physical ailments such as low testosterone. Pornography use is another issue that can impact sexual desire and performance. And there are other things as well that could be at play Please call my offices and consider working with one of my coaches on this. He or she can help you identify some of the common causes but also help come up with a plan of action to improve your marriage. Warmly, Kim

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