Help! My Wife Doesn’t Want Sex

Written by Neal Black

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I agree with Dan Allendar when he says that, “Sex is volatile and it was meant to be.” For guys, when we are getting regular sex the world is as it should be and we are the confident male species ready to take on any challenge and defeat any enemy! On the other hand, a lack of sex causes us to plummet, doubt our self-worth and wonder, “what’s the use?”  This leads to some very common questions like:

Q:  My wife does not want to have sex. I take it personally and feel like she does not want me.  I am assuming it is her lack of desire for me.  I feel unloved and hurt by this. Am I right?

A:  Don’t jump to conclusions. There are many factors as to why your wife does not want to have sex and many may have little to do with you.

Wired differently

Because of the way we are wired, men and women have very different views of sex.  It begins with the chemicals in our brain. Men have a much higher level of testosterone than women do. That’s the chemical that causes us to think about and want sex. Women have a much higher level of oxytocin, which is sometimes called the “bonding hormone”. That’s the chemical that makes them want to connect.  So here we are with high testosterone ready to have sex and our wives with their high oxytocin are ready to snuggle.

She is wired to want connection as much as we want sex. “Hey we want connection!” I hear you say. Ya right!  We want to connect our body with hers! She wants you to be interested in her by giving her attention, listening and touching but only non-sexual touching. We are wired to feel fulfilled when we have sex, women are wired to feel fulfilled when they are bonding.

So it is easy to see there is going to be a frequency issue that has nothing to do with how desirable you are. Guys are wired to want more sex and women are wired for emotional connection. (Although in about 25% of relationships this is reversed – I met a couple of these guys but neither appreciated the great situation they were in.) Women can feel sexually fulfilled without having an orgasm during sex. I know, it’s mind boggling!

Part2:  Help! My Wife Doesn’t Want Sex

 

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186 Responses to “Help! My Wife Doesn’t Want Sex”

  • Chris Landwerlen Chris Landwerlen says:

    moonrider….living in the ultra-sensual world we live in today, its no surprise to hear of your situation. although christ has made us in his spiritual image, the fleshly part of man is trying to snuff out his spiritual side. its imperative that the spiritual element of your husband be restored which is only through saving faith in jesus and his work on the cross for us. the same would hold true for you as well. you will find as you let jesus be lord of your life, that he will bring his lordship into your husbands life as well and this carnal side of him will diminish. if you dont know jesus as your lord and would want more information on how to do that you can log on at…knowingjesuspersonally.com. blessings!

  • Dan67 says:

    My wife has denied sex and intimacy of any kind for over ten years. I love her, but told her life’s too short to be with someone who only talks to you around pay day! I tried and tried and tried until I exhausted all channels of effort: being nice, doing more around the house, giving her space, etc. NONE of it did ANY good whatsoever!!
    Guys – and ladies – do NOT waste your time jumping oceans for someone who won’t even step over a puddle for you!
    I eventually said enough is enough and got out. Now I’m with a woman who not only talks to me, but makes me laugh in the most incredible ways and the sex together is the best I’ve ever had!!
    Life is short!! Live it!!

  • ALAN says:

    Hi Bigbucks – I so sympathise with – all of you really – I’m getting to the end of my tether – If nothing improves in the next month (after 25 years of rejection) I’m going to leave her – why should I put up with it? why should I be a domestic slave?I can look after myself – I don’t need the baggage – I need to be happy – and have women that do want me. I’d rather be alone than continue with this. I don’t want to die a raging alcoholic but I can’t help myself under these circumstances – everyone has some kind of release – mine just happens to be very destructive.

  • bigbucks says:

    Wow! Seems like I can relate to all of these issues. I too am in a sexless marriage but my wife won’t even talk about it. All I ever get is I don’t know. It is so stressful. And it’s not just the sex. There is no cuddling, hugs or any type of affection what so ever. I love my wife and know I would be lost without her but at what point do I need to think about my happiness. Killing me inside. Lost! I try but if your partner won’t talk to you about issues then how do you work things out?

  • flower says:

    @Kate. Thank you for your wonderful encouragement! May God bless you!

  • Moonrider says:

    We have been married 25 years and with 4 children. We aren’t divorced, and still love each other, in spite of my lack of desire or interest. Don’t give up hope. You are ok and if he loves you, you will both be. Hang in there and hold hands, talk and have fun, and hope that your love is strong enough to get you through. After 25 years, we are still togetherness, tho not Ashe would like.

  • Moonrider says:

    I adore my husband of 25 years.we dance together, hold hands when we walk, laugh over our children (those grown and those not) and otherwise are intimate. However, after 25 years of sex ( orgasms aren’t all that interesting to me) and 4 children, I don’t want sex. I feel closer when we hold hands or dance. He, however, wants sex 1-2 times a day. He recently issued an ultimatum that I provide 7 times a week or he will seek satisfaction elsewhere. So, since I love him, here I am, a miserable whore who provides for his satisfaction in order to retain my marriage. I am miserable, even though his every thought is to make me orgasm before him. I don’t want or like them, and the work necessary to get there isn’t worth it. He enjoys my orgasm, which I can appreciate is rare, but I don’t enjoy them. It is a lot of work for a series of muscle contractions. I’d give him sex at least 5 nights a week but I am not happy about it. Where is the love and fairness when I don’t want sex and he wants it daily.

  • Kate Kate says:

    Flower, Bob, Randy, Alan, my heart goes out to you.

    I know the suffering you are experiencing. Unfortunately there really is no easy answer. We can’t force our partners to change and going outside the relationship, or breaking the relationship, may seem to solve one problem but it will inevitably create a whole host of other problems.

    Perhaps ‘problems’ is too mild a term. I fully agree that God has designed us to crave intimate relationships, which are modeled on His covenant relationship with us. Ultimately, life is about our situation before God. God who is holy, God who has given everything for our sake, God who calls us to love and to serve one another. I am not belittling our heartache or the painfulness of being rejected. Sometimes, in some ways, life is truly miserable. Every area where our relationships fall short, disappoint, hurt…those areas are signs, not that we need a new relationship nor that we have permission to criticize our spouses, but signs that we are living in a broken world, marred by sin, in desperate need of God. People have all kinds of sorrows and temptations; if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Thank God, His grace is sufficient. He has borne us this far, and He shall bear us home ultimately.

    Kate

  • ALAN says:

    I’ve been reading all these emails – I feel heartened that I’m not the only one in a sexless marriage. I really did believe everyone was having a lovely time and I was the only one married to a “dead” partner. We had an almighty row – she apologised for rejecting me for the 25 years – I became more intimate with her over the next few days (no sex mind)and she responded by lying there – almost with her arms folded. I decided I’d let her show me some affection – guess what – I’m still waiting. Our marriage is pretty solid otherwise – but she just doesn’t want me – I see nothing wrong in looking for it elsewhere – NSA sex – somewhere – but you have to know other women – I don’t – as I’ve been a domestic slave for so many years. Time to take the lid off that new bottle.

  • randy says:

    The only reason I stay is because of my son I would not be able to afford a decant place for him to live otherwise. I have lived in a sexless marriage for 20 years 7 after my son was born. Initially she said she had pain so I had sympathy for her, during and argument she admitted she has felt fine for years and that I needed to be nice to her to get sex. This after she has been a stay at home mom for 0ver 6 years. I do virtually everything around the house including dishes laundry and grocery shopping I love my son. I hate myself for staying but stay focused on him.

  • Bob says:

    Flower-
    Yes. Have tried that too, for MANY years. Thanks for your words of encouragement. Read them back to yourself the next time you decide to post a complaint about your own situation. Peace.

  • flower says:

    @Bob. I got used to my situation and try to not be upset when I am denied. I found my satisfaction in Jesus. When our spirit is satisfied, then our soul and body are in peace too and fleshly desires goes down. I am not telling that sex in marriage is bad, no, but try to be happy in Jesus and you will be more desirable to your wife too. Leave something in you which your wife will adore. Be man, leader, on the other side be careful and gentle to her and God will change that situation.

  • Bob says:

    Flower-
    I agree. And my wife has agreed, just as your husband has, to do more… AND, it doesn’t happen. And again, I am denied, I eventually get upset, despondent, depressed, then she blames me for our not getting along. Tells me to get on anti-depressants because I am terrible to live with.

  • flower says:

    @ Bob. You see I have the same problem but it is that my husband rejects sex. I think that there are people- men and women who desire more sex, that other who desire less. I think couples should find a middle way, do some compromise, if they still love each other. They should sacrifice for each other as Jesus sacrificed for us!

  • Bob says:

    Chris Landwerlen-
    Please see my response to Other Woman, and tell me what I am supposed to do.

  • Bob says:

    Other Woman-
    THANK YOU! These are the same things I have been thinking, and FEELING for many years! Yes, guys want sex. DUH! And, YES, guys want intimacy as well. Every few months or so, I get a halfhearted bad hand-job from my wife. We have been to counseling many times over the years, I have tried having honest/open conversations (which only go so far because she believes women, including wives apparently, who do anything beyond laying there, are sluts), and basically she believes that “I” have a problem because it isn’t a problem for her to not want sex. I want to make love to my wife in the worst way, always have, but I’m hardly allowed to touch her. But, for 30+ years I have stayed married. That was my vow, and I love my kids, and I want to see them everyday, and I don’t want them living the stigma of kids of divorce. (YES, there is still a stigma!) I’ve tried quoting my wife the bible verses, and discuss duties, still nothing. So what are the choices for a guy like me? Divorce!, or seek sex/comfort from another. No good solutions, and had I known this was going to be my life for over 30 years, I wouldn’t be where I am, and feel the hurt that I have! Being denied, made to feel like crap because my wife doesn’t love me enough to make love to me, or allow me to make love to her.

  • flower says:

    Almost always people talk about women that they don’t want sex. What about opposite side? I am married and my husband doesn’t want sex. Almost always I have to do something, to approach him, so we can have sex. We are in our 40, life is good, not big problems or stresses, kids are bigger, so what is the problem? I am praying, but its not improving. He doesn’t have an affair, but I am suspicion that he doesn’t love me anymore. We talked about that, he agreed for more sex, but no change.

  • Chris Landwerlen Chris Landwerlen says:

    other woman….you make a good point, however nothing can ever justify adultery which is the real Word for having an affair. God has divine ways of dealing with all issues in life. two wrongs will never make a right. blessings!

  • Other Woman says:

    Why do women get upset when they deny their husbands sex or worse just lie there like a cadaver or a slab, and then try to act hurt and disappointed when they find out that he’s had an affair? He’s begged and pleaded for years, his self esteem is in the gutter, he’s a broken man. As a last ditch effort, he decides to have an affair, and you’re upset? Aren’t you being doubly selfish? Yes, cheating is bad, but you are making him die a slow and miserable death. You don’t want sex, but you don’t want him to have sex. Where’s the logic in that sentiment? Many men don’t always want sex, they want intimacy, and you still won’t give him that. It’s selfish!

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Alan, I can appreciate how hard it is to bring up such a painful subject after so many years. Can I just suggest that there is a reason that your wife does not want sexual contact and as her husband you have the opportunity to help her find healing for whatever that is. As you show your compassion and care for her in this it could help draw the two of you closer together. God’s plan for couples to find deeper intimacy with each other through sexual affection. To lose that part of marriage is to miss out on God’s best for you. I would suggest that it is worth the risk to try to work through this together and explore what is blocking the two of you from experiencing all that God has intended for you.

    You don’t have to face this alone. God will help you find a creative way to open up the conversation and to avoid making this a divisive conversation but one that draws you closer together.

    Let me pray for you: Heavenly Father, I pray for Alan and his wife. I know there is a lot of hurt from all the years. I pray that You would help them begin to find healing together. Amen.

    Alan, I don’t mind talking to you here about this but you may feel more comfortable talking in more privacy. Let me invite you to connect with one of our mentors. They are safe people that you can talk to who can be a good sounding board and help you find God’s help in this. Just fill out the Mentor Request Form at http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor and one of our mentors will contact you soon by email.

  • ALAN says:

    HELLO JAMIE – I’VE NOT SOUGHT PROFESSIONAL HELP NOR HAVE I SPOKEN TO MY WIFE – AFTER 25 YEARS HOW CAN I? IF I DID I’M SURE OF HAVING THE REJECTION REINFORCED LET ALONE RIDICULED FOR BRINGING IT UP – I’M FAR TO SCARED. NEITHER WOULD SHE SEEK HELP IT WAS HER DECISION TO NOT HAVE ANY SEXUAL CONTACT WITH ME – I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT AND NOTHING WILL CHANGE – IN HER WAY I SUPPOSE SHE’S HAPPY AND TO HER THAT IS ALL THAT MATTERS. IN THE END I’LL JUST FADE AWAY. ALAN.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Alan, how have your conversations gone with your wife about intimacy? Has she been able to explain why she does not want to engage in intercourse and express her love for you physically? God has given us the gift of joining as husband and wife deeply and intimately through sex. But in our brokenness as humans there can be all kinds of inhibitors to that intended ‘oneness’ that He has given us. Working together on finding healing for that as a couple can be a powerful love builder in your relationship. Guard against making it an issue that puts you on opposite sides. Instead look for ways that you can make it an issue you are working together on. That is one of the reasons why I recommend meeting with a professional. They can help with tools and strategies that create that teamwork.

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Discouraged, Would your wife consider seeing a marriage counsellor with you? Is it possible that she might be feel shame from something? Sometimes with men and women who are raised in the church the importance of saving sex until marriage gets morphed into a false idea that sex is dirty or unseemly. I wonder if she read something, or heard something that changed the way she thinks about sex? Sometimes it can be embarrassment – like if someone overheard the two of you together or something – that can spark a negative reaction to sex. It could be that someone said something to her. She’s going to need to talk about it – either to you, or to a counsellor or a pastor to help her work through it.

    I know that it’s hard to have a conversation like that. It will be important that she knows that you love her and that you’re not going anywhere. It might be easier to write her a note and tell her that you want to talk to her and you’re going to ask her when a good time to talk would be. Help her to feel like she has some control but help her to also see that this is a conversation that needs to happen. There is a reason she is withdrawing and she needs to talk to someone about that so that the two of you can move forward together. Intimacy is important, far too important to ignore because the conversation is challenging.

  • Bob says:

    Dear Discouraged,

    I feel your pain brother. 55yo guy here, and been living your life for well over 3 decades. It hurts, it’s no fun, just a bad situation all around. So for over 30 years I have hoped for things to get better, been to counseling (A long time ago, but she decided that “I” had the problem – not her), I’ve begged and pleaded….but again, the problem is mine, not hers. I’ve brought up the religious aspects MANY times as well, to no avail.

    Obviously, every woman, marriage, and situation is different. I will say this. If you don’t have kids – get the hell out! If you do have kids, you have to decide if you can live with this situation, as it is, for the rest of your life, because it’s probably not going to change.

    Best I can tell you man. There are woman out there who like sex. We just didn’t marry them!

  • ALAN says:

    Hello Jamie – I’ll think about getting advice – but the situation has been caused by my wife and she is happy with her decision – to be honest with the level of rejection I’ve suffered she is the last woman I would have sex with now – I do want a happy sex life with lots of women but I’ve never got beyond girls just liking me. It’s so depressing.

  • Discouraged says:

    I’ve read these two articles, as well as others across the internet tonight. I feel like I know these things, but I can not help but feel rejected emotionally and physically when my wife constantly tells me ‘no’. We’ve been married for 10 years now and it’s all but been a constant struggle. I can only remember one period of our marriage where my wife seemed to actually enjoy sex. I literally feel like I could count on one hand..maybe a finger or so on another hand…of how many times she seemed to be ‘into it.’.

    Since dating, which is when she would kiss and hug and all of those things, now it’s like she’s a completely different woman. She really even doesn’t like when I hug or kiss her now. She withdraws every time. I do hug and kiss her on the head at least every morning before I leave for work. I try to kiss her or at least rub her arm at night and tell her good night and I love her. I always lead. I’m clearly the one always asking for sex. I really do try not to even ask as often as I would like…honestly just because I hate the feeling I have when rejection comes, and when she does say no, she says “now don’t look like that and please don’t make me feel guilty.” Clearly I can’t hide my emotions when I just say “Ok” again.

    I just can’t feel like I can get traction into what she really wants from me other than to just say ‘ok’ to everything she ever asks. Never question her about anything, because she immediately gets defensive, and all I want to know sometimes is “why”…I’m just speaking every day stuff here, not sex.

    I’m just literally at a loss. I’m sure i can expound as much as you want to ask here. I’m an open book. I just want to figure it out so we have some intimacy in our marriage again.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Alan and Arrow, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. Have you guys ever talked to a professional about this? When patterns of communication get locked in place over such a long period of time it can be helpful to have a objective third party mediate to help the two of you find solutions.

  • Arrow says:

    Wife doesn’t enjoy sex, nothing leading up to sex, no oral, no hand jobs, and no kissing involving tongue. She even goes dry when we get into it. I love her but am I suppose to go without sex for the rest of my life?

  • ALAN says:

    Hello – thought I’d put my problem forward – my wife had sexual relationships before we got married – not a problem for me but didn’t want sex with me until we were married – ok – I love her – I didn’t realise she really wasn’t interested in sex at all – when she had confirmation she could not have babies – she turned off – I’ve not had sex in 25 years – can you imagine how rejected I feel – I was so sorry for her I have waited hand and foot for her since – cooked/washed/cleaned/everything – I forgot about me – I’m real – I do exist – I think – I’ve lost track of time – I doubt I’ll ever have a sex life – my only friend is drink.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Rich, to some degree I understand your anger. It is hard when your wife makes other things more of a priority than your relationship. It sounds like you feel that you are committed to make your relationship better but she is not. Do you think there is something that has happened that has contributed to her indifference to the health of your marriage?

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Edward, How do your conversations about sex go with your wife? Does it turn into an argument?

  • rich says:

    I lost and lonely, married 16 years , last 5 year the worst. I am under appreciated and work hard every day. my wife wants any thing to do with sex. Pam thinks it is a joke and purpose leads me on and the disappoints me all the time. Complains all the time and watches stupid reality show , a stay at home mom. I am lost and tried every thing to make things better.
    As of valentine day 2014 , I will no longer give back massage and not ask to make love and get disappointed as usual . She is forget the reality show that i live every day with her and the kid. I pray to god every , no changes
    LONELY LONELY, I am going to be a roommate till kid turn 18 and then i am leaving

  • Edward says:

    My wife and I have been married now for 3 years and I love her very much. We just recently had a baby too. She’s told me several times that she doesn’t like the feeling of sex. I’m assuming that means she doesn’t like the penis in her vagina part of it. We’ve had sex obviously. But I’m worried. At the beginning we hadn’t had much sex while we were dating. Then we got married and sex was at an all time high of 3 maybe 4 times a week. So I didn’t think the whole “I don’t like the way sex feels” thing wasn’t a big deal. But into the second year sex dropped and she started saying she didn’t like it more. She even went as far as saying that if I wanted to have sex I should go find someone else to do it with. We’d still have sex a few times but not often at all. Like once a month or two. We’ve had sex once after the baby was born. The months leading up to the birth there was none at all. She said it to me again that she hated the feeling of having sex. Now I’m seriously starting to think its true. But I don’t get why she would continue doing something she doesn’t like. It’s not just intercourse. She’s doesn’t even like doing oral sex [me going down on her] either. Nor the act of masturbation to me or even her self for that matter. I don’t like the idea of making her do something she really doesn’t want. But what can I do. I want to be with her intimately. It just kills me every time she tells me she hates sex.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi SM, I am sorry it has taken so long to respond to your comment. I can hear the duress you are feeling with all of this. I am sure you and your husband are feeling like a healthy sexual relationship is hopelessly out of your reach. As you have said, there are lots of things that contribute to intimacy between a husband and wife which means that the solution to your situation is not likely going to be one single thing. The most important thing for the two of you to agree on is that this is important and therefore you are going to have to address it together as a team and not allow it to make you seem like opponents. It will be easy for your husband to see you as the problem which can build resentment and bitterness. I am sure you also have felt that his pressuring compounds the problem and he doesn’t understand you or care about what anguish this is for you. Take time to get yourselves on ‘the same page’ and on the same team. Work the problem together and support each others efforts and frustrations.

    Let me encourage you to find a quality marriage counselor as well. Having someone objective who can help the two of you communicate well together is huge advantage to keeping on the same team. A trained counselor can also steer you towards resources that can help the two of you explore together the causes and solutions to your particular issues.

    I would also recommend that you don’t ignore this in hopes that it will resolve itself. The more intentional time that the two of you invest in exploring different ways of overcoming this challenge will pay off in the long run and establish a healthy pattern of working together. That will be the thing that will hold you together through the rest of your lives and the other challenges that you will face.

    I believe that often there is a spiritual component to these struggles as well. Looking to God for His help in finding answers for your relationship is essential. I don’t know where your spiritual journey has led you but I would like pray for you: Dear Jesus I pray for this young couple as they struggle with experiencing the fullness of becoming ‘one flesh’. I don’t know why they are on this path but I know that You can help them. I pray that You would unify their hearts so that this does not destroy their commitment to one another. I pray that You would lead them to the places where they will find answers. Bring people into their lives who can help them. Bless their love for one another and give them great joy in their life together. Amen.

  • SM says:

    Before marriage I wanted sex all the time, but we waited. We did make out heavily one night and my then boyfriend/now husband freaked out and said he didn’t think he loved me. I had initiated this session even though I knew we shouldn’t. He almost broke up with me over it. I am sure I have forgiven him for his comments ( we have over talked about this and prayed about it over and over) and I hope he has forgiven me. Sometime after that intimacy became harder and harder for me. And then a month before we married I went on the pill and my sex drive completely diminished. Our honeymoon was the most horrible 7 days. Sex was very painful and foreplay was so uncomfortable. I hated all of it, it was so awkward and weird. My husband was pushy and not patient. He always wanted to shower with me, I had no privacy or time to get used to anything. We fought through our whole honeymoon sometimes for hours at a time. He would get so mad (felt rejected) that I didn’t want to have sex more than once a day on our honeymoon. He imagined it happening over and over (both of us were virgins). About a month after the wedding I went off the pill because it made me really cranky. My libido never returned. Since so many other things have played into loss of libido. I have a thyroid issue that was undetected and so that hindered it, I have become intolerant to gluten, when I have gluten by accident my libido and happiness and energy is thrown out the window for up to a week. We have been to the doctor, been to a phycologist and another doctor. Everyone just says I have sexual anxiety or they assume I’ve been abused (which I have not). I recently had a miscarriage and my libido was shot down even more. 2.5 years into marriage sex is still painful, foreplay is still difficult, I am so ticklish. All I want is to have a healthy sex life and a happier marriage. I want to be able to bless my husband by saying yes more often. I want to stop feeling betrayed by my body. What else can I do? I need help, this is breaking my heart (and my husbands).

  • Jason says:

    Dear Clry,

    I really don’t know what so say that will help you but I will definitely pray for your and your husbands relationship to get back the way it was and for your everlasting love for each other never to end.

    I must say here that you are a very caring and loving wife since you to think and care so much about your husbands desires and satisfaction for which I think your husband is a very lucky man and should really appreciate your care.

    May the Good Lord Bless you and your family always.

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