Help! My Husband Doesn’t Want Sex!

Written by Dr. Dave Currie

You might feel like you’re alone in this, but you’re not. Free email mentoring is available today. Request a mentor.  Also in this series: She Doesn’t Want Sex.

So often I hear about how much men need sex, but my husband has no interest in sex. The only time we make love is when I initiate it. Is there something wrong with me? Why doesn’t my husband want me?

Donalyn: Well first of all, there is nothing wrong with you! The first response of most women in your situation is to second-guess or blame themselves. While your husband’s lack of desire is certainly a problem, it is most likely not a problem with you. In fact, most sexual problems aren’t sexual at all.

Dave: That is right Donalyn. We sometimes have the idea that for men, the sexual experience is detached from what is going on inside. In reality, a man’s emotions can have a huge impact on his sexual desire. If he feels emotionally distant from his wife, and especially if he feels like a failure in any way, it can lead to a lack of confidence and therefore a lack of interest in sex. For a man, sexual performance is very much tied to ego, so if he is not feeling good about himself it will definitely show up in his approach to sexual intimacy with his wife.

Donalyn: As women, we know that our sexual appetite is diminished when we do not feel connected to our husbands, or if there is unresolved anger between us. But we forget that our husband’s sex drive can also suffer for these same reasons. Likewise, if a man is overworked or under a lot of stress, whether inside or outside the home, sexual interest may start to take a back seat.

Love & God
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Dave: Of course, there are all sorts of physical issues that could be at play here too. If your husband has had any struggles with erectile dysfunction, that is likely a huge contributing factor. If he is feeling any lack of confidence in his ability to perform, he will almost certainly shy away from physical intimacy. Libido is also significantly impacted by testosterone levels, so if your husband has low testosterone, that could be the cause. Drug use, whether prescription or otherwise, may hinder the sexual desire. The good news is that many of the physical factors are very treatable, so it may be time for your husband to have a doctor’s appointment to get some help with this.

Donalyn: Sadly, in many cases, there are other things going on which are not so easy to deal with. Healthy sexual intimacy in marriage can be totally derailed by a person’s involvement with pornography or other inappropriate sexual activities. That is becoming more and more prevalent in this age of the Internet.

Related: Read Maureen’s story about her husband’s porn addiction. 

Dave: It is true. So many in our society view pornography as harmless, and some even think that it’s a great way to spice up your sex life with your partner. A man can easily be drawn into porn, where he never fails in the fantasy and where he can be sexually stimulated without facing the issues with his wife. But the truth is, pornography neuters a man. He becomes so wrapped up in this fantasy world that he is no longer capable of being excited by his own wife. She cannot possibly compete with the airbrushed models in the magazines and on the computer screen, so the husband simply loses interest in her.

Donalyn: So in reality, he has as much need for sexuality as ever; he is just getting those needs met elsewhere.

Dave: Exactly. And it is not just pornography, either. Sexual substitutes can include a variety of fantasy sources, combined with self-stimulation. Pornographic movies and books, phone services, and strip clubs are rampant. Some men find release in voyeurism: scoping women out and fantasizing about them later. Others give into their attractions to other women, leading to emotional and/or physical affairs. Regardless of the way it is acted out, the point is this: few men can choose to be “neuter” for long. If your husband has lost interest in sex, and there does not seem to be a significant emotional or physical explanation, he may have fallen into one of these snares.

Donalyn: As you can see, there are a whole lot of issues that may need to be sorted through to get to the root of the problem. You need to have an honest talk with your husband, but do it in love. Rather than attacking, grilling or blaming him, share your struggles with him. Tell him that you are wondering if there is something wrong with you that is causing him not to want you. Be vulnerable and let him see what you are feeling – whether that is your insecurity, feeling unfeminine or even ugly. Even if you suspect that it is more a problem on his end rather than a problem with you, approach it sensitively.

Dave: That is a great suggestion. Realize that this is an extremely difficult thing for a man to talk about. He may feel embarrassed, insecure, humiliated, or guilty – especially if he is living a lie. Coming at him with guns blazing will only push him further away, so be gentle in your approach.

Donalyn: I would ask him how you should interpret his lack of interest. Ask him what you can do to help him re-engage sexually. Maybe he knows exactly what the problem is, or perhaps you will have to work through it together to discover what lies at the root. The best thing you can do is approach it as a team. He cannot be made to feel like this is all his problem to solve on his own. He needs to know that you are on the same side. So share with him your needs and your desires – how you would like things to be. Then work together to get there.

Dave: That is right. Support him throughout the process as he works through his fears and insecurity. Remind him of your love and your desire to grow in your intimacy – emotionally, physically and spiritually. And even though you might not be able to fully relate to his perspective, work hard to genuinely understand where he is coming from.

Donalyn: Right. But that is tough to do if you discover that pornography or other illegitimate behaviors are part of the picture.

Dave: Yes, that is very true. But if you do suspect that this is a factor, you are going to ask him the tough questions about where he is having his sexual needs met. And as hard as it will be, if your husband has the courage to open up with you and share his struggles in this area, he will need your support. These issues can be worked through and overcome, but not without a great deal of patience and understanding.

Donalyn: It is also important to find out if there is anything that you have been doing to contribute to the problem. Not that it ever excuses wrong behavior on his part, but you need to know if you have said or done anything to turn him away from you. It may be that you have a critical spirit, that you have been controlling him or cutting him down, or that you are making him feel less of a man. If so, these are behaviors that you can take responsibility for and begin to change, in order to improve the situation between you.

Dave: Absolutely. If a man is feeling constantly criticized or dominated, it creates big damage to his self-worth, and that filters down to his sexual interest. So find out what issues may be coming between you and take positive steps to resolve them. You might even read some marriage and sexuality resources to help you through this process. Sheet Music, by Dr. Kevin Leman and Staying Close, by Dennis and Barbara Rainey are good places to start.

Donalyn: Finally, make sure you are taking care of yourself. Do you feel good about how you look? A failure to take care of yourself can put extra strain on him. Remember the woman that he married? Keep yourself looking your best and you will feel better, regardless of his response.

Dave: Keep in mind 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.

“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self control.”

While I would not necessarily recommend preaching at your husband, every couple needs to remember that depriving or denying each other increases the temptation to have sexual needs met elsewhere. Again, it never legitimizes it. But a wise person will work to keep their spouse satisfied within the marriage.

Family Life offers hope and resources for struggling marriages. Does your sex life need help? Find out why men can have a low sex drive.

Learn more about intimacy anorexia

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1,605 Responses to “Help! My Husband Doesn’t Want Sex!”

  • Julie says:

    Hi to Mary Carol and D.P. Boesen; and many others to this site:
    I wrote in the comments on Oct.3/15 above if you are interested in response to some of the syptoms of pain that are spoken of. I am a Christian woman, was married 30 yrs. and husband left almost a year ago. The entire marriage had aspects I could not understand until I came across information that validated all that I felt amiss – that took 15 yrs. He left, came back, only to emotionally abuse me again to feeling like dying inside and left me again… I found a link on this site that may help others to get more understanding of what some symptoms are of sex addition which does not have to do with sex of the partner, rather to the images/fantacy and much hidden,deception and betrayal. When its repeated over and over for a long period of time, the crisis we feel becomes trauma repeated, and retraumatized for each new crisis of relationship. Its truly an intimacy disorder, and it affects more men, but women can also have the sex addiction. Read the article, and look on Amazon for helpful books/resources. Love yourself to educate self on this growing terrible addiction that is rampant among different age groups and affecting a lot of the ones in their 20’s with the accessibility to porn. When on the page,to the right click on either marriage, or sex and romance; then view the center row under the heading Videos…click on Nov. 21, 2011 Effects of Porn on Marriage; now scroll under the video box and click on “Related: Read Maureen’s Story about her husband’s porn addiction”. Once you’ve click on that, you’ve arrived at the “Issues I Face” page and Maureen’s story is titled Hardcore Betrayal…it reasonated with me and hope it will help lead you to reflection and resolution to seek God’s direction for the particular information that will heal your Spirit and bring you hope for yourself, with self respect, and learning to love and protect your heart with crucial boundaries to keep you from further harm as you get tools to realize what you are dealing with, and direction with Hope, first for yourself, and then for your relationship. I listed in previous email 3 books that have helped me this past year. When speaking with a counselor they must have training in sex addiction therapy to be of any help… this is not ordinary marriage issues. Help is becoming known for Canadians finally, with Sex Addiction Therapists for the Addict and the partner, separately, as it occurred in most cases long before they met you. You didn’t create it, can’t control it, nor can you cure it. Only the Addicted one can with much effort. Live with relief of what you are dealing with and know where to get help. Dig for it, as one digs for treasure! You will begin to find yourself and God in the midst of this huge trial. Thinking & praying for Ones Carrying this burden.

  • D.P.Boesen says:

    I feel like Mary Carol up here; sort of similar situation which sometimes leave me so lonely and miserable because of lack of intimacy in our marriage. This is a very lonely road for a woman to be on and nobody can help you; its your battle; prayed a lot about the situation.

  • Chris.a says:

    Just a quick remark. As a male dealing with this currently… trust me when i say its not my wifes fault. She is a model in my eyes and i love her. In my case, stress both work and other problems have put my ego or mood in a situation that has no desire to be intimate. And laying in bed next to her as she gets irritated or sad really hurts. The 1 thing that we might be able tocontroll has failes us as well. I still have not found the solution to my work problems so im still stuck in my dry mood. But i have foubd that talking to her helps her understand that its really not her. Its just me. Well thats my 2 cents. Wish me luck in overcoming my pwrsonal problems so my sex life gets back on track.

  • Chris says:

    mary carol…. i regret to hear of your struggles. its true that 1 corinthians 7 does expect that each marriage partner does render to the other the due act of sexual intimacy so as you pray about this, jesus will show you what your options are if your husband refuses to do his part. its true that with age the sexual desire can diminish but your husband could be taking some type of natural supplement to help his situation if that is the case. praying jesus lead you in this situation and show you what is his righteousness for you. he will always defend you in a just cause! luke 18, lamentations 3

  • Mary Carol —

    It’s normal to feel angry when you are being cheated out of the sex and intimacy you signed up for in your marriage. Anger is a good tool for knowing when your boundaries are being crossed, but it’s not an effective tool at making the changes you need to make.

    Start ruling out reasons for his lack of interest in intimacy. The ones I see most often are low testosterone and porn use. Rule those in or out first and then go from there.

    A blood test will rule out low testosterone, and asking for transparency with his devices can help reveal any porn use that may be happening.

    I’ve been where you are and I know how painful it is when your husband doesn’t want you. It really is possible to make changes.

    Best of luck to you.

  • Mary Carol says:

    My faith has been very shaken by the lack of intimacy in my 35 year marriage. My husband has no interest at all. We haven’t been physically intimate in 18 years. I am still very sad and at times angry and tempted to seek intimacy elsewhere. I do not believe that anything anyone writes could change the way I feel.

  • Elkay says:

    Sarah, it certainly is a blessing to have a providing husband that you are able to take trips together. Since all was “perfect” for your first year and it apparently changed at year two, there has to be something that is different. As the article above says, “there are a whole lot of issues that may need to be sorted through to get to the root of the problem.”

    I know you said he does not want to talk, but tell him you are wondering if there is something wrong with you that is causing him not to want you. Be vulnerable and let him see what you are feeling – ask him what you can do to help him re-engage sexually. Approach it as a team.

    Remind him of your love and your desire to grow in your intimacy, emotionally, physically and spiritually. And even though you might not be able to fully relate to his perspective, work hard to genuinely understand where he is coming from.

    If you can show him that you love him unconditionally, permanently, and loyally, prayerfully over time, he will respond in kind. Marriage best works when unselfish loves flows to and from one another as we receive God’s love for us.

    Prayerfully then, “Majestic and Heavenly Father, You placed the stars in the heavens and laid the foundation of this earth. Nothing is impossible for You and so we come to Your throne of grace to find mercy and help in our times of trouble. Lord, You created marriage as a sacred institution so that man and woman could bind together, become one in Your eyes, reflect Your image and worship You. Please help Sarah and her husband know that marriage is a decision to be committed to one another no matter what, and out of that commitment, help her husband be openly receptive to her efforts to restore intimacy between them. Whatever the issue, Lord, please identify it and resolve it in grace. We ask for this in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.”

  • Sarah says:

    We being married for 3 years.on the first year everything was perfect.But now we haven’t had sex in 2 years.when I ask him he is saying he doesn’t know the reason.he is a good husband provide every needs.we are going trips.sometimes we are staying at the hotels.but nothing .he doesn’t even kiss me.he doesn’t even want to talk about it. Any advice?

  • Aldo says:

    Rebecca, thank you for sharing that bit of important information. I pray that it reach many of those who need to know it.

  • If your husband has stopped wanting sex, have him check his testosterone levels. Testosterone is one of the biggest drivers of libido, and when it goes south, so does sex drive.

    When my husband stopped wanting sex with me, I was convinced that it was my fault and I turned myself inside out to fix the problem.

    After a lot of tears and angst, it turned out that it was just that his testosterone levels had gone down. All of that grief for nothing!

    Low testosterone is a lot more common than most people realize, and it’s easy enough to check testosterone levels. You can go to any walk-in lab, often without even needing a doctor’s orders, and for around $50, you can have your answer.

    Once my husband restored his testosterone levels, we got back the sex life and intimacy we used to have. We’ve never been closer than we are now.

  • Charley says:

    Call the helpline your life if important.

  • Aldo says:

    Julie, thank you for all the research you have done, and for all the information you have shared with those on this Blog site. I’m sure that many will be helped if they search out that which you have made available.

    May the Lord continue to use you mightily as you reach out to those that are hurting from sexual addiction.

  • Julie says:

    I am saddened by every woman’s comments and also Bryan’s, on the distress in our marriages. I am also disappointed that there is little info. being said about Sex Addiction and the christian resources, as well as videos that can be extremely helpful to bringing validation to our souls! I have been married for 30 years this past May but separated now – my husband left me for the 2nd time on Family Day – Feb. 16th, 2015(1st time was 15 yrs. ago for almost 2 years). I only knew my husband for 9 months when we got married,we saved selves for marriage and the sexual rejection, abandonment and betrayals began on the 2nd day of a 3 day honeymoon. My christian faith kept me loyal, committed and also a rescuer/fixer as I was the only one working on relationship and giving love w/very minimal return. In 30 yrs. he initiated less than 10x. Many counsellors, but he never followed through for long; shame was involved in his perceptions of self,but the secretive life and much lying was compounded, then he began raging for last 3 yrs. as I was healing in value for myself & had counselling for myself for several yrs. His anger was accelerated and I felt I was dying inside,but still committed. When he left I finally went to a women’s shelter and other resources and have much better clarity. I was told I was profoundly neglected for the entire 30yrs.,had poor
    boundaries,& was typical battered woman – it is emotional abuse; the comments from all the wounded people are real & match symptoms of sex addiction that spouse has (women can have this too, and it’s growing apparently. My exp. has been – husband is sexual anorexic cycles…withholding all affection,masterbation,shame,shutdown…then again. Periods of shutdown to me were 2 months and up to 2yrs.of rejection. This is empowerment of control by spouse,and there’s much in books to feel understood amongst the crazy-making they can inflict onto spouse. I found out good info.15 years ago when he left 1st time – from Douglas Weiss-The Final Freedom(Pioneering Sexual Addiction Recovery)by Douglas Weiss (a Christian man);Out of the Shadows and another – Sexual Anorexia-by Patrick J.Carnes Ph.D. He was a pioneer to putting a name to what no one seemed to understand in the 1980’s. One I am reading now by Patrick Carnes is “The Betrayal Bond” which is extremely helpful to uncover where other betrayals have been in one’s life, and breaking free from exploitive relationships.

    There is usually some level of molestation or trauma, or eyes opened to porn @ too young of age that can be in the person’s younger years. PORN’S effects of over-stimulation& masterbation becomes an addiction,whereby the person eventually is unable to perform with real people intimacy; rather it is only the fantacy/masterbation that suffices,thereby canceling normal intimacy patterns in healthy ways. There is much hidden, including anger,&hard to know who the partner really is. I am in a valuable closed grp. of women for a 12 week class of healing for us as Partners of those sexually addicted…sexual addiction is really not to do with sex – rather the witholding/withdrawing of intimacy and affection. It’s a serious,intimacy disorder. Please be informed,seek validation, in order to heal. It is still widely misunderstood
    & I am hoping that this blog and mentors will benefit from up to date info that can be passed on…I needed these resources of knowledge 30yrs ago, so I’m passing it on -read,learn,grow,heal! If you live near Calgary – there is a group after Christmas you may join. Other helpful books are:
    Overcoming Passive-Agression (How to stop hidden anger from spoiling your relationships&Happiness – Tim Murphy,PHD and Loriann Hoff Oberlin.
    An Affair of the Mind (One woman’s courageous battle to salvage her family from the devastation of pornography) – Laurie Hall
    3 books used for Closed Group, Calgary: Intimate Treason(Healing the trauma for partners confronting sex addiction – Claudia Black,PhD,
    Cara Tripodi, LCSW. Stop Sex Addiction(Real hope, true freedom for sex addicts & partners – Milton S. Magness. Your Sexually Addicted Spouse (How partners can cope & heal) – Barbara Steffens, PhD,LPCC and Marsha Means, MA.

    Finally W5, a Canadian Program had a 30 minute segment (Oct.3/15)on The devastation of Porn in our society-spoke to 12yr.boy & one man (Gabe in his 20’s)on the effects of hard-core porn on the brain (overloads brain with Dopamine)&how young men are exposed by porn’s agenda how to see young women – using violence & degration as a norm to young minds. I will try to get links for those interested in healing and true transformation – it is certainly helping my life, and the sense of God’s direction – restoration & beauty for ashes. May we know the richness of the Savior’s Love for his Beloved! He desires and delights in us, and will NEVER leave us! Amen.

  • Chris says:

    bryan…sorry to hear you are struggling…its so true that mens and womens differences within the marriage can cause difficulties for both parties so many times. being that we are so different, God must have something special in mind to put together two so very opposite types of people. i believe if we read the bible we can see how God wants to teach the husband how to love his wife unconditionally even as jesus does his church. at the same time, 1 corinthians 7 shows that the sexual unión is important also to maintain active in marriage. my suggestion would be for you to first of all, give your heart and life to jesus christ who made you and designed marriage for you so you can understand what his personal plan for you really is. you can find out how to start your own personal and saving relationship with christ by logging onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or by clicking talk to a mentor above. my prayer for you is that you see beyond your marriage circumstances to what it is jesus is trying to convey and teach you. blessings!!

  • Bryan says:

    Please excuse all grammar and punctuality errors from my recent post As I am writing this from my smartphone

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