Ask Sheila: I Think My Husband is Bored of Sex

by | Mar 18, 2019 | Sex | 15 comments

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What if your husband seems bored of sex–he never initiates, won’t try new things, and just isn’t enthusiastic?

On Mondays I like to try to answer a reader question, and this one comes from a woman who is worried that her husband actually preferred sex with his previous girlfriends more than he does with her.

She writes:

Reader Question

When we got married I thought that my husband was a typical man who would want sex just as much if not more than I do. I was a virgin when we got married and he was not. We are both victims of sexual abuse which God has truly worked mircles in both of us. Early on into our marriage I felt like he wasn’t that interested and he said it was because he was too tired after work. He has struggled with porn when we were dating, and he struggled a bit early in our marriage, but he confessed and put blockers on everything. The thing is I feel like he is bored with sex somewhat. I feel like he already tried everything with his past girlfriends and I am here finally able to have sex and try new things but he isn’t putting in the initiative at all. We also have MIL issues–she keeps bringing up old girlfriends which makes it all worse. But my question is in all this. Do I tell him how I feel? I don’t want to be selfish and tear him apart. He really is such a good husband and he does love me,

Great question! And I decided to answer it in video format today:

For those who don’t have time to watch, I want to say a few things.

First, if something is bothering you, sometimes you just need to talk about it.

Often we’re looking for a magic answer that will enable us to fix a problem without really having to bring it up. But that doesn’t work. If you’re going to build intimacy, you have to share what you’re actually feeling.

I understand that she doesn’t want him to feel badly, but she’s already feeling badly. And that does matter. You can’t be close if one of you is feeling distant.

But that doesn’t mean that you attack him and tell him he’s doing everything wrong! It just means you express your dreams for the relationship, and ask him if he’ll talk about it. I’ve got a couple of posts on how to talk to your husband here:

It does sound like there are a whole bunch of issues here that need to be processed–getting over feeling jealousy of his past girlfriends; working through his relationship with porn (and rebuilding intimacy after a porn addiction.) Like most problems, this one is really multifaceted!

But when there are so many things to work through, it’s often good just to start with rebuilding your friendship and feeling close. If you have a hard time even knowing where to start, I have a FREE 5-part email course that you can take. Every Monday I give you a new suggestion–just one little thing you can do to start feeling emotionally connected again this week. Do these things for 5 weeks straight, and you’ll find that you’ll be able to talk a lot more easily. You’ll feel like you have more in common. And you’ll be able to tackle some of those harder things in your marriage! Sign up right here:

What do you think? When a problem is this big, what should she tackle first? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Anonymous

    Triage. I think that’s how you know what to tackle first. The area that could be causing the most damage should be addressed first. In this case, the possibility of a sexual addiction. Putting filters on devices does NOT stop a porn problem. There is a big difference between admitting something and contrite repentance.

    • Mary

      Agree. The addict will find a way around the blockers, or will find another source for their “drug”. Has anyone heard of Roku? It has adult content without a way to block.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I totally agree, Anonymous! It won’t stop it. But it does provide the basis that you need in order to work on it. Just like an alcoholic, when deciding to finally deal with the alcohol, has to get the alcohol out of the house. So you need to do that, too. It’s not how you fix the problem. But it is necessary so that you can begin to fix the problem. Does that make sense? Then I would also go to counselling; get in a recovery group; and so much more. But you do need to at least limit the exposure at the beginning.

    • Natalie

      Agreed. In addition to porn blockers (which I do think help remove the temptation), he needs to go back (preferably with a mental health professional) and examine why exactly he feels the need to look at porn. My bets would be on the sexual abuse from his past playing a huge role in his porn use. Unwanted by Jay Stringer does an excellent job in my opinion at unpacking the psychology behind porn addictions. It’s SOOO much more than just porn blocking software and accountability partners.

  2. Jane Eyre

    “We also have MIL issues–she keeps bringing up old girlfriends which makes it all worse.”

    Whoa no. Nope nope nope.

    It might be a minor issue, but the husband needs to shut this down. You cannot allow third parties to make snippy little comments about your relationship, how an ex is better, how some hottie could steal her away, etc. That needs to be shut down.

    His mother, he handles it and runs interference. She’s in charge of handling issues that arise from her family and friends. He must make it clear that those comments are unacceptable and will not be tolerated, then follow through.

    • Natalie

      Very true! And if the husband doesn’t stand up to his mother and tell her that what she says to his wife about his past girlfriends is unacceptable, he’s essentially putting his mother ahead of his wife. If he’s lenient on this topic concerning what his mother says and her importance in his life, I have to wonder just how much he’s actually “leaving and cleaving” and whether or not the MIL is more like a third person in their marriage. I’ve seen that for the past 30 years in my own parent’s marriage and can say from personal experience that that dynamic is EXTRAORDINARILY damaging to not only the marriage unit but also the husband and wife individually (i.e. husband downplaying his wife’s feelings about her husband’s level of involvement with his mother, wife feeling second class to her MIL, etc.). Really hurtful, damaging stuff!

  3. Sleepy

    This is what has started to happen to me and it has showed me that my struggles with porn are deeper than I thought. We haven’t had much time for intimacy but I have noticed that I have started to feel bored in bed. Like I want something new. Sadly I think that’s a consequence of my porn addiction. It’s been almost a year where I haven’t watched a video. Still porn has been affecting me. Lately it’s been in the form of non-visual type. It’s like it’s “not as bad”. But it is. It’s been almost a year and I failed. Analyzing why I realize that it started some time ago. As like I was starting to crave something new. It’s like I love making love with my wife but trying something new felt weird like I can’t imagine doing that with her because it’s too “naughty”. And so sex has felt good when it happens but the desire is lower. I didnt know that this would happen. I realize that even if I remove porn from my life it still affects me. It’s scars are still there. The evil desire is still there and I don’t know how to deal with it. Stopping the access to it is priority number 1. I failed but I don’t want to fail again. I don’t want to fall into it again. I have to be more careful as I was in the beginning. But what I don’t know is how to deal with the deeper issues. I don’t have a therapist anymore. The SLAa group that I have found is too far away. All I know I can do now is to ask God for forgiveness, I have confessed before to my wife and then ask God to change my sexual desires. I still desire my wife but I want God to make her my only desire. That the desire for something new will fade away and I will see ,just as before, that she is the only one I need.

    • Anonymous

      Sleepy- it’s so great that you recognize there is deeper healing needed. Please don’t quit seeking the restoration and recovery you desire. If there isn’t a group or therapist locally for you, maybe consider books, online groups or counseling via skype with a certified counselor. Keep seeking God – He will make a way. But don’t settle for less that the best that God has for you. It will likely take a lot of work. But as someone who wrestled different demons, I will say that freedom is worth every bit of grueling work to get there.

  4. Flo

    Some thoughts:

    I understand how thinking of his past girlfriends makes you feel uncomfortable, and also how his mother talking about them makes it even more uncomfortable. That’s natural. But my guess is that the past girlfriends are not related to his decreased interest in sex. Decreased interest in sex is usually caused by the husband not being chaste, meaning looking at porn or things similar to porn, masturbating, etc. So I think he has not really quit that.

    Now I can imagine that you think: but maybe he is not chaste because I am not offering enough variety in bed, maybe he was different with his past girlfriends because they were better than me. But his not being chaste has nothing to do with variety in bed or with how you are vs his past girlfriends. A husband is chaste not when his wife manages to work hard to keep him interested in her. A husband is chaste when he puts his heart in the right place and works on getting rid of bad habits. It is not you who cause his problems, and he had them already when you started dating, as you said yourself.

    • CS from NY

      Just another data point…

      As a husband, my decreased interest in sex started when I realized i felt exhausted having to all the time be the initiator and focusing 100% on her pleasure but having her still be so passive. So the thought of sex makes me feel…tired. and lonely. It makes me want to avoid it. It has nothing to do with porn or fantasies. Well, other than fantasizing my wife will someday show real desire for me. Feeling undesirable makes me want to avoid sex because the thought of it is emotionally painful.

      So, I think there can definitely be causes other than impurity in porn or thought life.

      • Rodney

        Also as a husband I agree completely with this comment. The lack of desire comes from always having to be the initiator. I don’t just want my wife to acquiesce to my requests for sex. Even when she does, rarely, initiate it seems forced and not real. So I shut myself down to avoid the feelings. Then it becomes difficult to get back to a point where I want sex again.

    • Holly

      Masturbation even without porn use is huge. Its one of the most awkward things to talk about but I think a lot of men masturbate in the shower and it is not ok, it steals the opportunity for healthy sexual relationship away.

  5. Natalie

    Whoa! I looked away from the screen for a second and could’ve sworn that Rebecca was talking! lol :p

    Not just speaking to this reader’s situation but to the topic of this post at large, I’d guess the #1 reason a husband is “bored” is bed is because his mind isn’t in the right place (aka he doesn’t view sex in a very biblical way) and he’s comparing his current sex life to a fantasy, previous experiences, expectation he had of what it would be, or something else along those lines. Often, these fantasies or expectation are directly influenced by the environment in which we were raised, which includes an upbringing on porn for so many. Heck, even everyday advertising and the content of PG-13 movies is affecting our sexual expectations for both male and female! (Side note: I was letting my almost-2-year-old son watch an educational show about shapes, colors, numbers and the alphabet on YouTube the other day, and an ad for a video came on. Thankfully it could be skipped after watched for only 5 seconds. But within that first 5 seconds, you see a very buxom woman in a eensy weensy bikini shooting guns at the enemy. This was an ad for a program directed at 1-3 year olds!!! Like, WHY?!?!?! The way our culture indoctrinates us about sexual expectations starts basically from birth!)

    My guess for the #2 reason would be libido/hormone/weight issues, which I’m guessing is actually affecting A LOT more marriages than people realize. As the average weight for western countries goes up, people tend to think that’s the new norm, when really it just means more people are falling further and further away from where they should or could be health-wise ideally.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I know, she does really sound like me, doesn’t she? 🙂

      Totally agree with both of your points, Natalie! I do think health is a huge (pardon the pun) issue that we aren’t dealing with effectively. We need to start seeing food as fuel, not just pleasure. It matters what we eat. And it also matters that we MOVE. We can’t expect to enjoy our bodies if we never exercise or treat our bodies well.

  6. Bethany

    I’ve definitely had this conversation with my husband, and my perception of “you seem bored/not interested in initiating” is rooted in reality but has to do with something often unrelated, and he did not realize he was doing it. So the first step of talking about the issue with him rather than continuing to speculate seems very, very wise. And relationship building!


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