What do you do if your husband rarely wants to make love?
He can go forever without initiating, and you feel lonely and rejected?
We’ve been talking this week about what constitutes a healthy frequency of sex in marriage, and what to do if sex is far less frequent. I talked on Tuesday to low drive spouses, and on Wednesday I posed some questions to higher drive husbands.
Today I’d like to do the same to higher drive wives.
Again, I’m really only talking to wives who have sex less than once a week. If you’re still sexually frustrated, but you do have sex once a week or more, I’ve got another post coming up for you on Monday!
But what do you do if sex has become really rare–once a month, every few weeks, even only a few times a year?
I want to help you address the problem where the husband doesn’t want sex in a way that may actually move you forward.
And so I’m going to be asking what may be uncomfortable questions.
It could be that none of these applies to you, and if that’s the case, that’s great! More on that later. But whenever there’s a problem in marriage, it’s always good to ask the hard questions first, even of ourselves. So I’m going to ask the hard questions, in case relationship dynamics have caused his libido to plummet. And men not having sex is often related more to outside stress issues or medical issues than women not having sex is, but it’s still important to ask these questions.
1. Is porn use a part of your husband’s present or past?
It’s awful to have to bring this up, but I’d be naive if I didn’t. The #1 cause for men losing their libido in marriage today is porn use. Porn trains the brain to become aroused to an image or a video rather than a person, and makes depersonalized sex sexy, rather than sex with a real, live, human being. One of the big effects of porn is men losing libido and sexual performance.
If your husband uses porn, you are not to blame. But you do need to confront the porn use, draw a firm line in the sand, and even get some help. Here are some posts that can point you in the right direction:
- 4 Things You Must Do if Your Husband Uses Porn
- How Porn Use Before Marriage Affects Marriage (plus our podcast on the same thing)
- Top 10 Effects of Porn on Your Brain & Your Marriage
Now, just because your husband has a low libido does not mean that he uses porn. But the question does need to be asked.
Next, let’s turn to questions about your attitude towards your husband. The causes of men’s low libido often relate to sexual confidence, and confidence in general, much more than the causes for women’s low libido do. Men can be very wary of doing things that make them feel like failures, and if they feel like a failure, either inside or outside of the bedroom, that can affect sexual performance, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy where there’s a downward spiral in libido.
2. Have you ever belittled your husband for his sexual performance?
If your husband’s penis is on the small side, and you’ve been frustrated because sex doesn’t feel “full” for you, have you told him? Have you been angry because you want some long, drawn out lovemaking sessions, and he never lasts as long as you would like?
Do you want him to make you feel good, and perform oral sex like a pro, but he doesn’t quite do it right, and so you’re always correcting him?
Most men do need direction to know what makes their wives feel good, but a large part of a man’s ego is tied up in feeling as if he can be a good lover. I’m not saying you should fake anything or tell him you love sex when you don’t, but there is a difference between saying, “Let’s learn how to make this feel great together!” and saying, “You’re doing it wrong!”
Making him feel “less than”, especially by comparing him to any previous lovers or to what you may have read in magazines, is almost guaranteed to make him insecure. And if guys are insecure, that can start to affect sexual performance, and thus tank libido.
3. Have you ever belittled your husband for sexual dysfunction?
Often, too, when younger men suffer from these issues, porn is involved.
However, “often” is not “always”. And if your husband has suffered from sexual dysfunction, and you have been critical or exasperated, then again, this is likely going to push him away from sex. Most of us don’t tend to like doing things if we’ll fail, and if he feels as if he’s failing you at the one thing which should make him feel like a man, he’ll run away from that as fast as he can.
Asking for your husband to seek help for dysfunction is perfectly reasonable and healthy (and even necessary). Being critical or mean about it is not. Even if you’re just expressing sexual frustration, that does matter, because if he feels as if he’s a disappointment sexually, it’s hard for him to want to keep trying.
4. Have you ever betrayed your husband’s trust?
We think of porn as a guy problem, but many women watch porn now, too. Many more read erotica, or watch mini-series after mini-series like Outlander, focusing on how “hot” and manly other men are. If you are effusive in your praise of other men, or if he sees you consistently watching and reading this type of material, while also failing to praise him for those things, he can feel like a failure as well.
And if you have had an emotional affair, or a physical affair, that can rock his sexual confidence as well.
5. Do you share the load for your family?
Another big cause for men’s low libido is stress. If he is working hard for the family, but money is tight, and you complain about this (or spend a ton, contributing to the problem), his stress level will inevitably rise. If you have significantly more downtime than he does, and he feels at the end of his rope, his libido will tank.
Do you each have roughly the same amount of free time? Are you relieving the amount of stress and work your husband has, or are you causing more?
6. Are you a safe place for your husband emotionally?
Can he tell you if he’s worried about something or struggling with something without you getting exasperated or frustrated with him? Do you listen when he needs to talk, or do you try to fix his problems and convince him why he’s wrong?
If he doesn’t feel safe coming to you with insecurities, then that can heighten insecurity, and cause him to withdraw from the bedroom as well.
7. Outside the bedroom, do you build your husband up, or do you tear him down?
When you’re talking with friends about your husband, do you usually make fun of him? Or do you praise him? When he’s talking in a group, do you frequently correct his version of events? Sometimes we don’t realize how badly we speak about our husbands in public.
8. Have you cared for your health and hygiene?
This one’s a difficult one to bring up, as I mentioned when I brought it up in my questions to higher libido husbands, too. Sex is meant to be more than physical–it’s emotional and spiritual, too. No one has to be a size 4, or still fit into her prom dress (or even her wedding dress) decades later to be considered attractive. And certainly society’s standards for women’s beauty are completely unrealistic (and porn has made that even worse).
But at the same time, just because we tend to gain weight with age and childbearing does not mean that it’s normal to gain substantial amounts of weight.
And sometimes, when we feel insecure, we give up caring for our appearance (which is why we may need to be challenged to fight the frump!). I know beauty and weight are landmine subjects to talk about, and I do believe that you can enjoy sex at any weight. But nevertheless, it is more difficult if you’re joined the morbidly obese category. Is this something that you need to work on to show love for your spouse–and yourself?
What if you see yourself in these questions and feel you’ve contributed to your husband’s low libido?
As I said to the men on Wednesday, I’ll repeat myself here to the women, with a few changes:
Take some time to pray through them and ask God to show you how you have hurt your husband. Allow yourself to feel the pain that he has felt–even if he has caused you pain, too. Focus on what you have done.
Then I’d suggest writing him a letter, because we can often think better if we write it all down.
List what you have done. Tell him how you think this must have made him feel. And apologize for each thing.
If you can remember specific instances when you did any of these things, name those instances. Say, “I remember our anniversary two years ago when you were in the middle of a huge job, and you couldn’t get away for the weekend, and we were short of money anyway, and I made you feel terrible about that instead of thanking you for working so hard. And I know that when Jenny and Jim were over last week, I made fun of how you tried to fix the kitchen sink and couldn’t. I know that I speak really badly about you far too much, and I haven’t appreciated you for what you have done, and I’m sorry.”
Ask him to forgive you. Tell him that you know that it may take him a while to trust you again. But tell him that you want to build your friendship and your emotional connection and you want him to feel appreciated, valued, and admired.
What if you don’t think you’ve pushed your husband away?
If you go through these questions, and they honestly don’t apply? (if only the question about porn applies, please follow the links I have in that section).
In some ways, that’s awesome. It means that you likely don’t have things you need to repair.
In other ways, it’s tough. If you did something to contribute to the problem, then you can also do something to contribute to solving it. But if this really wasn’t you, then you’re in a tough spot.
Make sure that there aren’t other issues going on, such as your husband suffering from any other medical issues, like low testosterone, diabetes, depression, or anything like that. Getting seen by a doctor is often very important for men with no libido. Make sure there aren’t major stressors in his life that are wearing on him, and if there are, make plans to help him with those. Often men’s low libido is caused by these issues more than women’s low libido is, and these things should be addressed.
But then say to your husband, “I know we were meant for more. I want us to experience real passion and intimacy, but you are continually pushing me away. That makes me not just sad. It makes me rejected, lonely, and in despair. I don’t want to live in a marriage like this, and I believe that we have to do something about it. We’re missing out on so much. I know sex doesn’t matter much to you, but I’d like to figure out how to show you what all the fuss is about. Can we please try?”
And if that doesn’t work, if it really is that he simply doesn’t like sex and doesn’t prioritize sex, or if he refuses to work on medical issues or stress issues, then I’d advise talking to a licensed counselor. If he won’t go, go by yourself. A counselor can often help you see what’s really going on, and make a plan for how to address it.
Was there a question I missed? Did one resonate with you? Let’s talk in the comments!
The Libido Differences Series:
- Can Higher Drive Spouses Be Content with their Sex Lives?
- How Many Times a Week Should Couples Have Sex?
- A Word to Low Libido Spouses
- 10 Questions for High Libido Husbands to Ask if Their Wives Don’t Want Sex
- The Frequency Podcast: What if Libido Differences Aren’t the Real Issue?
- 8 Questions for Wives to Ask if Their Husbands Don’t Want Sex
- 4 Reasons You May Feel Sexually Frustrated–Even if You’re Having Sex (September 21)
- 10 Things that Tank Women’s Libidos (September 28)
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of Bare Marriage
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