Reader Question: My Husband Married Me Because I was the “Good Girl”

Reader Question of the Week

Ever feel like “there’s no passion in my marriage”?

Every Monday I like to answer a Reader Question, and today’s is from a woman who said her husband married her because she was “the good girl”–not because he was passionately in love with her. She writes,

I am in my late 20s and have been married for a year and a half. We have been blessed with a beautiful baby who is 4 months old. I am grateful to God for all His blessings, I have married a good man of faith.

In recent weeks, it has become clear that I was chosen to be his wife because I would make a good wife and be the right ‘helper’ in bringing my husband closer to God, but not because he was madly in love with me or because he was deeply attracted to me–ever. My husband says he made a conscious choice not to be driven by sex, but to choose someone for the more lasting values that marriage has to offer.

On some level, I have known this but I assumed it was perpetuated by my low self esteem. Our sex life makes me sad and frustrated; my desire to be physically intimate is much greater and deeper than his, and he doesn’t understand my perspective on marital sex and how important it is to me. Now it is abundantly clear that if he found me more attractive, he would be more driven to have sex with me. It would be less of an effort to initiate it with me. It would be more frequent, spontaneous.

It breaks my heart because I know for certain that I married someone who doesn’t adore me, doesn’t desire me deeply, but loves me for all the ‘right’ reasons. It hurts so much. We are Catholic and deeply believe in the sacrament of marriage and my question is: how do you come to terms with knowing you, as a wife and mother, were the sensible choice rather than one of passion and love? How do you find your happiness knowing that previous women my husband had sex with before marriage were more attractive to him than I am? How do I find peace as a wife and mother, without feelings of regret, resentment, disgust, anger and deep hurt towards my husband and myself? How do I overcome feeling like a second choice and feeling stuck?

I can feel the hurt in this letter. She had an image of she and her husband both being madly, passionately in love with each other, and she’s missing that. She feels like she’s second best.

So here are some thoughts that hopefully can help her change her perspective!

1. You Need a New Fairytale

Read some Jane Austen. Seriously.

Sense and Sensibility is the tale of two sisters: Elinor and Marianne. Elinor is all “sense”. She’s logical, she doesn’t let her emotions rule her life, she’s loyal, subdued, and steady. Marianne, on the other hand, is all “sensibility” (English 19th century speak for emotions). She falls hopelessly in love with a man named Willoughby who sweeps her off of her feet. They are both passion to the extreme.

Yet Willoughby turns out not to have very good moral character, and breaks Marianne’s heart.

She gets ill and almost dies (she is rescued by Colonel Brandon), and as she is recuperating, she starts to notice the Colonel, who has always been there, in the background, steady and secure, too. He is kind. He is loving. He is moral. He is upright. And in the end she chooses him.

He is not the Passion of her Life. He is Better.

Too many of us live with this idea that true love is “feelings”–that butterfly feeling when he is near; the way your heart skips a beat when he touches your hand; the undeniable attraction and obsession you feel for him. That is love, right?

Sacred SearchWhat Austen was trying to show in her novel was that basing a marriage on these feelings often leads to disaster. It is far better to look around you and find someone who is WORTHY of your love. Someone who will be steady. That may not create these breathless moments, but it does create a lifetime of peaceful and quiet happiness. And perhaps we should value peaceful and quiet happiness more, and breathless moments less?

Science says that Austen had a point. In Sacred Search, Gary Thomas’ book on how to find a mate, he debunks the whole “I need passion in a husband” myth pretty well using science. It turns out that breathless, heart-skipping-a-beat obsessive feelings last, on average, 18 months. That’s it. No matter how passionate they were, our chemical reactions to each other can’t sustain that in the long term. Eventually all these breathless feelings go by the wayside. And then what is left?

As C.S. Lewis said, “Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity; the quieter love enabled them to keep the promise.” (click to tweet)

Quieter Love

2. You are Not Second Choice. You Are First Choice–and That’s Better!

"There's no passion in my marriage!" Redefining what we think love is.Why do we think that because he was passionately physically attracted to other women that you are somehow the second choice? On the contrary, you’re the first! He had that breathlessness. He had that heart skipping a beat. And in the end he looked at it and said, “that’s not what I want.” He knew that these women wouldn’t provide him with a lifetime of steady, secure love. And so he looked for someone who would.

That makes you the first choice!

He knows what’s important, and he found it in you. You have the IMPORTANT qualities, and that means he must value and love you very much.

(If you’re having trouble getting over your husband’s sexual past, though, this may help).

He knew Proverbs 31:30:

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

And he made the right choice! You’ve got a keeper, there. A mature, steady man who wants a great wife and to raise a great family. That’s wonderful!

3. Okay, but…What About the Sex?

She has a lot of assumptions in this email, and one of them is about sex. She writes:

Now it is abundantly clear that if he found me more attractive, he would be more driven to have sex with me.

I’m not sure how that’s abundantly clear, and there may be more going on that she’s not telling us. But I can tell you that early in the marriage–and this couple is still early–there are often sexual problems. It does take a while to get used to each other. In my book The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, I share some surveys I did of thousands of women. And what I found was that the best years for sex in marriage were 16-20–once you’ve been married for over a decade, the kids are a little older, and you have a lot of practice and trust.

Now, perhaps sex really is infrequent and this really is a problem. It’s hard to say, because it really entirely depends on what her expectations are. But in about 30% of marriages the woman does have the higher sex drive than the husband.

If you’re feeling really lonely in your marriage because your husband doesn’t seem to want sex, these posts may help:

My Husband Doesn’t Want to Make Love (the first in a four part series; links at the end)
My Husband Doesn’t Find me Attractive

Change The Way You See the Marriage

Many of the problems you’re experiencing–feeling unloved, feeling undesired, feeling lonely–may be a matter of perception rather than a matter of reality (or at least a combination of both). If you start appreciating the choice your husband made, and approaching him that way, that could start to change the dynamic.

Right now he may feel your hurt and not know what to do with that, and that could be driving you away. But if you start praising him for things, think how that could change the dynamic!

I love how you are so mature! I love how you provide for me and our baby. I love how you value what’s really important, and how you have goals, and how I can always rely on you. So many women don’t have that; I’m the most blessed woman in the world!

Say it and mean it!

Get on the Same Page About Marriage

You both believe marriage is for life. You both believe that marriage should be based on not just love, but also a deep commitment for the right reasons. You both believe that God wants you together.

That’s a lot of common ground.

If you’re then unhappy with some aspects of the marriage–like sex, for instance–you can go to him and say,

We both believe that God wants our marriage to be wonderful, and to reflect the love that He has for us. I just feel like we’re missing an aspect of that in our sex life. Can we pray together for that, and work on putting the effort into our sex life that God would want us to have? I want us to feel real passion together, and I think God has that for us!

In other words, base your requests on your common ground.

And then really work on your friendship! The more you’re able to laugh together, instead of mourning what you don’t have, you’ll likely find that a much deeper love grows. You won’t be saying, “there’s no passion in my marriage”, but instead, “we have a deep and abiding love.” That’s much better!

Now tell me: Have you ever felt like you were the “sensible choice”, but not the passionate one? Have you ever felt like there was no passion in your marriage? What did you do? Let me know in the comments!

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When Your Spouse Isn’t Interested in Sex: Communicating Your Needs

When Your Husband Doesn't Want to Have Sex: how to talk to him about it.
Last month, in my 29 Days to Great Sex series, I was talking about how to make sex great: how to want it, how to be enthusiastic, how to make it fun. But then the emails started to arrive: what do I do if my husband doesn’t want to have sex? What do I do if my wife won’t read this series with me? What do I do when my spouse just doesn’t think sex is important? We’ve been looking for the last two days at some reasons that men may not want sex.

Today I want to offer my thoughts on what you can do–whether you’re a husband or a wife–and you’re married to someone who just isn’t interested in sex. On Monday a woman left this comment on my blog, and it pretty much sums up what many of the spouses who email me are feeling:

My husband has low testosterone and it is a huge struggle for us, even though he is being treated for it. The biggest thing is that he just doesn’t really see sex as an issue at all; it’s as if he wants a complete marriage, but if there was no sex, he’d be fine with that. :(

I am a Christian and love my God. However, at this time, I am struggling with being very angry with God because I am a “good girl,” raised in a Christian home and although I dated a lot before marriage (and fooled around), I saved myself for marriage and for my husband. Now I feel like I’ve been cheated or robbed. I know life’s not fair, and that there are worse things people are dealing with, but for me, I feel lonely, rejected, and bitter. He is a fabulous man, father, and husband, but it breaks my heart that he doesn’t see any need for sex in marriage. He’s not into porn, addicted to anything, etc….just apathetic towards sex. :( In a way, it’s worse, because there’s no “addiction” to stop, no “sin” to confess, nothing that can be “fixed.” Even with his testosterone levels raised to where they should be, he doesn’t really care about sex at all.

He still makes love to me because he knows it’s something I need, but I wish it was something HE actually needed, too.

She’s a little more fortunate, because at least her husband does acknowledge his wife’s need for sex and tries to meet it. Many people who wrote me don’t even have that. Their spouses have basically checked out. Tomorrow we’ll look at what to do when your spouse has decided to withhold sex, almost permanently.

But today let’s deal with this problem: how do you help a spouse who does not have a drive for sex or an understanding that sex is important understand what your needs are? How do you talk to a spouse who doesn’t seem to want to have sex at all? Here are some thoughts:

1. Get Your Heart Right

Don’t enter a conversation angry or bitter. If your spouse has wronged you, go to God with that anger and ask Him to help you forgive. You need to have a conversation where you pursue what is best for you as a couple. Having a conversation where you’re trying to get him or her to acknowledge how much they’ve hurt you won’t necessarily help your relationship. There is a time to bring this up, once things are looking better, but if the desire is to move your relationship towards greater intimacy, that is what you should be focusing on, not vengeance. God calls us to love our spouses wholeheartedly, even if they don’t meet our needs.

2. Focus on Intimacy, not Sexual Release

Your spouse has an issue with sex. Chances are they find it a somewhat distasteful–if not very distasteful–obligation. It could be because they have really negative attitudes about sex; or it could simply be because they’re tired, they’re sick of having things on their to-do list, and they don’t want to have to do something energetic that they have to “get in the mood” for.

If you talk about your sexual needs, chances are this is what your spouse will hear:

“I have sexual needs because I have never really developed self-control the way you have. I am a slave to my body, unlike you, who is able to focus on the important things in life. And now, because of my desire and lack of self-control, I want you, who are already busy, to get energetic and to pretend that you actually want sex so that I can get some release.”

Not exactly a very attractive proposition, is it? Obviously that’s not what you mean, but even if you simply said something like this:

I desire you. I find you so attractive. You excite me. I want us to experience this together. I want to feel loved.

Your spouse will hear the first bit, especially if this has become a big area of conflict in your relationship.

So what should you do instead? Focus on the real issue–the one that both of you share. You want more intimacy, and sex is a doorway into intimacy. I would say something like this:

I really believe that God created us to long for each other and to be able to experience major depths of love and intimacy. I believe that God wants us to feel passionate about each other, close to each other, and truly intimate, so that we know that we’re not walking through life alone. I want us to feel so madly in love, and I want you to feel how much I love you. I want us to feel like we’re totally one, and I believe that the way that God made us to express that is through sex.

I know sex can be difficult for you, and I know you’re tired a lot of the time. I know you feel like you don’t have a lot of desire. But I’m worried that our lack of intimacy is actually partly the cause of some of that exhaustion. If we could really feel passion and really feel as if we were truly connected, perhaps much of the angst that we have both been feeling lately would evaporate.

I think God wants you to live such a big life. God wants you to enjoy everything that He created you for, and I think that we’re robbing each other of the gift of passion that God put in us. Do you think that we could try to rediscover passion together? I know it’s not easy, because you feel like you don’t have a sex drive. But it’s not just about sex; it’s about feeling so close to each other. That’s what I really want. Can we talk about how we can feel that intimacy, that passion, that closeness? And how we can make it easier for you to feel it? Because that’s what I think our marriage needs.

In other words, you’re focusing on intimacy and love, and not on release. The conversation doesn’t become about sex, or what you do in bed, or how often is enough. It focuses on how we can feel love for each other and how we can really experience passion.

Don’t argue about sexual release. Don’t argue about sexual needs. Don’t bring up 1 Corinthians 7:5, about how your spouse’s body belongs to you. That will not likely help the situation (even if it is true). Instead, bring up your desire for intimacy–an intimacy that will empower you both, energize you both, and equip you both to deal with the world together. When a couple is really experiencing that, they can take on the world.

Then the discussion can turn more to overcoming roadblocks for sex, like I’m just too tired, or I don’t really enjoy it, and you can start looking at how you can address these things to make intimacy easier. If your spouse is nervous about it, you can talk about it in a loving way, saying something like,

“I understand you’re tired, but I want so much more for you. God created you to live a big life, and I think He put me here to help you do that. Can we talk about how we can break through some of these issues?”

The point is to make the topic of the discussion that you love your spouse and you don’t want them to miss out on intimacy–it isn’t only about your sexual needs. It’s about your needs as a couple.

Now, some people are bound to chime in and say that I’m being too easy on the spouse. If they’re not meeting needs, they’re sinning and they need to be told to shape up. In an ideal world we could just say to someone, “you’re doing wrong”, and they would cease. But I have very rarely seen that happen in real life. What I am proposing is to talk about it in a way that is more likely to get your spouse to understand your heart, and more likely to get your spouse involved in seeking a solution. And to me, that is more important than telling your spouse that he or she is wrong and you are right. If you’re not at the point where you can do that, and if you’re still too angry, then I’d suggest you work on your anger before you bring any of this up with your spouse.

3. Focus on Intimacy in Other Ways

Intimacy should be the main focus of your conversation with your spouse, because as your spouse recognizes a deeper need for intimacy, he or she will likely recognize more of a need for sex.

But intimacy is deeper than just sex, and if you work on building intimacy in other areas of your life, you may very well also fuel your spouse’s desire for sex.

So work on your friendship. Spend time together. Develop hobbies together. Take an interest in what your spouse is doing. If your wife is overburdened with the house or with kids, start helping her more so she can relax. If your husband is overburdened with work, do what you can to help him. Help each other calm down, de-stress, and spend time together.

And then work on your spiritual intimacy. Our spiritual health is very related to our sexual health. When we feel close to God, we’ll simultaneously feel more like reaching out to our spouses. When I had dinner a while ago with Bill and Pam Farrel, of Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti fame, they told me that the couples with the best sex lives tend to be those in ministry. As you serve God and worship God more, you tend to reach out for your spouse more.

I have found that in my own life, too. When my husband and I read Psalms before we go to bed, or pray together before we go to bed, I’m always more ready to jump him! So work on developing spiritual disciplines together. Go to church together. Read the Bible together. If you’re uncomfortable praying out loud, get a book of prayers and read those (that really is allowed). In many ways, sex is a picture of our longing for God; our longing to be deeply connected and deeply known. As we open ourselves up to spiritual passion, we’re more likely to feel other kinds of passion.

Pursue intimacy in all areas of your life: physical, relational, and spiritual. And then talk to your spouse about how God wants you to live lives of passion and intimacy. That is His desire. If we as a couple aren’t experiencing that, we’re missing out on something beautiful. So do we want to live small lives, or big lives? And what can we do to work towards that big life?

Good Girl's Guide to Great SexWill framing the conversation like this work? No, not necessarily. You can never change another person; you can only change yourself. However, I do believe that this is the best option you have.

Great Sex Challenge: Pursue Intimacy. Pray and get rid of anger or bitterness in your heart towards your spouse. Pursue friendship and spiritual intimacy, with no strings attached. Then talk to your spouse about your desire for deeper intimacy, and about God’s plan for passion and intimacy. Ask what you can do as a couple to pursue that.

My new book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, is now shipping from Amazon! And they still have it at 30% off! In the book, I deal with how to boost your libido (if you’re a woman), how to pursue intimacy as a couple, and how to deal with a man who doesn’t want sex.


Husband Doesn’t Want to Make Love Day 2: What Can I Do?

My Husband Doesn't Want Me. What can I do? Some thoughts.

“My husband doesn’t want me.” It’s one of the most common emails I get. My husband doesn’t want sex, he has a low libido, and I don’t know what to do. I feel really alone in my marriage.

Last month I wrote 29 Days to Great Sex, where I talked about how to make sex wonderful in your marriage. I was focusing on the things that women can do to boost their libido, get better attitudes about sex, and have fun!

But what do you do if it’s your husband who has the low libido? When I was doing my research for The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I found that in 20-25% of marriages it’s actually the wife who wants sex more than her husband. And many women have emailed me saying, “I feel so rejected. I don’t know what to do anymore. What’s wrong with me?” I dealt with this in a chapter in the book, but I want to expand on it here, too.

Today let’s look at what we women can do to help boost our husband’s libidos. But I need to put a big caveat in here first. Yesterday I listed the main reasons that a husband may have a low libido. When we talk about boosting a husband’s libido, you’ll often hear people say: just buy some lingerie! Just seduce him. That’s easy to say, but it doesn’t always work. It entirely depends on why your husband isn’t interested in sex. And to tell a woman to just be “sexier” is awfully hurtful, especially if she’s tried all that and didn’t get the response she wanted.

Quite often the reason your husband isn’t interested in sex has very little to do with you, and a lot to do with him. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you; he could have an issue he needs to work on and fix, or you could have an issue together that you need to work on.

I’ve received several emails in the last two weeks from women whose husbands have not made love to them in years. Literally years. They have completely rejected their wives, and complain when their wives “bug” them for sex. This is a far bigger problem than what I’m talking about it here, and I’ll deal with what to do when your spouse withholds sex on Thursday.

But if it’s more of a “we go weeks for a stretch without sex, and when we do make love, he seems like he’s doing me a favour”, then something also needs to be done, and I’d like to tackle that today. So let’s look at the circumstances where being “sexier” or working on issues in the bedroom really won’t help, and when another type of intervention is needed. Then we’ll look at the circumstances where taking steps to rebuild your sex life actually can pay dividends now!

Using Porn Can Make a Man Less Interested in Sex

A woman commented on the blog recently that her sex life with her husband is down to about once a month. He always says he’s too tired. He works long hours, and he doesn’t want to be bothered. He doesn’t hug her, doesn’t kiss her, and doesn’t show affection. Yet he uses porn three times a week.

If your husband is using porn, and this is reducing his sex drive, you can’t increase his drive towards you by doing much of anything until the porn use has stopped. In a post a while ago, a former porn user explains the steps to take to help your husband quit porn. And here are 4 Things to do if Your Husband Uses Porn.

Your marriage and your sex life cannot improve while he’s using porn. Porn steals his sexual energy from you and transfers it elsewhere. Ironically, it’s not really transferring it to the women on the screen. We often think, “my husband doesn’t want me” because he wants those women more. But what he really wants is the rush of feeling in control, and the selfishness that comes from masturbating. It’s himself that he’s using, perhaps even more than those women. So it just has to stop.

Please don’t assume that if you just compete with porn, you can help him quit and then get his attention back. The porn needs to be dealt with first before you build your sex life up again. You don’t have to compete. You don’t have to be sexier. You do have to encourage him to quit.

Now, stopping porn is wonderful, but it’s not the only step. After he has stopped using porn, then you’ll need to rebuild your sex life, by starting slowly and helping you both get reacquainted with real intimacy. Don’t rush things, or he may turn to fantasy to “complete the deed”. My book 31 Days to Great Sex can help you get reacquainted with intimacy slowly, and can help with exercises designed to stop the fantasy and focus on the relationship (and the fun!)

Physical Issues can Make a Man Uninterested in Sex

Women can make love when they’re not particularly “in the mood”. We can decide to throw ourselves into it “for him”, and frequently when we do that, our bodies follow and we do end up enjoying ourselves.

Men, on the other hand, can’t make love without arousal. If your husband has libido problems, and can’t get aroused because he has really low testosterone, or depression, or problems with circulation, then sex is just difficult. This isn’t necessarily a reflection on you; it’s just an acknowledgment that sometimes you need medical intervention. If your husband has one of these issues, please encourage him to seek help (more on how to do that tomorrow!)

Psychological Problems Can Lower a Guy’s Libido

A woman once confided in me that she had recently had her marriage annulled after eight years. She had married a man she thought was her best friend, only to find that he had no intention of ever having sex. She found out later that he had been sexually abused by his mother, and once married, almost regressed to a childish personality.

After eight years, she left him, and a few years later I heard that she had married and was pregnant with her first child.

If you have a husband who has deep psychological trauma, with deep psychosexual issues, your husband needs to see a counsellor (and you probably do as well).

It is not your fault if your husband is struggling in this area. And you can’t cure him! He needs an intervention of the Holy Spirit in his life. So please, don’t blame yourself. You are not wrong for wanting sex, no matter how much your husband may say that you’re “bugging” him or that you’re “sex-obsessed”. God made you with a desire for intimacy and a desire for sex, and these are good things. Don’t let your husband’s problems make you ashamed of yourself.

So what can you do?

If It’s a Less Serious Problem: Understand How Male Desire Works

Men tend to be very visually stimulated. When they think about sex, it doesn’t usually take long for their bodies to be interested. And through sex, they feel affirmed as men. They feel desired and strong.

When something goes wrong to short circuit this desire, and it’s not due to pornography or major psycho-sexual issues, it’s usually because:

1. They’re worried they won’t be able to perform (because they haven’t been able to in the past)
2. They’re stressed and worried that they can’t carry everything on their plate, or feel as if they’re not doing a good job at home or at work, making them feel less like “real men”. When a guy feels as if he isn’t doing a good job or isn’t capable, his sex drive often suffers because it’s so wired in to how he feels as a man.
3. They’re worried that you don’t really want to.

By initiating sex and trying specifically to arouse him, you often can overcome some of these problems. But let me throw the caveat in again: this will only work if the problem is one of low-intensity relationship issues, stress at work, or lower than average testosterone. If the problem is more serious (like pornography or psychological issues), then you need more serious help!

When low desire is caused by your husband feeling less of a man because he’s stressed, and he has too much on his plate and he feels like he’s not dealing with it well, then making him less stressed and showing him how appreciative you are of what he does do can go a long way. Thank him for what he does. Encourage him in what he does. De-stress yourself as much as possible so you can be there to help him and to carry more of the load. The worst times in my marriage have been when both of us are busy at the same time. My husband has recently cut back on work a bit so he can be home more while my book releases, just so he can pick up the stress. I did that for him a few years ago. A marriage can’t survive both of you being worn thin, so if your husband is in a difficult place, do whatever you can to shed your own commitments.

Then initiate sex!

Don’t wait for him to. Be a little brazen. Start with a bath to relax him, or whatever it may take. By initiating you say, “I find you desirable. I want to make love to you. I appreciate you as a man.” That can be very affirming for most men.

Some of you, though, have been initiating like crazy and nothing is happening. I understand that, and again, we’ll talk more tomorrow about how to communicate your needs when your spouse doesn’t want sex.

If the problem is one of erectile dysfunction or just very low desire, though, many men, even if they don’t get aroused on their own, can become aroused with a little work. Let him look at you! Take off your clothes for him. Use your hands to arouse him. It may take longer than usual, but laugh through it, show him you don’t mind, and that you’re just happy to be together with him.

Sometimes men shut down after they’ve had several episodes of erectile dysfunction, and showing him that you just want to try, and don’t care whether he’s able to finish like that or not, can take some pressure off. You could even ask him to help you orgasm in another way so that he still feels like he can bring you pleasure. Erectile dysfunction can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Relax about it and persevere, and things often get better (and if they don’t, see a doctor! ED can be a sign of more serious health problems).

Many men on my survey announced that they had stopped initiating sex altogether because they had been turned down so often early in their marriage, and it had been humiliating. So they decided to stop altogether until their wives initiated. Often these wives, however, interpreted their husbands’ lack of initiation to mean that the husband didn’t want sex, when really he had shut down to protect his ego.

Last month we had several female commenters on this blog say something to this effect during our 29 Days:

I turned my husband down so often he stopped asking for it. Now I’ve realized I was wrong, and I do want to have a healthy sex life. But I don’t know how to make it work again because he always seems to rebuff me–it’s like my husband doesn’t want me anymore.

In a situation like this, where there has been a relationship breach, you can’t heal the problem simply by being sexy or trying to arouse him. You also need to work on trust and communication. So at the same time as you’re trying to initiate more, also work on your friendship in marriage. Do things together just so you can talk and laugh. Most bedroom problems are actually better solved outside the bedroom!

Great Sex Challenge: If you decide that your husband’s low libido is due more to stress, relationship issues, or low sex drive, then encourage your husband and show him affirmation as a man. Then initiate! Tell him you want to give him an amazing evening. Tell him you find him desirable. And if things don’t go perfectly, laugh it off and relax together in another way.

What if you’ve tried all of these things and nothing’s working? Tomorrow we’ll look at how to talk to him about your needs.

Have you ever felt “my husband doesn’t want me”? Or have you tried to initiate and found that this helped? Let me know!

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Why Doesn’t My Husband Want to Make Love?

When Your Husband Doesn't Want to Make Love--4 reasons, and what to do about it
I’ve just finished 29 Days to Great Sex, leading to the release of my new book, The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex. And I was talking in that series a lot about how women can come to see sex in a new way, understanding the real joy and intimacy that it can bring, so that we can desire it more often.

When I was conducting the research for The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, I asked women how often they made love, and who had the higher sex drive: she or her husband (along with other questions). Then I asked a bunch of guys the same thing. And while in the majority of cases the husband has the higher sex drive, in about 20-25% of marriages the woman does. So what do you do if you’re a woman, and you’re married to a guy who doesn’t want sex–or at least doesn’t seem that interested in it very often. You wonder “why doesn’t my husband want me?” What’s wrong with me?

For the next four days I want to talk about what to do when your husband doesn’t want to make love.

And before we get going, I want to assure you that usually the reasons your husband doesn’t want sex have nothing to do with you–and much to do with him. Maybe he has an abnormally low sex drive; or maybe it’s some other relationship or psychological issue. We’ll talk about how to understand what’s going on better, and then give some strategies about how to deal with this.

First, I believe that God created both men and women with sex drives. We both should yearn to make love. However, in general, men’s sex drives are more physically urgent. If their bodies doesn’t get sexual release, their bodies will actually do it for them during the night periodically. And men are much more visually stimulated than women are. They are supposed to be aroused fairly easily, because it gives them an impetus to really pursue women.

Therefore, a man with a low sex drive should be a rare thing. It’s a sign that something isn’t going right. Now, it could honestly just be a variation in population. In any given population, some with have extremely high sex drives, and some will have extremely low sex drives. However, look at any bell curve and you’ll see that these extremes are very tiny. They account for maybe 2%, not 20% or 25%. So there has to be something else going on.

What could those issues be?

1. He refuses sex because he has transferred his desire elsewhere

The category that is rising the most right now are men who are not interested in sex within marriage because they’re getting release elsewhere, especially with pornography.

A man who is using porn will slowly find that it consumes more and more of his life, and more and more of his sexual energy. Porn rewires your brain to tell you that what is arousing is a picture or an image, not a real, flesh and blood person. And you often need more and more porn and more extreme porn to give you the same high that you felt when you started using it.

When men use porn, in general they masturbate as well. And so it becomes quite likely that eventually they will stop desiring their wives in the same way. That’s why the idea that porn can be exciting in a marriage is so off base. Porn steals the natural desire you have for each other, so that you stop desiring each other. Sure, you may get aroused by the porn and then act it out with each other, but that’s not really making love anymore. The source of the desire was the image, not the person, and you’re still thinking about that image while you’re with your spouse.

Now, it’s not just men who use porn; about 25% of women in my surveys had sought porn out as well. But an overwhelming majority of men had sought out porn, and it is hurting many marriages.

If your husband has a really low interest in sex, and you can’t figure out a reason for it, verify that he isn’t watching porn. Check his computer and his phone, and have a talk with him about it. Here’s a post on what to do if your husband uses porn.

2. He doesn’t want sex because he doesn’t feel like a man

A man’s sex drive is all wrapped up in his concept of manhood. When he feels like a man, he’ll want to make love. But if he doesn’t feel like a man, he won’t. And what does it take to not feel like a man? If he isn’t sure of who he is, isn’t sure of his purpose, and isn’t sure of his role, he could easily have no sex drive.

For instance, I know a woman who is walking through this right now. She married her husband a little later in life when he was working part-time. He has never worked full-time. He tends to spend his life on the couch, not doing a whole lot. He has very low motivation for anything, and doesn’t get excited about very much except video games. He isn’t very involved with his children.

When you look at his life, you can see that he doesn’t seem to have a “will” to do anything. And if you look back at his childhood, you’d see that he was rarely affirmed in anything. He was rarely told by his dad that he was doing a good job. And so he was never sure if any decisions he made, or any steps he took, were the right ones. So he simply stopped taking any. To anyone on the outside he just looks extremely lazy, but I do think there’s more going on there. I think he fundamentally was scarred.

A man can have his masculinity scarred in other ways, too. The root to his scars lie in his family of origin; but even within a marriage he could not feel like a man. Please watch how you talk to your husband. I have heard so many women constantly pick at their husbands, constantly correct their husbands, and I don’t even know if they realize they’re doing it. Make sure that when something comes out of your mouth about your husband or to your husband that it is positive. Even if you’re talking about resolving some conflict, do it in a positive way. Do not browbeat your husband.

Also, if you’ve had an affair in the past, or even if you were sexually active before marriage, your husband may feel that he can’t measure up. And that can cause some men to stop being able to perform, because they’re nervous. Finally, if you spent years in the marriage rejecting your husband’s overtures, he can shut down. If you’ve now decided that you want to change and you want to make love again, he may have a very difficult time making that adjustment.

3. His libido is low because he has low testosterone

Another big category for those with low sex drive is an actual physical issue with the hormone that causes low sex drive. If he has low testosterone, he won’t desire sex as much. But low testosterone can also be caused by other physical problems, like diabetes or even some pain and depression medication. The problem with this category is that because he doesn’t feel the need for sex, he likely isn’t upset about it, and so it can be difficult to get him to talk to a doctor about it.

Low testosterone can also be caused by addictions to alcohol, drugs, pain medication, or even gambling or video games. When something else replaces the high our brains get for sex, it can cause testosterone to shut down.

The good thing is that this category is the easiest to fix–if you can get him to talk to a doctor. We’ll discuss in the next few days how to do that.

4. He doesn’t initiate sex because he’s nervous about his performance

Finally, there’s a category that’s a combination of #2 and #3. Let’s say that a man is nervous about the relationship and nervous about whether or not you really love him. One night you make love, and he can’t keep his erection. A week later it happens again. He was already feeling nervous; he was already feeling slightly humiliated within the relationship. Then erectile dysfunction hits, or perhaps premature ejaculation, and it becomes too much to bear, and he shuts down.

Or perhaps it wasn’t the relationship that was causing him to question his manhood; maybe it was his ability to earn a living. When a guy is unemployed, or feels like he can’t support the family, he already feels like he’s not a man. If he then can’t make love, it can become a vicious spiral, where he’s afraid of trying again because he doesn’t want to fail, so he just shuts off.

I’ve received many emails from women lately whose husbands fall into one of these categories (or else into almost all of them!). And these women feel humiliated. They feel as if they must be freaks, because everywhere else in our media it says that men are desperate for sex. Why don’t their husbands want them?

The message that I want you to take from this is that it likely has little to do with you. If your husband doesn’t want to make love, it’s often an issue within him, or within how he experiences the relationship, far more than it is an issue about whether or not you are desirable.

We’ll look tomorrow at how to start tackling some of these things. But know that you are not alone, and know that it is becoming a problem that is increasingly more common. Hang in there!

If you’re in this situation, what specifically would you like to know? And do these categories resonate with you?

Follow-up posts in this series:

When Your Husband Doesn’t Want to Make Love: What You Can Do
Communicating Your Needs when your Spouse Doesn’t Want to Make Love
What To do When Your Spouse Withholds Sex

Sheila’s book The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex talks at length about libido differences, including what to do when SHE wants sex more than he does.

Wifey Wednesday: 4 Reasons Why Your Husband Doesn’t Want to Make Love

4 Reasons Your Husband Doesn't Want SexWorried that your husband doesn’t want sex? Every Wednesday on this blog we talk marriage, and today I thought I’d tackle a topic that is often not discussed very much: What do you do when it’s the GUY who doesn’t want to make love?

Before the rest of you women say something like, “I wish my husband would give me a break sometimes!”, think about how awful that must be. We’re told that men always want sex, and then we marry someone who doesn’t want to make love. Is there something wrong with me? Am I not attractive? Does he not love me? It’s really difficult. So let’s look at the four main culprits to a low male libido:

1. Physical Problems Can Make a Husband Not Want Sex

If he will, get him to talk to the doctor. Some medications can lower his sex drive. He could also have low testosterone. In other cases, their sex drive is lower because the husband has had impotence issues and he’s afraid to try again. Impotence, though, can be a signal that there is a circulatory problem, and often is a sign that heart disease, diabetes, or kidney disease may be starting. So a doctor’s visit is definitely in order!

In most cases of younger men with decreased libido, though, it’s not a physical issue. It’s more likely an emotional/psychological one. Let’s start with these issues.

2. Stress/Emotional Problems Can Lower a Guy’s Sex Drive

In this economy, many men don’t feel like men anymore because they can’t provide for their families well. If this is the case, go out of your way to show your husband you do appreciate him and you do look up to him. But whatever you do, don’t baby him. If he’s feeling emasculated already, he doesn’t want you trying to make it better or fix it for him. Show him you think he’s capable. Be a listening ear, but don’t be his nurse.

In a similar way, we can undermine our husbands with the way we talk without realizing it. I know many good, Christian women who belittle their husbands in public quite a bit without apparently cluing in to what they’re doing. When you open up your mouth to say something about your husband to others, make sure it’s laudatory. Praise him in some way. If he’s telling a story and he’s getting it wrong, don’t correct him all the time. Let it go. And when you’re alone, make sure that you express gratitude as much as you express criticism. Even more. I have known men who have withdrawn sexually simply because they had ceased to feel like men in the relationship. The woman had taken over everything.

3. Lack of Friendship Can Quench Desire

Often when there is a problem in the marriage it shows up in the bedroom. But because the SYMPTOM is in the bedroom, we often think the SOLUTION is too. So we concentrate on solutions that have to do with sex–buying lingerie, playing risque games, getting toys, trying new things.

In reality, often the solution is found outside the bedroom. Sex embodies our spiritual, emotional, and relational selves. What I often suggest to women whose husband have a low sex drive that isn’t due to a physical problem or stress is that you work on your friendship. Spend more time together. Take a walk after dinner. Find a hobby you can enjoy together. Do something that he likes, even if you don’t (like watch hockey games) simply so you can be together.

Often couples get into a rut where they spend their lives doing errands and watching TV. That isn’t going to help your relationship. If you want to spice things up, don’t look at the bedroom. Look at the gym. Or the ice rink. Or the restaurant. Do stuff together. Cultivate a real relationship. Start talking again.

Often this helps you feel connected, and then, even if the sex doesn’t always follow, at least you feel more kindly towards each other.

4. Pornography Use Can Obliterate a Man’s Desire for His Wife

The main culprit of a low male sex drive, though, of course, is pornography. The more men are into pornography, the less they are into sex in real life. Porn trains the brain to be aroused by an image, and not a relationship, and is extremely destructive. Porn is not harmless; the effects of porn are really far-reaching. If your husband is into pornography, get help! Talk to a pastor. Talk to a mentor. It’s not okay to be a porn addict. It’s not harmless. It just isn’t.

Pornography and masturbation go hand in hand. If he is using porn, he’s also masturbating and thus getting rid of his sexual tension in another way. He’s also less likely to be able to get in the mood with a real, live person, like you. So if this is the issue, it must be addressed. I’ve written before on this topic, on how to recover from a pornography addiction. I think it will help. And I have lots more links to other posts on the subject here.

5. Maybe There is No Reason for His Low Sex Drive

Finally, for some men, there simply won’t be a reason that he doesn’t want to make love. You have a higher sex drive than he does. Maybe it’s even as if your husband has no sex drive and never wants to have sex! Think about it this way: in any given population, some men will be really short, and some really tall. Some will have really big hands, and some really small ones. We vary, and some people are on the extremes. By definition, 5% of men will have abnormally low sex drives without any apparent problem or cause. It’s just the way they are.

What do you do? Accept him, and more than ever, work on your friendship. Make sure there is goodwill between you, that you can laugh together, that you can do things together. The more you laugh, the more you’re able to talk, and you can share with him how you feel. Just because he has a low sex drive, for instance, doesn’t mean that he can’t make love. He can! And he can even increase his sex drive by making love more frequently (the use it or lose it phenomenon), and even by exercising and building muscle, which builds testosterone levels, too. If he lays off the beer, that can also help, because beer has a chemical that acts in the body in a similar way to estrogen.

But more than anything, you’ll just have to learn that this is the man you married. Get your peace in God, work in your friendship so you don’t feel emotionally rejected, and learn to love him anyway.

Good Girls Guide My SiteMore Posts For Wives Whose Husbands Don’t Want Sex:

Communicating Your Needs when your husband doesn’t want sex

What to do when your husband withholds sex altogether.

In my book, The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, I have a large section on what happens when the wife has a higher libido than the husband!

Christian Marriage Advice--When Your Husband Doesn't Want to Make Love

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