What happens in a marriage when HE isn’t interested in sex?

Last fall I spoke at a conference, and they also asked me to give a breakout session on libido differences (a subject I cover at length in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex).

A bunch of women came up to me and asked if I’d be considering the other point of view–when he’s not in the mood. They didn’t want to sit through a session, they said, where everybody complained about how high their husband’s sex drives were, when for them it was the opposite. So I amended my talk, looked at both perspectives, and I think it was quite informative for all of us.

If you’re going through something similar, though, I hope that you understand that you not alone. I know many women who go through this in marriage are often greeted with jeers from their friends–“I wish my husband would give me a break sometimes!”. That doesn’t help. You feel like a freak because how come everyone else’s husband wants sex, and yours doesn’t? But you’re not a freak.

It used to be that in about 30% of marriages the female had the higher sex drive.

We’re not sure of the numbers now, but many experts say it’s approaching 50%. When doing research for my book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I found this to be a huge problem, too. In some cases, it’s simply a physical issue. If he will, get him to talk to the doctor. In others, it’s a case of stress at work (or stress of unemployment). If it’s stress, find ways to spend more time together, and talk more. Don’t try to fix his problem; that can emasculate him. But let him know that you believe in him.

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. Pornography trains the brain to be aroused by an image, and not a relationship, and is extremely destructive. If your husband is into pornography, get help! Talk to a pastor. Talk to a mentor. Visit www.pureintimacy.org. It’s not okay to be a porn addict. It’s not harmless. It just isn’t.

Let’s assume, though, that it’s not pornography just for a moment. There’s no sexual sin involved per se; it just isn’t working for him. Let me suggest something. 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 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.

Finally, I’d really recommend that you look at how you talk to your husband. It’s amazing how easy it is to undermine our men. I know many good, Christian women who belittle their husbands in public quite a bit without apparently realizing it. 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, and she hadn’t even realized it.

If sex is an issue in your relationship, then, and it’s not an issue of stress of work or a physical problem, look at those three issues: pornography, friendship, and your communication dynamic. Work on them, and you may find that your intimacy gets better! But it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. And that means it also takes a lot of prayer, too!

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