Ever feel like you and your husband are switching libidos?
Maybe he used to want sex all the time, and you really didn’t. But now you’d really like to reboot your sex life, but he’s the one holding back.
It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! And a few years ago I wrote an important post on this topic that I really thought we should revisit, because it’s a pattern that I see again and again.
It goes something like this: A couple gets married and sex is ho hum. He wants it all the time, and you just really don’t. So you say no. A lot. And he gets used to you never saying yes when he initiates sex.
Years go by. Sex becomes less and less frequent.
And then something happens. Maybe you realize that your marriage is getting distant, and not having sex is definitely contributing to that! Maybe you’re hitting your late 30s and your libido is kicking in! Maybe you’ve been working at boosting your libido because you don’t want to miss out on what everyone says is so amazing.
You think your husband would be raring to go! But instead, if you try to initiate sex, he shuts down. Now he’s the one saying no!
It really is as if your libidos have switched. You’ve traded places.
When I wrote The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I intended to only survey women. So I asked about 2000 women about their sex lives, and found out that about 42% of women said that they had sex less than once a week. That surprised me a bit, so I thought maybe I had better ask the men some questions, too. I wrote a new survey for them and asked them similar questions.
Got the same frequency result: 42% less than once a week. So the samples were good.
What is The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex About?
And it shows you how to get it to awesome in each of those three ways, too!
Sex was supposed to be amazing and incredibly intimate. And if it’s not there yet for you, don’t worry. It can just be the most fun research project you and your husband ever do together!
But then something interesting happened. On the surveys I allowed the men to leave open-ended responses to some questions, if there was something they wanted to say. And over and over again, man after man said virtually the same thing: I’m so lonely and I feel so rejected and my wife just doesn’t get it. And often what I read was something along these lines:
It’s been a big issue for many years. I usually withdraw. I lose sleep, and it impacts every aspect of me. Then my wife gets mad at me for letting it impact me.
You know there is a lack of interest, but you don’t really know why. So you start wondering, “what is wrong with me?”
And eventually some of the comments moved to something like this:
I would do everything to try to get my wife to say yes. I did all the chores. I bought her flowers. I was romantic. And nothing worked. So I decided a few years ago that the only way I’d survive in this marriage is if I just came to terms with the fact that we just won’t have sex. So I stopped initiating. She didn’t notice for a few months, and then every now and then she’d try again, I think because she thought I was mad. But I don’t want pity sex and I don’t want to start the whole cycle again. So I just tell her no.
Wow. That’s sad. And it’s also incredibly common! Maybe it’s not to that extreme in your marriage, but at marriage conferences we’ve talked to plenty of men who have said that they’ve virtually stopped initiating sex, almost out of self-preservation. They don’t want to get their libidos going and they don’t want the constant rejection.
And often there’s a big element of bitterness and anger in there, too. “She hurt me so much, so I want her to see how it feels!” It’s not right, but honestly? I think it’s kind of understandable.
Okay. Now back to the current situation.
What do you do if you were refusing sex often in your marriage, and now you ARE changing, but your husband doesn’t trust you?
I had a letter from a low libido wife recently which said this:
My husband finds our lack of sex particularly hurtful. When this comes up, I often rush to read a book or post about sex, to try and fix the issue, but this would only ever work “for next time”. A sincere “sorry, (insert attempt at explanation), I’ll try harder from now on” just doesn’t cut it – my husband is hurt and I can’t fix it. What do I do to show him I’m serious?
You’ve been distant and you’ve been hurting each other, and now you want to change the dynamic. But your husband isn’t buying it quite yet. What do you do?
Please note: I’m not talking in this blog post to women whose husbands have ALWAYS had low libidos. If that’s the case, this series on why your husband doesn’t want to make love is likely more applicable. But if your husband used to have a high libido, and now he’s turning you down–read on.
Live out the change–Initiate sex
What if he’s really not interested and keeps refusing?
You have an open conversation with him where you admit all of your faults–without blaming him. Even if his behaviour was part of what gave you a low libido, you own what you did. In the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, you take the log out of your own eye (you deal with your own issues first) (Matthew 7:3-5).
You tell him that you realize what you did to him, and you’re sincerely sorry. And now you’d like to rebuild your sex life. And keep initiating. If you’re not sure how to initiate sex, I’ve got a great post with 10 tips right here!
You can even ask if he’d be willing to schedule sex, so that you can show that you’re serious. You can pick 2 or 3 nights a week where you’d like to make love, and pencil it in. And you can tell him that you promise you’ll only cancel on him once a month at the most–unless you’re genuinely ill with a fever or something.
He still may not be appreciative. He still may withdraw. Or, when you do make love, you may find it supremely unsatisfying because he’s only interested in pleasing himself (he may seem almost angry), and so you don’t get much pleasure from it.
Give him time to be angry and to see that you’re serious. It takes a lot for a guy to break down a wall that he’s built, especially if he’s built it out of self-preservation.
Can You Really Boost Your Libido after Years of Not Wanting Sex?
And in this 10-module video based course I show you how easy it is. I look at the big ingredients to libido–how our bodies, schedules, brains, and hormones all influence our libido–and then how we can take control of them. And I give you hope!
Don’t withdraw or sulk if your libidos have totally switched and now he says no
What if you’re hurt? What if you feel lonelier than you’ve ever felt in your life because he’s rejecting you (or being selfish in bed)? How can you deal with these feelings?
My suggestion: don’t withdraw from him and don’t sulk. Say to him,
“I’m feeling really lonely and discouraged right now, but I want you to know that whatever you do, I’m not going to give up on this. I want our marriage strong and I want to have a great sex life, and I’m going to hang in there even if you don’t feel loving towards me right now.”
Acknowledge how you feel, but don’t withdraw. And remember: this process may take months–or even years. Changing the dynamic in marriage doesn’t always happen immediately.
Go to God for your emotional needs if you feel rejected sexually and emotionally
And in those lonely days, draw as close to God as you can. Pray blessing over your husband, very specifically, in every area of his life. The more you pray about these specific things, the more your mind gets turned to what God is doing in his life, instead of what your husband is doing to hurt you.
Go to battle for your marriage, and your husband, by praying blessing over him, and by praying for your marriage. And spend some time everyday just in prayer and in reading Scripture, listening to worship songs, or anything that gets your eyes on God. Keep your eyes there and you’ll find that you’re better able to withstand rejection from your husband.
Push through the tension and LOVE him–with or without sex
It will feel tense when he’s testing you. You will be tempted to lash out. Don’t. Learn to love him despite his actions. And don’t just initiate sex–initiate other things that make him feel loved. Study his love language and live it out. Make your husband your special project where you can think and pray about how to make his life better. Maybe it’s helping him organize a work project, or organize the garage, or complete an application for a job or internship he’s been wanting. Maybe it’s encouraging him to pursue a dream. I don’t know–but become a student of your husband and find practical ways to support him even outside the bedroom.
If you haven’t been connecting sexually for a long time, chances are he has not felt connected to you hardly at all for that whole length of time. It will take some serious effort for him to allow himself to trust you and become vulnerable with you again–and that vulnerability is necessary for real intimacy.
Don’t rush the process of reconciling sexually
Let him go through the needed emotional steps. And you need to go through it too–to understand what he felt, to figure out how to love him, to figure out how to go to God with your issues.
So pray for strength and grace for yourself, and remember: When your heart’s desire is to act like Christ and love someone unconditionally, God gives you that strength when you seek it. That is a wonderful desire and a wonderful prayer. But it can’t be a manipulative one–“do you see what I’m doing to change? Aren’t you grateful?” You’re being amazing to him so that you can change your marriage, right?
No, you’re amazing to him because it’s the right thing to do.
And usually, the more we do that, the more we change the dynamic and the relationship does change. But even if it doesn’t right away, and even if change takes time, you are still doing the right thing. And as you do that, you’ll feel closer to God and Jesus will become more real to you. Cling to that in this time. Marvel at it. And you may just find that you aren’t as lonely as you thought you’d be.