For every guy who has ever thought, “my wife hates sex,” or, even worse, “my wife hates ME,” I want to point you to some practical solutions.
Usually I write this blog for women, but I do have a fair number of men who read it, and I get emails all the time from men saying, “my wife hasn’t had sex with me in months. She hates sex, just doesn’t think it’s important, and I don’t know what to do.”
Keith and I tackled this in our podcast last week on what to do if your wife doesn’t like sex. I thought I’d elaborate in a post today, too!
One man writes:
What once (far too long ago) was vibrant, ecstatic, passionate and FREQUENT has become flat, robotic duty-oriented and only frequent enough to miss the definition of sexless. (yes, she actually brought that up in an argument once. She “makes sure” we have sex at least 10-times-a-year so I can’t say it’s a sexless marriage). This has been a downward spiral since we became pregnant with our middle daughter nearly 10 years ago. She had complications with that pregnancy, and I was afraid to hurt her, so we went for 10 months without sex. Steadily, over time, the variety of positions diminished as well. Now about the only “acceptable” position is with her on top.
Over the last year, or so, we’ve fought less and talked more about this and frequency is improving (on average about two or two-and-a-half weeks between encounters.) But it is still a major wedge between us. I fully accept responsibility for allowing our sex life to dissipate. I allowed myself to become bitter and selfish because my needs weren’t being met; deeply un-Jesus of me. I am working to die to myself and my needs, sacrificing myself for my wife in an effort to more fully live out the command of Eph. 5:25, but I struggle SO DEEPLY with feelings of resentment, anger and hunger for my wife.
She is in a very stressful season of life right now, and inasmuch as I know that frequent MEANINGFUL sex could help de-stress her, right now it’s just one more stressor on her to-do list. A messy, unpleasant chore.
And so I thought I’d write a post for the guys on what to do when your wife hates sex. I want to use this question as an example, but I’m not going to analyze it, because I want instead to give guys who think their wives hate sex a blueprint for how to walk through this, no matter what your specific story is. So let’s jump in!
Reality Check: It’s very unlikely your wife hates sex to spite you.
First, I just want to dispel a common myth that many men have if their wives don’t seem interested in sex.
It’s very unlikely that your wife woke up one day and thought, “I’m going to start withholding sex to get at him and make his life miserable.” Yet that’s the way that it’s often talked about (this letter writer doesn’t phrase it that way, but I’ve heard it that way).
Think about this: He admits that sex was once great. But now it’s not.
Now, we know that women are capable of multiple orgasms. Inasmuch as researchers are able to figure this out, it looks like women are even capable of more intense orgasms than men. Like, sex can be seriously awesome for women!
Most people don’t have to be convinced to do something that’s awesome. If you put a piece of chocolate cake in front of your wife, you likely wouldn’t have to pressure, cajole, or convince her to eat it. You may have to try to convince her not to eat it, but most of us don’t need convincing to do something that is awesome.
So if your wife doesn’t want sex and doesn’t like sex, the question really shouldn’t be, “what’s wrong with my wife?” The question should likely switch to, “what’s wrong with the sex my wife is experiencing?”
It’s important to get that mind shift first, because it takes us out of blame mode (my wife is hurting me deliberately!) and puts us into problem solving mode (let’s see how we can fix this).
I know this mind shift can be very emotionally difficult, because when you’ve been rejected sexually, often for years, it feels like a personal rejection. You can feel desperate, as if something that was vitally important was taken away from you.
I’m not trying to deny that feeling. I just want to actually help you, and so I’d like to encourage you to set aside that rejection for a minute, if you can, and look at this from some different angles that may actually help you move towards you goal.
Double Check First: Is it that your wife hates sex, or is it that she has a different libido than you do?
The next thing we have to double check is a simple one: Does your wife hate sex, or does her libido work differently than yours?
Just because she’s not raring to go all the time doesn’t mean she hates sex. She may have more of a responsive libido, and you may have more of a spontaneous libido, meaning that you may feel aroused and in the mood for sex at the drop of a hat, but she may need something to respond to. This doesn’t mean that she’s less sexual or that she hates sex. She simply warms up differently.
The key question is just: once you get started, is she responding and enjoying herself? If she is, then she doesn’t hate sex.
Now, in this particular letter writer’s case, it doesn’t look like his wife hates sex either. It looks instead like there are reasons that sex fell off the cliff. And it’s these reasons that are important to understand.
Figure Out Why Your Wife Doesn’t Like Sex
All of us–yes, even women!–were born with a sex drive. We were created to want to make love and to experience intimacy that way. Unfortunately, that often gets short circuited, and many women “turn off”. It’s important to figure out why.
We recently conducted a survey of 20,000 women for our book The Great Sex Rescue, looking at marital and sexual satisfaction. It was one of the largest surveys that’s ever been done of its kind. And what we found was that frequency was a symptom of a problem; it was not the problem itself.
That doesn’t mean lack of sex isn’t a problem for you! Only that lack of sex is actually a sign that something else is going on. We found that when these five things are present, frequency doesn’t tend to be a problem:
The 5 Signs of a Healthy Sex Life
- High marital satisfaction
- Women frequently reach orgasm during sex
- Women feel emotionally connected to their husbands during sex
- There’s no sexual dysfunction on either side
- There’s no porn use in the marriage
Let’s look at how these five issues could impact your sex life in marriage.
Scenario 1: Relationship Issues–where your wife rejects sex because she feels distant from you
Could relationship issues be behind her feelings about sex? Do you feel like your wife hates you, or like your wife hates sex, because the two aren’t necessarily the same thing. Many men on this blog say that other than sex, the relationship is great. They’re wonderful friends. But there’s no sex. For them, read below. But if it’s more this pervasive feeling like your wife doesn’t like you and doesn’t want to be around you, then that’s a bigger problem to handle.
Sometimes the issue is broken trust. Let’s say, for instance, that you used porn and really hurt her, or you currently use porn. She’s feeling betrayed, and that porn use needs to be dealt with before you even try addressing the sex life.
Or if you’ve been fighting a lot, or just not connecting, she’s going to find her libido plummets.
Sometimes the reason marital satisfaction falls is also because too much may be on her plate. If she’s carrying the majority of the mental load; if she’s doing most of the housework and childcare, she may simply be exhausted and may rightly feel resentful.
Here’s a good test: Do you feel more able to sit down when you want to and do nothing, or leave the house when you want to, than she does?
If so, there’s likely an uneven balance in your relationship that can be building up resentment and simple physical exhaustion over time.
But there’s also good news here. If you can trace the root of the issue, then it’s actually easier to deal with, because it’s largely in your control. You can talk to her honestly, tell her you love her, show her in word and deed that you care about her. You can be a fully participating team member in the household. You can make every effort to acknowledge that you recognize the problem and that you take it seriously and that you will address it.
This may take a while for her to feel close to you again, but if you persist, it will likely get better.
Scenario 2: Your wife hates sex because sex isn’t that great for her
Imagine if every time you went to have sex with your wife, she stopped right before you finished, rolled over, and went to sleep.
And this happened night after night, year after year.
How would you feel about sex?
Now imagine that she had an amazing time before you were even really that turned on. And then nothing ever happened to get you turned on.
Most men cannot imagine sex without orgasm, but for most women, that’s the norm. We found a 47 point orgasm gap between men and women, meaning that 95% of men almost always/always reached orgasm, compared to just over 48% of women. So you may not be able to imagine sex without it feeling incredible for you, but it could be that this is your wife’s normal.
Maybe it’s not that she hates sex, but that she’s never had good sex.
Now, this isn’t necessarily your fault. We also found in our surveys that many women have trouble reaching orgasm because of the messaging that they’ve been given about sex. Many husbands would love to rock their wives’ worlds, but their wife says no. Dismantling the toxic teachings can help.
But if you have sex year after year when it does nothing for her, you solidify in her mind that sex is terrible, AND she’ll feel used.
The Orgasm Course is Here to Help You Experience Real Passion!
Figure out what's holding you back. Open the floodgates to orgasm.
Scenario 3: Physical, Psychological, or Emotional Issues She Needs Help For
Many women who hate sex do so for good reason. Maybe they were abused. Maybe they grew up in an environment where they had no control over anything, and they refuse to lose control now. Maybe they were shamed as children. In this letter writer’s case, I wonder if control issues also play a part. She had a difficult pregnancy (very scary for a woman), and now the only position she wants is the one where she is in control. She may have a few control/trust issues that she needs to work out. (she may also have postpartum pain or scar tissue that means this is the only comfortable position; I’d see a pelvic floor physiotherapist if that’s the case!).
These are deep seated issues that affect sex so much for women, because sex is an intensely personal thing for us. We’re literally letting someone else into our bodies. And our sexual response is far more in our heads than yours is. Yes, there are certain parts of our bodies that feel really good when stimulated, but they only feel good if our heads are in the game. If we don’t want to do it, we won’t feel good. We’re brain-centred rather than genitalia-centred.
If she has these issues, then, they need to be dealt with before she’ll ever be able to enjoy sex fully. She needs to get some outside help, and ideally that would involve talking to a licensed counselor.
Other women may hate sex because of sexual pain, or vaginismus.
That was a part of my story; we found in our survey that 22.6% of evangelical women experience pain, and 7% experience it to the point that penetration is difficult, if not impossible.
Imagine if, when having sex, each time you thrust it felt like someone was kicking you in the testicles. Each thrust brought immense pain. How much would you want sex?
And imagine that you were told that you had to endure this pain for the sake of your wife’s pleasure. What would that do to your attitude towards sex?
You should not be seeking pleasure from something that brings your wife pain.
If she is experiencing pain, she needs help before you think about intercourse. Encourage her to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist, because there are good treatments available.
Scenario 4: Your Wife Hates Sex but There’s No Obvious Reason
Maybe she does reach orgasm on the rare occasions that you do have sex, and you do seem to have a good marriage, but there’s nothing else you can pinpoint. There’s no porn use. She’s not in pain. Your wife has time for everything but you, and you’re feeling really neglected and really sad and rather desperate.
I think this is the most common reason, and I want to try to explain what your wife is likely feeling.
Have you ever gone grocery shopping after you’ve had a big meal? It’s actually not that easy to do. You pick up something off of the shelf, and then quite often you put it back because you can’t imagine ever eating it.
When you’re full, it’s very hard to imagine feeling hungry. Foods that would normally tempt you–say, chocolate cheesecake–just don’t seem that alluring.
Many women walk through life with that kind of feeling about sex. But how can they, if they’re not “full”, so to speak? It’s as if their libidos don’t exist.
So there you are, desperate for sex, and your wife acts like it doesn’t even exist and it’s rather distasteful. In this particular letter writer’s case, this could very well be a factor. They were having frequent sex; then they went ten months without it and she never regained her sex drive.
Because she doesn’t want sex, she’s likely perfectly able to keep going through life just as she is. That means that she doesn’t feel any urgent need to get help.
Perhaps when you talk to her about it she gets defensive and breaks down in tears right away and starts talking about how awful she is, and then you have to reassure her and you never get anywhere. That’s a very common scenario, too.
Saying something like this may help:
“Honey, I’m not going to divorce you. When you say things like that, sometimes it feels to me like you’re trying to push me away so that we don’t have to deal with this. But I really would like to.
I want to enjoy a passionate life with you, and I want that for you, too. You deserve to feel passionate and alive, and I’m worried that we’re missing out on one of the huge blessings that God has for us.
Can we talk through what might be affecting how you feel about sex? I’m willing to hear anything, even the hard stuff. And I’m willing to do the work to help make this great, even if it’s repair work that has to be done. This isn’t your problem. I’m not blaming you. This is OUR problem. Can we work on it together?
You might even offer to take intercourse off the table for 60 days, or just work on her own pleasure. Offer to see a counselor with her.
But most of all, listen. Tell her the list of five things that affect frequency and ask her which one, or ones, may be impacting her.
And reassure her that you love her, but you want something more for BOTH of you.
Do that, and hopefully you’ll get to the root of why your wife appears to hate sex.
And once you find the root, it will be so much easier to figure out a way forward!
I recently totally revamped my Boost Your Libido course, too, to help women recover a dormant libido. It’s on sale for $29 until midnight tonight! So check it out if it can help you, too!
Are you TIRED of always being too tired for sex?
Do you yearn to actually WANT to make love--and figure out what all the fuss is about?
There is a way! In this 10-module recently revamped Boost Your Libido course I take you through what libido is (it may surprise you!), what affects libido, and how we can reclaim the excitement that God made us for.
Course totally revamped in summer 2022!
I know this is a really lonely place to be.
Feeling rejected when your wife doesn’t seem to ever want sex is hard. It just is.
I just also believe that the only route forward is to figure out the root. Don’t just blame her; make this your issue together. And I hope that you can work it through and solve it!
What do you think? Any advice for men in this situation? Let’s talk in the comments!
What's Killing Women's Libido? Series
- 15 Things that Kill Libido for Women
- A Tale of Three Brains and Libido
- How Brakes and Accelerators Influence Libido
- What are Responsive vs. Spontaneous Libidos?
- Adults need bedtimes too!
- PODCAST: Have we made sex a yes space for men?
- PODCAST: What's killing women's libido?
- Don't miss our sexual confidence series, too!
Our revamped Boost Your Libido course is Live!
Get $10 off until July 5 at midnight!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
Just because you have a responsive libido doesn't mean you don't have a libido! I make this point...
Sex is supposed to be a great gift from God--and most of us would love to experience it as that...
Let's talk about what influences your felt libido--what triggers you to want sex, and what...
Welcome to the "what's killing women's libido?" series! In the month of June I want to look at...
Daniel Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Weaponizes 1 Corinthians 7 Against Women
If you think 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 is a command for women to have sex on demand with their husbands,...
What if male Christian authors are digging the very hole they're trying to climb out of--and...