Over and over again people are finding an old post of ours that has turned out to be one of our most popular. Apparently people all around the world are taking to the web in search of help for sexless marriages. “We Haven’t Had Sex in over a Year!” has been our number 1 post for several months! We receive several comments and emails every month from both husbands and wives who find themselves in sexually absent marriages. In each of these messages there are two themes that are repeated over and over again: “I’m desperate” and “My spouse doesn’t care.”
I think that many people assume a sexless marriage is just a problem for husbands. Honestly we have received emails from just as many women who express the same pain, the same sexual longing, and the same sexual desperation. That being said, this post is directed specifically at marriages where husbands are desiring for more sexual intimacy and the wife is for one reason or another, reluctant.
Fact: Married couples are not designed to go without sex for any long duration of time. God’s word is actually quite clear on this:
“Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
(1 Corinthians 7:5 NLT)
The reason for Paul’s abundant clarity in this message is probably because sexless marriages were an issue even back when he with writing. Paul says it as clear as possible; “If you stop having sex, make it only for a short period of time.”
Unfortunately, whenever sex is absent from marriage a Catch 22 quickly develops. No wife wants to feel that sex is just about a physical release, yet the more time that goes on, the more that “need” for physical release becomes a reality.
Wives, you need to recognize that sexual desperation is a real thing. Sexual desire does increase after several days without sex; it will continue to build for several weeks.
Husbands you need to fight this catch 22. Quoting scripture to your wife won’t work. Telling her you are tempted to look elsewhere for sexual release doesn’t help! Saying “I need you” is just not a turn on to low sex drive wife; she only hears “let me use you for my pleasure.”
If you feel that your wife is apathetic about sex, or more specifically about your sex life then you need to change your approach. She already knows the 1 Corinthians verse. She knows that it isn’t good for you or your marriage to not have sex. Her lack of knowledge about the need or your desire is not the issue leading to a lack of sex. You need to discover what the real issue is.
Why Doesn’t My Wife Like Sex?
There are dozens of answers to this question here are just a few:
- She doesn’t feel emotionally connected to you
- Sex is painful for her
- Sex is messy
- Sex doesn’t ever feel good to her
- She may be taking a medication which has lowered her sex drive
- She has unrealistic romantic expectations about your sex life
- She has learned to feel shameful about sex
- She has emotional effects from past sexual abuse
- She has too many other priorities that “need” to get done before she is willing to think about sex.
- She may just not really like sex, and doesn’t understand why it is important.
- She may have a hormone imbalance which is causing her low sex drive
Guy’s there are many different reasons that your wife may be refusing your sexual advances. You will never discover what your wife’s reason is by convincing her to say yes one time. You need to give up trying to get her to say yes, and instead try to discover the real reasons why she is saying no. I’m not saying that she is hiding the real reason per say, but more likely that you have not actually asked the right questions.
At OFM we often write about the strong connection that happens in a sexually intimate one flesh marriage. If you are living in a marriage where you have sex less than one time a month then you might not know this connection even exists. However, your wife still desires to have a greater connection with you, maybe not a sexual connection, but she is yearning for an increased emotional connection. In order to have a different conversation about your sex life then has happened in the last dozen arguments, you need to emphasize your desire for greater connection.
Explain that your desire is not simply about sexual release, but is a desire for your marriage. Tell her you have been struggling, but then allow her to tell you how she has been struggling. It is so easy for her struggling to be lost because she knows (at least deep down) that having a sexless marriage is a problem. It is essential that you listen to her struggles, listening is the only way to start to get at the root causes of the issue. That is the story that gets lost when you are pressing for sex. Listen. Hear.
Take another look at that only partial list of reasons that might be behind your wife’s refusals to have sex. These are not minor issues; they will not be easy to talk about. You need to be prepared to actually hear about these things. You need to be able to hear, “It’s broke and I’m not sure I ever want our sex life fixed” without going into convolutions. I’m not saying that is where the conversation ends (obviously) but unless you are prepared to have that level of conversation you are not going to uncover the core of the issue.
Coming Soon: What Next… We’ve talked now what…. We’ll give some ideas and links to resources to think about.