A growing number of women are confiding to their friends and counselors that their husbands are less interested in sex than they are. Their husbands are not pursuing them as actively as they had once done and in some cases, the husband is refusing to have sex with his wife. These women are sexually frustrated.
There are a number of different reasons that a man may develop a diminishing sexual appetite. I would like to offer some thoughts on a few of them.
Depression – According to the National Library of Medicine, depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another. True clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or even longer.
Depression affects our libido and should be treated by a qualified health care provider or a biblical counselor.
Drugs and alcohol – Drugs and alcohol have complicated affects on human sexuality. The short term affect usually increases sexual urges and intensifies desires but there are serious negative consequences to drugs and excessive drinking. Drugs and alcohol can severely limit sexual performance and may cause erectile and orgasm difficulties. A Christ-centered support group can play a significant role in recovery.
Pornography – One reason for a diminished sex drive is that he has already satisfied his sexual desires through pornography and masturbation. When a husband fails to initiate sex and is unwilling or unable to satisfy his wife’s desires, pornography (or an affair) is usually suspect.
Porn replaces ‘routine’ sex with fantasy sex. If you are not varying your time, location, and positions, sex could become routine. Familiarity breeds contentment, and contentment has the potential to breed boredom. Many men turn to porn as a quick-fix solution to sexual boredom. Heed the words of Proverbs 4:23 which says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Form of Punishment – I have been guilty of this. I would withhold sex from Debby as a form of punishment and it was my way of taking control of the situation. The first five years of our marriage were filled with anger, distrust, poor communication, and outrageous expectations that neither of us could fulfill. It was not uncommon for our sexual activity to reflect the atmosphere in our home—which was usually cold and brittle. We fought continually and sex was virtually non-existent.
Debby was angry, depressed and had no interest in sex. As a result, I became bitter and resentful. On numerous occasions I was so angry that she “controlled” the sex in our relationship that I promised myself I could “hold out” longer than she could. When she did (finally) want sex, I would refuse so she could see what that felt like. I thought that by holding out, I would somehow regain control and show her that I was in charge.
However, these feelings usually subsided after a few days and I began to think I’d better have sex with her at any opportunity, because the opportunities were few and far between. What we failed to realize was the depth of our communication problem. We didn’t know how to have a discussion without accusing the other of some egregious fault or getting defensive. It’s only by the grace of God we made it through those years.
To be clear, it is never appropriate to withhold sex as a form of punishment or depriving one another of pleasure. Doing so could cause one of you to lose self-control and fall into an adulterous relationship.
1 Corinthians 7:3–5 says “The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. 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.”
Now that we’ve identified some reasons why your husband may be withholding sex, I’d like to encourage you and offer these solutions.
When you and your spouse are not on the same page, it’s most likely because you haven’t clearly communicated your needs, desires, and expectations. Sex is a vital part of your marriage and when you don’t communicate well, your sex life will undoubtedly suffer.
You should first examine your heart and see if you have any unrepented sin or if you hurt him in some way. If so, you need to repent and resolve it quickly and seek forgiveness. Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.”
James 1:19 says, “…be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” With each conversation you have, listen intently to what is being said. There may be a simple misunderstanding and you may find that resolution is closer than you think.
Validate His Feelings
Everyone wants to know that he (or she) is being heard and understood. It is important to validate his feelings. If he has feelings of inadequacy, ask him questions in a gentle and non-threatening manner and try to find solutions to help him overcome his apprehensions. In some cases there may be baggage he’s carrying from a previous relationship. Perhaps he feels blame or even shame for a failed relationship.
Lovingly remind him that Christ paid the penalty for sin once and for all. He has cast our sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), so if He can let it go, certainly we should be able to as well!
Focus on Intimacy
There may be some physical or emotional barriers to sex that your husband has and you need to find a way around them. Focus on intimacy rather than intercourse and sexual release. Some men have performance anxiety and if you eliminate this fear you may be able to open the door to true intimacy.
Don’t talk about what to do in bed or the frequency of your sex, as that could put the focus back on the sexual act and not on the intimacy. When you remove the pressure of performance and you focus on your relationship, the intimacy is more easily restored and sex will most certainly follow.
Pre-heat the Oven
We use the phrase that “sex begins in the kitchen.” Now, we don’t mean this in a literal sense (although…you can use your imagination and spice things up once in a while) but the idea is that Debby usually needs to warm up for intimacy. She likes to think about it all day long and she needs me to value her throughout the day.
A man is like a microwave and a woman like an oven. Men are usually ready for sex at the drop of a hat while women typically need time to prepare emotionally. She needs to pre-heat the oven.
These are obviously stereo-typical descriptions and not the case in every relationship. If your husband isn’t aggressive in his pursuit of sex—and there is not a physical problem—it could be that he is more like an oven and needs time to prepare.
Build Your Friendship
When sex isn’t all that you think it should be, there are plenty of other ways to draw close to him. Spend time together trying new things. This may include taking walks together, trying new restaurants, a picnic in the park, etc. Snuggle together with a romantic movie and share some quiet time.
One thing that we are reminded of in our marriage is the correlation between our relationship and our intimacy. You see, the closer our relationship, the more frequent the intimacy. Many people think it is the other way around—the more sex you have, the closer your relationship will be. This is not the case at all.
Sex is a thermometer of your relationship, it is not the thermostat. Sex doesn’t dictate how good your relationship is but it does tell the temperature of it. Frequent sex will not ensure a close relationship, but a close relationship will most often produce a high level of intimacy and passion.
We place a high value on communication and expectations. When we talk things through, communicate our expectations, and then meet the expectations of one another, we are strengthening our relationship and that ensures a healthy and active intimacy.
Some couples say that the times they feel the closest to one another are when they pray together. Whether it is a Bible study, reading the Word together, or holding hands and praying in bed, you are bringing God into your relationship and making Him the foundation of your marriage.
Even if you don’t feel comfortable praying out loud with your spouse, spend time praying for him and ask God to resolve the lack of intimacy in your marriage. Sex was designed by God and He wants us to enjoy a satisfied and fulfilling marriage in every sense.
Follow these steps, and make your man feel as if he is the most important person in the entire world to you…and see how he responds!