Physical intimacy and sex are important components of a healthy marriage. They‘re also an area that can easily break down, and even become nearly non-existent for some couples. Problems maintaining a fulfilling sex life aren’t uncommon and couples frequently seek help for dealing with them. Whether it’s a husband who’s complaining his wife won’t initiate sex, or a wife who says, "my husband won’t have sex with me," lack of intimacy in the relationship can cause big problems.
We recently had a reader write in who was experiencing precisely these kinds of issues. She said her husband had lost interest and no longer wanted to have sex with her. Below you can see her question and my answer when she wrote in and said her husband won’t have sex with her.
What Happens When One Partner Wants Sex And The Other Doesn’t
My husband won't have sex with me. We have been married almost 4 years now and he is bi-polar and a type 1 diabetic. When we were dating our relationship was top notch! We would make love and have lots of foreplay! He even made me O without even having sex. But once we moved in together things went down hill...1st I dealt with him being domestically violent and controlling but I put my foot down and said something had to change or I was gone, he got help and on bi-polar meds and he stopped being violent. Though in spite of the improvement, his interest in sex has just kept decreasing...and when we do have sex it is no foreplay or his interest literally dies...I have tried lingerie, hints, waking him up to sexual favors and even straight out saying I want you now!...sometimes I will get a 'let me take some insulin and gimme an hour' or 'I'm too busy.' I am lucky if I get it 3 times a month! Now this is hard on me because I am very sexual (only 25) and I feel he should be (only 29!!) yet foreplay is gone, I can not remember my last orgasm...and when I do get sex it is him pounding away for 1-15 minutes and then I am left wanting more and all he wants to do is return to the PC or cuddle...yet he says me playing with myself, in his words "feels like you're cheating" what am I supposed to do? I am devoted to him and refuse to cheat, yet I feel ugly and lonely when I am left feeling so much desire for him and not seeing him desire me at all...he is not cheating, but my husband won't make love to me either...any ideas what we can do?" -Ellen H.
Ellen is in a difficult position. Sadly, there are many couples who find themselves in very similar situations. When one partner is more interested in maintaining an intimate life than the other, it can change the dynamic in a relationship and lead to resentment, dissatisfaction and conflict.
Your statement that "my husband won't have sex with me" shows that complaining for more sex can come from a wife just as much as from a husband.
- We can't ignore the potential effects of the medications your husband's taking. A lot of medications lower the sex drive, so be sure to check into this as a side effect of his medications.
- Some men get a sexual-like release in other ways, such as video gaming. You mention his computer interest in "all he wants to do is return to the PC." It sounds like he's found other things that satisfy him more than sex.
- This is about much more than "my husband won't have sex with me." What else is happening here is that in this relationship one person is not being respected and loved. It's the same outcome as when he was being violent and controlling to you. So how come you haven't put your foot down on this the way you did with the domestic violence and controlling behavior?
- Get some marriage counseling help. Take this seriously, your complaining that "my husband won't make love to me" is not selfish and it's not just you wanting more sex than him. A marriage counselor can help you change what is happening in your marriage. And don't wait for your husband to be willing to go to a marriage counselor with you -- go without him.
Why Sex Is In A Relationship Is Important
Volumes have been written about the importance of sexual intimacy in a relationship. The consensus is that in order for a relationship to be happy and healthy, both partners need to feel satisfied and that their needs are being respected and met. For most people this means finding an agreeable compromise.
No two people want the same thing all the time. Understanding this in a romantic relationship is crucial. That means sometimes intimacy is just cuddling, sometimes it’s sex, and sometimes it’s agreeing that you’re both tired and you’ll have some fun another time.
The need for physical and sexual intimacy can’t be ignored. It creates a level of bonding and trust that goes beyond the day-to-day companionship. And, for most partners, sexual satisfaction is something that they enjoy and want to experience with the person that’s most important in their lives.
If the sexual intimacy in your relationship has faded, or you’re saying "my husband won’t have sex with me” then there may be issues that need to be addressed. Although it can be normal for a relationship to go through a dry spell and as we age to slow down, maintaining an intimate bond with your partner is part of what builds longevity in a relationship.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published July 18, 2010. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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