"My Husband Is Not Physically Attracted to Me" Mr. Marriage Counselor

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    In a perfect world, one of the pleasures of marriage is an enjoyable and active sex life. Unfortunately, if you’re a wife saying, “My husband is not physically attracted to me,” this may not be your reality.

    In my marriage counseling, I often hear women say, “My husband is not physically attracted to me,” and then ask what they can do about it. This usually goes deeper than simple physical appearance, with husbands often saying their wives are attractive women but still struggling to find themselves attracted to them.

    But why?

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    Below is a question from just such a woman and my response will follow.

    What To Do When Your Husband Isn’t Physically Attracted To You

    Reader Question:

    Help! My husband is not physically attracted to me. We've been married for 9 yrs. We basically got married only cuz I was pregnant. We didn't really love each other then, but I have grown to love him. He says he cares for me, but doesn't love me. Neither of us are happy in the marriage, but we have 3 kids and are willing to "suffer through" for the kids' sake. However, one aspect that is making it difficult for me to continue is that my husband is not physically attracted to me. We don't have sex. It's been over 3 months since we've been intimate sexually and only then b/c I initiated it and basically forced him to continue.

    I think he's just totally turned off by me and it repulses him whenever I approach the subject. It's not just intercourse I miss. It's the touching, like a hand on my shoulder, or even him touching my hair, or ANYTHING! We have tried marriage counseling. We quit going cuz either we can't afford it anymore, or he claims I need to work on "my problems" before we can work on any marriage problems. I admit I have problems that should be dealt with via counseling, but that is separate. We can work on the marriage at the same time. Any advice?" -Brianna V.

    Brianna’s very concerned that her husband isn’t physically attracted to her, but the truth is that’s probably not the biggest issue.

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    My Answer:

    "My husband is not physically attracted to me" is not an uncommon problem. Believe it or not, many spouses, both men and women, are dissatisfied with the amount or quality of sexual intimacy in their marriage.

    There can be many reasons, and it's often a combination of them, not just one, that could be causing your husband to say, "I'm not physically attracted to my wife." Here are just a few possibilities:

    1. This statement could be a cover-up for another issue that he doesn't want to admit. Some men feel inadequate sexually, have aspects about their appearance that embarrass them, or have sexual performance issues, such as erectile dysfunction. Rather than admit any of these embarrassing things, it can be easier to just blame the attractiveness of their partner.

    2. As you're experiencing, one of the needs sexually intimacy fulfills is the need to be wanted, desired. Some men use other things to get this need met besides sex. In my counseling of men I see guys use work, online gaming, social media, flirting, an affair, alcohol, even food to satisfy needs that their spouse is meant to help fulfill (Note that I said "help fulfill." A common problem is that many people have a poor self-identity and use their partner's desire for them to deal with it, which is the wrong solution to this problem).

    3. The possible influence of pornography cannot be overlooked. Many wives are either unaware of or ignore porn, and most don't realize the negative affects porn addiction can have on the sexual intimacy in their marriage. It's possible that your husband doesn't find you attractive because he has conditioned his brain to find the manufactured images in porn arousing, which by the way, no one can compete with.

    4. Think about the possible reasons why "he's just totally turned off by me." This is a hard one for all of us to do as it requires us to look in the mirror and be honest about ourselves and our behavior. What about you could be turning him off? As difficult as this can be to face, you may find some really helpful clues by answering that question honestly.

    When you feel like you're being ignored and unloved it's easy to let those frustrations turn into negative behavior that only drives your partner further away. Frustration, anger, and resentment can be expressed as nagging or the very destructive silent treatment.

    So, be careful not to dismiss working on areas you can improve upon as well.

    Although your husband's comment that you need to work on your "problems" was likely meant to deflect away from what he needs to work on, there’s truth in what he said.

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    The same applies for him as well. It’s true that sometimes partners need to work on changing themselves before they're ready and capable of making lasting changes to the relationship.

    What Else Can Contribute To Lack Of Physical Attraction

    It’s clear that Brianna’s marriage got off to a rocky start. The pressure of a baby spurred them into marriage and as a result there are probably some foundational pieces to their relationship that were missed. And there are obviously external stressors adding to their problems.

    Likely among these things are:

    • Questioning whether the marriage is a good match. Without the time to build the right kind of bond and develop the ‘spend the rest of our lives together’ feeling, it can be easy for insecurities and doubts about the stability of the relationship to arise. These can lead to physical disinterest.

    • Stress. Three children and an unstable marriage certainly sounds stressful. A big contributor to lack of physical interest, particularly for men, is stress.

    • Financial issues. Money problems contribute to stress, but exist in their own category. The fact they can’t afford additional counseling sessions and yet still have a great deal to work through can be a contributor to diminished physical interest as well.

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    What To Take Away

    Physical attraction is more complicated than simply being attractive. If you're feeling like your husband isn't attracted to you remember these things:

    • Words, actions, and behavior contribute greatly to attractiveness

    • Lack of sexual interest is about more than just physical response
    • Marital problems contribute heavily to physical intimacy

    Sexual intimacy in marriage is such a common area of heartache, and so many wives can say "my husband is not physically attracted to me." So, if this is you too, you're not alone and it is fixable.

    * This is the first article of two discussing the issues of when a husband is not physically attracted to his wife and sexual intimacy in marriage. In the second article (What's Attractive To Men?) I share the story of a couple I'm working with in marriage counseling who are also dealing with the same problem of the husband's attraction to his wife. Be sure to Sign-up for our Counseling Men Blog below and don't miss future articles.

    Got a question you'd like to Ask a Marriage Counselor? Click here to submit it and I'll try to answer it in an upcoming post. Don't forget to Sign Up for Our Blog below so you'll get my answer as soon as it's published.

    Editor's Note: This post was originally published October 24, 2010, updated on December 5, 2017, and has been updated again with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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