Part 1 of 2
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.
My Answer: "My husband is not physically attracted to me." Believe it or not, I hear this from wives pretty regularly. Many spouses, both men and women, are dissatisfied with the amount or quality of sexual intimacy in their marriage.
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.
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 couple possibilities:
- 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 blame the attractiveness of their partner.
- 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 men I see guys use work, online gaming, Facebook, 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).
- 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 of 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.
- 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.
Be careful not to dismiss working on areas you can improve on. Although your husband's comment that you need to work on your "problems" likely was meant to deflect away from what he needs to work on and the relationship, there is truth in what he said. However, the same applies for him as well. It is true that sometimes partners need to work on changing themselves before they're ready and capable of making lasting change to the relationship.
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," that I'm going to write another article about this problem. In the upcoming post, I'll share the story of a couple I work with in marriage counseling who are also dealing with the problem "my husband is not physically attracted to me."
-Kurt Smith, Marriage Counselor
* 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'll share the story of a couple I work with in marriage counseling who are also dealing with the problem "my husband is not physically attracted to me." Be sure to Sign-up for our Counseling Men Blog below and don't miss the next article.
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Editor's Note: This post was originally published October 24, 2010 and has been updated with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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