How Come My Wife Never Initiates Sex?


    6 Min Read


    It’s not uncommon for a man to complain, “my wife never initiates sex and doesn’t seem interested,” thus propagating the stereotype that sex isn’t important to women. Among all the male vs. female stereotypes out there, those that say men want sex all the time and women can take it or leave it are some of the most common.

    While there may be some highly nuanced, buried truth to these stereotypes, it’s really not as cut and dry as all that. This is why of the many reasons couples seek counseling, often sex related problems are involved.


    Men don’t really want sex ALL the time and women want it far more often than most men realize. However, one of the contributing factors to these stereotypes is that many wives seem never to initiate sex – at least from their partner’s perspective. This leaves men feeling that even after years of marriage they still have to be the ones to pursue sex and convince their wives to be intimate. And they’re tired of it.

    After all guys, it’s a turn-on to be wanted by your partner, right? And when she comes on to you and initiates it makes you feel wanted, attractive, and like a man.


    So, why is it that your partner seems to wait for you to express interest and never takes the initiative?

    Is Initiating Sex A Men Are From Mars Vs. Women Are From Venus Thing?

    As much as we want to ignore the fact that men and women are different, the truth is they just are. And one of the differences can be the way they express and experience sexual desire.

    Men tend to be much more spontaneously interested in sex than women. For many men just the sight of his wife naked makes him think, “I want sex. Now.” Whereas a woman’s first thought at seeing her husband naked may be, “What’s the matter? Are you out of clean underwear?”

    No, this doesn’t mean women aren’t interested in sex – they are, in fact, quite interested. But women tend to be responsive rather than spontaneous, making them less likely to be the ones initiating sex. This difference in the way sexual desire is experienced can lead men to think their wife is disinterested because she never initiates sex on her own.


    So, while men may seem ready to have sex anytime it’s suggested, women often need something to respond to (other than your naked body) – like you showing interest in her. By the way, showing interest in having sex with your wife is not saying, “Hey. Wanna have sex?”

    Women respond to their partners. They want (read need in most cases) intimacy, touch, and a feeling of being desired to help inspire their sexual response. And they need to trust their partner. Of course, this isn’t always the case in every situation, but it’s largely true.

    So, you initiating sex is actually part of what’s a fairly natural progression in becoming sexually intimate for women.

    Wait – Is She Initiating Sex? Do You Recognize Her Signals?

    What many men don’t understand is that women actually initiate sex more often than they realize. Women just tend to be more subtle than men in showing their interest. Guys, this means that you need to be able to recognize the signals she gives when your wife is trying to initiate sex with you.

    Sometimes it will be a look or a light touch that she uses to show you her interest. Other times it may be comments like, “Hmmm, the kids are gone and we’re all alone,” or “I wonder what I can do with all this pent-up energy?”

    Careful though guys – does this always mean sex? Men’s expectations and misreading cues can be part of the problem too. Dr. Kurt sees these issues regularly, and he had this to say,

    A common complaint I hear from wives is that any physical affection with their husband triggers his expectation that it will lead to sex (most often, intercourse). One reason some wives don't initiate sex is because they feel there can never be any intimacy without a push from their husband for it to have to end in sex. I've found that when guys back off on that and are more open to it naturally going there, and can even be okay when it doesn't, they more often get the end result they want than they do when they're always wanting sex. Sexual intimacy is a delicate balance between the wants of both partners. And for it to be healthy and mutually satisfying requires effort, empathy, flexibility, and communication from each."

    Of course, your wife may also use other subtle signals that she’s ready to be physical. She may flirt with you, complimenting your appearance or expressing appreciation for who you are and what you contribute to the relationship. It may also be as simple as a hug that lasts a little longer than normal or wearing something sexier than she normally would in the situation.


    Many men will overlook these signals of sexual interest entirely. And while she may not be ready to go seconds after you realize what’s going on, she may be telling you she’s ready for you respond to her and begin an intimate experience. This is one of the ways your wife may be trying to initiate sex.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean that women are never direct in their interest. There are certain signals that you’ll hopefully never overlook. Inviting you into the shower with her, for instance, is not because she’s worried about your hygiene.

    Initiating Sex May Be Uncomfortable For Her

    Because most women haven’t been taught or encouraged to be sexually assertive, there may be a certain level of discomfort in making the effort. It’s also possible that she feels nervous about her body or how you’ll respond to her advances.

    Guys, you can have a big impact here.

    If you can tell that she’s showing interest, give some thought about how you’ll respond. Reacting poorly or ignoring her signals can cause her to feel unsure of herself and embarrassed. If that happens, she may withdraw and be reluctant to try it again. This could be one of the reasons your wife doesn’t initiate sex anymore.

    You can also encourage her by telling her what you like. “I love it when you touch my cheek,” “The smell of your hair is amazing,” “When you smile at me like that I have a hard time concentrating.” Things like this let her know what she might be able to use and amplify more often when it comes to initiating sex.

    It’s natural to do more of something that’s appreciated and encouraged. If you feel like your wife never initiates sex, watch closely for those signals you may be missing and take the opportunity to let her know you like what she’s doing when you see them. This will encourage her to do more of it more often.


    And as mentioned above, women are often responsive. If she feels like you find her attractive, and are turned on by her initiative, she’s far more likely to initiate sex on a regular basis because she feels like you’ll respond favorably.

    Other Ways You Can Encourage Her To Initiate More

    One of the biggest things you can do if you feel like your wife never initiates sex is to talk with her about it. Yes, talking about sex and what you desire can be awkward, but it’s crucial and can also be empowering.

    She may not know how important it is to you, and that her initiating is something that makes you feel wanted. But if you explain and make her see that you find it sexy and a turn on, she’s very likely to understand and be receptive.

    Other things that can encourage her to initiate sex more often are:

    • Taking some of the stress away. One thing women say keeps them from being as sexual as they want to be is being tired and stressed. If you can take over some of the chores or ease her load a bit then she not only will be appreciative, but she’ll also have more energy for you. This also amps up her appreciation of you and your sensitivity to her. Careful here though guys, this isn’t a quid pro quo. Changing the bed sheets doesn’t automatically mean she’s going to do anything other than sleep in them with you. So, don’t look at helping out as favor you can call in or lay a guilt trip on her if she’s not in the mood. Just know your efforts won’t go unnoticed.
    • Show her you respect and value her. If she knows you value her then she’s more likely to feel safe in your relationship. Feeling safe is a big part of trying new things and being adventurous, especially sexually.
    • Flirt. Flirting keeps the romance alive and reminds each of you that there’s sexual desire underneath all of life’s baggage. It also keeps things fun. So, flirt with her and respond when she flirts with you. This is a fun and direct way to encourage her to initiate sex and show her your interest.
    • Ask her what she wants. While we assume a lot about what women and men want when it comes to sex and initiation, the reality is that everyone’s different. Really different as a matter of fact, especially when it comes to sex. Perhaps she doesn’t initiate sex because you initiating is what turns her on. Or maybe she doesn’t think you’d be as into the things she has in mind if she were to initiate sex. No matter, it all comes back around to communication. And sometimes just the act of talking about sex is all the initiation you need.

    Most women are more interested in sex than they get credit for. A wife who never initiates sex on her own shouldn’t be looked at as disinterested the same way a man who wants to have sex with his wife frequently shouldn’t be looked at as a sex addict. Women may not show their interest the same way men do, but when you take time to understand your partner, communicate, and appreciate them you may surprised at what you get back in return.


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