It can be frustrating, confusing, and hurtful when your partner no longer seems interested in you.
However, this doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. In this post, we’ll explore reasons why there might be a sexual disconnect with your partner, as well as our top tips for what to do when your husband doesn’t want you sexually anymore.
Why doesn’t my husband want to have sex with me?
There are few things more painful than rejection, and it can be doubly painful when that rejection comes from your partner – and involves sex. If you’ve put the time and effort to create a healthy sex life and your husband doesn’t want to be intimate, it can feel like he doesn't want you.
You might even jump to conclusions and assume the worst such as "he’s lost interest in me," "he’s cheating," or "I'll have a sexless marriage." There are many reasons why a man may not initiate sex or want sex anymore in your relationship – and surprisingly, most of them have nothing to do with you!
Some of the most painful reasons that could cool a man's sex drive have nothing to do with his partner. Whenever there’s a big change in libido, it’s important to rule out medical issues before blaming yourself or suspecting him of the worst.
Low libido is a common side effect for several medical conditions, and certain medications also have sexual side effects. Other potential reasons your partner may not want to be intimate with you could include stress, mental health issues, or relationship issues. Any of these could explain your recent decline in intimacy.
Erectile dysfunction can be both a primary medical condition and also a side effect of a medical condition or medication. Erectile dysfunction, or ED, impacts men of all ages, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, as well as men with no to little health issues and men with chronic health conditions.
Types of erectile dysfunction (ED) includes inability to obtain or maintain erection, inability or difficulty with ejaculation, delayed ejaculation or premature ejaculation. Erectile dysfunction can also include painful erections, painful ejaculation, or painful penetrative sex.
Other conditions related to the male anatomy include prostate issues including prostatitis, which is an inflammation of the prostate gland. Prostatitis can occur due to bacteria infecting the prostrate due to another medical issue such as an urinary track infection.
These forms of prostatitis are often treated with medications. Prostatitis can also occur due to chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS). Unfortunately, pelvic pain is mostly associate with women and often overlooked in men.
Many men often see several medical providers and experience intense pain or discomfort before finding a medical doctor or pelvic floor specialist that understands and can help treat CPPS.
Low testosterone (low T) is another reason some men experience low sex drive or your husband avoids sex.
Low testosterone often occurs in older men though has been seen in younger men at times. Naturally, as men age, testosterone levels slowly decrease; therefore, it's common for men to experience a natural decline in sexual desire with age. Testosterone levels also have a normal range; there is a medical concern when T-levels fall outside of this range or if the testosterone levels suddenly decrease with no known cause.
Other medical conditions, such as diabetes, brain injuries or spinal cord injuries, can also impact sexual arousal and sexual desire.
The Amercian Diabetes Association states that low sexual desire is common with diabetic men and often impacts them more than their peers who don't have diabetes. Diabetes can also lower testosterone levels or damage the nerve and vascular system which is needed for erection. However, the ADA states that proper management of diabetes can improve erectile functioning.
Sex can begin either in the brain via "...psychological sexual sensations such as sexual thoughts, sights, smells, or sounds that turn you on sexually," or from stimulation of the genital area. When sexually aroused through psychological sources, the brain sends messages through the nervous system that allow for sexual desires, sexual arousal, and sexual functioning.
This source of stimulation is often easier to maintain than physical stimulation to the genital area only. Spinal cord or brain trauma or injury can create various sexual side effects depending on the severity of the injury and where in the brain or spinal cord the injury occurred.
Medications can do so much to improve and lengthen our lives, yet, they often come with tradeoffs including a lower desire for sex. Some of the most common medications known for this effect include SSRI and SNRI antidepressants, beta-blockers like atenolol, and corticosteroids, including Prednisone.
Many medications used to treat prostate conditions are also notorious for having patients not wanting sex. Medication to treat hypertension or high blood pressure can also cause ED including inability or trouble obtaining an erection.
If your husband is experiencing side effects after starting a medication, encourage him to discuss with the prescribing doctor or his pharmacist. Prescribed medication should not be stopped without medical advice to prevent any further medical conditions or side effects from occuring including fatality.
If you ask any sexual health professional, they will often tell you that stress is a top killer for one's sex life. Stress at work, in your family, or anywhere else in life can have unpredictable impacts on our well-being.
Big life changes like a new job, a move, wedding planning, or family drama can all cause stress. Stress can come from relationship problems whether in your romantic relationship, a friendship, or family relationship problems. Even minor and temporary stressors like a lack of sleep or disruption to routine can lead to a decrease in sex drive.
Stress activates our sympathetic nervous system which is our fight, flight, or freeze response. In this state, the brain is on high alert with the main goal to stay alive and healthy.
While in this state, many bodily functions significantly slow down including digestion and elimination while other functions to keep us alive activate including an increase in hearing and sight.
Optimally, when the brain realizes the threat is gone, it is able to switch back to the parasympathetic nervous system which is the rest an relax response where we are able to feel calm and resume bodily functions to keep us healthy.
However, some people never switch out of the "stay alive" system and their brain remains "on alert for a longer period of time including days to months to years. Sex is a function that often occurs in the "rest and relax" system. When one is on high alert, their brain sees no reason for sexual connection or sexual activity.
According to Drs. Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski, the main reason stress can have such damaging impact on a person is that we often don't end the stress cycle.
Doing activities to end the stress cycle, such as exercise, dancing, laughing, yelling, tells the brain that it is safe to resume normal functioning. The caveat here is that sex, is also a form of exercise! Therefore, if one can initiate sex while under stress, they are not only finding a way to end the stress cycle but they are also meeting sexual needs for himself and his partner!
Depression and anxiety
Stress is not the same as depression or anxiety, even though they often go hand-in-hand. A loss of interest in sex or low desire can be a symptom of either depression or anxiety.
Sometimes, these are just unpleasant and fleeting feelings, but in other situations, they are chronic conditions. Sometimes depression and anxiety can occur for some time after an adverse event such as witnessing or experiencing something upsetting, especially if they have intrusive thoughts of the event.
Some men also experience performance anxiety with sex. Sexual performance anxiety can occur with just one bad experience with sex. This then leads to anticipatory anxiety with the thought of sexual contact or even the possibility of sex.
Anxiety is a form of stress which activates the sympathetic nervous system leading to difficulty with sex. Depression and anxiety can be serious conditions that, when they hit a clinical threshold, justify intervention from a professional.
Even if he’s not depressed or anxious, there might be other problems in his life. If you can rule out physical and mental health issue, it might be time to critically examine your relationship and explore if the source of sexual issues stems from the relationship.
Big fights might have an impact for a long time, and even positive events, like becoming parents, could require both partners to reframe how intimacy and sex will exist in their relationship.
Perhaps the other partner (that is, you) is suffering from depression or anxiety, and this has impacted his desire for sex, or maybe neither of you is prioritizing the relationship and spending time together.
Sexual Satisfaction or Sexual Attraction
This is such a sensitive topic though a topic that must be explored and discussed. At times, some partners experience a loss of sexual satisfaction and/or a loss of sexual attraction to their current partner.
Sexual dissatisfaction can occur for many reasons including boredom with the current sexual activity in the relationship and differences of sexual desires or sexual behaviors. If you have been with your partner for several years and sexual activity remains the same, it might be time to "spice things up" a bit to add variety.
Sexual attraction, in a long term relationship or any relationship, can also change. Some people find sexual desire and arousal from an emotional connection with another person while some find sexual desire and arousal from a physical appearance of a person.
If sexual attraction is the source of a decline in your sex life, it is highly suggested that you and your husband meet with a sex therapist where you can have open and honest conversation in a supportive environment.
My husband has lost interest in me sexually:
What should I do?
If your husband is suffering from something that he’s embarrassed about, his lack of interest in sex may seem like a natural response to a combination of shame and the symptoms of a disorder.
Regardless of what kind of problem it is, few people want to have sex if they’re feeling lousy. What affects your husband will, inadvertently, affect you too.
We're now going to find strategies for what to do when husband doesn't want you sexually anymore.
Tips for how to deal when your husband doesn't want sex
It can feel gutting or like your are dying inside if your partner has lost interest in you sexually, even if the reason has nothing to do with you. You might feel ashamed, frustrated, embarrassed, angry, jealous, or insecure.
Learning the physical, emotional, or other reasons for a decline in intimacy may provide more context for your partner seeming to lose sexual interest, but knowing why it is happening versus knowing how to respond to the situation are two different things.
You might not be able to change the reasons why your husband doesn’t want sex with you, but you can control what you do in response to it.
The most important thing to do if your husband doesn't want you anymore is to validate your own feelings. This is a tough situation, so let yourself feel what you need to feel, whether it’s grief, or frustration, or embarrassment.
Take some time by yourself and work with those emotions: Draw or paint. Write in your journal. Go for a run. Give yourself what you’re not getting from your partner right now through a variety of sensory experiences.
Gather your village
Don't be afraid to lean on your support system. Your best friend exists for a time like this. Even if you don’t get into the nitty-gritty of your sex life with them, they can provide fun, distraction, and validation. A therapist can be part of this village too.
Let yourself feel sexy
If your partner doesn't want to have sex with you anymore, this could be a good occasion to do something counterintuitive: Go out for a night on the town. You don’t need to go crazy, just go out somewhere where you might meet new people:
A cocktail party, dance class, nightclub, or concert would all work well. Stay safe, and don’t do anything regrettable or outside the bounds of your relationship. The point is not to make your partner jealous, but to restore your confidence and self esteem. So let yourself feel sexy.
Many people who experience a partner’s zero interest in sex tend to blame themselves, the other person or both. The truth is never that simple, and when you’re ready, think critically about the events in the relationship and what you could have done differently – as well as what your partner did.
Don’t fixate on what you could or should have done, but instead use these thoughts to develop strategies for navigating the next challenge in your relationship.
My husband has low sexual desire:
How else can we connect?
You already know that sex is not the only way to connect. Once you’ve settled into a routine in your life and in your relationship, it can be easy to forget that you once connected with your partner in a non-sexual way. If you’re having trouble with intimacy, you can still find other ways to connect and bond.
Couples therapy is one solution, but it may not provide much time to bond or connect in a low-pressure, fun, and lighthearted way.
This could be a good time to explore hobbies and interests together, or even to try and bring back the romance from the early days of your relationship. Not everything has to be serious or heavy, either – you can have lots of fun connecting without sex.
How to bond with your partner without sex
You might find that bonding with your partner without sex can be even sexier than bonding with sex! Try some of the following strategies. Think about what drew you to your partner in the first place. What activities helped you connect with him before you had a sexual relationship?
Revisit your old haunts
This might be a good time to revisit those spots where you had your first dates. Go back to the first restaurant you ate at together, or revisit your old college bar (hey, maybe this time you won’t get carded).
Make something together
Physical contact isn't the only way to be intimate. Home or creative projects can be fun too. Take this time to finally get around to a house project you’ve wanted to do for a long time, like building a garden bed, installing that kitchen backsplash, or something else that improves the home you share together.
Do something to help the world together
Volunteer work is rewarding in many ways. What do you care about as a couple? Give some time to a cause you care about. Whether you’re cleaning up a park, feeding the hungry, or walking adoptable dogs, you can connect over making the world a better place, together, and this will rebuild your intimacy.
Have a movie night
Snuggle on the couch with some popcorn. See how many lines you’ve memorized from your favorite flicks or hug each other during scary scenes.
A fun evening like this can give you something else to focus on besides your relationship, and chances are, the problems of the characters in the movies you watch are much more serious than yours!
Learn a new language together
Rebuilding intimacy is a process. Love is a language. Why not combine the two and try the process of learning something new, like a language? Pick one that neither of you knows, or that is spoken in a place you’d love to travel to someday and try it together using Duolingo or even a formal class.
Do some of your bucket list activities
You don’t have to go on a skydiving date (unless that's your thing!), but much of our regrets come from our assumption that we will have forever to do the things that intrigue us, and the reality that we do not.
Many of the things we want to do reflect who we want to be, and our best selves, so there’s nobody better to do these things with than your partner.
You can try something new and dramatic, or just something you’ve been meaning to do but putting off, like horseback riding, or trying a new restaurant, or visiting your dad’s hundred-year-old aunt who lives two hours away.
Therapy can help your sex life
Therapy can be used for many different reasons; some come to therapy during a crisis and they need immediate resources or tools to manage the crisis.
Others come to therapy as a way to learn more about themselves and grow as a person. Couples come to therapy save their relationship or find ways to ensure their relationship continues to grow.
Individual or couples therapy can both be beneficial when experiencing sexual desire issues. Many begin to realize they are not on the same page as their partner when it comes to sex or the definition of sex.
Clients also begin to define what sex means to them and how these needs have been or have not been met in the relationship. Often times, people realize that a low sex drive is just a symptom of other mental health or relationship concerns. They then begin working to work on improving the overall health of themself and the relationship.
When looking for a sex therapist, be sure to find out their training background and how they are connected in the field. A reputable sex therapist will have extensive training in sexuality and sex therapy as well as have mentored under a seasoned sex therapist. They will also continue their training throughout their career.
The therapists at Atlanta Therapeutic Collective are either certified by The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists or are completing their training under the guidance of a certified sex therapist.
It's also important that your sex therapist has training in working with couples and relationships as this will help them understand how to support your relationship.
Many of the therapists at Atlanta Therapeutic Collective are also marriage and family therapists who have trained to work with all relationship structures including monogamy and non-monogamy.
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Contributed by Turk Al Jallah, MSW Intern and Courtney Geter, LMFT-S, CST-S