Welcome back to Q&A with J. This reader’s email was longer and included some details, but I suspect several wives will relate to this wife’s feelings about sex in her marriage.
“The thought of having sex does nothing for me. It’s only when we start or get into it when I actually am ok with it or enjoy it. But up until then, it just feels like a chore…
“I just don’t know what to do. Even if I get close to being turned on or pursuing sex, I am so easily discouraged–a child who wakes up, a negative thought, a small tiny miscommunication. Why am I so sensitive to this? Why can’t I just open up and be free and realize that it’s good and almost always enjoyable? Sometimes I will think about it during the day and in a moment of being turned on I think, ‘Ok, let’s do it tonight!’ But then the night comes, he comes home, kids go to bed, and it’s the last thing I want to do or think about.
“Is something wrong with me?”
As to whether there’s something wrong with this wife, the answer is maybe. But I think there’s a lot right with this wife. She clearly wants the best for her marriage and wants to show love to her husband, but this issue is causing difficulty and heartache.
Following are a few things I want to point out.
See your doctor and explain your issues. Have your hormones, thyroid, etc. checked. If you’ve been on oral contraception, that can negatively affect your libido too. Just check everything out and see if there could be a physical component here. If there is, deal with it!
(Looking back at my no-sex-drive years, I now believe that I was dealing with low-level depression, and addressing that issue would have helped my libido.)
Your sexual past could also be a factor. Some wives can hold memories or resentments or bad teaching in our minds that then come out in unexpected ways — sometimes even years after. If you believe your history could play a part in this, you need to bring that subconscious to the forefront and tackle it head-on.
That could be simply by sorting through your feelings and thoughts on your own, seeing a counselor, working through a Christian intimacy book, studying the Word of God on the subject of sex, speaking with a mentor,…
What will work for you depends on your personality, resources, etc. Although really a combination of these would be best.
You don’t have to crave it beforehand to enjoy sex in the moment. You say, “The thought of having sex does nothing for me. It’s only when we start or get into it when I actually am ok with it or enjoy it.” That’s not so unusual. Too often, society and the media portray women’s and men’s sex drives the same; however, men have a tendency to become aroused and then engage in sexual activity, whereas women are more likely to choose to engage in sexual activity and then become aroused.
Once you recognize that, you can make that mental shift to: Okay, I don’t feel like having sex right now, but I’m going to set other things aside, get involved with my husband, and the intimate feelings will follow.
Figure out what makes sex not a chore for you. It sounds like sexual intimacy is a chore because it’s one more thing you’re expected to do. On a practical level, you need to figure out how to set your sex life up for success. That is, ask yourself what you need to be able to focus and enjoy sexual intimacy with your husband.
Do you need to take a few moments after he suggests sex to have a hot bubble bath, put on something that makes you feel beautiful, and light candles around the bedroom? Do you need to schedule sex one or two days a week, so you can mentally have time to prepare knowing it’s coming up? Do you need the grandparents to take the kids out for a night so you can have the place to yourselves (if properly motivated, perhaps he can make that happen)?
Sure, you can’t have a full-scale production every single time, but start thinking about what conditions make lovemaking more enjoyable for you and see where you can make them happen. Then you can approach sex not as something you must do, but something you look forward to doing.
You can also check out these posts on lower libido wives: For Wives: When You Don’t Desire Sex and More on Low Sex Drive Wives.
14 thoughts on “Q&A with J: When Sex Does Nothing for You”
Wow! If I didn’t know better, I’d think my wife wrote this. But I do know better because I’ve never been able to get her to read any of the marriage blogs I frequently read. Too bad. Her hubby is a blessed man that she’s even thinking about this. Now…how to get my lovely bride to read it…
I’m the same. But my wife is at least open to reading the blogs I show her. I will definitely be pushing this one her way?
I don’t know if this will help anyone, but I used to think of sex as a bit of a chore as well. I was the same way, I didn’t really get into it until after we started having sex. What really helped me was to change my own mindset about it. Instead of saying, “I have to do to this”, I started thinking, “I get to to do this”. It made a really big difference. Also, I stopped waiting to be pursued, and made up my mind that I would pursue sex with my husband more. I determined we would have sex every 2 days whether he initiated or I initiated. Basically, I put it on my calendar so that I would mentally be ready for sex. It has done amazing things for me and my marriage.
I definitely agree that hormones could be a factor. When I’m pregnant or during certain points of my cycle I am the same way. It would not bother me except that it bothers him. He wants me to be all hot and bothered going into it and when my hormones are certain levels it just doesn’t work that way for me until we get going with some foreplay. When I’m pregnant sometimes it takes lots and lots of that and I can eek out a good climax but it’s just not the same tingly ride up as when I’m not. I have found though that the less excitable times of my cycle I can usually start getting there by the mental anticipation, lighting candles, making myself feel pampered etc.
This is such a great post, J. All of the points are helpful, but I’d guess that not craving sex beforehand is huge for a lot of women. I spent a lot of years thinking something was wrong with me because of that. As you said, I think it’s due in large part to the culture presenting primarily a male perspective on sexuality. Thanks for the helpful tips.
My hubby and I have been married for nine years and were in a bit of a rough patch about a year ago that I first blamed on hormones from breastfeeding, but I finally admitted to myself that my sexual past (from high school!) was coming back to haunt me and was affecting my libido. It took me almost a year to work through my past and I wished I could talk it out with a counselor, but when married to the pastor’s son, I really wasn’t sure where to go for sex questions. (Isn’t that sad?) I feel good now–a year later–but it would have been a quicker process with help. You never know when the past may be influencing your sex life today… Even 15 years later.
I’ve been there and I am still there a lot of times. There are times my hubby feels the same way though. We have a wonderful sex life but we haven’t always. It’s taken work and a lot of learning. We both want to serve the other and we both want and enjoy sex. But with kids and work and life it can seem like another chore. We both try to respond if the other initiates but there are times it just doesn’t happen and that’s when we give each other grace. But we both experience times when the other is clearly “ready” and we are just “blah”. But 10-15 minutes (or more) of foreplay and we are both really into it. Sometimes it takes more work than other times but it’s almost always worth it for both of us. The times we are both on the same page with desire though is when we are connecting throughout the day. That is huge for us: loving text messages, kisses before leaving, praying for the other throughout their day, playful touching in the kitchen while cooking, etc. Those are the days when our drive is synced up. Hope that helps!
SO ME!!! I could have written every word! I really like your advice and my husband and I have routinely gone through “Mars and Venus in the bedroom” over the last 9 years and it has helped us. The ‘Romance’ section helps remind him that I need to be relaxed before I have sex and that men have sex to relax. I am really enjoying reading your blog!! (not sure if I can recommend a book…)
Will you be addressing the inverse problem? My brain’s all “LET’S GO!” but during the act my body frequently just goes: *apologetic shrug*. It’s frustrating both me and the hubs (though I think him to a stronger extent!).
Ooh, good one. I’ll put that question in the queue!
When you start to really understand all the benefits that it brings, and how your husband really feels about it, this may help you see it in a different light. I recently guest wrote an article for To Love Honor and Vaccum, that was entitled “When sex seems like a chore” ( http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2015/07/when-sex-seems-like-a-chore/ ) There may be some insight in there that can help you. Grace and Peace!
I went through this early in our marriage. I was abused as a child and sex was not discussed in our home…AT ALL! My husband and I had long conversations about how we could fix this. A couple of things we decided was to offer grace to each other if one of us just isn’t into the mood. If we just want to snuggle, we are honest. I have found this to be very freeing to know, that he knows, there are no expectations. In probably 80% of the time, snuggling turns into sex. I think just the idea of no expectations relaxes me. He NEVER tries to make it more than snuggling, but it just happens. Another thing, I have found, is I need music. Music relaxes me (I sang through the epidural and part of my 1st child’s birth.). I made a cd and a playlist I keep on my computer of love songs that we listened to when dating and ones that have special meaning for us now. I will play it, sometimes, during the day before he gets home from work. This gets me thinking about him and how we met, our dating years, and special memories in our life. I also agree with the post about texting, emailing, and praying for your spouse during the day. We have been married almost 22 years and our sex life is better than ever! I can’t wait to see what the next 22+ years bring 🙂
I’ve been married 29 years & often felt the same way. I resolved to work on this & the results have went beyond rekindling passion-it feels like in many ways that aspect of our marriage is fresh & new again, which is exciting since I had felt that was all over for me. Learning about how women tick made a huge difference-foreplay is crucial, & begins way before we make it to the bedroom. It is important to me to feel connected to him, so communication throughout the day is great- quick texts, phone calls when possible, etc, just to let me know he is thinking of me. It is 90% mental with me, so I think about him romantically throughout the day, plan how we can make time for each other, etc. I had major physical hurdles to overcome, so pain management was 1 of the 1st things I had to address, thru a combination of essential oils & treatment by a pain specialist (hard to feel sexy when you’re in pain!) . Extremely poor body image was another hangup, no matter how much my hubby told me he thought I was beautiful. Again, essential oils to the rescue- daily dose of Bergamot & switching to the oil blend Whisper as my perfume. That gave me the confidence to get over my negative self-image (at first the confidence wasn’t there, but it allowed me to get past the feelings of insecurity & stop focusing so much on me. The confidence quickly followed though. As I started acting differently, others reacted to me differently, & I began to relax & feel more comfortable about myself. So this change benefited me in other areas too) . We had gotten into bad habits, he’s a morning person & I’m not, with my chronic pain I had a lot of insomnia. So I determined to make myself available to him… at least trying to go to bed with him & cuddle until he fell asleep, & making it clear that I wanted him to wake me early in the am if he was in the mood. These changes not only increased opportunities for lovemaking, they quickly increased my sense of feeling close to him-I was shocked at just how far we had drifted into “comfortable” at the expense of intimacy. of course all this was accompanied by lots of communication with him about what was going on with me, & sharing with each other about desires, etc. These are just some practical tips that revolutionized my marriage. I hope they help someone else who may be struggling with similar issues. 🙂 My husband is a very godly man with a true servants heart, who has always made me feel loved, so I trust him completely, & because of that I love the idea of submitting to his leadership in all areas. We both believe the marriage bed is undefiled, & love to have fun together-even in the bedroom, lol. Those are pre-requisites to a wonderful relationship that sets the stage for great sensual fulfillment as well.
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