7 Reasons You Don’t Want Sex

Why don’t you want sex? Or why doesn’t your spouse want sex?

Many marriages struggle with that question, and the short answer is that there are good reasons why someone might not desire sex in their marriage. While your experience is individual, here are seven common reasons why a spouse doesn’t want sex.

1. You Don’t Understand Your Sexuality

You’re rarely “in the mood,” so you believe that you don’t really want sex. When in fact, your sexual interest tends to kick in after a decision to engage and/or arousal begins.

The sex cycle most experts worked with for decades stated that sexual desire preceded engagement and arousal. Thankfully, some began to question this model, noting that women in particular were more likely to respond to sexual activity rather than to seek it out. Now, we know that wives, and husbands, may be more reactive than proactive in their sexuality.

So you may rarely be in the mood, but with intention and stimulation, you can get in the mood.

You may rarely be in the mood, but with intention and stimulation, you can get in the mood. via @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

See also:
How Libido Works: For Women, That Is (guest post by Sheila Gregoire)
The Secret Sex Lives of Real Wives (guest post by Chris Taylor)
Episode 33: Getting in the Mood 2 – Sex Chat for Christian Wives

2. You’ve Been Hurt by Sex

Sexual abuse, assault, harassment, or pain are part of your history. You’re a survivor, but you carry the wounds of your experience. Your natural instinct is to protect yourself from getting hurt again, by avoiding, dissociating from, or downplaying sex.

Simple calls to forget the past and have sex now can feel dismissive or even cruel.

That’s not what I’m saying here. It’s entirely understandable why you don’t want to engage in sex, given how it’s been used to hurt you.

Yet God wants something better for you, and that means taking that first step toward healing. For your own sake. Be honest with your spouse about what happened and then seek the help you need to recover. For many, trauma counseling is key. Moving from pain to passion may be an extra tough challenge, but you’re extra tough, survivor—and worth the effort.

See also:
Sexual Mistreatment Should Have Never Happened to You!
Were You a Victim of Sexual Abuse?
Overcoming Childhood Sexual Abuse: One Powerful Story
Episode 22: Sexual Harassment #ustoo – Sex Chat for Christian Wives
Episode 64: Healing from Sexual Abuse, with Mary DeMuth
Q&A with J: “I Can’t Remember What It Feels Like to Be Aroused”

3. Your Body Isn’t Responsive

To feel sexual pleasure and engage in lovemaking, your body should capable of:

  • Sensitivity (not too much, not too little)
  • Blood flow to genitals
  • Swelling (penis or vulva)
  • Lubrication (vagina)
  • Elasticity (vagina)
  • Orgasm

If some part of your physiology doesn’t react properly, you can be unable, unwilling, or unexcited to make love.

A number of issues can get in the way of our bodies responding as they should, from chronic disease to sexual dysfunction to stress and fatigue. Knowing why your body isn’t responding is the key to figuring out what to do about it.

What you have to believe, however, is that sex is important, that it’s supposed to feel good, and that there are answers out there. Those who shrug off their physiological challenges may feel temporary relief for not having to engage, but they miss the long-term benefits of intimate lovemaking in their marriage. Choose to believe that something better is available and seek answers.

See also:
Working Through Physical Pain in the Marriage Bed (guest post from Jolene Engle)
Episode 65: Female Sexual Health – Sex Chat for Christian Wives
Q&A with J: “He Goes Hard and Then Soft”
Q&A with J: “Pain and UTIs Have Shut Down My Sex Life”
How Menopause Impacts Your Sex Life
Finding a Good Gynecologist

4. You Don’t Feel Good About Yourself

Sex is a vulnerable act, but you don’t feel good enough about yourself right now to be that vulnerable, even with your spouse. Perhaps you don’t like parts of your body, or you feel old or overweight, or you think he’s comparing you to others. You struggle with how you look or who you are right now, and those feelings don’t make you want to lay bare your body and your heart in the bedroom.

Again, the why of your current self-image matters. Are you just too hard on yourself and need to embrace more realistic standards? Did you internalize criticism from others that you need to replace with God’s truth about who you are? Have you not prioritized or practiced self-care and kindness? Has your spouse had a wandering eye, engaged in a porn habit, or made harsh comments about your appearance?

Obviously, that last example calls for more than simply improving your self-image! But whether or not your feelings are combined with other issues, take steps to embrace the beautiful person you are at this moment. Not what you will be once you “get it all together,” but the God-created handiwork you are right now.

Remember that we are told to love others as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31). It’s not only okay but good to love who you are.

See also:
Episode 17: Body Image – Sex Chat for Christian Wives
Episode 74: Getting Comfortable with Your Body – Sex Chat for Christian Wives
Feel Beautiful Series
Real Women Come in All Shapes and Sizes
Flat Chests, Body Issues, and Feeling Sexy
Tips for Confidently Baring It All for Your Hubby
Are Women Harming Male Body Image?

5. Your Pleasure Isn’t Prioritized

Lovemaking in your marriage doesn’t happen in a way that evokes feelings of excitement and satisfaction. Maybe it’s because you have too long believed the myth that sex is for him, so you’ve downplayed your own experience. Maybe you’re shy about asking for what you want. Maybe your spouse doesn’t prioritize romance or foreplay that would heighten your pleasure. Maybe it takes a long time for you to reach orgasm, and that effort doesn’t seem worth it to him, or you, or both.

Regardless, sex feels one-sided. Your spouse has a great time. You? Not so much.

Two primary aspects of God’s design for sexual intimacy in marriage are delight and mutuality. It’s supposed to feel good…for both of you. If that’s not happening in your marriage, it’s time to speak up and discuss how to make sex better for you.

Two primary aspects of God's design for sexual intimacy in marriage are delight and mutuality. It's supposed to feel good…for both of you. via @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

See also:
The #1 Myth Christian Women Learned about Sex
Does Your Husband Prioritize Your Orgasm?
Q&A with J: How Do I Get My Husband to Do What Turns Me On?
The One Sex Tip I Give Husbands Over and Over
Q&A with J: How Do I Express What I Want in Bed?
Episode 77: How to Ask for What You Want – Sex Chat for Christian Wives

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6. Your Marriage Is Troubled

Your relationship is tense, strained, or turbulent. Given your conflict, it’s difficult to be intimate with or sometimes even attracted to your spouse.

What does your marriage need? I don’t know your specifics. My own marriage struggled until I got individual therapy, began living out Christian principles in my relationship, and discovered some good marriage resources for me and my husband. Other relationships improve with one spouse finally tackling an addiction, or the other getting on antidepressants, or both pursuing couples’ counseling.

As much as I’d like to write a post that reads “This One Step Will Save Your Marriage!” I’m not so naive to think that I’m better than the God who took 66 books and thousands of years to lay out His plan.

That said, the core of God’s plan is simply love as an action. If you want to love your spouse, and yourself, take action to improve your marriage. Do something about your situation this week. And then the next week, and the next, and so on. Until one day, hopefully, like me, you find yourself in a happy marriage with a good sex life.

See also:
Are You in an Abusive or Destructive Marriage?
Change the Dysfunction in Your Marital Intimacy
How to Read a Marriage Book
The Post My Readers Wrote: “One Thought” Marriage Advice
Q&A with J: How to Handle Arguments in Your Marriage
Have You Received Bad Marriage Counseling?

7. Your Theology of Sex Is Incomplete

Some part of you still believes sex doesn’t matter all that much. Or it shouldn’t matter that much. Sex is primarily physical or at least not spiritual. It’s certainly less important than priorities like serving in church, raising your children, working your job, running your household, and nurturing your friendship.

Look, I’ll just say it: I don’t believe sex is a personal need. No one needs to have sex the way they need to breathe or eat or sleep. But is a relational need, and more importantly, it is God’s design and desire for a healthy, holy marriage. He even went so far as to say that the close, intimate relationship of a husband and wife—including physical intimacy—is a representation of the relationship He longs to have with us (Ephesians 5:31-32).

Properly perceived and experienced, sexual intimacy with your spouse—not merely sex, but the intimacy that can be had—is a foretaste of Heaven. We should not worship sex itself, but we also shouldn’t deny its powerful impact on our marriage and our understanding of the generous Father who created it.

We should not worship sex itself, but we also shouldn't deny its powerful impact on our marriage and our understanding of the generous Father who created it. via@hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Sex in marriage was God’s idea, and He stands ready to bless it.

See also:
Why Sex Should Be Hot, Holy, and Humorous
What Are the Real Purposes of Sex?
Is Refusing Sex in Marriage a Sin?
Are You Separating What God Joined Together?
Q&A with J: “Is It Okay Not to Have Sex in Marriage?”


Where are you struggling with sexual desire? Do any of these seven aspects speak to you? What steps will you take to address them?

And if you’re reading this post because your spouse forwarded it to you, they likely did so because they want genuine intimacy with you. If you’re in an abusive or destructive marriage, that’s another thing altogether. But most spouses really did marry out of love and a genuine desire to connect for a lifetime, including physical intimacy. What will you do with that knowledge?

14 thoughts on “7 Reasons You Don’t Want Sex”

  1. My husband has a physiological issue which brings him to not caring whether we do or not. It’s been throughout my whole marriage with me having an extremely high drive. Right now I feel defeated and feel like I have wasted all of my years. We have been together for 24 years and I’m getting old. I have prayed daily and have just recently changed all my prayers to “help me find contentment” I have never cheated on him because I made a commitment. God definitely had a sense of humor when he put us together. Ok, it’s obvious I am still upset that last night didn’t go well. Sorry for ranting. Take care everyone and stay safe. God bless.

  2. No, I don’t want sex, my dear,
    especially not now,
    for Death has come so very near,
    and there are yet fields to plow.
    There is a book that I must write
    for those on cancer’s road,
    to give them courage in this fight,
    and maybe ease their load,
    for what I’ve learned should not be lost,
    although my strength now fails,
    and I must pay the bitter cost,
    that sadly now entails
    a turning from the marriage bed;
    and, like yours, my eyes are red.

  3. I struggle with this so much right now. After 8 years together my desire for my wife has faded. Emotionally too things aren’t good. Makes you question a lot of things like : “Was it a mistake to get married? And if it was, do I stay? Maybe she needs to find someone who desire her as she deserves?” It’s really tough when you want to feel the desire and everything you should feel and you don’t.

    1. I’m sad that you’re in that place right now. If it’s any consolation, those questions you mention sound familiar from the time when my marriage was not good. It’s my personal belief that once married, unless there’s abuse, adultery, abandonment, or unrepentant addiction, one should give it everything they’ve got before walking away. I know how hard that is, though, when you just want the pain to stop.

      Praying that you find some answers and feel God’s comfort in the meantime.

  4. Marriage can be a struggle we get married and its exciting and new. Today’s world is making it tougher to be married. My wife and I work totally different schedules I work days she works night and after a long nights work coming home to sex is the last thing on her mind. We do manage two nights a week most of the time but after a while it get to become the dreaded R word routine. Sex within marriage is tough. It cant be one sided keep it new and refreshing try new things and be willing to explore and remember it’s not a one way street and communicate

  5. Great blog! Love is necessary but it’s not the only thing required for a successful marriage. I think sex is one of the most essential factors in a healthy marriage. I have seen couples who are not satisfied with their partner because of a health issue that affects their marriage life.

  6. Anonymous Spouse

    You could probably add poor/inadequate body hygiene as a 8th factor to why we don’t have sex. Improper wiping after number two and getting accidental bm transfers is a major turn off. Talking about it often is taboo. So we remain stuck in silence not wanting sex to maintain cleanliness and prevent spouse from being embarrassed.

  7. I fear several of these reasons are responsible for why my bride has locked me from the marriage bed. She’s perfectly content to be just friends now after 38 years of marriage. She won’t speak about it and avoids me when I raise the subject. After 13 years of a forced upon celibacy, I find I am nearly at my minds end. I am seeking counseling for my own sanity but I don’t believe intimacy is possible anymore.

  8. You are right that there are many, many reasons why a partner does not want sex. However, whatever the reason, a refuser is sinning. It has become fashionable to excuse this sin, and after over 50 years in listening to sermons, I have never heard a sermon saying that refusing sex to a spouse is sin. Perhaps it has been said, but I have never heard it.

    1. Well, here you go: Is Refusing Sex in Marriage a Sin?.

      And I would make the distinction between someone refuses from time to time or for reasons such as prior sexual abuse they need to work through and a long pattern of selfish withholding. Jesus seemed to have great compassion for those who had struggled in sin if it came from a place of hurt rather than arrogance (e.g., Samaritan woman at the well vs Pharisees).

      Also, just on a practical level, I’ve learned that simply telling people they’re sinning by withholding sex from their spouse can guilt them into duty sex, but that’s not the sexual intimacy God desires for marriage, or that most rejected spouses want. So I, and others, try to talk to the underlying reasons for rejection, help them remove the obstacles, and understand God’s far better plan—thus moving from sin to blessing.

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