Help! My Husband Yells at Me When I Mention Our Lack of Sex

My husband, who I have been married to for less than two years, rarely makes love to me or shows me affection. He shouts at me when I bring the subject up and asks me if I want a divorce. I'm sure the neighborhood hears him shouting. All I want is love, affection, and some lovemaking once in a while. It makes me very insecure, and I worry that he is no longer attracted to me. He is 61 and I am 63. Help! —Losing Touch
Dear Losing Touch,

Thank you for your message and for having the courage to reach out. I’m sorry to hear that your marriage has run into some challenging times. I hope this message will prove useful and will help you find some solutions.

When partners seem to lose interest, it is natural for the other party to feel as though perhaps it has something to do with them. While that may be the case in some situations, it is not always that way. Often, it may have absolutely nothing to do with the partner.

There are many reasons people might lose interest in sexual activity—work stress, financial trouble, and physical issues are just a few possible reasons. Before assuming that your husband is no longer sexually interested in you, consider that there may be something else going on.

The first question that comes up for me is whether your husband might be experiencing some erectile dysfunction issues that may be getting in the way of his sexual interest/willingness. If that is the case, he may be embarrassed and masking it with anger. For some men, the loss of the ability (or decreased ability) to function sexually is a significant blow to their masculinity. Of course, I have no idea if this is the case, but it is worth considering. There may be any number of other causes. Sometimes, people lose interest in sexual contact with their partner if the partner changes his or her physical appearance, hurts them deeply, or if they feel somehow unsafe in the marriage. As you can see, the possibilities for why your husband may not be interested in sexual contact right now are many, and until you do some exploration, you may not have the answer you’re seeking.

My suggestion to you is that you step into a place of compassion and understanding, and with gentle curiosity ask your husband if he can set aside the anger and talk to you about what is going on.

My suggestion to you is that you step into a place of compassion and understanding, and with gentle curiosity ask your husband if he can set aside the anger and talk to you about what is going on. Let him know that you love him and want to meet him where he is but you must know what’s happening with him. Let him know that you are not judging him, not taking it personally, and simply want to understand so you can know how to proceed.

If he remains unwilling to talk, you may want to consider seeking out a therapist who can help you decide what steps to take next.

When you approach your husband, be sure to do it at a neutral time. Whatever you do, don’t approach him right after he refuses sex, because that is a high-tension time. I suggest you set a time with him, a few days or even a week in advance, when you can talk. If you both work and have stressful weeks, maybe choose a weekend time. When the time comes, sit down in a quiet place, free of distractions, and begin the discussion. If things get heated or tense, it’s always OK to take a brief “timeout” to cool down and come back to it. With a difficult topic like this one, it may take a few tries to discuss it fully, but a peaceful and satisfying resolution will be worth the effort.

However, you know your situation better than I do. The shouting you mention is concerning. If you ever feel unsafe with your husband or have any indication he could be physically violent, consider calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and/or finding a safe place to stay, at least until things calm down.

Good luck,
Lisa

Lisa Vallejos
Lisa Vallejos, PhD, LPC, specializes in existential psychology. Her primary focus is helping people to be more present in their lives, more engaged with their existence, and to face the world with courage. Lisa began her career in the mental health field working in residential treatment, community mental health centers, and with adjudicated individuals before moving into private practice. She is in the process of finishing a PhD as well as advanced training in existential-humanistic psychotherapy, and provides clinical training and supervision.
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  • Courtney

    Courtney

    September 25th, 2015 at 8:29 AM

    This can be devastating to any marriage, and especially a young one at that. Will he consider going to counseling with you?

  • Lori

    Lori

    September 25th, 2015 at 1:05 PM

    I can’t help but think that there has to be something going on that he is unwilling to talk to you about. I know that it can’t be too pleasant to think about what that could be but I know that my mind would be racing with all sorts of thoughts about what could be going on. It would be killing me as I know that it probably is with you too.

  • drew

    drew

    September 26th, 2015 at 10:54 AM

    oH MAN THIS ISN’T GOOD- HE HAS TO HAVE SOMETHING GOING ON HE’S NOT TELLING YOU ABOUT

  • Julian

    Julian

    September 27th, 2015 at 7:48 AM

    This could totally be an age thing.’Many men have a hard time with erectile dysfunction and it seems that at his age this could be what is going on but he is embarrassed to talk to you about it. So he is coping with it the only way that he knows how, which unfortunately winds up being with anger on his part and disappointment on yours.

  • Loren

    Loren

    September 28th, 2015 at 10:37 AM

    It can be hard learning to live in a marriage without sex, but there are other ways that the two of you could be intimate together without having to only have intercourse.

    It may not be what you would have thought that your life together would be but I suppose in some ways you have to accept that this is what it is and try to find a way that both of you can be happy with the arrangement.

  • Jeanette

    Jeanette

    September 29th, 2015 at 10:33 AM

    You are in the prime of your life!

    You have waaayyy too many years left for sex to no longer be a part of the equation. Yeah, he may have some stuff going on that makes him uncomfortable, but for that matter we all do and we don’t yell at other people just because we don’t feel like we want to talk about it

  • ric

    ric

    September 29th, 2015 at 2:30 PM

    From the male perspective, I say be gentle and be kind. You don’t know what he could be feeling.

  • Wendall

    Wendall

    September 30th, 2015 at 11:46 AM

    I guess that there could be lots of different things that are going on with him and that he is feeling, but yelling at my wife about her wanting to have sex? I don’t think that that is anything that I could ever see happening with us. I would be the one yelling if she didn’t want to have sex.

  • was in your shoes

    was in your shoes

    September 30th, 2015 at 4:57 PM

    Married 10 yrs to a man with no emotional abilities… physically fine but heavy emotional issues he would NOT address but would get angry and defensive and then silent and withhold communication when I stated my desire to be intimate on any level. Even just emotionally he wasn’t connected to himself thus unable to be open and authentic with me. Even in denial throughout therapy and even to this day. I divorced after 10 yrs of being a roommate only. I was dying inside from the abuse. Good luck.

  • was also in your shoes

    was also in your shoes

    October 15th, 2017 at 11:06 AM

    I note this is a two year old post but thought I’d comment anyway. For me it’s been three years without any intimacy. My husband also yells when I suggest anything intimate and blames me, bringing up issues long gone and no longer relevant. We’ve been married 30 years and it’s now time for me to seek a divorce. It’s good to try everything. We did. Thousands of hours and dollars in therapy, patience, sweet talk, romantic holidays. Honesty and freedom for him to do his thing. But nothing. I am going to have to leave quietly while he’s not home…with a note followed by a divorce petition. Otherwise the yelling may become violent. It’s cliche but there it is.

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