5 Steps to Reviving Sexless and Sex-Starved Marriages

feet sticking out from bed sheetFor many couples, the sexual intimacy tends to wax and wane over time. I get countless couples who state they have had sex-starved or sexless marriages for years. They come to sex therapy to rebuild, but then struggle on the path to recovery.

For the purposes of this discussion, a sexless marriage is one in which sex happens 10 times a year or fewer. In these marriages, sex is so infrequent that by the time couples do have sex it can feel awkward, uncomfortable, and even involve sexual dysfunction.

Sexless marriages tend to be cyclical in nature. First, individuals wait for long periods of time between sexual encounters. During that time, pressure or tension builds between the partners. Next, individuals put higher expectations on the sexual experience. When they do have sex, something goes wrong or it just doesn’t meet expectations. This leads to both partners feeling like failures and waiting even longer before trying sex again. It’s a vicious cycle.

Relationships become sexless or sex-starved for a variety of reasons. Sometimes couples don’t intentionally set aside time to themselves as a couple. It is hard to be intimate if you don’t feel connected to your partner. Other times, an individual may develop a sexual dysfunction such as orgasmic disorder, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or pain during sex. Instead of getting treatment, the person avoids sex.

Whatever the cause, once couples get into the cycle, it can be difficult to break, especially if the cycle lasts for more than a year. After a year, couples begin to build resentments toward one another. The lack of intimacy can lead to problems in other areas of the relationship.

In sex therapy, couples learn how to rebuild their relationship over time. Couples can expect a sex therapist to assign different intimacy-building tasks to help them gain confidence and comfort within the sexual realm. Typically, sex therapy can last anywhere from six sessions to 15-plus depending on what relationship issues may also need resolution. I strongly encourage couples struggling with this issue to seek help before it is too late.

For couples who would like to prevent sexless marriages, here are a few intimacy-building tips to keep the spark in your relationship long term:

  1. Make your relationship a priority. Set aside time together alone at least three times weekly. This can include a date night, going for walks, cuddle time before bed, sharing a hobby, having a coffee together on your porch, sharing a meal, exercising together, or anything else that involves you two being alone together.
  2. Create and keep couple rituals. A couple ritual is a habit you and your partner share with one another that is unique to your relationship. A ritual can be simple or great. Examples include brushing your teeth together, watching a game show and competing for who can answer the questions first, kissing before you leave for work and once you get home, an inside joke or special language only the two of you share, etc. Develop a variety of couple rituals and keep these rituals going over the years.
  3. Intentionally and regularly put yourself in the mood for sex. People tend to wait until they feel sexy before initiating sex. The issue with this is that during different times in your life, you will have more or less desire for sex. Rather than waiting, learn what turns you on and intentionally do things to put yourself in the mood. I encourage each person in a couple to put themselves in the mood and initiate sex with their partner once every week.
  4. Flirt and keep flirting. While dating, couples are great at flirting with one another. They share sexy text messages, speak with innuendo, smile and toss their hair, dress their best, and in general try to attract their partner. Many couples get married and assume flirting is not necessary anymore. Flirting is a key component to keeping that spark flowing.
  5. Work at it. Try new things. Talk about likes and dislikes. Practice being more romantic. Be affectionate regularly. Whatever you do, understand that intimacy in long-term relationships takes work from both parties. As long as you are both committed to do that work, you’ll do just fine.

© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Angela Skurtu, MEd, LMFT, Sexuality / Sex Therapy Topic Expert Contributor

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Leeza

    May 27th, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    I know that there are many couples who find that mariage kind of erodes into something that you just are and not anything that you work at. One of the ebst lessons that my own parents ever taught me though was that they told me early on that marriage is Hard, and that it takes Work to make them happy and I am not sure that I ever really believed that because they were always so happy together but now I know why. They treated it like the job that it is. They were always doing things to burture the relationship and in the end that kind of work paid off. We had a great home, parents who were happy and loved us, and great role models who showed us by doing the things that you have to do to keep a marriage stable and secure.

  • Nan

    May 28th, 2014 at 3:41 AM

    I know that we sometimes don’t think about it but having regular sex, even when you aren’t necessarily in the mood, is so important to keeping a marriage strong and healthy. We all go through times when this is not the most important thing to us, but maintaining a strong physical romance is so imerative for maintaining a strong emotional and spiritual connection. They all go hand in hand and I am a firm believer that you don’t marry frineds for a reason. This is why you marry someone that you are attracted to on all levels.

  • Mila

    May 28th, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    It’s so easy to slip into a slump, you know, because you are so busy and have so amny other things taking up your time.

    Work, kids, sports, events… it all makes for a hectic schedule and makes it difficult to spend any good time together.

    The nest thing you know it has been weeks since you have been able to be intimate with each other or have even thought about it really and it just goes on and on.

  • Bee Jean

    May 28th, 2014 at 7:57 PM

    What about EXTERNAL factors? E.g., I cannot take birth control due to a hyper-coagulation disorder (hormones are a strict no-no), and multiple attempts to get an IUD failed due to pinpoint uterus; husband is terrified of a vasectomy but won’t wear a condom to prevent pregnancy. At age 45 I DO NOT want to become pregnant – we are STUCK. My feeling is since I have the clotting disorder & hormones & surgery are dangerous for me, he should step up but is being childishly stubborn (that has not been voiced/no accusations have been made). However, now we are at that point of long durations of time creating awkwardness (though still QUITE enjoyable when it occurs).

  • Wendy R.

    May 30th, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    He won’t wear a condom or have a vasectomy? How selfish.

  • Robby

    May 29th, 2014 at 3:41 AM

    The most obvious answer is to not let the marriage get to this stage in the firstplace, but if it does…

    You can’t ignore the situation! A major part of marriage is sex, and you can’t say that once you get started you still don’t want to continue. There can’t be that many people who start off saying that they aren’t in the mood but stay like that the whole time, not with someone that you really love and care about. It might not be what you want to do at forst but if you give yourself over to it then usually you will come around.

    The biggest thing is that you at least have to try and you have to be with a partner who is willing to try too.

  • Marie

    May 30th, 2014 at 7:36 PM

    My husband and I have had sex 2x in the last 3 1/2 years. He says he’s just not interested in sex. But he isn’t very intimate with me either. He’s a great husband and father in every other way. But if I bring up our lack of intimacy and sex he gets defensive and almost angry and says that I should focus on the positive aspects of our relationship. But I know he’s interested in sex because I see he watches porn on his smart phone just about every day. It’s been hard enough to deal with and address his rejection of me as far as sex & intimacy but he gets even more defensive & upset with me if I voice my hurt and anger about his porn habit. He actually got angry with me once for making him ” feel guilty about something that is normal”. Yes viewing porn is normal, but everyday while you won’t touch your wife? That’s not normal. I dread bringing it up again. I doubt if he would go to therapy alone or with me. I’m at wits end. We would have a fantastic marriage otherwise- he even says we have a great marriage compared to most. How do I get him to admit that he/we have a serious problem that really needs professional help. I can’t imagine divorcing especially over lack of sex. But I can’t live my life this way. I just feel so utterly worthless as a woman.

  • Mark

    November 2nd, 2014 at 11:05 PM

    I hate that we have accepted porn as “normal” because it certainly is not. It is definitely the root of your problem and I can say this because I have been addicted to porn myself. I was introduced to it at an early age and I hate it for distorting my views on sex. I would make love to my wife every night if I could but she is not interested. I don’t understand why a man wouldn’t be interested in his wife but I would certainly give him an ultimatum, me or porn. I would do anything to prove my love and commitment to my wife, I expect he should do the same. My wife also get mad at me when I try to initiate sex, but I’m not ready to give up on 11 years and a beautiful family over it yet. I’ll be praying for you, good luck and God bless!

  • Dude

    May 22nd, 2015 at 2:00 PM

    Marie. I am in exactly the same situation as you. If I didn’t have kids I would leave as I am totally frustrated but I can’t break up our family. Has your relationship got any better in the last year?

  • sarah

    July 1st, 2018 at 4:38 PM

    Hi Marie
    I am in the same position as you. I wondered how you got on? Did you manage to fix the situation?

  • Jean

    May 31st, 2014 at 5:55 AM

    I have such a great physical relationship with my husband that it is difficult to imagine being married to someone with whom I did not connect on this level. I know that there are relationships where they do not make sex with each other a priority and I think that those relationships probably have fractures in them that nothing else can repair.
    I would hope that this piece would encourage those families who are living like this to see that marriage does not and should not have to be like this, that you don’t have to stop enjoying one another physically once the marriage settles down and becomes routine. Yes there is more to a great relationship than sex but I bet that there are very few great relationships where sex isn’t a major factor in staying together and enjoying being with one another.

  • Angela Skurtu

    June 5th, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    This is an answer to Marie’s post. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to go into therapy by yourself. This will send a message to him that it is very important to you even if it isn’t to him. While porn itself it pretty common for people to use, it should not be used in place of a healthy sexual relationship. In any sexual relationship, every sexual experimentation should be a piece of the sexual puzzle, not the whole puzzle. For example, some couples like to watch porn. They sometimes will watch it together but it is not required every time they have sex. Some couples like to use restrains or do role playing. As long as this is a portion of their full sexual experience, they tend to enjoy it. Again, it is not a requirement to use restraints or role play every time. The key is to have a variety of things you enjoy both together as a couple and individually. Most importantly, you should both be happy with your sex life. If sex is a problem for one person, it is definitely a problem for the entire couple to address.

  • sali

    June 24th, 2014 at 2:18 AM


    I hate using condoms so was wondering whether there are any male lubricants one can use as a a form of contraception to avoid the risk of pregnancy please?

  • Tricia

    June 29th, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    I really like this article. I have only been with my boyfriend 5 months and I’m madly I love with him and this article pegged us. The sad thing is were not married and this is already happening to us. Because of his kids we practically live together. What I want to know is…….would it be apropriate to share this article with him?


  • Angela Skurtu

    June 30th, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    I will use this post to answer two questions at once. For SALI, there is a lubricant called Spermicide that can be used as a birth control product. It can be used on its own or with a cervical cap, but there are still some small risks for getting pregnant. I would do some research before choosing to use this method. In answer to Tricia’s question, it is perfectly fine to give your partner this article to read. However, reading the article alone may not be enough to solve the problem. If you continue to have a sex life you are unhappy with, you should be honest with your partner and ask if he is willing to get help.

  • Jeff

    October 7th, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    Our problem was that medications and stress messed up my hormones and dried up libido for years before I could get a good diagnosis and treatment. My wife took it as I wasn’t there for her and I wasn’t there for me as well . As hormone replacement started working for me though stress continues to effect me, my wife went full into menopause and thinning skin that dried up her interest and made sex painful. It’s been years and I’d love to feel that closeness again and would love to have some form of sexual relationship but I am hesitant to bring it up. When my hormones were back in gear I started I got more affectionate with her and she accused me of wanting to “use” her. I shut down and haven’t been wiling to take that risk again. We have a good marriage but I’d like something a little more physical but I feel that ship has sailed. Suggestions?

  • Angela Skurtu

    October 9th, 2014 at 9:47 AM

    Jeff, in situations like these, sometimes you have got to discuss what you would like in the relationship in the kindest way possible and ask her if she is willing to work on rebuilding the intimacy again. She needs to know how much you love her and how this part of your life used to be a very enjoyable way to show her how much you loved her. During this conversation, you can mention seeking help from a therapist. When things have gone on like this for such a long time, you often need help from an outside party. I would already have a few therapists in mind and you can find local sex therapists at the AASECT website.

  • Jeremy

    November 7th, 2014 at 8:29 AM

    Hi. My wife + I have been married 25 years, are happy but have not had sex for 10 years. She suffers with Fibromyalgia. She found sex painful as a result. My libido is/was low due to medication prescribed for mental health problems. Weeks + months have fallen into years. For 20 years we had a very regular and exploratory sex life central to our relationship. I’m not very tactile. Over the last few months my libido has returned. I do bring up our sex life. My wife isn’t comfortable talking about it and doesn’t respond to non-sexual touch in the way she did. I don’t expect our love-life to return to its previous intensity but would like to think we could cement our love in that way again. I’m very nervous now aboutbringing it up again. I don’t think she would agree to therapy. I just don’t know how to go from here. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Angela Skurtu

    November 7th, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    If sex is still painful there are new treatments available that can be very helpful. For example, seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist could help reduce or even remove any pain associated with sex. Doing this combined with a Sex Therapist would be great because the sex therapist could help you reconnect as a couple. I would do the research in your area to find these people and then bring it up with your partner in a kind way. Be willing to go to the first appointment by yourself to show your willingness to work on things. Most importantly, let her know you aren’t trying to pressure her, but you love her a great deal. Sex is one way you appreciated showing her that love. Most importantly, try not to make her feel blamed. Take ownership by saying that you too have been a culprit in letting your sex life taper off. This can help lower defenses.

  • Dave

    February 28th, 2015 at 9:34 AM

    i have been struggling to initiate intimacy with my wife for about 2 years, since i got sober. The lack of sex is now bringing our relationship and ability to be affectionate outside the bedroom to a screeching halt. It seems like low sex drive is not the problem as i am able to and, shall we say, self satisfy. But when it comes to initiating, i hit a brick wall almost every time. I can feel a crisis mounting. What can i do?

  • Liz

    June 19th, 2015 at 6:00 AM

    Older post but hoping I might get some feedback. My boyfriend and I were freiends for years (6) before we started dating, and we had a great intimate relationshipfor the 1st 18 months, then it was less frequent and noticable. I chalked it up to stress and planning to move in together at 2 years. We have a fabulous freindship and get along so well I know he cares for me, and I love him. I don’t bring it up for about a month and ultimately have a blow up/fight. We’ve been 14 months with zero sex. Neither one of us rejets it, we just don’t initiate. I’m losing hope in a recovery? any thoughts?

  • Angela Skurtu

    June 19th, 2015 at 2:06 PM

    The longer you wait to address it in therapy, the harder it will be to fix things. I would bring it up at a time when you are not angry. When people only discuss things during a fight, nothing usually happens or gets resolved. Instead, you need to talk calmly, express how much you want an intimate relationship back, and seriously consider going to a sex therapist to address it directly. It may still be salvageable at this point.

  • mike

    September 18th, 2015 at 7:03 AM

    I feel the need to share something amazing that has happened to me just in the past 3 days. It is so mind blowing, I can hardly believe it (and maybe you wont either) but it’s true and maybe this can help some of you reading this blog.
    I have been married now for 14 years to a great person. She has been a great wife and mother to our children and our life had been generally good. But the sex for almost as long as I can remember, like 10 years at least, maybe longer has not been good. We would have sex maybe twice month, with me always initiating as I do have a very strong drive. Also I will tell you (embarrassing, but what the heck, you don’t know who I am) I masturbated ALL THE TIME. OK, so nothing wrong with that right? I mean my wife certainly wasn’t satisfying me. But about a week ago I had this revelation that all of this masturbating and barely any sex with my wife was ridiculous. My wife is quite hot by the way – I’m totally attracted to her – no issues in that department. I was sort of miserable but happy to free this strong sex drive build up all at the same time. And then I got pretty emotional, I think it had something to do with all off the testosterone? I don’t know. But I did a bunch of reading online and listening to pod casts about Sex Starved Marriages, and this situation I was in, and was glad to find out that it very common. I sent some links to my wife, I think she read them, maybe just skimmed and didn’t really absorb the info.
    See the think is, the sex we had always been having was her saying, OK fine lets do it and make it fast. Made me feel like crap, but what the hell.
    Anyway, I woke up very desirous a couple days ago, and started talking to her about the problem I’m having with our relationship, it was a little tense, she maybe started to get it. We had sex, it was OK, not real great..
    Then I go to work, I’m having a lot of trouble concentrating, and getting really down on myself. I’m thinking, jeez, I am a terrible person. I am always asking for sex from my wife, she’s not interested, she must think I’m a creep, she must be totally unattracted to me, and I’m realizing that this must have made her miserable for years. So I could deal with work, I drove home, and my wife was there (she works but had the day off). I had a lot of trouble speaking with her because I was so choked up and upset, but I let it all out in a very diplomatic and sensitive way. I explained how I just felt terrible about how many years we have been together, and it must suck for her as I have this very high sex drive and she just doesn’t ever want it. And I explained how I masturbate constantly and it just isn’t that fulfilling – I was thinking I have a sex addiction with all the masturbating I was doing. I asked her a bit out of the blue if she masturbated, and she sort of went quiet, and then told me she did but didn’t want to give any details about how often. She said certainly it’s nothing like what I’m doing. I was so floored, I could not believe it, my wife actually has sexual desires and wasn’t coming to me, or letting me in.. I felt so crushed but terrible at the same time that she couldn’t enjoy that feeling with me, and I’m sitting there realizing – and I told her – I cant believe how many years we’ve wasted not being intimate. Life is short, maybe we’re not right for each other. It was so sudden that we both somehow opened up to each other about how we are feeling, and then she asked if I wanted to have sex. (That’s the first time she initiated in 5 years .. maybe longer?!) We had incredible sex – it was incredible mainly because she actually wanted it and wanted it badly. It’s just still unbelievable to me how this happened all of a sudden. it was the most deeply meaning and best feeling I may have ever had in my life. We held each other for a long time, and talked, and it was AWESOME. The next morning, as we woke up, she rolled over and touched me (I cannot remember her ever coming to my side of the bed to touch me – this was unbelievable), etc. , etc, again. Had a great day at work, got home, and she wanted to do it again. Then this morning, again she wanted to. I am so high like on heroin (not exactly sure if that’s the feeling, never actually did heroin) and I told her that, and I just want to keep on telling her how I feel about her and how great it feels that we have reconnected intimately. I never in my wildest dreams thought this could happen. I’m still thinking I may just wake up from this dream I’m having. I asked her this morning if she was like a black widow, and she’s mating with me and then is going to kill me, or if she’s just totally messing with me, or faking.
    So that’s my story. It’s been just a few days since this all happened. I never write on blogs, but just felt compelled to tell this story. I hope it can help some others. tears are welling up in my eyes as I am writing this, but I don’t care. Good luck! Open up to your spouse, take your sexual energy and use it to open the doors and talk about how you feel and how you want to be a better partner. It’s like a powerful aphrodisiac.

  • DBo

    August 21st, 2018 at 1:28 AM


  • Angela Skurtu

    September 18th, 2015 at 10:52 AM

    I wrote this blog a long time ago, but it shows how much of an issue this topic is for couples. I am happy for you Mike and I hope you both keep up the good work. As I continue working with couples, I recognize how important it is for people to put themselves out there and try again. It’s going to be awkward at first if you haven’t had sex with your spouse in a long time. I encourage you to try and have sex anyways. Work through the awkwardness until it feels natural again. A good sex life is a mixture of intentional and unintentional intimacy. When a couple has stopped having sex for a long period, they truly need to be intentional about starting it again before it will feel natural. I believe in all of you and I wish everyone who is struggling with this issue the best of luck!

  • Nathen

    April 17th, 2016 at 7:54 PM

    I don’t ever want to revive my sexless marriage. I caused the problem which I’m kind of proud off. I married her but wasn’t in love with her. Now I’m 70 totally enjoy my life. As for my wife i have no idea what she’s doing well haven’t talked for about 45 years.

  • Steve

    April 27th, 2016 at 6:04 PM

    I’ve been with my partner for 16 years sex was amazing for years,she had 3 kids from a previous realioship and we got on amazing.
    Sex is now hard to have oral sex is really good yet if I get to preform it on her 3 times a year that’s a good year and she used to love it now she won’t let me do it as she says she finds it hard to come i belive we are just like flat mates and it feels like our marriage is over.

  • Angela Skurtu

    April 28th, 2016 at 11:49 AM

    I am responding to both the previous comments. For Nathan, I think some couples are not meant to be and sometimes that is the decision a couple needs to make to be happy-divorce. There are other couples like in the case of Steve, where there was a connection at the beginning and things started to die off. For you Steve, many couples get into sexual ruts. You need to talk to her about your sex life and ask her what things would make her more interested in restarting a hot sex life. Sometimes couples need to learn about a new sexual topic together such as tantra or kink. Other couples need to talk to someone like a therapist. Some other couples may need to address a serious topic such as potential affairs. Either way, if you are trying to make a relationship work, you need to try to change things if you are unhappy.

  • Maryam

    August 16th, 2016 at 9:17 AM

    Hi! I haven’t had sex with my husband for about sex months now and i dont know how i can do that because i dont feel wanted by him and i dont feel attracted towards him, when he touches me i dont feel anything at all. Please help me.

  • Angela Skurtu

    August 16th, 2016 at 10:52 AM

    Maryam, it would be good for you to see a Sex Therapist. Desire can come back if you work at it, but it is not something that will magically come back. There are things each of you will need to do to spark your own personal desire and then interact with each other in way that helps add to the excitement. The longer you wait to address this, the harder it may be to move forward.

  • Feel lonely

    September 12th, 2016 at 8:22 AM

    My wife and children are my world. I believe my wife does love me, but exercises very little passion. She states that she is not a sexual person (although the beginning of our relationship proved otherwise), and that she feels she gets nothing from sex. As a result she avoids it and any intimacy or time together because she seems concerned that I will make an advance.
    I am very attracted to her, and completely in love with her. I honestly feel that she doesn’t feel the same. I’m concerned about our future, and feel that she is comfortable “coasting” through life for the sake of our children.
    We both recognize the problem, but I don’t know what more to do if my wife isn’t “into” me or attracted to me. I have told her that I refuse to live in a loveless marriage.
    What can I do to improve things? Suggestions?

  • Angela Skurtu

    September 12th, 2016 at 1:05 PM

    Dear Lonely: The problem sounds complex. Here is a link to my podcast and some articles I have written about the topic. therapistinstlouis.com/pages/Community_resources
    The truth is that desire is very complex, especially for women. I would encourage you to either pick up my book, read some of my articles or listen to my podcast. When I hear someone say they are not a sexual person, most likely they are not feeling their hormonal sexual desire as much anymore. This commonly happens in long term relationships. The only way to fix it is to intentionally do things to create the desire that you both agree to do. If she doesn’t get something out of sex, I would consider orgasmic disorder or a pain disorder as a potential additional problem that might be at play. The more you learn about the desire, the easier it is to create it when it feels as though it doesn’t exist anymore. The reality is that most relationships lose that hormonal or spontaneous desire after the first 2 years in the relationship. The next step is to start working at it. Of course, get into some sex therapy.

  • Rose

    September 22nd, 2016 at 11:49 AM

    I’ve been having issues with have sex with my husband from the beginning of our relationship. First it was due to pain from and iud. After having it removed it became an issue with pregnancy. Then our relationship. Eventually we separated for nearly 2 years. During that time I was raped and wasto ashamed and embarrassed to say anything to anyone about it. Eventually my husband and I got back together and sex was great. Oddly enough the rape hadn’t turned me off sex because I felt so comfortable with my husband, yet I still hadn’t told him about it either. I eventually told him but I wasn’t really ready to. Now I feel like he is secretly disgusted with me and I feel disgusted with myself and my body. On top of that our emotional intimacy is almost none existent now because we don’t spend much time together doing thins we both enjoy. I try to meet his sexual needs because I know sex makes him feel loved, but the more I do it the less I want to. On top of that I feel like I’m doing all the giving and he is doing on the taking in the relationship. I finally told him that I needed him to treat me in a way that made me feel loved and cherished, and I told him the sex was a bigger issue for me than I’ve been letting on. I know he loves me and wants to fix things but neither of us know how. The truth is that we don’t really have a lot of common ground. We are about as different as two people could possibly be. We will do thing other one wants to do but the other one never really enjoyed it and trying to find the means to try something new together is next to impossible for us. We simply don’t have the money or access to childcare. I wanted to go to therapy by the truth is the same issues are stopping me. How do we rebuild our marriage under these conditions?

  • Pam

    October 7th, 2016 at 7:08 PM

    My husband and I have been together for 27 yrs and married 24 yrs. We had a great sexlife for the first 6 yrs. However after the birth of our daughter I noticed that my husband wasnt very interested in sex anymore. The more I approached him the more defensive he became until one day he called me a whore for trying to initiate sex one night. I didn’t talk to him for 3 days. We struggled with it for a few more yrs until he called me a whore again and told me that he felt that making love to me was a job and that he already had one. I left and filed for divorce. We were apart for a little over a yr, but we reconciled and I stopped the divorce. Fast forward to current and nothing has changed. We’ve had sex only once this year and it was an utter disaster.I cried and vowed that I would NEVER beg for sex again! I finally came to the realization that I’m bitchy and cranky with him and each day I’m becoming more and more bitter towards him. I resent him and all the wasted time that I’ve put into my marriage. I asked for an open marriage and he advised that he’d divorce me if I chose to look outside of our marriage. I’ve stayed and have begged and waited for him to change or to get help. I feel so lonely, so empty and worthless as a woman now that I don’t think that I will ever over come the devistation that he has caused me emotionally. I stuff and supress any and all feelings and emotions that I have for him and now think that seperate bedrooms are best for both of us. Please help me before I decide to go looking for love in all the wrong places.

  • Pam-replay

    October 15th, 2016 at 1:40 PM

    Sorry to hear we have a similar problem with our partners, my partner is porn addicted, the problem started when we got internet, I guess your problem is the same.

  • Pam

    October 16th, 2016 at 10:41 AM

    Nope that’s not MY problem. He has zero interest in sex period.

  • Pam-replay

    October 21st, 2016 at 2:31 AM

    My partner and me have had no sex for years now, but he sneaks in to watch porn for hours after I have gone to sleep, not wanting sex with your partner is one of the biggest tells on porn addicts. Check the history on the pc and phone. If it is deleted, it is the most common signs on porn usage. Do he keep his phone private, is another sign. My partner simply digitilzed his sex-life.

  • no mo

    November 27th, 2016 at 8:45 PM

    I wish my wife had any of the desire you seem to have. I’ve had sex with her on average about 2x a year for the last several years, sans a short stint when she was taking Ambien…that got her revved up for a while. Recently found a condom and new sex toys in our old sex toy box, hoping it doesn’t mean anything!

  • Deb

    October 18th, 2016 at 11:50 PM

    My husband and I have been together total of 12 years and with in the last 2 1/2 years I have slowly gotten into feeling less sexually attracted to my husband but not in a visual level it was something else that I couldn’t point out. Well I realized that I felt a disconnection with my husband and I recently found out it’s because my husband has a very pessimistic view of our marriage and me. Now I’ve never cheated and I’ve never done anything to give him this negative view of me he just looks at everything in a negative way and this has become a huge turnoff for me but the funny thing is he still wants to have sex and I’m just not interested in having sex with him because its hard to express love to someone who thinks you don’t truly love them or have their best interest at heart.

    I don’t know how to regain that sexual connection back or to get him the see that his negative outlook on everything including me is hurtful. I just need advice on what to do because I still love my husband & I have told him that his pessimistic ways are becoming an issue and that his personality & outlook of me is starting to make me fall out of love with him.

  • Pam

    October 19th, 2016 at 7:47 PM

    Deb, I can certainly appreciate your feelings. I can say that my husband used to make me feel loved and desired but after our daughter was born he just lost ALL interest. I love my husband but his words continue to echo in my head on a daily basis. I work on it every day and I am a firm believer in talking about your feelings. How do you cope with your husband on a daily basis? I’d like to hear some coping strategies from others that have a similar situation. Thanks for commenting.

  • Feel lonely

    October 21st, 2016 at 8:39 AM

    Wow, “Deb”… if my wife would talk to me about it (without getting defensive and usually starting an argument) I wonder if that is exactly what she would say! It sounded (eerily) similar.
    I am a pretty high energy (hyper), yet a insecure person. I can see how MY behaviours might be perceived as negative (I call it a need for reassurance or cry for help lol).
    The cute pet names, cuddling, butterflies, need to be around that person all the time… I understand we all get complacent but shouldn’t we all be able to remember those times with the person we have chosen to spend our lives with???
    I often hear from my wife things like “do you know how many calories are in that?” Or “you should go to the gym more” or “I’m just not into sex” (in the first several years of our relationship we had a very active sex life). BTW, I am 188lbs and almost 6 feet tall.
    I tell her that Inam insecure and she doesn’t reassure me in many ways that I have an value to her. Her response is that I’m negative. Which came first, the chicken or the egg???

  • Deb

    October 21st, 2016 at 2:02 PM

    Pam I try to make him aware of when he is creating negativity out of nothing for example I asked him about some new electronic device that was on the kitchen island and he told me what it was and what it was for (his job) but then he went on to say “you thought I went out and spent money on a new gadget didn’t you” I said no I just didn’t know what it was that’s all and he said ” why are you talking to me in a condescending way” I told him I wasn’t and he’s taking a simple question and turning into a negative experience as if I’m attacking him, after I said that he just sat there and realized he was just doing that.

    No matter how I tell him I love him he says things like “yeah right”. I spoke with his sister and asked her how come her bother doesn’t chooses not to have friends and is so negative she said he was bullied really bad growing up and our father was a very angry and negative person. So I try to cope by knowing it’s something deeper, address the negativity when it happens, showing him the positive sides to everything, and reminding myself when speaking with him about anything to do it in specifics and not to generalize things or ask hypothetical questions so that he can’t add or read more into it to make it into a negative thing. Also we are about to start marriage counseling because it seems that he’s subconciously self sabotaging our marriage because he just thinks bad things will always happen to him.

  • Bec

    November 26th, 2016 at 11:46 PM

    We’ve been married for 17.5 years, together a year before that. My sex drive effectively shriveled up after our 1st child, almost 17 years ago. For those 17 years, I have been programming him negatively by either ignoring or rejecting his advances, or occasionally “giving in.” I acknowledge and own this. Fast forward to about 2 weeks ago. It was the week I turned 40. He expressed an interest in trying something new, which led to a frank conversation about our desire. I can’t remember what he even said, but it was like he flipped a switch. All of a sudden i wanted it. I declared 40 to be the year of “my sexual revolution,” & challenged myself to do it everyday for 7 days. I managed to get 5 out of him before he needed a break. My guess is that i am entering my “peak years” & my hormones have kick-started my libido. But I am now the one asking for it! Since then, I have spent my free time researching new and different positions, techniques, and activities. Arming myself with answers to “what do you want?” Trying to find out what he thinks is sexy (types & colors of lingerie, his fantasies, what I can do to be a better lover). And putting all of this to use, whenever he is willing.I understand, and accept, that i am to blame for his reluctance and out-of-practice-ness. What I want to know is how can I apologize and make amends for the damage i have done to him and our marriage? I am looking for real ideas to express to this incredible man that I now realize how my actions (or lack there of) have affected him and that I sincerely regret them. I can’t afford any grand gestures, and I want it to be from the heart, but I could use some suggestions to get myself started.

  • no mo

    November 27th, 2016 at 8:48 PM

    Good to hear! Maybe you could come talk to my wife :)

  • Sam

    January 30th, 2017 at 2:58 AM

    When I met my wife I knew she was The One and we got married 2 years later after a time of intense courtship, passion and adjustment. Our relationship is an intercultural one and we had to go the extra 100 miles to learn about each other beyond love and dedication. And we were rewarded with a beautiful child that still fills our lives with love and purpose.
    But my sex drive started to dwindle about the time of the birth of our child. It was a period of nesting and child care.
    My wife is a very conservative person and she would not initiate sex. Additionally my professional fortunes changed for a few years and I had great difficulties keeping the family financially afloat. With the excuse of stress, the fear of not being able to perform, the fact that I was the one expected to initiate and the different ways we felt about intimacy we fell apart and porn walked in. I am a highly educated man which has held high positions, a good external communicator, a protective family man and a dedicated father, but all that failed at home in bed. We could not sort it out. I felt more distant and she would wait for me to initiate.
    First her affairs were mental, then physical, then both. I knew something was wrong and I tracked them down and confronted both men and fought for the integrity of my family. This is when she recognized that the men she had were only abusing her situation, her mental vulnerability and her perfect body; and guilt and shame lead to self-harm. We tried counseling, which failed and a divorce and a child care battle seemed inevitable. But when our then 9 year old child told her in the face that she can go and it will stay with me she went through a dramatic self-managed change. She shook off all childhood traumas and emotional memories and became a balanced and changed and committed woman.
    During this time we had one time incredible sex. One time! It was like exorcising an evil spirit in which she was almost not herself.
    I held the family together and the wounds started to heal. We live now in a parenting happy relationship, hold hands when we go eating or shopping. She is joining me and our son during our activities. We hug, kiss and have a degree of intimacy which is more mental, but we have no sex.
    My walls still stand. Nothing has changed. I cannot initiate. She definitely will not initiate or do anything to even signal readiness. Maybe she does not want me to remember what happened a few years ago. This is sad, because she is what I want.
    But with all my love and my abilities I CANNOT initiate or even start a conversation about this… In order to function I need to be wanted and desired. And this I never felt.

  • Laurie

    March 7th, 2017 at 2:12 AM

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply Sam. I just read your story today. We’re in very similar circumstances. I am also in a mixed-cultural marriage and so there are other factors that alienate us from each other sometimes. I will take heed of your advice, it means a lot. I am sorry I don’t have any wisdom to share with you as my situation hasn’t resolved in any way, but rest assured that I understand your pain and wish you all the best in your situation. Hearing it from your side has helped me understand a bit more how it must be for my husband in terms of feeling pressure financially ect, so thank you.

  • Sam

    March 7th, 2017 at 6:43 PM

    Hi Laurie, I would not dare to give advice, simply because every situation and every individual are unique in their own many ways. Religion, social pressure and cultural heritages add to the confusion. But sexuality is the most essential primordial tool of evolution. The aim is to have as many offspring’s as possible and to secure the species. This is a basic instinct. And mother nature helps with its chemistry set of pheromones and hormonal cycles. This lasts for about 2 to 3 years. If successful and after childbirth the nesting and child care instincts take over. In the much cleverer matriarchic systems or societies most males are cut loose at this point. The way the system is set up is for males to spread as much as possible of their genome for the sake of the species; if they pass the female selection and approval criteria that is. But there is another force at work. And this drinks from an equally deep well: Love, care for each other, care for the family, mutual affection not based on worn out sexuality. And this is the situation many- like myself- find themselves in (unless they start with lovers, prostitutes or serial marriages): An emotionally close yet asexual brother -sister relationship. A man who loves his family and is working hard might well feel that he is doing enough already. The energy created through the buildup of testosterone is channeled somewhere else. Mostly these days pornography. The art is to break this development and go back to the primordial part. And sometimes it does not take much, if it is the right thing. Something new to awaken something that has been there before. Or maybe has not been there before. Something new and exciting. But what that is, everyone has to find that out and has to be willing to break their own walls of ego, shame and fear and convenience. If a woman wants a man she has to appeal to his instinct. Same as the other way round. Only the instincts are different.

  • Paul

    February 11th, 2017 at 9:07 AM

    Marriage is meant to be sexless and miserable.

  • Angela Skurtu

    February 13th, 2017 at 12:53 PM

    I hope to help every marriage I can, but there are some marriages that are unhappy and sexless. If you would like regular free tips about relationships and sex from me, check out my youtube channel here youtube.com/watch?v=HlX7pY230jU or my podcast here aboutsexpodcast.com/ . I am trying to offer free information to all. Thank you.

  • Laurie

    March 6th, 2017 at 6:25 AM

    I’ve spent some time reading this yesterday and the comments I went through this afternoon. I have had a little cry to myself.

    When I married my husband I never imagined we would be in this situation. We were so in love. I have always been more sexual than him, I love touching and kissing and general affection is more my thing. But since we had our baby, he’s been much more distant and it gets worse every year. I tried to talk to him about it. At first it was really upsetting and I would cry. He would always say he didn’t know what to do. I did understand the reasons it got like this. We have been through some trauma and we have money problems. We both work very hard.
    As time went by I got used to it. However I started having day dreams about affairs for which I end up hating myself. I want to blame him for these indulgences and I feel so angry and frustrated some days. But I know it’s not the answer though and would make my husband and me feel worse, not to mention how I could do that to our beautiful family unit.
    I don’t want to let go but I feel like I can’t cope anymore. After reading this blog I reached out to a counsellor today. My husband is not interested but I hope if he can see me taking steps on my own he will want to take action too. I am just scared we will hurt each other with our honesty.

  • Sam

    March 6th, 2017 at 8:01 PM

    Hi Laurie, You are doing the right thing but it will not be easy. The walls are high and they have been building up over many years. There is ego involved and fear. I assume it is easier for a motivated woman to take the first step because she does not have to evidence the intensity and sincerity of her libido. A man can not pretend and so – with all the piled up frustration – might be afraid of physical failure. But I always felt that a real desire in a woman is the most attractive attribute. The art will be not to give up, be creative and above all else react with an understanding smile and sexy suggestions how to overcome an initial “lack of ignition” This is of course a man’s angle and it may be classified as chauvinistic arrogance. But in an otherwise trustful relationship the woman has the easier take off position. Have courage and remember that not every moment is the right moment for discussion. But brutal honesty is the best weapon to break down the wall. A man knowing that his wife has sexual phantasies about other men will wake up. The energy that is being freed just has to be channeled in the right direction.

  • Laurie

    December 24th, 2017 at 12:15 PM

    Hi Sam, Laurie here. A few months on and things haven’t got better physically but finally my husband has recently admitted that he doesn’t feel attracted to me anymore. He says I’ve gained too much weight, though he knows this isn’t a nice thing to admit to. I still believe that there are other factors and being the way he is, he finds it hard to process his own emotional reactions, and so has embodied all that’s wrong in something physical. None-the-less we’ve agreed to try, though it’s hard because I am angry. Neither of us are the same as we were, and I feel I’ve worked so hard for my family. I feel disrespected in a major way (as you say, ego) and I wonder – if he doesn’t want me in my worst, why should they have me at my best? I also haven’t actually changed that much, not as much as other women who have had babies, so I do wonder about this. He has displayed jealousy if he thinks I’m getting too close to male friends, and strangely, this makes me hopeful. But I am close to telling him that his behaviour will drive me away if he doesn’t try to change too (it can’t be just me).

  • SalPal

    April 6th, 2017 at 3:08 PM

    My husband of 30 years has excuse under the sun to not even try. If I sallow my pride and reach out, I’m rejected. I know I’m not 20 anymore but I’m not disgusting either. We’ve never had a perfect sex life, he had some sexuality issues before we were married, and I’m pretty positive he’s had a few gay and straight affairs during our marriage (I’ve had a few straight ones myself), but we overcame all of that years ago. He does lots of very loving things outside of the bedroom as long as it doesn’t involve touching of any kind. I just don’t know it I can face the rest of my life living like room mates!

  • Helpless in Seatle

    May 2nd, 2017 at 10:46 PM

    I’ve read most of the comments here and I’m sadly relieved to find out that we’re not the only ones with this issue. We’ve been married for 13 years , have one child and stopped having sex about two years ago. Before that it was pretty irregular but there was a time where we were at it all the time. Now, we’re both in our 40’s and spend weeks away from each other for work reasons and sex has dropped off the menu completely. From my POV, I don’t even feel any sensaation from him touching me, in fact, it mostly irritates me, I feel as if I am turned off by him physically. He’s not badly overweight or anything, there just isn’t any spark there. And the funny thing is, I don’t feel that I want to go have sex with someone else, but I may sometimes feel in the mood , but that’s mostly when he’s not here. So we’re living like housemates. I know this can only go downhill from here but when I try and broach the subject with him, he turns it around on me and asks what I want to do. This pisses me off and I stop talking.

  • Gem

    May 4th, 2017 at 4:22 PM

    Me and my husband just got married with a 6th months old baby boy. We met barely 1 1/2 years ago. We had problem even when we started. He told me very frankly that he is not attracted to me. We both are perfect for each other, great friend, great partner and great parent to our lovely boy that we love the most but we just cant get over that we have no chemistry. He wanted an open relationship and asking permission just to find someone he could have sex with while he encourage me to do the same. We both are miserable but yet love each other very much. Many times we broke down and cry thinking why we have everything but no sex. This is the 2nd year we been together and I am worried how much longer we will suffer?? Our boy is just 6 mths old. He cant find me attractive which I am not to be honest ( had bariatric surgery with loose skin), and I lost all the desire to have sex. I am now totally not interested anymore maybe because of losing the confident that my partner dont find me attractive at all. Really shame and painful thinking about it and also sad seeing him suffering without sex. What should we do? Many times I tried to call a quit with our marriage but I am not that person to call quit especially we both are too attached to each other and love what we have built together.

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    May 5th, 2017 at 12:58 PM

    Hi Gem,

    Thank you for your comment. If you would like to consult with a mental health professional, please feel free to return to our homepage, https://www.goodtherapy.org/, and enter your zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area.

    Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. You are also welcome to call us for assistance finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time; our phone number is 888-563-2112 ext. 1.

    We wish you the best of luck in your journey.

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  • Anthony

    May 29th, 2017 at 8:52 PM

    Am I wrong being considerate and don’t want to take risks as it will be my VERY FIRST child and I will not take chances of hurting my unborn child by having rough sex with my girlfriend? Am I wrong being too careful not to hurt the baby since it’s already 6 months in? Am I wrong in trying not to give her the impression that I am not a sex maniac who only wants sex and not love? Now she is saying her mind is set that she has no more desire for me and feels awkward when I talk dirty to her…please help me…no matter what good I try to do, it blows up right in my face…and whatever I say to explain my concern to her, she will say it’s an excuse to cover that I have no desire for her, which is entirely NOT TRUE! I tried to cuddle her and do foreplay on her but she says she’s tired, then blames me for not having desire when I try to make love to her she brushes me away…so who is the one at fault here?! I am getting frustrated as this is a LDR (Long Distance Relationship) but we are supposed to be married this December which is just 7 months away…and she threatened to leave me as I cannot satisfy her anymore and she will find her ex that she works with EVERYDAY and said if he can satisfy her, then it’s the end for us. SOMEONE PLEASE…I NEED HELP…I NEED SOMEONE TO GUIDE ME AND TEACH ME…how do I rekindle her desire? Was I wrong to be careful with the baby in the first place? was I wrong in not wanting to give her the impression of being a sex maniac instead of a loving husband? I am loosing it…I need somebody or some people to help tell me what I can do to save my relationship with my girl…I can’t breathe right and it feels so crushing…please…advice…

  • sam

    June 1st, 2017 at 3:49 AM

    Hi Anthony.
    You seem in bad shape and this is no surprise. I guess your partner needs a real re–calibration about what love and care mean. The degree of roughness of sex is hardly a measure for the intensity of emotions. Unless she it seeing the light you might be in for a rough time. Because I doubt that she will be sharing care and custody for the child in a manner that has the least impact on the child. The thing is that this was a tough one in the making. Sooner or later, at the latest after the chemical trigger start to fade your relationship would likely have gone through a massive crisis anyway. Try to find the best solution for your unborn child and get someone to make her aware of her inner difficulties. There is a reason why a young woman would define rough sex as love. Once you find that out you might find a pass to reason. Good luck.

  • sam

    June 15th, 2017 at 6:42 PM

    This is just another life experience. After years of a sexless but otherwise warm and loving marriage with a great and beautiful woman and mother of my child I broke my own rule and walked into a nuru massage parlor. I was nervous and anything but relaxed, but that was soon to change. The girl was attractive (in the eyes of the beholder), but more than that she was funny, warm, caring, relaxed, the opposite of shy when giving or receiving pleasure and she was very intuitive. Like a good dancer. And she knew exactly what to do. In short, she was a pro. What made her a pro was not to pretend but to go with the flow, knowing or instinctively feeling that her own pleasure would be even more arousing than a perfectly performed one way service act. I had 2 fantastic hours. But I also saw the reason of why this experience cannot be replicated at home. Yes, the girl was new and therefore more exciting, but the real reason was that there were NO BARRIERS, NO HISTORY, NO CONCERNS OF HOW THIS WOULD IMPACT THE NEXT DAY, NO FEAR TO DO SOMETHING THAT WOULD NOT PLEASE, NO OBSTACLE TO ASK FOR WHAT IS PLEASING, NO MEMORY, NO FUTURE, NO QUESTIONS. I realized that these are the walls that have been built up over the years. Walls built up by the inability to match changing desires and based on the very different perception of male and female sexual expectations. Walls because of not being able to talk about it. lack of courage to try. For a wild moment I even thought that I should do it again but take my wife along? Just to break down these walls. But I know this is not possible. More than the walls would break down.

  • sam

    January 16th, 2018 at 5:53 PM

    Hi Laurie, it is hard to comment on a situation where ego, aging, frustration and jealousy are jousting with each other. Attraction is not something that can be forced. Love cannot be forced. Ego and the urge to win or conquer or subdue will have the opposite effect. In the army, in life and when sailing in heavy weather I learned that “letting go” is sometimes the best thing to avoid more resistance from building up. Sailing against storm and currents will exhaust the crew and damage the ship. You think you fight waves and wind. You see the boat moving through the water, but in reality you move backwards over ground. By letting go I do not mean to run away or give up. I mean to mentally detach to regroup. If it gets to messy at sea we drop the sea anchor and ride out the storm in deep water. When engaged in a hopeless fight we detach and regroup . Let mentally go and ask yourself with a cool detatchment what it is that makes your husband see you with jealous eyes? Is it possessiveness? Is it that you can make other man look at you with interest? Is it that he knows that he is on the edge of loosing you, of destroying the inner fabric of your family , but that he himself is not ready yet to move on in peace ( ego)? Or are it sexual fantasies about you enjoying other men more than him? Ego again, male competition… mine is bigger than yours…. OBSERVE WHAT IT IS THAT MAKES HIM REACT WITH JEALOUSY. Without understanding WHY there are no grounds for hope. It might be all for the wrong reasons. As I said, no help can be given from the outside. Detach and be self content. Do not let this erode and deteriorate yourself. Be yourself and act yourself. Observe, conclude, act.

  • Elizabeth T.

    October 15th, 2018 at 4:15 PM

    Can you please email me the article! I would like to share with my husband. We are doing coumselling now coz our marriage had hit the rocks in many feonts and the sex part in the 1st casualty. Been dead for 11/2 year. I ache over not having sex with a man sleeping next to me. We have talked but can’t seem to agree on. I hope the counselling gets us there but at the moment i feel the train is moving so slow. Could you please email me the article, I know he probably wont take any notice but I can bring this up on therapy and help us open up alittle bit more. And frankly, just feel sexy again.

  • Dave

    August 7th, 2019 at 6:57 AM

    My wife and I are both in our fifties, plenty of income that allows us Caribbean vacations every couple of years, been married for 35 years. No kids at home. She strongly resists sex unless it’s first thing Saturday morning. She never touched me any other time, kisses are always initiated by me. If I ask for sex outside our “schedule” she will usually make a face or give me the stinkeye, then grudgingly lay down for me. We don’t sleep in the same bed anymore, she’s a night owl and I have to get up to go to work. We can’t discuss the problems we have, she seems to view sex as disgusting and only something she has to do to keep the peace. I feel unloved and guilty for making her do it. Not sure what I can do to help her enjoy having sex again.

  • Janice

    August 7th, 2019 at 10:16 PM

    How do I get my significant other fo be in the mood for sex when he has absolutely no interest or desire to have sex. It’s a burden onto our marriage. I talked to him about it & even go to counseling. Doing so made it worse. What do I do?

  • Woman

    March 27th, 2021 at 9:57 AM

    I’ve been with my partner for less than three years. The first year of our relationship went fast. He persuaded me for years and as soon as we started dating I got pregnant. We had LOTS of sex before I got pregnant and maybe had sex four times my whole pregnancy. He claimed he “didn’t want to hurt the baby” but I felt it was other things especially when I found him sexting other people. After we had our son I thought things would change. Although he has regained my trust and I want to sleep with him he has little to no interest in sleeping with me. He is always happy and eager to accept pleasing him… aside from only having sex about once every two months our relationship is great. We have a beautiful family, good jobs and a nice home. I have a huge sex drive which he has somehow managed to make me mostly suppress but from time to time I still want sex. I was patient while I was pregnant I hoping things will change but they didn’t… I miss having a normal sex life… I had more sex while single then in this living relationship where I should be having regular sex… I really just don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t know how much longer I can do this..

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