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What to do when spouse has no sexual desire and refuses to do anything ...
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What to do when spouse has no sexual desire and refuses to do anything about it

My wife and I have been married for almost 27 years. We've raised three wonderful kids together (all grown now). We each have high-paying and satisfying jobs. We get along great, have lots of laughs together, and enjoy each other's company. We both stay fit and trim. I think she's hot as hell and I'm sure she'd say the same about me... but there's one big problem -- she has NO interest in a sexual relationship. This went out the window about 15 years ago. We've been through the same cycle about 1000 times now: We have no sex for a month or two, I get progressively more aggressive with my advances until everything comes to a head (so-to-speak). She usually succumbs only after a great deal of failed romantic overtures, pleading and then complaining, We then repeat the cycle. I've warned her many times that I can't go on like this and asked her to please help me come up with a solution. I've suggested many things but they all seem to falls deaf ears. She's been to doctors who tell her there's nothing they can do. I'm at a loss. At what point is it justifiable for me to find a "girlfriend?" I've warned her that this is my next step but she doesn't believe me. Please help! I'm desparate!
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523042_tn?1212181495
Hi Jeff.

You're asking me to help with your partner's lack of desire, and I can't change anything for her. If this is an important issue for her, I'm wondering why SHE isn't writing to me. Perhaps she's just as frightened, frustrated and upset as you, but doesn't know where to turn.

Sexual desire is a very tenuous thing: it can come and go many times. You can't change/fix her unless she's unhappy with the situation too. Your first step is to ask her how she feels. Has it occurred to you that she may have some issues with your relationship as well? Perhaps she's bored, but doesn't know how to express herself or is holding back for fear of hurting your feelings (fairly common among women).

Ask yourself what changed since you first met. If she were writing to med, I’d ask her the following: Do you think about sex—not with him, but with others? Do you daydream about sex with celebrities, etc.? Do you self-pleasure? Have sexy dreams? If so, that would indicate that you’re interested in sex, but you’re not interested in sex with your partner. This could be an indicator that it’s the relationship that’s problematic, not sex in and of itself.

On the other hand, if she DOESN’T think about sex ever, if it’s not a priority for her, then she may be repressing sexual feelings, or she’s just not that interested in sex. We all go through periods in our life when our sexual interests fluctuate—just like our interests in other aspects of life.

It’s also possible that, for some reason, she’s no longer turned on to you. And, of course, many other factors can influence desire. Is she content with herself, with her life, with your relationship? Are there any family or work crises? And how’s her physical health? There are numerous medical conditions that can also contribute to lack of desire.

Is she anxious? If she’s feeling anxious or unsure of herself, her desire for sex will be affected. Or she may have conflicting feelings about being sexual, based on earlier issues in your life. Or she may actually FEEL desire, but suppress it, due to feeling conflicted. Are you aware of any reasons she may have for avoiding sex with you?

Other reasons she might not be turned on: If she’s worried about pleasing you, rather than just enjoying pleasure, this can be a turn-off. The other message that many of us receive is that sex is somehow dirty and wrong, unless you’re doing it for reproductive purposes. Sometimes this can creep into our unconscious thoughts and sabotage any pleasure.

And, of course, there’s the whole issue of YOUR attitudes and behaviors and whether any of those are affecting her desire. Is sex mostly about YOUR pleasure rather than hers? Or does she feel that sex is about satisfying you rather than herself?

You asked, so I’m telling you. Realize that I’m not accusing you of anything, merely bringing up all the possibilities.

So, to recap: she may have negative attitudes about sex in general, or may have performance issues or be bored or frustrated. Think about the issues I’ve raised and see if any resonate. Remember not to put pressure on her. I’m wondering what YOU think is contributing to this. You’ve probably got more insight than you realize.

Having said that, let me also say that it's fruitless to speculate because there are a zillion reasons why peoples' sexual desire diminishes--way too many to list here.

You've told her how you feel, and now it's time to hear from her. Sit back, relax and don't be defensive. LISTEN. If you truly love her, you’ll be willing to spend some time listening to her.

Hopefully, the two of you will decide to see a therapist trained to help people talk about their sexual issues. That would be a constructive next step. Best of luck to you. Dr. J
6 Comments
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580755_tn?1357673215
Cheating is never the answer.
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Avatar_f_tn
Remember one thing your vowes for better or for worse.  Yes this is the worst.  But trust me it will only be worse with a girlfriend.  You will destroy your wife emotionally maybe even physically if you do this.  I think there is hope.
  As a woman there are only a few things that decrease the sex drive.  It can be a physically thing but if doctors dont see a problem then I think it is emotional.  I know as a wife that if i have been hurt by my husband or feel a lack of love I feel disconnected from him and I dont want to have sex with him.  I suggest finding the root of the issue she may not even remember why she feels disconnected from you sexually but you have the power to reconnect.  I can tell you that telling her you will get a girlfriend is only going to hurt her and cause her to disconnect even more.  Ask her if you have hurt her or if she is mad at you. Try to find the real issue and try to romance her alittle.  Take her to dinner, hold her without expecting sex, buy her a flower, let her know how much you love her.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for the input Vance and Lovely. But to be honest, I think I expected a little more sympathy! I've tried everything you suggested but in the meantime I'm pushing 50 and see my life slowly passing me by. I feel that my best (sexual) years are behind me and I feel resentful that this has happened. I almost feel used! It's as if my wife finds me handy and amusing but has no use for anything intimate or romantic. Even though she knows how important this is to me, she'd rather put her head in the sand and pretend the problem doesn't exist. Granted, she does accept my advances on rare occasions (maybe once every two months) but even then I'm lucky to get "her hand" (TMI?).

The reason for my post was out of frustration. Could you please read it again and this time assume that I'm not exagerating. There is no hope. I really DO do all the right things: I'm romantic, generous, thoughtful, helpful, nice, a good listener, a good provider, and not to mention, decent looking!. She REALLY, REALLY has no interest in sex. Not with me. Not with anyone. Not under any circumstances. I know she loves me but what's confusing is why she feels no obligation to find a solution to this problem. There are so many things she could do but instead chooses the head-in-the-sand option. So again I ask, at what point do I search for other options? Based on your initial responses, I suspect you might say there are no other options.
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Avatar_m_tn
Dr. Epp,

We posted at almost the same time! I'll happily respond to your comments. First of all my wife would never consult you because she simply has no interest in sex. Not with me or anyone. I will admit that I can sometimes generate a spark of interest but only after weeks of trying. It's as if she has the sexual desire of a 90 year old woman.

You say that the first step is to ask her how she feels. I've done that so many times it's awkward. Perhaps I should bring her into the conversation. Would that be okay?

What has changed since we first met? Wow! We were teenagers then and are pushing 50 now. What hasn't changed??? Ha Ha! As I said in my last post, she has no interest in sex with me or anyone -- at least not to my knowledge. But don't think I haven't asked!! I've even suggested that maybe she has switched "teams" and doesn't want to admit it. Is this possible?

Is she content with me? herself? her job? etc.? Yes, yes, yes, etc. (as far as I know). Like I've said before, we love spending time together, have lots of laughs, share interests, etc. She just has no interest in sex.

While fishing for possible reasons for her lack of desire, one thing did occur to me. She ALWAYS thinks she's fat! Which is ridiculous! She's about 5'7" and no more that 120 lbs. This irritates me because it sounds like an excuse. And YES... I ALWAYS tell her how awesome she looks and that she is NOT fat! Maybe this is a female thing but I couldn't imagine suppressing my sexual needs simply because I felt fat! Sounds silly to me! Ha Ha!

Thanks for your help!
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523042_tn?1212181495
Hi.

All I know is what YOU'RE telling me about your wife, which may or may not be true, since it's only your perspective. Without hearing from her, I don't know WHY she's not interested in sex, and I don't even know that she actually ISN'T.

About her feeling fat: she may have an inaccurate view of her body. Some women have severe body image issues related to buying into some impossible standard of beauty. This implies rigidity of thought. Such rigidity can affect sexuality in a myriad of ways.

Next step: ask her to post to me. Or seek a counselor as last resort. Dr. J
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