My wife loves me but doesn’t desire me.
I’m currently drinking a well-aged bourbon and sitting here mulling over the past two years.
How did things go so sideways and when did my life become like an unsolvable Rubik’s cube.
I thought by now I’d have the marriage thing figured out. I really thought I did for a while there, to be honest.
But my hubris caught up with me and some days I feel like a confused high schooler trying to decode mixed signals from his crush.
Except they’re from my wife.
Here’s what I know:
She still loves me and I am certain she’s faithful to me.
But she doesn’t want to have sex any more and kisses me on the cheek like I’m an old college friend. Why?
I’ve lit up my detective pipe and gone on an investigation. Here’s what I discovered:
10 reasons why my wife loves me but doesn’t desire me
1) She’s too stressed for sex
In my opinion, sex can be a brilliant way to bust stress.
But for my wife — and many women — it works a little differently. Sex is something for relaxed moments when she’s not preoccupied with other things.
Well, I know lately that my wife has become more and more wrapped up in some family issues going on with her brother and issues with her job. It’s unfortunate but it is what it is.
The stress of her life is overshadowing intimacy with me and therefore when she brushes aside my attempts to get things moving, it can be quite rough.
I have definitely taken it personally but looking at it now objectively, I think there’s definitely some stress in her life that is making her put sex and intimacy to the side.
It isn’t so much that she doesn’t want me, it’s that she doesn’t want intimacy at all right now.
Which is still a problem. For me, at least.
2) Our masculine-feminine polarity is skewed
I know that in our day and age traditional gender roles have become pretty unpopular.
If you even bring it up then a lot of people think it’s about pushing women to stay in the kitchen and expecting men to never cry.
But it isn’t about that at all, really, at least not for me.
Since coming across the work of relationship author and psychologist James Bauer, I was blown away by his theory of the hero instinct.
It’s this in-built need men have to feel like a provider and protector as this video explains.
I know that my wife needing me has always turned me on. The thing is, it goes the other way around too.
As bad as it might sound, my wife has become too cold, aggressive, and “masculine”. I’m still highly physically attracted to her but I find her energy offputting.
I don’t find it feminine. It’s all part of an observable pattern of women becoming more like men, and it isn’t really my cup of tea.
Relationship author David Deida writes a lot about masculine and feminine.
Our modern culture’s quest for so-called “equality” has caused many men to become more like women and vice-versa.
Despite whatever benefits some feel this may bring, it’s also a mega attraction killer. Women want their man to be strong and dominant in a natural, generous way.
“The way a man penetrates the world should be the same way he penetrates his woman: not merely for personal gain or pleasure, but to magnify love, openness, and depth.”
3) She’s trying to use sex as a bargaining chip
The majority of articles I read during my research on this topic focused on the man.
What’s not good enough about him, what he can do better, why he’s mistaken or wrong, and so on.
I don’t know if that’s because they’re mostly written by women who are mad at their hubby or if it’s husbands trying to take all the heat so their wife will let them back in her good graces.
Personally, I find that a bit shortsighted to put all the burden of a sexless marriage on the man, so I wanted to make this article a bit more realistic and balanced.
Like it or not, sometimes women (and men) do use sex as a bargaining chip.
This is especially true when one partner is more into it than the other. In at least a few situations, I’m quite sure my wife was doing that.
“Let me be clear: no one should never ever feel compelled to engage in any sexual activity. Forced sex in a marriage is still rape. Nobody “owes” anyone sex,” explains Her View From Home, “but for me, holding sex over your partner’s head, using your body as a bribe for “better behavior,” is as about as cruel a thing as one can do.”
4) She finds me to be a selfish lover
There’s always the other side of the coin, too. Sometimes the man really is doing things that are turning off his lady.
I’m not always the most considerate lover.
I’m not saying I lie back like a human starfish and let her do all the work but I’m not exactly vocal about what I like and I do tend to prefer to receive oral than give it, for example.
And my wife just so happens to be a big fan of oral.
Too much information?
Anyway…I think that part of her getting turned off definitely could be some of my selfish behavior that rubbed her the wrong way.
But now that I’m more conscious of it, I can say I’m changing my whole attitude and next time she’ll find that I’m very focused on her pleasure, too.
5) She’s got other priorities
My wife has stressors in her life that are bringing her down and taking up her attention. I know that for sure. But she also has other priorities in general.
One is her health and fitness, something she is absolutely dead-on serious about.
She’d much rather go out for an hour jog than spend some quality time making love with me. And I gotta say, that hurts and it brings down my self-esteem.
I’ve never really thought about being unfaithful but I definitely remember a lot of nights sort of thinking “is this what I signed up for?” and feeling really neglected.
My wife has zero obligation to sexually satisfy me. I’m not being a caveman here.
I’m just saying it would be nice if she ever got as excited about a long weekend with the two of us alone in a cabin by the lake (that I took her on a few months ago) as she does about buying a new pair of running shoes.
6) She’s bored of our sex life
I read some good pointers here from Pamela Satran, including trying out “a whole variety of activities, such as taking a shower together, trading massages and necking like eighth-graders.”
My wife does have nice lips.
Also, Satran advises “talking about your sexual fantasies, without pressure from either side to actually carry them out, can create a sense of newness in a marriage.”
I’m a pretty meat and potatoes kind of guy but I do have a few fantasies that would probably make my wife blush if I talked about them in detail.
Positions, activities outdoors, fun with friends…well I don’t want to shock you, either, but you get the idea…
I know that Helen has her kinky side too and that somewhere under that cold demeanor it’s hiding there and waiting to burst out full of passion as well.
Somewhere along the line some of the physical passion faded out. But I know that from my side, I’m still feeling some…pretty strong hormonal urges if you want to call it that.
Now if we can just invite my wife to start feeling more of those hormonal urges too then we will be back in the saddle.
7) She’s going through physical changes
After women give birth, they often experience a strong decline in libido.
Menopause and hormonal changes can also put a stop to their inner desires.
I know that Helen’s gone for a few checkups and vaguely mentioned some hormonal thing, but as a guy and someone who respects her privacy, I didn’t pry…
Should I have pried?
The way I see it she’ll tell me if and when she wants to.
The issue is just that, I’m here on the fence about whether to be more open about my desire for our physical intimacy to come back or whether to keep things low-key and let her come back to it on her own.
I’m just not sure how to tackle it but I know that physical changes and hormonal things can be a big reason women lose interest in sex sometimes.
8) She’s upset over unresolved issues in our marriage
My wife still loves me. Thank God that’s one area where I’m not insecure.
Her smiles are still genuine and she hugs me for real when she asks how my day went. Even if her behavior has gotten a bit cold and stressed, I can tell I’m still her guy.
Like I guess most couples, we’ve had issues. Some more serious than others. And I’m pretty sure I “flubbed the test” on a couple of them.
Without digging up the past too much, let me just say that I didn’t come through for her at a time she really needed it and she went through a very rough patch where we almost signed divorce papers.
We got over it, at least I think we did. But there’s part of me that thinks that resentment could still be smoldering.
When I ask she says it’s fine, but I’m not so sure. It would definitely explain the sexual cooldown.
9) She’s got psychological issues that are blocking her desire
We’ve all got our issues and I sure do as well. But sometimes when a wife drifts from her husband and doesn’t want sex, it’s not her body or even really her emotions which are switching off.
It’s her mental health itself.
My wife struggled with depression and even with anorexia in her early 20s. She’s been through a hell of a lot and I know it.
But as someone who’s maybe been a bit luckier in the mental health department with no real crises to speak of, I think I need to face that I just don’t fully get what she’s gone through or currently going through.
It’s hard having a partner who struggles but when I made my marriage vows, I meant them.
And so in sticking to those vows and seeing the woman I love go through pain that maybe she feels unable to explain to me, I’m able to see that this is also one of the reasons she’s rolling over onto her side of the bed and turning out the light early.
It hurts, but all I can do is be there for her and encourage her to get help in a way that’s not condescending or judgmental.
Which is exactly what I’ve been doing. But it’s hard.
As one user wrote about his wife struggling with bipolar and his attempt to be there for her, it’s left him feeling really alone.
“For me, I’m lonely, and unsupported in general life. I feel I have lost my wife and best friend forever. Who supports me? I need support to retain my strength. Who asks about my day, who shows interest in what my passions are, who do I rely on now?”
10) She no longer finds me physically attractive
It’s awful to hear, but sometimes your wife doesn’t want you anymore because she’s no longer physically attracted to you.
You may have gained a lot of weight, gone bald, or had other physical changes that just plain turn her off. I think I’ve held up pretty well over the years.
But anyway, if this article was just about finding myself attractive, we could put it in the masturbation category. It’s about what my lovely wife thinks and feels.
And there’s gotta be at least some part of her that isn’t as turned on by me.
I’ve asked — jokingly — and she’s replied in a joke about my weight. But I don’t think that’s it.
Maybe my face and smell just turn her off now. If so, I’m not quite sure what to do about it.
But as someone who’s never been a quitter, I do have a few arrows in my quiver and I decided to shoot them below.
10 solutions to turn the heat back on
Here we go, my action plan to turn the heat back on. Try this if your wife doesn’t want you anymore.
1) Revitalize your sex life
You can revitalize your sex life by taking some simple but powerful steps.
As I was writing above, this includes fantasy discussion, new positions, and more.
Don’t have sex on a schedule, be spontaneous.
Send her a sext at work (not my fault if she gets fired for it).
But hey, really, go out of your comfort zone a tiny bit here and try out something a bit wild.
Another part of this is to do fitness and work on yourself. She’ll notice those rock-hard abs…
2) Watch a movie together
On the other hand, feel free to check out a raunchy comedy or a documentary about aliens. If possible find a subject both of you are into and then sit back.
The good thing about a movie is that it’s not sex but it’s a time-out that can boost your feelings of intimacy and bring back date memories from your first days together.
You may not rediscover all of your old sparks but even a hand over her shoulders can be a real intimate gesture.
And even if the night just ends with a light kiss it’s better than the night before that ended with no kiss.
3) Communicate openly
Tell her your needs.
I think one fault I can find in my approach to my wife is that I’ve kind of ignored and laughed off a lot of the intimacy issues we’re having.
I remembered our days of hot passion and sort of took it for granted that would continue in some form. When it didn’t, I personally didn’t really want to face it and talk about it, with her or really anyone else.
But here I am writing about it.
For me joking has always been a sort of defense mechanism I go to when I’m hurting. It looks like I’m all good but inside I’m dying.
The whole sad clown type of thing.
But now I see that maybe my lady has really thought I’m fine. And I know that I — and any other guy struggling with similar things — need to do their best to communicate to their wife about their desires and how they’re feeling left behind.
4) Relive the glory days
There’s nothing wrong with a little nostalgia to get romance warmed up again.
I talked about movie night, some other classics are cooking dinner for each other, breakfast in bed, a spontaneous weekend getaway or even buying her some new lingerie that makes your eyes pop out and which she feels sexy wearing.
It brings back some memories of time in college that are too hot to print.
And if you want to recreate the passion you had before then you need to set the mood.
Candles, music, you name it. Go for it!
5) Create new memories
Date night, anyone?
Sometimes intimacy goes missing because the same old routine starts feeling like an endless replay.
You may be fine with it — I know personally I hadn’t felt very bored — but your wife could be reaching the end of her patience.
That’s when you embrace your active side and get out there planning romantic dinners and picnics, dance nights, beach vacations, nature walks, spiritual retreats, and anything else you think will rekindle that flame you once had.
Here are “17 sweet date night ideas for married couples”. I’m planning to try out a couple of these in the near future, so wish me luck.
6) Avoid blame
Nobody ever wins when you play the blame game. As I wrote it’s very necessary to start communicating.
Yes, but don’t communicate in a way that lays blame.
Try saying how you feel and expressing your needs and perspectives instead of talking on behalf of your partner or putting words in their mouth.
Don’t try to tell them all the ways they are falling short as that is likely to just cause a defensiveness reaction and not go well.
Instead of that, just be honest about how you’ve been feeling. Don’t blame, just be honest.
7) Leave space for spontaneity
A lot of marriages find their spark again in the heat of the moment.
Where I was writing about don’t plan everything out I want to add a proviso:
Adult life of course has extensive planning and not a lot of free time.
Most of us aren’t going to have the option to just go wild and elope on a trip to Hawaii or take off to Napa Valley and wine country even for the weekend.
That’s why you should use the free time you do have to maximize the romance. You might have to get creative.
Whisk her along in a two-step waltz and buy a nice bottle of wine at the grocery store.
Give her a deep kiss and pick a flower for her from your yard.
8) Spend time with happily married friends
Never underestimate the power of a good example.
Helen and I have a few married couple friends that we like to have over for dinner now and then.
One of those couples is newlywed and they’re full of passion. You can see it from across the room and it’s basically sparkling with electricity.
I feel like there are a lot of downers out there about marriage and the divorce rate is definitely on their side.
Marriage is hard! OK, granted.
But marriage can also be sexy and fulfilling and I recommend having over people who show that with the strength of their intimate bond.
It can inspire your wife to get back to a sexy time with you.
9) Become a better man — for your own sake!
Don’t do it for her, do it for yourself.
I’m talking about things like fitness and working out, meditation, career development, and more. Work on yourself and become the best you can be.
Instead of sitting in the negativity or feelings of neglect that your sex life is causing you in your marriage, get out there and become proactive.
You may make a friend or two along the way and there’s a strong possibility they may also be married and know what you’re going through as well.
Becoming a more actualized individual is in your best interest regardless of how your marriage is going. Do it for yourself and reap the rewards of feeling incredible and more balanced.
10) Pay a visit to a marriage therapist
Couples therapy isn’t for everyone, but I have friends who swear by it.
If you and your wife are both open to it and you’ve already been honest with each other but are at an impasse then give it a try.
The worst that happens is you go to a couple sessions, answer some personal questions and then say it’s not for you.
The best-case scenario is you got to meet up with a professional and come out feeling refreshed and clarified with real understanding and steps to take to improve your sex life.
In this case, try to go to a marriage counsellor who specializes in sexual and intimacy issues, since that’s the core of what you’re dealing with here.
“Marriage counseling works. That’s not to say it can save every relationship. Whether it will work for you depends on several factors. The most important thing is that you’re both fully invested in the process.”
Is there hope?
My wife loves me but doesn’t desire me. It hurts, but I do believe there’s hope.
The love we had is still very much alive, and I know she still cares about me as her husband, friend, and partner.
We’re in the process of trying to get our intimate life back but I can see glimmers of hope already.
My advice to any man who’s dealing with his wife becoming physically distant is to be patient and start slow.
With a bit of understanding, finesse, and subtle seduction, you can get your marriage back and once again enjoy the physical and emotional bond you used to have together.
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