General Question

rumproast's avatar

How do I become sexually attracted to my wife again?

Asked by rumproast (69 points ) October 7th, 2009

My wife and I get along well in general but I don’t really get turned on by her anymore. She’s upset because I’m not interested in sex with her. Both of us feel bad about it and neither of us try to initiate anything any more. It used to be my job to initiate things but I always felt shy about being in that position. I masturbate fairly regularly but when I’m with her I don’t feel anything sexual. When I look at her body I think it looks nice but not in a sexual way. But I guess the relationship has become more like a brother and sister relationship. Neither of us are happy about it – and not particularly happy in general – but we’re against seeing a therapist because money is tight right now. We have sex every few months just so we don’t feel like we “never” have sex but it’s not much to talk about and I usually feel pretty relieved when it’s over. Any suggestions?

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74 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

This is not an uncommon situation – loss of libido in a marriage. If both people don’t mind, it needn’t be a big issue, but since it seems to be distressing your wife, it is easily treatable by a good sex therapist, and love and kindness would dictate that you go get help.

Besides, you will be able to start enjoying something again that is generally pleasurable, so you are not doing this just for her.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Start having sex again, by recreating romance. A sex-less marriage does not remain that way unless two people are working at not having sex.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Couldn’t you let her please you, after you please her?

In short, why masturbate alone?

holden's avatar

You may want to ask yourself what has changed between the time you fell in love with her and now. If you know what has caused the loss of passion in your relationship it will be easier to bring it back.

scamp's avatar

Are things ok in other areas of your relationship? Could you have some other issues that need to be addressed? If everything else is ok, and you have simply grown broed, try spicing things up by doing some different things in bed. If not, work out the outside pressures first, and the sex life should be less pressured as well.

Ask her to do some of the things you have fantasized about, but never done. You’d be surprised how a new position or doing something different can perk you up. Do something ‘devilish’ the next time you have sex, and see if it helps re-new your interest.

HGl3ee's avatar

Spice things up! Sex is one of the greatest things a couple can experience together when they are both open and honest with one another. The posibilities are endless. I personally am a Domme, I’m not saying this lifestyle is for everyone, but secretly nearly everyone enjoys even a small part of BDSM.

I would strongly suggest you and your wife getting very real with one another and talking about this in an open manner. (No pointing fingers!) Go into this with the mind-set that anything goes. Look at every type of kink, fetish, role-playing, toy-store, books, movies, clothing, locations.. your imaginations are the only limitations you have. You will be pleasently suprised how many things you can find that will turn your crank!

My boyfriend and I discovered BDSM together and we soon found out that the D/s relationship was very facinating to us, and not only did it intreague us but we we’re relating to opposite ends. Thus I’m now a Domme and he is my sub.

Simply enjoy your love for one another, don’t hold back and leave your mind open to endless possiblities. Make it your mission!

I wish you both all the love and luck! and a very steamy and beautiful future <3

- LB

PS. if anything I have said perks your interest, or anyone’s for that matter, I’m always here for discussion so feel free to msg me.

rumproast's avatar

@scamp Well one issue I have with her is she tends to dominate in the relationship and has no problem expressing what she wants and needs. I resent feeling like she’s constantly in control – even in the bedroom. So probably my fading desire is a symptom of that resentment I think.

rumproast's avatar

@ElleBee We’re definitely on the conservative side when it comes to what we do in bed. It’s pretty much a formula at this point. I have asked her to dress up with some sexy stuff in the bedroom but she resents the feeling of being “objectified”. So that’s out.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@rumproast Sounds like counseling is in order. You need to communicate your resentments to her in a productive way. Sounds to me like displaced anger.

dpworkin's avatar

@rumproast That’s why therapy is for two! It addresses everyone’s issues.

rumproast's avatar

@SpatzieLover Oh it’s not so much displaced anger. I express my resentment about her control need quite a bit. But that’s just who she is. The only thing that has changed since I met her is my ability to tolerate it.

rumproast's avatar

@pdworkin Therapy just seems like (a) money down the drain since we already communicate pretty openly and (b) like a potential recipe for disaster if stuff comes up that puts the relationship in jeopardy.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@rumproast You are taking your resentment of your perceived power of hers into the bedroom…that sounds like displaced anger to me.

dpworkin's avatar

@rumproast Sexual therapy isn’t psychotherapy. It’s just to give you guys some strategies for getting lovemaking back on track. It’s quite benign, and it sounds like you guys haven’t figured this out yet in 5 years, so maybe you could use the assistance.

loser's avatar

Yeah, if you were having problems with your car you’d take it to the shop, right? Try the sex therapy.

rumproast's avatar

@pdworkin I see – I thought it more like psychotherapy. (btw – I think you got the five years from the a misread of my original title: “we’ve had sex 5 times in the last two years”).

HGl3ee's avatar

I’m going to have to agree with everyone that has suggested sex therapy. Good luck! – LB

rumproast's avatar

@ElleBee I don’t think the sex therapy is going to happen but thanks for the recommendation. We’ve talked about it and it doesn’t seem feasible at the moment financially. Also, both of us don’t like the idea of medical-izing the problem.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@rumproast You’ve talked about it? Then what have you done instead of therapy to move your marriage out of the sex free zone?

scamp's avatar

@rumproast Have you told her that you feel this way? She might lighten up a little if she knew that she is mentally castrating you by wanting to have so much control in other areas.

Tell her in a gentle way that you want and need more control in bed and other areas of your relationship, then be prepared to do just that. She may not even realize you feel this way, so have a talk with her.

I am a pretty strong willed person myself, and I need to be reminded to keep myself in check from time to time. It takes a pretty strong willed and stubborn man to tame me, but once I back off, I really enjoy my partner taking the reigns for a while! Hopefully, your wife will feel the same way.

I think the most important first step the two of you can take is to open the lines of loving communication, and be able to talk about this with a cool head and an open mind. Good Luck!!

rumproast's avatar

@scamp Yes I have told her that I feel this way but it hasn’t changed things much.

rumproast's avatar

@SpatzieLover Besides talk? Nothing else.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@rumproast Talk without action=much of the same.

I suggest you both sit down, discuss, and write down your goals as a couple. It sounds like you both may need some visual reminders of why you married, where you’re at as a couple today, and where you want to be.

rumproast's avatar

@loser My relationship is not my car, though. It’s a personal matter and I don’t want to just take it to the mechanic. I feel we should be able to fix it ourselves.

scamp's avatar

@rumproast I’m sorry. In order for you both to be able to enjoy sex again, you both need to be able to give in a little. If one of you is unwilling to change or compromise, the problem unfortunately will more than likely remain.

holden's avatar

@rumproast “Yes I have told her that I feel this way but it hasn’t changed things much.”
If you’re wife isn’t also on board with trying to solve this issue then your problems run a lot deeper than just loss of libido.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@rumproast I don’t think @loser was telling you your relationship is a car. If you need an expert, you hire one. You and your wife are clearly not experts in a sexually healthy or active marriage.

rumproast's avatar

@scamp The most likely scenario is for things to get worse. That’s my prediction.

scamp's avatar

I’m sorry to say I agree with you on that point my friend.

Question: How long have you two been married?

rumproast's avatar

@holden I think she’d like to but is incapable of becoming a different person than I need her to be. She hasn’t changed since we married.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@rumproast One should never expect another person to change. They rarely do, unless they themselves are motivated to.

rumproast's avatar

@SpatzieLover In which case it comes down to me adjusting my outlook to meet the reality of the situation. I’m just not sure how to do that. Maybe I should be in therapy.

scamp's avatar

@SpatzieLover Lack of sex would be a pretty good motivator for some people !

willbrawn's avatar

I would stop looking at pornography if you do. It tends to make people dissatified with who they have when comparing them to the latest porn star.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@rumproast How was your perspective different when you met, fell in love & chose to marry her?

rumproast's avatar

@willbrawn I’ve tried. That’s a tough one. But I do think it’s involved, yes.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@scamp Not really. Not if he’s not romantic or giving as a SO.

rumproast's avatar

@SpatzieLover I think I was more confident and less affected by her need to control things. It just kind of rolled off me. I felt like I held my own in the relationship more. Not so much these days. Life has changed a few things with respect to that.

rumproast's avatar

@SpatzieLover I’m definitely not romantic. At all. But I’m pretty loyal and supportive in other respects.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@rumproast So the real question is “How do I regain the confidence I once had?” That’ll be $50 for the online therapy break thru ;0)

SpatzieLover's avatar

@rumproast No romance equals no nukie!

rumproast's avatar

@SpatzieLover Yes, perhaps that’s the real question (re: confidence) – check is on the way :)

SpatzieLover's avatar

@rumproast So what happened two years ago? Where’d you mis-place your confidence at?

scamp's avatar

SpatzieLover has a good point here.. romance is very important.

rumproast's avatar

@scamp Never had any.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@scamp Yea, the whole “I’m horny are you?” doesn’t really work on women

rumproast's avatar

@SpatzieLover How’d you know that’s the line I use? Electronic surveillance, perhaps.

rumproast's avatar

Ok, I think we covered it, guys. I’m fucked in the head and need to be more romantic. Thanks all.

holden's avatar

@rumproast hold on there one second, big guy. No one’s saying you’re fucked in the head. We’re just trying to get to the bottom of your problem. Otherwise there’s nothing we can really do for you.
One more question, then: if there was never any romance between you and your wife, why did you marry her?

answerjill's avatar

Maybe have a serious conversation (or a series of conversations) with her about your mutual lack of a good sex life. And then, if you think that you are getting on to the same page, plan a romantic weekend away or a second honeymoon, so you will have time/space to focus on each other?

nikipedia's avatar

I am hearing a lot of resentment and resignation. It sounds like you have given up all hope that this—or your other marital problems—can be fixed. Have you?

rumproast's avatar

@nikipedia Yes, you’re right on both counts. Since this is something that we have talked about and thought about since the problem started to get worse about 3 years ago, I think my question here was more or less to confirm that I hadn’t overlooked any potential solutions. Everything that everyone has mentioned is stuff I’ve already thought about and/or discussed with my wife at some point. So, yes, I don’t expect these problems will improve or be fixed. I’m pretty resigned to just live with them.

marinelife's avatar

@rumproast You have gotten a lot of great suggestions here, and you have had defenses for employing any of them and been negative about almost all of them.

I think maybe you need to take a look at that. Couples with problems are not expert at communicating well and fairly with each other. Also, assuming you know what will happen during the course of work with a therapist or marriage counselor is inaccurate.

You two are not communicating well. You are keeping your real feelings from each other. Does you wife know about the porn or the masturbation? Is there other stuff about your sexual thinking she does not know about? If you are whacking off regularly or to excess is it any wonder that you have nothing left for her? You are taking your sexual feelings elsewhere. It is also pretty clear that you are being passive aggressive and withholding sex from her to punish her for being controlling.

All that is doing is hurting both of you. She may have no idea of the connection between the two: her behavior and your withholding intimacy and sex. A professional would be an advocate for both of you and for your relationship.

OK, assuming, based on the myriad barriers that you have erected, that you will not work with a professional, there are still things you can do to learn to communicate better and to rediscover why you married her.

First, women like sex, but they also like physical closeness such as holding, touching, kissing almost as much. Start out by incorporating some of that saying up front that you want to cuddle, but not have sex.

Give her a massage or backrub. Have her give you one. No expectations: just the goal of providing a little physical contact with each other and pleasure for each other.

Set a goal of doing something small every day beyond what you do now.

If the atmosphere improves and you decide to move on toward sex, talk with her about taking a new approach. Tell her that no topic is taboo, that you want both of you to feel free to communicate about your needs, but that complaints about no sex (or other old habits) are not allowed.

Start by involving her in who you are. So, before you have intercourse, do consider masturbating together. Or ask her for something else that would make you hot: watching you masturbate, or whatever.

Then move into adding spicy scenarios. One that might work well for your situation would be to tell her that it would really turn you on to act out a fantasy in which she was a slave girl who did not speak English, and you were her new master (or whatever) so she had to to do your bidding for that encounter. If you are taking charge, though, part of your goal has to include pleasing her and fulfilling her too.

None of this “dressing up would objectify me” talk. The goal is to work on pleasing each other. She can pick her way the next encounter, but again she has to have the goal of fulfilling you too.

Sometimes women who need control like that are dealing with their fears from childhood sexual abuse or other wounds that make then terrified inside, which they deal with by trying (unsuccessfully, of course) to control everyone and everything around them. This is something a therapist could help her with if it continues as an issue.

Finally, there is a wonderful book called Getting the love you want by Harville Hendrix. It has a series of exercises that you do together to rediscover your love. It can be very helpful in changing a bad atmosphere for communications and in really understanding yourself and your partner.

rumproast's avatar

@holden Love. Not romance, though. To me the word romance implies some kind of attempt to mutually delude ourselves that we live inside a bubble of candyfloss daisy flowers.

marinelife's avatar

@rumproast Man, you are one negative guy! What you have here is a self-fulfilling prophecy about your relationship. Basically, you and your wife have talked about all the possible things you could do, and come up with reasons (excuses) not to do any of them. Then you have said, “Well, there’s nothing left to try. Might as well give it up.” How about actually doing some work?

You would put more into fixing your golf swing (or whatever the equivalent is for you).

Your marriage is worth working on. until you do the work, you won’t know if something will work or not.

rumproast's avatar

@Marina Great analysis of the situation. I’m going to re-read your answer a couple of times. There’s a lot in there to think about. You pretty much nailed it.

marinelife's avatar

@rumproast I hope that you can find something helpful to you from mine and the other posts here. I will tell you this: I don’t think your situation is hopeless. I spent a solid half hour on writing that out because I am an advocate for your relationship. I think you two are both worth it and you both deserve some happiness and fulfillment from life and marriage.

Good luck.

rumproast's avatar

@Marina I appreciate it and I can see you put a lot into it because you’ve obviously paid attention to all of the details I’ve spelled out in various comments and have come to a holistic understanding. I appreciate your insight and thanks for taking so much time to write this. I will give thought to what you have said in that response.

Bagardbilla's avatar

All the mental parts of the situation aside, one thing that always helped me was just exercising together. Even if it’s just a brisk walk together, it always gets me a little frisky. ;)

kellylet's avatar

Hi. You have a ton of answers here but I didn’t notice anyone ask what does turn you on? What turns her on? Sometimes if I am aroused by surroundings during the day, I take it out on my boyfriend (in a good way.) If you can experience what does turn you on individually and then come together and share it or just F—each other….maybe if the other person is not responsible for arousing the other it would take some pressure off.

Not to sound cliche, but would “fake it til you make it” work? Just start having sex, at some point maybe it will be arousing.

Also I know you said therapy is not an option but there are a ton of fun informational sex sites. There is a company “Good Clean Love” with a really interesting site. You may even be able to ask for their advise. I also run across the site of Dr. Lori Buckley, but i have not yet explored it.

Best of luck.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Bagardbilla I can’t find the study online right now….but one just came out this week on things that make women feel sexy. The winner: exercise!

I agree. If you spend time together being a couple, whether it’s exercise or cooking or getting out of the house together it helps strengthen the bond.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@rumproast Most marriages have droughts. They can be brought about by job loss, birth of a baby/raising a toddler, health-etc.

Everything you’ve described seems to indicate your drought is being drown out needlessly.

@Marina‘s advice is all practical, simple & “do-able”. I’ve done much of it with my husband ;) When all seems lost, time to go back to basics!

wundayatta's avatar

Maybe eight or ten years ago, my wife and I stopped having sex very often. At first, I thought she would get over it. Then it went on and on. I started watching porn a lot, so I could take care of myself.

Like you, I thought she had more power in the relationship. Every once in a while, during one of our repressed disagreements, the D word would come up, and I was truly afraid that if I didn’t do whatever she wanted, she’d divorce me. I was sure she was no longer interested in me, and it felt like we just had a business relationship—a corporation to raise a couple of wonderful kids. There was no real connection.

I started advertising in Craigslist, and I found myself visiting someone in a dangerous part of town, who was hugely overweight, and dressed in a most unbecoming nightgown, and we did it in her dark living room on a plastic covered couch in front of her blaring TV.

It freaked me out, and I went to get checked for diseases and I got a therapist, and then got my wife to come. We were doing some therapy, until she had to have an operation, and we stopped. She never liked the therapist, anyway. Later I told her he had advised me not to share my adventure with her. She began to understand why she never trusted him.

Our problem was not solved. We would talk somewhat openly about our issues every once in a while, but I felt I was the one who had to bring it up, and I wanted her to initiate such conversations, too. I wanted her to take some responsibility for fixing the relationship. I felt like she didn’t really care.

Anyway, I started meeting women online, and I fell in love (or so I thought at the time), and I was getting ready to get out of my marriage. Then it all fell apart. I was acting crazy—angry with my kids, sullen with my wife, spending nights up until two or three in the morning every night on the internet, chatting and skyping my women, and I was never tired in the morning. My brain was going faster and faster, it seemed, and I felt like it was warning me that I had brain cancer or something.

It all came to a head when I told her what I had done. She told some therapist friends and they told her to get me to a shrink as fast as she could. They were right. I was diagnosed as bipolar.

It was a good thing that I told my wife what was going on, because it got me diagnosed, and it got us into couples therapy (which I didn’t believe would do any good), and we started healing.

The thing about couples therapy, is that if you are with a competent therapist, they can provide a safe place for the two of you to not only talk about your feelings, but also to figure out ways to try to give each other what the other person needs and wants. It turned out the my wife needed me to listen to her, and talk to her, and touch her and massage her, all without demands. When she started feeling the connection, then she might want to be with me, physically.

I felt like I couldn’t connect with her until we were physically connected. It was a chicken and egg thing.

Well, I lost…. and I won. I gave her what she wanted, and eventually she started giving me what I wanted. I thought I needed sex every night of the week. She didn’t think she could handle more than once a week (which was more than once every other month—so an improvement in itself). However, once we started reconnecting, and once my meds kicked in, I felt better about myself, and I didn’t need as much sex in order to feel like a person.

We’re not out of the woods yet. We’ve been in therapy two years. We see the therapist a lot less now. We understand each other better. I understand that she loves me, and that what I think matters to her, and that she is committed to our relationship—all things that I was certain were not true before we started really talking to each other. She has learned the same thing.

Before this all started coming to a head, I, too, had resigned myself to a life of just making it from day to day. I thought I could take care of myself—maybe have an affair that would keep me physically and emotionally satisfied, while staying with my wife, who I loved, even if we weren’t really together.

People who I would talk to about this universally felt I needed to talk to my wife. I needed to work with her to solve our problems, or get out. Some people couldn’t even imagine how I would be able to just stay there, with all that pressure, and not work on the real problem.

I was convinced that if I tried to work on it, my life would fall apart. I believed my only choice was to bear it, and try to get a little satisfaction and love on the side.

l don’t know. Maybe it would have been worth it if we had not been able to work on the problem. Maybe the kids were important enough. They were experiencing problems as a result of our problems, though. It wasn’t clear what was going on.

I’m glad I came clean and we started to solve the problems. I’m so happy to find that she does love me, and was as unhappy as I was, but still wanted to work it through. I have learned not to get freaked out by her moods, and not to take the blame for every fucking thing. Actually, it was me who was blaming myself. She wasn’t. Who knew?

I think you are underestimating the potential that couples counseling holds. I think you are discounting the importance of really solving your problems. I think you are trying to sell yourself on the idea of just putting up with things because that’s the only choice you have. You probably don’t want to get divorced. Maybe you have kids? Maybe there are other reasons.

I think that if you do these things, the pressure will continue to build, and it will burst out some time. I don’t know what form that eruption will take, but it won’t be pleasant.

I don’t know if you can save your marriage. You both have to want that. You both have to not give up hope. However, I think it is worth trying to give yourselves a chance at making things better, rather than just going on as you have been, and giving up hope of improvement. Even if you end up separating, you will finally be facing your fears, and you will probably find out that you can survive. Maybe even make things better.

You said you are afraid that if you do get therapy, you could end up making things worse. I’m not sure what you mean by that—do you mean getting a divorce? I guess I would like to suggest that as bad as a divorce sounds, or as bad as any of the other things that you imagine are worse sound, it really is worse to keep on going as you have been.

You’re afraid. I get that. You should be afraid. You feel like she has all the power. I get that. It may or may not be true, but if you don’t equalize things, well, you’ll end up miserable or cheating or getting divorced anyway. ”You can’t go on like this.” Well, maybe you can, but why?

What could possibly make it worth it? Kids? Financial comfort? Retirement? Community? Those aren’t trivial things. But what will they matter if you are forever miserable?

I used to imagine I’d find someone who loved sex, and I’d jump ship to be with her, and I’d be happy again. Maybe. However, I had a serious problem to deal with, and I learned that I couldn’t be loved until I let myself be loved. I was the one who was fending it off.

You are certainly different, and that was my own particular issue, and yet there may be some similarities in our stories, too. I think you may have no choice but to put your future comfort at risk in order to save your relationship. Sooner or later, if you go on as you have been, there will come a breaking point. Don’t wait for that.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@daloon Wow! Thanks for sharing. If your words don’t help @rumproast they’re guaranteed to help someone reading this in the future!

rumproast's avatar

@daloon Holy shit. Thanks, man. That’s a hell of a story. You really went through the ringer, didn’t you! I think you’re right about an inevitable breaking point. Thanks for the kick in the pants.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

after reading your question and your response, I really DO think you have a chance to make it work – it sounds like you and your wife are both reasonable people who have some issues communicating…it is good that you have identified some problems as it is in your marriage and I think you’re on the right track…some people in marriages never do even that…I know you can’t afford therapy right now so you have to make do with just yourself and her…you must figure out if there are underlying issues in your relationship that run deeper than sex…if there aren’t then you have to do something surprising sexually…come home early or something, turn everything off, shut the windows and doors, have someone babysit the kids and take her, just do it, put her on the bed, do something completely different..think about it, you have nothing to lose if you’re ready to lose everything

jw67's avatar

Do you and your wife exercise? How does she feel about her own body? And does she give off a low self-esteemy kind of vibe? This could be the problem. Exercise is good because it makes you look better to each other, and there’s something about a hard workout that gives a big boost to the sex drive. Try doing something strenuous together, then get in the shower together and see what happens.

rumproast's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Thanks for the feedback.

rumproast's avatar

@jw67 Yes, we do exercise although not so much aerobic exercise. Maybe we need more of the aerobic to get the blood flowing.

Dawifey's avatar

im in high school so i really dont know it this will help but you can try taking a break or being more spontaneous either will help somehow

Yetanotheruser's avatar

My wife and I have been married for 21 years. Several years ago we experienced one of those “droughts” as mentioned by @SpatzieLover. a I asked her if she would like to be courted again, and she said yes! I started sending her flowers to her job, and asked her out on a few dates. The process allowed us to reexamine our relationship and our commitment to each other.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Yetanotheruser Good “husbandry” skills ;) You took initiative & ingenuity and rebuilt the romance…Hooray!

kellylet's avatar

I just read an article in the WSJ that said frequency of sex and housework are related. When was the last time you washed the kitchen floor or did a load of laundry? According to the paper it may be just what you and your wife need to get you in the mood!

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