Why Your Wife Doesn't Want To Have Sex (Even Though She Loves You)

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married couple looking at horizon

Far too often, people in long-term relationships find themselves experiencing a dwindling sex life.

Experts often blame the dampened coals of passion on women having a vanishing libido post-marriage. Their keen focus, the legend has it, is hyper-fixated on raising their little ones, causing them to ignore their husbands.

But is that really true?

"My wife loves me, but doesn't desire me."

The phrase above is one I hear all too often, as do so many therapists, counselors and friends of married men whose sex lives have changed for the worse over the course of their marriages. And sadly, much of the traditional advice about how to get your mismatched libidos back in line is wrong. 

I hope to debunk some of the common myths and help couples regain the physical intimacy they both used to enjoy so much.

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First, you need to know that the lack of female desire is a profitable industry.

Thousands of books, full of theories on why women lose desire, fill bookstores. Meanwhile, drug companies with pills like Addyi — which has its own risks, especially when taken when someone has been drinking alcohol — are "closing the gap" with Viagra-like pills for women.

But can a pill really put women in the mood? I don't think so.

Why doesn't my wife want to have sex with me?

It's a painful question because it brings up so many deep feelings of rejection. Not just sexually, but also physically. "Am I not desirable?" or "Is it my body?" lots of guys ask. Body insecurities happen to men, too, you know!

The deeper, more painful question men face when their wives reject them sexually is, "Maybe my wife doesn't love me anymore?"

But these are likely not the reason why your wife doesn't desire you, sexually.

The main problem I've seen is that women (and men) need to feel safe to explore their sexuality. The last thing they need is to feel criticized for saying, "not tonight."

Being human is complex, especially with waves of emotions and desires crashing into our bodies. Being in a relationship is even more complicated; it requires two people to work with each other's shifting emotional realities, both together and individually.

Far too often, I see a resentful woman with little sexual desire for her partner, married to a resentful man for her lack of desire. For a couple to have sex often, neither partner should meet the other's "no" with rejection, anger or withdrawal.

Neglecting your partner an emotional connection or physical contact for saying "no" to sex will make saying "no" easier the next time. Ironically, the partner who was rejected by their partner must offer a positive response back to their partner. This is the paradox of sex in committed relationships.

Let's see how this plays out in two scenarios.

Meet Chris. Chris loves Lacey. Chris understands that he needs to accept Lacey refusing to have sex tonight, but in his mind that doesn't make it okay.

He believes the wedding band on her finger means her body is his right. He believes that her refusal denies him the thing he feels entitled to. So Chris tries to convince Lacey again and again, hoping his next attempt will "push her over the edge."

Unfortunately, the sexual edge he is pushing her over is not a healthy edge.

If she has sex with him, it's because he couldn't accept her "no". This leaves her to resent him.

While their bodies may be connecting, the love and connection in both of them is numb.

If Chris can't convince her to change her mind, he starts to act like a sad puppy. He sulks, whines, and may even bite her with criticism. He might even ignore her altogether.

Whatever happens, his negative response to her "no" is punishing Lacey. The sub-context of his actions are sending the following message: "It's not okay for you to say no. It's not okay for you to be your own person with a desire that doesn't match mine."

Obviously, none of this is going to put Lacey in the mood. In fact, it will do the exact opposite. It will escalate the tension and resentment between them. It will reduce her desire to have sex the next time he asks.

Over time, Lacey turns into a sexually dormant women. She is emotionally blocking her erotic nature by the wall of her resentment.

RELATED: How To Be Genuinely OK With A Sexless Marriage

But let's explore an alternative reality that re-frames the whole "my wife doesn't want to have sex with me" scenario.

As Lacey turns down Chris for sex, Chris accepts it. Just like that. He doesn't hold a grudge or make up a theory that she is cheating on him. He doesn't view sex as a right or an expectation he deserves when he wants it. Sex, for both partners, is a choice made every single day. It is not a mandatory obligation.

For example:

Lacey: "Not tonight. I feel sick from dinner."

Chris: "I'm sorry, babe. I hate that feeling. It makes me not want to do anything either. I love you."

Chris's caring response is a far cry from the traditional "you always feel sick" complaint. This caring response is far more effective. Receiving a positive response from Chris for turning down sex does not cause Lacey to say "no" more often in the future. His actions reinforce that he loves Lacey despite not getting what he wants.

His words remind her at her core that their sex life is about making love, not increasing the frequency just so Chris can release his sexual tension. Saying "no" resulted in Chris making her feel loved.

Sex becomes more frequent in a relationship of loving responses. It cultivates trust and togetherness, leading to more erotic and passionate lovemaking.

RELATED: 4 Solutions For When Your High Sex Drive Is Mismatched With Your Partner's

For all those men out there wondering, "why is my wife not interested in me sexually?", I have a question for you.

How could your relationship change if you allowed each other to be as you are?

If you make it more than okay for either of you to say, "not tonight," there will be many more nights when both of you will say "yes!"

Whether we realize it or not, we constantly rate our relationships. We value our partner's responses in every single exchange we have. We are constantly reinforcing or amending the "story of us."

According to John Gottman's research, it has to be okay, even rewarding, for either partner to refuse sex.

Paradoxically, this leads to more sex.

Many people find this confusing. I know I did. But relationships are complicated. That's what makes them beautiful. They require understanding and working together.

To help you along with this, I've assembled a cheat sheet of sorts to walk you down a 3-step path toward figuring out why your wife rejects you sexually.

Here are 3 reasons your wife doesn't want to have sex with you — and how to fix them:

1. You're taking her "no" too personally.

Realize that a lack of a sexual desire for you isn't all about you — and doesn't necessarily mean that your wife isn't interested in you sexually anymore.

Stresses from work, health issues, and general exhaustion drain us from having the energy to get it on.

How to fix it: For most couples, I recommend using an arousal scale. It allows partners to realize that desire can be different among partners at the same time, but doesn't mean that the relationship is any less passionate. It just means you're not getting it on tonight.

2. You're not paying attention to how your behavior affects her.

How are you reacting when she tells you "no" or "not tonight"? Even if you think you're hiding your disappointment well, she may be picking up on it. How does she act? What does she say? Are you paying attention — and if so, how are you reacting?

She may be hurting, scared, or confused, too, and you probably haven't even noticed.

How to fix it: If you become angry, frustrated, or resent your partner, become curious as to why. Why is being told no to sex once such a big deal to you?

Sex and love are full of private meanings. In my early twenties, sexual rejection meant I was inadequate and unworthy of love. Sex was validation for my self-worth, not a mutual act of appreciation and love. I had to dig deep into that in order to understand myself better.

Once you've looked at yourself, talk to her and pay attention to how she's feeling. Step out of your own hurt feelings and into her world.

3. You're focusing too much on just the sexual aspect of your bond.

Sex requires communication, understanding and appreciation, even when things are not the way we want. Love is about loving your partner unconditionally, with or without frequent sexual interaction.

How to fix it: Recall the happy moments in your relationship to help cope with the feeling of rejection. Realize that your partner doesn't want to hurt you and is merely telling you how they feel.

Their behavior has little to do with you and more to do with them; just as your behavior and feelings have more to do with you than your partner. Reflect, ponder, and get to know yourself better.

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Kyle Benson is a relationship coach fascinated with the science of love and relationships. He loves helping couples revitalize relationships in the bedroom and out. Learn more by visiting his website.

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