How To Get Your Sex Drive Back — Before It Wrecks Your Marriage

The best way to increase libido and save your sexless marriage, too.

How To Increase Libido & Get Your Sex Drive Back (So You Can Save Your Sexless Marriage) getty

With so much information about how to have a better orgasm, how to last longer, or ten ways to spice up your sex life at your fingertips, why do so many couples find themselves stuck in sexless marriages — trying to figure out how to increase libido and get their sex drive back before it's too late?

If this sounds like you, there's hope. Increasing your sex drive and learning how to save your sexless marriage is possible, but it requires a new way of thinking that lets you approach the topic of sex differently.


RELATED: 5 Ways To Start Having More Sex In Your Marriage

Rather than focusing on what you can do to spice things up in your married sex life, instead, look at when you’re aroused and why you’re feeling aroused today, for example, but not yesterday.


It’s hard for couples to be able to switch from the every day to the erotic. When your every day is all-consuming, the erotic gets pushed to the back in favor of watching Netflix on the iPad.

So the secret for how to save a sexless marriage is being able to first identify — and then amplify — what arouses both you and your partner.

This will help you increase your libido and improve your sex life before you get stuck in a cycle of avoidance and it’s too late to repair.

A couple’s sex life is as unique as the two individuals who make up the marriage. Trying to fit your sex life into one of two camps, normal and everything else, is going to be disastrous.


Yet, this is what couples tend to do to make themselves feel safe and secure. You compare yourself to someone else’s life or the beginning of your relationship and feel the pinch of disappointment.

Maybe you compare the number of times per week you have sex to your friends or what you read, and if you come up short, then you diagnose yourself as having a problem. Or if you’re the one who desires more sex, then you diagnose your partner as the one who has the problem.

You might think in the beginning things felt easy, even spontaneous. Your partner was able to orgasm with just a gentle stroke and some yummy words whispered in their ear, but now, you can’t get close enough without them demanding five minutes where no one touches them.

You end up feeling rejected and fearful to try again.


Eventually, you do try again, and perhaps you get another rejection. Weeks go by and you timidly try again, only this time in your mind, you already know what the reaction will be.

Now, you just stop trying and live in a state of resentment and apathy. This lack of trying becomes the new norm, as couples start to feel uncomfortable, even awkward, about initiating sex again.

Maybe you’re too tired, too rejected, too overwhelmed, or too lonely to have an open and honest conversation about your desire without getting angry and upset.

But here’s the thing: Couples need to have conversations about why they’re not aroused.

It’s scary, it’s vulnerable, and it’s necessary.


Otherwise, all these delicate moves and counter moves are based on guesswork and anecdotal evidence. You place meaning on your partner's actions and become fearful of how that meaning impacts the future of your relationship.

It’s easy to tell yourself this is what happens when you’ve been together for a long time. Or you just need to spice things up so your desire is spontaneous. However, the small things that couples discount often stand for bigger issues — so it’s important for both of you to know why you’re no longer being sexually intimate, rather than pointing the finger of blame.

There are two factors that affect your sex drive: First, what cues your arousal and lights you up inside sexually, and second, what increases your libido and makes your arousal shine even brighter.

If you're not aroused, it means you're likely ignoring the mood you’re in, the thoughts you’re thinking, the attitude you're holding or how you're responding in any given moment. What makes the thought of having sex boring, terrifying, or exciting is different, depending on who you’re talking to and what’s happening for them at that moment.


Erick Janssen and John Bancroft discussed this when they discovered what they call the "dual control model." This mechanism governs the two factors: how you’re turned on, as well as how you respond to sexual signals, like sounds, smells, sights, and the thoughts you’re having. You can be turned on, but your second control could still stop your libido in its tracks.

If you're highly stressed and exhausted, or you've got cold feet, or your partner's mouth tastes like an ash tray, you don't want to act on your sexual desire. It's these things that affect our second control, which we often ignore, that are so important for our success in having sex — especially during those first few years of being parents.

RELATED: 5 Signs Your Libido Is Lagging & Hurting Your Relationship (Plus: 4 Ways To Get It Back)


The dual control model is like an internal light switch with a dimmer. When something arouses you, it switches on, but you can either turn up, turn down or turn off the light. Everyone has their own unique default setting.

Now, let’s say that your light switches on, but it naturally dims. You want some very bright light (aka a strong sex drive to physically connect with your partner), so you need to spend time figuring out how to increase libido and turn that brightness up.

So if you want to save your sexless marriage, then you’re going to have to figure out what switches your internal light on in the first place.

Not everyone is going to be spontaneously aroused or experience high desire, especially if life is busy, mundane, hectic, or boring. But you need to know what jump starts your libido and turns you on. Otherwise, life will just gets in the way and it'll become easier to stay in the everyday grind, than to consciously switch to the erotic.


There are 4 main ways to turn that light switch on and cue your sex drive and initial feelings of arousal.

  1. Emotional cues: Feeling supported, understood, a sense of closeness, care, and positive regard.
  2. Erotic cues: Watching or reading a sexy movie or story, hearing others having sex, knowing that your partner desires you, seeing them aroused.
  3. Visual cues: Seeing an attractive, intelligent, confident partner, sexy lingerie, or seeing your partner in their “element”.
  4. Romantic cues: Candles, baths, dancing closely, massages.

It’s important to spend time thinking about what your cues are and discuss these with your partner. Keep in mind, it’s not always just one cue that arouses you; it can very much be a balance of all four. The key is for both of you to start looking at the disconnection in your sex life as a miscue, rather than someone's “fault”.

All these cues that increase libido can turn the light switch on initially, but what about the second part of your dual control switch that determines the brightness?


That’s where the here and now comes into play. The mood you’re in will color your situation at any time.

For example, if you’re feeling stressed, you’re going to view everything through a stressed lens. When you’re feeling stressed, you’re falling into bed because of exhaustion, not for fun. Therefore, you’re probably not going to respond kindly to your partner's suggestions of sex.

It will take a momentous effort for your stress state to turn off and for your loving and relaxed state to turn on and turn up the brightness.

Your partner might understand what helps shift you into that state and act accordingly. They might decide to run you a bath, light some candles, hand you a glass of wine, put the kids to bed, and give the dog its medicine. And for them, perhaps seeing you naked in bubbles relaxed is enough for their light to shine brightly.


The best way to get in the mood is to figure out what gets in the way of your sex drive and stops your light from shining brightly, by asking yourself:

  • What moods are you in when you're experiencing desire and pleasure?
  • Is there an environment that works best for you?
  • Do you have a higher sex drive at different times of day?
  • Are there certain sounds, smells, or tastes that put you off?
  • Can you switch off that internal chatter and focus on the present moment and your partner?

When it comes to saving your sex life, it’s important for couples to figure out what turns the light of arousal on for each of you and what makes it bright. Learning how to express this to each other — so there are no hurt feelings, accusations, or tension messing things up — is vital to creating a happy and sexually satisfying marriage.

RELATED: How To Fix A Sexless Marriage Before It's Too Late

Julia Nowland is the founder of Whole Heart Relationships and is one of Australia's most highly-regarded relationship experts with over a decade of experience. She specializes in helping couples with young children avoid sexless marriages, prioritize their relationship, and fall back in love.