6 Experts Reveal The Little Things That Turn Off Wives In Long-Term Marriages

After all these years, how can you keep her interested?

unhappy couple ridersuperone / Shutterstock

People marry for all sorts of reasons. Yes, love is right at the top. Companionship is in the running for No. 1, too.

In fact, the Pew Research Center kindly published the whole list of motivating factors for marriage and cohabitation a few years ago.

So, that's how it starts. How it changes over the years ... that's an entirely different story. The depth of commitment in a long-term marriage is often influenced by life events outside of the couple's control. On the other hand, sometimes we are directly responsible for any emotional drift or a gradual lessening of the original feeling of warmth that led to marriage.


If there's a rift or a loss of interest in the relationship, our own actions often are to blame — even if we're not aware of the potential damage we're doing to the marriage.

Sometimes we look up and notice that, suddenly, the marriage feels stale. Where we once reveled in the bonds of intimacy — scintillating conversation, shared exuberance, an exciting sex life — we now crash on the couch and silently binge-watch crappy '90s TV shows.

Why does this happen? What can we do to avoid the malaise that plagues so many long-term marriages?

We checked in with a panel of YourTango relationship experts for their insight into the little things — and a few big things — that might turn wives off in a long-term marriage.


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Here, experts reveal the six little things that turn off wives in long-term marriages:

1. She feels alone and over-burdened

A lack of support can be a huge turnoff for women in long-term marriages. Over time, husbands may become lackadaisical in their efforts to contribute around the house or pitch in with children’s activities, or make time for their wives to engage in their own self-care. The marriage has gone on “auto-pilot.”


Many women in my office complain about “the little things, which all together add up to big things,” like the dishwasher not getting emptied or the garbage piling up or their husband not helping to manage the incessant calendar of their household. She feels all alone in her responsibilities for taking care of the house, the kids, planning vacations, and if she has a job outside the home doing that, and if she is a stay-at-home mom, feeling like she holds all of it on her shoulders.

If she also feels like she has to manage her husband in addition to the rest of it, she will feel even more turned off. This sense of isolation and lack of support creates painful loneliness in a long-term marriage. Feeling alone and unsupported fuels resentment and disconnection, especially if it is repeatedly addressed and communicated and nothing changes.

She ends up feeling like a constant complainer and this is perceived as criticism by her husband and creates more resistance on his end to change. This creates a negative feedback loop and drives the couple apart.

Then, when her husband wants to connect, particularly sexually, she may find it extremely difficult to access her own desire because she has felt so unsupported and resentful. Why have sex when we haven’t even talked in three days?


Wendy E. Crane, licensed marriage and family therapist

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2. He stopped trying

Unfortunately, as time goes on, our list of grievances tends to grow. Men often stop putting in effort when they have been married for a long time. They sit around the house wearing torn-up shorts and playing video games. Just because a female is married doesn’t mean she no longer wants to be woo-ed.

When we’ve been together for over five years, we tend to stop dating each other. We take each other for granted and we don’t maintain our privacy. (Like using the bathroom with the door open.) The good news is if you start to put in an effort, there is a chance she will do the same.


You might feel like you’re falling out of love and aren’t turned on by your partner anymore but you can revive the spark and refuel the passion with effort.

Erika Jordan, love coach, NLP

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3. She feels unseen, unheard, and unimportant

Straight women work hard in most marriages, nurturing and supporting partners and children in ways too numerous to count. It's a critical role, and the family could not function without it. But problems simmer, brew, and boil over when women feel that they are being used and taken for granted by their partner: that they are only the caretaker.


Someone else could fill that role. No one wants to be only a generic wife and mother. By the way, if partners' angry or pouty demands for sex persist in a marriage that is this emotionally sterile, wives' emotional alienation is potentiated. When the feeling of being listened to, noticed, attended to, adored, admired, and cherished for her special characteristics is missing, over time, the marriage will fizzle out in a pervasive haze of resentment.

The family is not just a well-run corporation. Women feel turned off and uninvested in long-term marriages when they feel unseen, unheard, and unimportant to their partners. This is why it is so common to see marriages dissolve when children leave the nest.

- Aline Zoldbrod, psychologist, couples counselor

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4. He stopped caring about his appearance

While women are expected to retain their attractive appearance, many older men grew scraggly beards and long hair during COVID that their wives complain are divorce-worthy. This indifference to their appearance is usually accompanied by diminished testosterone that makes long-term husbands disinterested in sex and physical intimacy, and their wives complain about that, too.

Susan Allan, founder of the Marriage Forum Inc. and certified mediator

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5. He stopped fanning the flame of romance

A woman is turned off when the husband stops making an effort. Many men have the assumption that as a married couple, it should be "obvious" that he loves his wife. But this can get very disheartening for any woman. Many men forget that love has to be shown, and that the flames of romance have to be kindled from time to time.


In long-term marriages, the stress of daily life and work often pile high, and the husband simply stops trying to make an effort with romance. Going from initial dating to a life where romance fades and the husband makes no effort with love is common.

Bringing effort in the form of little rituals like date nights, couples' trips away, notes, and symbolic gifts can be a miracle worker for a marriage that is feeling tired and lackluster.

- Cassady Cayne, love coach, energy healer


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6. He lost interest (or cheated on her)

In a long-term marriage, there could be many things that could act like a switch-off. Here are a few of the top causes, based on my experience and practice.

  • Indecisiveness — Any kind of indecisiveness in a relationship on a routine matter is a big turn-off. Women prefer to have a partner who listens to their thoughts, respects their though and is crystal clear with decisions.
  • Lack of intimacy — A lack of both sexual and non-sexual intimacy can be a great turn-off in a long-term relationship. The aura energy marriage of couples gets lost when intimacy is absent from a relationship. Non-sexual intimacy is often the most valued and make-or-break factor in a relationship from a long-term perspective.
  • Infidelity — This is yet another big turn-off in long terms relationships and women love to be with loyal partners and one who gives ample time to the relationship.
  • Disinterest in appearance — This is a very unusual turnoff. However, women get turned off when their partner does not take an interest in helping in decision-making while shopping. Be it a dress or footwear or even a luxury item, they love a partner who understands it and helps with proper advice — or at least hears with proper attention.

- Sidhharrth S Kumaar, numerologist, relationship coach

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Carter Gaddis is the senior editor for Experts and Wellness with YourTango.