My wife does not want to have sex. I take it personally and feel like she does not want me. I am assuming it is her lack of desire for me. I feel unloved and hurt by this. Am I right?

This is a very common sentiment for those who are denied sex consistently. But I would not jump to conclusions. There are many factors as to why your wife does not want to have sex and many may have little to do with you.

I agree with Dr. Dan Allendar when he says that, “Sex is volatile and it was meant to be.” For guys, when we are getting regular sex the world is as it should be and we are the confident male species ready to take on any challenge and defeat any enemy. On the other hand, a lack of sex may cause us to plummet, doubt our self-worth, and wonder, “What’s the use?”

Wired differently

Because of the way we are wired, men and women have very different views of sex. We are wired to feel fulfilled when we have sex, women are wired to feel fulfilled when they are bonding. It begins with the chemicals in our brain. Men have a much higher level of testosterone than women do. That’s the chemical that causes us to think about and want sex. Women have a much higher level of oxytocin, which is sometimes called the “bonding hormone”. That’s the chemical that makes them want to connect.

So here we are with high testosterone ready to have sex and our wives with their high oxytocin are ready to snuggle. She is wired to want connection as much as we want sex. “Hey, we want connection!” I hear you say. Ya right! That’s rarely all that we want. We want to connect our body with hers! She wants you to be interested in her by giving her attention, listening, and touching, especially (and sometimes only) non-sexual touching.

So it is easy to see there is going to be a frequency issue that has nothing to do with how desirable you are. Guys are wired to want more sex and women are wired for emotional connection. (Although in about 25% of relationships this is reversed – I met a couple of these guys but neither appreciated the great situation they were in.) Because of these hormones, many women can feel sexually fulfilled without having an orgasm during sex. I know, it’s mind boggling!

Making the connection

Our minds are usually thinking about different things than theirs. She walks in the room, looks at you a certain way, and you are thinking, “All right, I know what is on her mind!” Actually you don’t. Guys, we can compartmentalize our thoughts and in an instant switch to the “sex” compartment just by looking at our wife’s body. For women everything is connected. That look she gave you might not even be about sex.

Guys can focus and cut out distractions. Women usually have a more difficult time doing that. Because sex is so high in our thought processes we go there quickly. Women have a myriad of thoughts with sex being a lot lower, especially when there are distractions around like the kids needing attention, a deadline at work, and the realization that there’s no milk in the fridge.

The challenge is that often women feel disconnected and distracted. One of the top reasons women give for not wanting sex is fatigue. As one woman said, “When I arrive home late from a busy day and then deal with my family’s demands, the last thing on my mind is sex. I am just too pooped to party.” We come home and probably just kick back. She comes home and kicks into second gear. Plain and simple — women are often just too tired and fatigued.

This is a no brainer. What could you do to help out more around the house? Encourage her to get the rest she needs. Your encouragement may help overcome her guilt about taking a nap or going to bed early.

Your wife desires you but demonstrates it in a very different way than you think it should be. We want sex, she wants to have you take notice of her, listen to her, snuggle with her, help her with the dishes, and tell her she is beautiful before her brain makes a transition into thinking sex. Meeting bonding needs is huge for a woman. Does this mean if you do these things tonight she will be all over you? Doesn’t work that way. It’s not a switch you flip in your wife’s brain, but here is the good news:

“We sure work hard to get good sex, and even then there are no promises. But I can promise you this: if you work hard to win your wife’s heart as you once did when she said “I do,” her emotional need for closeness, connection, and love will bring her back into your arms. There your chance of sparking a fire is most promising.” (Secrets of Happily Married Men) p. 227

Growing together

So now what? Tackle the real issues in your way. The obstacles to connecting with your wife have little (if anything) to do with your desirability. You need to move past your incorrect thinking: “she does not desire me”. Women are wired differently so most likely you have a connection issue.

Here is what I suggest. Take a renewed interest in her and her needs. If you haven’t read the book, The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, do it now and start the fun. Here is one-page summary. I discovered that men are good at observation, even better than women. It has something to do with our ability to focus, so the challenge is to see what works. How does she best like you to express love to her?

Each time I do something for her I don’t really enjoy, I usually tell myself (yes, I do talk to myself) that I am expressing love whether she sees it or not. I realized that I tried to love my wife the way I liked to receive love, so I wrote her really nice cards with well thought-out wording. Those were OK, but it dawned on me that if I cleared out the dishwasher I was really talking her language! I like words of affirmation and she likes acts of service.

Learning that we don’t have the same love language has made a major difference in how I express love. I need to make sure I am meeting her need for bonding with me the way she wants it to occur. That means away from the bedroom and not just when I want sex.

Distractions is a big one and we have to realize women need a lot more time to get in the mood. It takes me 30 seconds — and I’m sure you can beat that time — but your wife is different. I discovered my wife had a huge distraction in that we had no lock on our bedroom door and she thought one of the kids might walk in on us having sex. The very next day I put a lock on the door. My wife still calls this the fastest home improvement project I ever did! Eliminating distractions isn’t easy or always successful, but there is often a lot we can do.

By the way, when observation doesn’t get you the info you need, you can always ask her what you can do to help her know you love her. It took a while for my wife and I to learn what each of us wants and needs. Over time we developed a much clearer idea of how it works for the other person.

One more heads up with taking an interest in your wife — find out what she really enjoys in the bedroom. Just because you enjoy something does not mean your wife loves it. Communication is really important. She is unique, and no matter what the books, movies, or internet says, you need to discover what she likes. Then become better at it. I know we all think we are hot in bed, but there is always room for improvement. Make it a goal that when you are having sex, she enjoys it.

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Photo Credit: Der Wunderbare Mandarin