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Problem Corner: What would you advise a husband whose wife doesn’t want to sleep with him

Agony Aunt for Mums

I’m so chuffed, I’ve been wanting to launch ‘question corner’ for ages and out of the blue comes my first question from a blog I’m myself loving reading and recommended in my last post called ‘men did you miss an opportunity for sex with your wife?‘ by a guy called Athol Kay called ‘Married Man Sex Life’.

So Athol’s question for me is:

What would be your suggestions to husbands that have already tried all that by the wheelbarrow load and still get nowhere with their wives?‘.


Arguing Couples
What’s up with her?

So in answering this I’m going to make a pile of assumptions …

1) That husband is being reasonable and not asking for sex when wife is ill, has a problem that makes it painful, or has recently given birth, or hasn’t slept in weeks.

(To check the reasonableness of the request, husband might want to ask his mates and a couple of female friends, as he maybe oblivious to his insensitivity).

2) That husband hasn’t done anything that makes him incredibly repulsive to the wife, like put on 10stone, be horrible to her,  have affairs, or drink beer and burp in her face.

(Answer to this problem is: read Athol’s blog and follow his advice about the ‘Male Action Plan’, or read all my blogs about affairs, or basically stop being horrid)

3) That the wife isn’t suffering from any kind of depression or emotional/mental stresses that mean as much as she would love to get back to the woman who enjoyed having sex, she just can’t see a way back there.

(Answer to this problem is: She is going to need some help and you are going to have to be in this for the long game; be subtle and if that doesn’t work be forceful).

4) That the wife isn’t a complete cow who is taking him for a ride and extremely high maintenance.

To be honest I don’t have much sympathy for wives who don’t sleep with their husband when (1), (2) or (3) are not true, because it’s like saying ‘I’m not going to give you chocolate’ to a chocolate addict who lives next door to a sweet shop.  Harsh, but true.  I know that many of us marry in church and vow to stay true, but realistically this is not how life works when you push people too far and there is chocolate out there.


Which Buttons Has He Tried?

Time to stop for a while

So, husband has tried everything I suggested; making the most of a romantic situation, and using compliments, showing her you appreciate her, making physical contact (cuddles and kisses), talking about your romantic past, helping with the kids and buying her a little/big present.

If that doesn’t work then she has different buttons, or he didn’t quite get the tone right.

One thing I know is that having been with the big hairy northern one for 22 years, there are times when he is just big hairy and grumpy, and times when he is sexy and attractive, and it all depends on which buttons he pressed.

Men think that women are ’emotional beings’ and that it is difficult to work out what we want.  But actually, it is still a mental process, it’s just that we react emotionally.  Press the right buttons by doing/saying the right things, and she will be like butter, press the wrong ones and I totally agree with Athol’s blog; it’s not that she doesn’t want sex, it’s that she doesn’t want it with you (she may not know this by the way, but if someone comes along who does press the buttons, then she’ll soon realise).

So finding the buttons!  There are two types of buttons:

  • The ‘gotta be done’ ones that you get no brownie points for, but if you don’t do them you’re going to get no sex
  • The ‘golden’ ones that when used just enough, not too little and not too much, will guarantee you sex


1) Gotta Be Done Buttons

To do list
To do list

The ‘gotta be done’ ones can be pre-negotiated, like taking out the bins (trash in american) but make sure that you don’t negotiate too much stuff which you aren’t actually capable of doing, because then you get into negative points.

What you need to look out for with these is what your wife is complaining about and what’s missing in her life or whats stressing her out.

1) Is she tired?  Then share some of the load, but remember to ask her what would be helpful as you probably don’t know what needs doing or understand the house as well as her (here I’m assuming that they are not as knowledgable as the few house husbands out there who know more about the house).

2) Has she been with the kids permanently for days?  Send her off for a hot bath with candles and bubble bath for a couple of hours and make sure you don’t make a MESS!  Or send her out, whatever works for her.

3) Is she bored, especially of tidying or picking up stuff?  Hows about taking charge and getting the kids and you to do it; you might be tired from your week of work, but at least this is different, whereas for your wife it can be incredibly dull.


So you are looking to help out with the things that make her tired, bored, lethargic, stressed and basically totally unsexy.

But, there is a huge BUT.  For this to work you need to know your wife, and probably ask what she needs if in the past you have made mistakes when trying to help.

Let me give you an example from my life:

  • Doing the bins with a young baby, 2 dogs, and a 5yr old at bed time is stressful, so it is definitely something I appreciate.  When it’s forgotten or I have to attempt to drag a huge bag from the garden through the house, I’m not so pleased.
  • I’ve got 2 dogs, so I have to give the floor a quick once over every morning.  It’s boring.  It’s every day.  But if I don’t do it the kids are covered in dog hair within 5 minutes of breakfast finishing.  So doing a 5 minute job like that is helpful.  But remember to be female about it not male ;o)  What I mean is, you know how sometimes men don’t do the washing up right, so that the wife always does it so that it’s done properly?  Some may be control freaks, but most wives just want clean crockery.  So if you do something like the floor, or washing up, then make sure she doesn’t have to do it again!


2) Golden Buttons

The right present

The golden ones are the icing on the cake.  You don’t want to use too many of them because then your wife will expect too much and get spoilt, and you don’t want to use too little so that you lose momentum.

Now to do these, you really need to know your wife well, unless it’s obvious like buying clothes or flowers (Sadly for my big hairy northerner gifts don’t do it for me, so he doesn’t have such an easy option).  To find out what she loves here are some places to look:

  • What does she tend to spend her time doing?  Why does she?
  • What does she like the house to be like?  Why?
  • What does she like to spend her money on? why?
  • What’s different between what you used to do when she did like sleeping with you, and how you are with her now?
  • Then try actually asking her!

There are a couple of good books that will give both men and women a clue into the values/priorities of their partners.

There is a book by a guy called Gary Chapman called ‘The 5 Love Languages’.  He says that most people favour one of two of the five which are (I’ve translated them a bit):


  1. Compliments
  2. Quality Time/Conversation
  3. Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

Gary has written this book in quite a practical way that works for men and women, and it makes improvement in a relationship feel very achievable, but some of his follow on books would really only work for a Christian (be warned).

By the way, just because you are male, doesn’t mean that your language is physical!  If you don’t tend to be touchy feely the rest of the time, then it’s probably just one of your ‘gotta be done’ things and not a priority.  ‘Acts of Service’ can mean that for some women when you do the ‘gotta be done’ buttons, you’ll also get some ‘golden’ ones too, which is a bonus!

But the problem with these 5 options is that again, if you don’t know your wife very well, you could say the wrong things, buy the wrong things, do the wrong things, talk about the wrong things, and even touch her wrong!  If you need more than the questions I popped above, then  there is a book by my mentor Dr John Demartini called ‘The Heart of Love’.  It’s harder going, but it explains about values in much greater depth and if you stick with it you’ll definitely get to know your wife.

Let me give you an example from my life:

The compliments are actually more of a ‘gotta be done’ one for me, because without confidence I don’t feel sexy.  But the big button for me is to talk about the stuff that I love (my kids and my work), so someone has to know me pretty well to hit that button or hit it by mistake.  Anyone who looks like they are interested in what is going on in my life will seem to me like the best thing since sliced bread (whether as a friend or lover).  Extra bonus points then come from the fact that I’m really touchy feely, so hugs and kisses and just the odd touch of a hand etc will make me extra warm and friendly!  Gifts don’t work on me unless they have a huge amount of thought and didn’t cost much.

If none of these answer your question, then it’s either because:

1) A woman isn’t like a map, so it’s actually OK to ask her for directions, i.e. ask why she doesn’t want to have sex with you. It’s also OK to say that you really need an answer, even if she needs time to think about it, but that no answer isn’t good enough.  Just try to have the conversation out of the house, on neutral ground and start it off with ‘I’m feeling a bitbecause we don’t have sexis there a reason or something that I could be doing differently?

2) Or you need some more help on identifying what your partner loves and her buttons (let me know I can blog more with examples, plus you can use what you learn with everyone else, so this is a cool skill to gain)

3) I have one more answer: money!  Shall I blog about how to organise your money so that life is better and you get more sex?  Money can be a big stressor and a big subtle power struggle in a relationship, so changing how it is handled can have a mega effect on the sex life.


Mums, have you got any hints from your marriages that you would like to pass on to Athol’s readers?

It’s a huge opportunity to help those guys understand us even more (although Athol does have an extremely good understanding himself I have to say).


Since writing this blog, I’ve been thinking a lot about it some more.  I’ve written another post called ‘What makes a man sexy’, which I think simplifies it and points out that there are basically just some ‘must do’ behaviours, with some ‘make your wife feel loved’ behaviours, but that ‘sexy’ is probably a much more old fashioned and ancient concept!

8 thoughts on “Problem Corner: What would you advise a husband whose wife doesn’t want to sleep with him

  1. This is so interesting. You can see from a bloke’s point of view that it is all too confusing knowing what is enough, too much, the wrong thing etc. I would put my top two buttons as Quality Time and Acts of Service. When you have spent all day making sure everyone else is sorted, it can kind of feel like “one more thing you have to do” when you are pooped! Good grooming is one not often mentioned. As the wife of a infamous vest-wearer, I am far more likely to be in the zone directly after a good shower and shave and definately BEFORE the bloody thing is put on for the day :o)

    I am not a big fan of being pounced on out of the blue – when all the chores are done, the kids are settled and you dare to look at the TV listings for something to quiet your brain before sleep. Or, coming home from an evening out feeling in a good mood to find someone looking for “payment” … takes the edge right off.

    Being well groomed, having spent some quality time talking (nothing inflamatory and certainly nothing that includes the passion-killer “what you want to do is …”) and finding some boring, mundane or repetitive tasks done without having to ask, is a way to this woman’s heart/loins!

    It’s complicated isn’t it?

    1. Oh my goodness Amy, I’ve experienced ‘dry spells’, but that’s outrageous. Do you mind? Hope you are ok :o(

      Funnily enough I was about to write a blog post about whether having sex in marriage is a right – I’ll be very interested to hear what you say about that one.

  2. This is Amy writting again!
    The only time we had sex was on our wedding night, it was the first last and only for me. Yes I was a virgin and to this day I’m still a virgin. I can’t even remember what it was like. It only lasted about 15 minutes, and he spent the rest of the evening sitting out by the pool of our hotel. I went out to see if he was Ok and all I got was leave me alone and don’t talk to me. I went back to our room and cryed all night. All he wanted was a marriage on paper but nothing to do with me. He wasn’t very lovey before we wer married all he would do is hold hands and kiss. He never tryed to get intimate with me. and I suppose that should have been a clue as to my future. The next day we were suppose to leave on our honey moon, was I mistaken! He said he was going home and if I wanted to come along get dressed. I said what about our honey moon? I was told he had to go to work tonight and didn’t have time or desire to go. Also I could go on my own, and that I could find some one to fill the void. Now this was really upsetting me! By the way I never got dresses in time and had to take a cab home. What an uncaring B%^%^%#$D he became. When I got home he was moving all his stuff down to the basement. I said to hold on what the heck are you doing. I explained I wanted sex, love ,togetherness, kids and a happy family. His answer not from me, he told me find some one else who will care for me. Also I can have the upstairs while he lives down stairs. I couldnt ‘leave him because I wasn’t educated enough to go out on my own, also I tryed my folks and they told me you figure it out your married and don’t bother coming back. Now I was all alone, but I did find a part time job at a greeting card store, it wasn’t much but it got me away from home. The depression is terrible I’ve been going to her (shrink) for years. I’m still in the same house and learned to live alone. The church I belong to has helped alot.
    I keep praying that GOD will not let me wake up some day.. Your other question is sex in marriage a right. I think it is. But husband and wife have to be on the same page. But alot of people think no because of the growing amount of sexless marrige. The percent gets bigger every year.

    1. Wow Amy, it looks like you’ve both been affected by the times you were born in.

      I’m assuming he is either gay or impotent and wasn’t born in an era where he was free to either get help or follow his truth. You’re parents were probably scared shitless about it and thought it would be much easier to stick their heads in the sand. And of course you were born in a time when it was harder to go out on your own as a woman.

      I’m glad you are going to a shrink as although it’s not my favourite (I prefer more alternative quicker techniques), it’s a good idea to get everything out. What you could do with now though is a coach who can help you to be brave and have a look at what the world has for you (as well as the shrink).

      I’m not suggesting you leave him unless you want to. What I’m suggesting is that you sit down with a friend/coach and think about the things that you could do and enjoy to bring some sparkle into your life. E.g. off the top of my head (you might already be doing some of these) …
      – volunteering for a local charity
      – day trips around the UK
      – Trips around europe to see lovely beautiful countryside and cities
      – there are all sorts of holidays for singles – I went on one with earth watch and met a lady much older than you – they are incredible experiences
      – courses you could do (it’s rubbish that you are not clever enough – it would do you good to prove it to yourself) at your local college or university e.g. something artistic, or computer orientated, or musical, or purely for the love of learning a subject you enjoy watching documentaries about on the TV

      May I be cheeky and suggest you buy my book, you don’t need a kindle to read it ( In september version 2 will be available in paperback as well. It covers the basics of getting your foundations stronger, so that you can have the confidence to get more from your life.

      Please keep in touch lovely

  3. My partner and i are having a hard time. I love him and he loves me, of that we are sure. We had our little boy 15 months ago. My partner is in the military so he swiftly went back to work (i would be alone for a week or months just depending) and although we have had sex since the birth (quite a complicated birth) things dried up about 10 months ago. I just got more and more tired doing 80% of the childcare and going back to work 4 days a week. When my partner comes back i just want sleep. He gets home at weekends mostly but hes had 5 nights of good sleep and i feel wretched, emotional and desperate. Its so hard and I’m frightened we’ll break up because he feels neglected but i can’t even think about being intimate. I feel so unlike myself i can’t even explain it 🙁 i also don’t know how to fix it. The sleep deprivation is so extreme and just gets worse each passing week. I even feel sorry for my partner.

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