Agony Aunt for Mums

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

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!