Advice: My husband doesn’t want to have sex

Ed. note: Today our columnists are answering two similar questions that came in within days of one another.

Dear Love InshAllah,

I am happily married, and have been so for the past six years. Our sex drives, though, were never compatible; last year we had a very open and loving discussion where I suggested that he might be asexual. After some consideration, he agreed. Sex wasn’t very often (maybe 1-2 times a year) but now it is nothing. I’m not comfortable discussing this with my Imam, who is fairly conservative. Although my husband doesn’t have a sex drive, I do. I’m a sex-positive person, but don’t know how to navigate this issue in my life. I’ve been praying (for years) but am still stuck. I’m not interested in divorce; we’re very compatible in almost every other way. Is touching and physical intimacy no longer a part of my life?

Sincerely,
My Husband is Asexual

–and–

Dear Love InshAllah,

I have been married for nearly three years now. The problem is that I have a high sex drive while my husband has little or at times no sex drive. We go 2-3 months without having sex. It leaves me so frustrated mentally and physically! When we do have sex, it is over within a minute or two which is even more frustrating. Lately I have been thinking about satisfying myself because this frustration is killing me, but I don’t feel like going down this path. I have started working out to vent out that pent up sexual energy but still sometimes it gets overwhelming. I have tried dressing provocatively, talking dirty, and discussing this problem with my husband but, according to him, I am the one who has a problem. Please help me. What should I do? I am going crazy.

Sincerely,
A Lonely Wife

Shy Desi Boy replies:

One of the best things about writing this column anonymously is that I can reveal things about myself that I would normally not disclose, like this: I had a nearly sexless marriage.

So many other things worked—we had great intellectual chemistry, we liked the same TV shows, we enjoyed sleeping in late on Sundays, we prayed together, and most essentially, we both believed that nutella is, indeed, a balanced meal. But we had lousy sex.

I thought it’s cool— everything else is working out so why end something that is otherwise so beautiful? I had been with other women before marriage (and really enjoyed being intimate with them) but never had intercourse.

There are lots of reasons why my married sex life was awful. Part of the reason is that I never addressed my depression or my unhappiness at work. I carried so much stress from my shitty boss and I returned home so defeated that all I wanted to do was watch Jon Stewart, laugh, and go to sleep. Another reason is that I had stopped exercising and my energy level dropped. So even when we did have sex, it rarely lasted more than a few minutes. I started thinking: no sex is better than bad sex. Or I will just masturbate. Neither of these are healthy choices, I later learned.

The fault was not all mine. My partner had never been with anyone before marriage and I tried to teach her about performing/receiving oral sex or experimenting with different positions (all things I very much enjoy) but our bodies’ chemistries never aligned. We bought books, saw a counselor but everything was just off. I thought—maybe I am gay? But that never made sense because I have never found myself physically attracted to other males.

For a variety of reasons (not just sexual), the marriage ended. A year later, I began dating but unlike the dating I did before marriage, this time I decided I would have sex.

It was spectacular. I realized how much I love having sex and how much my mood, my concentration, my patience, my health is all better when I have great sex. And I learned that a great sex life must be a central part to any relationship that I am in. Till this today, I have wonderful sex and I owe it all to my previous life of, well, miserable sex.

What I realized from the experience was I did not know what good sex was like and so it was easy for me to say, “it is OK for me to have lousy sex.” Now I realize I cannot be happy in a relationship without great physical intimacy. It simply means too much to me.

So what advice can I give? You have expressed a desire to stay in your marriage so here are a few ideas: get your partner to start exercising, explain to him how hurt you feel when he rejects your advances and how much you miss sex, consider asking him to see a therapist and consider doing the same for yourself to cope with his low libido.

Because you, dear reader, are not the problem. It is not what you wear or how you look or what things you do/do not whisper in his ear. This is his problem and his unwillingness to perform a duty—yes I used that word duty—of marriage.

I know you both expressed a desire to continue your marriage and I respect that. But as Dan Savage writes brilliantly in his column, there are only really two options: “living with it” or “working around it.” Otherwise Savage echoes the same advice I offer you: “If it turns out that neither option works for you as a couple—because the first option sucks for you, the second option sucks for him—then you’ll have to end this marriage.”

I am very sorry you are both experiencing this. Regardless of what you chose, I wish you both many happy days ahead and more importantly, many pleasure-fulfilled nights

Ms. Sunshine replies:

To My Husband is Asexual:

Asexuality, or the absence of sexual attraction, is often self-diagnosed. Asexuals can have romantic attractions, and some even become aroused, but they do not experience sexual attraction to other people. I can see why you may think your husband is asexual. And while it is possible that your husband is truly asexual, depression and low testosterone levels are just a couple of the many reasons your husband may lack libido.

Sexual frustration can lead to feelings of resentment for you and guilt for him. Over time those emotions can creep in and poison the aspects of your relationship that are currently nurturing and fulfilling. Before you decide that your only options are a lifetime of sexual frustration or life without the man you currently love, I suggest you discuss getting some professional help. Begin with your general practitioner to rule out hormonal or other physical issues. If there are no physical issues, then you may want to invest your resources in finding a sex therapist, a psychotherapist that specializes in sexual issues, who can help you find solutions. Some asexuals are comfortable engaging in sexual activity to please their partners. You’ve invested six years of your life in what seems like a lovely marriage; it’s worthwhile to invest the time, money, and effort in solving this problem with an sensitive and qualified expert.

To Lonely Wife:

You have the right to sexual fulfillment within your marriage. Wanting to have sex with your spouse is not a problem; it’s a critical part of a happy marriage for most people. Your husband’s response is cruel. He may be feeling defensive, and that is understandable, but it is not acceptable for him to ignore your needs or toss accusations your way when you want to work through things.

In many– if not most– cultures, sexual prowess is inextricably linked with masculinity. It’s possible that you are saying “I’m not fulfilled,” and he is hearing “You’re not a enough of a man.” It’s crucial for you to have this discussion with your husband in a frank, and respectful manner, but it is clearly a very touchy subject for him. It may help to change your approach.

A carefully worded letter, handed to him to read in private, may help him process your feelings and deal with his without feeling as threatened as he might if you were standing in front of him. You should focus on “I” statements and avoid trying to diagnose him. Writing things like “I miss making love to you and I feel alone and sexually frustrated,” or “I am worried about the impact this is having on our marriage” may help him empathize with your struggle without feeling like you are blaming or shaming him. You can’t tiptoe around him forever, though, and while a change in approach may help, there is no guarantee. As things stand, he has been very disrespectful toward you and whether it’s through a letter, a conversation, or meeting with a third party, you’re going to have to get to the bottom of this.

I also recommend counseling for the two of you. As I suggested above, there may be a medical reason for your husband’s low libido and it would be wise for him to see a qualified medical practitioner.

I wish you both the best!


18 Comments on “Advice: My husband doesn’t want to have sex”

  1. RevKathE says:

    This can be organic. Men with low sex drives often have little or no testosterone. A urologist can do some lab work and prescribe testosterone cream or injections. Also when blood vessel integrity is compromised because of diabetes and clogged arteries the plumbing does not work. Many men have no idea their sugar has been high without a hemoblogin A1c test and a friend everyone thought was fairly healthy ended up needing a quintuple bypass and only found out when he was hospitalized for pneumonia and the doctor told him the lack of blood and oxygen caused his body to bbe too tired to function correctly. Before I labeled him asexual I’d have him get a thorough check up/physical

  2. JC says:

    To both sisters, keep in mind that Islamically, it is the right of each spouse to be sexually satisfied with the other, and the *responsibility* of each spouse to make sure their spouse is sexually satisfied with them. In fact, many scholars have even held a marriage to be “voidable” if the husband refuses to have sex with is wife for more than 4 months – i.e., it is a legitimate demand that you be sexually satisfied by your husband.

    But that’s not realistic advice – that won’t get your husbands to increase their sexual activity with you. I DO think that the above post makes sense – there is such a thing as low testosterone levels (which can have other harmful effects too), so they should both be checked out medically anyway. Once you’ve ruled out a hormonal issue, the issue is an emotional one. You’ve both told us of your feelings – you need to find out WHY your husbands are not interested in sexual activity with you, and then formulate a plan on how to address THAT issue, whatever it may be. It may be, as DesiShyBoy says, external factors relating to stress, job, family, etc. It may be dissatisfaction in the marriage. It may be an affair. It may be drug use. It may be cancer. It may be a million and one things, but until you have a better idea of what it may be, you won’t be able to address it. Definitely seek professional help – sex counseling, marriage counseling, etc. I highly DISCOURAGE going to your Imam or any family member. Generally, Imams are not trained in how to handle this type of issue (although there are a few who are excellent counselors even in this area). Even non-Muslim counselors may be able to help identify a sexual disorder, dysfunction, or other psycho-social issue that his holding him back.

    Once/if you are able to increase the amount of times you have sex, then you can work on the quality – but you have to convince him that he has to invest in it himself too – he should work on building his own “stamina” and focus on making YOU climax, and doing whatever he needs to to hold off his own orgasm – he owes you that much at this point – plus it’ll be better for him too. He has to be willing to let go and get into it.

    That’s probably the hardest part – “letting go” and just having fun. Good luck sisters.

  3. vampyremage says:

    As an asexual in a mixed relationship with a sexual partner, I feel as if I have a unique perspective to add to his discussion. Mixed relationships between sexual and asexual partners can and do work. However, working takes loads of patience and even more open and honest communication between partners. Discuss, without judgement, what you feel is lacking in the relationship. Discuss your needs, desires and the things you are willing to compromise on and those you are not and ensure that such a discussion goes both ways. Being in a relationship with an asexual does not necessarily mean that you need live without sex. However, it is very important to have the discussion regarding what the needs of both parties involved are and how to best meet those needs.

    Often in mixed relationships there are compromises that can and are made. Both partners might, for example, be willing to settle for sex once a month when the sexual partner would really prefer once a week and the asexual partner might prefer never. Figuring out a middle ground and a way to stick to that middle ground can help a lot. Another option to consider are activities in which the asexual partner might be more comfortable with than other activities. The level, duration and frequency of sexual activity that an asexual partner is willing and comfortable to engage in will differ from relationship to relationship and individual to individual. Again, I cannot reiterate enough just how important open and honest two way communication is in allowing for a mixed relationship to work.

    Finally, I want to add that asexuality is not an illness to be ‘diagnosed’. Asexuality is an orientation that denotes a lack of sexual attraction. Only the individual in question can decide if he/she is asexual and being asexual does not mean there is anything wrong with that individual that needs to be fixed. Understanding, acceptance and compromise must go both ways.

  4. Reblogged this on pengantin pelik and commented:
    Reposting this just because this is something hardly discussed and vocalised in my community, because sex is a taboo topic (even within marriage) and women don’t have sexual desires. Ok I’m obviously being sarcastic on that last part. ;p

  5. Abdullah says:

    This verse often intrigues me.
    …then when they have cleansed themselves, go in to them as Allah has commanded you; surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him), and He loves those who purify themselves 2:222
    This verse seems to suggest that sex is not optional for married couples. It is an obligation just like Salaat and Zakaat. It is also a means of expiation of sin and purifying the soul.
    To keep ones spouse sexually satisfied is a form of jihaad. It is also a form of generosity. It has so many forms of worship inter-wined within it!
    If your spouse is not fulfilling your sexual needs, tell them that they are not being a good Muslim by neglecting their partners needs. It is a sign of a bad Muslim; a person who is selfish and impious.
    If your spouse is not selfish they might look into the many herbal aphrodisiacs (see Dr. Sahelian’s website) or go to a Dr. and get some Viagra or something.
    Yes, picking up a sex toy from amazon.com is an option but this should not be a long term solution, only short term. Sexual intimacy is not only about sex. It makes a human feel good in many other ways.
    Finally, tell your spouse that divorce is the only inevitable option if they don’t solve this problem. Perhaps they will realize how serious this issue is to you.
    Prolonging the suffering by staying married will only increase your resentment.
    May God help you.

  6. Zara says:

    Hi just a medical student passing by. There is probably a reason for your husbands low libido such as a prolactin secreting tumor or another reason for abnormal/low hormone levels. This can be treated so he can begin to have a normal, healthy sexual drive. I urge you to get him to see a doctor. Hope this helps!

  7. sadia says:

    i dont want to sex with my husband because he got 2nd marrige after me we are living a happy life with our son but i hate my husband when he came home back after meeting his 2nd wife every week

    • mia says:

      That is really sad. I would not be able to live in that kind of a marriage. I don’t know where you are from, but I have a feeling he doesn’t leave a lot of room for discussion about these topics in the marriage. A man can have a 2nd wife without the permission of the first, BUT is it worth ruining your relationship with the first wife and his family with the first wife? I wish men understood that.

      I will pray for you. I think you have to make a decision about whether you want to live in a marriage where you feel unloved and miserable.

    • Sarah says:

      Salaam alaikom

      Why don’t you divorce him then? I would never accept that. If lack of sex is a reason to divorce, how could this not be? This is an even bigger reason (for those who oppose that), because you are hurt, you feel sick, you feel miserable and depressed. Is it worth staying in a marriage that makes you feel so bad? I would urge you to divorce him if you feel you can’t live like this, because your health and well being is more important than “staying loyal” when your husband is sharing himself with another woman.

  8. N. C. says:

    I concur with previous readers that first check with a doctor for any imbalances hormonally or other illnesses. And according to the following Islamic text, Marriage and Morals in Islam, by Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi the wife has the right to intimacy

    (C) Are there days and times when sexual intercourse is recommended?

    Yes we have certain ahadith which say that it is better to have sexual intercourse at these times:

    i. Sunday night;

    ii. Monday night;

    iii. Wednesday night;

    iv. Thursday noon;

    v. Thursday night;

    vi. Friday evening;

    vii. whenever the wife wants to have sex.

    Thursday and Friday are weekends in the Islamic calendar!

    (D) Are there times when it is obligatory (wajib) to have sexual intercourse?

    Yes! It is wajib on man to have sex with his wife at least once in every four months; this is considered as one of the conjugal rights of the wife. This obligation stays in force unless there is a valid excuse or the wife waives her right.

  9. KnightOfTheArtTable says:

    I agree with the other persons replies. Try talking again. I’m not married, but I do understand what it’s like to be severely sexually fustrated. When your body wants it. IT WANTS IT. And no matter how hard you try you can’t forget about it. The way Lonely Wife’s husband reacted to her was very cruel. It is not a problem to want sex with the person with you love. It should be something valued as an intimate moment between a husband and wife. The two becoming one flesh as it were (bible quote) so yes. Try to explain things again and explain how much it hurts you. The odd time my partner doesn’t want to have sex with me, I feel quite upset sometimes . It makes me feel un wanted (but it probably bothers me more than it should because I have a huge sex drive and he’s my first) but yes I do understand. Best wishes x

  10. aysh says:

    Am having this problem with my husband and I need help please. Am young and just married for two yrs. I got pregnant early just 3-4m after marriage. When I was 4m pregnant we were hvn sex with my husband nd he said he taste something like water from my breast, he immediately stop sucking it n started biting me at d side of my breast which was painful I was trying to endure but I couldn’t so I told him. After he stops and penetrate me n got satisfied he did not hv sex with me again till after I gave birth. 3m after birth. I got stitches when givn birth, as am trying my best to heal he was busy chatting sexy thing with his married girl friend which I later saw. We talk things together understand each other and he stops chatting with her though am not 100per sure. But now my main problem is that he don’t want havn sex with me till like after 3m and when in sex I use to feel he is satisfied but he dnt cake if I am. Sometime he will start romancing me in the sitting room, he will do it whilr he is watching football or so. As soon as he got satisfied he will continue watching his ball and live me there. I dnont knw what to do or how to interprete what he means. Pls help me. I use to thing am not sweet may be but a take a lot of medicine that helps sexually and he make a lot of noice and satisfaction sound when with me. And he also watches porns and engage himself in all those social networks. What can I do pls?

    • Sarah says:

      Salam alaikom

      Why are you married to him? Does he love you? You must tell him to stop watching porn and chatting with girls, it is haram and he is sinning. Don’t just sit there and be quiet when he does these things, you need to speak up and show him that this is serious. As for the sex issue: same thing there, TALK to him. TELL him that you need to be satisfied and if he does not satisfy you, what will you do? Divorce him and marry someone who can satisfy you?That will make him listen for sure. But I think the most important problem you need to address is that he is watching porn and talking to other women.

  11. Confused wife says:

    Hi, im 36 yrs of age and my husband is 45, We been together for 15 yrs and for the past years i cld say that my husband have high sex drive. But lately he is complaining nodules(bukol) on his scrotum which he notice 7 yrs ago. Then lately im doubting that he’s having an affair….to my suprise 1 night upon our chat he inform me that he had sex relation with man during his teen days. And now i got much worried that he been too close with his guy friend and ask him if they have relation and not reply. Then as wife i keep on asking and he became defensive. As i observe after the fight he tries to limit seeing the guy friend and try to please me. But lately we dont have sex and to the extend he gets violent when i started with him and said bad words like im horny woman i have mental problems and even if i dint tell he knows what i been thinking… In short defensive.
    is it because of nodules on the scrotum which his sex drive got affected or is he a gay? That’s why dont care about me anymore?
    Also, before i got frick out when he and his guy friend watches dvd and lock in our room.but after i confronted they never did it again. Help me.

  12. Mary Ann says:

    Life is short let’s have a lots of safe sex. When is a lack of intimacy, most likely there is no more chemistry.

  13. […] The other popular question was: Why doesn’t my husband want to have sex? […]

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