On my blog, I write predominantly about marriage and sex, and because of that, women who face problems in the bedroom often email me. And the most common complaint? “My husband doesn’t want to have sex.” A typical email says something like, “I am so sick of hearing women complain about how their husbands want it all the time. I just want my husband to want it some of the time!”
If you’re experiencing something similar, you are not alone. Many women who endure their husbands’ low sex drives, though, are often greeted with jeers from their friends—“I wish my husband would give me a break sometimes!” That doesn’t help. You feel like a freak. Why does everyone else’s husband want sex and yours doesn’t?
But you’re not a freak. In one of the surveys that I took for this book, 23 percent of the female respondents stated that they had the higher sex drive. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a 1999 study finding that 31 percent of males suffered from decreased libido, so it’s hardly a rare problem. Here are some of the causes.
About five million American men suffer from low testosterone, the hormone responsible for sexual arousal. If your husband seems to have a low libido, try to convince him to have it checked out. A simple blood test can verify whether he does indeed have low hormone levels. Assuming nothing else is wrong (often there’s an underlying disease causing low testosterone, which would have to be treated), low testosterone on its own can be corrected with hormone replacement therapy .
In some cases, male low libido is simply a physical issue. And the “biggest” culprit? Fat. Fat cells produce estrogen which works against testosterone—the libido builder—in men. The more estrogen, the less desire. Robert Rister, author and chemist who has written at length on how to cure low libido naturally says, “Nothing does more to restore male sex drive than achieving normal weight.” Beer has even been linked to erectile dysfunction. Flee from hops, and the beer gut will go away too!
Another huge libido stealer for men is pornography. The more men are into pornography, the less they are into sex in real life. Porn trains the brain to be aroused by the image, not the relationship. If your husband is into pornography, get help. Talk to a pastor. Talk to a mentor. Visit www.pureintimacy.org. Porn is not harmless, and it’s not just fun.
Addiction to porn will lower his libido, but so will addiction to just about anything. If he spends hours every night with video games or watching TV, he’s not likely to want to make love very often, either. Addiction to alcohol or a kind of drug can also lower one’s sex drive.
When addiction affects a couple’s sexual relationship, it does need to be dealt with, but remember that a genuine addiction is not easy to break. The problem is not so much that your husband is rejecting you sexually as it is that, because he is so consumed with something else, he is unable to feel aroused or excited. That consuming feeling is very difficult for him to fight against. Sure, the addiction is wrong, but you’ll be better able to help him through his struggles if you realize that chemically and emotionally, his lack of interest in sex is not necessarily a rejection of you; it is simply a physiological response to something else. Look for addiction recovery groups in your area to get advice on steps you can take to help him.
Sometimes that addiction isn’t focused on something negative—such as alcohol or video games or porn—but on something positive, such as work. And work provides an awfully strong temptation, because men tend to thrive when they feel competent. And if your husband doesn’t feel competent or involved at home, it is quite likely that he will look for other places to invest most of his energy. For many men, that place is work. They derive such satisfaction from building a business, earning money or prestige, or just working hard and accomplishing something that all of their passion, drive, and energy are devoted to work, not you.
If you berate him and nag him for not being home, you’ll likely send him running even harder for work, where he’s praised and admired. Create a home where you laugh and where you demonstrate respect and love. Carve out time to value him and have fun with him so that home life becomes a haven and a source of strength for him too.
Lack of Friendship:
Often when there is a problem in the marriage, it shows up in the bedroom. But because the symptom is in the bedroom, we often think the solution is too. So we concentrate on strategies that have to do with sex—buying lingerie, playing risqué games, using toys, watching porn, and trying new things.
In reality, the solution is often found outside the bedroom. Sex embodies our spiritual, emotional, and relational selves. If your husband has a low sex drive that isn’t due to health problems or addictions, then the best route to s solution is to work on your friendship. Spend more time together. Do something he likes even if you don’t (e.g. watching hockey games) simply so you can be together.
Don’t get lazy. Many couples live separate lives because they slowly drift into them. One night he comes home, and he’s tired so he slumps in front of the television instead of talking to her. She heads to the computer to check Facebook. And soon these separate lives become the norm. When kids arrive, it only gets worse. If you want to spice things up, don’t look at the bedroom. Look at the gym. Or the ice rink. Or the restaurant. Do stuff together. Eat dinner at an actual table where you can talk. Often this helps you feel connected, and then, even if the sex doesn’t always follow, at least you’re acting more kindly toward each other.
Lack of Respect:
Girls, watch how you talk to your husband. Undermining our men is remarkably easy. I know many Christian women who belittle their husbands in public without realizing it. When you open your mouth to say something to your husband to others, make sure that comment is something uplifting. And when you’re alone, express gratitude much more than you express criticism. But our respect for our husbands goes even further than that.
Ladies, if something is important to your husband, it should matter to you. Some men retreat simply because they get the impression they aren’t wanted, and so they try to carve out a place in the world where they can escape. Before blaming him for running away emotionally and sexually, ask yourself if you have done anything to push him out. And if you have, maybe it’s time to ask his opinion and start honoring it again.
Lack of Confidence:
Other men have trouble with libido because they’re scared of sex itself. One thirty-two-year-old woman who reports having sex less than once a month explains that the problem is her husband’s upbringing: “We’re still trying to work through the damage done by his parents’ fundamentalist teachings of sex, thus making him feel like sex is a bad thing.”
Still others suffer from fear; fear they’re not good in bed, fear that they’re inadequate compared to their past lovers, or fear that they may experience erectile dysfunction. For these emotionally based fears, the best defense is building your friendship and the trust in your relationship so that he knows you accept him completely.
 My figure of 23 percent tends to be lower than most research on the subject, but as is explain in Ch. 12, I think that is largely due to the different populations. My study was 83 percent Christian women who were active in their faith. It seems likely that in the subpopulation, male low libido is less of a factor, as we’ll look at later.
 Edward O. Laumann, Anthony Paik, Raymond C. Rosen, “Sexual Dysfunction in the united States: Prevalence and predictors,” Journal of American Medical Association 6 (February 1999): 537-44
 “Low Testosterone Reference Summary,” The Patient Education Institue, 2009
 Robert Rister, “Top Reasons for Low Libido: Sex Drive Killers,” Men’s Health, January 13, 2010
Taken with Permission from The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex by Sheila Wray Gregoire.