He Said/She Said: I Don’t Want Sex With My Husband

Dear Aaron and Rachel,

I am married with one child and and expecting another.  I am not at all attracted to my husband and have no desire for sex.  He has made it clear to me that regardless he expects and needs sex- if I withhold sex from him he will divorce me.  I do not want this because it’s not best for my child whom I love more than anything. My son would be heartbroken without his father and I could never financially provide the life for my children the way my husband and his family can.  

So because of that I need to find a way to make this work.  I almost always agree to sex whenever he asks (unless I ‘m not feeling well) but it is emotionally unpleasant to have sex because you “have to” and even when you don’t want to. But what is even more disturbing is how little that affects him.  He has had no problem using me as a human prop who lies face down, still as a doll, waiting for it to be over.  

I feel as if I am in some strange prostitution arrangement.  I understand that, being a married man, he should not have to live celibate.  I do not believe there is anything he could do to help me overcome my aversion to him at this point – the sacrificial sex has simply hardened me in a way that cannot be thawed.  That being said I would like to find a way for it not to weigh so heavily on my heart.  

Sincerely, 

Sacrificial-Sexin-Wife

She Said 

Dear Sacrificial-Sexin-Wife, Your post makes me very sad. Sex is a beautiful thing that you and your husband both deserve to enjoy. If your relationship continues as is, this “sacrificial sexin” will chip away at your self-esteem and destroy whatever respect you and your husband have left for each other.

In other words: If you want to be miserable, keep doing what you are doing. And two miserable parents will probably be worse for your child than life with two divorced parents. If you simply cannot find it in you to enjoy sex with your husband and insist on staying together for the sake of your child, you will have to come up with a plan. You have to find a way for your husband to get his sexual needs met that does not leave you feeling disgusted and objectified. Would you consider an open relationship? This type of arrangement is not without its own challenges. In your case, it may be the best option.

He Said 

You’re in a predicament that a lot of women and low desire partners have. In fact, the single most popular post on this blog is about someone in your shoes where the husband wants sex and she doesn’t. As a person and as a woman you absolutely have the right to say no to sex whenever you don’t want it. But do you mind if I ask you why you don’t want sex? It’s beautiful thing. It creates passion and connection with your partner. It’s the one thing that sets you two apart from being roommates. And sometimes there’s nothing better than a good orgasm to brighten your day.

Also, if you’re not attracted to your husband, why are you still married? It sounds like you’re married to him for the kids (which Rachel addressed above) and also for his financial stability from him and his family which is not a good basis for a relationship. In fact, it kind of makes you sound like a gold digger. You can’t change him. Only he can do that. So instead of focusing on how bad he makes you feel for wanting sex so much all you can do is focus on you. Focus on what will help you enjoy sex. And focus on what will help you regain your love and affection back into the relationship.

About Rachel:  Rachel Russo is a Dating, Relationship, & Image Coach who works with marriage-minded singles and couples in NYC and throughout the US. Checkout her website at RachelRusso.com

About Aaron: Aaron Anderson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, owner of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado and writer for various websites on marriage and relationships.

28 Responses to He Said/She Said: I Don’t Want Sex With My Husband

  1. "but it is emotionally unpleasant to have sex because you "have to" and even when you don't want to. But what is even more disturbing is how little that affects him."
    This is one of the most telling points for me. A man who acts entitled and with little empathy may succeed on one night stands. In marriage? He becomes one of the most unattractive men on earth. This guy needs a reality check as well regarding male attractiveness.

  2. I feel a lot of women are in this very situation. After being married for a while and/or having children, sex takes a back burner and the desire for sex almost disappears. I have been fighting the same feelings for years. I love my husband but I am no longer aroused by sex which makes it feel like an undesired chore. He still loves sex but that is because he still physically needs it. I don't. The passion and desire are gone. Trying to make yourself enjoy something you don't want almost makes it worse. I believe women have been fighting this inner battle and having sacrificial sex since the beginning of time. So, if you want to stay in the relationship, try a date night. That way he will leave you alone except for that one night and you can gear yourself up emotionally to get ready to have sex. It might help it be more tolerable for you.
    PS: you are not a gold digger. It sounds like you are putting the welfare of your children first. To me, that is the fundamental basis of marriage: the founding and maintaining of a family. (not sex)

  3. Very common. If you want to stay married, find a way to get through it once a week. Wine? Date night is a great idea. You can mentally prepare, have wine and try to feel sexy. Close your eyes. I'm serious. Sadly.

  4. I also agree that you don't sound like a Gold Digger at all. I'm surprised that the therapist Aaron said that in his reply – it's a bit short sighted in my opinion. Many women find themselves in the situation of having a family with young children, yet find that their relationship with their husband is not particularly healthy anymore. This could be for a number of reasons. Many women end up putting their careers on hold to start a family so are subsequently less financially independent in comparison to their working spouse. Of course you think of your children first. This doesn't make you a gold digger, it means you are putting the well-being of your children first. You can't just up and leave with no job and no savings.
    I think it is very common for one partner to feel the way you are feeling. In my humble opinion, the first thing to try would be to find the cause of the problem and to ascertain if you both want to remedy the situation and get things back to "old times". If you both feel that way then I'm sure it can be done. If one of you doesn't really want this and is determined to leave then that's a different story.
    I can't help feeling that the advice from both therapists on this post is a little harsh and short sighted. The first port of call is surely to be able to communicate more (which is something that women need, yet men don't necessarily get this as their innate needs are different), not to dive into an open relationship. Save what can be saved, and go from there.
    I think something men don't always realise is it can be the tiniest, simplest of things that can help to bring a spark back into a relationship. A secret "I love you" note slipped into your handbag, a cup of tea made for you in the morning, asking how your day has been… sometimes the smallest things show your partner that you are considering them and thinking of them. These small considerations often fall by the wayside when busy hectic lives get in the way. I find that those tiny simple considerations can go a long way in building the gap between husbands and wives.

  5. After having a kid, being pregnant, feeling exhausted, and being threatened by your husband to provide sex or else, you can kiss the connection and passion right out the window.

    This guy needs a reality check! He is causing his wife to hate sex. He needs to back off for a while and let her find her equilibrium.

    He won't die from being too horny for a few months. Who's the cruel one here? Threatening a pregnant woman that he will leave her if she doesn't provide the sex he feel he deserves? That's the epitome of selfishness.

    And men wonder why their partners shut down.

  6. To call her a golddigger…. that's disgusting.
    What kind of therapist are you.?!

    I understand how she feels because I sometimes want to leave my husband as well. I am a stay at home mom. I have no money to give my baby and I a good start. And it's hard. So I understand what she means about staying because he provides financially. Sigh… it's a frustrating situation to be in.

  7. I feel bad for your man, marriage is a contract and sex is a part of that contract. Like take care of your man, and men fuck your wives. I won't blame him if he leaves you, I would if I wasn't getting any and you made me feel guilty for asking or wanting sex with my wife. Omg

  8. "I feel bad for your man, marriage is a contract and sex is a part of that contract. Like take care of your man, and men fuck your wives. I won't blame him if he leaves you, I would if I wasn't getting any and you made me feel guilty for asking or wanting sex with my wife. Omg" –I must say, I feel bad for whomever ends up with you. Marriage is NOT a contract. Grown adults can take care of themselves. Men and women do not "need" to take care of their spouses.

    I also feel the therapists in this thread were negligent in answering your question.

    We're in different times then women were in the 20th century. The mindset of "take care of your man sexually or he'll find it somewhere else" is derived from when women couldn't leave and support themselves. Embrace modern times!

    You have two choices: Leave or make it work–and really make it work. Not too keep him but because it's what YOU want.

    If you want to leave, it's normal to feel frightened. It's normal to feel like you cannot do it alone. You've been doing it with a partner and now you're suddenly faced with doing it alone–it's frightening but women do it all the time and so can you.

    If you want to stay, stay because you love this man and you want to make it work. Then communicate. It seems to me that communication is a problem here.

    Yes, your husband could find it else where, but so can you. Don't feel trapped. You're not trapped.

    If your husband demands it, then it might be an indication that their are problems, intimacy related, with him. There are ways to be intimate that do not involve sex. It seems to me that he's getting the "sex" he so demands but you're not getting the intimacy that you need.

  9. Wow. I would like if Aaron Anderson actually posted a public apology for that gold digger comment. I cannot believe that a licensed therapist would dare to give such an advice. What planet do you live, Aaron? Here on Planet Earth we are having some difficult economic times, where families with kids struggle even more than before. Moms who chose to stay at home and been out of the workforce for long, often have extremely hard time to rejoin and find work to support themselves and their children. It did not seem to me that she is desperately clinging on a rich lifestyle with yachts and diamond rings to potentially lose out on. Hello. Reality for many of us, stay at home moms is that we are unable (!!) to leave difficult or sad life situations due to the extreme problems it would cause to our children, financially speaking. Extreme problems, such as lack of roof over our heads or food to eat. Trying to prevent that does not make one into a gold digger, but a human being who is capable to think and a good hearted person who is obviously giving up her own needs and happiness for the sake of her children's. What blatant public display from a male therapist, so obvious where his sympathy lies. Guys gotta support guys, I presume? If you are unable to set your personal feelings aside and stop being condescending to a female reader in a difficult situation, maybe you should give your diploma back. I know most of you men view women who chose to stay, for financial reasons, as gold diggers. Shame on you for letting this interfere with your professional judgement.
    I know what it is like to be hopelessly stuck in a similar situation. I love my husband, albeit not romantically or sexually..he's a good provider and he loves his kids. I have given up my education and career and for 15 years I was out of the workforce to raise our children. I am past 40 now, my former education is outdated. I raised 4 kids, every day putting their need ahead of mine. Our sex life has been terrible from day one. Neither him nor i had previous sexual experience due to religious upbringing. Whatever desire I may have had for him, disappeared into thin air over the first few years, pregnancies, those insane years of having many little ones around the house. I do not want to have sex with him, in fact the mere thought makes me feel sick.. but I recognize his need for physical intimacy and I recommended to open up our marriage as a solution, which he flat out refused. He's still religious. Me I am not anymore. Lost all my faith and devotion over the years. I cannot leave, even though I recognize his needs, because where we live, between housing and child care costs, we'd go broke in a month, trying to keep up two separate households. Or should I leave and take my kids to the women's shelter, even though he is not abusive and their lives are not in danger -I just loathe sex with him? What loving mother could do this to their children unless their lives are in acute danger? Nope, I stay..and endure. This, dear Aaron, does not make me a gold digger. We are putting our needs for love and happiness behind our kids' needs to have a safe home and food to eat. We are occasionally forcing ourselves to give over our bodies to sex which we hate and loathe, just for the pleasure of our husbands, because we have none in it. We come last, between nagging kids and nagging husbands. I am sorry but professional or not, you do not get to tell a lady in such a situation that she is a gold digger. Get off that high horse and rid of that condescending tone. Have and show some mercy to people stuck in miserable situations. She is stuck for her kids' sake. I am highly disgusted of your response and I once again hope you will issue an apology, not only to this poor lady but to all of us whom you seriously offended here. And I hope they'll replace you with a more understanding male therapist here because in my eyes this response disqualified you from doing your job here online, and in real life equally.

    • I really liked your comment too. Not just about the poor therapy advice, but because your situation sounds so similar to mine. My husband isn’t abusive. He does need to learn to control his temper better and he is immature but overall he’s not a bad father. Some of these poor women are in a violent, abusive relationship and I can’t relate because it’s not that bad for me. I respect him as a person, but after being together for 10 years, I can say with confidence that he is not for me. Our relationship has sucked since pretty much day one and I feel really stupid for getting married. Now we have 2 kids and I stay for financial reasons. I don’t hide it and he knows how I feel, but he still thinks “whats the big deal, how come you can’t give me 10 minutes of sex”. Just no comprehension how that attitude makes me hate it even more.

  10. I feel exactly the same way. I LOVE my husband so much. We have 3 children together, and I am a stay at home Mom. He wants sex all the time, but to me it feels like a chore. I don't care about orgasms. Whoopti do. I just feel bad because he wants it everyday and I would be happy with once a month…. I would almost rather be a roommate. He is so attractive and I love him. I am just not into sex anymore. Never really was, I guess. I feel so bad because he is such a good man and has needs.

  11. Calling a pregnant mother a gold digger is wrong, plain and simple. If you were not a mother and simply married and staying in the marriage for $ then that's a different story. Although not completely black and white…… maybe you put your career on hold to somehow help him go after his dreams…. one example is when a spouse gives up their dreams and what they good at doing to help the other start a business in the hopes that that will be best for all. Then the marriage goes south and the one who sacrificed needs a little time or support to get back on his/her feet. A marriage is a partnership and if one sacrificed for the better good, needing help before walking out, is not being a gold digger!!!

    Now as far as your husband's threat….. as wrong as it is, be grateful for the honest. At least you know what you are working with……

    My advice is that you do one of the following:
    1. If you trust him and you still want to, try to save the marriage. An unhappy home is not a good place for kids and they can sense that, trust me.
    2. Plan you exit, but start with a decent therapist or clergy. Give it all you have got to end up as friends, family, and partners in the effort to continue raising your kids. As hurt as you both may be or become, you need to try your best to show a level of respect and appreciation for each other. Explain to him that this is what is best for the kids. You might get along better as friends.
    3. It all else fails, hire a lawyer, but make sure you have a plan for you and your kids.
    Also remember that different states have different laws. Here in Florida, it's a no fault divorce deal and the courts push for 50/50 custody. In other words…… stay at home moms are not valued as they should be

  12. I can understand the lady. It is not her fault that her mind, body & soul is not attracted to sex anymore. She is not doing is purposely…it's hard to fake it or force it. Many women tend to reach a higher consciousness level with age, maturity & time. The basic cravings tend to disappear as the human evolution goes to a higher consciousness level. Sex is not a vital need while air, food and water is. The aim of sex is to reproduce, the other chemistry, emotions, behind is just the pulling factor to make it happen. With time some women's mind understands it and the function is deactivated in them, and it is not even purposely, it is a natural process. Women have more developed intuition and 6th sense, the reason why they were given the honor to carry life. It is not the fault of the man either as he is different with lower development in consciousness. He also he is not doing it on purpose, his body and mind is still stuck in lower realm and cravings which are not necessarily vital. Instead of making better use of the brain, he prefers to invest it in sex while women prefers to invest their brain in something. Though the man is bringing money home, it is the woman who is doing the work behind the scene. She is producing positive energy to make it happen while the man is losing all his energy in thinking about sex…again I mention that it is not anyone's fault, this is a difference in level of consciousness and brain development. Think about animals – their needs ar very much close to that of men. While the women species has been through higher evolution – well not all but most who are nomes attracted to sex…a basic animal need, nothing special about it.

    • What??? “The basic cravings tend to disappear as the human evolution goes to a higher consciousness level.” >>You have no understanding of the bonding that becomes part of the relationship just because of sex. ( And I am not talking about penis in vagina, slam, bang we are done Mame sex).

      You prattle off this stuff about higher consciousness and yet you have no sense of the world around you. (Too much incense would be my guess). I would absolutely bet you have never had a close intimate loving relationship with ANY man.

      Please do not become involved with ANY healthy man in your life’s journey. At the very least give the man a “heads-up” on what a Neanderthal you take him for in his unevolved state. Give him a fair chance to run.

      Human touch is a most profound need (YES dammit…like air, water, and food) that all humans crave from birth. No human touch is more profound than intimate human touch. The effect on the brain, body and the relationship cannot be understated.

      Show me a couple who are not regularly intimate and I will show you a couple too old, too sick, or too distant from one another.

      This particular post was from a woman who stated that she was not attracted to her husband anymore. She was not interested in sex WITH HIM. You are reading something into the post to say this woman has “evolved” beyond needing sex. Present her with a new rooster and this chicken will come alive again.

      There is a deeper problem between these two than the surface text is telling you. They both should get qualified counseling and work on WHY they are so estranged. MAYBE the sex he is having with her is not desirable sex. Maybe HE needs to consider the needs of his wife which far extend beyond the bedroom. If I were that husband I would not want sex with my wife at all. They make sex toys for that. If you can’t have an enthusiastic partner why would you want one at all?

      Neither of the answers provided addressed the root issue. This couple needs help in many areas of their relationship besides the sex. Sex is but the tip of the iceberg you can see. Fix the relationship and I’ll bet the sex takes care of itself.

    • You can call it evolved, or higher consciousness if you want to – I call it broken. Once the physical side of our marriage went away so did our passion for each other. After 8 years of “no, but thanks” I have no passion for her anymore. That feels weird and bad, but it feels even worse to know NO ONE on this earth has a passion for me. It makes me feel broken and sort of inadequate.

      I won’t leave her. I have an obligation to continue to support this family we created. More importantly, I love my 3 kids and want to be an active/daily part of their lives. Plus I don’t see the sense in making our problem theirs. We don’t hate each other, so there is, at least, peace in our house.

      But it’s not an “evolved” thing. It’s hollow. Probably for both of us although our situation seems more unequally suited for her wants and needs.

  13. Wow… U have described me to a T. I have given my husband permission to have sex with others, but he's religious and won't. I love mine, but I have no desire to have sex with him anymore. I do it to keep him happy. He's trying to improve because I have said I need more… But I've lost that passion for him.. Its been gone for over a decade. I stay for the kids… There's no way that I would hurt my family over sex.

  14. If you don't want sex with your spouse, then you are broken. It's your problem. It's up to you to fix it. the desire for sex with a loved one is a normal human response. If you aren't experiencing that then you are NOT normal. If you can't fix the problem then expect your husband to look elsewhere for sex and you should allow that. Just don't be surprised if the love disappears, because sex and love go together eventually.

    • Raping your wife is normal?
      Desiring a rapist is normal?
      Men raping their wives during pregnancy and cutting off support to their unborn child and trying to make the wife homeless if she resists being raped is normal?
      Sexual satisfaction with a young baby or newborn is normal?

      Who are theses freaking weirdos and where did I come from and how did I end up in a planet with such stupid people and what would love have to do with a man like that?

      Are people really this dumb?

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  16. "If you don't want sex with your spouse, then you are broken. It's your problem. It's up to you to fix it. the desire for sex with a loved one is a normal human response. If you aren't experiencing that then you are NOT normal. If you can't fix the problem then expect your husband to look elsewhere for sex and you should allow that. Just don't be surprised if the love disappears, because sex and love go together eventually."

    What an idiotic and ignorant comment. Firstly, there can be love without sex, just as there can be sex without love. Asexuals exist, after all. Sexual desire and attraction are NOT synonymous with intimate relationships; in fact, many loving married couples choose to decrease the frequency of sex as they get older (and presumably closer to each other), or even do away with it all together.

    As for OP's concern, I would agree with the advice from the first therapist to a certain extent — if leaving would induce significant financial hardship for the mother and child, I would first suggest the raising option of an "open marriage" for her husband. Personally, I could never allow somebody to "sexually use" my body against my will in the manner like her husband does. Reading that really disgusted me, and I would start hating my spouse very quickly, but I understand that the OP sees no other choice but to put up with it for the sake of her children — and this is a terrible situation. How her husband could treat his spouse like that, is beyond me.

    If I were the OP, and the "open marriage" suggestion doesn't work, I would find any way to find a job and leave. Child custody SHOULD be at least 50/50, so even if the OP worries she won't make enough to cover rent and/or food, she should know that her husband would be expected to pay child support (or equal custody and care of the children), so that her and the children do not starve or become homeless.

  17. I too am in the same position.
    I no longer have sexual desire for my husband. The kissing, touching. None of it. I always fell victim for past 4 yrs of just laying there for sex. No orgasms. Just resentment. I also feel I can’t leave him bc of kids and finances. But what I’m finding now is I’m extremely horney and unsatisfied bc even if I wanted too, sex with my husband is no longer fulfilling. It’s like the min I see him, I loose my sexual desire.

  18. That gold digger comment was out of line. Can’t believe this guy is a professional counsellor. The bar seems to be quite low if there are counsellors like these out there, shame.

    • okay, okay. maybe the golddigger comment was a bit out of line. So what do you call it when a woman is with a man for his money?

  19. Wow. Dear Aaron has conflated a mother who also has another on the way who wants 2 provide for her AND HER HUSBANDS OFFSPRING and dsnt want to be forced into f*€k with a person who’s in it for bling. This means dear Aaron may not be able to tell the difference. This might mean Aaron is less a therapist & more of a misogynist maquerading as therapist. Walks like a duck. Quacks like a duck. It’s a fake therapist.

  20. You know I love being broken, married 50 years and I stopped sex and intimacy with wife almost 40 years ago. She is boring and a prude and never planed on changing.Well I didn’t agree with that logic and to fix the problem I stopped any interaction with her. I didn’t have much of a problem stopping sex, I just decided work the night shift was my sex. And it worked! I won’t talk to her or even be near her, I built myself a small cottage on our property and that’s my home. I still do all the maintance around the house when shes not home or off on vacation. So being broken is fine with me, I’m to old to care any more and couldn’t have sex any way.

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