SEX: When The Husband Doesn’t Want To Make Love

What do you do when your husband doesn’t want to make love? You will find this question plus an answer to it given below by sex therapists, Dr Clifford and Joyce Penner:Upset husband and angry wife in bed - Adobe Stock

Question: My husband and I are newlyweds; but we only have sex about three times a month. My husband doesn’t want to make love. He just says he is unwilling to become more affectionate toward me. Sometimes when I bring up the subject, he pushes me away or gets sarcastic. Am I doing something wrong?


Eventually, you might need to see a counselor; but you can start with self-help. Begin by sorting out with your husband the source of his resistance to sexual intimacy. Ask him if you are doing something wrong. It will be important for him to feel that you genuinely care for him as you attempt to understand what is causing him to avoid sex. Review the following reasons men are resistant to sex.

Childhood experiences

Men who were raised without intimacy (especially the lack of bonding during the first years of life) end up resisting sex. They have sexual drive but no capacity for closeness and warmth with a woman. The sexual retraining process of gradually learning to give and receive pleasure can help a man gain the capacity and desire for intimacy. However, he has to be willing. The decision to pursue sexual closeness may require the help of a therapist.

Sexual addiction

If your husband is uncomfortable with intimacy, he is probably finding sexual release through self-stimulation. A sexual addiction may lead him to get sexual release by looking at pornography or engaging in some other sexual preoccupation. If so, he probably feels conflict and guilt about his secret life. Your sexual approaches then only irritate him. They may remind him of his sexually destructive behavior. If addiction is the problem, you will get the most help from one of the 12-step programs.

Personal issues 

Some men avoid sex because of a personal issue, such as their wives’ bad breath or an aversion to vaginal secretions. If that is the case, your husband may not feel comfortable telling you. You will need to free him to express whatever he is feeling, even if it hurts you. A personal issue can usually be resolved by changing the habit.

Sexual inexperience 

Your husband might feel sexually inept. The good news is that a sexually inexperienced male responds quickly and positively to education about sex and to sexual retraining. If you feel competent, teach him by talking him through a sexual experience as you would enjoy it. If not, the two of you would benefit from reading aloud together and following the sexual retraining program in our book, Restoring the Pleasure.

Past influences

Perhaps your husband grew up with a dominant, controlling mother who depreciated men; or he might have received rigid anti-sexual teaching as a boy. If he came to marriage with deeper emotional sexual blocks caused by destructive influences such as these, you should see a counselor.

Feeling crowded

If your husband senses neediness from you instead of sexual desire, his sarcasm and pushing away may be a reaction to your approach. A turned-on woman is a turn-on for a man, but a needy woman is a turn-off. If this is the source of the problem, get help with understanding the gap in your life that you are trying to fill with sex. In addition, allow your husband to initiate all sexual experiences and work on ways to connect with him non-sexually to fulfill your longing to feel desired.


If your husband puts all his energy into his career, he may have no energy left for you. This is clearly an issue of priorities. You will have to schedule time for just the two of you—even if you become an appointment on his crowded calendar.

As you can see, the solution you pursue will depend on the source of your husband’s resistance to sex. If the steps you take don’t achieve the results you desire, find a counselor who specializes in treating sexual problems. You can’t make your husband want you; you can only address the issues that interfere with his desire for you.

This article (along with other great articles) is posted on the web site for Dr Clifford and Joyce Penner at in the “FAQ’s about Sex” section. If you have additional questions about this article or other sexual issues you may want to try to contact them through their web site and pick up a few of their books to see what additional information you can glean from what they write.


To give you further insight, there are several articles you can read through on this subject, which are featured on various web sites. Please click onto the links provided below to read and glean through:





From a 2-part series:



If you have additional tips you can share to help others on this issue, or you want to share requests for prayer and/or ask others for advice, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.

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29 responses to “SEX: When The Husband Doesn’t Want To Make Love

  1. One point was missed in the article. When the husband withholds sex it may be a form of abuse and control. Review the article on verbally abusive marriages and watch the short video to determine if his conduct is another form of abuse. Patricia Evans in her book titled, The Verbally Abusive Relationship states that various forms of withholding are Stage 5 out of 5 in severity. Read her book or another book on emotional abuse to gain the clarity. Clarity is the first step to healing. Blessings…

  2. The reality is that most men (and even some women) have allowed themselves to fall victim to the porn culture. Which ruins real intimacy in relationships and destroys the overall true purpose of sex between a man and a woman. Porn allows a person to dabble in all different types of perversions in addition to creating the what I like to call “ADHD sex mind.”

    It doesn’t really matter if the object is the world’s interpretation of sexy, as long as the object is new, different and somewhat mysterious the victim becomes all game. Therefore this same person addicted to pornography and basically self gratification, loses the desire for intimacy with an actual person and begins to view sex as a self checkout grocery store style commodity.

    They have a pick of many different tastes, styles and varieties, all easily available, affordable and discreet. Why have real sex with my wife when I can become gratified right here and now, easy, fast and all about me! This is a real problem today and what I believe destroys a lot of marriages.

    1. I met my future husband a little over a year ago. Both of us going through a divorce. Both of us feeling different things that occur during divorce. We have succeeded at overcoming emotional breakdowns with the help of individual counseling. We have been tremendous support to each other in the way of positive thoughts, words and growth in general. We have been successful in feeling attractive and worthy of the compliments of the opposite sex while out either together or apart. Becoming a closer couple as we go.

      It wasn’t until recently that I have noticed how much porn plays a role in sex with us. When I asked about the need to have porn as foreplay he was short and almost offended that I am asking now. Saying I enjoy it too and I have taken part. I was hurt by his answer because I did enjoy the part of sharing something that I personally wasn’t used to doing. It was a new experience for me. I did know he was in a marriage that wasn’t normal and his wife was described as having sexual problems from childhood issues. She desired things I couldn’t imagine to be healthy in a relationship. I explained to him in a loving way that I was asking and not judging. He said yes it is just something he was accustomed to doing. He has also suffered from erectile disfunction periodically and we have not pushed the issue due to the stress in our life.

      It wasn’t until recently as it has evolved into wanting to have sex with another couple in real life and an arguement of massive rage when I said I wasn’t doing this, we aren’t doing this. That I had asked if he was capable of making love. He said he hadn’t ever because neither of his wives were capable of showing love like that so this is all he knows. He insisted that he makes love to me in a way that is associated in the porn. I even had him let me give him an example of what making love is like. He was receptive and said yes he enjoyed that and it was different than what he was used to. I didn’t push but the love making was not the method used the next time.

      My birthday was last week and I went to the office where we meet to drive a delivery route. Actually I was running late and we had a long day of 12 hours of driving ahead of us. He said I have a present for you for your birthday! Come in the office. He had talked to one of the employees that was actually leaving in a few weeks into having sex with us. For my present. He told me he must have changed his mind and he was upset. I immediately panicked and thought of our job there; the thought of what was going to be said and the fact we live in a small town which he was not from nor aware of the costs of this action should the guy say anything. The guy was our dispatcher and after gathering my things and once in the truck we had an issue with the route. The guy didn’t respond to our texts or calls. My fiancé was upset all day the guy didn’t show up and he had ruined my birthday he said. I told him if anything I would have rather it just been us. He looked at me and continued to tell me the plan again. It took until the next day to let things calm down and explain how I felt. I told him that I would feel used, cheap, actually just an object to him. Nothing of value and definetly not loved. He was shocked and it finally made sense to him. He said he tried to get his ex repeatedly to do this with him because she liked porn so much and responded only to the porn.

      He said he thought it to be a test of some kind. Because he felt with her that if she did that, sex with others, with him she may actually love him because she was being selfless in a activity like this and vulnerable. She was very manipulative and even chose her words when speaking and answering questions in general to make it to where she would not be commited or liable for a statement. Often lied and blamed him for things. I assured him I had never done anything like that and I loved him from the heart and had no problem accepting fault or telling anyone my faults. He immediately apologized and he said he would talk to the guy at work. But he also said he would try to make love to me but he wasn’t sure he could go without porn and would still want to have group sex at least two times a year or at least once again. I did not comment.

      We have not been together in a few days due to work schedule. I have thought on things and I can’t stay with him. I can’t live that life. I don’t know if he could change. I feel totally stupid for not seeing it and even participating. I can’t stay that is for sure. I hadn’t had experience with porn much before but when I had it was nothing like this. I am really sad about the fact he said he had to have it and wanted to still do this after I specifically said no we weren’t the few days earlier.

  3. My husband has sex with me only when he wants it. And when I need it he just pushes me away and does not let me touch him.

  4. I have been married for 7 months and my husband and I have not had sex at all. Is there anything we can do? Please help.

  5. I have the same problem. Married 1 1/2 years. He’s hardworking and good to the kids but I feel like an accessory, like I’m just here to cook and clean and work. He gets angry and ignores me for days. No sex when he’s mad or when he’s not. I can’t initiate sex. I’m always rejected. He has sex with me when he wants to and then it’s all about him.

    I don’t want anyone else. It is so painful to think I have to live like this. I’m so tired of being ignored. When I was single men were all over me. I gave my life to Christ, got married and now I am not wanted. That is so unfair. He has had porn problems and flirting issues in the past. I just want to be happy. Pray for me. I’m praying for you all too.

  6. I have been married for 11 Months. My husband and I have not had sex YET. WE are in MIIDDLE FIFTIES. I discussed the issues many times. Got prescription and vitamins for erectille dysfunction. He has no interest. I have asked for a divorce. HELP.

    1. If he has ED, he is truley embarrassed, whether he acknowledges or not. You can help by encouraging his manly functions. When he takes a shower, slip in with him under the guise of washing his back. After soaping his shoulders and back, before you rinse off, reach around and with soapy hands, start washing and rubbing his manhood. Not too many guys would stop you doing it. If he starts getting erect, dont stop.

      If he attempts to pull away, pull him back by wrapping one arm around his neck. Kiss his earlobe an whisper softly, “I want you to cum for me”. Whatever you do, dont stop pumping his manhood, it wont take long if you encourage him.
      You will be suprised, the activities it will lead to….Try it, you both will like it…

  7. My husband doesn’t kiss me, hug or even pet me or use a call voice on me. He is too harsh on me but yet ever since I married him as a virgin that have not been coded with sex. I do allow him to have sex with me. But now it has become part of him even if he just comes back from work he will just signal me to come over to bed for sex. I will obey but if I just tell him let’s do foreplay first he will get annoyed. He wants sex with me every day but I have a dry vagina and it’s very painful; because of that I hate having sex with him because he only satisfies himself, using me as a harlot. I want to divorce him. I am tired of this early marriage. I nearly died last night. Now he has started forcing me again tonight. I don’t want to have sex with him again.

  8. Married 20 years and for the last 15 years my wife will not let me enjoy her body. Always keeps it covered, and when she’s topless for a minute, she pushes me away and tells me to stop. Well, today she came to the living room while she was getting ready for work, topless. I ignored it, kept eye contact. She has deprived me of her body for 15 years and now she wants some attention?

    I wouldn’t care if we weren’t old, saggy, and wrinkled now, but I stopped fawning over her like she wanted me to and she doesn’t know why. Really? She made me lose interest in her and it’s not coming back. She wanted to control the bedroom and it’s a complete bore. I haven’t had sex with anyone else yet but I am looking. I’ve been with 75 women or so and I’ve been with her for 20 years but I’m not going any longer without great sex. All we do is talk about it and nothing changes. Too bad.

  9. Wow. Can you count the number of subheadings that blame the man’s addictions, inexperience or personal issues? I just read the same article about women who don’t want sex. How long do you think that blame game would last in that article?