I have no sex drive and my husband is mad

A woman with no sex drive in the bed with her husband

Fifty percent of married couples experience sexual dysfunction or dissatisfaction.

Have no sex drive, and your husband is mad about sex?

Inhibited sexual desire and discrepancies in desire are the most common complaints, so you have plenty of company.

One spouse (usually the male) initiates and encourages sexual contact, so even if dysfunctional or unsatisfying, marital sex continues.

Interesting, but many women with desire problems do not have difficulty with arousal and orgasm once they begin.

As one woman said,

“Once stimulation starts, I get turned on and come; it’s wanting to be sexual that stymies me.”


Pundits call it “lack of wanta.”

Romantic love is inherently unstable, usually ending before marriage or seldom lasting past the first year. Sexual chemistry is very explosive and equally short-lived. Couples report “hot” sex at the beginning when they see each other on weekends, but experience sexual disappointment when living together or married.

“Where did the passion go?”

Hot sex based on romantic love and passion disappears, as it should.

These cannot maintain desire. Sexual desire is based on emotional and sexual intimacy, not on romantic love or passionate sex.

Comfort, attraction, and trust nurture desire after the heat of sexual chemistry is long gone.

The prescription for maintaining sexual desire is integrating intimacy, non-demand pleasuring, and erotic scenarios and techniques.

Lack of desire: when it’s okay

Occasional lack of desire is normal.

At times, it is healthy.

You wonder about women who have a high sexual desire in times of couple conflict, dealing with an ill child, after a funeral, facing a financial crunch, or during a work crisis.

It is unhealthy to use sex as a way of denying or avoiding reality.

It is normal to occasionally have differences in desire.

Sometimes one partner wants a hug, the other wants an orgasm.


What is not normal is chronic inhibited desire, a no-sex or low-sex marriage, or constant conflict over sex.

Components of sexual functioning

Healthy sexual functioning allows both of you to enjoy pleasure.

The four components of sexual functioning are:

1. Desire—Positive anticipation and feeling that you deserve sexual pleasure.

2. Arousal—Being receptive and responsive to touching and genital stimulation.

3. Orgasm—Letting go and allowing arousal to naturally culminate in orgasm.

4. Satisfaction—Feeling emotionally and physically bonded after a sexual experience.

Realistic expectations help you to enjoy a sexual experience

A key element is having realistic expectations, and accepting the inherent variability and flexibility of sexual experiences.

Novels and movies emphasize free-flowing, nonverbal, powerful sexuality where desire is intense. Arousal is quick, orgasm always occurs for both (simultaneously), and it is marvelous. This sells movies and novels, well, but makes real women like us feel inadequate and deficient.

If you experience desire, arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction twice a month, you can count yourself lucky and should celebrate those special times.

Less than half the sexual experiences of well-functioning couples involve equal desire, arousal, and orgasm.

As a rule, one partner is less involved in sex, although the other enjoys this experience.

Between 5 and 15 percent of sexual experience is mediocre, unsatisfactory, or unsuccessful.

This is also normal.


Healthy sexuality concept

Sexuality is a complex, crucial aspect of life and marriage. 

 There is no “one right way” to be sexual. 

Ideas that promote healthy sexuality are 

  1. Sex is more than genitals, intercourse, and orgasm. Sexuality involves attitudes, feelings, perceptions, and values. Sexuality is a natural, healthy element in life. It need not be a source of guilt or negative feelings. 
  2. Sexuality is an integral aspect of your personality. You deserve to feel good about your body and yourself as a sexual person. 
  3. The essence of sexuality is giving and receiving pleasure-oriented touching. 
  4. Express sexuality so that it enhances your life and your intimate relationship.

A woman’s sexuality provides a solid foundation for marriage

Women who believe that the way to rebuild desire is to rekindle romantic love and reignite sexual passion are heading into a dead end. The keys to revitalizing marital sexuality are building bridges to desire, increasing intimacy, enjoying non-demand pleasuring, and creating erotic scenarios.


You need to learn to facilitate and reinforce the other’s sexual feelings and desires, rather than colluding in sexual avoidance.
Maintaining comfort, attraction, and trust is an active process.
Learn to take the initiative and design a pleasurable or erotic scenario. You are open and receptive.

Remember, Inhibition and avoidance are confronted. This requires commitment and working together. Change is usually gradual, rather than dramatic.

There will be difficulties, setbacks, disappointments, and lapses, but if you stay with the process, you will succeed.

Once sexuality is reestablished, you need to generalize and maintain gains. Benign neglect subverts sexual desire.
Relapse prevention is an active process. Good intentions and loving feelings are necessary, but not sufficient, to maintain a vital sexual bond.


A marriage that meets the needs for intimacy and security is of great value. The marital bond of respect and trust motivates the couple to revitalize sexual intimacy. When respect and trust are lacking, trying to restore intimacy is a useless struggle.

A no-sex or low-sex marriage robs a couple of intimate feelings, especially when affection and sensuality are absent. Unless this changes or there are other sources of satisfaction, the marriage probably will not survive. The marriage might have genuine strengths, but the inability to resolve sexual problems overwhelms the relationship.


Is your “no sex drive” problem a symptom or a cause?

The question of whether a marital problem causes a sexual problem or the sexual problem causes marital dissatisfaction is more than a chicken-and-egg argument.

Human behavior is overdetermined, with many causes and many dimensions. Any simple answer is likely to be wrong or, at least, incomplete.

Sexuality is a positive, integral component of marital intimacy. Although no-sex or low-sex marriages can function satisfactorily, these are the minority. Some couples maintain a respectful, trusting bond and are good parents even though sexuality is dysfunctional or absent. Other couples have an angry, alienated, nonsupportive marriage, and the only thing that works is sex.


The most common pattern is a couple that has a good relationship but struggles unsuccessfully with inhibited desire.


Over time, the sexual problem becomes severe and chronic. Sexual problems undermine marriages by robbing them of intimate connection and energy. The sexual problem increasingly defines the marriage; blaming and resentment build. In well-functioning marriages, sexuality plays a 15 to 20 percent role in terms of vitality and satisfaction. With a chronic inhibited desire problem, sexuality plays an inordinately powerful role, draining positive feelings and tearing at the marital fabric.

Relationship conflicts and low sex drive

Another pattern is that relationship conflicts, especially those involving anger, are played out through sexual conflict.

Anger is the main cause of secondary inhibited sexual desire.


Withholding or avoiding sex makes a statement, a way to fight back.

By the way, this is a usual female reaction.

Anger can involve a sexual issue (demand for oral sex, a discovered extramarital affair, conflict over birth control), but more often anger involves a relationship problem.

Common causes of anger may be concern about drinking and driving, not feeling supported in a family conflict, out-of-control arguments that include slapping and pushing, conflicts over spending, and feeling that your spouse is taking advantage of you. As alienation increases, “hot” angry thoughts build on themselves.

Attempts to bridge the emotional gap with affectionate touching or sexual activity are met with angry rebuffs, increasing frustration, and isolation.

Emotional and sexual distance feeds the angry cycle.

And you find yourself trapped in an alienated low-sex or no-sex marriage.

Fertility problems

Fertility problems are a common cause of inhibited sexual desire. Sex with the intention of becoming pregnant is an aphrodisiac.

For 85 percent of couples under 30 and 70 percent of couples over 30, becoming pregnant is usually easy (often, too easy).

Couples in the unlucky minority find that as time goes on, frustration builds. The process of undergoing a fertility assessment, with increasingly intrusive, painful, and expensive tests and interventions, weakens the desire of the most ardent couple.

Fertility problems are no fun. Self-blame and blaming the spouse are easy traps.

Fertility problems can bring out the worst in people. Infertility dominates self-esteem, marriage, and sexuality. They stop being sexual except during the high probability week.

Sex becomes a pressured performance to achieve pregnancy, with little pleasure, warmth, or feeling of connection. Couples dealing with a fertility issue need a great deal of support, which includes using touching, sensuality, and eroticism to energize themselves during the non-high probability periods of the month.

Conflict about intercourse frequency

Another problematic pattern is a conflict about intercourse frequency.

Instead of broad-based pleasuring and a variety of bridges to desire, it is a “yes—no” question—are we going to have intercourse?

If not, there is no touching. If every touch is a demand for intercourse, the pressure is up and the pleasure is down.

Emotional intimacy and non-demand pleasuring are sacrificed to intercourse pressure. The result is inhibited desire. Intimacy, comfort, and pleasure lead to sexual anticipation. Conflict and pressure lead to inhibited desire.

Quality is more important than frequency. Sexuality is more than genitals, intercourse, and orgasm.

Guidelines that promote desire include the beliefs that touching is valued for itself, touching occurs both inside and outside the bedroom, and not all touching must result in intercourse.

Sexuality is complex, with many causes and dimensions

INHIBITED SEXUAL DESIRE and no-sex or low-sex drive are not caused by one factor. Sexuality is complex, with many causes and dimensions.

Sexual desire and desire problems are best understood as a couple’s issue. This facilitates a comfortable, productive way to think about, discuss, address, and enhance sexual desire. The couple approach is especially valuable when considering what maintains, as opposed to what caused, inhibited sexual desire.

Regardless of what originally caused the problem, you become stuck in a self-defeating cycle. It is considerably easier to break this cycle if you approach and talk about sexual desire as a couple’s issue, not only yours.

The traps of guilt and blame help maintain this as a chronic sexual problem that is a drain on your marital bond.

Viewing inhibited sexual desire as a couple’s problem reduces guilt, defensiveness, and blaming. Sexuality as a couple’s issue is one of the most helpful, yet hardest-to-accept, guidelines.

However, when you encounter inevitable setbacks, frustrations, and disappointments, it is easy to revert to blaming. It is easier to blame your spouse than to be responsible for and change your own attitudes and behavior.

A core concept in couple therapy is to take responsibility for yourself. You are not responsible for your spouse. Focus on making personal changes in attitudes, behaviors, and feelings— this takes thought, work, and discipline. It is neither your responsibility nor your role to change your spouse.

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