If you’re a man whose wife doesn’t want marital intimacy or she flat out refuses intimacy, you are not alone. The good news is, that even if your wife refuses intimacy, there are some things you can do to help her become more interested in being with you intimately again. How do you fix a sexless marriage?

When your wife doesn’t want sex

Below are a few suggestions for you if you’re the husband of a wife that does not want sex and what you can do about it. We’ve reprinted this with permission from Rivka Sidorsky, LCSW-C, sex therapist. Here’s what she has to say.

One of the most challenging aspects of any marriage is differences in desire.  It is particularly difficult when the discrepancy is vast.  Not only do you want it a lot, but your wife seems to hardly ever want it.  Even when she does, she doesn’t seem to enjoy herself very much.  Here are some ways to help the situation:

1) Ask yourself—what are you doing outside the bedroom?

Sex is not an isolated incident.  For women, sex is part of a greater experience of intimacy.  Physical intimacy should begin far before you enter the bedroom—and by that, we mean that loving acts, kind words, help with housework, and some flirtation are good ways to begin the process.  While you may not need time to awaken interest, your wife likely will. We focus more on how to go about doing this in Step 5 of our marriage counseling programLove Infusions.

2) Work on your emotional relationship.

How is your relationship in general?  Do you seem to argue a lot?  Are you on the same page with parenting?  Working on your emotional intimacy and closeness may help her feel that she wants to be closer to you physically. If you are feeling disconnected from each other, it’s no wonder why your wife may not be interested in intimacy. We have found that working on your marriage often is the key to creating more intimacy in your marriage as the absence of sex is often symptomatic of greater relationship issues. If there’s no intimacy in your marriage from your husband try to spend more quality time with hime and prioritizing him. Sometimes when we get busy with life we tend to operate on autopilot, but over time this can be devastating for a relationship.

3)   Are you going too fast?

Are you even trying to please her?  Try to have a long span of foreplay (30-45 minutes) so that she can become sufficiently interested. Ask her what makes her feel good and focus on giving to her. By becoming other-focused, you will have both feel more connected.

4) Ask her if you are hurting her—physically speaking.

If she is experiencing any genital pain, that is a very good reason why she does not have an interest in intimacy talk to her directly about this and ask for her openness and honesty.  If she is experiencing vaginal pain, she should speak to her gynecologist right away as a first step to solving the pain.  If that does not help, consider seeing a sex therapist.

5) Talk to her about how you feel about your intimate life.

Tell her how much you love her and wish you could connect more on this level. While this subject can seem awkward at first you should discuss this topic more and if necessary schedule time to spend together without distractions so you can reconnect on a regular basis. Even something as simple as a 5 minute conversation daily can do wonders for couples experiencing relationship stagnation.

When your Husband Doesn’t Want Sex

If your husband isn’t interested in marital intimacy it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is having an affair and getting it elsewhere. While it is a possibility and could be a red flag if he has lost interest in sex, there are other factors that might be contributing to his lack of desire.

More inspiration about what to do when your wife does not want sex:

Here’s what I would ask if your husband isn’t interested in marital intimacy:

First, couples that have little children and aren’t sleeping the night and/or have exhausting work schedules may be so wiped out that they are not even thinking about intimacy.

Sometimes it’s so late at night by the time you get to bed and you know you have to get up early in the morning so it becomes a trade-off between sleep or sex.

Is your husband on medication? There are many medications that decrease libido and could explain your husband’s lack of desire. Many of the common anti-depressants have this effect.

Speak to your psychiatrist to find out what you can do about the meds and that unwanted side effect. There may be comparable medications that they would recommend or maybe medications that they could add. There may be also natural alternatives that you can explore with a trusted acupuncturist or herbalist.

Is your husband exhibiting signs of depression that are going untreated?

People suffering from depression often have a decreased desire for many things, including marital intimacy. Treating the depression whether through psychotherapy and/or medication may help.

Are there any life stressors or transitions such as job loss, retirement, or death in the family?

The loss of job for a man can be a shaming experience and for him calls into question his very manhood.

How is Your Emotional Connection in the Relationship?

If he feels distant from you, or that you criticize him and “are a mean wife“, he may shut down and not want to have much to do with you.

He may feel so disconnected that he starts looking elsewhere to get his needs met. Many men who commit infidelity, whether it be emotional affairs, pornography, or a full-blown affair are looking to get their emotional needs met elsewhere.

If he doesn’t feel safe talking to you, he may look for someone else to talk to.

This can often lead to a slippery slope. While it is not your fault if he starts looking outside of your marriage to have his intimate and emotional needs met, you should take action if you suspect he is not satisfied with intimacy in your relationship (even if he is the one who avoids it).

By no means does this justify his actions or absolve him of any wrongdoing.
He may be provoking you as well, leading to your reaction which drives him further away.
However disturbing this does help provide context.  This means that it is crucial to work on creating a safe and connected relationship where both of you can have your needs met. When you both feel emotionally safe with each other, you won’t need to go elsewhere.

If you want help with getting your husband back in the bedroom, contact us so that we can work on restoring your connection at the root, so all of the other symptoms disappear. When you work on the root of the problem, which is the lack of connection between the two of you, undesirable behaviors will be mitigated. Our 2 day marriage retreat is the fastest way to restore your connection.

What Can and Can’t Help Fix a Sexless Marriage

Does fixing a sexless marriage include exploring other alternative options outside of the traditional confines of monogamy?

We’ll spare you the rest of the details as we believe any external outlets that are now being recommended to fix a sexless marriage and strengthen intimacy, actually harm the marriage more than help it. That’s due to the couple being drawn further away from each other and sometimes becoming “reliant” on those other external outlets.

Can a traditional monogamous marriage experience passion and sustain a healthy intimate life? There are those who think not. And we disagree.

It makes sense that due to reasons like exhaustion, busyness, the kids, work, our intimate life is often the first thing to go. We also propose that if you’re disconnected from your spouse in other ways, you’re going to turn away from being intimate and leave this chapter of your life neglected. On top of that, if you’re a woman and you experience pain from being intimate with your spouse, it will get even more complicated and traumatic.

Additionally, for men who are married to women who do have sexual dysfunction, there is something called secondary sexual dysfunction. Secondary sexual dysfunction occurs when one person has a “primary” sexual dysfunction and then because the one has a problem, the other one develops a sexual dysfunction in response to the first one.

You cannot ignore your sex life and live in a sexless marriage, happily. We will go further to suggest that the state of the sexual health of your marriage is a barometer for the overall state of the health of your marriage.

So if you don’t currently enjoy a healthy sex life, chances are that your marriage could be much better. In fact, the sex therapist that we collaborate within our marriage counseling practice says, “When sex is great, it’s only 20% of the relationship. When sex is bad, it’s more like 80% of the relationship.” Basically, when sex is bad it has very detrimental effects on the relationship, but if it’s good, it doesn’t feel like it is the overall barometer of the relationship. If you’re not having sex with your husband or wife it’s time to call a marriage therapist.

What you can do now to improve your intimate life and fix a sexless marriage:

1. Use the Imago Dialogue that we teach, to communicate with your spouse, about what you want in your intimate life together. Why the Imago Dialogue? Because intimacy is such a sensitive issue for couples, it’s really important that each of you as individuals feels safe in your conversation with each other. The Imago Dialogue, with its “scripted” model of communicating is the perfect way to create safety to discuss such a sensitive topic.

How would that work? You would set up an appointment with your spouse to dialogue about your intimate life. When it’s time for the appointment, you could light candles, clear the clutter from your bedroom, put on comfortable clothing, and sit across from each other on your bed, looking face to face into each other’s eyes. (Nelson) Remember, the purpose of this is to connect, not to fight or threaten or blame, even if you haven’t actually ever discussed your intimate life, or whatever discussions you’ve had about your intimate life have been full of negativity.

If you need help with this exercise, you’ll want to get our relationship self help book.

You may be pleasantly surprised to learn more about what your spouse desires and what would make him/her feel good. That’s the beauty of the Imago dialogue and what can come out of that connected discussion.

2. It’s also really helpful to talk about some of the beliefs that you have about monogamy. When we work with couples we help them draft what is called a “Relationship Vision” which discusses the beliefs that you as an individual have about yourself, your relationship, and your vision for its future, getting down to the nitty-gritty details all the way from what you are used to from your childhood home to how you would like to spend retirement together, for instance.

It’s helpful to craft a relationship vision for your intimate life as well. We all get married and we take vows at our wedding, and we assume that we are going to be faithful towards each other. What happens though when one person has different beliefs about being faithful than you do? Is watching pornography ok or not ok? Is it ok to go to a particular kind of club? One person may think it is absolutely ok and means nothing, and to the other, it may feel like being cheated on. It’s helpful to talk and communicate with each other about your partner’s beliefs about being faithful because when our intimate lives get boring, and life happens, eyes may start to wander – and that’s when the talk about those varied beliefs counts. (Nelson)

The only steadfast rule here is to communicate. Communicate safely with your spouse and you will be well on the road to sexual health and fixing that sexless marriage.

A marriage cannot survive without intimacy. If you are living in a marriage with no intimacy, it is essential that you work now to gain it back in a safe manner. Talk with us about our private 2 day marriage intensive retreat. It’s the best way for you to rebuild trust and regain intimacy.


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Shlomo & Rivka Slatkin

Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin is an Imago relationship therapist and certified (master level) Imago workshop presenter with over 20 years of experience hosting couples therapy retreats in-person and online. Contact info@themarriagerestorationproject.com or