Life! It happens, and this is normal. The key here is finding out why, because not all couples have the same reasons. But before you start, here’s what you need to do:
Don’t brush off your sexual intimacy. Prioritize it, even if it may feel embarrassing. The main roadblock could have more to do with your husband, matters of self-care, and his views on sex and intimacy. Don’t focus on asking yourself what you might have done wrong, as it might be less about you.
Now put yourself in your husband’s shoes. Is he getting enough sleep? Are you a new parent? This will help create a mindset for honest, open, and compassionate communication and limit the chances of a blame game happening. Kindly ask him what’s getting in the way of intimacy. If you find yourself interrupting when he speaks, increase your ability to listen. There’s empathy in silence. Interruptions may cause him to shut down or feel belittled. Be vulnerable and willing to learn what sex means to each other without judgment, and be willing to please one another.
In the first few months of a relationship, things can feel especially new and exciting. Many couples find that after these first months they are having sex or being intimate less often. This is common for any relationship and is not necessarily something to be worried about.
There are several reasons why someone may not want to have sex or has lost interest in sex, including:
Work, family issues and financial troubles can all cause stress. The pandemic has also heightened emotions for many. When we’re overwhelmed, cortisol — the main stress hormone — can affect our libido. This is true for all genders, but in men, chronic stress can affect testosterone production and cause erectile dysfunction.
2. He's less naturally inclined to have sex
If your partner has never been particularly interested in sex, then it could just be that they’re not that into it. “Some men may be less interested in sex ‘naturally’ and be unperturbed by their lack of interest,”
3. Mental health issues
Like stress, underlying mental health issues like anxiety and depression can affect sex drive. A marker of clinical depression is a loss of interest or pleasure in doing things you once enjoyed — sex included. Antidepressants can also lower libido, and make it harder to become aroused and achieve orgasm.
4. He's looking to pornography for sexual satisfaction
While plenty of people in healthy sexual relationships watch porn, you may find yourself in trouble if your partner develops a porn addiction. "When porn becomes addictive, a man relies on it to become stimulated instead of relying on his spouse,"
5. Lower sex drive
Not everyone has a high sex drive, and it’s perfectly okay to not crave physical intimacy as much as another person does. There is a societal expectation that people — especially men — should always be interested in sex, otherwise something is “wrong” with them, Barnett says. This is untrue and can make people feel bad when their sex drive does not match other people's.
6. What to do if your partner doesn’t want to have sex
If your partner doesn’t seem interested in having sex, the best thing you can do is talk about it. It may seem difficult or even embarrassing to have this conversation, but talking it out is the only way to find a way forward.
6.1 Communication is important
The key to dealing with differing or changing sex drives within a relationship is communication. Barnett says people need to be open with their partners (or partners) about their feelings and needs. A couples’ therapist can help facilitate these conversations, she says, and teach effective communication tools.
6.2 Don’t play the blame game
Often, when one partner doesn’t feel like being intimate, we either blame ourselves (I’m not attractive enough) or accuse our partner of something nefarious (they’re cheating on me). However, outside factors can play a huge role in romance. Things like stress, diet, poor sleep, alcohol use, and kids can impact a person’s libido.
6.3 Make time to be intimate in other ways
Being close to your partner doesn’t have to mean having sex. Make time to be close to one another. Finding different and exciting ways to be intimate helps to build connections with each other. It could be as simple as cuddling on the couch to watch a movie or spending some time together, away from phones and other screens.
6.4 Consent is non-negotiable
Navigating a situation in which your partners doesn’t want to be intimate is not about convincing them to have more sex. Nance Schick, an attorney, mediator, and conflict resolution coach, reminds her clients that consent is non-negotiable. Building intimacy is about mutual respect and pleasure; rushing the process or forcing someone to change their mind before they’re ready is not an option
6.5 Speak to a professional
If you feel you need extra help or support, consider going for counselling. A relationship counsellor or a sex therapist will be able to work through these issues with both of you so that you can come to a solution together and find something that works for both of you. Many counselling organizations will have a relationship counsellor or a sex therapist, and you can also search for a counsellor on the IACP website. Talk to them about your options. If the issue is a medical one, such as vaginismus, erectile dysfunction, low energy levels, or side effects of medication, ask your partner if they would like to consider speaking to a GP or medical professional, and offer to support them in this should they wish to do so.
Together, you and your partner can try to address what’s causing his change in desire. I highly recommend booking an appointment with a couple of therapists or a sex therapist. If you suspect something might be up health-wise, offer to go to a doctor’s appointment with your partner. If your partner has issues in their work, family, or in personal life, ask what you can do to support them. Remember, you’re teammates!