Reader Question - I am in a sexless marriage. I fully believe my husband is my soulmate, but I am really unsatisfied with not having sex. He doesn’t have ED or anything like that; he just doesn’t have an interest anymore. He’s been to doctors who say nothing is wrong physically, so he just chalks it up to age, but we are only in our 50’s! I’m beginning to toy with the idea of an affair because it’s gotten so bad. What can I do to get my soulmate back body and soul?
If you truly want to reignite the love you once felt, you have lots of options. But whether you choose to stay or decide to go, an affair is not the answer. If you cannot be happy with your husband, please have enough respect for both of you to make a clean, kind break before embarking on a new relationship.
If your husband is physically capable, but no longer has any interest, there are a number of emotional or psychological possibilities to consider.
Why Men Lose Interest in Sex
About 25% of all Americans suffer from a condition called Hypoactive Sexual Desire (HSD), originally called Inhibited Sexual Desire (ISD), in which the person feels a chronic lack of sexual interest resulting in a failure to initiate or respond to sexual intimacy. It may be a primary condition (an individual has never felt much sexual desire), or secondary (lack of interest develops after having enjoyed “normal” sexual interest). It may be specific to one partner or it may be a general attitude toward any and all partners.
Sexless relationships, defined as those having sex fewer than 10 times per year, are on the rise. According to Newsweek, more than 18% of US couples admit to falling into that category while other reports and surveys suggest that more than 15% of all US couples cohabitate as brother/sister or roommates. Age, health, too many distractions, other priorities (family, career, hobbies), general fatigue from being pulled in so many directions, plus a societal relaxing of what a good relationship “should” look like and an acceptance of many types of relationships are all cited.
Lack of desire can also occur because of underlying and unaddressed issues in the relationship. You say you still love him, but didn’t mention whether or not you believe he still loves you. Sometimes, the issues are well-hidden and uncommunicated. The partner (In this case, you) isn’t even aware of them, so they think everything is OK and are baffled by the change in behavior. Even couples who generally communicate well can run into snags and the result may appear in the bedroom. The problem might be something minor, or it could be simmering anger, lack of trust, misunderstanding, lack of connection or eroding connection, or even falling out the habits of affection like hugging and holding hands. And hard as it might be to consider, it could be because he has found love somewhere else. (Even if that is the case, all is not necessarily lost.)
Though you are only in your fifties, age may still be a factor. People age, mentally and physically, at very different rates and many of us change our interests significantly as we go. How is he doing in other areas of his life? Is he still active, vibrant, and curious or has he become more sedentary? Does he still enjoy his other interests and hobbies? Does he like his job? That one is crucial for many men.
If he has lost interest in multiple areas, he may be experiencing a general feeling of winding down, a malaise which then becomes self-perpetuating. The less you do, the less you feel like doing. Perhaps it’s time to spark a new interest. It could be a new hobby, maybe something the two of you can share. Is there something you’ve always talked about doing, but haven’t done yet? He may just need some help getting his juices, sexual and otherwise, flowing again.
Men who no longer enjoy their jobs are at particular risk for losing interest elsewhere. Feeling emasculated at work often carries through into personal relationships. If they feel their job is meaningless, an exercise in drudgery, or a source of constant frustration they may find it hard to get excited about anything else. If he wanted to change jobs could you be supportive? Does he feel obligated to keep his current job because of family pressures, good salary, or benefits? Those are heavy burdens to carry and he may be feeling beaten down.
It’s possible he is depressed. Depressed people don’t wear a sign and they are not necessarily moping around so it is sometimes difficult to identify even for the person who is depressed. Nevertheless, it can impact your entire life. Losing interest in areas of life that were once of great interest may be a clue. Though a physical examination will reveal his overall state of health, it is only by talking with a patient that a doctor can learn about the moods, behaviors, and lifestyle habits relevant to making a depression diagnosis. His primary care physician may be able to make a referral if your husband is interested.
So remember: He may be physically able, but still need help or treatment with something emotional or psychological. And he may or may not be willing.
What You Can Do
The best approach to most relationship issues come from The Five Love Languages. It’s a quick and easy read or listen. (See links below.) And the methods will help your relationship regardless of his decisions about other treatments.
Our love language is the way we most like to receive and give love, and very few couples begin with a match. That means, we have to cultivate a common language over the course of our relationship. It also means our language may change as we grow as a couple and evolve as individuals.
The five primary languages are:
• Words of Affirmation
• Acts of Service
• Receiving/Giving Gifts
• Physical Touch
• Quality Time
Let’s say a woman who loves physical touch and sexual intimacy marries man who mainly shows his love through giving gifts. If they are not aware of this disconnect, if they don’t figure out how to bridge the gap, both will end up frustrated or angry no matter how much they love each other.
The beauty of understanding the languages of love is that you can then guide the two of you towards a more satisfying relationship IF you are willing to practice one key principle: The Giver becomes the Receiver. Notice that your giving comes first.
Observe your husband. What makes him feel good about himself and about the two of you as a couple? Learn to speak his love language, then speak it. If he loves Words of Affirmation, for example, genuinely, actively, consistently, and consciously give him more. It may take a little time for both of you, especially if the situation has been going on for a while, but eventually the log jam will begin to break up.
He may open up more and communicate better. Something may have been bothering him and he didn’t feel comfortable talking about it or burdening you. It’s best not to assume you know the underlying cause. You may even discover he was feeling neglected because YOU hadn’t been showing him love in the way he needed, even if you were knocking yourself out doing what you thought you should. And best of all, he may start thinking about you and what pleases you and be enticed to show his love in ways that are more meaningful to you.
If he really has lost interest in sex, but still loves you and wants to show you love as best he can, consider cultivating other forms of intimacy between the two of you and/or alternatives for yourself such as personal toys.
Think about this:
The bliss of orgasm is not just a physical experience. The intimacy that is created is a combination of the physical, spiritual, and emotional. As the two of you mingle in that moment, you are either lifting each other up or feeding off of each other like vampires, sucking the life out of both of you and your relationship. Learning and practicing the art of love languages helps keep that delicate balance healthy and happy.
So here are a few questions back to you: Is this also bothering him or just you? How have you tried to talk about it? Has it been inadvertently accusatory? (We never make love any more.) Or has it been invitational? (When we make love, I feel so cherished.) Is he generally affectionate (holds your hand, hugs you, whatever has been natural for the two of you), but not interested in making love? Is the rest of your relationship good? Are you open to cultivating other forms of intimacy between the two of you and possibly exploring some self- strategies? Are you willing to learn and practice his love language?
And most important of all, is this a relationship you want to nurture and grow? Because if your answer to that one is “Yes,” then you must immediately redirect your own focus away from looking outside (an affair) to looking inside (what YOU can do).
The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence. It’s greener where you water it.
Get your copy of the The Five Love Languages:
Paperback - Click HERE
Audio - Click HERE
Abridged Gift-Sized Version - Click HERE
Anne Wade is Teacher, Writer, Mentor, and Coach for courageous women in midlife and beyond who want to disrupt their own status quo and design life on their own terms, even in turbulent times. She has developed the Becoming Found process of going within to find and address the inner barriers we have all inadvertently built up against love, happiness, health, wealth and any other desires of our hearts. Teaching women to unapologetically shine like a superstar and live their legacy is Anne’s mission.
You can follow her on her Facebook page “Anne Wade – Becoming found” or join her “Becoming Found” Facebook group.