Lack of Sexual Attraction in Marriage

by Sheri Oz Google

You might have lost sexual interest in your spouse over time, or perhaps you never felt an electrifying attraction in the first place. You might question your love for your spouse and the chances for this marriage to last. In her book “The Sex-Starved Marriage,” marriage expert Michele Weiner Davis claims that one in three couples suffers from problems of low sexual desire and that this is true for both men and women. Lack of sexual attraction in marriage can be related to a number of issues and not necessarily love or sexual desire per se. It should not be confused with sexual dysfunction, in which there is desire but not the ability to perform.

When It Is Personal and When It Is Not

If you find yourself uninterested in sex in general, the issue might not concern lack of attraction to your spouse at all. On the other hand, if you want to engage in sex but your spouse is not the one you want to be doing it with, then it might be personal. That does not mean that you do not love your spouse or that your relationship is over.

Nonsexual Factors Reducing Sexual Desire

The Net Doctor website lists some factors that reduce sexual desire in both men and women. For both genders, alcohol and drug abuse, certain medications and a variety of medical conditions can cause loss of interest in sexual activity. Similarly, psychological factors, such as depression, stress and past sexual trauma can lower the sex drive. An article published in “Personal Relationships” in September 2009 discusses how raising children leaves couples exhausted and with less free time, and this may reduce the desire for sexual activity. Examine the possibility that one or more of these factors may be behind your lack of sexual interest in your spouse.

Unreasonable Expectations

In their book “Enduring Desire,” marital and sex therapists Michael E. Metz and Barry W. McCarthy argue that many couples have unrealistic expectations of their sex lives, expecting all sexual encounters to mirror the movies. They explain that satisfying marital sex includes both exciting sex and “okay” sex. Perhaps you are feeling less attracted to your spouse because the sex does not match up to your exaggerated expectations, leading you to question your compatibility and love.

Sexual Desire Related to Individual Problems

Sometimes a lack of attraction for one’s spouse can mask one’s own anxiety. For example, research published in the “Archives of Sexual Behavior” in January 2013 revealed that socially insecure individuals are afraid of intimacy and are less effective at sexual communication than more confident individuals. A study in the April 2010 issue of the “Journal of Family Psychology” found that women who feel less attractive sexually are also less satisfied sexually and in the marriage in general. Male and female unmarried students with poor body image reported avoiding sex in a study published in 2011 in “The Journal of Sex Research.” Some insecure people may feel that their partners are not attractive to them sexually as a way of avoiding their own problems.

Sexual Desire as a Barometer

Psychologist Lynn Margolies, Ph.D., explains that lack of sexual attraction for one’s spouse might be a sign that there are problems in the relationship that have nothing to do with sex. It may be hard to ignore problems when they affect your sexual relationship and your desire to be intimate with your spouse. If so, consider looking for a therapist who can help you with your marriage. Do not take this as a sign that your relationship is over.

About the Author

With an Master of Science in marital and family therapy, Sheri Oz ran a private clinical practice for almost 30 years. Based on her clinical work, she has published a book and many professional articles and book chapters. She has also traveled extensively around the world and has volunteered in her field in China and South Sudan.

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