I did some research on this topic, because I will be honest with you, it happens to the best of us.
“I love my husband but I don’t feel attracted to him…” this apparently is a plight shared by many women, young and old, across the globe.
I am in a marriage that came back from the grave. We married in our mid-late 30s, immediately added 3 kids to the mix, and things just spiraled downhill for the next 15 years as we struggled to cohabitate “for the sake of the kids.” One of us had an exciting and experimental sexual past; the other perhaps didn’t. As Christians we wanted to forgive the sins of the past, and move forward together in our marriage and future together. We believed that Marriage was a covenant for life. It just wasn’t always simple.
Then a miracle happened and I don’t know how to explain it other than I worked on ME and MY attitude (it’s all in the “Our Story” tab). I lost weight and felt better (aka, sexier, desirable, healthier); gave an honest ultimatum (let’s not stay together and continue to make each other miserable; if we can’t change for each other, let’s move on…); got honest with him about what I liked sexually, deciding not to act like an inexperienced virgin who just spread her legs in the dark for 60 seconds and pretended it was OK.
For the past 4-5 years we have worked hard on improving our marriage, our respect, our intimacy, our commitment, our love. We’re still pretty new at this.
And, quite frankly, very little of it comes “naturally.” It requires superhuman effort and sometimes we are quite lazy. So easy to default to lazy. Just like leading the proverbial horse to water, you just can’t lead every man to a hot sex life. Trust me, I’ve tried. And at times I just accept that this problem “is about me, and not him.” I must reflect on the many great things about him.
Closing in on the end of my 50s, with 25 years of marriage under our belt, it gets no less confusing and perplexing. There are things (books, movies, memories) that can get me hot and bothered and aroused; yet sex with hubby is rarely more than just a loving, connecting, physical bond, with little sexual pleasure for me. As we age, our bodies start doing strange things, and emit strange odors. That dreaded sense of loss of attraction looms menacingly. Hubby is a man who values health and hygiene (in case anyone suggests diet is a culprit), and keeps himself in good physical shape. He is also a man who can go weeks without sex and seem not fazed. I find that recently my husband’s body odor turns me off (it’s so hard to describe—even though he’s washed, and he eats healthily, he puts off “eau de old man.”) His breath isn’t the nicest, even though he’s fastidious about dental care, with just-brushed his teeth. I realize that for 25 years, he apparently has thought kissing involved wet licking and lots of heavy tongue thrusting—not a turn-on for me. His ejaculate burns me at times. I’ve never known him to own fingernail clippers or a file (I think he’s a secret nail bitter) and ragged, scratchy fingernails do not mix well with tender lady parts; not to mention I’m easily prone to UTIs, and any hint of bacteria can lead to weeks of terrible pain. Consequently intimate touch scares me a little. And yes, I’ve tried to be honest about all of this with him in the nicest way I can, to the point of suggesting a manicure, and introducing pure essential oils.
Now, I’m sure he has his own list of turn-offs about me; he’s just too much of a gentleman to mention them. I struggle with weight. I have frequent “flare ups” of conditions that make sex difficult. It’s quite embarrassing to admit but extra push-down pressure in the area can also push out other unpleasantness. Often that gassy fear just stifles any desire to just “let go” with an orgasm (which requires the use of a vibe). Still, I exercise regularly (yoga is my thing… and there is no more sexy exercise IMHO…), try to be very attentive to his sexual pleasure, try to keep weight down (a struggle recently), dress nicely, fix my hair and make up– oh, and try to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.
There are some who might say, “hey, by the time you hit 60 and beyond, sex isn’t so important anymore, it’s the history you share together and the companionship.” Perhaps this is true… but there is this part of me that still very much likes erotic and sensual experiences, and these seem few and far between these days. I love him, and I’d love to find the key to our “mojo.”
So I did some Googling. Because frankly I was amazed and perplexed at how my increasingly frigid body could become highly aroused by watching Fifty Shades of Grey, in ways that sex with hubby rarely does. Some might say, “stop watching that filth.” It’s hard for me to bridge this gap in my sexuality—the gal that still desires (and is aroused for) hot, erotic sex; and the mature lady who loves her hubby but can’t get off with him.
Here are some of my take-aways from the research (I’m not giving attribution as it’s too much work… but I don’t claim authorship except for a few added notes of my own):
- There are few fates more hollow and numbing than a lifetime of chaste cohabitation with someone you probably wouldn’t choose as roommate, let along spouse, if you had it to do over again. (Yeesh, it’s tough when you hit the roommate times… been there, done that! Chaste cohabitation though is sad to contemplate)
- When a woman decides she doesn’t want the husband she still loves even to kiss her (I’ve mentioned the breath thing… no clue how to remedy since he otherwise does all the right things…)
- Can sexual passion ‘last a lifetime’? Very rarely. It’s usually replaced by a deeper love and warm companionship, shared habits and humour which are the bread and butter of a good life. Physicality may be expressed more often in cuddles than the rampaging sex of youth — but touch remains important. (Yes, touch is important. Hubby knows exactly the type of (rougher) touch I crave… but it’s rarely served up in his repertoire. Reminding starts to feel like nagging… or worse, pathetic begging)
- Couples find different ways of dealing with getting older and changing needs. (Still looking for this elusive secret. I know I love him to the end… and it’s more than a feeling).
- If there is anything worse than the assumption that we all have a divine right to happiness, it is surely the belief that we all need to feel sexually fulfilled all the time. This is the message of a heavily sexualized society. (Yup. How do I change that?)
- Sometimes I think of sex as a savage dog snapping at our heels that would be better off put down. Enjoyable it may be, but it causes so much unhappiness. (That’s a pretty extreme paradox… I suppose that given the choice to kill sex or have it be unhappy… I’d still choose sex).
- Ask for God to reveal all these things to you—what’s so great and attractive about your husband, how to take care of your bodies better, what will make your spine tingle, how to see your husband the way only a sexy, loving wife can. (this falls under the category of “pray for your marriage and even sex.” I’ve not felt much responsiveness from prayer for this, but I will pray without ceasing).
- Let me ask, would you still work at a job that hasn’t paid you in three years? Well that’s the last time your wife had an orgasm during sex. (I think he tries, or wants to try. He doesn’t view sex as his “right” and he wants me to enjoy it. The fact is, he can’t make me orgasm, and that is hard on both of us).
- In the beginning… you enjoyed being in each other’s company and you naturally responded to one another sexually. In those early years, there wasn’t much else to bolster your affection . . . no shared history, no bank of fun memories to reminisce about, and no legacy of weathering the storms of life together. God, in his grace, wired our brains to be drawn to young love with powerful neurochemicals that caused you to find great joy in your relationship. However, those chemicals representing physical attraction and sexual excitement were never intended to last indefinitely. (sadly, I don’t know that we really ever had the “natural sexual pull,” which always was a bitter pill to swallow. We’ve had to work at this, always. A complication was that I was a naughty girl who liked bad men; he was a nice guy who liked good girls. It’s insane how we ended up together).
- Believe it or not, there is a study that proves those long looks can actually increase attraction. See how long the two of you can gaze into each other’s eyes without laughing or talking. This can be awkward and the time can feel long but I dare you to find out if it rekindles the fire of attraction. (He’s full of humor. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes juvenile or prejudiced, sometimes demeaning. Because of the mixed humor, I have struggled to express appreciation for his humor, a trait I know he is proud of. I feel like this exercise would be doomed to failure; a similar exercise is holding a hug for 20 seconds or longer, twice a day. It’s insane, but this is a challenge… He doesn’t naturally gravitate to this; I have learned to shut off the expectation for it.)
- Someone making you laugh, being clever, sharing hobbies and interests, and being kind and compassionate are all things that might make you feel attracted to someone. (Quite frankly, it is his kindness, compassion, patience, intelligence, and trustworthiness that keep me with him and loving him. He possesses numerous quality traits that are rarely all found in one individual; and traits that outlive the purely physical ones. He will take care of me (and has). He is a “GOOD MAN” and that is always better than a “SEXY MAN” if you have to choose. Still, I am selfish. I’d like both, please…)
One thing that I know in spite of the occasional dissatisfaction: I will be here until death do us part, good, bad, ugly and not-sexy. The good far outweighs the bad and I just need to keep focusing on that good, with God’s help, every day. Just keep loving, even when you don’t feel it.