Dear Dr. Grace and Dr. Muehlhoff:
My husband has a low sex drive and it makes me feel very unwanted. Do you have any advice?
Dear Feeling Unwanted,
Anytime we talk about a low sex drive – whether it’s a husband or a wife – we offer the following few suggestions.
First, be willing to talk about this as a couple or it could exacerbate the situation due to shame and vulnerability. You don’t want to let this drive a wedge between you.
Next, a good place to start is for him to see his general practitioner or family doctor to weed out any medical causes. It could be as simple as too much stress, a side-effect of medication he’s taking, too much caffeine, or unhealthy sleep patterns and habits. If it is something more medically complex, he may need to be referred to a specialist. A low sex drive could indicate things like low testosterone levels or other hormones that have depleted over time, which is natural and normal. But he needs to have that conversation with the doctor.
Second, if there is nothing physically wrong, then you both may want to see an expert who really can help him think through what is going on emotionally. A therapist who specializes in sex therapy can help him dissect some of the deeper, emotional issues.
And finally, try not to take it personally. It’s easy to think, “You’re not interested in me anymore. I’m not pretty enough or thin enough, etc.” Don't be so quick to jump to those personal, negative assumptions; there could very well be other issues in play.
This is one of the topics we just don't talk about easily, and that's one of the things that exacerbates the situation. Just be willing to talk about it and to have a frank conversation with each other. Then, be willing to address it together as a team with lots of love, affirmation and support.
Christopher Grace serves as the director of the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships and teaches psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology. He and his wife, Alisa, speak regularly to married couples, churches, singles and college students on the topic of relationships, dating and marriage. Grace earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in experimental social psychology from Colorado State University.
Tim Muehlhoff is a professor of communication at Biola University and author of several books, including I Beg to Differ and Marriage Forecasting. For the past 18 years, he and his wife, Noreen, have been frequent speakers at FamilyLife marriage conferences. Muehlhoff regularly writes and speaks for the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships. Follow Dr. Muehlhoff on Twitter.