FamilyLife Blog

Sexual Cravings: Sex-Starved Wife

by | Mar 13, 2020 | Marriage, Sex

As I read emails from all over the world, it is obvious to me that every woman believes she will find personal fulfillment living with her chosen mate — which she expects should include satisfying sexual intimacy. Many explain that everything started out well, but somewhere along the way, their husband lost interest in them sexually. Some say that their husband does not even touch them anymore, and wonder what is wrong with them. Have they become unattractive somehow?

For an increasing number of women, the honeymoon is really over!  The challenge is that while a husband and wife are two very unique people who mesh their lives together, each brings different needs, strengths, and expectations into their marriage. They are looking forward to years of married bliss. A husband may feel quite satisfied with a lack of sex, but a wife may find herself growing disillusioned, which turns to deep cravings for something more, more than what her husband is able or willing to give.

Cravings generally build when desires are not satisfied. According to current statistics, between 10 and 50 per cent of men experience a decreased sexual libido at some point during their lives. (The statistics are hard to discern, as many people won’t talk about this issue; our culture depicts men as sex-crazed, and if and he is not, both he and his wife wonder, “What’s wrong?”) This imbalanced libido in the marriage can be embarrassing for men whose wives desire more sex and intimacy as time goes on. I give this statistic only to show that sex-starved wives are not alone!

Unconditional love and acceptance are what both husbands and wives crave, most of all. How that love and acceptance are expressed to each other during the challenging seasons of marriage will be key in relighting the sexual fire. What drew the two of you together in the first place? Remember together those early days of dating, and the good memories you have of being together. It is easy to take each other for granted as the years go by, so be aware and fight that trend together.

Your Spouse Isn’t the Issue

You and your husband have different libidos. This is the issue, not your husband. Blaming each other depletes the energy needed to tackle what’s really going on. Know you are not alone by acknowledging the fact that in all marriages, at some point, there will be two different libidos. This leaves one partner with unsatisfied sexual cravings. Make a commitment to discuss the issue. Each spouse needs to be willing to adjust to the way things are (not the way “I wish they were”) with shared responsibility for solving the problem.

Many women are tempted to give up. Women who write to me express anger, hurt, and resentment towards their mate. Some question whether divorce is the only option. They don’t want to live in what appears to be a “love-less” marriage for the rest of their lives! There is hope, so don’t give up too easily.

Natural Divide? Work Towards Compromise

In her book, The Sex-Starved Wife, Michele Weiner Davis says not to give up on the marriage, even if sex is not happening. If a woman wants more sex, or feels deprived of intimacy, Weiner Davis identifies the solution is in the couple’s commitment to their marriage and willingness to identify what is not working — without laying blame.

Some readers might feel that Weiner Davis puts too much responsibility on the wife to fix this problem. It seems reasonable, however, for the person who is the most dissatisfied to initiate the discussion. She also needs to consider that the success of her marriage is more important than getting her way.

Your Marriage is Worth the Effort!

Clearly Weiner Davis believes all marriages are worth the effort. Divorce is not the answer; and it does not produce the desired result either! She also believes whatever the problem, there is a solution. No problem or challenge in the area of sexual intimacy is impossible to solve! It may mean that your husband needs to see a doctor who can diagnose and prescribe something to help, but as long as you are being a supportive and caring wife, he will hopefully be motivated to do this for your marriage.

This book is for women who want to work on their marriages and are willing to try different approaches in order to communicate their love for their husband. It’s also for those who want to influence (not force) change in their sexual relationship. Weiner Davis practically coaches women to realize that if what they’re doing to encourage their husbands is not working, stop doing it!  She suggested to one woman to go out with the girls in the evenings and allow absence to make his heart grow fonder (but you will have to read the book to get the full details of what happened!).

Negativity Leads to Emotional Prison

Weiner Davis encourages women not to think negatively about themselves or their husbands. Those who engage in negative internal messaging destroy self-esteem. This leads to getting stuck in an emotional prison — while pulling their husbands into it as well. Not very helpful!

How should two people work out an agreeable arrangement in the area of sexual intimacy? Traditionally, it’s the spouse who wants less sex that seems to get his/her way, even if the other spouse is unhappy. The book acknowledges this fact, but gives helpful hints for how to encourage each partner to “give” a little in the area of sexual intimacy, so that both can benefit.

If you want change in your sexual relationship, change must start with you! You can try every method under the sun to produce change in your husband, but his disinterest in sex has evolved for a reason. Please do not hear me saying that this is your fault. It most likely has nothing to do with you, but you should assume your own responsibility for effecting change in your relationship.

Tips on How to Deal with Unhappiness

How you deal with unhappiness is important. Here are some ways to help.

  1. Share your concerns. Use “I” statements, not “you.” He needs to know how important intimacy is to you in order to be motivated to initiate or respond to sex more, since his drive or need for sex is less than yours.
  2. Refuse to think negatively. Don’t look for someone to blame. Resist getting angry, bitter, or critical, which are not helpful life-changing emotions.
  3. Focus on the positive. Express appreciation for all that your spouse does to contribute to the success of your marriage (working hard at a job to support the family, taking care of the yard work, maintenance of the house, etc.). Don’t take anything he does for granted. Be thankful for your husband, and be genuine and consistent in expressing your thankfulness and appreciation!
  4. Listen. Allow your husband to share his perspective on sexual intimacy, even if he does blame you, or seems unwilling to change his behaviour.  He may feel embarrassed by the topic, or defensive, and feel criticized unjustly. You need to know what is happening, from his perspective.
  5. Refuse to become overly emotional. Avoid extreme emotions in your communication, or being emotionless in your responses to him. Reach out and touch him as a means of showing that you care. Don’t hold your arms tightly to your chest, or otherwise nonverbally express negative emotions.
  6. Work together on a solution. Seek a win/win solution that takes little steps towards what you both want in your sexual intimacy. Don’t overwhelm yourself (and him) with more than you can change; be realistic.  Agree to do one thing, to make one change at a time. More than likely, it has taken awhile for you to drift apart and it will take time to begin to pull back together again.
  7. Commit to this principle: it is more blessed to give than receive. Seek ways to please and satisfy your partner and generally you will lay the foundation for a growing satisfying level of sexual intimacy.
  8. Understand your partner’s “love language.” Learn and understand their love language so you can fill their emotional love tank. This helps express how much you care about him!