My husband and I only have sex when he wants it but never when I initiate it. How do we end this cycle?

My husband and I only have sex when he wants it but never when I initiate it. How do we end this cycle?
Samantha Lee/Insider
My husband and I only have sex when he wants it but never when I initiate it. How do we end this cycle?
Crystal Cox/Insider; Samantha Lee/Insider
  • Sex isn't just about orgasms. Focusing on general pleasure could make it less high-stakes and more fun.
  • Explore what brings you pleasure and encourage your husband to do the same.
  • If you share these findings in a non-judgmental way, it could transform your sex life.
  • Have a question for Julia? Fill out this anonymous form. All questions will be published anonymously. You can read more Doing It Right here.

I think my husband has a low sex drive. He only wants to have sex once a week at most and sometimes we go two, three, or four weeks without sex because he isn't interested.


I only ever have sex when he is in the mood, never when I have an interest or need.

I've explained to him I have a higher sex drive and I would like to have sex more frequently, but those conversations haven't led to any changes.

When I say I'm in the mood for sex, my husband immediately changes the subject or walks off, claiming that we need to go get dinner or do a random chore. Other times he'll use our child's presence as an excuse or say he's too tired.

But these excuses never discourage him when he's the one who's horny. In fact, he really ramps up his affection towards me when he's in the mood.


I've become so frustrated with his lack of interest I rarely initiate anything sexual between us. The situation has made me sad, angry, and resentful towards my husband, which I've told him.

When we do have sex, I enjoy it, but he struggles to last long. When that happens, he loses self-confidence, shuts down, and doesn't think to focus on my pleasure. This means I usually end up sexually frustrated until a week or two later when he's interested in sex again.

How can we break out of this cycle?

- Texas

Dear Texas,


When it seems like the scales are always tipped in your husband's favor sexually-speaking, I understand why you'd feel sad and resentful.

Redefining how you look at partnered sex, and its purpose in your lives as a married couple, could help you and your husband start a new chapter.

Based on what you've told me, I get the sense you and your husband tend to view sex as an opportunity to orgasm. But taking orgasms out of the picture and viewing it as an opportunity to connect with each other could make the experience feel less transactional and more exploratory, New York City therapist Rachel Wright previously told me.

This isn't to say it's fair that your husband has neglected your sexual needs when you've clearly communicated them.

At the same time, an overhaul of your sex life could help you confront the root problem head-on and figure out what works best for you as a couple.


To start, do a bit of research into what brings you pleasure in sex outside of an orgasm. Is it a soft touch? Neck kisses? Lots of pillow talk that makes you feel special? Watching or listening to erotica and experimenting with yourself during masturbation could help you gain inspiration here, sex educator Elle Chase previously told me.

Then, set aside agreed-upon time with your husband to have a serious chat.

When you have this talk, frame the conversation around what you've learned about yourself rather than the things he's neglected. You could even tell him the things you like about your relationship and sex life, like the compliments he gives you, to boost his confidence and make him more likely to hear you out.

Next, focus on the things you've noticed about yourself in your sex life to keep the tone non-judgmental, Wright told me.

Tell him you've noticed the sexual routine you've fallen into and how it makes you feel about your relationship, whether that's unimportant, disconnected, or something else. You can take this time to check in on your husband too, and see if he's felt a similar way about the pattern.


Then tell your husband what you've learned about yourself during that pleasure-research stage and how you'd like to apply it to your partnered intimacy. You could say something like, "I've learned that exploring other types of pleasure, and not just having the goal of orgasming, helps me enjoy sex more," and ask if that's something he'd be willing to try with you.

This is also a great time to get curious about your husband's lack of sexual interest, and see if there are any ways you could help him enjoy sex together. You should continue to have conversations like these, since a one-time talk likely won't lead to lasting change.

If your husband continues to push back, make excuses, or seems unwilling to work together, I think it's fair to let him know that dynamic won't work for you.

At the end of the day, it takes two people to have a rewarding partnered sex life. He doesn't have to bow to your every sexual request, but if he's unwilling to be vulnerable about your relationship when you are, it could mean it's time to reevaluate.

As Insider's resident sex and relationships reporter, Julia Naftulin is here to answer all your questions about dating, love, and doing it - no question is too weird or taboo. Julia regularly consults a panel of health experts including relationship therapists, gynecologists, and urologists to get science-backed answers to your burning questions, with a personal twist.


Have a question? Fill out this anonymous form. All questions will be published anonymously.

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