What to Do When You're No Longer Attracted to Your Husband

unhappy couple in bed

How do you lose your attraction to someone? You started out so in love with your husband, so hot for him. And then, somehow, over the years you feel ... comfortable, but definitely not attracted. How did that happen, and what can you do about it?


First of all, you're not alone. "Sexless marriage" is the most Googled phrase about sex and marriage. In a survey by psychotherapist Abby Rodman, many spouses in sexless marriages blamed exhaustion and stress and said the sex ended just about when parenthood began.

But can we really leave it at that, or is there something else going on? "I no longer want to have sex with my husband," one woman told Rodman. "I do want to have sex again, though. Just not with him," another wife told her.

1. You aren't treating each other well. A lot of this comes down to how you've been treating each other over the years. Winifred M. Reilly, marriage therapist and author of the relationship advice blog Speaking of Marriage says, "I see a lot of couples, inside and outside of my practice, who don't treat each other very well a lot of the time. And there's no bigger turnoff than treating each other badly." Whether it's disrespect, neglecting each other, blaming each other, or being on each other's case all the time, couples forget to make each other feel loved and cherished.

2. You're feeling rejected. This is the result of years of mistreatment. We're all vulnerable to criticism, feeling like our spouse is preoccupied, or unloving. "When someone is not being warm people start to get self-protective," Reilly says. And that can dampen your attraction to them.

3. You act like business partners. When couples get caught up in the busyness of life, they begin to treat each other like associates running an operation together. "When you get into business mode, that's not very sexy," Reilly says.

4. You have unresolved sexual issues. "People mostly want to sidestep their sexual issues," Reilly says, whether that's experiencing pain, being shy, or being clumsy. "They think it's hopeless." As a result, people can go for years without having sex. And if you're not having sex, it's harder to keep the spark alive.

5. You have other unresolved issues. "Some people say their marriage would be perfectly great if it weren't for their spouse," Reilly jokes. But seriously, she points out that people get frustrated with how difficult marriage is. It's hard to move on and make peace with your seemingly unresolvable issues. "Who wants to get it on with someone who you think is making your marriage bad?" she asks.

6. You're expecting attraction to run on autopilot. "People get incredibly passive, like sparks are something that are just going to maintain themselves," Reilly says. But if you leave that fire unattended, the spark will die out (to extend the metaphor). "You have to keep adding wood to the fire. No spark maintains itself with no input or energy."

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So, what can you do about this? Reilly says that depends on how important it is to you. What are you willing to do?

1. Be kinder to your spouse. It sounds obvious, right? "We all just want to be cherished," Reilly says. "We want to be someone's sweetheart. People need to be loving and generous and affectionate, and they need to do it repeatedly. Even if your partner is being a turkey!"

2. Make the first move. "It's hard. You're wondering, 'why should I want to be generous to this person who's so crummy to me?'" Reilly says. (Of course, she adds, if someone is being truly abusive, that's entirely different.) "It can feel like reaching across the Grand Canyon, but it's not."

3. Be tenacious about it. So, you tried being kinder and it didn't work? Keep going. "You really have to go out on a limb and stay there for a while," Reilly insists. Don't try it once and give up if it doesn't work the first time. You're trying to move out of that "tight, stingy, bitter place," as Reilly puts it, and open your heart to feeling more love for your spouse. "When you start putting more positive energy into your relationship, it does make a difference, eventually."

4. Court your spouse. Make private time together a priority. But don't just go out for dinner together, go on a date. Don't just go on a vacation, go on a romantic getaway. "The narrative is powerful," Winifred. "Make things with your husband a little sweeter because you're showing up as someone who's courting him, even though you've been married for years. Still flirt with each other."

5. Get counseling. If you have unresolved issues, sexual or otherwise, see a therapist. "Most sexual issues can be remedied, and most marital issues can be turned around, if people have a desire to do so and if they put some energy to into it," Reilly says.

If you find yourself complaining about not feeling attracted to your spouse, this is the time to stop complaining and talk about how you would like your marriage to be better. You really can turn things around, but it's going to take effort and imagination. "People can feel like it's hopeless when the chemistry is gone," Reilly says. "But that chemistry is something you have to cultivate and feed."

Have you lost your attraction to your spouse? Or do you worry that you'll lose it eventually?


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