Most married women lose interest in sex with their husbands at some point in their marriage. They often don’t talk about it. On some level, they feel guilty. He doesn’t get it- really neither does she.
The harder he tries the more she avoids sex. She has developed an aversion to sex.
She has her own physical need for sexual release and still, not completely understanding it herself, avoids intimacy with her partner.
What if you could let go of the guilt, the anger, and have an authentic interest in your husband again? Well, you can!
Let’s look at why and how couples land in this place and what they can do to move through it.
What Is Aversion And What Does It Have To Do With Losing Interest In Sex?
It is normal for all couples to pass through a stage where there is less sex.
This usually happens after there have been one or two children, but can occur in marriages where there are no kids as well. Over time the mother develops an aversion to sex.
It’s an unconscious aversion in which the husband becomes at the very least undesirable at times and at worst repugnant to the wife.
If this is you, don’t feel bad, you are not at “fault” no matter how much you may feel your husband is guilting and shaming you into doing something you feel ambivalent about. The fact is you have developed an aversion.
Aversion occurs when our unconscious mind links negative outcomes to a particular event, object, person, or place.
Studies done with rats show that if they are given a mild shock whenever they drink water, they will become averse whenever they are thirsty. They will drink the water but less often and anxiously as they now associate the shock with water.
Similarly, when we associate enough negativity with sex, we become anxious and even resentful when our partner suggests it.
Aversion can show up in many aspects of marriage. If we experience criticism and negativity over taking out the garbage, every time someone asks us to take out the garbage we will have a negative reaction.
I am sure if you take this concept and look at it every time you have a negative reaction to something your partner says, you will find more incidences of aversion.
Aversion To Sex
So why is sexual aversion so common? Why do people lose interest in sex with their partners?
You say that having those kids around and the responsibility of taking care of them is a constant reminder of where sex can lead too. Though this does not sound rational- we have birth control for example- remember we are dealing with our unconscious mind which is trainable and easily conditioned.
Our unconscious mind is far less than rational.
Kids may be the reason, but they are certainly not the only reason.
The development of aversion lies in the way couples, and often men and women relate. Often there is one partner who wants sexual relations more than the other. In fact, this is often the case with straight marriages, but not unique to them.
One partner wants sex more than the other and pressures them. The other partner is less interested and experiences the pressure as a pain (think electric shock) and over time they develop an aversion.
In The Beginning
Let’s take it one step further. I have a couple of clients that came to see me, let’s call them Tom & Rachel.
Tom is super goal-oriented. He wants what he wants when he wants it. Rachel is super relational, she wants a full experience where she feels appreciated for all of who she is, not just an object of Tom’s desire.
When Tom and Rachel first met, he wined and dined her. She was all he thought about. He brought her gifts, frequently praised her, touched her arm, her shoulder, simply out of affection.
He did special things for her like fixed her car mirror when it got broken without her even asking. Tom would take time off from work to watch Rachel ride which was her passion. Rachel felt fully and completely appreciated.
Lo and behold they got married and both of them enjoyed regular sex together.
Life Gets In The Way
Over time, Tom got busy at work. He brought gifts every now and then. Tom rarely praised Rachel anymore.
He still did things for Rachel but only when she asked him 6-7 times (he became averse over time).
Tom would touch Rachel but mostly because he wanted to get some. Rachel began to feel she was just a tool for Tom’s satisfaction.
Rationally she knew better, that they had both gotten sucked into work and life, but emotionally she felt unappreciated.
Every time Tom touched her she would pull back. They had less and less frequent sex. Rachel had become sex averse.
Sex now represented her feelings of objectification. Feelings she had in other areas of her life, but her relationship with Tom was the only place where she felt she had the power to fight back.
Rachel confessed to me that she wanted to have sex with Tom, but every time he would try to initiate intimacy she would actually feel low-level fear make excuses.
If it had been a while she would force herself to follow through mostly from a sense of duty. This would require her to shore up her confidence.
In extreme emotion, she might even start to feel the onset of a panic attack.
Some women have reported experiencing revulsion at the thought of having sex. Rachel recognized that something wasn’t working.
She loved Tom, and she certainly had her own need for sex. Rachel was committed to her relationship. She was ready to take action.
First Steps To Revive The Interest In Sex
Let’s remember how the problem started: Tom and Rachel made that shift from being in love to approaching life as partners.
Though we focused on Rachel’s experience, they both changed the way they behaved towards one another- which is normal and natural. After all, studies show that “in love” is a state that lasts 2-3 years on average.
What they did not do is engage in adequate caring communication regarding the changes.
They started treating one another as a means to an end. For Rachel, who is more relational, this shift to a more goal-oriented lifestyle from the highly relational lifestyle of “in love” was a disaster.
For the marriage to be whole again there were two changes that needed to happen: Tom needed to become more relationally oriented, and Rachel had some unconscious rewiring to do.
For Tom, he needed to learn what Rachel’s love language was (see the 5 Love Languages).
He needed to redevelop intimacy in his marriage by taking an authentic interest in Rachel’s life. With help, they both developed regular and caring communication.
Tom specifically worked on really understanding how he and Rachel got where they were and that her aversion was not about him, but how he had been acting.
Slowly, they rebuilt trust together.
Tom also learned to touch Rachel and NOT come on to her. He learned the difference between hooking up with Rachel and making love with her.
To stop approaching her for sex and let her take the lead in this tenuous time of rebuilding.
For Rachel, there was a slow road to getting comfortable with the idea of sex again.
She started by getting comfortable about thinking about sex. Remember she felt guilty for her own desire.
Next, she worked on getting comfortable about thinking about sex with her husband. The next step was practicing thinking about sex with her husband while they were going to sleep and he was in their bed with her.
She learned to relax while talking with her husband about sex as a step forward.
And finally, she learned to relax while actually making love with her husband. She had regained her interest in sex with her husband.
She did this through a combination of meditation and prayer, journaling, and of course, talking about it with a professional. (you can call us for free here and we´ll give you the next steps on what to do with your marriage)
Next Steps To Rekindle Interest In Sex
Rachel and Tom developed a healthy and regular sex life together over time and you can too.
Whether you are in a relationship with someone who has become averse or you are experiencing the aversion, it will take both of you to get through this together.
Aversion is created by both people albeit accidentally. Effective change comes when both people are fully engaged in the solution just as Tom and Rachel were.