Most long-term couples find that sex becomes less frequent the longer they’ve been together. But for some, sex drops off completely—and while it’s not true that it’s always the woman who no longer desires the sex (because sometimes men’s libidos flag) it’s true for enough couples that it’s worth talking about.
So what do you do when your wife suddenly doesn’t want to have sex anymore?
Why is Sex on the Back Burner?
Before we dive into specific tips, let’s take a look at what might be behind a woman’s loss of libido. In addition to a range of potential physical and psychological factors, a psychologist and researcher named Esther Perel has recently suggested that monogamy may be to blame.
“Female sexuality is widely believed to be rooted in commitment, but that is not always true,” Perel writes. “If it were, sex would thrive in loving, committed relationships. We know the opposite is often the case—desire flags once commitment sets in. We also know that women lose interest first—after a shorter amount of time, and rather precipitously.”
Our culture is deeply committed to monogamy. You and your wife are very likely deeply committed to monogamy! But the problem with monogamy is that it gets repetitive. It gets boring. There’s no risk anymore. And risk and variety are two major contributors to sexual desire.
“Female sexual desire is a drive that needs ongoing engagement,” Perel writes. “It needs to be stoked intensely and imaginatively throughout the years.”
How to Turn Up the Heat
If we start from that premise — that female sexual desire needs to be “stoked intensely and imaginatively,” then we can start coming up with ways you can help your wife get her libido back.
Be willing to take emotional risks.
When you’ve fallen into a sexual pattern, it can be really scary to switch things up. But if you want to get your sex life back on track, you have to be ready to take some risks. And the very first risk is talking to your wife about it.
Let her know that you love her and you love having sex with her, but you’ve noticed that she’s not as interested as she used to be. Ask if there’s something going on — or if there’s anything you can do to help. You might find that, like many women, she spends all day caring for other people and just can’t muster the energy to give even more in the evening. But mostly this is a way to open up the conversation.
Be willing to take physical risks.
When I say you have to be willing to take physical risks, I don’t mean “physical risks” like bungee jumping. I mean like maybe you have sex in the car at a remote rest stop. Or maybe you agree to have sex everywhere but the bed for an entire month. Or maybe, if you and your wife are up for it — and you’ve had many conversations about boundaries and rules — you go to a sex party and just hook up with each other.
By changing up the places you have sex, you’re introducing an element of risk, as well as an element of variety.
Talk about your fantasies.
Some couples talk about fantasies right at the beginning of a relationship — but many never do at all. Take the time to talk to your wife about her sexual fantasies. If doing it face-to-face is too awkward, try sexting. Or write her an email. Or even just ask her in a text. There are so many ways now for couples to communicate — take advantage of that fact.
If either of you is having trouble talking about fantasy, propose watching porn together or ask her to send you her favorite erotic story or video. Either one can be a great starting point for getting sex going again.
Keep fueling the desire.
Finally, remind yourself that mismatched libidos happen in every relationship at some point. You’re not alone in this. And you and your wife can get through it — we promise. Just remember to keep intensely and imaginatively stoking that desire.