You’re right: This isn’t just a complaint from husbands about wives. Low sex drive and failure to satisfy a spouse’s need for physical intimacy can run in either direction.
Reasons for decreased male libido
There are a lot of complicated reasons for a husband’s loss of interest in sex — starting with not understanding God’s purpose for marriage and sexuality in the first place.
From a Christian perspective, sex is the ultimate expression of physical, emotional, and spiritual unity between a husband and wife. It’s a wondrous, beautiful, holy, self-transcendent, and sacramental experience. It’s a picture of the mystery of Christ’s relationship with the church (Ephesians 5:31-33). Unfortunately, husbands and wives frequently lose sight of this.
But even with that underlying truth, there are at least 10 other reasons for decreased male libido:
- Medication. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs can suppress a man’s desire for and interest in sex. Prescription medications include antidepressants, tranquilizers, anti-ulcer drugs, diuretics, anti-hypertensives (for high blood pressure), psychotropics (for mental illness), opiates (for pain), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAID’s). Over-the-counter drugs to keep in mind are those used for coughs, colds, and allergies.
- Depression. Depression is the most frequently encountered emotional/psychological problem in modern America. It’s a real sex-drive zapper, and it can easily escape the notice of driven, high-functioning individuals who don’t realize that they’re depressed.
- Pornography and sex addiction. Many therapists report that pornography is moving to the top of the list as a cause for husbands’ decreased interest in their wives. Ironically, sexual release through porn addiction and self-stimulation — combined with deep feelings of guilt over a secret, double life — often lead to a kind of “sexual anorexia.”
- Childhood experiences. Many men make the mistake of thinking that they were not sexually abused if they were never sexually touched. But simply seeing sexually explicit material at a young age can sometimes result in permanent mental scars — unless the person is treated by a qualified therapist. Other negative childhood influences include poor body image, not enough bonding with parents and family members, or being smothered by his mother.
- Sexual inexperience or performance anxiety. Believe it or not, many men are extremely insecure when it comes to sexual prowess. Self-doubt can cause a husband to feel defeated before he even starts. But fears from inexperience can usually be worked out with education and the patient understanding of a loving wife. Performance anxiety, on the other hand, is sometimes connected with deeper issues unrelated to sex. Qualified therapists can help men overcome those concerns.
- Stress. Stress is such a familiar part of life that many couples end up accepting it as a “third marriage partner.” Over-commitment and over-work leave husbands and wives with no time and no energy for the fun part of marriage. Even life changes usually seen as positive — a promotion, a new home, or a new baby — consume energy and can curb a normal sex drive.
- Erectile dysfunction. Impotence, or ED, isn’t technically the same thing as losing libido. Still, one can lead to the other. Hormonal issues also play a role — lowered testosterone levels can add to the vicious cycle.
- Street drugs and alcohol. Don’t buy into their reputation for reducing sexual inhibition. They can also have the long-term effect of decreasing libido.
- Illness, aging, and pain. No one would argue that these lower ability to experience sexual pleasure. But because of that, they also chip away at sexual desire. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to detect a connection between physical struggles and a loss of healthy libido. A husband and wife might need to consult several doctors to find one who can diagnose the real problem.
- Relationship problems. Sometimes the role of relational conflict in connection with sexual dysfunction is obvious, and other times it’s harder to figure out. Couples might believe that they can leave their unresolved conflicts at the bedroom door — but everything really does tie together. Do you and your spouse have good conflict resolution skills? Are you unintentionally putting your husband down or disrespecting him in other ways?
Don’t be afraid to get help
Professional therapy can be a big help to couples in your situation. Would you let us point you in a good direction? Our goal is to help you find the best Christian care available.
Call our counselors for a free over-the-phone consultation. They’d be glad to talk with you, and they can give you a list of professional Christian counselors in your area who specialize in issues related to sexual dysfunction.
Causes for Men’s Diminished Sex Drive: Dr. Michael Systma examines the common causes of diminished sexual desire in men.
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Sex and Intimacy