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Major Turn-Offs to Intimacy

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Couples in sexless marriages are missing out on an important and beautiful part of marriage. Many factors are involved, but sometimes, the solution is just avoiding your spouse’s major turn-offs.

Some experts say marriage is “sexless” when a couple has sex fewer than 10 times a year; others say couples who haven’t had sex for six months are in a “sexless marriage.” Estimates vary on how many married couples this affects, but it could be as many as 1 in 5. And don’t blame wives — around 20% of the time, it’s the man who isn’t interested in sex. It’s a painful situation for many people.

Sex is important for husbands and wives. Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President of Marriage at Focus on the Family, says, “Married couples should have sex often in a way that feels good to both spouses.” The goal is mutual satisfaction.

Couples in sexless marriages are missing out on an important and beautiful part of marriage, something God created to unite a husband and wife and to bring pleasure. Many factors are involved. Exhaustion from raising kids and having busy schedules, health problems and emotional trauma are just a few of the things that affect intimacy in marriage. But in some situations, the solution might be just knowing your spouse’s major turn-offs and avoiding them. Here are a few you can avoid so that your marriage doesn’t become a statistic.


Too often, sex can be used as a weapon or punishment. For example, one spouse refuses the other unless they get their way in a disagreement. Or one spouse might use Scripture (1 Corinthians 7:3-5) as a weapon to manipulate a spouse into having sex. Neither of these approaches is respectful or honoring.

Aretha Franklin isn’t the only one who wants R-E-S-P-E-C-T. When a man feels his wife isn’t honoring his ideas, time or leadership, he can feel as if she sees him as less of a man. This makes him feel a lack of confidence and hinders his desire for intimacy.

Likewise, when a wife feels that her desires and needs are not being respected, she’ll turn cold to the idea of sex because anything less is a major turn-off.

Emotional inhibitions

A wife who feels like her body isn’t beautiful — too large, small, scarred, flabby — won’t have a lot of desire to show it off to her husband. But husbands can encourage with patient words and consistent acts that show their attraction. And wives can improve their body image to feel better about themselves and improve their marriage.

And when a husband is afraid he can’t perform to his wife’s liking, he might be timid about initiating something that might make him look like a failure. Stress at work or financial worries may also affect his desire for sex.

Neglect outside the bedroom

Women don’t want to feel like they’re just being used for their bodies, their housekeeping or mothering skills. They want sex to be more than a physical act. They want to be romanced, their heart pursued. They want to be fought for, over and over. Perhaps most importantly, they want to connect on a deep emotional level. Then they can respond physically. Sex without an emotional connection can be a major turn-off.

Lack of effort

A husband might be turned off by a wife who’s always wearing sweatpants and an old T-shirt, with hair constantly in a messy bun. Looking cute for him is something she did before they were married … and that should still happen sometimes after they’re married.

Women also want to see their husband put in some effort for them. They like when he puts on a nice shirt, works on physical fitness or sprays on a little cologne — at least every now and then.

Addiction to pornography

Many people advocate that looking at porn will “spice up” a marriage and rev the engines for marital sex. However, pornographic images actually do the opposite — they cause sexual dysfunction. Pornography dulls your senses and makes your spouse seem unfulfilling.

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