Ask Wendy

How Do I Talk to My Wife About Intimacy?

Friday, November 15, 2019
Hey Wendy,

The physical intimacy between my wife and I has become nonexistent. I’m struggling with how to talk to her about it, and I’d really appreciate your input.

I know she has the absolute right to say ‘no’ to me, and I respect that. And now it’s a continual stream of ‘no’s.

When the frequency of ‘no/ picked up, I felt sad, but figured I’d get over it, we love each other, and sex isn’t everything, right? I figured our intimacy would ebb and flow and at some point, things would be better. The ‘no’s have continued and now I feel unwanted, unattractive and unloved.

Physical intimacy is incredibly important to me, it’s my main ‘love language’. Cuddles are nice, but they only go so far. Recently, it’s gotten worse; I feel like some sort of disgraced pervert in my own home for desiring her. I walked into our bedroom to fetch something when she was changing, and when she saw I was there, she turned away to hide her nakedness. I felt like I died a little inside, and I feel so unwanted.

The trouble is I don’t want her to feel like she has to do this like it is some kind of wifely chore to occasionally make love to me. I want her to want to. I want to be wanted.

Jerry K.

Hey Jerry,

Heartbreaking. I’m so sorry! This painful predicament is certainly one you’re not experiencing alone; many couples go through this exactly. I don’t know specifically why your wife is a “no” to sex now, but there are many plausible reasons why, and I’ll share a few with you to hopefully lessen the pain in your heart, because likely, it really isn’t you.

As we women age, our bodies change and we don’t want sex nearly as often as we did when we were younger. A dwindling libido is a real thing, even for the hearty and enthusiastic among us. It may be her libido, or it may be that sex has turned painful, which can also happen as we age. She may be relating to her body as if it’s betraying her. Has she gained weight? Have things settled in ways that are displeasing to her? Even if she has the same body shape she always has, things shift, relocate—it may even be a case of something many of us find embarrassing like hemorrhoids or bladder issues. Our bodies betray us in unexpected ways that can add to our lack of sexual desire. When we don’t feel sexy, we don’t want sex.

She’s covering up likely because she’s embarrassed. Her body has changed, and in her eyes, she doesn’t want you seeing what it has become. Her inner critic is looking at every millimeter and tiny crow’s foot. And we remember what we looked like in our early twenties. If she could only see her beauty from your eyes, instead of her inner critic’s eyes, her world might be a better place.

So, Jerry, you’re going to have to talk to her about this. I’m hoping you two can work it out with some tender honesty.

Set a time with her to talk and let her know you two are going to work with five statements/questions. Each of you will have a turn to speak to all five. Share them with her in advance so she can think about them and come to you ready. Here they are:

  • Is there anything you need from me that you’re finding hard to get?
  • Is there something you’re not speaking up about in order to maintain the current situation?
  • What I love that I want more of is…
  • How I experience love from you is when you…
  • What I most appreciate about you right now is…

Before you try this at home, I recommend you watch this video before you have your meeting.

Good luck! I hope you two can get back to a yummy, intimate, and connected relationship.

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