5 Signs Your Husband May Be in a Sexual Desert

If ever there was a post that I had to start with a bunch of disclaimers, it’s this one.

I know that each marriage has its unique idiosyncrasies, history, struggles, triumphs, joys, heartaches, proficiencies and deficiencies.

I get that what I want to share today may be spot on for some marriages… and far from the truth for others.

Also, I know that sometimes it is the wife who is in the sexual desert, and the husband is the one withholding sex. I am sensitive to this and have a whole page dedicated to wives who want more sex and aren’t getting it.

All that being said, I hear primarily from husbands. Yes, husbands.

I started my blog with the hope to primarily reach wives, and while I do think I reach quite a few, I hear more from husbands, particularly husbands who are devastated by their wife’s lack of interest in sex. I’m talking about marriages where there is no reasonable explanation for the lack of sex, like illness, injury, or long-term work or military deployment.

My heart is never to belittle anyone, but rather my heart is to offer hopeful wake-up calls. Maybe this is a wake-up call for you that will spur you toward a better sexual landscape for you and your marriage.

5 Signs Your Husband May be in a Sexual Desert

1. He is the only one who initiates sex.

Some wives think that if they simply give their husband sex each time he initiates, then he must be in a sexual paradise, not a desert.

Yes, some sex is better than no sex, but do you know what most husbands tell me?

They want a wife who wants to be there.  It is not incredibly arousing to know their wife is just going through the motions.  And if you as a wife rarely or never initiate, he doesn’t feel that you desire him.

And he longs to be desired by you! Craves it. The cry of his heart is, “I want you to want me.

If all you do is make your body available when he asks, then sure, he will likely take you up on that and experience sexual release.

But if you sexually pursue him with your heart and body? Well, watch him come alive, because he is going to experience way more than sexual release. He’s going to experience love. No, sex isn’t the only way you love him, but trust me on this — many, many husbands equate love with sex.

When a wife values the sexual intimacy they share and they both enjoy initiating, then he feels more loved than he does if this is not happening.

2. He has stopped initiating sex.

This point piggy backs on the last one.  A wife who is not interested in sex in her marriage may be relieved when her husband stops initiating all together.

But rather than this generating a sigh of relief in her mind, it should be raising a bunch of red flags in her heart that her husband is in a sexual desert.

A marriage where a husband and wife could regularly be having sex yet aren’t is a cautionary tale of a couple missing out on all that God intended for their marriage.

God never intended for a husband and wife to simply be roommates; to handle the logistics of life while never enjoying the spiritual, physical and emotional benefits of one flesh.  Nowhere in the Bible do we see healthy marriage being synonymous with no sex.

If anything, the Bible is clear that sex is indeed one characteristic that differentiates marriage from all other relationships.  Marriage is synonymous with enjoying sex, not with abstaining from it.  No one stands at the altar on their wedding day and thinks, “Fabulous! Now I get to never have sex!”

If your husband has stopped initiating sex altogether and you suspect it’s likely because of your lack of interest in sex, I encourage you to humble yourself and seek healthy healing in your sexual intimacy. You deserve that healing.  He does too.

3. He goes to bed way before you or long after you or he always sleeps in a different room.

Sometimes a husband will tell me that it is simply too painful to be next to his wife who shows little or no sexual interest in him.

One husband even vividly described it as being chained in a bakery but never being able to have a morsel of bread. He could see, smell, and be close to all that was delectable and wonderful about his wife, but he could never thoroughly enjoy her body close to his and never touch her sensually.

Your husband may be in a sexual desert if the two of you are rarely or never in the same bed at the same time awake.

4. He is gravitating toward porn or adultery.

No, I’m never going to make an excuse for a husband’s sin. Never.

But I’m pragmatic too, and I think when we marry, we have a responsibility to help our spouse guard against temptation. We are not responsible for their choices, but we definitely are responsible for our own.

If you as a wife have been maliciously, carelessly or selfishly withholding sex from your husband, you are sinning. That’s on you.

Good news, though!  Jesus died for that sin.  All He asks is that you confess it and repent of it. Repent means walk a new direction.  So when we recognize our sin and we confess it, we are indeed forgiven. Then God asks that we choose a healthier direction.

To stop sinning we need to do something differently than we have been doing, so if you have been withholding sex from your husband or even taking your sexual intimacy lightly, what are you now going to do differently?

I would say the exact same thing to anyone using pornography or committing adultery.

A husband and wife have a tremendous privilege to nurture their sexual intimacy, not only because sex is profound and fun, but also because it helps protect their marriage and keep it sacred.

5. He has told you he is in a sexual desert.

Maybe he hasn’t used the word “desert,” but he has made it abundantly clear that the lack of sexual intimacy between the two of you is hurting him and the marriage.

Possibly he has verbally told you this outright, written it in a letter to you, or asked you to go to counseling because of it.

Maybe he has suggested the two of you read a book that would help you both enjoy sex more and heal what is causing the disconnect. Or possibly he has shared with you a blog post or article on the vital role sexual intimacy plays in the strength of a marriage.

At any rate, you certainly can’t say you don’t know that he is sexually frustrated. If he has said he is in a sexual desert, I would heed you to listen to his heart.

Does this post feel heavy or brimming with hope? If you are reading this and you know it is shining light on your marriage, be hopeful that you and your husband can do something about the sexual desert.

For more reading, check out this post.

Copyright 2018, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.

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17 thoughts on “5 Signs Your Husband May Be in a Sexual Desert

  1. Becky Casavant says:

    This is a well thought out list Julie.

    Could you also do a blog post discussing “5 Signs Your Wife May Be in a Sexual Desert” or “5 Signs That You Are in a Sexual Desert” addressing husbands?

    That would be equally helpful.

  2. Barbara says:

    I TOTALLY agree with Becky…
    We need the next blog to be “5 Signs Your WIFE May Be in a Sexual Desert”.
    Thank you! ??

  3. Julie Sibert says:

    @Becky and @Barbara… yes, I will be doing a post on wives being in a sexual desert. I definitely understand that some wives are in this situation. Stay tuned! Post is coming!

  4. Pingback: 5 Signs a Wife is in a Sexual Desert | Intimacy in Marriage

  5. Dave says:

    I am 58 yrs. I guess having no sex in 5 yrs and previous 3 years having sex once or twice per year will qualify as being in a sexual desert. Menopause seems to have killed my wife of 38 yrs libido. She sleeps in another room. I have slept alone for 10 yrs now. Everything else is normal – although she makes snide remarks about how I look now and then. It seems that this long dull torture has resulted in ED. I think this has gone long enough and will need to look elsewhere. I haven’t had sex with another person other than my wife since I was 20 so I am literally a virgin ha – btw I have 3 kids and 7 grand kids. There were up and downs in sexual history around child birth and she went into sexual overdrive in her 40’s but then it stopped when her periods stopped.

  6. Debbie says:

    Menopause is a fact of life. Women become infertile when age increases their chances of delivering an unhealthy child or increases their chances of dying in childbirth. Menopause means a women no longer has sex hormones coursing through her body stimulating the sexual parts of her brain or her sexual organs. God made her this way.
    Do you expect her to remain as sexually responsive as she was before? If God took away your testosterone at age 50, you would have a difficult time remaining sexual. No different.
    I don’t mean to be insensitive but there comes a time in everyone’s marriage where sexuality changes. The problem is, we as humans, don’t mentally prepare ourselves for these changes. We don’t want to accept them.
    You are blaming your wife for taking away the one thing that makes you feel loved and makes you feel like a man. But, she didn’t take it away. God took it away.
    She, too, is dealing with the loss of her sexuality.
    Menopause and ED are changes that need to be accepted and dealt with, not issues of blame and resentment.
    It saddens me that we rely so heavily on sex for connection. We do ourselves a disservice by not nurturing other forms of intimacy long before the sex becomes difficult.

  7. John says:

    Sex is the only true manner for a man to experience intimacy with his wife. And you conflate changes in sexuality with absence of sexual relations. One is inevitable and the other is not. A man who endures such a long term denial by his wife, is a better man than most. A man can easily find a good room mate without having a joint checking account. If he wanted companionship he could have a dog instead of a wife
    At least the dog would be glad to see him.

  8. Bitter Sweet says:


    “Sex is the only true manner for a man to experience intimacy with his wife.”
    What a sad untrue comment.

    My husband had prostate cancer. He has ED and has lost desire due to hormone treatments.
    He most certainly knows how to experience and express intimacy through other avenues.
    He’s a wonderful human, knows how to communicate and show love, and is a God given gift to me. He’s lost his sexual abilities and interests only.

    Should I turn him in for a dog?

  9. Heidi says:

    1. Sex is the only true manner for a man to experience intimacy with his wife.”
    What a sad untrue comment.
    (Thanks Bitter Sweet – couldn’t have said it better)

    2. Why do resentful men always bring up the financial aspect of their contribution to a marriage. Majority of married women work as hard as they do while having and taking care of their children. This money card that is played is not only unfair but pretty sad. It feels like sex is equated with money in marriage.

  10. Charles says:

    It’s worse than a desert because at the edge of it in every direction is a 60 foot shear rock wall. I have wandered in this desert for nearly 38 years. I dont know what else to do anymore. I’m out of ideas.

  11. Justin says:

    Charles and Dave, I feel for you guys. It’s funny listening to the women argue with your desire. There is almost no way a woman could understand how a man feels and no way a man could understand how a woman feels. Sex is one of the few ways a man’s brain will release oxytocin. This hormone makes a man feel close and loved by his woman. I wish your wife would get on some bioidentical hormones. I wish your wife could just understand what sex does for you. It’s sad how some relationships are so messed up from selfish, unknowing spouses. We can’t even talk about it with our spouse. It’s like, “NO, WE NEVER TALK ABOUT THAT. YOU ARE A PERVERT. I AM RIGHT. I AM SO RIGHT, THAT I WON’T EVEN LET YOU SPEAK.”
    Good article. I wish articles like this were openly taught to married couples. It’s sad the frat boy who is flunking out of college gets more sex than the man who works 50 hours a week, helps with the house, takes his family on nice vacations, and is just a great person to everyone. Sorry, it’s sad.

  12. Dee says:

    What about the wife who is still very interested in sex and her husband no longer finds her attractive sexually. I am more fit now than when we got married and no amount of sexy lingerie, sexy talk, playful suggestions etc. interests him. No he does not have ED or is on meds.is it common for others to take cRe of their own needs in this situation?

  13. David says:

    Really appreciated Julie’s writing about this: “One husband even vividly described it as being chained in a bakery but never being able to have a morsel of bread. He could see, smell, and be close to all that was delectable and wonderful about his wife, but he could never thoroughly enjoy her body close to his and never touch her sensually.” It described so well how I feel. My wife just can’t understand why sleeping in the same bed is SOOO difficult for me. Hoping that she will go to counseling with me. Wanting but feeling not wanted tears me apart every day.

  14. Pingback: 5 Great Ways to Initiate Sex with Your Husband

  15. Louis says:

    The first point about wifely initiation is key with me. All husbands want to be wanted in and out of the bedroom. She needs to give herself totally and often initiate. Duty sex is barely better than no sex, IMHO.

    I’ve been married for 44 years, had no sex the last 15 and sexless before that. She was only interested in sex to get pregnant. Otherwise, perform out of duty.

    She initiated sex one time in 44 years. We went to a movie out of town, then she “kidnapped “ me to spend the night at my favorite hotel. We did have sex that night but she ended up being put off at the end. Another strike-out!

  16. Nate says:

    Hello, just to share my experience:

    I’m a 38 y/o husband and father of three. I married as a virgin at age 26. Early on we contracepted but now we use NFP. Been married for 13 years.

    We had “sex” twice during the entire honeymoon, and following that, a couple times a month. That has tapered out to a few times a year. Currently… the last time we had sex was last March. That’s not our record though! I think I managed to grin it out for over a year in 2013.

    Anyway, suffice to say we have had several “talks” to no avail. Several of your points above are accurate. I think counseling is probably on the horizon.

    All of that is relatively trivial. What I want wives to know, the important message here, is that MY wife by virtue of her knowing actions has greatly hurt me and has damaged my capacity for simply loving, trusting and properly integrating sexual affection with deep and genuine personal love.

    She’s getting a half-baked version of what God wants for her. For both of us. And in much the way she “can’t help” being asexual for no particular reason, I myself can only do my level best while being deserted and injured. I may never know myself, or another person in terms of a full and flowering human love. So that’s my suffering, my cross. My lifelong loss. And perhaps I might bear it. Perhaps, in addition to the injustice, I might not be damned for resentment and incharity. It’s very hard work, all alone, with Christ being your only and all-companion in suffering.

    So wives… look: we’re in the modern age… it’s not “correct” to suggest that women bear a sexual responsibility and obligation in marriage. But you do, God help you. And it’s not the man failing to do the dishes and it’s not the man failing to share your interests and it’s not the man failing to know where your g-spot is or any of that nonsense. Though of course that is nice.

    You got yourself MARRIED. If you have a man who has made a life with you, raised your children, worked for you, and despite all of your little inconsequential rejections to his troublesome animal needs … he will die by your side and indeed give his life for you… you do not merely have a husband but a saint. A man worthy of esteem and respect.

    One might say, a man worthy of your love.

    I bear MY responsibility through chastity, as well as I can manage.

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