By Dawn Papandrea
Has your husband been saying “not tonight, dear” a little too often? It’s hard not to feel rejected, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s lost that lovin’ feelin’ for you. Learn about the most common reasons he may not be in the mood and what you can do about it.
Photo by Getty Images.
1. He wants to relax after a long day.
If he’s retreating to his man cave each night, that could create a pattern of disconnection, says Debra Castaldo, PhD, a relationship expert and director of the Center for Couples and Family Solutions in Midland Park, NJ. He may not realize you’re missing him, though, so tell him. Try: “It seems like we’re spending most of our evening time apart. I know you want to chill out, but I miss being with you. Maybe we can do something relaxing together,” suggests Dr. Castaldo. Find something soothing you both enjoy, whether it’s drinking wine, reading side by side in bed or finding a new favorite TV show. Once there’s togetherness, there’s an opportunity for intimacy, says Dr. Castaldo.
2. He’s reminded of the kids.
Plenty of parents have scintillating sex lives, but some husbands have trouble seeing their wives as sexual beings once they become moms, says Laurie J. Watson, sex therapist and author ofWanting Sex Again: How to Rediscover Your Desire and Heal a Sexless Marriage. Another libido killer: putting children-and not your spouse-in the center of the family unit, says Charles J. Orlando, relationship expert and author of the series The Problem With Women… is Men. Clear out kiddie cues in your bedroom: toys, photos, even their laundry, suggests Watson. And if your children are hanging in your room when you want time alone with your hubby, tell them, “This is Mommy and Daddy time,” advises Orlando.
3. He wants to play video games or watch sports.
“Talking face-to-face, as women want, isn’t husbands’ natural mode,” explains Watson. So they get hooked on World of Warcraft or watching the Yankees with the guys because there’s no emotional investment. To peel him away from the screen, strike a deal about which nights you’ll tune into each other, says Dr. Castaldo. “It’s not the weekends away and date nights that make a marriage. It’s the agreements you have about what’s acceptable in your relationship’s everyday life.”
4. It’s that time of the month.
Some men have an ick factor about periods, says Orlando; others assume you won’t engage in potentially messy sex. But if rising hormones during menstruation send your sex drive soaring, let him know. “It can end up being a great experience,” says Watson (even if you have to sacrifice a towel or two!). If he’s still leery, suggest using a condom or sticking with non-intercourse activities.
5. He wishes sex were more spontaneous.
Remember when you’d have sex in the kitchen just because? While it’s hard to sustain that impulsiveness as more responsibilities arise, avoid turning sex into a to-do list item. Instead, “schedule sex in your mind,” recommends Watson. “Looking forward to it adds to the whole experience for women.” But don’t let him in on your seduction plan. “When he gets home from work, be dressed like when you were dating, and watch how fast that spontaneity returns,” says Orlando. Other things to try: Send the kids to grandma’s for the night, or swap dinner-and-a-movie night for some hotel sex.
6. He has performance anxiety.
Having sex relies on his ability to rise to the occasion. That’s a lot of pressure! Plus, previous less-than-stellar sexual encounters can add to the unease and make him turn off, says Watson. If you think that’s the case, ask him to do something pleasurable just for you, like oral sex or manual stimulation. “Odds are if she asks and gets excited, her arousal will arouse him,” says Watson.