Can The Marriage Be Saved If One Partner Doesn’t Want Sex?

by Reid on October 11, 2017

Young Couple Having Fun On Beach Holiday TogetherTried everything but sex is off the table? Is the marriage over?

With Reid Mihalko from and Cathy Vartuli from

Cathy: In response to your webinar about my partner doesn’t want to sleep with me, we’ve had a lot of people writing in about this. It’s a great question. This woman wrote in and said, “In this situation, I’m the one who doesn’t desire sex. It’s just not there no matter what we’ve tried.” They think it’s menopause and hormones, but they’re having trouble in their relationship because of sex. It’s part of their connection and something they both value, and now, for her, it just doesn’t matter. She does not want to have it, and they’ve tried a bunch of different things, but she’s not feeling sexual. She’s not wanting to connect that way. Is there something they can do to save their marriage and keep the connection? This is Reid Mihalko from 

Reid: Cathy Vartuli from Yeah. These are great questions, and I wish I had a magic answer that we could just like [magic sound]. Thanks again for writing in. We love the questions. My advice is … Esther Perel and a couple people talk about this. It’s a thing that gets talked about in the sex therapy world, around if your partner has needs for sex and intimacy and you’re not in the mood, but you want to stay together and have something work. There is this idea, and you have to be careful with it, of what kind of sex or sensual connection can we have? Even though I don’t want sex, is there something that I can do for you sensually and erotically, that I can still show up, and the joke, of course, is that I’ll give you a hand job while we watch television, but, again, for your partner, it’s like that might not work for them. Sometimes you can find the middle ground, that gets everyone’s needs met. 

Cathy: Even if it’s just holding them while they masturbate, it could increase the … 

Reid: Yeah. Figuring out what it is you’re actually looking for, what your partner is looking for, and where you can be a yes without crossing a boundary of yours, because you don’t want to be doing something that you’re actually a no to, but sometimes there’s this really interesting, and can be a healthy spot, of like, “I’m not a no. I’m not horny for this thing, but I can be this for you,” that doesn’t cross weird boundaries, and will sometimes work. Not for everybody, because sometimes we want our partners to be fully engaged and turned on, but, at the same time, it’s like I understand you’re going through menopause. Your libido is gone, but I still want to connect with you. If you hold me while I jerk off, or if we do this, then I feel like I’m getting what I needed and I feel connected, and so you’re looking for that middle ground, and if that’s not there, and, again, you should probably talk to a therapist, too. It’s always good to have a trained listener. 

Cathy: A therapist, a doctor. 

Reid: Do some research. Is it something medical? What’s going on? Get real about it, so you can have real conversations, but then you’re looking for options, the worst case scenario being we’ve looked at all the options, we’ve done the research, we’ve had the conversations, and I still don’t want sex at this point in my life. Who knows, it might shift, but right now, I don’t. You have needs sexually, so what other things can we do that will still leave us feeling honored and loved in our relationship, but I can help you get your needs. 

Cathy: Everybody is different about that. What will work for you may not work for somebody else, and what works for someone else may not work for you, but exploring that, if the relationship is important and you want to keep it intact. That mean opening up marriages, finding someone else to bring to bed, or helping them and just relate. 

Reid: Yeah. Again, this advice is really the beginning of you and your partner figuring out how to empower yourselves and get needs met. There’s no hard and fast answer, but doing the research and the exploring together, can, at least, have everyone feel like they’re trying, and leave people feeling not as hopeless, even if you arrive at finding out that there’s nothing that you can do, and we have to look at other options.

Again, great questions. Complex answers, but the real thing is what can you be doing for you both to feel empowered, and not blamed, and to be having real conversations with each other. 

Cathy: Yeah. Thanks, again, for writing in. Let us know what you think. 

Reid: Leave some comments. Hit subscribe.

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