My husband of six years won’t touch me. I love my man very much and he loves me. I know that he loves me because nothing else has changed in how he looks at me and treats me. We are very physically affectionate with each other outside of the home. He is always winking at me and telling anyone who will listen how hot and sexy his wife is. When we first got together, we were both 40 and we couldn’t keep our hands off of each other. We were sneaking quickies like kids every chance we got and weekends went by with the TV and laptops. Now we go to sleep like 80-year olds. I tried sexy lingerie, proposing sex toys, sex therapy — everything – and nothing works. I know that I’m still cute. My body is better now than when I was 25. I’m still attracted to him and he says “I love you, baby” every single day. But when it comes to sex, crickets! He is not having an affair because he works from home and he is always here. Both him and his doctors say that he’s not depressed. I saw you mention “outstanding resentments” in another ESSENCE column and we have none. He got offended because I even asked if he was GAY. My church offers relationship counseling and I went in by myself for advice. My pastor told me that as a wife I just need to basically grin and bear it, everything moves in cycles and he will come around. But now we have not had sex in THREE AND A HALF years. Meanwhile every other man around me is flirting up a storm and making me feel beautiful — and I don’t want to cheat. At this point, I have tried everything and I just feel undesirable. Is a sexless marriage a reason to get divorced?
Dear Sacred Bombshell,
I know it seems like it, but your desirability is not wrapped up in whether your hubby is turned on by you. If you feel like you are beautiful, sexy and desirable, you are. I’m sorry to hear about the situation in your marriage.
You really have checked all of the boxes of what I would usually ask in this case.
• Check to see if he’s depressed – check!
• Look into if he’s cheating – check!
• Uncover any outstanding resentments? – check!
• Explore whether he’s still in love with you – check!
• Is he gay? – check!
A couple of things to consider: Conventional wisdom says that men and women peak sexually at different times in our lives. However, sociologist Lisa Wade makes an argument that this may not actually be true. Still, there is evidence that some men do have decreasing sexual desire as they age. So your hubby who was hot and heavy at 40 could have waning desire that has nothing to do with you at 46.
Some factors, such as whether he resents you for something, is depressed, is still in love with you, or is a closeted gay man, may not be easily dismissed by surface evidence. The bottom line is that you have a right to have a marriage that is hot, juicy and sexy. If your husband is going through something, then of course you want to stand by him and be a supportive partner. However, if you feel that he is breaking the vows and contract between you by creating a sexless marriage, then you have a right to walk away. The fact that you love each other says that this is something worth fighting for. Tell him what it means to you to be able to enjoy him fully. Explain that the situation is critical and that you MUST go to couples counseling together.
At the very least, he needs to start to go to counseling himself. No disrespect to your pastors, but I would advise you to look into sex therapy and/or relationship counseling outside of your religious institution. It would be helpful for you to have another perspective.
Abiola Abrams is the author of the award-winning Sacred Bombshell Handbook of Self-Love, Manifest Your Miracles meditation album and African Goddess Affirmation Cards. The popular lifestyle guru is also the founder of the Sacred Bombshell Self-Care Kits, blog, web TV show, and online academy at SacredBombshell.com