Nicole has a degree in psychology, and is a mom to four young sons. She loves all things art, and enjoys writing about her experiences.
1. Too Tired from Work or Childcare
Many women are exhausted at the end of the day for a myriad of reasons. Stay-at-home moms are with their children pretty much 24 hours a day and often long for a "break" of some kind-- and one that doesn't involve anyone else clamoring for their attention. Mothering is extremely physical work, especially when the children are small and require lifting, diaper-changing, multiple outfit changes in a day, multiple feedings per day, whether by breast-feeding or meal prep, or a mix the two. Preparing meals is not easy, either. It requires planning out what ingredients to purchase, making a trip to the store (usually, unless you have your husband go for you, or use a delivery service like Shipt, which I definitely recommend!) Then you have to put the ingredients together in some type of legitimate way, and this somehow has to produce a (hopefully) nourishing and tasty meal for everyone in the family. Like I said, not easy! Even the simplest of meals still require planning and some level of work. Combine that with helping kids with their homework (or homeschooling) plus any work outside the home that the mother might do, and it all adds up to one exhausted mama by bedtime! For the mothers that work outside of the home, whether part-time or full-time, bravo! That creates even another level of tiredness. It should be easy to understand, then, that moms who feel too tired at the end of the day to engage in one more activity are definitely not alone in their sentiments.
How Can Husbands Help?
How can husbands help in this area? You may think that there's nothing you can do, right? Wrong! Husbands can do a lot to ease the wife's burden in this area. Help her out with the kids when you get home, if at all possible. Making her load lighter for the few hours leading up to bedtime can help her not to feel so exhausted. Offer to clean up the leftovers and dishes after dinner. Give the kids a bath and get them into their pajamas, so she can lay down and watch some television for a few minutes in peace. Or, when the kids are in bed, draw her a bath and let her have a few minutes to relax without any pressure. Even better, offer to cook dinner one night a week so she has less to think about. There are many ways you can help out, so feel free to get creative! When she sees you reading that bedtime story to the kids, it will really warm her heart, and might just be helpful in getting her into the mood.
2. Doesn't Feel Close Emotionally
Women are wired differently than men. Men want sex to feel close, but women like to feel close before wanting sex. When was the last time you took your wife out on a date, just the two of you? When you were dating, you may have planned lots of fun outings with your partner, but now the day-to-day grind might has you feeling stuck. You may long to feel the spark of passion that you felt in the beginning of your relationship. Your wife may feel the same, but those desires get pushed to the back burner in the midst of the daily tasks of maintaining a household and family. This is where emotional distance begins to develop, and people can start growing apart.
How Can Husbands Help?
Plant the emotional seeds in your wife's heart to let her know how much you really care. Write her a sweet, heartfelt letter. Or, it could be as simple as a love note left next to the coffee maker, for her to find in the morning when she wakes up. While you're going about your busy day at work, take the time to send her a text with an honest compliment like, "You're so beautiful. You're the only woman for me," or "I was just sitting here thinking about how blessed I am to have you as my wife." Her heart will melt! On your way home from work, stop and buy her some flowers, just because (Trader Joe's has great prices on bouquets of flowers, so you don't have to break the bank!) If your budget allows, splurge a little and purchase her a surprise necklace or earrings, on a whim. Make sure to include a thoughtful note. Even something as simple as a book purchased from the thrift store can let her know, "I was thinking of you today." Also, do take the time to plan date nights, or even weekend getaways, if possible. If the kids are old enough, consider letting Grandma and Grandpa watch them so that the two of you can go on a mini-vacation. It doesn't have to cost a lot or be very far away. It would just be a chance for the two of you to reconnect as a couple and have some much-needed alone time. However, if the kids are small or finances restrict you, get a babysitter just for the evening and go see a movie or get some coffee or ice cream together. The most important thing is that you are bonding emotionally, and being there to really validate your wife. Ask her what movie she'd like to see, or what concert she's interested in, and then take her. If she wants to go to dinner or coffee, make sure the conversation is two-sided and that you're being a good listener. When a woman feels close to her man emotionally, it opens doors for physical intimacy as well.
3. Hormonal Imbalance / Sex is Painful
Wives sometimes develop hormonal imbalances that can disrupt the desire to be intimate physically. This can result from hormones changing after childbirth, or multiple other reasons. A woman's body goes through quite a bit of changes during pregnancy and after childbirth. Hormones fluctuate and are sometimes not correctly balanced in the body anymore. As a result, her libido may be very low, while yours may remain high (or at least, higher). She may experience painful intercourse when you are intimate, but she might not feel comfortable discussing it with you or may be embarrassed. She may need to schedule an appointment to see her gynecologist to make sure her hormones are balanced and see why physical intimacy is causing her discomfort.
How Can Husbands Help?
If your wife has recently had a baby, encourage her to keep up with her regular gynecology appointments. If her libido seems lower in the months following having a child or children, try to be understanding. Her body has likely been through a lot of hormonal changes and is trying to get to a new "normal". Keep lubricant handy and make sure to ask her how you can make the experience as comfortable as possible.
4. She May Be "Touched Out"
Sometimes mothers get tired of having little people (or anyone at all) vying for their attention and literally climbing all over their bodies. Although we love their sweet little faces and take great joy in meeting their needs and lavishing them with praise and affection, children are very needy creatures and require a lot from us almost constantly. At the end of the day, when you've been climbed on repeatedly, used as a jungle gym, and held onto by these wee ones, it can be exhausting to even think about being touched by one more person. As crazy as it may sound, it's not the husband's fault, it's just the sensation of being "touched out"--of literally wanting to just lay in bed and watch a TV show, read a book, be on your phone, or do just about anything in absolute silence and without anyone touching you. Period. If she breastfeeds, this is especially true because breast-feeding (although a beautiful and wonderful experience) is draining her of energy (literally) and is very physically demanding.
How Can Husbands Help?
Take the pressure off. Let her have time to decompress before expecting too much in the bedroom. Let her have an hour or so to read a book or watch a TV show. Or do some other activity together, like play Scrabble or watch a movie. After a few minutes, the feeling of not wanting any other living creature to ever touch her again will slowly subside, and she may find herself in the mood for physical human contact.
5. On Her Period
This is fairly obvious, but a wife may not want to have sexual contact while she's on her period. This could be the case for a number of reasons. One, it can be very messy to be on one's period. Two, there are many unpleasant symptoms associated with being on one's period. Besides the fact that there's a lot of blood, which is in itself unpleasant, lower back pain and headache are often involved, as well as stomach cramping and a general sense of feeling out-of-sorts. Heightened emotions during this time may make her moody or cause her to cry more easily, and she just may feel a general unease during this time. She probably just wants to lay in bed with a heating pad on her back and watch Downton Abbey.
How Can Husbands Help?
Be understanding that this is a small window of time during the month when your wife is not feeling well. Try to be encouraging and supportive in any way you can think of. If she is open to having physical intimacy with you, count yourself blessed because not every wife can deal with it. If you have to wait a few days, pamper her in the meantime and comfort her during her distress. Offer to go to the store if she needs you to. Fluff her pillows and turn on her favorite TV show or movie. Pop some popcorn and bring out some chocolate ice cream. Rub her feet and back and turn on the heating pad for her. She might just be so grateful for your love and attention, that she'll make it up to you in the coming days!
6. Sex is Not What She Needs Most
In the hierarchy of needs, sex is not often what women most desire. Men's drives are usually stronger than women's, although there are some exceptions. A wife may reject her husband's advances because sex is not what she feels she needs the most in that moment. She probably has a running checklist of things she wants to get done, and may have this in the back of her mind. She may want to do more chores while the kids are asleep and not around to be a distraction or mess up her work. For example, she may feel that her time is better spent getting ahead of the next day's chores by throwing in a load of laundry into the wash, starting the dishwasher, prepping tomorrow's school lunches, and so on. If she feels overwhelmed by the household duties, it can be easy to understand why she wants to get a jump-start on things to be ready for the day ahead. She may not be concerned with chores at all, though. She may just be craving some time to herself to read her current novel, write a blog post, take a relaxing bath or shower, or do something creative like paint or scrapbook. What she feels she needs most in these times are quiet moments of reflection and creativity, of peace and serenity, and she can't get that any other way than solitude.
How Can Husbands Help?
Meeting her other needs, that she feels are more urgent, will free your wife up to be open to sexual intimacy. If she's overwhelmed by the household duties, consider taking something on yourself. Throw in a load of laundry early in the morning, or when you get home from work. Take it upon yourself to load the dishwasher and start it. Make the kids' lunches, or if they're old enough, have them begin learning how to do it on their own. Ask your wife what household tasks you could take on or at least help with so that her load feels lighter. If it's relaxation and reflection she needs, help facilitate that. Buy her a pretty journal and special pens. Let her know you support her creative side. Make sure she has time in the evenings to take a breath. Give her some space, whether that looks like a couple of hours in the evening or three or more nights a week. If she gets one night to relax and the next night is your night together, she'll be more refreshed and you'll enjoy your time together much more. If you pressure her each night and make her feel like she never has down time, she may grow resentful and feel unhappy. Encourage her in all areas, not just in the bedroom and regarding your intimate moments.
7. Negative Body Image
Women are bombarded by countless images of the perfect female body type. Once a woman has given birth to children, her body is never the same again. Living up to the "perfect" idea of the female form is not attainable anyway, but it's especially the case after pregnancy and childbirth. Your wife may have a low or negative self-image, or at the very least, may not feel as comfortable with her own body anymore. She may feel embarrassed of her stretch marks or extra skin from having a child. She may be overweight and feel self-conscious in the bedroom. She may not feel sexy or desirable and might have a hard time believing your compliments anymore. She may talk herself out of physical encounters due to shame or embarrassment because of a negative body-image.
How Can Husbands Help?
Embrace who she is as a wife and a mother, and celebrate her beauty. Do not compare her to other women. She gave birth to new life, and that in itself is amazing and breathtakingly beautiful! Tell her she is beautiful often, and mean it. Giving her genuine compliments whenever you can. Consider purchasing something special for her to wear that would flatter her figure and let her know you think she is as sexy as ever. Don't pressure her to get back to her original size pre-baby, but be supportive if she brings up any lifestyle changes she is interested in pursuing. Encourage her not to compare herself to others and remind her often that you think she is gorgeous inside and out.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 31, 2020:
This article has many valuable points you have covered this topic well and enlightened me what I needed to know,
Nicole K (author) on January 04, 2020:
You brought up some excellent points. Libidos should be taken into consideration when making marriage plans with a potential mate. It’s a good idea to participate in pre-marital counseling, as well as regular counseling once you’re married, to sort through these types of issues. I agree that putting intimacy with your partner on the back burner (and assuming that will be okay with the other person) is a big mistake and can be very detrimental.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 19, 2019:
The "How Can Husbands Help?" section is very thoughtful and helpful. Great article for the married folk.
dashingscorpio from Chicago on October 19, 2019:
Last but not least not all couples are sexually compatible.
Generally speaking once you get past the "infatuation/honeymoon" phase of a relationship or marriage is when you discover each other's true libido. One person may want sex 4 times a week while the other is content with only once a week. That's 208 VS 52 times per year!
Sexual libido has nothing to do with whether or not a couple has children or they've been working hard. Most couples when they first started dating worked hard, all day, went to the gym afterwards, followed by going out for dinner, dancing, and having passionate sex.
The mistake a lot of people make is (assuming) this is how it's going to be with this person from here on out. A couple who takes turns packing an overnight bag and visiting each other a few nights per week may also have sex every time they spend the night together and find themselves dreading Sundays when one of them has to go back home...etc
They imagine how great their life would be if they lived together and how they could make love every night and have breakfast in bed...etc.
Unfortunately the truth which very few people will tell you is the longer couples are together the LESS sex they have!
That includes couples who are not married and do not have children.
Some people believe "real love" doesn't kick in until the passion dies down within a relationship. They can't wait to get to that point where they can "relax" and reject the person they're seeing without the fear that he/she might walk away from them. In their mind "commitment" and "emotional investment" means they can gradually put in less effort to keep the "magic" alive. They stop making sex/romance a priority.
Putting sex on the "backburner" is natural for them.
It's easier to maintain a fire than it is to reignite a spark!
In other instances (health/medical) issues plays a part such as menopause. When a person loses their desire to have sex because it irritates them or they simply do not "miss it" more often than not they're not willing to give of themselves orally or manually either.
They expect their mate to just roll with it and not cheat or leave them. Emotional and physical neglect can destroy a relationship.
"While we are free to choose our actions we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions." - Stephen R. Covey