Sexless Marriage: How To Restore The Intimacy In Marriage

A common question I receive is “How can I restore the intimacy in my sexless marriage?

If there’s one subject in marriage where you can find a flurry of expert opinions, it’s got to be intimacy. It’s a supercharged topic for men and women but the reason they’re both charged up is not the same…

When women search for the answer about restoring intimacy when sex has disappeared, they’re not thinking about sex like men do. Men have a tough time understanding this so to help answer the question more accurately, let’s first look at two groups of women.

Those who are emotionally secure in themselves and those who are not. For emotionally secure women, sex is her end game, only AFTER her man takes care of his responsibilities. When he works to make her life easier, cares for her emotionally and is a great father to his children, then her emotions urge her toward the physical act of sex which her husband’s behavior has drawn her to.

But for women who are emotionally IN-secure, it’s a different story. In this world, sex becomes the MEANS to this woman’s desired end result. Like a tool that is necessary to reach a goal, this woman is getting very little of her man’s attention, so she seeks ways to draw him close, so for her, sex is a tool to reach her end game, which is the attention she gets, ONLY during sex.

But like most men who feel that vibe of a poor self image, they treat their wives with contempt. These husbands don’t know what to do for these emotionally insecure girls so they end up treating their wives badly. The more bad treatment she receives, the more worthless she feels. As this trend continues, intimacy will usually disappear and it’s the man who will shut it down.

So the secure and the insecure woman’s answer to restoring intimacy question is very different. The question the secure wife should ask is, ‘how can I help my husband understand that he needs to create a desire in me to WANT sex’ while an insecure wife would ask, ‘how can I feel more valuable and important about myself?’ Very different questions from two very different types of women.

Throughout the hundreds of women interviewed in a recent experiment I conducted, there were no women who claimed their greatest need was sex. Not even the insecure women. This tells us that for women, intimacy is not about sex. It turns out that for women, fulfilling sex with her husband is first about achieving a fulfilling life. That means if a man wants a sexually active marriage he needs to understand that women need four things to ‘turn her on’ as guys like to say it.

Let’s look at this with a simple train analogy. We have the engine, the coal car, the box car, and the caboose. Four parts make up the train and they need to operate in that order. Because men are like stand alone engines, they don’t sense to need to pull a train, but not so for women. Wives need all four cars to reach fulfillment in life. For them, their husband is the key.

Let’s continue with this train analogy. The engine would be the woman’s need to feel important. She must have an importance engine which keeps her feeling good about herself. The importance engine needs power so the coal car in our analogy carries the energy needed to keep the engine running. We’ll call that our commitment car.

The box car carries valuable content so if a husband wants his wife’s enthusiastic participation in a fulfilling sex life, he’ll need to fill this car with what she believes is valuable. We’ll call this the contribution car. The caboose in old trains held the trainman who took care of the daily work of managing the train wherever it went. Let’s call the caboose our management car.

For the greatest sex a man can experience, he needs to deliver a fulfilling life to his wife and the train makes it possible. When he makes his wife feel important, demonstrates he’s committed, delivers contributions and manages family life, a woman has the environment she needs. Environment to do what? To make her man the top priority in her life…the very thing every man wants.

Now wait, I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying to yourself, “So Larry, are you saying that when men do the work of creating that train for a great sex environment, that women only need to enjoy the ride?” Absolutely not! When a man delivers the train, a woman must do all she can to build her own self worth. That’s why it’s so important that she eliminate her negative emotions as her guy puts that 4 car train together. Then she will feel confident, supportive, happy and secure with life as it is. The vast majority of husbands would do anything to be married to a woman that fits this description.


  1. Wow, this is really interesting. Now I understand why everyone keeps telling me to take care of myself and do things that make me happy and to work on myself to be the best I can be. He doesn’t want such an insecure woman, which I am. He even told me as he was telling me he wants to leave me that I have all these wonderful qualities, but I don’t see them myself. I have to get busy working on myself.

    Thank YOU very much for the insight!

  2. Hi Larry,

    My husband had an emotional affair couple of months ago. I found out because I checked his text messages. I suspect something was going on that’s why I checked. First, he didn’t admit anything was wrong with the flirting that he texted to his co-worker until I threatened to leave him. I realized now that’s it’s wrong and we talked about our marriage and what went wrong. He’s sexually not happy with me and I’m not emotionally not happy with him either. I told him that I can not be sexually active because I’m not emotionally happy with him. I have been more sexually active now even though I still feel emotionally not happy with him. He seem to be not sexually wanting like he used too. What can I do to get him to be interested in me and care for me like he used to again?

  3. Hi Jenny,

    I read your message above. It got me thinking about sending you something to think about and help you to realize why you are here now.

    I want you to imagine a little boy and a little girl grow up in two separate homes. Each of their parents have emotional troubles they have never resolved and those troubles come out on the little boy in the little girl in many different ways, none of them good. The children might have been ignored by the parents they needed love from. The children could have been criticized, embarrassed, blamed even repeatedly abused physically or sexually. All of this cruelty happens to them behind closed doors and it’s all in degrees from not so bad to very bad.

    Now imagine that all of this abuse forms something we could call Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The little girl grows up to be the wonderful Dr. Jekyll who is a healer and very charismatic. She is loved by many and invited to events of different kinds. She meets Mr. Dr. Jekyll who is also a wonderful healer. They decide to get married. But there is a serious problem lurking behind the beautiful wedding. Mr. and Mrs. Dr. Jekyll does not know that within their two brains is a Mr. Hyde. Two Dr. Jekyll’s, and neither of them know there are two Mr. Hyde’sin their marriage.

    So they start their marriage and all seems well for a year or so but then these Mr. Hyde’s would knock out one of the Dr. Jekyll’s and attack the other with very little warning. One Mr. Hyde would attack and that would bring out the other Mr. Hyde. The two Mr. Hydes would lock on to each other and create a feeding frenzy of conflict, tension, blame, resentment. Once their energy was spent, but two Dr. Jekyll’s would come out again and long to be close to each other but both of them were scarred by the attacks of the two Mr. Hyde’s.

    Naturally, the two Dr. Jekylls would be cautious and careful about drawing near too the other, because they never knew when Mr. Hyde could attack.

    Mr. Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Dr. Jekyll struggled silently inside because their own Mr. Hyde’s would attack each of them. Their two Mr. Hyde’s would force them remember all the pain of their childhoods.

    For example, with specific painful memories, Mr. Hyde would torment Mr. Dr. Jekyll and convince him that it was Mrs. Dr. Jekyll who was the cause of all his suffering. Mr. Hyde then got Mr. Dr. Jekyll convinced that it was Mrs. Dr. Jekyll who was his problem and she should be attacked as quickly as possible. Mr. Dr. Jekyll did not know what was happening to him and so he gave himself over to Mr. Hyde to attack the woman he married.

    Mrs. Dr. Jekyll was going through the same nightmare. She also did not know she had a Mr. Hyde.

    What if there was a Mr. Hyde in you and Mr. Hyde in your husband that you didn’t know was even there? What if this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde analogy was actually what was really happening to you? It would explain why you do what you do. It would explain why you wrote that e-mail to me that you did.

    Yes, you use words like ” husband had an emotional affair “, and ” he didn’t admit anything ” and ” I threatened to leave him “, and ” He’s sexually not happy with me “, and ” I’m not emotionally not happy with him either “, and ” He seem to be not sexually wanting like he used too “, and ” can I do to get him to be interested in me “, but what is really driving all of this behavior that you, Mrs. Dr. Jekyll, don’t even want to do and never wanted to do?

    What if you do have a Mr. Hyde you don’t even know is there?


  4. Lisa – you are very welcome, I’m glad I could help!

  5. Your articles on emotional affairs and sexless marriage are great. They really helped me understand the situation I’m in . Married for 21 year, sexless for 14 years. I really don’t understand or trust my wife. She’s been pretty hard on me. We don’t sleep in the same room. I feel I’m carrying all of the burden financially, most of the burden in chores. She is never home anymore. She finds anything to occupy her evenings, dance lessons, martial arts. I’m a talented musician, and she insisted several years ago on starting a band with me. I went along thinking that doing things together would help the marriage. It only placed more stress on me. Other band members have left repeatedly because she is not a good singer and has only gradually found her sense of rhythm. When I try to bring a good female vocalist into the group her hostility drives them out.
    She finds the slightest things wrong with my performances (even if I receive praise from others) and she will criticize me (sometimes in front of others).
    I’ve been faithful to my wife until recently. I’ve had a couple of emotional affairs that, if I keep going, could become physical. I’m not really feeling that I want to put the energy into supporting my wife’s needs to feel good about herself because I don’t trust that she would do the same for me. I’m feeling pretty stuck on my course. I need to feel good about myself and have supportive friends who have helped me to grow in this fashion. My wife has not grown though…I have a hard time seeing myself staying much longer.

  6. no sex in between me and my husband. i upset for this because he is not ready for sex with me
    last 2 years we have not down still we both are stay together
    please adv. me what can i do

  7. but sir its very difficult to face because meri marriage ko 3 years hue hai. i have a boy. he is 2 years old and my husband is said that you r so faty so i cant
    is that reason?

  8. Your Comments: read your article with interest and see what you mean. Have been with my husband for 3 years and I am 20 years older and as time goes on I constantly worry he will go for someone of his own age. I have low self-esteem this last year and our sex life has really suffered because of this. I know I need to address this as life is too short, I have an illness and my husband is so helpful with that and loving so I’m so lucky to have found him. I will try to take your advice on board, thank you and take care.

  9. This seems very one sided. What responsibility does the man have to restore intimacy? I see you ask her to think about how she can help him help her, but why can’t he take the initiative? Chances are his not taking the initiative is part of the reason they are not having sex in the first place. He doesn’t get to just be the benefactor of her emotional work, he needs to be involved in creating intimacy as well.
    A very wise teacher once told me a man falls in love with his eyes, a woman falls in love with her ears. What he says to her all week long can move her to a place of intimacy.
    Lastly, I am a very secure woman with a great sex life in a marriage of over 20years, and I can tell you end game sex and straight out of the gate sex both increase the love bond. So my advice to the women is to go ahead and get in there even BEFORE your emotional needs are met, you an bet he’ll be much more affectionate after, THEN you can work on emotional closeness, but get back in the game before the game is over!

    And STEVE, do something for you wife without thinking about what she would do for you in return. If your marriage is important pit your ego aside and do whatever it takes. You will both reap the rewards.

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