Friday Flashback: Why She Says No to Sex And What You Can Do About It

The most read post on this blog, is Why wives say no to sex, and what a man can do about it. At 175 comments it may also be the post with the most comments. It was published June 23, 2012 following a survey asking women why they say no to sex.

Time for an updated version of the post.

Friday Flashback: Why She Says No to Sex And What You Can Do About It

When we originally ran the poll, 171 women answered – some only after Lori assured them it was anonymous! We have now had 468 women answer the survey. The ranking of answers did not change significantly with the additional answers.

As with any web-based survey, I can’t claim the results are representative of the population as a whole. But I can tell you they fall in line with what we and others hear over and over from women. This won’t apply to all women, but if your wife hasn’t suffered significant sexual abuse, is not inherently against sex, and isn’t just plain selfish, there’s a good chance this speaks for her fairly well. Please read that last sentence again, it matters. This is about loving, sexually healthy women who say no far too often.

I’ve put the full response numbers, plus comments, at the end, after my thoughts.

  • Too tired: Seventy-one percent of the women (up from 66% originally) said they say no because they’re too tired, and half said they say no because it’s late or they have to get up early. I know tired sounds like an excuse to men, but please realise sex takes more energy for women, especially if they want to climax. We can have a quickie, climax, roll over and be asleep all in ten minutes, but doing that leaves a woman horny, frustrated, and possibly unable to get to sleep. If she’s tired to start with, climax is going to be difficult at best, and maybe just not worth the effort. (Note 16% said they say no because “It would take way too much time and effort to climax.”)
    So, if you want more sex, your number one job is to find a way for your wife to get more rest and better sleep. Nothing else will have as much of an effect, and for most women, nothing else can have an effect until the exhaustion issue is resolved.
  • Not connected: The next biggie, at 46%, was not feeling connected emotionally. Most women need to be connected on a heart level to want and enjoy connecting physically. They can have sex without emotional connection, but they won’t want it, and probably won’t enjoy it. (BTW, an orgasm does not mean she enjoyed it – really).
    So, if you want more sex, your number two job is building your relationship. This doesn’t mean being lovey-dovey an hour before you ask for sex! Work on the relationship 24/7 and she’ll be more open to sex in general.
  • Stress!: Thirty-nine percent of women (up from 30%) say no due to stress. For some women, sex is a stress reliever, but this is not the norm. In most women stress kills both sex drive and the ability to respond sexually.
    So, if you want more sex, your number three job is to be aware of your bride’s stress level and find ways to help her. This is neither an easy nor a quick task, but you can do things to help her with stress.
  • He’s rude!: Thirty-four percent of women have said no because of recent rudeness on the part of their husband.
    So, if you want more sex, your number four job is to stop being rude. Again, this doesn’t mean just the hours leading up to bedtime; it means trying to never be rude, and admitting it and apologising when you are rude.
  • It’s all he wants: Twenty-three percent of women feel this way, up from 15%. They may or may not be right, but it’s killing the couple’s sex life.
    Ask yourself if you do anything to feed this perception. Some women come into marriage pre-programed to think this, but what you say and do can be a big factor in this. Usually, it’s mostly a misunderstanding of what you mean by your words and actions.
  • I hate how I look!: Twenty-two percent of women (up from 16%) are so distressed by how they look they say no to sex. And, for each woman who says no, there are a several more who say yes but struggle to enjoy because they feel self-conscious. This is a huge issue and one you need to work on steadily if you want to help her feel better about her body.
    You can tell her you like how she looks in two ways. 1) With your words to her, and 2) by keeping your eyes off of other women.
  • Wrong message: Twenty percent of woman say no because things are not okay in the relationship and she knows her husband takes sex as proof everything is okay. This does NOT mean she’s saying no because of the problems, but because she doesn’t want to wrongly communicate the problems are resolved or aren’t a big deal.
    If you will learn that sex is not an indication everything is fine, and if you can communicate that understanding to her, she may well be more open to sex. She may be willing to set the problems aside and enjoy sex with you if she knows you’ll still be willing to deal with the problems later.
  • OUCH! One woman in five said they have said no because of physical pain. (This was the most surprising result to me, I’d have expected about half that rate.) There’s no breakdown of the pain, although several women indicated period-related pain in the comments. Husband being too rough was 3.2%, so most of this pain is something else. It’s common for a woman to think minor pain during sex is normal or unavoidable and say nothing about it.
    Learn to know when she’s in pain, and find ways to help eliminate sexual pain. If you think she’s in pain ask. If she is, stop, even if she says to keep going. When she’s in pain you might also be able to have sex if you’re willing to do something other than intercourse. Orgasm is a great pain-killer, and many women find it helps with menstrual pain. If she learns you can give her an orgasm without hurting her she may have a new motivation to say yes!
  • Ready, fire, aim: A lack of foreplay was a reason for refusing for 15% of woman. However, I suspect even more would say they don’t enjoy sex much due to a lack of foreplay. It’s nice this was fairly low, and it’s an easy thing to fix.
    Let her set the pace of sex. If you think she’s pushing because she thinks you want to move faster, try going slower than she indicates. Remember wet means her body is ready; her mind may not be anywhere near ready.
  • All the rest: The remaining ten answers were chosen by fewer than 12% of those answering.

WOMEN: Why do you say no to sex?

Too tried 70.1%
It’s late and/or getting up early in the morning 49.6%
We have not connected emotionally 46.4%
Stressed 39.1%
He’s been rude to me recently 33.6%
I feel it’s all he wants me for 22.9%
I don’t like how I look 22.4%
He thinks it means everything is okay, and it’s not 19.9%
Physical pain 18.8%
It would take way to much time and effort to climax 16.2%
There is never enough foreplay 14.7%
He does not turn me on 11.3%
Not enough privacy 11.1%
He does not take care of me; when he’s done, he thinks it’s over 10.4%
I’ve rarely or never climax 10.3%
He always wants to do things I don’t like 7.7%
He smells bad 7.5%
If I do, he “wins” 7.5%
I think sex is wrong or gross 4.5%
I just don’t love him anymore 3.6%
He’s too rough 3.2%

Comments from the women:

  • I never say no. I have even told my husband that I’m up for it anytime he wants it. 😉
  • Usually it’s just that one of us is not comfortable, physically, mentally, or just with the environment.
  • He lies to me. I can’t trust him.
  • Sometimes I just feel gross, like I’m not clean enough or whatnot.
  • “That” time of the month
  • Young children 🙂
  • When I’m not feeling healthy
  • He has said no to me so many times, that I can barely be in the mood!
  • I don’t say no…..
  • I don’t say no but he usually doesn’t ask
  • If the marriage has no mental, emotional, spiritual connection. How can I respond sexually.
  • It doesn’t feel as good as it used to or hurts too much.
  • I have several chronic conditions that come with some complications that make sex uncomfortable.
  • Sex can be pleasurable, but I never (or rarely) have a desire for it. It’s just too much effort and not something I really crave.
  • He’s the one who says no.
  • He had prostrate cancer We rarely have it.
  • If I’m sick
  • The only time I will say no to sex is if I’m throwing up or menstruating. Otherwise, he’s the one that’s usually saying no.
  • He doesn’t seem interested.
  • Pregnant/sick
  • He does not ask Porn issues and Masturbation
  • Vertigo when I lay down causes nausea and panic, so I have to start the night semi-sitting, my husband can tell I’m nauseated and feels bad about bringing it up.
  • Not enough time to relax, or anticipate previous to starting
  • We don’t have time. Otherwise, we don’t say “no”
  • he only wants to do it in the morning, I am still half asleep
  • he appears soooo needy
  • Makes me feel vulnerable
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Bitter from doing everything (housework, bills, lawn care…) with zero help from him
  • I just don’t desire sex
  • I don’t say no, I LOVE SEX and want more! HE tells me NO more than I”d like. 🙁 hurting our relationship. I like to pursue, so does he, when I pursue he is turned off.
  • I never say NO to sex of any variety. I’m much higher drive than my husband, so am always the initiator.
  • I don’t respond to bullying, threatening or blackmail.
  • After my hysterectomy, I lost all feeling and desire
  • His Thing is too little
  • Lack of communication
  • Doesn’t ease into foreplay, “attacks” me, I don’t feel comfortable
  • I have never said no.
  • Not safe time (birth control)
  • Haven’t showered for a couple days
  • I never say no to sex (I’m the one who gets refused)
  • I can’t measure up to the sex my husband sees on porn videos. He can’t accept my version of sex.
  • I can’t stop wondering what porn star he’s fantasizing about this time.
  • Sex has become boring. the past 2 years I really stepped it up and did lots of fun, new, things. he enjoyed it a lot. but he still would not veer from his standard finish these past many, many, years. he gets excited, enjoys foreplay for him, foreplay for me isn’t much…kiss perhaps, then the speed quest for the vag. that isn’t stimulating. I tell him…he doesn’t hear it, or won’t hear it. I end up stimulating myself to get to arousal while I have gotten him super hot. so, he has sex, I masturbate…I guess you can sum it up that way.
  • Just don’t care to
  • Issues elsewhere in marriage – not connected
  • I don’t- my husband has a lower sex drive 🙁
  • I rarely ever say no.
  • Children sleeping with us.
  • 3 Kids 4 and under.
  • His ex-wife won’t allow us to have evenings alone, she drops kids off every time
  • I love sex — I love having sex with my husband. We’re one of those odd couples, though, where my drive is higher than his — I’d probably have sex every day if I could get it!
  • So you think you can be absent from everything hard (like parenting) and that if you just bring home a paycheck, you’ve done your part and you’re entitled to sex….I take care of
  • EVERYTHING child-related (you don’t even know IF our teen is home or out, forget about the other 5 kids), I take care of the house, meals, shopping, the finances, listen to you about how hard your job is, and you don’t even take my concerns about anything seriously enough to participate…and you think I’m feeling amorous, and you are entitled. Think again. I try so hard to make your life easier, and you don’t know I/we exist–until you get sex with me on the brain.
  • Can’t ignore all my life concerns and then expect that I’m feeling sexual.

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