Husband caught watching porn but avoids sex with me. What am I doing wrong?

Hi Evie. This is pretty embarrassing but I guess other women will have gone through this too. My husband and I don’t have much of a sex life. We’ve only been married a few years but it’s decreased year on year, and I’m not too sure why or who is to blame. He normally says he’s just not in the mood or he’s tired from work whenever I initiate it. And I believed him. But the other day, I happened to walk in on him watching porn and masturbating. He’d told me to go to bed without him as he wanted to finish the game he was playing, but I just got a sneaky feeling and went to check. He was really embarrassed and then got defensive when I asked why he was doing that when we could be having sex together. He didn’t really give an answer. I feel like it’s because he’s no longer attracted to me, even though I stay in pretty good shape and haven’t changed much since when we first got together. What am I doing wrong? And am I right to be mad at him? – Angie, SA 

Dear Angie, 

I’m sorry you experienced such a rude awakening that night, but in a way, it’s good that it happened – now the cat is out of the bag and you can get to the root cause of why your husband is avoiding having sex with you. 

Let me begin by saying that masturbation is normal, even within couples who have a healthy sex life. Your husband’s use of pornography and masturbation could be a symptom of deeper issues, such as difficulty in expressing desires, seeking a stress release, or even just the convenience of a quick sexual release without the emotional labor involved in intimate relations.

With that being said, we do have to address the issue of his avoidance of being intimate with you. Quite often, it’s not due to a lack of attraction, but other factors that could be affecting his sex drive. Consider these questions:

  • Has anything happened over the years to cause a rift between you and your husband? Unresolved arguments for example? 
  • Has sex become routine, i.e., with minimal effort on both sides? 
  • Could your husband be dealing with his own body image issues? This could cause him to feel unattractive in the bedroom. 

Although your feelings of anger and surprise are valid, you mustn’t punish your husband for his actions. This could make him even more defensive and closed off, especially if he feels shame or embarrassment. Instead, find a good time to sit and talk things through – let him know that you genuinely want to understand what’s going on and if there’s anything you can do to rebuild that intimate connection with him. 

You could also try to bridge the gap by spending some quality time with your husband – don’t make sex the focus – but do try to rekindle the spark with a lovely meal out, some fun and laughter, and see where it leads. Sometimes, we have to work on the emotional side of intimacy before attempting the physical aspect. 

Failing this, it might be worth seeking the help of a therapist, especially if your husband has complex emotions surrounding sex right now. With a professional’s help, you can get down to the root cause and rebuild the trust and connection from the bottom up. 

It’s going to be a journey, Angie, that’ll require patience and understanding. But most couples do go through ups and downs in their sex life, so if you’re both willing to work at it, there’s no reason you can’t get back to a good place with your husband. 

Sending love and strength, 

Evie 

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Ask Evie

Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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