Sex & Relationships

Ask Joan: How to deal with a spouse who constantly wants sex

Joan Price, Senior Planet’s Sex Columnist, counsels a woman whose husband’s desire for “instant sex” borders on assault. 

Is it normal for men in their sixties to want sex so badly they just force it on you? Today I headed to the kitchen to make brownies. My husband was standing there—pants unzipped, waiting for action. He grabbed me and it was all over.

My husband does nothing to warm me up or show affection—no hand holding during the week, no warm embraces. Nothing. Then boom—he wants sex, and he wants it now. He goes straight for the main event and if I’m busy or not interested, he just pushes himself on me. I usually comply just to get it over. I have no feelings. I’m just not interested.

We’ve been married 40 years. He has the sex drive of a 20-year-old. But my sex drive pretty much disappeared at menopause. We also moved at that time, and I took a new, stressful job with a long commute. I still work and have a hard time relaxing, which makes me even less interested in sex. But he doesn’t try to help me relax. He just wants instant sex. I am as frustrated with his attitude as he is with me not being interested.

I have tried talking to him, but he won’t discuss it. He says he has nothing to say. Then he finds something else to do and ignores me.

In the beginning, it was not one-sided. We both had strong sexual desire and enjoyed sex. He was a good lover, generous in making me happy. But now, it’s all about his self-gratification. If he really wanted to make me happy, we would rarely have sex at all.

Sex also slowed down because of our physical conditions. He is diabetic and it takes him a lot longer to get an erection. I don’t have much feeling down there anymore, so it takes longer for me to climax as well.

In one of your articles, you talked about responsive desire and that’s where I’m at. He has figured out that if he waits for me to initiate and be spontaneous, sex won’t happen. So he pushes me whether I’m interested or not. He thinks if he does that, he’ll gradually get me turned on.

I still love him despite his actions. I feel sorry for him because we had good sex for many years, and he really misses it. If the only way he’s going to get sex out of me is to push it on me, then that’s what he does. At times I get angry and push him away. Then he backs off. But then I feel like I’ve let him down.

Are most men this age this way? Does he have an unusually high sex drive? Should I just continue to go through the motions and comply?

—Husband Wants Instant Sex

Joan responds:

No, most men this age do not sexually assault their wives, which is what you describe here. You do not need to agree to sex you do not want, especially forceful sex. That’s a clear no.

But there’s more going on here than simply halting his instant sexual gratification. Your sex drive waned at menopause and hasn’t returned. That’s not unusual, but it doesn’t have to end sex in a marriage. When you stopped desiring sex, did the two of you discuss what that meant to the future of your relationship? Were you willing to work on bringing sex back into the marriage in ways that both of you would enjoy? Or was it “I’m done!”?

Your husband is understandably frustrated and unhappy because you haven’t wanted sex with him for well over a decade. If you read this column, you know that I often address the anguish of readers whose mates don’t want sex anymore. It’s agony when one person still has sexual needs and desires and the other has no interest. However, sexual frustration is not an excuse for sexual assault. He has no right to sex without your enthusiastic consent.

You wisely mention that you experience responsive desire, not spontaneous desire, but your husband misunderstands that concept. Yes, it does mean that once you get started, desire can kick in. But “getting started” means doing the things that arouse you and bring you pleasure—not bullying his way into intercourse and hoping that turns you on. It won’t.

He still has a high sex drive. You need a relationship filled with affection and relaxation before sex appeals to you. He wants immediate gratification. You say he won’t discuss it, but how can the two of you live this way? I admit I was surprised when you said you’re still in love with him, since the relationship sounds hostile and coercive.

I often recommend counseling for couples who have hit a roadblock. You two don’t just have a roadblock—you have a mile-high boulder between you. Please get counseling to learn to talk openly about this important issue, stop the assaults, and find common ground if you want to stay together. Show your husband this column.

Joan Price has been Senior Planet’s “Sex at Our Age” columnist since 2014. She is the author of four self-help books about senior sex, including her award winners: “Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex” and “Sex after Grief: Navigating Your Sexuality after Losing Your Beloved.” Visit Joan’s website and blog for senior sex news, views, tips, and sex toy reviews from a senior perspective. Subscribe to Joan’s free, monthly newsletter.



31 responses to “Ask Joan: How to deal with a spouse who constantly wants sex

  1. My husband of 28 years wants sex everyday other will look elsewhere. He is in his prime and I have multiple health issues. Menopause, HBP(medication), no libido, hysterectomy, and a bulging disk. I totally understand how the woman feels. It’s tough when u love someone so much that u can’t leave them no matter how he is mistreating u. It’s rape when she says no even in marriage. Men can please themselves as much as a woman can. I wish men could understand what us women are going thru. GOD BLESS.

  2. I found this very upsetting to read.I find that man’s actions unconscionable. Does he realize that rape is a felony?! Yes,that includes marital rape. I think she needs to ask him to leave and get therapy/other support for herself so she can raise her self-esteem enough to be able to make her own choices,including being treated with respect and consideration. He also needs therapy,badly,so he won’t inflict his selfish behavior on another woman. She could press charges. #listentowomenforachange

    1. Holy crap!!! I am glad that you will never be my wife. What he is doing is wrong but what she is doing is also wrong. If she doesn’t want sex anymore thus breaking her vows then the marriage is over and he should just move on.

      1. They had good sex life he was generous and aimed to please until she didn’t want it anymore. If you leave it up to her she won’t do it. If for 10 years you don’t want it and if he just does it, then you created the new standard. Don’t expect any affection. Who wants to hold the hand of someone who rejects you sexually? There are times I am tired, or have no desire but my husband does, and as his wife I take care of his needs end result? we both enjoy it. What is wrong with women today?

  3. my experience is that when i said i do and mutually said the same, that we agreed to an agreement of mutual consent forever while married. physically men need sex and a normal women would too. i believe it is our responsibility to each other to provide for each others needs. if a person in an agreement doesn’t fulfill their obligation, they jointly agree to seperate if possible.

    1. “paul”, I politely disagree with you. You said,”when i said i do and mutually said the same, that we agreed to an agreement of mutual consent forever while married.” No, I don’t believe that getting married means CONTINUOUS MUTUAL CONSENT. Do you seriously mean that your wife must always have sex with you whenever you want? Really? What about her needs, wants, and desires? Does that not matter? Apparently, it doesn’t matter to you. You only care about what you want.

  4. how about since he has a high sex drive & she has none he should be able to find lady with a high sex drive to have sex with whenever he desires and then come home with a smile on his face,,, problem solved,,,hmm didn’t hear JOAN suggest this remedy, i guess it’s her woman’s point of view

    1. Respectfully, Dan, don’t be so quick to mansplain my “woman’s point of view.” Read my column regularly ( and you’ll see that I do suggest opening up a relationship or giving a “hall pass” when one partner no longer wants sex, the other does, and they can’t reach a compromise. In this case, however, the person who wrote me is struggling with sexual assault from her husband. Giving suggestions for appeasing her husband would be inappropriate.

    2. Sexual needs can only be met by your spouse. He isn’t allowed to go anyplace else to have this need met so it’s up to you to meet it. If you can’t meet the need you must go elsewhere. Yes, you should get a divorce before going elsewhere though.

  5. I went through something similar. My husband started using testosterone per his doctor. One effect was that he wanted sex 3,4, or 5 times a week. He would NOT masturbate all by himself. He would only do it while rubbing and fondling me, even if I was completely uninterested in sex. I was very overweight at the time,, and going through a phase of menopause where I was not interested in sex. Usually he would fondle me, then pester me to have sex until I gave in, to “get it over with”,like her.

    1. -continued- That was several years ago. My husband changed doctors and is no longer using testosterone. His libido has decreased significantly while mine has increased, partly because of menopause changes and partly because I lost weight and have been exercising (which he has completely stopped doing). I am 66 and he is 68. I would not consider our relationship to be very good. Things he has done over the years (like the unwanted sex) have affected me, and I’m just kind of hanging on…

    2. I am a divorced 61 year old male and am absolutely terrified to find my self in a sexless marriage – I would much rather remain single. According to female Dr stats 82.5% of post menopausal women have a drastic decrease in their libido … so strive to find the rare loving women.

      1. There’s a difference between loving and being willing to have sex whenever your partner wants it. Some men don’t shower, try to be attractive, or treat women well, then can’t understand why there’s no interest in sex.
        I believe sex is healthy and essential in a marriage (absent significant problems or agreement on both sides)
        I think it’s ok to have sex when you don’t much feel like it sometimes as a way of showing love and care for your partner. As long as it’s given and reciprocated in love.

  6. Have there been other changes in his behavior? If so, a good physical and mental checkup may pinpoint problems causing an inability to consider his wife and her needs as well as to control his actions. I mention this because a close friend went through something similar before being diagnosed with dementia, for which diabetes is a risk factor, and the earlier it is discovered, the better quality of life he will have.

  7. I am almost 72 and still have the sex drive of a 20 year old. How fortunate this woman is to have her husband have this interest in sex! I have been turned down from my husband at many stages of my life for intimacy and so I divorced and sought out those with similar interests.

  8. Ah Joan ! How did this relationship go so sour and turn ‘ He was a good lover, generous in making me happy ‘ into an SOB. Surly, they can somehow resolve the huge gap of sexual needs by coming to some sort of accommodation. Under no circumstances should he force himself on her. What pleasure can there be for either of them when that happens ?
    Make a date for a mutually agreed upon loving session, In the interim, for him…give him a Hot Octopus Duo for self pleasure. Hopefully this will satisy

  9. I took time and work to write a comment and I thouight I saw it under “Reviewing the comment” then I donn’t see it anymore. MAY I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO IT PLEASE? Or, I shall never comment anymore. :( Thanx. Rose

  10. Joan Price is a winner! She’s right on all of her advices which I rarely miss. :)

    TALK if you love him! Don’t hold grudges which cause relationships to deteriorate! After one of his “ambushes” …sit comfortably with him over his favorite meal or desert or drink and…talk away relaxedly, opening up to what you need him to do, so you can satisfy HIM, and make YOU happy too. You omittd your age but…the 60s is the 40s now. Professional counseling will help if your talk won’t. :o)

  11. What a sad state of a marriage. Where is the tender playfulness? The sexual assault has to stop. He should be encouraged to self pleasure (masturbate)
    without guilt to take the pressure off his horniness.
    Maybe, without the expectation of “sex” (whatever form that means) they could just cuddle once in a while to build closeness. They need to talk about fond memories and hopes for the future. And talk about what touch feels good to each of them.

  12. To Joan Price,
    Once again, your answer to the ‘Instant Sex’ dilemma is “bulls-eye”, in addressing the issues, in my opinion.
    The metaphorical icing on the cake is your suggestion to have the wife to show her husband that column.
    As for her question “are most men this age this way”, one answer is that many of us men, married or not, do have high sex drives. The historic (groundbreaking) Kinsey study shed light on a lot of related “issues”.
    It’s battery (unwanted touching) w “assault” also !

  13. oy vey

    whether I was 15 or 70+

    it has always had to be mutual

    what a schlub

    and yes I think my 70 year old body could be in the same desire / ability absolute love and endurance category as my 15year old self

    but neither my 15 year old or my 70 year old would be playing hot and heavy without a female of comparable attitudes, emotions, or interests

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