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.

Do you have a question for Joan? 

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  • Selected questions will be answered in this public column, not privately. If you want a private answer, you can book Joan for a personal consultation.
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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.



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

  1. i have a wonderful woman, though sex through the years has been a tug of war with my gatekeeper of sex.
    maybe some equality i once said , you control the sex one week then l control it the next.
    i even said you can have 2 weeks of no sex to my one, guess what she said, yip lads ,no go.
    now you ladies here . let me make this clear making love to my woman gives me such great joy,to be inside of her and be one is absolutely fantastic for many of us men.
    i massage,chores,everything to please.

  2. The degree of ignorance of the other gender in some of these comments is breath-taking. I won’t differentiate, but some of you people need to do some study on this. Related to this is the lack of good will, patience, LOVE, and grace.

  3. This is a very interesting subject. I think it goes even deeper than the original question the lady asked. The 35,000 foot view is really about individuality versus the “Covent” of marriage/relationship. The original concept of marriage where one is the breadwinner and one is the domestic keeper is out dated and flawed: not long ago women were possessions, an item to be owned. Haven’t we progressed beyond this? If sex is the most important aspect to you, then marriage is not for you.

  4. ..tough – when I get turned down at almost every attempt, my body starts associating the feeling of being turned down with the arousal, and connects the two. I’m starting to feel stress just because I’m being aroused and I’m super scared to have erection issues, which, I think, starts to happen because of this neglect. I don’t want to cheat but I just don’t get good sex with a lusty partner at home. I feel this is unfair to me, I feel not wanted, and missing out as years are passing by fast.

  5. Married 15 years, 2 kids, nice house, vacations & etc. No stress or long hours for my wife, we both take care of kids, house, chores. I do sleep 5 hours tops while she has 8+ as my job is demanding. Yet I always have the energy for sex while she goes months without it.

    Masturbation doesn’t fulfil my need to be wanted just as much as I want my partner. I’ve paid for sex and its not the same. Affairs give me the sex I want, but I love my wife and don’t want to ruin our marriage. Its tough…

    1. Good dude: Just a question for you: did your wife ever have orgasms? Yes? Are you sure? The percentage of women who do NOT have orgasms from intercourse is absolutely astounding! I have been married twice. I have NEVER had an orgasm from intercourse. Never. So if he doesn’t feel like giving me oral, and the fingering he gives me doesn’t feel good, and he’s offended if I play with myself, then what? That doesn’t exactly make me want to have sex. Yeah, he gave me oral years ago…

  6. Wait, I have a question. Let’s say my husband is not interested in sex and I wanted an orgasm, what is the difference if I take care of it myself so I can give him a break???

    If sex is a allows a release (orgasm), then why not just masturbate when one’s spouse is not interested? Whether a man masturbates using his wife’s ‘V’ or using his own capable hands, it results in the same outcome – an orgasm.

    So why the fuss? Please explain.

    1. I am going through the same situation after being married for almost 30 years now. I think there is more to it or there is at least on my end. If he wouldn’t treat me so badly I might actually still deeply love him but I’m afraid he’s ruined some of that. Laid off in July makes things so so much worse.

  7. My husband 62 married 37 years wants something sexual everyday. He gets upset with me when I’m not interested. So I comply because he wants it and I don’t want to deal with the mood of not giving in. I have gotten good pretending I enjoy it I love my husband and we have an amazing relationship outside of sex. But why is it such a need for him I don’t understand and I wish I did. I think he associates love with sex. If I don’t give him sex then I don’t love him

  8. 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.

    1. So you’re holding him hostage. You just admitted you have no desire for him, but wants all the other benefits of a relationship. You want the fluffy, non-intimate company and cuddle time, and then his money, and energy. What does he want from you? Appreciation, empathy and yes….sex. I’m 100% certain he shows the other 2 but you’ve grown used to it. It’s selfish and the only premise to justify your abuse to him is religious. It’s sad

      1. Holding her husband hostage? Oh my word!!! Even if her husband is a good provider does not constitute being used as a F.@8K toy. I do believe you don’t know there is 99 ways to demonstrate intimacy besides the WHAM BAM Thank you Ma’am. Cuddling and snuggling, holding hands,hugs, wet kisses, touching, suckling and fondling meet the category of intimacy without sex. I can not understand who would want a man that thinks SEX is love. Sex “can” be an expression of love. Open communication is best.

      2. It appears that the women here don’t understand their men. First off, men have needs, as well as women. It sounds like there was no problem till menopause. Then its, “it was nice knowing you “ he didn’t sign up for this. I’m starting to go through this now, except I actually respect my wife, she’s my best friend, and my love is unconditional. Let me make something very clear, MASTERBATING isn’t the same! Cumming, and orgasm, 2DIF THINGS! I don’t feel love and intimacy from my fist! Just sayin

    2. You women here are DELUSIONAL!! Men do NOT think like you do. Here are your options. Have sex or get cheated on. It’s as simple as that. You can complain, talk about it’s not fair, etc.,. You took the job and those are the responsibilities of the position. The job will get done no matter if you do it or not.

    1. I personally love having sex with my husband,I’m 56 and he is 60,I’ve always enjoyed it and still do(even after menopause)….it’s an important part of my life with him and we both agreed it always would be,he’s very affectionate and loving if we don’t but it’s something that we don’t neglect.
      We find it very relaxing after a stressful work day,I’ve never equated sex as
      a chore,it should be fun and exciting.That’s my view on it.

  9. 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?

      2. David, you think SHE is the one breaking her vows by not wanting sex anymore? Really? Do you not realize that he is FORCING sex on her? What is that called? It’s called rape. Isn’t that going against something even more basic than marriage vows? You have no idea what she has and is now going through. I’ve been there; I know exactly how she feels.

      3. So glad that I’m not your wife. My husband is also so glad you’re not my husband either. Marriage vows have nothing to do with sex. If that’s the case then what if one partner is incapacitated? Does that mean she or he is braking their vows? Vows have to do with commitment and loyalty to one another. And absolutely zero to do with physical intimacy and sex.

  10. 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.

      1. dear rachel ,i love my wife dearly,but the gatekeeper of love/sex rejected me so often its not funny, i do all sorts of things to satisfy her,in and out of the bedroom.
        making love to my wife is the best thing in the world,us men love the intimacy and the feeling of being one for a moment in time.
        masterbation never cuts it for most married men,sorry but that’s a fact,its only a temporary measure.
        we genuinely seek the love and intimacy that was there at the beginning.
        hugs and kisses rachel.

    2. Yes, I agree! They should not even get married if sex is that important to them since it is estimated either spouse will lose interest at some point. I would say over 70% of persons should stay unmarried and celibate – that is how high the decreased interest in sex is. I have tried to convince all the females in my family to stay single and celibate. It is a lost cause for most females. It you want kids adopt, skip marriage and the required sex vow.

      1. cheating ?you’ll only hate yourself,like me.
        lets say she’s been the gatekeeper of love/sex for the past 10 years, ask her how she would feel if we balanced this with yourself being the gatekeeper for the next 10.
        the lack of perspective for a mans needs seems to be superseeded by what looks and feels like narcissism to me.
        so ladies if you cant work with us, some of us will go elsewhere, is that what you really want is what you should ask yourself.
        love us for goodness sake,like we love you.

  11. 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.

    3. Why do men need a woman for sex if the orgasm is all they want and can do by themselves? I don’t understand the difference. I like my daily orgasms and don’t need a man to do that. Problem solved. I’m happy, no complaints.

  12. 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…

      1. I hear you. I am in the same boat now. I know he takes some sort of steroid and or testosterone. He orders this off the internet. Confused and don’t want to give up my house so that is why I am still here. I was laid off in July and this has made everything much harder.

        I would leave if I could because now he is just plain mean to me.

    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.

      2. Your comment can be taken one two ways, either you expect the “rare loving woman” to be able to or, want have sex when you desire it, OR, you appreciate the rare loving woman as she is, lack of libido and all.
        As the husband of a woman with health issues causing her libido to be almost non-existent, it may be frustrating for me, but I can tell you personally that even though she is rarely able to have sex, let alone enjoy it, she is the most loving, amazing, caring woman I have ever known.

    3. How/what does a husband feel while he’s having sex to someone that doesn’t want him ? All he cares about is self gratification. I’d want my spouse to actually want to. share in this special moment with me and want to be with me not because I forced, demanded or coerced them into it. sex and making love are two different things

      1. My husband stated that when he was younger he clould have every day two and three times , now no romance , no help with House work, no flower ás a gift. After I work like a mule. He say come to bed I have taken Viagra I respond by asking him , did I send you to take Viagra go get into a shower.just llleave me alone I have no desire..then commucation stop for one week somtime, I was a fül time Nurse. Át home generál work cook. Clean er laundres then each month I have to Give him $500 USA

      2. if she doesnt want him, then leave,just saying.
        ave been jumping through hoops for 40 years with my gatekeeper of love/ sex,then i suggested the equality card,she controls one week ,me the next,no go.
        its not a transaction i get it, but i love my wonderful wife ,doing it on the side was an awful experience because it wasn’t my wife,to be one with her is the best feeling in the world to me the intimacy is just fantastic, we men need that.
        i deeply regret going behind her back.

  13. 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.

      1. So, to you, women have no value beyond sex. I’m here to tell you that women are not objects. I can only hope that reincarnation is real and you come back as a woman in your next life. You need to understand that hormones rule our bodies and when we reach the age that menopause occurs, many women lose their desire to have sex and also the feeling in nerves in their genitals. Doctors have found no solution to this. I know because I’ve tried everything out there.

      1. I am incredulous at your comment. Do you have ANY understanding of why she may not want sex?
        Let me give you a reason: In the 24 years that my husband and I have been married, not once have I had an orgasm by intercourse alone. Yes, he occasionally would perform oral sex, and it was pretty good, when he did it. But he never tried any ways to help me find some position or some thing that he could so I could orgasm during sex. Would that make YOU want to keep having sex?

      2. How about a husband whose sex drive is so high he needs sex a min 1 but preferably 2 plus a week and if he doesn’t get it acts like a child throwing a temper tantrum. Huffing and puffin and sighing loudly to express his unhappiness and intentionally ruining my night? I make a point to have sex with him once a week bc we are both busy with work and life and tired .,. Even if it’s once every two weeks on super busy weeks i think that should be ok but I feel so forced to keep up w once a week min

      3. @ Christina – Yes I get this too. They act like a spoilt child but refuses to masterbate. My hubby is 52yrs old and its getting worse. For me its a minimum every 3days and if I dont give it up the tantrums begin.

        We get it, you men want sex but my god help us out and masterbate a few times a week!!!! When a woman isnt in the mood its actually quite painful for some.

      4. I’m laughing reading you men. I’m chiming in to tell you after menopause a lot of women develop vaginal atrophy. The pain with penetration is excruciating and absolutely out of the question. It is devastating to the woman. Loss of libido wasn’t a big deal to me but the PAIN? What horrible things would you say to her then? Dump her? I’m trying hrt therapy hoping that will help but my god if it doesn’t my husband will throw me away like a broken tool? Grow up and my you lose your erection

  14. 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.

    1. Thanks Blaze. You restore my hope that there are sensible women out there.

      I couldn’t reply to Anne’s comment to David unfortunately.

      She was angry because her husband had never given her pleasure in bed after 24 years.

      Instead of looking inwards and asking herself why she put up with this after a year, let alone 24, she just comes here to bash all men for perfectly natural desires.

      So much for feminism and female agency…24 yrs of saying nothing!

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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)

  18. 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.

  19. 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 !

    1. Why can’t men just masturbate? Females do this all the time and it is perfectly satisfying if not a whole heck of a lot better orgasm – JACKPOT!!!
      I don’t get it. Please explain that, why do men need to be with a female when they can experience an orgasm on their own just as easily as a female does?

  20. 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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