The Great Divide in Sex Initiation: Why won’t they initiate?

Have you ever seen an episode of The Cosby Show?  Though we have many different favorite moments, one that we have always found amusing came from an episode where Cliff takes Claire on a kid free romantic getaway.  After they have a leisurely dinner and return to their room they’re both anticipating what comes next.  Bow-chicka-bow-wow….they know they’re alone, no kids to interrupt, no dishes to wash no work phone calls, just the two of them.  Claire spends time getting ready and when she returns from freshening up, Cliff is “napping” on the bed.  Although a bit disappointed by her sleeping husband, Claire continues undeterred to enjoy their evening.  This is when Cliff says these wonderfully romantic and chivalrous words, “Let’s get it on.”  Claire is not impressed and is rather put off by these words.

We give Cliff a little bit of credit.  After all, he did initiate sex, albeit in the opposite way Claire was hoping.  That said, some rarely, if ever initiate sex.  This leaves the spouse wondering, “Why won’t he/she initiate sex?  Why am I always the one to do so?”

Here are some reasons a spouse may not initiate sex:

1. Track record of refusal.  When a spouse is refused time and time again it’s common for them to just stop asking.  Refusal of sexual advances is often a deeply hurtful, humiliating and distressing experience.  Regular sexual connection is important in marriage, therefore, when sex is regularly refused the marriage will likely suffer, and the one who was refused will be less likely to initiate in the future.

2. Sexual dysfunction or lack of pleasure during sex.  If a spouse does not feel that they are able to perform sexually then there is often little desire to initiate.  This could be a man who suffers from erectile dysfunction or it could be a woman who rarely or never experiences orgasms or sexual pleasure.

3. Specific sexual desires or needs are unmet.  Sadly, many people receive a great deal of education about how sex “should” take place from movies, music, romance novels and other forms of cultural entertainment.  However, these resources rarely provide helpful information that relates to real life.  Still, some may have very specific desires for their sexual relationship.  Perhaps they want more romance.  Perhaps they’re ready at the drop of a hat.  Whatever it is, they’ve come to learn that their spouses needs/desires are much different than theirs.  Knowing their desires will never fully be realized, they may not initiate sex very often, and may stop initiating altogether.

4. Sexual needs are being met elsewhere.  As much as we hate to say it, if your spouse never initiates sex or has drastically changed the frequency of initiation it could be that they are fulfilling their sexual needs somewhere else.  Whether through porn use or regular masturbation, if your spouse does not initiate you may need to find out if this could be a cause.

5. Distrust in the relationship.  Great sex takes both physical and emotional nakedness.  When trust has been broken or there’s unresolved conflict, the desire for sex will significantly decrease.  A spouse may not initiate if they do not feel safe (emotionally or physically) in the marriage.

6. Fear of doing it wrong.  This is much more simplistic than the other topics we have mentioned but many people feel shy about how to tell their spouse that they would like to have sex.  It is entirely possible that your spouse wants sex but want you to initiate every time because they feel uncomfortable or awkward when they do.

We’re quite certain these are only a handful of reasons as to why one spouse would not initiate sex.  Soon, we’ll post a follow-up giving some specific advice in how to initiate sex, as well as some suggestions for how you can discuss this subject with your spouse so that you may both initiate sex more equally.  Until then…


What are some other reasons one spouse may choose not to initiate sex?  What harm can happen in a marriage relationship when one spouse rarely/never initiates sex?

And for those who are interested, here are Cliff and Claire in action!


Linking with: Women Living Well; To Love Honor and Vacuum

1 thought on “The Great Divide in Sex Initiation: Why won’t they initiate?

  1. Pingback: The Great Divide in Sex Initiation: How To Initiate « Do Not Disturb

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