“I have a headache” is the stereotypical way that women supposedly get out of having sex with their spouse or partner, but this isn’t always the case.

Both women AND men are sometimes just not in the mood to make love. It’s not only men who feel rejected when their partner doesn’t want to have sex. The fear, worry, guilt and resentment can be overwhelming in both.

coupleThe confusion and mix of emotions can lead to serious distance in a relationship and can even lead to a breakup or divorce.

Sex is among the most common topics that couples fight about. They fight about how often to have sex, when to have sex (before or only after marriage) and even how to have sex.

Because this is already a conflict-prone topic, when your sex drive is different from your partner’s sex drive or when you notice a drop in how much sex you two are having, this can mean trouble for your relationship.

You may spend days trying to guess why your partner just said “no” to sex. Questions like these disrupt your sleep and distract you from your work and from what’s actually true in your relationship too.

“Is she mad at me?”
“Doesn’t he think I’m sexy anymore?”
“Am I bad in bed?”
“Is my partner cheating?”

All kinds of assumed meanings for why your partner isn’t in the mood jump into your mind and create all kinds of tension and stress. No matter how much you try to pretend it’s okay, your disappointment and fear or anger will come through. It will come through in the way you communicate (even if it’s about a completely different topic) and may cause you to withdraw emotionally, lash out or be passive aggressive.

It’s important for you to stop reacting to your partner’s “no” to sex and start choosing a different response.

What does it mean…

The tricky thing is that you can’t always know with 100% certainty why your partner is refusing to have sex with you. It’s likely that you have a whole lot of guesses, but they’re not usually accurate.

The very first thing you need to do is to question your thoughts. Unless you have reliable information to back up your assumption, pause and ask yourself, “Is this really true?”

Next, review what you do know. You might know what your partner literally said to you when you indicated that you want to have sex. Did she say that she’s “too tired?” Did he tell you that
he’s “upset” about a conversation with his boss? Think about the literal words your partner said to you and also what you know is going on in his or her life right now.

The less you take it personally, the more easily you’ll understand why your partner wasn’t in the mood.

What you can do…

Before we suggest some things to do when you want sex and your partner doesn’t, remember a few things NOT to do:

Don’t pressure, manipulate, guilt trip, bargain, bribe and definitely don’t force your partner to have sex with you. These are all unhealthy and sometimes even abusive ways to treat another person. Recognize what you’re doing and stop before you damage your relationship or worse!

What you CAN do is to not take it personally. Get curious and question your thoughts as we recommended above. You can also ask your partner kind and loving questions like these:

“How can I support you?”
“Is there another way we could connect right now?”
“Will you hold me?”
“Can we make time to be together tomorrow night?”
“What could I do to help you get in the mood?”
“Would you like a back massage?”
“Please help me understand why you don’t want to have sex.”

Remember, none of these questions are meant to trick your partner into having sex with you if he or she doesn’t want to. When spoken with gentleness and love and you genuinely listen to the answer, they can be a way the two of you can turn an uncomfortable and upsetting situation into one that brings you closer together– now and in the future too.
Get help communicating about tricky topics like sex and intimacy with the free “10 Communication Secrets for Creating a Lifetime of Love” from relationship coaches and authors Susie and Otto Collins