Health problems, relationship issues, and stress can all hinder a man’s ability to perform sexually. And when things start to go wrong in the bedroom, men often panic even worse than women do, because their self-esteem is so closely related to their sexual prowess. Panic, though, almost always makes things worse. So when things aren’t working, here are some specific strategies to relax and rebuild your physical lives.

Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)
When true ED strikes, without obvious physical roots, it can certainly take its toll on a relationship. If a physical cause can’t be identified, the problem is usually a psychological or emotional one. Whether the culprit is challenges at work or worries about the relationship, the cause of ED is often directly related to a man’s insecurity about his masculinity. Am I able to provide for the family? Does she really respect me? Does she still want to be here?

If the problem keeps recurring for several months and your husband has seen a doctor to rule out physical causes and you’ve worked on your friendship, your husband may benefit from talking to a counselor or an older mentor to deal with whatever insecurities he feels.

Premature Ejaculation
Premature ejaculation is when a man ejaculates before the woman can enjoy sex. Personally, I hate the term: it’s labeling the man with a problem because the woman’s response time is later. It’s really a couple’s problem, where he reaches orgasm before she is anywhere near. By the term currently used, though, a guy who reaches orgasm after twelve minutes, if his wife takes closer to twenty, is suffering from this condition too!

If sex continues to be over too quickly for you to enjoy it, don’t start actual intercourse until you’re already highly aroused. Spend a ton of time relaxing together and in foreplay, so that by the time he enters you, you’re almost ready to go.

He’s Never in the Mood!
On my blog, I write predominantly about marriage and sex, and because of that, women who face problems in the bedroom often email me. And the most common complaint? “My husband doesn’t want to have sex.” A typical email says something like, “I am so sick of hearing women complain about how their husbands want it all the time. I just want my husband to want it some of the time!”

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One forty-two-year-old woman, married for eighteen years, explains the rejection she feels this way:

Because my husband does not want me sexually, I have a hard time believing him when he tells me how much he loves me. We have a friendship, a life together, but without sex and affection it feels like we are roommates more than anything else. I often feel very alone in this, because so many women talk about how their husbands want sex more than they do. I’ll just say that not being wanted feels awful.

Another twenty-three-year-old woman, married just a few months, echoed her thoughts:

I expected my husband’s drive to be stronger than mine, so when mine turned out to be stronger, I felt extremely unwanted. It has impacted the beginning of our marriage in a terrible way.

If you’re experiencing something similar, you are not alone. Many women who endure their husbands’ low sex drives, though, are often greeted with jeers from their friends — “I wish my husband would give me a break sometimes!” That doesn’t help. You feel like a freak. Why does everyone else’s husband want sex, and yours doesn’t?

Low Testosterone
About five million American men suffer from low testosterone, the hormone responsible for sexual arousal. If your husband seems to have a low libido, try to convince him to have it checked out. A simple blood test can verify whether he does indeed have low hormone levels. Assuming nothing else is wrong (often there’s an underlying disease causing low testosterone, which would have to be treated), low testosterone on its own can be corrected with hormone replacement therapy.

Another huge libido stealer for men is pornography. The more men are into pornography, the less they are into sex in real life. Porn trains the brain to be aroused by an image and not a relationship. If your husband is into pornography, get help. Talk to a pastor. Talk to a mentor.  Porn is not harmless, and it’s not just fun. In the next chapter, we’ll look at how to plot a recovery plan for your marriage.

Sometimes the addiction isn’t focused on something negative — such as alcohol or video games or porn — but on something seemingly positive, such as work. And work provides an awfully strong temptation, because men tend to thrive when they feel competent. In fact, they thrive where they feel competent. And if your husband doesn’t feel competent or involved at home, it is quite likely that he will look for other places to invest most of his energy. For many men, that place is work.

Lack of Friendship
Often when there is a problem in the marriage, it shows up in the bedroom.  In reality, the solution is often found outside the bedroom. Sex embodies our spiritual, emotional, and relational selves. If your husband has a low sex drive that isn’t due to health problems or addictions, then the best route to a solution is to work on your friendship. Spend more time together. Take a walk after dinner. Find a hobby you can enjoy together. Do something that he likes even if you don’t (e.g., watching hockey games) simply so you can be together.

Lack of Respect
Girls, watch how you talk to your husband. Undermining our men is remarkably easy. I know many Christian women who belittle their husbands in public without realizing it. When you open your mouth to say something about your husband to others, make sure that comment is something uplifting. And when you’re alone, express gratitude much more than you express criticism. But our respect for our husbands needs to go even further than that.

When a Reason Can’t Be Found
Unfortunately, many women will walk through life in a marriage with a husband who really doesn’t seem to desire her, through no fault of her own.

This is a tough thing to live with — perhaps even tougher than when the situation is reversed, because it is women who are supposed to be desired and chased.

Marriage is not an easy road, but it is also not one that God asks you to walk alone. Some of us have harder things to bear in marriage than others, but God is big enough to woo you, to help you feel loved, and to let you know that you are precious, lovely, and desirable to him. So take your resentment toward your husband and turn that energy into prayer. You just may find that God will take you on a new journey that is lovely, though it’s not what you originally planned.

Taken from The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex by Sheila Gregoire. Copyright © 2012. Used by permission of Zondervan.