Episode 309 – Are You Using Your Wife for Sex?

men's mental health

When asked, “Are you using your wife for sex?”, most men would say, “Absolutely not”! But is that true? Many men use their wives for sex without even realizing they are doing it. They don’t do it maliciously, but that doesn’t mean they don’t do it. In this episode, let’s talk about what it means to use your wife for sex, why you do it, and how to change that habit. This episode is for men and women who want to break out of a sexual habit that isn’t getting you the connection you need or want in your relationship.

Show Notes:

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Show Summary:

This is a hard topic because no one wants to think that they are using their wife for sex.  And to be honest, I don’t think that it is done on purpose, consciously or maliciously by any means.  Nonetheless, it happens.  Just this past week, there was a post in one of the Facebook groups that I belong to where a wife posted that she was struggling to find desire, but after years of couples therapy she said “we have talked many times about the fact that my husband needs sex to feel okay.  He’s much nicer when he feels ok. His mood and how that translates into his interactions with me and our children.”  She goes on to say that her husband knows that she doesn’t desire it but it’s more important to have sex than to have good sex where she is actually desiring him.  This is an example of him using his wife for sex.  

So why does this happen? I think for many men, sex is a means to end.  A way to change how they are feeling.  They aren’t thinking “I want to use my partner to feel better.”  They just feel a lot of anxiety, fear, stress or tension in their body.  They may not even realize what is going on in their body, they just know they don’t feel right.  And they know that when they have sex, they feel better.  And they are so focused on changing how they are feeling, they aren’t tuned in to their wife and what her experience might be.  Is it a good time? Is she in a place where she can relax and enjoy it? Or is strictly a means to an end?

Unfortunately, men haven’t been given the tools for how to deal with their emotions in a healthy way. So, like many of us, they reach for things less consciously in order to change how they are feeling.  And sex is a powerful way to do that.  So when they are looking for an escape from their emotions, they are literally putting that tension, that stress, that anxiety on their partner to be there to “meet their needs.”  And she feels this.  Immensely.  And it puts so much pressure on her.

So why does this happen? Esther Perel talks about how men were not socialized to talk about emotions, so the way they relate to them is through sex.  This very much relates to the social conditioning that men receive.  From a young age, men are often taught to suppress their emotions and seek solace in physical outlets. As a result, sex can become a default mechanism for coping with stress and tension.  Also, in many cultures, men are expected to be strong and stoic, which can make it difficult for them to express vulnerability when they are struggling and to seek emotional support from sources other than their partners and sex.  And because of these things, some men may struggle to identify and articulate their emotions, leading them to rely on physical intimacy as a means of emotional release.


I think many men experience an innate loneliness.  Social convention dictates that they not form deep emotional connections with other men, when they really need it.  We all need connection.  But if your wife is your only source of connection, that’s a lot for her to carry.

I talked about this in Episode 275, but I love the show Ted Lasso on AppleTV.  So if you have not seen it, it’s about a man from the Midwest who has pretty good success being a mid-level college football coach. He gets hired to coach soccer (or football) in England, and he knows nothing about soccer. Now this show isn’t really about soccer. It’s really about mental health, primarily about men’s mental health. And one of the things that I love about this, is this coach forms the Diamond Dogs with a bunch of other men that are other coaches and support staff and different roles in this soccer club in England, to really help support each other mentally and help talk through their emotions and relationship struggles. And it is transformational for these men because a lot of men don’t develop those close friendships where they can be open and vulnerable and share their struggles, which is detrimental to their mental health. It’s also detrimental to their value and their self worth. And so getting a place with authentic validation from people who are like minded and support you and support your personal growth is really important. And I think a lot of times women do this really well, and men do not. And so really finding a support group for men, I think can be invaluable. Like these Diamond Dogs.

I highly recommend this show on Apple TV. I will give you a word of warning. There are a lot of “F” words. If that really bothers you, this may not be the show for you. But it was such a good show that I actually showed it to my teenage son because I think the lessons that it provides are invaluable and I highly recommend it.

So what do you do if you suspect that you are indeed using your spouse, or if you are the wife that your spouse is using you for sex and emotional regulation? Here are some signs to look out for: 

  • Pattern of Behavior: If your spouse consistently initiates sex as a way to alleviate stress or tension, without addressing the underlying emotional issues, it could indicate that they are using you as a means of emotional regulation.
  • Emotional Disconnection: Pay attention to any patterns of emotional withdrawal or disengagement outside of sexual encounters. This may suggest that your partner is relying on sex to mask deeper emotional struggles.
  • Lack of Communication: If your relationship lacks open and honest communication about both emotional and sexual needs, despite regular sexual activity, it may indicate that sex is being used as a substitute for genuine emotional connection.

Now, let’s explore ways to overcome this dynamic and foster healthier emotional regulation within your relationship.  These are things as wives we can encourage, and as husband, you can work on yourself:

  • Encourage Communication: Create a safe space for open and honest communication with your spouse.  Encourage each other to express emotions and be willing to listen without judgment.  If you notice in yourself tension, stress, anxiety, or fear, talk to your spouse about it.  Encourage each other to work through it in a healthy way.
  • Explore Alternative Coping Strategies: Encourage your partner to explore alternative ways of managing stress and regulating their emotions, such as embodiment (things like breath work, exercise, yoga), coaching or therapy, mindfulness practices, or engaging in hobbies and activities they enjoy.  Encourage them to explore activities and relationships with others especially.
  • Prioritize Emotional Connection: Make an effort to prioritize emotional intimacy in your relationship outside of the bedroom. Engage in activities that foster emotional closeness, such as sharing your thoughts and feelings, going on regular dates, and engaging in meaningful conversations.

Remember, sex should be a mutually satisfying and fulfilling experience for both partners, not just a means of emotional regulation for one. By fostering open communication, exploring alternative coping strategies, and prioritizing emotional intimacy, you can build a stronger and more fulfilling bond with your partner.

Remember, love is a journey, not a destination. Stay committed, stay passionate, and stay connected. Goodbye for now.

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