Sex advice with Suzi Godson: Husband cares more about the gym than sex

Sacrificing sex in the morning for his abs could be a reflection of marital unrest, says Suzi Godson.

Q. My husband has started a new fitness regime and he’s looking fantastic. Unfortunately, it has had an impact on our sex life. 

We used to have sex in the mornings, but now he gets up to go to the gym instead. In the evenings he’s too tired. 

Our sex life has crashed just when I’m finding him even more attractive. What should I do?

A. Is there a reason why he can’t go to the gym after work or at the weekend? Even if he did that once or twice a week, you would be able to keep your lovely morning sex routine intact. 

It does seem a little odd that he is putting so much time into his own body that he doesn’t have any energy left to enjoy yours.

You don’t say whether he was large or simply unfit before his new regime, but a wealth of research has shown that marriage makes people put on weight. Taking care of yourself is a positive step that should be encouraged.

I’m not suggesting that his physical transformation is a reflection of marital unrest, but something has triggered the change and you might want to think about asking him what that is. 

You used to have sex in the morning and he has made a conscious decision to sacrifice that time for his abs; that merits an explanation at least. After an early workout and a long day in the office, he is probably just too tired for sex at night. 

It is also possible that his sex drive is lower because of his workouts. It depends on the intensity and the duration of the exercise, but research shows that regular high-intensity workouts can have a negative impact on male libido.

A recent study surveyed more than 1,000 men who were runners, cyclists or amateur endurance athletes and found an inverse relationship between exercise and libido. The more time spent exercising, or the higher intensity the workout, the less likely the men were to be interested in sex.

Although women have always had to struggle with the conflict between “real” and “ideal” presentations of the female body, in the past decade leading fashion brands have been ruthlessly promoting a toned and sculpted version of masculinity, and young men are finding it just as difficult to deal with.

If your husband’s new fitness regime comes from a place of insecurity, his new look is probably making him feel a lot more confident, and that increases his appeal. 

Although you are focused on his physical transformation, the determination and commitment required to stick to a difficult fitness regime is also very attractive. 

It demonstrates agency, autonomy and self-control, and the very separateness of those qualities makes you want to draw him closer. 

However, if you put pressure on him to choose between the workout that is boosting his self-esteem and a sexual pattern that he associates with his less happy, less confident self, he is likely to choose the workout.

Perhaps one way to get what you want would be to show him that you have compatible, not competing interests.

If you join him at the gym a couple of mornings a week he is more likely to agree to switch to evening workouts at the weekend so that you can spend Saturday and Sunday morning burning calories in bed instead.


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