Sexual Interest

 

Mageta from Fairton, NJ

Q: My husband and I have been married for 6 months. I am 19 and he is 20. I think he’s gay or something. About two weeks ago he asked me to have a threesome. But instead of with another woman he wanted to have one with another man involved. At first I thought he was kidding, but yesterday when I got home from work I caught him using my vibrator. I’ll spare you the details. I don’t know what to do. I tried confronting him about it but I just don’t know what exactly to tell him.

A: Mageta. It’s less about what you will tell him than seeing if you can listen to him. I would suggest that you suppress your outrage to ask him about his secret fantasy life. It sounds like you might be right about his having homosexual fantasies. This doesn’t necessarily mean the end unless he becomes compulsive and acts out. The other question is whether or not he can be sufficiently turned on by the female sex. You already have the best evidence about whether or not this is true. Many people feel sexual attraction toward both sexes but are able to live within a monogamous relationship. Can he? Could you accept that he has sexual attraction to men very much like many husbands still feel sexual attraction towards other women. The point I’m making is that feelings are one thing while behavior is another. Does he cross the line into lying, deceit, and other indications of an underlying compulsion. Mageta, you have a lot to find out but you had best calm down first so that he’s willing to talk with you. Good luck. – Bryce Kaye

Christianna from Woodbridge, Va

Q: I’ve been married for 18 years and have three bright, beautiful children. I have been suffering and have been treated for depression for the last 10. Since that time my sex drive has dropped to zero. I try to please my husband as much as I can, but sometimes I’m just too tired or tired of the effort to do so. Two days ago he said that if I wasn’t available for longer periods and for new types of sex (aka anal sex, oral sex), that he would have to look elsewhere. He also stated that he didn’t feel close any more, that he hadn’t felt that way in a while. To be honest, he is so controlling with everything, that I’ve found it difficult to be close with him also. I’ve begun to feel that any type of closeness (i.e., hugging, kissing, etc.) has to lead to sex, and sex has just become another “job”. I’ve tried to change my medication for depression six or seven times, trying new meds or different combinations (with the Drs’ help, of course), but to no avail. I’ve had full physicals and workups done to make sure it wasn’t a physical condition. I have noticed that this all started about the time my tubes were tied, but I’ve always been somewhat of a prude, so I was never an animal to begin with. My doctors say that everything is within normal limits, and that there shouldn’t be any reason not to have a drive. I guess I’m just frigid. What can I do to keep my marriage. Although I don’t feel close to my husband, and feel more like an employee, I still love him and would do anything to make this better. I’m working with him on his control issues, and we’re working together on our disagreements about the raising of our children. Our finances are horrible, but we’re working together to fix that as well. We should be happier now, but it’s going downhill faster. (Our children are 9, 11, 15, they’re going to be gone soon, I don’t want to be alone.)

A: Christianna. Not many women could feel sexual under the conditions you describe in your relationship. You assume that you are frigid and somewhat of a “prude”. However, it sounds like you used to have a sex drive in the early years. What you describe sounds like a slow evolution of several factors over a long time: 1) Loss of emotional closeness in the relationship, 2) Your trying to keep the marriage going by taking on sex as another chore or responsibility, and 3) Your husband’s “controlling” orientation. It’s a bit unclear what you mean by the latter but I will assume that it means he’s bossy, evaluative, and bottom-line oriented with a disregard for your feelings. With these three factors going on, it would be difficult for anyone to feel sexual. Christianna. There’s no quick resolution for your situation. It has evolved over the years and has profoundly affected your own psychological boundaries. It’s probably not just a function of your depression. I strongly suggest that you both get some professional help even though I suspect your husband would be resistant. You will probably need to work on several fronts. First, you would need help to re-install some emotional intimacy through improved communication. This might involve some new training for your husband. Second, you would probably need to learn new skills for maintaining better boundaries against your husband’s “controlling” demands. I would suspect that there is just as much difficulty with your being under-assertive as there is with your husband being “controlling”. For example, how comfortable are you with expressing anger in conflict? You sound like you would be very uncomfortable. Third, you would need to take back your sexual boundaries so that you NEVER engage in intercourse as a chore. You may need to re-explore sex and sexual fantasy for yourself (including masturbation and other sensual self-pleasuring) while redefining what you will and and what you won’t do to take care of your husband. I know that these suggestions are not immediate or practical-sounding. That’s why I’ve suggested that you get a professional involved in your situation. Your syndrome IS that complex. Simple quick solutions will not adequately address the roles and psychological boundaries that you and your husband have evolved over many years. – Bryce Kaye

Debra from Atlanta, Ga

Q: I have lost the desire to have sex. My husband who has a very high sex drive, is going crazy. I also have emotional problems. I am depressed a great deal of the time. It has been this way for approx. 3yrs. We have been together for 4 yrs. married 3. Please help me, I don’t want a divorce.

A: Debra. First I would recommend that you see a psychiatrist (if you haven’t already) to evaluate your depression. You may find that with the right antidepressant medication that your sex drive may come back with your lust for life. If you’ve tried this route, then you may want to talk with your husband about different ways that you can help him relieve his sexual tension without you having to have actual intercourse. Forcing yourself to have intercourse can actually damage your delicate sexual emotions for later on in life. However, you can participate in other sexual play that doesn’t require for your to pretend to be sexually aroused. See if he will compromise with you while you honestly promise to him that you will continue working to get yourself out of depression. I don’t recommend your compromising to the point that you obligate yourself to intercourse. That path will only make matters worse in the long-run. – Bryce Kaye

TSB from Minneapolis, Minnesota

Q: I have been married to a wonderful man for nearly 4 years. He is a great husband and father. We’re having a problem which is beginning to drain the life from our marriage, however. Although we maintain an active sex life, he accesses internet pornography at least 1-3 times per week. I have confronted him gently, but he becomes angry/defensive/humiliated. He tells me that it is not a reflection on me and I just need to “get over it” because it’s part of his sexuality. This is having a horrible affect on me. I feel so hollow. Totally unloved and unwanted. I feel like he just settled for me when the women of his dreams are those he sees on the porn sites. I feel inadequate. I might throw in the towel if it were just us, but we have a young son to think about. How do I deal with this?

A: Dear TSB: Your question is a challenging one because even different professionals would give you different answers on this one. Your husband is right on one account. It is a part of his sexuality. However, the question is whether or not his sexuality has become compulsive. Noticing and being turned on by pornography is not necessarily pathological. It’s not even necessarily breaking marital vows and fidelity. However, if your husband begins to invest a tremendous amount of energy into a secret fantasy sex life, it can become compulsive and reduce intimacy in the relationship. I’m not convinced your husband is at that point. He may be reacting to your insecurity and pressure on him. For example, your sense of being “totally unloved and unwanted” doesn’t seem to match the situation. He obviously still pursues you sexually and you say that he’s a great husband. Your fears may not be about what is really happening but what you fear will happen. One thing you may ask him about is whether or not he’s bringing his arousal back to you. Is he masturbating to this material or is he making you the beneficiary. Can he talk to you about his getting turned on? Some couples I know will both get turned on by pornography but will share the fantasies so that it’s finally brought back into the relationship. That’s not my own personal style but different couples will mutually configure their sexual boundaries in different ways. I don’t know if this helps but it’s the best I can offer. – Bryce Kaye

Mary from Andover, Ma

Q: Hi, I have an ongoing problem between myself and my husband. He never seems to want to have sex, or have an intimate relationship with me. I love him very much and feel that there is a lack of physical expression of our love. This has made me feel hurt, ugly, and rejected. I have tried broaching the subject often over the past year and a half. Asking that we at least set aside 1/2 hour in a week to have some type of close intimate contact even if it doesn’t lead to sex. This has not happened. It has been going on long enough now that I am at a loss. When I bring it up he withdraws, gets angry or upset and says he does not want to talk about it. He withdraws even farther. I am more upset because I know he has sexual desires. They just don’t seem to relate to me. He looks at porn on the internet at least five times a week, but can’t be bothered to look at me. It makes me feel as though I am repulsive or something. It is very hard for me because I do believe he loves me. He tries very hard in all other areas of our relationship. But, we just can’t seem to work through this. I have an appointment to go to a counselor with him. But, that is a week and a half away. In the meantime I feel depressed, withdrawn, and unimportant. I don’t want to start in again until I go to talk with the counselor with him. But, I can’t stop dwelling on this problem. Any suggestions? Thanks.

A: Mary. You’re on a good path. With something like this you need to confront your partner until you and he get some objective help. In the meantime, tell yourself that this is not about your sexuality or lovability. If he won’t talk about it and if he’s diverting into pornography, you have some indicators that he has a problem that he’s mismanaging. Good luck.- Bryce Kaye

Dave from Landing, NJ

Q: Hello, I have been separated for 14 mo’ now and I still don’t understand my wife’s way of thinking. To get to the point, she stopped having sex with me well before we were separated. She would get angry when I complimented her on her looks. She used to talk to other men (while i was in the house) and she swears she has never cheated on me. I’ve asked if she ever feels like getting intimate. She says no. I asked if she thinks other men want to date her to have sex. She also says no. More things have went on but I have no real proof for closure. This may be the answer though. She says she was raped at age 15, but she says she’s gotten over it. Is it possible for her to have some sort of mental breakdown so far into our marriage?- or is she cheating on me? I would really like some suggestions to this problem to try to set my mind at ease. Thank you very much for reading this and I hope to hear from your comments. Sincerely, Dave.

A: Dave. I is unlikely that she is having any “mental breakdown” from that remote history of being raped. Sometimes that happens but it looks much different than what you describe. It’s also very possible that this is not about an affair but about something else. If you both are still communicating with each other, I would suggest that you ask her the following: Did she feel that you were focused too much on sex while not being sufficiently interested in her thoughts and feelings? If she answers “yes”, ask her to elaborate more without arguing with her. You might get some very useful information. – Bryce Kaye

Kimberly from Chicago, Il

Q: There is a big age difference between my husband and I. I am 30 and my husband is 53. Our problems revolve around several issues. One being, he likes to be home and rest. He sleeps a lot. I on the other hand like to go out and do things. I also have an 11 yr old daughter who I like doing things with. How can we work this out? Sex is also an issue. I am sexually active. I enjoy it a great deal. My husband has a problem with keeping it up. We tried Viagra. it gives him a severe headache. What do we do?

A: Kimberly. You compromise the best you can. What you describe may be natural consequences to a 23 year age difference. His energy level is going to naturally conflict with yours. The only other thing you can do is to plan activities together when you know his energy level is higher. For example, you may plan going out together on Saturday mornings and afternoons while leaving evenings for home. Regarding your husband’s sexual problem, I have no suggestion. It sounds like he has appropriately sought medical help. The next step is his physician’s call. Sorry. – Bryce Kaye

Marie from Pensacola, Fl

Q: My husband and I ceased to have sex while I was pregnant. (It was a nasty, uncomfortable pregnancy, unplanned, with a great deal of fighting.) We fought about it for over a year after the baby was born – I worked full-time, parented full-time, and if I had a choice between sex and sleep, sleep would win every time. My husband told me I had a problem and it was up to me to fix it. I got lots of advice, from a counselor as well as other parents, and eventually settled on the “just do it” methodology, which worked a couple of times. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and he won’t sleep with me. I asked him why not long ago, I told him that I felt like this might be motivated by spite – he started a huge argument where he made a number of ultimatums about my not quitting my job, my not home-schooling our child, etc., but he never actually answered the question. He has back-pedaled on the point of the argument, saying that it was only about allowing him the resources to go back to school. Any suggestion for what I should try next?

A: Marie. It sounds as if you have some unsettled business. If he’s giving you ultimatums, he’s involved in a power struggle with you. Forget about focusing on sex while this is played out – and don’t injure yourself again by the “just do it” methodology unless you really do want it. In the meantime, see if you can get him (and yourself) to write down what you both want from each other so you can begin to negotiate out in the open. – Bryce Kaye

Laurie from Utah

Q: My husband and I have been married for 16 years. I am not happy with our sex life – we have sex no more than 2 or 3 times a year and have gone as long as 2+ years without it at all. In addition, there is no kissing, hugging or affectionate touching of any kind. I have asked him many times about this and have many answers. (You snore) – so I went to the doctor, (I don’t want you to get pregnant) – I have been on birth control for more than 16 years, (You go to bed too early) – so I stay up late with him, (I am attracted to your mind more than your body) – I am considered pretty, not overweight, and can’t understand why he would rather go without, even if he is not ‘passionate’ about me. With each answer, I have made every effort to address the situation, but still no affection/sex. I know he is not having an affair. In all other aspects, he is an ideal husband. I have started sleeping on the couch. If I sleep with him, and he does not approach or touch me, it is very upsetting and I cry. He tells me he wants to have sex, but then does nothing about it. By sleeping on the couch, it seems like I am dropping my 1% chance to 0%, but it seems better than the constant disappointment. Please do not suggest that I become the initiator. I have done that plenty of times, and it seems to just reinforce that he NEVER ‘wants’ me. Do you have any advice for me?

A:: Laurie. I would suggest first things first. From the information you’ve provided, I certainly can’t rule out that there may be a physiological problem involved such as testosterone level. I would suggest that a physiological checkup be considered. It sounds as if he will be extremely defensive or reactive but on this one I would suggest that you hang tough. It’s all right to confront him very strongly because he’s not managing the issue responsibly. So, it would be best to 1) confront him to get a physical exam of testosterone levels and 2) confront him to go to a sex therapist with you. He sounds too defensive to try to do this without more professional help. The confrontation would be hard but I think it’s your only way to a constructive solution. – Bryce Kaye

Clara from Newport

Q: How do I tell my husband that I’m not attracted to him sexually?

A: Clara. One way to NOT tell him is to dump it in his lap by blurting it out as if it’s his problem to fix. You have many ways that you can possibly tell him, not just one. – But the way that I like is to present it as: a) a joint problem in the relationship; b) a problem that you’re dedicated to trying to resolve; c) a problem that is not necessarily his but may be yours; and d) a problem that may not be about his sexuality at all but perhaps a result of some emotional dynamics between the two of you that need to be worked out. Good luck. – Bryce Kaye

Chris from Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK

Q: My wife and I have been married 3 1/2 years. When I first met her I cannot say that I was sexually attracted to her to the extent I had been to previous girlfriends but she was a very loving and caring person and I knew she would always be there for me. I somehow hoped that the caring side of the relationship would win out and maybe sexual attraction would not prove to be an issue. However as the years have gone by I have found myself more and more dissatisfied with our sex life – we do make love 2 or 3 times a week but I have very little interest in it and do it more because I know it curbs her anxieties about how I feel about her. January of this year I decided I couldn’t cope with it any more and we agreed to split up. Within a few days I met a woman whom I was very attracted to and we started sleeping together. I had forgotten how wonderful sex could be and talked about settling down with this woman. Not many weeks passed when I realized how much I missed the easy-going, loving, supportive relationship I had with my wife. I broke off the relationship with the new woman and asked my wife if we could try again which she agreed to. I know we need to find a solution to generating a bit of spark and sexual attraction in our relationship to make it work. Somehow she is just “not my type” although most people agree she is very pretty. I feel sure because of the love we have for each other and our desire to make it work that we can find a way to develop this attraction. Any help gratefully received.

A: Chris, you will probably need to get a lot more inventive with you wife to spice things up. Perhaps you both can explore erotic literature to get some new ideas to try out. However, one thing you said is a real killer (of passion). It sounds like you have fallen into a role of managing your wife’s anxiety by placating her with sex. You’ve crossed the sexual “wire” with the responsibility “wire”. That’s a big-time problem because it shorts out passion. Somehow, you need to disengage yourself from having to reassure her. Get sex back into the fun realm and refuse to manage her emotions for her. She needs to be a big girl so that she doesn’t even need to have you constantly loving her or reassuring her. – Bryce Kaye

Mary from Rhinelander, Wi

Q: My husband and I been married for twelve years. My husband is a diabetic. The last two years my husband is having problems performing sexually in the bedroom. Where he no longer wants to make love to me because he gets so upset with himself and how his body has failed him. He stopped kissing me and holding me in his arms and it has been years since I heard the words I love you from him. I give him a hug and he does not give me one back. I tell him I love him often, and I don’t get a response back from him. Lately he been so quiet and not talking to me and I try to get him to open up and talk to me and he tells me I am nagging him. Lately I have been so frustrated and unhappy about not getting the loving attention from my husband. I miss making love to my husband so bad I can’t get sex off my mind. I am so frustrated that I am giving up on my husband and I am thinking of having affair, just to make my self happy. I don’t want to leave my husband because he cannot give me love, but I know I cannot live like this any longer without that attention from a man. My husband does not want to get help from a doctor. He has lost all interest in making love to me, and he says if I love him, I should not have to have sex to make myself happy. What do I do to makes myself happy?

A: Mary. Go to the section of the Marital First Aid Kit that deals with unequal sexual desire. See if your husband will read it along with you and then discuss it together. You both need to get the emphasis off of intercourse and develop other sensual and erotic alternatives for satisfying you that that can relieve him of so much performance responsibility. There may be other dimensions to his avoidance of you that may not be related to sex but there’s now way for me to know from my distance. Hope this helps. PS: Don’t have an affair. – Bryce Kaye

Kimberly from Apex, NC

Q: What would make my husband not want to be the advancer in our love-making? He never wants to touch me or try to please me. He even watches TV during this time. It makes me feel as though he doesn’t have any feelings for me. It seems to be more a chore than love. I’m having trouble dealing with my ability of being a good wife. I have a much higher sex drive than he does. He would rather watch playboy and be by himself than have me. I feel as though he doesn’t find me attractive anymore. But I’m by no means an Unattractive person. Help??? KIM

A: Kim. I’m not able to read you husband’s mind from here. I suggest that you ask him directly. Also, check out the section of the Marital First Aid Kit dealing with unequal sexual interest. There are some suggestions there. Also, don’t shame yourself by settling for scraps. If your husband is watching TV or is otherwise distracted, don’t do it. The pleasure isn’t worth the shame that comes with it in such circumstances. – Bryce Kaye

Steven from Dallas, Tx

Q: My wife and I have been married for 9 years. We have two children ages 4 and 7. Our sexual life has been rather discouraging to the both of us ever since the beginning. She would prefer to have sex once maybe twice a week and me every night. Recently I convinced her to try a schedule so that we would make love then have two days off. Perhaps this may have worked; however, over time she started to just go through the routine with little enthusiasm. I couldn’t take anymore and practically had a nervous breakdown. I told her for 9 years our sexual relationship has been controlled by her. I asked her to try it my way and she agreed. We now have sex every night. So shouldn’t I be happy? Well I guess I would; however, I now feel bad for expecting this from her every night. I asked her recently how she felt about this and her response was, “I’m doing this for you, that means I care about you.” This really tore me up inside because she doesn’t have respect for me. If I give in and do things her way I would go back to my sleepless nights and depressive state. If I continue then I’ll never win her love and admiration. We both agreed that there was no way we could both be satisfied. She said it doesn’t bug her to give in to my needs. So my dilemma. I feel there’s no way out. That there’s no answer to the problem. Overall we get along pretty good; however, I still have this insecure feeling. She won’t go to a marriage counselor. So, is there some text book solution to this dilemma, or are we going to be cursed for the rest of our lives????

A: Steven, there’s a solution for you folks in the Marital First Aid Kit. Look up the section under unequal sexual desire. You are committing a classic mistake by trying to schedule intercourse. Your wife may be unaware that she is damaging her own sexuality by committing intercourse to a schedule. If you persist in this, both of you will have more problems in the future. Never, ever ever make intercourse a responsibility. You can schedule times for closeness and sensuality to see what happens, but never obligate either party to actual intercourse. I have some question about your needing intercourse every day as well. Do you get anxious when you don’t get it? Is there any compulsive quality to your having to have sex so frequently? – Something to look at. In the meantime, read about one possible solution in the Marital First Aid Kit. – Bryce Kaye

Toni from San Diego, Ca

Q: I HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR ALMOST 3 YEARS AND HAVE RECENTLY HAD A BABY. BEFORE BECOMING PREGNANT, MY HUSBAND AND I HAD AN ACTIVE SEX LIFE. BUT SINCE I BECAME PREGNANT AND HAD THE BABY, IT IS ALMOST NON EXISTENT. I ASK HIM WHAT IS THE REASON AND THE ANSWERS ARE ALL SO LAME. WHAT DO YOU THINK IT COULD BE? I FEEL LIKE I AM UNDESIRABLE BECAUSE OF THE WEIGHT GAIN ETC… PLEASE HELP!!!!

A: Toni. Like I must tell so many others, we’re not very good at guessing what’s going on in another’s head. Sure it might be the weight gain. But, it might also be that you are now interacting with each other while in parental emotional states. Before, you were lovers. Now, with all the child-care responsibilities, you may not be keeping your lover roles sufficiently protected from your parenting roles. Think about it. When we’re in a highly responsible state such as when we’re parenting, then we are less fun and appear less like a “lover” to our spouse. In short, parenting is a turn-off! The sex life for many couples often deteriorates after the first child because the couple may be only relating while they have to watch the child. Do you and he have any time out alone anymore? Now more than ever, the quality of your relationship may depend upon how you can plan privacy and time to be a free and fun-loving couple again (without the child). I’m talking about emotional intimacy, not just sex. Remember, really good foreplay starts emotionally a week in advance. – Bryce Kaye.

Michael from Pittsburgh, Pa

Q: MY WIFE AND I HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR 18 M0NTHS. PRIOR TO MARRIAGE OUR SEX LIFE WAS BETTER THAN GREAT. IT HAS DWINDLED IN FREQUENCY AND PASSION SINCE OUR WEDDING. BOTH OF US ARE INTERESTED IN FINDING SOME KIND OF WORKSHOP TO FACILITATE IN RESTORING THE PASSION AND OPENNESS IN OUR RELATIONSHIP. WE BOTH ARE DEEPLY IN LOVE AND COMMITTED AND AREN’T QUITE SURE WHEN OR HOW SEX GOT TO BE SO COMPLICATED. PLEASE HELP!!!!

A: Michael. Go to www.pairs.com. They’re probably the best workshop around for couples . At that website, find out where there’s a workshop program near you. It’s expensive but worth it. Good luck. – Bryce Kaye

Crystal from Spokane, Wa

Q: Dear Doctor, I have been married for almost two years now, and I feel as if my marriage was doomed from the beginning. My husband cheated on me in the start, but I have forgiven him and that is now in the past. The new problem is me, I am pregnant with our third child and I feel so very unattractive. My husband says that I look great, but he spends hours on the computer looking at naked young women. And it makes me feel that he won’t want to look at me after seeing the young, beautiful, skinny, women. I have talked to him and he says I still come to bed with you, but doctor, that is all he does is come to bed. There is no sexual intimacy anymore. not even the holding and cuddling that we use to do. Is this all in my head as he suggests? Or do I have a valid point and should I be worried?

A: Crystal, I don’t think you should be “worried” – how about concerned. No, it probably is not just inside your head. As you describe it, you’re missing out on cuddling and sex. Neither do I think you need to make your husband’s pornography fetish the issue. You have a more important issue to address: the quality of your relationship. I would recommend that you try to talk to him about that first before confronting him about the pornography. Even though I do not personally encourage people to spend hours focusing on pornography, pornography in itself will not distract a person from sexual interest in their partner. There are many men who enjoy pornography – and their sexual partner as well. Try to invite your husband to talk with you about how he really feels about your pregnant body. You need to be prepared for a painful answer that might indicate his own emotional shortcomings. Remember, if he is so concrete that he can’t appreciate the beauty a woman carrying his child, it’s his shortcoming not yours. At least if you can get him to talk about his feelings, and if he finds you more accepting of them, then he might be less defensive and be willing to explore some alternatives with you. If you attack him or he feels you might attack him, then his sexual interest will wane all the more. – Bryce Kaye

Pam from Syracuse, NY

Q: 5 kids, finances, and high expectations on my part because i love to hug kiss and cuddle as well as tell each other how much we mean to each other. He just expects me to know and be happy with it. He is a wonderful husband and father. But I lack the emotional fulfillment and lots of times we have no sexual relationship. I feel a wall building and can’t stand it. We talk all the time, but I need more to keep me going. I know he’s tired, so am I. EFFORT counts! Can’t afford a vacation and no one wants to baby sit. What now? He says everything is fine. Am I just whining here?

A: Pam. You may be whining but I don’t doubt that there’s pain underneath the whining. However, be careful. Pain does not give you a moral mandate to demand that he feel differently and want what you want when you want it. You can only invite him. It may also be true that you may have some emotional schemas that may be hurting you (such as abandonment) that may not be his responsibility. It may or may not be old stuff. You could get a copy of Jeffrey Young’s book “Reinventing Your Life” to help evaluate the nature and source of your pain. Meanwhile, read the Marital First Aid Kit’s discussion about unequal sexual interest. You can print out that section and discuss it with your husband to see what he’s willing to try. There would be some relief for him in not feeling the anxiety that he has to perform for you. You may also need to plan for intimate conversation for specific times after the kids are all in bed. For example, taking a bubble bath together has a way of stripping away a lot of the airs of our adult responsibility roles. Try it. – Bryce Kaye

Carol from Hattiesburg, Missisippi

Q: After 5 years of marriage, I am no longer physically attracted to my husband. Once this happens is there any way to regain the attraction? I find that I don’t want a physical relationship at all with him. I love him and enjoy our friendship but we have been separated for 10 months now and I am still not even tempted to be physical with him. Our divorce will be final in a matter of days, but if there were any hope to regain my physical desire to be with him, I would put a stop to the divorce. Any advice?

A: Carol, I have questions about why you would completely lose physical attraction. It is natural that some loss of attraction occurs as novelty wears off and the person becomes all too familiar. However, a vibrant relationship would generate it’s own novelty and excitement even after many years. My guess is that both of you do not know how to be very creative within the relationship to keep it emotionally alive. Loving him as a friend is not the same thing as finding him exciting as a separate, intelligent, vibrant being. Most long-term sexual interest is kept alive not by togetherness, but by separateness – the separateness of identity and will. If the two of you had lost that sense of exciting separateness from each other, then loss of sexual attraction naturally follows. It’s not so much a physical phenomenon as a psychological one. A good marital therapist could help. – Bryce Kaye