I’m 49. My husband is 56. I’ve initiated most of our sex, and that’s been frustrating because I rarely feel desired (though he tells me he wants me). Well, these past six months or so, he’s turned me down a lot more–and it’s driving me crazy. If he wants me as he says he does, why won’t he do anything about it? All I want is sex once a week or so. Is that too much to ask? I should mention that he’s healthy. It’s getting to the point where I’m resenting him and when we have sex, I just don’t enjoy it very much. How can I when in subtle and not-so-subtle ways he lets me know that he’s just doing it to shut me up. I thought men were into sex. Not my husband. Help!


  • Michael Castleman says:

    My sympathies. Chronic desire differences drive BOTH spouses crazy. The one who wants more sex typically feels rejected, unloved, confused, angry, and unattractive. Meanwhile, the one who wants less sex typically feels guilty, unloved, confused, and resentful of being turned into a sex object besieged by seemingly relentless sexual demands. In most marriages, it’s the man who wants more sex. But my informal survey of sex therapists shows that about one-third of the time, it’s the woman who has more libido.

    There’s no sure cure for a desire difference, but sex therapists have developed a program that usually reduces mutual resentments and restores good will. It involves (1) honestly stating how often each of you would like to make love, then (2) agreeing on a compromise frequency, and (3) scheduling sex dates in advance reflecting your compromise frequency. Compromising means that you won’t get sex as often as you’d like. It also means that your husband will have sex more often than he’d like. But marriage involves mutual accommodation, and sex is part of that. The alternative is festering resentments that can poison the relationship.

    Now the one with less libido always objects to scheduled sex saying, “If we have a sex date scheduled, what if I’m not in the mood?” Sex therapists reply that scheduled sex means an end to the harassment so many lower-libido spouses feel. You have sex ONLY when it’s scheduled. In exchange for relief from nightly entreaties (Tonight? Tonight?), it’s not a huge sacrifice to psyche oneself up for lovemaking X times a month. Meanwhile, the one with more libido calms down. That person knows there WILL BE sex regularly, not as often as that person would like, but often enough to maintain reasonably relationship peace.

    A real benefit of scheduling is the return of nonsexual affection to the relationship, something both spouses often miss. Kissing, hugging, and cuddling are typically casualties of a desire difference. The lower-libido spouse stops responding to any affection for fear of misleading the higher-libido spouse into thinking he/she might get lucky. But with scheduled sex, nonsexual affection returns because both spouses know they will have sex ONLY when it’s scheduled.

    For more on this issue, read “You Never Want To.” “You’re Insatiable.” How Sex Therapists Recommend Overcoming Desire Differences. And if the article doesn’t suffice, I would urge you to consult a sex therapist. To find one near you, visit the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists or the Society for Sex Therapy and Research.

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