I am a 53-year-old woman and I have much less interest in sex than my husband. This has been going on for quite some time. None of my doctors seem to understand the toll this has taken on my marriage. I need some serious help before my husband ends up divorcing me after a 30-year relationship. He has just one thing on his mind. Is there an answer for me? Please help. I don’t know where else to turn.

Responses

  • Michael Castleman says:

    Your problem is not at all unusual. In fact, desire differences rank as one of the most frequent reasons couples seek sex therapy. Desire differences can drive couples crazy—as you know. The one who wants more sex feels unloved, while the one who wants less feels beleaguered by constant sexual demands.

    Ironically, in many couple with desire differences, sexual desire, per se, is not the issue, or not the only issue. The unspoken issue is usually power, or perceived lack of it. Both people feel powerless and victimized, infuriated that the other is asserting such dominance over them by controlling sex. The person who wants more sex feels that he (or she) must beg, plead, and grovel before an omnipotent partner who has the power to say “no.” The person who wants less sex feels that she (or he) must fend off an omnipotent partner who incessantly demands “now.” Sex therapists often ask couples in the throes of serious desire differences: “Which one of you is in charge of your sex life?” Inevitably, each partner points to the other–and each one is shocked to learn that their spouse believes they have the power when they feel they have no power at all.

    To work out desire differences, it’s important for both partners to acknowledge that they each make the other feel powerless. That changes the social equation from: “You’re doing this to me, you creep,” to “We’re doing this to each other, and how can we reach a mutual accommodation we can both live with?”

    I suggest that you begin by reading the article “You’re Insatiable.” “You Never Want To.” How Sex Therapists Recommend Overcoming Desire Differences. It may help you negotiate a compromise you can both live with.

    But because this problem has poisoned your marriage for quite a while, I suspect that the article alone may not be enough. If that’s the case, then I urge you to try a few months of sex therapy. To learn what sex therapy involves, read the article An Intimate Look At Sex Therapy. A sex therapist will not urge you to want more sex, nor your husband to want less. The therapist will help you both resolve your anger and resentment, and help you come up with a sexual frequency you can both live with.

    To find a sex therapist near you, visit the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, or the Society for Sex Therapy and Research, or the American Board of Sexology.

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