His Wife Says No More Sex

Q: My wife (50) recently became very busy and stressed out at work. We both work and share the household chores, for the most part. My job is less stressful than hers, but I have a long commute. Anyway, about three months ago, she was at her wits' end with her job demands and declared that we were not going to have sex anymore. She hated it and "just couldn't do it anymore." Until now we have had an OK sex life, though she considered it a "chore." She always knew it meant a lot to me, so I suppose she just put up with it. I haven't asked for sex now for three months, and I try to be as cooperative as possible to help her through her difficult time at work, but I am getting a bit frustrated. — Sam, 48

Dr. Susan: It would probably have been easier if you both hadn't let your sex life feel like a chore to your wife for so long. It's going to take some effort on both your parts to undo that impression. First of all, feeling that stressed out from work takes a toll on anyone's body and mind. I suppose you've tried every way you can to help her deal with that, especially by helping her learn to leave work stress at work. Have you been giving her full-body massages to help with the stress and to relax her? People often don't realize how much they miss plain old affectionate touching that isn't guaranteed to turn into sex.

She may be going through menopause at this time also, which doesn't help either her libido or her ability to withstand stress. Some couples with such a wide disparity in libido have worked out ways to manage, such as getting intimate when he wants to, but in a way that she chooses. Have you talked about why she hates sex? Is it the time it takes, or is there physical discomfort, or is she left frustrated afterwards? Lubricants may help. Some confident couples even swear by a tit-for-tat arrangement: you do this for me and I'll do whatever you want for you, and the tat doesn't have to be erotic in nature.

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