When it comes to other people’s sex lives, opinions flow strong and free about how men or women should respond to a partner with little interest in sex, or to one who’s constantly wanting more.
It happened again, when a man wrote me that he’s found a comfortable solution to feeling sex-deprived by a wife whose tiredness and faded libido had reduced their sexual frequency to once or twice a month (May 4).
Previously, he’d been feeling rejected and depressed, impatient with his young kids.
Now, “I’ve consciously lowered my libido to her level… I feel great, more energetic… I’ve stopped bothering her.”
I called it “an intelligent accommodation.” I suggested that it may “create more intimacy, a boosted self-image for you and more respect from her.”
Reader #1– “This relationship has become sterile, asexual. They now sleep in separate beds.
“It’s the path to becoming “roommates”` who share a house and kids, and eventually a separation or divorce.
“Both partners, even under stresses of career and child-rearing, should continue to have some passionate love and mutual desire.
“Sex is a healthy part of marriage, meeting each other’s needs is key too. He castrated his own needs and this marriage seems likely to fail on so many levels, including intimacy.
“I’m a new father of an eight-month-old and my wife and I have the exact issues with juggling double careers and sex.
“I turn to porn and masturbation instead of “bothering” her and we’ve become increasingly distant for it.
“Should I forego my primary marital relationship and focus instead on my son? This would be sad for me.”
Ellie - You are not this man, even though you’re experiencing a similar phase in marital life.
Most couples adjust over time, some sooner than others.
You will, because you’re aware of the situation from the start.
If one partner rejects sex, there should be willingness to have a doctor check for any medical issues, and/or a therapist to discuss any psychological issues.
The writer’s wife was unwilling. That’s unfair. But her position as main breadwinner may’ve affected his acceptance of her decision.
For now, he’s recouping his self-esteem. I strongly believe there’ll be more changes – the children will go to school, he’ll have time for a different focus on himself, and he’ll miss sex again.
Their whole dynamic can change. She’ll have to recognize this – their intimacy and relationship can both improve, or fail completely.
Reader #2 – “After several years of marriage, my wife lost interest in sex, which she found painful.
“She didn't want counselling or to see her doctor, so I realized I’d have to take care of myself.
“For me, sex is only a part of a relationship, and, fortunately, I don't have a strong sex drive.
“But I’m glad my situation is not unique.”
Reader #3 – “It’s not healthy to live in a sexless, platonic marriage for the couple and the family. Your tip of that day: “Not enough sex? Stop keeping score, find common ground. You’ll feel better.”
“How do you feel better with no intimacy?”
Ellie - If it were my life, I'd agree that intimacy of some level, is essential marital lifeblood.
But people write me about their lives and this man claims he's happy with his solution. He didn’t seek my advice, just some reassurance.
Life isn’t static. This is his current coping mechanism.
They still have sex, though very infrequently.
Soon, she may miss being asked for sex by him and start to reach out.
Reader #4 - “You’ve written in the past about couples working together to find a solution to mismatched libidos.
“Here, the writer has done all the work including moving bedrooms, which in my opinion is an extreme, and not necessarily good modeling for the children.
“It’s purely one-sided accommodation. This writer’s previous situation mirrors my own, until painful, but heartfelt discussions in my marriage helped us come to a reasonable accommodation with our mismatched libidos.
“I feel that your advice should’ve included something about couples’ counseling - now that the husband’s comfortable with reduced need for sexual intimacy, there’s a reasonable basis for the wife to start working on her issues to bring her husband back into the marital bedroom.
“And to help alleviate her husband’s concerns that there was something “wrong” with him.”
Ellie – Good point, but she’s avoided therapy. Now, his changes may bring that one about.
Tip of the day:
People love to “solve” others’ sex problems, but many can hardly discuss their own.