Dear Doctor George...

When my wife and I make love, it is very satisfying for us both. The problem is that she’s happy with once a week while I prefer almost every day. In the beginning of our relationship we didn’t have this problem, but now my wife tells me she was having sex more often than she wanted just to please me. I’ve talked to her about it but that’s gotten us nowhere. I find this situation very frustrating.

... Sexually Frustrated Husband




Dear A Sexually Frustrated Husband...

Sex is an essential part of marriage, so it’s understandable that you’re frustrated by your wife’s reducing the amount of sex. It’s difficult when one person in a relationship makes a unilateral decision to change something this important. It can feel like false advertising when things change after marriage.

People’s sexual drives can go through changes caused by aging, medications, diet, stress and a multitude of other factors. When couples differ in sexual desire, it may help to talk it out in a non-pressuring way. The goal should be understanding one another's feelings without one person trying to manipulate or guilt-trip the other.

In your discussion, there are a number of possible questions you might want to consider. Doctor George is only bringing up some possibilities, so you’ll have to decide which of these are appropriate.

Have your wife’s feelings for you changed for some reason? Could it be that she is angry or unhappy about something and withholding sex as a punishment? She may not be conscious of this change herself, but her behavior may communicate it. You and she could examine this.

The fact that your wife says she was having sex more than she wanted, but didn’t tell you, raises question about the quality of communication in your marriage. Did she feel that you were not open to this conversation? Or, was there some other reason she kept silent? Are there are matters not being discussed?

Conversely, it could be that your wife now feels comfortable, enough to not fake sexual desire (as she apparently did in the beginning). As people get more comfortable with each other, their true natures tend to emerge. If your wife is now acting like she really feels, it might indicate a more genuine relationship. Consistent with this is your statement that when you do make love you both enjoy it.

Another possible issue to consider is whether your wife feels you’ve treated her like a sex object, disconnecting sex from love, something that is usually distasteful to women. (Men are often able to engage in merely physical sex more easily than women.) So you’d want to investigate the level of romance in your relationship. Are you sensitive to her mood and feelings, or do you say things like, “Hey, are we going to do it tonight?” If so, it is time to revise your communication skills and work on recreating the romance in your relationship.

Men may define success in marriage as having more sex, whereas the overall quality of the relationship can be more important to women. Men and women both need to ask themselves what they believe having more or less sex says about their marriage.

In that same vein, you might ask yourself if your need to have sex, as frequently as you desire, is a way to reassure yourself, instead of it being an expression of your love for your wife. You may be thinking that the more often she’ll have sex with you the more she loves you. If you have insecurity about your relationship, it puts undue pressure on the other person. Taking the pressure off might involve sometimes being affectionate without having to complete the sex act.

You said it has gotten you nowhere to talk about the problem. If talking doesn’t lead to a resolution, then it can be a good idea to consult a marital therapist. A therapist could potentially help unravel the issues, perhaps leftovers from earlier experiences in your lives that are coming up now, for example.

Doctor George hopes you can work this problem out and resume a mutually satisfying sex life.

   Doctor George