You're lying in bed bumping up against that body next to you, seething with hurt and anger. You haven't been touched or reached for in more months than you care to count. You've gone through the typical exercises of seduction, friendship and caring, only to have been rejected and thwarted again and again. Your mind has assessed all of the possibilities: is there someone else, another woman, a lack of desire or is it loss of love? Bruised and hurt, you withdraw and the situation now becomes distant and lonely.
You are not alone! This story repeats itself in many bedrooms all across America. Your natural impulse is to blame yourself. What am I doing wrong? What can I do right? But just as we can never make anyone love us, we can't make someone want to have sex.
So, what can you do?
The root of the problem
First, you have to find out the cause. What are the reasons your man has stopped having sex with you? Don't play "the blame game." If you find yourself rejected and in a sexless marriage or relationship without touching, hugging or kissing, without the comfort of the words "I love you," it may not have anything to do with you. Believe it or not, there are over 20 million marriages in the United States just like yours.
One thing you can do when you find yourself in this situation is to go with your husband or mate to a medical doctor to discover whether or not his lack of desire is tied to a medical issue. Possible medical reasons for a low sex drive include:
1. He may be experiencing low testosterone, which is a normal result of aging. This can cause a loss of libido.
2. He may be depressed or under undo stress at work, in which case he may be over-reaching for alcohol, caffeine or drugs, all of which can effect sexual drive and performance.
3. He may be physically ill or on anti-depressants, as well as prostate medicine, all of which can affect erectile function.
4. He may have developed a sexual disorder that could be related to a traumatic sexual event in his past that is now surfacing through the intimacy of marriage or relationship.
5. Excessive exercise may be the culprit, a syndrome that can mirror anorexia and bulimia and may affect sexual desire.
6. He may be watching porn and therefore masturbating, lowering his own sexual function.
7. And finally, sleep deprivation can be your problem. For instance, if you are getting less sleep because you and your mate are experiencing emotional difficulties or you are the parents of a new baby.
However, after talking openly with your partner, you may discover that your sexual issues are more emotional:
1. He may be angry with you over some perceived event or experience. For example, perhaps you've gained weight and he believes you no longer care about being attractive to him.
2. He may feel that you are over-controlling and hypercritical, and has shut down in an effort to push back.
3. He may be bored. As the saying goes, "familiarity breeds contempt," as you and your partner get into a sex routine that may cause you to take each other for granted.
4. And you can't overlook the real possibility that your mate is bored of having sex with you because he is really interested in having sex with someone else... a rationale that frees him from being faithful.
5. Finally, husbands and lovers who have problems with intimacy often put space and distance between them and you when they find themselves in a committed relationship, which can make them feel vulnerable.
If you can relate to any of the above listed problems, what can you do about?
• The first thing you must do is acknowledge that you have a problem and recognize what that problem really is.
• Communication is key and though you may find it embarrassing and even humiliating, it is important to speak your truth to your mate.
• Counseling, including seeing a sex therapist, can help you get to the root of your problem and reconnect with your mate.
• Sometimes, you can improve your sex life simply through sensate focus. By learning how to touch your partner in a pleasing way, you can revitalize the romance of foreplay, which, by the way, begins way before the bedroom and has everything to do with the small kindnesses you show to your mate.
• And though sex therapy is usually short in duration, approximately eight or nine sessions, you can benefit greatly from it by learning to communicate your sexual interests and fantasies while hearing your mate's.
• Counseling can also help teach you and your mate how to communicate about sex initiation including your feelings and resentment, from the rejection of sexual avoidance.
• Another simple strategy that can come from sex therapy is helping you and your mate prioritize sex, rather than letting exercise, children and social encounters override your intimacy and romance.
• Personal hygiene can also be addressed in professional counseling sessions and is the easiest problem for you and your mate to solve. Paying attention to your appearance, breath and body odor can express to your partner that he counts and you care.
• And a medical professional can identify if erectile dysfunction is your mate's problem. If it is, a doctor can prescribe any number of drugs that can improve erectile function.
Remember, relationships are messy and complicated. So when you discuss these tender issues with your mate, it is important to follow my empathic process. This can lead you to not only your story, but allows you to listen to your partner's without defense. Nothing happens in a vacuum, and by staying engaged rather than retreating and pulling away, you have your best chance to really experience emotional intimacy with your partner.
Finally, if all your attempts at solving your problems fail and your relationship is polarized beyond repair, you always have the choice to leave. If you choose divorce, you should continue with a professional counselor, to help you heal these marital wounds and not repeat this mistake again.