I haven’t had sex with my wife in months!

Dear Dr. Milrod:

I haven’t had sex with my wife in months. It’s driving me crazy. My wife would rather sit in front of the computer e-mailing friends than having sex with me. I refuse to force her to have sex, she has the right to refuse, but don’t I have rights too? Should I threaten her and tell her that if she doesn’t want to have sex with me, then I will find someone who does? Do I accuse her of “cheating” on me? What to do? I am going out of my mind!


Going Nuts No Pun Intended

Dear Going Nuts No Pun Intended:

Indeed, this is the universal bugaboo of disparate sex drives between the genders. It’s what sex therapists deal with in the treatment room on a regular basis, and it is the scenario played out in bedrooms from Cleveland to Calcutta every night. The reasons for it are complex, hard-wired and, according to some, highly debatable. I’m in the evolutionary camp, hence I believe there are lots of reasonable factors as to why men have higher sex drives than women on the whole. But you’re not asking for reasons, you’re asking for a solution. So…What to do? It’s up to you. I am always an advocate of having an open, frank and in-depth discussion with the other party. It’s no different than the Camp David peace talks or hammering out a solution for tearing down the Berlin Wall.

What you have said in this posting can also be told to your wife, in a kind and non-blaming way. Try to find out from her why it seems that she’d rather email her friends than get hot and heavy with you. Explain to her, in a calm manner, that you are extremely frustrated. Ask her if having disparate sex drives bothers her. Ask her if she has even perceived that there is a problem. Maybe she is oblivious of your entreaties because she is so focused on other things? In any case, get a discussion going. Let her come up with a solution. You have been battling your feelings around this issue for so long – now let her carry the burden of coming up with a way of interacting sexually that will be fair and equitable to the both of you. Couples to take time to negotiate their sex lives. Just like you take time to negotiate who takes the kids to school, who takes out the trash, and who pays the bills.

Of course it’s difficult to get involved in re-constructing a sex life. We are taught that it should come naturally, just like when we first meet someone and everything is so damn erotic. But it doesn’t work that way. After a few years, Eros takes his neurotransmitter highs and moves on to strike the next unsuspecting couple, all in the name of procreation. And we’re left with feelings of deepened love, but also holding a bag of sexual frustration in either direction. Eros cruel trick has been played on us mortal fools!

Marriage is a collaborative union that needs constant work. You can ignore the matter and hook up with girlfriends, mistresses, etc. But if you want it to work, you’ll have to put in the time. And that includes discussions about everything, even sex. So stand up for your rights and bring them to the bargaining table. If you really want more sex from her, see what she wants from you. And then work out a mutually satisfying plan. Tough? You bet! Worth it? To those who want a truly fair, equitable and happy marriage – yes.

Christine Milrod, Ph.D.

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