By: Elle Stanger – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
Q: My husband doesn’t want to have sex nearly as often as he used to. I initiate most of the time and often times he’s too tired or seems uninterested. He’s been to the Doctor, he’s not on any meds, there’s nothing medical we can pinpoint.
He says he is still attracted to me but he doesn’t act like it. It’s hard not to take it personally.
A: Good for you two for going to the doctor! Erectile issues can be the first sign of circulation issues that lead to heart attack or death, and nervousness around talking about boners prevents a lot of folks from being honest with their physicians about what can indicate life-threatening medical concerns.
The overwhelming majority of individuals in monogamous relationships will experience a wane in their sexual excitement after the first six months or year of a relationship, which is one reason I tell folks to not jump into nuptials after a couple months of dating; The rates of spontaneous sexual excitement will change!
Low libido or anorgasmia (inability to orgasm) is common amongst people of all genders, and I would check out this advice that I recently gave to a cis-woman -because these issues around sex aren’t gender specific. I suggest you apply this advice to him as you would to a her.
At this point, I’d say that he might be experiencing increased stress and anxiety around the fact that there is a discrepancy between your libidos and that it is distressing to you: He probably feels like he’s under pressure, and this can be stressful. Many working adults have high levels of stress, which is why low libido in Americans is so common.
A person who is experiencing chronic depression, stress, or anxiety will usually have a very difficult time being interested in sex. This is because the high levels or constant production of these stress related neurochemicals, norepinephrine or cortisol, which aids in our “fight or flight” responses, turns off the sex-necessary chemicals like serotonin and dopamine in the brain. This makes it very difficult to be interested in sex at all.
It can be very depressing, stressful, or anxiety-inducing for a man to feel that he isn’t able to perform for his partner. The pressure of feeling like a disappointment can create a cyclical problem of being unable to initiate sex without being afraid of failure: What if I lose my erection? What if I can’t orgasm? What if she can’t orgasm? And so many people who have these fears don’t even try to have sex, due to fear of creating another negative experience and “making it worse”.
My first suggestion? Offer him a backrub. Yes, JUST a backrub. Good-feeling physical touch between loved ones increases dopamine production in both of your brains. Offer and supply him with loving touch that isn’t sexual for at least a week and see if his happiness improves. When children are sad, we cuddle them. Why would we not cuddle our husbands?
Depending on how long this has been an issue, you can also consider opening up your marriage: partners with mismatched libidos sometimes agree on extra-curricular activities for the partner with the higher libido. I couldn’t stand the thought of my husband touching me sexually within the first year after the birth of our child, and I suggested that he engage in non-monogamous dating and sex, and it was a fabulous way for him to have pleasure and take the focus off of me. If you’re not interested in other people and he doesn’t like that idea, I’ll remind you that this is why people have affairs! To get their needs met and to receive the validation and attention that we all need to feel loved and valued. “Cheating” is often less about hurting the other person and more about the excitement and desire that we miss.
If you’re wanting to stay within the confines of your vows, but he’s not receptive to any kind of stimulation atm, I’d give him a break: Focus on giving yourself pleasure as you can, splurge on a new sex toy, create a ritual for masturbation or self-pleasure, and take charge of your solo-sex life so that you can focus on you without relying on him. “I’m sorry if you’ve felt pressure from me and I’m going to make an effort to pleasure myself this month”, might turn his attitude around. After all, May IS National Masturbation Month.
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