Dear Beth

Sexless marriage

Happiness is: gorgeous wild flowers adorn Ontario meadow

Dear Beth,
I am having a very distressing problem, and I don't know what to do. My husband has not wanted to have sex for months. He insists he is not having an affair. When I suggested that he get treatment he said maybe I am a nymphomaniac and maybe I should get treatment. You can imagine how hurt I felt. He never wanted as much sex as I did, but at least we used to have a sex life. My friend says we should get marriage counselling. Should we? Or does he need psychotherapy? Or do I? How much sex is normal for people in their thirties?

Beth responds: Normal is anywhere from a couple of times a day to a couple of times a month, so many couples are not closely matched in sex drive. When people do not understand this, they may think that there is something wrong with them or their partner. Sometimes disappointment leads to resentment and put-downs. Anger and performance anxiety make lousy aphrodisiacs. A drop in sexual activity can also be caused by an illnesses or medication, so when it happens I recommend a medical check-up.

Marriage counselling can be very helpful in clearing out resentment and misunderstanding so that the fun can come back. If your husband is not interested, however, I would suggest a few counselling sessions for you to get support and to explore what you yourself can do to move the relationship to a better place.

More about sex therapy at help for sexual problems.