Can This Marriage Be Saved? Q&A: I Don't Turn My Husband On Anymore

The same counselors who help the couples you read about in "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" are ready to answer your questions about making your relationship the best it can be. This month, our Contributing Editor, Sondra Forsyth, talks to Scott Haltzman, MD, about a reader's question.
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Q. My husband isn't all that interested in sex any more. Is it my fault? I'm 42 but I look pretty good if I say so myself. I go to the gym and I only weigh about five pounds more than I did before the kids were born. But when I try to get things started, he basically ignores me. He's 45. Is this normal? Is there anything I can do to turn him on again? I'm really frustrated!

A. Men do experience changes in sex drive and performance as they get older, but a healthy man of 45 should not notice any physiological changes yet. That's why I suggest that you start by encouraging your husband to get a checkup in order to find out whether there are any medical conditions such as diabetes or vascular problems that may be interfering with his sex drive. In addition, many medications including antidepressants and drugs to control high blood pressure can impair sexual functioning. Still, the most likely cause of your husband's lack of desire is some combination of stress, exhaustion, and performance anxiety. Often, after a man perceives himself as having failed in the bedroom once, he becomes more and more nervous with each attempt. Sometimes men will simply shut down rather than risk being seen as inadequate. If that's what's going on, you've got to talk about it. Gently let him know that for you, intimacy involves kissing and snuggling and massages, not just the act itself. Take the pressure off and invite him to cuddle and be close without the goal of getting it right. Eventually, he'll relax. As a bonus, you'll have developed a satisfying repertoire of ways to enjoy one another that will enhance your experience in bed whether you actually have intercourse or not.


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