Her Man Lost All Interest
Q: After having a big argument 10 years ago, my husband and I tried to make up. Still, sexually nothing happened and we were frustrated to say the least. I understand that these things can happen during times of stress, but my husband took it VERY badly; consequently, we have not had sex for 10 years. I have asked, begged, threatened, cried, but to no avail. He gets defensive and hostile; tells me that he has no interest, nothing 'turns him on', and to get used to it. He says he is in his late 60s and has no desire anymore. When I threatened to go outside of our marriage, he told me to first get a divorce, because he would not tolerate infidelity. His testosterone is within normal levels. Viagra won't do it, because he needs to be interested in the first place. I have to ask for a hug, he goes to bed dressed in PJs, sleeps every night right after dinner. I am at my wits' end. I am not old, still have a healthy sex drive. A peck on the cheek is as good as it gets. Please give me some direction so that I may try and solve this problem, before it is really too late. -- Mary, 62
Dr. Susan: Some people are quitters, and it looks like you married one. Just because he had an incident of dysfunction, he gave up entirely. Men often take their "failures" very seriously, but the resilient ones seek a solution, and most of them find one. There are many reasons your husband may have trouble in bed. Hormone levels you've already had checked, but he may have hardening of the arteries, diabetes, be taking a pill for blood pressure or depression. All of these may cause difficulties. And sometimes, yes, they cause profound enough difficulties that interest is affected as well as ability. Viagra could still help even though he doesn't have much interest, but the two of you would have to come up with ways to get him interested once the pill takes effect. In other words, he'd have to be willing to try.
It's inexcusable that he's totally ignoring your needs. Above all, it seems you want physical affection, and there is nothing in the world preventing that if he still cares about you. He may fear that any sign of affection will somehow lead to the bedroom, and then he will be shown up for a flawed person. I sympathize with your legitimate complaint. Your husband needs a thorough physical work-up, because his fatigue, at least, is not a sign of health. A few sessions with a caring counselor might (only might) help him see that it isn't fair of him to utterly neglect your desire for closeness. It would be very sad to give up on the marriage, but I can see he's driving you crazy with his obstinacy. You have some hard choices to make. Simply going outside the marriage, as you know, won't fulfill the need for genuine affection. Your man needs to wake up, take a walk, find some interests, and act alive. Or what's the point?
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.