Wife's Not Attracted to Him

Q: I've been married for 18 years and have 5 children. Recently my wife said she is not attracted to me anymore. She says she still loves me but just isn't attracted to me or to anyone else. She wants to have another baby so the only time she wants to have sex is when she thinks she is close to ovulating. I know we're both overweight, but I still find my wife as hot as the day we met. When we do have sex, she makes it seem as if it's a chore. I love my wife but I don't know how much longer I can live like this. Please help! -- Daniel, 43

Dr. Susan: Married 18 years? That probably puts your wife in perimenopause, the years leading up to menopause. Hormones go haywire and sexual interest sometimes changes drastically. From the fact that your wife wants to add yet another child to your brood of five, I suspect she's trying to hang onto her youth and throw herself into mothering a baby once more rather than face the fact of growing older. Not that she's ready for the rocking chair! You still find her desirable after all these years and those extra pounds, and that makes her one of the lucky ones. The irony is that the feeling isn't mutual. It's got to be hard not to take that personally, but when she says she's not attracted to you (i.e., aroused by the mere sight of you), she adds "and not to anyone else either." That's often chemistry talking.

So what are your options? She says she loves you. Ask her to behave lovingly by taking this situation and your unhappiness seriously. First, a visit to a medical doctor to see if there isn't something fixable, like unusually low hormone levels or low thyroid function or depression. Second, see a good therapist for a few sessions to see if you can't find some mutually agreeable compromise. She doesn't have to be "in the mood" every time you make love, but acting as though it's a chore isn't fair either. Maybe if you read a sex book (together?), you could try out a few new moves that might make her see you in a new light. One more tip: It's been found that people who eat right and exercise tend to feel sexier and have better sex lives. Can the two of you embark on a health kick together and see if that affects other areas of your lives? I recommend holding off on having more kids (at least for a while). The whole pregnancy thing usually wreaks havoc on moods and sex lives, and that's the last thing this marriage needs.

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