In my mid 60s, I don’t find sex as appealing as much as my husband does. It’s a duty I would rather do without. It’s more of an encumbrance than I want it to be. Do all or even some women feel the same way about sex after 60 as I do, or is there something wrong with me emotionally? How do I balance being true to myself with serving the needs of my very patient husband?
I am in general good health, although I have Type 2 diabetes that I control with diet, not medication.
You’re actually not alone when it comes to your lack of sexual desire. Studies show that around 30 percent of women report having little or no desire for sex, even with a loving and committed partner. While there might be physical reasons for this lack of desire, it’s actually more common for women to have emotional and relational reasons for low desire. Still, it’s always a good idea to make sure there are no physical reasons for the drop in desire.
New research by Omri Gillath and Melanie Canterberry shows that women can become aroused just as easily as men, but they have a secondary process going on at the same time that involves judgment and decision making. In other words, most women assess whether or not the situation is physically and emotionally safe before they allow themselves to follow through on desire. The researchers reported: “(Women) are preoccupied with security, which makes sense – sex is simply riskier for them.”
Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with you emotionally or physically, it’s a good idea to take a broader look at how safe you feel in not only your sexual relationship, but also your connection to your husband. I’m not suggesting your marriage is in trouble or that your husband is an ogre. I’m suggesting that when a woman feels emotionally off balance with her husband, it’s nearly impossible to experience meaningful and connecting sexual intimacy.
If your sexual relationship has become a “duty,” then it’s time to slow things down and take a closer look at how you got to that point. Was the “sex as a woman’s duty” an expectation you adopted early in your marriage? Where did that come from? Have there been bad experiences in your sexual relationship that have never been repaired or healed? Has there been any type of emotional or sexual infidelity for either of you in the past? Have you ever felt excitement or anticipation of being physically or sexually close with your husband? If so, what was going on during that time? These are important questions to ask so you can better understand what sex means to you and your husband.
Healthy sexual intimacy in a marriage is more about emotional connection and less about physical techniques. It’s not good for either of you if you keep going through the motions without addressing the negative experience you’re having. You both deserve to take an honest look at the experience you’re each having. Chances are, he’s not having the greatest experience either with you hating it so much.
It might raise the stress level between you as you take a break from the same routine and reevaluate what this part of your relationship is doing to you and him. However, it’s worth it to respect yourself and your marriage enough to get this part right. It’s not too late to lovingly invite your husband to hear what this is like for you and invite him to help you both find a better way to sexually connect.
Sometimes couples have an all-or-nothing mentality about their sex life and hang everything on how well or how often that activity is happening. Instead, I encourage you to back way up and work on the quality of your emotional and nonsexual physical connection with your husband. Do you experience loving and caring touch from him without sexual pressure? Do you feel like he knows and understands your current thoughts, worries, and needs? Do you know his?
The quality of your bond with him is the best place to spend your focus and energy. I highly recommend picking up a copy of Dr. Sue Johnson’s book, “Love Sense,” which will give you a great start in understanding how to improve your bond to your husband.
Want to improve your marriage in a fun and engaging two-day marriage workshop? Geoff will be facilitating a Hold Me Tight marriage workshop in St. George, Utah, February 21-22. Visit www.alliantcounseling.com for more details.
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Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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