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Your Call: How Does She Get Hubby to Have Sex More Than Twice a Year?

Mon, Mar 11, 2013

Advice, Dear Em & Lo, Your Call


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We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

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Been married for thirty-six years and when we have sex he is really amazing. The problem is we have sex only once every 1 to 2 years! It has always been sorta few and far between.

This is what really bothers me: he says it has to be when he is ready, when he is in the mood. Believe me, if it was when I wanted it, it would be at least twice a month.

How can I get him to realize that sometimes it makes me feel like my opinions or feelings do not matter to him?

‚ÄĒ Blue Box

What should B.B. do? Let her know in the comments section below.

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6 Responses to “Your Call: How Does She Get Hubby to Have Sex More Than Twice a Year?”

  1. Johnny Says:

    Once every year or two, and it’s been like that for a long time? I hate to say it, but I don’t see this pattern changing. I’d say consider your alternatives.

  2. J Says:

    Im guessing that, since you’ve been married 36 years, you’re both at least in your late 50s. Can you drag him to the doctor for a check up? Low testosterone maybe? But, if it’s not a physical problem then Johnny is probably right unfortunately. Most people don’t have the ability to force their sex drives to change. But a good battery operated boyfriend may help you out!

  3. figleaf Says:

    I’m with J. Invite him to get his hormone levels checked. It’s perfectly normal for a man in his 50s to have drastically less testosterone than he did in his 20s, or even 40s. And while it’s not “normal” it’s not exactly unusual either for it to be below “normal” for someone his age. (50% of everybody’s below average by definition, right?) And libido and testosterone can be pretty closely linked.

    That said, there are a few other factors that can come into the picture for adults in their 50s, men and women:

    1) It’s when a lot of our emotional baggage starts to catch up with us. Turns out the 50s is the “later” we’re referring to when we say thinks like “I can’t think about that right now, I’m going to have to deal with that later.”

    2) Same with health issues. Men are particularly poor at maintaining cardiovascular health and that really starts to catch up with you in your 50s and 60s. Same with alcohol and sugar/high-carb intake. Same with joint and back pain.

    3) To the extent we begin to feel we’re “falling apart” at 50, or 60, or whatever point it hits you, self-esteem issues can go through the roof. Or, I guess I mean, through the cellar floor. This is particularly tough for men since we rarely think of ourselves as being terribly physically attractive to our partners in the first place.

    4) Male libido is often closely tied to our sense of “worthiness.” The 50s are often a time when financial, business, and even interpersonal life can reach sort of a nadir compared to our earlier hopes and dreams. (We’ll tend to perk up and pick something new once we really have to give up our dreams of being a rock star / pilot / whatever it was. But the process of giving it up is hard!) And with our sense of declining worthiness our libidos can go into decline as well.

    5) The 50s and 60s are also a time when relationship stress can become the highest. Kids are out of the house and it can become the “later” for the relationship issues you put off “for the kids” till later.

    6) The 50s is also when normal erectile “dysfunction” can begin rearing its head. Or, I guess, not rearing it. “Loss” of erectile expectation is pretty hard on men not only for reasons 1 – 5, above, but because it defies our — and too often our partner’s — expectations of what men “should” be like that the fear of a repeat performance… ok, ok, non-performance, can become a reinforcing cycle.

    7) Another possibility that I really, really don’t want to sound like it’s your fault or anything: You mentioned you’d be happy to have sex twice a month. And at least for a lot of women that would have been your preference 10 or 20 years ago too… when, for the average man, that would have felt like an eternity to him. The upshot, for him, is that he (and till recently possibly you too) always assumed his libido was the reference: he was always “ready” and waiting for you. Because of that he (and for a long time possibly you) might have a hard time imagining that he’s the one who now needs coaxing, seducing, &etc., that he might be more comfortable providing than receiving. Again, this is not saying anything about your appetite — sexual appetite, like any appetite, can’t be over “stuffed! But if you spent, say, the first 25 years with him trying to, well, over-stuff you, it might take quite a while to overcome that intertia. Especially if…

    8) If you married 36 years ago chances are he’s at least a couple of years older than you and he could be up to a decade older. That’s not a great idea early in a relationship but I think it can be a serious problem later — even if he’s healthy and happy, actuary tables say he’s going to slow down well before you’re ready to!

    9) What with 1 – 9, above, he may be feeling a huge, huge amount of pressure, confusion, even guilt and shame that he’s not able to “please” you the way he probably always has wanted to. And those emotions are terribly incompatible with a healthy libido. (Hey, everybody “knows” men are more physical than emotional, but I don’t know where that comes from — we’re emotional as all can be!) Between his expectations, your disappointment, his disappointment, he may really want to be doing more than he’s letting on… and feeling bad enough about it to make things worse rather than better.

    Finally…

    10) The more infrequently anyone, but particularly men, feel like they’re “on stage,” the harder it is to “perform.” And the more anxiety we can feel when it looks like a little flirtation might turn into something more. As soon as that happens all sorts of self-doubt can come up: “It’s been so long, this had better be good.” And “OMG, is my erection going to… um… peter out? Again?” And so on. Again, pretty much all the criticisms we hear about women’s magazines promoting “performative” sex turns out to be true for older men: when you’re trying to perform sex it’s very hard to actually have sex. Especially if an erection has to play into the mix.

    All in all, those are some of the possible reasons he might be having a hard time letting you back in the saddle with him.

    This is not a trivial or abstract problem for me or men my age. Or our partners. It’s actually pretty important. I’m going to guess that the next step in the “sexual revolution” needs to be developing new narratives and social scripts for all the sexual role reversals that for average heterosexuals begin to appear in our late 40s and one. Because as us boomers start getting past middle age it’s going to be a very big issue. Our parents just didn’t talk about it at all… and suffered in silence like their parents did. Us boomers probably aren’t going to want to go down that way.

    Good luck!

    figleaf

  4. figleaf Says:

    Oof! Long comment. Sorry!

    fl

  5. Don Says:

    I am sorry, all I can come up with is WTF?

    You both have missed out on so of a great thing with being partners with someone.

  6. Rose Says:

    Figleaf, that was such a kind and helpful post, my goodness! You offered up a really helpful and personal perspective, and totally shattered a lot of my preconceived notions. :) Well done!


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