Boomerangst: Turning Dilemmas into Discoveries – Resolving Battles in the Bedroom

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Sometimes sex becomes more work than play. Here, advice for when desires differ.

Q. I’m 65 and my wife is 67. For the last four years she says she’s lost most of her libido. We’ve had discussions about positions, frequency, and motivations. There are no physical problems in terms of pain. Some dryness is normal but her hormone therapy (she’s STILL menopausal) does provide some wetness and a lubricant takes care of the rest.  I’d like sex at least once a week. She initially agreed, but now says twice a month would suit her better. I have to say that having sex with a woman with no libido is very frustrating. Even with Viagra, I sometimes can’t have an orgasm if she’s so obviously not ‘into it’. On the contrary, when, on occasion, she is interested, I don’t even need Viagra. I know there isn’t a magic pill for women. We’ve been happily married for over 40 years but to have such a dismal sex life indicates a bleak future in this area. Any suggestions?

— Bob, Maple Ridge, B.C.

A. This is a big issue and not easily solved. And it’s not as simple as you want more and she wants less. But one thing is certain, according to Vancouver-based sexologist Renee Lanctot. “The earlier you deal with it the easier it will be to get out of the avoidance cycle – which can eventually destroy a marriage.”

If you both wanted sex just once a year and were both content with that, there’d be no problem, as Renee points out. But when desires differ – which is the number-one complaint where sex is concerned – well, that’s different. Other predictors of sexual dysfunction include when sex becomes more work than play, when touching always leads to sex, it always happens at the same time, in the same place and in the same way, or if one person feels pressure to have sex.

According to Renee, a sexless marriage is defined as having sex 10 or less times a year (and 15 to 20 per cent of couples fit into this category). Low sex is considered 25 or fewer times a year (another 15 per cent fit into this group). The North American average is 1.3 times a week so you’re not out of the ball park with your desires.

The thing is, you can’t put the blame on your wife – nor can she blame you. Renee says if you’re going to solve this problem “you must become an intimate team and fight the common enemy together.” First you have to rule out any contributing factors, such as mental health issues (depression, for example), other general health issues like diabetes, excessive stress, or even secrets either of you are keeping from one another. “There’s a lot you have to look at and there is no simple solution.”

Renee also advocates seeking professional help. Even a few sessions can help point you in the right direction, she says.

“Sex always starts in your head – you have to want to have sex. And it’s also something you have to continually work at. It always requires time and energy – but fun energy.”

Send Diane a brief description of your dilemma, along with your first name and where you live, to [email protected]

A professional journalist for more than 25 years, Diane Sewell has written for some of the top newspapers and magazines in Canada and is a baby boomer herself. Her new blog “Boomerangst: Turning Dilemmas into Discoveries” is interactive with readers and focuses on life issues – like aging, dating, second marriages, sex, death, family and fashion. Diane will use her expertise to find the right expert to help solve your predicament, unearthing kernels of truth and quickly getting to the heart of the issue.