Ask an expert

20 May 2004

Wife doesn't love me anymore
I have been married for 13 years. Neither of us has had an affair. We used to enjoy a healthy sex life but now the passion has disappeared, more from her side than mine. What can we do to get that spark back again ? I'm willing to try anything but my wife seems to show no interest. She is more involved with our daughter and her friends. She prefers to sleep with my daughter who is seven than sleep in the master bedroom with me. We seem to be friends and thats all. I want more from the relationship. I've tried to be romantic by sending her flowers or taking her away on holiday but to no avail. We haven't had sex for over three years. Any comments ?
Answer 336 views

01 Jan 0001

Almost half the women seeking sex therapy from me say that lack of interest is their main problem.

There are many reasons why desire can take a nosedive, but do not despair – there is a lot you can do to improve your sex life.

Why have you ‘gone off it’?

For many couples, sex is wonderful when they first get together. They just cannot keep their hands off each other. But as time goes by the thrill wears off and sex becomes less intense as the demands of everyday life set in. After a year or two and perhaps the arrival of children, sex may drop to the bottom of the agenda.

Once a pattern is established of having sex infrequently, or not at all, it can be hard to get back to a regular and satisfying love life.

Most relationships go through phases like this, but there is no reason to think that the passion has gone forever. Many couples find their sex life matures as they do and become more meaningful and satisfying.

Apart from simply getting bored with sex, or losing the habit of making love, many practical factors can affect your feelings:

· Illness
· Stress
· Over-tiredness
· Children who wake in the night or want to sleep in your bed.

If you can identify with any of these, you will need to tackle the root cause before you can work on improving your sex life.

Is sex the real problem?

…basic dissatisfaction within a couple’s relationship. Common problems include:

· Drifting apart and losing touch
· Feeling taken for granted or neglected
· Frequent arguments, nagging
· Problems such as money worries, family conflict, work-related stress
· Affairs

Problems like these need working through, since only when you feel better about your relationship is there a chance of your sex life improving. Try talking with your partner about how to make things better. Counselling can be very helpful if your problems seem to daunting to tackle alone.

Common sex problems

Any of the problems listed here might put you off even trying to have sex, yet all of them can be treated. Your GP of sexologist could offer help. There are also self-help books.

· Difficulty reaching orgasm for women and
· For men problems controlling ejaculations or in reaching orgasm
· Pain during intercourse
· Contractions of the muscles around the vagina (Vaginismus), which make intercourse impossible
· For men, not always being able to “perform” even when you would like to.

Working together to improve your sex life: talking about sex

Discussing your sex life may feel impossible, but you can learn to make this delicate subject more approachable. The following talking techniques from Sarah Litvinoff’s helpful book, The relate Guide to Sex in Loving Relationships.

Get comfortable with sex as a topic by talking about it generally. Watch TV programmes, or read magazine articles on sex, then talk about them.

Start being more open about your feelings. Going for a walk together can be a good way to have a relaxed chat, which does not turn into confrontation.

If your partner suggests trying something new, do not reject the idea out of hand. You might agree to try something you feel dubious about, on the understanding that you take it gradually and stop if you do not like it. Try to keep an open mind and come up with new ideas between you.

Lovemaking can easily become routine and adding one or two new elements can help to bring back the excitement. Many useful books are available on sex techniques, which could give you some inspiration.

The time, the place

A big problem for many couples is finding a time for sex when they are not too exhausted to enjoy it. Get your dairies out and book a time when you are both free to make love. Or arrange a night in a hotel – a change of scenery often works wonders.

Make the surroundings warm and atmospheric. Soft music, candles, wine can all help to put you in the mood.

Ensure your privacy. Send children off to stay with friends or relatives overnight, or get someone to take them out for an afternoon.
Does sex therapy work?

Most research showed that three-quarters of women whose problem was lack of desire, enjoyed sex more after they had therapy.

What happens in therapy?

First of all, you can expect to be talking explicitly and in detail about sex. One cannot solve sexual problems by talking around them. Neither can one gain new sexual information unless clear instruction is given.

Second, you might expect to be offered the opportunity to add to your knowledge by reading selected books and/or viewing clinical films designed specifically for use in sex therapy. You should not, however, do anything, which you do not understand, and you must reserve, for yourself the right to question the purpose of an assignment. It is your right to decline or postpone acting in the suggestions of your therapist, rather than allowing yourself to be pushed into behaviour, which might actually increase your discomfort.

Every assignment, task, or experience presented by the therapist should fit into an understandable and acceptable treatment plan – and you have the right to question the procedures.

Third, you should expect sex therapist to be non-judgemental and to portray their own comfort in giving and receiving sexual information. While you might expect to be challenged and confronted on important issues, you should also expect to experience a respectful attitude toward those . . .

Fourth, unless your therapist is a licensed HCP wishing to conduct a physical examination, you should not expect to be asked to disrobe in the presence of your therapist. Sexual contact between client and therapist is considered unethical and is destructive to be therapeutic relationship. Neither should you expect to be required to perform sexually with your partner in the presence of your therapist.

Overt sexual activities just should not occur in your therapist’s presence, even though the talk, material and the assignments must, by the nature of the problem, be specially sexual and at times blunt and explicit.

Finally, you should feel that you are heard and adequately represented in your sexual therapy. That is, you should not feel that you have been stereotyped as “female” as “gay” as “too old” or in any other way that interferes with your sense of uniqueness within the therapeutic setting.

You should feel that you are being treated as an individual, not as a category!

Sex therapy is by its nature a very sensitive treatment modality and by necessity must include respect for the client’s values. It must be non-sexist, with recognition of the equal rights of man and woman to full expression and enjoyment of healthy sexual relationships.

At the DISA Clinic we run a program callled "7 weels to better sex". You can write to me at and I will forward you more info.

Dr Elna McIntosh
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.