Not tonight, dear; I have a headache . . . And he rolls over and is soon snoring, while she lies there staring at the ceiling, frustrated. Yes, the age-old joke has taken on a new guise lately, with more men saying no thanks to sex, confirms Dr Akashni Maharaj, a counselling psychologist in Durban.
When a reader wrote on YOU’s Facebook page how her four “beautiful, clever, successful” friends’ husbands weren’t interested in sex with them we were overwhelmed by messages from women in the same boat.
“I thought I was the only one with the problem,” says Candice Berger* of Centurion, Gauteng. “My husband and I have been married for 12-and-a-half years and have two lovely children at primary school. The last time we were intimate was almost four years ago. You don’t understand how humiliating it is. It’s painful; it feels as if you’re being emotionally assaulted.
“When I try to be intimate he turns over or gets up and goes to the kitchen. I can count the times we’ve been intimate on both my hands. I wanted to get divorced in 2004 but he threatened to take his life so I dropped it. The way I feel now, we’re married only on paper.”
Nicole Botes* and her husband have been married for only a month but have lived together for four years. “I’m 38 and he’s 36. I always have to initiate intimacy and he says he’s tired or that it’s too much work for him. I’ve heard of women using a headache as an excuse but I’ve never heard of a man who regards sex as work. He often tells me I’m obsessed with sex. Am I at fault? Am I abnormal?”
There’s no easy answer, but Dr Maharaj says, “If you and your husband have sex fewer than 10 times a year you’re in a sexless marriage.”
YOU’s Lara Atson asked a few experts about this issue and for advice on how to put the spark back into your marriage. Read more in YOU 31 January 2013.