When we began to research and write our new book: "He's Just Not Up for It Anymore," we didn't really think that we would end up with many solutions. After all, if getting passion back into a marriage was as simple as opening a bottle of champagne and taking a bubble bath together, there wouldn't be 20 million couples who were in marriages devoid of intimacy. That's not to suggest that doing something unusual, like going away for a weekend, or even out for a romantic evening alone, might not jump-start some passion. A sexy camisole and high heels just might do the trick, if there is still love, respect and friendship and you're both just a little bit bored.
However, for the more than 4,000 people who responded to our survey, there were many contributing causes far more serious than a touch of boredom, and they often overlapped. We were exploring the reasons men shut down completely. (A "sexless" marriage is loosely defined as making love 10 times a year or less. Many of the respondents to our survey had entirely stopped being sexual -- they weren't making love at all.)
We began to see a pattern. Although almost 70 percent of the females said that they didn't know why their partners stopped being intimate, most of the men said they did know why. Depression, anger, libido-lowering medication, unrealistic expectations and physical issues -- such as erectile dysfunction -- are just some of the reasons that emerged. (Clearly, if the men know and the women don't, couples in this situation aren't talking. Or they're talking, but not listening.)
We explore these and many other issues in our book. We want to give you a lot of information, so you can discuss things with one another openly, intelligently and without embarrassment or blame. That's one of the best things you can do -- begin a compassionate conversation as soon as possible. Otherwise, problems have a way of spiraling out of control, and anger can build up a wall so high it becomes impossible to tear it down. Another reason to start a conversation immediately is that 24 percent of the women said that they began an affair after their husbands stopped being sexual, but only 9 percent said they were having an affair previously. As difficult as talking about a lack of intimacy may be, it is far preferable to a future conversation about infidelity. The following list, of course, only touches the surface. We want to give you some suggestions of areas that you may wish to explore further. We also want to assure you that, in fact, there most likely is a solution to your situation, as long as you are both willing to search for one, and work at your relationship. Ten Things To Do If Your Husband Stops Being Intimate Check any medication your husband has been prescribed to see if a possible side effect is diminished sex drive. If so, have him talk to his doctor about either changing prescriptions or lowering the dose. If you're a man who is too embarrassed to talk to a doctor about ED, get over it. If you're a woman who feels threatened by your husband's need for a pill to make love to you, same advice. Remember, the pills aren't aphrodisiacs. If you want to go into marriage counseling and your partner doesn't, go alone. Explain that you will have to tell his/her side of the story as best you can. Have realistic expectations about sex. It's never going to be what it was in the first couple of years. Talk to your spouse without accusation. And listen, really listen, with compassion. Broaden your definition of sex. There is lovemaking beyond intercourse, if intercourse is not possible for physical reasons. Or, just to do something different. There is evidence that male obesity and ED, and female obesity and depression, are linked. If either or both of you think you are overweight, diet and exercise together. You will support one another, have a common goal, improve your health and increase your libido. A sexless marriage is rarely the result of only one partner's behavior, even if it looks that way on the surface.From "He's Just Not Up for It Anymore. Why Men Stop Having Sex. And What You Can Do About it," By Bob Berkowitz, PhD and Susan Yager-Berkowitz, M.A. (Harper Collins/William Morrow) Visit Bob and Susan's Web site at www.bobandsusanberkowitz.com. Don't get left behind. Subscribe to the Best of ThirdAge newsletter to get the stories that matter most.