Dear Neil: I am in a long-term mostly happy marriage with my husband of 17 years, but there is no sexual juice at all between us. In virtually every other respect our relationship is wonderful: we love and care about each other, we are financially doing OK, we ‘re good parents together, we’re very compatible, we get along well, we seldom fight or even disagree. He is attractive and successful, our doctors say that we’re both healthy and fit, and we are very social with other people. So what is wrong with us? We seldom are romantic, we haven’t been sexual in a long time and we’re the opposite of “hot and juicy.” But we used to be extremely charged with each other. Is this what middle age does to everyone, or are we doing something wrong?
Going Without in Los Angeles
Dear Los Angeles: What you’re describing sounds like a lack of romantic and sexual effort. It’s not about being middle aged—biologically you guys may have slowed down a bit, but you’re not dead yet, and couple’s can enjoy each other sexually well into their nineties if they remain healthy and vital.
But the day-in and day-out routine that gets established in a long-term relationship can be very deadening to eroticism. Work, commuting, and daily chores or responsibilities can preoccupy us, kids can be needy and demanding, and keeping a home, paying bills, preparing meals, doing laundry and hundreds of other tasks can use us up very quickly and make us very tired—if not exhausted.
Couple’s that remain hot and juicy often have to work at it—it’s not like when you were in your twenties and it was the only show in town. I’m saying that often times adult sex requires conscious effort, romantic words and gestures, complimenting your partner on his “sexiness,” affectionate touch, cuddling, seductive invitations, weekend romantic getaways and the such.
While you’re at it, go out and buy a hot little lingerie number, and surprise him with it. (You don’t need to worry about it being uncomfortable—it won’t stay on very long.) Then call him on the phone at work. Verify that it is a private call and nobody else can hear your conversation. And then proceed to tell him, in intimate detail, exactly what you will do with him when he gets home and you guys have some alone free time—or tell him what you would like him to do to you.
This is what I mean when I refer to putting romantic and sexual effort into your relationship. Staying romantically engaged doesn’t happen on its own, it requires your intention, foresight, effort and persistence. Here are some additional suggestions on how to keep things hot and juicy:
Make time for your love life. Don’t let other priorities push it to last place, and don’t wait until you’re really tired.
Find a book illustrating different positions. See if you can try every one of them. That will keep things from growing stale, familiar or old.
Create sexual “dates” with your husband, and say “yes” when you’re approached most of the time. Men who are rejected often quit trying, and then they are far more likely to seethe in anger and resentment.
Leave suggestive or seductive notes, voice mail messages, texts or emails telling him you think he’s hot, sexy and attractive—and that you want him.
Teach your husband what he needs to do in order to help you get in the mood. Tell him specifically what you want or need—emotionally, verbally, how much affection, what feels romantic to you, how you want to to touched and held and kissed—and don’t assume he knows.
If you are hurt or angry with him, tell him why, and tell him what you need in order for that hurt or anger to lessen.
Fully address each of the following sentences with each other regarding sex: I appreciate and enjoy…; I’d like us to…; I’m uncomfortable about…; I’d like you to…; I’d like us to change…; I’d like to….
Take the lead. Men love it when women initiate and act seductive. Tell him you want him and put his hands on your body.