Dear Dr. Jenni,
I read your column last week about the woman who wasn’t so into sex. I’m in a similar predicament. My husband and I have sex about twice a month. Sometimes I really enjoy it, and sometimes I feel like I’m just doing it because I know he needs it. The problem is that if I agree to more sex, he’ll just keep wanting more. It’s like he’s a bottomless pit. I’ve come to a point where I can’t even enjoy any intimate encounters because he’ll just want more sex. Is there a way to feel better or put a boundary on how much sex we have?
—Bounded by Sex
The good news is that sexual intimacy is still a place that occasionally feels good for you.
The challenge is to have every sexual encounter be a time where you consent not out of obligation, but out of an interest and aspiration for pleasure and connection. You are correct that one approach is to set boundaries that work for you. Having boundaries prevents you from feeling like you are being sucked down the drain of a bottomless pit. It also allows you more freedom to explore and expand to the edges of your boundaries.
I suggest discussing with your husband ways to create boundaries.
Perhaps you agree to three nights a month of sexual intimacy. One night can be all about giving you pleasure. Another night can be all about giving him pleasure. And the third can be a session of mutual giving. The schedule is less spontaneous, but it eliminates blind expectations and therefore anxiety. You know what you are getting into for each date, and you can prepare accordingly by doing things to relax yourself ahead of time. Furthermore, the boundaries allow you to feel free and open to cuddle and touch without repercussions or worry that it has to lead to sex. This may help increase your general intimacy with one another, leading to a higher desire to be with him sexually.
Dear Dr. Jenni,
My husband seems to have lost all sexual interest in me. He says it is because I have not lost the weight from when I had our son five years ago (about 75 pounds). I was heavy when we met, and he was attracted to me then. I would be motivated to lose weight if I knew it would change his libido and attitude towards me, but I don’t believe him. He says my weight is distasteful not because I’m heavy, but because he thinks it reflects a poor attitude of not wishing to take care of my health.
—Unmotivated to Lose Weight
Your language about motivation is interesting. I’m curious how you feel in your body as a woman? Do you enjoy your current weight and feel sensual and voluptuous? Or do you agree with your husband that weight loss will help your health?
In any relationship we make some decisions that are best for ourselves, and some that are best for the relationship. It sounds like your husband gets turned on when you are feeling strong and confident in yourself — when you have a good attitude, irrelevant of weight.
Since you are both stuck right now in a seemingly sexless marriage, I encourage you to do something different to get unstuck. I’m not saying you need to lose weight necessarily. I’m encouraging you to assume an attitude that screams, “I feel good about myself and my body.” When you are exhibiting a new outlook, your husband’s approach to you might change as well.
Send questions for Jenni Skyler, Ph.D., to firstname.lastname@example.org. Skyler is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist who runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www.theintimacyinstitute.org.
Questions Send questions for Jenni Skyler to drjenni@ theintimacyinstitute.org.