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Sexless Marriage

"We have been married 27 years, together for 30. We had a healthy sex life until a year and a half ago, when my husband stopped. No kissing, no touching. I tried to discuss this with him, and he said he needed to see a doctor. He never did. He seems to have zero interest in us as a couple. We are good friends."

"I don’t want to start over at 60! We have a great family, kids, grandkids. He’s fine with the situation. I’m miserable. Is this common for couples our age? I’m way out of my depth here."

Joan answers:

If you can’t read your husband’s mind, I certainly can’t — but I do have an idea of what might be going on. It’s not uncommon that a man, when faced with erectile dysfunction, feels so embarrassed and self-deprecating that he won’t talk about it — not to his doctor, not even to his wife. Whether this is the issue or something else, the fact that he said he needs to see a doctor means, yes, he needs to see a doctor.

Often men who are anxious that they won’t be able to “perform” during sex avoid not only sex itself, but anything that might lead to sex — like kissing and touching. They fear that any intimate contact will lead to sex.

I know he’s a grown man and should be able to make his own doctor’s appointments, but could you help him get past his emotional resistance? Maybe you could say something like this:

“My dear, we haven’t had any intimate contact for a year and a half. I miss it very much. You’ve told me you need to see a doctor, but you haven’t told me why and you haven’t done it. Please tell me what’s going on, and let’s make an appointment now. Whatever you’re facing, you don’t have to face it alone.”

I hope he says yes.

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