(Q) My wife and I have been married for over 40 years. We used to get on well but our sex life was sporadic. When it did happen it was mutually satisfying, but pre- and post-menopause things changed. I feel we will never make love again but the urge is very strong on my part. Is there a way I can suppress my sex drive to keep harmony?
(A) Couples such as yourselves, who have been together for many years, often feel more reluctance than new couples to ask for help because they think, “Hey, we should have this all figured out by now.” Bravo to you for being married for 40 years and still recognising that you need advice.
Desire discrepancy between partners is common. You may feel very close, but you are separate people and from time to time those differing thoughts and desires will show. It is not a reflection of how much you love one another or how committed you are to the relationship. A difference in desire is simply a reflection of each individual – their own thoughts, stresses, fitness, age, hormonal balance, energy levels and values.
Levels of sexual desire fluctuate across the life span and are influenced by a number of positive factors such as how we feel about ourselves and our partner, how well we are physically and how robust our hormones are. Our libido is also affected by negative factors which over time can create patterns of preferences for sleep rather than sex, food over sex, and eventually companionship rather than passion.
As a couple, you need to decide whether you will be happy in a companionable relationship or whether you would like to invest in reigniting your sex life, if only to a point where it is sporadic again. If she is agreeable to trying, it means working on all aspects of your intimacy as a couple, not just between the sheets, as everything you do positively together increases her desire. Her hormones may not be working in her favour any more, but that isn’t the only thing that sparks desire. It is possible to regain a love life together, if you are creative and invested.
If not, express yourself sexually by yourself, rather than suppressing your sexual drive altogether. After all, those who engage in a regular sex life have fewer heart attacks, fewer strokes, higher immunity and a greater degree of overall health.