"We now have sex problems in marriage - I wish I could feel like I did at the beginning again."
I’ve been with my husband more than a decade and while I am still very much in love with him, I don’t fancy him like I used to. I’m rarely in the mood and avoid sex whenever I can. When we do have sex, I feel like I’m pretending to enjoy it, though I sometimes do once we get going. We have kids but they’re older now and I can’t use that as an excuse anymore. I wish I could feel like I did at the beginning again.
Don’t we all wish we could stay in that glorious, sex-charged, loved-up beginning stage! Sadly, no-one can: the love hormones that flood our brains to create that high state of excitement, naturally dry up after about 18 months (if you’re lucky!). It’s fanciful to expect to be gagging for it ten years in. The chances of both of you feeling like sex at the same time when you have children is unrealistic. (It’s hard work looking after kids. You’re both exhausted come the end of the day. This is why having sex last thing at night rarely happens in long-term relationships. You see the bed and all you think is ‘Thank God! Sleep!”).
It’s also got a lot to do with the way desire works in men and women. Men have more ‘spontaneous’ desire (they’ll feel like sex even when not stimulated), women have ‘reactive’ desire (they feel like it after kissing, foreplay etc starts). There’s nothing wrong with you at all because you don’t want to rip his clothes off like you did at the start. How you’re feeling is normal.
You’ve got the right idea for going with it even when you’d secretly rather curl up with a book: lots of studies show women warm to the idea of sex if they give it a try. On this note, It’s not a bad idea to actually set up a sex schedule together. We all baulk at the idea initially because we’re brainwashed to believe desire should just tap us on the shoulder. It doesn’t long-term (forgive me for labouring the point but I’m trying to get that one knocked out of your consciousness for good!). You have to create desire and a sex schedule is a good way to do that. It’s weird: we’ll happily plan holidays, book restaurants, tickets to the theatre and other nice things to do together but when it comes to sex, it’s all just supposed to happen without any forethought at all.
Anticipation is a rather nice replacement for spontaneity ten years in. Try it. It doesn’t have to be all about sex, turn it into a nice time for the two of you. A bubble bath with champers while the kids get packed off to your Mum's; maybe a movie that’s a little sexy to put you both in the mood. Once you get into the habit of pre-thinking sex sessions, you can up the ante and dip into a few good sex books to think about things you’d like to try out in the bedroom.