Q: My wife has turned me into a eunuch when it comes to having a meaningful sex life. She has told me that I must be the one to initiate all sex, as she does not have it in her anymore. Even when I do try to initiate something I am usually turned down for a myriad of reasons. I have expressed myself and her lack of any sex drive makes me ready to pull the plug on this marriage as a result. What do you suggest? – BW, Michigan
Dr. Schwartz: I think it is time to go into relationship counseling. If you have made it clear how important sex is, and your wife has lost her will or ability to relate physically, there may be some emotional or physical issues that need addressing in order to change the situation. If your wife doesn’t want to participate in any kind of therapy, you should go yourself and see if you can get some insight into why her desire, and her desire to please you, has changed.
If there are problems that have nothing to do with you or the relationship (her depression or medications for depression, her dissatisfaction with her children, her job, etc.) these will have to be addressed as well. She will likely have to go to see someone: a therapist, a doctor or both.
Ultimately, you both have to believe the relationship is worth fighting for and so it is fair to make investigating outside help non-negotiable.
Counseling is almost always illuminating and I think, hopeful. If you find out that there are big holes in the relationship itself, you can often repair them and change the course and nature of a relationship if you have the help of a talented therapist.
What is my definition of a talented therapist? Someone who knows how to pull you together, to appreciate the good things you have so that the knowledge of these relationship strengths are there to sustain your commitment while you work on your problems. It’s not easy but it’s possible.
You do want to give your relationship its best chance before you go through all the emotional and financial trauma of a divorce. If, however, you cannot get through to your wife, or she to you, then you will have the satisfaction of knowing you not only did everything you could to avoid the end of the relationship, you also did everything you should to protect your own life and happiness.