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Dr Gabrielle Morrissey: Sexologist

Dr Gabrielle Morrissey has been a sexologist — sexuality educator, sex therapist and sex researcher — since 1990. She is also the author a number of successful books. ASK ME A QUESTION

Too tired to be intimate

Gabrielle Morrissey
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Image: Thinkstock
Question: What do you do when your wife is not into sex? I have a high sex drive and she really could take it or leave it. She says she's tired or got a head ache. I know we are busy with work and kids but you need time together don't you?

Answer: Of course you do! A big yes, absolutely yes, couples need time together to connect in an intimate way.

It's an easy thing to do at the start of your relationship, when you are led by the hormones that surge through your body as you are lusting after one another and then falling in love with each other. Those hormones compel you to want to spend as much time together as you can. At the start, you can't stop touching one another and prioritising each other. But as you get more familiar and comfortable in your relationship, and balance work, and kids too, time for one another tends to slide down the priority list. And actually, this is understandable and acceptable for short periods of transition time, for example when you have a new baby, or one of you is ill, or especially stressed, or you are handling huge work commitments and deadlines.

We're not perfect and healthy relationships have some flexibility within them. The real problem occurs when the lack of intimate time together becomes your established new norm. You still always need to spend more time together than separate, as a couple. Isolated times of not making time and room for each other as a couple can be handled in a solid relationship as long as you reconnect and recommit within weeks or at a maximum a few months.

If you find you share a new pattern of less intimacy, then that really does need to be addressed. Couples do need time alone together to continue feeling like a couple. Your instincts are spot on and the correct course for you as a couple is to change your current pattern to a more loved up one.

Libido is a separate issue to couple time. It's very common for partners to have differing sex drives. If not at the beginning of the relationship, then certainly later on. You can spend intimate time as a couple without having sex but when you’re the partner desiring more sex, this can be especially frustrating.

To increase desire for sex, whether it’s you or your partner, you need to focus not only on your connection, but on what turns you both on as well. Without arousal or motivation for a pleasurable activity the interest in it wanes. So in addition to your loving affectionate couple time, to increase your libido you need to find the obstacles to it (stress, fatigue, loss of attraction, loss of body image for examples) and solve them, or at least minimise them. And then you also, and very importantly, need to find or refresh your positive reasons for why you love sex and would want more of it – physical pleasure (focus on getting great gratification), emotional bonding, sensual connection, a closer relationship etc. And finally do it: the more you have sex, the more you desire it.

And as for the headache: it's a tired excuse, so to speak, and not valid! Engaging in sex changes the blood flow in the brain and can not only cure a headache but even prevent one from coming on! So if your wife has a headache, or feels one on its way, you know what the perfect solution is for you both!

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