couple with sexual disparity

Q. My husband has a very low sex drive and little or no desire for any physical contact. In contrast, I have an extremely high sex drive and touch is important to me. It is killing me to not have these needs fulfilled.
I have tried to ignore this problem. I can do so for a time, but then I get a flood of emotions that I can barely control: hurt, anger, depression, lack of motivation and self-destructive thoughts. Is there something I can do to kill my libido? He refuses to go to counseling.
A. If your husband realized how much his lack of interest is damaging your relationship, he might be motivated to talk to his physician. Low testosterone levels could be contributing to his missing sex drive.
There are drugs that can dampen desire, including many antidepressant medications. They all have other side effects, but since you are feeling depressed and self-destructive, your doctor might feel that one is appropriate. Such medication is not a panacea for relationship difficulties, however.
A new book by clinical psychologist Harriet Lerner, PhD, might also help you figure out how to talk with him about this intimate topic. The title is Marriage Rules, and it offers numerous tips on improving relationships. Our interview with Dr. Lerner gives some practical advice on this problem.

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  1. samanda

    My ex husband and I are friends. We married late ( 60yrs) and were friends that wanted to share our remaining time together in every way (at least I did) so when he wanted to marry and even though I knew he had an erection problem that worked some time with a lot of help, the closeness and oral sex was good. After a short time 3 months, he no longer wanted to hold me or even sit near me at home. He was always kind and cordial, but more like a brother.
    Yes. I talked about it and he said give him time. I was going crazy with need and not getting any! He was “sorry”. He agreed to go to doctor. Then with me to counseling. He just was not interested in having sex. He said he was frustrated because he could not get it up. He had an implant (his choice). He still did not come around. He knew how this made me feel and agreed to a divorce after almost five years.
    He has his place and I have mine. We are friends, nothing more.
    Don’t waste time, get out now!

  2. dilly

    I had the same problem with my partner’s lack of libido. It turned out to be a pituitary tumor.

  3. DM

    How sad. A serious problem of sexual dysfunction becomes an opportunity for sexism. Wouldn’t it be better to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem?

  4. fbl

    This is but one trial in a marriage and must be met head-on by open conversation. Talk to your hubby but do some research first to see what testing options are available to you. Insurance may or may not pay for testing of hormones. Check it out and have other options available to you. Life Extension Foundation offers reasonably priced tests. I would get him a complete panel from them if your Dr. won’t or insurance won’t pay for it. It is cheaper than a divorce!
    If your marriage did not start out this way, or even if it did, hormones can make a huge difference. Testosterone may not be the only thing he needs. Is he on supplements of any kind? Is his work overly stressful? I don’t know what ages you guys are but often a B complex supplement a few times a day does wonders for energy and mood. My hubby carries one in his pocket to work every day. He spent 18 months in Vietnam and did suffer moods, now called PTSD, from it. He will always need the extra Bs.
    One other thought is that he may have some circulation problems which could affect his ability to perform. What you take as disinterest could be a frustrating lack of ability for him. Not something most men want to talk about. He should get checked out for circulation problems.
    Another thing that should be checked is the thyroid. Often problems are missed by the regular tests and one must take their temperature before getting out of bed in the morning. If it is under 98 degrees then he may need a little help with a natural thyroid extract such as Armour or NatureThyroid.
    Please do NOT take antidepressants as was suggested. They cause a multitude of other problems. Supplementation with magnesium and the B complex can get you through your mood issues. Play around with combinations to see what works best for you.
    I speak with the voice of experience. I had one bad marriage and received a MA in Guidance & Counseling after that experience. This time I have a wonderful marriage of almost 40 years. Yes, lots of bumps in the road but we have weathered the storms together.

  5. RH

    I’m a 76 year old man, my libido was very low. Taking Cymbalta for peripheral neuropathy added ED as a side affect of the drug. I had testosterone blood test, it was 1/3 what the minimum should be. So I’m taking Androgel to raise testosterone levels, it is magic. I have great libido now, working on minimizing the Cymbalta pills, but in the meantime have been prescribed Cialis for the ED, each pill solves that problem for a couple of days.
    The husband needs to accept the fact that libido drops with age – but there are ways to help it – and ultimately the marriage.

  6. EPB

    We have the exact same problem, only my husband would take something — just not go to the doctor. Is there an over-the-counter or natural remedy to boost testosterone?

  7. Barbara

    A lot of women would like to have a husband like yours!

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