Approximately one of every five married couples is struggling to cope with a low-sex or no-sex marriage, according to some experts. Often, the male is the partner who has lost interest in sex. Therapist Michele Weiner-Davis worked with couples featured in a John Stossel "Family Fix" report on 20/20.
Below, she answers viewers' questions. ABCNEWS.com received an overwhelming response to the 20/20 segment. If your question is not answered here, visit Weiner-Davis' Web site at: www.sexstarvedmarriage.com.
QUESTION: Oh my God, I can't believe what I was reading. It sounds like something I could have written. My husband is also too tired for sex, but he seems to have the energy to go hiking, go to a football game, or volunteer to help someone move. I now realize that my self doubt, and feeling bad about myself are normal. My husband also comes home from work, eats, and goes upstairs to either play a game or read while I am in the bedroom watching TV. I also feel neglected, unloved and ugly. I have been married for 26 years, no kids and feel that for the most part, the sex part of our marriage is over. I just have to learn not to think about it or I just make myself more depressed. I have also given up on any effort figuring "why bother" because it seems the longer without sex my attitude just gets worse so why bother putting in the effort.
ANSWER: It is difficult to offer advice without knowing how you've been handling your situation and approaching your husband. As I was reading your question, I kept wondering, "Does she ever really tell him how hurt she is about the lack of closeness?" "Does she ever tell him how much she misses him and longs to be close to him physically?" I know you're hurt but from your question it seems that you've just given up and closed the door to honest communication. Good marriages are built on good communication. And so often when one spouse is hurt, instead of really discussing this feeling openly, it seeps out as anger. Sometimes, communication shuts down completely and partners become like two ships passing in the night.
Don't let this happen to you. If you're upset, and its clear that you are, get help. Read The Sex-Starved Marriage and ask your husband to do the same. Seek professional counseling and go even if your husband won't. If he's reticent to seek counseling, suggest that you both attend a marriage education class. There are many in every community. You can learn skills to better communicate your needs. And if your husband's lack of interest in sex is due to sexual problems, you would benefit from seeing a qualified sex therapist in your area.
QUESTION: Oh my, that article fits my marriage to a T!!! 20 years of marriage. We are in a bad place right now, I don't see a way out!! Thanks, Jeff.
ANSWER: It's never too late to bring back the passion. I have seen couples in their later years of marriage turn things around and feel more intimate and connected than they have for a long time. Don't give up on your marriage. Identify the reasons you and your wife are in a bad place and do something to change things. Even if you think you've given up, you really haven't because you're writing for help. It's never too late to have a passion-filled marriage.