Q. My husband and I have been married 16 years and we have a good marriage. But since my husband turned 40, his lovemaking has really slowed down. Is this common?
A. A sexual slowdown is common in males. It may come sooner or later and may express itself in different ways. Guys just run out of steam about midlife.
One way is that his physiological response may not remain as rapid and intense. When men become aroused, it's usually fast and leads to a firm erection. But with age, stress, and fatigue, this may change. It may take longer for him to become erect, he may not be as firm, and it may delay ejaculation. These expressions of "slowdown" can be physical—related to the neuro-vascular response to stimuli—or psychological—because of relationship or self-confidence issues.
When this slowdown occurs, it may cause him to lose an interest in sex because he may become fearful of "failing" again and lose his self-confidence. So he just avoids sex.
Fortunately, the most common causes that can be successfully changed are: fatigue, stress, medication, physical illness, relational conflict, and alcohol use. So the first step is to do an evaluation of what's going on in his life. He may want to talk to his pastor or a buddy to help identify the contributing factors. He may also need a thorough physical evaluation to rule out such things as thyroid disorder or diabetes.
If nothing much is found except the changes accompanying his mid-life transition, counseling may be helpful. You can be a great support by expressing your loving encouragement.
Whatever the situation, it can usually be helped and intimacy restored.
Q. My wife has gained 25 pounds since we've been married. I don't get as excited just looking at her as before, and find myself not making advances. I also compare her to other, thinner women. My wife's aware of my feelings, and is trying to lose weight, but she has fibromyalgia, which makes it difficult for her to exercise. I know I don't have a perfect body, and that physical attraction isn't everything. What can I/we do to improve our sex life?
A. You're another victim of our cultural revolution! Turn off the TV, don't go to movies, and avoid many magazines. Hollywood and the media constantly present thin (actually underweight) women as the sexual ideal. Of course they also present those Bowflex guys as the desired male image. You mentioned you don't have a "perfect body" either. Has your wife lost her attraction to you?
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