Do you still have a desire for intimacy?

My brother-in-law in a guy to guy conversation asked me if I still had the desire for intimacy with my wife.  He is in his 50s and said he still does but his wife has no interest what so ever.  As this is not the kind of question I can ask women at work or church, I thought I would ask here.

BPN women/ladies who have been married to the same guy for many years do you still have a desire to be intimate with your guy?  Has your desire increased, decreased or remained the same?  If you have lost your desire but your guy has not do you play along?  If you have lost the desire for intimacy is there anything your guy can do to get you in the mood?
Or, and this is what’s going through my brother-in-law’s head right now: were you never interested in intimacy and just played along to have kids and raise a family.

Women/ladies, I hope you are open to sharing your feelings and desires about intimacy so “us guys” can understand your feeling about intimacy as our kids get older.   This is my post, so going to be selfish here. Just looking for responses from women who are in a long term hetero-marriage with a guy whose children are late teens and older. Feel free to post anonymously.  Again I’m looking for your feelings and desires for intimacy, not any of the specifics of when you are intimate.

Thank you

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Just over 50 empty-nester here, married for 25 years. I would say my desire for intimacy fluctuates, but is generally pretty good. I think my husband totally underestimates how being warm, affectionate, tolerant and a little emotionally indulgent of me makes all the difference. We know each other. I know when he is just being kind when he doesn't technically have to be. And when he does, it is a great aphrodisiac. It makes me feel like we are a team, a couple. It is also essential in my experience, for women to have a great ob/gyn to deal with the hormonal fluctuations and side-effects of getting older. I can honestly say after I got that sorted, my enjoyment and positive experience increased exponentially and is even better now than when we were youngsters. I haven't asked him directly but I think he feels pretty good about that. Not much of a talker. Hope that helps.

I fit your profile -- very happily married to my husband for 26 years, kids out of the house.

I have bad news for you: my husband and I have not had sexual relations in too long to remember. I mean, for a few years now.

However, our marrige is still intimate... just not sexually. We adore each other, and are often very romantic. Sexually, he satisfies himself solo.

It was NOT my intention or expectation when we married that this would happen. We were very active the first few years. He did predict it, though, and to my amazement he turned out to be right.

I am happy with our status quo. Sex takes a lot of energy and time, which I don't have a lot of these days... and neither does he.

As someone I recently read wrote, "Sex is not confined to physical relations."

I do not have any desire for intimacy with my husband or anyone else. I am in my early 50s and it has been this way for almost 20 years.

My husband has a lot of issues related to his self image that were formed in childhood that he refuses to get help with, and they cause aggression, negativity and hurting others before he might get hurt.

That makes it unsafe for me to be vulnerable or emotionally and therefore sexually intimate.

To him marriage meant all of his needs would be fulfilled, and he seemed surprised that there is another person who needs things that are sometimes different and we must negotiate and hold one another in mind, and it is not "if you get what you want, it follows that I can't get what I want" and vice versa.

His childhood emotional injuries are apparent if he is asked a question like, "Did you take out the garbage yet?" with the intent to find out if I can add something to the can. Because he was constantly criticized he assumes the question means I am criticizing him for not taking it out. This response can be applied to almost any similar thing, and it creates a terrible dynamic in which the person he married is invisible because my harmless or good intent is not even a possibility in his mind. I am the bad guy through the filter in his mind without him being able to see through it to the nice, thoughtful, kind, caring person in front of him. (Do not mistake this description for me thinking I am perfect-- on the contrary but the difference is, I do the personal work, but it is hard to do couple's work alone.)

Despite my dedication to my own therapy and growth and the 5 years we spent in couple's therapy, he is just not willing to come face to face with the pain of his own childhood where he was made to feel bad about himself, in his own therapy.

It keeps him from the closeness he could have. If he could see that he was treated badly, go through all the feelings about it, understand how he was injured, that he didn't deserve it, see that others aren't automatically doing the same, see the good in others and himself and that a different opinion or need is not an attack, then maybe he wouldn't be so defensive, angry, mean and hurtful and it would feel good to be close.

Many times sex is not about just an act of sex, how good your spouse looks, how talented in bed they are, in fact it is often not about those things. It is about trust, openness, vulnerability, safety and being seen. I can't have sex with someone I am invisible to.

Yes, I do. However, menopause has had a huge impact on my drive. Hormones are powerful; their absence is powerful too. My husband always initiates, but I’m almost always game once he gets things going. I think open communication between the couple is crucial. Couples counseling may help your brother in law and his wife. She may want to talk to her OB/gyn too about her loss of drive. 

What a thoughtful inquiry. I'm in my mid fifties, I've been married for over 16 years to a man I love very much, am a mom of a teen. I don't have strong physical desire for intimacy but I am game for weekly sex as it's good for our relationship and it makes my husband happy. I enjoy the experience.

My husband and I have been together for 40 years and have two adult children. And, yes, we are sexually active.

It is safe to say that people in their 50s and 60s are not the horn-dogs we were in our 20s. Menopause does reduce - but not extinguish - libido.

Personally, I feel that a lot depends on the quality of the relationship.  Ideally a couple who have been together for a long time make the transition from being passionate lovers to being best friends.  If the relationship is not optimal, that could be a turn-off. If the guy treats his wife like a domestic serf, well, yuck. There needs to be fun in your daily lives.

When our kids were very young and I was absolutely exhausted I had an epiphany:  straight men start acting crazy if they do not get sex. I would watch my husband get whiny and irritable, and could recognize when what he needed was sex, rather than just being exhausted from commuting to Silicon Valley.

Therefore, since I love my husband, I decided that had better have sex with him whenever he wants it.  That way he will be at ease, and not look for sex with other women.  If he wants sex and I am not in the mood, I put myself i the mood.

It would be helpful if more women realized this about male psychology.  It is hurtful to men when we reject them sexually.

Guys cannot control their wife's/partner's libido, but if they treat us well, it will help get them sex.  However, if I have sex with him when I am not particularly in the mood, it would be embarrassing if he made a big deal over my having an orgasm. Sometimes I have an orgasm, sometimes I don't. It is not important to me.

Every couple is different, but this is the understanding that has served us well for a long time. We are happy together, we are each other's best friends, and we have sex a couple of times per week.

Sixty-seven year old lady here. I started dating my husband at 28, broke up for a year, then got back together, marrying at my age 40. One kid by adoption.
I was raised in a relatively sex-positive way, for the times, and sex always worked well for me. This isn't true for all young women.  (Love and romance worked a bit less well.)  My husband's parents were quite repressed. We broke up over my wanting more and his wanting less, and my feeling judged for being too sexual.
In every other way my husband is both my rock and my best friend, but the sex issue remained for years. Things got much better, but a lot of damage had been done, and with the added stresses of parenthood, I can't say we ever got where we might have had we started out better. We are still sexually active on a pretty scheduled basis, and it's OK.  
As for your BIL, I wonder if sex ever worked well for his wife, at least with him.  If sex between them didn't work well earlier in their relationship, they may lack a foundation of good mutual experience to help carry them past youth.
Second, sexual passion tends to wane over time.  Lots of study on that.  After 20 years or so with the same person, you can maintain good intimacy, it's just not so shiny-new.
Third, menopause. For women, sex can become uncomfortable, indeed painful even with lubricant, because of thinning,less-responsive vaginal tissues. I use a vaginal estrogen cream, and before sex I take Viagra.* Without medicine, I'm not sure intercourse would be an option anymore. Your BIL's wife may find sex less enjoyable due to menopause or other physical issues.
Fourth, emotional connection. My husband and I do better, including sexually, when we take the time to maintain emotional intimacy, going on walks, spending private time together talking, trading backrubs, etc. We don't always take the time, not nearly enough. Are your BIL and his wife maintaining emotional intimacy?
Your post implies your BIL is unsure what's going on with his wife, and that they haven't communicated very effectively about sex and intimacy. They may need to develop more emotional intimacy before they can even address what's happening with sexual intimacy.
At this point, Dear Abby would recommend a counselor. A book that helped my husband and me a lot is "Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships," by David Schnarch. BPN has a section titled "Libido & Frequency of Sex" with a lot of perspectives.
(*Vaginal walls contain tissues that poof up in response to stimulation, analogous to men's erectile tissues. Viagra helps that poofing to happen and improves sexual feeling. There is another drug commonly called "Viagra for women," but it has a completely different function.)   

I can understand why you’re interested in finding out what is normal. Unfortunately every woman is different and every relationship is different.

For one data point, I am 53 and have been married for 28 years. I still enjoy sex as much as I did in our twenties. Frequency has decreased — down to about once a week now. I am blessed with a husband who makes sure I have an orgasm first. Even so, dryness is usually an issue now, so we use a lubricant.  

You said he is in his 50s. She must be, too? Menopause could be a part of this. Maybe intercourse is painful for her and she doesn’t want to talk about it. You can see lots of different perspectives as well as specific medical recommendations on past menopause threads. Note that some women mention libido returning after they thought it was gone forever.

I think there is no guaranteed good advice for your brother-in-law. If the cause is medically fixable, then the goal is for her to realize she misses physical intimacy and get comfortable asking her doctor. Being caring and sweet, asking about her day, giving her neck rubs, never asking about sex — all those things might help get her to that point.  But only if she realizes it on her own.  It would be awful if he were to suggest medical help directly to her. 

Is it possible that your brother in law was hoping your wife would talk to his wife?  That might be the answer if they have a good relationship and are close in age. 

Intimacy? How exactly do you define that? I am assuming he wants PIV sex. However, when his wife wants intimacy, it is verbal/emotional intimacy. If she doesn't get her needs met, she is going to be unwilling to meet his. How to get her in the mood? I made a list. I am sure it could be much longer. 

1. Apologize when you do something wrong. 

2. Cook, clean and help with homework. 

3. Complement her on her looks AND other qualities. 

4. Listen carefully. Respond with compassion.

5. Be affectionate without expecting orgasm

6. Smile

7. Talk about work, hobbies, friendships without being negative

8. Just be nice

My husband and I are in our 50s and don't have sex very often. I would be into it more if he did certain things, but he doesn't so we don't. I've tried many times in many ways to explain to him what I would like in terms of "romance" but he never seems to get it or remember it for long. Here is what I would like, maybe your BIL's wife is similar: 1) Affection throughout the day "just because" not just in bed or when he wants sex. 2) Romantic "dates". This doesn't mean something specific like dinner and a movie but the feeling of specialness. "Flirt" with her (i.e. make her feel special, show interest in her, be playful). 3) Make time for romantic build-up, don't just roll into bed as she's falling asleep and expect to make things happen. 4) Create a sensual environment: lighting, aromas, music; make sure there is no unromantic sights, smells, sounds ruining the mood. Also I think it is a good idea to agree on a schedule, as unromantic as that may sound, so that they both can expect/anticipate it at specific days/times and make sure to prepare as described. I've definitely gone along with it when I wasn't in the mood to start off with and it's always been enjoyable at least. It does sometimes feel like it's not worth the effort, but if he made a certain amount of effort I would go along with it a lot more often. Hope some of this is useful to you! 

It is true that everyone is very different but I think my input might add a little perspective. I'm in my fifties and have has 2 kids (teens) with my husband of almost 20 years. My sex drive plummeted to zero for close to a year after the birth of each child and I understand this to be very typical. Now I really don't think about sex when we are not actually doing it. It is not that I don't want it, I simply do not think about it, it's just not on my radar, at all. 

My husband is, also typically? very different. Sex is really important to him and so is my enjoyment of it. I am lucky that I've suffered no sexual trauma in my past and have always enjoyed sex. My orgasms are long and intense and pretty consistent. But still, when we are not having sex, I couldn't care less. Weird, huh? We have resorted to scheduling sex once a week -  little too long for him but just about OK for me (really I could probably go 3-4 weeks before missing it). Hubby does not like taking spontaneity out of the equation, but he's good with having something he can count on. Even with the scheduling, I have to put it in my calendar and try not to forget.  I have to say that I've never felt the need or desire to fake enjoyment, plus I don't have much confidence in my acting abilities.

Last year I started on low dose anti depressants. I still enjoyed sex (foreplay) but organisms went from 95% of the time to maybe 25%. So now I stop the pills a couple days before "our night" and that seems to have helped a lot. I asked a couple other women I know how anti-depressants affect them - one said no difference at all, still have sex often and love it (only married a couple years in this case). The other said she didn't have much of a sex drive before and as of when we spoke had not had sex with her husband for at least a couple of years.

Things that might help - since you asked. touching between sex - hold hands, small strokes while working together in the kitchen, no-pressure cuddling. Those are things that I like. We use lubricant regularly. being partners in everything. If I spend the evening cleaning while he's on the computer, that's OK but not every night, not most nights. 

Things that get in the way - worry, anger or annoyance with him, anti-depressants. My frequent inability to focus (trying to get into meditation but it's difficult to make it a priority), talking before sex - kids, parents, work, cats, whatever. Fatigue. Feeling in opposition with him . if sex becomes a control issue and we are both trying to get our way rather than figuring stuff out together.

hope that helps

You are brave to ask this question, and I appreciate that you have asked it respectfully.

I fit the description—mid-50's with 18 & 20-y-o children. I've been married for 24 years. My husband and I met and began dating in college. Due to conflict in our family life, intensified by the substance use and mental health challenges of one of our children, we no longer live together, although we remain married for the time being.

I would describe our sex life in our dating and early marriage years as quite good. Although he generally initiated, I was a willing participant. Once we had our children, I was often exhausted, yet we found a way to keep our sex life up. As life became more difficult with his demanding career and travel and our challenging children for whom I was primarily responsible, our relationship in general and communication particularly broke down. Over time, we spent less and less time with each other, and he showed less and less interest in me unless it was for sex. Sex began to feel like a chore for me, one more task required to take care of someone else. My menopause symptoms were manageable. Yet, I lost all interest in having sex with my husband because he seemed to loose interest in me as a person. He's not a bad guy, quite the opposite, and he's quite handsome and fit. Yet, despite years of marriage, family, and individual therapy, he's unable to do the work to be open, honest, and vulnerable with himself, much less me. As I've gotten older, the emotional part of the relationship is more important than the physical part of the relationship. Without a solid emotional connection, I have little interest in sex.

I recommend your brother-in-law take a look at "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" by John Gottman and The Gottman Institute website. The Gottman's take a holistic approach to a satisfying marriage. I'd be surprised if the only challenge in the marriage is the sex. I wish him the best.

I am almost 50, married for 25 years to the same guy, teen kids. We still have desire, probably about the same as always. We have sex probably 1-5x/week. I would say that I don't always have desire but I am more likely to be receptive to get in the mood for more intimacy when he frequently does extra dishes (often with a wink-wink, just want to please you extra joking) or other housework, doing other special things for me, admires  how I look, saying sweet things, apologizing when he is curt or rude or angry, trying to do extra nice things for me. then at the moment he gets me in the mood with lots of warm and cuddly affection and clear desire linked with saying that I absolutely don't have to do anything I am not in the mood for but just letting me know that he is interested and finds me sexy and is initiating romance. He also exercises a bunch and does pushups/situps so he is in good shape. He constantly lets me know he thinks I am sexy and beautiful (and I am not conventionally particularly so, just an average Berkeley unmade up and not fashionably dressed middle-aged woman), not just when he actually wants to make love. also at the moment that he is interested, he starts with gentle kissing and stroking or dancing and hugging, not moving too fast toward anything more until i start to respond so I don't feel pressured. also lubricant helps with actual pleasure and feeling like having sex. but yes, I play along even if I am not interested and feel too tired, no desire, etc. as I think it keeps our marriage happy and usually I can get myself into the mood with a little focus and end up enjoying myself usually at least a little and sometimes way more than I ever thought possible at the beginning when I thought I really wasn't in the mood, too tired, too angry, etc. 

Hope that is helpful!

Lots of women lose interest because of problems in the relationship - be it serious issues or just the overwhelming burden that women have these days with work, child rearing, domestic duties, etc. The mental load can be overwhelming. And when husbands don't step up enough, it feels like you are caring for another child in some respects, which is not sexy. Another thing that is not sexy is when men communicate that it is a *need* that you should be fulfilling for them. That pretty much just takes the passion and sexiness out of it. Women want to feel wanted, not like they are just satisfying a need. But all that aside and not knowing your BIL's situation, I'm sharing the following article as it has some really insightful info on women's need for novelty. We have these outdated stereotypes of men needing to spread their seed and women being most satisfied with monogamy, but it may be almost quite the opposite. I don't know that it will help solve anything for your BIL, but maybe will help him and others understand that there are lots of issues at play.

Thanks for asking this question!

I am in my early 40s with elementary school age kids. We have been married for 19 years. I cannot remember the last time we had sex. My interest in sex has always been lower than my partner’s and I am an early bird, so by 10 PM, I am sleepy and wiped out. Logistically, it has been nearly impossible to find the right time and place to have sex. Carrying the burden of an extremely demanding full time career and raising young kids have made it logistically so difficult that we don’t even try anymore. when kids were younger and we were more happily married, we would hire a babysitter and have the sitter take the kids out so we can have the house to ourselves.  I used to have desires once in a while but when I initiated, he was too tired and not interested. When he initiated, I was too tired. He was very disheartened that his initiation was rejected, so he stopped trying. So, we sadly just live with the unspoken understanding that it isn’t happening. Sometimes I get sad about the situation, as I am young and dare I say a rather attractive and fit female in her prime. But, I have a hard time getting myself in the mood when there are dirty dishes piled up, 5 weeks of unfolded laundry, tennis ball sized dust bunnies, half eaten crackers molding somewhere in kids’ room and when both of us have fallen behind on personal hygiene due to work/kid demands and now Covid. I wonder if things will improve for us in about 5 years when kids are older and more independent...

I just hit 40 during a pandemic, with three kids, ages 11 and under, with whom we are schooling at home, and a spouse who is a traveling MD for CV19. Oh, I have a full time job working from home and to adhere to distancing rules, have no help whatsoever. Here's the deal, I have a desire for intimacy. Obviously due to life circumstances, we've had our challenges making it happen. I have to say, someone mentioned that straight men more or less get cranky without sex. I read that and laughed out loud because that was my realization as well, specifically when many of my friend's and their partners were encountering relationship friend's spouse said to me, "I think S prefers scrolling through Instagram than sex with me!" I think it's so obvious and so true that many men have a need for sex (not to say that women don't and obviously it's far more complex than just a need). There are so many parts to intimacy. I am no therapist but I have been a long time observer of relationships and am now seeing marriages breakdown (most of my friends have been married for 7+ years) and there's a slew of reasons for a lack of desire. My husband has observed the side effects of many medications is a lower libido or discomfort from sex. And childhood issues...those childhood issues. We tend to find partners who replicate some familiar pattern; the same is true with them. I think it's very normal to have a waning desire; in the case where life gets in the way, planned sex is  a life-saver. We've been on this plan for awhile. It seems so unsexy but it's not. I know that 4 days per week, I'm getting some and he doesn't feel rejected. He knows this too. No pressure if it doesn't work out. We can always make it up. With our schedules, we have three nights per week where we have trained our kids (this took 8 weeks) to not open the door for our meeting.Then, one more night per week, we send our kids to our friends who are social distancing and they send their kids to us the next night (Saturday). It was really hard at first but now they know that they have to stay in their rooms or we put a movie on. They are not allowed to interrupt us until the 60 minute timer goes off. We pay our 11-year-old to watch the kids (it's a cheap date night of $12). The rest of the week, we are all business, so this has been great for us. 

I'm mid 40's, married with a younger kid (not teen). We haven't had sex since early 2018 or late 2017. I honestly don't know how we got here. We're both busy and stressed with work and then this pandemic really didn't help things (we are basically homeschooling our kid while working full time, and  have no outside help). I have half heartedly tried to initiate by saying "I'll do all the work", but my partner laughs it off, saying "yea right...". We're not very physical either, we fall into bed exhausted every night, often times not at the same time due to one of us needing to catch up on work. We've joked that maybe we'll get around to it in 2021. We both miss it, I assume, but don't know how to find time for it.