Steph & Dom solve your sex, love & life troubles: Help! I’ve fallen out of lust with my husband
- An anonymous reader revealed she’s lost the spark in her marriage of 16 years
- Mother-of-two asked for advice on improving their sex life ahead of a holiday
- Steph, 51, advised her to speak to her husband about her fluctuating desire
TV’s Steph and Dom Parker, 51 and 54, draw on their 20 years of marriage to solve your relationship problems . . .
Q: My husband and I have been married for 16 years and together for 20. We have two kids, aged 12 and 14, and a generally good marriage.
He’s a great dad and, as a couple, we still get on really well. The problem is our sex life: we haven’t had sex for a year. We both work long hours — I recently went back to full-time nursing, while he has a demanding job as an engineer. At first, I blamed tiredness, and he didn’t seem too bothered, but the problem really is that I don’t fancy him any more.
An anonymous reader asked TV’s Steph and Dom Parker for advice on losing the spark in their marriage of 16 years (file image)
He’s my best friend, but the spark is no longer there. I don’t fancy anybody else — I just feel like that part of my life is over.
We’re going on holiday in a few weeks and he’s already making comments about me wearing a bikini. I know he’s going to want to have sex.
I’m scared that if we don’t, he’ll leave me. What can I do?
STEPH SAYS: After reading your letter, I cautiously mentioned the issue to some of my girlfriends and discovered this is a common problem. You are far from alone in your dilemma.
It appears to be the underlying, unspoken truth of every holiday: the man always expects sex.
It’s all a bit baffling, as it’s not like the temperature being a few degrees higher turns wives into sex-hungry nymphos!
From what I gather, the theory is that the minute you are on holiday, unencumbered by the strains of daily life, everyone relaxes and, miraculously, sex becomes the main focus.
In fairness, for some people it does; but, for many, it does not — and this is where the problem arises. The expectation that a couple will have sex tirelessly is stressful and very much a rose-tinted view. Let’s face it, no matter how dark your sunglasses, they will not turn your husband into George Clooney!
Steph (pictured left with Dom) advised the reader to speak to her partner about her fluctuating sexual desire and to ask for his support
But, in all seriousness, what you need is a solution, not a temporary fix. This is not about getting through the holiday, it’s about solving a distressing, long-term problem.
Give in to the temptation to dodge the issue and, before you know it, this will become the elephant in the room for all future holidays together.
The reality is that couples change and evolve with age. There are phases to a life spent together. After the heady days of courtship, couples often move on to having children — and this changes everything.
Thereafter the child-rearing often makes you too tired even to consider a sex life. And the situation you face now is equally challenging.
Your children are on their way to being independent, leaving you peering at each other over the cornflakes, wondering who each of you is. Men often expect everything to revert to the way it was before — after all, life hasn’t changed that much for them in the intervening years.
Of course, not all women feel the hormonal crash that comes with age, but they understand the issue. And it is a real issue, not a choice.
This is a crucial distinction: we do not have any control over our fluctuating sexual desire.
However, you must involve your partner in the changes you are experiencing. He will be reassured you are not moving away from him, but are asking him for support. Remember: none of this is your or his fault. There’s no room for blame.
So grasp the nettle and talk to him. Let’s face it, no amount of holiday margaritas will make this one go away.
DOM SAYS: First things first, don’t beat yourself up about this. What you’re experiencing is normal. The territory of life changes as we get older and the barometer in the bedroom changes, too.
Dom (pictured) urges the reader not to chastise her husband for wanting to make love and to speak to him about her feelings
In the early days of our relationships, we all get a lot of sex and little sleep and, over the years, that balance tips.
I certainly understand the effort it must take for both of you to work full-time and bring up two rambunctious kids. It’s exhausting! Also, you must not forget that to have a child is to bring another person into your relationship. You are no longer just the two of you — you are now four!
This impacts on all areas of our lives, and it’s ridiculous to think otherwise. Really, let’s not pretend we’re all at it like we were when we were 20. Relationships simply aren’t like that. Biology is simply not like that.
I know one happy couple who haven’t had sex for ten years. A decade has passed, but it hasn’t affected their love for one another. Their relationship has changed, but not diminished. Sex is, after all, a habit. It’s a very enjoyable one, but a habit nonetheless. The more you have it, the more you want it — and the less you have it, well, the less you can be bothered.
Getting back into the habit can be difficult.
It’s not just women who change as they age — men do, too, and it can be daunting to pick things up where they left off.
For you and your husband, it’s been a year. When you go on holiday, you’ll both be relaxed, you’ll be in a bikini, he’ll be in shorts, there’ll be flesh on display . . . I’m not surprised you think he’ll want to have sex.
And here is an important point: there’s nothing wrong with that. Your husband must not be chastised for wanting to make love to his wife.
I’m delighted to hear you are the best of friends. That’s a good place to start. You must now tell your husband how you feel. Talk to him. Explain that you love him, but don’t want to have sex. The not-having-sex part is not that much of a problem — the problem is you not telling him.
Let him chase you round the swimming pool and be rebuffed and he will, understandably, be hurt. Rejection can be incredibly difficult for a man. So tell him before it comes to turning him down and spare his blushes.
A marriage is about love, not sex. Tell him how you feel, shield him from the pain of rejection and enjoy your life — and your holiday — together!
The more you talk about the issue, the less of an issue it will become. You may even find that you change your mind.
If you have a question you’d like Steph and Dom to tackle, write to: email@example.com
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