Dear Dr. D:
My wife and I are about to see a therapist to talk about the absence of sex in our almost-perfect union. We have been together for 7 years, married for 3. We love each other and are extremely satisfied in all other aspects. The problem is that it's almost like we have become platonic best friends... This is not ok with either of us. It makes us covet our friends' steamy sex lives and look at each with sorrow during sex scenes on TV.
In the beginning we had sex like rabbits and it was freaking amazing! (Thoughts of those glory days just brought a shameful grin to my face.) Then the sex began to slowly fizzle about 2 years after we started dating. It also seemed to coincide with confessions of sexual abuse in both of our pasts. Now neither of us really have any sort of libido.
The truth is we both have been secretly sad about this missing element. (We just had a nice, loving cry session together.) Another curve ball is that I seem to have an aversion to therapy (trust issues) so I avoid it like it's the plague.
I DO want to fix this part of "us," but I need help accepting that I need help. I need someone who will make me talk about sex and the skeletons in the closet or things won't improve…
If you’ve never been in therapy to work through the issues of sexual abuse, I’d say that’s where you need to start. Victims of sexual abuse, generally speaking, fall on one of the extremes of the libido spectrum: Either hypersexual or hyposexual. You can’t move forward in life until you work through your baggage ~ not a great reality for someone who identifies as being therapy avoidant.
Speaking of which, if the issues keeping you from seeking therapy are around trust, working with a therapist should be the slam-dunk. Unlike the rest of the people in your life, a therapist is bound by law and by license to maintain confidentiality, to have appropriate responses to your disclosures and to provide the safety necessary for you to heal. It’s virtually a guarantee.
Now let’s talk about LBD (lesbian bed death), a phenomenon that is NOT unique to the lesbian culture (though we have a term coined in our honor), but one which is said to occur between lesbian couples who are in sexless, long term relationships. If lesbians are at any more risk for this hyposexuality than the rest of the population (and I’d argue this), it is because we are more likely to stay with a partner in the absence of sex than other demographics are.
I’ve written at length about LBD. One of my articles proposed a 30 day experiment (link to it here). If you follow that 30 plan (and enter therapy), I suspect you’ll see a vast improvement in your sex life. The bottom line is that maintaining an exciting sex life requires thought and work. Relationships become routine after some time. This routine is not a bad thing – it’s necessary to create the safety that promotes long-term love and security. The downside to this safety/security is that we lose the main ingredient for sex: Spontaneity.
So your homework, TheraPhobe, includes following my 30 Day LBD Program and getting that sexless ass of yours into therapy. Email me if the shrink didn’t work out and you need more names.