My wife is so stressed by work she doesn’t want to have sex. What can I do?

I do my best to relax her but now we only have sex when she initiates it

My wife believes it is her right to bring home all her work frustrations and dump them on me. When she is stressed she has no desire for sex and we only have sex when she initiates it. I have discussed this one-sidedness with her many times. I’ve done things to help bring down her stress (massages, pampering, catering to her needs) but these only help a little. I am at the stage where I feel numb and indifferent. What can I do?

The state of a couple’s general relationship directly affects their sexual relationship, and the case of you and your wife illustrates that exactly. You are going overboard in trying to soothe and please her, but this is not attacking the root cause of her stress and is causing you to resent her. Stress in itself is likely to lower sexual desire, and this is compounded by her bringing those work frustrations home. It is reasonable to share problems with a partner and expect him to at least listen, but when it becomes too much of a burden, it’s time to set boundaries. Insist that she find self-soothing mechanisms for her stress, and take steps to help reduce her workload so that you are not bearing the brunt of it all. Numbness and indifference are symptoms of depression, which in itself can negatively affect a person’s sexual response. Act now before even more problems arise.

Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to [email protected] (please don’t send attachments). Each week, Pamela chooses one problem to answer, which will be published online. She regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions.

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