My husband and I, who have both just turned 30, have been together for almost 10 years. He has been away a lot because he is in the military. Two years ago, I went off birth control and my sex drive increased significantly. For the past five years, however, we haven’t had sex more than once a week – if that. That’s even when he is home on leave. I get told “no”, and he rarely initiates. We both find ways to satisfy ourselves when the other isn’t around. How do we fix this disconnect? We do love each other, and no one is looking to jump ship. We have also been trying to conceive for the past two years, but it’s hard when you are barely sexually active together.
Long-distance relationships are never easy, and for military couples the absences can significantly affect their erotic connection. And it’s not just that they are away; for some people who serve in the military, the world they enter when they leave home is enormously challenging, and can drastically hamper their ability to return comfortably to family life when on leave. A wide range of feelings can affect their outlook and mood, and the stress they may have been under abroad may not dissipate fast enough to allow for the relaxation and focus one needs to enjoy sex with a spouse.
It seems both of you have developed more robust sex lives with yourselves than with each other, and unless you address this it may prevent you from starting a family. Talk to him in a very loving, non-blaming and non-defensive manner and try to get more information – especially what makes him prefer to refuse sex when you initiate. What is he feeling? Fatigue? Difficulty with arousal or erection? Intrusive thoughts? Sad, guilty or angry feelings? Anxiety about the future? Chronic pain in some part of his body? The true answer will lead you to a way to correct the situation.
•Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.
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