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Beverly Whipple, PhD, RN, FAAN

Professor Emerita
Rutgers University of New Jersey
New Brunswick, NJ

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young wife expressing empathy and compassion to her sad frustrated husband.

Marriage and Desire Discrepancy

Ask the Expert


I am 44 and have a very healthy libido. Too healthy! I am in the mood for sex all the time. I have been married just short of 20 years and find myself attracted to someone else because my husband doesn't seem to have the same hunger I do. Any suggestions?


First of all, we have to determine if you define sex by intercourse. Do you receive sexual pleasure and satisfaction from other forms of physical and psychological stimulation?

Next, you need to evaluate how you feel about your marriage—beyond intercourse. Start by sitting down with a pad and pencil. Why do you like being married? Why did you fall in love with your husband? Why do you still love him? Now look at the list carefully...are you sure you want to throw all that away for sex? A marriage is much more than sex, of course, and there are numerous ways to find intimacy within a relationship without intercourse.

However, I'm not suggesting that you go without lovemaking. Perhaps there is a physical reason for your husband's lack of desire. Numerous health conditions can cause a lack of desire in men, including depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, even diabetes or kidney disease. And of course, medications have many sexual side effects. Additionally, stress, anxiety and fatigue can also contribute to problems with erections or desire. So I recommend you talk with your husband about having a comprehensive medical evaluation.

Simultaneously with the doctor's appointment, sit down with your husband and tell him how you're feeling. It's quite likely that he really has no idea that you'd prefer to make love more often. Or maybe he doesn't realize how important the physical part of your relationship is to you. If he has a sexual problem, such as erectile dysfunction (ED) or fear of performance, he may want to consider one of the many new treatments for ED that are now available and relatively safe to use, depending on what medications he is taking.

Or, if the issue isn't ED but, simply, a desire discrepancy, I suggest that the two of you visit an American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) certified sex therapist. You can find certified therapists in your geographic area by going onto and clicking on your state. This will help facilitate communication between you as well as explore any desire discrepancy you may have.

You might also consider sex therapy for yourself to understand any underlying issues that would make you consider a relationship outside of your marriage.

Finally, I suggest you also talk to the therapist and/or your physician about your level of desire. A healthy desire for sex is good; but being in the mood all the time, as you say you are, may be a sign of some other underlying concern.

Start with these steps first and see where they lead before you do something you might regret later.

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