Last week my wife wrote an article in Femail in which she admitted that she no longer wants to have sex with me.
No man welcomes that sort of information, but I can’t say I was hugely surprised. Yvonne has never been a shrinking violet — at least when it comes to talking about our sex life.
There is a myth that men talk about sex all the time. In my experience, it’s the other way around: after her girly wine evenings, I’ve even been (very unwillingly) regaled with the alleged ‘size’ of husbands I know.
My male friends and I, on the other hand, rarely discuss the finer details of our sex lives. We might discuss who we would like to have sex with — the raven-haired, curvy and doe-eyed Nigella Lawson is usually at the top of my list; even better, she is an accomplished chef — but we are all far too embarrassed to go into intimate details of our own relationships.
Ben Walker who is nearly 60, thinks his wife Yvonne, 47, should feel guilty for not wanting to have sex with him (file image)
Some things should stay private. And even if we did want to talk about it, I’m not sure we’d know where to start.
After Yvonne wrote her article last week, however, I now think it is important that we men who have been married or in a relationship for a long time have our say.
My problem is this: I married a gorgeous, sexy younger woman whom I adore, and who made me incredibly happy, in part because of our very fulfilling sex life. Eleven years later, she is still just as attractive but, when it comes to sex, most of the time she wants nothing to do with me.
I understand that she is suffering hormonal changes and I know this affects her desire. I don’t take it personally, but neither can I pretend it doesn’t bother me. In fact, it can be hugely frustrating, since I still find her sexy and have to spend half my time pretending I don’t, for fear of upsetting her.
It’s not that we don’t have sex at all any more, it’s just that it has become so erratic.
When we first met 20 years ago we had a lot of sex, often before work and then again at night.
As Yvonne worked shift patterns, I would occasionally nip home at lunchtime for a liaison — which felt extremely decadent. I’d walk back to work with a spring in my step, knowing male colleagues were envious when I hinted at what I’d been doing while they were eating their cheese sandwiches.
Then, 12 years ago, she decided she wanted children. I wasn’t so sure, as I felt I was too old. Still, I was pretty easily won round when she insisted we have sex at least three times a day to ensure she got pregnant — which worked like a charm.
Ben and Yvonne who’ve been together for 20 years, have sex about twice a month but Ben admits he would love to be intimate daily (file image)
Since we became parents, my desire has not changed one iota despite our age gap. I am nearly 60 and she is 47, something that has always been an immense source of pride to me. What man my age wouldn’t love to have a gorgeous younger woman on his arm?
I readily acknowledge that, when it comes to looks, I am punching above my weight, but the gap in our sexual desire is becoming more of a chasm. My libido has never flagged and I’d still love to have sex daily, but her interest has evaporated.
Currently we have sex about twice a month, usually in the same weekend. Over the past few years, I have tried to charm and seduce her many times, but the answer is so often an uncomfortable ‘no’ that I have finally given up trying to initiate sex altogether. The rejection leaves us both feeling bad.
So I’m resigned to waiting ages for a night when she lets me know she is open to my advances.
Being blunt: In last week’s Femail
When she does, it’s in a fairly blunt way these days; perhaps she feels I won’t pick up on any subtler signals after so often being told no. As soon as she asks, of course, I can’t get up the stairs fast enough.
Afterwards, I invariably get my hopes up that her sex drive has started to return, then they are promptly dashed by three weeks of nothing.
I even took her on a couples’ mini-break to a stunning part of Wales last year and we didn’t have sex once. I didn’t arrange it with sex in mind, exactly, but it would have been nice.
At bedtime, she was tired and wanted to cuddle. Lying in bed next to someone you lust after when you’re expected to just ‘cuddle’ is tantamount to cruelty.
Honestly, I do feel short-changed. When we got married, we made a commitment to each other and I believe it should last for life. And with marriage comes sex — as I see it, you cannot have one without the other. It feels as if she is not sticking to her side of the bargain.
I will confess that a close friend of hers has begun looking more and more attractive to me recently, as have some women colleagues.
Of course, I would never be unfaithful — it wouldn’t solve our problem anyway, as we both love each other very much and want to be together — but I admit there is a temptation to indulge in fantasies.
Ben said the more Yvonne talks about her symptoms of the menopause, the more he starts to switch off (file image)
At the same time, I try to be sympathetic. The mood swings caused by ‘the change’ are selfevident and, as a captive audience, I hear about her other symptoms in great detail. There are the heart palpitations, the brain fog, bloated stomach, forgetfulness and the way she keeps loading dirty crockery alongside clean items in the dishwasher.
But frankly, the more she talks about it, the more I start to switch off. I don’t witter on about my baldness, expanding waistline or worries about prostate cancer; so I cannot see why she feels the need to tell me about the menopause.
We have discussed our bedroom drought occasionally, matter-of-factly. But it always ends the same way: I ask her when we can have sex again, and she gets cross and says she can’t help her feelings.
She has even said that if I did more around the house, she might be more inclined to have sex.
I’m afraid I have absolutely no idea what housework and sex have to do with each other. You either want it or you don’t — simple.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not a selfish man who takes his own pleasure and ignores what a woman wants. It’s important to me that sex should be something both of us enjoy.
But I really do think my desire for sex is hardwired into me by evolution. Sex makes me extremely happy. It’s not just the act but the whole package of enjoying each other’s bodies and knowing that you have made your partner feel good.
I am sure Yvonne still loves me because when we do have sex, it is great for both of us. And I agree that her hormones are the reason she is not as keen any more, but this doesn’t make the drought easier.
Whatever I do seems to go wrong. For example, she talked in her article about how I recently cooked her favourite meal — crab linguine — and gave her a card saying how much I care.
Ben who admits he’s not good at showing affection, said he feels it should be obvious to Yvonne that he loves her (file image)
She interpreted this as a seduction attempt and spent the evening feeling miserably uncomfortable before making an excuse to go to bed . . . to sleep.
Well, sorry darling, but I wasn’t desperately hinting anything. The crab was two days old and needed eating up. And I bought that card because I know, after 20 years together, that I sometimes, unwittingly, take you for granted. It did not cross my mind that we would have sex that night. Sex in our house is as rare as hen’s teeth; and that’s being kind.
I know I’m not good at showing affection. I am an introvert and do not see the need to tell people I love them all the time. But I feel it should be obvious to Yvonne that I love her; I wouldn’t still be married to her if I didn’t.
The other week she had a go at me while I was watching rugby, saying I showed more passion watching ‘hairy men mauling a bag of wind’ than I do towards her. I’m afraid she is not entirely wrong. I first accosted a rugby ball aged four and played the game well into my 30s. It is like a religion to me and many other men; it satisfies a primeval urge.
But I certainly do feel passionate towards her — and the proof of that isn’t in romantic gestures, it’s in the fact that I am keen to actually have sex, any time and anywhere she’d like. Instead she constantly asks for hugs and cuddles, which I admit I can’t abide.
Ben said he doesn’t think it’s right for him to go around feeling pathetically grateful to Yvonne for granting him the odd night of passion (file image)
Yvonne says she wants affection from me but I think what she really wants is affirmation. I am a secure and self-contained individual and I do not need to be told I am loved or have ‘a hug’ to feel secure. I genuinely can’t understand why she does.
She also tries to hold my hand in public, which I find embarrassing and unseemly. It is something a child does for reassurance.
Looking back, I realise this has always been the case for her, but at the start of the relationship our hugs and kisses came naturally, as we were having sex so often. Perhaps neither of us realised at the time that we had rather different needs when it came to physical contact.
Yvonne was, and is, a stunning woman, and I love her and feel lucky to be her husband. But I don’t think it’s right that I should go around feeling pathetically grateful to her for granting me the odd night of passion when it comes to the physical side of things. After all, she wanted to marry me, too.
She says she feels guilty about saying ‘no’ to sex and, if I am really honest, I think she should. Sex is a fundamental building block of any intimate human relationship. Is having sex with my wife regularly too much to ask? I don’t think so.
The author’s name has been changed.