Libido and Stress

Contrary to popular belief, the modern male isn’t always ‘begging for it’.

BOB is in his mid-30s. He has come to see me because of his flagging libido, which is causing a lot of tension in his long-term marriage. Lesley, his wife, feels rejected and believes that he is no longer attracted to her.

Bob looks tired and distraught when he tells me that this is not the case and that he loves and desires her but does not know what is wrong with him.

He’s not alone. The latest statistics from the Australian Research Center in Sex Health & Society indicates that over the past 12 months there has been a 25 per cent loss of interest in sex among men.

More and more demands are being placed on them at work, in their family life and in shared financial and emotionally commitments. Stress and lack of time is cited by Relationships Australia as one of the major factors of relationship breakdown.

To change this pattern and reignite intimacy, couples need to make plans and set time aside for themselves.

Start by remembering every day to say loving, complimentary things to your partner. Focussing on the negative, and making complaints, make both you and your partner feel irritable, resentful and shut-off from intimacy. Be affectionate touching, hugging and kissing makes you both feel feel relaxed and loved. It is much easier to go from this point to intimacy. I often advise couples to extend their affection from the family pet and children to each other. At least once a week put time aside to do something together that you both enjoy. It is important to have interests in common which are the building blocks to feeling close.

Often couples have felt close in the past but don’t know how to recreate it. A simple way of finding this out is for you to independently write down three experiences when you have felt emotionally and sexually close to your partner. Also note down what you did beforehand, where you were and what time of day it was. This can help you to remember important triggers to intimacy, and how these elements might become more a part of your lives now.

Long-term relationships can become mundane and boring. Flirting and fantasy can help to restore the interest. Try meeting your partner outside the home for date at a club, bar or restaurant. Pretend that you are strangers, adopt a fictitious name and persona and pick up, or be picked up by, this “stranger”.

Continue the role-playing in the bedroom. Tell each other your sexual fantasies and possibly acting out scenarios. Fantasies are bring up layers from our unconscious. The thrill is in being on the finely-balanced edge of control. Don’t feel threatened by them. You can become more confident in, and more comfortable with, your fantasies by reading erotic stories, or perhaps by watching DVDs, such as Candida Royalle’s films made for woman and couples. Also buying a new sex toy can definitely bring excitement to the bedroom.

In counselling I have asked many couples who have been in long-term relationships that they have classified as happy what is the magical ingredient. They have said friendship, trust and communication. These are the things we have to learn as we go along. Having a good relationship is trial and error and there are some essential elements which are needed. If we don’t feel emotionally connected through our communication it’s very difficult to feel loving and sexual. It’s essential to build up an honesty and rapport.

Discovering your partner’s needs, anxieties and desires, as well as sharing your own, will lead to a greater understanding, experimentation and emotional intimacy.