Sex Questions from the Twittersphere: Advice for Dealing with a Husband Who Doesn’t Want Sex.

Qustion: Any advice on dealing with a husband who just doesn’t want it? :'(
(I’ve ‘done it myself’, read For Yourself, but I still tear about it. He has issues, & its hard not to take them on).

Yes, I have several suggestions, plus a kudo for not taking your partner’s issues on, which can indeed be challenging. First, it’s possible some help from a supportive therapist might make a real difference in your life. Ideally, you can get your husband to do a few sessions with you also. If that’s not in the cards:

Make sure your solo sessions are not just perfunctory, but at least once in a while real dates with yourself. The Chinese translation for masturbation is “self-comfort, and that is clearly an element of what you’re doing, but try to make these experiences even more than that and indulge in self-care and self-love. That means it’s good to add in pleasurable elements of other kinds, not just a fast one with you and your vibrator.

I just addressed a question a bit like yours last night on the fun podcast LadyBrain; that woman’s twist was that she and her husband’s sex frequency was low, though not non-existent, and he had added masturbation into his life on a regular basis (or had never slowed down, perhaps, even when the two of them were younger and had a higher sexual frequency). This may be true of your husband also, and it might — *might!* — be possible that you and he can merge your self-pleasuring practice and do it together, at least once in a while. Couples who have never masturbated together don’t know how intimate and lovely this can be, and while it may not be possible for you two, it’s worth suggesting.

Finally, yours is one of the many scenarios that leads couples to choose polyamory, and perhaps that’s something for you to consider together. Can you find either a casual erotic playspace that you’d enjoy (sex party, swing club, etc.), or a lover or two who understand your primary commitment and will not wish to supplant or threaten it? Not everyone is cut out for this kind of intimate sharing, but many, many couples do it, and it can help stabilize relationships that include a degree of sexual incompatibility. At its best it creates stable, ongoing families of erotic affiliation, not just sexual opportunities outside the duo for one or both partners “ not that there’s anything less about that option, as you (going without as you currently are) may well feel.

Here’s some reading material to help you consider the possibilities and skills polyamory could involve for you “ I especially recommend the first one. I’d encourage both of you to read these and discuss, as they say in college. Ideally you two will address this issue together and create a plan that moves you in a direction that allows you to include partnered pleasure in your life once again.

The Ethical Slut (Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy)

Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage (Jenny Block)

Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships (Tristan Taormino)

Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits (Deborah Anapol)

Good luck!–CQ

Dr. Carol Queen

Carol Queen has a PhD in sexology; she calls herself a "cultural sexologist" because her earlier academic degree is in sociology: while she addresses individual issues and couple's sexual concerns, her overarching interest is in cultural issues (gender, shame, access to education, etc.). Queen has worked at Good Vibrations, the woman-founded sexuality company based in San Francisco that turned 35 years old in 2012, since 1990. Her current position is Staff Sexologist and Good Vibrations Historian; her roles include representing the company to the press and the public; overseeing educational programming for staff and others; and scripting/hosting a line of sex education videos, the Pleasure-Ed series, for GV’s sister company Good Releasing. She also curates the company's Antique Vibrator Museum. She is also the founding director of the Center for Sex & Culture, a non-profit sex ed and arts center San Francisco, and is a frequent lecturer at colleges, universities, and community-based organizations. Her dozen books include a Lambda Literary Award winner, PoMoSexuals, and Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture, which are used as texts in some college classes. She blogs at the Good Vibes Magazine and at SFGate's City Brights bloggers page and contributes to the Boston Dig. For more about her at

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