“I’m asking this for a friend,” Ludo writes. Ludo’s girlfriend is 66 years old, and he and his wife (50) have a 10-year-old child together. “Now it comes: my boyfriend and his wife have not had sex with each other for four years and have lived as brother and sister the whole time. His wife has gained a few kilos since the birth of their child, which makes her no. no longer attractive to my friend. Also, she doesn’t want to wear skirts or pantyhose any more and my friend asks about it, then she says: ‘then you should have married another woman’.”
Ludo’s girlfriend is now considering seeking his sexual desires from someone other than his own wife. Ludo: “I advised him against this. But what can I advise him? What can he do to avoid having to seek refuge elsewhere? And more importantly: Can my boyfriend and his wife still have a relationship with all that embellishment?”
“Yes,” says sexologist Jolien Spoelstra, who very regularly sees couples with similar problems in her practice. “Their relationship is definitely still salvageable, but then they have to be flexible and communicate better with each other. Now I sense very little flexibility in their conversations and that certain things – like her not wanting to dress differently – lead to an argument. It it’s good if they realize that people change, that you have to keep doing your best for each other, and that the other person doesn’t necessarily stay with you.”
It makes no sense, according to Spoelstra, to keep focusing on ‘that one pound or that one wrinkle’ on your partner. “If you only focus on looks – on things that are transient – you’re going in the wrong direction. She’s changed over the years. He’s undoubtedly changed, too. You’re always changing, it makes sense, especially when you become older and when a child is born. When people, their relationships and circumstances change, so, by definition, does gender change. The trick is to adapt to the new situation and answer the questions: Why don’t I want more sex? What suits us now?”
Spoelstra often hears couples say that ‘in the beginning everything went by itself’. “Then I always have to laugh a little, because if there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that everything is staged at the beginning. If you have a first date, you often spend days on it. look well-groomed, your house is cleaned, your bed has been changed and the restaurant has been carefully selected. Then it clicks, you end up in your clean bed together and it seems as if everything happened by itself, but in practice you have already been there for three days busy preparing everything down to the last detail.”
Netflix in sweatpants
Once you are in a (long-term) relationship, this preparation often disappears, you put less effort into each other and before you know it, you are exhausted in sweatpants next to each other on the couch watching Netflix, Spoelstra outlines. “For most people, there’s nothing sexual about it. But what’s not there at the time could arise. I often instruct couples to look for another kind of connection. Compliment the other. Have a nice kiss again , shower together and/or give each other a massage. Touch each other. These things can then lead to other things, maybe even sex.”
Women in particular often have a so-called ‘responsive desire’, says Spoelstra. “This means that they can have sex if they experience sexual stimulation. Many men think, ‘Why should I touch you, tell you you look beautiful, take a shower with you if you don’t want sex?’ ‘ But in these ways you can actually build the sentence.’
Does this also fail to reconnect? Then Spoelstra recommends taking a step back. “Make yourself beautiful for each other. Go out to dinner and try to have a good conversation. Play a game with each other. It starts with doing your best for each other (again).
In the case of Ludo’s friend, he might ask quizzically why she has started dressing differently. “For example, he could ask the question, ‘I see you no longer wear skirts. Is there a reason why that has changed?'” Of course, she doesn’t need anything if she doesn’t want to or feel like it. I don’t feel comfortable in it anymore, but if she knows he finds skirts very attractive, she might consider it. It starts with asking questions, being open to each other and discussing your wishes with each other.’
Cheating – as Ludo’s girlfriend considered – is definitely not a good idea. “If you have sex with another person behind someone’s back, you jeopardize the relationship of trust, and that is often very difficult to restore,” says sexologist Spoelstra. “If it turns out that they really don’t need sex with each other, but want to stay together, you can consider ‘outsourcing’ this part. Then you agree that you can have sex with others. if you make good agreements that this could work. You wouldn’t be the first couple for whom it works.”
Category: Asking for a friend
In this weekly column Asking for a friend we send reader questions about health to one of our experts. Do you also have an urgent health question for a general practitioner, obstetrician, dietician, psychologist, sexologist or other (health) expert? Mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org and you might see the answer here soon.