Each week we tackle a different sex problem her at The Hotbed Collective. Do you have a problem which you would like us to help sort out?
Then email us at www. thehotbedcollective.com This is the third in our series. Dr Karen Gurney, @thesexdoctor on Instagram, and director of the Havelock Clinic, answers one reader question...
Hi Dr Karen,
My husband has become absolutely fanatical about cycling and spends every spare moment in the mornings, evenings and weekends cycling or planning to cycle.
I have 4 children and find myself on my own looking after them and feeling really resentful. I feel like this might be a mid-life crisis thing as he is obsessive now about his weight, food and cycling equipment. I find it a real turn off and we haven't had sex in months.
How can I get more intimacy between us and what would you suggest if your other half becomes an obsessive? Do i just forget about sex and pursue my own interests?
From Anonymous x
This is a really good topic to write in about, thank you.
One commonly held idea in sex therapy about keeping passion and desire in long term relationships is that to keep passion you must also keep distance between you where you can. For example, spending too much time together, having no separate interests, meeting all of each others needs is less conducive to hot sex than having friendships independent of each other, or having time apart that makes you both feel like ‘you’.
The idea is that this allows you to value time together more, and bring things into the relationship from the outside world which keep the relationship feeling alive. However, just recently an article in a professional journal caught my interest as it looked at this in more detail, and it found that although separateness and ‘autonomy’ are good for relationships and sex, what is more important to the quality of the sex life and maintenance of desire is that they are evenly balanced in the couple. What this means in reality is whether you have little time apart and are each others shadow, or lots of time apart and very separate interests doesn’t really matter- as long as it is equitable between the two of you.
In some ways your husband’s new found passion is a good thing, as it’s creating time for him to be him outside of the family, giving him the autonomy outside of the two of you that might be important to his desire and probably having positive consequences to how he’s feeling about his body. All of this could be good for your sex life in theory. The down side is it doesn’t sound like the two of you are able to be very equitable, and perhaps that’s the problem.
This is a tricky dilemma with kids isn’t it? The time that one of you takes for themselves has to come from the time the other one has for their self. It’s like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. This means that if you don’t take equal time for each other it can quickly turn into a sense of resentment, and this can obviously impact on sex negatively.
It’s up to you whether you say something or not, but my guess from what you’ve said is that if you don’t, your sex life could dwindle and the resentment might build. To redress it might be hard as he might have to curtail some of his new found interest to allow you some time to embark on something that gives you the same enjoyment, freedom and feel good factor- even if it’s very different to being the next Bradley Wiggins.
Good luck with it.
Dr Karen x
(Image source: http://www.vintag.es/2016/04/cycling-around-amsterdam-in-1970s.html)