The problem with the fairy tale is that it ends before the mortgage, the kids, the stress, the routine.
There are ways to make it better.
And we dug into them with one of the Bay Area's most esteemed relationship coaches. If you're bored. If you feel content but not excited. If you can't stop thinking about that girl — even though you love someone at home — this one's for you.
For feedback, we looked to clinical therapist Katherine McCaskie, LCSW, a specialist in the interpersonal. "Feeling emotionally and physically vulnerable and exposed, yet safe and accepted for who you, are is the apex of intimacy," McCaskie says. "This can be tough for men to reach, however, since many cultures — erroneously — associate vulnerability with weakness."
If that sounds like a catch-22, it is — but McCaskie says it's still worth sorting out. "The bond you'll share [through working on intimacy] becomes bigger than your individual needs or desires. The best sex is ultimately an act of intense intimacy." When we suggest that a lifetime of, uh, adult movie viewing has taught us that novelty is, in fact, the best path to exciting sex, she demurs: "By definition, novelty is fun for a minute — but you probably already know that that excitement never lasts. On the other hand, taking risks and exploring the thoughts and feelings of someone you already love really can improve your sex life. For sure, intimacy can take harder work than seeking novel thrills — but if you put in effort, the rewards will be there over the long haul."
Below, a few case studies from guys looking for some answers. And to schedule an appointment with McCaskie, get in touch with her (her schedule favors busy executives) or call her up in the North Bay — (628) 400-2601 — for more information.
I love my wife but our sex life sucks, and I find myself drawn to other women. Is there a case for just letting temptation take over and releasing the pressure?
I'm going to assume you're not just being a d*** and looking for permission to cheat.
It's normal to find other women or men attractive after you're already in a committed relationship. Making a case for acting on the temptation, however, requires you to first consider the causes of your unfulfilled sex life. Ask yourself what else is going on in your relationship that may be impacting your sex life. Have there been changes that are making it harder to spend time together? How comfortable do you feel communicating these feelings to your wife? Are you feeling accepted as a husband?
Your question also depends on where you are both coming from in terms of expectations about sex and your relationship. If you and your wife are communicating openly about this issue and feel a strong foundation of trust and commitment, you might discuss introducing "taboo" elements into your sex life. Explore the world of sex toys, read erotic stories to each other, or tell her some of your sexual fantasies — and ask for hers. Choose your favorite online video — and send her the link.
If, however, you are considering having sex with a partner outside your marriage without telling your wife, that will most certainly not improve your sex life.
After 10 years and two kids. I feel like I don't know who my wife is anymore. How do we get to know each other again?
This is really common. After 10 years and two kids, the excitement of falling in love has faded far into the past, and life has become a series of mundane routines. It's the rare couple that doesn't go through a period of wondering "Who the hell did I marry?"
Make time each night, perhaps after the kids are in bed, to sit facing each other. Spend a few minutes talking about your day, one at a time, and then share one memory each from when you were first married. Take time to notice and share things you appreciate about each other now, as parents and partners — perhaps something about how your wife acts towards your children that touches you. Make a list of things you would like to do together and get a babysitter or the grandparents to schedule in some dates and start checking off the list. Learn something new together, like rock climbing. Touch each other in new ways, affectionately and sexually. The sooner you start, the easier it will get.
My wife is always telling me she wishes we were closer — but just her saying this is driving me crazy. What's happening here? I love her — but sometimes I don't want to be in the same room with her.
Have you asked your wife what she means by "closer"? It is not uncommon for couples to make assumptions about what a partner means without clarifying — particularly after years of being together. Are you feeling turned off because she's coming across as needy or insecure?
I'm wondering if there are changes in your life together that have her feeling frustrated or defeated that may be contributing to the insecurity about your relationship. Job change or new schedules? A baby? Consider making an appointment to talk to her about it — a day and time that you will both commit to, perhaps over dinner at a restaurant or somewhere else that feels comfortable. Ask her explicitly what she means by "closer." What would your relationship look like if it you were closer? The act of making time for this conversation shows you care about her thoughts and feelings and also allows you to share your own with her. Tell her what does turn you on. Remember together the kinds of things that you did or said to each other in the past that fostered intimacy. Share some memories — the sexier, the better — with each other that remind you of what brought you together in the first place.
Your question also makes me wonder what you may be thinking but not saying. Do you actually want to get around this obstacle? Is she responding to you pulling away emotionally? If this is the case, it would be beneficial for you to see a therapist who could help you explore your mixed feelings and figure out the best next steps for yourself and your wife.