Dear Dr. Faizal,

My husband and I had an amazing active sex life for the first 20 years of our marriage. People told us it would fizz out after kids but it didn’t. We maintained our spontaneity and desire for one another through thick and thin – we’ve been through a lot in the last few decades. But in the last few months, our sex life has started deteriorating. He is unable to hold an erection and wants sex less and less. Recently, we had sex for the first time in two weeks and he didn’t finish. I may be jumping to conclusions but I think he’s cheating on me. How can I confirm my suspicions without hurting him (if I’m wrong)?

– Sex-picious

Dear Sex-picious,

Your sex life, the way you’ve described it, seems beyond the norm! I mean, “maintain[ing] [your] spontaneity and desire for one another through thick and thin”, and for 20 years, is something that is rare in the best of couples.

I’m hearing that you enjoy sex and want to continue the quality and frequency of sex with your husband that you enjoyed over the years. Any deviation from your norm leads you to believe that your partner may be cheating on you. I’m wondering if you’re using sex (or the lack of it) as a thermometer to gauge the quality of your relationship. Could you and your husband, despite “having been through a lot in the last decades” and still having sex, mean that your relationship is fine? If so, now that sex is less frequent, do you fear that you may have to face other issues in your relationship? If what I’m sensing resonates with you, find a good couples counsellor and begin exploring the deeper issues in your marriage that have so far been covered up by sex.

On the other hand, if my ‘spidey senses’ are wrong, let’s look at the more practical ways men develop erectile issues. If you’ve been married for over 20 years, I guess your husband is either in, or soon approaching, his middle age years. With increasing age and decreasing testosterone, a man eventually slows down sexually. He needs more time to get excited, his erection is not as hard, and he becomes more tired, even during sex. Think about it: a 20-year old Porsche cannot perform as well as a brand new one, right? So, you husband may just be exhibiting signs of growing older. This is natural and something you will need to adapt to and accept.

Medical concerns also plague some men in the bedroom. Erectile issues can be caused by diabetes, prostate problems, certain heart conditions, and high cholesterol, to name just a few. It may be a good idea for you to suggest that your husband get a physical with a full range of bloodwork. In fact, schedule your own physical at the same time and make it a ‘date.’

I would be direct with your husband. Using a non-judgmental tone, say something like, “I enjoyed all the sex we’ve had throughout our marriage. Lately though, it seems that we aren’t having as much. I’m just wondering if you’re aware?” Of course, he’s aware but you want to create a safe environment for him to share his thoughts. Encourage him to do so. Who knows, perhaps your husband’s response would be as simple as he’d like more variety in sex and he didn’t know how to ask you. I’m sure you’d be open to helping him solve his problem, right?

Whatever the issue, as my daughters’ preschool teacher said, “There’s always a solution.”

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