What happens when you are married and love your spouse but no longer feel desire for that person...
Understanding, what happens to the body and the mind as we age can help to resolve this issue. Both men and women can experience loss of desire but for different reasons. As our bodies age, and our minds expand with life experience, so do our feeling surrounding sex. Many times couples are hesitant to talk about this with a partner or have tried but feel as though they are not being heard or understood.
As a couple enters into their 50's and the children are going off to college, they are in a place where the marriage is now focused back on their relationship...As a Clinical Sexologist I see many couples in my private practice struggling with these issues at this stage in their lives. For men and women there are some distinct differences that occur on a biological level.
Men in their 50's and 60's are beginning to make less testosterone and vasopressin and the ratio of estrogen to testosterone increases as men get older. Hormonally the male brain is becoming more like the mature female brain and becomes more responsive to oxytocin (the cuddle hormone, or the bonding hormone). It is not that men do not want to have sex, but instead of lots of sex they begin to prefer the quality of the sexual interaction as opposed to the quantity. One other factor that I often explain to couples is that the male brain now needs more stimulation to become aroused, just like that of a women's brain. A man's in his 20's could see a flash of a women's breasts or legs and get an instant erection, because of the high levels of testosterone, but this is not the case for as they mature. Men need more mental and physical closeness, as well as stimulation to become aroused and maintain an erection. For some men this can become a time of anxiety as they are not able to keep erect for long periods of time and think that something is wrong with them. The fact is that it just takes longer to get an erection and the excitement and help of his spouse to keep him erect.
As women pass through menopause they can experience lack of desire as well. Some women who have a strong sex drive before menopause will continue after menopause to have the same desire but may need to invest in good lubrication. For other women they can loose all desire if their hormone levels are not balanced. The biggest problem that some women face in a marriage is wanting to feel sexual again. Perhaps the sex before menopause, when she did still did have a sex drive was not all that satisfying and now that she no longer feels any desire the though of fixing it, is not important. This is where my experience comes into play as a Clinical Sexologist. I can help couples learn how to have better and more intimate sex, but I cannot do that if a women is completely lacking desire because of loss of testosterone. For some women the symptoms of lack of desire and depression can come before menopause as the brain may become less sensitive to estrogen.
This loss of sensitivity to estrogen can trigger a cascade of symptoms such as hot flashes, joint pain, anxiety, depression, problems sleeping and changing levels of her libido. After menopause many women's brains get used to the lower levels of estrogen, but if the testosterone levels are too low or not there at all then she will physically not feel sexual and may even be turned off by anything sexual. The good news is that it is a simple fix hormonally to balance out the hormones and for her to feel desire, after that then we can begin to work on the intimacy in the marriage and more satisfying sex.