I have never had satisfying sex with my husband. Should I just give up?

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We met 13 years ago when he was exactly what I needed emotionally. From the beginning, however, something wasnt right in the bedroom

I am 55 and have given up on having satisfying sex with my husband. We met 13 years ago when my life was in complete freefall – and I realised he was exactly what I needed at the time: stable, reliable and devoted. However, from the beginning, I knew something wasn’t right in the bedroom. Despite the relatively high number of women he had slept with, we never connected meaningfully. He would give no indication that he wanted me physically, let alone that he found me attractive. He made no first moves when it came to sex and when I complained he said he had come out of a bad relationship and needed time. Eleven years later, I snapped and said (during the act) that I simply couldn’t go through this again. It felt far too forced (I believe on both sides) and I realised that, on top of everything else, I no longer found him attractive. This was devastating for me (and him, I’m sure) as I realised my feelings had completely changed. So much so that I have since been putting off what I now feel to be inevitable, our separation. I know that chemistry isn’t everything in a marriage, but I think it’s equally wrong to dismiss it completely.

Your husband’s lack of sexual interest is not necessarily anything to do with you. There are many reasons why a man may have low libido, so the last thing you should do is allow it to lower your self-esteem. Try to help him trust you as a loving, kind and encouraging partner in seeking a solution. Encourage him to seek medical and psychosexual answers, as he could have low testosterone, vascular problems, depression, anxiety or diabetes; there is a wide range of possibilities and they need to be explored. But consider your own part in this, too: you married him while intuitively knowing he would not readily provide the erotic connection you now feel is essential. Take some time to explore your relationship and find out if an erotic connection is possible or not. Ultimately, you may have to decide what is most important to you now.

Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to private.lives@theguardian.com (please don’t send attachments). Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.

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