‘After 20 years, I don’t want to have sex with my husband – but I do it anyway’: Woman, 47, who is perimenopausal, reveals she would rather have a cup of hot chocolate than physical intimacy
- Recent study revealed 27 per cent of 40 to 55-year-olds are still keen on sex
- Yvonne Walker admits she makes excuses not to be intimate with her husband
- 47-year-old said despite being 12 years younger, she doesn’t have the energy
Last week, my husband cooked my favourite meal of crab linguine as a surprise. He’d also bought a beautiful card telling me how proud of me he is, and apologising for taking me for granted.
I was flabbergasted, as Ben is not known for spontaneous outbursts of emotion — except when watching rugby. It reminded me why I married him; he’s kind, sexy, handsome and a mean cook.
But instead feeling lucky, I started worrying about what was coming next. Romantic evenings are supposed to end up in the bedroom. But all I wanted to do was pull on my elasticated pyjamas and go to sleep on my own.
Rather than of enjoying the meal, I spent it working out a way to remove myself tactfully from the room.
Yvonne Walker, 47, revealed she makes excuses not to have sex with her husband because she doesn’t have the energy (file image)
We’re constantly told, these days, that women are just as keen on sex as men. Sorry, but I’m much more in the Claudia Winkleman camp. She recently made the frank admission that she puts too much pressure on herself to have sex frequently, and I couldn’t help but sympathise.
Last week, a major study reported that menopausal women are still extremely keen on sex, with 27 per cent of 40 to 55-year-olds rating sexual intimacy as ‘highly important throughout midlife’. The problem is, I am 47 and perimenopausal and my hormones — oestrogen and testosterone levels decline steeply in the mid-40s — have other ideas. I can honestly say that I would rather have a cup of hot chocolate than sex.
There’s an often-quoted statistic that men think about sex 19 times a day, women ten. The only time I think about it is when my husband brings the subject up. And all too often, what I think is ‘what excuse can I find this time?’
It’s not that we don’t have sex at all. I even offer it, occasionally, because I know it makes him happy and I never wish I hadn’t bothered afterwards. I have seen too many relationships end when a couple become friends who share a bed.
I have also seen too many men try to find intimacy elsewhere. Sometimes I worry my husband might do the same, but he insists one woman is enough for any man to cope with — sex or not.
Still, our reality is long fallow periods, followed by an occasional weekend where, perhaps, the house is empty and there’s not too much else on my plate and we have sex twice, or even three times.
Yvonne who has been married for 11 years, admits she doesn’t fancy her husband anymore and prefers a gentle touch to having sex (file image)
Afterwards he is the happiest man alive. He whistles; he does the shopping. He’s even less grumpy with me. The result is that I feel horribly guilty as I realise I am depriving him of his favourite pastime.
I try to make it up to him. I offer cuddles and kisses, but he’s not a big fan of either. He says it feels like I am teasing him — which irritates me in turn.
After all, I need intimacy, too. It’s just that I long for hugs and gentle touch rather than sex. After 22 years together and 11 years of marriage, it’s not that I don’t fancy him any more.
He makes me laugh, he is intelligent and great in bed; it is just that I have lost a large part of my desire. I explain it’s my hormones, but I think he sees that as an excuse. I wish he knew mutual affection and affirmation are more important to me than sex.
When we met we had a lot of sex — more than once a day. Although he is now 59 and I’m 47, the age gap has never bothered me. His mates have always been jealous. When he first put a picture of me on his desk, his secretary asked why he had a model’s picture sitting there. When he told her I was his new girlfriend, she didn’t believe him.
Now, I look back at those days in astonishment; he, with wistful longing. He often reminds me that when I was trying to get pregnant ten years ago, we had sex five times a day. ‘I’m just a sperm bank to you, aren’t I?’ he jokes.
I realise it’s a matter of pride for him. These days, his mates down the pub still give him the nod and the wink when they ask about me. He doesn’t contradict their long-held perception that he is the luckiest man alive because his wife is 12 years younger.
Yvonne said she was flabbergasted when her husband suggested sex shortly after discovering someone they knew had committed suicide (file image)
Because of the age gap, people assume he should have slippers and a pipe, and I should be chasing him round the bedroom. But despite his best efforts — buying me flowers and taking me on mini-breaks — I just can’t summon up the energy. There wasn’t a moment when I told him I no longer wanted intimacy. And when I do, eventually, work my way up to initiating sex, I enjoy it.
But there’s always something else claiming my attention. Last month, our youngest barged in and asked: ‘What are you two doing?’ Homeworking is also to blame, thanks to Covid. I’m always listening for the phone, or the ping of an email. When we try to have sex, I can’t switch off my brain.
It isn’t a problem my husband has. Last week, we were told someone we know had committed suicide. I was deeply upset. Yet shortly afterwards, Ben suggested sex as if nothing had happened. I was flabbergasted and yelled at him for being self-centred. Sometimes, we do joke about our very different approaches. He says if we went back to our old ways now, the shock of it would probably give him a heart attack. But there’s a serious point there, too.
Yvonne admits she feels selfish and mean because at times her husband looks genuinely sad about the way things are (file image)
After a few glasses of wine recently, I confessed how I felt to three close female friends. After a bit of coaxing they agreed that, once you’re out of the habit of having sex, it’s hard to start again. A mental barrier grows and the sheer effort of breaking it down means most of us don’t even try.
We all found it hard to admit that we’ve pretty much given up but once I started talking, it freed the others to say the same. One, also perimenopausal, has erratic periods and confessed that she tells her husband it’s her ‘time of the month’ when it isn’t. Another invents bouts of irritable bowel syndrome. It has almost become a competition to see who can make up the most believable excuse.
None has sat down and told their husband they no longer want sex. But after a couple of rebuffs, many men take the hint and give up.
At times, my husband looks genuinely sad about the way things are now, and it breaks my heart. I feel selfish and mean. He does so many lovely things for me and I am making him miserable.
It’s a constant compromise. You have sex enough to make your husband or partner happy, but it’s obvious that it’s never enough. I have thought of asking him if he worries I don’t love him or fancy him any more. But what if he says ‘yes’? That will make me feel worse and I don’t want to have sex purely because I feel bad.
For me and many other women, sex is just not a priority. It’s time more of us admitted it and stopped feeling so guilty: we just don’t want to have sex.
The author’s name has been changed
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