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Health & Sex

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Are You Spouses or Just Roommates?

You've drifted into a sexless marriage. Can this relationship be saved? Yes, experts say.

The Anatomy of Love

First step: Be realistic. If you're looking for the swept-off-your feet sex of those first few years, dream on. And a new partner certainly isn't the solution. Three years later, you'll have the same sizzle-less marriage you have right now.

"The initial passion of any relationship changes after 18 months," says Sallie Foley, MSW, director of the Center for Sexual Health at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Modern Love and Sex and Love for Grownups.

"It moves from the romantic and exciting to an attachment kind of loving, fondness," Foley tells WebMD. "That gotta have it, gotta have it feeling is gone."

Take stock of what you want, she advises. If you want a sex life, then commit to making it happen, Foley says. "Not everyone wants a sex life as they head into last third of life. But AARP studies show that 65% remain sexually active."

Put aside the romanticized, silver-screen notions of sex, Foley says. "The majority of people your age are having good-enough sex. Occasionally, they have sex that knocks it out of the ballpark. But they're having sex regularly. They're getting into bed, hugging and touching, canoodling as I call it, and they're doing it on a regular basis."

You've also got to set aside negative attitudes about your spouse. "You have to give up fantasy notions that he or she is suddenly going to be 20 pounds lighter with no cellulite. You have to decide, 'This is what I want, how do I proceed,'" she advises.

Then, have "the talk" with your spouse. You have to be willing to say this to your partner: "We need to jazz up our sex life. We have fallen into some bad habits. I'm not going to settle for this level. We need to have sex, the same as we do other things that are important to us. We have to set aside time for it.'"

He's Just Not Up for It?

If your partner is unwilling, here's your dialogue: "We need to go for a brief round of counseling to get our priorities straight. I'm not willing to settle for a relationship where you sit in a chair, pop a few beers, and our sex life is over."

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