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Health & Sex

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Not Tonight, Honey

"I want to, but I'm [yawn] sooo tired"

We've all experienced that "too worn out for fun" feeling. And couples can get to the point where sex doesn't seem like such fun anyway. "I can't tell you the number of people I treat who go around hugging and kissing their kids all the time, but only give their partner a quick peck when they see each other again in the evening," says Esther Perel, a couples and family therapist in New York City and author of Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic & the Domestic . "The women say, ‘I'm so busy, I have nothing left at the end of the day—you're just one more person who needs something from me.' But these couples are starved for connection with each other."

Sex does take effort and energy. But most women would agree, when pressed, that sex creates energy too. (Think of it as working out. You may not be excited to get on the treadmill, but most of us enjoy that exercise glow once we're "in the zone.")

Making love also creates a connection that soothes women when they're exhausted. "Most women do feel closer to their partners afterward," says Dr. Holstein. "The big problem is that we always forget how good that close feeling can be." (That lapse of memory is so common that Dr. Holstein wrote a poem about it, below.)

What to say to yourself:

Think back to the last time you and your husband had great sex, or even plain old school-night sex, and remember how relaxed you felt in his arms afterward. That makes it easier to reverse the excuse and say, "I'm so tired, I need to have sex" instead of "I'm so tired, I can't have sex."

What to say to him:

"Yes, thank you!" Remember, he's not only asking for something that makes him feel good, "he's offering something that will make you feel good too," says Perel. And just for fun, the two of you can reminisce about how little sleep mattered when you first started having sex.

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