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The Sex-Starved Wife

Sex Starter: Focus on the exceptions continued...

Jeff had become less and less interested in sex. When I asked his wife, Zoe, what had changed, she told me that before they had kids, sex was more spontaneous. Now they had to have planned sex dates, and that was a turnoff for Jeff. Then she said, "The only other thing I can think of is that in the past, I said dirty things when we had sex. I sent him e-mails with erotic messages. I stopped because I've been mad about his lack of interest in me sexually. Now that I think about it, he really used to get fired up when I talked dirty."

It became clear that by doing two simple things, Zoe could help heat up their sex life again. First, she could find ways to introduce spontaneity into their lovemaking. Without telling Jeff, she got her kids invited for sleepovers at friends' houses. When he came home, she seduced him with lingerie and a sexy video. Zoe also used her surefire passion-building technique of the past: talking dirty. Once she realized how well the old trick worked, it was easy to put aside her resentment for the sake of her sexual satisfaction.

Sex Starter: Stop doing more of the same

When there's a problem in life, we generally try to fix it. And if what we do doesn't work, instead of saying to ourselves, "That didn't work — time to do something different," we usually think, That didn't work; guess I didn't do it with enough determination or insist on it loudly enough. I'll need to try again. And guess what happens when you do more of what hasn't been working? If you're thinking, Things stay the same, you're wrong. Things do not stay the same; they get worse.

When you started to notice that your husband was withdrawing sexually, you probably did what any logical woman would do — you talked to him about it. Perhaps he was even receptive to your discussion at first. When his receptivity didn't translate into his becoming more amorous, however, you probably concluded that it was time for more talk. This time you noticed that he seemed less patient and not nearly as receptive. In fact, he seemed rather annoyed. What was supposed to be a heart-to-heart ended up as an argument.

As you try again and again, you may think you're trying something new — bringing up the topic at a different time of day, for example, or finding a new way into it, with humor or pleading. So you may not even realize that you're doing more of the same. How can you tell? It's simple: You hit the same dead ends over and over. And the harder you try, the worse things seem to get.

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