In many cases, it’s true. But Sugrue will first explore whether there are other medical or emotional factors that are poisoning desire -- anger and substance abuse, for example.
But more often than not, Sugrue says, tiredness rather than a lack of attraction is a legitimate excuse for sex avoidance.
"The bottom line is, to be sexual does require some energy. If someone is tired, it’s not surprising that it can be antithetical to having a strong sexual appetite," he says.
For example, Sugrue points to the two-income couple at the peak of their career. The wife may complain that she comes home after working all day to take up her next job -- making dinner, checking homework, doing dishes, folding laundry, and preparing the next day’s lunches.
"The last thing she wants to do is put on something from Victoria’s Secret and get into bed. It’s hard to argue that point," Sugrue says.
For men, who are slightly more likely to claim that work leaves them too exhausted for sex, sleep apnea may be the culprit, Sugrue says.
If it’s a lack of energy that’s causing the libido to lag, Sugrue says he’ll work with the couple to make sure desire doesn’t die in the interim.
"We want to make sure there’s an effort to be close, even if it isn’t in the throes of coitus. We’re trying to make sure that they’re not ignoring the relationship," he says. Reassuring the partner that he or she is attractive and being honest about being tired -- and of course, seeking treatment for a sleep disorder -- will help keep love alive.
Question No. 3: Is My Timing Off?
Nighttime may simply not be the right time for sex for some people.
McCarthy suggests changing your routine to accommodate meaningful sex and sleep. Try sex in the morning, earlier in the evening, after a nap, or while the kids are at dance class or soccer practice.
Couples might also try cuddling rather than having intercourse in order to foster closeness and sleepiness -- even if one partner is feeling frisky. It’s important to respect the other’s needs and to recognize that intimacy isn’t always about sex, McCarthy says. "It’s not a question of quantity, but quality. Good quality experiences can facilitate good feelings and sleep."