Sex Therapy Books or other resources
April 7, 2015 6:58 AM   Subscribe

My wife told me last night that she has lost interest in sex. We'd like to go see a couples sex therapist, but that's not something we can afford at the moment. Until that changes, can you recommend books or online resources that might be able to help us?
posted by moonroof to Human Relations (14 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

Best answer: The book "Come As You Are" is... well, I'll go with how the author's page describes it: "An essential exploration of why and how women’s sexuality works—based on groundbreaking research and brain science—that will radically transform your sex life into one filled with confidence and joy."

I recommend it to EVERYONE, even if they think they have a great sex life already. It's a good, solid read - and while it's soundly based in research, it's also very, very accessible. Plenty of good anecdotes and things to consider, some non-cheesy quizzes that help identify the issues.. By page 30, I had already been totally surprised by a bunch of things - and I consider myself to be relatively well-educated about sexuality.
posted by VioletU at 7:09 AM on April 7, 2015 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I can highly, highly recommend the book Come As You Are. It's a research-based look at women's desire/sexuality that has a pretty strong self-help slant, with exercises you can do at the end of most chapters that lead you through how to put the information into action.

I'd actually highly recommend you both read it--it overturns several pieces of conventional wisdom about how women's desire, arousal, and sexual satisfaction are "supposed" to work, and in particular the author spends a lot of time going through the issue of women who have lost interest in sex and why that happens and what can help. I found it really invaluable in my marriage after I had a kid.

on preview: jinx!
posted by iminurmefi at 7:13 AM on April 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

I feel like I'm missing a huge chunk of information here.

It's a really, really good sign that you say "we" when you talk about the sex therapist, because that means that you're already both approaching this as a team thing (meaning, she wants to do something about it too, not just you). But there's actually a lot of reasons why someone can lose interest in sex, like -

* age
* hormonal changes
* pain
* fatigue
* unresolved issues from her past that she's just starting to deal with
* there's something she is just starting to realize she wants sexually that she doesn't think you'll do
* maybe she just plain doesn't know but wants to figure it out

Those are all very different problems with very different solutions. Fortunately, some may not even need a therapist (for example, if you both realize that she's just plain tired because she's doing most of the housework, you taking on a greater share or getting some outside help to give her a break could fix that right there).

So - do either of you know what may be behind that loss of interest? Maybe some time spent thinking about that would be a good place to start, especially if she's in the "damned if I know why this is happening" stage right now.

Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:25 AM on April 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

The book I <3 Female Orgasm was a revelation for me. But also, I agree with EmpressCallipygos. There are a billion reasons why people lose interest in sex, and while many of them are totally fixable, they don't all have the SAME fix.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:49 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Unless you mean "sexual surrogate" when you say "sex therapist", your first therapeutic step would be any therapist who does marriage/family/relationship counseling (and even if you actually are talking about finding a surrogate, you should really see a talk therapist first). They are familiar with sex. (The problem is rarely sex, per se.)

But she still needs to have a physical with bloodwork (I find that gynecologists are more hormone-aware in the discussion of those results, but maybe she has a GP she has a good relationship with) before that step. Therapy won't help much if the actual issue is her thyroid, estrogen levels, perimenopause, or one of the other dozens of physical and endocrinological issues that kill women's desire. Do not underestimate what a serious problem this can be, and how very very little doctors give a shit about women's libido and sexual enjoyment. It can be a fight to get real answers.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:53 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yes, I understand that there many different reasons why this might be happening. She wasn't able to pinpoint a specific reason when I asked her, or even a specific time that this started happening. So it seems like, at this point, it is a mystery to her as well. So I'm looking for things that can help us get the conversation started, and see where it leads us.
posted by moonroof at 7:54 AM on April 7, 2015

Sex at Dawn might be an interesting read for both of you, if only to make you wonder how you had managed to stay interested in sex with each other for so long.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 8:14 AM on April 7, 2015

I'm looking for things that can help us get the conversation started, and see where it leads us.

A visit with a doctor (probably her Gyno, but maybe just primary care) is absolutely the best place to start. Rule out physical things first, because if it is physical and needs treatment, no amount of therapy, talking, etc. will help until she gets the physical issue (if there is one) resolved.
posted by anastasiav at 8:47 AM on April 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

While you start the conversation with each other, please ensure she visits her doctor. Low thyroid, depression, other hormonal issues can all cause exhaustion and disinterest in sex.

How does she feel about her workload in the relationship itself, especially if there are kids in the mix?
posted by barnone at 8:54 AM on April 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

You need Athol Kay. Seriously. The man and his work saved my marriage.

Both my husband and I were convinced that I had lost interest in sex, and I'd lost my libido. It turned out that there were much more complex intrapersonal dynamics at play within our marriage. We each had to identify and fix other parts of our lives - parts which seemed totally unrelated and unassociated to sex - before we could fix our sex life.

Book for her: The Mindful Attraction Plan
Book for you: The Married Man Sex Life Primer

Or, if you prefer video-based learning, check out his video series:
The Married Guy's Guide to Wife
posted by Ardea alba at 9:14 AM on April 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I said that exact thing to my husband a year ago. Once I decided I didn't want that to be true anymore, I did two things: I read a book called the sex-starved marriage (which is a horrible title, and wasn't particularly well written, but had a lot of really thought provoking things in it) and I subscribed to an every-other month box called "the fantasy box". The fantasy box is basically a sex night in a box - each one comes with toys and lingere and, most importantly, a set of instructions. Very detailed instructions on what should happen. And even more most importantly, the first box comes with a set of questions to get you talking about sex. Turns out that even though we'd been together for 15 years (maybe because?) we'd been doing some things all along that we didn't actually like. I guess we tolerated them early on because, you know, new and sex and whatever. But then we got married and had kids and got lazy and intolerant. The fantasy box started an entirely new discussion and in the 10 months since we started doing it, it's been an incredible turn around.

(I'm not affiliated with the fantasy box. I just think it's a great idea and a good way to spark discussion. Feel free to memail me if you want more info, or if your wife wants to talk to someone who has BTDT recently (for no physical reason as noted above, just a lot of mental ones). Also there's a sale right now; there customer service is great so you might try asking about whether they'd include the questionnaire for you in the box that's on sale.)
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:13 PM on April 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

How much housework is she doing? Without any background information, I would start by getting her workload at home as close to zero as possible. Even if there are no kids and you're pretty sure you're doing half the housework, cooking and errands. Household help is much less expensive than therapy.

Looking at your ask history, though I'm still unclear on the etiquette of that: Is this the same woman as from your 2012 question about mismatched libidos?

Also, how are you both defining sex?
posted by wonton endangerment at 12:21 PM on April 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Update: Went and checked out two copies of "Come As You Are" and we're reading the book together. We're both learning so much and having great conversations. She's says how much she loves the book almost every day and had been recommending it to her girlfriends. I think we've taken a great first step!
posted by moonroof at 6:12 AM on April 13, 2015


And I hope it didn't come across as scolding when I asked if you knew why - I know how frustrating this can be, and how uneasy it can be to talk about. But you've found something that seems to be working and that is a really great first step.

Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:44 AM on April 13, 2015

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