DEAR ABBY: I'll bet you've gotten a ton of mail about "Mike in Missouri" (March 15), who was worried about his wife's declining sex drive. While your point about hormone levels is a good one, it could be something simpler than that.
I am a wife who would love to have sex more often, but I'm tired! I work full-time and do most of the household chores. I also do most of the cooking.
When my husband heads up to the bedroom at 10 o'clock and gives me that "come hither look," I'm not in the mood for sex. I'm thinking about the two loads of laundry and the sink full of dishes that still need to be done. Or I'm trying to remember whether I signed that permission slip for our daughter and making a mental note about picking up my prescriptions on the way to a client meeting in the morning.
Speaking of prescriptions, is Mike's wife perhaps on birth control pills? Those can decrease a woman's sex drive. I took a particular pill for a year before realizing how much it killed my desire. My doctor changed the prescription. Although there's a big difference, I'm still too tired to do much about it most days.
However, my husband has figured out I have more energy in the mornings, so his timing is better on those "come hither looks." Now if I could only get him to help out more with the chores ... -- G. IN DAYTON, OHIO
DEAR G.: Thank you for sharing. And you're right -- readers wasted no time flooding my office with comments on this topic:
DEAR ABBY: After conversations with women of all ages, I have concluded that more often than not, it is the husband who has caused the wife's sex drive to diminish, not hormones or other physical problems.
Ask Mike how he treats his wife on a daily basis; whether he has habits or hygiene that are off-putting; whether he indulges in pornography; whether he has taken care of his health and appearance. After 17 years, is he a good lover?
Many women are as dissatisfied with their sex lives as their complaining husbands are. Anyone who wants to have a satisfying sex partner needs to be one. -- OVER 50 AND STILL INTERESTED
DEAR ABBY: A woman's sex drive is a complex issue that in my experience has nothing to do with her hormone levels. A decline can occur at any age even though she has no obvious medical issues. The most common causes are stress, unresolved and deeply buried sexual issues, concern about body image, empty nest syndrome, distraction with family problems, worry over work or finances, and the side effects of medications such as antidepressants. -- SAN DIEGO GYNECOLOGIST
DEAR ABBY: When sex was mind-blowing for me was when I felt the most loved by my husband. The way he treats me has changed over the years, and lately I'm so turned off that I can no longer physically respond to him. Often, a woman loses interest in sex because her partner makes her feel like he has lost interest in her.
At the beginning of a relationship, both people do special things for each other to show their affection. These are the things women need. To continue feeling loved, each woman has different emotional needs that can stay the same or evolve as life's circumstances change.
The bottom line is, if men want their wives to want them physically, they need to learn what their wives want emotionally -- and then do a lot of it. Pay attention to her, communicate, make her a priority. I'm amazed that so many men don't understand how enormous the payoff would be if they made the effort to make their wives feel they are still special. -- OUTTA HERE SOON
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)