Dear Andrea:
When my husband and I first got together in our mid 40s 10 years ago, he was fairly adventurous in bed, and I'm sure you saw this coming, but now the sex is really boring. No spontaneity, nothing different than intercourse, no passion. It's like brushing your teeth a necessary nuisance except it gets the sheets dirty.

I know I have half the blame, but when I've come on to him at other than the "usual" time and location, he's tired or has something else important to do that I didn't know about. He does work long hours. I've tried fancy underwear. Sex toys don't really interest him. Bubble baths are history. He prefers to shower alone. I'm reluctant to arrange for an X-rated video because the ones I've seen can be really distasteful. And I don't want to get sexually aroused by something that doesn't excite him.

We love each other very much, and neither of us is getting any action on the side. Suggestions?


Midlife Stasis

Dear Stace:
See, this is why I hate sex advice columns. We've been out here for decades, dishing out the same old tired cure-alls (well, not me, of course!) without, frankly, really having the slightest idea if they work or not. There are efficacy studies on therapy but not, as far as I know, on fancy underwear or weekends away, and yet off everyone dutifully trudges to the bed-and-breakfasts and the Kama Sutra Dust and the surprise appearances naked except for (choose two) frivolous footwear, plastic wrap, leather collar, chocolate sauce. Is it any wonder that by now people with troubled sex lives just sort of automatically print out one of these mental checklists and grimly put themselves and their partners through the paces, exactly the same way they got themselves into trouble in the first place? Keeping a sex life lively takes thought, not just a menu of goofy variations, and bringing one back from the dead takes just as much thinking, if not more. Put down the list and let's think about this.

First off, I ask you to differentiate between "seriously no more exciting than brushing your teeth" and "normal for 10 years into a midlife relationship." Not that I think the latter has to be tooth-brushingly dull, mind you, but let's all give ourselves a break and remember that things do tend to get a little, well, let's call it "familiar," once we have enough years together under our belts. There are worse things than familiarity.

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