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Sunday, 25 March 2001

My Husband's Depression Is Affecting Our Sex Life

Written by  Dr. Louise Klein

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QDear WholeFamily,

I am 26 years old and have been married for about 10 months now. My husband and I lived together for 6 months before we were married, but before we moved in together we were about 1500 miles apart for the first year of our relationship. At that time, we saw each other once every 2 months or so. We were very much in love and had really great sex during that time.

Once he moved in, we continued to have great sex fairly often for awhile. After awhile, it dwindled down to about once a week. He said he wanted it more often, so we had it more often for awhile. We got married in March of last year. In the last several months, he has lost much of his desire and I'm lucky if I he wants to have sex once a week.

As of today, it's been three weeks since we had sex. The last time was wonderful - the best in a long time. He initiated it the last time, but for months now I have been the one to initiate it, and sometimes he puts me off. Sex was always great when we first got together, the best for both of us. I have asked him why he doesn't want to have sex very often any more, and he says he really doesn't have the desire, with anybody. He suffers from chemical depression fairly often, and feels this plays a role in his lack of desire. However, he's always suffered from bouts of depression, but used to have lots of sexual passion! I have begged him to go to counseling with me, and he refuses. It hurts me so badly that he does not desire me like a newlywed husband should. What can I do to encourage him to seek counseling with me?

Please help!

ADear Seeking Counseling,

It's clear in your letter that you're feeling hurt and rejected by your husband's behavior. Even if the rest of your marriage is great it can't help but be affected by this frustration.

You say that your husband experiences chemical depression. Even if he has had depressive episodes in the past, no two times are the same. This may be why he was more interested in sex then but not now. A common feature of depression is a loss of sexual desire. Is he taking medication for this? Many anti-depressive drugs can also have this same side effect. Either of these factors, or both together, can be impacting your husband. Your husband needs to see a medical doctor, such as a psychiatrist or psychopharmacologist, in order to see which medication would best suit him. Each drug has its own timetable, in other words, it needs to be taken for a few weeks at least before an effective level is reached in the bloodstream. Therefore, you cannot expect to see an immediate change in his behavior or mood.

Are there other stressors that may be effecting your husband? Which one of you relocated? How are things at work for him? Are there extended family conflicts that need to be acknowledged? Any financial problems? Sexual desire is the first thing to diminish when a person is stressed or angry for whatever reason.

I would suggest that you see a therapist, even if your husband refuses to go, as you need the support. It would help you to have someone to talk through your hurt and frustrations. Perhaps there are other issues at work here that neither of you is consciously aware of. The transition from a long-distance romance to a brief stint of living together to the first year of marriage may mean that there are sides to each other that you're only just beginning to find out about.

I do hope that he will join you in marital counseling so that you can work through this difficult time and enjoy many good years together.

Dr. Louise Klein

Last modified on Thursday, 12 January 2012 13:55
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Dr. Louise Klein

Dr. Louise Klein

Louise Klein was born on the West Coast of Canada but lived for many years in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. She has a doctorate in clinical psychology from Widener University in Pennsylvania. Dr. Louise Klein is an experienced therapist in insight-oriented talk therapy. She has worked with individuals, couples and groups for many years. Her experience with families includes stepfamilies, adoptive families, nuclear families and families dealing with illness or death. Dr Klein is also trained in thought field therapy and regression therapy and has taught and worked internationally. Louise Klein lives in a rural community with her husband and St. Bernard and has a stepdaughter in college in New England.

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