My husband is terrible in bed – and has been for 30 years

Pamela Stephenson Connolly
Illustration: Guardian Design/Getty Images

I am a 58-year-old woman, married for 30. Although I like my husband, I find him physically repulsive. His lovemaking is so boring and always has been. I have tried to explain that foreplay is important, but it goes in one ear and out the other. I don’t want to hurt his feelings by saying he is crap in bed, but our sexless marriage has become a thorn on my side. Can you help? Please don’t advise counselling – he would never agree.

Many people find themselves in marriages where sexuality is unappealing or even nonexistent. Such relationships can lead to despair, searches for extramarital satisfaction, or even separation – especially if good sex is considered vitally important. But sexuality is just one aspect of a union, and many people decide that the positive aspects of the overall relationship outweigh the sexual deficits. Often, boring sex is an expression of a lacklustre relationship, or one where couples are hiding their true selves. Some partners bypass their feelings towards their partner – anger, resentment, jealousy and so on – and go through the motions of lovemaking to avoid an argument. To be married for so long to someone unattractive to you, and to have such a poor opinion about your husband’s lovemaking, suggests that you are not terribly interested in sex yourself; that there are many positive factors that outweigh it in your marriage; that you do not want to upset the status quo; or that you regard yourself as a victim in your relationship. Think carefully about the answer. If he will not agree to counselling, talk to someone by yourself. You deserve to have help with the process of deciding what is truly important to you.

•Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

•If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to private.lives@theguardian.com (please don’t send attachments). Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.

•Comments on this piece are premoderated to ensure discussion remains on topics raised by the writer. Please be aware there may be a short delay in comments appearing on the site.