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By contributor contributor
updated 5/8/2008 8:30:42 AM ET 2008-05-08T12:30:42

What's a husband to do when his busy wife can't seem to find time for sex? Any advice for a sex-crazed woman who's in desperate need of a man? And how can an eager-to-please woman guarantee some respect in the morning? Sexploration answers your most intimate queries. Got a question? E-mail us .

Q: I am a 32-year-old male who has been married for seven years. My job as a physician demands incredible hours (60 to 80 per week). However, I still leave my work at work when at all possible and often find myself sexually aroused and attempting to find time with my lovely wife. But she finds it almost impossible to leave her work at work. She also feels the pressure of our 2-year-old child. We have split the duties of house and child, but she still pushes me away, stating that there are too many other things to get done. If we finally do have sex, she tells me later that having it is stressful because it’s one more thing on her list of things to do. She tells me her friends at work blame me for not understanding her work needs, and that I should back off. Given all of this, what should I do? I try to make time for us as a couple, but I now have to compete with her friends who say it is all my fault, that I am a “typical male just thinking about my penis.”

A: I feel for you, brother. As a guy, I’m like, “Her friends oughta shut the hell up!” and “Hey, the dude is trying. What does she expect?!”

But does not pay me to be a guy, they pay me to be a columnist, and since many of our readers are women, I called a woman, Samantha Litzinger, a marriage educator in the Supporting Healthy Marriage program at New York’s Montefiore Medical Center.

She made a few points. First, you and your wife are doing the same thing. Your wife is asking her friends if she is OK and you are asking me if you’re OK or “a typical male” (low-lifes that we are). The answer is, you are both probably OK. Not terribly helpful, I know, but as Litzinger explains, this is a common problem for very busy couples.

Second, there is a documented loss of sex drive, particularly in women, after having a kid. Two years is a little long, but combine hectic work with the constant fear your 2-year-old may be dipping into the Clorox, and you see the problem.

All that work and worry gets in the way of intimacy. Men often see sex as the pathway to intimacy. Women often see intimacy as the pathway to sex. Nature’s kidding us. 

So you might try intimacy without the sex part — a relaxing glass of wine and some quiet conversation when you have a chance, or a dinner out, or a quick backrub before falling asleep without any funny business. 

But this isn’t all your responsibility. As Litzinger says, presumably your wife “is committed to this marriage, too, and sex and intimacy are important parts of a relationship. To what extent is she flexible about having a conversation on what it would take for her to be more interested?” Have that conversation.

Scheduling sex may sound boring, but Litzinger suggests it for busy couples and points out that we always schedule sex. When we were dating, we made a date, got dressed up and crossed our fingers. Ask your wife to work with you to try the same thing now. If she’s uncooperative, you may have bigger problems. 

Q: I’m a 31-year-old woman and have a lot of sexual energy. In fact, I burned out my last boyfriend. He didn’t want sex more than once or twice a month. I sometimes wondered if there was something wrong with me. Now that I am on my own, I’m bothered by my own sexuality. I find myself looking at guys I don’t even know and having lurid, explicit fantasies about them. I’ve seriously thought about sleeping with some guys I DO know, just to relieve the pressure. Yet, as I'm well aware of the implications of disease and unwanted pregnancy, these thoughts usually lead to feelings of horrified guilt. There are times when I can go more than a week without masturbation, but then there are days when I need it twice or more in a day. Honestly, I’m a little scared but I don't want to become a shriveled sexual hermit, either. Is there something I can do to control these feelings?

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A: It’s not often that Sexploration calls on help from an expert, and the expert starts by saying, “Oh my God! My heart breaks for her.”

But that was New York therapist and sex educator Joy Davidson’s first reaction to your tale. Davidson, author of a book called "Fearless Sex," is, as you might imagine, firmly opposed to fear. “I see this all the time and I have to tell you, every time it blows my mind.”

For one thing, she says, you’re normal “except for her fear and her disproportionate worry about being normal.” Your past boyfriend was the one at the far end of the sex curve, not you.

In fact, Davidson argues, you ought to be thankful. I know a few women — most seem to have kids under age 5 and spend a lot of time watching "Bob the Builder" videos — who would be seriously envious of your sex drive.

So don’t spend a day regretting a strong drive. Far better, Davidson advises, to educate yourself on safe sex, to choose partners wisely (picking random men at the mall probably doesn’t count) and “enjoying this part of her creative energy and sharing it in a healthy way without having to wait for the man of her dreams or a soul mate.”

And if there is no man around, or if you just feel like doing it, there’s nothing wrong with masturbating twice a day. “I have no idea where she got the idea that restraining yourself from masturbation is a good thing,” Davidson muses.

Just don’t be late for work. 

Q: There is nothing I wouldn’t do to bring him pleasure. Will he respect me tomorrow?

A: By “nothing I wouldn’t do,” do you mean karaoke singing “Kung Fu Fighting”? Attending the midnight showing of Paris Hilton’s “The Hottie & the Nottie”? Well, then, no, he won’t respect you, and rightly so.

If you mean doing something sexually to please him, well, look, I have no idea — and nobody else does either. That’s why love is risky and so very exciting. 

Brian Alexander is the author of the new book “America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction.”

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