Intimate love — 30 September 2012
Too tired for sex?

Fatigue is a common explanation offered by mates who decline their partner’s invitation for sex. Exhaustion is, indeed, a condition that quells the desire to expend additional energy. Yet, the benefits of pushing through the fatigue may outweigh the effort to get oneself “in the mood”.

Modern life is truly exhausting. Most couples work very hard in their respective jobs, in and out of their home. They share parental duties and find the pressures of time most restrictive. Their yearning for sleep often supersedes their sexual availability.

A 2007 “Sleep in America” poll investigated women’s sleep habits. It revealed that 70 percent of women frequently have sleeping difficulties and 60 percent only get a good night’s sleep a few nights a week.

The National Sleep Foundation’s survey of 1,003 women between the ages of 18-64 found that “when women run out of time, 39 percent reduced the time they spent with friends and family, 37 percent stopped eating healthily and 33 percent stopped having sex with their partner.”

Bob Berkowitz and Susan Yager-Berkowitz studied males’ disinterest in sex. They found that while “68% of men do blame their wives for failing to inflame their passion, 14% of the men said they were too tired, 38% stated that their wives gained weight, 41% admitted to being bored and 61% believed that their wives did not enjoy sex.”

Contrary to some common beliefs, it is not women who are more likely to decline sex with their partners. Researcher Denise Donnelly of Georgia State University studied 75 people in sexually inactive marriages. She found that in 60% of the cases, it was the man who had stopped the sex citing infidelity, demanding jobs, drugs, alcohol and finances as the explanation for cessation of the couple’s sexual experiences.

Helen Fisher, the Biological Anthropologist and love researcher, documented, “Female orgasm may enhance feelings of attachment, because it stimulates the release of oxytocin and prolactin.” Sexual experiences bond pairs to each other and cement their commitment. “Romantic rejection has two general phases: ‘protest’ and ‘resignation/despair’. Disappointed lovers can also hate, known as ‘abandonment rage’.” None of these emotions are healthy for couples.

Though fatigue alerts us to the need for rest, abandoning sex interferes with our vigor, intimacy and bonding. Whichever justification we may use in declining sexual approaches, it is harmful to our personal health and relationship connection. It is wise to plan for and include sexual activity in your life as you do with healthy eating, exercise and socializing. All promote personal and couple wellbeing.

To get refreshed for sex:

  • Understand that sexual activity is beneficial to your personal and couple health.
  • Plan for and mentally prepare yourself for sex.
  • Use fatigue as a rare reason for declining sexual activity.
  • Avoid rejecting your mate or becoming resigned to a sexless union.Accept that sex will energize you, help you rest more soundly and cement your loving bond with your mate.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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