I applaud your efforts and am glad to hear that you now have a much more satisfying relationship, but I do want to challenge a few of your assertions made along the way. Recent research indicates that what most kills women's libidos is the sort of rote, same-old-same-old sex you described in the earlier part of your marriage. Women crave variety even more than men do, and when they don't get it, their sex drive shuts down. The institutionalization of roles and the familiarity of a spouse or long-term partner—the fact of being in a relationship, basically—is especially challenging for women. Old fashioned beliefs about what's "appropriate" for women don't help either, as you've already noted.

The mental aspect you described is really not quite so cut and dried however. Many women do have sex simply for the physical sensation and don't want emotional attachment. If the guy gets too clingy, they dump him and get someone else. But where you really were masterful was in asking "What's in it for her?" and then making it safe for her to open up more fully to her true desires.

"The entrenched belief that women want emotional intimacy in order to engage in sex obscures what is actually going on. Having sex is a vulnerable thing, particularly for a woman having sex with a man. Not only are you literally allowing someone else inside of your body, but you are also engaged in an activity that still has a lot of social stigma for women. Even within on-going relationships, women don’t always feel safe to be their full sexual selves due to cultural narratives around what women should be like.

It’s a myth that most women want or need to have emotional closeness in order to experience desire. What they really want is for it to be safe for them to be sexual — physically safe, not judged or shamed, and seen as a person whose preferences and boundaries will be respected — but much of that is in response to societal factors that don’t have much to do with inherent female sexuality.

Experiencing desire and feeling that it’s OK to express it are two separate things — and that’s what women really need — the sense that it is both acceptable and physically safe to express their sexual feelings. When they have it, they may or may not choose sexual situations that also have emotional intimacy."

Glad it all worked out so well for you and kudos for figuring out how to make that happen!

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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