Body Changes and Their Effects On Relationships

by Cay Crow, M.A., LPC, AASECT-Certified Sex Therapist

bare feet on a scale with curled up measuring tape in front

Dear Cay,

My wife and I have been married for 23 years. We have three wonderful kids. We both work. Life is busy, but it is good. She and I have had a good sex life, but recently, I am not interested in sex because my wife has gained weight. I have gained weight too. I realize that it sounds rather shallow to focus on her body size. The idea of having sex with an overweight person kills my libido. I would never say anything to my wife. It is something I need to address on my own; I think. I don’t know what to do.

- Shallow & Ashamed

How to Have Better Sex When Overweight

Dear Shallow & Ashamed,

First, please don’t shame yourself for being truthful about your experience of desire and arousal. No one ever made healthy sexual choices when they are steeped in shame. And I do not think you are shallow. Throw that language away, it does not serve you. Let’s focus on How to Have Better Sex When Overweight.

I think that perhaps your experience of sex to date underestimate the complexity of the erotic connection between two people. While the initial attraction is often heavily based on the physical, after building a life with that person, sex is based on so much more than the shape of their ass. I assume that you are a male raised in American culture. If so, you are socially conditioned to focus on the shape of young, slender women as objects of desire. This conditioning forms a strong association between arousal and the idealized shape of a woman. Remember that you are not just making love to your wife’s body but to the person behind the eyeballs, the mother of your children, your life partner and her soul. Instead of focusing on what is different about your wife’s body as the disruption in your desire level, focus on what has changed internally for you. Too many people believe that something outside of themselves catalyzes their arousal. Your wife’s body is not the only trigger for you. Arousal as a young man is readily accessible. As men age, arousal is much more nuanced. I think you need to explore the multidimensionality of your arousal. A good sex therapist can help with his. To find a professional in your area, go to AASECT Referral Directory. A therapist might go over your sexual development with you and how it has changed. It would be beneficial for your wife to be involved in this process at some point. You can tell her you are having problems with desire and arousal. She has probably noticed that something is different. Exploring the relational system between you and your wife and how it affects sex will also help.


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