Changing a Willingness to Make Love into a
Desire to Make Love

Letter #2
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Dear Dr. Harley,

Hello and thank you for responding to my initial e-mail. Here are the answers to your questions:

Q1. AROUSAL: What does it take for you to experience sexual arousal?

A1. It usually takes a lot of work on my part to experience sexual arousal and not because my husband doesn't do his part. He's a very "giving" lover, totally unselfish. But I find that my mind is usually in a hundred other places and I find it incredibly difficult to "get into it", to get everything else out of my mind. I often think that that's my biggest hurdle. A romantic film sometimes gets me there where it actually takes my brain away for a bit. But sometimes, depending on my mood, I find romantic films annoying and I'm even further away than before I watched it. Kissing, talking, caressing are all great, but if the mood is bad... forget it! In that way, I wish very much that I was a man: able to just focus on the "urge" and nothing else.

Q2. PLATEAU. Do you know how to reach sexual plateau?

A2. Once I've begun the "act", I don't usually have any trouble staying there. I try and use my imagination (as long as no other thoughts of the day rush into my mind; that's the trick!). My husband loves oral sex and most of the time I do too. Again, sometimes given my mood, it can be either pleasurable or annoying. As for the tightening of the vagina trick, I've been doing that since my late teens (I'm 35 now) and I'm convinced it's what's helped me to achieve plateau and orgasm 95% of the time.

Q3. CLIMAX. Do you know how to climax?

A3. I almost always reach climax. I've never had any problems, as long as my "brain" is there. It might take a lot of work, but I'm thankful that when I persist, I achieve.

Q4. RECOVERY. After you make love, does your husband spend time talking to you and showing you affection?

A4. Again, my husband is a very unselfish lover. He's usually very "touchy" and loving after lovemaking. If anything he's usually the first to complain that we don't spend enough time with "after-play".

In general, Doc., I think my biggest problem is getting my mind into it before my husband brings it up and also not making it be such a "job". I find it to be so much WORK sometimes... getting the brain to cooperate is exhausting and I find myself not looking forward to it and I especially won't initiate if I've got to "work" at it.

I don't "fantasize" nearly enough. I really wish I could re-program myself and make myself think of everything in a sexual way (like most men do) all the time. Always be kind-of "prepared", you know?

I've never been raped or molested as a child and have no real "bad" sexual experiences that I can remember. I've been with the same man (my husband) for 18 years (7 years dating and 11 years married) and he's, in fact, my first and only lover!

I always thought that was the reason why I wasn't a very sexual woman: because I had never had "enough" experiences (or at least one other to use as base of comparison). My girlfriends who were much more "sexual" than me (and who were all single) would talk about all the guys they'd met and slept with and I couldn't contribute to the conversation.

I've felt like I should have dated more men, had more partners before marrying. But then again, I know I've found my true "soul mate" and I never wanted to risk losing that. My husband and I are really the best of friends. We love being with one another... maybe that's the problem? My cousin calls it "The brother - sister syndrome". Could we be compatible in every other way but NOT sexually? Or can sexual compatibility be created?


Dear Mary,

You have identified the arousal stage as the most difficult for you. So that helps me pinpoint where we need to begin in a plan to overcome your sexual problem.

My approach to your problem would be to take the "work" out of sex ("it usually takes a lot of work on my part"), and focus more attention on what it is that your husband does (or doesn't do) to help you experience it. The fact that he is a "giving" lover doesn't necessarily mean that he knows how to arouse you sexually.

Your husband probably wants sex more often, and he wants you to be sexually aroused when he makes love to you. But if getting aroused is a lot of work for you, sex will be something you try to avoid, rather than desire.

The fact that your mind wanders as you are trying to get aroused is a symptom, not a cause of the problem. Everybody's mind wanders when they are bored. Also, the fact that your girlfriends seemed more sexually oriented than you simply means that they had predictably good sexual experiences with their lovers.

Best wishes

Mary's next letter to Dr. Harley (3 of 8)
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