Dear Emma,

I love my husband in such a special way. I respect him. He makes me laugh. We spend tons of quality time together. I feel like our marriage of six years is for the most part strong and good. There is just one problem. We have no sexual chemistry…we don’t have a good sex life…not anymore. He tries. I try. But in reality, I’m still so sexually attracted to my ex-boyfriend. My ex called me a few weeks ago. Since then, I haven’t been able to get him off my mind. I’d never leave my husband, but I’m so tempted to go back for one more taste. I have an itch that won’t go away. The harder I try to stop thinking about him, the stronger the desire becomes. This is not going away. What do I do Emma? What do I do?

Signed Frustrated and Hungry

Dear Frustrated

Ah, the famous “ex we didn’t marry”. Most of us have one of these: unbelievably sexy, unbelievably unsuitable. He either can’t commit,  is a “bad boy” (sex, drugs and whatever else), and is definitely not the guy to pay the mortgage and take care of you when you’re sick. And why is he calling you now? Does he need to know you never got over him? Is he wanting to wreak havoc on your peaceful but unfulfilled existence? 

We do tend to romanticize the past, especially if we are missing something in the present. You sound like you want to stay married to your husband, so, rather than scratch an itch that could spread like poison ivy, what abut exploring what could be done about your current sex life? Assuming that your husband is heterosexual and has a normal libido, he also might want an upgrade. Try couples therapy, read some books – Intimacy and Desire by Schnarch is a good one. It’s also possible that sex has gone downhill because of external factors such as children, work stress, or lack of sleep. Usually I think sexual desire (which once was alive and at least fairly healthy) dies when one or both of the spouses is nursing resentments and unable to communicate discontent – across the board, not just about sex. If that’s the case, couples therapists work with this all the time. And they’re less expensive than divorce lawyers. 

– Emma