My wife never, or rarely, initiates sexual contact, or any physical intimacy. We never have sex spontaneously – it is always discussed and planned first, teeth cleaned, undressed, into bed and then I know I need to initiate all the ‘proceedings’. Every six months or so, we discuss our sex life and my wife promises that she will try to initiate sex more often. But after such discussions we may have 3 or 4 days before my wife remembers that she is ‘supposed to be initiating’! During these few days I am hugely consumed with anger towards her. Each evening as we get into bed and she says – “Goodnight” and reaches for her book – I lie awake angry and frustrated. If I say something about it, we have a nice discussion and then have sex. But all through the sex I’m still angry, because I had to initiate – AGAIN! My fear is, I see many, many more years of this issue, I guess until I get too old to be interested any more! But that is hardly a satisfactory conclusion to my heartache.

This goes deeper than your wife just giving mental consent to initiating sex and feeling that she should. Her libido and imagination need to develop, so that sexual initiative comes as a natural consequence, not as a tactical move in a chess game.

She will need to start to see herself as a passionate, erotic woman, not just a Mum or any other labels she has. It has been said that sex is 80 per cent imagination and mind; 20 per cent friction. She will need to encourage her mind onto enjoying sexual thoughts during the day and night. Christian culture and teaching can repress our natural ability to indulge in such day dreaming, yet I believe it is an essential aspect to ‘warming up’ the sexual muscles, rather than expecting them to go from cold to hot in one step. Shulamith, lover to Solomon in Song of Songs let her mind indulge in fantasising very sensuously about his body. For example in ch 5: 10-16 she pictures bit by bit each part of his body that she loves.

Some women will struggle with this advice and have some emotional and conceptual hurdles to jump before they can feel comfortable doing this. I recommend Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus’ book Intimate Issues: Conversations woman to woman. 21 Questions Christian women ask about Sex (Waterbrook Press).

My advice so far has intentionally focused on your wife and it may also help her to see a psychosexual therapist to support her in growing this way, unless she can do it under her own steam, with a little help from her girl friends. However, as she works on her side, you can also help shift the status quo. Your love life sounds very orderly and over familiar. You should catch her in unexpected moments and come onto her with some fun and romance. Don’t wait for the teeth to be scrubbed, but look out for different rooms and different occasions and take a lead. Ban sex in bed for a while if that’s where you always do it: make love against the wall, on the floor… just anywhere different. Join her in the shower, make love by a mirror if you both have a good enough self image for that, undress her slowly then wrap her in a fur coat or something see-through, let her know what turns you on and share your imaginations. Vary your environment, maybe with music, lighting, candles and scents. Rub some massage oil into her body. Revive some of the school boy in you; snog her in the garden before you get in the house; let her giggle and have some fun.

Do also make an effort to express your physical attraction and affection for her without necessarily expecting it to lead to sex. Hold her hand in public, cuddle her on the sofa, compliment her when she looks nice, stroke her hair, link arms with her as you walk down the street. Remind her that you find her beautiful and that you love her all the time, not just when you are having sex.

Deep down, she’s probably bored with your sex life too, which leaves her little incentive to initiate with you. Give her something more enticing than her book!