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“I feel kind of sad when I realize how long it’s been since we had sex,” said Shelley. “But honestly, after chasing after the kids all day, the sexiest thing I can think of is a nap.”

Shelley’s the third woman this week to tell me about her longing for a nap!

Sometimes it looks to me like there are hundreds of married women who would be just as happy to skip out on sex indefinitely.

Or would they? The Rutgers University National Marriage Project did a study that found that wives who are happy with their sexual relationships have a 39% greater chance of being happily married. For men the difference is 38%. Not much of a difference and probably not what you’d expect. I haven’t done any formal studies but I know women are less interested in sex than men.

So what do these results mean? I think it means that women give more weight to other priorities in the moment. But over time, if the sexual relationship deteriorates, it will be just as big a loss for them as for the men.

So, for the men reading this, if you think your wife just doesn’t care about sex at all, it’s probably not that simple.

How could it be? Our sexuality is a core part our physical and emotional selves. It’s what drove us to connect with our partners to begin with. I don’t think anyone really wants a roommate relationship, even the “low-desire” partner.

But that still leaves you with the problem of what to do about it. Here are a few ideas.

First, from what I see in my practice, it’s really important to try not to take a “No” to sex as a wholesale rejection of you personally.

If I may say so, I think men can be particularly prone to do so. And it’s understandable.

Precisely because sex is such a core part of us, when our partners don’t fulfill our sexual needs, we feel alienated at a deep level. We can feel so deeply hurt that we can’t talk about it. We retreat behind our defensive walls and there we stay.

If you find yourself in trapped in a defensive cycle, it will be hard to just go about solving the problem, like you would for any other issue.

If you take a moment to think things through, you’ll realize your wife does not want you to come up behind her when she’s cleaning up the kitchen and grab her breasts. From what I hear, there’s a lot of that going on! It’s even more of a losing game if you’ve been ignoring her all day up to that point. Or worse, been cranky or critical. You’re just setting yourself up–you’re going to get rejected.

It’s not that she’s rejecting you personally.

It’s that you have just raised her stress level. You’ve made it harder for her to get the dishes done, you’ve delayed the moment when she can sit down and relax, AND you’ve shown her you don’t “get” her at all.

Women feel sexy when they feel connected, understood and appreciated.

We don’t feel sexy when we’re working through our chore list, which unfortunately is most of the time.

When you see your wife doing a chore, don’t distract her, pitch in! You will look sexier to your wife really fast.

Then maybe you can help her relax. We really need this! Even though we act like we don’t. We have a monitoring system in our heads that is constantly asking if our family is O.K. That’s why we go-go-go and make sure everyone is safe and cared for.

But sometimes we don’t know when to stop. We can lose perspective and treat all tasks with the same level of urgency.

We could really use your help to unhook from the tyrant in our heads.

Gently tell your wife that she’s done enough and not everything has to be done today. But helping out first is critical. Otherwise, she’ll think, “Easy for you to say, but it will all be waiting for me tomorrow.”

The endless to-do list is just one possible (though very likely!) reason a woman might not be interested in sex. Your wife might have something entirely different on her mind.

The important thing is to try not to take it as a personal rejection and get trapped in a defensive cycle. Listen and watch, and you’ll find she’s probably giving you clues to what the problem is. And it’s likely to be a problem you can solve, if you look at it that way.

What do you think? Do you have more ideas for napping women or the men who love them?

By Claire Hatch