Ill Equipped: Who Isn't?

11/17/2011 09:02 am ET

Jennifer Lehr answers your questions about sex, love, and relationships every week on Fearless Voices. To send her a question, email Jennifer

Dear Jennifer:

My wife and I have been married for eleven years. We have a beautiful
three-year-old daughter who has...a sleep disorder! This means she's up a
lot during the night and subsequently so are me and my wife. Of course
we're reading all the books and seeing all of the specialists to make
sure this little lady gets the sleep that she (and we) need.

We also work full time. So we're tired. Exhausted usually. Our daughter
naps during the day, but we can't! As a result, our sex life does not
exist. And hasn't really for the last couple of years. My wife and I
really do love each other and I don't know about her, but an affair is
the furthest thing from my mind. I don't even have energy left over to
think about it. But, to be honest, I just can't imagine reigniting a
sexual relationship with her. It seems we drifted into a very
family-oriented relationship. We're definitely partners, but it seems
the sleep deprivation has sucked our libidos dry. Any advice?



Wow Tom. That's really tough. My heart goes out to your family. It
really does. Nothing is harder than life without enough sleep. Some
studies have shown that sleep is even more important than good

First and foremost, you and your wife must figure out a way to get
enough sleep yourselves, otherwise, your lives will really come
unraveled. Without enough sleep not only will your sex life continue to
suffer but your health will. Both your immune systems are already
compromised, so if either of you or worse yet, both of you, get sick it
will be that much harder to get better. Then life will really be

Your darling daughter needs to feel secure in her home. Sick, sleep
deprived, not-intimately connected parents do not create that sense of
security. She needs highly functioning, loving, healthy parents to
thrive and perhaps even to feel secure enough to sleep through the
night! You both need to refuel. You need to divide and conquer. I
recommend sleeping away from the house for a couple of nights to catch
up and then let your wife do the same. One night away won't be enough.
Perhaps even a week. You might need to ask a grandparent or even hire a
baby nurse to come and stay with you while to support the at-home

Right now, in your sleep deprived states, I bet the idea of going out
isn't so alluring because you don't have the strength and any excuse
just to hang out in bed seems pretty tempting. But once you both get
yourselves well rested enough, I recommend reconnecting with each other
without your daughter. Make a point of a regular date night. Let your
daughter see that you two spending time alone together is important. I
wouldn't be surprised if it was a great comfort to her. Don't have any
expectations of intimacy during these date nights. But if you keep it
up, I think, in time your sex life will return to you and perhaps
sensing all is well at home, it might even help sleep return to your

I really hope it does.