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An anonymous reader asked Steph and Dom Parker of TV for advice about losing the spark in their 16-year marriage (file image)
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TVs Steph and Dom Parker, 51 and 54, sign on them 20 years of marriage to resolve your relationship problems. . .

Q: My husband and I are 16 years old and married for 20 years together. We have two children aged 12 and 14 and a generally good marriage.

He is a great father and as a couple we still get along well. The problem is our sex life: we haven't had sex in a year. We both work long hours – I recently returned to full-time nursing, while he has a demanding job as an engineer. In the beginning I blamed fatigue and he didn't seem to worry too much, but the problem is actually that I don't like him anymore.

An anonymous reader asked Steph and Dom Parker of TV for advice about losing the spark in their 16-year marriage (file image)

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An anonymous reader asked Steph and Dom Parker of TV for advice about losing the spark in their 16-year marriage (file image)

He is my best friend, but the spark is no longer there. I don't like anyone else – I just feel that that part of my life is over.

We're going on vacation in a few weeks and he's already making comments about me in a bikini. I know he wants to have sex.

I'm afraid he'll leave me if we don't. What can I do?

STEPH SAYS: After reading your letter, I carefully mentioned the problem with some of my friends and discovered that this is a common problem. You are far from alone in your dilemma.

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It seems to be the underlying, unspoken truth of every vacation: the man always expects sex.

It's all a bit astonishing because it's not like the temperature is a few degrees higher and women are turning into sex-hungry nymphos!

From what I collect, the theory is that the moment you are on vacation, untaxed by the tensions of everyday life, everyone relaxes and, in a miraculous way, sex becomes the main focus.

In all honesty, it does that for some people; but not for many – and this is where the problem occurs. The expectation that a couple will have indefatigable sex is stressful and very rosy. Let's face it, no matter how dark your sunglasses are, they won't turn your husband into George Clooney!

Steph (photo left with Dom) advised the reader to talk to her partner about her fluctuating sexual desire and to ask for his support

Steph (photo left with Dom) advised the reader to talk to her partner about her fluctuating sexual desire and to ask for his support

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Steph (photo left with Dom) advised the reader to talk to her partner about her fluctuating sexual desire and to ask for his support

But, in all seriousness, what you need is a solution, not a temporary solution. This is not about getting through the holidays, it is about resolving a painful, long-term problem.

Give in to the temptation to evade the problem and before you know it this will be the elephant in the room for all future vacations together.

The reality is that couples change and evolve with age. There are phases in a life spent together. After the significant days of dating, couples often continue to have children – and this changes everything.

After that, raising children often makes you too tired, even to consider a sex life. And the situation that you are now facing is just as challenging.

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Your children are on their way to being independent, so that you can peer each other over the cornflakes and wonder who you are. Men often expect everything to return to what it used to be – after all, life has not changed much for them in the intervening years.

You cannot force yourself to like it

Of course, not all women feel the hormonal crash that comes with age, but they understand the problem. And it's a real problem, not a choice.

This is a crucial distinction: we have no control over our fluctuating sexual desire.

However, you must involve your partner in the changes that you experience. He will be sure that you will not leave him, but ask him for support. Remember: this is not your or his fault. There is no room for guilt.

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So grab the nettle and talk to him. Let's face it, no amount of holiday margaritas will make it disappear.

DOM SAYS: First of all, don't fool yourself for this. What you experience is normal. The territory of life changes as we get older and the barometer in the bedroom changes too.

Dom (photo) urges the reader not to chastise her husband because he wants to make love and talk to him about her feelings

Dom (photo) urges the reader not to chastise her husband because he wants to make love and talk to him about her feelings

Dom (photo) urges the reader not to chastise her husband because he wants to make love and talk to him about her feelings

In the early days of our relationships we all get a lot of sex and little sleep and over the years they give balance tips.

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I certainly understand the effort it takes for both of you to work full time and raise two boisterous children. It is tiring! You must also remember that having a child brings another person into your relationship. You are no longer just two, you are now four!

This affects all areas of our lives and it is ridiculous to think differently. Let's not pretend that we are all ready for what we were when we were 20. Relationships just aren't like that. Biology just isn't like that.

I know a happy couple who haven't had sex in ten years. A decade has passed, but it has not affected their love for each other. Their relationship has changed but not diminished. After all, sex is a habit. It is a very pleasant, yet a habit. The more you have it, the more you want it – and the less you have it, well, the less you suffer.

Returning to the habit can be difficult.

It is not only women who change as they get older, so do men, and it can be daunting to pick up on things where they have gone.

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Don't blame him for wanting you. . .

It is a year ago for you and your husband. When you go on vacation, you are both relaxed, you are in a bikini, he will be in shorts, there will be flesh to be seen. . . I'm not surprised you think he wants to have sex.

And here is an important point: there is nothing wrong with that. Your husband should not be punished because he wants to make love with his wife.

I'm happy to hear that you are the best friends. That is a good place to start. You now have to tell your husband how you feel. Talk to him. Explain that you love him but don't want to have sex. Not having sex is not such a big problem – the problem is that you don't tell him.

Let him chase you by the pool and be rejected and he will, understandably, get hurt. Rejection can be incredibly difficult for a man. So tell him before it rejects him and save his blush.

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A marriage is about love, not sex. Tell him how you feel, protect him from the pain of rejection and enjoy your life – and your vacation – together!

The more you talk about the problem, the less important it becomes. You may even notice that you are changing your mind.

If you have a question you want Steph and Stupid to tackle, write to: stephanddom @dailymail.co.uk

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