It happens all the time at barbecues and dinner parties.

Anyone who hangs out with married people would have heard it - a man making "jokey" references about how little sex he's getting at home.

It's usually greeted with sniggers or "Tell me about it!" from the other husbands ... and a roll of the eyes from the wives.

Go to enough social functions and you could be forgiven for thinking there's not a married man in Australia getting laid.


It's cringe-worthy when you hear it. Still, everyone laughs along. But here's a tip fellas - embarrassing your wife in front of your friends hoping that this will inspire her to fire up the bubble bath and open an account with Victoria's Secret is delusional.

It's more likely to have the opposite effect. That birthday bonk you thought you could rely on just had its contract torn up.

Or it could backfire on you in ways you wouldn't have dreamt of. I know of one woman who got fed up with her husband moaning in front of friends about their allegedly scant sex life.

She said "OK, we are going to have sex every day for a month. Will that shut you up?" Halfway through the second week all he could raise was the white flag. He never complained again.

I know why men do this, because I've asked them. Too embarrassed or emotionally shy to start a serious conversation in private with their wives about their sexual needs and yearning for intimacy, they crack what they think is a joke in the hope she'll get the hint.

It's not the best communication tactic.

You won't hear women bagging their men's sexual appetites, or lack of, in mixed company. They reserve that information for lunch with the girls.

But I've infiltrated enough book club get-togethers to know there's a lot of women complaining that their husbands aren't that enthusiastic in the conjugal department either.

What's going on? Who's not doing what to whom?

For a great many men, having sex is the primary way they express love. The presence or not of children doesn't change this truth. Reject his sexual advances and you are rejecting his love.

Too many women suspend intimacy with their husbands and channel all their tenderness into their children, leaving dads to look after themselves so to speak. It's easy to see why - motherhood is demanding, tiring, draining.

But at that point couples stop being lovers and become flatmates.

Years later the kids have become independent, and Mum has more time on her hands. She taps hubby on the shoulder - if he hasn't run off with the office intern - only to discover he's just not interested anymore because he's learned to love football/television/alcohol instead.

Who's in the right? Who cares!

Men want to love, and be loved back. But sex is integral to that. If you don't understand that, don't get married because you'll only end up divorced or in a fractious union.

Women want to love, and be loved back. But it's not all about sex for them. There will be years when doing the washing up is more of a turn-on than dropping your towel when you come out of the shower.

Tips to stop that tawdry barbecue quip

For him: A happy wife is a happy life. You want more sex? Lighten her workload. A bunch of flowers doesn't cut the mustard. Vacuum the house and wash the sheets one weekend and see how you go.

For her: Take one for the team every now and then. It's amazing how many tired mums think they don't want sex, but enjoy it once they warm up. Don't knock him back so often, or better still show you care by initiating sex. Think of it as an investment in the future.