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" Not to be overly graphic, there were times when he wanted sex so much that anything would have done. He began averting his eyes when she was undressing, finding the sight of her body too sad to take.

For many years, he sensed his relationship was on the brink of collapse.

Josephine got through her midlife crisis by venturing outside her marriage to reaffirm her selfesteem.

But for most couples, infidelity is not an option they would consider, even though most of them confess to periods where sex "went on the back-burner" or ceased almost completely.

In the book, Susan Cheever, a professional writer in her 50s, describes how the sexual relationships she has with men are calmer and less at the centre of her life.

"Over the course of our relationship," he writes, "we've strained and struggled and often lost track of the mutual fascination we had at the beginning.It is easy to get out of step in those crucial middle years when the twin pressures of bringing up children and a demanding work schedule combine. In that case, it is very easy for both partners to conclude that it just isn't worth it. I feel old, invisible, practically dead." Josephine was resentful of her husband, who refused to get up early with the kids at weekends, claiming that his more important (i.e.For Josephine Thomas, who is in her late 40s, married to a man who she says "works all hours of the week and falls asleep at the weekend", that moment led to her reluctantly falling into an affair - which, ironically, was the catalyst which probably saved her marriage. "I not only found my sexual match, but I found other qualities as well,' she says. "I'm working from home to be near my kids in the suburbs. better-paid) job in the City entitled him to a lie-in. They begin e-mailing each other and the e-mails quickly turn from friendly and laid-back to overtly sexual. I haven't felt this alive in years." She is, she says, 40 years old with two children, one by Caesarian section and she has a nasty scar to prove it. "Yet here is this attractive man beholding my naked body as a source of wonder." Up till that moment, she had been feeling invisible, a woman in a society which prizes youth and visible attraction above everything.They drifted further apart as their hectic work schedules replaced the time they had for each other, and this is a common theme that emerges in the lives of both the men and women in the book.Our 30s, drowning in the commitment demanded by both work and children, are a dangerous moment for most couples, when "togetherness" and the need to work at your relationship slips right to the bottom of your list of priorities.