Something bothering you?
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(Questions have been modified for space and clarity.)
My husband and I have been married for a year and a half. We had a brief courtship and were married after six months, because everything just felt right.
We have a great relationship in every respect but one: sex. Since the wedding, sex has been very infrequent. I have a high, healthy sex drive, but everything I’ve done to fix this problem has failed. I try to initiate, but he says it turns him off. I dress seductively, I touch and kiss him, I hint in every way possible — and it still doesn’t lead anywhere. I worry he has performance anxiety, so I’ve suggested we try different ways of being intimate, but he’s not interested. This ultimately leads me to begging, which of course isn’t successful either.
I try to have discussions with him regarding what I can do to help the situation, but that only angers him, and we end up not talking for a while. I’ve asked him to exercise with me to increase his libido, and I’ve even suggested he see a doctor.
I wish sex wasn’t important to me, but it is, and I find myself wondering if I should just be single. Any suggestions as to what I can do to turn him on? He knows this is a big deal for me but does nothing about it. I am at a complete loss and feel myself drifting away from him.
–Frustrated Lover; Rochester, MI
Sex is important. There’s no way around this. It’s the determining factor that separates romantic relationships from every other kind. Set its pleasurable nature aside for a second…not only does it provide a necessary biological release, it’s how we connect on the deepest levels with our partner. (Puns not intended but unavoidable.)
So don’t apologize for valuing sex, and don’t think you’re the problem here. You’re not. Trust me — there were plenty of guys who read the phrases “high, healthy sex drive” and “wondering if I should just be single” and immediately Google Mapped Rochester, MI.
It’s great that, beyond the bedroom, you have a good marriage, and that you and your spouse are close friends. That should never be taken for granted.
But you don’t just need a friend; you need a husband. You also deserve one.
As you’ve described it, you’ve taken every possible step to intimately engage your husband, yet none of them have worked. Considering you’ve tried pretty much everything in the bedroom — and given his harsh responses when you attempt to talk about it — it sounds like the issue far exceeds you simply not knowing what turns him on.
There’s something more serious going on here. To me, the most disconcerting part of your submission is this: “He knows this is a big deal for me but does nothing about it.”
It’s almost irrelevant that sex is the issue. Substitute it for any other marital component — finances, emotional support, cover theft — and the fallout would be just as devastating. You’re troubled by something, and he’s ignoring your concerns. He’s not pulling his weight as a partner, and he’s not doing what’s necessary to make the marriage work. He’s not being a husband.
Sex is a sensitive subject, and its associated taboos and insecurities can make working through dilemmas like this that much harder. But there’s a crack in your relationship’s foundation, and it’s going to take effort from both of you to bridge it.
WHAT HE CAN DO
He has to open up — either to you or someone else. He’s the only one who knows what’s going on here. You’re throwing yourself at him, and he’s not interested, nor does he seem interested in becoming interested. That’s not fair to you, and that’s not healthy for anyone.
Maybe he does have performance anxiety and he’s avoiding, or maybe he’s got some fantasy or fetish he can’t bear to bring up. (Even though you’ve made it clear you’re willing to experiment.) I’d be lying if I said the possibility of him being gay hadn’t crossed my mind.
It could be any of those things or a number of others. But that just illustrates the problem: Nobody knows the root cause of his behavior. That has to change, because until it does, nothing else will.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
I know…you’re the only one who’s done anything to this point. You’ve gone to great lengths to entice your husband, and you’ve been honest with him about what you want and need. That’s all a spouse can ask of their counterpart.
So it feels unfair to put the ball back in your court. Still, you’re not entirely helpless here, at least not yet.
If the past is any predictor, you’re not going to magically get him to start sleeping with you. There’s likely no trick you can try or Princess Leia costume you can try on. You’ve tried, and for reasons only he knows, it failed.
Instead, I’d shift your approach from changing his behavior to supporting his struggle.
Because he is struggling. And whatever he’s struggling with, I get the sense it comes from a deep, dark place, meaning he needs to feel as safe as possible in order to open up about it.
Tell him that you’re there to help, and that you want to get him help. Tell him that your marriage is a judgment-free zone, that he can tell you anything, and that if he doesn’t tell you, you’ll do whatever’s necessary to find someone he will.
If that doesn’t work, it might be time for tough love. Begging hasn’t worked, so maybe threatening will. Let him know what’s at stake, that you’re contemplating leaving, and that if he wants to save the marriage, he has to pick up his end of the rope.
The fate of your relationship can’t only fall on you. Just as you’re fighting for him, he’s got to prove he’s willing to fight for you.
What do you think? What advice would you give this reader? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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