QUESTION: Garland and Chuck, I don't know if you two are married or not and thus qualified to answer this question, but I need advice on how to rekindle the spark in my marriage.
Let me start by saying I'm married to a great guy. Like all relationships, we occasionally get on each other's nerves and probably miss being single, but I think we both are ultimately glad we're still together and really love one another.
We've been married for almost 11 years now, and we have four kids (all from our marriage), ages 3 months, 3, 7, and 9. When we first got together, things were hot and heavy between us. Lately, however, it's been colder than the North Pole in the Sex Department in our house. I realize that most relationships cool down over time as family responsibilities/stresses take over. I also realize that we've got four kids, including a new baby, but my husband has expressed no interest in having sex with me since I've been cleared to resume sex. Plus, our sex life sucked before and during my last pregnancy. This especially concerns me because we continued our sex life during my first three pregnancies, even though my last pregnancy was a little more difficult. When I think back, it's been almost a year since we've had sex. I think this is very unnatural for a married couple.
I've caught my husband on porn websites occasionally and I suspect he masturbates when I'm not around. I'm no prude and have no problem with porn or masturbation since I've used both tools myself, but I do have a problem with these things when my husband is looking at other women and hasn't made an attempt to lay a finger on me. If I had ballooned up to 300 lbs. during my pregnancy, I might could understand it, but I've actually lost a lot of weight since I had our baby and look better than before I got pregnant.
How should I handle this situation? I have all kinds of thoughts running through my head, such as, "Is he cheating?;" "Is he thinking about cheating?;" "Does he still find me attractive?," etc.
I've considered making a move on my husband, but he's had a few performance issues in the past when I've made moves on him and he wasn't ready or was under stress. I'm concerned that this may happen again since our baby isn't sleeping through the entire night yet and we're sometimes tired.
I need your advice desperately, because I'm horny as hell. I don't think I'd ever cheat on my husband, and I don't think he'd ever cheat on me, but I'm also realistic and know that we're both human and have needs. I've tried to talk to my husband about this and even suggested counseling, but he always has some excuse for why he doesn't think we have a problem. I've suggested things like "date nights," etc., but we've both been guilty of not following through.
I want to spend the rest of my life with my husband, raising our children and having fun, both in and out of the bedroom, together. Please help me figure out how to rekindle some of the romance while still managing to juggle family responsibilities. Right now, I admit that we're both giving more attention to the kids than to each other. In fact, I think we take each other for granted. I believe that's the short road to an affair and/or divorce. Thanks for any advice you can give.
GARLAND: Thanks for such a passionate question. I hope we can shed some light positive on things.
Both Chuck and I are married, and he's been married twice as long as I, so I'm sure his advice may be a little more sage than mine.
I don't know an honest married couple who hasn't had a little slow down here or there at least once in awhile and just talking to people and being married myself I think there are a lot of reasons. Right off the bat - as a man - I wouldn't automatically assume that your husband is cheating. Obviously, I don't know him - but I think it's important to keep a positive mindset as you try to work things out.
One thing that your husband might be going through, is seeing you more as The Mother of his Children, and less like the Sexy Lil'Hottie you were when you all were younger and singler. This happens a lot I believe and it probably has some fancy smancy name, but I don't know it. I just think that some guys come to have issues with doing 'certain things' to the woman their kids call "Mommy." I think some time alone - maybe a few days away from the kids at a nice hotel or resort may make a difference. Kids just screw up the whole atmosphere when it comes gettin' busy. BUT, I'm getting ahead of myself...
You say that he won't talk about things, or he won't follow through on time alone [date-night, etc.] or he rejects the idea of counseling. Okay, face-it - most of us guys are stubborn assholes and going to counseling is just like admitting that we have failed something and we need help to fix it. 80% of us just aren't going for that. So, I think you may have to practically force him to talk to you. Whatever you do - don't raise your voice, don't yell, don't get all emotional, don't cry, don't accuse, don't threaten and don't drop ultimatums. Yeah, that sounds like a lot of DON'T DO'S... because it is. ANY of these things can be used by your husband as a reason to argue or blow up or just plain weasel out of talking. Since he doesn't want to talk, consider him a stick of dynamite with a quick fuse and YOU DON'T WANT TO LIGHT IT. Because you need answers, and HE has them.
I think you need to wait until the kids are sound asleep, maybe get a couple of glasses of wine or a mellow CD in the background and just hit him with the most feared five words a husband knows, "Honey, we need to talk." Just walk through how you're feeling, slowly and without a lot of unneccesary emotional words. Give him a few pauses to interject, but whatever you do, don't let him goad you into an arguement. Far too many times, us guys get out of talking about our emotions by raising our voices and bullying our way out of the room. If he walks out, follow him [don't chase him] but I think he HAS to man-up and tell you what's up. Just remind him that WHATEVER his issue is, he is still your husband and you are still his wife, and remind him of his promise to love and cherish you. Remind him that he made this promise to you AND God. Just go steady and go gently. I know the whole "promise" thing sounds corny, but it may work.
Now, let's get back to my assumption that he isn't cheating. If he's not cheating, he may also be having some 'medical' issues. Simply put - he's just not getting the lead in the old pencil like he used to. I think a lot of guys have manhood issues when it comes to this, and they are just too proud and too stupid to tell the women they love. They'd rather have their women be mad at them and that way less likely to get them in a sexual situation. Or they'd rather have their women full of self-doubt and confusion and therefore again, less likely to push the sexual issue. When you talk to him, as a last resort - ask him about his health, his blood pressure and stuff like that, see if he opens up.
I hope this helps. I look forward to reading Chuck's thoughts on this, since he's been in the game longer than I. Best wishes, and good luck. E-Mail us back and give us a follow up... a PG rated follow up.
CHUCK: Young kids.... You want 'em, you love 'em, but they can be ruinous to a normal sexual relationship. Spontaneous displays of intimacy are difficult. Elaborate scenarios are, too. Finding time to be alone is hard, and when you get that time, the temptation to do something else (like sleep) is really great.
A year without sex is a long time. But it sounds as though pregnancy complications, combined with your husband's "performance issues," have combined to create a perfect storm as far as your sex life is concerned. And unfortunately, when bad trends start in relationships, it can be really hard to reverse them.
I would not give too much credence to the idea of your husband cheating on you without some more overt signs (you know them: strange phone calls/hang-ups, unexplained absences, etc.). As for his viewing porn, I wouldn't read more into it than necessary. A lot of married men view pornography as being certain things their wives are not, even in sexual relationships healthier than yours. Porn is available. Porn is undemanding. But it also isn't necessarily a gateway drug to cheating.
I think two things are going to be crucial to repairing your marriage. The first is communication. It could be you husband's performance problems have made him hesitant to initiate relations. And I'm sure that's not easy to talk about. Suggest he see a doctor and maybe he can get prescribed some medication that will help alleviate those issues, at least temporarily. Also, understand: For most Black men, counseling is never going to be an easy sell. Opening up to their partners and family is difficult enough. Letting strangers know intimate details of their personal lives is almost unthinkable. I'm not saying it's right, I'm just stating a fact. But if you really think that counseling will help you, suggest it. Strongly.
The other thing I believe you two need is time together as a couple, apart from your little darlings. It doesn't need to be a expensive vacation, although it couldn't hurt. A day or two in a hotel 5 or 10 miles away from your home could do wonders for getting you back on the same page sexually. I know that helped my wife and I out a few years ago. Start looking for sympathic relatives or babysitters for this.
Most of all, it's important for you two to realize that you love one another, and display that love. Sexual intimacy is always easier when other kinds of intimacy exist. Try to focus on yourselves as a couple, and not just as parents. All married couples take each other for granted from time to time. With the will to change things, the two of you can turn this around.