Failing Chemistry

QUESTION: Hi, guys. I'm a little embarassed to admit this, but the chemistry between my husband and I seems to have become zero based on the amount of sex going on in our bedroom. It's colder than the North Pole in there. Because of our kids, we're both exhausted, so I know that plays into part of it, but neither of us have attempted sex with one another in months!! And I'm not exaggerating. At this point, I don't know what to do. I do still love my husband, but I'm tired of sneaking and using my toys and having to turn to self-gratification to get things done. How should I approach my husband about this? I've suggested counseling, but he scoffs at the idea as nonsense. Plus, I'm beginning to wonder if there's another woman involved, or if I just don't turn him on anymore, especially since I've gained weight in the past few months due to pregnancy.

We desperately need help at this point, because I'm not willing to keep on going in this direction. I don't need it several times a week anymore but, hell, can we at least start with once a month!!

GARLAND: Thanks for sharing this great question with us. I'm pretty sure that a lot of people are going through the same things in their own lives as well and may be embarrassed also, to ask.

I'm married too, with kids, so personally - I understand the strategy behind marital intimacy and the covert operations sometimes needed to achieve it. Chuck is in the same boat - family and marital status that is - so I'm looking forward to his answer on this as well.

I'm pretty hesitant to agree that another woman is in play in your husband's life. I don't know anything about him beyond the few words you just typed, but if he hasn't had any dramatic changes in his schedule or his routine, he hasn't re-vamped his wardrobe, he hasn't started grooming unusually different and he hasn't gotten real secretive over his cell phone or the home computer, chances are he's not cheating on you.

From a married man's perspective - I think you may have slipped from the role of wife / best friend to the role of children's mother / children's nurturer. That happens. Is it fair? No, but it happens. I think sometimes us men just transition the women we love from our hot and sexy girlfriends, to our hot and sexy wives to our loving and caring children's mothers. Sometimes a busy life with jobs and bills and loss of sleep and changes in eating habits and the stress of a two year presidential election campaign changes us. It changes us and shifts our perspective around when we're not looking.

My humble suggestion is this - get a sitter for an evening, or overnight if you can. Talk to him beforehand and let him know that some alone time is way overdue. Light some candles, order some takeout from that nice Chinese place around the corner and get to know each other again. Make him remember that you are still his hot and sexy girlfriend beyond all the stresses of the lives you all now have. But you have to get rid of the kids and get some alone time. Don't go to the movies or dinner - get home or get to a hotel and be ALONE!!!!

And two other quick things - 1. NO, we are NOT going to a counselor to talk about sex. Sorry, that just isn't happening. TALKING about negative things that may involve our genitalia is JUST not the way we are wired. Nice try. And 2. Don't stress over the extra weight you may have gained because of the kids. I think if your husband is a decent guy, then he accepts any changes that may have happened to your body as YOUR sacrifice to build your family. I think its a beautiful thing. You ladies do all of the hard work bringing life into this world and you have to sacrifice your bodies and sometimes your lives to make us fathers. Don't look at that as a negative, and if your husband has a problem with it, then shame on him.

CHUCK: I have to say that this kind of sexual drought in a marriage can be common, especially for people with young kids. There's only so much time in the day, the kids have to take priority, and when they're taken care of, you're probably wiped out yourselves. And the feeling is, generally, it's okay, I'll make time for my spouse later. He/she isn't going anywhere. I hate to say it, but I've been there.

I have a theory here, so bear with me for a moment. For the average married person with children, there are three separate selfs. I'll call these selfs "yous." There is the you that is the parent and caregiver to your children. There's the you that exists in a couple with your spouse. And there is the personal you, concerned with pursuits that you enjoy alone, like books or music. It's my feeling that when you're taking care of one or two of those you's, one must be suffering. And apparently, it is you and your husband as a couple.

You say that you think that your husband might be cheating. That's a pretty easy thing to determine, if you ask me. Is he devoting a lot of care and attention to his appearance at weird times, like Saturday afternoon, or Wednesday night? Does he spend a lot of time on the phone or the computer, but reacts furtively when you enter the room? And finally, does he have a lot of unaccounted-for time away from the home? These are some of the signs you can use to see if he might be cheating, but he doesn't need to be. He may be taking care of himself the same way you are.

I think it's obvious that you care about your marriage, so you two must make a greater effort to reconnect. Unfortunately, these situations feed on each other, and days turn into weeks turn into months. And then you feel funny even bringing it up. But you can't give up. This is something you need to continue to address. If you can stay on your husband for stuff like putting out the garbage and changing the furnace filter, surely this is of equal importance. See if you can find someone to watch your kids for a couple of days. Hell, even a night. Maybe that could help reignite the sexual chemistry between you. I used to scoff at counseling as ineffective, but now I say anything that has a chance of working should be looked into. I believe with some work, though and a full commitment from you both, you can work through this. Good luck.


I Just Want Your Extra Time and Your...

Hey guys, I ran across your site and fell in love with it!. You guys serve it up "real" something most people say they want, but can't handle.

QUESTION: My question is this when a woman is involved in a "friends with benefits" relationship and the man has made it clear he isn't ready for a commitment/relationship, but continues to accept the benefits of relationship (i.e, sex, spending time together, dinners, movies etc.). While being intimate he iniates kissing. I would prefer we leave the kissing out because I feel that creates a special bond. Its all very confusing because we function as a couple without the title?

For me, I must say a woman cannot engage in this activity without getting emotionally tied into it. I would lie and say this type of relationship works for me, but I am emotionally bonded and can't seem to break away. I do date other men which helps build a little distance, but in reality I understand a new relationship can't survive if one party is emotionally unavailable.

What's confusing is the kissing, the dating because we do the typical date stuff and his admission that he isn't ready for a relationship. Does a man ever change his mind or how can a woman read between the mixed messages/lines?

Seeking truth!

GARLAND: Thanks "Seeker" for this question.

The whole "Friend's with benefits" situation is always interesting. It's the only game in town where the first one to 'catch feelings' is the loser. I'm with you when it comes to kissing - it's a VERY intimate thing and when it comes the to FWB rules - it should be a major PENALTY! But that's MY opinion...uh, and yours too I guess.

I think YOU need to set some rules if you're going to play in the FWB arena. And, you are going to get your heart broken if you don't set them and HE doesn't follow them. Yeah, yeah - it sounds so simple... "Hey, no kissing! You can lick that, tickle this and rub on that - but when it comes to these - NO KISSING!" Will he follow in the rules during the heated action? NO. So, that leaves the ball squarely in your court. He wants all the perks and you're left paying the emotional bill.
He wants it all, with no fees. He gets you, your time, your sex and your lips and yet he remains free and clear to do whatever he wants with whomever he wants. It is just about the best of both worlds. Sit him down and tell him what is what - either you all are going to stay FWB's with no kissing, or he's going to have to make some real promises to you. If he doesn't want to do either - then start waving your hand in the air frantically, because FWB's are just like cabs... there's always another one just around the corner.

CHUCK: Ah, yes, friends with benefits. When one person tries to deny that they have entered into a relationship with a person who will not be available to them any way but sexually. It all sounds so mature at the beginning. Both of you will enjoy each other's company with no emotional strings attached. And it goes fine for a while. Until some starts catching feelings. Or one partner starts getting more, or better sex on the side than the other. Or one partner likes kissing with his impersonal sex. FWB can work, I think. Just not for very long.
At any rate, I would think that, just because of the potentially raw emotional territory that you and your FWB have ventured into, that you set some rules for yourselves in the beginning. Maybe you didn't. But you should have. Because that is the best way to avoid the kind of confusion you're experiencing. So if kissing holds that great an emotional connection for you, you should have taken that off of the table right off the bat.

So does it mean that your FWB is considering a change in your relationship because he has kissed you? No. Let me repeat that: No. More likely, he got swept up in the heat of the moment, and either forgot, or disregarded your no-kissing policy. To assume that he wants a more substantial relationship, you would need to base it on something more concrete. Like a conversation.

Approach him about this kissing issue again, before you two hook up again. Emphasize again to him that you feel that kissing should be something restricted to a more intimate relationship than the two of you currently have. If he wants that kind of relationship now, he will tell you. If not, he should tell you, too. And then the ball is in your court as to whether you want to go on with him.