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.


Clarice said...

The guys are on target with their insight - which is why they are loved and respected as a source of straight no chaser information. As far as the other woman - I would double check the situation against the guys advise - however trust your gut. Often women 'know' but do not want to admit - because instincts pick up on clues not readily visible - by the time a person conciously acknowledges or sees signs it may be well along. Pay attention to your gut instincts and ask questions early - problems do not get better with age. The two of you need time alone - to have a conversation and get connect or reconnect. The paradiagm has shift because life happens and you have to adjust as a couple to negotiate the change without the marriage being destroyed. Garland is on target - get a sitter - plan and evening or weekend alone - preferably away - but if your budget can't allow that then stay local. In addition to making arrangement for the evening - get mentally prepared. Sex and connection is all in the mind. Before you can connect with him and each other you have to connect with your best most sexual self. It is easy with everything going on to get lost. Take a time out - as part of the prep for the evening and take a nice long shower and reconnect with what you like about yourself as a woman. You mentioned being concerned about having picked up weight post baby - it happens. What matters most is your attitude - your weight is not you - do not let it define you or frame how you see yourself. He will take his cue from you - if you are happy with yourself and comfortable - i.e. accepting of who you are where you are at this point in time he will be too. The message of I am ok with myself also says it is okay to be comfortable i.e. you will be forgiving of any flaws he has. Last time I checked no one is perfect - he is probably nervous about whether or not you are accepting of him as a man so the message of self acceptance, openess and happiness will put his mind at ease. This is the same mental prep folks do when they are dating - buy some sexy lingere or other clothes that make you feel sexy and express how good you feel about yourself. They are for you - he just gets a side benefit. It is about how good you feel and sharing that good feeling with him. Feeling good about yourself makes it easier to have a non-judgemental conversation and engage in open communication. So once you have done your prep state your case in simple terms. Set the stage have a nice relaxed dinner and just talk. The two of you have not been connecting - life happens and you've both been busy. He is important to you - connecting as a couple matters to you. That is what this time out is about connecting and finding ways to make connecting regularly a part of the partnership. Men are task driven and relate better to specifics - feelings are fine, talking is nice but at the end of it what is the goal - what problem needs to be solved - what is the desired end state. Men are conditioned to solve problems and going to see someone i.e. calling in an expert before trying to fix it themselves is seen as a sign of weakness - unmasculine. Be clear and specific about what you need and be ready to answer that question if it comes up. Be prepared to be direct - if you think there is someone else and that is on your mind ask - is there someone else? Simple direct non-accusatory or emotionally charged a yes or no question. As a woman, generally - it is the way we are wired though there are exceptional women who can turn off their minds and just be in the physical moment- mostly though if there is something on our minds it will distract you so it is better to ask and get it out of the way. In the unlikely event that there is someone else and his response to the question will tell you more than what he says - you need to know that before the two of you are intimate because your health and safety depend on it in this day and age of HIV and other diseases. Cold hard fact of life - but most of the women who contract HIV get it from partners in supposedly exclusive relationships so not asking is a death sentence. Mentally be prepared for whatever the answers are to any questions you plan on asking. Keep an open mind and do not jump to conclusions but be prepared. It it scary making this kind of mood given how the two of you have drifted but this is an important valuable relationship so it is worth working on. Best wishes.



Anonymous said...

Garland, Chuck, Clarice, thank you all for the advice. In my heart of hearts, I really don't think my husband is cheating on me. I know he sneaks and watches porn, but I don't have any true evidence of anything else--no unaccounted time, no missing funds, no secret phone calls, etc. I do agree with all of you about getting a sitter. I've been reluctant to do so due to trust issues with having a stranger watch my kids, but I need to make more of an effort to reach out to local family members and seek referrals from friends and even our daycare.

My husband is a great guy, though I sometimes forget it in all the nagging I do about other things. We've been together for awhile, and he's always been a great support system to me when I really needed him. It's just in this one area that we have a major problem. However, I'll take your advice to heart and begin working on rebuilding the couples portion of our relationship, which has gotten lost in the parenting and full-time job part of our relationship. Again, thanks to all of you for the excellent advice.

Chuck and Garland said...

Hey there ANONYMOUS-

Thanks for the reply, and I certainly understand the worries of having 'just anyone' watching your kids - but you MAY also want to just take the day off from work while the kids are at school and/or the daycare. you BOTH take the day off, get some breakfast, take a stroll in the park and let 'nature' take its course! Things work GREAT while the sun is up too!