Escalating The Emotions in Your Marriage
Dear Neil: My husband thinks that once every month or two is often enough for sex. He told me he was “getting older” (mid-40’s) and that it was normal for a man to lose interest at that age. I found out quite by accident that he hasn’t lost interest, but is masturbating once or twice a day, with pornography for inspiration.
Your husband sounds as if he’s very emotionally withdrawn, remote and self-absorbed, and is behaving as if he is angry or afraid of you. His behavior also resembles that of someone who is emotionally involved with someone else, although I have don’t know if that is the case.
The first step I’d recommend you take is to insist on better treatment from your husband. That includes the two of you sharing with each other your issues and emotions about each other, the marriage, your sex life and your future together.
It is not too much to ask—or to expect—that your husband tell you when he feels hurt, angered or withdrawn, why he feels that way, and what he needs in order to be close again. Of course, you could also ask him if he fails to volunteer such information.
Turn up the heat in your relationship, and quit making it so easy for your husband to ignore you or the problems the two of you are facing. Being married does not have to mean being devalued, discounted or dismissed. Make it uncomfortable for him to treat you poorly, so he will be motivated to resolve problems with you.
It would be best for you and your husband to see a marriage therapist, but if he won’t go, I’d recommend that you go alone. You need to build up your self-esteem, strength, gumption and resources so you can stand up to him. You must make it clear that you value yourself enough to not permit poor treatment any longer.
This “fight” between the two of you is not about sex. It’s about anger, the fear of closeness, low self-esteem, poor communication and ineffective problem solving skills.
Something has caused him to withdraw from you. A good place to begin the dialogue would be to ask him about what happened, and what could now be done about the problems or issues the two of you face.
If he says nothing is wrong—or nothing has changed—he’s stonewalling you, and he is afraid of you as well. If he acknowledges his anger and his withdrawal, hear him out and resist the temptation to defend yourself.
An honest dialogue with each other about your relationship is vital, and it is well overdue.
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