How Marriage Changes a Relationship

“My husband and I have been married ten months.  Prior to our marriage he was very active sexually with me,” writes a woman from Milwaukee.

“On our honeymoon, my husband did not initiate sex once.  He [has now] progressed to jerking away if I touch him and making comments such as ‘leave me alone.  I need my rest.’  After repeated inquiries, my husband revealed that he believed the relationship between man and wife to be mainly ‘domestic.’  He stated that he does not look at me in a sexual way any longer and that when he does complete sexual activity with me it is for my benefit.”

“Is it common for people to have preconceived notions of what marriage will be like, so that they totally lose sight of who their partner is?  I am a young, attractive professional.  I am at ease with my sexuality and this problem is driving me nuts.  What can you do when someone else decides without your permission that you are asexual?  I’m feeling pretty bad about this—almost tricked—and I am wondering where the man I knew before we married went and how [I] can get him back.”


“People change and forget to tell each other.” Lillian Hellman

“When people fall in love, they don’t look at each other, they look through each other at the beloved into a paradise. Therefore, we don’t see them for who they are.  They are transparent but we don’t see it.” Jean Houston

Most people have developed a highly refined false self, which is the part they present to others during the beginning stages of a relationship.  As we get to know each other better, layers of the false self peel away and you see the person more for what they really are, and not just the image of what they presented themselves to be.  People don’t allow their whole self to be seen in the beginning of a relationship because they’re afraid you will dislike and reject them if they did.

We, therefore, frequently fall in love with someone else’s facade.  We see fragments of the whole person, and we don’t yet know that this is them, only with their best foot forward.

Marriage changes a relationship.  What we expect from a husband or a wife may be very different from what we expect of a boyfriend or a girlfriend.  With marriage there is a sense of ownership, possession and security that didn’t exist previously.  People’s facades last, typically, until they get married, because with marriage, they feel more secure and committed, and can then relax and let their real selves emerge.

You learn, no matter what you think ahead of time, that you don’t know what you’ve got until you marry.  People frequently, therefore, feel fooled or duped by their partner when they eventually learn that their husband/wife is not what they had thought.

There is some reason your husband has turned off to you:  whether it is because he feels more permission to let out his true feelings and attitudes about marriage, whether he is angry or upset with you, or whether he has found someone else on the side.  He may be saying he wants a distant and withdrawn marriage, or he may be saying that his behavior during courtship was, in essence, an act, and that now he wants to be himself.

If after ten months of marriage you are feeling tricked and disillusioned, your marriage is in trouble.  Seek help.

Has your relationship turned cold and distant? Neil’s book Love, Sex, and Staying Warm can help you rekindle your passion.

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