Carolyn Hax: Sexually distant husband irks wife

May 19, 2014 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Carolyn: When you had a question regarding women with higher sex drives than their husbands, it really hit home. I am lucky if my husband and I have sex six times a year. I have tried to initiate it in the past and have been told many times that if I stop asking for it, I will get it more often.

Well, I have tried that and it just is not working. He is also more likely to cuddle with a body pillow than me. This is ruining my self-esteem, and I just don't know what to do. Any thoughts?

ANONYMOUS

First you recognize this is not about you or your attractiveness. His is just one person's opinion. Granted, it's an important person, but that doesn't make it the last word on anything.

Next call (road apples) on the "If you stop asking" deflection. If he'd actually tried to do his part, then that would be a different story, but since he didn't, he was both pushing you off and postponing tough conversations and consequences - at your expense. You can add 2 and 2, and you certainly don't need to be sexually neglected and treated like a dope.

Next, say you want to talk about this honestly, then start by saying out loud that you grasp that he doesn't want to touch you as often as you want to be touched.

Then ask him to take part in an equally honest conversation about what each of you would like to do about it. Maybe he just wants to stay in his nice married rut and leave you to deal with your unhappiness; maybe he actually wishes he were more interested, but the idea of getting help is too daunting to him. Figuring out what he actually wants and needs is necessary to distinguishing viable options.

There are no pretty solutions to this problem - which you have figured out, since you've lived for years with the truth. But, when there are no pretty solutions, the next best thing is to put the truth out in the open.

That at least makes your path, instead of something you got stuck with against your will, a conscious choice - which tends to be a happier one, no matter where it leads.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at washingtonpost.com.

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