Having sex when youre not in the mood
Dear Neil: I understand that being in a relationship often involves doing things for the other person that you may not particularly like. Examples are things like dishes that someone else dirties, giving a massage when youre tired, spending Christmas with the mother-in-law, etc. I also understand that this extends to sex, even if youre not in the mood. But how far is too far in terms of compromising sexually? Actually, how far is too far in compromising in general? Not Always Wanting To Wellington, New ZealandDear New Zealand: Youre right in stating that being in a relationship sometimes requires us to do things, go places, interact with people and sometimes fight about things that we may not find particularly enjoyable. That is the nature of being in an intimate relationship. But if the relationship asks me to be false to myself, if I am asked to do something that violates me especially if I am repeatedly asked to violate me thats where I will be forced to draw the line and say no, what you want doesnt work for me. Most people especially women have had the experience of saying yes to sex when they were not particularly in the mood. And every once in a while, there is nothing wrong in taking care of your partner. It is, after all, a nurturing, caring and loving gift to offer. But youre in trouble if you get in the habit of doing this, because then youre going to get angry and resentful, and your subsequent withdrawal or hostility will hurt (or destroy) your relationship. So to answer your question: if it does not violate you, then by all means you can be a generous lover and occasionally take care of your partner, even when youre not in the mood. But if that scenario is occurring frequently or if youre feeling violated or false to yourself address this whole issue with your partner, and look more carefully at what you need in order to be happy and content in the relationship. What does he need to do differently? What does he need to quit doing in order for you to feel good about making love with him? Is there any way for him to help you be in the mood? Tell him, and be sure to let him know exactly how important all this is to you. Then its a question of whether hes responsive and sensitive to what you request.Dear Neil: My husband and I need counseling, but he will not go. He is defensive, wants to avoid talking about whatever he does not want to talk about, and there is no emotional connection. How can this simple concept be so difficult for men? Unhappy in Vancouver, WashingtonDear Washington: Its not men its your husband. His defensive response is not about you. Its his habitual way of protecting himself from feeling inadequate or from being rejected. He doesnt understand that his defensiveness makes it more likely that you will eventually reject him, because if he remains defensive, youll never feel heard, cared about or cherished. Neither of you are going to be happy in such an arrangement, because when the two of you cant talk about problems, issues, disagreements, irritations, hurts or angers that are in the way, your emotional connection will grow weaker and more fragile. Tell him that youre unhappy in the marriage and that you need several changes. Focus in on what you need for a deeper and more intimate emotional connection. If he wont take in what youre saying, youre going to have to decide whether this is the right relationship for you. Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Denver specializing in intimate relationships. He can be reached at 303-758-8777, or e-mail him from his Web site, http://www.heartrelationships.com.
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