Lack of sex leads couple to the brink
Dear Neil: Five years ago, when husbands ADHD/bi-polar son started acting out, I was so exhausted after working all day and then dealing with his son that I had no desire for lovemaking. After about a year and a half without intimacy, one night was all it took and I became pregnant. The pregnancy lasted about two months. I can conceive, but not carry full term, and I was devastated. This was my third pregnancy loss. Weve not had sex since Ive not been able to. This week he told me that he was having an affair with a woman at work and that she is pregnant. It felt like he reached in my chest and tore my heart out. During our conversation, I learned that he felt unloved and uncared for by me. When I asked if he loved her, his reply was I thought I did, but I love you and I want to be with you. I am not sure if anything he tells me is the truth or just what he thinks I want to hear. I dont know what to do, as I am not sure I can forgive him. Devastated
Dear Devastated: Why arent the two of you making love, and why hasnt that issue been actively addressed all along? If I understand your letter correctly, the two of you havent had sex for years except once. Why is that? Being exhausted may be a good excuse for a day or two or three, but not on an on-going basis that lasts a long time. Youre resistant to having sex with your husband, and you havent addressed with him why and what you need in order for that to change. You must be willing to talk about the lack of sex with your husband, with no blame, platitudes, excuses or defensive reactions. Unless medically youre incapable of intercourse, your refusal to have sex is emotional and psychologically based. That you have those feelings is understandable. That youve apparently done nothing to address or resolve those emotions is not acceptable. About the deceit and lack of trust, the two of you need a very open and honest discussion about how you feel about how strong your commitment to each other is, because its going to take extremely strong motivation to work through all the issues youve presented. For instance, do the two of you want a baby? If so, and if you cant carry full term, why arent the two of you looking at adoption choices or any of the other options now available to couples?The other womans pregnancy is a very delicate problem, because assuming your husband is the father, and also assuming that you and your husband stay together and have a relationship with that baby you are in the position of being that babys stepmother. Which means you have to be an appropriate, caring, kind and nurturing stepmother and like it or not you will have a relationship with that babys mom. You are going to have to make peace with this issue, which isnt going to be easy on you. But you cant be unhealthy or resentful of that baby. Finally, why arent the two of you in marriage therapy? This is a lot for any relationship to overcome, and the chances of this relationship surviving diminishes dramatically if any of these issues are left unresolved.Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Boulder. He can be reached at 303-758-8777 or by e-mail through his Web site, http://www.heartrelationships.com.