Vail Relationships column: Married but no longer in an intimate relationship
Dear Neil: Some people decide to not have sex with their spouse. So why do these same people get upset when their husband or wife has sex with someone else?
Not Sure I Understand
Dear Not Sure: Some people have negative associations with sex. Although they desire to be married, they don’t desire sex or they’ve given up on having a close erotic relationship. Other people may enjoy sex, but for a variety of reasons withhold it. They may be punishing their partner to make a point or to settle a score. Perhaps the relationship has grown distant and disconnected, and they no longer feel close enough to want sex. They may be married, but they’re no longer in an intimate relationship.
But add another sexual partner to this mix, and you have a potentially explosive situation. This is because your spouse most probably assumes you belong to him or her and would feel that another lover would violate the relationship and would therefore be grounds to hang you for treason. (Maybe I’m exaggerating; maybe I’m not.)
If one person withdraws sex, then very often his or her partner will not give up romance and sexual desire — he or she will simply go elsewhere to get it. If you wish to avoid this scenario, then don’t let romance, connection and eroticism fade from your relationship. And if it does, then confront it forcefully, and do everything you can to assist the two of you in reconnecting.
Dear Neil: My sister-in-law has all these excuses why she can’t work. She takes money from my elderly mother-in-law and has children that the state pays for. I want to know why she feels entitled to an elderly person’s income and a free ride from the government.
Fed Up in Florida
Dear Fed Up: Some people use assistance to get on their feet or to jump-start their lives, and others game the system. The bigger question is about how you can stop your sister-in-law’s sense of entitlement. There are essentially two types of people who feel entitled: those who are embarrassed they’re on the take and are motivated to get back on their feet as soon as they can, and those who will take a free ride as long as they can. If your sister-in-law is in the first category, then somebody in the family might help her explore how she might take control over her life. If she fits the second description, then she will be resistant to any changes.
If your mother-in-law is giving money to her daughter, then there is nothing you can do. But if the daughter is stealing, then you could call social services and report her for elderly abuse.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. His column is in its 25th year of publication. You can reach him at 303-758-8777, or email him through his website, http://www.neil rosenthal.com. The second edition of his book “Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Creating A Vital Relationship” recently hit the No. 1 best-seller list on Amazon its first day of release, both nationally and internationally.