He thinks sex is too important to her

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have been in a relationship with a great man for 5 years now, and we recently became engaged. I feel that I am very lucky to have found a man who tells me he loves me, tells me I am beautiful, and wants to make a future and a family with me. But our sexual life suffers greatly; I would like to have sex 3-5 times a week, but he is fine with being intimate only 1-2 times every month or two. I cannot imagine why we are so lacking in this department – We are both in our 20′s, healthy, neither of us have stressful occupations (we are both in college), and we do not have any children. I have tried to discuss this problem with him, but it usually ends in him telling me that I care too much about sex. I have even mentioned therapy, but he refuses and says we do not need it. It is to the point where I am the only one who initiates anything, and I usually get turned down. When we do have sex it is very unfulfilling, mostly for me, but sometimes for the both of us. This has extremely affected my self-esteem and my opinion on our relationship.It just seems so odd, and I say this because, in all appearances, one would think our relationship would be just fine. We are both affectionate people; we always kiss goodbye, snuggle on the couch, and go to bed together. But it always ends the same way, we both turn to opposite sides and fall asleep.

I have gone through untold amounts of guilt and trying to tell myself I was wrong for feeling this way. But sex is part of marriage, it is something you promise to share only with your partner, and it is something that brings you closer as a couple. I have tried to tell myself that maybe he is right, but after awhile I have realized that intimacy is important to me, and even though I have spoken to him about this, nothing has changed. The more I think of this I realize that we never went through the “honeymoon period,” and this has been the norm throughout our relationship. I have tried letting him become the instigator, talking to him about the problem, buying lingerie, experimenting, trying new things outside the bedroom with him, but nothing seems to work. The more I try and try, the more I feel like just his buddy, or worse, his room mate ( we have lived together for about 3 years).

After a few years of trying to turn our situation around, I believe that I am at the breaking point. At first I felt selfish, to think of ending our relationship because I am not sexually satisfied, but I cannot imagine being in a marriage without intimacy! I feel that if this problem is not addressed now that it will only get worse. I have even pushed back our wedding date with the excuse that we needed to “save more money,” but I really did it because I am having second thoughts. I have even thought about sleeping with another man, but I also know I could not live with myself if I hurt or betrayed on him. This has become such a problem that I am starting to think about leaving him because I know there is someone out there that shares the same feelings about sexuality as I do. But how do you tell someone you love that you are leaving them because they cannot satisfy you!?!? I am so afraid of hurting him, it is the last thing I want to do, but I also have to be true to myself. I just need some advice, is there any way this relationship can be saved?

A: You are very wise to be asking these questions now. The issue between you is only partly about sex. The much larger issue is that you and your fiance are not working together to resolve something very important that affects both of you. Somehow you have ended up thinking that it is all your problem and making all the efforts to fix it. He discredits your concerns and does nothing to ease your distress.

Satisfying sex is the ultimate act of cooperation between two people. Often it is a metaphor for the relationship. If this is how your fiance handles a major difference now, what will happen when you disagree about other big challenges that life sends your way? There is more to marriage than the ability to have good times together and snuggling on the couch when life is easy.

Yes, this relationship can be saved. But you can’t make a relationship by yourself. He needs to join wholeheartedly in the project with you. See what happens if you put the subject of sex aside for awhile and instead talk about how the two of you can lovingly meet each other’s needs when you disagree.

You are only 22 and you’ve been with your guy since you were 17. It may be that both of you need something different in a relationship than you did 5 years ago. If you two can’t find a way to work in loving cooperation to solve a problem, then it’s time to wish each other the best and move on.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Jan 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). He thinks sex is too important to her. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/01/25/he-thinks-sex-is-too-important-to-her/

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