Q. I love my husband and we have a good marriage and two lovely children, but there is one problem. He wants sex all the time, and pesters me daily. It really gets me down.
If I say no, he gets very grumpy, so I often say yes when I don’t want to. If you asked me how often I’d like sex I would have no idea, because it has been like this for 20 years. I feel as though I don’t fancy him at all any more. Name supplied
A. I’m not quite sure what you mean by it’s been ‘like this’ for 20 years. Do you mean daily sex which you have been generally happy about until recently? Or this communication pattern where you say yes when you don’t really mean it?
In either case, it’s worth a quick health check to see whether anything has changed recently. It’s not unusual for women to start having sex with a slight attitude of ‘Oh well, if you must’ and then find that we get into the swing of things. Feeling desired can, in itself, be a turn-on, and maybe that has worked for you in the past.
Beyond the physical though, this is clearly taking an emotional toll on both of you. Perhaps he’s trying to fix a disconnection in his own way, if he feels that sex is what proves your love for him. Also, the question that springs to mind for me is, ‘Does the man not know how to masturbate?’ On the plus side, he’s turning towards you, rather than away from you, to fulfil his needs.
Do these comments shock you? Are you a couple who relies on their bodies to do the talking, and things quickly get vague when you try to use words?
The website for the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists would be a good place to start feeling less alone. Look at the ‘Don’t believe the myths of sex’ section. I think any therapist would be interested in how you communicate more generally. If you go along with sex when you don’t want to, what does that highlight about other dynamics in your relationship?
One option would be a sex plan, where you commit to which nights you will have sex. It may sound mechanical, but it would take the pressure off both of you – he’d feel safe from rejection, you’d feel safe from being pounced on. It would involve a version of a date night – the board game Monogamy from the website lovehoney.co.uk has creative ideas for making it feel like you’re having an affair with your partner.
You both have sexual, physical and emotional needs. You both want to feel safe and loved in your relationship. Perhaps have separate conversations to work out your individual needs, then agree on a joint plan. It might sound like a business-style negotiation, but it could ultimately result in putting that board room table to better use…
Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line.