Saturday 29 April 2017

Dear Patricia: I love my husband but feel repulsed by the thought of sex with him

Patricia Redich

I'VE never found my husband physically attractive and, to be completely honest, the worst sex I've ever had was with him. The reason we started dating was because he was unlike the other men I'd been out with. With hindsight, that may have been a mistake.

The real problem is that I do love him, but ever since my son was born three years ago, I've been repulsed at the thought of any kind of physical contact with my husband.

I know there's nothing wrong with my libido and I still find other men attractive.

I don't want to leave my husband, but how do I reconcile my love for him with my inability to feel comfortable making love with him?

Patricia replies:

YES, of course you can love someone without being sexually interested in them. I'm just not sure what kind of marriage can be made out of that particular scenario. How do you envisage your future together? What kind of fate, exactly, are you planning for your husband? Or for yourself, for that matter? Is this to be a celibate existence for the rest of your lives? Are you planning on having affairs? And what are you offering your husband? Are you suggesting he should play happy families with you but go wandering for sex?

I can understand that you don't want to leave your husband. It's a scary world out there, particularly as the single mother of a young child. But at the risk of repeating myself for the umpteenth time, marriage is based on sexual love. It's about endless other things too, but sex is central to the emotional contract we make when we walk up the aisle, or enter the registry office. So what you're suggesting is that you end your marriage and enter a different kind of agreement -- well, that's the reality if you edit out the sexual contact.

Yes, of course couples accommodate differing sexual needs. And yes, some marriages are celibate. For that to work, in the sense of both partners being happy, it has to be consensual.

And what's this about bad sex? Maybe I'm missing something, but you sound as though you think good sex is something a man gives you, rather than something two people create together. Is he inept? Does he come too quickly? Has he no notion of the need to set the scene? Is he conservative? And aren't those all things that you could do something about? Especially as you say you love him, which means, among other things, that you are fundamentally on his side, feel kindness and respect for him, and want things to be right for him, as well as for yourself.

Finally, I do have to ask you, what on earth were you thinking of when you decided to go out with, get engaged to, marry, and have a baby with a man you didn't find physically attractive? Or, asking it a different way, what has changed? Why does the sex put you off now? Why are you feeling uncomfortable now, but didn't then? Or if you always felt uncomfortable, why does your discomfort suddenly matter so much that you're trying to bend your whole marriage out of shape?

I think you have a bit of figuring-out to do, don't you?

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