Sunday 11 December 2016

Dear Patricia: My husband has lost all interest in me as a woman

Patricia Redich

Published 13/02/2011 | 05:00

IS it normal that sex should nearly completely die out in a marriage? We've been married six years, have two young children, and are naturally busy with day-to-day life.

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My husband has no interest in me as a woman. We love our children dearly and take great pleasure in them and are good parents together. As a couple, we seem to have hit a wall. My husband likes to go out for a few pints at the weekend and I don't mind him doing this as he relaxes after the week. It is hard for us to get out together as babysitters are expensive and it is difficult to face into minding small children when we've both had a late night.

I feel very unattractive to my husband. He nags that I haven't lost weight after the births and he points out other women who had babies around the same time and who have their figures back and look well all the time. I don't know how they do it. I work part-time, mind the children, keep the house, do the shopping etc. Where do other women find the time to take care of themselves and their relationships?

I feel sad when I think about my husband and the lack of closeness between us. I then try and pull myself together and remind myself of how lucky I am to have two healthy children. I feel guilty that I have let myself and my marriage come to this. I should have worked harder to lose weight and keep my husband's attention. I now don't even mention sex to him as I feel stupid and know he doesn't fancy me. It's only like forcing him to love me.

I know I just sound sorry for myself. My husband is a good man and a good husband and father. It's just that I don't know how to get things back on track and wonder if it is too late. We are not heading for a separation, but we are heading for a lonely marriage which is very sad to contemplate after such a good start.

Patricia replies:

NO, you don't sound sorry for yourself. You sound concerned about your life, which is intelligent, right and proper. My only wish is that you would feel less disheartened. There is no need. You and your husband have a rich life together. And it is certainly not too late. Adjusting to two small children is no joke. Something invariably gets shifted to the back- burner. All you have to do now is prioritise differently.

I don't think this is just a question of weight. Romance has taken a back seat. The two of you have become smothered in the role of parenting instead. Wife has been replaced by mammy, and a mammy who is tied to the house. And although your husband may not be aware of it, my guess is that he's now thinking as a dad rather than a lover. So it's not a question of you neglecting your relationship. You both have.

Change that. Find babysitters, whatever other cost-cutting exercise you have to engage in. Get out twice a week, together, on a date. And it doesn't have to be a late night. A movie and a cup of coffee somewhere is enough. Or even just a stroll around the town, or local neighbourhood, and maybe one drink. Your husband can still have a couple of pints with his mates. You simply have to ensure that you have something similar -- namely a conversation with friends that is not just about babies. Maybe you'll find that kind of company at Weight Watchers. Yes, you do have to lose some weight. That's not because your husband is making it an issue. Ignore that. Your weight loss is for you, an important psychological statement that you're moving back into being an attractive woman, who also has two children.

Most importantly of all, do this for yourself, rather than as an anxious attempt to please your husband. Do it because you're wise enough to see a relationship needs nurturing. And do it because you want to feel that spring back in your step, that zing of being an attractive woman as well as a great mother -- and not just attractive to your husband, but to any hunk who happens to walk by.

The reason for this is simple. If you feel you're only doing it to win back your husband, then you run the risk of feeling resentful. Worse, you'll be looking for rewards from him, and will then feel terribly distressed if he doesn't jump back into harness quickly enough. Because who knows? Maybe his lack of romantic interest is due to his own exhaustion and his own preoccupation with parenting.

Finally, don't exhaust yourself. Simply let things slide, or maybe look at the way domestic chores are divided. You're both earning, even if unevenly. Is the home front tended by the two of you? Full-time working husbands have a tendency to think housework is a female affair, and part-time work a mere walk in the park. Check it out. Chin up. This is going to be an exciting adventure, and a timely change in your lifestyle. Enjoy it.

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