Dear Mary: I would not care if I never had sex again - is my marriage doomed?
I'm 44 and have two lovely children, a hard-working husband and a nice home.
But my relationship is under a lot of strain. It mainly comes from my complete disinterest in sex. I would not care if I never had it again!
The problem has many factors. I'm not happy with my body, I'm tired, busy and stressed quite a bit. When things were better between us, my husband started hinting at being more adventurous - like swinging. This made me feel quite insecure as I know I'm not enough for him. He's likely bored with me which isn't surprising given my lack of interest.
Unfortunately, he takes my lack of interest in sex as a lack of interest in him. I was never head-over-heels about him - not like some teenage crush. But I do love and care about him.
Disciplining the children can also cause strain in the house. My husband can be quite moody, impatient and quick tempered. My poor time-management and lack of focus would drive anyone mad. And I certainly can be short-tempered too. I don't look forward to weekends, holidays or prolonged time spent together.
I've always known that humour is something that can keep a relationship going through the hard times - and it's never been something we've shared. We don't have the same sense of humour so never have a good laugh together.
This sex issue is really causing a major strain and I don't want to push him into the arms of another. He feels we are still young and fit and should have a love life to match. He says he feels like a second-class citizen and that I put all my energy into the children and have no time for him. He is probably right to a degree.
Are we doomed? I don't want my kids thinking that this is how a healthy relationship should be. We often snipe, argue and rarely have fun together in front of them.
Mary replies: Your relationship is not doomed but it certainly is under threat. There are so many strands to your unhappiness that it would need quite a bit of work to understand what exactly is going on in your head. If you are unhappy with your body as well as being tired and stressed then the prospect of having sex, no matter with whom, would be deeply unappealing. So firstly you need to decide what steps to take to help alter this state of mind and body. Perhaps you need more time to yourself, maybe you need to exercise, maybe you need to do yoga to help de-stress - you have the answers within yourself to all of this.
You will have to discuss with him again your discomfort when he suggested that you be more adventurous in your sex life. Tell him that while you would like it if you were intimate you get scared when he talks about pushing the boundaries and your wall goes up.
I agree that a sense of humour can be of great help in overcoming difficulties and it is indeed a pity that you don't share a common sense of humour. However your husband has had the same sense of humour all along (as have you) and you were able to have good times together earlier on in your marriage, so try not to let this get in the way of progress.
Whenever a sex life isn't working you have to ask what is the general state of the relationship, and yours sounds like it could be a lot better with faults on both sides. This is a case where my column simply isn't enough to deal with your problems adequately and I would suggest that you seek help in the form of relationship counselling. This may seem like just another thing to do in your busy week but counselling should be seen as a second chance to get things right and I strongly urge you to seek this help.
You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.
Sunday Indo Living