Wednesday 16 October 2019

Dear Mary: Once he couldn't keep his hands off me - now it rarely happens

Photo posed
Photo posed

Mary O’Conor

I've been married for seven years to an exceptionally caring, patient and loving man. I love him a lot and he loves me. He is good looking and in good shape. We have two young children and we are a happy family.

But... when we first met, he fell for me headfirst and was madly, fiercely and passionately in love. I was a bit slower to fall but I responded to his determination and we were married just over a year after first meeting. We were both in our mid-thirties when we married.

We come from different backgrounds, cultures, countries and religions but now share common beliefs and enjoy similar things. We both still have our own pastimes.

My husband initially couldn't keep his hands off me. This played an important part in our early relationship and in helping me to overcome certain sexual walls I had built because of my strict upbringing. Although I was still a virgin, I knew sex was important to me in a stable relationship and I wanted it to be good.

But even before our marriage things changed. We decided to stop all intimacy a few months before the wedding, in order to start like new. However, we were exhausted on our wedding night and didn't make love.

I was deeply disappointed although I didn't acknowledge this even to myself. It was several days before he initiated lovemaking and I was hurt each day he didn't.

Since then our sexual life has been great when it happens, but he does not desire me like the first few months when I was refusing intercourse.

Now I feel it is too late to ever get the passion going in him like before. I would like sex at least once a week, but more than that I want to know he desires me, thinks of me and aches for me like he once did.

It feels so one-sided now and it has really affected how I see myself. Having young children who tire us (him!) out and appear randomly at night means that our sexual life is barely existent.

I have always attracted male attention: I am outgoing, sporty and not overweight and supposedly look young for my age.

Now it seems I will never again experience the confidence that comes from feeling desirable. My husband had other girlfriends and was even once engaged before me, whereas I waited for the ONE (although I had propositions).

I now feel ripped-off that I haven't had nearly enough of that passion and he has. I even feel angry that I waited.

I daydream about being desired and wooed again and having passionate sex with someone who is crazy for me.

Mary replies: It sounds like everything in your life is wonderful apart from your sex life, so you are absolutely right in trying to make this better.

While many men reading this will be saying to themselves 'I wish she were my wife', I think it is unrealistic to expect that it is as good as it was in the early heady days when you were getting to know each other sexually, when it was all new to you, and he felt the challenge of trying to win you over and prove to you how good it could be.

It was a great idea to stop having sex before the marriage in order to have something to look forward to, and it shouldn't really matter that you were exhausted on the wedding night.

This happens to an awful lot of people, particularly when there is a huge build-up of tension and indeed expectation before the wedding. You were hurt when he didn't initiate sex for some time - but what prevented you from taking the initiative? Perhaps it was your strict upbringing where the notion was that nice girls didn't really do that. But it is every bit as valid for a wife to let her husband know that she desires him and finds him attractive as it is for him to tell her the same thing.

It may be that your husband has a bit of the 'manana' syndrome - there's always tomorrow - and has become complacent and he needs to be made aware of your unhappiness. People often find that even if they are too tired, or just not in the mood, that if they go ahead and have sex it turns out to be really enjoyable.

I had a tutor who maintained that it was impractical for people to expect that having tidied up after dinner, put out the cat or taken in the dog, made the school lunches and laid out clothes, that they should suddenly turn into madly passionate people and have wild sex, and she had a point. It shouldn't be at the end of your "to do" list for the day, and perhaps that is what is happening with your husband.

So rather than seethe inwardly, as you are doing, with the possibility of you eventually straying into another man's arms to provide you with the excitement that you need, you should speak to your husband about this. Suggest that you allocate one night a week - to begin with - where you will go to bed an hour earlier than the normal time, have a shower and devote that hour to having fun with each other.

Explain that you are feeling hard done by as you thought things would be much different to the actuality.

Another avenue for you to explore would be for each of you to have control of the sexual element of your lives on a week on/week off basis, with the proviso that you have to agree to whatever the spouse suggests and that there be no blame if no advance has been made.

There is always your own week to look forward to. I saw this working very successfully for clients, with often surprising results, so give it a try.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at 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.

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