Friday 20 April 2018

Dear Patricia: I want to make my wife happy but she hasn't made love to me for months

Patricia Redlich

MY wife is a very independent lady and she has not made love to me for months. I do not know what to do in order for us to have a long and happy marriage. She has gone through so much and I am trying to be there for her. I just want to make her happy and for her to trust me and love me back. I'm at a loss.

WELL first off, you cannot make your wife happy. Nobody can make anybody else happy. You can help create the conditions for happiness by being kind and loving and helpful, but that's about the size of it. I know it sounds hard, but happiness is a choice people make. No, we can't be happy all the time. Life is sad, and tough, and demanding. But we can appreciate what we have, even in the midst of terrible turmoil. Your wife could show she's happy to have you, even though she is troubled.

I've no idea why your wife has withdrawn from sex. The problem is, neither do you. You know she's going through a lot. You don't quite see how that leads to sexual distance. Otherwise you wouldn't be at such a loss.

Have you talked to her about it? Have you asked why her difficulties, which you acknowledge, should be accompanied by turning away from you? Why, in other words, are you in the firing line, when you're not part of the problem? Or are you part of the problem? Are you making emotional demands at a time when she's totally preoccupied with serious issues? Are you looking for attention, rather than standing back and allowing her the space to deal with whatever is on hand?

We get anxious when someone we love withdraws. And sometimes it doesn't help to know that they are going through hard times. We still feel threatened by their emotional absence. That's natural. We get lonely. How we handle this loneliness separates the men from the boys -- and the women from the immature girls too.

Sex requires emotional attention. And sometimes life is so difficult, that a partner can't give that attention. Maturity dictates that we stand back and wait. No, not forever, but for a while anyway. On the other hand, it is wrong for a partner to make us the enemy just because life is tough. So, like most things in life, it's a judgement call, a line in the sand, hard to get right sometimes.

Months you say, which is a long time to leave a marriage unattended. So maybe it's time you told your wife how hard all this is on you. And then judge whether to keep pressing the point, or to step back and leave her be, depending on what she says to you.

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