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My Wife Refuses Sex and Intimacy – Part Two

Image from PsychologyToday.com

Question:

I’m having problems in my marriage cause of no intimacy. In other words there is no sex! My wife is not letting me have sex with her. I love her but I think she is getting it from someone else. Please advise me what to do?

Answer:

Years ago I published a post on this subject, and it’s the most popular one on my blog. Click here to read it and make sure to look at the comments other people wrote on the subject.

Since I published the post, I’ve realized how common this problem is in relationships through what my patients have shared with me as well as reading the comments in response to the original post. I still believe that physical intimacy is an essential part of any relationship, and that a marriage cannot be healthy in the absence of physical intimacy. Lack of sex is not a problem that will go away with time; instead, it’s a problem that grows over time and you need to address it with your spouse. Having said that, please note that in every relationship I’ve evaluated, there is one partner that wants sex more than the other one, and usually the two partners need to come up with a compromise that works for both of them.

I’d like to add a couple of points missing from my original post:

You and your spouse MUST communicate!

I get a lot of comments from men and women that say their spouse or domestic partner is not willing to talk about sex. These partners have all kinds of tricks to avoid the question; they accuse their partner of being a “pervert,” or not wanting anything but sex all the time; they say they don’t have time right now and this is not a subject to discuss at the moment, and all kinds of other reasons. If your partner is not willing to communicate with you, then your relationship is in serious trouble and may not even be worth saving. A relationship in which there is no communication, or in which some subjects are off-topic cannot possibly remain healthy.

Compromise is key.

Again, the second most common relationship issue I run into – first one is money matters – is that one partner needs more sex than the other. If you and your partner are open to talking about this however, you can find out about each other’s sexual and intimacy needs. Once you understand the needs of the other person, get creative with coming up with ways to meet them. You may find that the simple act of regularly talking about sex and intimacy with your partner is pleasing and will bring you two closer together.

Make sure you are not in an abusive relationship. If you are, LEAVE IT!

It is really hard for a person who is in an abusive relationship to see the reality of what they are in. People make all sorts of excuses for their abusive partner. If you partner is calling you nasty names, shaming you, saying things that lead you to feeling disgusted with yourself, telling you that they are not having sex with you because they find you disgusting or unworthy, telling you that you can’t make it in the world without them and no one will ever love you or treat you better than your partner, then you are most likely in an abusive relationship. See a therapist or discuss this with someone in your community that you trust. If you are in an abusive relationship, leave. No one deserves to be abused on a daily basis by the people who are supposed to love them most!

Physical intimacy is not limited to intercourse.

Your partner may want sexual intimacy but may have problems with intercourse. This may be due to some physical or emotional distress. If you have open communication with your partner, then you can tease this information out over time, and you may come up with ways to be physically intimate with each other that do not cause distress for either one of you. Again, good partners are successful in coming up with compromises that work for both parties.

Nobody is EVER obligated to have sex.

This is VERY important. Regardless of how badly you want sex, “no” means “no.” Remember however, that you have rights as well. Your partner’s right is to refuse sex and intimacy. You on the other hand, have the right to decide whether or not to stay in the relationship with a person who is refusing you, and you always have the right to leave.

You are the only person responsible for your own happiness.

Don’t depend on anyone to “make” you happy. You’ll make yourself and that someone both miserable. A lot of times people stay in an unhappy relationship because they are too financially entangled with their partner or they don’t want their kids to suffer from the separation. These two are both legitimate reasons to want to save a relationship, however, if you decide to stay, then make the decision, stick to it, and do your best to make it a happy relationship. Don’t ever say “I have to stay” with your partner, rather say, “I choose to stay.” Face it, in this day and age, you don’t have to stay with anyone. If you are staying, it’s because you are choosing to stay. Own it. It will empower you and allow you to move forward with trying to make the best out of your relationship.

If you come to a point where you feel like your relationship cannot ever improve, and you just don’t want to live with it the way it is, and your partner is not willing to work with you on improving things, then you will need to come to the decision to leave. Again, empower yourself by saying “I choose to leave.”

Whether you decide to stay or leave, do it with as little bitterness as possible, and please, for the love of your children, do not drag the innocent kids into your problems with your partner. Children usually love both of their parents and want to continue to do so. The worst thing you can do is to try to turn them against the other parent, or try to use them as your friends and bringing them into secrets of your relationship.

To summarize, no one is obligated to have sex just like no one in the modern world is obligated to stay in a relationship. I say “modern world” because there are many cultures that persecute people who divorce, and this article does not apply.

Most importantly, the secret to a healthy relationship is open communication and a willingness to compromise.

Sayeh Beheshti, M.D.

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