Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dear Prudence column (you can feel this one blowing up from way over here.)

I have a problem with how the wife in the below letter to Dear Prudence said she will (in an attempt to meet her husband's needs) "work on giving him more sex" -- because it sounds like sex is a commodity rather than a thing to be shared between the two of them. I can just picture her now, doing it but not looking like she's enjoying it, and then being resentful that that the simple act of allowing it to happen wasn't "enough."

Too many times I've heard people cite sex as an issue in the relationship but what they're really complaining about is the lack of connection. I knew someone who, when she got divorced, tried to answer the barrage of why's with the explanation that her husband never wanted to have sex. People were dismissive of this answer, saying, "it's ridiculous to rip the kids' lives apart for THAT, do you really need it that bad??" ("Can't you just get your rocks off in private?" was the heated implication.) 

What she *should* have said was, "I don't feel loved" (or otherwise indicate that their connection felt distant). That's the end result of not having sex anyway, and no one can argue that distance is sustainable long-term.


Q. Gave Husband Permission to Have Sex Outside of Marriage ...: My husband and I have been together nearly 20 years. Our sex life has dwindled to maybe once every two months because of my issues. I gave him permission to go outside of the marriage for sex, but I really didn't want him to have a relationship with someone else. Recently he came to me and said he has found someone and told me he can't have sex without an emotional connection. I feel betrayed and want him to not continue with it. I will work on giving him more sex. He says it's unfair to give him the OK and then take it back. I feel horrible but I didn't think this would affect me as much. I don't know what to do.

A: This is one of those hall passes that you can only give with the knowledge that it may result in the recipient making a complete break. Some people can separate sex from emotion and just tend to their physical needs. Your husband is not one of these people. Your telling him to seek sex outside your marriage has resulted in an unsurprising, but understandably distressing situation. At least give you husband credit for being honest with you. What can I say except that you two should march off to couples counseling where you will be with a professional who can help you hash out what you both want out of this marriage, or whether he wants out.

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