Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Assertiveness training 101: If you want something, ask for it
Bride-to-Be: I've been engaged for about six months now to a great guy. I've heard that sex during engagement is supposed to be amazing, but my fiance and I barely do it anymore. It started out once a week, then become once every two weeks and now it's even less. We're still very affectionate and spend a lot of time cuddling.
We've talked about the decrease in amount of sex. He says he's stressed with work and doesn't need sex as much as other guys. If I want it, I should initiate it, he says. But I'm too timid.
Overall, we are very happy and excited about spending our lives together. Should I be worried about our sex life or do you think this is just a phase?
Carolyn: I'm worried that you're not worried about being too timid to ask for what you want.
Specifically, you're afraid to ask for one of the fundamental elements of marriage, and you're afraid to ask it of the one person you've chosen to play the most prominent role (besides yours) in your well-being for the rest of your life.
So I do think you have cause to be concerned about your sex life, not as an isolated issue but instead as a sign of a larger issue with your assertiveness — essentially, your ability to identify and address your own needs.
Worrying won't do you much good, though. You need to act on your concerns. Start asking yourself what you're afraid of, start asking him for what you want, and start projecting the results of both into your current visions of your future. See if the result is something you really think you can live with.
Scratch that — see if it's something you really want to live with. And if the answer is any incarnation of "no," then take it very seriously.
What you've "heard" is not a particularly useful standard by which to measure your life choices, but there is one thing you do need to keep in mind: Anything on a downward trajectory usually continues that way, and anything on an upward trajectory usually continues that way — at least until there's a significant enough occurrence to knock either one in a new direction. So if sex is down, assume it will remain so, just as, say, an upward trend in arguments would likely continue on up.
Don't hide from your grief or the holidays, even if difficult
Anonymous: Lost my mom after a terrible battle with cancer four years ago. We were really close.
Any advice for making holidays more bearable? I haven't had much success in years past where I have taken the course of trying to avoid holiday-related venues.
Carolyn: Don't hide from it. The depth of your misery represents the depth of your love, and that makes you a lucky child to have had such a mom. If a certain day stands out on your calendar and in your consciousness no matter what you do, then just be conscious of it and grieve and celebrate. What else is there.