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She's not sexually attracted to him, but she might marry him anyway

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

She's not attracted to him, but she might marry him anyway

At a loss: How important do you think sexual attraction is in a marriage? A friend is considering getting engaged to a man she thinks is perfect except that she is not very physically attracted to him. She is in her 30s and feels like he is the best man she has ever met, but she is worried she'll end up with a sexless marriage.

I believe she feels that if she doesn't marry him, she won't meet anyone as good as he is in time to have children. I don't really know what to say.

Carolyn: Ask your friend if she wants to be one of those people I hear from almost daily, who love their kids and like and respect their spouses, but feel stuck because there's no love in the marriage; they're more like roommates. The roommate feeling makes the idea of staying in the marriage unbearable, but the fondness, the respect and the kids make the idea of leaving the marriage unbearable.

Plus, many people do marry for average only to meet someone who genuinely suits them better. Then what will she do?

And that's hardly all that can go wrong. What if their kid has intensive needs — or what if they can't have kids? Will she be grateful for her marriage then?

She also can't ignore this "perfect" man's very legitimate needs: Is the settling mutual, or is he nuts about her? If it's the latter, then marrying him to have kids "in time" is cold stuff.

Your friend appears to regard this as choosing between two worst-case scenarios: sexless marriage or childlessness. Please urge her to weigh the full range of possibilities — not so she can choose among them, but instead so she can see that choosing away from negatives allows fear to take control, which is a path to regrets.

It will be far more productive for her to choose toward positives. For example: "I want this man by my side, and no other" — or, "Until I'm sure about someone, staying single feels right to me."

She could also simplify the question down to this, with every decision she faces: "Is this what I really, really want?" It's a tidy yes-or-no question, with confidence built in that overruling a "no" rarely leads anywhere good.

Washington: There is a big difference between "not very attracted" and sexless. I married a man who had all those great qualities but was not the most attractive guy I dated. I am influenced by the same pop culture that makes you think everyone else is having super-hot porn-star sex 24-7.

He's an awesome dad, a great friend, my family loves him, and surprisingly, we have been not sexlessly married for 14 years. Turns out when you are old, those great qualities are a lot more attractive than when you were 25. And he looks pretty hot in his responsible businessman suits . . .

Carolyn: There's a big difference between "not very attractED" and "not very attractIVE." You seem quite attracted to your husband; he's just not Hollywood hot.

The friend is not "physically attracted" to the husband candidate, so her situation doesn't parallel yours — not unless she's lucky enough to have her senses unexpectedly awakened by this "perfect" man.

She's not sexually attracted to him, but she might marry him anyway 05/10/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 12:00am]
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