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Try communicating to smooth out rough spots

Adapted from a 2010 online discussion.

When hurting, communication smooths out those rough spots

New Mexico: I hope this doesn't sound too pathetic. My wife asked me what I wanted for Father's Day this year; I said, "sex." I figured it would be free and not too much trouble. Well, it's been almost two weeks and I still haven't gotten my "present." Worse still, she doesn't really seem to care; no apologies or "I'll make it up to you" or anything. We are in our mid-40s and married 12 years. Am I wrong to be disappointed?

Carolyn: Any chance she thought you were kidding? You do need to talk to her about it: "I felt really pathetic for having to use Father's Day to ask for sex, and now I feel even more pathetic for having to ask why it didn't happen."

Re: New Mexico

Anonymous: What is wrong with these people? I'm middle-aged, and I've heard directly from at least 20 acquaintances that their partners absolutely refuse to have sex with them. How is this acceptable? Then they say, "I never saw the divorce coming." There is a reason that every religion and therapist in the world sanctions happy sex within marriage — 'cause there is no marriage without it.

Carolyn: Unless the spouse says, "I'm done with sex, but I realize you aren't, so let's talk about what we do now." There's no marriage without communication, either. And you can't make someone want to have sex who doesn't.

Re: N.M.

Anonymous 2: Is it possible she found his "gift" request tacky/disgusting/intrusive/manipulative/whatever, and is still punishing him?

Carolyn: If that's the case, then she should have just said so, instead of punishing him silently by withholding sex. Seriously. It's not that hard to play fair with other people, once you internalize the idea that speaking your mind about something "mean" is a lot less mean than imposing silent punishment for this thing you decided was too mean to mention.

New Mexico again: My wife and I do not have a sexless marriage, just very different sex drives. We try to have it once a week, but that sometimes doesn't happen. With the Father's Day request, I was just hoping to get a little extra. It sure beats another tie!

Carolyn: Since you seem to have achieved a compromise-forged harmony, now I'm going to advise you not to discuss the Father's Day Freeze-Out. I mean, it's still a bummer, and the validation is still there for the taking, but the fact that you've found once-a-week harmony in Year 12 of very different sex drives strikes me as fairly unusual.

Unless you really feel hurt — or unless the drought persists — dredging up your unhappiness with this one day/request might do more harm to your compromise than it's worth.

If she feels you're both really rallying to make this sex-drive mismatch work, then she might resent your missing the forest for this one tree, especially if she didn't deliberately reject you.

I'm not muzzling you, just noting your 50 or so reasons a year not to complain recklessly.

Try communicating to smooth out rough spots 06/29/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 4:30am]
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