Ask Amy: Sexless marriage worries wife
DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been together for about 10 years. Ever since having our son four years ago, the thought of physical contact with him makes me cringe. He's a good-looking man, a great dad, and a hard worker, but something about him makes me not want to be intimate with him.
We both have very strong personalities, so we butt heads, but it's not like we have fights. My reaction to him is mainly along the line of those internal "Ugh, he's clueless" thoughts. I don't know what to do.
We have sex about four times a year! And even THAT is a struggle for me.
I know that can't be healthy or normal. Help! — CLUELESS
DEAR CLUELESS: Your sexless marriage is probably more "normal" than you realize.
The first thing you should do is to see your doctor. Your libido issues might be caused by a hormonal imbalance or other medical problem.
You say that there is something about your husband that turns you off, but you should also take a deep and honest self-inventory.
The accepted relationship wisdom is that connection starts with communication, but before you can communicate effectively with your husband, you need to try to understand your own motivations, and answer questions about your own intimate identity, including your sexual identity.
The two hardest questions for any of us to answer are: "Who am I?" and "What do I want?" For many women, the answer to these important questions shifts with the advent of motherhood.
Of course, men wrestle with this, too — but you have left your husband out of your narrative, which might be completely reflective of where you two are right now: Two devoted parents standing on either side of a 4-year-old.
Couples wandering aimlessly through the desert of desire can learn to talk about it, and they can reconnect if there is a mutual choice to try.
Sex — as you know — really is a head trip. In order to try to break the pattern, you and your husband may need to retrain your thinking.
Check out: "Why Can't You Read My Mind? Overcoming the 9 Toxic Thought Patterns that Get in the Way of a Loving Relationship," by Jeffrey Bernstein and Susan Magee (2004, DeCapo Press).
DEAR AMY: A year ago, I found a great job in my hometown, working for a store that sells CBD (products derived from marijuana that do NOT make you high).
My parents and in-laws were very excited and supportive, as were other friends and family. However, when I told my brother and sister-in-law, they found my new profession to be morally objectionable.
They made it clear that they could not support my new career. I have not spoken to them in a year.
Since they live across the country, I rarely see them. I don't miss them and feel relieved not to have contact.
My parents would like for me to mend my relationship with them. What should I do? — MJ
Dear MJ: It isn't clear (to me) why you should be solely responsible for mending the relationship with your brother and sister-in-law. If they have made bids for contact, then you should respond. If they ask for forgiveness for being so unkind and judgmental, then you should do your best to forgive them. Of course, it is not necessary for them to approve of your line of work in order for you to feel validated, so resist any urge to win their acceptance.
Situations like this can sometimes cause long-term estrangements. An estrangement will disrupt your entire family system, and even if they basically initiated it, a total break — or the refusal to be even cordial toward one another when family events force you together — will end up hurting everyone, especially your folks.
Parents always want for their children to be close. If they try to mediate a solution, you should cooperate, and do your best to maintain an attitude of kindness. Your own kindness, even toward people who have been unkind to you, will make you feel good about all of your choices.
DEAR AMY: Please stop recommending AA or Al-anon in your column. There are many other programs designed to help people stop drinking. — BEEN THERE
DEAR BEEN THERE: Thank you. Yes, there are many different approaches and programs to help people cope with alcohol addiction. I often recommend AA and Al-anon programs because they are free, community led, and available in even the smallest communities.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.