Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au’s weekly column solving all your romantic problems, no holds barred. This week, our resident sexologist Isiah McKimmie tackles a woman whose partner doesn’t seem to think about her sexual needs, a person whose partner never takes action and a woman feeling “extremely lonely” in her marriage.
MY PARTNER DOESN’T CARE ABOUT MY SEXUAL NEEDS
QUESTION: My partner and I have known each other for 45 years now. We were first together when we were very young, then went our separate ways. Then, 33 years later, we met up again and got back together. I am so upset because we have not made love in eight years now. My partner has prostrate problems which I fully understand. But he has not once cared about my wants or needs at all. I feel I have been very understanding but I also have needs. It breaks my heart that he never so much as even touches me intimately let alone sex. He tells me he loves me and I love him, but as the years roll by it is getting harder and harder to bear. I’ve tried talking to him but he just says, “Here we go again.” That frustrates me even more. I feel unwanted, undesirable and every other possible emotion.
ANSWER: I’m not surprised you feel upset, unwanted, undesired and a whole range of other emotions.
Sexual intimacy is a valid need in a relationship.
While that need can’t always be met with penetration intercourse, there are many other ways you could connect physically and intimately.
I’ve worked with many couples – from couples in their 20s all the way through to their 60s who are now having the best sex of their life because they were willing to address one partner’s lack of sexual interest.
I’ve also worked with couples who were unable to have penetration intercourse for physical/medical reasons, but still managed to stay connected and felt loved by each other. They kept their relationships strong by being willing to talk about their difficulties, share their emotions and address their challenges as a team.
Regaining physical and sexual intimacy after such a long time isn’t easy, but it’s possible.
Research shows that couples can continue to have a loving sex life well into their 80s. The key factors are being able to talk about sex and making it a priority. This is in addition to having a strong foundation of a loving relationship.
It’s also important that you feel like your partner cares about your wants and needs in this relationship. If you feel like he “not once” cared about your wants and needs, it doesn’t sound like a very healthy relationship.
Love – and a successful relationship – needs more than just saying you love someone. It needs action too. We need to make efforts to show a partner that we care.
Your partner likely feels a range of emotions about his prostate problems. He may be reluctant to engage in physical touch right now for fear of it leading to sex, not wanting to “give you the wrong idea” or trying to avoid embarrassment around his “performance”. He may be reluctant to talk about it because he feels shame and embarrassment or feels criticised when you raise the issue.
However, you’ll still need to talk about this and work on the issue together if you want your relationship to survive – even if it’s uncomfortable for both of you.
I suggest exploring what is contributing to his reluctance talking about this and see if he’s willing to help you feel loved in other ways.
Essentially, there’s the potential to overcome the challenges you mentioned and have a more loving, intimate relationship. But, it requires that your partner is willing to take action too.
If he isn’t, you need to decide if you can continue the relationship without your needs for love and intimacy being met.
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HELP! MY PARTNER NEVER TAKES ACTION
QUESTION: I need your advice on something with my partner. We agree on things, but then my partner doesn’t take action. What can I do to get him to take action on the things we agree to?
ANSWER: That sounds really frustrating.
There’s a couple of things I wonder about here: Is he really listening when he agrees? And is he really agreeing – or is he saying yes to get you to stop talking about it?
I know this will be controversial, but research on gender differences shows that women listen better and have better memories than men.
Make sure he’s in a place to really listen when you have important conversations.
Write your agreements, planned actions and agreed on timelines down, so he can see them too. Then refer back to it when things aren’t done.
If he doesn’t follow through on your agreements, firmly let him know and reiterate that you need it done.
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HE IS A GREAT DAD, BUT I’M LONELY IN OUR MARRIAGE
QUESTION: I’ve been married for 15 years and we have two sons together. The problem is my husband is not a communicator or good at offering a hug, support or affection – especially when I need it most. He’s a great dad but I’m extremely lonely and we have no intimacy in our marriage. Any suggestions please?
ANSWER: I feel sad reading this, because I feel you are missing out on a vital part of the relationship for you. You need to be able to meet in the middle here.
You’ll probably need to accept that he’ll never be the communicator that you want him to be, as he’s made it this far in life without learning how. But he also needs to step up in this area. Communication and understanding each other are vital parts of a relationship.
Talk to him about the loneliness and lack of support you’re feeling and ask if he’s willing to learn how to talk to and support you in the ways you’d like.
It might help to see a therapist together so it isn’t you constantly telling him what to do, but something that you learn more about together.
Originally published as Husband’s brutal response to sex request