QUESTION: My husband of nearly 11
years and I have three children. Our oldest was born before I met
him, but I love the boy as if he were my own. Our other two are separated
in age equally by about two years.
Our relationship was slow to develop because
we were both separated from our previous spouses and were not real
anxious to start anything new. Our sex life didn't get off the ground
for about six months. Since that time, it has not grown to anything
spectacular. It has, on occasion, been exciting and fulfilling, but
not on a continuous basis. Throughout the marriage, if we made love
more than one time a month it was a rarity.
My husband was in the Navy when we met, and
retired about three years ago. Homecomings were occasionally nice,
but for the most part, just a one-time, short period of lovemaking.
Since he got out -- he's been working as well as going to night school
up to three times a week -- our lovemaking has slowed down to almost
nothing. Our last two excursions were a year apart.
I would be thrilled to resolve this and develop
a healthier relationship. Can you recommend which direction to take?
I don't really want to separate, but...
ANSWER: Most marriages suffer decreases
in sexuality following the transition to parenthood. The two of you
may have predicated your relationship on the development of parenting,
at which you have obviously excelled! It is no easy task to blend
families, and the two of you have beat the odds for successful remarriage
-- which primarily depends on a healthy stepparent-stepchild relationship
to succeed. Now, you fear that sexual passion has not just been "ignored"
in your relationship but is disappearing altogether.
It is not too late to turn your attentions to the
development of passion in your marriage. Your sex life has been "exciting
and fulfilling" at times. What contributed to this satisfaction when
it occurred? Talk with your spouse about what causes each of you and
the two of you to become sexually charged. It may well be possible
to create more of what has been positive between you, if the two of
you are motivated to do so!
Talk with your husband about your concerns for the
marriage. It may be the case that he is feeling similarly. Or he may
feel quite differently, but be unaware of your feelings and needs
in the marriage. Since your initial courtship was always subject to
the restraints of parenthood, it is not unlikely that the usual "wanton
abandonment" so necessary for sexual development in relationship had
no chance to blossom. Yet, occasionally you experience this spark!
What does your relationship need in order to fan the flame?
Open a dialogue about the sexual part of your relationship.
Do not threaten the marriage as a means of expressing your distress.
Instead, begin at the beginning by exploring the nature of your sexual
relationship, including the "ups and downs" of your sexual intimacy,
and sharing your own sexual development from childhood/adolescence
to the period of time that you both met. Maggie Scarf's book, "Intimate
Partners," contains information on sexuality in marriage, including
the subject "The Art of Making Long and Unhurried Love."
Clearly the initial foundation of your marriage was
based on friendship and parenting. Sex, for one reason or another,
has always taken a back seat to other dimensions of your relationship.
Yet the "thrill" you anticipate if you succeed at kindling the lovemaking
in your marriage reflects the bonding present between you and your
partner. It is unlikely that your potential for passionate lovemaking
will reach greater depths than what can be found in the intimacy you
share with your spouse.
With the establishment of your family in place, it
is time to turn your attentions to having the "romantic courtship"
that did not occur in the early years. Create romance together. A
weekend away with no children in tow may allow you the space and time
to abandon responsibility and free up your passion for one another.
Nurturing the development of sexual intimacy in your
relationship may lead you into areas that the two of you have never
before traveled. Do not shy away from this voyage. Take it slowly
and gently, but focus your intent to clearly create an atmosphere
for increased lovemaking. This couples' journey may allow you to explore
deeper levels of intimacy than ever before.
Your emerging sexual needs cry out for developing
the passionate dimension of marriage. Do not throw out the baby with
the bath water. Instead, light candles and invite your husband to
bathe with you!