He makes no effort in bed

Suzi Godson

Q My husband is continually surprised that I don’t feel like having sex very often, despite the fact that he does nothing to turn me on. If we try to talk about it, we end up in a blame game. How can I make it really clear that he needs to make an effort to have a good sex life?

A It is so easy to turn the marital bed into a battleground. At first glance, the situation you describe sounds fairly straightforward: you feel aggrieved that your sexual needs are being ignored by your husband. Since he never makes an effort to turn you on, how could he possibly be surprised that you can’t be bothered engaging in sex? And since he never listens when you tell him how you feel, you ignore his pleas for intimacy. Frustratingly, he doesn’t seem to understand any of this, so you are searching for a more explicit way to make your feelings clear to him.

 

Ultimately, it sounds if you are blaming him for your unhappiness — therefore it is his responsibility to fix the situation. While that sounds like a rational argument, it doesn’t sound like a very positive sign for your relationship. Numerous studies have found sexual satisfaction to be a very reliable measure of marital satisfaction, but the opposite is also true; problems within a relationship often manifest as sexual difficulties. Perhaps the feelings you have about sex reflect bigger concerns about how little your husband does for you in general. However, for many people sex is a way of expressing emotional intimacy. Therefore, shutting down such an important line of communication is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

When two people know each other very well, as I presume you do, they become acutely sensitive to shifts in each other’s mood. Partners mirror each other’s emotions and behaviours, which is fine if you are yawning, or giggling, but not so fine if you are fighting. Multiply irritability by two and negative feelings spiral downwards much more rapidly. If you don’t communicate properly, things can progress from bad to worse until one day the relationship becomes so toxic that you might decide that it is over.

Tit for tat is a highly destructive form of communication, but fortunately it is one that is very easy to avoid. All that needs to happen is for you to hold up a white flag and say: “I’m sorry.” Maybe you feel as if you have nothing to apologise for — but that’s not the point. Mutual accountability is the first rule of healthy relationships and being big enough to take responsibility for your part in whatever bad feeling has been polluting your relationship is the quickest way to change the dynamic. When things go wrong between two people, it is very rarely one person’s fault entirely, and it is often a lot easier for the person who has less to feel ashamed of to climb down.

When it comes to sexual relationships, the best way to effect positive change is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you want your husband to be more flirtatious with you, be more flirtatious with him. If you want him to kiss you and tease you and whisper sweet nothings in your ear, kiss him and tease him and tell him what you want him to do to you. Sweetness, playfulness and sexual generosity are contagious behaviours that create love, joy and enthusiastic reciprocity, so instead of giving your husband the cold shoulder, call a ceasefire and make love, not war. You will be much happier.

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