- Gender and Relationships»
Loveless In Seattle... Or Anywhere: When your wife is unresponsive.
How often are you intimate with your spouse?
Begin with a small change
After receiving several requests from husbands, I will gently broach the subject of unresponsive wives. And people in general. I have received numerous letters, emails and comments from sad, lonely, and ignored husbands, who wonder what they have done, and how they can fix it.
Society has made many marital problems the fault of the husband, while overlooking things the wife may do to isolate herself and make him feel guilty and ashamed. What is a husband to do?
It is often difficult after years of marriage to undo old patterns. It is not impossible, just difficult. We all respond to situations and circumstances in the way that is most comfortable. It is not necessarily good, nor is it right or wrong. We have programmed ourselves to react, based on past experience. Our responses may not always be the healthiest, but they are the most comfortable for us.
Your wife reacts to you in the way she has for five, ten or twenty years. To break out of that cycle, it is first necessary to see the pattern. Observe how she responds to you, how she speaks to you, and how you respond to her. Don't judge your wife, or yourself. Just notice and observe.
Once you identify both your reactions and patterns, you can look at what behavior causes them. Notice triggers for yourself, and triggers for her. If you are asking for sex, how do you ask? How does she respond? What has happened during her day? What has happened during your day?
Behavior does not happen in a vacuum. We each react and respond based on different factors and learned patterns. As you notice communication patterns in your relationship, begin to pay attention to what triggers your response, and what triggers her response.
Once you have identified the patterns, the triggers and the behaviors, it is time to begin changing things. Begin slowly, with a mindful approach. How can you speak differently? How could you communicate with her, to open her up?
Women like to talk. We connect emotionally long before any physical connection takes place. If your wife is unresponsive, it may be because she is feeling disconnected. When you come home from work, hug her gently and ask about her day. Talk to her. Connect.
You may not feel like talking. You might rather watch TV or surf the internet. That's fine, if you don't want to have sex later. If you want intimacy with your wife, then you need to connect to her long before bed time. Help her with the kids, or help with dinner. Small gestures, that remind her that she is important to you will help open the doors of emotional and physical connection.
This book can save your marriage
You cannot change your wife, or any other person. You can only change yourself. When you begin to act differently, she may respond with the usual reaction. It takes time to change years of habit. The best thing you can do is fix yourself first.
We are each responsible for our own happiness. If we question whether we are happy, we have only ourselves to blame. Have a paradigm shift. Change the way you view the circumstances making you unhappy. A friend recently expressed extreme dissatisfaction with her job, she felt her superiors were making her look incompetent. When she explained the circumstances, I didn't see her looking incompetent, rather she appeared to be doing a great job in a difficult environment. I tried to help her see it differently. Not as a reflection on her incompetence, but as a reflection of her commitment, hard work and tenacity.
So it is in our relationships. The only person we can change is us. Once you make a decision to be happy, then do it. Regardless of the external circumstances surrounding you. Do the best you can do, and realize that you are not responsible for any one else. I don't mean you aren't responsible as a husband and father. As a human, you cannot make others happy. You can help, by sharing love and forgiveness, and by being happy yourself. Even in the worst scenario's, there is always something good. Look for that. Don't focus on the negative.
As you begin feeling more happy and content in your own life, you will begin reacting to her differently. When you change, you allow space for her to change. Don't point fingers of blame. Instead, look inside and do what you can to spark your own happiness.
Aside from that, I suggest reading "The Married Girls to Great Sex" alongside your wife and discussing the questions at the end. You just might learn something.
Learn to communicate
So what's a man to do?
Most of the questions I receive have to do with a wife being unresponsive in the bedroom. Husbands feel frustrated because their needs are being ignored. They feel like their only purpose in life is to bring home a paycheck, so she can spend it on the kids and house. He doesn't feel heard, understood or appreciated.
When a husband feels disconnected from his wife, it can be difficult to reestablish communication. Unfortunately for husbands, most wives will not be physically affectionate if they feel their emotional needs are being ignored.
The first thing a husband can do, when he wants to reconnect with his wife, is to open the lines of communication. I understand that after a long day at work, the last thing you probably want to do is sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk. But, in order to connect with your wife, you must overcome your discomfort. Sit down. Hold her hand. Stare into her eyes. Ask about her day. Listen. Hold her hand. Ask her how you can help.
Sure, you've worked hard all day. Sure, you're tired. But if you want to connect with your wife, then you need to man-up and listen. She needs someone to talk to. She needs a strong shoulder to lean on. She needs you to hug her close and tell her that everything will be okay.
Even if you have no idea how things will turn out, even if you have no idea where the rent is coming from next month. Even if you aren't sure yourself if things will be okay, it is imperative that you hold her close and reassure her.
Women aren't daft, but they do want comfort, support and compassion. When you listen to her, and show that you care, she will soften toward you. When she feels her emotional needs are being met, then she will be more open to meeting your physical needs.
On the Turning Away
Communication is Key
When you want to reach your wife, you have to speak her language, even when you don't want to. Communicate. Let her share. And open yourself up. Talk to her. She wants to know you and feel like she matters to you. She wants to know about your day, and she wants to share about her day. In a nutshell, women like to talk. Although I realize that you are tired and your brain hurts from working all day, if you want to get lucky at bedtime, then you need to talk at the dinner table, or talk after dinner. No, it won't be what you want to do, necessarily, but it will be the thing to help your wife warm up to you.
When you share your own feelings, it helps her feel connected to you. You don't need to have all the answers. You just need to be kind, loving and compassionate. She doesn't need you to be a genius. She needs you to be present, to be kind, and to show her love. Your wife doesn't want to feel like you only want her for one thing. She wants to know that you care.
Open, honest communication is a key to creating a better relationship. When you feel your wife turning away from you, try opening up to her. It might just change your marriage.