Each week, Allison answers questions from readers about issues in her life.
Ask: Isn’t attraction to your husband reason enough to end a marriage? I will be 50 next year and have three children – the youngest of them is nine years old. I think we give them a happy safe home and I love being in their home. I work while they are at school but my husband is the main breadwinner.
When the kids were little, I didn’t worry about our relationship, assuming it would flare up again when we had more time. It didn’t. I really don’t like him and have no interest in sex. Am I cheating myself by putting family first? Do I use him to support myself since I wouldn’t be able to spend as much time with them if we broke up? Please help me figure this out.
Allison replies: Have you spoken to your husband about this? Sounds easy I know, but in this case it takes two to tango. The lack of sexual intimacy in a relationship can seem like a clue as to why this happened. Stepping back and thinking about why can be an opportunity to use this as a good place to start asking, “When did you realize your attraction changed?”
There can be many potential factors that can affect your desire and attraction, and to answer your question, it’s worth researching these questions before making a decision. Then every decision you make is well informed.
Only you know the answer to your question. One challenge I see related to attraction is the misconceptions and beliefs that hold sway about desire and attraction. Let’s start with the false and unattainable expectations of the rom-com fairy tale “Ripping shirts and button banging and couples reading their minds because they’re so in love” isn’t doing anyone, anywhere, any favors.
Two things here: First, craving begins in the brain. The expectation and the build up and that intense desire can’t be sustained in a long term relationship. That doesn’t mean the desire burns out, but to be perfectly clear, the fire needs to be kept going. It takes help, and I think you and many others can identify with being drawn into a hands-on shopping list relationship because of the high demands on your time and energy. In the first rush of a relationship it’s all about both of you and it gives time and energy. The transition to motherhood and parenthood brings a whole new element to the never-ending pie of your time and energy. When everyone else gets a piece, sex can be at the bottom of the list.
Sex aside, the attraction piece tells a different story. It can be the story of how you and your man are feeling. There are a variety of possible factors that can affect your cravings, namely: pregnancy, changing bodies, work, demands of motherhood, hormones, perimenopause, illness, grief, fluctuating cravings due to stress, mental and emotional challenges, life challenges, financial worries and Covid – particularly in terms of being in each other’s company in an unnatural way.
The last few years of lockdown and Covid have exacerbated already existing relationship problems. Absent the normal distractions that life would normally provide, like going to work, leaving home, and going on vacations, a sociable obsolescence set in. The consequences for many couples have left them feeling disconnected from themselves and their partner. There was a lot of hard work and not enough play.
This has led to many existential crises. Many were silent when they had time to reflect on some of the questions to express how you feel about your husband. Ask him how he feels about the relationship. Getting professional help might also help to see where you or both of you stand.
Consider the question, “When did your feelings change?”, pull out a piece of paper, and recall a time when things were good. Think back to the time you felt connected, close, and sexually satisfied. How did that make you feel? A big element of female desire is the feeling of being wanted. Do you feel wanted and/or desired in the relationship? Do you ever discuss how to meet each other’s needs? It’s the bane of a culture of supposedly “romantic” notions that your partner should “know” what you want. This is not true and/or fair.
First, ask yourself what you want, what you need, and what would need to happen to meet those needs. Have you asked for these needs to be met?
Needs are physical, emotional and sexual. They often have to go in that order as well. Have you been or do you feel supported in the home? What is the division of labor in the household? Are there any standoffs or ruts that have crept in over the years? Is there resentment and/or contempt in the relationship? What do you find attractive and what do you find unattractive?
Resentment is a sexual blocker. Communicating needs may need to be emotional first: do you feel seen, valued, and/or desired?
How are you feeling about your 50th? Round birthdays can raise many existential questions. Take them as an invitation to make plans for a more fulfilling life.
Starting with the question: What would a fulfilling life look like? Then work backwards. Use these questions to get to know yourself anew, that can be the spark of desire.
The great thing is that we are constantly changing and so are our relationships. Use the questions to clarify whether or not this connection can be restored.
Allison regrets that she cannot correspond. If you have a question you would like raised in this column, send an email email@example.com
https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/health-features/ask-allison-i-dont-fancy-my-husband-anymore-and-have-no-interest-in-sex-should-i-stay-for-the-kids-41463531.html Ask Allison I don’t like my husband anymore and I’m not interested in sex. Should I stay for the kids?