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A lonely, sexless marriage

DEAR COUNSELLOR

With Wayne Powell, MA Counselling Psychology Relationship Counsellor

Monday, June 17, 2013    

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Dear Counsellor,

I am in a lonely, sexless marriage. My husband and I have known each other for 25 years. We have been married for 22. I am 44 years old. I have been trying so hard to get my husband's attention, but I have not met much success as he spends time on the phone with female friends I am not acquainted with. I have proof by way of e-mails, text messages and phone bills. I have spoken to him on several occasions about his behaviour but he ignores me. I even sought counselling when I was at the point of deciding that I wanted out.

He comes in most nights after 11:00, yet he is in the community by 5:00 pm. He used to expect intimacy when he would come home drunk, and I would protest.

We don't plan together, we do nothing together, and most times he ignores my advice.

I am married but lonely and I want out. I am left lonely seven days per week. Only two relatives know of my situation, and my close friends who know think I am strong. This has been going on for almost 20 years. When he does go out with me he still calls his female friends and seems uncomfortable with us being alone.

Right now I am just playing it by ear, until I can manage to live on my own. I am fed up and I am looking forward to another relationship. I feel ignored, and I don't feel it's fair as I have done my share as a wife.

What you have described is a clear case of one partner taking the other for granted. Knowing and living with someone for over 20 years can also create a scenario where one partner outgrows the other. This is demonstrated by an overt or covert display of disrespect, disregard and disdain.

The partner on the receiving end either grins and bears it, or he/she becomes frustrated to the point where they are moved to do something about the situation. One reaction is to take the line that, "if you can't beat them, join them" and the "bun fi bun" scenario is played out. Another approach is to do what you have done, which is to lovingly confront your husband and seek third-party intervention.

From your account it appears that you have tried the last option to no avail, hence your yearning to strike up a more fulfilling relationship elsewhere. But be careful about getting into a rebound relationship as it has its own set of challenges.

Joe Tex, in his hit single, Hold On, tells the story of the prudence of cherishing your significant other. Failure to do so could result in you losing that person forever.

What these seemingly secure men and women do is to place unreasonable demands and expectations on their spouses. They expect their faithful and loving partners to be there at their beck and call, but they are missing in action when they are called upon to reciprocate. They tend to be very jealous and will even resort to violence if the partner refuses to comply. This is a clear case of having your cake and eating it too. They justify their behaviour by saying that all they are doing is enjoying the best of both worlds.

In your case, as in many marital relationships, it would be correct to say that you are not alone but you are indeed lonely. To be in a marital relationship for so long and get no affection is unacceptable and is in fact a breach of the marital covenant.

Your partner, it appears, has lost interest in you and the relationship, and has gone ahead to explore other avenues.

Engaging in lengthy conversations with female friends while in your presence is inexcusable and shows a lack of regard for you. He obviously prefers to relate to these women and makes sure that you know it.

Do you in any way contribute to his desire to go elsewhere for entertainment? Are you interested in the things he likes? Say he likes football and you don't, would you be prepared to attend a football game with him? The truth is, if you don't, other women will.

What some men don't seem to realise is that most women crave more emotional support than financial support. That is why a woman will more relate to a man who treats her well and has little money than a man who has cash but treats her like trash. You will find, however, that some women will go for the latter. It all depends on the motivation that drives the relationship.

From your assertion, you seem to be contemplating packing your bags to go. Before you do, you may want to further explore counselling intervention, but this time he should be in attendance. More than likely he will refuse help and claim that he is OK and that it is you who needs counselling, but I would advise you to try.

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. For questions and appointments write to crisscounselloronline@gmail.com

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