All Woman

I need love, affection

With WAYNE A POWELL MA Counselling Psychology Relationship Counsellor

Monday, August 27, 2012    

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Dear Counsellor,

I am a 32-year-old woman with two daughters. Both are fathered by the love of my life, who has been my common-law husband for eight years.

The truth is, it gets really depressing quite often. We cannot communicate. The simplest things cause a big argument even with both of us having the same agenda. Then there is the malice for weeks after.

This man does everything a man should do for his kids and by extension, me. I love him very much and even though he doesn't tell me, I think he loves me too. I really need my man for emotional support. We barely have time for each other with the kids and when there is time, I have to initiate things. I have very high libido and sometimes it gets really frustrating as sex is not a priority for him. If there is no sex then I need some time for cuddling or some affection but it always appears as if we have different agendas. It seems so fixable but we just can't get it right. He does not want to get professional help. What should I do?

You have described your relationship as strange but for some couples there is nothing strange about them not speaking to each other for long and frequent periods. Some even live in the same house and share the same bed and there's no communication. Stranger things have happened in many relationships.

Your emphasis on the word common-law suggests that you are not comfortable with your present status, a position that you have held for the past eight years. Is this one of the bones of contention in the relationship? Some women who find themselves in common-law relationships tend to feel a sense of insecurity and embarrassment. When they approach their spouses about the situation they are usually rebuffed which usually results in interpersonal conflict and communication breakdown. The question the common-law wife asks is, "If I am good enough to be your children's mother, why am I not good enough to be your (legal) wife?"

If, as you report, the communication is non-existent, then it is not surprising that you are so sad and frustrated. Communication is like the very air we breathe and if it is absent the resulting effects are fatal.

You mentioned how much you love and care for your partner but were unable to say with any confidence that he readily reciprocates. This is also a part of the challenge you are having. You seem to be giving more than you are receiving out of the relationship.

One can hear your cry for emotional bonding with your spouse. A strong message you have sent is one that men must be mindful of, and that is, "If there is no sex then (there should be) some time for cuddling or some affection." For women intimacy does not necessarily equate to sexual intercourse.

The challenges that exist in the relationship are indeed fixable, but both of you will need to get professional help. If your partner is reluctant then you need to do individual sessions to learn coping strategies to help you to manage the situation. In the meanwhile, try and sit with your partner and share with him your concerns about the relationship. If face to face interaction is not possible, write him a letter.

It could well be that your partner is going through a stressful period and because he fails to successfully manage the situation he behaves in an antagonistic way. This may explain his disinterest in sex. If he really cares about you and the future of the relationship he must seek professional help immediately.

Meanwhile, be careful about the advances you may get from Good Samaritans who may want to "help out a situation".

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