No pleasure from my five-minute narcissist beau

DEAR COUNSELLOR,

I never stay in a relationship for too long. I have been trying the long-term thing with my now partner. I'm not happy with our sexual state. I'm expecting to get my fair share of pleasure or at least an attempt to please me. I'm not getting either. I barely get five minutes and there's no seconds. It's just on, off, sleep — no romance, no kinky stuff, just plain old boring penetration. I've contemplated cheating but I don't want to have a relapse of that lifestyle.

I don't get taken out on dates, no compliments when I dress up, nothing. I've spoken to him about all the issues I'm having but he's never interested to talk unless I threaten to leave, then he'll act right for a few minutes. He's a narcissist. He thinks he's the best thing to ever happen to me. I'm there for him emotionally, physically, financially, etc, while I don't even get good sex. There's so much wrong in this relationship I haven't mentioned. There's just this pull that makes me want to be with this mess of a man. I've invested so much in this to see it fall apart. Can therapy/counselling help him be a better partner and mend our relationship? Or should I just call it quits?

Thanks for joining on The Couch. Good romantic relationships aren't always easy to navigate, yet don't ignore your opportunities to enjoy life individually. It is important to learn to enjoy life on your own too. There are great life adventures to have which exclude sex and romance. You can have powerful adventures on your own; however, a romantic partner is quite a blessing from the Lord. And it is commendable that you have poured much into your relationship.

Choosing the right partner is a necessarily tough process because of the lasting impact they can have on our lives. And as is said, "It's better to be alone than with the wrong person." Yes, you do deserve to get your fair share out of a relationship. In fact, the Bible says regarding neglect, "Defraud ye not" your spouse (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). It admonishes spouses to "render due benevolence". That's Bible speak for "satisfy" each other!

My advice:

Try a counselling session. Yes, counselling can help both of you. The right counsellor can make a world of a difference. The counsellor should sort through any narcissism. Sit with the counsellor for yourself, and then try to set up sessions as a couple. Be open and frank.

Make plans and set rewards. Schedule activities to do together. Create your 'Us Calendar'. You'll want about four dates to work with, maybe Valentine's, birthdays, anniversary, etc. And by the way, remember "rewards" work for intimacy too. And rewards aren't cash, but kind. This can help spice things up. As it is said, "Reward sweetens labour."

Be there for yourself. Happiness isn't only found in another's company. Make sure to plan your own adventures. Find fun in experiences available to you. Challenge yourself to discover yourself. Learn, earn, explore, and experience. There's much to find out about yourself and the world.

Don't resort to infidelity. Integrity matters deeply. Don't create a life of secrets and hidden agendas. If the relationship isn't working then that's the reality. You should put in the work to get the most out of the relationship, for both of you. But if after tedious effort nothing changes, then that's that. You've tried!

Keep in mind that marriage matters. You hadn't mentioned it, but I will. A test of the mettle of the relationship is marriage. If you've been together for years, it is right to be married. Marriage sets up vows to work toward mutual benefits.

Keeping the fire of a romantic relationship fuelled can be a challenge. I pray that you'll both have the wisdom needed to navigate all the way to "happily ever after".

Get on The Counsellor's Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com.

Christopher BRODBER

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