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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience:  Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
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My husband becomes "sexually frustrated" if we go without sex

Resolved Question:

My husband becomes "sexually frustrated" if we go without sex for a few weeks. This makes him withdraw from me emotionally and become downright mean. The only way to "fix it" is to have sex with him or oral sex, but it is uncomfortable for me to have sex with someone who is being so distanced from me. I usually talk myself into it because I do understand that he is hurting, but over time I have become resentful of this. I know the long term solution is for us to get in a healthier mode of interacting where sex happens more frequently and thus avoids the problem. But it the short term, how do I deal with this without feeling used?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. L replied 1 year ago.

Dr. L :

Hello,

Dr. L :

I would like to help you with your question.

Dr. L :

I can understand what you are saying about "servicing" your husband...it's not a romantic or fulfilling situation at all.

Dr. L :

The situation you are describing is what happens in more bedrooms across the country than you can even imagine...as a clinical psychologist of 30 some years I am here to say that you are not alone. While that might not be reassuring...it is true.

Dr. L :

As you say...more frequent sexual intimacy would avoid the problem..but that's not how life works..and intimacy isn't something that ought to be scheduled on a calendar! Still...there are those expectations...and there is need and desire for closeness and intimate interactions.

Dr. L :

So...what's the solution here?

Dr. L :

First of all it's good communication about why sex isn't more frequent..honest communication. It's about accepting that you both don't have the exact same level of need for sex. Itthere are different levels of sexual appetite

Dr. L :

It's about talking honestly and opening about a)your need for closeness b) his need for intercourse/oral sex and then a willingness to work towards meeting each of those needs.

Dr. L :

That means that sometimes you give in to sex to meet his need and sometimes he gives in to your need for physical/emotional closeness to meet your need.

Dr. L :

I want to suggest a book: Sex is Fun

Dr. L :

You can get this online. It's a workbook type manual that is all about exploring your sexual interests and making sex more fun and stimulating.

Dr. L :

John Gottman has a wonderful series: Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus

Dr. L :

This describes exactly what you are saying...different needs for intimacy.

Dr. L :

I'm sorry...I meant XXXXX XXXXX.

Customer:

I guess what I am still hving trouble with is his mean-ness. Wanting sex is understandable, but completely withdrawing and glaring at me like he is furious is, quite frankly, scary to me. Is this part "normal."

Dr. L :

John Gottman has a series on relationship building...also good.

Dr. L :

I would agree that this is uncalled for and likely an attempt to try to punish you into giving in.

Dr. L :

It certainly is counter-productive...who would want to have sex with someone who is mean?

Dr. L :

It's bullying behavior...

Dr. L :

I'm imagining this is how he handles anger...is that true?

Dr. L :

How does he respond when you point out that he is being mean? Does he acknowledge it?

Customer:

He handles anger by withdrawing. Then, when pressed, he explodes. (he is not physically violent but very emotionally hful)

Dr. L :

And your reaction to his withdrawing and explosion is to do what?

Customer:

When I point out he is being mean, he insists he is not angry but that this is the only way he can handle the frustration. And he can't even touvh me or be physically affectionate or see me getting undressed because he descibes it as being like torture.

Customer:

My reaction to his withdrawing is to panic and try to talk things out or argue things out. I feel panicky because he's cutting off the connection.

Dr. L :

And in your mind, if he cut off the connection...then what?

Dr. L :

Does that mean he might abandon you? That he might not love you any more? What???

Customer:

It just feels frightening to me. I have a strong need to feel connected to my husband. I feel like I'm suffocating if I'm not. But, when we have periods of not getting along, we fight, I cry, and then I concentrate on other areas of my life like my kids and my work. Then I think I withdraw from him, but I feel like it's self-preservation.

Dr. L :

I understand what you are saying...and yes..it sounds like you do withdraw as a way to "be okay"...

Customer:

It's a cycle.

Dr. L :

But going solo like that doesn't get you any closer to your husband...your real desire...and instead the distance between you just continues to grow...

Dr. L :

Absolutely...it is a cycle. A cycle that must stop as each of you is getting hurt...

Dr. L :

Is it possible to compromise? That is, for you to agree to have sex more frequently if he agrees not to withdraw and punish you?

Dr. L :

Or...is the communication between you not open enough for this kind of discussion to happen?

Dr. L :

Sex is nearly always a tough subject for couples...which is why I suggest the Sex is Fun book...

Dr. L :

it helps to establish good communications about sexual needs.

Customer:

I would have to initiate it. He rarely can actually ask. It's part of his pattern that he does not ask for what he needs (in terms of attention, time, sex...anything). But yet, he feels rejected and angry if I don't give him what he needs even if he doesn't ask for it. So the whole burden is on me.

Dr. L :

This is frustrating as the burden - as you say - is all on you. Truthfully, he needs to take responsibility for his sexual needs as you are not a mind-reader. And it isn't possible for you to keep a calendar as to his sexual needs.

Dr. L :

Since he has appointed you the person in charge of sexual needs...I strongly urge you to get this book and to point out to him ever so gently that you want to improve your sexual relationship and this is how to start...

Dr. L :

What do you think of that?

Dr. L :

The book is really easy to use...light hearted...non-intimidating...

Customer:

It is worth a try.

Dr. L :

Great.

Dr. L :

As you have already surmised...the cycle must stop. You are feeling emotionally beat-up by this cycle and you are not getting your needs met.

Dr. L :

It's time to have more fun and less drama..

Dr. L :

I would also encourage you to look at the XXXXX XXXXX books to help you better understand the intimacy dance that couples do...

Dr. L :

It's unfortunate that your husband is unwilling to ask for what he needs and expects you to read his mind!!!

Customer:

We've both read Men are From Mars but it's been quite a few years.

Dr. L :

But...this book may change that.

Dr. L :

I'm glad you're familiar with the material. Might be time to take the book out of the closet and dust it off...but I'd rather see you read the Sex is Fun book for now...I think you will get far more mileage out of it.

Dr. L :

Is there any last thing I can help you with this evening?

Customer:

No. But, thanks.

Dr. L :

You are welcome!

Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience: Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
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Dr. L
Dr. L
Clinical Psychologist
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Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.