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February 25, 2020

Dr. Jess on Making Time for Intimacy in Your Relationship

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This morning on Global TV’s The Morning Show, Jess sat down with Carolyn and Jeff to address viewer questions about the lack of intimacy in their relationships. Check out the video segment and her advice below to learn more!

My wife does so much. Takes care of the kids (we have a newborn), takes care of the house, etc.. But she’s never in the mood for sex. It has been months. I want to talk to her, but don’t want to make her feel badly, because she’s doing such a great job.

The fact that you acknowledge all that she does is so important and sets the tone for a healthy relationship and a potentially fruitful conversation about sex. Having said that, before we jump into the conversation, I want to offer a reminder to convey this appreciation directly to your wife. Oftentimes, couples who get along well deal with a gratitude gap: you feel grateful and you function so well as a team that you forget to thank your partner for all that they do to keep things running smoothly.

Once you’ve expressed your gratitude (and this is something you want to do on a regular basis), you can open the conversation about sex.

Start by asking her how she’s feeling about sex. Ask how the changes in her routine with the new baby affect her energy levels and desire for affection, intimacy and sex.

Let her know that you want to initiate sex, but don’t want her to feel pressure, so you want to have this (potentially awkward) conversation. Ask her what helps to get her in the mood.

And be sure to make opportunities for affection and intimacy even when sex is off the table. Oftentimes new parents stop having sex because they’re not engaging in the emotional and affectional foreplay that sets the tone for sex. If the only time you touch is when you’re trying to initiate sex, she may pull away and you’ll stop being physically affectionate altogether.

I’m getting really pissed off about how much time my husband is spending with one of his co-workers. They work together all day and then they go out for drinks at least one a week and text at night. He says it’s all work-related, but it’s not. I know they’re just friends (it’s not like that), but how do I clearly communicate that I’m not willing to put up with this any longer?

Let’s start at the top with how you’re feeling. You say that you’re pissed off and that’s perfectly valid. I’d also encourage you to consider if there are any other feelings you’ve yet to acknowledge. Sometimes it’s easy to feel angry, but the anger masks more vulnerable feelings. Are you feeling jealous? Are you feeling ignored or lonely? If we can start with these feelings, you might have a better idea of how to talk to your husband about how you’re feeling.

You can make requests as to how he spends his time (e.g. I’d love if we could have dinner together tonight), but if you try to dictate how he spends his time, he’ll likely be less likely to respond positively. If you lead with an ultimatum, he’s more likely to get defensive.

I know it can feel as though you have a say in your partner’s schedule, but he has a right to define and meet his own social needs. Just because you like to go home after work doesn’t mean he wants the same. Just because you don’t chat with your co-workers after work doesn’t mean he needs to follow suit.

Bottom line: You have every right to communicate that you don’t want to “put up with this”, but he’s not required to meet your expectations.