How to Strengthen Your Relationship/passion

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Question
Hi Stuart,

I've been with my wife for almost exactly 15 years now. We were together for 13 years; got married about 2 years ago. A most unsettling thing has been happening lately.

Before we were married, I was really turned on all the time. I love making my partner feel happy, secure, and satisfied in the bedroom, and I didn't expect all that much in return.

Since being married, I've wanted "more" from my partner. I want her to be totally committed and "into" our sex life. But it seems like she just won't be. I've talked to her about this ad nauseam for a long time. Nothing changed. Then this eventually led to little digs, then into full-blown arguments. Now the arguments are occurring about 4-5 times a week, every week.

It seems like there's no passion. She never comes have and says "Hon, I'm REALLY in the mood tonight". Or, "Can I take care of you?" (you know what I mean). If there's something I want to do in the bedroom, it has to be my idea, and though she usually goes along with it, she doesn't really seem "into" it.

Earlier tonight, we were having one of our usual arguments. Tonight's topic: why she doesn't love me enough, and what I can do to change it. Her argument: she loves me more than anything, but she has trouble showing her passions. She HAS deep passionate feelings for me, but she doesn't know how to show them. She says she's been going through a long period (years) of fighting feelings of low self-esteem, and if I wait and be supportive, she'll start showing her passion and feelings, and everything will be wonderful.

I've been hearing this line for at least 5 years now. Arguments > tears > begging > tears > promises > no changes.

I'm feeling really low, like I'm not worth loving, like I don't turn her on anymore, like I can't inspire those feelings in her or in any woman. Is it just me, or is it really weird that a woman can't show her passions and feelings for her husband? In my experience, it's usually the wife begging the guy to be more emotional and passionate and share his feelings of intimacy and love. But in my case, I'm the one drowning in the need for love, acceptance, and intimacy. I feel like she doesn't need me anymore, doesn't need me, and is basically lying to herself and to me.

Am I crazy, or maybe just a hopeless romantic, believing real passions can't be contained? It shouldn't have to be begged for. With other women, I never had these arguments or problems...they felt strongly for me, and we showed it to each other. My wife keeps saying "Just give me more time, and the feelings will come." Or she'll ask me to stop badgering her about it, to just let it happen naturally...but it never does.

In the bedroom, I have to take charge and basically direct everything she does. I HATE DOING THIS. Sex used to be a source of relief and warmth; now it's constant stress and sadness, not to mention her "leaving me hanging" about 90% of the time now. I've told her repeatedly that she doesn't have to try so hard...she doesn't have to try to be a hardcore pornstar coming up with these ridiculous scripted lines that sound so phony and made-up, especially since she uses the same scripted lines every...single...time. It's like she can't, or won't, use her imagination and passion to show me it's HER I'm with, not some fantasy girl or whatever it is she's thinking.

When I respond negatively to all this, she usually blames me, saying I'm too demanding, I have unrealistic expectations, or she'll fall back on "I'm too anxious to do what you want me to do, because I'm scared of saying or doing the wrong thing." Of course, this doesn't stop her from having 10-15 orgasms each time....every time....all the time....year after endless year. Like I said, I love satisfying my partner's needs....but I don't get it in return....ever.

So am I kidding myself here? Is this woman just not into me, and she's too afraid to admit it? We tried marriage counseling, and all they told us is "You have to be mutually respectful of each others' needs." Fat lot of good that did us. After 6 months of sessions, she not only didn't respond to it....she actually started expecting more from ME. I mean, how much foreplay can a guy do? Sometimes we need some satisfaction and need to kick back and just enjoy too, am I right? Why is the onus of responsibility always laid at MY door, when I've been trying like hell for YEARS to "make" her feel passion for me?

Are you sensing some intense sexual frustration here? I'm assuming so, since it's permeating every single aspect of my ENTIRE LIFE, from my friendships with others to my faltering concentration at work. I feel unloved, low, and like I'm wasting my time trying to beg passion off my wife like a homeless guy begs spare change. Sad image, yeah? Yeah...sad and pitiful, and even worse--painful. Very, very painful.

Well, I hope you have some sage advice. Because I'm 35 years old, she's 36, and I'm too old for this crap. I need to live; I need to feel needed; I need to share passions and kisses and hugs and KNOW my partner is strongly loving and passionate and attentive to my needs too. If this doesn't change soon, it's going to end in divorce. Unless that's the only option left.

Thanks Stuart.
Dave



Example: earlier tonight,

Answer
Hi Dave. I'm sorry that you're experiencing this.  I can only imagine your discouragement and perhaps the pain you both may be going through. It certainly sounds like a lot and yet hopefully something that can be addressed. I'm glad that you tried the marriage counseling and yet I'm left wondering if the issues that she had shared about her self-esteem wete ever addressed there. My hunch and concern would be that she may not have and yet it seems like it could be so valuable and indeed much needed.  

For a moment, I want you to imagine you're not Dave and that together we may try to Sherlock Holmes this a bit and figure out where she may be struggling. I'm wondering if you have any sense of where the self-esteem issues may be coming from? Perhaps this was something that started about five years ago but perhaps these issues have been there for much much longer even stemming from an earlier point in her life. While perhaps not doing the best job or knowing how to best address it, it sounds like her statement was a cry for help. I would think individual counseling would be a great way for her to get the support and better investigate what she's been experiencing and how it first came about.

So what if I came home and said something to the effect of "babe I'm so sorry that we seem to get bogged down in struggles about love in the relationship. I love you so much and sometimes I may not know the best thing to do or to say in order to best help you. Please know that I do. How can I help? I remember what you had said about low self-esteem and wanted to understand more."  Dave maybe start there. Please follow up with me. stuart

How to Strengthen Your Relationship

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Stuart A. Kaplowitz, MFT

Expertise

how to help relationship. How to address issues within relationship......I am pretty open here

Experience

20th year in the field. Managed and directed clinical programs. Now, I work out of my own office as well as supervise counselors

Organizations
California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists

Publications
The California Therapist

Education/Credentials
B.A. Psychology M.S. Counseling Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

Awards and Honors
Hero of the Heart - Covina Valley USD

Past/Present Clients
I work with individuals, couples, families and children

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