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How Do I Get The Intimacy Back In My Marriage?

Robert Stokes
Robert Stokes

Dear Robert,

My marriage of 16 years is failing. Our relationship has deteriorated from a happy marriage to one where we barely speak to each other. I suspect that my husband is having an affair because he hasn't made love to me in several months and is often absent for long periods of time. I still love him dearly and I don't want to lose him. Should I try to seduce him?

C.D., Atlanta

Dear C.D.,

Nothing brings a husband and wife closer than good sex, but nothing is harder to come by when the lines of communication have shut down. And nothing is more misguided and unsuccessful than a person who initiates lovemaking in an attempt to warm up an alienated spouse or agrees to sex in the belief that the alienated partner will no longer be hostile or silent. Make conversation, not love.

In most cases, conversation between you and your spouse should come before anything else. In a good marriage, there is rarely such a thing as too much talk.

The problem is that in almost all crumbling relationships, deep and meaningful conversation is hard to come by. If one mate feels slighted, annoyed, bored, or disgusted, that person usually doesn't feel free to discuss those feelings. Instead, he or she retreats inward or begins to seek sexual satisfaction elsewhere. This is compounded when the other partner senses coolness and avoids the problem because addressing it may bring anger, an argument, and unpleasantness. Thus, the silence grows deeper and the problem worsens. You must reopen the lines of communication. My experience has been that asking for openness and honesty is often enough to get one's spouse to open up. He may yell, stomp, or fume, but as long as he doesn't get physically violent, what's the harm? At least, you will have the makings of a dialogue, which is the soundest bond I know for holding onto a love.

Robert Stokes


Advice Archives

Personal Advice is a question and answer column that answers a wide range of reader-submitted questions. Personal Advice is solely an educational feature and is not intended to replace the advice of a physician, attorney, and/or marriage counselor.