Tell Me About It: ‘I have been happy for most part in the relationship except I never feel satisfied, and he doesn’t want sex much either’
I was wondering what I should do. I dated a few people in my 20s. One was an eight-year stretch, but alcohol played big part in me ending that relationship. After that, I was a part of an affair that I ended as well. I am currently with my fiancé and we have one child. The guy is great, but I don’t feel attracted to him. I wasn’t truly attracted at the beginning either, but then we got pregnant and so my family happened.
I have been happy for most part in the relationship except I never feel satisfied, and he doesn’t want sex much either. He has struggled in that area, and I try to be supportive, but it’s difficult when I’m not in it either. We recently have had some fights and talks. He seems to be more active in daily life things and I would like to see us get better.
Prior to all relationships when I was 21, I met a guy, and it was a head-over-heels type thing. He was 13 years older than me so I never really thought he and I could have had a life together. Plus, he didn’t want kids, so I walked away from him. I pursued my current relationship but have had thoughts about the other person always. Maybe not a lot of thoughts, but I would hear a song or think of something, and I would smile thinking about him. But I just shook it off because of my current relationship.
My question is, do I tell my fiancé about these feelings (for someone I met 10 years prior) or do I continue to try to make it work with my current partner without telling him?
The core of your issue appears to the lack of physical attraction to, and sexual satisfaction with, your fiancé. If this part of your relationship was working you might find that you are less likely to hold on to memories of another man that you excluded from your life, with good reason, some time ago. The question of telling your financé about this man depends on many things and may not be the most important subject to address first.
If you tell him now, while there is some question about the solidity of your future together, you might push your partner into feeling insecure, and this is likely to prevent his participating in any meaningful engagement about sex and intimacy. That you have recently had some fights and talks is actually encouraging as we rarely fight about things we do not care about and couples who struggle with intimacy often fight as a substitute – when arguing you have the other person’s full and intense attention, and this can be very intimate.
As you are the person who is currently most dissatisfied, it is up to you to take the first step
Many couples struggle with mis-matched desire, or little or no sex in their relationship, and often this continues as each person decides not to upset the other by challenging this loss. There is also the concern that one person is considered to carry the blame and when we love someone we do not want to shame or humiliate them. In reality, both people are suffering and unless some intervention happens the situation can continue until a crisis, often in the form of an affair, happens.
The result of not dealing with the issue can be that the family disintegrates, but you are now in the position of being able to address this before this breakdown happens. It is likely that you as a couple will need professional help – a third person who can ask questions, make observations and suggest homework – as it is extremely difficulty to make progress on your own from inside a vulnerable relationship. Going down this route will take courage and commitment from you both but the very act of attending therapy as a couple creates greater intimacy and it allows sensitive issues to be explored without sides being taken.
Look up accredited psychotherapy and psychology websites and select ‘working with intimacy/sex’ from the drop-down menus. The New Male Sexuality by Dr Bernie Zilbergeld is an excellent book on sexual issues from a male perspective and you might both find it useful to read and discuss. Exercises focused on the senses are a tried and tested technique in this area and often produce good results for couples. You will find information on these, along with many more suggestions, in the book.
As you are the person who is currently most dissatisfied, it is up to you to take the first step. It may be possible for you to tell the story of your past amour only as a way of saying that you want to rid this man from your mind, and you need your partner to work with you to make your relationship romantic and satisfying.
However, it may be safer to bring up this past liaison when you are in care of a therapist that both of you are happy to work with. There is so much going well in your relationship (not least a child you both love) that it is worth perusing all options to increase the chance of making this the best relationship possible.