I had cosmetic surgery while in college and had some chronic health issues which I did not disclose to my present husband before our arranged marriage. We had sex for about a month after marriage and then I conceived. The sex stopped after that and never came back till date. I lost all the weight I had gained during pregnancy and tried initiating sex on a number of occasions, but my husband has made different excuses every time. I feel rejected and my body image issues have crept in again. I feel unattractive because of his rejection. He does not even touch me affectionately and is extremely matter of fact with me. Yet he is not a bad person and is an affectionate father to our son. Any attempt to broach the subject of sex or to suggest a counsellor upsets him a lot. He has started returning home late to avoid conversations with me. Everyday he says he’s tired and has dinner and goes to bed. I think he does not find me attractive but he will never say that to my face. I feel so sad. What should I do?
Ans. Sex is largely mood based and it’s possible that your husband’s mood is being affected by certain factors that you currently aren’t privy to. These factors could be directly related to the emotional relationship you share or could be completely unrelated to your marriage. If your husband does not find you physically attractive, know that this is his subjective perception of you. Don’t let it interfere with how you live your life or feel about your body. Opinions are not facts. Personal tastes are not universal laws. Observations are not holy commandments. A lot that is said and experienced in life is subject and a lot of time needs to be spent to be truly understanding of and available to people who we care about.
The effort has to be reciprocal and earnest. Our bodies are organic systems that fall prey to disease and decay over the years. A solid foundation to a relationship must be based on a friendship where there is no ‘hesitation’ to approach topics with each other. This must be worked in. It can get awkward to always share one’s mind with full transparency at times for some people. However, in time and with practice, anything can be discussed with care and comfort.
Since sex is a sensitive topic, it would make sense for you to approach the topic with gentleness when you sense that you have an opening with your husband to initiate a talk on the topic of your sex life. You are going to have to be the one to initiate it as it would appear that you husband is ‘weary of confrontation’ based on what you have shared about him so far. Instead of trading Euphemisms, it’s important for you to truly help him cut to the chase and talk to you about what you think needs to be addressed.
To improve upon a relationship, one must first identify the various contaminating factors that are causing stress and distances to grow. Many couples are uncomfortable with expressing their sexual needs with each other.
Are your health problems known to your husband? To what extent do these health problems affect your sexual performance? Is your health problem an inhibitor in getting your husband aroused either because he is worried or guilty about having sex with you when you have a health concern to contend with first? Is the quality of sex between you both missing a certain fun or comfort factor that makes the sex feel more rigorous than pleasurable? What are your and your husband’s sexual preferences? To know the answers to these questions, you are going to have to have that talk or even perhaps go meet a qualified sex therapist. The fact that your husband is extremely mattered of fact with you could possibly mean that he sees your relationship in a largely formal manner or as perhaps the convenient companion piece to his lifestyle.
Some people are a lot more physically comfortable with touching and getting touched and some others like to maintain a quiet vigil over the ones they care about without saying much and by instead preferring acts of service. A lot of people find it as embarrassing or below their dignity to ask to be ‘paid attention to’ since they worry about seeming ‘needy or clingy’. Such hesitations and fears often damage relationships.
(Aman Rajan Bhonsle, Consulting Psychosocial Analyst & Youth Mentor)