Dear Dr. Melanie: My fiance and I have been together for almost 18 months now. When we first got together the sex was often and amazing. It lasted a very long time, and I usually had multiple orgasms. Lately I am lucky if we have sex 3 times a month, and when we do it is very short and I rarely orgasm even once. He says that he is still very attracted to me and wants me, but I feel like he doesn’t anymore. I feel like he may be wanting to leave and just doesn’t want to hurt me and my 2 children that have grown to love him. I know I am probably just reading too much into this, but I don’t know. Please give me advice! Thanks, Feeling Unwanted
Dear Feeling Unwanted,
That romantic charge couples feel in new relationships rarely lasts more than 18 months. At that point, couples fall into a comfortable groove of knowing each other’s interests, boundaries, emotional capabilities, and the logistics of daily life. This isn’t to say that relationships necessarily become boring or stale; indeed, many couples find their post-romantic relations to be more fulfilling because they have reached a deeper level of love and understanding.
It sounds like you’ve got more going on here than the typical “wearing in” period. Something triggered a change in your sex life, and the only way you’ll be able to understand it is to talk directly with your fiancé. Did his schedule or responsibilities change at work? Did his diet or exercise routine change? Did he move into your home and get over-whelmed with unexpected responsibilities as a stepdad? Did something change in your life or the way you’re acting toward him? Have wedding preparations scared him about finances or priorities or changing family relationships?
Is there a chance that he has become concerned about privacy? Maybe he’s afraid of your kids walking in on you during your lovemaking, so he’s interested less often and for shorter periods. Privacy is an important consideration that can be addressed with a lock on your bedroom door, and if need be, a talk with your kids about the importance of private adult time.
You mentioned that when you make love now, you aren’t experiencing orgasm. Is that due to lack of effort on your fiance’s part, or is it due to anxiety on yours? If you’re focused on feeling unloved and unwanted, an orgasm could be elusive. If he’s ignoring your needs, he needs to know that’s unacceptable to you.
Let him know that you’ve observed some changes in your sexual relationship and would like to discuss it. Phrase it as a concern of yours, not a problem with him, e.g., don’t say, “You act like you don’t love me anymore.” Do say, “Babe, I’m feeling sad that our sex life isn’t as exciting as it used to be. I miss you and want us to really enjoy each other again. When would be a good time for you within the next few days?”
Don’t accuse him of wanting to skip out, but do ask whether he’s still happy in the relationship and whether there’s anything he would like to change. Do more listening than talking, and when you do talk, avoid accusations. The way you approach this problem will set a tone for the rest of your relationship.
If he’s unwilling to discuss this with you, offer to set up a meeting with your religious leader or a couples counselor. You may not be ready for marriage if you can’t discuss your sex life and other concerns in order to develop solutions that work for both of you.
This Q/A also appears on my Sex Advice & Spice column for Fantasia Home Parties, for which I provide sexuality education training for sales reps and sexuality/relationship advice for customers.