My physical relationship with my common-law spouse (of five years) has, over the past two years, dwindled down to every few months, if I'm lucky.
During that time, I’ve had health issues that caused a weight gain and losing all the hair on my head. He denies that I’m not very attractive now.
We're both still relatively young, and I feel it's too early to give up on a physical relationship. But I fear that calling him out on this will hurt his feelings.
I worry that, ultimately, one of us will look elsewhere for affection. I don't want it to be me, but it's hard when my partner doesn't want to touch me. Other men have made it known that they still find me attractive.
Your feelings are hurt, and protecting his feelings resolves nothing for either of you.
Talk to him. Say that you miss affection and sex and imagine he does or will, too. Though you’ve undergone some physical changes, you’re still the same person inside. So if you’re going to stay together, you both need to discuss any discomfort about those changes.
Ask how he feels and air your feelings, too, about your physical changes and his emotional distance.
Consider some logical responses, which could be anything from couples’ counselling to joining a fitness/nutrition program for your own self-confidence, and exploring how to deal with the hair loss.
This discussion is crucial. If he can’t be honest and work through this with you, better to find out.
I’m seen as the family “diplomat” among five siblings.
My youngest sister is single and moved to another city, but kept a close relationship with my sons. She’s not close with our siblings. She says my husband, sons, and I have stayed involved in her life unlike the other siblings.
Recently, she came home to assist with our mother's post-surgery care. Worry over our mother's health, and forced proximity caused stress among the siblings.
My mother and sister have a strained relationship.
A niece made an accusation that my sister posted negative comments about our family on Facebook.
My sister denies this, and there’s no evidence. My niece is the favoured grandchild. Our mother believed her. My sister feels abandoned by her.
She left, suffering mentally and physically over this unresolved conflict. She’s getting professional help. She’s contemplating cutting herself off from everyone but me.
All the women in the family, including the niece, have been invited to a baby shower for my son and his wife. My sister, who’s closer with my son, refuses to attend if the niece attends. She wants me to "un-invite" her.
My children are unaware of the intensity of her feelings toward the niece. I don’t want my daughter-in-law's celebration about her coming baby to be ruined by this drama.
How should I handle this?
Stuck in the Middle
Tell your sister that your son and his wife are outside of this conflict. They love her, but are focused naturally on their imminent newborn. Any move to un-invite any relative will create a distraction from their rightful happiness.
Suggest that she confer with her therapist as to what she can handle. You and your immediate family will be delighted if she comes, or she can come later when the baby arrives if she prefers, and have a visit all to herself.
Do NOT intervene otherwise. You’re the greater diplomat by acknowledging her position and encouraging her to make her choice with professional guidance.
Commentary – Regarding the issue that’s been raised by others in various columns of men bashing women who are working in male-dominated fields:
Reader - “I've spent the majority of my own 20-year-plus career in male-dominated fields and, while there are challenges, I prefer it that way.
“In my experience, I don't recall the men I've worked with really doing this, not when I've been around.
“I’ve personally found this tends to be much more of a female thing and one I don't like/enjoy.
“In my view, we’re all doing our best and deserve to be respected for that, not "bashed" for being "different" or having a different perspective.
“I’ve even seen groups of women in male-dominated fields being the ones doing the male-bashing, and I’ve tended to limit my exposure to it and them. I do not find it a positive way of being.”
Tip of the day:
If an elephant in the room is blocking your sex life, expose and discuss it together.