Sex File: We don't have sex. Should we still get married?

Sex File: We don't have sex. Should we still get married?
Suzi says: Sex isn't a take-it-or-leave-it activity. It is the glue that holds marriages together. It differentiates lovers from friends.

Q. My partner and I have been together for four years, but he seems to have completely gone off sex.

We are supposed to be getting married this autumn. Should we still go ahead with the wedding?

A. If your best friend told you that she was going to marry a man who didn't want to have sex with her, what would you say? 

You'd almost certainly ask her if she knew what was wrong with her fiance, and if she said she didn't know, you would wonder why she didn't. 

You might question whether her reluctance to address this was motivated by her determination not to screw up the wedding plans, so rather than focus on what was wrong with her fiance, you would probably try to talk about what was wrong with the relationship.

As a wedding approaches, it is not uncommon for sex to slide down the list of priorities, but this is quite different. Your fiance has completely stopped wanting to have sex with you. 

When you are about to make a lifetime commitment to someone, it's hard not to see that kind of rejection as a red flag. 

Sex isn't a take-it-or-leave-it activity. It is the glue that holds marriages together. 

It differentiates lovers from friends. It is so important to a happy marriage that voluntarily choosing to marry a man who has given up on sex is an act of lunacy.

Your fiance owes you an explanation, but there is now so much riding on your relationship that he may be too terrified to tell you why. 

You need to make it easy for him to be honest, no matter how painful the truth may be. Reassure him that you can cope with anything he tells you, but you cannot deal with silence. Please don't take "no" for an answer should he not want to talk about it.

Be careful not to frame the conversation around you and your feelings. Many men find it hard enough to open up, and if you start firing accusations, or even solutions, at him, he will clam up. 

Ask him to tell you what is wrong, then wait for him to talk. If there's a silence, don't be the one to fill it; he will eventually talk.

God knows what he will say. The best-case scenario is that he has lost interest in having sex, but he has not lost interest in having sex with you. 

He may be sick, stressed or depressed. If so, support, empathy and a call with the GP are next steps. He may simply feel that the wedding has become bigger than your relationship.

If that's the case you may need to dial down your focus on planning the big day. If there are problems in your relationship that he hasn't felt able to bring up, talking to a counsellor may help. 

He may have been hiding addiction, debt or doubts about his sexuality, and hasn't felt able to tell you. Once he tells you the truth, it will probably make complete sense and you will realise that you have been ignoring a trail of clues for months.

If he dismisses your concerns and refuses to talk about them, you should cancel the wedding. 

This is important. 

Anyone refusing to discuss something as fundamental as sex, or its absence, merely a few months before getting married, is communicating something loud and clear. 

He is telling you that he does not want you and he does not want to get married. He just isn't using words to convey that message.

  • Send your queries to suzigodson@mac.com

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