Sex advice with Suzi Godson: My wife of one year has already gone off me sexually

The first year of marriage is assumed to be the most passionate and intimate period of a romantic relationship, but it is not always plain sailing, says Suzi Godson.

Q. My wife and I have been married for less than a year (she is 27, I am 30) and our sex life has hit rock bottom already. 

When we got together, sex was exciting and daring, but now she makes excuses to avoid intimacy. I feel lost and rejected. 

Can sexual attraction fade that quickly?

A. It is unusual for sex to stop in the honeymoon period, so something isn’t right. 

I can understand why you might interpret it as an indication of your wife’s declining attraction to you. However, it is much more likely that she is worried about something, or is struggling to adjust to marriage and doesn’t feel able to talk to you.

The first year of marriage is assumed to be the most passionate and intimate period of a romantic relationship, but it is not always plain sailing. 

In 2010, two professors from Ball State University, Indiana — Scott Hall and Rebecca Adams — interviewed 21 couples who had been married for less than a year. 

Domestic issues, such as untidiness, or using all the toilet paper, and quirks, such as fingernail-biting, often became significant irritants within that timeframe. 

Roles and responsibilities, regarding chores and financial decisions, also caused arguments, as did lack of affection and conflicting loyalties between spouses and parents.

The researchers found that couples who had idealised expectations about marriage were more at risk of post-marital disillusionment. 

And although you would think that cohabitation would temper those beliefs, couples who had lived together experienced very similar difficulties with adjustment and ‘letdowns’ regarding togetherness, affection, and the frequency of sexual encounters.

Your main problem is that you have no idea why your sex life has declined so much. I would first look at whether she is happy in herself and in your relationship. 

A jumble of disappointments, frustrations, and resentments can quickly become a barrier to intimacy. She could be withholding sex to show you, physically, that she is unhappy, because she feels unable to communicate verbally, for whatever reason.

You need to talk to her — now. There may not be a tidy explanation, but encouraging your wife to voice concerns and express feelings of vulnerability is the first step back to a happier relationship. 

Be prepared to listen and try not to get defensive. She might say that you are no longer as affectionate as you once were. She might feel unappreciated. She might be fearful of pregnancy, because she is not ready to have children. 

She might be on the wrong contraception. She might even be hiding an illness, or a mental health issue that she is too frightened to reveal, let alone investigate. 

These are all, of course, guesses, but the only way you will find out is by talking to each other.

Although it might sound counterintuitive, it would be a good idea to take sex out of the equation, while you try to get to the bottom of what is going on. 

She probably feels very guilty about rejecting you; so telling her that you don’t want to have sex until she is ready will take the pressure off her. Reach out to her and reassure her that it is safe to be open and honest with you.

You should also consider couples counselling. Most couples wait till their marriage is on the rocks before getting professional help, but counselling is so much more effective as a preventive measure than as a crisis support.

If you treat your marriage holistically, and value emotional connection as much as sexual attraction, you will have a much stronger and more intuitive relationship.

Send your queries to suzigodson@mac.com 


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