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September 24, 2008

Sleeping Alone

Dr. Helen asks, "Is sleeping alone healthy for a marriage?"

How many couples sleep solo in a double bed?

A 2001 random telephone survey of 1,004 adults conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that 12 percent of married Americans slept alone; a similar 2005 survey of 1,506 people found that number had jumped to 23 percent.

In addition, a March online survey of 1,408 couples conducted by the Sleep Council of England found that 1 in 4 people regularly retreats to a spare room or sofa to get a good night’s sleep.

The preference for separate spaces has even begun to affect home design. According to the National Association of Home Builders, there’s been a steady increase in the number of requests for “two-master bedroom” homes since 1990, prompting the organization to predict that by 2015, 60 percent of all custom upscale homes will be built with two “owner suites.”

I would think that whether one’s marriage suffers from sleeping apart would have to do more with why people want to sleep apart than the fact that they do. Is there a good reason for it or is it because one wants to get away from his or her spouse? A good reason for sleeping apart might be to avoid a sleepless night due to a partner snoring or other sleep-disturbing behavior.

And, in fact, these seem to be the main reasons people sleep apart: because of snoring or other physical difficulties — such as restless leg syndrome — that make sleeping difficult for the partner without the problem. But perhaps some of the reasons also have to do with an increase in economic wealth and changing expectations of how we view relationships. Perhaps more couples sleep alone now than in the past because they can.

I know I've written about this before, but I had a few more thoughts. As a wife who often gets up in the middle of the night to sleep in the other room (but always, always makes an effort to go to sleep in the same bed, and at the same time as, my husband) I understand why couples are tempted to sleep apart. After all, having gone through several one-year unaccompanied deployments, I know what it is like to get used to having the bed - and the bedroom - to oneself. It's an adjustment when your spouse returns and you have to deal with issues like the numbers of covers on the bed, snoring, tossing and turning, different schedules (my husband gets up at 4 a.m. or even earlier every day).

And I know how wonderfully relaxing it is, sometimes, just to be able to fall asleep in a perfectly quiet room where everything is exactly the way you want it.

It's almost like being... single again. But that isn't really the point of marriage, is it? Having everything your way? Putting your own needs first? Maximizing your own convenience and comfort at the expense of the relationship? Reading Dr. Helen's post, I was reminded of this rather novel experiment:

There are two new books out from couples who made a decision to have sex with their spouse every night for 101 or 365 days. The reviews from both couples seem to be mixed…not surprising. Yes, it improved intimacy and yes, it was very difficult and, at times, a horrible drag.

I recall reading about this in the Times a while back and thinking it a bit extreme. But on the other hand, how does a couple get to the point where they even contemplate mandatory sex every night for a year? This couple can tell you: they get there the same way so many couples get into trouble.

They get busy, and it becomes easier to think of their own needs first rather than putting time and energy into the relationship.

They forget that their needs may not be the same as their partner's, but that a marriage only works so long as both the man and woman are getting something out of it.

They forget that relationships take constant work and that every day a thousand little fractures can occur in even the strongest relationship. If you don't put in the time and effort to repair them as you go, small wounds can easily turn into large ones.

Or worse, they turn into indifference.

Elsewhere today, I read that 58% of women fantasize about having an affair.

34% admit to having cheated on their husbands.

And most distressing of all, I read that the average married couple only has sex 66 times a year.

While I can understand all the reasons couples can and do sleep apart, I think it's a mistake not to make the effort to at least fall asleep together (or spend some time in the same bed) every night. Making time for your spouse should be a priority, not an afterthought and very often, because making sexual overtures to each other is very much a function of opportunity, the first casualty when couples spend too much time apart is going to be their sex life. Sex is about a lot of things. It's far more than simply having an orgasm, which (let's face it) we're all perfectly capable of doing on our own. For most men, sex is not just an enjoyable physical activity. In addition to making them feel valued, it also allows them to relax and open up to their wives in a way they're usually taught to suppress when they're dealing with the outside world. And most women very much want and need to feel connected to their husbands emotionally in order to fully enjoy sex, so it's hard to have one take place without the other:

What both couples seem to have really learned is how much closer and intimate sex can make you feel, even when you have been married a long time. This is because we are all at our most vulnerable during sex. It is an open, honest and tender time. You each get to see and feel more of the human essence of your mate. You have put it out there -- in terms of what you like, what you don’t and what you are thinking about. This is both exciting and scary, which is why so many people back away and erect a wall against such intimacy-- to avoid the risk of rejection. It is so important to be sensitive to each others' vulnerable state and be as supportive as possible. At the same time, such revelation is very exciting when you feel really safe and honest and loved just for being you with your partner.

I think the takeaway from such an exercise is that sometimes you just have to get going to break through those initial sexual barriers that may have been built up over many years. What is on the other side is most certainly worth having.

I attended a wedding recently. I love weddings. I nearly always cry.

There is something sacred about the sight of two young people, beaming with happiness and obviously in love, pledging to devote the rest of their lives together. And I believe in marriage, both as a social institution and as a way for people to be happy.

But sometimes - often - I read things online that fill me with dismay. How do people lose that feeling they had on their wedding day? I've been married for nearly thirty years, and I don't understand the bitterness and anger I read so often in comments from people who have clearly been deeply hurt.

How do we lose that feeling?

I think we lose it by increments. And I think we need to do everything in our power to hold onto it. It is a lever capable of moving mountains or desolating souls.

I suppose I've always thought that success in marriage is much like success in life. Ninety nine percent of it lies in continuing to show up, day after day, shovel in hand.

Sex: it's a dirty job, but someone has to do it :p Seriously, when I read the hundreds of "how did this happen" books on marriages gone wrong, I can't help thinking that the most obvious problem is the least often discussed: that most marriages don't fail due to discord or irreconcilable differences. That's a symptom, not a root cause.

I think many marriages starve to death. They fail when couples drift apart and their differences begin to outweigh the good feelings that brought them together in the first place. And I think the main reason that occurs is that couples no longer take the time to create those good feelings, the way they did when they were dating.

It's something to think about.

Posted by Cassandra at September 24, 2008 08:52 AM

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just a couple of pennies..

the move to married folk being in the same bed happened in the 60s... prior to that, we slept in separate beds for the most part... and prior to that we shared beds with those of the same sex for the purposes of segregated sleep.

we forget the hollyweird censors going nuts over things like having one foot on the floor.

the first bedroom kiss by a couple in bed was on the brady bunch... it was also the first time that they both were in bed and both didnt have a foor on the floor.

go just a few years back before this progressive hip family (she was supposed to be a divorced feminist type woman), and in "i love lucy", both the mertzes and the ricardos were sleeping in separate beds!

in fact this was the norm at the time... (my grandparents slept in separate beds that they had since they were newlyweds and was sold like that).

Posted by: artfldgr at September 24, 2008 10:28 AM

On TV married couples may have slept in separate beds. I do not know anyone personally (nor did I growing up) who did. All the bedrooms of parents and grandparents in my family and my friends' families had double or queen sized beds.

FWIW, we slept in a double bed the first 10 years we were married. It belonged to my husband's grandparents, who bought it shortly after they eloped at the beginning of the 1900s at the age of 18.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 24, 2008 10:33 AM

FWIW, Art, I'm not saying you can't have a perfectly happy marriage if you're not sleeping in the same room.

The point of mentioning the article on sex was that people do tend to take each other for granted after a while, and also that even such a simple thing as touching - or sleeping together - creates and repairs the bond between two people. This is not to say that can't be accomplished by other means.

It just means that one rather obvious way has been made more difficult/less likely to occur: it will take more effort to overcome that. Certainly it can be done, though.

I will say, however, that if you were not using birth control and didn't want a large family, sleeping in separate beds would make perfect sense :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 24, 2008 10:45 AM

You're right Cass. If you can't be bothered to make half an hour of time more than once a week to do something fun, free and emotionally invigorating with your spouse, how in the helk are you going to make time to work through the difficult, costly, and emotionally draining $h1t?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at September 24, 2008 02:01 PM

I am not at all a creature of habit, Yu-ain.

In fact, I like keeping my options open and not being constrained to do any particular thing on any particular day. Routine tends to stifle me.

But the older I get, the more I see that so much in life truly does depend upon simply being willing to discipline yourself to do certain things regularly, whether or not you feel like it. You can't put things off for two weeks and then make it all up in one fell swoop - often it's the day-to-day, just putting in a few minutes of time and effort consistently that pays off.

And this is from someone who tends to the Bohemian :p But...

/hand to forehead

...if I *must*!!!!


Posted by: Cass at September 24, 2008 02:09 PM

I will also say this.

The one thing I look forward to at the end of each day is the brief moment, before we go to sleep, when I get to lay my head on my husband's chest and hear his heart beating. We don't talk.

We don't even always make love.

But just that brief connection means so much to me. If for some reason (like an argument) I end up going to sleep on my side of the bed, I feel a sense of loss.

This is from a woman who has lived on her own for years at a time. It's not that I'm dependent. It's that even though I'm perfectly capable of living alone (and doing so quite happily) I very much want and need my husband, and that tiny moment is incredibly precious to me.

Posted by: Cass at September 24, 2008 02:14 PM

Cassie, you've mentioned "that moment" several times before, and each time, reading it touches me in a place that nothing else does. It's beautiful. And as a women who has lived on her own most of her adult life, it is things like that that I think of when I think of someday sharing my life with a husband.

Were I to paraphase you, I would say, "It's that even though I'm perfectly capable of living alone (and doing so quite happily), I very much want and need moments like that." I think most women do.

Oh, and sex. That, too. ;)

Posted by: FbL at September 24, 2008 03:31 PM

i wasnt saying that intimacy and such isnt possible, just saying that the norm before was separate beds... meanwhile, those people who were free to choose either (as shown by the person posting after me with anedote), worked out things their own way.

one of the famous revisionist proofs of a homosexual lincoln is a photo of him in bedcloths in a bed with other men.

then was not now, and now is not then.

the facts about the past do not prove or disprove the point of love. if no one in the past ever slept in a separate bed, and we do now, and if the reverse, it would nto be a reason or a point as key to our relationships.

it only becomes that when the practice is wrong for us... then whichever it is, brings problems and such. the heavy snorer couple in separate beds to better than the same in a small bed. its situational, and personal.

The one thing I look forward to at the end of each day is the brief moment, before we go to sleep, when I get to lay my head on my husband's chest and hear his heart beating. We don't talk.

mine is the opposite... we sleep separately in the same bed... (a solution half way between things). i cant stand the alarm and i always wake up before it. no matter what it is, i wake up within a few mins.

well, in the morning... about a half hour before the alarm... i scoot over and she turns and we lay there for 20 mins or so... half asleep, in heaven. we turn, and i get 5 or so mins... and when the alarm goes off, i turn and we face each other holding close...

we have only been married for two years (this week is our anniversary), but we arent lovey dovey... this is actually how we are...

that time in the morning is what its all about... and the guys that have signed off on marraige due to the feminits, are going to miss out... but then again, with the feminit trained average, they would miss out anyway.

no... love endures if its love...

when one knows the real thing, bed discussions are so silly. :)

Do You Love Me?

"Golde, I have decided to give Perchik permission to become engaged to our daughter, Hodel."

"What??? He's poor! He has nothing, absolutely nothing!"

"He's a good man, Golde.
I like him. And what's more important, Hodel likes him. Hodel loves him.
So what can we do?
It's a new world... A new world. Love. Golde..."

Do you love me?

Do I what?

Do you love me?

Do I love you?
With our daughters getting married
And this trouble in the town
You're upset, you're worn out
Go inside, go lie down!
Maybe it's indigestion

"Golde I'm asking you a question..."

Do you love me?

You're a fool

"I know..."

But do you love me?

Do I love you?
For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?

Golde, The first time I met you
Was on our wedding day
I was scared

I was shy

I was nervous

So was I

But my father and my mother
Said we'd learn to love each other
And now I'm asking, Golde
Do you love me?

I'm your wife

"I know..."
But do you love me?

Do I love him?
For twenty-five years I've lived with him
Fought him, starved with him
Twenty-five years my bed is his
If that's not love, what is?

Then you love me?

I suppose I do

And I suppose I love you too

It change a thing
But even so
After twenty-five years
It's nice to know

Posted by: artfldgr at September 24, 2008 03:37 PM

the scene www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_y9F5St4j0 its so much better than the lyrics...

Posted by: artfldgr at September 24, 2008 03:41 PM

I have to agree with FbL. I, too, am fully capable of being alone. That's how I have lived most of my life. But, I want so much to have someone to share it with, to have moments like that, where talking isn't required, to just be together. Unfortunately, I do not see a time when I will no longer be alone.

I know of many people who seem to have wonderful relationships with their spouses. I have to admit that I am envious. Not that I want someone else's man, but what it is that they have, that I don't...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at September 24, 2008 08:59 PM

Oh, and I forgot to mention this, re: sleeping in separate beds...

I think that, historically, is highly correlated to socioeconomic status. There was a time when "society" (both the aristocracy in Europe and the wealthy in America) had husbands and wives sleeping in separate beds in separate rooms. I think these marriages were more about money and social position than love. And proper ladies weren't supposed to enjoy having sex.

However, the actual working people didn't live a life where separate rooms and separate beds were even an option. For those working people close to the land (rural/farmers), the facts of life weren't so taboo.

And, maybe, I've read one too many historical romance novels?

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at September 24, 2008 10:41 PM

I think, Art, that perhaps a lot of this is personality dependent? And also a function of how long you've been married?

I've been married for nearly 3 decades. When we were first married, my husband was not so demonstrative. Like you (I would guess) he is reserved. I am more openly affectionate.

Over the years, we have compromised, which is what married people do. I learned to be happy with slightly less than perhaps I might want normally. He learned to be more openly demonstrative than is perhaps his natural state, and at least he says he is not unhappy about this. I know I am not unhappy. He doesn't appear to feel he's being forced - certainly I don't try to make him feel guilty. He does whatever he does from a desire to make me happy and I try to reciprocate by doing things I might not ordinarily do (if left to my own selfish desires), but that I know make him happy.

The neat thing is, we both learn to enjoy things we wouldn't have done, otherwise. We grow as people.

This, to me, is what is so cool about marriage.

Posted by: Cass at September 25, 2008 09:17 AM

All I know is, it's pretty hard for me to fall asleep if my wife is not in bed with me. It's why business trips suck.

Posted by: MikeD at September 25, 2008 10:38 AM

definitely cass, you get no arguments from me on that... i know that humans have always defined their lives the weay they wanted behind closed doors... its the feminits that claimed they knew in a nutshell all of them (all men are rapists, marraige is a comfortable gulag, etc)

the hard part is that with all these bad lessons of hwo we should be living around, everyone is more concerned with getting it right the way the public says, than getting it right for them. (social pressure of the leftist type dont help).

just to let you know... men become more feminine as they age, and women become more masculine...

i would guess from a evolutionary psychology theme, that such would have men and women knit over time till they match up very well...

there are so many bio facts taht are suppressed that i could bring up.. it would warm your heart.

my dad wasnt that affectinate, my mom changed him.. the family is affectionate... men like oxytocin too, they just dont want to lose their edge for nothing. :)

marraige is way cool... however, there are too many poisoned people to have the odds in your favor any more.

i also noted that you found the real capitalism in marraige.
He does whatever he does from a desire to make me happy and I try to reciprocate by doing things I might not ordinarily do (if left to my own selfish desires), but that I know make him happy.

which is very different than the left view. capitalism is the literal persuot of happiness.

wives trade the things they can give to husbands who are also trading. marx was right that the family unit is an economic one, his conclusions were wrong... but then again, he was not the kind to get the kind of reward from family that you or i get. bit of a sour apple he was.

i think what is even cooler abuot marraige is that the foibles you would look askance at become endearing qualities... (i remember the woman that wrote to anne landers in response to some femnazi. she wrote that her husband came home after working to exhaustion. and she would take his socks off, and so forth... sometimes he wouldnt make it to the bed. she chastised the halfwit by telling her, that she would gladly give her most valued posessions away to just take his socks off one more time since he died years ago).

marriage isnt a raw deal... not if you have committed sane people who can work things out, accept that things dont go their way all the time, and can have the ability to be happy.

when the harridens of harrasment get involved, they posion the whole thing like a nasty devil on the sholder...

Posted by: artfldgr at September 25, 2008 02:00 PM

"And most distressing of all, I read that the average married couple only has sex 66 times a year."

That is distressing. It means I'm only getting half the average. Thanks for ruining my day.

"The one thing I look forward to at the end of each day is the brief moment, before we go to sleep, when I get to lay my head on my husband's chest and hear his heart beating. We don't talk."

... and I don't get that action either. I have a great marriage (seriously), except for that "showing affection" part. Which is kinda important, IMO.

Posted by: suburban scarecrow at September 25, 2008 09:45 PM

It is important. Have you tried talking to her? Or maybe just holding her hand or something, or putting your arm around her? You might be surprised at her reaction.

Maybe try it a few times sometime when the two of you are relaxed, like on a weekend, or on vacation, and don't get discouraged too easily if she doesn't react right away. She might be nonplussed at first, but I'll bet she feels the same way you do. Women need visible signs of affection.

I have always been surprised how quickly things can get off track even in the best of relationships. You can be coasting along and suddenly someone says or does something wrong and both parties just kind of retreat into this defensive position that can be hard to break out of.

That is the hard part of being with someone you care about: they can really hurt you, often without even meaning to do so or knowing that they did something that bothered you.

I read somewhere, once, that when you are the most frightened of opening up - that is when you should make sure to let your defenses down. It's hard to do and you do risk getting hurt, but oddly enough when I've done it without any expectation of getting anything in return, I've never had anyone take advantage. I think people are fair if they understand that you're not trying to manipulate them.

Anyway, just a thought. You sound like such a nice guy :)

Posted by: Cass at September 25, 2008 10:11 PM

Thanks for your thoughts. I could be defensive, and say I've tried the things you suggest, but perhaps I need to try again, in a different manner or different place.

My wife just has never been the hugging and touching type, even when we were dating. I must admit that my reaction to her putting distance between us (physical distance) is to put more distance between us, both physical and emotional.

I guess I was brought up to believe that I'm the man, it's okay for me to be aloof and distant, waiting for the woman to open up emotionally before I can in turn open up to her. Perhaps I need to work on that attitude.

You are very perceptive, Cass. I wouldn't have thought I revealed so much with my flip off the cuff remark above.

Please understand that I'm not an unhappy man. I have a wonderful wife and family. I've been blessed in so many ways. Sometimes it just feels like there is a part missing that would make it perfect.

Posted by: Suburban Scarecrow at September 26, 2008 11:51 PM

I don't think any one person can ever fulfill everything we desire. That is just part of life - you get some things from one person and others from other friends, relatives, or lovers (assuming you're not married!)

Either way, I suspect you will always find a way to be happy :) I also suspect your wife is a very lucky woman.

Posted by: Cass at September 27, 2008 12:09 AM

No, one person can't fulfill everything we desire, but for physical intimacy, one is all I'm allowed. While fact checking your statistic of 66 times being average (surveys seem to indicate you're about right) I ran across this comment from a man that could have been me. It describes my situation almost perfectly (except I think I try harder than this guy):

" I have tried to communicate my physical need to have intimate relations at least once a week, and with her occasionally actually even initiating sex, but after the first week or so after the talk, it all goes back to normal. I feel like I am a fair communicator, and have on numerous instances, discussed my frustrations. I have read all of the women's stuff, about help out around the house, with the kids, etc., and I do this. Either my wife is an excellent actor, or she does really enjoy the sex, when I finally get tired of taking care of it myself, and give up on trying to see how long she would go without it if I didn't initiate. I don't understand how you can have a screaming orgasim [sic], and act like it is the greatest thing in the world, and then totally forget about it and not want to do it again before the calendar changes?"

So, back to me. Last night, which was a Friday, should have been a perfect opportunity for sex, I made sure I got in bed at the same time as her, but she didn't even want to talk in bed. Today we'll be busy with kid activities and other stuff that will keep us apart, so I can't work at the things you suggested earlier. She won't be back home until late tonight and she'll probably be tired, so it looks like another sexless weekend for us.

Boy I really sound pitiful, don't I? Maybe I need a hobby!

Posted by: suburban scarecrow at September 27, 2008 07:18 AM

No, not at all :)

Let me see if I can shed some light on this from a woman's point of view.

Just as men often have kind of a tough time switching gears from the way they have to behave at the office (i.e., restraining their emotions, being focused, disciplined and hardworking as opposed to lying on the sofa and drinking brewskis while they watch the Dallas cheerleaders bounce and jiggle, or worse; talking about their feeeeeeeelings :p), women with children often have a very hard time switching from "Mom" mode to what I used to call "Dance of the 7 Veils" mode.

Try this on for size. My kids are grown now, but I can guarantee you that this is how I used to feel when my kids were still at home. I thought about it a lot, by the way.

When I was a homemaker and Mom, it really bothered me at times that I felt pressure to (on the one hand) be this all-American and apple pie woman who was nurturing, kind, always gave unstintingly of herself 24/7 to her children, husband, and friends and generally be the paragon of womanly virtue. Because the thing is, although I believed all of those things were important, women have a real tendency to get so lost in taking care of others that (just as men do in a very different context) they lose sight of - and contact with - parts of themselves.

What men tend to do is get wrapped up in work to the extent that they can lose the ability to open up emotionally to their wives. They stop talking to us because if they went around emoting all day at work, they'd get eaten alive. They can't "switch gears" constantly from Sensitive New Age Guy mode to Corporate Tiger mode - it's just too draining.

But women do the same kind of thing. We, too, sometimes feel a bit constrained by even roles we willingly adopt and wholeheartedly believe in. I think this happens b/c both men and women are complex beings with more than one dimension to our personalities.

What women tend to do is suppress the adventurous, sexy, sensual, slightly hedonistic sides of our personalities, especially during the childbearing years. Part of this is conscious - we can't be good mothers if we are catting around in Victoria's Secret lingerie and thinking more about surprising our SO by giving him a blow job when he gets home from work than mashing up green beans for baby :p

And trust me - when I first got married, I would plan romantic little surprises to keep things interesting. But once you have kids, it is often hard enough for a woman to accept that she needs to put aside her own life and be a caretaker.

For me at least, it was actually a bit painful to be reminded of all the things I gave up to be a good wife and mother. While I did not resent my family, I simply found it easier to stay committed and focused on doing my job if I put myself in "Mommy mode" rather than "Scheherezade mode". I didn't want to think about the road not taken.

Anyway, I'll continue this thought in a moment.

Posted by: Cass at September 27, 2008 09:30 AM

Also, there is the attitude of society - both men and women - that sex is something the woman "gives" to the man. Now, for a woman who must be emotionally available to her kids 24/7, at the end of a long day, the last thing you want is to find out your "work day" didn't end at 5 pm - you are going to be asked to give just a big more before you can go to sleep!

And honestly, unless a man can somehow convey to his wife that he genuinely cherishes her and - most importantly - that he views sex as a means of giving love to her, and not as 'getting laid' then she will tend to worry on some unconscious level that maybe she is being taken advantage of?

The problem between men and women is that women tend to desire emotional intimacy and men tend to avoid that like the plague. Our needs are so much stronger in this regard, that even when a man THINKS he is being supportive and emotionally available, his wife may in fact feel rejected.

Likewise, most men tend to desire sexual intimacy to a greater degree than women do. And so, even though the woman may think, "Hey, I never say no to him and we have sex X times a week", the man is thinking "Is this all there is? Because I wanted so much more."

And there is a solution to this.

Women need to understand that, for the most part, their husbands are not trying to take advantage of them by wanting sex - that it is a legitimate emotional need men have, and they are deeply, deeply hurt (though of course they don't show it) when a woman doesn't seem to welcome their sexual advances.

But men need to understand that a woman absolutely MUST feel loved, cherished, and that the man is committed to her emotionally - in fact, she has to feel close to him - before she is truly able to open up sexually and give him what he wants.

In many ways, it's a catch 22. Men won't give us all the affection we want until we give them the sex they want (which, by the way, includes evidence that we enjoy sex with them), but women don't tend to fully enjoy sex or want it as much as the man until they get the affection and emotional intimacy they need.

I think both men and women have to work very hard to understand each others differences.

Women *so* need to learn not to put all their eggs in one emotional basket.

It is SO unfair to expect your husband to act like your best girlfriend or provide all the emotional support in your life. Grow up and get some friends and an independent life of your own! He's a man. Men don't talk about their feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelings and endlessly rehash things the way women do, so try to save that crap for your girlfriend Wanda :p Of course sometimes you will forget and it's OK to talk about your feelings sometimes (after all, you're married) but in general, let him be a man.

But men need to realize that although their idea of an intimate conversation may well be "How about those Bears?", occasionally issues come up that need to be discussed, and they don't go away if you ignore them (though relationships often do). Men also need to honest about the fact that they often do rely on their wives to manage the people side of life (including the marriage).

If men don't commit as much time and attention to the health of their marriage as they do to their relationships with their business partner or people their hardly know, they're telling her that she is less important in their eyes than relative strangers. Naturally, when time comes to have sex, she is going to withdraw.

After all, you (in her eyes at least) told her she wasn't important and now you want something from her.

I fully realize men prioritize things differently. But honestly, work comes higher up for many men than home life and women take that on board. And it hurts to know that for us, our husband and kids are our whole world but for him, we are only a small part of his world and he forgets us as soon as the front door slams in the morning. It takes a strong woman to continue giving of herself fully, given this realization. And she has to have her own life to balance out his life outside the home, even if she's a homemaker. But that outside life is precisely what most women give up when they marry, and I think it's what makes many of us withdraw in the bedroom - it's an unconscious defense mechanism. Men want to conquer and overwhelm us, and we're maybe saying, "Look buddy - if you want me to play this role, then I will play it because I love you. But there are limits, and you just ran up against one."

The only way you overcome that inherent tension is with love, patience, and a lot of communication.

Neither party gets to have it all their way - just as women need to try and be less emotional at times, men need to try and open up a bit and be there for their wives. Often, if she trusts you'll be there for her if she really needs you, she won't make an issue of it all the time.

Posted by: Cass at September 27, 2008 10:04 AM


Thanks for that. It's a lot to absorb and I will give it some thought and consideration

Posted by: suburban scarecrow at September 27, 2008 10:34 AM