You are currently browsing all posts tagged with 'intimacy'.

Suspicious in St. Clair Shores

  • Posted on March 20, 2016 at 3:20 pm

Dear Christine,

My husband and I are very active in the LGBT community.  Our daughter came out years ago and we fully supported her and we have been involved in our local PFLAG, marched in parades and made many friends in the community. We are almost as involved as if we were members of the community.  Perhaps too involved.  Though we are close friends, we don’t feel like a married couple anymore. I’m actually worried that my husband is now leading a double life.  He’s become very close to one of our gay male friends and I’m suspicious.  We haven’t been intimate in over 3 years.

I  brought it up last night and it didn’t go well.  My intention was to plan a romantic dinner and try and get our intimacy back.  When I realized he was avoiding my attempts I confronted him about our friend and he just got angry and walked away.  We haven’t spoken since.  He won’t talk to me at all!! Should I have reason to worry? 

Signed, Suspicious in St. Clair Shores

Dear Suspicious,

I think it’s important to trust your gut feelings, but you need to check them with reality.  To assume means to make an ASS out of U and ME.  I wish that you had sat your husband down for an honest conversation about your marriage minus any romantic dinner first.  In that conversation, it’s helpful to make “I” statements rather than “you” statements.  It’s your safest ground, to speak of your feelings, your needs, what you’ve noticed you no longer get from your marriage.  Then, ask him what his experience of the marriage is, listening on many levels, not just to the words.

Stay away from the “we” statements, even if it seems silly.  A good start is to say what you did:  “I don’t feel married anymore.”  Try not to say “we haven’t had sex in 3 years” but rather “I miss being intimate with you.  I realized the other day that it’s been 3 years since I’ve felt that closeness with you.”  Yes, having sex takes two (well, not always) but each of you needs to speak for your own self, not for the couple, or he’s going to feel like you are speaking for him and that may trigger more resistance.

After you both have had a chance to express your observations, feelings and needs, then is the time to ask a question.  Which question depends on what was said by each of you.  Starting with an accusation, which BTW begins with that “you” statement, puts him on the defensive, cornering him into denial, no matter what is going on.

Try psychotherapy if he won’t talk to you again.  Perhaps a neutral party could help the two of you restore communication and figure out what is going on and what you both want moving forward.  If he won’t go to therapy with you, try going alone.  You need support in figuring out how to approach your marriage and some communication tools would be helpful as well.  Good luck to you.

Christine Cantrell, PhD


Freaked Out in Fenton

  • Posted on October 18, 2015 at 11:41 am

Dear Christine,   

I am dating an amazing woman.  We met just 2 months ago at the Womyn’s Music Festival.   Maybe I’m just overly sensitive to this as my family rarely showed any physical affection but I am really freaked out about my girlfriend’s odd relationship with her brother.   When we’ve been out with him people often think they are a couple and not us!  When he is at our house they seem to have no boundaries when it comes to even private bathroom time.   I’ve made some subtle remarks and she just says her whole family is that way.   I had always wished for a closer family but this stuff is way over the top.  Is this normal for some families?  We are visiting her family for Thanksgiving which will be the first time meeting them.  Perhaps I’ll see how that goes before I make a decision. 

Signed, Freaked out in Fenton


Dear Freaked Out,

Boundaries are critical to a successful relationship.  Understanding and accepting each other’s boundaries provides emotional and physical safety for intimacy to grow and deepen. But individual needs of boundaries can be very different.  Think of the Saturday Night Live recurring skit of Virginia and Roger Klarvin, (played by Rachel Dratch and Will Farrell) insist on being overly affectionate in social situations and dominate the conversation about sex and their expanded boundaries, making everyone else uncomfortable.  It’s great fodder for comedy, as we all have been on one side or the other!

You don’t have to have the same open boundaries as your girlfriend and her family, but you do have to be comfortable around them when you visit.  There may be ways to do that without breaking up.  You might need to stay in a hotel and be at the family house for limited times during the visit.  Think about your needs and comfort, share those with your girlfriend.  If any of your needs are non-negotiables, please make that abundantly clear, as that may be what helps you decide if this relationship is for you or not.  Non-negotiables are those things that you have to have or cannot have to be in the relationship.  Don’t compromise on your needs.

I remember working with a couple long ago.  The husband’s mother would come into their bedroom and climb into bed with them when they visited her home.  The wife found this creepy and uncomfortable, but the husband thought it was normal.  Later, this differing definitions of boundaries was one of several non-negotiables that the wife had tried to ignore to stay married.  They eventually divorced.

Your number one job is to take care of you and your needs.  Likewise, your girlfriend needs to take care of her self and her needs.  What’s left over is what you create a relationship with.  If she’s undermining your needs, it doesn’t bode well for a future together.

Happy Thanksgiving, where ever you celebrate it.

Christine Cantrell, PhD