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March 26, 2007 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
I need help in the initiating sex department. I am 35 and married with three children. I have been married for 16 years and my husband has always done the initiating.
Now he says he will not initiate and will hold out on me until I initiate. For some reason I am not sure what to do. We are not big kissers (he chews Skoal) so I never know whether he has a chew in or not-so we don't kiss very often at all.
Please help--my marriage is in trouble.
You are in a serious power struggle. Now your husband has resorted to using his penis as a power tool!
Your husband, like most men, isn't telling you how he feels. He's expressing his anger through action--setting up a power struggle.
As I explain in my book, to the unconscious mind sex signifies far more than a simple act of procreation. Sex is often seen as synonymous with love. In order to break the struggle, you need to do more than initiate sex. You need to understand the feelings that are fueling the power struggle.
I will tell you that on the outermost layer he's feeling angry. Behind the anger is a feeling of hurt. He's hurt because he feels that your lack of initiative says that you don't love and desire him as much as he loves you. Talk to him and ask him if I'm right that he reads your lack of initiative as a sign that you don't love him.
Reassure him that this isn't so. Tell him that your shyness isn't about him. It's about your own sense of inadequacy and not knowing what to do. Ask him to guide you on how he would like you to initiate sex. Let him tell you what he needs and do that.
I have a feeling that your conveying a willingness to give him what he wants (to make the first move) will create on a deep emotional level the feeling that you really do love him. When he gets the right feeling from you, I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover that he no longer needs you to make the initiative.
This is because his wanting you to make the initiative is really only a cover for the real problem--that he isn't feeling loved and wanted. So when you cut to the chase and give him the feeling he needs, he probably will not be so hung up on your making the first move any more.
"If anger and fighting are ruining your dream of a happy marriage, Dr. Turndorf’s conflict resolution program is for you."
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Author of NY Times #1 bestseller Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus
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Pulitzer Prize winning author and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
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