For the past few years, physical intimacy with my wife creeps me out. I think I've figured out why. Now what? (long post follows, sorry!)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (54 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Background: We've been married 5 years. It's been great except for physical intimacy (anything beyond holding hands and hugging).
We've known each other since high school, but only dated about a year before we got married. The physical stuff was great (No problems making out, plenty of great sex, etc.) until about 2 years into our marriage. . Then the weirdness set in.
For reasons unknown (besides the usual "honeymoon's over" thing-- no kids, big life changes, extra stressors, etc.), we turned a corner in our physical relationship. Suddenly sex dropped off sharply (once or twice a year, no exaggeration), and she seemed to lose all interest in kissing and foreplay. For the record, I am not an intercourse-only type guy-- kissing and foreplay are their own rewards for me, and I am fine with engaging in them with no expectation of sex.
Through couples counseling, we came to attribute her diminished interest to two main things: she was on a heavy dose of Zoloft (bingo!) and she was raised in a highly stressful environment (constant screaming fights between her parents, a physically abusive brother) where physical affection was almost non-existent.
We're following the shrink's advice (which includes switching to a new medication) about her piece of this puzzle, but through my own soul-searching and being extra attentive to my own feelings, I have come to a troubling realization: I think I am sabotaging her efforts with a hangup of my own.
About the same time she began to "cool down" sexually, I realized (somewhat unconsciously at first) that she has a quirk that I find to be a big turnoff. Although she is a very beautiful woman, she's somewhat awkward, bordering on clumsy.
No, wait--she is clumsy. If there's a liquid-filled glass near her, she will knock it over about 50% of the time. She's constantly bumping into or tripping over things. She even hurts me from time to time with her clumsiness (knocking me in the head with her elbow as she sits down, dropping heavy stuff on my foot, breaking dishes for me to step on). She dances like a robot with a stick up its ass (and no, not because she's trying to do The Robot). When she walks around our house, it's like she's trying to pound holes into the floor with her heels. If it's hot, she will burn herself with it. Her driving is a series of lurches-- either punching the gas or the brake, jerky turns of the wheel, etc. She's also killed a couple of the few close moments we've had by burping into my mouth, coughing in my face, or falling out of bed while shifting positions.
Nothing (that we can determine) is physically wrong with her that would account for her clumsiness. She's just not very graceful or coordinated, and this translates as unsexy at times. A close moment now has me on guard for the clumsy move that's going to ruin it. In fact, it's to the point where kissing her hello or goodbye makes my skin crawl.
I feel really guilty feeling this way. She has a lot more to deal with than I do psychologically, and I feel really petty picking up on something like this. I love this woman to death, and when she's not moving she's a real turn-on physically. But Jesus, if there's a way to do something clumsily, she'll find it. We've acknowledged her lack of physical grace jokingly-- I'm not a dick to her about it or anything-- but my big fear is that she ever works through her own issues regarding our intimacy, I'll be stuck with my own hangup in this department.
I'm no Mikhail Baryshnikov myself, and I don't pretend that my sexual appeal leaves her breathless with desire. But I'd like to think I'm basically the same guy she married (who, I'm assuming, she was attracted to). Realizing how her clumsiness bothers me, though, has me terrified that we're stuck in a gridlock with her (very understandable) issues and mine (not so understandable for me) keeping everything awkward.
I know this sounds like a common marital thing-- you pick up on your mate's idiosyncrasies and they proceed to drive you nuts. But if there's a way to either reduce her clumsiness or mitigate how much it bugs me, it would be one less thing we have to worry about in getting our intimacy back on track. I'd feel really mean bringing this up-- she can't help it, after all-- but I will, preferably in a counseling environment, if it will help.
Any insights into my situation?