I have been with my partner for 5 years and we have a beautiful 2 year old daughter together.
A few things happened to me all at once around the time I found out I was pregnant.
I was made redundant and I had just bought a house, we had also moved to an area where I have no friends or family around me.
At this time I felt very stressed, depressed, anxious, alone and of course hormonal!
I went completely off sex and began to resent my partner for putting me in a difficult situation (moving to a different location) which was purely for his benefit.
I put this down to the stress and my pregnancy.
However the problem is that I have never recovered and still feel the same over 2 years later!
I feel no attraction to my partner anymore and the majority of the time I don't even feel that I like him as a person.
He is a good man and tries his best but I have absolutely no feelings towards him like I used to and I have even started thinking about other men.
The lack of intimaacy has of course upset him and instead of making excuses like I normally do I recently told him that I simply don't want sex anymore and don't feel like I ever will again.
He hasn't spoken to me for 2 days now.
My question is really - what do I do?
Is this something that can happen during pregnancy/after baby or have I simply gone off him?
Is there anything I can do to resurrect our relationship?
Are my feelings a good enough reason to call off the relationship?
I don't think they are considering we have a child. Help!
Let’s start with your questions.
Yes. The demise of a couple’s sexual relationship often starts with the first child’s arrival. Parenthood is uncharted territory; new parents need security and stability through connections yet I note your pregnancy coincided with many losses and instabilities. The resentments mentioned will have eroded any close connection with your partner.
Women are programmed to have a strong physiological response to infants. It’s a sort of replacement joy and pleasure as we fall in love with our babies, caressing, smelling and staring entranced for hours ... just as we once did with our partner! Biologically this ensures the baby’s survival but, for some, it can temporarily impact the adult intimate bond, especially sexually. You also mention depression and anxiety as part of the mix; these definitely affect desire and orgasm. Maybe a visit to your GP would be advised.
You ask have you gone off him? This needs investigating with regard to the whole relationship, not just sexually. Some common pointers to having lost feeling for your partner are:
- Thinking about other men, colleagues, friends or old flames.
- Nit-picking small annoyances until you could scream at him.
- Regularly thinking your feelings will return ... after Christmas ... after weaning ... after anything-else-you-can-conjure-up in the hope the feeling is transitory.
I’m curious. Although you say your partner tries hard, I suspect he’s not really understood the effect of the move on you and has avoided addressing it, not knowing how to deal with your upset. I also suspect that, when sex waned, he didn’t tell you how much he missed feeling close to you but termed it in critical words that sounded like a demand for something YOU weren’t giving HIM. So probably his communication hasn’t helped.
In fact, once you had the courage speak out, he retreated helplessly into silence, again probably because he doesn’t know what to say or where to start. That’s sad.
So, no, I don’t think your description of the problem is a good enough reason to call off the relationship, yet.
Why? Because you have a child? Yes, but also because you haven't tried to find a starting place and to learn what to say and how to listen to each other. Difficult conversations, yes, because your statement about sex has opened up a chasm between you. However, that chasm may be just what you need right now! Esther Perel, a couples expert, talks about needing a distance, or separateness, in order to see our partners afresh as unconnected individuals, which was what you two once were.
Re-connection and a new, better, relationship could beckon. So, I encourage you to take that difficult conversation further and ask him - how did what I said affect you? Can we talk about the last few years? If he suggests counselling, great! The relationship is of value to him. A good counsellor won’t try to persuade you to stay but will facilitate a process of positive listening and responding to help you make decisions.
Please don’t find just any counsellor. Find a counsellor with qualifications and experience in couple work and sexual issues. Start with either Relate, the relationship experts or COSRT the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists.
Mig Bennett is a fully qualified relationship counsellor specialising in relationship problems, sexual issues and sex addiction. She has over 25 years of experience, both in her own private practice – Mig Bennett Relationship Counselling (www.migbennettrelationshipcounselling.co.uk) and Relate.
Contact Mig at [email protected]
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