It’s the small stuff that is killing intimacy with your partner

Some questions are difficult to answer. That is what raced through my mind as Julia sat in front of me in the consultation room explaining her medical situation.

“So you see, I have done everything that a woman can do to please this man but he never seems to be satisfied,” she explained, “he wouldn’t touch me, we last had sex six months ago, what exactly does a man want doctor? Tell me, how do you please a man?”

It all started when Julia’s husband came home one day and found her with her women friends chatting. He had been warning her to stop her friendship with ‘those women’ but Julia found it unreasonable. He claimed that the women were ill-mannered and made life difficult for their husbands; that they would poison Julia and make her marriage toxic.

And so when the man found Julia’s friends in the house it became a big deal. They had a heated argument after the women left. Julia’s position was that she was mature enough to determine the destiny of her marriage and did not depend on strangers for advice. Albert, her husband, could hear none of it and complained that Julia had grown “a big head” and was being disrespectful by not taking his instructions.

“From that day he has never touched me,” Julia explained.

Julia tried pleasing the man in many ways: cooked good food called him sweet names, washed and ironed his clothes, all to no avail. She got worried and decided to come to the clinic for help.

“It is frustrating,” she lamented. We agreed to have the man come to the clinic for couple counseling. “Well, I just have no feelings for her,” Albert explained when he came to the clinic, “It just went and I can’t help it.”

There was something peculiar about this couple which is common with couples in sexless marriages: they spend all the time and energy choosing the right partner which culminates in a grand wedding but have no clue on how to keep the relationship going; and especially how to build intimacy over the years. In many marriages, the wedding marks the beginning of the end and many a couple regret settling with the wrong person. Emotional withdrawal quickly sets in, communication becomes troubled, sex fails and in no time people start thinking of divorce.

Incidentally, Albert had gone to the extent of secretly buying and using the blue pill. When men are in troubled relationships they many times rush into buying the pill to maintain erections. Emotionally they are however not connected and so the sex becomes a very mechanical act.

“Well, I just thought it would reawaken the love I used to have for Julia,” Albert said.

To maintain passion, couples need to be attached to a love mentor after marriage until they can take care of each other. What causes the death of love is not the big problem but the actual day-to-day mismanagement of life’s small things. Those things that you consider petty are the big deal.

So forget all those talks of mothers-in-law, finances, infidelity, etc. Those grand issues arise from the petty stuff.

I liked the way one couple put it: “I told her to shower before coming to bed but she just brushed it off!” And the woman replied: “he just can’t learn to arrange his shoes in the shoe rack! It annoyed me and I said I would not listen to him about the showering.” Thereafter started hurting each other and reported each other to their mothers who in turn started interfering with the relationship.

Yes, it is those small things that matter. Like insisting on having the whole family on the dinner table when the soap opera is going on, or changing the channel to watch football when she wants to watch the wedding show. One thing just leads to another and bogs down the emotional well. The result is resentment. Once resentment sets in, you are done! You will be unusually harsh to each other, you will lack sexual feelings, and you will subconsciously work to hurt each other. Loss of sexual feelings for each other is a common symptom when things have progressed too far. Some men even lose their erections in the process. Irrespective of how many blue pills one swallows under such circumstances, the intimacy problem does not go away.

Julia and Albert went through counseling and intimacy coaching. It took over three months to reawaken their emotions. The process involved forgiving each other for the petty mistakes.

“But the greatest lesson for us has been that we should not take the small concerns expressed by our spouses for granted,” Julia explained, “even the friends we have and the time we spend talking to them can be an issue for our partners.”

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