On an unhappy marriage.

Dear Coquette,

I’m not attracted to my husband anymore. I don’t respect him anymore, either. We’ve been married for four years, we’re in our 20s and we don’t have any kids. I realize that the fire fades, and that it’s hard if not impossible to keep up a rocking sex life consistently and long-term, but I actually feel mild disgust at the prospect of having sex with him. Intimacy is pretty much shot, and when we do have sex it’s just “going through the motions.” Is there any way to get attraction back? Is there any way for me to respect him again? Or does that stuff only exist in fiction and should I be happy that I’m with someone who cares enough to make dinner and ask about my day?

Damn, girl. How much weight did he gain? Not that it matters, I suppose. The real problem isn’t that you no longer want to have sex with your husband. It’s that you don’t respect him anymore. That’s ugly stuff. You can fall in and out of love over the course of a marriage, but once you’ve lost respect, it’s pretty much impossible to bounce back.

I get it. It’s rough out there for a young married couple. Life started beating both of you down, but instead of finding strength in one another, you found fault in each other’s weaknesses. Based on your tone, I’m guessing this isn’t the result of any infidelity or emotional abuse. This is just a garden-variety case of your husband’s emasculation followed by a vicious circle of mutual resentment that festered into disrespect. After all, you can’t respect a man who doesn’t respect himself.

This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that everything’s gonna work out, but I’m not the type to blow smoke. Unless you both work together at putting fresh energy into yourselves and your relationship, you’re probably gonna end up getting a divorce. There’s a small chance you’ll find a way to hit the reset button on your marriage, but whatever happens, you’ll be starting from scratch. It’s going to be difficult.

The only thing I can suggest you do is talk to your husband about how you feel. Find out how he’s been feeling. Try a little couples counseling if you need a referee. Make a plan to change things together and give it an honest shot. If your marriage doesn’t improve, do what you gotta do.

Oh, and one more thing. Whatever else happens, don’t get pregnant. You’ve got no business bringing kids into this situation until you know how it’s going to play out.


One thought on “On an unhappy marriage.

  1. Chris says:

    100% solid advice. I’ve been married 12 years, and we’ve had hard times that we got through together because there was a sense of respect for one another. Additionally, we always have each other’s back. I don’t care if my wife is wrong about something – we can have that out privately – no one is going to come between us or make it that we think less of the other.

    I think you’re right about life beating them down. There was a point in our late 20’s that my wife had to reintroduce me to some things I used to believe/say, and it helped me re-evaluate the direction I was heading.

    Lastly, my wife recently began working, which added a fantastic new layer of perspective as she’s seeing what it’s like out in the world, how troubled many people’s relationships are, etc. I felt like we were going strong already, but she’s said multiple times how lucky she feels to have me.

    It’s all relative.

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