Married, But No Longer in an Intimate Relationship

Dear Neil: Some people decide to not have sex with their spouse. So why do these same people get upset when their husband or wife has sex with someone else?

Not Sure I Understand

Dear Not Sure: Some people have negative associations with sex. Although they desire to be married, they don’t desire sex, or they’ve given up on having a close erotic relationship. Other people may enjoy sex, but for a variety of reasons withhold it. They may be punishing their partner to make a point or to settle a score. Perhaps the relationship has grown distant and disconnected, and they no longer feel close enough to want sex. They may be married, but they’re no longer in an intimate relationship.

But add another sexual partner to this mix, and you have a potentially explosive situation. This is because your spouse most probably assumes you belong to him or her—and would feel that another lover would violate the relationship and would therefore be grounds to hang you for treason. (Maybe I’m exaggerating, maybe I’m not.)

If one person withdraws sex, very often his/her partner will not give up romance and sexual desire—he or she will simply go elsewhere to get it. If you wish to avoid this scenario, don’t let romance, connection and eroticism fade from your relationship. And if it does, confront it forcefully, and do everything you can to assist the two of you in reconnecting.

Dear Neil: What if your man is mean to you and treats you disrespectfully so you just don’t feel like having sex? It’s a turn-off when the man I’m in a five-year relationship with talks trash to me like he doesn’t care. I love him, but recently I’ve been telling him that I don’t want to be with him anymore. It hurts when the person you love treats you badly.

Sad in North Carolina

Dear Sad: The quickest way to cut your sex life down to nothing is to belittle your partner. If I say “I love you” but then call you an angry or belittling name, you have been given good reason to question my love and the sincerity of my words. We expect people who like and love us to hold us in high esteem. Those that don’t communicate that they don’t really value us—and feeling devalued is the ultimate turn-off.

It is time you let your boyfriend know what will succeed and what will fail with you. If he can’t honor what is important to you, he is not the right man for you.

Dear Neil: My sister-in-law has all these excuses why she can’t work. She takes money from my elderly mother-in-law and has children that the state pays for. I want to know why she feels entitled to an elderly person’s income and a free ride from the government.

Fed Up in Florida

Dear Fed Up: Some people use assistance to get on their feet or to jump-start their lives, and others just game the system. The bigger question is about how you can stop your sister-in-laws’ sense of entitlement. There are essentially two types of people who feel entitled: those that are embarrassed they’re on the take and are motivated to get back on their feet as soon as they can, and those who will take a free ride as long as they can. If your sister-in-law is in the first category, somebody in the family might help her explore how she might take control over her life. If she fits the second description, she will be resistant to any changes.

If your mother-in-law is giving money to her daughter, there is nothing you can do. But if the daughter is stealing, you could call social services and report her for elderly abuse.

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