Dying for affection

Joey Garcia

My wife and I recently moved closer to my two biological children because I want to spend more time with them (I am in a huge custody battle over this). We both work, but I do housework and transport the kids. She wants to have more children, so I got my vasectomy reversed. The problem is that she doesn’t show any affection toward me, and she brushes off my affection. We do not have sex at all. I wonder if she is burnt out from work or if there is something deeper. She suggested counseling. I told her to make a list of her issues, so I can know what is on the table. It’s been almost a month, and there’s no list. I’m dying for her affection and love. Am I the problem? Or is it her?

Neither of you is the problem, but each of you may have behaviors that contribute to this marital dis-ease. Rather than trying to assign blame, let’s attempt to untangle the mess. I think it’s reasonable to ask your wife for a list of her concerns. But be certain that your request is inspired by a desire to address her worries and not just an effort to prepare arguments to refute her. Resolving marital conflict is about deepening the bond of love between you, not winning or being right. So, practice standing up for yourself (by speaking honestly and lovingly) without defending yourself (fighting against opportunities to change). Allow your most vulnerable self to speak: “I’m really sad that we are not physically intimate right now. I miss you.” This tender approach touches the heart. If her response is harsh, say only this: “I just wanted you to know how I feel.”

It’s possible that your wife feels threatened by your children. Communication is already a problem, so be certain to keep her informed about your custody plans. With willingness on your part, and on hers, you can move through this painful period and into a more open, peaceful partnership (with sex!).

I’m 31 and shy. I initiate contact with a woman only after she indicates interest. My last long-term relationship ended about six years ago. Now, I never get past four dates. In the last few years, I’ve dated five women. One was on the rebound and returned to the person she left. Another was dating someone else simultaneously, who asked her to stop seeing me. Two others simply stopped returning my calls. The woman I’m now dating seems romantically interested on the phone, but her body language in person says otherwise. I don’t know if I’m putting out a weird vibe or if I’m not assertive enough to make my interest clear. Can you help?

Yes! Dating is difficult! It’s even more so if you hope to find a partner who shares your values, who communicates well and works through conflicts with you, who shares hobbies or other interests and who is attracted to you (as you must be to them). That said, consider asking a female friend for input. For example, you might be fun on the phone, but in person, you might complain about everything—without realizing it. Or, maybe you read too much into phone conversations and come on too strong in person.

Remember, finding a partner is partly a numbers game (if you meet enough people, eventually someone is compatible), partly about growing up (relationships reveal unhealed childhood issues and invite mending) and partly a great mystery.

I suggest exploring your fear of rejection. After all, if you’re waiting for someone to show interest, you might miss someone who is waiting for a sign from you.

Meditation of the week
“Let us hope and pray that the vast intelligence, imagination, honor and courage of Americans will not fail us. Either we learn a new language of empathy and compassion, or the fire this time will consume us all,” said Cornel West, an author, educator and icon. Is your heart open wide enough to forgive?

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