Q: I’ve been married for 24 years, and although we’ve faced many challenges with our relationship, I now feel my husband and I are at breaking point. A lack of intimacy has become an issue. We never talk about things that really matter. We discuss issues relating to our finances, children and parents, but to talk to him about what I’m thinking or my concerns is impossible. I find my physical response to him is lessened because we rarely get to be close. He’s a good man, a responsible, loving husband and father, but can our marriage survive when we have so little emotional intimacy?
A: You face perhaps the most common marriage problem for women. But it doesn’t mean the end of your marriage. Women are more oriented toward relationships and feelings, and have greater sensitivity to the emotional health of a relationship, so if you are sensing that a lack of intimacy is impacting your marriage, you’re probably right. But as a female, you were created to be the keeper of the relationship flame.
You can do a number of things, and talking to your husband about the problem isn’t one. In ignorance, he’s likely to brush off your concerns, which makes you more desperate. Subtlety is needed.
Women often make a mistake in thinking that all their emotional needs can and should be met by their male partner. This places a responsibility upon men that they’re not equipped to handle. Their way of working through emotions, such as disappointment, anger or confusion, is often physical. Women find relief in talking about what bothers them. That’s why it’s essential for you to have female friends who understand this way of dealing with emotions. I’m not suggesting you stop sharing with your husband, but I am recommending that you find a good friend or mentor who will listen to you and give wise advice.
Further, focus on the good aspects of your relationship. Build your friendship with your husband by doing things together. This will often lead to a surprising sense of closeness.
It seems that your husband is providing for the family in the best way he can. Remember, he’s also possibly been brought up to demonstrate his love in this tangible way, rather than through being sensitive to emotional needs.
No one person can meet all the needs of another. Acceptance, compromise and grace are essential in marriage. None of us, no matter our gender, are the perfect partner in every way.