"My husband has changed over the years from a happy, kind man into someone I don't recognise."
My husband has changed over the years from a happy, genuinely kind man into someone I don’t recognise. He constantly puts me down and rarely gives me compliments, yet still expects sex. My reaction is to think ‘Why should I have sex with him? What’s he done that’s nice for me?’. The end result is that we have stopped having sex and the tension has got even worse. I don’t know what to do to fix either our sex life or our relationship.
You can’t have great sex if you’re permanently angry at your partner. Sex is about generosity: you both have to like each other in order to enthusiastically give each other pleasure. If you see your husband as the enemy, why would you want to open your heart and other parts to him?
If he’s constantly attacking you, your self-esteem is in tatters and you feel undermined and bad about yourself. Solve the relationship issues first by seeing a good counsellor (see the ‘therapy’ box at the end) or having a long overdue honest talk, deciding first what you want to say and how you’re going to say it. Think back to when you were both happy and your husband was the nice man you fell in love with. There’s often one issue that didn’t get dealt with which festers over time.
You are angry with him but he also sounds pretty angry with you too! What changed him or what happened to make him turn from kind to critical? If something happened that didn’t get talked about or solved, trivial things become super-annoying and further toxic feelings get lumped on top, masking the initial problem and piling up until all that was good is buried. Clearing the air with a good chat will shovel away all the superfluous stuff until you find the root cause. Don’t approach it by saying ‘You’re horrible to me and that’s why I don’t want to have sex with you’, say ‘Honey, we used to be so happy and we’re not anymore. Can we have a good chat to find out what’s gone wrong because I really do love you and want both of us to be happy again’. Tell him what you think might have happened and what you need from him to fall back in love but also really listen to what he has to say as well.
Remember, you’ve had time to think things through and he hasn’t, so ask him if he needs time to compose his thoughts before you have the big chat. If there’s too much pent-up emotion for you to get through this together, a good counsellor can mean the difference between getting your marriage back on track and the end of it.