Wendy Olsen, MFT, answers all the relationship questions you were dying to ask, but just couldn’t muster up the courage to. You can email questions to editor@southseattleemerald
Q1)I’ve been involved with my boyfriend for over two years, but he still seems hesitant to commit to me. I’ve been very patient with him, however I’ve given him every indication that if he doesn’t soon show that he wants to take us to the next level (ask me to move in, engagement, at least allow me to leave his toothbrush over his house) then it might be time for both of us to move on. He doesn’t seem to be getting the hint though. Is it time for me to give him an explicit ultimatum?
Wendy: It is always best to be very clear with a partner about what your expectations in the relationship are. It sounds like it’s time that you had the conversation with him about where you want the relationship to go. Men aren’t mind readers (neither are women.) Don’t assume he knows anything that you haven’t stated very clearly. He may want something very different from you and you need to know what the differences may be. You also have to be willing to let the relationship go if you know he’ll never meet your expectations. If you stay and don’t get what you want, you’ll spend your life resenting him and feeling disappointed. Know what your “bottom line” is and maintain it.
Q2) Me and my wife are recently married. Everything has been great, except for the sex. She was a virgin before we were married due to her religious beliefs, so I’m much more experienced than she is. Most of the time sex with her is either like directing traffic or being on top of a dead fish. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife very much but I’m just not being fulfilled sexually. I’m scared to have a conversation with her about it, as I fear she might be ashamed. How do I bring up that perhaps we can try and learn “different” things in the bedroom?
Wendy: Unfortunately, many people don’t have conversations about sex and what they want or expect sexually prior to having sex with a partner. This problem doesn’t fix itself without communication. I suggest you try talking with her from the perspective of a loving husband that is concerned that his wife isn’t enjoying their sex life. If you can begin talking with her about what she enjoys or doesn’t enjoy in love making. There’s an old expression, “sex starts in the kitchen” meaning that there is a ramp up to sexually activity prior to intercourse. Foreplay, foreplay, foreplay. Not just kissing and cuddling immediately following intercourse, but checking in with her, asking about her day, helping around the house, noticing her, etc. These are the things that women report draws them closer to their partners. Feeling loved and secure are powerful aphrodisiacs.
Q3) I’ve been a married for the last 17 years and while I’ve enjoyed being married to my husband, the doldrums have long ago set in. I’m not thinking about a divorce, mainly for our children, however I’ve been propositioned by a colleague of mine to begin a purely physical relationship. I know that it might not be the most responsible thing, but I enjoy his advances and it brings some freshness to my life. Is it wrong to be a little wild and begin something with this guy, as long as I keep it compartmentalized from the rest of my life?
Wendy: Right or wrong isn’t a question that I can answer for you. What I can tell you is that if you decide to have a sexual relationship outside of your marriage, their is a price you have to be willing to pay. Is your marriage worth risking? (Studies show that when a woman cheats, there is a 7Xs more likely chance the marriage will end in divorce.) There is no guarantee that the new relationship will remain purely physical. There is no way to guarantee that your new relationship will remain “compartmentalized.” The other thing people don’t consider when carrying on another relationship, is that there is a lot of work in keeping a secret. Don’t get me wrong, sex with a new partner can be incredibly fun. But, you have what I’ll call “extenuating circumstances.” Your comment in regards to wanting freshness in your life is also understood. My question to you is, why not explore that avenue with your husband? Many couples need a revamp in the bedroom after years together. Being noticed by someone else certainly can be alluring. But, keep in mind that the newness in all relationships wears off. You have invested a lot of love and time into your marriage. You have to decide if sex on the side is worth the potential cost, whether or not your husband finds out.
Wendy Olsen is a Marriage & Family Therapist, specializing in Sex Therapy. You can find more of her advice at http://www.talk2wendyolsen.com