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Q: How can I feel intimate with an emotionally remote partner?

by Dr. Barb DePree

I posed this question to Mary Jo Rapini, an advisor to MiddlesexMD and a therapist, writer, and speaker. Here’s her advice:

You’re not alone in your feelings of being married to a man who cannot express his love. I am happy that you are healthy enough to advocate for yourself and your own sexual and emotional needs. There are several things I can suggest that may really help you feel more connected to your husband—and will help you feel better as well.

The SmartMarriages website has good information that can help you and your husband. They are very pro marriage, but more than that, they are pro relationship. Anyone who wants to improve her relationship could benefit from their resources.

Buy a book called The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. Many couples have found it helpful; men like it, too, and reading it together will lead to better understanding of each other and how you each feel most loved. The author also offers weekend classes throughout the U.S.; you might find him in your area.

You and your husband would benefit from attending a marital retreat. If he doesn’t like groups, or if you don’t, I would suggest a private therapist. I think your husband would feel less threatened if you sought out a male therapist.

One of the most beneficial experiences to help couples become more emotional in their loving and more connected is attending Tantric classes, offered in many cities. They are a bit unusual, and some guys (especially older) are reluctant to attend, but if you can persuade him to go to just one, he will enjoy it.

Remember that men are raised to be competitive. They usually open up to their wives, but fear being “too vulnerable.” This may generalize to their sexuality. Try more touching with him and less talking or trying to “process emotions.”

Make sure you’re taking care of yourself, including having someone you can talk to! You need emotional support so you can regain your strength and confidence.


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