Wife Mixes Sex and Money

Q: My wife, in her early 40s, tells me that her medication may be affecting her sex drive. We're only married two years, but we've gone without sex for as long as nine months in a year, and right now it's been 30 days. She told me that if she can handle the money and bills on payday, and if she can buy nice things when she wants to, she would have sex more often with me. She tells me not to be pushy, but to let her initiate. We're living on one income, and I provide what I can. We go on family trips, and she recently got to pick out some clothes and jewelry that she wanted, and I paid for it. I buy her flowers on a regular basis. I have planned getaways for just us two, but with one income I can't always do it. She feels more romantic when she's in a romantic setting and sometimes I try to create that at home. I like giving her a bath, candles, soft music.

Is having to wait 30 days or more reasonable? When I think she's giving me the signal by talking about sex, later she won't want to be bothered. The thing that bothers me the most is that she'll throw up in my face the fact that she had a healthy sex life in her previous relationships because she controlled the money. I tried to let her control the finances and she got frustrated with not having enough money. I don't like having conditions for having sex. If she's not happy with the amount of money coming in, she cuts sex off. At times, she tells me to get a girlfriend if I don't like what she's doing, or else pay for it. I tell her that I got married because I loved her. I don't want to be with another woman. -- Junior

Dr. Susan: Waiting a month for sex might not be so unreasonable if your wife of two years were ill or otherwise indisposed. The medication/libido connection can be very real, of course. If she isn't feeling the urge herself, she may feel she's doing you a favor by agreeing to sex. And she wants payback for that "favor." It sounds, though, like your wife may be withholding sex to express her disappointment, resentment, and disillusionment. A degree if disillusionment is normal at this stage, as the initial romance wears off a bit, but your income, which she surely knew before you married, should have nothing to do with whether or not you have sex. She seems to feel that her body is the only power and control she has. Many women would be delighted to be with a man who tries so hard to be patient, loving, romantic, and flexible. You might also try to ensure that she feels like a full partner. Right now you're the one who decides when she gets new clothes, and you plan the trips. She could be encouraged to share in more decisions. Perhaps then she would see that you're doing the very best you can. If she persists in cutting you off sexually because she doesn't approve of your income, you'd better get some counseling, together, or your marriage is doomed.

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