Old Affection

Q: My girlfriend and I have been together for 3 years, and we have a 1 year old. Sex has been fairly non-existent for some time. She says that she is too tired and not interested. Kissing and touching have stopped also. I used to send flowers, notes, emails, etc.; now I don't because I am upset over her lack of affection. I fear we will grow to resent each other. I want things to work. We have talked before about this and nothing changes. -- Douglas, 40

Dr. Susan: It's not at all unusual for the thrilling sex of the early days to be replaced within three years by warm affection and companionship, especially with the added complexity of a baby. But I gather that you are missing even minor signs that your partner still feels warmly toward you. I believe that she is tired, as raising a kid is exhausting on so many levels. Sometimes a new mother very much resents her loss of freedom, and her mate's ability to retain his while she does the majority of the childcare and housework. That resentment readily translates into less or even no intimacy. But let's say you take on at least half the burden so that she will be able to feel frisky once in a while. Flowers and notes are fun, but there's nothing as heartwarming as when a man shows his love with a greater effort to share the burdens of family life. You say you've discussed all this, but how open were you both? Might she resent that you're still not married though you've had a child together? Could she be uninterested because her body has changed and you haven't adapted your sexual routines in appropriate ways? I'm not saying these are her reasons. You might need help from a therapist to uncover what's getting in the way. Do not give up on the kissing and hugging. Distance only breeds further distance.

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