Dear Alice,

I have been having a lot of trouble with my husband. It's not necessarily trouble, but I've been unhappy for a long time. Lately, nothing seems good between us anymore. He doesn't want to do anything. Our anniversary came and went without a card. So did Mother's Day and my birthday. We haven't exchanged a hug or a kiss in I don't know how long, and sex between us doesn't even exist. What am I going to do? Please help.

Very unhappy

Dear Very Unhappy,

This is hard; it’s really, really hard. Relationships are complicated, living and breathing things for which there are no easy answers to the question “what am I going to do?”  And while ups and downs are a natural aspect of all relationships, it sounds like things have been down for a long time. If you haven’t already done so, a good first step would be to discuss these observations with you husband and to let him know how you’re feeling. An alternate approach would be to first ask him what he's feeling, how he's experiencing the relationship, and then sharing your perspective. This may help the two of you come to a new understanding about the state of your marriage, and decide on a course of action to make things better.

Find a time and place when you can sit down quietly and calmly to talk about some of these things. You might want to start off by preparing your husband for a serious conversation. Some examples of relatively easy ways to start a conversation like this might be, "I love you and our marriage is really important to me, so I want to talk to you about some things I've noticed." Or, "Would you be willing to talk with me about some things that have been hard for me recently?"

If an honest conversation seems impossible or not pro-active enough, you may consider seeking the help of a professional. Similarly, if you’ve tried a discussion with your husband and it hasn’t helped, couples counseling could be a good step. If you’re a college student, check to see if your campus’ counseling service offers services for couples. If your husband is unwilling to go with you to counseling, it still might be helpful for you to seek someone out to help you work with the issue, and if it's more comfortable for him, your husband might want to do the same.

Often, acknowledging that a problem exists is a first major step towards solving it. You sound like you're aware of aspects of your relationship you'd like to change, and that is a great place to begin. Sharing your feelings with your husband, and trying to come up with ways to create those changes can lead to a revitalized marriage with renewed sexiness, thoughtfulness, and affection.

To love!


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