Dear Annie: My husband and I got married right before the pandemic. Before the marriage, we lived in different states, 3,000 miles apart. After we got married, the pandemic split us apart again geographically for eight months. We finally got back together, and I was glad to get the opportunity to work from home with him in his city.
We mostly stay at home, working from home and watching movies together. We were in a car accident a few days after we were reunited, and my leg was hurt, and I am not able to run or walk for long periods of time. He was not hurt in the accident.
It’s been six months since the accident, and my husband has not shown any physical interest in me all this time. I occasionally hug him and hold him while watching movies, but he does not initiate any similar physical affection. We must have kissed four or five times since the accident, always at my request.
I keep telling him that I love him, and he acknowledges that, but when I ask him why he has lost interest in affection of any kind, he says he just has. Upon prodding further, he once said that it was because of the arguments we had when we were dating. Another time he said that after my leg is healed and we are able to go out more, we’ll both feel better.
Other than the affection issue, everything else is good.
I know I have extra belly fat that is difficult to get rid of, but I had the fat while dating, too. I have gone on a few hikes and walks with him, but with a walking stick, and sometimes I need help. I think he wants me to be completely self-reliant.
The arguments while dating were just about our past relationships that I left behind, but I don’t think he is the kind of person who likes to forget the past. While we were separated during the pandemic, I was glad that we had stopped fighting about the past and assumed we had moved on, but now I think there is something stuck in his head that he refuses to let go of.
I am guessing he would want to blame me for it, but the problem is that he does not tell me what is really going on in his head, and we don’t even argue anymore. Other than this issue, he has always been a great guy, helpful to family members and me. I assure you he is not having an affair; we spend all our time together.
I can continue living with him and working from home, but I think going back to my city and state and stopping day-to-day communication with him might get him to open up and resolve the issue.
My concern is that, considering the little amount of time we have spent since we met, we should be like newly married couples, making out all the time. Instead, we don’t even hold hands like we did when we were dating. Before the pandemic split us apart, he used to express his love for me, and we would cook, clean and make out like normal couples. I am not planning to give up on us. What should I do? — Feeling Lost (c) Annie Lane
Okay, Annie Lane. Knock this easy pitch out of the park. You can do it. Keep your eye on the ball, Annie Lane. Don’t recommend marriage counseling. Don’t recommend marriage counseling. Don’t recommend marriage counseling. Come on, Annie Lane, nail it. There’s a serious problem here like incompatible sexualities, and it can’t be fixed. Don’t recommend marriage counseling. Just don’t.
Dear Feeling Lost: It sounds like absence made your husband’s heart grow colder, rather than fonder. Shutting you out emotionally and physically is not the solution for a happy marriage. You are right to be upset, and you deserve all the love and tenderness that a marriage can offer, but moving back to another state will not help.
Suggest marriage counseling to him. In the meantime, try and let up on your expectations of what the honeymoon phase should look like. A lot of couples have a very difficult first year of marriage as they iron out this new way of living with someone. Be patient with your relationship and try not to have such an idealized notion of what it should look like.
With the help of a good therapist, you can iron out together what your individual needs are. Always remember to listen to his, and always voice what you need.
Okay, we went there. We recommended marriage counseling. Hell, it can’t hurt. But it won’t help, either.
There’s a small chance that her husband is a control freak, rather than being sexually uninterested in her. But either way you slice it, the marriage won’t work.
In the meantime, try and let up on your expectations of what the honeymoon phase should look like.
(It’s try TO, Annie Lane. Try TO let up on your expectations. Not try AND. But I digress.)
I don’t think this letter writer has unrealistic expectations of honeymooning. I mean, I’ve never been married, but from what I understand there should be sex aplenty. This letter writer isn’t getting any at all. She can’t even get a kiss. That’s a serious problem. There’s maybe a 5% chance that it’s fixable. Her husband might be aromantic or asexual. He put in a good-faith effort early in the marriage (like, really early in the marriage), and now he’s out of lovin’. It is what it is.
I can’t believe that naïve Annie Lane thinks that they need better communication and lowered expectations. [Eyeroll.] It might not be too late for an annulment. It’s worth looking into.
Dear Amy: I’m a wife and a mother.
Six years ago, I had an affair. It went on for about three months. At the time, my son was 3 years old, and I was an active addict, making so many bad decisions.
My husband found out about all of it and wanted to work through it.
I fully expected him to divorce me and to take our son away because I was not a good mother or wife.
I’ve been sober for six years now, and I still feel so guilty.
I used to have dreams at least once a week about infidelity, whether it was me or my husband being unfaithful.
After these dreams, I would wake up crying and hyperventilating.
Now the dreams occur every four to six months.
How do I stop this? My husband has forgiven me, and I thought I had forgiven myself but clearly there are still some unresolved feelings on my part.
Do you have any ideas for me?
— Guilty Dreamer
Guilty Dreamer: My first thought is that you are making great progress. You are married to a graceful man and have the privilege of being a parent to your son.
You are having these dreams less frequently. You are sober, you are taking responsibility for your own actions, and you are — very appropriately — working on the next step toward greater health and healing.
Forgiving yourself is a big job, and tapping into your own mothering skills might help. When your son makes a mistake, feels guilty and beats himself up for it, you likely tap into your gentlest self to comfort him.
You need to learn how to apply this skill, this very parental sort of gentleness, toward yourself.
Your challenging tendency to be unforgiving toward yourself probably goes back further than your addiction and infidelity.
Your addiction might have been one way of anesthetizing or numbing these tougher feelings and reactions. A sobriety counselor or support group would help you to continue to put your past into your past.
I hope you will continue to work this through to be the very best version of yourself.
Dreams are your mind’s way of narrating your story. But you write that story during your waking life. Keep going. Keep writing. (c) Ask Amy
As usual, Ask Amy is tackling the real issues, unlike Annie Lane. This is good advice.
The situation is heartbreaking. Based on what I learned in the cult when they taught me dream symbolism, she (in a dream) represents her conscious mind. Her husband (in a dream) represents her subconscious mind. One of them having an affair would mean that the letter writer’s conscious and subconscious minds aren’t in harmony with each other. For example, if she decides she wants to save money, but she can’t quit buying lottery tickets every day, then that nightmare is going to get triggered. Or if she wants to lose weight but eats junk food all day. It’s her subconscious mind’s way of getting her attention. Every single time she has the nightmare, after waking she needs to ask herself if she was acting out of accordance with her goals the previous day. (Dreams are commentary on the previous day.)
This is not a guilt trip for her about infidelity.
My sense is that the subconscious knows our unique triggers and uses them to its advantage to get our attention. And since she’s a recovering addict with a young child and loving husband, she needs to be kept on the straight and narrow at any cost. I don’t condone the subconscious’s use of nightmares–I’m just explaining it. This woman has much to be proud of, and I wholeheartedly agree with Ask Amy’s boosting her up. I wish she knew the truth about the dreams. I guess my being in that cult had some benefits.