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My Wife Won't Talk To Me - Agony Aunt

Ask Anne

Dear Anne

My wife doesn't talk to me. We have been married for almost 3 years and have a baby girl of 3 months. Even so we've never been able to build a proper love-based conjugal life. I used be angry with some matters during the wedding and I kept picking on her since then by bringing these up. Now I think she is bored. I had relations with other women before marriage and I still recall them: the things I used to do with them, the way they used to love me and all. But I find my wife is not loving in the way I want. I even had to teach her how to kiss! Please suggest how I can get her to open her heart to me. Bappy

Dear Bappy

There are two very unhappy people in this marriage, aren't there? I'm glad you've had the courage to acknowledge you haven't been very fair to her. Try looking at things from her point of view. You chose an inexperienced bride and then seem angry that she'd never learned how to kiss, let alone make love. You've been controlling and frequently critical. You appear to have let her know other women are better lovers, which she must have found very hurtful to hear. And I notice that you don't once tell me you love her. Have you ever told her? Have you demonstrated your love with kindness, patience and understanding? How is she supposed to find your harsh treatment of her appealing? How is she supposed to feel loved and valued with all that going on? How is she supposed to be able to love and trust you to support her emotionally and be good to her? Small wonder she closes herself off to you. She must be afraid you'd argue with anything she dared say. At the moment she must fear that if she opens her heart to you, you'll trample all over it.

Now is the time to start again. To admit to her that you've made mistakes and upset her even though you didn't mean to. To apologise for being so mean to her. To promise her that you'll learn to earn her trust but that you need her help for that. To ask her to learn to talk to you, reassuring her that you'll listen and understand rather than bullying her. Find things for which to praise her: some aspects of her looks, the lovely baby she's produced, her mothering, her cooking, her housework, anything kind or helpful or even dutiful that she does. Let her know you value her and that from now on you'll cherish her as a good husband should.

Allow the relationship between you time to develop under your nurturing. Offer her plenty of signs of affection, non-sexual for the first couple of months at least. Greet her with a kiss and a smile. Ask how she is and how her day's gone. Show some interest in her as a person. Make time for her and show her you care about her. If possible, arrange a baby-sitter and take her out to places of her choice. Make sure she doesn't feel lonely and isolated, as so many new mothers do. Let her have friends and interests, and if possible share some of her interests with her.

Ask her what she needs to feel loved and valued, and negotiate for what you need to feel loved and valued - that's in the relationship first, which must be mended before your love-life can improve for you both.

Once your relationship begins to feel more comfortable for you both, tell her how much you love and desire her and that you want to learn to give her pleasure. Ask her if she's willing to start sharing physical affection. Agree that you won't have sex or masturbate either together or separately until you've been through the following process, which takes 8 weeks. Begin slowly, when you both have time and privacy, with gentle caresses and kisses of her face, neck and shoulders over an hour or two in the first week. Invite her to caress you in those places too, and encourage her to share what touches she enjoys giving and receiving. The following week, extend the areas you caress and kiss to include her hands and arms. Then her feet and legs in the week after. Then her back. Then her stomach. The next week, begin to include the buttocks. Then her breasts and your chest. The following week you can begin to explore one another's genitals, still without having intercourse. Learn what kinds of touch gives each of you pleasure. But don't make her do anything she doesn't want to do. She has the right to decide what happens to her body. Because, Bappy, if you want her to be a good lover, you have to be one too. And that means love in the sense of kindness and affection as well as sexual prowess. I wish both of you a happy marriage.

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