[Two Pronged] What if I'm less attracted to my husband now?

Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.

Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in three continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives

Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.

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Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer:

I lose sexual attraction for my husband because he is attracted to his acquaintances and search for them in FB. From then on, I fantasize about having sex with an attractive man who is attracted to me. Is my husband releasing his fantasies with other women when we have sexual contact?

Alana

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Dear Alana,

Thank you for your email.

You seem to have two issues: loss of attraction towards your husband (let’s call him Carlos) because of the attention he pays to other women, and your consequent fantasies about sex with an attractive man, plus one question about your husband’s fantasies. You have not however chosen to give us any helpful context such as your ages, years married, children, etc. nor have you told us if your sex life with Carlos has ever been satisfactory.

The implication of your email is that Carlos is responsible for your woes
and has left you open to fantasies. 

It is quite reasonable of you to lose interest in a spouse who at best is dividing his interest between you and other women, and may even have lost all desire for you. What you do about it though will depend on your (unknown) personal circumstances, but common options include 1) trying to put things right with your spouse, if necessary using a counselor, 2) remaining together but leading separate lives, and 3) separating completely. Of course these and other options may be heavily influenced by financial considerations, any children of the marriage, religious beliefs, societal pressures, etc.

As for fantasies, these were the subject of our recent (August 1st) column. It seems reasonable to suppose that Carlos may have fantasies, but if he wants to keep them secret, it is impossible to know who they involve unless he inadvertently gives you a clue.

In the final analysis, you have to decide what your priorities are and follow the best course of action to achieving whatever your optimal goal may be. Is your marriage worth saving? You must have had good reasons for marrying Carlos in the first place, so are these, or at least some of them, still alive or capable of resuscitation? You might want to consider these and related questions before deciding what to do next.

All the best,
JAF Baer

Dear Alana:

Thank you very much for your email. Mr. Baer wrote about the implication of your (second) statement: that Carlos is responsible for your woes and has left you open to fantasies. To be more specific, you feel that because Carlos seems to find other women more sexually attractive than you, you will fantasize about attractive men para patas lang kayo (to even the score).  

However, meaningful behavior change (fantasy is behavior once it is deliberate, as opposed to something that merely pops into your head involuntarily while making love) usually happens if it is a decision you make independent of another’s behavior, not if it is merely a response to someone else’s (in this case, your husband’s) behavior.

Women sometimes go to male strip joints, stuffing bills in the dancer’s briefs, to prove that “what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander,” but if it is done simply for this reason, the result is just as superficial. It doesn’t really assuage the hurt a wife feels if she discovers her husband watching a woman strip and maybe even giving her a little extra.

Thus, in my view, to fantasize about other men when you have sex with your husband is terrific and validating if you get off on this and truly enjoy the idea of someone other than Carlos making love to you. Otherwise, I would strongly suggest you focus your energy on something else.

That something else could mean, as Mr. Baer so wisely suggests, figuring out how important your marriage is to you.  If it is something you value,  I suggest you ask him the last question you asked us: “(Are you) releasing (your) fantasies with other women when we have sexual contact?”

All we can do is guess the answer, you see, whereas he could give you the real score. But you know something, dearest Alana, even if he does not, even if he lies and says “no” so as not to hurt your feelings, that, too, can be a show of love for you, that he cares enough to avoid hurting you.

The best thing about it is, it need not stop there. If, indeed, you feel he actually does fantasize about other women (no matter how much he denies it), you can still pursue this topic as long as you ask in a spirit of inquiry and not accompanied by a suspicious, blaming, or vengeful tone.

For example: “You know, mahal (darling), I wouldn’t blame you for fantasizing about other women. Natural lang yun, lalo na kasi matagal na tayong mag asawa.  (This is perfectly natural, especially since we’ve been married a long time). All I want to know are two things: 1) Mahal mo pa ba ako? (Do you still love me?) and 2) Do you love any of these women more than me? Is there anything I can do so that you can actually make love to me and not need to fantasize about others?

His answer to the second question might be as physical as: “Lose weight;” “Wear a little (or don’t wear so much) make up;” “Dress your age more;” etc. Or it can be on a deeper level: “You never listen. All you do is talk at me;” “I don’t feel you find me sexy anymore;” “You’ve gotten boring;” etc.

Whatever he says, I hope you will find it grist for a deeper conversation and an impetus to change (for both of you). 

Good luck,
MG Holmes

– Rappler.com