Q: My husband initiates sex only when he is drunk and that is the only time he notices me. I feel put off when he reeks of alcohol and forces himself on me, while ignoring my presence in his life at other times and not communicating with me. I am an educated working woman, and though he doesn’t abuse me or ill treat me or deny me or the kids all that we need, his ignoring my presence unless he’s drunk and wants sex is humiliating for me. I tried broaching the issue, but he just gets up and walks away to the other room silently. What should I do?
Ans: A state of inebriation is a lucid state where inhibitions may be dropped and a certain ease of thinking and doing – gets easier for some people who may be either highly strung or in desperate need for a release. For many people, sex and alcohol is a release from drudgery, conformity and having to fill out certain responsibilities. This may be the case with your husband.
It could also be possible that he drinks to numb himself to certain situations or just have a jolly good time or maybe just feel ‘free’. You will have to find out if he is open to participating in a sexual relationship with you, minus the crutch of alcohol. Since you mention that he exits the room silently, maybe it’s important to assess if this is a potentially embarrassing topic for him or if he is feeling uncomfortable with the manner in which you’re approaching the topic or if he’s not quite sure what he wants. There are no definite confirmations as to why someone is feeling or acting a certain way unless those confirmations stem from a steady exploration of where the hesitation to engage or solve a problem is coming from. Everyone perceives challenges differently.
Some choose to look the other way while others may stay the course of troubleshooting as they feel curious and compelled to dig deeper. You have every right to refuse your husband’s sexual advances if you feel uncomfortable. However, it would serve you well to take him for couple’s therapy so that he is invited to take a hard look at your relationship and the reservations you have about his drinking and approaching you for sex after drinking.
Understandably, you’re a human being and not a machine that simply needs to be accessed when one wants it to dispense something. You have feelings, wishes and needs. The larger challenge still looms. You feel ignored in your relationship and that is understandably troubling you. The very purpose of a relationship is to co-nurture shared goals and projects under a socio-emotional togetherness mandate oriented towards creating a safe emotional space for 2 individuals to be themselves in where they can openly express themselves.
This requires both of you to give each other adequate time and attention. Ergo, what would it take for him to notice you? Are there any ways in which he expects you or your relationship to change? This would need to be explored but the answers you get may disrupt things further. What if you learn that your husband is bored with you or doesn’t find you attractive anymore or that he doesn’t feel inspired or intellectually stimulated around you? Would you resort to blaming him or shaming yourself? One’s likeability is a topic so subjective that no human being can be perpetually likeable 100% of the time to anybody.
Is there something occupying your husband’s mind that has him distracted these days? Has he changed as a person? As you can see, there are several questions that are nested within this exploration of why he prefers to be drunk to be desirous of sex with you while he doesn’t seem to notice you at other times. Each other these questions may need to be posed to him in a way that doesn’t spook or intimidate him. Couple’s therapy is a safe place to start the exploration.
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