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"He Won't Touch Me"

Also: "She's too modest", "Post menopausal sexuality", "And baby makes three", and "Sex-enhancing drugs"

Q.My husband won't touch me in public and rarely tells me he loves me. I've told him how important those things are, but he just shrugs them away. Now it's affecting my desire for him. What should I do?

A. We wonder how he came to be so undemonstrative. Have you two ever discussed your childhood experiences in regards to affection? Many families are non-touchers, either specifically deriding shows of affection or simply not modeling physical expressions of love. Those impressions are deeply ingrained, so your husband may feel embarrassed to touch you or fear he won't do it right.

Exploring a person's learning experiences can break the ice. Just asking questions about his feelings rather than focusing on your frustration can minimize his defensiveness. Hopefully his "shrugs" can give way to honest conversation. A question that may open the door is, "How did your parents show affection?" We'd be surprised if they were much different from their son. Understanding his heart can give you a different attitude toward him.

A further approach is to write him a love letter. Review your initial attraction to him, and describe the excitement of your courtship. Talk about the passion that's smoldering inside you and the triggers that will re-ignite those flames. While he may be resistant to shows of affection, he still needs to wthink of himself as a potent male. It may be safer for him to read a letter than try to talk about a fearful topic.

She's too modest

Q. My wife is still shy about exposing her body to me. Although she's never shy while we make love, before and after, she covers quickly and won't let me look at her. How do I help her realize her body is nothing to be ashamed of?

A. One of the differences between men and women is that men are "soul" modest and women are "body" modest. Men are reluctant and fearful to let their wives see their emotions, and women are shy about exposing their bodies. Sounds as though you're in the normal pattern. In our current culture, it's refreshing to hear that body modesty hasn't disappeared.

However, it's important for a wife to understand her husband's wiring and recognize the thrill it gives him to enjoy her physical beauty. It gives him not only sexual arousal, but also a special feeling of being honored. He can know he's the only man who's allowed inside her private and protected territory. You could explain these things to her and let her know that the way you see her body is probably different from the way she sees it. Most women are overly critical of their bodies. Your wife needs to hear you express how you see her so she can begin to believe it.

There's also a sense in which her modesty will preserve the mystery and romance of your sexual intimacy. Then, on those infrequent times when she lets you see her, you can recognize again the prize you've won!

Post menopausal sexuality

Q. I recently had a hysterectomy. Lately I've become more sexually charged than I was before the surgery. Now my sex drive is greater than my husband's! Is it normal for a 50-year-old woman without reproductive organs to develop a much higher libido?

A. It isn't uncommon for a woman whose reproductive potential is past to have a surge in her sexual desire. Perhaps the subconscious realization that she can't get pregnant releases her to express freely her desires. There may also be a change in the dynamic with her husband. Men in their 50s often become more sensitive, patient lovers. During this phase both men and women refocus on each other. Children and careers don't intrude quite as strongly.

We hope your husband has been sensitive with you in the past so that you can be gentle and understanding toward him while he adjusts to this tigress who's now prowling about.

And baby makes three

Q. We have a one-and-a-half-year-old baby who shares our bed. Our child is interfering with our sex life—and what's worse is my wife doesn't seem bothered by it. What should I do?

A. There are widely divergent theories and cultural norms about mother-infant bonding. It seems obvious that your wife has deep concern and strong attachment for your baby. While an infant needs security, attention, and physical affection, he or she also needs healthy separation. Interaction that's too intensive can create insecurity about "self" apart from mother. Particularly now at a year-and-a-half, the baby needs to develop the sense of comfort in separation from Mom.

A crucial message for your children is that Mom and Dad's relationship is the firm foundation of your family. Throughout development a child will test that bond, wanting to be number one with a parent. Allowing him to supplant one of you can give a damaging sense of power to him while eroding his perception of marital intimacy.

Talk to her about her supposed need to keep the baby between you. If she remains steadfast, we'd recommend a visit to a marriage and family therapist.

Sex-enhancing drugs

Q. Is it okay to take certain herbs or drugs such as Viagra and Cialis in order to enhance your sexual performance?

A. Natural herbs and drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction act primarily on the blood vessels in the penis. Feeling penile swelling (tumescence) is a reassuring sensation if sexual doubts have been creeping in. The combined effect of the physiological changes and psychological boost in confidence can certainly improve your sexual experience. While increased enjoyment is a wonderful thing, we'd be irresponsible not to give the same precautions you hear read in the TV ads. These medications "may not be for everyone. Ask your physician if they're right for you."

Melissa and Louis McBurney, M.D., marriage therapists and co-founders of Marble Retreat in Marble, Colorado, are authors of Real Questions, Real Answers About Sex (Zondervan).

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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