The website of best-selling sex author Anne Hooper
THE HARDEST THINGS YOU’LL EVER HAVE TO SAY
- We’re drifting apart.
Maybe you’ve just sat down after dinner, a lovely meal which you spent lots of time preparing. You’ve done everything right. The house is clean, the kids are in bed and at last you’ve got time to talk. But as you quietly read your book and he sits engrossed in the newspaper, you know it’s not quite the happy picture it seems. Gone are the days when you’d laugh and chatter for hours on end. You seem to have nothing in common any more and deep inside you know you’re drifting apart. But how do you tell him?
Marital therapist Anne Hooper says these are your options:
- You could choose to keep quiet, on the grounds that if you do, you’ve still got many of the ingredients of a happy marriage. In the short term, you would avoid stirring up raw feelings but, in the long term, you might risk a lonely and isolated life. Unfortunately, there’s a very real likelihood that one or both of you would eventually seek love and affection elsewhere.
- You could speak up, telling him how worried you feel and suggesting you might talk things through.
- How do you know when it’s time to talk?
- You need to ask yourself how long this difficult phase has been going on. Is it recent and therefore possibly temporary? In which case you should give it a miss. Or have you felt like this for a long time now? In which case you should speak up.
- When should you not talk?
Sadly, one of the consequences of talking might be that you agree to end the marriage. If you are not prepared to face this, you should definitely rein back.
- What do you do if he is reluctant to talk?
- Persist. Suggest that the two of you talk to a third party . ie. a marriage counsellor. If he still refuses, tell him you will seek help on your own.
- WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Discussion over a tricky subject works best when you
- Show respect,
- Speak your piece
- Listen to the other side
- Agree to negotiate,
Stick to non-blaming sentences. Use “I feel”, “I am”. Don’t use accusatory ones such as “You did”, “You are”
- I don’t enjoy sex anymore
The two of you were once so hot for each other. In the days before you moved in together you even used to make love on the backseat of the car. But it’s years later, a house, a mortgage and two kids later in fact. And, hard to believe, sex has become somehow boring. He doesn’t seem that interested and you would rather read a good book. Everyone knows how hard it is to ask for what you want in bed. So how do you start?
Therapist Anne Hooper says:
It helps to first identify your goals. Ask yourself
- Does one of you have a sexual problem?
- Is everything else in the relationship all right?
If either one of you is finding it difficult to experience climax, then you might have a sexual problem. If your husband is suffering from premature ejaculation or impotence he definitely has a sexual problem. But if the rest of your relationship feels rocky, then it may be that outside stress is impacting on your love life.
- Did you know that stress at work can affect sex?
- That too much smoking and drinking can bring on minor impotence and impair orgasmic response?
- That the most common sex problem of people who have been together for a long time is BOREDOM?
So how do you introduce the subject? Take a positive approach. Don’t say “Our sex life is terrible”. Do say “I’d love to try out some new ideas, and this is what I propose?”
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- A little self-help sex therapy works wonders for minor sex problems. These usually start with a massage which can be a gorgeous new addition to sex.
- Talk about ways in which you might de-stress yourselves in general. Take time off.
- If you suspect the problem is organic, ie. there is something physically wrong, then you must consult your doctor and ask for referral to a sexual dysfunction clinic. It never hurts to cut down smoking and drinking.
- If the problem is boredom then I suggest you borrow a copy of my book Ultimate Sexual Touch, (Dorling Kindersley) from the library and follow through some of the suggestions and scenarios, not to mention the erotic massage outlined there. Just looking at the pictures will spice up your love life.
- I think you’re making a big mistake
The two of you have been friends for ever. You’ve seen each other through dozens of traumas. Now your best girlfriend is thinking of getting married. And you know she is making a terrible choice. Do you speak up and risk ruining a marvellous friendship? And is there any way of managing it so that the hurt is minimized?
Therapist Anne Hooper says:
There are few real rules to friendship and it is not imperative you speak up. It may be that you will be a better friend by supporting your girlfriend in general rather than by commenting now. Friends don’t usually like it when they are ‘told what to do’. But if you absolutely must, then yes, there are a number of ways to handle things.
- You might float the idea that something is wrong by asking questions which lead her toward thinking through some of the problems. “Did you know that Laurie has been in trouble with the police?”
- You might talk about a mythical friend who gets married in a similar situation, and then describe in graphic detail, why the marriage crashed.
- You might state “I worry that Laurie might be violent with you? I’ve heard that he was violent with his last two girlfriends”.
- If your friend shows little response you would be best to leave things. You can feel satisfied that you have laid the facts in front of her in a non-judgemental way. By only stating what is publicly known, you have not laid yourself open to any personal criticism. Sometimes we have to accept that other people make decisions which are harmful to themselves and that this is their choice.