My husband and I separated soon after we opened our marriage.
He’d lost interest in sex and then I met my current partner and fell in love. Because of lockdown, we moved in together while it was still early days.
Things were lovely to start with but the past few weeks have been difficult and our relationship feels like it’s aged. Although we aren’t fighting, we have begun to bicker.
But I’m most upset about our sex life, which is suffering.
Sex feels so disappointing in comparison to what it was.
We’ve had some chats about it but I just want to get back to how things were.
What’s your advice?
Wanting to get back to how things were is quite universal.
‘But it’s never possible,’ says James McConnachie. ‘Do you know the old line about the Greek philosopher who said nobody can step into the same river twice? Even if you stand in exactly the same place, it’s different water and a different time — and, most importantly, it’s a different you.’
Lockdown might have taken you on a crash course in each other’s annoying habits but it doesn’t mean your relationship is necessarily doomed.
‘Under the current circumstances, I’m surprised and delighted if anyone can muster the enthusiasm to have sex, so please don’t start predicting the worst,’ says Rupert Smith.
Whenever a new union settles into a steadier rhythm, sex becomes predictable.
‘This is an inevitability rather than a sign something is wrong,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin. ‘But you sound restless, searching for something you haven’t found with either your husband or your partner.’
If you’re always chasing some sort of sexual euphoria, no relationship will last.
‘It might be useful to reflect on why you need the constant validation of that sexual high to convince you a relationship is working,’ says Smith.
While sex is important, there are many other essential facets of a relationship. Shared interests, kindness, hopes and aspirations are all just as vital.
‘Because, call it what you like — love, infatuation, first flush, the honeymoon period — that thrillingly erotic first phase cannot be sustained,’ says McConnachie.
What you’re left with, once the first flush has faded, is the fact that bickering is simply part of the work of living with someone.
‘It’s not easy and it’s often a compromise,’ says Smith.
So focus now on what you have together, says Rudkin.
‘At the end of each day, note down what you have enjoyed about your partner and remember to spoil each other with presents sometimes,’ she says. ‘If this feels too hard, then your relationship hasn’t just aged, it’s over.’
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