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Sex plays a big part in relationships. So when your partner stops initiating sex or doesn’t want to have sex altogether, it can change the dynamic pretty quickly.
But what happens if your partner only seems interested in sexual intimacy when there’s alcohol involved? This is the case for one of our readers, Rachel.
“My husband only seems to want to have sex with me when we’ve been drinking,” she says. “What should I do?”
Relationship therapist and Counselling Directory member Georgina Smith says her first question to Rachel, is whether she wants to have sex with her husband.
“Using alcohol (responsibly) to get you both in the mood is not in itself a problem,” she says. “However as a couple you should be able to have sex in a sober state and at times when both people in a couple want to have sex.”
Registered counsellor Jenny Warwick is curious about how often this happens and how much alcohol is being consumed to assess if there is some alcohol misuse.
“I can only imagine it may bring up all sorts of complicated feelings, perhaps rejection, guilt, shame and not feeling good enough,” Warwick says.
“The most important thing for you to keep in mind is that there is no fault here. You need to be kind to yourself, show yourself some compassion. Please don’t think that you are lacking somehow.”
Some couples are okay not having much sex, but if you desire sex, this lack in a relationship can can lead to a physical and emotional disconnect, says Smith. In turn, this can lead to conflict and failure to resolve those conflicts effectively.
“Talking is key, don’t avoid the subject,” she says. “Try to explain your feelings to your partner about sex or lack of, without being accusatory. Use good listening skills to understand their feelings around it.”
Both therapists agree that this is a difficult situation to navigate. You want to make sure your partner’s needs are met whilst thinking about your own. So how should Rachel speak to her husband about this?
Warwick says that as with all difficult conversations, timing is key.
“Do not have this conversation when either of you has been drinking. Your safety is of utmost importance. Give yourself time to have a think about how you’re feeling about this,” she says.
“You might find it helpful to write some points down to refer to so it’s easier for you to talk. Keep the focus on how you feel without laying blame (on him or you). You’re just looking to get a better understanding.”
Smith agrees that the conversation should take place whilst you’re both sober and you should try and set some boundaries in place. “Tell your partner that you prefer sex when you are sober and ask him how he feels about that,” she says.
“Ask him why he feels he wants to have sex only when he is drinking – does he lack confidence or desire? How can they work together to change that, what can they both be doing differently to make sex more desirable in times other than when you are drinking.”
Love Stuck is for those who’ve hit a romantic wall, whether you’re single or have been coupled up for decades. With the help of trained sex and relationship therapists, HuffPost UK will help answer your dilemmas. Submit a question here.