My husband and I have been married for 7 years. I am 30 years old, my husband is 28 , and we have no children. We lived together the first 2 years, then apart for the next 2 due to his military service. After he left the military, we were back living together for 2 years. Ever since 1 1/2 years ago, I am only home for about 4 nights and 3 days each week. I am attending graduate school, which is about 70 miles from our home. My in-laws lived with us for a year when I began graduate school and my commute. That was pretty stressful for everybody since we have a small home and my in-laws had a small child with them. But despite all the stress we've faced, our sexual intimacy has always been great. However, for the last 4-5 months my husbands sexual drive has been down. This is driving me a little crazy. He claims he loves me and still finds me very attractive, but he just can't get over arguments that we have had in which I cry and feel insecure about myself. He claims he is fed up with them.

As a child, I went through physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. I have began receiving counseling for the past year. I have began praying (which has made wonders) for the past 8 months. I have seen an improvement in myself: it's been over a couple of years that I have had a suicidal thought, my crying outbursts are not as frequent as before (a year ago they were about weekly, now once a month or so) nor as severe. The praying and the therapy helps me to be more confident and secure. I don't fear rejection as much.

When I mention this to him, he claims that I am only fishing for a compliment. However, the fact that my husband does not want to have sex with me hurts my feelings. Of course, if I nag, he gets upset, and only starts an argument. What can I do so that I don't have to beg him to make love or so that I can mellow my urges? We have intercourse about once or twice a month. I feel that I may be acting a little selfish, since (other than his very short temper) he is a wonderful friend and caring husband. He is also going through much stress since he is trying to start a business, his parents are demanding, he's put on 75 lbs since his parents moved into town, and has yet to successfully complete a college semester.

Thank you very much for your help and your time.

You and your husband have made numerous mistakes in your marriage, and it appears you are beginning to see the accumulated results. The two year separation was a major mistake. "Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control" (I Corinthians 7:5). It taught both of you to live independent lives instead of coming together. You are continuing this separation of lives by being gone half the time each week as you pursue your degree. Yet somehow you expect your intimate relationship to remain or improve while you live independent lives.

You mentioned that you spend a good deal crying and acting insecure. I would guess that he found this attractive early in your relationship because most men have a basic desire to be a hero and a rescuer. The problem is, as your husband has come to realize, is that he isn't able to rescue you from yourself. It has been seven years and you are still playing the part of the insecure little girl. He's frustrated because he can't make progress. Where you were able to manipulate him in the past by pouting, crying, and bemoaning your insecurities, it no longer works because he is finally seeing it as manipulation.

While you only briefly mention it, it appears that when the little girl act began to wear off, you turned to nagging to get your way, only to find that it was even less effective.

Sexual intimacy is a product of romantic feelings, but where is the romance in your marriage? The two of you seem to be actively trying to shoot down any possible expression of romance. I'm concerned that the intimacy has stopped suddenly in the last few months. Unless there is some major event that coincides with this shift, it is likely that your husband has decided to seek romance elsewhere.

If you want your marriage to survive, you need to start putting the effort every marriage requires to be successful. Good marriages don't just happen, they are the product of a lot of work by both the husband and wife.

Here are my suggestions:

1) Immediately drop the frighten little girl act. It might have been cute when you were younger, but it is unappealing in an adult woman. It doesn't matter what your childhood was like -- that is only history. Today is today. You have full-control over how you behave. Your past has no control over you, only you are using your past as a crutch to excuse your present behavior. Please get a copy of Dr. Laura Schlessinger's book, Bad Childhood, Good Life. It does a decent job of explaining your responsibility to grow up despite your upbringing.

2) Redo your priorities and start making choices that allow you and your husband to work and live together. Since it is your husband's responsibility to provide for his family, discuss what the two of you can do together to best put him in a good position to accomplish his duty. Once his position is stabilized, decide what you can do to help supplement his income (it may be that you will make more than he, but the responsibility for the family's income remains his). Take a look at "The Responsibilities of the Husband" and "The Responsibilities of the Wife" for details. If one of you need to pause your education so that you can be together, do it. Your marriage is more vital to your happiness than a degree.

3) Start being romantic. That doesn't mean tumbling into bed every chance you get; it means demonstrating in many small ways that you think he is important and that you appreciate him. If you need ideas, see a pair of cute little books called How to Make Love with Your Clothes On. There is one for the husband and one for the wife. Also, Dr. Laura Schlessinger has a book titled The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands which is very good and easy to read. You will be surprised; once you start being lovable you will find that your husband will respond quickly in reciprocation.

4) Your parents (his and yours) are adults. It is nice that you helped them out during a difficult time, but they must stand on their own feet. If they are not out of the house already, let them know they need to find a place of their own in a month. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). The two of you can't bond as adults while filling the role of a child to your parents.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Marriage
Questions and Answers regarding Sexual Relations
Preparation for a Lifetime