unhappy couple

50 Shades of RED! How Anger Affects Intimacy

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: January 6, 2015

This excerpt is reprinted by permission from the Author, one of our wonderful ‘Ask the Experts’ Panel, Barb Dehn, NP, from her book ‘The Hot Guide To A Cool Sexy Menopause’.

Tanya had been married for over twenty-five years, and her husband was still nudging her in the middle of the night a few times a month. She tried to explain to him that nudging wasn’t foreplay, thank you very much. If only he’d be a little less clueless and take a few minutes to listen to her talk about her life and her day, or acknowledge all the little things she did to make his life easier, then maybe she’d be more in the mood.

She didn’t like to complain, tried to be polite, but underneath her smile she was seething with resentment. She felt that since she automatically sensed when he needed to talk through something, that by now, he should be able to figure out that she also needed the same consideration.

She also resented having to constantly remind/nag him, feeling that by now, he should be able to figure out that the dishes didn’t wash themselves and his stack of clothes didn’t magically get put away. When Tanya came in for her annual, she and I talked about the age-old question that women have been grappling with for centuries, “Why can’t men be more like women?”

       Once we work on those assumptions, most women are genuinely and happily surprised that with a few simple communication techniques, their relationships improve. I recommended that Tanya practice “I messages” that foster communication and avoid the accusatory “You messages” that impede real dialogue. I gave her an “I message” example from my own marriage and shared an exchange between me and my husband:

I feel frustrated when we can’t agree on what to do over the weekend. I like to plan ahead, but I know you prefer to be more spontaneous. It would helpful if you could give me some idea of what you’d like to do so that I can get a better idea of what I can get done.”

After our conversation, Tanya told me that she tried communicating more specifically with her husband. For her, the perfect setup for sex would be having her husband listen intently to her talk about her day and ask questions about how she felt without trying to solve or fix the issues she just needed to vent about.

It didn’t happen overnight, and she had to remind him to give her equal time, but within a few months, they’d established a new pattern. As Tanya felt more heard, she felt a stronger emotional connection. It wasn’t long before she was nudging her husband, which was a happy surprise for both of them.

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