One reader struggles with putting up with his partner’s bad habits, while another deals with his partner’s habit of not putting out.
I have a problem of the grodiest degree. I’ve been married for several years, and my wife continually embarrasses me by making inappropriate, crass comments. Whether it’s posting her menstrual cycle calendar proudly on the kitchen bulletin board, making a fart joke at a party, or tweeting her bodily functions for the whole internet to see, I’m always left feeling grossed out and humiliated. My attempts to discuss this with her have failed because she says I’m just “being uptight.” She is an otherwise great person, and I don’t want this stupid issue to keep tainting our life together. What do I do?
-Nearly Neanderthal in Lakeside
Tess: “Well shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behavior.”
First, you should give discussion another try. If she tries to use the excuse that you’re being “uptight,” defend yourself. Bodily functions are indeed just basic physical features of the human body, and therefore nothing to guffaw about or parade as the only topic of conversation available. Also, make sure that she grasps how much her behavior embarrasses you. If a friend respectfully requests that you avoid a given subject, you do so out of courtesy and love for them — regardless of how you actually feel about the subject. Why should this situation be any different? If nothing else, you can reach a compromise wherein she would refrain from crassness while in your presence, and burp the alphabet to her heart’s content when in like company.
If talking about it doesn’t work, you can always adjust your own ways. Instead of hiding from her outbursts or getting angry, just lead by example and ignore her attempts at humor. If a response from you is absolutely necessary, a sincere “Please pardon her” or just an apologetic look will absolve you from being lumped in with her as a neanderthal. Keep in mind that she is most likely using the gross-out shtick as a crutch. If she doesn’t shock people, she may have to be interesting, and she is desperately afraid that she won’t be able to deliver. If you make efforts to draw her out in conversation, and to bring up the interests and talents that make her who she really is, in time your positive reinforcement could alleviate her need for potty humor.
Jack: Hmm, yes, “draw out conversation” and “talents that make her who she really is”. Great plan, Tess, now go back to fantasy land and let the men talk turkey here. The main question I have is wouldn’t you notice that someone is crass or disgustingly inappropriate during the courtship period? This has just recently become a problem? To be honest, she sounds terrific, and I should one day be so lucky to have a woman who will push the envelope with poop humor at stuffy get togethers. And really, isn’t twatting about how you dropped a turd so foul that you nicknamed it Hiroshima the only possible way to make Twitter interesting? (Stephen Colbert recently coined the term “twatting” as the past tense of “tweeting”. Ex. I got home after work and twatted about my hemorrhoids before dinner.)
My advice: Fight fire with fire and start grossing her out. It may be out of character for you to drop awkward disgusting jokes, but trust me, it comes pretty naturally with a bit of practice. It will probably only take one super over-the-top gross-out before she will realize the error of her ways. Try “accidentally” farting in front of her friends, and then when someone complains about the smell, grab your ass and be like, “Uh oh, looks like my O-ring is still all loose from that new strap-on you used on me earlier honey!” Then laugh as hard as humanly possible, all the while holding your hand up and beckoning the other party-goers to high-five you. If that doesn’t work, and she can still make crass comments, well, I’d recommend getting a divorce… or you could just not complain anymore about a problem that I’m sure many other men would enjoy having with their wives.
I moved in with my girlfriend six months ago. Before that we had been together for a year. During that year we had a mind-blowing sex life and it seemed like a day didn’t go by where we didn’t beg to be naked together. Now though, things have changed. At first when we moved in the sex was still steady but then for whatever reason she started to lose her sex drive and all of a sudden (at month 6 of living together) we now have sex about once every two weeks. She insists that nothing has changed and that she loves me dearly, but for whatever reason she just doesn’t want to have sex all that much. So now I’m living with a girl who I truly do love and care for, but I never get any sex. We’re not married, we have no kids and we are both 29 years old. What are my options here?
-Undersexed in Richmond
Jack: That’s a real humdinger there. You commit to a girl by saying “I love you”, you move in together in your twenties, and now the getting just ain’t as good as when the getting was really good. My initial gut-response is to say that you’re extremely lucky that the only real legal connection you two have is a lease, and that there are no children, marriage or money BS involved. I say this because the situation doesn’t look good, my man. Do you think that her bodies natural sex drive has decreased, or do you think that her sex drive for you has decreased? It’s most likely the latter. So now you’re faced with a dilemma. You love her, but there is no real physical connection anymore. Are you prepared for a life of infrequent sex and having to remember 8 different passwords to all the internet porn sites you will (eventually) belong to? I know I’m not, but it’s easy for me to say that when I’m not in love or living with a girl.
I say you sit her down and just lay it all on the line. Be like, “I love ya baby, but I’m a man with needs. So if you can’t give me the lovin’ I deserve, then I’m packing my bags” (that would’ve made for a great Otis Redding ballad). Although regardless of what you do, I have a feeling that the sex or your relationship will never regain the passion that it had in the first year.
Okay Tess, go ahead and tell them to seek “couples counseling” or some other nonsense. Go on, I know you want to say it.
Tess: Wow, Jack, it seems as though you know what the right answers are, but you just have to give the stereotypically bone-headed answer so that everyone will know just how cray-zay and trend-bucking you are! Mission a-fricking-ccomplished. We’re all watching you in detached disgust awe!
But truly, Undersexed, don’t hustle down to the counselor’s office at every sign of a conundrum before even having a discussion about it with your girl. You seem to think you’re in some new, unheard of situation. NEWS FLASH: according to everyone on the planet, sex frequency sometimes decreases after you’ve been with someone for a long time. You are in the same boat as the rest of the known world. There are entire (awful) sitcoms based on the assumption that this situation is inevitable.
Do talk to her about it, but don’t say “put out or we’re through.” Putting more pressure on her will probably diminish her desire to perform, not increase it. Get out of the “what can I get from my partner?” mind frame, and start asking what you can give. Sit down together and come up with a list of things you can both work on to improve things. You have a right to ask for affection, but being in a serious relationship is hard work, and you both need to put some effort into it.
As a painfully obvious side note, sex is not the only thing that matters, or the only way you can feel loved and fulfilled. If “getting some” is the only reason you’re in this relationship, don’t waste any more of this girl’s time.
Would you like to be similarly fulfilled?? Send your relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and start the argument. Check out past columns at Robot Hearts, and keep tabs on Jack at Jack Goes Forth.