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While many a couple will be happily enjoying Valentine's Day pleasures, there will certainly be too many who will not only be dreading the day, but who will suffer through it, best they can.
Who am I referring to? Simply the husbands and wives who love their spouse, but find their partner has transformed the marriage into one without not only sex, but minus other physical affection.
And, where Valentine's Day is supposed to be the epitome of expressions of romantic love, this day can bring some spouses incredible, inner pain.
Where can you find these folks who stay in the marriage for assorted reasons? You need look no further than on Internet forums, Facebook, in eavesdropped conversations (spoken in whispers), at taverns, in locker rooms, or cafes. Basically anywhere.
Promises made to 'Love and to cherish' their husband or wife, lasted for a while. And then... Perhaps the birth of children and a new role... Maybe it's 70+ hour, high stress work weeks... Health issues... Confessions that they never truly enjoyed sexual contact and so now they...
Let me be clear
: These frustrated spouses are not typically wives and husbands who have unusually high sex drives. Or who are 'affection exhibitionists'... These are 'regular' folks. People who married someone that they believed would devote some amount of physical and emotional energy toward the highs and satisfaction derived from spousal contact.
Whether desiring to cuddle. Or kiss 'good morning' and 'good night'. To hold hands. Get and offer a neck or back rub. To have intercourse or foreplay more than once every six months or year or never again.
To be fair, women and men experience all sorts of hormonal changes over time. And men can find themselves impotent or too used to climaxing far too soon. And neither gender might wish to consume the 'little blue pill' or risk the effects of estrogen replacement therapy.
But, there are alternatives, if the spouses are open to them. Simple and random acts of affection might be enough to satisfy many 'starving' spouses. There are pills and creams to assist those who are willing to try them. There are new ways to express sexual feelings. And, the need to simply be acknowledged as an attractive partner in life.
Affairs, for some who indulge in these, are in fact driven by wives and husbands who decide, single-offhandedly that their marriage should be largely platonic.
Both women and men tend to not marry their best platonic friend. They instead opt for spending their life with someone who finds them sexually attractive. And for whom the feelings are mutual.
I have heard people ask how total abstinence in a marriage is any less of a breaking of the marital vows, then having an affair?
Common questions also include: Where is the compromise to be found? Is physical affection or sex, simply once ore twice a year, an equitable balance? 1 or 2 nights out of 365? -- Does my happiness not mean anything to my partner? -- Are they wanting me to go elsewhere for my needs? -- Why am I considered selfish? -- Don't I do things that I do not want to do? Go to work, every day... Cook meals and clean the home... Visit relatives or run errands...
Many of these 'hungry' women and men remain in the marriage because they wish to be with their children, daily. Or, for financial reasons. Or, because they decide that their love for their spouse is strong enough to justify staying.
Reality is that many of these folks will become bitter and begin to show their frustration and resentment, at home or at work.
I remember a woman, decades ago, who worked in human services. Her businessman husband stopped showing her physical affection. And, she eventually sought outlets in affairs. But, she hated it.
Interesting is that the one espousing the platonic relationship can find all sorts of justification for changing the 'rules' of their marriage. -- They're tired. They find what happens in the bedroom to be boring. They decide, unilaterally, that they are no longer attractive, so they don't want to 'expose' themselves, if you will. They want time alone without being bothered.
Fact is that many of these reasons are obviously valid on some level. They also show great selfishness. Again, if their husband or wife was constantly demanding sex or hugs & kisses, that would be different. But marriage is supposed to be fulfilling to both partners.
So far I haven't mentioned those who use sex as a bargaining chip to get what they want. Or, as a 'weapon' to get back at their spouse for a real or imagined situation.
Worse yet are the spouses who proclaim that their partner is free to seek a divorce if they are so unhappy. Wow! A dagger to the heart! This essentially says that some major marital decisions are theirs alone to make, things will never change, and, most importantly, they cannot find sufficient joy in pleasing their wife or husband to... That divorce and breaking-up the family is easier to do, then to maintain their marital vows and the accompanying, typical expectations for a married life.
Okay, so I have covered the problem. But is there a solution? A workable one?
Unfortunately, there will be some marriages where this problem will not resolve itself, well. Simply because it requires both parties to not only actually compromise, but because action might come too late. Too many hurt feelings and animosity to overcome.
Happily, there are steps to take. Perhaps a recognition that there are multiple ways to climax. That subtle 'public' signs of affection are fine. That often once you begin sexual foreplay, it can be easy to 'get in the mood'. That if boredom or a strong dislike for how you both make love is the issue, then verbal communication can be truly helpful.
Did you notice that I have very much included women as 'sufferers', if you will in this situation? That's because they are. And, the media has a responsibility to make something of that, for the benefit of both genders.

Bottom-line, it is in 'the Obvious' that many answers to marital problems exist. Please check out the very different marital guide... Designed for good marriages as well as rocky ones... Improve Your Marriage - Don't Overlook the Obvious. And, it's companion website,

'Nuff said!


After conducting numerous workshops, listening to men and women on the job, and men discussing their wives at functions, I decided to let some of you ladies know just how many men feel about signs of affection and acknowledgement of their importance in your life. 
LITTLE THINGS. - Tiny, insignificant, unglamorous acts of love and affection. - Who'd have thought that they mattered so much to men? Certainly not many wives, from what I hear.
MONOPOLY. - Your gender does not have exclusive rights to desiring a man's attention. Men might not want to admit it, for fear of seeming weak or Un-Arnold-like, but they crave it just as you do. Perhaps, more so.
ENERGIZE YOUR COUCH POTATO. - When was the last time that you sat on his lap? Or took his hand, stroked his hair or arm… ? - Perhaps an afternoon of college football or an evening of C-SPAN doesn't stimulate you… Okay, maybe it's boring beyond belief! But, imagine how special your man would feel knowing that despite a gazillion other things which you could be doing, you are there by his side.
HANDWRITING ON THE WALL. - Or in a greeting card. - Doesn't matter much where you stroke your pen. Simply give your man a 'Just Because I Love You' or 'Thinking of You' card. Send it to him at work. His beaming smile will brighten up your neighborhood's clouds, from miles away!
DREADED CHORES. - Join in! Now, some men look forward to spending some quiet time when working around the house. Others will relish having you to chat with, while sharing the workload. - Who says that a fair division of labor has to mean 'separate but equal' tasks, instead of 'project teamwork'?
LOVE NOTES. - Scribble 'I Love You', 'You're Great', 'I'm Glad That You're My Husband', 'You're Sexy', or 'You Make Me Happy', on that marketing list you give him. - If you've seen a man hurry to get shopping done while wearing a smile, you can bet that he either is hurrying home for a big poker game or for an appreciative bride/ girlfriend.
YOUR TALENTS. - You have them. Flaunt them! At least, share them with him. - If you bake, prepare that decadent dessert when it's not his birthday or a holiday. - If you sing, wake him with a kiss and a song! - If your fingers are magical, give him a neck or back rub. - If your lips are what he cherishes more than cherry pie, kiss him like you mean it! Not like an acquaintance or relative. - Use your talents often and unexpectedly. The results should be well worth the effort!
SHOCK AND AWE. - A term for love, not war! - Let him find you sans sleepwear, in bed. Invite him home for lunch and greet him with a bathrobe, appropriately loosened. Offer to do something sexual, which he craves, yet you normally do not do. - Be creative!
DRESS THE PART. - Business suits are fine for the office. Housecoats are fine for dusting. Neither is fine for telling your man that you still want to please him. More importantly, that you still care about him. Every woman is beautiful, desirable, and sexy to her guy. Revel in that fact!
BALLOONS AND FLOWERS. - Men are big kids, sometimes. And what kid doesn't get excited, receiving a balloon? And, flowers are equal opportunity symbols of love and caring.
AROUND THE CHILDREN. - Amazing. You want your sons to grow up sensitive and believing that fulfilling, happy marriages do exist. And your daughter should find a decent man whom she loves and cherishes. - Where is the role-modeling for this, though? What is wrong with your kids catching a glimpse of a semi-passionate kiss? What would be traumatic about them witnessing hand-holding on the couch or at a restaurant? Or a quick squeeze of the shoulders? A neck rub? - Appropriate signs of affection among their parents can teach children so very much. In addition, it reinforces their respect for each parent, when they see the adults treating one another so lovingly.
HOW'S YOUR DAY? - Even busy executives can find 30 seconds to take their woman's call. Revel in hearing her melodious tones. - Showing interest in his day will probably lead to him reciprocating, if he doesn't already inquire of your day's events.
PLEASE AND THANK YOU. - Don't take simple acts for granted. He is your partner-in-life, not a servant. - Perhaps, treat him as you would a stranger who did something kind for you, except let your love mix in with your words of thanks.
IT ONLY COUNTS WHEN AND IF… - Were you thrilled with that vacuum cleaner on Mother's Day? Or going to see that action flick instead of 'The Notebook'? - A gift is truly only appreciated if the recipient wants it. The fact that you believe your actions routinely show your man that he is 'special', might mean very little to him. What matters are how he perceives what you do. How much he values the specific things that you do for him.
NEEDY. - "Why do I need to do these things? He knows that I care." - Maybe 'Yes', maybe 'No. But actions do speak louder than words. And words certainly beat out silence, most times. - Face it! Most couples do not share the same emotional, physical, or sexual drives and needs. Instead of thinking that you can continue life in your own lane, indefinitely, realize that if you do not do something more in sync with him, you will eventually head-off in different directions at one of life's many forks in the road. - What does it really cost you to do these things? Compared with what you might lose?
INFIDELITY OR BEING IGNORED. - Which is worse?  Many men would say that ignoring them was more painful. When your lover cheats with another man, there is someone to be angry at, jealous of. However, when you and your needs are ignored, you know that you must be incredibly undesirable and irrelevant to your lady. Someone who once found you exciting and worth pleasing.
TOO TIRED. - Know what? That won't fly. Your man sees you plug along even when exhausted. He sees you manage to meet the needs of kids, parents, friends, and others. Day after day. Cleaning, shopping, attending to the children, chatting on the telephone. You stay up late to finish a project to help someone else. Yet, do you fall asleep as soon as you and your bedmate retire for the evening? - Can't you muster some amount of energy for your man? Make him feel as special as the others in your life? Once in a while?
ICEBERG. - "But he is cold to me. He doesn't show me affection, so why should I show him any?" - The answer is found in science. How do you melt an iceberg? Or at least thaw it? With heat. - Be affectionate. Be playful. Even, dare I suggest, be sexual. If your man still has any 'husbandly' feelings toward you, they will begin to show. - Many men withdraw and become frigid as a way to protect themselves, or to 'get even'. - Two sides of the same coin.
TOO MUCH ON THE PLATE. - "Look, I hear what you are saying, but I am really drained, stressed, and burned-out. I could care less about these things. Call me 'selfish', but it's the way that I feel." - Hmm… Travel back in time to when you were dating. Then to your newlywed days. Didn't little (or big) gestures help you to relax? To distract you from the day's craziness? Even energize you? - Plus, this is not all about you and your needs and wants. There is a reason that it takes two people to exchange wedding vows. A reason why you share a marital bed. Or a reason why you live together. Hopefully, the reason is that you love one another. And as a result, you want to please your spouse. - Declaring aloud that you are self-centered and selfish, does not excuse you from fulfilling your vows. - You can muster some energy if you try, and you truly care about your man.
LITTLE THINGS. A SMILE. A TOUCH. A kiss. 'Good morning, Honey." "Good night, Lover." A note. A hug. - All small things that result in a huge pay-off. - Treasures to re-discover, daily and nightly. - A good, loving male is a terrible thing to take for granted or lose. Sleep on that!
copyright - R. Irving 2006