Intimacy and Resentment
Hello all, maybe you can give me some insight on this issue. I've been dealing with this on my own for a while.
First, a little context:
I'm a married dude. Wife and I have been together for 6 years, and married for 2 years. We have a powerful relationship, mutually supportive, lots of care and love, and we challenge each other to be better people.
Here's what's been eating at me:
1. While Wife and I are both looking for intimacy in our relationship, we want that fulfilled in different ways. I suppose that's to be expected to some degree. As far as I can gather from her habits, interactions, and the conversations we have, she wants to feel connected primarily through conversation and non-sexual touch (cuddling mostly). I primarily want to feel connected and intimate through sexual touch. Now, these aren't mutually exclusive by any stretch--she says she enjoys sex and that its still important to her, and I love our conversations and non-sexual touching. It's a just a matter of priority, frequency and what makes us feel most intimately connected to one another.
2. Aside from the earliest stages of our relationship, I haven't felt like my needs for sexual intimacy have been prioritized enough in the relationship. I feel like I am fully committed, and do a lot to make sure she feels loved in the way she needs. It doesn't seem fully reciprocal, from my perspective, and this has led to a lot of pain and a build-up of resentment. Psychologically, my habit is to defer to others and avoid conflict, which has made this a sticky situation to work through. Regardless, I'm beginning to understand that I need to assert myself and advocate better for my needs in the relationship.
3. I realize that any marriage requires significant compromise, so both partners can feel respected and valued. On one hand, I want a more frequent, passionate, and spontaneous sexual relationship. On the other hand, I know our sex drives are just calibrated differently, and I respect that. She doesn't want to have sex nearly as often, and I really don't want to push her to do anything she doesn't fully want to. I'm cool with the concept of compromise, but I end up feeling like **** most weeks. I go out of my way to do a lot for her, simply because I want her to be happy. I don't feel like she does the same for me, at least nowhere near the same amount. I guess that's the heart of the issue, from my viewpoint.
4. Because of all this, I'm beginning to fall into a pattern of resentment. I'm actually really angry, I should recognize that--I made my vows seriously, but sometimes I wonder if I've trapped myself in a relationship which isn't going to be healthy for me. The clearer this becomes, the more I find myself disconnecting from her and purposefully withholding my love. It's not healthy, I know that, but I want her to understand how I feel and how painful it is to feel this way.
What We've Tried so Far:
-Explicit conversations about my needs. She gets really defensive about it, and feels like I'm criticizing her. I'm working on advocating for myself in a way that doesn't get her to shut down, as I know this type of communication is probably the best route for finding a compromise.
-Cold-shouldering and general withholding. Not a good idea. I know it doesn't lead to any long term change or a better situation. Weirdly though, she seems to get my point after a couple days and then will seek out sex. Then we repeat the cycle.
-She's told me that she doesn't feel like she should be responsible for my sexual needs, and tells me to masturbate more. I've tried to make clear how sex for me isn't just a physical thing. Masturbating is a detached physical act, but good sex makes me feel loved, valued, connected, etc...
Husband wants more sexual intimacy. Feeling resentful towards wife. Loves wife dearly. Has no clue what to do.