Childhood abuse casts long shadow over couple’s intimacy
DEAR ABBY: I have been in a relationship with the man of my dreams for five years. Everything is great between us except for one huge thing — we are no longer intimate.
I have recently come to the realization that this isn’t the first time I have had this problem. I always thought it was an issue with the relationship, but now I suspect it may be linked to molestation I suffered when I was a child. At that time I was told “people who love you don’t touch you like that.” Logically I know this is different, but my partner tells me I just freeze up when we are together.
I think I need professional help, but I’m embarrassed and don’t know where to start. Do I need a therapist? How do I locate a good one in my area? — REACHING OUT IN CLEVELAND
DEAR REACHING OUT: Please accept my sympathy. Considering your history, what you’re experiencing is understandable, and yes, you need to talk to a therapist. The therapy should have started at the time you were molested. To find a “good one,” ask your physician to refer you to several so you can find a person you feel comfortable talking with.
Please do not be embarrassed to be frank, because most therapists have heard everything. It isn’t their job to judge you, only to help you. None of this was your fault, and your problem is fixable.
DEAR ABBY: My husband, kids and I moved out of state seven years ago, leaving behind our extended families. Now, whenever we plan a vacation in our home state, we encounter the same issues. The first is trying to accommodate everyone’s schedule into our own. The second is dividing our time between my family and my husband’s. (His family is smaller than mine.)
Is it fair to divide the time in half — half for his family and half for mine — even though I have so many more relatives on my list? Or should we divide our time by the number of households we need to see? These issues cause my husband and me to argue, and it makes what is supposed to be a vacation very unpleasant. I already feel like canceling the trip. — VACATION ISSUES
DEAR VACATION ISSUES: A solution would be to have two large family get-togethers — one for your family and another for his — during your visit. Then, if you want to visit with the relatives from the two branches of the families individually, you can “divide and conquer.” He can spend as much time as he wishes with his relatives, and you can spend time with yours.
DEAR ABBY: Every year my workplace sponsors a community blood drive. I am invariably asked by co-workers if I am going to donate. Because I am HIV-positive, I answer no. Then the person asks me why.
Abby, it is no one’s business. There could be many reasons — ranging from health to religious to personal. Or a person may simply not want to donate.
I would give if I could. Please ask your readers not to question others about whether they will donate blood. Have you any suggestions about how I should respond? — ON THE JOB IN IDAHO
DEAR ON THE JOB: A polite deflection would be to make light of it by saying, “I just don’t.”
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.