30 second therapist

Help! My wife wants to go to swinger parties and I don't

Nov. 1, 2013 at 1:37 PM ET

This week, one reader says he is no longer intimate with his wife, who pressures him to go to swingers clubs, while another says she's worried she'll lose her boyfriend because her kids are rude to him. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series. 

Q: My marriage is in trouble, not to my surprise though, because my wife and I have been dealing with the same problem since we married nine years ago. She cheats on me with other women, and she wants me to have a threesome. I am not interested at all. Also, she wants me to go to swinger parties with her. I am not interested in that either, and I have told her this. I said to her that this is not the reason I got married. Now we don't have sex at all anymore, and when I make an attempt to be intimate, she gives me some poor excuse and says, "That's all you want me for." So I gave up trying. I'm just going to focus my time and energy on our two children. What should I do? Move on with my life or seek some type of mediation? —Not a Swinger


Dear Not a Swinger,

As you have found, most couples argue about the same few issues throughout their union. You have been unhappy for almost a decade. Have you discussed your different sexual tastes with your wife? She may be a lesbian, and not interested in having sex with you—or any man—without another female to stimulate her. Why have you not sought marriage counseling? This must be discussed. You’re denying yourself intimacy, which every human requires. Is that okay? Apparently, your wife derives her affection elsewhere. Putting your “time and energy on [your] two kids” further avoids your problem and plants too much pressure on them.

Do you believe you deserve love? My Gilda-Gram articulates, “You manifest what you believe you deserve.” Feelings of unworthiness usually punctuate dysfunctioning relationships. Even if your wife is unwilling to go, seek therapy yourself. But come armed with your answer to why you’ve withstood rejection for so long. —Dr. Gilda

Q: I'm in need of some serious advice. I have been dating the same guy for two years. I am divorced with two children, ages 12 (daughter) and 10 (son). My kids dislike my boyfriend, and I do not bring him around my kids for this reason. I can count on one hand the times he and my kids have been around each other. My daughter is rude and disrespectful to him, and my ex-husband talks horribly about him in front of our kids. My son is somewhat nice to him.

My boyfriend feels like he has wasted the past two years of his life, because he thinks nothing is going to change with our relationship. He wants to move forward and be around my kids more, even though he knows they don't like him. If I don't start changing things, I am going to lose a good man!! Please help! My daughter has told me that she just doesn't want me dating anyone, but she wouldn't have a problem with her dad dating. She has also stated that she "wants me to be alone forever." This is causing serious problems in my relationship. —Girlfriend or Mom

Dear Girlfriend AND Mom,

Who’s running your love life? You or your rude kids? Your relationship is a case of “like attracts like.” If boyfriend had a backbone, he’d tell you: “Make me a priority, or I’m done.” If you had a backbone, you’d tell your kids, “Either you’re respectful to my friends, or there’ll be consequences.”

Of course your kids want you all to themselves; you’re their stability, which they want to maintain. The absent parent is usually put on a distant pedestal, and his dating would have no bearing on their security.

Become both girlfriend and mom at the same time. But you’ll first need to decide to lead, and create adult boundaries that are sorely lacking now. A parenting class that teaches tough love would help you greatly. — Dr. Gilda

Want Dr. Gilda to answer your relationship questions? Send them in!

Dr. Gilda Carle is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor emerita, has written 15 books, and her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”—Second Edition. She provides advice and coaching via Skype, email and phone.

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