30 second therapist

I can't stand my husband's touch -- can our marriage be saved?

Nov. 22, 2013 at 2:15 PM ET

This week, one reader says she can't stand physical contact with her husband and she's resorted to cheating on him, while another reader just learned her husband cheated on her. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series. 

Q: I have been married for seven years. I hate having sex with my husband and I don't know what to do. He is a calm and kind man, and everyone likes him, but the reality is that I cannot tolerate him touching me. I’ve recently tried to love someone else because I need sex. Do you think I have to end this marriage, or is there any other way for me to rebuild it? —Sexless Siren

Dear Sexless Siren,

As the body’s largest organ, the skin craves touch. You “hate having sex with” your husband, and you “cannot tolerate him touching” you. Yet, getting stokes and strokes from someone you’re “trying” to “love” is all right? Get real!! You apparently fear the closeness of a consistent partner, but to answer your skin hunger, you’re confusing sex and touch with love.   

You ask if there’s any other way to rebuild the marriage. Lady, you can’t reconstruct your relationship while romping in another’s bed! Heed this Gilda-Gram™: “Building love requires emotional presence.” Unless you’re prepared to fully commit to your “calm and kind” man, do him the favor of bowing out!

Before you have a recurrence of rationalizing ill-founded “love” to warm you, master the concept of relationship give and take. —Dr. Gilda

Q: My husband of two years recently cheated on me. He told me the day after it happened. He said he would work hard to earn my trust back and he thought the other woman was what he wanted, but now he knows he was wrong. I'm hurt and angry, and so lost. I want to work things out, but how do I forgive him? How do we get past this? —Hurt & Angry

Dear Hurt & Angry,

The question before “how do I forgive?” should be “what’s going on?” 

Your will to “work things out” is key. Don’t fret about how to “get past this” right now; trust is proven in behavior, and that will take time. 

Like most women, do you imagine you’re the relationship police? If so, in addition to being angry with your husband, are you angry with yourself for not detecting marital shortfalls? Examine the marriage you had, exchange your feelings and fears, and watch your vulnerability become the glue to your bonding.

Max Lucado’s inspiring new film, “The Christmas Candle,” shows how seemingly impossible miracles manifest—when people want them to. Girl, you’ve both already nailed that part! Let a therapist help guide you toward renewal. —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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