She's Overwhelmed, Uninterested

Q: I have been married for 7 years, and I'm going through menopause. My parents have dementia, my grown daughter has schizophrenia and is getting discharged in a week. I also have a herniated disc and am going through treatment. I have a lot on my mind, and all my hubby wants is intimacy 24-7. I'm trying to take it one day at a time. One night I was half awake, and he was feeling me up. He doesn't understand. He says that he thinks he's losing me. I reassure him that he isn't. What can I do? -- Mary, 54

Dr. Susan: Your husband, like many people, equates physical intimacy with love. You're overwhelmed with your responsibilities and have a bad back besides, so getting it on is the last thing on your mind. That's easy for me to understand, but he's taking it personally. Perhaps he isn't very emotionally sophisticated. Still, try not to blame him for his neediness. Sit down with him and talk more about what it feels like to be you. Perhaps you can work out ways to satisfy him or for him to satisfy himself that won't add to your pain and sense of overload.

Once he feels truly loved again, he may be able to help support you more fully in your time of extraordinary need. You both have to realize that the other is not your enemy. This is a marriage-testing time of both your lives. Try to work together to handle what comes up, one thing at a time, without reacting negatively to his efforts to get physically closer.

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