Dear Dr. Darcy:
My partner and I live in New York and this March she was laid off. I can carry our finances and I’ve told her that there’s no pressure to get a job, but she’s completely uncomfortable with being financially dependent on me. Over the past 5 months she’s become so stressed out about money that it’s all she can talk about. Her professional displacement has inverted our roles in countless ways. She’s home all day yet she doesn’t contribute to any of the household chores which had been my responsibility and which I’ve recently stopped doing.
I could cope when the issues were limited to these subjects. Unfortunately, our sex life has declined in proportion to the decline in my partner’s morale; we haven’t had sex in 3 months. I’ve told her that I can’t live in a sexless relationship, but she doesn’t put forth effort to change things. I know most people are experiencing the same types of stressors, but I’m becoming worried that my relationship might not survive our economic recovery.
I’ve received countless emails about financial pressures of late, so to the extent that you find some validation in knowing you’re not the only ones, be assured that you are not. Still, it sounds like you’re sinking and I’m inclined to throw you something to float on before your ship goes down.
Your decision to stop participating in the household chores should not have been a unilateral one. If it was, I suggest that you resume your former duties. If it was a joint decision, I suggest that you reiterate your willingness to contribute on the domestic front immediately.
Your entire email has a passive-aggressive tone and an implication that your partner’s responsible for creating the issues and consequently responsible for fixing them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Before you surrendered to lesbian bed death, I suspect you engaged in many relationship-affirming behaviors which were breathing oxygen into your sex life. Try withholding water from your plants and see if they survive a three month drought. If you can foresee the outcome, then bypass the exercise. Instead, begin courting your partner, who is likely in dire need of a reason to want to have sex again.
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Dr. Darcy Smith received her Masters degree from Columbia University and her Ph.D. from New York University. She has been a practicing social worker for over 10 years and is in private practice in both New York City and New Jersey.
*This column is not a consultation with a mental health professional and should in no way be construed as such or as a substitute for such consultation. Anyone with issues or concerns should seek the advice of her own therapist or counselor.