| 3.3°C Dublin

Relationship SOS Dear Maura: We're both too bored to have sex





Maura O’Neill has been responding to a wide range of problems and issues for the past 20 years as Agony Aunt with the Sunday World. With a Higher Diploma in Education and counselling qualification she also draws on her own life experience in responding to readers’ letters.

Dear Maura,

My boyfriend and I have got to the stage where sex is too much of an effort - and I don't know if I want to do anything about it.

We're together four years and the last time we had sex was on Valentine's Day, and I think it was because we both felt that we should.

There's no escape from the work/life routine. It's the boring sameness of each day. I know people say you need to make time for sex, but how do you do that when you're just not motivated?

I'm really sad some days thinking about this. We still love each other, and both look forward to Saturday nights spent snuggling on the couch and watching a film together. It's just everything has killed our enthusiasm.

I know I don't want the relationship to end but we're becoming more like friends. We joke about the sex part, but there's no conscious effort to do anything about it.

Maura says: The current shape of your life is restricting you in so many ways and has narrowed you down to literally work and the basics of daily living. This has sapped any energy or enthusiasm for sex.

The core of the relationship is still healthy, you just need to make a few practical changes.

We are all confined to home and it's hard to be enthusiastic for anything. But if you make an effort and focus on what you want to change, then change can happen.

First, talk to your partner as you will have to work on putting sex back into your relationship together. Then schedule a 'sex date'. Create an atmosphere around it - plan ahead, look forward to it, revisit what you both like. Don't turn this into anything except having sex.

If you mark off a time to be together then it will happen - all you need to do is to re-establish the routine. Anything worthwhile takes effort.

Dear Maura,

My husband has been living with his mother for the last six weeks. His younger brother used to stay with her but he's moved in with his girlfriend. I feel it's so unfair that this has happened as we're married and he's only in a relationship less than a year.

I understand that someone has to stay with her, but I really resent that it has to be my husband. This situation has caused tension between us and I'm not even speaking to his brother.

Of course, I love my husband and I don't want to be fighting with him over a situation that he can't help and has no control over. But he could try to organise some home care for her. They have the money to do that. It's a bit of a mess, to be honest. When we're chatting, I try to not say anything to start a row. But sometimes with everything going on I just lash out and I hate myself after. If we could go away for a weekend when it's allowed and just spend some time focusing on us it would be great. But that won't be for a long time. I would love your take on this.


The problem is that you don't know how long this situation is going to go on for. It's hard to negotiate your life and relationship with your husband with this level of uncertainty.

However, surely it's possible for both brothers to work out a schedule so everyone shares in the care of your mother-in-law. It just needs a bit of planning.

Talk to him and see what he says. Life is difficult enough without making it even more so and nobody is happy with the current arrangement.

Get everyone on board with a plan and take it from there. Home help may not work at the moment, you would have to see how she would feel about it, but is something to consider later.

Dear Maura,

I'm so afraid that I've lost my daughter, that I've messed up our relationship and she will never have a closeness with me. I've sensed this for a good while but only really became fully aware of it over the last month or so.

She has been giving trouble and I had to go to her school a few times last year. I'm a single parent. Her father left when she was eight. She's now 12. He turned out to be not a nice man at all.

My own mother was quite hard and I guess that's had an influence on me. But I don't want this for my daughter or for her to feel alone which her Year Head told me she said. I don't know how to make things better for her and me.

It's not easy. I have to work from home and I'm quite busy, so she's on her own a lot. I've no family nearby but she does have cousins and she had a nice time over the holiday with them, making me more aware of how miserable she is with me.

So where or how do I start? Is it possible to mend this relationship for us both to heal? I know I carry baggage from my own childhood which makes this whole process so difficult.


How about starting with something very simple, like an invite to your daughter to have hot chocolate, treats and watch a film you both like.

Sometimes an atmosphere like this can create a sense of love and care which I feel for whatever reason has been missing for both of you.

Nobody is to blame, it's important to remember that. Have you ever considered talking about your own childhood and your daughter's father? You have experienced a lot of emotional trauma and I feel you have just got on with everything rather than taking time to work through these experiences.

Focus on healing by taking a step back from pressures in your life and making your relationship with your daughter a priority.


Email your problems to Dr Angela Brokmann: dr.angela@sundayworld.com or Maura O'Neill: maura.oneill@sundayworld.com

Sunday World