This frustrated newlywed is bullying his new bride.

Dear Wayne,
I just married a great girl. We have been together for about four years. We have had some problems in the past with arguing. I am pretty intense and we are both somewhat controlling and stubborn. But for the most part, I think we make a great couple. But since the wedding, we have not had much sex. In fact, the frequency has gone down significantly. It started to decrease before the wedding. But I chocked that up to the stresses she had planning the wedding. Now I am wondering why she doesn’t want to have sex with me as much. When I try to talk with her about it, to find out what the problem is, she gets defensive and says she’s “being attacked.” Then we end up having an argument. I am getting very angry and very frustrated. What do you think?
Signed,
Frustrated Newlywed
Dear Frustrated,
I think your marriage is new, but the underlying issues in your relationship have been there for a while. You just weren’t paying attention, or you minimized what you saw and felt. Now that the presents have been opened and everyone has gone home, some of the realities are beginning to get your attention. That’s a good thing.
It’s time to stop arguing and start paying very close attention to your new wife. If she says she’s “being attacked,” she actually feels it and believes it, even if you don’t feel you’re attacking her. A lot of us men and women started out as little kids who felt under attack as we were growing up. Although the circumstances have changed over the years, our reactions may be stuck in the past. So, what to do?
You want to have a talk with her about something you’re terribly frustrated about. Your first step is to be able to sit with her without bringing your frustration and anger. If you’re not happy with your sex life—and I’m sure she’s well aware of it by now—she’s probably not happy about it either, and certainly not happy with the fact that you’re dissatisfied. She might even be feeling somewhat responsible for the situation, maybe even feeling that she’s to blame or that there’s something wrong with her.
Now, this may not be the truth, but before we can deal with the truth, we first have to deal with how she feels and what she needs from you to be able to actually have a productive talk so you can solve your problem.
Compassion and patience. That’s what you MUST bring to this conversation. (And it wouldn’t hurt if you, this intense, controlling and stubborn man, brought it daily to your marriage and to the rest of your life. But that’s for another column.) First take care of her. Then you can proceed to the bigger topic.
Remember, as long as she’s feeling under attack, no good will come of your conversation. Better to cut short your talk, and pick it up later, than to continue to force the issue when she’s clearly not ready.
If you do insist on making your point, you absolutely will be the attacker. Some might even say bully. And you’ll know she’s not ready to talk when she deflects by making an issue about how you’re presenting it to her, calls you names, starts getting overly emotional, or baits you into having an argument or discussion that is about anything but your sex life.
None of these tactics makes her a bad person. But they are clues that can help you be the rock for her. If you don’t take her behavior personally, you just might see a change in her. In her past, she didn’t feel safe. You have the opportunity of giving her a gift—making it safe for her to talk about difficult feelings and issues, like your sex life. And by the way, your problem isn’t about your sex life. It’s deeper than that. But if you handle this well, the two of you will eventually discover the deeper issues and figure out how to support one another in finding your solutions.
Your job is to get the support you need so that you no longer bring that “bully” to your relationship. Do that work and you just might see your marriage, and possibly your life, improve immeasurably. Remember tough guy, compassion and patience.