At the age of 34 Rory had achieved everything he had set out to do when he decided to prove to his father that he wasn’t a waster. He had an exciting six figure salary job as a buyer of exotic furnishings for a global interior design company. Together with a large upscale home, a beautiful and intelligent wife Alicia, and an adorable daughter, he was the envy of everyone in his social world. But Rory wasn’t happy. In fact he was angry and miserable because he felt excluded from Alicia’s private world.

Alicia initiated sex often and seemed to want it more than Rory did.
In fact he often felt that he was more useful to her as a servicing stud than a partner with whom to share secret wishes, insecurities, sadness, uncertainty or joy. He felt used from time to time and reacted with anger by rejecting Alicia’s overtures of good food, taking care of household duties or getting tickets for his favorite shows. To him, these were just other ways of fobbing him off by doing good deeds.

Each time Rory tried to connect with Alicia she brushed him off as if he were a whining child getting in her way.
Just when he thought he would try again, she would suddenly get incredibly busy, or rattle off a ton of things that needed her attention. Other times she would complain about her hard life, pushing him away as just another nuisance.

Taking her away for weekends or eating out to ease Alicia’s burden and spoil her just made her angry! She complained that it was a waste of money and pushed Rory to be more responsible. When he tried to be affectionate and comforting during stressful times, she reacted with disgust and snubbed his attempts to get close by mollycoddling her.

So Rory and Alicia rarely synchronized their ways of connecting and feeling comfortable with it. When Rory reached out, Alicia pushed him away, and when Alicia reached out Rory rejected her. Neither of them knew how to make the other feel safe, wanted and needed in ways that the other could receive and respond to.

Caught up in this unfulfilling and unending dance, their marriage became ever more threadbare and unsatisfying.

Have they chosen the wrong partners?
Rory and Alicia probably chose each other because they are both longing for emotional intimacy but don’t recognize when it is available and get angry when it comes in packages that don’t fit their expectation.

Do they have communication problems that drowned out their real feelings and needs?
Both lack the language of emotional intimacy and both would benefit from learning it in therapy. Building the foundation of empathy in relationship counseling will enable them to enjoy healthy emotional intimacy.

Is Rory weak for wanting emotional intimacy?
Seeking emotional intimacy is a strength, because you are letting your partner see as you really are, without hiding, pretending or aspiring to be a paragon of virtue.

Does Rory need to grow up, or does Alicia need to chill out?
Far from needing to grow up, Rory is right on the money when he chooses to get close to his wife rather than cheating, lying or burying himself in work. However, he does need to update his methods of getting close so Alicia doesn’t see him as a cranky baby.

Alicia needs to learn that Rory’s intentions are benign and loving, not hostile and selfish. That will take time because she is suspicious and mistrusting, given her past family life.

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Raymond is a psychologist and a top relationship expert as quoted by

Author of 'Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship,' Dr. Raymond presents the story of Rick, desperate to save his marriage, attends therapy to learn about the fears his wife has when he tries to get emotionally close. Then Dr. Raymond gives him ten strategies to help Rick make his wife feel safer and improve their marriage.