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Covid ruined my life plans and now I feel completely disconnected from my husband

Ask Roe: I used to be obsessed with how handsome he was and now I feel nothing. How can I reconnect?

Dear Roe,

I’m a woman and I’ve been married to my husband for three years. We got married right before Covid and had so many plans to travel and had personal and professional goals we both wanted to achieve. All that stalled during the pandemic and now, even though life is mostly back to normal, something has shifted. I’m in my 30s and feeling under pressure to have a baby. I do want children, but I feel like I missed out on all these big plans I had, not just for us as a couple, but for me as a person. I hate the pressure of it, but also know that having children later might be more difficult. My husband has started some conversations about what we want the next couple of years to look like and I just shut down. Part of this is that I just don’t feel attracted to him any more. I don’t feel any sexual desire for him. I used to be obsessed with how handsome he was and now I feel nothing. Our sex life has nearly completely disappeared and it’s because of me; he still tries to initiate but it’s getting less often. He’s patient with me, but I know it upsets him. I don’t know what to do.

Feeling like you’ve lost attraction to a long-term partner can be really scary, particularly if you’re recently married. It can bring up feelings of panic, believing this spells imminent disaster for your relationship.

But physical attraction doesn’t just disappear overnight in the way you’re thinking about it. Barring any possibility of a werewolf identity, your husband’s appearance hasn’t dramatically altered overnight. He still has the same general physical qualities you have always found attractive, and were indeed “obsessed” with when you first started going out and when you got married. So this issue isn’t about physical attraction. This is about a loss of emotional intimacy and connection. You’re feeling distant to and disconnected from your partner on multiple levels and your brain is reading that as a loss of physical attraction. This is why you’re not feeling any sexual desire for him, and it’s tied in with all the stress and pressure and disconnection you’re feeling in your life and relationship. This loss of sexual desire can be scary, of course – but by tackling the emotional connection in your relationship and addressing all the external and internal stressors in your life, you absolutely can start building that connection back up.


First of all, I want to acknowledge how incredibly difficult the ripple effects of Covid have been – on you, and so many people, in so many different ways. We talk about the trauma of being separated from and even losing loved ones and we talk about the impacts of the isolation on our mental health (though these conversations are dying down much too quickly, in my opinion – the impacts are going to last a long, long time). But too often we skip over the kinds of losses you are experiencing: the loss of time, of opportunity, of free choices, of growth and adventure and self-development. As your situation shows, so many people of all ages lost time that was supposed to be dedicated to gaining new experiences, to enjoying life with relatively few responsibilities, to getting to grow and mature and evolve in ways that were hugely important to their mental and emotional health – and that were vital so they felt ready to move on to the next stage of their life plan.

And now, you feel like you lost time. Time to go on adventures. Time to have new experiences. Time to have experiences on your own as individuals and have some space from each other. Time to be a little footloose and free and wild so that when it came time to making decisions about having a family – family that inherently require a lot of sacrifice and responsibility and commitments – you would feel ready.

You’re grieving both the time lost and the sense of readiness that you were hoping you would have now, as the idea of starting a family feels more urgent. You’re grieving the structure and plan you had for your life, and the sense of safety and control it afforded you. And you’re grieving the desire and connection you used to feel with your husband, and you’re worried that because it feels missing so early in your relationship, that you’ll never get it back, that you somehow missed your chance.

There are three things to remember. One: your feelings and stress and grief are all completely valid, and you’re allowed feel and process them. Two: you need to process them to rebuild your relationship with time, both your present and your future, so that you can feel empowered again to do what you need to do. Three: you presumably married your husband because you felt like he understood you, loved you and wanted to support you through the tough times – so let him do all that.

Have a very honest, vulnerable conversation with your husband – the first of many. Tell him how much grief you’re feeling for the plans you had and how the pressure of starting a family is making you feel. Talk about how you’re feeling disconnected from him and that you miss both him and feeling like yourself. And then listen to what he has to say – because I have no doubt that he has also been struggling too and has been really missing you.

You’re feeling disconnected from your life, your sense of agency, yourself – and that’s making you feel disconnected from your husband, too. Focus on reconnecting with your sense of self, but also commit to reconnecting with him

Talk about what plans were disrupted, what you were both hoping they would bring you emotionally and how you might start to readjust. You might find that there are some plans that you’re happy to scrap. There might be some plans that were parked during Covid that you want to pick back up. And there might be some new things that you need now. Talk about what you both want, what you need and start implementing small steps to help you get there so you can feel in control of your life again – and like you’re both on the same team.

One thing that you may need is therapy, both individually and as a couple, to navigate your individual experiences of this time and to help you reconnect and communicate as a couple. If having children in the future is important to you, booking an appointment with a fertility specialist to have a check-up and discuss your options might also be helpful.

But the thing you definitely need right now is, simply, each other. You’re feeling disconnected because life threw you – and all of us – a giant, pandemic-shaped curveball and threw your plans into disarray. You’re feeling disconnected from your life, your sense of agency, yourself – and that’s making you feel disconnected from your husband, too. Focus on reconnecting with your sense of self, but also commit to reconnecting with him. Look back to the start of your relationship, what drew you to one another, what experiences did you enjoy together, what made you feel close and connected – and try emulating those things. Go out together, have some new experiences together, however small, and commit to getting to know each other now, in the same way you were obsessed with knowing each other at the beginning of your relationship. You have both changed, your plans for the future have changed – so talk about it, together. What feels exciting and possible now? You lost some time. But you have so much more of it spread out ahead of you. How do you want to spend it?