A relationship expert with over 25 years experience counselling couples, individuals and families.

Jill Goldson: What if physical attaction wears off?

I’ve been with my wife for 23 years, married for 20 of them. We get along fine, but I don’t think I find her attractive anymore. She’s put on weight and doesn’t look after herself the way she did when we first met. I feel guilty for thinking it, but I wish she still made an effort. Does this mean I don’t love her? Should I tell her how I feel?
What happens when I don't think she's hot any more?
Photo / Thinkstock
What happens when I don't think she's hot any more? Photo / Thinkstock

Are you still close? You say you 'get along just fine'- but what does that mean? Is 'just fine' the same as 'close'? We can get on with a distant colleague just fine - but as partners we need more than that. There are many ways to disconnect, and physically is just one of them.

Got a broken heart, relationship niggle, infuriating family member, or anything in between? Email your questions here and check back next Friday to hear Jill's wisdom.

Another thing - what sort of down time does your wife have? Is she too busy looking after everyone else? This is a huge barrier for many women, who are often lumped with the lion's share of familial duties.

The phrases "putting on weight" and "not looking after oneself" - when related to women in particular - raise a red flag about self esteem, work overload, and values within the relationship. Research tells us that weight gain and self-esteem are linked.

Self esteem for all of us is also closely connected with the attitudes displayed towards us by those we love. Do you think the world you wife lives in reflects back to her attitudes that affirm her, and make her feel good about herself? This includes you.

The questions you ask are more complex than they might seem. You would need to examine the issue of whether you still love your wife in a much more honest way than wondering if it's just that you no longer find her attractive.

To get answers to these complicated questions you may need professional advice. Don't tell your wife how you feel until you have undertaken some greater self-examination - a constructive outcome depends on it.

That said, the fact you are asking the question in the first place is a step in the right direction.

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A relationship expert with over 25 years experience counselling couples, individuals and families.

Jill's fascination for what makes us tick stems from sheer bloody-minded curiosity and a genuine desire to see people live healthy, happy lives. Born in Manchester, the award-winning family and relationship counsellor moved to Auckland when she was nine. Being the middle child of an immigrant family she was neither the oldest nor youngest child, neither a Pom nor a Kiwi. This kicked off a lifelong fascination with how people can make sense of transitions and how uncertainty can be turned into a greater understanding of ourselves and of those who push our buttons. Her career has spanned more than 25 years, and seen her working for the Family Court; in hospitals; universities; aboriginal training programmes, inner London social work practices, and now–her own private practice in Auckland. Whether she's counselling everyday Kiwis, highly paid power couples or the children of Bengali immigrant families, Jill has an inherent ability to tease out what's really going on in people's lives, and strategise to improve the situation, whatever that may be. • Jill Goldson is a Family Dispute Resolution mediator and counsellor, and Director of The Family Matters Centre in Auckland.

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