Dear Renita,
The woman that I love is a 45-year-old born-again Christian. She does not believe in premarital sex. For the past year or so, there has been no intimacy between us. Well, we had sex twice and then she refused to do so again for the past year.

She believes sex is reserved for a married couple. She was married previously and had a difficult time dealing with the divorce. She claims that she loves me; however, her decision to be celibate within a monogamous relationship has caused me to resent her deeply and circumvent any idea I had about marrying her.

Is it best to end the relationship or would family counseling help?

Dear Stewart,
I won't bore you by pointing you to scripture that undergirds your girlfriend's decision to postpone sex until marriage. I have a feeling that your girlfriend has already tried that one. You're obviously not impressed or convinced. Neither will I go against everything I believe about marriage and advise you to resolve the problem of sex by simply marrying your girlfriend so you can have as much sex as you want. Marriage is no guarantee that you'll get as much sex as you want.

The easiest thing then would be for me to say: Accept your girlfriend's religious convictions about sex, or hit the road. But if you haven't been able to walk away from the relationship before now, it just may be that beneath the surface are issues of power and control, and not just sex-the power of your girlfriend's convictions versus the power of your need to convince her to have sex with you.

Is it possible that at the heart of your frustration is some feeling on your part that you've lost control over your partner, or that you mean less to her than her faith? Some of this is understandable, since she did agree to sex with you before.

If you love this woman as you say you do, you should be seeking out counseling to explore whether this relationship has a future or not. Face it: At forty-five years old, your girlfriend is a woman who abides by the strength of her convictions (which I admire, mind you). And you don't sound as though you're willing to be persuaded by scripture or reason to postpone sex or find other ways to be intimate in this relationship.

Even if you decide to end the relationship, I think it's important for you to find yourself a therapist to help you work through how you deal with conflict and power issues in your intimate relationships.

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