It’s not uncommon for many couples to ignore an elephant in the room over “too little/too much” sex.
Yet the topic clearly struck a nerve regarding one recent man’s decision to “lower his libido” to match that of his sex-avoiding wife (May 4, June 2).
Readers’ strong responses are still urging more debate in this space, so here’s a final look at this one situation:
Reader – “This marriage is in serious trouble!! These two need to stop their avoidance tactics, and have a real talk.
“The man’s approach is only a short-term fix.
“His wife needs some education on male sexuality. If she really cares about her marriage, even if she isn't aroused, she should be engaging more in some sort of affection and sexual contact with her husband.
“This wouldn't take much of a time investment - once a week or so - and the benefits would far outweigh the effort involved. Unless something changes, this is going to have a sad ending!!”
Reader #2 – “Please don't encourage this husband that his "mind over matter" solution is A+. It’s not!
“He should not have to compromise his sex drive because his wife has zero interest in it. That's called non-compatibility, not compromise.
“By lowering his standards, HIS needs aren’t being met. Whatever he said about having more energy, etc., are all excuses he created to make himself feel better.
“Bottom line here: if your partner doesn’t reciprocate, she isn’t into you anymore.
“Find a partner who shares the same sex drive and can’t keep her hands off you, not someone who makes you stay home as a submissive husband.”
Reader #3 – “I feel that your advice reassuring the writer about the changes he made was good.
“However, what about the other side of the equation, i.e. his wife’s behavior?
“The writer says he’s happy, but his letter also reads as someone seeking reassurance that all the steps he’s taken (verging on self-flagellation given that he’s concerned that he might have been a sex-addict) were in fact reasonable.”
Reader #4 – “Grabbing his wife’s butt and suggesting daytime sex while she was working at home (as this man says he used to do) was never going to lead him where he wanted to go.
“But, his “solution” is the exception rather than the norm.
“A sexless marriage is hard to just get over (because frankly, trying to curb your own libido rarely ever works long term).
“Putting it out of his mind for now (apparently, only since spring break) and your suggestion that it was a good solution for him is troubling. It reinforces the notion that the person with the higher libido just needs to get over it.”
Ellie – I agree that such a wrong interpretation would be very troubling, as it misrepresents my response to the man.
I said that he’d made an accommodation that was working for him and addressed the immediate situation (since his letter was not a question, but a statement of how he felt he’d achieved a happy solution at this time.)
Also, he said they were still having sex (once a month).
I predicted that the changes in him – less needy and depressed, as he described himself – would bring changes towards more intimacy between them.
In other words, a “for now” solution.
Over the years, people and their circumstances change and this “accommodation” will change too.
Some couples say they live comfortably without sex. I agree that, for this couple, it’s an unlikely long-term solution.
FEEDBACK Regarding the young man confused over his sexual orientation (May 14):
Reader – “He’s definitely not straight, as he enjoys having oral sex with other men, and masturbates to gay porn. At the very least he’s bi-sexual.
“He mentioned having three girlfriends, but there didn’t mention having sex with them let alone enjoying it.
“My sense is that he’s gay, but due to social pressures he's having a tough time admitting it to himself, let alone his family and friends.”
Reader #2 – “I liked your response. But as a gay man who's been out of the closet since I was18 (but knew that I'm gay since puberty) I think the most direct and accurate answer to his specific question is this:
“You don't need to self-identify as anything, whether straight, gay, bi-, or two-spirited.
“As long as you don't hurt others, just be true to yourself and don't worry about labelling yourself.”
Tip of the day:
When sex/intimacy becomes “the elephant in the room,” start talking, preferably through counselling.