I'm a man in my 40's and have been married for seven years.
My wife and I both never really dated before we got together. We still have not had intercourse; my wife seems afraid of sex. We do still occasionally engage in limited foreplay.
She never initiates it and I have very little interest.
We don't sleep together, we never have, I sleep on a couch in the basement.
We have almost nothing in common and can go for hours not saying a thing to one another.
I believe I married because of fear of being alone or that it felt exciting to be like other people and be normal.
I really want out, but so many things enter my mind stopping me.
It seems that you and your wife do have in common this one, huge obstacle: fear of change.
You both married without having a true connection, neither of you know how to communicate what you want, and you're clearly both very reluctant to try something different.
However, the fact that you no longer feel able to continue this way, is a step forward.
It's time to interrupt that silence between you two, and ask your wife if she's interested in working on the marriage.
If yes, then you need to explore together, with a therapist, how to develop a meaningful relationship.
Or, conversely, some sessions with professional guidance may help you both see that there can be more to life separately than what you now have together, and you can agree to part without animosity.
• To find a therapist locally, see your Yellow Pages (www.yellowpages.ca), under Marriage, Family and Individual Counsellors.
My sister has been dating someone for three years, who does not treat her well.
She's come crying to my doorstep looking for consolation from me and my fiancé, complaining that he cheats on her, neglects her and takes her for granted.
Every time she comes crying, we go out of our way to hear her out and offer our time and advice. Then, she'll say that she's ready to leave him.
The moment he apologizes, she ignores everything we've said to her and continues like nothing ever happened between them (until the next time he treats her badly and she comes crying, of course).
I feel like I'm caught in a vicious cycle. I'm sick and tired of being taken advantage of, yet I feel that as her sister, I should always be that shoulder to cry on.
What should I do?
- Abused by the abused
You're not being taken advantage of OR abused; she's the one who's living with those problems.
I understand that it's annoying and frustrating to feel your time is being wasted and your advice ignored.
But the fact is that women who let men walk over them have very low self-esteem, and don't trust that they have the strength to handle a confrontation scene, or being on their own. As a result, they don't find it easy to follow the kind of marching orders their stronger friends and family dish out as if only stubbornness is standing in the way of instant change.
Your sister needs your support, and your shoulder is not enough.
She needs you to encourage her to seek help - perhaps from a pastoral counsellor in your faith, or from a local women's support group.
Do the research for her, and go with her for a first meeting.
I've been dating a man for two years; we're both 50s, and divorced.
We're mutually supportive, nurturing and affectionate; the sex is better than ever. We can talk about anything, and have good relations with each other's families.
However, he's burned out from his job of 16 years and is actively looking for a new one in places far away (e.g. Miami) and hasn't indicated where I fit in.
I raised it and he was vague, saying it wasn't a good time to discuss it, yet he still treats me like he's madly in love with me!
- Mistified in Boston
He's stalling till he's hired, and that's not acceptable.
Tell him you have to know his plans: Are you in them, or is this romance temporary till he moves on?
He may be envisioning a long-distance relationship, but his unwillingness to communicate is a bad sign.
You need to decide this together.
Tip of the day:
A marriage entered into without love or companionship is an arrangement that's bound to become dissatisfying.