My wife hasn’t had enough interest in sex to initiate it more than once in a dozen years. This clear message that she could not care less if she ever had sex with me has resulted in celibacy for us.
I’ve trained myself to not get aroused around her, by never touching her in bed, and travelling for work much more. I do not have sex with her unless she comes to bed without full “night” clothes on – maybe twice in many years. I love sex, but clearly her idea of a relationship and mine are drastically different.
As a 55-year-old, when I ask guys if their wives are interested enough in sex to initiate it, virtually no one says yes.
I believe women are only interested in it when they’re on the hunt for a man in their younger years, and after that it’s irrelevant to them.
How sad for you both, and for your friends! Sex in middle age and older is an affirmation of the years together, of feeling healthy, loving, of bonding intimately rather than just living as longtime roommates (unless you both agree that’s a mutual choice).
If this is happening in your circle of friends, then perhaps you’re all committed to never rocking the boat and accepting the situation rather than risk a separation, and divorce. If so, that’s your choice, not just that of a wife.
But it’s a choice that should be discussed between husband and wife, not left unexpressed, hurtful to one and a distancing strategy for the other.
I know from this column and experience that many women can and do enjoy, and initiate sex, for the fullness of their lives, so long as health issues don’t limit them. Even then, there are other forms of intimacy besides intercourse that can be mutually satisfying.
It’s not too late to ask your wife if she has lower libido from hormone changes and would see her doctor to discuss this, or whether there’s something you can do or change to interest her in bonding again, sexually.
I’m a male with a simple question. How do I move on from a breakup?
Slowly, but surely. You know that time will heal, but it’s hard to believe when you’re in the depths of despair.
Try, if possible, to recognize what part of your pain is from feeling rejected. This matters.
Rejection often saps self-confidence, which you need to move forward. Ask yourself, why would you want to be with someone who doesn’t value you, as you should be valued?
Moving on is a positive way of acknowledging your own self-worth, and starting to socialize – first with people you know like you – and later branching out to date again, perhaps choosing more selectively than in the past.
If it’s the lifestyle with that person that you miss, or just her company, know from experience with past friendships, that there’s not just one person in the world to whom you can relate or with whom you can have fun.
Use your support network – family and friends, close colleagues – to get out. Consider pursuing a new activity or an old one you didn’t give enough time, e.g. fitness or a particular sport, learning a new language (with a travel plan included), taking an art course, volunteering, etc.
You’ll broaden your contacts, meet new people…. all helpful to moving on.
Logic helps, self-esteem is essential, and yes, time does heal.
FEEDBACK Regarding your column on “Why Sex Matters” (Mar. 15):
Reader – “My point’s related to the statistics around "people who have sex more often are happier.”
“I think it’s naive to think if they just have more sex they’ll be happier. Sex is a natural desire, but the first issue about healthy sex is that couples that aren’t happy with one another stop having sex, not the other way around.
“Sex problems are really code language for bigger issues that are harder to talk about. In the vast majority of cases I believe happy couples have sex, and unhappy couples don't.
“I think it starts with a lack of affection for one another that the couples cannot discuss, rather than starting with sex...”
Ellie – It’s not that they “cannot” talk about sex… it’s often a power play by one or the other, to refuse to talk about sex. So that makes them both unhappy.
Tip of the day:
When one partner gives up on sex, the other must insist on reasons and/or weigh options.