My wife and I haven't had sexual intercourse for almost one year.
We’re both 58 and she's been experiencing health issues:
A stubborn three-month cough and cold, an abscess, and internal rectal haemorrhoid off and on for the last five months. Also, menopause, work stress and anxiety.
She retired recently while still battling those health issues.
We don’t have too many common interests. It's like being married to my sister. But it was totally different in our younger days (we married at 22).
She can be narrow-minded and difficult to talk to. We’ve been to a marriage therapist in the past but didn’t follow the therapist’s advice.
How do I get my wife to open up and talk to me?
No Sex, No Discussion
Your wife’s recent health issues of an abscess and haemorrhoid (both painful), on top of menopause changes, have apparently made even the idea of sex remote and unappealing.
No surprise there. But your feeling, after 36 years of marriage, that you have few common interests, shows that this break from sex isn’t just about her current health.
It’s about both of you and the relationship.
You two could still have at least 20 good years together if you have the courage to tell her that you miss her and would like to work on the marriage.
But do not make your approach about missing sex. She needs to feel healthy again.
Meanwhile, both of you need to consider what interests you can now pursue together. Yes, that requires a current visit to a therapist, and you both presenting a common need for easier, better communication.
If you show your wife that your interest is in a better union, you’ll grow closer. In time, holding hands, cuddling and intimacy will likely follow.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding your column topic on favoured and unfavoured children (September 30):
“As an unfavoured child of both parents, I always had the feeling that I needed to do something to receive or earn parental approval.
“It wasn’t until many years later that I realized the dynamic involved.
“It has little to do with the child himself, but with the parental likes and dislike that are often totally arbitrary.
“The child has a skill or personality trait that the parent doesn’t admire, or reminds the parent of a disliked relative. The dislike is transferred to the child without thought.
“Worse, it leads to a search for “reasons” to openly favour one child over another.
“For me, the reasons given were my brother’s better academic credentials. In high school, I began to surpass him academically.
“Then, other totally different “reasons” emerged for the favouritism.
“I eventually realized that the whole system was a fraud.
“It made me delve back into my parent’s life history to see the reasons for their life choices and how I was affected. By this time, they’d both passed on and I could share my insights only with my wife and children.
“Watching the dynamic play out in families of my near relatives has been instructive as well.
“As your column stated, it can sow the seeds of discord between siblings that last a lifetime.
“The parents are bewildered as to why their children don’t get along, sometimes blaming the marriage partners, without realizing that their own behaviour is often the root of the trouble.
“Most people insist that they love all their children equally. They are in denial.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the student, 19, who can’t understand her parents’ divorce (September 30):
Reader - “I agree that it’s not up to the adult child to understand what went wrong, but accept the fact that it’s better when parents separate.
“Family life has priorities. Parents are trying to resolve their issues but with children involved, mortgage to be paid, jobs to secure, the relationship falls to the bottom of the priority list for years.
“Eventually, the children leave home, the mortgage has been paid, and the jobs are secure. So, the low-ranking priority moves to the top and spouses pay attention to the lack of intimacy, the aloofness, etc.
“They could continue living together for fear of loneliness, or fear of change, or they can separate, to the dismay of those around them.
“The writer should learn something positive from this. It takes courage to make such a step. Her parents need to continue to grow as individuals.”
Tip of the day:
It’s unsurprising when upsetting health issues curtail sexual activity. The relationship problem is that the couple don’t talk about it.