I've been married for 25 years and have three children. My husband and I are not as physically intimate as we use to be. I have spoken to him about it.... he says he's too tired, not attracted, etc. He does not want to talk about it.
I've been startled because I think he's seeing someone from his gym. He left his email open and I read a note from someone saying let's meet for drinks, keep smiling, how is your life.
How do I mention this to him? Should I be worried? I don't want to ask friends for advice as they think the world of him.
After 25 years, you have a right to ask crucial questions about your life together. Explain that you were not snooping, also that you're not trying to control his contacts.
However, be clear, that when a spouse withdraws from sex, and won't do something or talk about it, and communicates privately with someone else, you DO have reason to inquire if something's going on.
Be prepared to hear that it may be just a casual friendship, OR he may be having an affair, or flirting with the idea of one.
On the other hand, he may be having a "mid-life crisis" about aging, or even have a health reason for lessened libido.
Instead of starting with accusations, proceed from caring, and let him know that.
My sister's an emergency room nurse dealing with tragedy every day in a caring way. However, as our parents, 73 and 80, experience physical and cognitive declines, she overreacts, e.g. saying "He's going to die within six months if they don't move out of this house" (six years ago).
She says hurtful things to my parents, gets offended when they give critical feedback, and then "backs off" by avoiding them for months.
She later accuses my other sisters and I of mishandling things. She's very critical of the community hospital, and wants them to be seen in the nearest urban centre. She recently attended their doctors' appointments but had to later be refused because of open criticism of my parents' trusted health care team.
We've suggested she talk to a counsellor about her anxieties. Rejected. She's now telling everyone that I'm "obstructionist, in denial" about my parents' health.
I feel hurt, can't trust her judgement, and worry that she's damaging relationships with Mom and Dad's care helpers - aunts, neighbours, as well as doctors and nurses.
We need to negotiate some rules for working together to help our parents. My other sisters agree that she's rude, aggressive, and manipulative with me.
What to do?
Hit A Wall
Poor Mom and Dad, becoming hostages to the same-old sibling rivalry now being played out around their most fragile years!
Your other sisters need to take a stand, and if you and they are all in agreement, you should call in a mediator to help you negotiate responsibilities and communication with your sister.
She's more than anxious here; she's also very needy of having her knowledge and expertise acknowledged (old superiority stuff?). That's what she's pushing, along with wanting the best for your parents, albeit her methods are high-handed.
Depending on their health conditions, you may need to go to the urban health centre for a specialist's assessment and a treatment plan which can then be followed locally. It's a compromise that may cover everyone's approach and also give your parents the most appropriate care.
FEEDBACK Regarding the affluent seniors tired of relatives angling for support (Nov. 18):
Reader - "My parents have given me and my siblings their millions over the years, while my friend's wealthy parents held their money tightly.
"I used the gifts to learn about investing, provide summer trips to Europe for myself and my kids, have the better home, or just spend time at the cottage with family.
"My friend and his family never lived life to the fullest. He often said how lucky I was to have parents like mine.
"I'd always told everyone that this is the generosity of my parents. They've been tremendously caring people to me, and some other relatives, and that made them happy. Yes, older people should save for retirement but to die rich is questionable. Nothing beats the enjoyment of giving to family, children, and even that unemployed cousin who never got his act together."
Tip of the day:
When a spouse withholds sex, the other needs to know why. Period.