Dear Neil: A few years ago, my husband of 22 years wanted sex and I didn’t, and he tried to physically force me to have sex. When that did not work, he pushed me out of bed. My father was a physically and verbally abusive man, and this may be part of the reason why I am having such difficulty forgiving this one transgression. My husband is deeply remorseful, has totally acknowledged the wrong he has done—and the hurt and damage he has caused. Unfortunately, since this happened, I have been a reluctant and resentful participant in any sexual activity with him, and for the past few years we have been celibate.
I am not really physically attracted to my husband—he is overweight—and I am wondering if this is a factor in my reluctance to regain physical intimacy with him. I really do not know whether my lack of sexual desire for him is entirely as a result of the incident referred to above—or if the physical attraction issue is the stronger factor.
Without in Christchurch, New Zealand
Dear Without: The time has come for you and your husband to sit down and have a very honest heart to heart talk about what it would take for you to let the past go—and to sexually open up to him again. And tell him you need for him to lose weight. At least if knows what it will take, he can do something constructive about it.
Dear Neil: I am a 60 year-old male, married for 38 years, confused and torn. Eight years ago the intimate relationship with my wife came to a halt, and she gave me permission to have sex with other women. Last year I met a woman separated from her husband, and I fell in love with her.
I sleep alone each night and dream of having her in my arms. My wife and I cannot talk about anything unless she wants to, so we never talk about our lack of making love. She tells me I’m the last priority for her—after the kids, grandkids and pets. What should I do?
Torn Between Two Loves
Dear Torn: You are completely compromised. You are married to one woman and you long for another, so of course you’re tortured and unhappy.
What made you so weak and emasculated that you can’t talk to your wife about your lack of sex together? This is not just your wife’s marriage—it’s yours also—and you’re not being wise in just accepting this arrangement and then carrying on an affair on the side. It guarantees long-term unhappiness.
Force a conversation with your wife—preferably with professional assistance—about what’s wrong in the marriage, why she is so upset and turned off from you, and what it would take to make things right again.
By the way, if you fight for your marriage, you’re going to have to give up the other woman. What you’re not seeing is that the other woman is going to give you up sooner or later. You don’t offer her anything.
If you wind up unable to work it out with your wife, look at what you’re getting from your marriage—and whether it’s actually worth all of this rejection you’re receiving.