Dear Amy: My wife and I have been married for 48 years.
In one sense, we are very much committed to each other, however, we have not had sex in more than 20 years and have been intimate only once or twice in that time.
I have on several occasions expressed a desire for affection and intimacy, but the interest doesn’t seem to be there.
We never had a great sex life, but affection and sex have completely disappeared over the course of our marriage, and it isn’t something that my wife wishes to discuss.
We can easily discuss any number of topics related to politics, education, or the arts, but we are rarely able to have a conversation about our relationship.
At one time I proposed counseling, but it went nowhere because my wife had no desire to expose herself to a stranger.
I once asked for guidance in terms of being a better husband and she remarked that she wasn’t going to give me a “grocery list” of what I should do or how I should behave.
We enjoy doing things together — hiking, biking, going out to dinner, being with friends and family, going to concerts — but in the end our marriage isn’t very satisfying for me on a personal level.
I am 72 years old. How do I find contentment in my remaining years?
— Looking for Love
Dear Looking: It sounds as if you already have contentment.
Passion may be what you are lacking.
I am impressed by your extreme patience during your impressively long marriage.
According to you, you proposed counseling one time and were shot down.
You asked about being a “better husband” one time and were shot down.
You don’t seem to have been very persistent regarding your desire for affection and intimacy, or in terms of pursuing what you want (and deserve) to have in your marriage.
Intimacy can start with a conversation about intimacy. Or maybe even a fight about intimacy.
The very act of wading into that territory where your wife is afraid to go might expose some really tough realities for you both, and yet I hope you will be brave enough to pursue this with more vigor: Is she happy? Are you?
Do you want to risk leaving this marriage to try to find someone else? Do you want to risk staying in this marriage while trying to find someone else?
When you invite your partner into therapy and they decline, you should go by yourself, because the very act of wanting someone else to change means that you need to change, too.
It is not too late for either of you to change.
Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for 10 years.
Several years ago, he started actively going on dating sites and now has all kinds of sexual conversations about sex with other women.
I told him that this is cheating because he is married, and he lied to me about deleting these accounts.
He now hides his phone and keeps it locked at all times.
I say that this is cheating because he is having sexual conversations with other women.
Am I crazy or is this not cheating?
— Upset in GA
Dear Upset: Your husband is engaging in secret relationships with other women. Whether these are physical or exclusively virtual, I assume this makes you feel devalued. You don’t seem to trust one another.
So yes — I would call this “cheating,” but more important than what anyone calls this behavior, I wonder what either of you is prepared to do about it.
The more energy you waste arguing about how to classify your husband’s behavior, the less energy you will spend trying to repair — or release — this relationship.
Dear Amy: “Happily Single” reported to you that she is a middle-age woman who is child free, single, not looking for a partner, happy with her life, and frustrated by frequent questions and comments regarding her single status.
She is definitely not alone.
I am a 54-year-old woman, never married and don’t have children, and I also get asked the same questions constantly.
Regardless of the rude question related to my marriage or child-free status, I usually respond, “I have cats; I’m good.”
It somehow stops the line of inquiry.
I do have two very loving cats and adore them!
— Also Happily Single
Dear Also: Something about copping to being a “cat lady” suppresses intrusive questions.
I’d suggest using this line even if you didn’t have cats.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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