Husband's No Nooky Lament
Dear Dr. Tracy,
Thank you in advance for your time, I am writing to you for advice on a most personal dilemma of the most personal nature. I am a male in my mid-40’s, married for 21+ years. Bottom-line, my problem stems from a major disconnect between my wife and I regarding our frequency of sex. After all these years, I still long to make love to my wife two or three times per week; while my wife seems to prefer two or three times per year, if ever at all.
This hasn’t always been the case, however, after our last child was born (about 12 years ago), her desire waned more and more with each passing month. At this point, best I can tell, she no longer enjoys making love whatsoever, derives no pleasure from the time we spend together in those intimate moments, has zero sex drive and no desire.
While this all seems dismal, my real problem is only a result of this -- you see, the problem I am seeking advice on is more a moral issue. I am struggling with the question of what to do with the “pent-up” sexual tension I experience when my wife has no desire to share the intimacy I ache for. First, let me make sure you know that I have been faithful to my wife since the day I met her. I would never consider sex outside of my marriage vows with another woman. I will say that after living through the last several years, I do understand why some men succumb to weakness and fall prey to seeking sex outside their marriage. However, it goes against everything I believe in, have been taught and every moral fiber of my being. I would not disrespect my family or myself by surrendering to the weakness of infidelity.
Additionally, pornographic materials and/or Gentleman Clubs likewise go against my beliefs but also would seem to only make matters worse. However, with all the sexual tension I carry each day, I find myself thinking more often about the possibilities and finding more and more ways to justify the behavior…where will this lead? So this is my dilemma, how do I relieve my sexual tension without compromising my beliefs and myself?
Please do not respond to me by telling me to confront or have a meaningful conversation with my wife or let her know I am feeling. I have tried that approach and failed miserably. In February 2000, after several years of trying to get through to her, I finally felt like I couldn’t take it anymore. So I told her exactly how I felt, that I long for the intimacy that only a married couple can share, and how important this issue is to me. She gave no real reason or offered an excuse, except that she is always tired and has too much on her plate. While I acknowledge that she shoulders plenty of responsibility with work and home, I feel it is an issue of prioritization. She can find time and energy to walk the dogs or work herself to the bone on something that could wait until tomorrow; but she cannot find the time, energy or make it a priority to share an intimate moment with her husband.
I pleaded with her to get whatever physical/physiological and/or emotional/psychological help she might need to get us past this issue and our marriage back on track. I also offered to help her by suggesting that I attend any sessions that she felt comfortable with me participating in, and I offered to experiment and do anything in our lovemaking that would make it more enjoyable for her. I also told her that I would not pressure her into making love with me when she didn’t want to, but would wait for her to let me know when she was ready.
For the next eighteen months, I secretly kept track of how many times we made love. For the first four weeks things improved as we made love three times. However, to my knowledge she never really sought outside help and she began to fall into her old comfortable habits. Over the next seventeen months we made love only another six times with most of those only coming at my insistence. I finally gave up keeping track, and pretty much have given up on her caring enough to change.
So, this leads us back to my dilemma, short of divorce…how do I relieve my sexual tension without compromising my beliefs and myself?
Desperate and Tense
Dear Desperate and Tense,
What's really distressing about this problem is that you have let it go so long. You and your wife have had this no-sex problem for almost 12 years, since your last child was born. When couples come to me for counseling, I always ask them when the problem started, or if they can remember when they were happy together.
Remembering when sex was good is the first step for you and your wife to get back to the good sex times. Think about what you were doing then (if you can remember that far back) and try to recreate that situation. If you were away at the beach together, then go back to the beach. If you had more free time together, then recreate that free time. If the good sex happened after a romantic date with dinner and candlelight, then do that again. That way you can bring back the good sex memories for both of you.
The fact that your wife doesn't want to go to therapy is not promising. You should demand that the two of you go to see a therapist who specializes in sex problems. You will have to go together, although it is possible that the therapist will want to see you individually as well.
You and your wife have many years ahead, and this problem won't get better unless you work on it constructively, with patience and with love. Demanding more sex isn't the solution. Finding ways to make sex enjoyable for both of you is.
Begin by having intimate moments without an expectation of sex. Hug, kiss, touch and take every opportunity to be close without expecting that this closeness will lead to sex. Take these steps to begin having the kind of closeness that's necessary to feel sexually comfortable.
If your wife has too much on her plate to have time for sex, then find ways to make her plate less full. Hire household help. Fence the yard and get a dog door. Let the dogs exercise themselves. Make appointments for the two of you to have quality time together and keep them.
As for how you can relieve yourself in the meantime, use the time-honored method men have used for centuries. Masturbate. There's no reason why you can't take care of your own tension. A man who is saving up all his sexual energy, and expecting to only have an orgasm with his wife, is putting too much pressure on himself and on his wife too.
The "L" Word
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am a 48 year old widow, my boyfriend of 3 years just turned 50 he is a divorcee with a 15 year old daughter that lives with him full time.
Last year, I moved in with him. And it has been great! That's not the problem.
The problem is, in the years that we have been together, he has never said I LOVE YOU. He says when the time is right it will be said. Also, when he speaks of the future, he never includes me. It's always him or him and his daughter.
What is his problem? Any Ideas? Will he ever totally commit to me?
The real question here is not what's his problem -- it's what's your problem. He doesn't have a problem. He has everything he wants. He has you living with him, probably doing all the things a wife would do, and helping to take care of him and his daughter too. And he has it on his terms.
It's time to start asking for what you want instead of wondering why you're not getting it. If you want him to say "I love you," tell him. If he doesn't think the time is right to say "I love you," after three years of being your boyfriend and even living together, then you should tell him you're not willing to hang around unless he says it and means it.
As for his speaking of the future without including you, just including him or him and his daughter, well, those are fighting words. The next time he does that, it's time for you to read him the riot act. Let him know that you're not an old cleaning rag to be used and then thrown away when he's done. Tell him you expect him to plan a future that includes you too. Let him know that if he's not willing to include you in his future plans, you'll move out and find someone who is.
His problem is that you've let him get away with treating you like you're disposable and will put up with anything. As long as you let him get away with it, he'll continue. No, he'll never totally commit to you if you're so willing to put up with absolutely no commitment.
Commitments come to women who insist that they have one. Your problem is that you don't think you deserve any better. This relationship is destructive to your self-esteem. It's time for you to realize you deserve someone who tells you they love you.
Your guy thinks that if he doesn't say the words, then he doesn't owe you any commitment. Saying "I love you" is the first step to commitment. If you can't get that out of him, you'll never get him to commit.
Scared by Pregnancy
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am 38 years old, divorced for ten years and I have grown a lot since my earlier marriage and subsequent divorce. I am an incest survivor and I am very determined to heal from the abuse I endured as a child. My healing has not been easy, but I have faith and know that I will overcome this history. I have overcome so much already that I am amazed at my strength and recovery.
My concern is in the area of relationships. I am currently in therapy working on these issues. I recently broke up with a man I had been dating for about a year. We met thru work and I thought we had a future and I had finally met a nice man who did not abuse me or disrespect me. I let down my guard and enjoyed this relationship. It was not easy for me to risk, as I have been deeply hurt.
Somehow something went very wrong and I began to see that he had very familiar traits of men from my past. Men who were unreliable and emotionally closed. This appeared slowly as we got to know each other. We were having problems with communication and I felt he was not respecting me, so I broke the relationship off. I felt he was not treating me as a priority his life. He was very immature in the sense that he had very young friends, no home (he stayed has his friends house on their sofa) and he always put me aside for his own good. Unfortunately, I discovered I was pregnant a week later. I thought that it was the right thing to do to tell him about this. I honestly felt he would be there for me and support me, even though we had problems. The pregnancy was a total shock to me and I still am recovering from the Abortion.
My boyfriend turned out to be very arrogant and demanding that I have an abortion, because he could not afford a child. I was conflicted on what to do, but was basically left to make the decision alone. He refused to answer my calls or participate in the decision process. I met with adoption counselors, and I researched every option. I tried to meet with him and go over our options several times, but he insisted on Abortion. He was extremely angry that I would even think of having the child. He became very angry and threw a lighted candle across my living room. This anger scared me.
My questions is, why did he say he loved me and abandon me immediately when he found out I was pregnant? He loves children and he seemed like a decent man. I know it was shock to him as it was to me, but I dealt with it the best and most mature way I could. Why did he give up and run away? How could you leave the woman you said you loved pregnant and alone to make a very serious decision like that? It amazes me and I am still healing from this tragedy. We are now broken up, but it was not easy letting go. I am slowly moving on, but I do work with him and at times feel great pain when I see him. I need to know if this man was a nice man or just another unreliable guy.
After all he's done, and the way he's treated you, how can you still be asking if he's a "nice man" or not? "Nice men" don't knock women up and then walk away from the problem. Maybe he looked "nice" when you met him, but if so, you must not have been looking very carefully. He's a grown man who has very young friends and lives on a sofa at a friend's house -- and you expected him to be able to have a grown-up relationship?
Of course he couldn't communicate or respect you like an adult. He couldn't treat you as a priority in his life because he's too immature. Then when you got pregnant, well, that was the last thing in the world an immature man could deal with. Of course he ran and acted like a child. Almost any guy can seem "nice" unless there's a problem.
Sure he said he loved you, but lots of guys will say that just to get sex. And yes, it is very seductive when a man says he loves you, but you must always consider the source. You have to look at a man's track record of relationships, who his friends are, and how he lives his life, before you can judge what his words are worth.
In this case, be glad this guy is out of your life, put the abortion behind you, and resolve never to get involved with a man who is irresponsible and immature.
In the future, look beyond "nice" and don't accept love from just anyone. Be sure a man is worthy of your loving him back.