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Ask Ellie: Denying sex in marriage is unfair to spouse

Marriage is a bond and most couples understand from the start, that sex is part of the overall connection through love, caring, commitment and sexual intimacy.

Dear Ellie: I’m a man, early 50s, married 18-plus years. Our early sex life was great, then started sliding. If even once a year, I’m shocked.

I used to always try initiating but gave up as she’d always say, “not now, maybe later.” I don’t even try now.

She once stated that she no longer has an interest in sex. She’s younger than me and should have been in her prime sex years.

I’m a very sexual guy and would like to still be active at it. I’ve never cheated. I love my wife but don’t know what to do regarding sex.

I know that men can take the little blue pill if they have equipment problems but is there anything for people who have lost sexual desire?

Sexually Frustrated Husband

Yes. In your wife’s case, a gynecologist can diagnose whether medical issues are causing her sexual disinterest, and can possibly be treated. Sex therapists can advise her whether her past or ongoing emotional issues are affecting her lost libido.

Also, a marriage counsellor may help her articulate her sexual disinterest, and whether it applies in general or only to you.

However, your wife must be willing to find an answer and share it with you. Otherwise, she’s being deliberately selfish and unfair to you.

Marriage is a bond and most couples understand from the start, that sex is part of the overall connection through love, caring, commitment and sexual intimacy, all laced together with mutual respect. OR, the couple have mutually agreed to forego sexual relations.

When a partner arbitrarily ignores some ties without explanation, they’re giving up on the relationship, and disrespecting their mate.

Since you, as a very decent man, still love your wife despite this, discuss the options that she could try, for the sake of the marriage.

If nothing changes, consider getting counselling for yourself, to help you choose your own options.

FEEDBACK regarding the letter-writer’s Big Bad Sister (March 29):

Reader: “When reading this column, I could feel the three-year-old big sister’s jealousy of the new baby. The writer also mentions (extended) family, so big sister may have also been the first grandchild/niece, etc.

“The mom tried to placate the strong-willed first-born, and is still doing so.

“I realize that this won’t alter the situation, but will give the writer some insight into her sister’s behaviour. Big sister still wants Mom all to herself, even to the extent of having Mom live with her.

“Mom likely realizes how selfish her first-born is, but may think that the younger sister is stronger emotionally/more capable of living an independent life.”

FEEDBACK Regarding “A Broken Man” (April 9):

Reader: “I’m a woman who knows about starting over. Divorced with young children at home, I returned to university for my degree in Education. It was hard work.

“I took courses on weekends/evenings and worked full-time.

“I eventually remarried, worked through the summers, graduated at 38 and loved teaching.

“I retired with three children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. I re-entered University for a creative writing course. During the pandemic, I wrote three novels in hopes of publishing.

“This man still grieving his father, should take time to grieve, then decide his dream job and aim for it.

“Regarding dating, put yourself out there. Continue education. When working again you’ll meet people, some with similar interests.

“It’s never too late to do what you love.”

Reader’s Commentary — A while ago, you wrote:

“The death of a beloved life partner is a passage. A later new relationship is a gift not a replacement.”

“That helped me immensely in accepting my new relationship. I could never replace my late husband, nor could my now-partner replace his late wife, but we both see our life together as a gift.

“We’re both 75 and known each other for over six years through a caregiver group. We both watched our mates deteriorate and die.

“We saw how we both loved/cared for them. We can talk about each other’s loved ones, cry together and give mutual support.

“I think it’s wonderful that he has photographs of his late wife around his home and bedroom as I do of my late husband.

“It shows me what a loving person he is. No one should be jealous of a previous partner. We’re now building new memories of “us.””

Ellie’s tip of the day

Denying sex within a marriage, without explanation, opens the door to at least one party walking out that door.

Send relationship questions to [email protected].