Q. I’m a 64-year-old male, and I love my second marriage and the extended family that comes with it. The relationships all around are respectful and joyful.
My problem is “bed death” with my wife of 15 years; a sexual relationship was never the priority from day one. Before we got married, I had a long-term sexual relationship with another woman. When the other woman broke it off, I committed fully to my now-wife.
The frequency of our intimate encounters has diminished steadily these past years. She has agreed to have more sex, but her body is there, but not her heart. So how do I reconnect with my wife this way when she has made it clear that a physical relationship isn’t very important to her at this time in her life? She has also made it clear that she expects me to remain faithful. Her priorities are to protect the family. I am in excellent health. What’s next?
– Roving Eye
A. A doctor might be able to help with this, if your wife is interested in finding out more about her drive (or lack thereof). There are also therapists who can talk to both of you about other ways to connect. Maybe she’d rather try other bonding activities, things that make it more exciting to share a bedroom later. It’s worth asking her if she’s willing to go with you to get some third-party help.
You signed your letter “Roving Eye,” but you didn’t tell us how much that’s part of the problem. Is it becoming difficult to remain faithful? Are you pursuing other emotional relationships? That’s something to talk about in therapy, too. What are you seeking and how can you get it from the person who’s in front of you?
I do think there’s a fundamental disconnect here; you’re asking your partner for physical intimacy when it was never a priority. You said this is a relationship that involves respect and joy, but . . . is it romantic? As is, is this partnership enough? Sometimes, despite great love, it isn’t.
If your wife isn’t interested but expects you to remain faithful, I guess you have to ask yourself if you want to live out the rest of your years in the same spot you are currently in. I don’t think there’s a “reconnecting with your wife” [in this way] since it sounds like you weren’t all that connected from the beginning. SURFERROSA
“Bed death” refers to couples who once had a thriving sex life and lose touch with it over time. This is not your situation. However you decide to deal with the consequences, it shouldn’t revolve around blaming your wife, since this was something you knew about her from the start. BONECOLD
I think this is not hopeless. I have been this woman. Sometimes a brisk walk or other workout can help rev up drive. A change of venue can also help to get away from daily distractions. I agree with Meredith that couples therapy may help get to the cause of the problem and help with new strategies. If the letter writer wants her heart to be in the act, she cannot make that happen out of thin air. WONWORLD