Question: Dear Luise: I hope you can offer some help. My husband and I both came from previously bad long-term marriages. We dated 7 years (never living together) before we married. We’ve been married 3 1/2 years. I’m 41and he’s 52. We haven’t had sex for over 2 months and when we do it’s because I beg to the point he does just to shut me up. Before and after he talks about other things, like Nascar or politics. As soon as it’s over, he’s up, dressed and out of there. It’s so institutional-like. He shows me very little affection. I sleep on the couch, by choice, because it breaks my heart to sleep next to someone who won’t even hold, touch or kiss me. His idea of showing that he loves me is to cook a meal or take out the trash. I need affection and when I tell him this, he tells me to stop acting like a lovesick teenager, his age is the reason and I should have married someone younger who could meet my needs. It’s not just sex I miss. I miss the hand holding, kissing, just touching. These are things of the past and I have become bitter, resentful and depressed. He tells me he loves me, but I just can’t understand why he won’t acknowledge me. I’ve begged for him to sit and watch a movie with me, to hold me, to kiss me- all this to fall on deaf ears and him tell me I’m harping on old issues and trying to start a fight. We live in the same house but are hardly ever in the same room together. He’s just the man in the other room watching TV. I feel unloved and undesirable and when I tell him this, he tells me that’s not true, that he loves me and I’m beautiful and that he is just past the age of sex. Then it starts us into another argument because I just can’t let it go. I don’t understand how you can love someone and not show them. I am a very passionate person and he is more like Spock- no emotion. We never do anything together, except maybe argue and we wouldn’t do that if I didn’t approach the subject of all this. I know he isn’t having an affair. He is a homebody and always home right after work. I am confused and don’t know what to do. I love him dearly and don’t want another divorce and neither of us could afford one, but I’m not seeing much light in our relationship. Any suggestions? T.
Answer: Dear T.: There are two things that we can seldom accomplish and those are radically changing ourselves or radically changing another person. For that reason what we see is usually what we get and it’s what we can count on in the future.
You and I both know that there are people in their 60s and 70s who enjoy each other’s company and are consistently, sexually active. They wouldn’t have it any other way. Your husband knows that, too.
There are many definitions of a good marriage…mine is that it should be better than being single for both people or what’s the point? Loving someone deeply and finding that being married to that person is an enriching and expanding experience may not be the same thing. Wishing it were different, suffering and struggling wears us out and takes away precious years that could have been fulfilling or at least peaceful.
I sometimes use an analogy to describe this situation; we may marry someone thinking, from our dating experience, that we are entering into a lush garden but sometimes what it turns out to be is a barren desert. A person from the rain forest usually isn’t a good match for the desert dweller. Blessing, Luise