Question: Dear Luise: I wonder if you could help me. I have a marriage of 10 years and have been happy until the last few months. My wife is menopausal and has been for quite some time, so we have no sex. I have read up on it and understand all there is to know about the lack of interest in sex. She has become extremely a-sexual and i have conditioned myself to this without an issue. Until recently, she came across a young man that was working at a coffee shop. She had spotted him and then took a friend to show her him and commented how attractive he was. I find this unacceptable and have struggled with it for quite some time. She makes little comment towards my appearance and shows no affection. Is this normal what does it mean for her to have looked at another? M.
Answer: Dear M.: There can be a sense for some people when they reach mid-life, of time running out and/or youth fading. Both men and women can face this. Others adapt and adjust and aren’t as affected.
When your wife makes remarks about your appearance, it may simply mean that she is seeing changes in her own appearance that she doesn’t like and is projecting that onto you, thus externalizing them. It’s often much easier to criticize another than it is to be self-critical.
Some people feel that “there’s no harm in looking” at attractive people of the opposite sex and do it all of their married lives. Others never even think of doing it. It sounds like it’s new for your wife and I suspect it is part of the whole process that you have been reading about so extensively. (Good for you.)
If you think it would create positive results, tell your wife that her appreciation of the young man and her remarks about your appearance bother you. You might ask her how she would feel if you did the same thing.
However, if you think that would only make things worse, you may choose to just ride this out. Sometimes it causes serious problems and upheavals and sometime it just fades and eventually disappears. There are a lot of ways to convey affection that are not sexual, if your wife is open to re-establishing the warmth and caring that marriage can offer.
The best way through this is to talk about it and work together to move through it. It seems to me that marriage should be better than being single, otherwise, what’s the point? Blessings, Luise