Dear Annie: “Frustrated in South Dakota” was concerned about the dearth of sex in his marriage, saying his wife has no sex drive.
You rightfully suggested she talk to her doctor to see whether there is something they could do to remedy the problem. However, when you write that “intimacy is important, but it isn’t everything,” I think you’ve missed the point about sexless marriage: It’s entirely possible to be in a committed relationship without sex, but it’s incredibly important to keep the intimacy alive in other ways.
People sometimes identify the act of sex as the only validation of love and caring between a couple, but there are other “love acts” that have a bigger impact on a relationship, like hugging and touching and kissing.
My husband’s libido took a nosedive several years ago, and it was a rough period for me because I am 13 years younger and had just hit my sexual prime. It took some adjusting of mindset, but when I realized that the other “good stuff” wasn’t going out the window, things suddenly weren’t as bad as I thought.
I do miss the incredible intimacy that sex brings, but I also love the fact that I get sweet, sometimes passionate kisses. Then there’s the romantic act of hand-holding (even in public!) and hugging. And that makes all the difference. So, “Frustrated,” find different ways to enjoy that intimacy with your wife.
-- Learning Curve
Dear Learning: We agree that there are many ways to show intimacy, but it requires the cooperation of both partners. Our readers had a lot to say on this subject. Read on for more:
From New York: Perhaps “Frustrated” could suggest to his wife that one-way pleasure is a possible, if occasional, solution to their mismatched libidos. If you love someone, you can enjoy giving pleasure without expecting anything in return.
Boston: My wife and I were experiencing the lack of desire for frequent intimacy until we went to a homeopathic practitioner and received supplements to her diet that corrected some hormone levels. Happily, one of the benefits was improved libido, and we are now happy, happy, happy.
Florida: “Frustrated” complains that he has sex with his extremely attractive wife “maybe once every two weeks.” I say: What are you complaining about?
There are far too many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum who would gladly trade places with him. I’m 45, she’s 43 and still hot, but it’s been years since we’ve had sex. I’ve tried everything except couples counseling (she won’t go). I’m in decent physical shape, have a well-paying job and do my share in taking care of the children and the house. However, all romance, intimacy, hand holding, kissing and physical contact are initiated by me and are rebuffed too often for me to make further attempts. Apparently, watching 15 hours of television every week is more important to her than an hour of intimacy once a month.
Texas: Agreed, intimacy isn’t everything. However, I believe intimacy is the foundation of a marriage and should not be minimized.
I feel his pain. My relationship with my wife of 30 years is very similar.
My advice is: If this is a deal breaker, then divorce is the only real answer. Rejection from the wife you love and cherish is beyond painful. You can concentrate on the many other good qualities in your relationship, but the sad reality is, it can be empty and unfulfilling without intimacy. Intimacy starts at the kitchen table or maybe with a phone conversation. A connection must be made. Counting how many times in a month you have sex is not intimacy.