Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Reader Mail Week: Give This Guy Some Advice

Today's reader mail comes from "J" who is in a newly sexless marriage and so upset about it, he's willing to take advice from random strangers on the internet. That is, you. So go to town.

Bear in mind that when people ask for advice they want good ideas that sound pretty much like what they already wanted to do in the first place. Oh yeah, and don't be mean.

Here's J:

My wife has been depressed and is menopausal. She's 56 and has lost all sexual desire. Before we were pretty active. I'm 61 and going insane right now. I will not have an affair. Any ideas?

I have tried kissing, hugging, and just loving her and being there for her. I've tried giving a her sensual massage--not going anywhere else--and trying to build something up.

I'm ready to jump out of my skin. So tired of doing myself.


Well? What do you have for him?




Anonymous said...

Please, please talk to her. Ask what you can do to make her feel more sensual. If she feels like you are only doing the sensual nice stuff to "get her in the mood" she will get tense, resentful and feel less like making love.Some anti-depressants can cause loss of libido - so can untreated depression so maybe go together to discuss that with her Dr, if she is willing. Touch her often in an affectionate, none sexual situations (holding hands or taking her arm on the street, cuddling up to watch a movie etc). Sex should be fun for everyone involved. So never pressured. Then think what it is YOU miss about sex - is it feeling desired (if so ask if there is anything you can do or not do to make yourself more desireable - oddly enough one of the things I find VERY sexy about my significant other is he buys and launders his own socks and underware - I never even have to pick them up off the floor). Talk - if need be go to a couples therapist so you BOTH have a safe place to discuss issues without it turning into a fight - both paties tend to clarify their thoughts and listen better if there is a third party acting as umpire.
Stress to her you don't just want sex with anyone - you want to have a loving sexual relationship with her.

Anonymous said...

Might be something that can be improved with hormone-replacement or an anti-depressant. Is she willing to discuss her situation with her doctor?

Anonymous said...

I don't have any good advice but I would like to commend you for commitment to your wife. I can read your frustration through your letter--your frustration and her depression--and I wish you both the best of luck in this difficult time in your marriage. I just wanted to send some words of encouragement your way. It's nice to see someone so devoted to their partner and I sincerely hope you find a way through this together so you can both be happy.

in bed with married women said...

anonymous, anonymous and dear Keppie, I am so impressed with your love and caring. *beaming with pride*

Anonymous said...

As a recently menopausal woman, I can tell you it can do a job on us emotionally-- like that part of life is OVER. I second what others have said, about talking and making it clear to her that she is the one you want, but I can tell you from my own experience that having the man you love tell you that you look as good as you ever have - or better - sure helps! Notice her. Point out what is beautiful about her. Brag on her, if you can. Also, ahem, have you kept up your end? Are you in shape, or as good as you can be for her? At least clean and well groomed? Kudos for keeping on this -- postmenopausal sex can be WONDERFUL, and I know yours will be when you two get your groove back.

Unknown said...

I thank you all so much. She does take anti depressants. She does have a very stressful job . She's a High School Teacher in Spl Ed. Pretty funny my son was in her class would go back forth saying we were both lonely
I have mention couples therapy more natural things she won't take hormones she's afraid of cancer.
I have just been loving her she really like light sensual back rubs. They are authentic and not a put on. I also need help with my sexual health I do take the L and some vitamins. WE both love each other.
Jill thank you so much your an awesome lady.
Thanks to All

Walker Thornton said...

I write about sexuality for older women (I'm 59) and I hear these kinds of stories often. You seem to be going the extra mile--which is wonderful. Now it's up to her to figure out what to do. It won't help either of you if you begin to feel that you "have" to help her out of this phase she's in. I'd suggest she talk to her gynecologist if she feels comfortable or maybe a therapist? Maybe a female Dr? Or one who specialized in midlife.

Menopause is hard for us women but it can/does get better as the symptoms lessen. She might consider taking some time for herself--massages, getting a pedicure, indulging herself in ways that make her feel good.

Best wishes to both of you. I admire your desire to help her and your honesty about your sexual needs. It's important to acknowledge your own needs here as well.

Anonymous said...

Wow - most of the people here are much more virtuous than me.
Js situation seems almost identical to the one my wife and I share. I am 63, she is 57 and we have been married 37 years. The last time I saw her naked was the last time we made love, 1/4/2005. (I think it was a Tuesday evening.)
We have daughters who are 23 and 22 (15 months apart). My wife says that her postpartum depression is one of the things that ended our sex life. I know that the other stressor has been our tenuous financial situation due to my career choices. I have been self employed since 1988 and it can be "feast and famine", but I am determined to do work I love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc. I am on this planet to give my creative gifts to humanity and the world - while I also follow my bliss, http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/143093-follow-your-bliss-if-you-do-follow-your-bliss-you.
Add to this the elder care we have needed to do for my wife's parent and my mother and well ... we have problems communicating.
Some time ago, I found a lady in a stale 20 year marriage. She wanted to do kinky things that her husband could not understand. She was tired of what she called "10 minute sex". We live far away from each other, so getting together wasn't easy. And, after lots of soul searching (for both of us), we had an evening together. It changed my life and I will never have any regrets.
When my soul was awakened, I discovered that my wife's depression ad also been flowing to me and making me less of a man.
I tried to help her/us. I found books that I asked her to read. I found Internet video clips that I thought could help. I contacted local therapists and medical professionals. She refused to try anything. The more I tried to help the more she resisted. Her solution was, and remains, "vodka therapy".
My affair ended after 6 months. My beautiful lady has kids who depend on her marriage. And, she decided to talk with her husband about making sex more exciting for them both. When she exited my life, I was crushed. I was in deep limerence with my lady. She had my endorphins and dopamine flowing like never before in my life. I understood her situation.
When it ended, I decided a practical path for me was to have a polyamorous mindset. After all, I'm an old man, very set in my ways and I'm told that the shelf life of limerence is only 2 years. (See "Help For You: How to Handle a Possible Affair" here - http://www.strongmarriagenow.com/marriage-assessment-result/.
That affair gave me back my manhood. I walk taller that I did. I approach business dealing with a more confidence and dominance. I'm a better negotiator. I feel that I deserve love, respect and sex. I know I can joyfully give back more love and passion than I receive.
My wife is killing herself with vodka. Had I not had that affair, I would be dying along with my wife. Our elder care responsibility will end in a few more months. When they do, I'm going to make the changes that have been long overdue and put passion, romance, sex, limerence, love and beauty back into my life. I hope that someday my wife is motivated to do the same.

Jill Hamilton said...

Anonymi and Walker, thank you too for more heartfelt answers. So blown away by your willingness to reach out to a stranger.

And John, very touched by your gratitude.

I put your question on a Reddit group that deals w/ sexless marriages http://www.reddit.com/r/DeadBedrooms/ and got some feedback for you there as well. Will post below.

Jill Hamilton said...

Here is some feedback from the Dead Bedrooms reddit....

EntropyHouse: Try to remember that this won't last forever. We've all had times in life when we could give more or less for our partners in many different ways. Right now sex is apparently not something this women wants, but that's likely to change at some point. If she were in Final Exams week at college, he'd know that life wouldn't be normal again for another few days. It sounds like he's doing a good job supporting her emotionally, and that definitely won't hurt when her hormones settle down again.

dbbbbbb: It might be a hormonal issue, but seriously? We cannot all remain sexual beings forever. Perhaps his wife would be open to the idea of letting him pursue a few flings on the side. So long as he remains loyal to her emotionally, and honest, it could work.

stillhanginginthere: What else can he do but help her seek medical attention? She needs professionals to sort out these issues. Her hormones are probably severely unbalanced right now. Fix that first. There is no point in trying to seduce her in her current state.

I'm not an expert, but I believe that the natural hormones they use now for replacement have been shown to be safe so perhaps that's an option. It was the synthetic ones that were linked to diseases like breast cancer.

The difficult part will be getting her to go while she's depressed. She won't want to. She won't see the point I'm guessing. She's going to need to go and advocate for her own health, perhaps getting 2nd and 3rd opinions. That's a long road to travel and it won't be easy, but I don't see any other way around it. If he keeps going as he's going and she keeps going as she's going, they are going to spiral into mutual resentment.

Sir Thomas said...

Hi J. I fully appreciate where you are coming from, coming from a marriage of low/poor sex for 30+ years and none for 6 years (see my post .
You seem to be doing all the right things for your wife, but honestly I think it might be time for her to retire from spl.ed. - there comes a time for 'carers' when no matter how much you care and feel for your patients/clients, you have to look after your own mental health (having had a sister that finally got our of nursing after a breakdown).
Now exactly the same reasoning applies to you. You care/love your wife all you can, but if your own mental health is suffering you need to take responsibility for yourself. Does your wife understand what is happening to you? Can you talk to her about your needs? You might be surprised - some wives in this situation encourage their husband to get 'relief' externally, without actually having an affair.
Goo luck. Keep loving her. Know that your are far from alone - this is very common.

Walker Thornton said...

Thanks Jill!

A note to "Anonymous" the 63 year old male. I don't consider 63 old! You have many more years of fun healthy sex ahead of you. I had a delightful brief relationship with a 68 yr. old --we had great sex. And, at 59, I'm currently seeing a 65 yr. old. Just sayin'

Jill Hamilton said...

and this came in via Facebook from MW:

She might want to see her OB/GYN or Physician and have her hormone levels and Thyroid (TSH) Checked. These are all contributing factors.

Anonymous said...

So much of desire happens between the ears, especially as we women get older. I found that I needed more romance, more courting to get my fires going as I've gotten older. I need conversation, I need compliments to get to foreplay.... Too many men quit doing what they did at the beginning, which is what created the great sex. So try romance, date nights, whatever it is that makes her get melty. Hoping you both get the love you need and deserve.

Anonymous said...

If you've exhausted all the decent advice and there's still no change, I'd go with the advice everyone gave that poor guy with the wife who has the vulvodynia thing (is that what it was called?). They chastised him for being a martyr and said he oughta get out of the sexless marriage. ITA. If she isn't with you anymore, it's done. Move on. Yep, she'll hate you and the sisterhood will close ranks against you (because men are dirty if they leave a women who stops having sex with them for some reason but a man who does the same thing is worth the divorce whatevs)but some decent woman without those issues is out there. (Boy I hope that other guy did move on...) My late grandparents had a healthy sex life and treated sex as perfectly normal all the way through their 90s. Don't be a martyr.

K said...

Get her to a physician immediately. She must go, as the alternative is a

divorce. (It's a good way to find out if that's what she wants, because it

is a logical consequence -- she's breaking an implicit contract by refusing you.) Good luck.


Anonymous said...

I find--as a 55-year-old woman--that my libido is . . . resting? pining for the fjords? It's frustrating to me, sometimes, because that was NOT the case before menopause--oh-so-very not the case. Which is not to say that I'm not interested now, just that it takes longer for everything to happen, and lube is crucial (also not the case before menopause). OTOH, my partner is my age, and it takes him awhile, too, and we have a sense of humor about it. What does this have to say about your situation? Part of what makes our situation work is that we talk about it. It doesn't sound like that's happening with you. If I were in your shoes, I would say, hey, I very much want to continue to have a sex life, in particular a sex life with you--with a broad understanding of what that can mean (e.g., she gets you off; she watches or helps while you get yourself off). Ask her what can work for her, how you can continue to be sexual with each other, even if what specifically happens isn't what used to happen. Ask her why she doesn't seem interested in sex, and ask what you can do to change that (or whether it will change). See what she says. (IMHO trying to drag her to a doctor, or encouraging hormones when she may not want them, are going to cause resentment. If she is depressed, though, that's a separate issue and needs its own treatment.) If she says she just doesn't want to, then ask her what she thinks you should do with your own desires.

In any case, good luck to you.

ADR said...

JJ - I am a dude, but I see sex as a spectrum, not a binary yes/no situation. Intercourse is 100% sex, but cuddling in bed might be a 25%, naked massage might be 50%.

Even things like joking with her or deep talk - sharing feelings or something that re-establishes the emotional connection. I think I read between the lines that you're relieving the tension manually - I do and I think most other happy guys do as well. It helps to balance out the difference in male/female sex drives, but part of what's missing from that IS the emotional connection. Try to re-establish that part separately.

The other piece of advice is to NOT put much pressure on her to have sex. Let her feel comfortable getting into sexual situations - massage etc - knowing that you won't pressure her to have to have sex if she doesn't want to. You can both enjoy the sexual feelings, but she won't have to have sex. Otherwise there's a barrier to her doing ANYTHING sexual unless she wants to go all the way, which she doesn't. Let her warm to it gradually, on her own terms.

Lastly, try to introduce change/growth into your life/lives - taking a vacation, taking up a creative hobby, volunteering etc. It re-directs your energy and re-infuses you with vitality.

Congrats for taking the high road and not wishing to tag-team in someone else in when your partner doesn't want to naked-wrestle. I think for most girls, that would be a game-ender, probably a marriage-ender.

I don't know if any of that is relevant to you, but either way, I feel for you. It's a common part of the human experience, buddy. Death/Taxes/Not Enough Sex- all inevitable parts of life.

Unknown said...

Omg thank you so very much for all your comments and experiences. Truly means a lot to me. Brings tears to my eyes.
Love you all

Ed said...

May I ask why you quickly conclude you could not have an affair? In Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel makes the distinction between marital loyalty and sexual exclusivity. You deserve to find a good women - and there are many out there - who would enjoy having a sexual relationship with you and who will understand the limitations of the relationship.

Most of the comments seem to be related to your trying to change your wife. We can't change anyone!

slashbaylor98 said...

We ladies are hard to deal with!!! Sorry your wife is in this place but my hat goes off to you for not getting sex elsewhere!!!!! Very nice to hear there is a faithful man left in this world.

I know when I hit a certain mode I am just there & neither myself nor anyone else can
remove me from it. However my husband can make it 20xs worse by feeble attempts to sneak sex up on me with massages etc.

I say give her some room, DO NOT SAY THE WORD SEX AROUND HER - lol - & don't have the word stamped to your forehead either. Most likely she is aware you are getting none & probably feels bad enough about it without pressure & innuendos & your life seemingly ending because of the lack thereof.

I have always been very sexual & confident as a woman but wow how that started slipping away after I had to have a hysterectomy & also was over 40. Your wife likely feels there is no woman left especially a sexual one. No way to explain but best way to try is to ask you to imagine that men after reaching 60 will no longer be able to jerk off as you have your entire life....this will never be an option as your penis will never get hard again from jerking off - its a stretch (no pun intended) - but losing this ability would in a sense make you lose part of you as a man & throw you into unknown waters for the first time ever. Maybe you can see what I mean as compared to your wife's menopause.

Losing the ability to rear children and losing the menstrual cycle can put us ladies out there because both is what we were taught "made us a woman" .... Now what are we without them - I felt I was used up & no longer was a woman as I had been for most my life - it takes time to get through this and likely we ladies never get through it entirely & certainly not expediently!!!

Offering massages or anything else "to get her in the mood" will only make her resent you a bit. Nothing you do can change the fact she is at this horrible & awkward place in her life. Give her space when needed, be her friend mostly but allow her to come through it in her time. She will love you much for that!

A fun way to attempt to let her know she isn't the only one getting old per se would be to get a cpl of small coffee tins & label them something fun & catchy & light having to do with aging & put yours in her path one morning or evening with a note peeking out under the lid that will make her investigate the can....write something you have experienced in aging as a man that super sux for you that can be funny for her - then end your note telling her where her can is if she would like to play too. Have some paper & a pen inside her can but tell her she can say something she has noticed about you getting older or something about herself. Maybe being playful about what is beyond her grasp may lighten ya'lls mood some.

Patience is your best friend for now
.. Other than your hand(s)!!! Very wrong but just had to. Good luck ... Wishing the best to you both.