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February 17, 2019

My wife doesn't want to get intimate

My wife won’t have sex with me. She says any physical relationship between us is over, though she’s perfectly happy with our life together.

Our children have left home, she has a large group of friends and is very active within the local community. This has been going on for three years. I’ve tried to be patient, hoping she’ll change her mind, but every time I approach her she says we agreed that side of things was over.

I’m desperately unhappy and the thought of a future without sex is unbearable — but I don’t want to have an affair. That seems tawdry and dishonest and I still feel a responsibility towards her.

She also has a responsibility towards you, and the decision seems to be entirely one-sided. You didn’t agree; you were issued with an ultimatum.

It’s all very well to accept that a marriage of long standing no longer holds the same sexual passion it once did. It’s fine if making love happens less frequently and is replaced by sweet companionship, but there is nothing sweet about her attitude, nor is there any companionship.

You sound like a kind and decent man, and I can only wonder if, over the years, she has become so accustomed to your decency that she has sunk into complacency. Your marriage is fine, she is happy with her life, with you, so what does sex matter? It’s not the be-all and end-all.

Well, it does matter. And so does your happiness, which, because she’s so happy and busy, seems to be a matter of utter indifference — if she’s even noticed. Desperate misery is not to be taken lightly, nor is selfishness, and I’m sorry to say that — at least within this aspect of your marriage — her attitude is not OK.

If you find your situation unendurable, then perhaps it’s time to consider your own happiness and to stop worrying about responsibility. Any relationship is about intimacy — whether it’s sexual or not — and yours seems to be lacking in every aspect, including discussion.

Affairs are tawdry, but I also believe that staying in an unhappy marriage is destructive. If we are not loved and desired, it can be very lonely.

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