Dear John: Beds Are For Sleeping
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
My wife and I have gotten into such a sexual rut. We used to have a great sex life, but now, after being reasonably happily married for 15 years, we’re intimate maybe once a month – maybe! Sometimes less. What’s worse, I am very unhappy with this situation, but my wife seems relatively okay with it. Honestly, I feel like a healthy sex life could be one of life’s simple pleasures to compete with job pressures, financial pressures, etc., but instead, in my house it’s become one more problem and I don’t feel like either one of us has a clue what to do about it. Any suggestions?
Sex Life On Life Support
Dear Life Support,
The good news here is that you’ve had a great sex life together in the past, so you know what that’s like and you know that it is possible. There’s no right or wrong amount of sex a married couple “should” have. (Or an unmarried couple for that matter.) What’s important is that both partners think that their rate of intercourse (to coin a less-than-romantic phrase) is at least about right. That’s where you and your wife disagree.
This is a difficult problem, but any answer has to start with you and your wife talking about it. I get the feeling from your letter that you’re under a lot of stress, so that means your wife probably is, too. You’d like to deal with it by having more sex, but stress may be completely killing her desire. Your unsatisfactory sexual relationship may be more a symptom than a problem in and of itself. Talking about it is an essential first step, but you may want to seek out a couples’ therapist for help with this. You know what it’s like when you’re really together, and sometimes couples need a little help getting back on track.
I am a gay middle-aged man who’s been in a long-term relationship for about ten years. My partner’s extended family has been very nice and welcoming to me, but visiting them over Christmas always makes me uncomfortable. At some point, it seems like they always start to bemoan the fact that Christmas has become too secular, “they” (whoever they are) have taken Christ out of it, it’s Jesus’ birthday, etc. These conversations make me cringe because I feel like they must be thinking gay couples are one of the results of the decline in religiousness they see all around them. They have been very accepting of me and have never once said anything overt that indicates they have a problem with me or gay people in general, but how can they be so religious and NOT feel that way? I feel like there’s a hidden message here. Do you?
I can understand why these conversations make you feel uncomfortable. Christianity has become equated with homophobia in our culture due mostly to political activists. But I’m not convinced they speak for the majority of Christians; they just speak the loudest. I’m no theologian, but my impression is that at its heart, Christianity is about loving everyone and judging no one. This could well be the strain of Christianity your partner’s family subscribes to. In short, I think you have to give them the benefit of the doubt. If they have welcomed you into their family and they have never said anything to cause you to doubt their sincerity or acceptance, you should be as non-judgmental toward them as they’ve been to you.
I have an evolving problem with a future mother-in-law. My fiancé and I are engaged to be married next year and his mom has second-guessed virtually everything we want to do, from where our wedding will be held to how many people we can invite right down to what we will serve. My fiancé and I are determined to have a nice wedding that we can comfortably afford; neither one of us wants some lavish affair that will cost money we don’t have. His mother is a different story – my fiancé says she always regretted not having a big wedding, so this is her “second chance”!! It has already turned what should be a pleasant experience into a source of tension, and it’s still many months away. And I fear what this says about her involvement in our lives after we’re married. She’s a sweet lady, but kind of passive aggressive and pretty miserable to live with when she doesn’t get her way. How should I handle this?
Fit To Be Tied Bride
I don’t think you should handle this. I think your husband should.
Far from sounding sweet, your future mother-in-law sounds like a self-absorbed, difficult woman. It’s no surprise that her son is reluctant to resist her will since he’s spent a lifetime learning of the consequences that result from crossing her. However, cross her he must. You and he should be commended for trying to plan a responsible wedding that simply proclaims your love for and commitment to each other. That future m-i-l sees it as her second chance is appalling. Your fiancé must let his mother know in no uncertain terms that you feel very good about the decisions you’ve made regarding your wedding, those decisions are final, and you both hope his mother will enjoy the day as much as you expect to. If he is unwilling to do this, look forward to a future of second-guessing and scrutiny about child rearing, homemaking, and any other topic your mother-in-law has an opinion on.
John is a middle-aged family man from Providence. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at email@example.com.
- Dear John: A Colleague Crush
- Dear John: A Friendly Fling
- Dear John: Big Love
- Dear John: An Ill-Advised Office Romance (Aren’t They All?)
- Dear John: Dating Game Turns Into Waiting Game
- Dear John: Diary of a Wimpy Parent