Dear Ellie: My wife of nine years has always been less interested in sex than I am.
She’d never had a long relationship before marrying me, and I thought that was a good thing. No worrying by me about someone who maybe was more exciting in bed than me, etc.
But I soon learned that she was not only much less sexually experienced than me, but also that a couple of dates with a “slam-bam” jerk who used her and dumped her, left her tense regarding sex.
When we started to date exclusively, I thought she’d relax with me, since she said she loved me.
I could woo her, back then, into a slow acceptance of lovemaking, but all the physical work was mine.
After six months of this, I suggested sexual counselling and she threatened to break up that day.
I backed down, and we got married. Nothing changed.
At one point she said about sex: “It’s just not my thing. It’s yours, so I do it for you.”
I was overjoyed when she got pregnant with our first child, because I thought her body would settle after the birth, into a hormone cycle that includes sexual desire.
It didn’t happen. Nor after our second child was born three years later.
I think she feels she’s done her “duty” by bearing children. Also, she’s filled our schedules with so many activities for the kids, she’s usually “too exhausted” after they’re in bed, to even hug.
She’ll occasionally allow a quickie, just to keep me from trying to discuss our waning sex life.
But, though I love her as the mother of our children, and she still says she loves me, I feel like I’m living alone.
Not sure I can go on this way for years ahead. She still won’t go to counselling, so that’s out. What do you suggest?
No Sex and Lonely
You’re up against a tough situation with a wife who’s suffered a traumatic reaction to a bad sexual experience of the past, and hasn’t gotten over it.
Yet I strongly recommend counselling for you, with a fresh approach. No, it’s NOT your fault. Nor hers, either.
According to a study published last February in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, sex therapy can do better than label someone like your wife as sexually dysfunctional.
(Nor, would Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder therapy, necessarily help overcome her attitude toward sex).
The study’s Canadian authors, University of Ottawa’s Dr. Peggy Kleinplatz and University of Windsor’s Dr. Dana Menard, both clinical psychologists, believe that even previously bored/disinterested couples can have “optimal sexual experiences.”
After just eight weeks of therapy. This turnaround-time is based on interviews with couples whose sex lives are well beyond satisfying.
Described in the psychologists’ co-authored book, Magnificent Sex: Lessons from Extraordinary Lovers, the interviewed couples’ sexual experiences involve mutual pleasure, openness, vulnerability and trust.
My advice: Read it.
Contact one of these psychologists or their trained therapists.
Tell your wife that she, too, bears no “fault” for the disappointing sex you two have suffered.
You both haven’t found a way to build together a fulfilling physical/emotional connection.
Tell her you love her and want to be joyful as a couple as well as a family, and to allow mutual pleasure along with total trust in each other.
Then, start the counselling, even if it’s on your own. Tell her about it. Also, buy her a separate copy of the book.
Dear Ellie: I recently overheard a man brag about having “a good pandemic.” He’s 74, with a pension, house and a backyard. He regularly invites several friends for beer on his patio.
I was disgusted by his “good pandemic” comment, considering all the front-line workers desperately trying to keep other people his age alive. I’m ashamed that I kept quiet.
The Right Retort?
It’s not always easy to respond in the moment. He’s presumably earned his comforts over years of working.
But your disdain is understandable since part of his current comfort derives from the sacrifices of others — just one example: 369 health-staff who tested positive for COVID-19 in Ontario, during just the first week of June.
His attitude of having “a good pandemic” is also an affront to countless people who still struggle daily with unemployment, financial anxiety, and loss of loved ones from the lethal virus.
Tell him that he’d do better to say less.
Ellie’s tip of the day
Boring, bad or long-banished sex between a healthy couple may become gratifying sexual pleasure, if you try a new, positive approach.
Read Ellie Monday to Saturday.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.