Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for 16 years. We have two children, one with Asperger syndrome.
Over the years, my sex drive has waned because of stress, age, work, children, etc. I try to make an effort to be intimate every week. I’ve seen a doctor to check my hormone levels, and we are already in family counseling because of our child. Additional counseling to discuss intimacy would be cost prohibitive.
But, Annie, sometimes I just don’t feel like having sex. Rather than trying to “woo” me just a little, or even initiate sex when we have quiet time and our kids aren’t likely to walk in, my husband sits and sulks until I make the first move. He does this every single time. During one particularly stressful summer, I didn’t make any moves, and he ignored me for two months. He later admitted that he was just waiting to see how long it would take me to ask for sex. He finally apologized.
My husband is otherwise a good guy. He helps around the house and with the kids. But he rarely talks to me unless the conversation has sexual overtones. I have told him that I would prefer more real dialogue – which would, in fact, lead to more sex – instead of being bombarded with sexualized comments. Once, he excitedly called me outside, and I thought he had something of import to say. Nope. He thought I looked nice in my shorts and wanted to grope me. I can’t just switch it on like that. And when I don’t respond, he becomes offended.
I appreciate that he finds me sexy, and I know I could work on my libido, but why is it always up to me? Why do I get the guilt trip? What can I say to help him understand that I’m perfectly willing, but would also like him to pay attention to me when he doesn’t want sex? — Some Talk, Please
Dear Talk: Your husband sounds amazingly clueless. His behavior toward intimacy is passive-aggressive, and your resentment only undermines his attempts to have sex. If you cannot get him to understand this, please look into free or low-cost counseling through your church or United Way. It will be worth it.
Dear Annie: A few years ago, we got a dog. Our next-door neighbor made it clear he didn’t like “ugly” fences, so we put up a smaller, aesthetically pleasing fence. The neighbor’s trees prevented us from placing it on the actual property line, so he gained a foot or so.
I purchased climbing roses and planted them along the fence. The neighbor then planted an intrusive vine that is wrapping around my rosebushes. He also has tomato plants draping over the fence and heavy clay pots hung on hooks. It’s burning me up that they are so inconsiderate. The year before, we went away for a week, and while we were gone, they picked all our ripe cherries.
What is the best way to deal with the situation? We’ll probably be neighbors for another 15 years. — Wondering What’s Next
Dear Wondering: You are much too accommodating, and your neighbor is taking advantage of you. We say put up a high, no-nonsense fence on your property line. If your neighbor objects, tell him, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Dear Annie: This letter is in response to “Letting Go,” whose boyfriend’s wife died three years ago, and he still has her things in the house.
I married a widower and also found it strange that he had all of his late wife’s belongings in the house. But I am not threatened by these items. My husband’s first wife is only a memory. She was a truly wonderful woman, and I am very lucky to have this man in my life. I am accepted and loved by his first wife’s family. We still have a picture of her prominently displayed in our house. — California
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.