Dear Annie: I’m 52 years old, and since my wife started menopause, we no longer have sex. It has become physically painful for her, and she has no desire whatsoever. I understand what is happening and am trying to be supportive and roll with the punches. But it’s difficult.
I could get along without intercourse if we just had some kind of sexual intimacy. I know she loves me, and I love her, but the thought that I may never have sex of any kind again is difficult. I have told her that just getting naked and doing some heavy petting like teens would be more than enough. She never initiates anything, and I’m embarrassed to keep asking, because I don’t want to put pressure on her and make her feel bad when she says no. I would never cheat on her.
This morning I sat down and cried. It makes me so sad. My wife is not interested in counseling. She has no desire for sex, so why fix it? I take care of my appearance and treat my wife with love and respect. So how can I get off this one-way street? I feel like I should simply man up and come to terms with it, but I have been unable to do so. Help. — Saddened
Dear Saddened: We wish we could knock some sense into women like your wife. In a healthy, loving marriage, one takes their partner’s feelings and needs into consideration. There are medical treatments for painful intercourse and diminished libido, but your wife has to make the effort. And there are other forms of intimacy, as you have so clearly stated. Yes, there are more important things than sex, but a spouse’s longing for intimate contact should not be dismissed as inconsequential.
Dear Annie: I’m a 55-year-old home health nurse, one of six who have been caring for a disabled man in his mid-30s who is a quadriplegic.
This man’s mother is overbearing. We planned a little party for the nurses and our patient, and his mother showed up uninvited. When I offered the young man some of my soda, she told him not to “take food without permission.” I responded that he had my permission. A little while later, Mom picked up her son’s spoon and tasted his soup. I teased her about it, and she responded rudely. She told me to stop talking and not to speak to her that way. It was demeaning.
I realize she has had a hard life, but that doesn’t mean she can treat me this way. She’s self-centered and controlling. She has fired plenty of nurses in the past for “transgressions” that had nothing to do with the care of her son. We’ve given each other the silent treatment since. But I’m concerned that my patient feels the stress and that it will give his mother an excuse to fire me. Does she owe me an apology, or do I owe her one? — California Nurse
Dear Nurse: You are the employee. If you want to keep your job and create a less stressful environment, please tell the mother that you are sorry you upset her, because that was not your intent. Ask if you can wipe the slate clean. Be sincere. And then remember in the future that this woman needs to be treated with more formality. Don’t try to be friendly. Simply be professional.
Dear Annie: This is another answer to “Losing My Religion,” the husband whose wife is always late. My wife was the same way.
It took me 30 years to figure out that the problem wasn’t organizational skills, but a power play. Nobody could go anywhere until my wife said so. Now I ask, “Do you want to go or not?” We either arrive on time or I arrive solo. — Older but Wiser
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.