Marriage is perfect, except for in the bedroom
Dear Annie: I am happily married to an amazing lady who has been my best friend since the day we met 25 years ago. Our kids are all away at college and we love our empty nest. We keep physically fit, are in great health, are financially stable and have a satisfying social life. The only problem is in the bedroom.
Menopause hit about five years ago and it has devastated our intimacy. We both visit our doctors regularly and have been to a counsellor twice. Our doctors say everyting is normal and the counsellor tried to give us some helpful advice, which my wife followed. She does her best to “be there” for me physically and I do everything I can to be a great husband for her.
My question has to do with what the counsellor told me. She said I need to accept the fact that at our age (48), and after 24 years of marriage, an exciting and fulfilling sex life was an unrealistic expectation.
Annie, I am having a hard time accepting this. While we are still intimate, it’s like making love to a mannequin. And after all these years of being faithful, it’s getting harder and harder to brush off the continuous opportunities to stray.
My wife and I have discussed this in detail. She can’t understand why I am not able to simply “turn off ” my libido the way nature has turned off hers. Is the counsellor right, or is there hope that our great marriage can become complete again? — Happy and Sad in Oklahoma
Dear Oklahoma: The counsellor is wrong. Your sex life might not be what it once was, but there is no reason it cannot be fulfilling and satisfying and still include passion. We understand that menopause has taken a toll on your wife’s libido, but she needs to make the effort to work on intimacy because she loves you and values her marriage. Please see a different counsellor who will work with both of you to improve those things you can, instead of encouraging you to give up.
Dear Annie: Yesterday, I celebrated a big birthday and received cards and well wishes from many friends. One in particular sent a nice card. However, I was a bit dis- appointed there wasn’t more. Two years ago, when she celebrated the same big birthday, I wanted to make it special and sent a card with an enclosed gift certificate.
I was surprised she didn’t reciprocate. I would have been happy if she had just sent a note saying, “I will take you out to lunch” or something similar. It hurts that she made no gesture at all. I considered us very close. Am I being foolish to feel this way? — Janet in Reno, Nev. Dear Janet: Not foolish, but perhaps overly optimistic. It was kind of you to send a birthday gift to your friend, but it was unsolicited, and your thoughtfulness depreciates substantially when you think she “owes” you as a result. All she owes you is a thank-you note. She apparently isn’t the type to exchange gifts. Now you know.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Upset in Santa Cruz,” whose stepdaughter-in-law accused her of abusing her son because there were bruises on him.
Unexplained bruises can be the result of a rare, heritable connective tissue disorder called EhlersDanlos syndrome. One sign of EDS is tissue fragility, which results in unexplained bruises. Unfortunately, these bruises often create the impression that the child has been abused.
Please inform your readers, especially teachers, parents and medical professionals, that easily bruised skin can be a symptom of EDS. Additional information can be found at Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Network C.A.R.E.S., Inc., (ehlersdanlosnetwork.org) P.O. Box 66, Muskego, WI 53150. — J.R.
Dear J.R.: Thank you for educating our readers — and us — about this rare condition. Unfortunately, when there are bruises, there is often a less benign reason. TORONTO — Travel can be stressful, especially now with everexpanding airport security checks.
But for many travellers, the troubles begin long before arriving at the airport.
“I’ve had them throw up, pee, everything,” says David Donaldson. He is the owner and photographer at Portraits Plus, a Mississauga, Ont., photo studio that specializes in passport pictures for babies, a seldom-scrutinized travel challenge confronting thousands of Canadian families.
It used to be that children could travel on a parent’s passport. Since 2001, however, Canada, like other United Nations members, has adopted International Civil Aviation Organization standards, requiring every individual who travels internationally to have an official identification document.
The policy was put in place to guard against child abduction, says Passport Canada spokesman Jean-Sebastien Roy.
Demand intensified two years ago when the United States began requiring every person arriving by air to have a passport.
Since last year, Canadians driving across the border or arriving in the U.S. by boat have had to have passports, too.
Last year, Passport Canada issued about 4.3 million passports, and about five per cent — or 250,000 — were to children under age three.
But obtaining documents for tiny travellers is no small matter.
Although the federal government says it recognizes the difficulty in capturing a “neutral expression” on the face of a newborn, children generally have to meet the same requirements as adults when it comes to passport pictures, which is enough to make many of Donaldson’s clients squirm.
The length of the face between the top of their head and their chin must be between 31 and 36 millimetres, eyes must be open and only the head and shoulders should be in the picture. No hands.
The federal government will cut some slack; it’s usually OK if a tongue hangs out and, unlike adults, babies can smile.
Getting an acceptable picture can take as little as 20 minutes, says Donaldson, but he’s also spent as long as seven hours getting the job done.
“ You wait for those two minutes the baby’s eyes are open during the day, usually right after the baby is fed ... before they are relaxed,” he says from his studio.
Donaldson photographs between five and 10 babies most days and typically takes about 20 frames to get one that meets federal requirements.
In some ways, the rules have pitted babies against the bureaucracy, as my sister discovered when she took my three-week-old niece for a passport picture in advance of a trip to Florida over the Christmas holidays.
At that time, the baby rarely opened her eyes and the no-hands rule was a challenge since, from almost the moment she was born, she’s kept tiny fists close to her face, fingers curled into palms. The first pictures, taken at a national drugstore chain, were initially approved by a passport office employee who scrutinizes documents when you walk in the door. But the photos were ultimately rejected.
Photos can also be rejected if there is a hint of a shadow around the baby’s head. Infants can be laid against a white or lightcoloured background and photographed from above, or placed in a car seat covered with a white or light-coloured fabric.
Gabrielle Laurence and father Kevin Kraliz had three-month-old daughter Mae’s passport photos done for a family trip to the Caribbean. But it wasn’t easy. “She couldn’t really hold her head up, so the photographer laid her down on a white towel,” recalls Laurence. “Each time I held her head until he was ready and then each time she’d turn her head around!”
Eventually they managed to get a usable shot and Mae got her green light to travel.
Roy recommends going to a photographer experienced in the field.
After all that work, one might wonder about the shelf life of a passport for babies. How useful can it be as an identification document, since kids’ appearances can change so quickly?
“ You can’t tell me a three-dayold baby won’t change in two weeks,” Donaldson says.
Passports for children three and younger are valid for three years. But since their looks do change so rapidly, children who have been issued a passport before the age of one are entitled to one free replacement, Roy says.
It just means filling out a new application form and, of course, more pictures.