Mar­riage is per­fect, ex­cept for in the bed­room

Cape Breton Post - - LIFESTYLES -

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.

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