Coun­selling the right path, but have an open mind

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - el­liead­

Q. My wife of 10 years sud­denly said she doesn’t think she loves me any­more ... she chose to tell me this on my birth­day!

She swears she’s not see­ing any­one else. I was caught off guard, but in­sisted there was noth­ing else to say or do un­less she goes to cou­ple’s coun­selling with me.

We’re both pre­vi­ously di­vorced. I had a young son, she had two daughters, and they live with their other par­ents, part­time. Then they’re all to­gether part-time with us and have grown close.

My wife would be break­ing up our fam­ily as well as our mar­riage.

Also, though she’s suc­cess­ful at work, she’s re­cently seemed bored. She’s late-40s, so could this mean she’s start­ing menopause and fear­ing the changes?

I don’t think she’s cheat­ing, so what else could be go­ing on?

A. The “birth­day” tim­ing was for shock value: cre­ate a cri­sis and run with­out ad­dress­ing the rea­sons.

You re­sponded bril­liantly — no be­rat­ing her or de­mand­ing an­swers, just get to a coun­sel­lor who’ll know how to get both of you talk­ing about what­ever’s go­ing on in her mind.

Now comes the harder parts — lis­ten­ing to what she says, hear­ing her, even open­ing up about what­ever’s been go­ing on with you that might’ve con­trib­uted to her drop­ping this bomb­shell.

Menopause? Well, like any­one else in mid-life — male or fe­male — she may have fears of some of the age-changes ahead that grad­u­ally af­fect ap­pear­ance, mem­ory, en­ergy and gen­eral health. But menopause brings many women added mood changes from hor­monal shifts, en­ergy-sap­ping night sweats, dry­ness, and low­ered li­bido that af­fects sex life, etc.

Maybe she’s try­ing to short-cir­cuit the dis­com­fort and em­bar­rass­ment when she ex­pe­ri­ences these changes.

Maybe her “boredom” is avoid­ance of hav­ing to meet these chal­lenges. Or, maybe it’s just boredom and she needs to re­con­sider her job, not her whole life.

Much of this will come to light in coun­selling. Go with an open mind. If she’s not cheat­ing, then she’s run­ning from her­self, not you.

I want friend­ship, not sex

Q. I’m 61, on my own for 17 years. I have no de­sire to date or get in­volved again, but would en­joy adult com­pany.

A wi­d­ower, 67, has shown an in­ter­est in me but I’m con­cerned he’s look­ing for more than friend­ship.

I’m not the least bit in­ter­ested in hav­ing sex. I don’t want a sit­u­a­tion where there may be even a good­night kiss head­ing my way.

All the magazines and talk shows deal with en­joy­ing sex over a cer­tain age but I can find no place that talks about peo­ple like my­self that don’t want this in a re­la­tion­ship.

How should I ap­proach this sub­ject with­out em­bar­rass­ing my­self or him?

A. Speak up. Better to let him know ahead that you like him, but don’t en­joy sex, and want only his friend­ship if he can ac­cept that ar­range­ment.

If he tries to talk you into re­con­sid­er­ing, or makes un­wanted moves, just be clear and firm: This isn’t about him, so he has noth­ing to prove.

Say that it’s your choice, and any­one push­ing for more would end the op­por­tu­nity for com­pan­ion­ship. Pe­riod.

Reader’s com­men­tary: “The sex­ual ha­rass­ment at age 18 that left a wo­man feel­ing shame through­out adult­hood (April 11) brought back anger to me.

“I’m 63 and was sex­u­ally abused by a fam­ily mem­ber at age nine. The in­ci­dent shapes you for life and grips you with fear.” El­lie: That’s why re­port­ing sex­ual abuse/ha­rass­ment as early as pos­si­ble is cru­cial for your own self-im­age and alert­ing oth­ers.

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