DEAR MRS SALISBURY…
My wife and I have been together for 26 years and we have had no major rows.
I love her very much. I am getting on in years but still have an urge for sex. My problem is that she does not like to participate in physical sex. We used to have physical sex (it was not making love) about once a month and then it was over in a few minutes as she would say: “Hurry up I need the toilet,” or a host of other excuses. She does not like me fondling her and will not do anything to me. When we do have sex she just lays there and does not take part in any way. She has never once initiated sex. We last had sex more than five years ago and since then I cannot get an erection – I put that down to a psychological problem. I have tried testosterone and Viagra-type pills, to no avail. If I broach the subject, she starts an argument, so I give up. Once, she told me she was brought up to believe sex was only for making babies. She refuses to do anything about this. I am unsure what I can do.
It’s time for a major row. You two are now utterly sexually disengaged. I wonder whether you’ve managed to retain (or ever achieve) non-sexual closeness and affection or whether that has gone down the drain, too. The sex you used to have is unlikely to have been satisfying for either of you; so inevitably sexual energy has left home. I’m curious about your opening sentence and your referral to walking away from an argument. Is it scary to express anger and hurt? Arguments don’t have to be destructive. Fair fighting involves taking responsibility for your own feelings, and not blaming or making derogatory comments. You need to speak clearly of your hurt about not feeling desired, maybe of not feeling loved either.
Regardless of beliefs instilled for your wife in childhood, being a grown-up means we get to reflect and make adult decisions. It’s not OK to be in a committed, ongoing intimate relationship and make a unilateral decision to withdraw sexual or perhaps all intimacy.