The Record (Troy, NY)

Loneliness is driving me to infidelity

- — A Doctor with Advice DEAR DOCTOR » Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators. com.

DEAR ANNIE » I love your column, though the recent letters about abusive siblings and your responses have me concerned. The cultural pressure in the U.S. for victims to somehow be responsibl­e for getting abusive people to change is a damaging and ineffectiv­e response to bullies.

I can’t imagine that you would encourage a child being bullied to just be kinder to their bully, thinking it will decrease the abuse.

Asking adults to extend olive branches is just as ineffectiv­e. It halves the responsibi­lity of the abusive person (since they are getting away with the behavior) and doubles the responsibi­lity of the victim (since they are now responsibl­e both for their own response and also need to try harder to get the abusive person to stop).

It is critically important for victims to be able to set limits and gain distance from abusive people; at the same time, it is vital for abusive people to be given feedback that their behavior is unacceptab­le. This is about personal responsibi­lity. Victims need to have the esteem to set limits, and bullies need to increase their awareness of problem behavior and make it stop.

Thanks for listening and for all of your columns over the years!

Your advice is excellent and much appreciate­d. You are absolutely correct that victims need to set boundaries and not let bullies bully them. Sometimes, though, when there are conflicts in families, it is not always a clear bully-and-victim situation, as you know, and each person in a quarrel has some responsibi­lity for making the other person feel bad. However, you make several brilliant points in your letter, especially when one party is unquestion­ably the bully in the situation. Thank you for writing and for your wonderful insights.

DEAR ANNIE » Where do I start? I’ve been happily married for 15 years. I’m 52, and my wife is 55, and we have no kids. I have always been the one to schedule sex night.

Well, now my wife is going through menopause, and WOW, this is a whole new beast. The night sweats, the hot flashes, no energy and no sex drive — that is what is happening to her. It has been so long since we have had sex. She has no energy to do anything.

She works three days a week, 12-hour shifts as a nurse. Every time I ask her if we can have sex, it’s almost like she ignores me. And if she says yes, it will be like, “How about Saturday?” Then Saturday comes and goes with no sex.

I can’t live like this for the rest of my life. So this is where I’m at. I’m at the point where I’m thinking about looking for someone in the same situation as me and helping each other out. Do I just find a friend who needs mutual pleasure and keep it quiet? I’m torn on what to do. I really don’t want to cheat, but what are my options? Do I just come out and ask her if I can look for someone who will have sex with me? Please help me! Thank you.

— Lonely

DEAR LONELY » You are only thinking about yourself right now, but it is important to pull back and really focus on what your wife is going through. Talk to her about your frustratio­n, and make an appointmen­t with her doctor to understand better what her body is going through. Cheating on her is NOT the answer. However, if she agrees to having sex on Saturday, then remind her of your feelings on Saturday and tell her how these changes have left you feeling so lonely. Seek the help of a profession­al therapist.

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