Dear Annie: The subject of intimacy involves almost everyone, especially couples, so I’m writing to you not necessarily for advice but in hopes of finding out whether other women relate at all to my observations and suggestions about intimacy.
I’ve been married for 40 years to the man I chose to spend my life with. I’m committed to our marriage, plus I love him. I think he would say the same about me. When menopause struck several years ago, though, I really lost interest in sex. Although I’m not opposed to sex, apparently it’s not enough for him that I willingly participate in sexual intercourse; it’s also important to him that I have a desire for it/him. Because I don’t, he has effectively cut sex out of his life.
That brings me to the subject of intimacy. We all understand the term “sexual intimacy,” but I don’t hear much talk about “emotional intimacy,” and I would like to suggest that the lack of “intimate fellowship” between my husband and me (and possibly other couples out there) is what has brought us to a point in our relationship where we’re going through the motions – working together on a lot of things, even – but not having fun with each other anymore.
We haven’t been putting much effort into making it better, either. I think that all he has on his mind is sex, and because he resolves to go on without it unless I initiate it, he’s sort of angry with me all the time. I have asked myself whether I’m failing as a wife because I don’t feel like pouring on the sex appeal, but everything in me says I would feel more like doing almost anything for him if the emotional intimacy we used to share were restored, which would require him to reopen his heart to me. Maybe he can’t see past the “one thing on his mind” to think about what matters to me. For me, though, sexual intimacy – even when I’m not that drawn to the act itself – makes sense only when it’s shared with the man who shares his heart with me and I want to see him happy. – Committed but Confused
Dear Committed but Confused: A special thanks for your letter because there are a great many married couples going through the same thing. The good news is that you and your husband still crave intimacy from each other, even though you want more emotional intimacy and he wants more physical intimacy.
Remember, your husband still desires you after 40 years of marriage. My guess is that once you make more of an effort for him sexually, he will make more of an effort for you emotionally. It’s figuratively the chicken or the egg. What comes first, the sexual intimacy or the emotional intimacy? Seeing as you took the time to write, I think you can be the bigger person and begin your quest for a more fulfilling relationship.
You have been together in love for a long time, so it would make sense for you both to start working on the relationship. Perhaps a good marriage counselor could help both of you.
While you are looking for a good counselor, you might try reading “Mating in Captivity,” by Esther Perel.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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