Big Surprise: My Wife Has Lost Interest in Sex. What Do I Do?

Dear Dan:

I'm a 33-year-old man, married eight years and mostly happy. My problem seems common: My wife has lost interest in sex. We have sex once every two months, maybe once a month if I'm lucky. When we do have sex, it seems to be good for both of us. It wasn't always this way—we used to have great chemistry and were both GGG in better days.

I've always been faithful, but I'm nearing some kind of tipping point. On a recent business trip, I visited a strip club for the first time. Even though I knew the attention I was getting was fake, it still did the trick. Feeling desired, even in a superficial way, is something I've been missing. Once, a long time ago, my wife mentioned that she would be OK with me going to a strip club, so I feel like I haven't violated our relationship. But I feel like I'm getting pretty close to the boundary.

I don't know what to do. I could try more communication, possibly even try to get us into counseling, but I wonder if that's fair. The situation doesn't seem to be a problem for her, and every time we talk about it, I feel like I'm hurting her feelings. I could also just give up and try to find ways to meet my needs elsewhere. But the thought of potentially hurting her or even losing her as a result is unbearable.

Ready to Pop

First, RTP, I'm sitting on stacks of mail from spouses—husbands and wives—who aren't getting any at home, much less halfway-decent sex on a bimonthy-or-better basis. So while I appreciate your frustration—I'd be fucking holes I'd kicked in the walls if my boyfriend put out just six times a year—let's recognize that (1) things could be worse and (2) you have a decent base here on which to build.

Second, RTP, yes to everything—yes to a new form of birth control (perhaps you could get a vasectomy), yes to packing your asses off to counseling (find a counselor who doesn't believe that the husband is always at fault), and yes to more open and honest communication. A few more yeses: Yes to getting the wife's hormones checked (how are her testosterone levels?), yes to looking at depression as a possible underlying cause (and good luck eliminating it if it is), and yes to the occasional visit to a strip club (just as a matter of principle).

Third, RTP, and most importantly . . . Yes to hurting the wife. Telling her about your unhappiness and forcing this issue will hurt her feelings, but catching you cheating will hurt much, much more.


Dear Dan:

I am a 31-year-old gay male and have been with my 27-year-old boyfriend for a year. It's been absolutely amazing, and he's everything I've ever wanted. We've had some issues concerning trust and communication because our previous relationships failed due to infidelity and being lied to, but we've been working on that in therapy.

Where it gets complicated is that he proposed on our one-year anniversary. I told him that I thought it was too soon and that I wanted to resolve any and all trust issues before committing to marriage. Needless to say, he was hurt, but he said that he would get over it and would ask me again in a year. My question: Is it possible that I have done irreparable damage to this relationship? Should I have said yes, as I do see myself marrying him someday?

Did I Make a Mistake

Seeing as how something as trivial as an ill-considered comment or an unexpected facial can do irreparable harm to a relationship, DIMAM, it stands to reason that something as major as a declined marriage proposal can do lasting harm.

I'm not saying that you necessarily fucked things up irreparably by not accepting your boyfriend's proposal—it's a good thing that you take marriage seriously enough not to want to rush into it—but if you do see yourself marrying this man one day, you might want to go back and say yes.

Accepting a marriage proposal, DIMAM (and all the other gays and lesbians confronting this issue now, thanks to California), only means you're engaged. An engagement doesn't obligate you to follow through with the wedding; think of it as going steady on steroids. It does obligate you to move toward marriage in good faith, to work on "any and all" issues that can be resolved and keep your eyes peeled for deal-breaking issues that can't, and to shit or get off the pot within a reasonable period of time. But that's all.

Oh, and speaking of gays marrying . . . Homos are marrying in California as of this week (congrats to all), and should a tornado—or an earthquake or a meteor or the Incredible Hulk—flatten, say, San Francisco's City Hall during a big gay wedding, respected leaders of the religious right will rush to cable broadcast studios to insist that the tornado/earthquake/meteor/Hulk was God's divine judgment, His righteous wrath, the Baby Jesus's latest temper tantrum, wocka wocka wocka.

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