In the last column, we met Ned and Judy. One of those older couples — they’re both in their seventies — that you sometimes see on the street holding hands or walking arm-in-arm and think, “Isn’t that sweet.” But that, of course, isn’t the whole picture.
Ned and Judy have been married for over 50 years and love each other deeply, but sex is a major issue for them. They like to get naked and kiss and snuggle, but Ned would like more. He says Judy still turns him on. Because of age and health issues, they’d have to get creative to enjoy sex, but Judy’s having none of it.
The problem began 15 years ago. You may remember that Ned and Judy were in therapy then and Ned made some unilateral commitments to Judy. He wouldn’t try to change her, except in some very specific areas, such as when her driving endangered them. He wouldn’t threaten to leave her. And the kicker, he wouldn’t demand sex or coerce her into having it, although he would tell her when he wanted it.
“That last commitment might have been a mistake. The frequency of sex went from a couple of times a week to monthly and finally to practically never as age set in. However, I’m glad I did it, since I don’t want sex with someone who doesn’t want it with me.”
Ned says he hasn’t had sex with anyone other Judy since they were married 53 years ago.He believes she has also been sexually faithful to him, although her previous spouse divorced her for infidelity, which she didn’t get around to telling Ned until after their wedding.
“Early in our marriage she flirted outrageously with other men, and I once publicly and somewhat brutally humiliated her for it. She stopped doing it. Initially, we had a good sex life, although my libido was always much stronger than hers. But our sex life has gone to pot over the last decade, mainly because of age-related physical deterioration and Judy’s lack of interest.
“Judy refused to fill out a questionnaire on sex for our marriage counselor and refuses to engage in further marital counseling. She’s so closed, unyielding, adamant and sensitive about sex that I’ve given up. It’s not worth the hassle to reopen the topic or discuss other ways to obtain gratification.
“At present, having mutually satisfactory sex with her seems impossible to me. She has absolutely no interest in it or patience with it, and she’s unwilling to explore new avenues. And I’m tired of being rejected. I’m not ready to give up sex, but I have few alternatives. I don’t want to have affairs or engage hookers. I think those would destroy our marriage. So Iwatch porn and masturbate, which is OKin my book, but not in hers. She’s probably aware that I do it, although she hasn’t caught me.”
But no marriage is perfect, as any married person will tell you and Ned says, “Despite our sex and control problems, I think our relationship is great. Judy says she’s very happy and so am I.”
Can you have a healthy relationship without sex? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to email@example.com.
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