Dear Abby: Husband’s great, but I won’t get intimate with him

Since being traumatized by a violent assault, woman has put her mate through a lot, and she feels bad that she’s no longer interested in a physical relationship.

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DEAR ABBY: Many years ago, I was the victim of a violent assault that my then-11-year-old daughter witnessed. It traumatized both of us, but me, the worst. I completely dove off the deep end. I started drinking and smoking pot, and quit going to church. My whole personality changed. I dumped every moment with my children I could onto my husband so I could go out with my “friends” to clubs, bars, concerts or parties. I then started having affairs with many different people, including women. My husband knew about all of it, and despite the torture and pain I put him through, he stayed with me.

Years later, I have managed to slowly heal from that devastating assault. I have found true joy in my children and being a mom again. I don’t party, drink or smoke anymore. But one thing has become clear: I’m no longer sexually attracted to my husband. I love him very much, but the thought of being intimate with him grosses me out. It makes me so uncomfortable. I don’t even like it when he tries to caress me. It has been like this for a year. But I do love holding hands with him and cuddling with him.

I feel bad because I know he has needs, but I just can’t bring myself to get physical with him. I’ve actually thought that leaving him might be necessary because he has never fully healed from what I’ve done, and I’m still struggling with finding other men attractive. Abby, what do I do? — PUTTING THE PIECES BACK TOGETHER

DEAR PUTTING: Please accept my sympathy for what happened to you. I am struck by the fact that nowhere in your letter did you mention receiving counseling after the assault. If you didn’t, please seek a referral to a licensed mental health professional now so you can understand the connection between what you experienced in your assault and your lack of feelings for your husband. You owe it to both of you.

Go online and search on “services for victims of crime” in your state. Help is available through these resources. Alternatively, your physician or health insurance provider can give you a referral. Explain to your husband that the problem isn’t him — it’s you — and you will be getting help for it. Please don’t wait to reach out because help is available.

DEAR ABBY: My 45-year-old son is getting married to a lovely girl. More good news: She is an heiress and in a financial bracket that I can never compete with. They are having a big wedding. I need help finding a gift that will have meaning to them. They already have a house, fancy trips and everything they need. — BAFFLED IN OHIO

DEAR BAFFLED: Because you’re not an heiress, consider giving them something money can’t buy — something personal. If she cooks when they’re not traveling or has someone to do it for them, a collection of your family’s recipes — especially your son’s favorites — might be appreciated. And if they plan to start a family later on, consider giving his wife his baby book if you made one for him.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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