Dear Mary: My husband and I sleep together and I love him, but I don't want sex - what should I do?
My husband and I are going through some issues in our marriage and I would appreciate your advice please.
Our children are in their 20s so we are now spending a lot more time together as a couple.
We always get on well but although we sleep together, we no longer make love.
For years, we were exhausted looking after the family and caring for elderly parents, etc.
We were also stressed with work as we have demanding jobs. We often slept in separate bedrooms as our youngest daughter often woke up during the night and when she awoke she wanted to come into our bed to get back to sleep. It was a habit that developed and I got into a pattern of not wanting to make love - often due to tiredness.
Both of us have separate interests and hobbies and have friends from these groups and from our work. I also now try to relax and not stress about things and practise mindfulness.
He had a happy childhood but mine was often unhappy as my parents had issues.
We are 60 and I feel close to him but I still don't feel like I want to make love. He cannot understand and he is unhappy with this but doesn't know what to do about it. He feels life is too short and no longer wants this platonic relationship.
He now doesn't wish to go on holidays or weekends away together as he feels that I get uncomfortable/distant when he tries to initiate making love and that I try to avoid it.
Mary replies: It sounds like you and your husband got into a way of life that didn't include sex and it became the norm. It is good that he has made his unhappiness known to you because this is forcing you to confront the issue.
It may be that because of your experience with your parents' unhappy marriage you don't feel quite comfortable with having emotional and sexual intimacy.
He, on the other hand, has no problem with combining both aspects of your life.
It is also a very big step after all these years to contemplate going back to having sex, particularly as your body has become used to not having it.
I suggest you consult a sex therapist who will explore the reasons why you have found yourselves in this situation. You'll find an accredited psychosexual therapist on the website www.sextherapists.ie. Try not to worry - and this is where your mindfulness will help - you will be happy that things are changing and so will your husband.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do.