Wednesday 21 August 2019

Dear Mary: How can my wife and I rekindle our love life?

Photo posed
Photo posed

I'M a 60-year-old married man who loves my wife to bits. The problem is that I don't think she loves me anymore. I tell her I love her, but I never get a response.

She moved into the spare room a few months ago, so intimacy has gone from our marriage.

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She never enjoyed sex and just did it to please me. I love intimacy and can't get my head around the fact that she would rather sleep alone than share our bed. I tried getting into her bed but she just said she was too tired. I can't go on like this. I need love and I love her but I'm not getting any in return. It's not about sex, it's more than that, it's that I'm being ignored.

Please tell me how to resolve this problem. I know that, at 60, both of us are no spring chickens. I've suggested using lube to make sex more easy for us both, but she refuses point blank. I'm fed up trying to sort my marriage out. My secretary is interested in having an affair, but I'm not going down that road. Please help.

Mary replies: You sign your letter 'Frustrated Sixty' and I can see that frustration in all sorts of different ways. Your wife has taken herself off to the spare room and you miss the intimacy. You also miss having sex with her and she is unwilling to address the problem. On the other hand, your secretary is giving you the message that she is available, but you don't feel that is the answer either.

Your wife made a pretty strong statement when she left the marital bed without any discussion. Lots of couples have separate rooms, but there is usually a specific reason such as snoring, differing time schedules, small children waking at night and various other reasons. She must have had a reason for going and you deserve to hear it.

Sex was obviously painful for her and uncomfortable for you, due no doubt to vaginal dryness as a result of the ageing process. It was a really good suggestion on your part that you should use a lubricant, but I fear that if she never liked sex, then the dryness gave her a reason to stop altogether.

I wonder why she didn't enjoy having sex. Perhaps she grew up in a household where sex was considered to be a bad thing leading only to trouble, or maybe she had some early bad experiences. When you consider that sex is a natural act and that millions of people enjoy being sexual every day, there has to be some reason why she was so much against it. Have you ever discussed with her why she didn't like it?

Leaving aside the intimate side of your marriage for a moment, how would you rate the relationship between you? Has it improved or disimproved over the years? If you had children, who have left the family home, how does she feel about it just being the two of you again? How is communication between you both? Do you go out on dates? I'm asking all these questions because, other than telling me that you love her, that she doesn't want to have sex and has moved out of the marital bed, you don't tell me very much about her.

Maybe there are all sorts of things going on in her head that you don't know about and perhaps you haven't asked?

So what can you do? You will have to tell her that you are desperately unhappy and emphasise that it isn't all about the sex but that you are feeling very unloved.

When you consider that you may well have more than 20 years together ahead of you, it is vital that you reach some sort of agreement as to how these years are going to pan out.

If you cannot work something out together, then it would be important for you to get relationship counselling and the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy can be reached at 01-2303536 to find a qualified therapist in your area.

You wrote me a letter, but for those using the internet, the website is


Mary O'Conor is a sex therapist and relationship counsellor.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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