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Dear Mary: In my 60s, but I miss sweet sex with my wife

Life has many beautiful things to offer, like good food and good sex. Unfortunately there is also junk food and bad sex, abusive sex, sex without intimacy, but I want to leave those things out of the equation here. I prefer to call it sex rather than 'making love', although good sex and a loving relationship go together. What is a loving relationship, and how to get there seems to be the issue here?

I am married for 13 years now, and in my early 60s. I have liked sex all my life, since I was 11, and remember, I am talking about good sex here, nothing dirty. I just know sex is important for my wellbeing and I have always experienced that I get out of balance and listless without regular sex. Masturbation is an important tool. My first marriage never had good sex (abuse problems of my wife in early childhood that never got 'fixed' or cured.) My second marriage had very good sex the first year or so, till she announced -- for me, out of the blue -- that she did not want to experiment anymore. After that, for the last 12 years, I had to refer back to masturbating regularly, something I don't really mind, but I much prefer having sweet sex with my wife.

I suggested romantic evenings once a week, and that worked for a while, although it also often got postponed and never brought forward. About a year ago, she found a new job, spending weeks abroad, and now romantic erotic sex is off the menu. Now that we don't see each other for longer periods of time, a situation meant to be only temporary, sex becomes more important to me and even less important for her. I can not take the situation any longer, and told her so. She now suggests "starting over and finding real love again"!

I am sure I have not always been a good and loving husband, although always a caring husband. I am a 'pleaser', and know very well that can be pretty annoying. But why do women so often take good sex off the menu, and not the good food? It seems to be a universal problem, reading about relationship problems. Good sex, intimate erotic sex and orgasms are good for all people, so why do women refuse sex as soon as there is anything wrong with 'love'? It seems pure stupid to me. Again, I can understand when there is any form of abuse or real negative things.

I don't know what was first, the chicken or the egg. There were times when I did not treat her very well, did not say much, but was that before or after she refused loving sex? I am finding it very hard to continue for fear that the same thing might happen again with every ripple in the love-relationship. I hate to be blackmailed, and would rather live without a relationship or take my canoe down the river into the big ocean. I really need help and don't know where to go. Your thoughts?

Reading your letter makes me long to hear your wife's side of the story so that I can understand a little more how things are between you.

You say that you prefer to call it sex rather than making love, and yet it seems to me that it is this making love that you are now missing.

I really like your analogy between food and sex and, as I understand it, you are continuing to have sex, by which you probably mean perfunctory intercourse with no frills -- a main course with no starter and no dessert -- whereas you would prefer to have a varied menu with lots of courses.

In your letter (which I haven't quoted in full) you described the act that took place after which she told you that she did not want to experiment anymore, and this may have shocked her quite a lot even though for you it was fairly normal.

Certainly this is when things changed sexually between you and they don't seem to have ever returned to the earlier good times that you recall. Did you discuss this with her at the time?

It has been pretty well established that men and women view their sex lives quite differently.

For women, their sex life is pretty much entwined with their emotional relationship, whereas men seem to be able to separate the two.

This is particularly true in long-term relationships. There is nothing wrong with either attitude, that is just the way the different sexes react. So whereas a man can see having sex as a way to end an argument, a woman will more than likely need to have the air cleared before she will even think about making love. Once again there is this separating out -- having sex as opposed to making love.

What is your general relationship like?

If you are spending long periods apart are you both trying to make up for this by making an extra effort with the relationship when you are together?

Do you understand what she means when she says you both should start over and find real love again?

If your wife is questioning whether she still loves you then you need to know why.

Whether you like it or not, sex is part of the bigger picture for the two of you and I would be far more concerned with the fact that her trips abroad are taking up more and more of her time than the quality of your sex.

Submit your letters to Mary anonymously at dearmary.ie.

Sunday Indo Living