Wife of three decades has never initiated intimacy

Published 7:00 am Saturday, October 9, 2021

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DEAR ABBY: After 28 years of marriage, is it strange that I would like my wife to initiate sex? I would like to know that she is interested, not just me. When I brought it up three weeks ago, her response again was, “We can whenever you want to,” which wasn’t true because I have been turned down before. Any suggestions? She stays home all day and wants for nothing. Do you think she’s getting it somewhere else? — FRUSTRATED IN THE BEDROOM

DEAR FRUSTRATED: I hope your wife is intelligent enough to recognize a red flag when it’s waved in front of her. I have a strong hunch that she isn’t “getting it somewhere else.” It’s more likely she no longer has a strong sex drive at this point in her life, or she may never have. Also, she may not know HOW to initiate and need coaching. If you can’t teach her, enlist the aid of a sex therapist. (Your doctor may be able to refer you to one.) If you do, it may not only spice up but save your marriage.

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DEAR ABBY: I live on the opposite coast from my family. During the pandemic, my youngest brother and his wife bought a new, very large house. He told me they had plenty of room and, the next time we come for a visit, they want us to stay with them. Well, that visit will be in November, but no invitation to stay has been extended. Should I remind my brother about his invitation, or should we just book a hotel? My gut instinct is to book the hotel, but my brother is very sensitive to how the family treats him, and I don’t want to hurt his feelings. What should I do? — BIG SIS IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR BIG SIS: Ask your brother if his offer still stands, since it has been some time since he extended his “generous invitation.” Listen carefully to his reaction. If you sense that he may have forgotten or the situation has changed because of COVID, tell him it would not be a problem for you to book accommodations at a hotel if it’s more convenient. Doing this should not cause hurt feelings.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married 32 years. We are still in love and consider each other our best friend. We survived some rough patches and learned how to make things right. I have one concern at this point in our journey. My wife constantly says, “I hate myself.” The more she says it out loud, the more I see the impact on her emotionally. What can a partner do to help? I’m 100% supportive of all she does and totally attracted to her, yet I can’t see this being healthy. Please help and thanks. — DIRTY WORDS IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR DIRTY WORDS: The next time your wife tells you she hates herself, ask her why she is being so hard on herself and ask her to be specific about what it is she hates. Explain that you love her exactly as she is and worry that what she’s doing isn’t emotionally healthy. (I agree, by the way.) If she persists after that, suggest she make an appointment with a licensed mental health professional to discuss it.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)