Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

Ask Ellie: Sexless marriage rarely only one partner's fault

It’s not only up to the husband to resolve whatever’s caused the wife to disengage from sex and intimacy (or vice versa)

Dear Readers: Regarding the following response to the Sexually Frustrated Husband (April 27):

“What have you done lately to romance your wife?

Have you engaged with her in ways other than in the bedroom?

“Have you gone on walks with her? Gone to dinner at a nice restaurant? Been to a movie together? Have you invited people over to spend time with you both? Have you attended theatrical performances? Taken an interest course together? Have you given her a massage?

“What have you done to ensure that you have shared experiences together?

“It’s very easy for you to blame your wife for not meeting your physical intimacy needs, but are you meeting her emotional needs?

“She needs to feel cared for. She needs to feel you’re with her emotionally, that you cherish time together, that you can be vulnerable together in the privacy of your bedroom.

“Building a life of shared experiences will give you ways to communicate that lead to increased closeness and intimacy in the bedroom. Give it a try.”

Ellie — As someone who’s called upon daily to respond to situations like those of the man mentioned, complaining about his wife’s disinterest in having sex with him, I need to note the realities of relationship columns:

We can only guess at the underlying facts of who could have done more to solve this problem. And while any one of the reader’s above questions seem logical to ask, the reality is that nothing in the man’s original letter answered any of these questions. We just don’t know the truth.

So, I advise all readers to understand that there’s no obvious “fault” from only one party. If there’s a reason to end their marital sex, the wife also showed neglect… no mention of seeing a doctor to correct any internal sexual “problem,” nor see a sex therapist for emotional reasons, nor marriage counsellor for relationship misunderstandings/hurts, etc.

It’s not only up to the husband to resolve whatever’s caused the wife to disengage from sex and intimacy. It’s not a certain matter of bad husband/neglected wife… it’s about two people avoiding the many ways to try to resolve their issues…. or agreeing to adjust to them.

Readers 2/3 – “My husband and I are marriage counsellors who’ve had cases almost identical to this one in question.

“We’ve found that often the partner who changes and no longer wishes to have sex with their spouse, is indeed still enjoying sex … but with someone else. They’re being loyal to their lover, not to their spouse.

“While this isn’t always the case, in our experience it’s certainly worth mentioning. It’s easier for the rejected spouse to discover the truth and go from there, exploring their various options.”

Reader’s Commentary: “Having grown up in a small family, I only knew a few first cousins. When I first started to hear about Cousins’ Clubs with virtual gatherings of scores of relatives, I thought, too many “strangers.” Why bother?

“Then I attended one ZOOM meeting and was fascinated: Some cousins I’d never heard of, others who looked a little or a lot more like me.

“The group included close cousins since childhood, and cousins who didn’t know the others existed. There were memories of late elders whose names were familiar from long-ago stories about them.

“If you ever wonder whom and where you come from, just one cousins’ gathering can answer countless questions. Try it!”

Dear Ellie: Whenever my new next-door neighbour hears me open my front door, she’s there in a flash, asking questions or gossiping about other neighbours.

It’s tedious because I haven’t known her beyond three months and don’t feel comfortable responding or even listening.

Also, there’s an age gap — my neighbour is early-40s and divorced. And I’m 64, looking forward to a calm retirement.

I don’t enjoy hearing personal stuff about people whom I don’t really know. I sometimes feel like telling this neighbour to just mind her own business.

Annoying Neighbour

I like to believe that maturity helps us respond kindly to people who appear needy.

Likely, your neighbour relies on local gossip to feel that she belongs. She tries to engage you so she’ll become part of her new community. Try smiling at her, then apologizing that you’re currently busy, if you prefer.

But remember, when in your retirement, you’ll also need to put your foot forward to meet new people.

Ellie’s tip of the day

It’s rarely only one partner’s “fault” — not based on gender — for not saving the intimacy in their union.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca.