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Originally published Monday, May 19, 2014 at 6:17 AM

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Wife miserable over husband’s low interest in sex

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax says the couple needs to talk honestly about the issue.


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Without knowing how old they are, what physical condition both are in, the health of their overall relationship, and a... MORE
"This is ruining my self-esteem and I just don't know what to do. Any thoughts?" Nobody is entitled to sex, Princess. ... MORE
@Meredith Houseman @m5pooh Because it is the woman who has the problem, who writes-in, who can take what control she... MORE

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Dear Carolyn

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

DEAR CAROLYN: When you had a question regarding women with higher sex drives than their husbands (http://wapo.st/Rkjv6t), it really hit home. I am lucky if my husband and I have sex six times a year. I have tried to initiate it in the past and have been told many times that if I stop asking for it, I will get it more often.

Well, I have tried that and it just is not working. He is also more likely to cuddle with a body pillow than me. This is ruining my self-esteem and I just don’t know what to do. Any thoughts?

– Anonymous

DEAR ANONYMOUS: First you recognize this is not about you or your attractiveness. His is just one person’s opinion. Granted, it’s an important person, but that doesn’t make it the last word on anything.

On the “If you stop asking” deflection, If he’d actually tried to do his part, then that would be a different story. But since he didn’t, he was essentially buying time, both pushing you off and postponing tough conversations and consequences at your expense. You can add 2 + 2, and you certainly don’t need to be sexually neglected and treated like a dope.

Say you want to talk about this honestly, then start by saying out loud that you grasp that he doesn’t want to touch you as often as you want to be touched.

Then ask him to take part in an equally honest conversation about what each of you would like to do about it. Maybe he just wants to stay in his nice married rut and leave you to deal with your unhappiness; maybe he actually wishes he were more interested, but the idea of getting help is too daunting to him. Figuring out what he actually wants and needs is necessary to distinguishing viable options from baseless hopes.

There are no pretty solutions to this problem — which you obviously have figured out, since you’ve lived for years with the truth that he’s not going to give you what you want. But, when there are no pretty solutions, the next best thing is to put the truth out in the open so you can evaluate which of them at least makes sense.

That at least makes your path, instead of something you got stuck with against your will, a conscious choice — which tends to be a happier one, no matter where it leads.

Re: Sex drive:

This is probably more than just differing sex drives. It may be different sexual orientations; it may be additional people involved. It is most important that he be free to tell the truth, whatever it is, since it is likely to be embarrassing and not pretty. Questioner should listen, prod gently, reassure that the truth is acceptable, but patiently wait; sometimes the silence will be deafening and partner may act out before he tells the truth, because it is a big secret being held.

– Anonymous

DEAR ANONYMOUS: And it may be something mundane, like losing interest in her for any of the common, often impersonal reasons people lose interest in each other. But, “Reassure that the truth is acceptable": This can’t be said enough, thanks.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax. Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com/living



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