Dear Annie: Twelve years ago, I married my best friend, lover and the woman I believed to be my partner for life. Before we married, my wife and I were physically active: hiking, biking, skiing, rollerblading, you name it. We enjoyed movies, plays, board games and talking for hours. We also had a fantastic sex life.
Seven years ago, all of that began to change. She lost interest in outdoor activities and board games. Hours of talking have been replaced with hours in front of the TV or staring into our cellphones and computers. Our sex life became nearly nonexistent. We've both put on a little weight, but for me, it's 10 pounds, and for my wife, it's 40. I still think she's incredibly sexy and tell her so. I have maintained a regular fitness regimen and a few years ago started competing in triathlons. My wife views this as encroaching on our social life.
I love my wife, but I'm no longer in love with her the way I once was. Not long ago, we had a heart-to-heart, and I said I no longer wanted to be married to her and told her why. She responded by telling me she recognized that I had been pulling away and understood why. She said she wished things could be different, but she would move forward.
Since "the talk," my wife has been extremely clingy and insecure, wanting to know my whereabouts and activities at all times. Where I suffered sexual frustration in silence for years, my wife is now quite vocal about having her sexual needs met.
Annie, I can't manufacture feelings for her, sexual or otherwise, and I am still leaning toward the exit. I feel staying is dishonest, but leaving means I'm not giving our relationship a chance. What do I do? -- Crossroads in California
Dear Crossroads: Your wife doesn't want you to leave. That is why she is clingy, insecure and demanding more sex. In the past seven years, you have gradually become disillusioned with your married life, but you only told your wife about it recently. You haven't given her the time to work on it. Instead of looking for a justification to leave, please get into counseling with your wife. See whether you can find the "best friend" and "partner for life" you married. It's not too late.
Dear Annie: I am a 67-year-old widow. My husband died six years ago. We enjoyed a good sex life, and I miss it very much. I would like to relieve myself (masturbation), but I don't know how the Catholic Church feels about it, and I don't want to ask my priest. Is it a mortal or venial sin? Or are they more lenient these days? Can you please, please help me? -- Frustrated
Dear Frustrated: According to the "New Catholic Encyclopedia," masturbation is still a mortal sin. However, there are conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen or even extenuate moral culpability, making it a venial sin. We know the Church's position matters to you, but our position is that masturbation is a perfectly reasonable alternative for someone who is widowed. Please consider talking to your priest about this. He has undoubtedly heard it before.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from California Patient, who complained about the long waits at the doctor's office.
I would suggest California talk directly with the physician regarding the long wait times. When I experienced this same problem with my kids' pediatrician, I discovered the doctor was not aware of the problem. It was his staff that scheduled the appointments too close together. The pediatrician thanked me for letting him know, and the wait times decreased substantially after that. -- Been There
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.