Annie's Mailbox: I Need Help
Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for three years and lived together for 15 years before that. Sex has always been difficult. Last week, I found him masturbating outside in the backyard.
What should I do? Should I consult a doctor? My husband refuses to talk about it at all. --
Dear Need: If sex has been an issue for the past 18 years, there is more going on. Your letter doesn't provide many details. Is he masturbating because you aren't interested in sex? In that case, please talk to your doctor and see what can be done. Does he prefer self-gratification to being with you? That could indicate that he has an idealized version of the female body due to excessive pornography viewing. Or he could be gay and still in the closet. Or he might have issues being physically close. For this, counseling could be useful, but only if your husband is willing to seek help, and apparently, he is not.
As for masturbating in the backyard, well, that holds entirely different possibilities. Is he an exhibitionist? Was he hoping someone would see him? That could get him arrested.
Your choice is to decide how important this is to you compared to the more positive things your husband brings to the marriage. Can you accept it and still have a happy marriage? Does it merit a divorce? Sometimes, counseling for the person most affected (you) can be helpful in working through a problem and coming to a decision. Please consider it.
Dear Annie: I had a strong reaction to the letter from "Missing It," whose husband had a prostatectomy. I am a prostate cancer survivor who had a prostatectomy, and my experience has been nothing like her husband's. No one who is facing prostate cancer should take her husband's story as typical.
Did her husband faithfully do his physical therapy exercises to prevent incontinence? I did, at least three times a day. I've had complete control for years. I worked with my urologist on sexual activity, and we experimented with various therapies because there are many options. I had to do my part, but my sex life is now as satisfactory as it was prior to the surgery.
To other men with a prostate cancer diagnosis who choose the prostatectomy route, if you do your part, there is every reason to hope for complete recovery and a fully normal and satisfying life. -- Not Missing Anything
Dear Not Missing: Thank you for pointing out that there are individual responses to prostate surgery, and a great deal depends upon how dedicated one is to doing the necessary exercises and therapies. There are also other options besides prostatectomy. For all men facing this, it is important to find a physician who knows what treatments are available and can discuss them clearly, along with the potential outcomes. And if the doctor isn't doing that, get a second opinion or find another doctor. This is your future. You need to be your own best advocate.
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.