Neglected by Husband
Dear Annie: I'm tired. I have been in a six-year relationship with talks of marriage but no engagement yet. He was married before, while I have never been married.
My boyfriend is 47, and I'm 41. I have given him six years of my life. He knows by now if he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. We don't sleep in the same bed because he snores and I'm a light sleeper. He likes to drink beer daily, while I'm a social drinker.
We have lots of fun together, but I feel like I deserve an engagement ring and marriage. I love him, and he loves me, but I'm discouraged. -- Stuck in a Rut
Dear Stuck: When a car is stuck in the mud, drivers are told to move it gently forward and back, rocking the vehicle until momentum frees it. You'll be stuck in your rut forever if you don't start rocking a little.
Set aside time to have a quiet moment with your boyfriend and tell him how important it is to you to get married. If it is something that he doesn't want to do, then you might be better off finding someone else.
Dear Annie: I've been married for nearly 30 years. After our first year of marriage, my husband lost interest in sex with me and refused to discuss his reasons. We were in our late 30s at the time. This situation has continued for our entire marriage except for brief periods of interest, which quickly disappear, leaving me more lonely and depressed.
The pattern of our marriage quickly became one of me trying to guess what would make my husband desire me and turning myself inside out to become whatever that was, but none of that has sparked any interest, and he has steadfastly responded to my pleas, questions, requests to attend couples counseling and so forth with complete silence.
Over the years, I have lost weight, changed my hairstyle, worn more and less makeup, changed the way I dress when he comments how attractive some woman's outfit is, become more sexually assertive and consistently shown him how attractive I find him. I know he finds women attractive because he admitted after we'd been together 20 years that he used pornography often to find sexual release.
I'm not perfect. I'm sure some fault must lie with me, but I'm now feeling sad and resentful for the years of platonic marriage. I've spent years in counseling trying to hold onto a sense of self-worth in the face of his decades-long rejection.
He tells me he loves me often, is a great stepfather and grandfather, and shares many of my interests. Should I finally just give up and call that "enough"? Should I just be grateful for a long-term relationship when so many women my age are widowed or divorced?
I've forgiven the neglect over and over, yet the loneliness comes back as years pass in this state. Saying all this out loud makes me seem pathetic, but I'm open to hearing your thoughts. -- Neglected Spouse
Dear Neglected: Nothing that you said in your letter is pathetic. Please don't be so hard on yourself. Changing your physical appearance will not change your husband's desire to have sex with you. You can't control his actions, but you can control yours. The fact that you wrote this letter shows that you are ready for a change.
Don't allow his sexual desire for you to determine your sense of self-worth. You are so much more than that. I'm not sure that staying with him, which seems to be making you more sad and lonely, is any better than being on your own and finding someone who desires and deserves you.
It's time to have a conversation with your husband about going to couples counseling together. You can't keep going on like this, nor should you have to.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.