Dear Dr. Ruth,
What would you say to a married woman whose husband has not slept with her in over 15 years? The couple is relatively healthy and in their late 50s. The lack of sex began because of diabetes-related impotence on the part of the husband, but he has learned to overcome this handicap. Nevertheless, he appears uninterested in his wife. She no longer wishes to sleep with him because of her anger at his sexual disinterest in her. She began an affair but gave it up after the husband, who wants to remain married, discovered it. She has a lot of guilt but believes the marriage can coexist with extramarital affairs. What do you think?
SEX STARVED BUT MARRIAGE MINDED
Dr. Ruth replies:
This appears to be a sexual situation, but in my opinion it has little to do with sex and instead is a relationship issue. Maybe he felt that she didn’t appreciate how difficult his handicap was and had placed unnecessary pressure on him to perform. If that anger hasn’t dissipated, then that could be the reason he is disinterested in his wife. Of course, that’s only a guess. This couple needs to seek out a therapist who by talking to both of them, individually as well as together, can get to the bottom of what happened, and then, hopefully, can figure out a plan to get them back together. Staying married while having extramarital affairs is not a viable option. One of these affairs is going to turn into a love affair, not just a sexual one, and the marriage won’t survive it. So either this couple can find a way, with professional help, to repair their marriage, or they’d be better off separating right now so that they can get on with their lives.
Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a noted psychosexual therapist. She is the author of 32 books, including, most recently, “The Olive and the Tree: The Secret Strength of the Druze” (Lantern Books). She dispenses advice regularly at www.drruth.com.
The Bintel Brief’s next guest advice columnist is Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. Kula was featured in the public television special “The Hidden Wisdom of Our Yearnings,” which was based on his latest book, “Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life” (Hyperion, 2006). Are you facing a Jewish dilemma, a spiritual crisis or family woes? Could you use a little advice? If so, send a letter to the Bintel Brief at email@example.com. To read other installments of the Bintel Brief, click here.
Bintel Brief: Dr. Ruth Says 'Staying Married While Having Extramarital Affairs Is Not a Viable Option'