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Been with my wife 34 years.

Until about 2 years ago, had a great sex life, even though we're older (she's 55, I'm 67). She's very attractive, and we've always been close.
She's not a hopeless romantic by any means, she's sweet but was raised in a less than loving household, in that I don't think they were particularly affectionate parents.

So though she looks like a model, she's on the rugged side. Like, she likes Mustangs, I like Vettes. I like pop, she likes Metallica. She's very good with our kids, and does a lot for me, though to me I do a lot more for her in many ways, most of which I think she overlooks.

Trouble started when menopause hit. First it was a lot of mood swings, a lot of arguments, etc. Then the intimacy became less and less frequent. I cannot begin to describe how many excuses I've heard. She does live in some severe pain, and needs operations on a knee, and her cervical spine (lots of headaches, lots of neck pain, etc.) But she still has energy to cut the grass (she likes it, all things to do with yard work), she drives to see our grandkids a lot, she is very active.
Her excuses of sex being painful right now, combined with her admitted loss of libido (I swear, Brad Pitt could walk in the room and there would be no interest). After the surgeries she's agreed to go to a new female doctor for any solutions to the libido problem. She gets hormones from a patch, so the worst of menopause (night sweats, mood changes) seem to be under control.

But we have been intimate about 3 times in a year. The latest being about six weeks ago. She promises that won't happen again, and we will be more regular, but of course that doesn't happen. I get fed up, I don't need a roommate, and that's what I have. She thinks I'm overreacting. I say "You think that because you have no drive anymore for intimacy. I still do." And round it goes. I've tried saying nothing for weeks, and I've tried talking calmly about it. Nothing is changing. I'm convinced that if I never brought it up again, neither would she.

We had a terrific intimate life for decades. It just stopped. I don't know what to do. Wait it out I guess, although if I were a millionaire and could afford a divorce, I would consider it. I don't want to have an affair. And we are both Christians and have prayed about it. Again, nothing is changing.

Any advice appreciated, especially from women who might understand her part. As far as intimacy goes, I feel like I'm 19, and she feels like..."Intimacy ....what's that?" ;)

Tough situation. Thanks for any input.

Tom
 

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Hey Tom,

Welcome to TAM.

Yes this sounds like a difficult situation. I just had a couple of questions.

What happens if you initiate? What does she do?
Is she opposed to just pleasing you through something other than PIV (since it is painful)? If she is, why? If she isn’t, why isn’t she doing it?
Why exactly is she waiting so long to talk to her gyno about treating her for this?

I know very little about menopause and why it would make sex painful (crossing fingers that doesn’t happen to me, regardless, she should be looking for a solution and doing her best to keep you satisfied in the meantime.
 

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Did you say she says that sex is painful? Believe her. Because sometimes with menopause comes really bad pain with sex. My OBGYN explained that part of the body literally starts to atrophy and shrink and without intervention after a few years the woman ends up with a vagina the size of a 5 year olds. She says wives try to tough it out but at some point they just give up and start refusing.

Unfortunately -- you don't use it, you lose it. I have had extreme pain with sex post menopause. Like a knife being stabbed into me. My friend said suddenly it's like having sex with Edward Scissorhands, and there's not sexual response down there -- it just kind of goes numb.

Plus, with the hormone changes, the desire is gone and when the man keeps pushing for it, the woman can develop an aversion where the thought of sex is terrifying/abhorrent.

BUT THERE ARE THINGS YOU CAN DO:
1. Talk to the Dr. that gave her the hormone patch about vaginal estrogen. There are creams and rings that put topical estrogen right there, it's totally safe, and helps the vagina with dryness and thinning of the skin, loss of elasticity, etc. It can take time to work though so be patient.

2. Ask the Dr. about checking her testosterone levels. Women are supposed to have SOME testosterone and this can REALLY help with sex drive and possibly other age related issues like losing muscle tone. If this Dr. won't do it call around and find one who is open to the idea.

3. Understand that since you had a lot of good years of sex, your wife is going through something REAL. That doesn't mean it's okay for her to neglect your need for sex, but maybe you can make it feel safer/less threatening for her. You can suggest you two "play around" but you won't penetrate her unless she suddenly wants you to. There are plenty of things you can do for her that will feel good and safe -- even just a back rub -- and there are plenty of ways the two of you can get you off without actual intercourse. I would be frank with her and say you understand her body and feelings about sex have changed, but this is important to you and you know that you two can find a solution that will work for both of you. The current situation is painful to you, you are not happy in the marriage, and it's not something you can live with forever.

4. If you get her playing around again and enjoying it, try using a vibrator on her. My friend who made the Edward Scissorhands comment said it was like that part of her died - no sensation/response. But her husband got a vibrator and she was very resistant to the idea but once she tried it, well, let's just say "Buzz Buzz" has really helped.

Another friend who was a total sex fiend experienced the same problems, her Dr. could not even give her an exam because her vagina had become too small to get a speculum in. She was not seeing anyone and her Dr. said she had to masturbate to bring that part of her back to life. She said it didn't have to be penetration, a vibrator on the outside would work because it stimulated the area which gets more blood flow down there. I know the same friend has a good sex life today.

5. Explore what her complaints and grievances are with an open mind. Yes, menopause definitely affects emotions. It can be debilitating. But usually there is some truth behind even the craziest complaints. I think women tend to be TOO NICE when they're NOT having hormonal issues, then when the hormones hit, their ability to stuff disappointment and resentment down and ignore it are stripped away. She may be over reacting to things but that doesn't mean those things aren't important to her and bothering her just like the lack of sex is important to you. When women are resentful, they do NOT want sex with you.

Good luck. I believe this can definitely be turned around.

Been with my wife 34 years.

Until about 2 years ago, had a great sex life, even though we're older (she's 55, I'm 67). She's very attractive, and we've always been close.
She's not a hopeless romantic by any means, she's sweet but was raised in a less than loving household, in that I don't think they were particularly affectionate parents.

So though she looks like a model, she's on the rugged side. Like, she likes Mustangs, I like Vettes. I like pop, she likes Metallica. She's very good with our kids, and does a lot for me, though to me I do a lot more for her in many ways, most of which I think she overlooks.

Trouble started when menopause hit. First it was a lot of mood swings, a lot of arguments, etc. Then the intimacy became less and less frequent. I cannot begin to describe how many excuses I've heard. She does live in some severe pain, and needs operations on a knee, and her cervical spine (lots of headaches, lots of neck pain, etc.) But she still has energy to cut the grass (she likes it, all things to do with yard work), she drives to see our grandkids a lot, she is very active.
Her excuses of sex being painful right now, combined with her admitted loss of libido (I swear, Brad Pitt could walk in the room and there would be no interest). After the surgeries she's agreed to go to a new female doctor for any solutions to the libido problem. She gets hormones from a patch, so the worst of menopause (night sweats, mood changes) seem to be under control.

But we have been intimate about 3 times in a year. The latest being about six weeks ago. She promises that won't happen again, and we will be more regular, but of course that doesn't happen. I get fed up, I don't need a roommate, and that's what I have. She thinks I'm overreacting. I say "You think that because you have no drive anymore for intimacy. I still do." And round it goes. I've tried saying nothing for weeks, and I've tried talking calmly about it. Nothing is changing. I'm convinced that if I never brought it up again, neither would she.

We had a terrific intimate life for decades. It just stopped. I don't know what to do. Wait it out I guess, although if I were a millionaire and could afford a divorce, I would consider it. I don't want to have an affair. And we are both Christians and have prayed about it. Again, nothing is changing.

Any advice appreciated, especially from women who might understand her part. As far as intimacy goes, I feel like I'm 19, and she feels like..."Intimacy ....what's that?" ;)

Tough situation. Thanks for any input.

Tom
 

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You need to find a way to let your wife know that this is not ok. Either she works to get the sex life going again or you might be filing for divorce.

There are several good books on amazon about this topic... sexless marriage. Here is a link to one of the better ones. The idea is that the two of you need to read the book. You might also benefit from finding a good marriage counselor who is also a sex therapist.

The Sex-Starved Marriage: Boosting Your Marriage Libido: A Couple's Guide
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks all.

Yes it is painful for her, last time we were together (weeks back)...between the vaginal dryness (yes we do lubricate but it wasn't THAT helpful) and the pain she's in with the neck...and knee, it's apparently not very enjoyable.
The thing is, you can spend 15 minutes talking to her about this and everything she says ...kind of....makes sense. She shrugs it off and says "It's not forever for heaven's sake, I just need to get out of pain with the vertebrae surgery and feel better. It's hard to think of sex between lack of desire during menopause AND pain." Swears she loves me would have no idea what life would be like without us together, blah blah. I tell her I just don't want to be a roommate.

She says "Well we need to make some time together (we have grown kids all over the house lol)...."......I kid her sometimes and say "I booked a hotel for the night by the beach" and she says "REALLY?" and I say "just kidding." She swears she'd like an evening out at a nice restaurant and all, but by day's end she's ready for bed most of the time. We are on totally different schedules, I'm a late night person, she gets up at 5.

To make it worse, for awhile, I had a pinched nerve. Could only sleep on my back. Started snoring. So I moved down to the couch so she could sleep. The nerve problem went away, now I can sleep on my side again with no snoring. But I'm STILL on the couch. It's like we got used to it. She says "Well just come up, you don't have to sleep down there" but it's not overly convincing. I know I have to start sleeping up there again but I'm at the point now where I feel like I don't want to sleep with her until we are normal again. I realize this is probably making it worse.

We are very close, we fight like cats and dogs at times but always make up. We've taken marriage quizzes and both of us score high on "dedication to your marriage" sections. But frankly I think she's being extremely selfish. She knows how I feel. She says she understands, and squirms out of every discussion of the matter with "Well OK lets dedicate ourselves to more time together" etc, but it doesn't happen. And if it all comes from me, I feel like I'm pushing (and I am I guess).

I liked girls in Kindergarten for heaven's sake. She knew intimacy was important to me from day one. It was to her too, for many years. It's been the last two that things have been getting worse and worse. Like I said, I think maybe 3 times in the last year. MAYBE four. I swear once a week and I'd be in heaven. Once every TWO weeks would be fine. But once every few months or so, is not making it. I'm on edge all the time, I see her doing physical things that if she was in that much pain, hey she could be intimate. I have even told her that in a kidding way, and she'll say "Its not the same, you have to raise your legs during sex, it's unbelievably uncomfortable, etc." Hey guess what, so am I. Unbelievably uncomfortable. When this happens you feel undesirable, you don't feel loved, no matter what they tell you. Yes she'll come up and give hugs once or twice a day (kiss? you kidding?)......it's just the opposite of how we always used to be.

If I had a way of getting out of this (I don't) at this point I probably would, though I feel so bonded to her I'd be lost without her, like she says she would be. So it's pretty horrid all around. Meanwhile, I'm taking a lot of long showers. Like a kid.

I've read other women post about this, and they say "don't push it" ...."go on with your life" and eventually things will get better. I'm just not cut out for a loveless marriage.

Tom
 

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There are a number of Christian books about the role of sex in Marriage, most pointing out that it’s a gift from God that’s not to be taken lightly. You might start by having her read something like “Awaken Love.” You might also point out that sleeping on the couch is one step towards leaving.
 

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Been with my wife 34 years.....

Trouble started when menopause hit. First it was a lot of mood swings, a lot of arguments, etc. Then the intimacy became less and less frequent. I cannot begin to describe how many excuses I've heard. She does live in some severe pain, and needs operations on a knee, and her cervical spine (lots of headaches, lots of neck pain, etc.) But she still has energy to cut the grass (she likes it, all things to do with yard work), she drives to see our grandkids a lot, she is very active.
Her excuses of sex being painful right now, combined with her admitted loss of libido (I swear, Brad Pitt could walk in the room and there would be no interest). After the surgeries she's agreed to go to a new female doctor for any solutions to the libido problem. She gets hormones from a patch, so the worst of menopause (night sweats, mood changes) seem to be under control.

But we have been intimate about 3 times in a year. The latest being about six weeks ago. She promises that won't happen again, and we will be more regular, but of course that doesn't happen. I get fed up, I don't need a roommate, and that's what I have. She thinks I'm overreacting. I say "You think that because you have no drive anymore for intimacy. I still do." And round it goes. I've tried saying nothing for weeks, and I've tried talking calmly about it. Nothing is changing. I'm convinced that if I never brought it up again, neither would she.....

Thanks for any input.

Tom
Tom, I feel your pain, Now married almost 48 years. About 10 years ago, I was in a sex starved marriage. I was incredibly frustrated and angry.

Being married to someone a long time they can know what you really mean based on body language, facial expressions, tone of voice and what you will not talk about. You may have felt you kept your mouth shut, but I assure you you communicated very loudly your feelings to your wife.

Also if your wife tells you she is in pain and sex is painful, believe her. To do otherwise is insulting if she really is in pain.

I would also echo any book by MW Davis. For me the Sex Starved Marriage helped me. Also, Chapman's 5 Languages of Love and Glover's No More Mr. Nice Guy opened my eyes. I finally figured out that I was part of the problem, in that the more she refused sex either the angrier I got (and she knew it) or the more pressure she felt I was putting on her for sex.

I read just about every relationship book I could get my hands on. I learned that I had to really forgive her so completely that she knew I had forgiven her. I needed to apologize to her for what I had done to hurt her (via being angry and pressuring her). I also need to change myself and fine things that made me happy and gave me feelings of self confidence and accomplishment (MW Davis and Glover refer to this as getting a life). I also had to accept that my self worth was not determined by her sexual desire for me. Further, you can't change your wife, only she can change herself. However as MW Davis in her books points out you can change the dynamic in your relationship by changing yourself and that will require her to either ignore the change in you or change the way she deals with you (her change if there is one maybe better or worse, but it will be her decision) If she does change you can encourage those changes she makes that you like by giving positive reinforcement.

Things really changed hen she started asking about the books I was constantly reading and noting the changes I was making in my life and the way I treated her. Ultimately we got marriage counseling from a great nationally recognized sex therapist, who helped save our marriage.

Good luck. Take the first step in changing the dynamics in your marriage in a way that might save it.

And yes we are now having sex twice a week most weeks, which is is far better than the 6 month dry spell before we started sex therapy marriage counseling.
 

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I learned that I had to really forgive her so completely that she knew I had forgiven her. I needed to apologize to her for what I had done to hurt her (via being angry and pressuring her).
Interesting... I have done that for the last 10 years, to no avail. When the time to withdraw sex came (menopause accomplished, kids left the house), my wife did exactly that. It transpires it was too late and she "faked" it for me for the last 10 years. We are separating now.

Unfortunately, I have no advice, because what I did didn't work. What @Young at Heart says is very useful, but you need a "compliant" wife, otherwise it's just a waste of time and you will have to wait a few more years to find out. Personally, I'm heartbroken, but I have accepted it. What my wife says makes sense and she has mental issues... so, it's a double whammy for me. I wish I could turn the clock back, but I can't. Now I'm trying to find a way to live a separate life whilst supporting a soon to be ex wife with mental issues... I was dreaming of retiring together by the sea... :frown2:
 

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@oceantracks next time REALLY book that hotel room. And take it from there.

Your life sounds like mine, so I know where you are coming from.
I agree 100% It sounds like she would really enjoy something like this. And it would be a great way to segue yourself back into her bed as you'd sleep in the same bed at the hotel. Make sure to ask for a king sized bed. Once you get back home, just go to bed in your bed with your wife from then on. Sleeping apart will only make things worse.

Once you're at the beach, wine and dine her. Give her some tylenol or whatever pain med she takes for her back (something non narcotic though as that can dull her sensations in other areas) Give her a nice massage as part of foreplay to help loosen everything up and feel better. Heck, give her another one afterwards to help her feel better then too.

Then, experiment with different positions that will work for her. For some back pain missionary is the absolute worst thing you can do. Google good sexual positions for back pain and tons of information will come up.

It sounds like she loves you a lot but can't figure out how to bring intimacy back that doesn't involve pain. So do some research for her...good positioning with pillows can do wonders. Tell her you need to feel that intimacy with her again...it's not just about getting off, it's about being together, strengthening your bond, etc.

Good luck!!!!!
 

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Sex or not, it sounds like you guys are essentially roommates anyway. If you have opposite schedules and are filling your days with your own activities, you are essentially like roommates. Maybe before you were roommates who had sex because you both wanted sex, but now she doesn't have that need and she's not coming to you to get it satisfied. There's a chance she'll never get back to the innate desire she had before. What is probably needed now is to build up a more emotionally intimate relationship so she feels more loved and loving towards you. That can make her want to feel closer to you, and sex would be a bigger part of that.

You mentioned kidding about the hotel room, but doing that kind of stuff for real is what is needed. Make her feel like you love her for who she is and that she's the most important person to you. Don't do it as a manipulation tactic to get her into bed. Rather, show her that your heart loves her. Right now she probably is feeling that the only reason you want her is for a way to satisfy your sexual needs. That's not the case, but it may seem like that from her perspective.

Before getting into any heavy sex discussions, work at building a solid emotional connection with her. You want her love for you to bloom. Show interest in her interests. Really listen and engage when she's talking to you. Be more of her best friend than roommate. Engage in more non-sexual intimacy, like cuddling, hand-holding, warm hugs when she comes home, etc. Make her feel loved without feeling like she's only around for sex. You may do all that and she may never regain her desire like before, but she will be much more eager and enthusiastic when you initiate if she has a stronger emotional connection to you.
 

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Before getting into any heavy sex discussions, work at building a solid emotional connection with her. You want her love for you to bloom. Show interest in her interests. Really listen and engage when she's talking to you. Be more of her best friend than roommate. Engage in more non-sexual intimacy, like cuddling, hand-holding, warm hugs when she comes home, etc. Make her feel loved without feeling like she's only around for sex. You may do all that and she may never regain her desire like before, but she will be much more eager and enthusiastic when you initiate if she has a stronger emotional connection to you.

This is what my therapist is actually telling me... we will explore this route, although I'm a touch pessimistic, since my wife told me she doesn't love me anymore. But I guess she said that to keep me away, if I only want sex from her (which is not true). Seems to me that your wife still loves you, so you can build on it...
 

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So here's another thought. You may need a crisis to wake her up. Something that you just can't get past. Not suggesting that you manufacture one, but in my case, things were not in a good place until things got really, really bad when I discovered her old diaries and read something that threw me into a huge tailspin, potentially tossing a 42 year relationship down the tubes.

Ultimately, she needs to consider what life would be like without you in it. She needs to KNOW that you've entertained such thoughts. At the same time, she needs to know this is not something you want to do, and you're willing to go to extremes to save your relationship.

It's... complicated. My relationship was going in two directions at once. There was this heavy sword hanging over us that she refused to deal with, while at the same time I was doing everything to show her how much I loved her, taking care of laundry that needed to be put away (never done that before), making the bed every single day (never done that before), doing the dishes every night (never done that before) and basically doing everything possible to make her life easier. I was there for her. She'd say "You don't have to do that." I did it not because I "had" to, but because I wanted to. I bought flower arrangements each week and would take one or two out of the arrangement each day and place on the bed.

And I kept it up. Week after week. Month after month. This is how much I love her. Initially she thought it was a short-term thing. That feeling changed over time. She FINALLY realized hey, this guy has changed, for me. She resists change fiercely, reflexively. I've mentioned elsewhere it's likely part of a privacy thing for her. An inner world that she feels a need to protect and not share with me. But she finally cracked, a bit of an epiphany, and I believe things are better between us now than any time in the past 40 years.

But first she had to believe in three things.
- The possibility that I could leave
- The positive change that came when I altered my thinking and actively looked for ways to be more helpful and closer to her
- That she had both the power and responsibility to improve and save our marriage, and that it was worth saving.

You mentioned the weekend at the beach. I took my wife to a dinner theater. She had a great time.

Here's something else you can do, that's made a big difference for us. I started doing massage on her, every night. To some extent you can think of the closeness that can bring as similar to losing inhibitions when having too much to drink. You get to spend some time in relaxed conversation. She opened up about a lot of things in her life in a non-defensive manner. Very unusual for her. And yes, it tended to lead to sex, in a natural way. But it can't be something where she assumes that's what's going to happen. In fact, it might not be a bad idea, if you're comfortable doing so, taking care of yourself first.

Sorry this is a bit long-winded. The good news is that our issues were 40 years in the making. You've got just a few. Her memories of better times can't be that far removed. Best of luck to you!
 

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You staying on the couch comes across as peevish - not attractive. Discounting her pain comes across as insensitive and selfish. Saying you would divorce if you could afford it says she is good for one thing.

I don't think you want to portray yourself as an insensitive oaf. You've had a great marriage and want to reclaim that part of your marriage; but, you're going about this in the wrong way. Stop yammering at her and actively learn how to get some intimacy that will satisfy you until she has her surgeries. After her pain is managed, you can revisit the PIV issue. In the meantime, stop making her feel like a piece of meat.
 

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If she's having pain with intercourse even with lubricants, she needs to see her doctor. There are prescription creams that can help way more than commercial lubricants. You can gently remind her that she's now in a use it or lose situation. The longer she goes without intercourse, the more her tissues will atrophy making it even more painful as time goes on.
 

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How many hours a week do the two of you spend together doing things that you both really enjoy?
Not a lot.

It's a weird situation, as we are both home all day as I'm lucky enough to work from home. So sometimes we'll both jump in the car and go odd places, but not for any kind of fun, just...up to the store, whatever. Once in awhile a quick (but not fancy) dinner out. So we are around each other all day.

We both pitch in on house duties.

She's not, as I said, an overly touchy feely person. But she's not unapproachable. I mean, this morning she came up and said "Hi hon, give me a hug" that kind of thing. It's just...I'm not even sure she gets it, really. She says she's really happy when we look at our life and remember other places we live...she just said yesterday "I really like this time we're in if it weren't for the pain stuff I'm dealing with..."....it's either that she's oblivious or just wants to avoid the subject. She has even said "You are making too much out of this, I'm HERE for heaven's sake, I love you."

Yeah, that and 5.00 will get me a Starbucks.

I don't know. I think just concentrating on myself is the only road I have. Everything else presents itself as complaining. It's a crappy way to live frankly. I don't think I should have to, and yes she's aware of what the Bible says about withholding yourselves from one another. She doesn't have a clear answer. I think she thinks she's not doing anything consciously, it's just the circumstances of pain, and not feeling desire ...for any man...right now. She said she'll go to a top female doctor we found (who is two months out on appointments). Who knows.

I do appreciate all the input, especially input based on similar circumstances. Thanks much.
 

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Tom,
Your reaction to chronic rejection is as normal as it is destructive.

If sex is physically painful for her, she’s going to avoid it. People avoid pain. If your sexual routine was mostly/entirely missionary style intercourse, that makes the challenge bigger.

In any marriage, the two hardest questions to answer are also the most important:
1. Who do you love more? Yourself or your partner.
2. Who does your partner love more, themself or you?

How do you think she perceives your desire to have sex - despite the fact that it hurts her?

Are you open to a sexual routine that for now excludes intercourse?


Not a lot.

It's a weird situation, as we are both home all day as I'm lucky enough to work from home. So sometimes we'll both jump in the car and go odd places, but not for any kind of fun, just...up to the store, whatever. Once in awhile a quick (but not fancy) dinner out. So we are around each other all day.

We both pitch in on house duties.

She's not, as I said, an overly touchy feely person. But she's not unapproachable. I mean, this morning she came up and said "Hi hon, give me a hug" that kind of thing. It's just...I'm not even sure she gets it, really. She says she's really happy when we look at our life and remember other places we live...she just said yesterday "I really like this time we're in if it weren't for the pain stuff I'm dealing with..."....it's either that she's oblivious or just wants to avoid the subject. She has even said "You are making too much out of this, I'm HERE for heaven's sake, I love you."

Yeah, that and 5.00 will get me a Starbucks.

I don't know. I think just concentrating on myself is the only road I have. Everything else presents itself as complaining. It's a crappy way to live frankly. I don't think I should have to, and yes she's aware of what the Bible says about withholding yourselves from one another. She doesn't have a clear answer. I think she thinks she's not doing anything consciously, it's just the circumstances of pain, and not feeling desire ...for any man...right now. She said she'll go to a top female doctor we found (who is two months out on appointments). Who knows.

I do appreciate all the input, especially input based on similar circumstances. Thanks much.
 
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