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I am madly in love with a wonderful, beautiful woman. We have been together for three years, married for one. I am wildly romantic -- surprise picnics, good morning notes, playful and amorous. For the first 1 1/2 of our relationship, my wife reciprocated. In fact, often, she initiated -- both the romance, the courtship, and the sexual relationship, which was delicious and hungry, but also deeply and soulfully connecting. It was amazing.

Eighteen months ago, she was diagnosed with genital herpes. I do not have it -- absolutely, no how, no way. I have been tested multiple times with the most accurate tests available. And she has been faithful, absolutely, 100% -- though, as a woman in her late 30s, she's had a fair amount of sexual partners. Since the diagnosis, our sex life has gone from being extraordinary to confused to sad to erratic to divisive to virtually non-existant. She has frequent outbreaks, despite best efforts to control the health problem. She refuses to give or receive oral sex, in fear that one of us will contract the virus on our mouths as a result. She rarely accepts my advances, let alone initiates intimate relations. And I am completely devastated.

It's been weeks since we've been intimate at all. Recently, I was stunned when she began to touch me while we were watching a movie. But the touch was lackluster, disconnected. It made me sad. And then she asked me if I could move my arm because she was watching the movie. I asked her to please choose between touching me or watching the movie. She did. The movie continued to play.

I am a good husband, a good man, and I can only guess that all of this is some sort of ongoing reaction to the medical condition. But I have no idea how to handle this, or how to remain connected to my wife. (It is true, incidentally; sex is a very powerful method of connection for men). I have tried giving her space and time, support and understanding. I have tried taking the initiative. I have tried deferring to her. Nothing seems to work. I feel emasculated, taken for granted, and like my wife finds me entirely undesirable.

It is hard to let go of mourning the incredible sex life we once had.

Any advice you might have for how to support my wife, reignite our sex life, etc., would be greatly appreciated. Perhaps someone out there has dealt with a similar situation in a productive way? I'd love to hear from you.

Thank you!
 

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I've never been through your situation, but I would like to say that it seems as though you have given a great amount of effort to your relationship. Perhaps she's just not ready to accept the herpes. Have you considered speaking with a counselor or doctor?
 
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