Q: My wife of almost 12 years and I are from different backgrounds and cultures. Those differences are the glue that has held us together.
We have two beautiful children. We've given our lives to them and are on the same page in terms of their upbringing. She has put her career on hold (it has been 10 years), and I have been fortunate enough to be able to provide a very comfortable lifestyle.
Here's the problem: We have virtually no intimacy anymore. It has been like this since my youngest child (he's 9) was born. We've talked about it millions of times, but nothing ever changes. Her explanation? All women change sexually after having children. I need to get over it. Yes, she's that abrupt. As for me, well, I'm a physical cling-on, which I know can be annoying. I'm also a man, so I could exercise between the sheets on a daily basis.
My problem is, 90% of our relationship works. The other 10% doesn't. She feels everything is just peachy and avoids intimacy as much as possible. Sometimes her behavior makes me feel insecure and sometimes even not loved.
What advice can you offer us?
– Gottohaveit, Boston
A: "What advice can you offer us?"
Am I really advising two people here? Or just you?
If this letter had come from both of you, I'd tell your wife to visit her doctor to see if there's anything she can do about her missing sex drive. I'd tell her that sex is important and that she's lucky to have a husband who's desperate to stay close to her.
But ... she's not asking me for advice, is she? It's just you here. So the real question is: How can you get your wife to acknowledge that this issue is legitimate?
My advice for you is to take it slow. Ask for kissing. Suggest visiting first base with the hope of a trip to second. Sit close to her while watching TV. Your wife might be less overwhelmed by light physical intimacy, and the light stuff often leads to the rest.
Also try to plan a trip for just the two of you. It won't necessarily lead to sex, but it'll give you time and space to talk about your wants and needs without kids around. You can ask her about that doctor idea. You can tell her that you feel lonely when she pulls away. "I feel lonely" is more difficult to dismiss than "I want sex." "What should we do?" is a better question than "How can I get what I want?"
Make sure you choose the right words and ask her questions about her own needs. Find out what makes her feel good. Ask her what used to make her feel great. Don't overwhelm her with demands. Just have a discussion -- as two people who still love each other. Because that's what you are.
Readers? What can he say to get her attention about this? Is it a lost cause? Is her reasoning valid? Are their cultural differences relevant? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.