The EDGE Blog

Man Suffocating From Lack of Intimacy

I’m 68, married for 40 years. This week I told my wife I was suffocating from several years of a lack of intimacy. I said that she could not expect me to forget about my sexuality — that’s a normal part of a person. Expecting no intimacy was like asking me to stop breathing.

I proposed that I change what I want, if she agrees to give in a bit, so that we can kiss and caress again. A little reluctantly, she accepted. I kissed her for a moment and caressed her legs. She let me, and I was so happy and moved. I told her that I loved her.

The next day I gave her several fast kisses on the lips and she made a face of disgust. I touched her leg with my hand under the table and she complained.

The next night I fell asleep before her, and when I woke up the next morning, she was glued to me. I was so happy that I wrote a poetic love letter describing the passion and desire I hoped she was feeling for me. I thought she would like what I wrote, but she was annoyed and said she was fed up with my complaints.

I write to you as I try to find the moment to kiss and caress her. She’s busy with things all day and into the night, and she doesn’t like it if I wake her.

“There’s a lack of intimacy in my marriage, what should I do?”

Joan answers:

Just because you’ve been married for 40 years does not mean that the need for consent goes away. Instead of diving in for a kiss or leg caress, ask for consent first. I have a hunch that if you said, “You look so beautiful this morning — may I kiss you?” or “It would mean a lot to hug you for a few minutes — could we do that?” your wife might respond better.

But maybe not. You know from the response to your love letter that she’s defensive. Your first conversation about compromise was a good start, but now you need to have a dialogue that includes what she wants — not just what she doesn’t want — and what steps she’s willing to take towards more intimacy.

I can’t unravel your wife’s reasons or feelings, but it’s clear that the two of you need help communicating about this sensitive issue. You both interpret each other’s words and actions in a way the other did not intend. I strongly urge you to seek a sex-positive therapist or couple’s counselor to help you understand each other.

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