Hi, Carolyn: Should I be worried that my wife and I have had no sex for literally years? I am guessing it is at least three years. Not even heavy make-out sessions. It just seems that my wife has no interest. I am afraid to broach the subject for fear of a negative answer.
We don’t sleep in the same bed anymore either. I am a big snorer and chose to sleep in the guest room. It’s fine because she is a light sleeper and I am happier that she is getting her sleep. I do use a CPAP but it does come off sometimes.
The no-sex thing just happened over time. We have both gained some weight but we are not obese — we could both lose 20 or 30 pounds.
Is this normal or should we seek help?
J.: Should I be worried that you’ve waited three years to ask permission to worry?
What’s “normal” in a marriage is less important than what’s mutual.
If you’re worried, then, yes, you should be; if you’re not worried, then you shouldn’t be.
By that measure, the cause for concern at home is that you and your wife aren’t talking or touching.
Talking and sex are a fickle combination, though, with couples just as often cooled off by it as warmed up. If you tend to the former, then try this, first: Introduce more fun, physical but nonsexual activity to your lives together. As it stands now, you’re not touching, you’re not passionate, you’re putting on weight — this is about more than sex, no? It’s about losing your connection to your own bodies. When was the last time you and your wife hiked, biked, paddled, danced?
Using your body is the best way to wake it up — and not coincidentally, movement is a known emotional conductor. Get yourselves going, together, in a way that you both enjoy, and you stand to improve your connection (1) and communication (2) as much as you do your blood flow (3), all while adding an (I’m guessing) urgently needed shot of novelty (4) to your marriage — thereby accounting for the four cornerstones of passion. So. Take her hand, and go.
If this doesn’t heat up your marriage, then it’s time to talk explicitly. Choose a moment when you’re both calm and in a good mood and not rushing off to do anything, and tell her you miss her. Say you still find her beautiful. Say you’re saddened by the drift away from sex but haven’t said anything because (projecting here, but it’s a pretty common sequence) you weren’t sure at first how to talk about it in a way that wouldn’t come across as pressure, and eventually enough time had passed that you felt weird about bringing it up.
These are two of the bigger risks here, even more so than the risk of rejection: that you’ll get too comfortable with just not talking to each other; and that your asking for what your spouse no longer wants to give will cross over into a form of coercion. In your case, though, those three years of not making so much as a peep about your needs and desires makes the former much more of an issue than the latter. As always: Be loving, respectful and clear.