Her Mate Worries About His Manhood

Q: My husband and I have been happily married for 41 years. We've had hardships as any long marriage would have, but we've weathered them and are enjoying our retirement. What concerns me is not that he has erectile dysfunction but that it bothers him so much. We always had an active sex life and to a large degree still do but I think he feels less of a man. I tell him I don't mind and that it's okay and common in men his age. We did get it checked out and it's age-related, nothing serious. What can I say or do to let him know that it's really okay and I don't want him to be so upset about it? — Esther, 67

Dr. Susan: For some men, erectile dysfunction (ED) is the first sign that they're actually aging and are going to die someday. For some it's losing a few teeth, for others it's simply trying to pick up something way too heavy and having something in their body break or tear.

You say your husband has had himself checked out medically. If there is no medical reason not to, perhaps he is a good candidate for the little pills so many guys use. If he is, then great. If not, then it's up to both of you to find ways to cope. If what he's lacking is enough stimulation, maybe try a few new tricks in the bedroom, or share porn together if that works for both of you, or pleasure yourselves side-by-side if that works. Above all, keep showing him affection and reassuring him that, while you get that this matters to him as a man, it has no effect on your feelings for or about him. This is when a long marriage pays off: you get to share your disappointments and sorrows with someone who understands and cares.

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