No More Touching?!
Q: I have been married for 35 years, and I still love my wife with the same passion as I did all those years ago. In the last five years she hasn't let me touch her at all. In the last 12 years it's around 10 times, tops. She has told me how she feels but won't leave. She thinks at our age we don't need intimate contact anymore. We have gone to all the marriage counselors, and they all think she is no longer in love with me. A few say she never was, but they think she needs me. I have nowhere to go, so it's not only women this happens to. So what would you tell me to do? - Roger, 54
Dr. Susan: It's not at all necessary to be "in love" with someone to have a gratifying and happy relationship. After 35 years, most people feel a different kind of attachment than they did at first. It's great that you are able to feel the same passion for your wife as you always have, but then again, you have testosterone on your side. She's apparently run out of hormones and interest and wants you to believe you're the one who is unnatural for wanting contact. She's just plain wrong about that.
Now, to get to the nitty-gritty: not being allowed to touch your wife for five years is unacceptable. I don't know if "all the marriage counselors" are correct in saying she doesn't love you, but I wonder if she even likes you. Sit, talk, decide how much you're willing to take. Find a better counselor. Go to a therapist yourself to discuss ways to approach your wife or how to begin separating. Don't say you have nowhere to go. Ripping apart a life together is always hard, but if she won't budge, you may have to. Of course she needs you. And she owes you some affection. If she doesn't believe that's important, it's your task to convince her it is. Very. You're too young to settle for nothing. Good luck.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.