We’re experiencing ‘bed death’

Are you happy with your dating/partnered/single life right now? What do you need to know about what's next?

Tell me all of the things. It feels good to write it out. Email your own questions to [email protected] or fill out this easy form, please. 

We'll chat next week.

I'm a 64-year-old male, and I love my second marriage and extended family. The relationships all around are respectful and joyful. My problem is "bed death" with my wife of 15 years; a sexual relationship was never the priority from day one. Before we got married, I had a long-term sexual relationship with another woman. When the other woman broke it off, I committed fully to my now-wife.

The frequency of our intimate encounters has diminished steadily these past years. She has agreed to have more sex, but her body is there, but not her heart. So how do I reconnect with my wife sexually when she has made it clear that sex isn't that important to her at this time in her life? She has also made it clear that she expects me to remain faithful. Her priorities are to protect the family. I am in excellent health. What's next?

– Roving Eye

A doctor might be able to help with this, if your wife interested in finding out more about her drive (or lack thereof). There are also therapists that can talk to both of you about other ways to connect. Maybe she'd rather try other bonding activities, things that make it more exciting to share a bedroom later. It's worth asking her if she's willing to go with you to get some third-party help.

You signed your letter "roving eye," but you didn't tell us how much that's part of the problem. Is it becoming difficult to remain faithful? Are you pursuing other emotional relationships? That's something to talk about in therapy too. What are you seeking and how can you get it from the person who's in front of you?

I do think there's a fundamental disconnect here; you're asking your partner for sex when it was never a priority. You said this is a relationship that involves respect and joy, but is it romantic? She wants to preserve the family, but with or without sex, you both have to be on board to preserve whatever the two of you share. And to decide whether it's enough. Sometimes, despite great love, it isn't.

– Meredith

Readers? Is this about preserving the primary relationship ... or maintaining a great life and extended family? Is that enough?