Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My wife and I have been married for more than 50 years. We are both in our 70s. About seven months ago, my wife stopped having sex with me. She has been ill and so have I. She said she can't have sex until she is completely better. I have asked her if she still desires me and she said she does, but that we have to wait. In all of our married years we have never gone so long without sex. It's very frustrating for me. I've even started frequenting porn websites, which I'm ashamed of and never did before. I feel ready and eager for intimacy and I don't know what to do. She would never go to a therapist with this. We're still tender to each other. I hug and kiss her when I'm leaving for a few hours to do errands. I love her very much. I am very frustrated and upset.

An Old but Young Man

DEAR YOUNG MAN: According to an overview of medical studies published by the National Institutes of Health, well over half of all women over the age of 50 report significant changes in sexual function and libido.

If medical problems caused your wife to lose her mojo, then medical intervention may help her to get it back. She should see her physician right away and discuss possible remedies.

Surgeries, medication and illness such as diabetes and depression have been shown to affect sexual function and desire.

You should strive to be an active and intimate partner to your wife through this challenge. Can you hold, hug and kiss her in bed without pressing for sex? This might help to relieve some of the stress for both of you. While viewing pornography might relieve your immediate frustration, it could also be an impediment to your intimate connection. Feelings of shame or guilt are not healthy feelings to take into your long and loving marriage.

DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been married for six years. We have three sons. We have endured every single trial a marriage/relationship can go through, but my husband seems not to have any motivation or drive for our life together. I've tried motivating him, pushing him, and leaving him, and nothing seems to light a fire under him. I was working three jobs, going to school and was pregnant with our last child -- and I did it all for our family, but my husband just doesn't understand the concept of sacrificing anything to provide a better life for me and our children. He says he loves me but really, Amy -- what kind of man marries a woman and has three children with her and won't step up to the plate to provide for his family? I'm at a loss about whether to keep fighting for this marriage.

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Getting Tired

DEAR TIRED: The kind of man who marries a woman and has a family with her, but won't step up to provide for them -- is the guy you chose to marry and have children with. Plain and simple.

Your job is not to mother him or manipulate him into compliance, but to deal with what you have in front of you. Aside from his employment situation, is your husband a responsible and loving father? If so, you might have to accept that his contribution will be as a homemaker, rather than a financial provider. One solution might be for you to find full-time employment while he cares for the children and the housework.

If you genuinely believe that leaving the marriage will be best for your kids, then you should consider doing this. However, don't make empty threats as a way to try to force your husband to change.

DEAR AMY: Your recent series of letters about parents bullying their children broke my heart. I agree that intervening is necessary. I've wondered if it would be effective to address a child being bullied by a mother, "Your Mommy's kind of mean, isn't she? I hope nobody's that mean to your mommy."

Interventionist

DEAR INTERVENTIONIST: I don't like your wording, but I applaud your intent.