DEAR AMY: My life is lacking in love. I have felt empty inside for many, many years. I have been married for a long time, but my wife is content with our platonic relationship. Not only do we rarely touch, but she has very little interest in me and my life. Before we married, I had several failed relationships (they cheated on me). I also had a stepmother who was cold and uncaring, and my real mother died when I was young. As long as I can remember, I’ve filled this void in my soul with pornography. Now, in addition to porn, I meet women through online sites for body rubs, just so I can feel the touch of someone and feel wanted for a few minutes. There are times I feel suicidal. Divorce is a last resort because we have children (who are now adults). I see no solution to my situation and could use your advice.
Lonely and Loveless
DEAR LONELY: You paint a landscape filled with sadness, and I am very sorry. I completely understand the need for physical touch and emotional nurturing, but I am urging you to use some of the funds you spend on erotic massage to see a therapist — preferably a male counselor who specializes in sexual dysfunction. You should also be screened for depression. This sort of deep dive into your past could have a transformative and lasting impact on you.
I fail to see the reasoning behind staying in a loveless marriage when your offspring are grown. I assume your children are somewhat aware of your depression and your relationship with their mother; they might be relieved if you two decided to part.
I assume that your wife would also be relieved. It is impossible for her to connect sexually with someone addicted to pornography; surely you understand that this is an unhealthy situation for both of you.
If you feel trapped in an escalating cycle of porn use (and it sounds as if you do), many readers have recommended the support group Sexaholics Anonymous, which appears to function on a “12-step” principle, with the goal of “sexual sobriety.” The group has meetings in every state. Check SA.org for a meeting near you.
DEAR AMY: I’m a happily married woman, and I design T-shirts as a hobby. It is not a full-time business or anything, but just a creative thing I do for fun on the side. My friends, and sometimes strangers as well, enjoy buying my different shirts. Recently, I designed one that had a feminist message that supported independent women. I put this up on Facebook (like I always do), and it got good feedback. However, my mother-in-law saw it and immediately called my husband, asking him what I meant by designing the shirt and wanting to know exactly what problems we were having. I didn’t mean the shirt as any sort of personal message, but rather just my own support of strong women. My husband and I are not having any problems, so we laughed off the misunderstanding and assured my MIL that we were fine. However, I could not help but feel a bit irked that she would immediately call and demand information in that manner. If we were actually having marital problems, I would want that to stay between the two of us, unless we both decided to ask for outside opinions/advice. If this should ever happen, what is the best way to tell my MIL to please butt out until we ask for her input?
DEAR T-SHIRTED: There is a certain ridiculous irony to your mother-in-law’s reaction to this. She obviously feels that it is so abnormal to declare yourself to be a strong and independent woman, that this very statement denotes a problem of some sort. And then, rather than ask the strong independent woman about her intent, she asks the man!
You and your husband seem like a good team. If your mother-in-law oversteps in the future, your husband should reassure her kindly, and then say, “Mom, I love you, but my marriage is my own business. You understand that, right?”
DEAR AMY: I smiled when I read the letter from “Tattoo Hater,” the mother who was offended by her middle-aged daughter’s tattoos. Just for that mother’s information, I am 75 and just got my first tattoo of a horsehead on my leg. My grandson took me to the tattoo parlor, and I love it!
No Regrets Pat
DEAR PAT: Rock on with your bad self!