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Mitigating Factors

Direct Answers - Column for the week of September 30, 2002

I am writing for advice on a personal dilemma of the most personal nature. I am male, mid-40s, married 20 years.

After all these years, I still long to make love to my wife two or three times per week, while she seems to prefer two or three times per year, if ever. Best I can tell, she no longer enjoys making love whatsoever and hasn't for the last 10 years.

While all this seems dismal, the problem I am seeking advice on is more a moral issue. First, let me make sure you know that I have been faithful to my wife since the day I met her. I would never consider sex outside my marriage vows. That goes against every moral fiber of my being.

Additionally, pornographic materials and gentlemen's clubs go against my beliefs and would only make matters worse. I will say after all these years I do understand why some men succumb to weakness and fall prey to sex outside their marriage.

Please do not tell me to have a meaningful conversation with my wife. I tried that and failed miserably. In February 2000, after years of trying to get through to her, I felt I couldn't take it anymore. I told her I long for the intimacy only a married couple can share.

She offered no reason, except she is always tired and has too much on her plate. While I acknowledge that she shoulders plenty of responsibility with work and home, she can find the time to walk the dogs or work herself to the bone on something that can wait until tomorrow.

I pleaded with her to get whatever physical, medical, emotional or psychological help she might need to get our marriage back on track. I offered to attend any sessions she felt comfortable with me participating in.

I offered to do anything in our lovemaking that would make it more enjoyable for her. I told her I would not pressure her into making love, but would wait for her to let me know when she was ready.

For four weeks things improved as we made love three times. However, she never sought outside help and began to fall into her old comfortable habits. Over the next 17 months we made love only another six times with most coming at my insistence.

I finally gave up keeping track and gave up on her caring enough to change. Short of divorce, how do I relieve my sexual tension without compromising my beliefs and myself?


Marshall, rules make sense in context. One rule most people believe in is "Thou shalt not kill." However, if you must kill a man to defend your wife and children, most people would say you haven't violated the rule.

If a robber breaks into your home, collects your valuables and asks if you have anymore money, most people would say it is okay to lie. Why? Because rules only make sense in context. Otherwise the person with the lower standard always gets to win.

From society's point of view, marriage is the best possible context for sexuality to be expressed. Marriage attaches sex to love and a caring, committed relationship, and two people are present to raise the children.

You don't believe in divorce, yet you have contemplated adultery. Why? Because something which belongs in your marriage is not there. "Keep thee only unto him" absolutely means don't cheat, but it does not mean "Don't let him have it either."

Your wife will not honestly tell you what is on her mind, and you have suggested every possible solution. As a result, you are estranged from the person you should be most closely bonded to.

It is time to apply your ideas about marriage and divorce to your current specific situation and decide what is right. Rules only make sense in context.

Wayne & Tamara

About The Author

Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at

Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801 or email:

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