Dear Annie: I'm 48 and have been married to my beautiful wife for 21 years. Lately, whenever we argue, she will withhold sex. This could be anywhere from a week to three months. And she won't talk about it.
This is putting a huge strain on our relationship. We've been to counseling for a year, but it hasn't helped. She tells me that men my age don't really need sex and that my libido is too high. Every fight we have brings back arguments from 10 or 15 years ago. It's like she cannot forgive and move on.
Women wonder why men stray. I don't want to leave her, but I've had enough. How can I explain this to her? Every time I bring it up, she shuts me down. -- Cut Off in Montreal
Dear Montreal: Your wife is wrong about your libido, although it's possible that she has libido problems of her own. But that is only part of what's happening. No matter what you may have done 10 or 15 years ago, bringing up old arguments and shutting down any discussion of current issues damages your marriage. Counseling cannot possibly work if your wife refuses to participate honestly. You can ask for a trial separation to see if that wakes her up. In the meantime, ask to see your counselor on your own.
Dear Annie: I wrote to you a couple of years ago, signing my letter, "Unhappy Parents." I said that my husband and I felt my stepson was making a big mistake by marrying much too young and we said so. Instead, my stepson repeated these hurtful words to his fiance and from that point forward, they would not speak to us. We were not allowed to attend the wedding.
My husband was an amazing father, and we were all very close until this woman wedged herself in and started saying bad things about us. Apparently, she is extremely close to my husband's ex-wife and that woman hates my husband.
You told us to try writing them a letter and apologizing, even though there was no guarantee it would succeed. We immediately did this, but it didn't help much. They have since had my husband's first grandchild. We sent baby gifts, but have not been asked to see the baby. They instead sent us a book of pictures of the baby, including several with the ex-wife holding the child. It's a beautiful book, with quotes about the importance of family, yet there is not one photo of my husband in it.
I am so hurt. They have now alienated my husband's daughter, which in hindsight was likely a relationship only held together for financial reasons. Annie, I helped care for these kids for 22 years. Should I give up? Is there anything else I can try? -- Still Unhappy
Dear Still: If the ex-wife is poisoning the relationship and the daughter-in-law still holds a grudge, there isn't much you can do. However, they did send photos of the baby, which is more than you might have received before. Your husband should let his children know that he will always love them, but otherwise, we urge you to focus your energies elsewhere. We're so sorry.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.