MAN WANTS WIFE ALONG FOR RIDE TO TAKE THE REINS AND LEADDEAR ABBY: Do women ever initiate sex with men, or must they always be wooed, cajoled, begged or persuaded? I have a fairly good physical relationship with my wife, but it happens only when I make the overtures. I am left with the conclusion that either the physical act isn't that enjoyable or I am not very desirable.
If every encounter must start with me, and my wife can take it or leave it, is she just doing me a favor? Must sex always start with the guy, or can women demonstrate more overt interest? -- UNDERSEXED IN OHIO
DEAR UNDERSEXED: Many women -- but not all -- initiate sex with their partner. If your wife doesn't, it may be she isn't comfortable being the aggressor, her hormone levels have changed, sex may have become painful for her, or she never got much out of it in the first place.
Not knowing her, I can't explain why she never makes the first move. But this I am sure of -- until you have a frank and honest discussion with her about it, nothing is going to change, and it may need to happen with the help of a marriage counselor.
DEAR ABBY: I have been married to "Richard" for three years, but we have lived together for 10. I was Richard's first and only girlfriend. He's very shy and reserved, while I have always been the outgoing, rebellious type.
I have been communicating with another man, "Drew," for about a year. It started out as me just having a little fun, but now I'm seriously considering leaving Richard. Although Drew and I have never met in person, we're romantically involved and both of us believe we're in love.
I love Richard, but I just don't feel "in love" anymore. We have lost our connection. We have talked about our communication problems, and he knows about Drew. Despite my explaining what the problems were, I feel he has ignored the issues.
We have been trying to get pregnant for years and it hasn't happened. I'm starting to believe it is a sign that I should move on. Should I follow my heart and be with Drew or stay with Richard despite my feelings? Please help. -- DISTRAUGHT IN TEXAS
DEAR DISTRAUGHT: I'm willing to wager that if you devoted just a fraction of the energy you have spent on your extracurricular relationship to your husband, your marriage would be in better shape. With the help of a marriage counselor you might even be able to address those issues you feel have been ignored and re-establish your "connection."
But for you to throw away your marriage for someone you haven't met in person would be a serious mistake. Be glad that you haven't gotten pregnant and dragged a child into this. It would have broken your husband's heart, not only because you abandoned him but also because he would have been separated from the child he loved.
DEAR ABBY: A year ago I gave my brother-in-law a framed print that had belonged to my late husband. Some time afterward, out of curiosity, I researched it and found that it is worth far more than I realized -- several thousand dollars.
I haven't mentioned this to my brother-in-law. I would never ask for the print back, but would it be OK to let him know the value and mention that if he ever decides not to keep it, I might like it returned? (I would sell it and put the money in my daughter's college fund.) -- GAVE MORE THAN I THOUGHT
DEAR GAVE: Level with your brother-in-law about having researched the print and ask him to return it. When you do, tell him you need the money for your daughter's college fund. Offer to exchange it for an item with sentimental value. Honesty is the best policy, and he may agree.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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