DEAR HARRIETTE: Years ago, my husband and I got into a series of nasty arguments, and while we stayed together, we retreated to different parts of the house and stopped being intimate.
We now have a much nicer relationship. We tried to be intimate recently, and it didn’t work. It was on me; it wouldn’t work. When I went for my annual gynecological visit, my doctor told me what I already know -- things are pretty tight down there. I didn’t dare ask him what to do because I was way too embarrassed. But I don’t know what to do. I want to be intimate with my husband again, but I don't know how. -- Resuming Intimacy, Atlanta
DEAR RESUMING INTIMACY: It turns out that many couples go through periods of abstinence, for a wide variety of reasons. Depending on the length of time, it can be difficult to reconnect. Emotional distance can create a divide that’s hard to close. Additionally, women’s bodies can become less receptive and literally smaller, making it difficult to be intimate. You may need to speak to your doctor to get suggestions and even medical support to get to the place where you can comfortably receive your husband. Some men find that they experience erectile dysfunction due to age, health or even longtime abstinence, so a doctor’s visit may be helpful for both of you.
Given that there were emotional reasons that shut you two down years ago, you should also talk. Work on communicating about your life and what you want now. Consider going to therapy together, a couple's retreat or some other type of engagement that may foster positive vibes between you. Read more here: mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/sexual-health/expert-answers/sex/faq-20058523 and aarp.org/home-family/sex-intimacy/info-12-2012/couples-having-sex-again.html.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My son graduated from college a couple of years ago, and has had difficulty finding the right job fit. He did well in college and has been looking hard, but he has found only odd jobs. My wife and I have let him move back home for a while with the understanding that he needs to get his life together, but we are battling over how to manage this. I think my son should pay rent of some amount so that he begins to accept responsibility for his life. I also think he should participate in household chores. He does none of this right now. My wife is far more doting. She lets him get away with anything.
How can we draw the line? I need my son to step up and be responsible -- for his own good. -- Parenting an Adult Child, Columbus, Ohio
DEAR PARENTING AN ADULT CHILD: You and your wife need to be on the same page. Talk to her about your belief that your son should learn responsibility. Suggest that he pay a small rent. You can put it in an account that you give to him at the end of his stay. That could even help him with a deposit on his own place. Point out that doing chores and participating in household duties is a part of life. He should not get a pass. When you win over your wife, you can approach your son.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)