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by Abigail Van Buren

Couple Accommodate Their Different Levels of Desire

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing regarding your reply to "Needs More," whose sexual appetite is bigger than her fiance's. You advised her not to marry him because of it. I disagree.

I have been married to a wonderful man for three years. Had I let our differing drives stop me from marrying him, I would have missed out on a loving, mature, attentive husband and father to our children. I actually think I have it better than many women out there whose husbands demand sex daily.

There is more to a relationship than sex. My husband shows me love and affection in hundreds of other ways. Perhaps "Needs More" should take a closer look at their relationship. If sex is the only thing lacking, other ways of physically expressing love -- like hugging, holding hands and kissing -- could be substituted. If she nurtures her relationship in all the other ways, she may find, as I have, that his desire grows in time. Libido fades with age; love does not. -- SATISFIED IN ALL WAYS IN KNOXVILLE

DEAR SATISFIED: You and your husband have been able to negotiate past your differences and make your marriage a fulfilling one. That is not the case with many of the wives and husbands who write to me. Sometimes I wish I could run a dating service for all of the mismatched couples who feel sad, frustrated, isolated and unattractive to the person they love. The reasons for a low sex drive can vary. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: My second wife found herself with a far stronger libido than I could match. This, of course, left me with a lot of disappointment. She, a nurse, said, "Off to the doctor with you!" The doctor said, "Let's do some lab work." Sure enough, there was a little brain chemistry issue I needed to deal with. I am now on medication, which solved our problem. -- HAPPIER NOW IN KANSAS CITY

DEAR HAPPIER NOW: I'm pleased that your problem was resolved. Thank you for pointing out that a low sex drive may be an indication of a medical problem.

DEAR ABBY: That letter from "Needs More" could have been written by me 20 years ago. I married my best friend, who also had very little interest in sex. During our six-year marriage we argued frequently and I felt more and more undesirable. When I finally found the strength to leave the marriage, it broke both our hearts.

Two years later, my ex realized that he was gay. It made so much sense in retrospect. I agree with the advice you gave "Needs More." She should keep her fiance as a friend, but she should not marry him. -- BEEN THERE, DONE THAT IN VIRGINIA

DEAR BEEN THERE: Thank you for sharing your experience. The mail I have received from readers has been divided on this issue. About one-third came from women, like yourself, whose husbands turned out to be gay. Another third said the problem had been caused by a hormonal or chemical imbalance or depression, which had been successfully treated. The rest felt I should reconsider my advice:

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have learned that with open communication, compromise and respect, we can work through this difference. Intimacy, although important, is only one part of marriage. Because people are different does not mean they should not marry. Marriage is the union of two individuals, not two identical people. Please reconsider your advice to "Needs More." -- FEELING FRISKY IN FRISCO, TEXAS

DEAR FEELING FRISKY: Although I admire your level of maturity, I think I'll stand pat with my answer.

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