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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Laments Lonely Marriage Without Affection

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to the same woman for 34 years. We have raised two great kids. The problem is, my wife does not show, respond to or initiate any affection or intimacy. I understand she has been through menopause, but is this the new normal? For me it is a lonely, cold existence. Most nights she won't even share the same bed with me. She also does not respond well to talking about things. Must I live the rest of my life this way? -- ROOMMATE IN VIRGINIA

DEAR ROOMMATE: Your problem is less about the lack of affection and intimacy in your marriage and far more about the lack of communication your wife allows you to have with her. If a problem can't be discussed, there is no way to arrive at a solution or a compromise.

If you haven't told her how lonely and isolated you feel, start there. What's happening is not fair to you. This is something that should be discussed with her doctor because there may be a medical solution if sex is painful for her.

However, if it is more complicated than that, recognize that you need more help than I can give you in a letter or a newspaper column, and ask your doctor or insurance company to refer you to a licensed marriage and family therapist for the answers you are seeking. If your wife refuses to go with you, go without her.

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