Dear Annie: I have been married to my second husband for 28 years. For the past 25, he has not shown me affection or touched me. We do what he wants to do, go where he wants to go, eat where he wants to eat.
When I retired, I refused to be unhappy. I still see my friends and go out at least once a week. My marriage vows said "until death do us part," so I will not divorce him.
My husband is very good to my children and loves our grandchildren. I just wish he loved me. I came from a family who showed their love and always said "I love you," so this has been hard. I dated this man for two years, and I think I married him because I wanted security. Even though I loved him, I knew he didn't love me the same way. I just wish I had a way out. Any suggestions? — Need To Be Held
Dear Need: Since you aren't willing to consider a divorce, you have a limited number of "ways out." You can get a legal separation, which keeps your marriage intact while allowing you to live apart, leading separate lives. You can get professional counseling, with or without your husband, to find ways to better cope with the lack of affection or possibly encourage your husband to show more. You can transfer your affection to your grandchildren.
We're glad you are getting out of the house with friends, and you might consider doing more of that. In fact, please consider doing volunteer work with babies at your local hospital.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from Need Help, the young wife who doesn't like sex. I don't believe she is unusual or unhealthy or necessarily asexual. I felt the same way in my 20s and still do in my 60s. I have a faithful husband who likes regular sex. I would be happy with frequent cuddling and only occasional sex. I tried everything to change, from hormones to counseling.
What finally worked for me was realizing (in my 40s) that I am lucky to be a female and can perform sexually whether I'm aroused or not. My husband and I agreed on a frequency of sex that meets his needs, and once in a while, I enjoy it, too. The rest of the time I enjoy the cuddling. Sex is something I do for our marriage. He makes other compromises, such as talking with me more than he would prefer.
You don't need to be totally sexually compatible. Marriage is full of compromises. The hardest part is thinking you are alone in this. You are not. — R.
Dear R.: Thank you so much for pointing out that marriage is full of compromises, and you and your husband have reached one when it comes to the frequency of sex. But "Need Help" said she doesn't like to be touched and has some deeply rooted aversions to sex, including reading books about the subject. She could be asexual, but we believe there is more to it and she could benefit from counseling. We hope she gets it.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from Barking Up a Tree, whose neighbors are breeding dogs, and the barking and smell drives them crazy. Your response left out one option: If the couple has tried everything, they should document their efforts and contact a lawyer.
The dog breeders are denying them the "use and enjoyment" of their property, and they can sue for injunctive relief and damages. It should be a last resort, but it could be very effective. Sometimes a letter from an attorney stating the intent to file suit will suffice. Of course, before they threaten to sue, they must be prepared to follow through in case the dog breeders call their bluff. Never bark unless you're prepared to bite. — Attorney
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2014. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.