Editor's Note: Hundreds of Ann Landers' loyal readers have requested that newspapers continue to publish her columns. These letters originally appeared in 1999.
Dear Ann Landers: My jaw dropped when I read the letter from the woman who had been married for 14 years to a man who had shown no interest in sex since the day they married. That letter could have been written by me.
You told the woman she had a "clinker in her thinker" for staying with him. My comment is, "Well, maybe yes and maybe no." Where I come from, marriage means a lot more than just sex. I was taught that marriage is forever. Also, it defines one's social status, not to mention one's income bracket.
For years, I thought I was doing something wrong. I tried to change. It didn't work. I then decided to end my sexless marriage, get a job and support myself. I divorced my husband two years ago. The cold shoulder I received in this small, conservative town was unbelievable. People here assume that if a man isn't beating his wife or running around, she has no legitimate reason to leave him.
So, Ann, sometimes it's not the woman but the culture that has a "clinker in its thinker." — Small Town in Kansas
Dear Kansas: It sounds as if you asked yourself that old Ann Landers question: "Are you better off with him or without him?" And you decided you were better off without him, even though it meant getting a job. Good for you! I'm sure your life is infinitely better. Keep reading for more on this subject:
No City, N.Y.: I have been in a sexless marriage for more than 14 years, and I definitely do not have a "clinker in my thinker." I agree it can be difficult at times, but there's a lot more to marriage than what goes on in the bedroom. My husband and I have been through a lot together, and our love continues to grow stronger. If a spouse were injured and became unable to have sex, would that be a reason for divorce? The vow says, "For better or for worse, in sickness and in health."
San Pedro, Calif.: I read the letter from "Older and Wiser in Maine," who spent 14 years in a sexless marriage. I would bet anything the man is either gay or asexual. One thing is certain — he is not normal, and neither is she if she is willing to settle for a sexless marriage.
Boothwyn, Pa.: I disagree with your assumption that a woman must be nuts to stay married for 14 years to a man who wanted no more sex after they married. I am 33, and my husband is 40. In the six years we have been man and wife, he has never been interested in sex, and believe me, I have tried everything. He says he loves me, he is an excellent father, but he doesn't like sex and refuses to see a counselor. My faith tells me divorce is a sin, and I wouldn't consider it unless he were abusing me or our child. As soon as I get the money together, I will see a therapist and get some help. I can't handle this on my own.
Portland, Ore.: As if women in these sexless marriages aren't suffering enough, you add to their pain by saying we are also mental cases. Twenty-five years ago, after only six months of marriage, my husband said he didn't know why he married me. I was devastated. I could have married any one of several men but chose this nitwit because he seemed so respectful of me. He turned out to be a cold fish and abusive. Of course, there was no sex. He made me quit my job, so I am dependent on him for money. He has convinced me that I am too stupid to do anything on my own. Life holds no pleasure. I am miserable.
And now this is Ann talking. For "Portland" and all other readers who are in sexless marriages, I would like to say: If you aren't interested in sex and don't want to be bothered, and your mate is of the same mind, fine, it's nobody's business. But the good Lord gave us this gift, and it is sad not to appreciate it and use it, and this goes for both men and women. As for Portland, get a job, leave the tyrant, and regain your self-respect.
When planning a wedding, who pays for what? Who stands where? "The Ann Landers Guide for Brides" has all the answers. To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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