What's with the squiggles?
Using my handy-dandy boy scouts morse code translator, Dan was sending this secret message to the writer: "AINK. AINK. AINK"

That seems about right for a BS letter.
No, I think it's "wink wink wink". But still...
It's WINK WINK WINK, I'm fairly sure.
Were the crying eyes meant to be ironic or sincere, Dan? Regardless, I going to assume that a man in his early fifties has children old enough to handle a divorce without crushing their psyches. Run like a motherfucker, your wife is a manipulative tool.
Since when would the Boy scouts official translator confuse a wink for a wank? Y'all are troubling something fierce.

Still, letter 1 seems fakety fake fake designed more to elicit internet points and rage.
Oh, it's winking. I don't think you needed to be coy in this case, DA. Rather epic DTMFA.
Why doesn't he think she's fucking around? And has been the whole time? You don't really flirt w/o a sex drive, especially not explicitly, right?
"Yet she sucks her teeth and rolls her eyes when I talk suggestively to her."

this guy who studies marriages and why some end and other don't said that eye rolling is a huge sign of a marriage that will end. "it's the kiss of death"
I'm with 8.
Oh, the reason it doesn't work if you type it into a morse code translator is that it's supposed to be .-- .. -. -.-

but formatted text turned "--" into one long dash rather than two short hyphens, so it translates to "AINK".

Basically Dan is saying TED should see an escort.
@6: Really? You think this letter is fake? I mean, I understand if you felt like this letter is _pointless_, because what advice is Dan going to give this guy that he doesn't already know, and what is he prepared or not prepared to do about it?

But I'd wager this letter describes thousands upon thousands of actual relationships to a tee. Nothing particularly fake about it.
The sheer level of sordid detail in the first letter just sounds made up. I think there's a tipping point after which adding more details actually makes it less plausible, especially if every single one of them points in exactly the same direction. Maybe there's someone that is actually that irredeemably bad a spouse (for a sexual partner) but real people tend to be a little more complicated than that.
Yep, that was John Gottman.

Gottman, J.M. (1994). Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. New York: Fireside.

Both these guys are total losers because they are looking for something that doesn't exist....a gorgeous 24 year old woman, with a killer body, and an unquenchable desire for a monogamous relationship with a 52 year old who can't afford a divorce or who is still living with his Dad.

Look, it's a Union and you have to pay the price to get what you want. Whining about a "special relationship" is just words that mean, I ain't got coin.


actually, that is far too kind.

she despises you.

don't waste a penny on escorts.

hire a good divorce attorney.
And... now I'm with 13. These are details which sound very weird to me:

"Never once initiated or provided oral sex unless I just maneuvered it up that way" (maneuver it into her mouth... WTF?)

"She ignores my romantic advances even when there are no kids around." (That's the only mention of your kids?)

"I’m getting too old for a hall pass and wouldn’t even want to be bothered at this point in my life. I know it would never be granted anyway and the mere suggestion would ignite an epic brawl." (huh?!)
The main thrust of the letter doesn't seem improbable to me, although it does seem exaggerated. If this is a realistic representation of a relationship, I don't understand why anybody would leave and then return when no change seemed to be on offer. With this level of mutual distaste I don't know what keeps people together. But Dan's answer was the only one possible in the circumstances.
I think the first letter is real because I know folks like this. One month becomes a year, then five, then, "holy shit, I've wasted so much of my life". And I think one reason is because the one who is frustrated sincerely loves the other person and thinks/hopes, despite all evidence to the contrary, that tomorrow will be better. And then he/she wakes up, the kids are grown and the love changes - seemingly rapidly but really over the years - to a resentment and near hatred.

I think this is all too common. And for the LW's situation, it does not matter if she's fucking around (other than making leaving earlier).
Yeah, EricaP, he doesn't want to be bothered. To: a) ask for a hall pass or even go out there and pursue someone else; or b) go to therapy (on his own! without her!). His letter basically says WAH WAH WAH WAH-- I want advice but I don't want advice that tells me to actually do anything--WAH WAH WAH.

I absolutely believe that both letters are true.
The letter didn't seem fake to me at all. I'm sure there are lots of people in this situation.
The guy "knows" that therapy wouldn't help? They need marriage counseling and if she won't go, he should go alone. The wife not being a total stick in the mud is not unreasonable. Asking her to be as much of a prude with other men as she is with him is not unreasonable. Women with as many issues with physical and emotional intimacy as the woman described in this letter should not get married.

@19 - you put it so well. But why does anyone think loving someone is enough? You can love someone who is appalling to you, or a really bad match. It's sad when people don't have confidence in their ability to find someone they love who is actually nice to them.

At least with longer life expectancies, people have a chance to get out and try again; which is why this guy's letter is so depressing.
Someone putting up with that much crap is doling out some crap in return. That's why he's so ridiculously passive - deep down under all that whinging is the belief that no one else would put up with him.
I'm with 20.
TED, it's ok to leave her. You will both be happier.
@27 Well, she *might* not be happier if what she really wants is a guy to provide the public image of a successful marriage and to do her laundry, while putting up with her total lack of sex drive and/or desire for him.

But I'll fucking bet TED will be happier! Poorer, too, no doubt, but you know the old joke about why divorce is so expensive.
Those who think it's fake are having a knee jerk reaction.
I'm so glad I'm gay and don't have to put up with BS like this. And now, I'm going to do what ever I want, any time I want with whomever I please.
@15 I don't think LW one wants a 24 year old supermodel as much as he wants a wife who doesn't act like he's covered in acid when he tries to touch her.

My question is why marry someone who doesn't even seem to like you let alone love you?

I agree with #27.
I think the anger & frustration are real, but I think we're missing some key details.
@15: "Look, it's a Union and you have to pay the price to get what you want."

He's not getting what he wants.

"a gorgeous 24 year old woman, with a killer body, and an unquenchable desire for a monogamous relationship with a 52 year old who can't afford a divorce or who is still living with his Dad."

This smacks very strongly of projection.
Whatever the real details are, DTMFA. And, while some escorts might be lots of fun, they are too expensive. Find another LTR. Or at least enjoy your porn without anyone deriding you. And maybe wash off the rat poison.
The letter actually rings kind of true to me. I divorced my wife when I was 47. For much the same reason that this guy has. She didn't want sex, didn't initiate sex, but was always ultra flirty with other men at the bars or wherever we went out. And I sort of accepted that because I always thought that at least I actually get to have what she's only promising to the other guys. Except I never actually got to have that.

I'm 49 now and will be 50 before the end of the year. And guess what? Even at this age, as long as you want to put yourself out there, you will meet women who will want you. This is not an attempt to brag. I'm not a perfect man - I'm short, shy, a bit chubby, and have some serious physical disabilities. And yet I have multiple women who are interested in me and want to be with me and are enthusiastic about it, including one beautiful woman who is 20 years younger than me.

My advice to the original guy is to dump her and find someone else. Life is too short not to. And even in your 50s, it actually is way easier than you might think. Way easier than I thought it would be, that's for sure. So take the plunge, and look for your own happiness; you will find it.
TED, you can love someone who's wrong for you.

You may have been "devastated" not to be with her, but the way you're "with" her is as a friend who's not fucking her. So redefine yourselves that way. Divorce, find a woman who wants to fuck you, and your ex-wife becomes a good friend you aren't fucking. She no longer has the burden of your dick, and you no longer have the burden of feeling constantly rejected.

Seriously. Life is too short to choose to drink poison every day. Both of you.
Ted is a douchebag. He should stop walking on egg shells and come right out and tell the bitch off. She's a manipulative sadist. Then he should just find a good fuck.
25, ding ding ding. This letter burns with resentment and victimhood: who wants to sleep with that?

What strikes me is that he's complaining that all the things laid down during their *six year* courtship, from flirting on out, are exactly what he has a few decades in. How is this a surprise? (For that matter, how many 50 somethings claim that their lives now are exactly what they were in their late 20s? Weird.) I understand complaining that the frequency a decade or two in isn't what it was during courtship; I have the deepest sympathy for anyone whose spouse is dropping the "Now that we're married and have a kid, I feel I can tell you that I'm actually (not into monogamy/ not into sex/ into dead people and need to explore that, with or without you/ insert other courtship dealbreaker)" bomb.

She laid her cards on the table early on; he decided to get married knowing exactly what the deal was. Now he's complaining that the person he saw back when they were dating is who she turned out to be when they married, and still is decades later?
I'm with 42 and the others who are wondering "how the fuck did these two get married in the first place?"

Yes, if the details in this letter are a) true and b) unilateral, then it's a clear DTMFA. But unless this was some sort of arranged marriage, I'm not getting why LW, as his less magnanimous, sexually informed, and more selfish 20-something self would marry Mrs. LW if she was exactly the same back then.

And, assuming that there was some compelling reason, how did he grow up so much sexually but she didn't? Her behavior sounds like what comes from a highly sex-negative culture (conservative religious of some flavor), and no one has worked with her over these 20+ years to feel more positive about it.

Faaaake, skewed, or WTF?
I don't think it's fake at all. An old friend of mine dated a former stripper and complained frequently to me about how she acted like a sex kitten in public, rubbing up on men, suggestive comments, etc, but when they got home, she had a headache, her back hurt, something was always wrong. They rarely ever had sex and she never initiated or participated much. After 10 years of this, what did he do? He married her.

I will never understand.
Maybe LW#1's wife is gay? Flirting with men would be safe in this context since she's married, and might be a way in which she validates her 'straightness' to herself.
Dear TED,

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that your wife is a victim of sexual violence, probably as a child.

If it was just general distate for anything sexual, then I would assume she had been raised very sex negatively, or was overly religious, or perhaps had been put off sex by the horrible pain and messiness of childbirth.

However, the sexual banter and possible activity with other men points to someone with more deep-seated and conflicted sexual issues - she feels that she MUST be perceived as a sexual being in order to be valued, yet at the same time she feels that anyone who genuinely loves her should not want to have sex with her, because sex is wrong and awful and traumatic.

The reason I feel quite confident making this massive assumption is that your wife sounds like me, 15 years ago, before I got therapy for the sexual abuse I survived as a child.

I couldn't bear having sex with my long term partner unless I was blitzed out of my mind and if he talked to me sexually I shied away. However, I was happy to flirt in a totally over the top way with strange men and frequently went home with them and fucked them silly.

It's hard to explain to people who haven't experienced abuse how much it totally fucks up your expression of your sexuality, especially within what should be loving relationships. It's a long term process to work through therapy - and it is WORK, hard work that will take a good deal of time and effort.

I suggest you lay your cards on the table with wifey now - let her know that she's making you so unhappy that unless things change, you're going to have to leave. Unless she can get the help she needs to realign her sexual expression to a more healthy point, your marriage is doomed.

It might be doomed anyway - because the reasons she chose you for a mate may be completely tied up with her mental health state and once she's in recovery, she may realise she needs to be on her own or with someone different. But she owes it to you and the kids to find out.

Good luck.
Not fake, not skewed, just regrettably human. He has become passive, weak, emasculated, worn down by her as the years passed.

Ted, you're in your early fifties, not hospice. Wake up, divorce this nasty woman and get on with your life. You'll be surprised how much energy you have about 4-6 months after she becomes your ex. You go get counseling for yourself, to give you the resolve you need to kick this abusive and callous monster to the curb. There is so much better for you out there. This resentment is killing your spirit.

But I do agree with 41. Tell her off before you divorce her.
Also, I can't say this strong enough: she calls your porn and masturbation nauseating and says you need counseling because of it? She is dead wrong about it - no reasonable person looks at porn or masturbation that way in this day and age and she is a rotten, poisonous, sexually repressed POS for shaming you in that way. Any responsible counselor isn't going to buy into her decades behind the times repressiveness, but why bother with counseling? DTMFA now.
@46: That rings with enough truth that you may be on to something. My sympathies on your trauma and I'm glad you got some help.
46 has a really good possibility to think about. Perhaps inadvertently supported by 44--that pattern of aggressive public sexiness and private revulsion seems familiar.

I'm surprised at how many people are jumping on the validation wagon when he says she is exactly who she represented herself to be when they were dating. There's a huge difference between a partner who tells you she loves performing oral sex until the honeymoon, when she admits that was just a trick to get you to commit, and one who makes it clear throughout 6 years of exclusive dating that this is not something she enjoys or will do without visible revulsion.
@46: Possible, but being massively insecure and depressed and unwilling/unable to change what she dislikes about herself and her life is enough. Molestation doesn't have to factor in.
@EricaP: You find it hard to believe a woman would marry a guy she doesn't want to have sex with?
He should have DTMFA around 20 years ago.
There are a lot of good theories that have been expressed here and I am guessing the letter writer has considered a lot of them. As I wrote above, I think this is real and I will admit to be sympathetic to the writer. This will likely be highly criticized but I liken his situation to someone who is suffering from physical abuse and cannot figure out how to leave. And a big part of that is hoping/thinking that today will be different - today she'll initiate, today she'll willingly go down on him, today she'll say, "I really want to try this. I would LOVE you to do that", today she'll touch his arm and say "I love you in his ear". He has probably thought about the possibility that she was abused when young or that she's a lesbian or that she's screwing around and he's probably brought up all those possibilities over the many years only to be dismissed. The only thing that does not seem right is that this was her behavior was like this even when they were dating. But we don't know much about his background and experience from, what, 30 or so years ago.

I know other folks in exactly this situation. Exactly (including myself and if you go back to other comments I have made (I don't comment often), I have written about just how much I love my wife and desire her (and we've been together over 25 years (21+ married)) and yet I can identify with many of the points the LW makes). And the people who might write this letter are not uncaring, not blind to how naive they might sound. They are in a cycle - a frustrating cycle - that they cannot break because there is a lot that they love about their partners. Because his letter details all the ways in which she is awful, we think, obviously, "DTMFA. why stay with her? why didn't you leave years go?" but I could write something similar about any number of folks but it leaves off the "good parts" of the relationships and I have to believe that there are those (otherwise, he'd have left for other reasons).

I think his reluctance to consider therapy is because he has brought up the idea, was so soundly rebuffed that he "knows" (w/o really knowing) that it would be unproductive to the couple (his belief: even if he goes alone, how does it help him develop strategies for someone so uninterested in sex and intimacy with him?). He is writing because he KNOWS Dan will say to leave. He knows that is the only out (at least based on the limited nature of this letter). And sometimes someone needs that type of kick in the ass to make a big change. And yet he feels scared and remorseful. After all, he loves his wife (just as, at times, he feels intense disdain).
@50: Sorry, oral comes standard.

If you don't understand why a naive, inexperienced young person in love might think that their girlfriend might gradually open up sexually, then you don't have much knowledge of human behavior and feelings.

Yeah, he bears responsibility for his years of unhappiness for not leaving sooner. No doubt about that. But the proper advice for him is "You waited to long, but it's not too late, do the right thing for you and DTMFA now."

She is the bad actor here. She is not living up to her spousal duties. Even worse, she is trying to blame him for it, and shaming him for the normal, innocuous alternate methods he has taken to find some small measure of sexual gratification, if not fulfillment. Frankly, she is not marriage-worthy.
The letter is probably real. How do I know? I was almost that guy. I have put up with something similar but for less time. Why did I put up with it? I loved her and wanted to help her, thought I could make things better, did it for the kids, etc.

The end result was total misery and a desire to suck on a shotgun. I finally got the balls to end it whether I could afford it or not. Misery is not worth any price, I would rather be poor and happy. It took a shitload of therapy to get to that point. Funny thing is now my ex totally hates me because I have confidence again and totally don't give a shit. Really funny thing is that women are now really flirty with me because I don't care what they think and I am really relaxed talking to them. Really, really funny thing is that I have no interest in any of them because I am more interested in me right now. That may change in a few months but I have lots of confidence and don't give a bag of dicks about what anyone thinks of me now. Funny how that works out.
@55: I really like how you phrased your "proper advice".

But your last comment ("Frankly . . .") should be qualified, "for him". She might be fine for someone else who does not have any interest in sex (and there are those). Her bad qualities may be brought out by an incompatibility between her and the LW - if she has a better match, her mode of blaming, etc. may never come out. Just like a better match for the LW will be interested in his needs (as he is in hers) and mutually satisfying.
@55: "Oral comes standard" means that, if you are not into performing oral, you should expect conversations about that that go farther than "okay, I guess that was an out-there kinky request, consider it dropped." There are all sorts of things that "come standard" that some people don't enjoy--sometimes in the sense of doing them occasionally and with as much grace as possible for the right partner, and sometimes not at all. (Or occasionally, for physical or strong psychological reasons, something is just not possible.) If you don't like oral, or piv, or foreplay, or physical affection like hand holding and cuddling, then you have a reasonable expectation that a lot of partners will have a problem with that, and you will have to go into the reasons/limits/possibilities in a way that people who "sorry, not into pretending to be a maggot-ridden corpse" don't have to.

All the reasons to break up with her now were there when they had dated for 6 months. Or 2 years. Or 5 years. Sure, I see the potential that she's abusive. But usually people who are being abused have a long list of reasons for why the partner's behavior is actually reasonable and what they deserve, or why leaving is completely impossible, even though everyone outside the relationship sees the justification as crazy. He's got nothing but "Isn't this person UNREASONABLE?!! Validation here!!!" complaints, with zilch about why he wants to stay married, or got married, beyond a completely unexplained assertion that leaving would devastate them both, so he's just going to stay locked in rage and resentment.

He found a woman who, from the get go, would partake in no foreplay, was cold to his foreplay, was repulsed by performing oral. All of which he supposedly wants. They appear to have met in their late 20s and dated for 6 (six!) years: This isn't two 20 year olds who married as virgins and then discovered their problems. This isn't a couple who dated three months, got married due to an accidental pregnancy or looming deployment or other big "do it now" and discovered the sex didn't get better. Six years. And he decided to marry her. And now he explains that he definitely cannot personally go to even a single second of counseling, because he has no time. And he definitely cannot separate because, um, devastation. So his only choice is to remain locked into her, seething, convinced that he is both totally right and totally unable to do anything except ask people on the internet to confirm how he's 100% right.

If he's not willing to do a damn thing other than look for anonymous validation from people who only have part of the story, I don't see anything changing for him. Sure, guy, sounds like your emotional connection to this person sucks. Probably you should have broken up sometime in the past few decades. Do it, or find a way to be happy despite refusing to leave. *validation stamp*
"I eat pussy like a fat kid eats cake" coming from this guy is the worst thing I've ever read and I'm a lesbian.

Also @30, "I'm so glad I'm gay" comes off as the most insecure statement on earth; I'm glad I'm gay too, I love being a lesbian bc you know: I am exclusively sexually attracted to women so having sex w/ them is obviously something that I want/need.

But when gay men or lesbians throw this out there bc they're SO GLAD they don't have to deal w/ the opposite sex, it makes us seem like pathetic losers who are overcompensating for our feeling of powerlessness, and for the fact that we are in the extreme minority.

There are women who deprive their husbands of sex and mutilate them emotionally, and there are men who rape and dismember their female partners. That doesn't mean gay people somehow have the right idea. We're just gay.

I might add that just as I have no idea what it's like to be in love with & in a relationship w/ a man, you have no idea what it's like to be with a woman. Man-hating lesbians and misogynistic gay men are bad PR for us. Stop.

All too often in these comment threads people write as if complex human interactions can be reduced to a set of rules ("oral comes standard," he doesn't like ________, therefore he must be _________," "how dare someone change after marriage; if she knew what he was like, she shouldn't have married him; if she knew what she was like, she shouldn't have married anyone," I can't imagine such a situation, so this letter must be fake: there's too many details.")

Thank you, From the South (as in CA), for your insightful comments @54 and 57.

People are complicated. Marriages of multiple decades operate on many levels.
I, too, think that TED was asking for permission to leave. It's a scary thought; it's a big move. Those people who would blithely advise a man who's been married for over 20 years to a woman he loves don't seem to understand what is involved in leaving that partnership. In some ways, it's the total dissolution of a life. You lose family, sometimes friends, companionship, easier financial footing, unrestrained access to your children (even if they're adults, there will be the problem of who they visit on holidays, etc.), perhaps a sense of part of your identity. You may feel or be branded a failure. You may be considered, by society and even yourself, shallow and petty, with your priorities out of whack, for all that upheaval for sex.

I agree that it is probably a good thing for TED and his wife to split up so that both may end up in more compatible matches, but it might not work out that way. Not everyone finds their match. He will probably have more luck than she, in that normal, decent, passably attractive middle-aged men are hot commodities in the dating market (for normal, decent, passably attractive middle-aged women, not necessarily for 25-year-old-super-models), in a way that their female counterparts aren't.

But this marriage is a kind of slow-building, long-acting poison. The bitterness is spilling over into all aspects of TED's life. He should know that hard as breaking up a long-term marriage can be, life might be better afterwards. At the very least, the sense of self-loathing for putting up with a miserable situation and the depression that comes from apathy and inertia will be gone.

Alas, Action Kate @40, I don't think that these two are likely become best friends, although that would be the ideal outcome if they split up. She is likely to be furious and hurt, bitter that he dumped her for something as trivial (in her mind) as sex. If he ends up with a new girlfriend, or even if he just enjoys himself in the dating world, it is easy to see her feeling resentful, not happy for him.
Also, @55, doing the math he was in his early thirties when they married. As was she. I have no patience with this "Just a wee young child of 33" stuff.
I wonder how much of his perception of the situation twenty years ago has changed after being rebuffed and potentially emotionally abused for so long. Much like happy couple tend to remember their courtship as a whirlwind of sunshine and rainbows, perhaps he's exaggerated his misery then in his mind. That might explain why the fuck he married this woman.

This letter seeps hurt and bitterness. "You're sick and disgusting for masturbating" sounds, IMHO, like abuse. Get out now, LW. There's no salvaging this relationship now. Even if the wife could change, he likely now blames her for all that makes him miserable. They're both poisoned. End it.

I too considered the wife as a sexual abuse victim or lesbian. If so, I hope she gets the help she needs/what she really wants. But staying with her husband won't get her either at this point.
@30--It turns out you're married after all. You'll find her @59.
@46 Exactly what I was thinking as I read. But he's not her shrink, nor is he her punching bag. The responsibility falls on her to have opened up about any past traumas - certainly much earlier in the relationship/marriage. And you can't make someone get help, they have to want it for themselves, which she apparently doesn't. The fact that she hasn't told him of any past trauma indicates that there's either no history to speak of or they just aren't that close.
@ 60 - well said.

Holy shit his wife is an asssssshole and always has been, why the fuck would you marry into that shit.
@60 Don't mistake brevity for shallowness, or strength of recommendation for blitheness.

I can't speak for the others you are poking at, but I am aware of what leaving this marriage means to this guy and people like him. I know guys like him. In a different but similar way, I was one myself, albeit for a much shorter period of time.

I think that heis likely hyperaware of the downsides of the prospect of leaving, adn that has been overwhelming him and that is why he has stayed. That is why I didn't concentrate on or even enumerate the downsides. He doesn't need a wagon full of visions of the suffering he will undergo. He needs strong and simple encouragement. He doesn't need negativity or even analysis. He needs courage. And he needs to know that what she is doing is not okay and he should not put up with it for another minute, regardless of its genesis or the fact that he has for so long already.

@57: you are right, of course.
Dear Writer:

I was married to your wife. Take it from me, you have two options. 1. Stay with her and continue to resent her (and yourself) even more, or, 2. Leave the game playing, pity party, nag and find yourself a woman who enjoys what you enjoy. And for God's sake, don't get married again until you find all this kinda shit out about the new woman.

The reason she likes to flirt with other guys is because she'd like to fuck them, initiate sex with them and suck their dicks without being asked. She'll do that for them, right up to the point that she has their ring on her finger. She's like the greyhound at the dog track, once she catches the bunny she ain't gonna chase it no more. She caught you, then you abdicated your self respect by buying her bullshit about being too sick or too tired to fuck you. You did all the dishes and housework out of a sublimnal desire to save her energy in the hopes that she'd have an interest in fucking you. It ain't gonna happen.

So I suggest you DTMFA and place an ad on net for just the type of dirty little slut you've been wanking to all these years. Just don't be surprised when it's your wife who answers the ad, claiming to be the little slut you've always wanted her to be. Just don't marry her again, cuz when she's caught your ass (or someone else's) she'll go right back to being too sick or too tired to fuck you.
@59: "'I eat pussy like a fat kid eats cake' coming from this guy is the worst thing I've ever read and I'm a lesbian."

Still laughing my ass off as I type this.
@62: Rewriting the relationship so that everything that happened is your mate's fault is a strong indicator of imminent divorce. So it contempt. This letter drips with both.

@64: Dan has a rule about having your shit together before dating. (Not being perfect, just not being inclined to blame all personal failings on "But I'm so daaaamaaaaaged you can't ask that of me... wah.") But if you find yourself dating someone who has failed to follow this rule, the correct response is to break up. Not to adopt your own "but they're so damaged I can't reason with them, can't go to counseling myself, can't break up, I'm just eternally stuck with no choices" soundtrack.
If TED had the courage to leave his wife, his wife would stop pushing him around, in which case he should still leave her.
Ahhhh I see... you must include the spaces to get the translation. D'oh.
IPJ is the most sane and articulate person on here.
@67: Actually, Alanmt, you were not one of the people I was referring to. I didn't think you were being blithe at all.
I'm shocked at how many people thing TED's letter is fake. Consider this: I was an Ivy League educated, good-looking (though bald), well-dressed, successful man in his late 30s and I was in pretty much the same situation.

I asked. I requested. I begged. I pleaded. But so low was my wife's desire and so deep was her shame about sex that I could never even get as much as a single sentence about what she liked/wanted. While she would deign to throw a pity fuck at me every other month or so, her shame rubbed off on me because she so obviously didn't want to be doing it. And, because of the children (and other reasons owing to my own upbringing), I would have never left until they went to college (which is still some time off). So when she started an affair with someone else, in spite of all the misery (much of which was non-sexual, as well), I was devastated. Seriously devastated. We're talking suicidal ideation and planning.

I was very lucky to then meet a woman who actually knew how to express love both verbally and sexually, who made me feel wanted in a way I hadn't in 12 years of marriage. Though that relationship didn't last, it did make me realise how important sex is (I'd thought, being a smart guy, I was 'above' such base concerns) and how central to my happiness it is. Now I've got a partner who is the definition of GGG and though we have our issues both in and out of the bedroom, we have a fantastic sex life. So I understand why you don't leave, why you stay even when you're miserable, and how 5 years can turn into 20. At the same time, though, TED has to know that this marriage can't be saved and there is one and only one way out of this situation: DTMFA.
Dude needs to DTMFA ASAP. It's not just the lack of sex, but the lack of physical affection even. He's made to feel guilty and dirty for loving and wanting her, and that's just emotionally shredding. Love and sex should make a person feel good, crazy, I know. Just getting a bit of sex on the side won't make up for the outright lack of love and affection at home. That's just not how it works.
This not uncommon, I was in a marriage were verbal abuse was common. The verbal abuse did not start until we were married bought a house and had a kid. It is very hard to leave a relationship when you are going to loose everything. Your relationship,house,and kid all at the same time Everything you worked for and planned has gone down the tubes. If you don't get out right away the damage to your Psyche can be permanent. It me two years to get over this bullshit. Two years to stop looking at woman and thinking what kind of crazy bitch is she? During that time I went to a men's support group (my story was quite tame compared to the horror stories I heard there). a female therapist who described my ex a possible borderline personality disorder.
Does it matter whether TED's letter is fake? The situation is incredibly common. Divorce is not the end of the world; my ex and I are ever so much happier now that we are divorced, and so is our high-school-age kid -- who congratulated us on our decision and said it was "about time."

I urge anyone in this situation to consider divorce, spend a year dating all kinds of people because it's WAY too soon to find your next life partner, spend another year just recovering and rediscovering yourself and all the things that are important to you, and only THEN be open to a new partner.

The man who -- like SO MANY OTHER MEN -- finds himself in a committed relationship one week after moving out from his marriage is moving way too soon. I have met a number of men in this situation, and most of them are interested in cheating on their new partner because they acted too quickly in the heady post-separation/post-divorce month. Relax! Enjoy being single!
@61: Seriously, she started off not enjoying sex? At 30? I wonder if both of them got together not because they envisioned a life together, but some form of strange "well, it's about time to get married and nobody else will love us" and they codependently just didn't break it off when they should've.
@52 what gave you that idea?

@79 that makes sense.
She's not a mother-fucker, she's just fucked up and it may not be her fault, but he still needs to dump her.
I have read letters like this first LW for years in Savage Love, and I wonder why no one ever suggests that the spouse with no sex drive might have been sexually abused as a child.

Child sexual abuse is almost never reported and even less frequently prosecuted (don't believe me, ask your local Children's Advocacy Center). There are appallingly high numbers of cases that never get reported. The creation of sex offender registries has caused a drop in reporting from within families. It's just one more thing to hold over a victim's head, "you don't want to see Daddy on the registry, do you?"

I wonder why no one ever brings it up when talking about adults who are so fucked up about sex? Talking dirty to strangers, but can't open her eyes to look at her husband during sex? That screams survivor of abuse to me.

I wish Dan would bring on one of his guest experts to talk about the adult survivors of child sex abuse.
@46, 82, etc.: That was the first thing I thought of while reading this, too. Then: She needs to get help. Then: He needs to get the fuck out.

Not to make too much light, but I also thought, "OMFG! Crazy dog lady!"
Ms Cute - As Mr Alan was the first to invoke OCS, I assume that's why he thought himself addressed.
Ms H @59 - I'll half agree. Your penultimate sentence is fine, as is the penultimate paragraph. And Mr Montex's sentiment is a tricky one at best. At least, though, it was expressed as, "I'm glad I'm X," rather than, "I'm glad I'm not Y."

But there is a difference between being anti-women (or anti-men) and accepting that there are logistical advantages (and disadvantages) to heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, etc. and that some of us have the lucky privilege of being extraordinarily well suited to our orientations. Your example is circular, but, just to give one that's widespread, someone with a powerful desire to have babies could reasonably be glad not to be homosexual.
@82, shut the fuck up!!! There's nothing in his letter about childhood sexual abuse. If his wife was a victim, based on her other abusive behaviors toward him, I'm pretty damn sure she'd have played that card already.

Fact: Sex offender registries haven't caused a decline in reporting abuse, that's bullshit. The fact of the matter is, despite what we are all subjected to everyday by the media, is that the rate of childhood sexual abuse has decreased dramitcally over the years as people have learned to speak up about it.

Fact: Yes, some people are victims of childhood sexual abuse. Factually, most of those people go on to live normal uneffected lives, if you're interested in facts that is. Some have emotional scars, not all, not most, not even many...

Fact: Why not face the fact that there are just some bat shit crazy people out there. People who make up shit to get pity. They don't care what they say, or about whom they say it, they are just emotionally abusive and in their unquenchable desire for attention and pity, they'll say or do anything to get it.

Fact: My ex claimed to be a victim of sexual abuse as a child and as an adult. She claimed her grandfather abused her, but as it turned out, he died before she was born. She also claimed that she was violently gang raped by 3 dudes. Did she ever report it to the police? No. Did she go to the hospital? No. When did it happen? The answer changed as she couldn't keep her facts straight. Where did it happen? Same as previous answer.

Fact: She also claimed her prior husband, a Dr., pimped her out to his other doctor friends....another lie. She also claimed to have had 6 miscarriages while we were married....nope, she had six abortions as it turned out.

She had a pretty convincing story and made for a sympathetic figure, unfortunately, as time and experience eventually revealed, she was just a manipulative, abusive person, who'd do anything, even abort 6 pregnancies, just to get pity.

So please, don't pin every person's problem on the allegation that they were abused as a child, because most of the time they are just fucked up people. Not victims, but victimizers.
If we can take the LW at his word, he loves her, and was miserable without her. And apparently she feels the same about him. So let's suppose he gets a backbone from reading all these comments and tells her she needs to change or he's gone.

What if that cold bucket of water in the face wakes her up and she realizes that she really does have a badly distorted attitude toward sex, and that she needs to fix it. (What are some resources that he could point her to that would help her come to that realization?)

Assuming they really love each other and want to make things work, what could she and they do? How can someone who finds sex uninteresting and squicky, *at best*, get turned on?

I was near there myself due to some combination of low self-esteem, boredom, menopause, and taking for granted my husband -- who was amazingly patient and kind about it for several years.

What woke me up was 1) him revealing to me a very mild kink that he was ashamed of, and 2) my reading all the way back through Savage Love weekly letters (that was before I knew of the SLotDs, or I'd never have reached the beginning).

The reading of SLotD archives both confirmed my notion that his kink was indeed nothing to get worked up about, *and* somehow awoke my libido. This was early last fall. Since then we've talked and talked, and opened up to each other about our tastes and secrets and what intrigues us, and so far my libido hasn't dropped back off (though his has, dammit).

Can we generalize anything from this that might help the LW and his wife?
Whoops, need an Edit option. Penultimate paragraph should begin "The reading of Savage Love archives..."
@87, you pulled the rug out from under me with your aside: "(though his has, dammit)" Is it back to where it was during all those years when he was "amazingly patient and kind"? Do you think that's his normal? Is it possible that there's another shoe waiting to drop, not the "very mild kink" he has mentioned, but some other one he is still scared to mention? Does he know that you wish you could have sex more often? Have you guys discussed expanding your definition of sex so that it includes things that don't bother him but do excite you?
Ms Erica - an excellent cross-examination. Keep this up and I shall have to start calling you Phyllida, or Portia.

I'm curious about your skepticism about his amazing patience and kindness. Do you suspect gaslighting?
@89 and @90: Much as I'd love to make this about me, Dan chose not to use my letter about what's going on with me and my husband . I really did want to just raise a point that didn't get much, if any, discussion, about the possibility that the LW's wife could 'reform' if motivated, educated and led gently.
Whoa! Again with the need for an edit. At the end of my first sentence there, I had "/passive-aggressive whine" in angle brackets. Which the comments software took too literally as html code and hid.

That'll teach me to get all cute and snarky.
@TinaHD, much is possible if the person wants to change. But here there's no evidence the LW's wife wants to change, and I don't think an ultimatum will bring her around. ("Love my cock or I'll leave.")

vennominon@90, I don't suspect gaslighting; I was suggesting him might have been delighted with the low levels of sex, rather than patient about her lack of interest.
edit: he might have been delighted
@82: "I have read letters like this first LW for years in Savage Love, and I wonder why no one ever suggests that the spouse with no sex drive might have been sexually abused as a child. "

Because we already went through the "repressed memory" goddamned witch-hunt fad in the seventies and we don't need it coming back in its full horror. We intentionally leave it out unless otherwise mentioned because people are very very susceptible to false memory when encouraged by "well-meaning" others.

There are a myriad of reasons why someone is insecure or just doesn't like sex with their partner that don't involve rape. Guessing that first, unprompted, is not helpful.
Ms Erica - Fair enough, and highly plausible. You do cross-examine well; that was a sincere compliment.
@96 :-)
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