I would advise him to be honest about what he needs, and if she can't agree to that, then they should have an honest divorce.
He doesn't say if they have kids at home, but I think I agree with @1. Let her know her choices. We stay together and I find sex outside the house, or you make a real effort to figure out what killed your sex drive and try to fix it. If neither of those are options for you, then we need to talk about a divorce. Maybe have her read Dan's book first.
Presumably he doesn't want to end the marriage - but if she's gonna be all "I don't want sex AND I don't want you going elsewhere," that sure sounds like a job for Don't Ask, Don't Get Caught to me.
Couples therapy?
Would handjobs along with feigned interest do it for him?
I'm with 1. A dear friend is in a similar situation; some people just aren't cut out for Don't Ask, Don't Get Caught. I say LW needs to take a clear-eyed look at himself, his wife and his marriage. If he thinks he can live with a DADGC policy with reasonable satisfaction, do it. If he thinks he would be too worried about getting caught or too eaten up with guilt, he needs to have a come-to-Jesus convo with the wife.
Sounds like it's possibly a hormonal change? Perhaps menopause? He says she went to her doctor, but perhaps a second opinion is in order?
Encourage her to see her doctor. She's probably in perimenopause. Even if hormone therapy doesn't work to improve her libido, she's got nothing to lose by talking to her doctor, and plenty to gain.

I don't think that lying about going elsewhere for sex is the way to go though. It seems like she isn't that interested in the relationship if she's so cold about sex. There is more to this than meets the eye for sure. Couples counselling could get them to a place where either he can honestly seek sex elsewhere, or they can break up without him having to (in her eyes) take all the blame for being a cheater.
Throwing the go ahead and cheat card out not he table so quickly, wow, Dan messed up here.I read that she went to the doctor and he asked her "questions" but I get the sense he was not honest and didn't explain to her what her attitude (unenthused to passive love-doll) is doing to him. Without a real talk and warning her clearing and directly, you will be a CPOS if you cheat.
I'm sorry, but a woman's libido does not just disappear for no reason. Either she's fucking someone else or she's in menopause, or something else has happened to cause her to change. Get a marriage counselor and find another doc - preferably a Gyn who specializes in hormonal imbalances and libido issues.
Gonna have to disagree and say that honesty is the best policy with your spouse, if for no other reason than potential STDs. It'll be a painful conversation, but hubby has got to tell the misses he needs to get some elsewhere if she won't provide.
When she says "I don't want to have sex with you and I don't want you to go elsewhere for sex" that's his opening to tell her that that's not acceptable to him. And they discuss until they come up with something that IS acceptable to both of them, or they split. One spouse doesn't get to make unilateral decisions that are not OK with the other spouse, and letting her get away with that kind of statement is a big part of the trouble right there.

Before he cheats, he needs to go back to her and let her know he's not happy with the current situation. She has, essentially, changed the terms of their marriage on him, and she has to be made aware that that can't be done without consequences. If there is good will and good faith on both sides - if this is in fact a marriage worth saving - they'll be able to come up with something.
I'm wondering if there's a mistake in the second paragraph, because I'm having trouble figuring out how "pretty much stopped" and "1-2 times per week" go together.
I'm gonna go with the masses here. It seems like there have been inadequate frank discussions about this to jump right to DADGC. Does the LW's wife admit this is a problem? Have doctors been brought into the discussion? Etc.

Dan's response opens with "If you've ruled out depression, a libido-killing reaction to birth control, a hormonal issue..." In that case, sure. She's being unfair and do what you need to. But I see no sign that any of this has been determined.
She's still fucking him 1-2 times per WEEK and he's equating that to the sex having "pretty much stopped"? And this decline only happened after 15 years?! What a fucking crybaby.

Also, maybe she's too loving to say so, but perhaps he could stand to channel some of that energy into hitting the gym, picking up some new massage skills, learning to speak French, playing the drums, making wine, or taking on some other form of interesting self-improvement.
@16 Your first line is what I was thinking at first, too, but she doesn't seem to be actually enjoying that 1-2 times per week. I'd say that still constitutes a problem for both of them.
She wants a divorce but doesn't want the bad karma of asking for one. It will only get worse as she she will find more ways to make you want out. If there are no kids don't even hesitate, get a divorce. If you lay out the ultimatum "do something or we get divorced" she may pretend for a while, but it will just be to drive you even more to where you leave. If there are kids you need to decide how much you can stand.
I agree with @10 and especially @16. Sex 1-2 times/week after 15 years is nowhere near "pretty much stopped". Her saying "I don't want sex and I don't want you going elsewhere for it" isn't great or realistic, but I question how he has articulated his needs in the conversation. It's time for them both to be completely honest about this being a crossroads in their relationship, and decide together how to proceed. it could be her giving him a pass to go elsewhere; it could be her having (or feigning) more interest when they have sex and him sucking it up and getting less (but still plenty of) sex. Compromise goes both ways.

Or, he could just take this advice as the free pass he was looking for, and cheat until he gets caught, blame her for everything, and that's that.
@20 Nah, just a typo and an unclear pronoun. See if this helps:

"Throwing the 'go ahead and cheat card' out on the table so quickly"

"I read that she went to the doctor. I read that the husband then asked her 'questions' but I get the sense the husband was not honest in his questioning and didn't explain to her what her attitude (unenthused to passive love-doll) is doing to him."
TIL: faking it is okay as long as you are doing it to please a partner and prevent them from cheating.

They're having sex 1-2 times a week. He's guilt tripping her about not giving it to him more, and exaggerating that they aren't having sex at all, so, for her even the 1-2 times a week has become a drag.

I'm in the "more is better camp" and can get kinda pissy past 5 days, but even I can see that this guy is being an asshole and making things worse. You don't ask for a free sex pass when you are still getting regular sex.
To me the questions is 'why is saving the marriage so important'? Why would you want to stay married to someone who refuses to fulfill your needs?
Ask HER if there is something HE could do to improve his performance. If you've put up with mediocre sex for 15 years, maybe faked an orgasm or two, had no response to your suggestions, you might get tired of sex too.
Dan, I loved your book but I totally disagree whenever you say to go ahead and cheat, just don't get caught. It seems odd to me that you tell new husbands who are not getting any sex to suck it up--sometimes you have to go without for a while (maybe a year!) until new mom recovers (good advice!) but you don't consider telling the letter writer the same thing. As other commenters have pointed out, this wife probably has a medical issue that could get straightened out; also, he is not exactly starved sexually if he's getting it once or twice a week. In my opinion he's a whiny bitch--omigod, I'm having only half as much sex as I used to, so I want to cheat. Apparently his wife was just a sperm receptacle, not a human being he made a serious commitment to. It's like he's tried nothing and he's all out of ideas.

Honesty in this situation is really the only moral choice. I agree that the wife can't say "No sex from me, but also no sex from anyone else." (Again, he's not actually getting NO sex.) He needs to be honest about what conditions are not acceptable to him. To cheat and not tell her is the coward's way out. Be a man, for God's sake, grow a pair, and have that painful conversation. That's what grown-ups do--they don't sneak around trying to pull one over on the parents.

I speak as a wife who's been married for 35 years (!!!) and we'd had sex for five years before the wedding. Forty years of sex with the same guy gives me some perspective. Desire goes up; desire goes down. Sometimes you are both in perfect sync sexually; sometimes not at all. There can be stretches where you have lots of sex, and others where you can't be bothered. What does it say about the value you place on this relationship if you want to seek greener pastures the minute things get rocky? How will you ever grow as a marriage partner or a person if you can't discipline yourself to push through these hard times to find the reward that lies beyond?

And there ARE rewards! Did forty years of sex with only one person sound dull? Well, for about six months last year we just had vanilla sex, and only maybe every two weeks. Sounds like a late middle-aged couple, right? But then my husband started giving me wild kinky spankings, and I ran out and bought a strap-on, and let me tell you, it's crazy around here again. Maybe the wife just needs to find out what turns her crank. Maybe this husband could help her find that, if he stops that wandering eye of his. I've been with my husband since the 6th grade, and I don't just love him more than ever now--I love having sex with him more than ever. I'd tell this guy not to throw in the towel so soon. It may take some work and time to revitalize their relationship, but their marriage could end up being so much better than he can now imagine.
This letter is disingenuous. I stopped reading after Horny Husband said 1-2 times a week. Horny Husband is a pervert and very clever writer who only wanted to see his mess of a diatribe on The Stranger. He won. Next stop, 4chan. TOOT TOOT!
"She will have sex with me if I ask but she just lays on her back and tells me to, "Do your thing.""

Love all the people who think he should be satisfied with the above.
*tilts back the brandy, cuts the cigar*

I had a friend that could have written this. Everything was about how much, and in how much VARIETY he could get sex. He wanted it on the kitchen floor, in the shower, in the shed, in the backyard, in the bedroom, in his desk chair. His dick was running the show in his life. The guy had no friggin' hobbies. His libido actually finally started trending down when he started becoming physically active. Being friends with this guy, I realized that plenty of people that are over-sexed compared to their partner desperately need to go outside and burn off their energy and find a satisfying intellectual pursuit so that sex isn't their main source of recreation.

Boring job at a desk is exactly like a boring classroom. Sex is recess. But a hobby, walking the dog, training for a marathon, those can be recess too.
THIS, right here, is why Craigslist M4M is FILLED with cheating closet cases! I really hope people read this entry and find out for themselves how rampant this problem is. Thousands of married men are cheating on their wives with other men, yet hiding in the closet pretending they are straight. Hell, I'll bet many men reading this right now are guilty of the same thing. About 75% of Craigslist M4M posters are closet cases, sneaking around behind their wife or girlfriend's back, sucking cock. As an out gay man, I find this pathetic and angering. Sometimes I feel like the only out gay man who finds this intolerable.

Craigslist has two hookup sections for men who want other men: The "M4M" section of the personals and the "Casual Encounters M4M" section where most of the closet cases go. They think the "Casual Encounters M4M" section is "safer" because they feel they don't have to admit they are gay. "Hey, it's just a casual encounter man...I'm no fag or nothin', I'm just helping a buddy out, getting off together." To that I say FUCK YOU CLOSET CASE.

It's a HUGE problem, most of it enabled by Craigstlist (where you can post anything you want - Craigslist doesn't care). Married men who identify as "straight" but cheat on their wives with other men is the new black - it's the new trend. Don't believe me? Head to Craigslist personals, check the "Casual Encounters M4M" section and do a keyword search for these terms: MWM (married white male), "discreet", "can't host", "newbie", "straight" or "str8" or the word "wife". Those are the words that will garner you the best results, the most closet cases hiding from their clueless wives. If you are a woman reading this and you are dating or married to a man, you owe it to yourself (and your health risks) to suspect him no matter how "straight" you think he is. Most women have no idea their husbands are cheating liars and closet cases.

It's really, deeply frustrating for an out gay man such as myself who finds these cheating, lying closet cases to be nothing but gutless cowards who enjoy the benefits of appearing as a "straight" hetero dad and husband, while sneaking around being "gay for a day" when they feel like it. Also, tons of businessmen visiting on trips post looking for "twinks" (gotta be 18-22 only) - as if they deserve a hot young boy after a lifetime of cowardice. Fucking closet cases.

This poor sap is now stuck with a woman who may be a sweet, nice person, is no longer interested in sex - a common problem with women and men. I'll bet you that he is on Craigslist right now looking for another dude to hookup with. He probably calls himself a "MWM" and says "gotta be discreet" and "can't host". Fucking coward.

Why am I so bothered by this? Simple: If every closet case came out and admitted they were gay or bisexual - society would change and not be so intolerant and full of prejudice. Sure, marriage equality is moving forward, but as a gay man I have to come out constantly - even something as simple as saying "my boyfriend" instead of "my girlfriend" outs me - I don't mind and I'm very proud to say so, but its still a "coming out". It's constant and sometimes difficult, but I do it daily. If every coward who is sneaking around behind his wife's/girlfriend's back had the balls to deal with themselves and be open and honest with others, then the pain of being a sexual minority would be lessened.

It's about moving forward as a society. Progressing into a more equal, balanced civilization. Craigslist is FULL of closet cases, and worse yet - tons of them vote against MY rights to live equally, yet we are both gay! ENOUGH. Cowardice is no longer an excuse. It's 2014. Deal with it. Accept it. Quit lying to others and sneaking around - even if you are truly bisexual, come out of the closet and help break down the walls. It's not a big deal to you because you are hiding in a safe place where no judgement will fall on you. THAT'S why you are IN the closet - you don't have the guts to deal with conflict.

For those of us who have had the guts to be strong and be out, we are tired of seeing thousands of men on CL and elsewhere hiding in the closet and retarding society's progression towards a equal and JUST civilization.

Whew! What a rant. I realize I'm probably preaching to the converted but this dude who sent the letter in is RIPE to be a "newbie" on Craigslist M4M and I'm just tired of it.

30: w...t...f?!

Given that this guy happily fucked a woman 3-5 times a week for fifteen years, would probably love to keep fucking that woman if only she were into it, and is even put out that she won't even let him go down on her, what on earth makes you think that he's a "closet case?"
@30: I don't know who the hell you're preaching to, but just because you're trawling for gay dudes on craigslist but getting closet cases doesn't mean the LW is in the closet. There's nothing to suggest he's gay. Poor communicator maybe. High Libido, clearly. Very self-centered. Probably not quite the prize he imagines himself to be.

The closet might be involved - FOR HER. He's 42, she's 35 to 44, presumably. I've had more XGFs come out at 36 then he can count on one hand. She could well be seeing some hot guy who gets her hotter than he ever did. But she could have figured out a year ago that she really prefers girls. Sex with a hairy biped is not nearly as tenable as it was before she knew what she was missing. It fits her behavior. Married lesbians will stay in a sexless, eventually loveless marriage for the all the reasons they were self-closeted in the first place - church, family, prefectionism, worried about the kids, fear of change, etc. Her behavior could also be explained by hormonal issues, depression, a guy on the side, or his becoming a total slob.
@19 "Or, he could just take this advice as the free pass he was looking for, and cheat until he gets caught, blame her for everything, and that's that."

That's it! Yep!

I did not believe this letter as I read along and this paragraph puts into words my visceral reaction of "bullshit."
FFS. No mention of children, and I'd assume he'd've said something if there were. Draw up the papers now; this marriage is over.

(I'm normally the first to say "suck it up" to people in their 40s who are complaining about "only" getting laid once/twice a week, but the letter makes it pretty clear that it's gone from "often with enthusiasm" to "much less often and more to the point with no enthusiasm at all." Not everyone is a prize-winning essayist, people: read for content and ideally with a little charity.)
Yes, I know it was a rant - sorry for bogarting the comments. Yes, I expected puzzled straight people thinking "Dude is straight....he's not looking for guys" yet that's why I posted: to bring attention to this issue. It's the endless amount of "straight" guys who are out there living a second life. I'm not saying THIS particular guy is cheating on his wife with men...but it's the classic circumstance as evidenced by endless posts online from married men who are "no longer getting it at home."

Yeah, yeah - it's not life or death or world peace, and maybe there are better forums to post this rant, but...well, it's done now and out there. It's the activist in me, the Larry Kramer, that makes me upset about this issue. Pardon me for my passion, but I'm sick of closet cases living double lives.

It's a big social issue and there are too many clueless women and girlfriends who, while well meaning, have no idea that their "straight" fella is sucking cock when he says he's "going to be late coming home".

If it's all out in the open, to wife and husband, fine. Sadly, most of the time it's not and I'm hoping that at least one Slog reader will understand what I'm saying and not freak out on me.

Going strictly by the numbers, I don't give him much sympathy. Even taking the most extreme of his ranges, going from five times a week to once a week is nowhere near "pretty much stopped."

On the other hand, going by her attitude and actions, I can see how his sex life is in essence over, when she lays there like a dead fish and tells him to "do his thing" while clearly wanting him to get it over with. He might as well get himself a Real Doll to lay there and let him fuck the crap out of its unresponsive, passive, floppy body. Actually, a Real Doll would be better, because at least it _isn't_ putting out the vibe that his wife is.

That, and the hypocrisy of "I find you sexy and attractive but I just am not interested in sex anymore." Which was quickly followed with a quick, "I don't want you to go elsewhere for sex."

He should tell her that he finds her sexy and attractive, but he just isn't interested in paying for her food any more. Oh and he doesn't want her to go anywhere else to eat. Don't worry, she isn't actually going to starve. But from here on out it's a vitamin pill once a week and all the poi she can stomach.
In other words, going from five times a week with enthusiasm to once a week with none, yes, that counts as "pretty much stopped" -- and the commenters who conveniently ignore her reversal in attitude and her horrifying comments to him need to read it again, slower this time.

"I just am not interested in sex anymore" is fundamentally incompatible with "I don't want you to go elsewhere for sex." If you can't be bothered to participate, then you have no right to be bothered when someone else does. You don't get to have it both ways. You just don't.

I understand the motivation -- e.g., I'm scared that if I let you be with someone who actually shows you the enthusiasm you deserve, you will fall in love with her and leave me -- but it is ultimately self-fulfilling. If you are scared of losing him, you should be scared he doesn't boot your ass out the door for being a selfish hypocrite; never mind how any hypothetical girlfriend on the side might turn out to be better than you. Yes, falling in love with the new girlfriend is always a risk, but your actions are pretty much guaranteeing that he will slowly come to loathe you.
The most telling factor is her statement, "I just am not interested in sex anymore." That is the sort of thing said by someone who thinks that being simply not interested in sex within the context of a marriage is just fine, thank you very much. She isn't interested in making things better. It it was a hormone imbalance from her birth control and she actually gave a shit, she would be saying, "let's get my prescription checked." Is she saying anything that sounds like she wants the situation to "improve?" No, from her perspective everything is exactly as it should be.

This is not going to get better, Letter Writer. My opinion is do whatever the fuck you want. The outcomes are all pretty much the same:
-- stay with her and put up with her tactics until your self esteem is in ashes and you loathe her, then eventually divorce when you can't stand the thought of one more day with her.
-- divorce her right now because she is being a shit.
-- insist she open the marriage, and let her divorce you, because clearly she isn't going to go for that.
-- stay with her but take a lover, at least until you get caught and she divorces your ass.
-- take a lover and be really, really careful. If Wifey is really as wonderful as all that, maybe she's worth the risk.
Something clearly has changed. After all that time together I'm surprised and disappointed that he won't trouble shoot this more. Depression could also really be a factor - she might not have the energy. Maybe a trip to the doc and the shrink to sort that out would be helpful, and as her spouse he has a responsibility to help her when she can't help herself. Isn't that what marriage is for?
I had a woman client going through the same thing with her husband.

It was destroying her, and recommended she get a divorce.

"But he's my best friend!" she cried.

"Maybe so, but he's not your husband," I replied.

Didn't see her for a year, when she told me that she'd finally told her husband she was leaving and getting a divorce.

"Give me three more months, I'll change!" He promised.

And lo and behold he did (I would have bet against it, but it happened.)

So I'd recommend the divorce papers be waved about, to see if wifey makes a more concerned effort to refind her libido.
Wow there is comment harshness today. What is the woman supposed to do if her doctor is telling her nothing's wrong? Dan could have at least suggested she and her husband take a look at the resources on Emily Nagoski's blog, which has extremely useful science on why women's sex drives can tank. Suggestions for a process where the couple can really work out what's going wrong would be more helpful than leaping straight to the cheating question.
1-2 a week. After 15 years. That is so above the average.

Thinking that sex 5+ times a week, swinging from chandeliers, after decades, is what is killing relationships. I could have sex 3-5 times a day once. Irrelevant now.
Honestly, I've known a few women who acted like this after they were raped and didn't want to tell anyone. Tread lightly.
LezzieInTheRye might be onto something.
@43: While I know people like that as well, if you can't tell your husband of 15 years you've been raped, the relationship's over.
@35: Slog is not the place to look for an audience who will say "Closeted gay men seek sex on CraigsList? NOOOOOOOOO!"

Jesus M.F. Christ, terrible advice all around. I'll put in the standard plug for my book here--The Orgasmic Diet--for the wife, but this idiot doesn't understand female anatomy. Assuming the wife is near his age, her capacity for clitoral orgasms will decrease, on average. That's perfectly normal. If they are having sex one to two times a week and she has an orgasm every time, no wonder she's not interested in sex. That's like the come-eating guy who lost interest in eating his own spunk right after coming.

The answer is to give the wife lots of foreplay and lots of physical attention like massages so she doesn't feel neglected, but cut back on the oral sex and other stimulation of the clitoris. If she cuts back her orgasm rate to a rate normal for her, she will be more interested in sex. If she orgasms two to four times a month, instead of twice a week, her desire for orgasms will lead her to be more sexual.

Also try my diet--vaginal orgasms usually the woman's capacity for sex is much higher than the man's capacity. It would be nice to see this grade-A douchebag get his just desserts when his wife is demanding sex three times a day from him.
I find it very troubling he seems to have a lack of concern for such a radical change in her behavior. It's all about him and his dick.

If I suddenly told my husband what this woman told hers, he'd move heaven and earth to find out what was wring with me....because something would be wrong.

This guy doesn't seem to care about her.

If there is such a radical guesses

Pre diabetes (yes, it can cause this)
Systemic, but largely asymptotic disease

Having an affair

Decided she's gay

Was assaulted (sexually or otherwise)....does she allow you to touch her or kiss her when sex is not the point? Do you still cuddle and show affection?

Had trust betrayed by you or someone else in another area and this is displacement.....

Mental health issues.

If she was an enthusiastic sex partner for 15 years and she suddenly stopped....there is an external's not just her deciding to screw you by not screwing you.
I think 29 is onto something (sex is his hobby) along with 25 (maybe it hasn't been fun for her for a while). At least worth considering--as someone noted, the phrasing "pretty much stopped" for 1-2 times a week, followed by the diminished variety, followed only at the end with the extreme unenthusiasm, is odd. (Or as avast says, could be he isn't the best essay writer.) The plus side of it being something he's doing wrong is that it means it's something he could address. (Though 40 may have a point: if it's clear you'll leave over X, people have been known to suddenly realize they CAN tackle X.)

As others have said, I think Dan went way too fast to "it's okay to cheat." Spend more time trying to figure out what's wrong--asking her to see a doc for a second opinion is obvious. Pointing out that you're 45 and never having sex again that isn't offered as a hated chore on a par with cleaning the toilet is obvious. I get that some people don't want to ever have sex again nor to have an explicit conversation about opening the marriage, but it takes a lot more carefully worded indirect "If you ever cheated on me I certainly wouldn't want to know, and I certainly wouldn't want it to be with (insert unacceptable category)."

It's entirely possible that she thinks sex 1-2 times a week represents plenty of effort on her part, not implicit permission to outsource. And it's clear something else is going on with her, whether that's an affair or depression or that the sex all over the house and yard 4 times a week was never that fun for her.

@48: If I suddenly told my husband what this woman told hers, he'd move heaven and earth to find out what was wrong with me....because something would be wrong.

This. Dan went way to fast to "oh well you asked, now lie to her and cheat."

And 48's list of possible issues is very good.
Edit: TL;DR - BTDT, agree 100% with Dan: "cheat" discreetly.

Ugh. Ok, I've been exactly where this LW is. I ultimately wound up divorced. Here's the thing: yes, sure, he can let himself off the hook in terms of guilt, either about "cheating" to get his needs met or dumping her because he needs to get his needs met. Because you know, dumping someone you pledged "for better or worse" to is pretty much on the same moral level as sexual infidelity. Her lack of desire for sex with him (whether or not it's just him is irrelevant here) is in essence dumping him at least sexually: we can be friends but I'm not going to fuck you anymore.

And so let's just address this whole trope from the die-hard monogamists which @1 immediately launched in with:

"I would advise him to be honest about what he needs, and if she can't agree to that"'s the issue with that: you cannot fairly ask nor reasonably expect something of your partner that they are incapable of giving you. She does not want a divorce - she probably would have told him it was fine to get his needs met elsewhere if she did - and she does not want sex. She will agree in word (under duress) to his terms and then give him fake enthusiasm and "service" - at least when she can remember to keep the act up and her "face" on. And then the LW is screwed: she's "agreed" with the most passive-aggressive "NO" in the world.

That kind of fakery is rejection a thousand times worse than getting shot down by a woman laughing at the size of your penis. Masturbation is vastly preferable to fakery like that or worse "are you done yet"?

Yes, 17 year old men will fuck a pie - hell, anything will get them hard - but that does not mean that all men at all times are just so horny anything will do - anything that will merely acquiesce, no enthusiasm needed.

So yeah, Dan is right - she's checked out and doesn't want to deal with reality, so by all means, get some on the side from someone who is excited to fuck you.

Here is why I wound up divorced: it is true that not everyone is cut out to lead a double life. It's tiring and the constant stress of the threat of getting caught and sneaking around can get old. Sure, some people thrive on this, but for me, aside from the initial and occasional thrill of 'getting away with it', it just got old. I felt bad - not for fucking someone who was excited to fuck me - but for feeling like a constantly dishonest person.

There was no other reason to remain married either - we didn't (and weren't going to) have children - in fact, I decided I wanted children and we couldn't. There just wasn't enough left holding us together to keep putting up with occasional bad sex (her willingness to fake it and service me went way up when the threat of divorce became real, but even more: yuck).

Divorce was very hard on both of us - emotionally, financially, etc. It is hard on people - for marriages of any length, it's like being put through the wringer - even when you're the person who chooses to leave, and even if you feel a bit gleeful about being free.

So, I think the LW should give some serious thought to what else - aside from sex - the marriage gives him, and how important that is to him. He should also consider whether he's really gonna be able to sleep well given the stress part of sneaking around. Finally: his wife might be in a slump - it might not be permanent. She's approaching menopause, and once she pops out the other side, her drive might return. Maybe he ends the affair then and he and his wife pick back up. Or maybe there is just too much that does work - the sex is the only thing missing - in which case - as with so many other things in marriage - getting that one part of your life fulfilled elsewhere is the key to a good marriage. There is a general recognition that couples who maintain some separate elements of their identity - activities and interests which do not involve the spouse - are very very successful.

There is not an easy answer here, beyond the recognition that his wife has checked out of a big part of the marriage herself already, whether she is "choosing" to or not. People place too much emphasis on motive sometimes, when the practical harm is the same, regardless.
Ok, 'cause I'm long-winded, this hits close to home, and I finally read all the other comments:

- those who have pointed out that all paths lead to divorce anyway (as in my case) are also correct - see @38 in particular.

- if the change was sudden, she might have a lover of her own or just have come to dislike her husband and wants a divorce herself without asking for it - I've had GFs do this, but not my ex-wife - @18 covers this nicely.

- she might not actually want the financial/life complications of divorce but has checked out.

@43 - it's an interesting suggestion, but she really does need to clue him in or at least a doctor - to be proactive about addressing her own recovery.
@30 and what are we supposed to do to 'fix' this 'problem'? Track down this guy's and forcefully out them? That seems like a douche move to me. Find their likely non-existent wives and girlfriend and tell them? What happens when it turns out that some of them are straight guys being assholes, bi-sexual, or in open marriages?

Honestly if this truly bothers you why not stop reading the M4M category on Craigslist?
He does seem kind of an ass, with his notion that 1-2 times / week is "stopped", but her attitude toward sex is the biggie, of course. As others have said, if he feels like everything else in the marriage makes it worth preserving, then 1) communication is key, 2) patience along with communication is crucial, 3) she needs to see another doctor -- one with some expertise in the sex side of sexual organs, and one with whom she can open up, 4) whether or not something's wrong physically, they should probably be seeing a counselor together, and:

5) (the point of my posting, else I'd just be reiterating what others have already said) it's perfectly reasonable to think that she herself doesn't really understand what's going on with her, and that she's hoping that the reluctant service she's providing is adequate, and is in serious denial about that fact that it isn't. If so, a wake-up call is in order, and it may take the serious "I can't go on like this, I really mean it, and I've made an appointment for us with a counselor, because if we can't fix this together, I may not be able to stick it out" talk to get her past her denial and to recognize that her marriage is at stake (as @49 says "if it's clear you'll leave over X, people have been known to suddenly realize they CAN tackle X").

Here's the thing: I had gradually lost my libido, and my (older) husband's was flagging as well, though not as fast as mine. He was patient, at least in part because of his own flagging interest, but when he brought up missing sex, and confessed to a minor kink, I started reading and thinking about sex a whole bunch trying to understand, and in the process found myself more interested in sex than I had been in a decade (since our "new lovers" glow had faded). **A lost libido can be recovered.**

In my case, though, it happened accidentally -- as a by-product of reading (mostly the Savage Love archives) to understand my husband and to clarify my own feelings about his kink. I don't really understand why or how. So I can't testify that trying to recover an interest in sex under threat of the loss of my marriage would have worked. Hence the importance of patient communication, I think, and an attitude that this is their shared problem.
Wow. A lot of projecting going on in this thread, by people trying to find some way to blame him for this problem and by people trying to impose on him a much higher burden on figuring this out than on the woman herself who is having the libido problem. Sounds pretty sexist.

She is not living up to her marital obligations. Sex comes standard. Oral sex comes standard. I think he ought to confront her honestly and directly first, and let her have the choice of divorce or satisfaction elsewhere, but Dan's advice is a viable alternative.
He says his wife has lost interest in sex, but could it be that she has only lost interest in sex with him? Whatever her reason - maybe she's having an affair? - she may have her hand poised above the destruct button on their marriage. If he gets caught having an affair behind her back, she will have justification for slamming that button down and he'll be the bad guy of the story. Honesty is the best policy here. They'll both be better off in the long run if all the cards are on the table now.
I was with @43--sounds like she had some sexual trauma that has killed it for her, but that she doesn't want to discuss with him. And everyone assumes she should tell him--maybe he was the perpetrator? The whole story is from his perspective, so we have no idea what's going on with her. Even if it wasn't a full-blown assault, he may have just crossed a line that killed something inside her. That would explain why she suddenly wasn't into sex, AND why she doesn't want to talk to him or her doctor about it.
Clearly, this common problem can only be solved by a printable flow chart poster.
1-2 times per week is pretty standard compared to most couples who have been together for a long time. Talk to her, and say that you're fine with the frequency (and you should be working on being okay with the frequency) but the readily apparent disinterest hurts you. Maybe she'll be willing to pretend for you. Also an option when she's not in the mood: hand jobs with feigned interest.
"About a year ago sex pretty much stopped, we went from having intercourse 3-5 times a week to 1-2 times per week."

I think there´s a typo in this sentence: and the second "week" was meant to be "month". That's not only because no one in their right mind would call 1 or 2 times per week "pretty much stopped" but also because in this case repeating the word "week" sounds unnatural. It would have been "from 3- 5 to 1-2 times per week" or "from 3 - 5 times per week to only 1 - 2" or something like that.
I'd add to @48's list that maybe after fifteen years the guy's become a fat, undesirable out-of-shape slob and she thinks she's being "kind" by not telling him? Why are we taking it for granted that it's only she who's not living up to her obligations in the marriage?

As others have said, they need to have a truly honest conversation. But the LW needs to be prepared for the real possibility that he might not like what he hears. The blame may definitely not all run one way, and if he just follows Dan's advice and runs out and cheats without having those difficult conversations, he truly is being a POS.
@57: So, we move from him being a guy whose wife won't even bother to fake enthusiasm (nor explore the reason for the change), to a clueless jerk and bad lover, to a possible rapist? That's just . . . breathtaking.

Let's please take for granted that he is not an abuser, because there's no evidence to suggest that he is. Now, if he had inadvertently crossed a line, they'd been married for over a dozen years by then, apparently having adventurous sex much of the time. It is on her to discuss it with him. If it's hard in person, then by notes, email, whatever. "Hey, you remember when we did XYZ, and then you added ABC? Well, that made me feel LMNOP."

This is on her to address. If it's a depression issue, peri-menopause, pre-diabetic, whatever it is, he can't care more about it than she does. He can't drag her to appointments. If she doesn't want to figure out what's going on, then it's the same situation as if she had cut him off simply because she chose to. That's the point he needs to start from.
Totally agree. And also she went to a doctor, who presumably knows about such factors as diabetes, menopause and depression and didn't just look at her pussy and declare that everything was normal. I mean, at the very least she should have had hormone tests done. If she lost her libido due to a medical condition, her hormones would be affected no matter what the cause.
I've been the fuck buddy of several men in this exact situation - their monogamous partners decided unilaterally that the two of them would be celibate, and my fuck buddies decided that they wanted to stay in their primary relationship, but they were not going to be celibate.

Both the sex part and the buddy part were really good with the men I settled into fuckbuddyhood with. I had years of pleasure with each of them, and from what I saw, my relationships with these guys helped their primary relationships work, rather than damaging them.

Good advice, Dan!
@63: I definitely would not assume that the doctor obviously thought of all the medical possibilities mentioned in the thread, and obviously did hormone tests.

@62: One person can't make the other person do anything, but they can act like things that are a big fucking deal are a big fucking deal and signs of a huge problem are signs of a huge problem. Rather than going straight to "Well THAT'S weird. But it should be okay for me to start looking for side action since I asked and (s)he said nothing was going on. Hey, my due diligence is done."

One thing a few people have brought up, that she may not understand why this is happening. Hearing from him just how big a deal it is, how different she is, how bad an effect this is having on their marriage, would quite possibly be the push she needs to figure it out. With depression, for example, feeling trapped and helpless to change anything is practically a defining element. Hearing from your trusted long-time partner "Hey! You're totally different, and this is really hurting me!" might be what is needed to go do something about addressing it. Hearing "Well, that's fine. I'll be working late Tuesday" probably won't make much dent.

(As for the sexual assault suggestion, that was in response to the "but what woman wouldn't tell her own husband she was assaulted" stance. Other reasons might be that she blames herself. (e.g. because she was drunk, or she knew he didn't like the guy.) I think the broader idea that there was a major violation of trust, possibly by him, and that's what crushed their sex life is worth his considering. And talking to her about.)
@49 @65 This situation didn't start last week. it's been going on for awhile, she knows it's a big deal, and it sounds like this guy has done everything HE can do to find out the underlying cause, and he's stumped. Is there more she can do? Yes. Does it sound like she's willing to do any of it? No.

So he's got the option of lifelong celibacy, divorce-then-partner-hunting-and-remarriage (always chancy), or a fuckbuddy or two.

This pattern happens all the time - there are marriages going through this in your own town right now. And from what I have seen, there's usually no one at fault, it just happens. The impulse to assign blame here causes much more damage than accepting the facts and moving forward with one of the available options.
@65 Because a licensed doctor obviously knows less about this stuff than a bunch of slog commenters? O.o Hormone tests are a pretty basic thing. I can't imagine how else the doctor could say that everything was normal.
Wow turns out me and my husband pretty much never have sex. Huh.
Snark aside, I don't think discrete cheating is going to work here like it might with a 2x/year marriage.
Either he's going to keep sleeping with his wife a few times a week (probably w/o condoms) and expose her to all the risk of STDs he's taking while supplementing his sex with outside parties or he's going to go from asking her for sex 3x/week to not asking at all and she's going to know something is up.
Then they'll end up having the conversation they should just go ahead and have now before he gives up the upper hand of being the Affection-Starved Spouse by making himself The Cheater. And unfair as it may be , that's what will happen.
@66: Sure, it's not unheard of that one person loses interest in sex and would like their partner to either a) be fine with no sex again ever; b) create a believable simulacrum of that.

On the other hand, there is a big difference between decreased frequency and celibacy. More than one mistress on the side of a guy in a "sexless" marriage, waiting for the kids to get a little older so he'll leave, has been surprised to hear that the wife has gotten pregnant and, umm, it was just this one time.

It was only a month ago that she said, "I find you sexy and attractive but I just am not interested in sex anymore. (But) I don't want you to go elsewhere for sex." Before figuring his only options are divorce her or cheat on her (and as many have said, via many paths that may well lead to divorce), he should talk to her in more detail. Suggest counseling. Give her a few weeks to think over "I never want you to have sex again" or "I never want you to have ungrudging sex again" as realistic requests of him. (Which may lead to the 'I wouldn't want to know if you were cheating' sort of permission.) Or she'll be annoyed that he still won't press the divorce button because she doesn't want to be the bad guy. Or she'll be motivated to talk to the therapist, or to see a second doctor for a full hormone work-up. It's entirely possible she sees the change as a minor one--she's accommodating him a couple of times a week, after all--and doesn't realize he reads her cooperation as mean-spirited.

Just because they used to have lots of sex in many positions doesn't mean they were necessarily good at communicating about sex. (e.g. maybe it was never fun for her and that has caught up; maybe one of those sessions went a kink too far and she's now turned off; maybe the suggestions upthread about focusing on other types of physical intimacy (massage, cuddling) rather than upside-down-on-the-riding-mower would make the twice a week sessions loving rather than grudging on her part. He could at least try.)
I'm with #1. The wife isn't ill or disabled, so why not be honest with her?
Dan, #48 gave a better answer than you did this time around. I think you've seen similar questions so often that you didn't really consider the circumstances of this one.
@68: They should just go ahead and have (the conversation) now before he gives up the upper hand of being the Affection-Starved Spouse by making himself The Cheater.

Well put.
I'm going to cross-reference post 100 in the main thread, re the pain on vulvar contact letter: poster saw 5 doctors who couldn't help. #6 diagnosed very sensitive skin (she swapped fabric and soaps that come in contact) and very tight pelvic floor muscles (addressed with physical therapy). Just because one doctor says "nope, that's normal" or "nope, you seem fine" doesn't mean that was the last possible word on a medical cause.

(It also doesn't mean that a problem has a medical cause. But if NRW had written in (or an NRH) saying that they weren't having an affair, everything emotionally at home and elsewhere was fine and normal, it was just that their interest in sex had gone from 3-5 times/week to finding it completely off-putting at all times, people wouldn't take "but I had one doctor visit and they didn't think anything was wrong" as the last word.)
@64, keep up the good work. Clearly more people need somebody like that.

@62, they get the award for cutting through the crap to an actual solution.

That's right folks, it doesn't really matter what the root problem is. He's been trying to find it for more than a year, and the problem still exists. If he was callous or didn't care, he wouldn't have done the trying, nor the writing, so stop attributing malice where none is evident.

The real problem is that he's alerted her to the problem and she doesn't care sufficiently to come up with a working solution that makes things better for him. Marriage is a partnership, give and take, etc. That means that at some point you're allowed to point out when things aren't working for you, and he has.

This sounds really like the root cause is depression. That is good because it is theoretically treatable, but it's bad because for somebody who is chronically depressed it's a lot easier for her to make promises to exercise, spend time in sunlight, and generally 'do things' than it is for her to actually follow through. The other thing that screams depression to me is the going through the motions of sex with absolutely no passion. That is actually worse than cutting him off; it's like Lucy with the football she pulls away from Charlie Brown at the last second. "Hey, here's sex, but it's so bad that you're going to wish you had done anything but this."
@40, @49: If he does go for The Intervention, he had better make it excruciatingly clear what it's like to fuck someone who obviously has zero enthusiasm for it, despite making herself physically available on request. That is, if anything, even worse than going without. On the one hand it makes you feel like a rapist, and on the other it reinforces how utterly undesirable you apparently are. Might as well tattoo his forehead with "My Wife Thinks I'm An Ugly Loser" and put a mirror on the bed headboard.

I suspect that she thinks she is already being plenty accommodating by agreeing to fuck him at all. This is probably a big part of why she doesn't want him to look elsewhere: because she thinks she has the situation handled, and he therefore has no right to go looking. By the same token, however, I predict that any attempt to get her to step up her game will result in little to no change, because she thinks she is already doing for him what is due him.
@74: I agree that depression is very possible. And as someone observed a few weeks back, depression can be analogized to alcoholism in the sense of nothing changing until the person in trouble really wants to change.

That said, plenty of people have been motivated to change when the consequence hit them upside the head. "I'm unhappy and considering leaving" is a much stronger wakeup than "Okay. Well, I'll be working late Tuesday."

The people suggesting that he try harder to figure out what's going on with her--including tossing out suggestions like 48--and to make it clear that 'I'll just lie here' sex is untenable to him aren't saying that marriage gives you an endless pass to treat your partner badly. But it does suggest that you try harder to work things out--based on the solid good years you have together, and he has those--than you would for someone you were dating for six months.

If he loves her and doesn't want a divorce, try a few more things to get back toward what they had. It could be it ends in divorce, it could be he winds up going outside the marriage for sex in a way he feels is tenable, and it could be he actually figures out what the disconnect is and they're able to unwind it. Telling her that the blank-doll sex is appalling, that he doesn't want to live without sex for the next many decades, that if she wants him to stay she needs to see a second doctor and/or a therapist, are all ways of trying to bring about that third option.
I think that modern medicine does a terrible job with the hormonal issue. Maybe a naturopath. Maybe a vacation. There has to be some reason.
I wonder if a big part of the problem is the dynamic of "ask for sex, she either refuses or complies like a lifeless doll". What if they scheduled sex 3 times a week, taking turns deciding the where and when? It takes the spontaneity out...sure. But instead they get a known quantity. So instead of his feeling rejected, he knows that on a given night it's going to happen. And instead of feeling trapped in the moment, she can work herself up to feeling sexy. If there are other factors affecting her libido like the style of sex, maybe her calling the shots every other night could help address it.
Insufficient data for a meaningful response. We have his version; we need hers. Yes, she's probably perimenopausal. One problem women have while in that state is a feeling of unconcern about sex. It's the asexual paradox: she not only doesn't want sex, she can't see that the not wanting is a problem. When you've lost the drive, it's hard to see the other point of view. To her, quite likely, she feels just fine. Would you want to go to a doctor for a problem you don't think exists? As for jumping on the divorce bandwagon, there are lots of reasons to stay married that don't involve sex. Plus, it sounds like she's given him permission to use her for sex. She probably doesn't see the problem. I went through something similar with my wife. Eternally GGG, during fee couple of years of depressed libido and vaginal pain, she was perfectly happy to blow me or even toss my salad, but fucking her was off the table.

I think he needs to talk to his wife and make it clear that he considers the need for sex--with an AVID partner--absolutely essential to his mental health. If she can't provide it, she can't have the absolute monogamy she's demanding. And, yes, this kind of minefield is best navigated with a sex-positive therapist.
They don't have kids. Can't be having sex "all over the house" when there are kids.

This pattern happens all the time - there are marriages going through this in your own town right now. And from what I have seen, there's usually no one at fault, it just happens. The impulse to assign blame here causes much more damage than accepting the facts and moving forward with one of the available options.

Thank you for pointing this out. There is such a need to place the 'blame' and therefore responsibility for "fixing", on one party or the other. It's far more often both and neither, simultaneously. How can she be 'wrong" for not feeling something she just doesn't feel (horny) or him for feeling it.

Oh, the other problem with the FWB approach, and likely the reason the wife is wary of it is that feelings often develop, so it winds up being emotional infidelity not just physical.
"tell [her] what [she] wants to hear and fuck other [women] regardless; since you're not cheating your wife out of anything she wants or desires, you're not cheating; "

Yes he is still cheating. Even setting aside the fact that he could give his wife a disease, she does want and desire something: his faithfulness. I gather that you think the wife is just being mean; to me she sounds depressed.

If this sexual libido problem came as out of the blue as the LW says, then they should go to a different doctor or a sex therapist and keep looking for a medical or psychological solution because sometimes doctors write off women's sexual problems as "that's just the way women are."
I used to be a big believer in DADGC until I tried it and got caught. Also, fell in love with my lover. All sorts of unexpected things happen when you go this route, and lots and lots of folks can get really really hurt. I ended my affair when I got caught, and my wife and I are in the therapy we should have been in before my affair. And it's helping. But if I could do it over, I would have said to my wife, things must change or I'm leaving. That's what I wish I had done, but I lacked the courage then. My advice: be totally honest with your wife, make it clear that your marriage is on the line and mean it. Insist that the two of you work together to get to the bottom of what has caused her libido to change, including more and better medical testing for her and psychotherapy for both of you. Find a sex-positve, open-minded psychotherapist -- I highly recommend a gay man -- who will be open to and normalize all options for both of you, including the possibility of opening up the marriage, including the possibility that you can live with less and less exciting sex than you once had, including the possibility that there are other dynamics at play that you haven't even thought of. And then if none of that makes your marriage livable for both of you, it's time to end it. But an affair, as I experienced it, is another sort of closet, it's a life lived in secrecy and shame, and in the end it is corrosive and toxic for everyone involved. I know there are some folks who have made it work (i.e. the letter-writer Dan points to who had a four year fuck-buddy affair that worked), but I think that's the exception not the rule.
The unregistered comment at 83 is worth clicking. Excerpt:

I used to be a big believer in DADGC until I tried it and got caught. Also, fell in love with my lover... My wife and I are (now) in the therapy we should have been in before my affair.
As a woman, I'm a little concerned that he hasn't looked at the things he could do to change his situation. If I'm exhausted or stressed or busy, even if sex is appealing to me, it can be difficult to get aroused. My body just doesn't respond the way I want it to. Foreplay can often create a negative feedback loop where I get more and more anxious about my sexual response (and less and less aroused). I'm fortunate enough to have a lover who will approach my arousal from several different angles until we find one that works. It doesn't sound like this husband has made that effort.
@85 It sound like you are communicating your needs and the specifics of how your body works to your husband, which is not the case here.
The husband's pretty bad at communicating the specifics to us, too. It's not just the contradiction between "1-2 times a week" and "pretty much stopped" but also the implied contradiction between "She will have sex with me if I ask" and the want/get numbers.

Not to mention that to me there's a huge gap between "there was nothing [monogamous] that we wouldn't do" (seriously, who can say that honestly who has an imagination or an internet connection?) and "all over the house and every position". "all over the house and every position" is very vanilla, and leaves us all free to speculate that the wife is sick of not getting [insert fetish here] or at least to try something more fanciful than oral and vaginal intercourse.

There are SO many missing factors here that it's almost as if the letter was written to get the commenters to project their own experiences onto it. If so, yay, it worked!
I'm very intrigued that LW hasn't shown up to comment and clarify.

Given all the speculation going on here, you'd think that if it was indeed just poor essay skills, he'd have shown up by now.

With the data presented, I'm still fairly sure this is someone looking for a free pass, and he thought Dan would give it to him. Which Dan didn't really do -- he leads with an highly packed If-then sentence. But it was easy to slide over, because the rest of what he said took up more physical space in his response.

Letter writer? I think a lot of us would love for you to chime in now.
@85: If what you are feeling is exhaustion, then you should say "I'm just so exhausted from all the housework, can you please try to pitch in more?" You shouldn't say, "I don't know, I'm just not interested in sex any more." It should not be your partner's responsibility to guess and guess and guess, and heap one level of comfort after another on you in hopes of hitting the right one. If you aren't self-aware enough to figure out that it's the dirty dishes in the sink that are stressing you out, how do you expect him to figure it out for you? What if it's really that you are missing your favorite kink?

@87: If what you are feeling is terminal boredom because he isn't providing that kink that you discovered you are missing, then you should say, "Honey, all over the house in every position is just so vanilla, can you please try (kinky activity X) instead?" You shouldn't say, "I don't know, I'm just not interested in sex any more." It should not be your partner's responsibility to present you with kink after kink, hoping that one of them sparks your imagination and fires up your libido (and hoping that one or all of the others don't turn you off so violently that it really does kill all subsequent desire for him, as has been seen at intervals in letters here). What if it's really that you are just exhausted from all the housework?

Are we beginning to notice a pattern yet?
I do think that asking for forgiveness can be better than asking for permission. And when a spouse gives up on sex, it's comparable to extramarital sex. But I have a huge problem with a lack of informed consent in sex. If he cheats and then has sex with her, she has no opportunity to weigh the risks (STIs, his possible fatherhood, his relationship status) and give consent. Sex ethics changed from ‘only permissible in marriage’ to ‘only permissible with consent’ after birth control. Obtaining consent by deception is not usually illegal but horrible nonetheless, I think this would be on the order of a guy discreetly removing his condom during the deed or a married woman presenting as single for sex. He could mitigate these risks by refusing sex with her while he’s on the dating scene, extreme discretion, and getting a full STI screening after he’s done dating others and ready to focus on his married sex life again.

Also what motivates this decision? If it’s his self-interest, then why is enduring rejection and cheating better than divorce and dating? If he’s doing it for her, then it’s the same controlling abusive nonsense as her suggestion that he settle for an unenthusiastic partner, but at least she’s giving him a choice and he has a voice. I don’t think that an abusive marriage is worth preserving.

Low desire? Terrifying. No interest in sex? Not letting him give oral? Who makes these choices?
I suspect injudicious editing. Doing what one has to do in order to stay married and sane is (or, at least, was in the beginning) tied to some dire situation. Here there isn't even a hint of Just For the Health Insurance, let alone catastrophic incapacity.

Unless there's something we don't know, DADGC is expanding at a disturbing rate, despite the cautionary tale of Mr Finch in this thread and Ms Cute's sad history in the other. It hardly seems fair that Mr Cute should have emerged with his estate intact or nearly so, but perhaps it will prove beneficial for the Miss Cutes. (On the limited information presented, I am not sure whether the Miss Cutes remind me most of the Miss Musgroves or the Miss Bertrams.)
@91: I feel like GGG went from "loving, engaged, if your partner suggests something you give good-faith consideration to trying it" to "you can never say no, ever, to anything, even if you've tried it and dislike it, or you aren't GGG."

And DADGC went from "immense strain of terminal illness exacerbated by complete lack of interest in sex was improved by discrete outside nooky" to "out of the blue my spouse will only screw me twice a week, so going elsewhere to get up to my 3-5/week minimum is reasonable, no?"

I think Dan, as a gay man, under-estimates how much effort is required for a straight man to take a discreet lover. There are far more married men than available women on Ashley Madison, Craigslist, etc. looking for discreet relationships. Odds are that he is going to have to put in a lot of effort, resources, time, etc. to start, maintain and hide an affair.

I'd give it one more "throw it all out there" conversation and then assuming no kids, go get the divorce.
Everyone needs to start recognizing that the phrase "I'm not interested in sex with you any more" constitutes the end of a relationship, and adding "but you're not allowed to have sex with anyone else" constitutes an attempt at abuse.

LW: Your wife dumped you; respond accordingly. If you're the long-term-monogamy type, you won't be happy until you've been married to someone else for a few years, so the sooner you can get started on that path, the better.

"I won't be having sex with you, and will be taking no further steps to change that, but you can't go elsewhere" is an expression of ownership, not love.
I think that the posts @ 81, 82, 83 best capture the complexity of situations like these.

We really don't know what is going on with the wife, and for that matter, we don't even really know what HHNRW means. Sex 1-2 times per week, while a significant drop off from 3-5 times per week, is hardly sex that has "pretty much stopped." HHNRW says he has tried to understand what is going on by asking her questions, so it doesn't sound like he asked cursorily once and then thought to leave. The loss of frequency began a year ago after 15 years of consistently frequent sex, with the wife being "willing and active." It was a month ago that she said she wasn't "interested in sex anymore." Btw, the phrase wasn't, as several others have said, "I'm not interested in sex with you any more," which would be more telling and more ominous.

I agree that there is something wrong, but I don't think it's medical. The wife isn't telling, either because she doesn't think she can without losing her marriage, which she doesn't want to do, or because she doesn't herself know why. If she herself doesn't know why, the likeliest cause I can think of is depression.

But I think it is clear that she is, for whatever reason, no longer attracted to her husband. This could have many causes: she could be having an affair (14 years is about when I started to get seriously dissatisfied with my marriage and crave a different kind of sex from that in a long-standing marriage, so it resonates with me), in which case, she may almost feel disloyal to her lover by having sex with her husband, or perhaps in comparison to the outside sex she's getting, the domestic sex seems particularly bad. HHNRW could be pushy and whiny and demanding and difficult and after all this time, she's turned off to him. Something really traumatic could have happened to the wife a year ago, either with her husband or someone else, and this is how it's affecting her. But the truth is that sometimes people just lose their sexual attraction for someone for whom they once felt it--it's no one's fault and it can't be fixed by all the date nights planned, or flowers sent, or dishes done in the world.

In the end, if she doesn't want to have sex with her husband, but is obviously enduring it, and they don't work through or past this--which starts with total honestly about why she's responding this way--they are both going to continue to get more and more miserable.

It is imperative that they communicate, perhaps with the help of a very good and sex-positive marriage counselor to keep things from blowing up (which the wife could be fearing will happen depending on what she's not disclosing).
They may well split up; it actually sounds imminent, but the solution isn't for him to cheat--and yes, it is cheating, even if she doesn't want his sex. She wants and expects his fidelity. The solution may not be for them to open the marriage, either, though that could be tried, because many people fall in love with their lovers, which is a fact that Savage Love and its regular commentors seem to ignore or scoff at.

I'm irritated by all the comments that say things like "she isn't fulfilling her marital obligation--he should take a mistress or leave" or "maybe he stopped keeping his body fit, so he shirked his marital responsibility and no wonder she doesn't want to have sex with him." The sense that marriage entitles the other spouse to expect a condition to persist indefinitely or walk is troublesome. People change; bodies change. Yes, sometimes the change is so great that the other spouse doesn't want to remain married, but marriage isn't merely a set of conditions that must be fulfilled.

Mr. Ven: As a doting mother, I prefer to think of my daughters as Jane and Elizabeth Bennet or perhaps the Miss Dashwoods, but I suppose the good-humoured Miss Musgroves will do. But please, not the Miss Bertrams.

@88: I'm very intrigued that LW hasn't shown up to comment and clarify.

Given all the speculation going on here, you'd think that if it was indeed just poor essay skills, he'd have shown up by now.

Given that he wrote in about a problem he's having, and the community here responded by coming up with ways to insinuate that he's a rapist, no, I would not assume he'd be comfortable interacting with this group.
Nocute @95: Btw, the phrase wasn't, as several others have said, "I'm not interested in sex with you any more," which would be more telling and more ominous.

"I'm not interested in having sex any more" includes "I'm not interested in having sex with you any more." If she's not interested in having sex, then she's not interested in having sex with him. She didn't say the most relevant part out loud, but she still said it.

If you asked me if I want to go to lunch, and I said "I'm not interested in having lunch today," would you understand that the answer was "no?"

I agree that the wife may or may not be having an affair, but I don't think that matters. The wife ended the relationship, isn't interested in doing anything to rekindle it, and isn't willing to let him have a relationship with someone else. She doesn't own him, so she doesn't get to do that. There are a lot of unknowns here, but they don't really matter; once someone plays the "Congratulations, I've decided you will now live in forced celibacy" card, it's time to DTMFA. Non-motherfuckers don't ever play that card.
If NRW is disengaged because she's checked out of the marriage (affair, fell out of love with HH, whatever) then either they should separate or she should agree to immediate steps to try and fix things. (e.g. sex-positive marriage therapist.) HH would need to initiate this, whether because NRW is waiting on him to hit the destruct button or because she hasn't faced the extent of the problem.

If NRW is disengaged because it's a symptom of something very wrong with her (with serious depression the most obvious candidate) then HH's job is to try and get her to deal with it--like spouses do, because "for worse" is supposed to trigger "because the years of 'for better' make you and us are worth fighting for." This means being clear that she IS very different and it is powerfully affecting him, and neither mutual celibacy nor sex that makes him feel like a rapist are workable responses.

If it's depression, then her intellectual knowledge that she used to enjoy sex and a bunch of other things, used to feel passionate and engaged about them, isn't connecting as an emotional memory. I once had a drug induce a week of depression (high steroid dose stopped with no taper) and it wasn't until the end of it, when I started to come back to myself, that I had the "Hey! Whoa! That was a serious rewiring of my brain, not a wrong-side-of-bed day like it felt back on Wednesday. That's really absolutely terrifying in retrospect" reaction. If it's depression, she's had a year of that helpless disengaged feeling that she can't tell isn't basically normal. If HH is a loving partner trying to save their relationship, then this is not the time to shrug and start an affair with someone.
I thoroughly understand why any LW would stay the hell out of the comments on every single advice column on the internet, even if they just asked how to spell habanero. Or the host's feeling on pretzels. That said:

Person A: That sounds like the way many women respond after being sexually assaulted. (Which is true.)
Person B: Or more broadly, displacement where she feels her trust was violated, by him or by someone else, and this is where it's landing. (Also true.)
Person C: But what woman wouldn't tell her spouse she was assaulted?! Inconceivable.
Person D: Umm, if he did the assault (e.g. one of those 'everything a monogamous couple can do' games). Or it was someone he warned her about and she feels guilty. Or blames herself for one of several other reasons (drunk, flirting, etc). Or she doesn't trust his possible reaction. Or...
Person E: Oh great now everyone says he's a rapist.

Are A and B not supposed to raise an actual reasonable explanation of her behavior? The criticism implies that people are insisting on him as "rapist" as the only possible explanation, rather than one extreme variation on one of many possibilities.

I will guess depression, medical problem, or affair as more likely than an assault she doesn't want to talk about, but the last shouldn't be an unspeakable possibility.
@99: Are A and B not supposed to raise an actual reasonable explanation of her behavior?

First, you're assuming that A and B were not intending to insinuate the first part of D. Given that they don't do this when the withholding partner is male, I don't see any reason to grant them this assumption. Remember that thread where a woman asks what to do after her husband loses interest in sex, and gets "You probably raped him somewhere along the way" as an answer? I don't remember any such. Has it ever happened here?

The criticism implies that people are insisting on him as "rapist" as the only possible explanation, rather than one extreme variation on one of many possibilities.

There's a reason I said "insinuate" rather than "insist;" I don't know why you changed it to "insist." "But we were only hinting at it, not saying it outright!" is not a very good defense against the accusation that you were hinting at something.
One last disconnect to which people are responding:

Many have mentioned the dissonance of:
a) About a year ago sex pretty much stopped.
b) We went from having intercourse 3-5 times a week to 1-2 times per week.

There's also dissonance in:
a) (For the past year we have intercourse) 1-2 times per week.
b) She will have sex with me if I ask but she just lays on her back and tells me to, "Do your thing." ... The intimacy is not there and it just feels wrong.

I get how horrible that last one is, and to constantly reject your partner, or give 'sure, rape me' level cooperation, is a horrible thing to do to someone. They would be thoroughly justified in leaving you. But if that's what's happening, how is he managing to still get interested in trying twice a week? Either it's not a very accurate portrayal of how awful she is making the times they do have sex, or something else is weird.
@100: You're assuming that A and B were not intending to insinuate the first part of D.
Impossible standard. People are supposed to refuse to mention perfectly unexceptional explanations because you can insinuate something from them? Dan might as well close the comments right now.

As for the rest, suppose a woman writes in that her husband was an enthusiastic, engaged, loving sex partner up until a year ago, when he lost all interest in having sex with her in any way. (With or without the coda that he will numbly cooperate if she tries to initiate.) People would suggest an affair, a medical problem, and extreme stress at work or elsewhere. (That displacement onto marital sex of a violation experienced elsewhere.) Also the "it just sometimes happens, and it's okay for you to not be okay with being celibate forever too."

They probably would get well down the thread before suggesting that it was possible he was responding to a sexual assault, by her or anyone else, because men are not raped as often as women. Your little reverse-the-sexes thing does have a kind of huge disconnect. (And if they had a varied sex life with her as initiator of variety I could see the possibility that a game went somewhere he felt as a violation: As I said upthread, the fact that people are having sex frequently doesn't mean they are communicating clearly with each other about it.) But the fact that people more frequently attribute a woman's abrupt withdrawal to being sexually assaulted than they do a man's has something to do with how often each gender is assaulted.

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