TV’s Steph and Dom Parker, 53 and 56, draw on their 23 years of marriage to solve your relationship problems . . .
Q: I love my life and my relationship, but, at 71, I have no desire to have sex. However, my husband, 80, is still keen and if I turn him down he sulks.
When I got married and my husband vowed to worship me with his body, I had no idea that he would still be doing it almost 50 years later!
He has always based his pleasure on the pleasure he gives me, which is laudable, but I hate disappointing him and it’s making me miserable. For ages now I have gone along with it — in all honesty I can enjoy it, but I don’t desire it in the first place.
An anonymous reader asked British TV’s Steph and Dom Parker for advice on her husband sulking when she doesn’t want to have sex (file image)
I have tried to help him find other hobbies, suggesting he join the Rotary and a local bowls club, but sex remains his favourite pastime.
This is not the way I want to spend the rest of my life, but I still love my husband. What do you both think I should do?
DOM SAYS: Thank you very much for your letter — it took courage to write. While it gave me hope, as a 56-year-old man, that romance can keep going in one’s latter years, I do understand that one might imagine that at some stage in one’s senior life, that side of things might start to quieten down a little.
But it’s important for me to say that his desire is not your husband’s fault — as a human male he is designed to reproduce right up until he dies. As we all know, the female is not. The menopause puts an end to a woman’s fertility and can, sometimes, see an accompanying loss of desire. Yours is far from the only relationship which has had to weather that particular storm.
I see, from the longer version of your letter, that your plight has been made worse by medical advances such as Viagra, which although sanity-savers for some, are simply prolonging an uncomfortable situation for you. Frankly, this would probably no longer be an issue were a prescription not available!
I really do feel for you both. And you must be careful here, because even after so many years of marriage, rejection is rejection. He’s probably rather proud he’s still managing to give you pleasure at his age.
And that’s the problem — he thinks he’s making you happy, but he isn’t.
Dom (pictured) asked the reader if she’s considered looking at ways to increase her own sexual desire
My advice is to speak openly about how modern technology can be a hindrance as well as a help, and how, being more of an old fashioned kind of girl, you would, as best as possible, like to remain in the old fashioned way. In other words, it’s time to let nature take its course.
Aside from talking about it openly, I’m not sure how best to proceed. Hide the little blue pills, perhaps? Good for you with your ingenious solution of increasing his time spent on hobbies and at clubs — might I suggest you ask him if he’d like to take up hiking, or bracing walks at the least! A very tired man is rarely in the mood.
I’m being flippant because in your longer letter you say you’re writing with a ‘despairing giggle’, and I’m glad to see you have retained your sense of levity.
But it is a serious issue. Rather than think of England, I wonder if you mightn’t lie back and think of yourself. You say you do enjoy it, once you get there, so to speak, so I wonder if you mightn’t perhaps look for ways to increase your own desire.
And don’t forget, your husband is in his ninth decade — in a couple of years, his strength diminished, you might look back longingly on these days.
STEPH SAYS: It took guts to air this problem and I’m sure you’re far from alone in your plight. I’m sure your courage will help legions of women.
By asking for our opinion you have started to take control of this problem, not crumbling under the weight of it.
Steph (pictured, with Dom) advised the reader to tell her husband that the bedroom door is shut until the situation is sorted out to her satisfaction
This is a very real and very serious issue. I do understand the fluctuations between male and female libidos. The chemicals we have flying around our bodies are different to those flooding through men. In every long term relationship there will be a mismatch of desire at some point, and both parties need to be understanding of this.
Of course you shouldn’t have sex with your husband if you don’t want to. I think you’ve worried about this for so long that you don’t know how to proceed. Well, I say: you’ve done your bit lady! I know this is a huge elephant in the room, but you must be brave enough to broach it with him now.
It’s time to slam on the brakes. Tell him in no uncertain terms that the bedroom door is shut, and it will remain shut until you’ve sorted this out to your satisfaction — not his.
You are not a plaything, and his sexual attention is not affection. He’s pestering you and emotionally blackmailing you, which makes me uncomfortable. You have to tell him, in no uncertain terms, everything that you have said to me in your (longer) letter. And he needs to listen — this is not a discussion, it is you telling him how much his behaviour is affecting you.
At the moment, everything is about him and it’s time to make it about you. My instinct here is to suggest you see a therapist, either alone or together. If he doesn’t want to, then go alone. You’ve been trying to solve this problem in isolation for years. He is not listening to you and he is not reading your signals — that’s the bit that worries me the most.
Tell him you don’t want to spend the rest of your days trying to avoid him! You love him, but this is putting you under intolerable strain.
Be firm. Sleep in the spare room, create a distance. And don’t give in. He’s going to be surly? Well, tough. You have done everything you possibly can to change his attitude towards this subject — and towards you.
Tell him that this is not a rejection of him, but a rejection of his constant pestering. Your love for him is being eroded by his behaviour. You would like that to be fixed and you know you can’t fix it alone. You need a trained professional to guide you both through this.
If you have a question you’d like Steph and Dom to tackle, write to: [email protected]dailymail.co.uk