DEAR ABBY: I’m at a loss as to how to stay in my 21-year marriage. In August, when our twin daughters leave for college, my wife and I will become empty nesters. We haven’t had sex in more than 2 1/2 years, and before that it didn’t happen more than a couple of times a year.
My wife says she “doesn’t feel a connection with me anymore” (or perhaps never really did). We have seen a counselor a couple of times over the last 12 years, but the most he has to offer now is that I will have to decide whether or not to accept this as my new normal. We don’t fight, but we live like roommates, although we continue to share a bed.
We are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, and I suspect that may have something to do with her sense of disconnect. The little affection progress we were making died the night of the presidential election. She seems content to continue like this. I hate the notion of divorce, both for what it would mean spiritually and for what it would do to our families and friends. Can you help? — IS THIS MY NEW NORMAL?
DEAR “IS”: Couples on opposite sides of the political spectrum can still have successful marriages IF they respect their mates and can discuss their differences intelligently and calmly. However, you state that your sex life has been the way it is for 21 years — which makes me wonder whether the chemistry was strong to begin with.
I do think you and your wife are overdue for a series of honest conversations, and the first should start with whether the difference in your political beliefs has affected the way she feels about you.
The next should start with asking her whether she was ever satisfied in the bedroom with you. If you can get her to talk about it, you may be able to find out where the two of you went off track and fix it. However, if you can’t, then your counselor was correct.
DEAR ABBY: I’ve been single for more than a year and playing the field, having casual relationships, but never anything I was too invested in. That changed recently when I met someone I’ll call “Eve.” We have hit it off spectacularly and are very much into each other.
The only issue is she has a kid. I’m only 23, and I’m not in a position to be any kind of father figure. That being said, I would still love to be with Eve and occasionally help out with her little one, but I don’t know how to open up and tell her directly that I’m not prepared for the pressures of being a “dad” to a newborn. How do I express this to her? — NO WHITE KNIGHT IN KNOXVILLE
DEAR NO WHITE KNIGHT: “Daddyhood” isn’t a skill that every man is born with. Some men are naturals at it; others learn gradually through experience. Tell Eve that you care about her, but that at 23 you are not in a position to be a dad to her baby. In time, things may change — GRADUALLY — but not right now. It may or may not cause the end of the relationship. Her first responsibility must be to her child, and a romance right out of the delivery room is too soon, “white knight” or no white knight.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.