While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On the husband who is generous to himself and others but not his wife
The only thing worse than being alone is wishing you were: The wife doesn't say how much sex they have.
I've found there is no amount of effort I can expend that will cause my wife to give me sex, the only thing I care about other than food, scuba or golf. I love her, but I've come to love her as a friend and business partner.
For men, there is no romance without sex. Lack of sex causes esteem issues and a general feeling of discontent.
These days, my wife gets the same birthday effort I give any friend. I say, "Happy birthday." I save my efforts for people who may respond in kind.
My golf buddies and I spend nine of 18 holes talking about how none of us has enough sex. The sex we do get is boring. The analogy we use is we own an ice cream store and we have to eat vanilla — when we can get it.
My wife does yoga and expends every effort to look good on the outside, but I only get to look most of the time. I take the kids to give her "me" weekends. I cook and do my share around the house. In fact, the weekends with the kids are more fun without her now because I'm not distracted by my disappointment over sex.
You mention that perhaps the wife was misled during courtship. Well, that works both ways. There are limits to the criticism I'm willing to endure from someone who refuses to understand my needs.
R.: Begin making plans for yourself to enjoy with your friends, and inform Husband what you expect him to do to free you of certain obligations and allow you to enjoy yourself. You'll be surprised when your husband says, "It's about time you're having some fun, honey!"
Sympathizing husband: I have planned fancy dinners out, a romantic trip, or something else I thought would show my love for my wife on special occasions.
All I got from her was an argument about spending money on something she may not be interested in.
I finally decided not to plan anything without asking her first. When she mostly rejected my ideas, I gave up altogether. We've been married 41 years now and rarely celebrate anything.
I enjoy surprising someone and getting surprised, and it is extremely difficult to live with someone who is totally the opposite. We used to travel to my daughter's house for Christmas, and we have even given that up "because it costs too much and you should know I don't like to travel at that time of year."
M.: Stop wanting him to be better. The wanting is what's causing the unhappiness.
It's not an easy thing to let go of because of all the angry and hurt feelings.
But once you detach, and I don't mean in a bad or negative way, you will get his attention. Recently my husband said, "Something has changed." I told him I have stopped wanting what he can't or won't give me. This has made him more reflective and removed the contention between us.