Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: I want to have sex again

This reader would like to initiate sex after five years of a celibate marriage - but what will her husband think? And will it upset the delicate balance of their relationship?

Share

Dear Virginia,

We've been married 10 years now, but after my husband was unfaithful five years ago I've never wanted sex with him again. We've settled down to quite a happy modus vivendi – we have a seven-year-old son – and we're very companionable and happy in a way. The problem is that I've started to wonder whether I was a bit hard on him – and I do rather long to start our sex life again. But I'm terrified that if I suggest it it'll rock the happy balance we've got now. Should I risk broaching the subject?

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Briony

Virginia says...

In my own experience, it's rare that a woman feels sexy in the presence of a man she knows well without his picking up on it. Or, indeed, without finding that her sexual feelings are promoted by sexual stirrings on his side. So it could be that the desire to rekindle a sex life isn't all one-sided. He may well be very much up for it, too.

You could, of course, be rather cack-handed and ask outright whether he feels the same, but these things are usually done in more subtle ways. The odd touch on the shoulder, moving slightly closer while doing the drying-up, holding eye contact a little bit longer than usual. It would take a real pudding of a man not to pick up pretty swiftly what was going on. And in that way you could possibly restart your sex life without anything being said at all. In many ways it would be nicer that way, and more romantic, than sitting down and saying, baldly: "Well, do you think resumption of intimate relations between us would upset the balance of the status quo?", a leaden inquiry which is enough to turn anyone off.

It could be, of course, that he's having a totally non- emotional secret sexual relationship with someone else – five years seems rather a long time for a bloke not to have sex – and I think you have to take that into account. Or it could be that the way in would be to open up the discussion of his affair in a dispassionate way. You could say that, upsetting as it was at the time, you felt you overreacted to his affair and that you were sorry. Just that admission would open up an entirely new future. But you should bear in mind that raking up the past might release a lot of anger on his part. Be prepared for it.

You could, of course, ask him whether he'd go with you to see a Relate counsellor and start opening up in front of a non-threatening third party.

But before you do anything, do be certain that a sexual relationship is really what you want. Perhaps, for you, a sexual relationship opens up cans of worms that inevitably end in scenes of great closeness followed by great rejection. The pushing and pulling is all part of the scenario. And lovely as it would be to feel closer again, it's not worth risking repeating the fury of your feelings of rejection – and this time it might be prompted simply by a glance your partner takes at another woman – particularly if a little boy is part of the picture.

Virginia Ironside's book 'No! I Don't Need Reading Glasses' is out now (Quercus, £14.99)

Readers say…

Scratch that itch

I suspect I was not the only man who had difficulty suppressing a chortle over Briony's dilemma! What she seems not to recognise is that the males of the species – all males, all species – exist for one reason and one reason only, which is to fertilise eggs. That is our only biological function, which is why, allegedly, it is the only thing we ever think about!

Any male who is not getting sex in the usual way, with a conventional partner, will find some other of way of "scratching his itch", which is undoubtedly what Briony's husband has been doing for the past five years at least. I suspect this will have developed into a habit and my advice to her, if she has also now developed an itch, is to do what he is probably doing: use the internet and a bit of DIY. Otherwise, you would both be advised to seek sex outside the marriage. Sorry, but there it is.

Peter, by email

Be forward

You are a bit shy, aren't you? Just tell him you fancy him again, as you clearly did once. Have a little fun while you are young. And remember, when you are old, the things you regret are more likely to be the things you didn't do.

June, by email

Next week's dilemma

Dear Virginia,

Ten years ago, I was left a small flat by my parents. I let it to relations and have friends staying there for holidays. My partner says we should sell it so we can get a bigger place but although I've often tried, when it comes to it, I can't bear to sell it. Worse, I can't bear to do any repairs or repaint it inside and it's getting to look really run down. I feel it would be disloyal to my mother. I have started having panic attacks and crying just at the thought of it. What can I do? My partner's getting understandably fed up.

Yours sincerely,

Paula

What would you advise Paula to do?

Email your dilemmas and comments to dilemmas@independent.co.uk. Anyone whose advice is quoted or whose dilemma is published will receive a £25 voucher from the wine website Fine Wine Sellers.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
George Osborne appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, 5 July 2015  

George Osborne says benefits should be capped at £20,000 to meet average earnings – but working families take home £31,500

Ellie Mae O'Hagan
The BBC has agreed to fund the £650m annual cost of providing free television licences for the over-75s  

Osborne’s assault on the BBC is doing Murdoch’s dirty work

James Cusick James Cusick
Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created