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Dear Dr. Lovemonkey,

Iím a professional man in my 50s, and my wife is in her 40s. I work out three times a week, am in excellent health, and donít look my age. My wife has gone through significant changes and no longer has any interest in me. This includes affection, sex, or spending any time together. She isnít interested in going away together, or even going out to dinner once a month. Our children, eight and 12 year olds, are her life, and her passion is tennis. Sheís a nationally competitive player. She says I should "do whatever I need to do." Fine, except I will not disturb our family. The question is, how do I find a woman (age 35 to 55) who would like a relationship under these circumstances? I believe there are thousands of women in this area whose husbands have no interest in them anymore. But how do I reach them? Thatís the catch-22.

ó Rich

Dear Rich,

Your marriage is in breakdown mode, and you seem well aware of this. I find it hard to believe that your children are not aware that something is wrong with their parentsí relationship. They may already be somewhat disturbed by it, even if they havenít voiced this to you or exhibited any behavioral problems.

You didnít tell me how you feel about your wife, but you should talk to her about whether she believes your marriage can be saved. If she thinks there is any chance at all, get counseling. If she has truly given up, then what you have is a marriage that will continue to damage to your children, one way or another. To my way of thinking, divorce and a mutually acceptable child custody arrangement are preferable to a sham marriage, for the sake of your children and the two of you.

Shared adultery is a "solution" likely to be full of lying, deceit, and any number of other demeaning and unpleasant consequences. It ainít a good idea. Save your marriage if you can, but if it is broken and canít be fixed, end it with the understanding that the main priority for you and your wife is the health and well-being of your kids.

If so, youíll at least have the opportunity to pursue relationships that can be honest and positive, the type of relationships that you would want your children to develop when they become adults. Think of your kids, and the example you would like to leave for them.

Dear Dr. Lovemonkey,

I seem to have created quite a mess for myself. You see, for about a year I dated a man who, although totally unlike me, made me comfortable and was genuinely a nice guy. After a time, however, I decided I needed someone more like myself, so I dated a guy who is practically the male version of me.

At first, I thought we were perfect for each other, but after about five or six months, I realized I was still in love with Guy No. 1. I am now back with No. 1, but Guy No. 2 (who I would really like to keep as a friend, because we share a lot of obscure interests) keeps asking variations of the question, "Is there still a chance for us?" I can only think of so many creatively tactful ways of saying, "No," before completely exhausting my synapses. The larger problem is that part of me still questions my decision. I am really very happy right now, except for the knowledge that I have hurt Guy No. 2. Is there a way to keep my friendship with him without going mad?

ó Gretchen

Dear Gretchen,

First off, if you are indeed "very happy right now," stop torturing yourself by looking back at Guy No. 2. You can drive yourself crazy trying to revisit the decisions youíve made. For your own peace of mind, you might need to be more blunt about how you are perfectly happy with Guy No. 1. Even though he may want to slink off and avoid you for a while, you should believe in the long run that youíll be able to retain your friendship with Guy No. 2. Also, stop driving yourself crazy about having hurt No. 2. These things happen and his hurt will subside. This may be harsh, but itís true.

Send questions and romantic quandaries to RUDYCHEEKS@prodigy.net.

Issue Date: May 7 - 13, 2004
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