Dear Annie: My wife and I have been married for close to 40 years. Though the sex was never great, it at least used to be enjoyable. Now it is getting pretty disappointing. We have sex about twice a month. The frequency is not great enough for me, but the bigger issue is the way we do it: without much intimacy. That seems to be the way she likes it. There is no passion in our kissing and hasn't been for at least 20 years. Every couple of weeks, we have sex in the same exact routine fashion. I want to give her pleasure, but she seems to just want to get it over with. I really miss the intimate part of sex, as I love kissing and caressing and appreciating her body.
I also want to state that I have tried to be a model partner to her. I have always worked, and I am the main breadwinner. It is rare when I have more than one beer, and I only get together with the guys once or twice a year. I am pretty much a homebody, but I do go with my wife to visit her parents, whom we moved to an assisted living facility nearby several years ago. I am in very good shape for a man in his early 60s, and I always stay well-groomed. I maintain the yard and do at least half the household chores. When the kids were growing up, I did the majority of the chores and taking care of them, as my wife's job required her to work long hours. We get along great, with the only complaint being in the bed. We are still too young to have such a mundane sex life. She knows I want more intimacy, but she has no desire to provide it and says she's content with the way things are. -- Unsatisfied
Dear Unsatisfied: One thing that stuck out in your letter is that you get together with your friends only once or twice a year. Being the ''model partner'' does not mean losing your identity outside of the relationship. Focus a bit more on yourself and doing things you find fun. Perhaps giving your wife a little space will create the room for a desire to grow.
Another thing: Routine in general life patterns can lead to routine in intimacy. You've got to change course now and then to switch out of autopilot. Take a trip somewhere you've never been. Pick up a new hobby together. Rediscover excitement together outside the bedroom and it might follow you into it.
Dear Annie: Could I suggest some more advice for ''Louise,'' the 81-year-old woman depressed by aging? First, write! Transcribe your favorite childhood memories. Describe other family members. Recollect the sweetest times with your children. Commit to paper all the experiences you'd like to relive. If you do, you will never be just a faded photograph a generation from now. To anyone who reads your journals, you will be unforgettable!
Second, don't settle for any more mindless TV. Look up the Great Courses programs. You can tour almost any culture, past or present, virtually. You can learn about almost any area of study you can think of, from medicine to art to language to cooking. They're available on CDs at many libraries. Now they also come as DVDs and online as downloadable or streaming videos at http://www.thegreatcourses.com. Aging still has its rewards! -- Learning More Every Day
Dear Learning More: Thank you for this recommendation. There are many affordable programs like The Great Courses available now, including Lynda and Coursera. A passion for learning can light a fire that illuminates all areas of life.