Q: I am a 48-year-old, basically happily married man. My problem is my wife's weight. I hate to sound like the typical shallow guy, but she has put on at least 30 kg since we were married 22 years ago and I am no longer sexually attracted to her. I have never cheated on her and like to think I never would, but my sexual life is extremely unsatisfying due to this problem. We really don't have sex any more. As for me, I'm in pretty good shape, go to the gym etc and still get a lot of attention from women. I know my wife feels bad about herself and the fact that she doesn't get much attention from men any more. When she was young, she was a natural beauty and I think she took that for granted because she never had to work at it. Now she seems unwilling to do anything to get her mojo back. I really don't know what to do. I hate to think that with my life not even (hopefully) half over, that's it for sex. Sometimes I wonder if I should just randomly hook up with someone to get it out of my system and take the pressure off my wife. I also wonder if monogamy is really natural and if its realistic to expect men to suppress their sexual feelings for their entire lives. I admit, I probably got married too young, and if I hadn't maybe I would have chosen someone different and not be having these issues. What do you think about this?
Dear Ankur, I have one-word advice for you, emotional counselling. I’ll explain in reasonable detail. I will first address the weight issues of your wife and then the questions, concerns and doubts you have raised about your sex life and monogamy.
At the risk of being very simplistic, generally people put on weight because of the following reasons; 1) As a personal or cultural habit, taking way more calories than one is able to burn off during their day and 2) They are experiencing a medical issue that has slowed down their metabolism or has created another biological complication that doesn’t let them lose weight. Another important reason, which is often ignored, is depression or anxiety related issue that one might face. Have you ever noticed people finishing a tub of popcorn faster during a more anxiety provoking part of thriller movie?
When we were sad in our childhoods, we were given candies, fries or our favourite ice creams to calm us down, there by unwittingly increasing our tendencies to eat while we are upset or face any other emotional challenge. Food, sex and socialization have similar calming effects on our brains. So it would be of value to talk to your wife (from the health point of view for now than the sex angle, which is important too) about getting help after you have ruled out the possible health complications that I mentioned earlier.
You have to also realize that the process of finding your partner less and less sexually attractive is not very uncommon. Yes, sometimes the physical appearance of your partner can accelerate the process. You can take solace in the fact, that sooner or later, the same is true for the majority of couples, even if you were married to a super model. Having said that, I understand your concern when you feel that your sexual life has halted sooner than what would have been usual in your imagination.
Non-monogamy works only when it is consensual. Even then, it is complicated to say the least. I am all for couples exploring and deciding their own boundaries. However, remember when non-monogamy is non-consensual, it is called cheating. In my experience, not a lot of good comes out of it, more than the range of the moment for which it remains a secret. Guilt, shame and insecurities creep in sooner or later. Choose wisely.