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Dans says declining a marriage proposal can do lasting harm to a relationship

Q: I'm a 33-year-old man, married eight years and mostly happy. My problem seems common: My wife has lost interest in sex. We have sex once every two months, maybe once a month if I'm lucky. When we do have sex, it seems to be good for both of us. It wasn't always this way---we used to have great chemistry and were both GGG in better days.

I've always been faithful, but I'm nearing some kind of tipping point. On a recent business trip, I visited a strip club for the first time. Even though I knew the attention I was getting was fake, it still did the trick. Feeling desired, even in a superficial way, is something I've been missing. Once, a long time ago, my wife mentioned that she would be OK with me going to a strip club, so I feel like I haven't violated our relationship. But I feel like I'm getting pretty close to the boundary.

I don't know what to do. I could try more communication, possibly even try to get us into counselling, but I wonder if that's fair. The situation doesn't seem to be a problem for her and every time we talk about it I feel like I'm hurting her feelings. I could also just give up and try to find ways to meet my needs elsewhere. But the thought of potentially hurting her or even losing her as a result is unbearable. I've also wondered if a change of medication could help---I know loss of sexual appetite can be a side effect of the birth-control medication my wife takes. ---Ready To Pop

A: First, RTP, I'm sitting on stacks of mail from spouses---husbands and wives---who aren't getting any at home, much less halfway decent sex on a bimonthly-or-better basis. So while I appreciate your frustration---I'd be fucking holes I'd kicked in the walls if my boyfriend put out just six times a year---let's recognize that (1) things could be worse and (2) you have a decent base here on whichto build.

Second, RTP, yes to everything---yes to a new form of birth control (perhaps you could get a vasectomy), yes to packing your asses off to counselling (find a counsellor who doesn't believe that the husband is always at fault) and yes to more open and honest communication. A few more yesses: yes to getting the wife's hormones checked (how are her testosterone levels?), yes to looking at depression as a possible underlying cause (and good luck eliminating depression if it is) and yes to the occasional visit to a strip club (just as a matter of principle).Third, RTP, and most importantly...yes to hurting the wife. Telling her about your unhappiness and forcing this issue will hurt her feelings, RTP, but catching you cheating will hurt much, much more.

Finally, RTP, I'm thinking that you wrote to me and not, say, Zombie Ann Landers because you were looking for permission to cheat. I have been known to issue a licence to cheat now and then, but I can't in your case. You had a decent sex life early on---good chemistry, greater frequency, GGG action---and you "enjoy" a not-dead-yet sex life now. With some effort, some balls and some incentive (no licence to cheat), you should be able to revive this thing.

Q: I am a 31-year-old gay male and have been with my 27-year-old boyfriend for a year. It's been amazing and he's everything I've wanted. We've had issues concerning trust and communication because our previous relationships failed due to infidelity, but we've been working on that in therapy.

Where it gets complicated is that he proposed on our one-year anniversary. I told him that I thought it was too soon and that I wanted to resolve any and all trust issues before committing to marriage. He was hurt, but he said he would get over it and ask again in a year. My question: Is it possible that I have done irreparable damage? Should I have said yes (as I do see myself marrying him someday)? ---Did I Make A Mistake?

A: Seeing as how something as trivial as an ill-considered comment or an unexpected facial can do irreparable harm to a relationship, DIMAM, it stands to reason a declined marriage proposal can do lasting harm.

I'm not saying that you necessarily fucked things up irreparably by not accepting your boyfriend's proposal---it's a good thing that you take marriage seriously enough not to want to rush in to it---but if you do see yourself marrying this man one day, you might want to go back and say yes.

Accepting a marriage proposal, DIMAM, only means you're engaged. An engagement doesn't obligate you to follow through with the wedding; think of it as going steady on steroids. It does obligate you to move toward marriage in good faith, to work on "any and all" issues that can be resolved and keep your eyes peeled for deal-breaking issues that can't, and to shit or get off the pot within a reasonable period of time. But that's all.Oh, and speaking of gays marrying...Homos are marrying in California as of this week (congrats to all), and should a tornado---or an earthquake or a meteor or the Incredible Hulk---flatten, say, San Francisco's City Hall during a big gay wedding, respected leaders of the religious right will rush to cable broadcast studios to insist that the tornado/earthquake/meteor/Hulk was god's divine judgement, his righteous wrath, the baby Jesus's latest temper tantrum, wockawocka wocka.

"I believe that the judgement of god is a very real thing," said the Rev. John Hagee, John McCain's ex-BFF, when asked about Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans just before a "massive homosexual rally," AKA an annual street party called "Southern Decadence," was supposed to take place in the French Quarter. "I believe that the Bible teaches that when you violate the law of god, that god brings punishment sometimes before the day of judgement. And I believe that Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgement of god against the city of New Orleans."And god got his way: By drowning all those little old ladies in their attics in the Ninth Ward, god prevented that massive gay rally---for one year.

So how does a douchebag like Hagee explain away the tragedy in Iowa last week? A tornado struck a Boy Scout camp, killing four and injuring scores more, and the Scouts are famously antigay and anti-atheist. Well, we need only to consult the same interview with Rev. Hagee to learn the answer: While all natural phenomena represent god's "permissible will," says Hagee, "it is wrong to say that every natural disaster is the result of sin.... No man on earth knows the mind of god."

See how that works? Not every natural disaster is the result of sin, you see, because sometimes natural disasters happen to us, not just to them, and when they happen to us, well, the lord sure moves in mysterious ways, and no man on earth knows the mind of god. But let a natural disaster strike San Francisco this week, next week or ever again, and Rev. Hagee will be able to read the mind of god like it was a large-print edition of Highlights for Children.

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