Ask E. Jean For DearSugar: Am I Just Being Used?


Dear E. Jean,

My wife displays no affection for me whatsoever! When we first met, it was like magic. I lived in a big city in an upscale neighborhood and had a thriving business. I was 37, never married, no kids. She was divorced with seven kids.

I knocked on her door while campaigning for a friend’s Senate position, and the rest is history. I was at the point in my life where I was tired of looking for my soul mate. My family thought I was nuts for marrying her. But it was something I always wanted — a lot of kids and a beautiful wife.

We married, I bought a ranch, and we moved.

Now, here comes the bombshell: She tells me that she was a prostitute to support her kids. She stopped just two weeks before our meeting. Her pimp (a prominent local businessman) is still calling the house after four years wanting to hook her up.

In the meantime, I’m catering to her every need, because I know she had a very difficult time in the past. I’m doing all the shopping, taking the kids to school, and basically running the house. I write her love notes, bring her flowers, chocolates, and give her massages. When we make love, she tells me she’s never felt that way before.

However, I’ve begun to notice she doesn’t and hasn’t done anything for me. No attention, no initiation, no love or affection. No cards. No love notes. I’ve tried to talk to her about it. She says that if one person (me) is initiating the love in the marriage, that’s all that’s needed.

I feel unwanted. I’m losing confidence in myself. I feel like a dog chained to a tree that doesn’t get any food or water. I love her but I feel as though I’m being badly used. Help! — Lost in Texas

To see E. Jean's answer, read more.

My Dear, Dear Texas,

You pierce my heart! My man, you deserve love notes from every woman in America! If I had your address. I would send you 33 pounds of chocolates, then fly to Texas to help you eat them. But as for your wife . . .

I’m guessing she can’t show affection to any man. I’m guessing she’s so hungry for love herself, so busy with the children, so exhausted, she can’t even see your needs. I’m guessing she spent so many years being paid to love gnarly, greasy, brutal, stupid, selfish men, spent so many years pretending to love their idiot sex fantasies — turning tricks to feed her children has got to be one of the toughest ways to earn money in the world — she doesn’t know how to handle the real deal from a spectacular guy like you.

Pardon me, I don’t want to add to your pain, but I think you will have to accept her as she is — flaws and all. You can’t make her be affectionate. Until she learns to love herself (and she will probably have to go to a therapist to get a new perspective on herself) she won’t be able to love you as you deserve.

Of course, you can do a hundred little things to nudge her along — you can ask her to tell you she loves you. You can ask her to give you a kiss. You can use humor — write a love letter to yourself, ask her to sign it, and then mail it to yourself (and when it arrives, rip it open, read it aloud, and praise her for her, ahem, “gorgeous writing style”). But in the end, it will always come down to one thing: You are too good for her.

To see more advice from E. Jean, visit Elle magazine and AskEJean.com.

Latest