ASK AMY: The husband faces the call of his libido as an elder

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Dear Amy: My wife has advanced dementia.

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After four years of being her sole caregiver, I had to place her in an assisted living memory care facility last year.

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After five months of psychotherapy and antidepressants, I finally got over my deep guilt and the feeling of having let it down.

Time has shown it was the right thing to do. Our 55 years together and our four children have faded from his memory.

This is the source of my dilemma. Our high school graduating class has a virtual group on social media.


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I wrote about my wife’s dementia and my loneliness without her.

Last week I received an e-mail from a woman I had a long, very hot and vigorous affair with in 11th grade, suggesting that we could restore our acquaintance. We haven’t communicated since we broke up decades ago.

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I am very tempted to accept his suggestion.

I have a photo of us at our prom, my arm around an exceptionally pretty girl in a strapless dress who liked to kiss in secluded places. She played my teenage libido like a yo-yo.

I know it’s a fanciful memory. She’s probably grey, wrinkled and overweight like me. But stay….

I haven’t replied yet because I took an oath of fidelity to my wife “until death do us part”, which I honored.

But I wonder if his dying brain doesn’t meet that standard?

Am I not entitled to a little happiness, even as my wife sinks into a thickening fog?

Can you help me?

– Extremely conflicted husband

Dear Conflict: Your decision to place your wife in a memory care center was so agonizing that it sent you into a deep depression. You were wise to seek therapy and treatment.

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If you overstep your own values ​​and respond to this assertive push, your sanity will likely suffer. Discuss it in therapy (use your therapy to discuss your choices beforehand, rather than reacting to events after the fact).

Connecting with old friends from high school will help you reconnect with the man you once were, before this disease took so much from you and your family.

But anyone who would respond to your report of grief and loneliness by immediately implying sexual reconnection is “playing your libido like a yo-yo again.”

The libido of seniors is surprisingly similar to the libido of teenagers. The attraction rush looks dangerous and wild.

As long as you don’t abandon your wife, I don’t consider this situation adultery, but I do believe that your emotional needs would be best served by a supportive, kind, and caring relationship.

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Yes, you absolutely deserve a little happiness, but you have to be discerning about where you are most likely to find it.

This might be the kind of problem you crave right now, but keep in mind that any relationship you get into could have dire consequences for your entire family.

Dear Amy: Some of my loved ones are going through difficult times.

It breaks my heart. I help financially and I support emotionally, but it doesn’t seem to be enough.

I’m so sad. I’ve heard the term “emotionally detached,” but I can’t separate myself from their pain. Now it affects my health.



Dear JW: One aspect of healthy detachment is the realization that while you can—and should—be supportive and compassionate, you don’t have the power to change the course of many human events.

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Detachment is a humble surrender to reality, and if you achieve detachment, you will begin to love people « through » their painful trials, without overwhelming attachment to a specific outcome. The frail person may not survive their illness, the house may be seized, or the divorce may take place, despite your best efforts.

Becoming overwhelmed and worry sick won’t help anyone – in fact, it diminishes your own ability to be of service. In this context, your deep attachment to your own thoughts makes you sick.

Meditating and practicing how to feel your own feelings and then let them go will help you regain your strength.

Dear Amy: I was extremely disappointed with your response to « Open Minded Daughter », which found that she was conceived by sperm donation, even though her parents never told her.

You should have blamed him for contacting his DNA donor before telling his parents!

– Upset

Dear Upset: The culture of privacy/secrecy in her family led her to take matters into her own hands. I understood his impulse.

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