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My mum has confided in me - she is frustrated and unhappy due to lack of intimacy with my dad. What advice should I give her?

(23 Posts)
fringillavigo Fri 08-Jan-16 18:47:57

My mum is in her early fifties and has been married to my dad for over 20 years. Dad is also in his early fifties. I am quite close to my mum and she is comfortable talking to me about personal matters, much as I feel the same telling her about mine. During one of our recent chats, she told me she isn't happy and hasn't been for a long time. The reason she gave was that her and my dad have not DTD for over four years. She also said they very rarely kiss nowadays and he does not show much affection towards her. She feels they are now little more than good friends who share the same bed. She does not want to leave my dad as she still loves him, but she doesn't want the present situation to continue as it's making her feel miserable and unloved.

It's only been a few days since my mum told me about all this. I love my parents and don't want them to get a divorce. Is there any hope for their marriage at this point? What advice should I give her, if any? A few people might be thinking it's none of my business etc, but my mum wouldn't have told me if she didn't want me to know.

GarlicBake Fri 08-Jan-16 18:55:52

If he has erectile dysfunction or depression, she needs to get him to the doctor. First thing, of course: they need to talk about what's changed. Have they?

Hillfarmer Fri 08-Jan-16 18:57:11

Advise your mum to get some professional advice - a Relate counsellor or GP.

You are not her counsellor and I would really advise you not to get dragged into your parents' marriage problems. Not healthy, since her husband is also your dad. Try to sympathise and then detach by strongly urging her to seek outside help, talking to her female friends, GP etc. She is putting you in an uncomfortable position to say the least.

WeAllHaveWings Fri 08-Jan-16 19:19:45

I think it is very disrespectful of you mum to discuss her problems with your dad with you regardless of how close you are. Its just not right to discuss sex and intimacy problems with your child and ask for advice. I assume your dad doesn't know and would probably be embarrassed if he did know.

I would stop any future conversations of this nature and advise her to speak to her sisters/friends, or preferably her husband and/or GP/counsellors.

3littlefrogs Fri 08-Jan-16 19:50:43

She needs to talk to your dad, not you. I can understand why she did confide in you, but you are not in a position to help. Can you imagine how your dad would feel if he knew?

An honest conversation with him, then a visit to GP or relate is the way to go.

IguanaTail Fri 08-Jan-16 19:52:53

I agree. Inappropriate and awkward.

tb Fri 08-Jan-16 19:55:02

He could have low levels of testosterone - it's quite common and can be treated by capsules, patches or injections. It can be a side effect of some auto-immune disorders like sarcoidosis.

Sounds as if he needs a trip to the GP - do they do a well-man clinic, might be worth him having an MOT.

BoboChic Fri 08-Jan-16 19:56:34

While people think its icky for parents to discuss their sex life with their own adult DC, I'm afraid that DP's father does this too, with DP - you are not alone, OP.

I think your mother needs to address this issue with your father directly.

TooSassy Fri 08-Jan-16 20:00:34

Oh OP. Sorry but another vote here in the it's not appropriate camp.

It's very different for you to confide in her. The person she is confiding to you about is your dad. At a physical level, gross! But more importantly at an emotional level that's a horrible position to put you in. Of course you don't want your parents to divorce.

She needs to talk to your dad. And not ever tell him she has had this convo with you

GarlicBake Fri 08-Jan-16 20:06:22

Not every family carries this taboo forward into the children's adulthood. It's clear that OP's mum needs [1] to talk to her husband, and [b] seek professional guidance depending on the outcomes of that talk. But it's not automatically icky or inappropriate, unless OP feels it so. They are two adult women who know each other well.

GarlicBake Fri 08-Jan-16 20:06:59

1 and 2 or a and b, sorry!

WeAllHaveWings Sat 09-Jan-16 00:26:20

I can't see how it would ever be appropriate for a mother to talk to her dd about her dad not wanting/able to DTD without the dads knowledge or permission! It's not a taboo, it's an unacceptable invasion of her dads privacy and personal details to his daughter. If the dad was aware of the conversation and they were looking for help together that would be different, but still icky and awkward

Hillfarmer Sat 09-Jan-16 00:32:13

GarlicBake - I couldn't disagree with you more. It's not about 'carrying a taboo forward' as if that was in some way dysfunctional. It's inappropriate because it is distinctly not just 'two adult women who know each other well' - it is about one adult woman giving far too much information about her intimate life with the other woman's father. It's all too much. It's not about taboos, it's about healthy boundaries.

LovelyFriend Sat 09-Jan-16 01:01:28

Advise her to join MN and seek her own advice

GarlicBake Sat 09-Jan-16 01:02:56

about her intimate life with the other woman's father - yes, the speaker's husband.

I'm obviously missing something here. Is it that women see their father as sexually belonging to them, or that they can't bear to think of him as a human male with a sex life?

I've got to say either sounds slightly dysfunctional to me, but I'm not saying you're wrong and I'm right. I'm saying I don't think there's any hard and fast rule here.

Families have their own taboos, and you are describing a taboo here, there's no other way of looking at it. Fair enough. There are families that find it disgusting to talk money, for instance, or politics. My family has its own little rules, many of which doubtless seem weird to outsiders.

OP hasn't come back to say whether she feels uncomfortable about it.

IguanaTail Sat 09-Jan-16 01:26:25

She obviously doesn't feel uncomfortable about it, otherwise she would have stopped the conversation at the outset.

FanjofortheMammaries Sat 09-Jan-16 02:33:04

I also think it's inappropriate and would suggest she speaks to her gP

DioneTheDiabolist Sat 09-Jan-16 02:41:06

I think that Relate is a great idea.smile

TooSassy Sat 09-Jan-16 07:54:28

This isn't about taboo.

It's about an emotional relationship, the one of father to daughter. The OP doesn't need the concern of them getting a divorce. She's an adult but she'll always be the child in this relationship. That never goes away, even when we are old.

OP. Get your mum to post here. She will get lots of great advice.

TheDowagerCuntess Sat 09-Jan-16 09:38:55

I agree with the suggestion that the Mum posts here for advice - makes far more sense than the OP receiving advice that she can pass on...

Fairenuff Sat 09-Jan-16 10:00:14

What an odd OP.

There is no way we can advise you other than to suggest your mum does the obvious - talk to him and/or speak to a professional such as gp or counsellor.

Or she could post here. As a go-between OP, there isn't much more anyone can suggest to you.

7to25 Sat 09-Jan-16 14:07:52

I am in my mid fifties and thought that I would reply, ignoring any apropriateness issues.
I know a fair few women who have separated and divorced in their fifties (and a couple who are widowed) . They have not moved into loving sexually satisfying relationships. I realise that this is only from my observation but why would she leave a long-term relationship for scraps? That is what she would get. The happiest is living with a 75 year old widower. One has an at-arms- length boyfriend who does not get on with her daughter. If she has assets, she will be attractive to scroungers. One was dumped when she got breast cancer. Actually make that two. Forgot about her!
She need to talk to your Dad and find the reason. It could be depression, medication or vascular disease causing erectile dysfunction. He might not fancy her anymore. He might think "those days are over" he might just be in a rut that he needs hauling out of. We don't know.
Talk then GP if appropriate.

GarlicBake Sat 09-Jan-16 14:44:24

My mother moved into a loving sexually satisfying relationship at the age of 70 (still ongoing.) Your general point is valid, though, 7. It's a thought that also occurred to me when reading the OP. This doesn't mean she should settle for a sexless friendship with her husband without taking sensible steps to address the problem.

A lot, too, depends on how the lack of intimacy expresses itself. It nearly killed me while my first marriage was breaking down - the loneliness of being with someone who doesn't want anything to do with you physically can be infinitely more painful than simply being alone.

I had an enjoyable amount of meaningless sex with various partners in my early fifties grin and probably still could, ten years on.

It's not either-or, but more of a balancing exercise for each individual. First, though, she does need to find out what the problem is.

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