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Sex & Intimacy


3 Ways to Save — or Sabotage — Your Marriage

Pepper answers readers' questions about a suspected affair, the effect of sexy poems and the pressure to attend a nudist resort

3 Ways to Save — or Sabotage — Your Marriage


A qualified couple's therapist can lead you to various marriage solutions.

En español | Q: I think my wife is being unfaithful, but I can't prove it. When I asked her point blank, she was indignant that I would "think such a thing."

Still, I don't believe her. I've thought of hiring a detective, but she would never forgive me if she found out. This is torturing me. Any advice?

A: You had better have some rock-solid evidence to make this kind of accusation. Does your wife stay out until 3 in the morning? Does she keep you from looking at her phone or computer? Does she seem to have an especially flirtatious relationship with a neighbor or coworker?

And even if you answered yes to all three questions, you would still lack proof that she's being unfaithful.

But have you painted yourself into a corner? Now you must decide whether to continue living this paranoid existence or to hire a detective — and face the firing squad when she sees the bill.

Happily, there's a third option: Go into couples counseling. A qualified therapist can lead you to a solution — together. If your wife won't accompany you, of course, that may indicate a rupture ahead, but I think you should still seek solo counseling.

Happily married couples generally don't pass their days doubting each other's constancy. The time has come for you to uncover what's happening inside your marriage and — let's hope not — outside it, too.

Q: Lately I've been writing erotic love poems to my wife, and they've really done the job. But now she insists I write one whenever I want to have sex. The pressure is giving me writer's block, but I don't want to disappoint her — or threaten my success!

A: Oh, what an uplifting tradition! But if you're feeling pressure to perform — on the page, that is! — rather than happy appreciation, let the experts pen the prose. The 13th-century Persian poet Rumi was aces at this form, writing hundreds of adoring (and sometimes erotic) poems that you can borrow now. (And attribute, of course. You don't want to wind up like Cyrano de Bergerac.)

For a more modern take, look to e.e. cummings or D.H. Lawrence (Lady Chatterley's Lover), or that famous passage from Ulysses where James Joyce describes his joy at his lover's repeated "Yes" as they make love. (I practically memorized it from my parents' bookshelf as a teenager.)

Indeed, with all the high-class erotica out there, there's no reason for you to become a slave to your muse — or your spouse.

Q: My husband wants me to accompany him to a nudist resort. I would have done this 40 years ago, but let's face it: I don't look like I did back then. He's aggravated, I'm uncomfortable. Should I force myself to do this for the sake of my marriage?

A: I'm totally with you. There are plenty of things I would have done (and did) 30 pounds ago that I wouldn't (and won't) do now.

If I were more politically correct, I would say, "Love your body" and "Why worry what others think?" — but that's easier said than done.

Most people who are nudists are hardly calendar models, and it's important to clarify that few of them see body displays as erotic invitations. Still, I think the rest of us cling to our vanity as tightly as our clothes, making it impossible for us to disrobe before total strangers with utter nonchalance.

So, may I suggest two possible courses of action?

  1. Tell your husband you will try it once — but if you hate it, the deal is off and he is banned from bringing it up again.
  2. Inform him that the iconic Rolling Stones lyric — "You can't always get what you want" — applies to him in this case. As a possible sweetener, you might agree to accompany him to a nude beach. But make it clear beforehand that you plan only to witness, not follow, the local customs there.

Got a question for Dr. Pepper Schwartz about dating, love, relationships or sex? Send it to

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