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Elizabeth, baffled by Daniel’s disappointment, wondered: How great does sex have to be for a person to be happy?
Daniel wondered: Don’t I have the right to care this much about sex, about intimacy?
One seismic shift in a marriage often drives another.
In the fall of 2015, Elizabeth met a man at a Parkinson’s fund-raiser.
He was relieved to find, as the years passed, that he still loved his wife — they kissed hello each time they reunited, they made each other laugh and he was someone inclined to appreciate what he had. But as with any happy marriage, there were frustrations.
Daniel liked sex, and not long after they were married, it became clear that Elizabeth’s interest in it had cooled.
He eventually even wrote about it in 2009 for a friend who had a blog about sexuality.
They had two children, and he pointed out that having the second did not detract from how much they loved the first one. “It is not finite.” He was not surprised when Elizabeth rejected the idea; he had mostly raised it as a way of communicating the urgency of his needs.
Elizabeth did not resent him for bringing it up, but felt stuck: She was not even sure what, exactly, he wanted from her, or how she could give it.
He started to think of the ring as if it were radioactive, an object burning holes in his flesh.
A month into the marriage, he took it off and never got around to replacing it.