Is a trial separation the answer?

My wife and I were high-school sweethearts. We have been together for 13 years and married for seven. I am 29 and she is 28.

Dear Annie: My wife and I were high-school sweethearts. We have been together for 13 years and married for seven. I am 29 and she is 28. Like every couple, we have had our ups and downs, but nothing that couldn’t be resolved, until this year.

We used to be so spontaneous, but now our sexual relationship is over. She doesn’t want to touch, kiss, hold hands, nothing. She says she still loves me, but can’t give me what I want as far as affection or sex and I need to find it somewhere else.

She has asked for a separation so we both can clear our heads.

I can’t figure out what’s going on. She tells me there is no affair, and I believe and trust her. I love my wife with all my heart. She is so beautiful and sexy. How could she lose the desire to be passionate? I have tried to figure things out, but it seems I only make it worse and push her farther away.

We have a five-year-old girl, and I don’t want to break up our family. My wife says she has no time for me now and thinks a separation will help us get back that spark. I can tell whenever I am with her, she would clearly rather be doing something else. Every conversation ends with her becoming angry and picking a fight. I need some friendly advice. – Lonely in North Carolina

Dear Lonely: The birth of a child can change the relationship between a husband and wife, but whatever is going on, you seem oblivious and your wife isn’t letting you in on the secret. Please ask her to go with you for counseling so you can work on this without becoming angry. Say it is for the sake of your daughter. If she refuses, go without her. Something is going on and you need to figure it out.

Dear Annie: My husband and I recently celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a party. In the invitations, we requested no gifts, but several people brought them anyway.

One couple gave us something that was obviously re-gifted. We have no problems with re-gifting, but this was a beautiful glass platter with the other couple’s names engraved on it, along with the date of their last anniversary.

What do I do? The couple that gave it to us either forgot it was engraved or never fully opened the package to begin with. Should we return it, saying we are sure they wrapped it by mistake, or do we simply send a thank-you note and get rid of the platter? I don’t want to hurt their feelings, but I would feel terrible throwing away such a lovely personalized gift. – Stymied in Ohio

Dear Stymied: We have to assume the couple had no idea this platter was engraved. Re-gifting is usually more subtle. Please call, thank them and explain that you are certain they brought the lovely platter to the party in error and you are anxious to return it as soon as possible since they must surely want it back. (It might even be true.)

Dear Annie: I have another suggestion for “Louisville Lass,” who wants the grandparents to limit the number of toys they give to the children.

We had that situation in our family. My daughter-in-law requested no toys, explaining that the kids were overwhelmed. When I saw with my own eyes what she was talking about, I suggested that we grandparents give “experiences” instead of presents.

Now, as gifts, we take them to kid-friendly places, museums, trips and such. As they got older, we added books and gift cards.

The time we spend with our grandchildren makes wonderful memories. I admit, we sometimes bought gifts anyway, but we expanded the idea of what a present means. – Happy Grandma aka Nana

Dear Nana: We love these gifts – they create bonds to cherish forever.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to