Opinions on marital duties

(52 Posts)
GusFringsGString Mon 30-Sep-13 12:51:52

Hi,
This is a really tricky question to ask with coming across as a real twat. Anyway I was just interested in seeing the general opinions on marital duties in the bedroom. I 've been conditioned into believing (not sure on this one) believe that no partner should accept the idea of marital duties as sexual contact should always be between two fully consenting adults.
Any thoughts appreciated, happy to take abuse if appropriate.

AgathaF Thu 10-Oct-13 20:00:05

I agree with 78 re the not having sex. Although perhaps you could do no sex for a month, but commit to no strings attached massage once a week? Make it a comfortable, relaxing time, rather than a prelude to something else.

I don't think telling her to initiate all the time is good either. Too much pressure on her.

I know you're between a rock and a hard place (scuse the pun) but maybe concentrating on maintaining some couple time in your relationship whilst the DC are young is the best thing. Keeping the building blocks in place for when the DC are older and things get a little bit more back to 'normal'.

78bunion Thu 10-Oct-13 19:28:23

I think not having sex for a month probably won't help. If you keep having it even if your wife is not that keen that is better because it keeps it going and you don't move into a phase of no sex ever which so many couples get into. Also once you get started she might get more into it.

Nor do I think you can leave it to her to initiate it when she wants it as she probably wants to feel attractive and your initiating it surely helps with that.

May be there are sexual things she wants to try and could talk about that or perhaps she's just so exhausted because of small children you just have to keep having some sex even if it's only once a week to keep it going and then it will improve once she is less tired and the children are a bit older.

AgathaF Thu 10-Oct-13 10:57:21

I think time to be 'grown-ups' can only be a good thing. It is difficult when you don't have much in the way of family support though.

Rather than a complete stranger looking after the children, what about older teenage children of people you work with, older, retired neighbours, setting up a babysitting circle with other parents locally, asking friends/neighbours with young children who they use and using them too?

Lots of hotels also organise babysitters in the room, so that parents can at least go and eat out for a few hours. That might be better than nothing.

GusFringsGString Thu 10-Oct-13 08:58:27

DW and I had an interesting discussion about this last night. We had a completely failed attempt at sex after DS woke up in the middle of it. It was already going terribly and it was fairly obvious it was pity sex. I thought I'd laid the pressure off but it's clear it's still there. It's definitely 'the elephant in the room'. This prompted us to have a prolonged chat about where our sex life was and what had gone wrong.
I'd like perspective on how awful this sounds, but it feels better today just for knowing that DW was thinking of me, rather than taking the view that it was all my problem and leaving me to deal with it. I obviously hate that she still feels obligated to have sex because of things I have said.
So, for me anyway, last night has brought up some other issues. She admitted to feeling like there was a quota and that her mind was on it all the time. The next time we dtd I'm probably going to be wondering what her motivations are and if she's going to enjoy it.
I'm looking for a way to relieve the pressure on DW. I suggested taking sex off the table for a month. She thought that might help but on the understanding that it would still be feasible if we were in the mood. I.e. No point abstaining just for the sake of it. I pointed out that I don't feel able to initiate sex any more for risk of rejection and adding more pressure, it had to come from her if at all. And I was quite clear that there was no expectation that anything would happen.
My wife's quite realistic. She knows that if we're not in the habit of having sex, her libido is only going one way. So ultimately we'll consign ourselves to a month of abstinence at which point the elephant will rear it's ugly head again and this time twice as big as before.
So I'm not really sure where to go from here.
In terms of our wider situation, we have little support network. My mum is preoccupied with my sisters children and offers little help, DW's parent live hundreds of miles away. I think we need multiple dates, time with each other and I need to prove to DW that I'm not expecting each one to end in passion. The problem is we're very reluctant to hire a baby sitter and my mum makes it abundantly clear that babysitting is a huge inconvenience to her. Consequently we've been out half a dozen times in DS's life and we've never spent a night away from either. It seems I have two choices, lay it on the line to mum that our happiness is at stake if she doesn't step up or we bite the bullet and decide to trust a stranger to look after our children.

GusFringsGString Thu 10-Oct-13 08:29:35

Keepithidden, I've finally made the time to read your thread. I wish I had earlier. I don't think my situation is anywhere near as bad as yours. I didn't quite get to the end but I hope you managed to resolve things in a way that spared everyone's feelings as far as possible. And I hope you managed to find a bit more happiness.
I feel totally unreasonable about this now because recently there has been an improvement in our sex life. The issue though is that our libidos are at totally different ends of the spectrum. For the first 17 months of DS's life I coped (actually wasn't that bothered) by sorting myself out / watching a lot of porn. I didn't realise how bad the situation was.
Then out of blue, and for the first time in 2 months) we had really wild amazing sex probably three nights in a row.
That got me thinking, suddenly the penny dropped. I realised we'd settled into being Mum and Dad and on our current path we were heading for a 'living arrangement' rather than a fulfilling marriage.
There was a change in me that happened overnight. I think of the pressure I was putting on DW, I just wanted her to know how I felt about her, that I still found her attractive. Bearing in mind we'd been at it regularly I stupidly thought she was in the same place. Rather than realising I inadvertently began to heap more pressure on while simultaneously feeling rejected and insecure.
In some respects the damage had already been done, but the way I've dealt with it has made it a hundred times more difficulty to fix.
Since then sex has been fairly sporadic. Occasionally twice a week but sometimes not for two weeks. I know that's not awful and a massive improvement on where we were but when you have a racing libido it's very difficult being completely reasonable.

78bunion Wed 09-Oct-13 15:08:58

I am a huge fan of lots of sleep for making people healthy and happy (and sexy). It sounds like you cannot force it on your wife however.

I certainly found if I'd been up breastfeeding every 2 or 3 hours every night for 2 months and sometimes up with a crying baby between 2 and 4am I could sleep any time any place whether 2pm, 9am or 8pm but I'm lucky I suppose that I can sleep anywhere.

GusFringsGString Wed 09-Oct-13 13:17:08

I've felt for a long time that sleep is really important, my own mood is drastically influenced by the amount of sleep I have. I've therefore put a lot of focus on improving DW's sleep but there are a couple of obstacles. DW is incapable of sleeping in the day. Then after a busy day she's reluctant to go to bed early because she is losing her 'me' time.
If I was to criticise my wife for one thing it is that she has a tendency to identify problems and loses the motivation to resolve them when things pick up. We tend to end up in a bit of a cycle. I do feel at the moment that things are being left to me to sort out. And especially when I can't bring up my underlying motivation it only adds to the feelings of resentment.
As with anyone there are always many demands on our time and you prioritise as best as you can. To be fair to my wife, this is what my wife has done but probably not the full picture of my feelings because I don't feel able to communicate them fully.

78bunion Wed 09-Oct-13 11:25:05

rooty has some very good advice.
Also finding it hard to understand these women who won't leave their children with the husband at weekends! Don't they wanta break? We had a period where I had the children on Saturdays whilst he did what he wanted or worked and then on Sundays we swapped. Obviously when they are still breastfeeding it's harder but even then you can feed and then leave the baby with its father and spend 2 hours asleep, reading the paper or going for a walk on your own. I wonder if I felt able to do that because I worked full time and women at home all the time find it harder to take a break at weekends?

Keepithidden Wed 09-Oct-13 08:55:21

Gus, are you my cyber-doppleganger? Your situation and response seems unerringly familiar re: sex linked self esteem issues, the elephant in the room following attempts at communication, guilty of putting pressure on before leaving the subject indefinitely.

For what it's worth the three years I mentioned was based on a few other posters (on this thread as well as in relationships) saying they didn't feel like sex for upto 5 years post childbirth. I haven't read anything suggesting this drop in libido is likely to last longer, but everyone is different so I guess it could. Hopefully you'll be at the other end of the spectrum and things will improve in the shorter term. I am a natural pessimist and recently have been feeling a bit down about the whole thing so please don't take my opinion as gospel.

Regarding my situation and my understanding (or lack of) my wife's feelings I think she is rightly investing her emotional energy into DCs, and has been throughout their lives. I worry that she's not leaving enough left for herself though. I'm not sure what'll happen in three years time (or another arbitrary time limit) it may be that as DCs grow older and more independant she starts to focus a bit more on herself and her happiness and then maybe us. I'm not kidding myself that this hasn't (and the near future won't) been/be a difficult time for us and I'm not sure that when she has rediscovered herself that I will figure in the picture, but on my previous thread it was pointed out that I had made marriage vows "for better or worse" and this is the worse bit, neither of us are breaking our vows at the moment and I'm determined to continue, I love my wife and will not leave her unless wants me to...

Anyway, hope things get better for you one way or another.

rootypig Wed 09-Oct-13 07:59:02

You sound like a lovely husband. Get DW to the doctor to have her iron checked and for a chat while she's there. I went to the doctor months post DC and ended up weeping uncontrollably. I hadn't realised how bad I felt.

GusFringsGString Wed 09-Oct-13 07:31:11

I wouldn't for one minute want anyone to think I'm complaining about my contribution. My wife is such a great Mum, and a fantastic wife. I try hard because she tries hard.
She had PND with both children, she insists she's over that but I do understand that has had an impact and why our libidos have diverged significantly.
We have spoken about the problem. It's clear that she sees it as my problem if she's not in the mood. I've also been guilty of putting pressure on her by talking to her and saying how important it is to me. Talking about it now only makes things worse so I've decided to drop the subject indefinitely before it become the 'elephant in the room' any more than it already is.
I'm working hard on the touchy feely stuff but I know I can do better in terms of more foot rubs, massages, etc.
I fancy my wife an unbelievable amount. I tell her constantly.
It's good to know I'm on the right track I suppose. Thanks for the advice.

rootypig Wed 09-Oct-13 06:21:37

Typically I arrive home after work and offer the shoulder to cry on / emotional support, sort washing, wash up, help with dinner prep (I arrive to late to take on full responsibility for cooking though). I have full bathing responsibilities (which is now my time in the week that I get to spend with the children) and try to encourage DW to rest while I do this before putting DS to bed. We have an arrangement where she takes off one day a fortnight away from the children and cooking. I could in theory do a bit more I suppose. When we're both at home I aim for at least 50-50 with some added headspace for DW.

Christ, you sound marvellous, where did you come from?!!?!? grin

Seriously though, it sounds as though there are two distinct parts to what's going on. You know that DW is having a hard time, and is shattered, if not suffering medical fatigue. She needs to get to the doctor but is having a hard time making it happen. So help her. Ask her when she can go. Does she need you to take time off work so she can go without DC? Is she afraid to go? see if you can talk to her about it. If she doesn't want to talk, get home early, make dinner, put her in a hot bath, then try. Has she had a touch - or more - PND, or depression? Is she happy with the balance in her life? would she rather be at work than at home? understand that motherhood wrecks your body, seriously messes with your sanity, and annihilates your identity and self esteem - for some women this lasts a few weeks. For many/most, a lot longer. It may take her a few years to come out the other side. People who feel tired and crap about themselves don't want to engage in intimacy. They don't want to feel vulnerable and exposed.

Only once she is well in herself can you really address the question of sex in your marriage. And the short answer for me is, without sex, it aint a marriage (because sex brings intimacy, which I think can't be compensated for in other ways). And to keep a sex life up, you have to have a lot of I-don't-really-feel-like-it-but-let's-have-a-go sex. That is NOT anywhere near not consenting. It is thinking I would like to have sex with this person in an ideal world, but I'm so fucking tired/cross/fat/whatever that I won't. And then thinking it doesn't matter I'm tired/cross/fat/whatever, once we get going I'll forget that.

Other people feel differently and that's ok - unless two people in the same marriage see it differently. (FastLoris said it better.) You need to be honest with DW about your need for sex and how closely it is bound up with your identity and self esteem.

Do you still fancy your wife? love her? does she know that? are you sure? Unfortunately with most things in life wanting to receive more usually means giving more first.

Finally, like anything, it's a habit, and if you get out of the habit, it can seem like a mountain to climb. Reintroduce sex gently, start touching her more without expecting anything in return. Foot and head rubs, build from there.

And yeah, learn to be happy with less. Sorry smile

GusFringsGString Wed 09-Oct-13 05:54:50

I actually 'Sort DCs out at weekend mornings to allow for a potential lie in, offer to regularly take them out for the day etc.'
Despite my best efforts I still can't stop her feeling so much like a Mum all the time.
Three years sounds like a very long time to wait which is making me think this is not just about sex for me. It's wrapped up with self esteem issues, needing to know she wants me more and understands my needs better.

FastLoris Tue 08-Oct-13 22:12:24

There's nothing wrong with one partner in a relationship having sex when they don't particularly feel like to, to satisfy the other. That's just one example of similar things that couples do for each other all the time. There's this weird idea on mumsnet that conflates any kind of sex that doesn't involve both parties being wild with uncontrollable desire, as practically rape. LOL - after a kid or two, good luck waiting for those conditions to be met.

There are a few issues to consider here. One is that both parties in a relationship will consider what they put into it and what they get out of it, and make a decision whether it's worth them staying in it. Usually, for at least one party, "what you put into it" involves putting up with having either more or less sex than you'd ideally want. There's no particular moral difference between the "more" or "less" though - couples just have to work out between themselves how they can both be "happy enough".

Another is that once you have children, the ratio between what you have to put in and what you get out changes radically, as you basically become a life-support mechanism for your kids. So it's not realistic to judge the cost:benefit situation the same way as you did before having kids.

A miserable sex life is only one of the many symptoms of children appropriating the life force that used to be yours to spend. Better get used to it.

Keepithidden Tue 08-Oct-13 21:15:23

Gus - I agree with other posters, it sounds like you do a lot. I can empathise I try to split the houseworkload 50:50 here too. I've encouraged DW to go out on her own (without me or DCs) without much success and tried to give her some space for herself too. Sort DCs out at weekend mornings to allow for a potential lie in, offer to take them out for the day etc. It's not much use when she doesn't want to though and I think it's just a matter of making the environment secure enough to feel she can do these things without any pressure. Let her enjoy being a Mum before finding herself again, then fingers crossed she'll rediscover you!

I've come to the conclusion in my situation that it is just a "suck it up" and hope things improve as the DCs get older. I'm working on a worst case scenario of 3+ more years of an unfulfilling sex life because smallest DC is 2 so hopefully by school age things will have reached some kind of equilibrium. I've gone through 4/5 years of this so figure another three can't be too bad. Actually that's not true, I've just booked in to counselling to try and reconcile my selfishness with DWs wants/needs so hopefully the next three years should be better than the last. I'll let you know how it goes...

78bunion Tue 08-Oct-13 19:04:27

If you want a parent at home perhaps just swap - she goes out full time and you stay at home and then she might feel like more sex although if you've been holding screaming toddlers all day and not had a second and are covered in baby mess you might feel like less sex yourself....

She might just want time utterly alone in the house at weekends with no jobs to do so you could take the children about for 3 or 4 hours so she can simply sleep in the house. I used to take the youngest two to the gym at the weekend and they would go in the creche for 2 hours and I just slept on a bed outside the sauna - the only thing in the world I wanted or needed was that extra afternoon sleep.

Sounds to me like you do a lot, although you haven't described your weekend routine.

Do remember that it gets easier from this point onwards. The hardest time for us was when our children were the same age. In a year's time your elder child will be getting pretty close to school and your younger child needing slightly less attention.

My DW was a SAHM, but decided (when DC2 wasn't much older than yours) that she'd had enough and that it would be better both for DC2 and her that she got a job. I let her come to her own conclusion on this, and didn't interfere (it was clearly the right choice IMO).

GusFringsGString Tue 08-Oct-13 16:43:57

Great ideas 78, however..
We've discussed DW going back to work but we have decided against it because overall it is in the children's best interest. DW has previously stated that giving up her career resulted in her losing herself somewhat. I've always been supportive of her going back to work of she wanted to, there's an argument to be made that it is the best for the family. I get the impression though that DW is apprehensive of going back to work and that it is easier to retain the status quo. The discussions tend to happen after a tough week, then the issue goes away for her in the good weeks.there's never a period of sustained motivation for her. The issue may crop up again and that might be the time to push a bit harder.
I've also, on numerous occasions recently, raised the idea of DW going out with her friends, probably to the point that she's finding it annoying. All her friends are mums which severely restricts opportunities. She's given a clear indication that she wouldn't appreciate me taking the initiative and organising something for her.
So that doesn't leave me much in the way of options.

78bunion Tue 08-Oct-13 13:09:46

1. If she went back to full time work she might feel sexier.
2. Perhaps you deal with housework whilst looking after the children all day on Saturday whilst she sleeps in or has a nap all afternoon and goes out on her own. That is likely to make her want more sex.

GusFringsGString Tue 08-Oct-13 12:27:42

I think I'm fairly involved husband and Dad. Typically I arrive home after work and offer the shoulder to cry on / emotional support, sort washing, wash up, help with dinner prep (I arrive to late to take on full responsibility for cooking though). I have full bathing responsibilities (which is now my time in the week that I get to spend with the children) and try to encourage DW to rest while I do this before putting DS to bed. We have an arrangement where she takes off one day a fortnight away from the children and cooking. I could in theory do a bit more I suppose. When we're both at home I aim for at least 50-50 with some added headspace for DW. I think that's pretty good but tell me if I should be doing more.
Most evenings neither of us sit down until 8:30 apart from DW's short rest. This is a large part of the problem but there always seems so much to do.
I think most posts are confirming what I thought - I'm pretty much lumbered with the situation. I suppose any suggestions for dealing with it on my own would be helpful. Resentment and sex are proving to be an unhealthy mixture for me and I'd rather it didn't get any worse.

Pleasing one's partner without actually wanting sex oneself can be something done out of pure kindness and generosity. There is nothing wrong with that - but what makes it an act of kindness and generosity is precisely because it's not a duty and isn't to be expected. It's easy to think that one has a right to expect to be treated the same way as one treat's one's spouse. But - assuming the marriage is happy - I don't think things work that way - it turns sexual favours into accounts receivable, and I can't think of a bigger turn-off than that.

So I'd say, good for you for pleasuring your wife when you yourself weren't in the mood - but don't assume that means you can expect the same from her. I hope her gratitude comes back to you in other ways, of course.

All this is of course very different from resignedly consenting to a shag out of a sheer sense of duty.

blueshoes Tue 08-Oct-13 10:59:54

Until my youngest was 5 and above, I was wiped out and not particularly interested in sex. I did not particularly want to 'sort it out' because that would just add yet another thing I have to do to my already laden plate of household duties, childcare and work. I would not have taken it well if my dh imposed any pressure on me of wanting to have sex.

At the same time, I realise that it is not a great deal for my dh to always have to wank himself off. So maybe once a week, I would give him a handjob, blowjob or quick sex. Guess you could call it 'duty sex'. I think he knew I was just doing it to please him, but thankfully he did not make an issue of it.

Now that my dcs are settled in ft school, I have come out of my shell a lot more and dressing up and looking good. My sex drive has also perked up. Will be happy to do it 2-3x a week, if not more on holiday.

I think your wife needs to sort her health out. But her sex drive will take a little longer. It helps if you could ease the burden on her by taking on more of the childcare, housework, admin etc. I am not sure how much you help out around the house but feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work on my shoulders contributed to the state of affairs. It is hard on both parents when the children are young. It might not be a cure, but both parents pulling their weight is the way it should be anyway.

Keepithidden Tue 08-Oct-13 08:39:16

Agatha - That'd be me then! Nope, not the same poster. Similar problems though re: selfishness, entitlement and lack of communication, all on my part I hasten to add.

AgathaF Tue 08-Oct-13 07:27:58

You may be this poster with a name change, but if not perhaps this thread could be useful to you?

GusFringsGString Tue 08-Oct-13 05:39:32

DW finds it very difficult to switch off from being a mum. DS is 18 months and DD is 3.5. They leave her shattered at the end of the day. There are other understandable reasons for her not wanting sex.
At the moment I don't feel like she is looking after herself. She suffers from fatigue / suspected anaemia. She promised over a week ago that she would go to the doctors but so far hasn't organised anything. I told it was REALLY important that she went to the doctors (I didn't put it down to having more energy for sex as it would be very important anyway). So as I lay here in bed, going over things in my head, I'm feeling resentful that she isn't doing what's in her power to make things better. I do feel unreasonable about the way I feel. But that still doesn't stop me feeling so sexually frustrated.

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