Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Male seeking female perspective

(42 Posts)
vivitron Thu 04-Sep-14 11:16:57

First time post and maybe the last...

I am a 50 something male whose partner of almost 10 years has completely gone off sex following serious illness and subsequent surgery.

Following the operation she has put on lots of weight due to after-effects of illness/operation and side-effects of medication

This has not been helped by the fact that she has also been unable/unwilling to exercise at the gym like she did before

I know she does not like her body shape and has become very self conscious where previously she was the opposite.

She wont even go into private swimming pool on holiday when I am there.

This has all contributed to her loss of interest in sex and the loss of her libido.

We have tried to talk about it, but it always ends in tears as I think she somehow feels inadequate and the converstaion ends.

I now never bring up the subject.

She has basically says that she has lost all interest in sex and now has no sex drive.

I love her so much and would never leave and I want to support her.

Things have settled into a happy relationship, but with one thing missing.

I still have a high sex drive and it depresses me to think of going without sex for the rest of my life.

It depresses me even more when I recall what a fabulous sex life we had.

I find myself going into fantasy land on the internet and doing what I can to satisfy myself.

I know I could proabably start looking at "affair" websites, but I am reluctant to take that step.

In the absence of any discussion with my partner on the subject I am hoping I can get some insight and advice from the ladies one here.

I don't expect any solution to my situation, but it would help if I could understand things a bit better from a female perspective.

LegoCaltrops Thu 04-Sep-14 11:26:23

Try to see it from her point of view. Her body has completely changed & she's clearly not happy with it. Is she better now? Or is she still ill/in pain whatever, with lasting consequences from what she's been through (aside from the body image issues). Try to imagine how you would feel if the tables were turned. Does she get enough sleep, does she work, does she have enough physical/emotional support etc, as needed? If the answer is no to any of those things, she's unlikely to feel very up for things. Also, depending on what/any medication she's on, that could affect things - some medicines can completely kill the libido. As can depression, is she depressed?

<really trying not to be judgemental here>

LegoCaltrops Thu 04-Sep-14 11:27:41

Sorry, that was supposed to say, is she able to work.

PetulaGordino Thu 04-Sep-14 11:30:08

"We have tried to talk about it, but it always ends in tears as I think she somehow feels inadequate and the converstaion ends"

on top of serious health problems and ongoing consequences of that, she now also feels like a failure in terms of satisfying your sexual needs. i'm not surprised the conversations have ended in that way. how would you feel if the situation were reversed?

Iconfuseus Thu 04-Sep-14 11:44:13

I'm sorry to hear you are having these difficulties. It sounds like you are a very sensitive partner and have been trying hard to support your partner through this difficult time.

Without hearing your partners side of things it's really difficult to know what to say. It could be that her reluctance to have sex is emotional and related to her body issues. In that case perhaps you can encourage her to talk about it with you and point out that you love her body the way it is and that you still very much desire her.

If it's because of the medication, that's a bit harder to deal with. Doctors are notorious for not giving a stuff about a women's libedo when they prescribe medication and sometimes the potential side effects for a women's sex drive are not even taken into consideration or researched.

You can't just let the issue lie however. You are entitled to a sex life and you will probably only grow to resent your partner if this issue isn't dealt with.

Would she be willing to go into couples counselling with you to discuss the issue? Do you think that is something you would be willing to do?

Rummikub Thu 04-Sep-14 11:44:39

Do you remain affectionate and tactile without pushing for sex? I think it's important to maintain that intimacy in other ways not sex related.
I felt like this after health issues, ex didnt understand it. Any contact was sexual. I hated it. I think if he'd not pushed and was affectionate without the pressure of sex I may have responded differently. She's gone through a huge life change, probably feels like she's been run over by a truck, maybe even lost her sense of being a woman, I know I did.

kaykayblue Thu 04-Sep-14 11:53:05

Firstly I have to say that I find it truly sad that it seems like you were okay to have a severely unhappy partner, up until the moment where it started to inconvenience your sex life. Sigh.

That aside, this doesn't seem to be a question of someone who has inexplicably just gone off sex. You say that things have settled into a "happy relationship" but I just don't see how that can be the case when someone is totally unhappy in themselves, as your wife seems to be.

You need to stop looking at this from a "sex" issue, and start looking at it from "my partner's happiness and confidence" issue. If the latter gets resolved, then the former should follow.

How long has it been since she had the operation? Weeks? Months? If it's a matter of weeks then you need to suck it up and grow up and help her through this, but if it's longer - say more than 6 months, and she is fully recovered from the illness, then it might be a good time to start talking about how she is feeling.

Rather then bringing it up in a "hey why don't we have sex anymore" or "hey, why are so you shy now" way, you should try sitting down with her and saying something like; "I know that you've been through ALOT recently, and I'm so glad that you have recovered. Even though you have recovered from the illness and surgery, you still seem so unhappy at the moment, and so uncertain about yourself. If you could write a list of what you would need to change in order to be happy again, what would you write on it?"

You might be surprised with what she says. Maybe the weight doesn't bother her. Maybe she is just feeling overwhelmed by everything she has been through and could benefit from counselling. If her weight is an issue - for HER - then I can see why she might not want to go the gym, surrounded by 20 something gym bunnies. But there are workouts she can do at home - without you around watching her - where she won't need to feel self conscious about who is looking at her, and might help her start getting and feeling stronger again.

Maybe she is self conscious about scarring after the operation. It could be a million things. Whatever they are - no matter how trivial they seem to you - don't belittle them. Just accept what she says, and say you would like to support her in overcoming them, but she needs to be prepared to accept these things and work towards resolving them if she is going to be happy again.

Women often cry in difficult situations as it's a way of realising, dealing with and trying to accept your emotions. Men get awkward and try and shut the conversation down, but I don't think that's helpful. If she cries, give her a hug and LET her cry. Let her speak in her own time. If she walks away, let her. But then after ten minutes tell her that she needs to try and re find happiness for her own sake, and to ask her to talk to you when she has had a chance to think about it.

And stop watching porn. I guarantee if she finds out, she will feel a million times worse about herself, as she will assume you are comparing her body to those you are watching on screen.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 04-Sep-14 11:54:25

Your partner has lost confidence in herself & her body and this has created inhibitions which make intimacy problematic. That's not the same as a low sex drive. Someone as you describe needs to feel unconditionally loved and reassured until that confidence comes back and the inhibitions fade.

How long has it been since the surgery?

LegoCaltrops Thu 04-Sep-14 12:00:16

Ok, I asked my DH for his perspective on this. For various reasons I won't go into here, we've been in a similar position, my DH was very patient & didn't pressure me.

Hpw long ago was the illness & surgery? If it's still quite recent & there are ongoing physical issues from this (that you may not be aware of) she is less likely to enjoy sex. I know I wouldn't enjoy sex if I felt ill or in pain.

- You could try to talk to your partner. You've come on here wanting a female perspective, as she won't talk to you, you said as much in your post. We can't tell you how she feels, only how we'd feel. If you (both) value the relationship, you both need to find a way to talk about this, so you each understand how the other feels.
- You could just continue with the internet porn, however ideally this would need to be with the knowledge of your partner - if she's not interested in sex, but wants to continue a relationship with you, she presumably should (logically) accept that you will need to satisfy yourself in other ways. And better this way than affairs etc.
- You could split up. Which you've already said you don't want to do.

You do sound rather as though your focus is all about sex, or the lack of it, in your relationship, it's no wonder she doesn't want to talk about it. She probably feels she isn't able to give you the only thing you want, so she may be wondering why you want to be with her. Perhaps you need to ease off for a bit, make her realise that you value her for other things as well. Perhaps she does know that, but if your conversations are similarly goal oriented as your original post, I can totally see why she would shut down the conversation.

r2d2ismyidealman Thu 04-Sep-14 12:04:21

Hi OP, that sounds like a tough situation. I don't think there will be a standard women's response but here's mine. My OH lost interest in sex. Our sex life hadn't been as good as your sounded so I suppose what I missed was more what it could have been than what it was, but it was still a loss. I also struggled to bring it up with him in a way that didn't raise anxiety, which would've been detrimental. He always just responded saying that we should have more sex but then found lots of reasons to put it off. I took a back seat to try to ease any pressure, and he was amenable to going to the GP but didn't want to arrange it himself which I gently used as a measure of what he wanted. In the end I realised that it was unlikely to change so I thought long and hard, I spent maybe a year working out if I could stay and enjoy my life without sex. I decided I could. We have an amazing relationship. I have struggled with some side effects - I gained weight, and initially had wine a little too frequently, but we have settled into a wonderful life together. This is a very personal situation for you each individually and you as a couple. Good luck to you.

ohdear123 Thu 04-Sep-14 12:11:41

Some absolutely woeful responses to you in this thread, OP. Just ignore them. Probably more misandrists on this website than there are misogynists in the entire world.

Keep your head up, and keep being as considerate and sensitive to your partner as you have already been. smile

Yeah, just ignore everything you don't want to read, that'll help. hmm

JuniorMumber Thu 04-Sep-14 12:28:15

If it were me I'd prefer that you didn't inflict any further sit down discussions about lack of sex life with her - believe me, she will have heightened awareness about your lack of sex life and this will just compound her feelings of inadequacy. The only way to get her out of the rut is to make her feel beautiful again. Make her believe that she is enough and that you are happy day-to-day. Given time and if she feels good about herself again she will come back to you in that way. You don't say how long it has been - if it goes years then I appreciate it's a big part of life for someone to sacrifice. Do what you need to do for the meantime without cheating I guess.

Women are different from men in that the longer they go without sex the less interested they become in it (whereas men seem to get increasingly frustrated).You become almost a-sexual, the idea of it becomes really abstract and then you need to down a bottle of wine and muster the courage to get back in the saddle. Once you've done it, it sparks the libido back again (in my experience anyway). Maybe take her away for a romantic weekend with lots of bubbly and a flattering candle lit hotel room. Make it clear you are not expecting nookie though - just romance.

ohdear123 Thu 04-Sep-14 12:37:47

No GilbertBlytheWouldGetIt, just the bits that are clearly sexist and have zero regard for his personal happiness. The OP's actions up until this point have been pretty much as considerate as it gets, yet I can guarantee if it was his partner posting on here about it there would have been a large number of sheltered individuals calling for her to leave him 'as he can't accept her the way she is' or 'he's being selfish for wanting to have sex'.

Worst place on internet.

kaykayblue Thu 04-Sep-14 12:38:54

Ohdear123 - I suggest you look up the word "misandry" in the dictionary before throwing it into conversation.

There is nothing at all on this thread which would fall into that definition.

I also suggest you reconsider using such blatantly false exaggerations. I mean, you can if you like provided you don't mind people rolling their eyes behind your back.

kaykayblue Thu 04-Sep-14 12:40:20

ohdear123 - I couldn't resist it..

worst place on the internet

So you are here because.....?

ohdear123 Thu 04-Sep-14 12:44:44

kaykayblue - Everytime I post I make it slightly more balanced. When I saw this thread some of the replies made me so angry, not just because of the individuals genuinely believing what they were writing, but because the OP would probably read it and think that he's at fault. He isn't.

Lweji Thu 04-Sep-14 12:47:12

I understand the frustration with the lack of sex, as it can be a very important thing in a relationship.
Would your wife be willing to talk to a doctor or have counselling about her body confidence and her lack of libido?
Are you still physically close? Or never were?

ohdear123 Thu 04-Sep-14 12:47:21

Oh, and no surprises that you were the one who said this

"Firstly I have to say that I find it truly sad that it seems like you were okay to have a severely unhappy partner, up until the moment where it started to inconvenience your sex life. Sigh."

Where on earth does the OP even slightly imply he was okay with the person he says deeply loves being unhappy? Absolutely disgusting that you would even dare say that to him.

LegoCaltrops Thu 04-Sep-14 13:04:48

Excellent advice from Junior Member.

ohdear123 Thu 04-Sep-14 13:07:29

LegoCaltrops - It's a shame all the posts in this thread aren't as helpful as that one.

PetulaGordino Thu 04-Sep-14 13:15:34

"Women are different from men in that the longer they go without sex the less interested they become in it (whereas men seem to get increasingly frustrated).You become almost a-sexual, the idea of it becomes really abstract and then you need to down a bottle of wine and muster the courage to get back in the saddle. Once you've done it, it sparks the libido back again (in my experience anyway)."

this may be true in your experience juniormumber, but it definitely won't be for many women. i would caution against this sort of generalised view of women's sexuality, and while i'm sure you don't mean it, the implication from your post could be that a woman who doesn't want sex should just knuckle down and get on with it and she'll enjoy it in the end, which is very dodgy ground

however, i do agree with the part of your post that advises that the OP needs to move away from discussions about sex, because they are doing more harm than good.

the OP surely wouldn't want his wife to have sex with him purely to please him and with no pleasure of her own

kaykayblue Thu 04-Sep-14 13:15:35

ohdear123 - He doesn't. But he only approaches her lack of confidence in herself from the effect it has on him - which is lack of sex.

It might just be that it is done by omission, but can you see anything in the post that talks about how he wants his happy wife back? Or how he doesn't like seeing her so sad? Besides that was one sentence in my entire post.

Maybe if you weren't so busy clutching your pearls at that part, you might have seen that I also gave some very balanced advice. Absolutely none of which blames him in any way for her unhappiness.

It's funny that in the few corners of the internet where women are empowered to give each other objective, honest advice, which sees things from a female rather than male perspective, there are always a few harpies that turn up and scream misandry.

Granville72 Thu 04-Sep-14 13:17:50

May I ask how old your partner is Vivitron? Has she gone through / or going through the menopause yet?

Has she / would she speak to a female doctor about this?

lifegavemestrawberries Thu 04-Sep-14 13:28:00

This sounds like a really difficult situation for you both OP. A number of years ago I was witness to a crime and even after counselling my sex drive dropped from pretty high to non-existant (I was only 28). My partner obviously found it strange and tried to initiate sex often but I just couldn't. He got used to it and he tried less and less, and eventually just stopped. We got married 2 years later - we were perfectly happy but there was something missing. We didn't start having sex again until a few years later, when we started trying to concieve. It was like we both needed an excuse to have sex again, because by that stage it had become (as a previous poster put it) 'abstract', and something we just didn't do anymore.

I don't know how I'd have felt if he'd tried to talk to me about it. I was very aware that we didn't have sex (duh) and I felt guilty about it. I don't think it would have helped in the early days when it was simply a no-no, but as time passed and I got past the incident it might have helped, when it was just a case of sex not being part of our lives. At that point I would have welcomed it, and probably should have had the balls to bring it up myself, but it was difficult for me too.

Please do not pursue an affair. If you feel you need to have sex then please split up with your partner first. The porn thing is a bit less clear cut. How did she feel about porn before? If she was relaxed about it and it was something you enjoyed together perhaps it wouldn't bother her so much if you are using it. Personally I'd hate my DH to be using porn, it would amplify any self-consiousness I felt about myself (even now we have a sex life), but I do think this is a personal thing.

Good luck.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now