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Sex after children

(135 Posts)
Johnsfour Mon 12-Nov-12 13:27:53

I know nothing is "normal" in anyones relationship.....

My wife/partner is off sex. Two children quite close together. First one 2 and six months. Second, just one. In calender 2012 we have made love twice......in the year before, ( after first, then pregnant with second), possibly 5 times ( including the conception of number 2).

Both natural births, both pretty quick, no major complications. Now, no libido, no interest, excuses ( tired, just do not feel like it) and specific reasons; "everything just feels different down there".

Not an easy question to ask friends: "how quickly did you get back to occasional sex, yet along regular sex ?". I have been as understanding and patient as I think I can be. The current position, is no sex, no sex envisaged for the indefinite future.

I should add, before marriage three years ago, we made love keenly almost every evening we spent together. Regular, enjoyable ( for both of us) and initiated by both of us.

It has become a taboo subject between us, and I am not keen on getting pushed away ........

what to do ? Advice ? How quickly do other couples get back to occasional sex ?

gingercat12 Mon 12-Nov-12 13:33:43

Is she tired? Is she stressed out having to look after two such small children? Maybe some time for herself to rest or exercise could get her more interested...

PandaNot Mon 12-Nov-12 13:38:51

She's exhausted. Small children do that. It's not an excuse, it's a reason.

bonzo77 Mon 12-Nov-12 13:39:19

If "everything feels different down there" she probably needs to see her gp for a gynae referral. Just because both deliveries were straightforward doesn't mean that she hasn't suffered damage.

Read thread after thread here about couples in your (plural) situation. It's usually got a lot more to it than just mechanics. How does she feel about sex now, about you, both your roles, what is the rest of your relationship like?

steppemum Mon 12-Nov-12 13:45:50

I would say right now it is pretty normal. You have a 2.6 year old and a 1 year old.
When mine were that age I was knackered. It will also depend on how well they sleep. If you are physically tired (no sleep) that is one type of tired, but if you are emotionally tired (been battling toddler all day) that is worse.

Also I felt maulled by my kids, don't get me wrong, I love them to bits and loved being at home with them (and they were pretty striaghtforward kids) but they handled me, cuddled me, grabbed at me etc all day long (you can see where that is going in terms of sex can't you)

I think in first year afte reach of ours were born we really struggled with sex. I was breastfeeding until age 1 and that does change your hormones, so you don't feel the need for sex. It did improve a lot after I stopped bf (but please don't use that as a reason to pressues her to stop if she is)
Mine were good sleepers at that age and they weren't particularly difficult, but still I was knackered.

It has improved greatly since, and continues to get better, and rather than get bored with each other, we are enjoying rediscovering the person from before kids.

You can get out of the habit though, and sometimes I have to make myself turn off the tv, etc and make the time. My instinct is often to curl up with a good book.

I recommend you show lots of affection without expecting sex for a while, cuddles, hugs, hand holding, sofa snuggles, massages (ok don't want to sound sickly sweet, whatever you used to do that made you feel connected. She needs to feel connected to you, and feel the warmth and affection from you, not just the sexual attraction.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 12-Nov-12 13:48:14

There may be no sex but is there any intimacy in your relationship? Do you hold hands, cuddle on the sofa, say nice things to each other.... make time to be a couple? Or has everything come to a complete stop?

And do you ask about sex often? Might she feel under pressure to perform? Might she fear another pregnancy? Or are you clear that you're happy to cuddle and leave it at that?

If she genuinely is tired, what could you do to alleviate that? Extra help caring for children? Help around the home? Fewer hours at work? Have you ever gone away for a weekend together... recharged the batteries? Or could there be a medical problem? Even with 2 DCs not everyone is chronically fatigued.

And then there's always the possibility that she's gone off you. Be prepared.

AnyFucker Mon 12-Nov-12 13:55:54

Everything that cogito said, plus..

Do you do your share with housework and the kids. I don't mean giving them a bath occasionally and cooking the odd meal, with a quick hoover round. I mean taking an equal part in the planning of family life, the worry of having little kids, the whole overwhelming monotony of it.

or do you just do as you are asked and take the rest for granted ? Do you remember all the family's birthdays and organise a present. Plan ahead for xmas, write all the cards and buy gifts off your own bat, even for old Uncle Harry.

I am just giving you a couple of examples of how some men think they are making a good contribution but actually they are not and the sheer weight of planning and organising was certainly something that wore me down to a shadow of my former self when my kids were younger.

Johnsfour Mon 12-Nov-12 13:56:06

Yes tired, in fact shattered. Kids not good sleepers, but we have always shared nights, and have routine of one getting up at 6am, other gets lie in.

Agree, is reason, not excuse. "Just does not have the energy" is about right.

Suppose was not expecting such complete end to sex. I am not pushy at all, possibly even rather resigned.....it has taken away a very close and intimate time for us, and that is a great loss to our relationship that is overwhelmed by tiredness. My wife does gets lots of support and family/friends/self means that she actaully has 4/5 hours to herself each day. I have always walked the two for a couple of hours each morning ( work allows for a mid morning start).

Will wait and see....have tried talking about the subject on any number of occasions, but get shot down pretty quickly and it causes tension. I am sure my partner is well aware of the situation ( and worries about it mas well) however, she just doesnt want to go there, or try.

AnyFucker Mon 12-Nov-12 13:57:13

It still does actually. Having to remember everything for everybody will cause much resentment.

Johnsfour Mon 12-Nov-12 14:01:30

Everything for everybody ?.......sorry, meaning ?

We pretty much share everything as we are always both there for bathtime, and each put one kid down at bedtime. Never been assumption that she main carer and has been occasional issue of tripping over each other when would be easier on ones own.

We both muck in, adore the kids, curse their sleeping patterns, and then collapse from exhaustion.......

steppemum Mon 12-Nov-12 14:05:00

reading your last post, definitely go for rebuilding the affection. You might find it even helps to say to her, I am not going to ask you for sex, but I don't want us to drift apart, so I am going to work on closeness.

She is lucky to get the support of 4-5 hours to herself (not jealous at all) but that doesn't actually balance the constant broken nights. It might be worth not having help for a week and building up a whole 2 nights credits with your helpers so you can leave them with grandparents and have 2 nights sleep (not sex, sleep) then use the rest of the time away to talk, just about where you are as a couple, how you are doing etc. She might be a bit depressed (or not) she might be struggling a lot with change in role - did she have a career before? you might uncover something you need to deal with together - like she hates being a SAHM but feels horrendously guilty about it.

Sex should not come to a stop in a healthy relationship (unless you both want it to) but it does go for a long walk when you are overwhelmed.

and cogito is right, it is quite possible to have 2 dcs and have sex (I even managed 3 dcs under 5 and sex, well, sex sometimes grin)

ShamyFarrahCooper Mon 12-Nov-12 14:06:40

What about the cuddling? Sitting on the sofa close to each other?

One of the worst situations is if sex has gone out of the window and a woman feels she is only being cuddled for a lead up to sex. It's horrible and completely unenjoyable to think a cuddle can't be a cuddle, without any strings attached.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 12-Nov-12 14:07:15

Getting 'shot down' is no response. I'd be worried about that, personally. A loving partner would at least say they miss the intimacy, or acknowlege your feelings, even if they weren't in a position to do anything about it straight away.

steppemum Mon 12-Nov-12 14:08:08

something i learnt a while ago
(sorry for crass generalisation coming up)

men have sex to feel close to their partner
women need to feel close to their partner to have sex

lot of truth in it. You need to work on the relationship, not the sex, the sex will follow

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 12-Nov-12 14:08:47

How does he work on the relationship when he gets shot down for even wanting to talk?

Johnsfour Mon 12-Nov-12 14:16:34

"Shot down" is mixture of "dont push", too tired, actual awareness and embarrassment of position, "bloomin men always wanting sex" and " we cannot talk about this yet again".

re cogito above, yes, had hoped honest discussion, acknowledging that I am feeling a bit all at sea, and discussion ( while cuddling, yes I hear that) might clear the air. If I knew where this was going ( ie start again slowly over a period) then would have some more understanding. At present I have no indication that my partner ever wants to make love again.......

MerlotforOne Mon 12-Nov-12 14:20:54

How is it when you do have sex? What I mean by that is....

My DS is 3 and has rarely slept through. DH and I have also gone through long phases of no sex interspersed with intermittent sex. He has remained physically affectionate but not pressured me, I still think he's very sexy and I'm attracted to him, and when we do have sex we both enjoy it, but after a night of being woken every 3 hours followed by a day of being 'handled' (as steppemum put it so eloquently), I just can't bear to be intimate.

The bit that would worry me is being 'shot down', as it doesn't sound as though you're pestering her. Could she have postnatal depression and/or be feeling overwhelmed? Does she enjoy it when you do have sex, or is there any sense that she's just doing it for your sake? Is it painful for her to have intercourse (in which case definitely a gynae referral would be in order).

ErikNorseman Mon 12-Nov-12 14:21:01

You don't really need energy for sex. Sorry but it's true. A bit of a cuddle and a gentle shag is not tiring and doesn't have I take more than ten minutes (obviously that does depend)
Not wanting sex is a problem on its own, not because of being too busy or tired. I have never felt too busy or tired for sex because I want to have sex...it's a priority. It's not normal or healthy to switch off your libido. I doubt she's happy with it either. Maybe she feels self conscious with body changes?

Offred Mon 12-Nov-12 14:21:58

I think that analogy is crap, dh and I are opposites to that.

I really think the problem may not be sex at all, it sounds like it is intimacy, communicating is part of that. I think taking unilateral action to make her feel better might just make her feel worse because she may think it is pressure for sex.

She may not want intimacy as has been said, being pawed by children and having lost control over her body in pg may have badly affected her.

If she can't talk about the problem with intimacy which is a better way to frame it could you find some kind of activity to do such as the love languages online quiz that might give you an insight into what she wants and her for you too. If you answer with a view to what you would like it can be a good way of talking about intimacy without actually talking about it I think, although cheesy.

SweetSeraphim Mon 12-Nov-12 14:22:45

This is such a common problem. My 2 are older now, but I still have to make time to have sex, because I know how the rot sets in if you don't. I want to, and I fancy my partner loads, and I love it when we do it, it's just that I sometimes have to force myself to be interested - pure laziness I'm afraid.

Another sweeping generalisation - when sex is good, it counts for 1% of a relationship, but when there are problems, it counts for 99%.....

itsallinmyhead Mon 12-Nov-12 14:29:17

I'm with bonzo77

After reading the whole thread, so far, and hearing how when you try to talk with your DP, you're 'shot down' I'm thinking you need to try to talk again but take a different approach & ask if your DP there's something 'physical' putting her off being intimate.

I really don't know how you approach the start of such a conversation but hopefully you'll feel able.

It's something that may or may not be behind your DP's lack of intimacy but much more common than people think.

Good luck

Johnsfour Mon 12-Nov-12 14:29:32

Not selfconscious......gorgeously slim and as lovely and sexy as ever. Shed weight easily without effort.

Not painful ( I think, we have only made love twice in the last year, so not able to test that.....) or at least that was not a complaint at the time.

Sex need not be a two hour shagathon ( was it ever) and should not be a "chore" that is more effort than it is worth, even when knackered. In fact, I believe ( unless I am completely deluded) that over the first pre-child four years of going out, we had more sex than most and enjoyed it greatly.

Current position is that there is no desire, no apparent feeling that it might be enjoyable and make the effort worthwile, and therefore no sex.

Have been made to feel that I am asking too much: that sex this soon ( one year????) after a second child is almost pushy, or even absurd. I do NOT believe for one second that my wife thinks sex is just for making kids and is no religious or other reason.

Sometimes when I try to be intimate ( even a snog would be a start) I get pushed away almost as if I am a dirty old man........hey, i am married to her

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 12-Nov-12 14:33:21

You're not asking too much and you shouldn't be pushed away if you attempt to kiss her. A year is a long time.

Johnsfour Mon 12-Nov-12 14:36:07

itsallinmyhead......

I do think there is something physical putting her off. I do not ( what do I know?) believe it is pain, though the sensation may be very different ( she has said that).

It is almost more a phobia, or fear ? I have let the word "disgust" pass through my head over the months, not at me ( though occasional withering look makes me feel that suggesting a cuddle is weird) necessarily, but disgust at the thought of the mechanics of sex. As is the act of sex has taken on an "obscenity" that makes it an odd thing to do. We were never into anything weird, just boring, passionate sex......

so I do not know what has made the act now appear in her mind unbearable, or unpalatable

Johnsfour Mon 12-Nov-12 14:39:09

cogito.......year is a long time

Part of the reason for starting this thread was just to check that I am not being unreasonable........yes, I think a year is a long time. I do not feel can discuss this with my sister or brother, or even good friends, without appearing disloyal to my wife. I feel I hear friends saying "God, no sex for a year".

This forum is good neutral anonymous way of checking up if I am going barmy......

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 12-Nov-12 14:40:11

Usually people react that way when they don't like their partner. If I'm too tired for sex I'll at least give my b/f a smile and a kiss goodnight.... I don't look at him like he's disgusting, unbearable or unpalatable. A few of his predecessors I've regarded that way... and that was the point at which I realised they were about to be exes.

You've got bigger problems than sex, I'm afraid.

Johnsfour Mon 12-Nov-12 14:40:29

Gotta go. Daughter just woken.........going to see how far this runs and check back this evening........

SweetSeraphim Mon 12-Nov-12 14:42:10

A year is a hell of a long time. Personally, I think you're not unreasonable.

SweetSeraphim Mon 12-Nov-12 14:42:59

What Cogito said. There are other issues here.

cq Mon 12-Nov-12 14:52:22

Gosh this sounds like my marriage. You are not alone, OP.

My DH is a great dad, a loving, good, man and my hero. I just find it so hard to want sex at the same time he does. By the time all the chores are done and the kids are in bed, I just want 10 minutes to myself with a book or the internet and then SLEEEEEEEP. (And yes, there is a lot of unspoken resentment of the hours he works, the things I have given up to raise the family, the unequal arrangement of domestic drudge.)

And then we begin to realise that it's been weeks - months - a long time with no sex.

He is gagging for it, so every time we have a cuddle or a snog, he's hoping it will turn into something more. And every time I push him away or turn my back, I feel like another little spark of our marriage has died.

And so it is easier to avoid any cuddles or snogs because then I don't have to reject him.

And nobody likes the situation. We still love each other and nobody is remotely thinking of getting out of the marriage.

What saves us is the odd sneaked weekend away, or a family holiday with kids club. Or even if he can sneak home for lunch on a school day! No kids, no chores, no guilt. At half term we went away for a Mark Warner week and managed it 5 times in a week grin

Haven't had a flicker since, but it's done us both the power of good and the spontaneous affection is back.

So, OP, can you sneak her away for a weekend? Enlist the help of friends/grandparents? Or farm the kids out somewhere and just have a night to yourselves? But don't expect to get lucky the first time - just let her know that you still love her, cook her a meal, sleep, watch a funny movie, whatever. When she is relaxed, happy and feeling no pressure, it will come naturally.

This will take time to fix, but if you both still love each other, then it will come back again. Love and patience is needed, that's all.

Good luck.

MerlotforOne Mon 12-Nov-12 14:59:42

Not selfconscious......gorgeously slim and as lovely and sexy as ever. Shed weight easily without effort.

Is this your opinion or hers? Just because YOU think she's gorgeous and sexy doesn't mean she feels that way about herself. Even very small changes can have a big effect on self-image, especially if she had high standards pre-babies.

Of course it may be something else entirely.

Johnsfour Mon 12-Nov-12 15:04:19

merlot, hear what u say, and not for me to judge what she thinks she looks like.....do not think that is the issue

Johnsfour Mon 12-Nov-12 15:09:48

cq......done that. Three days away in March. Six ( bloomin expensive) days away in Sept. And libido was there none........slept in pajamas, which is always a sign.......never wore pajamas before we were married. Getting ready for bed and pulling on pajamas is a sign.........or that is how I now believe I am meant to take it

OP - I managed to grit my teeth through most of my first pregnancy and the occasional sex in baby #1's first year without ever letting on that it was uncomfortable and I didn't like it.

It took about 6 months after getting treatment from a gynae for me to be fully back on form in the bedroom. Then I got pregnant again and this time there's just been no question of it. It hurts, I'm not doing it. But again, it took me a while to be able to say that.

I also went off cuddles ad kisses etc as a. often felt implied pressure, b. my whole body feels over-sensitive and odd atm, and c. the hormones do kinda kill my interest even in kissing, although it could be overspill from the sex issue. (i.e. because that's uncomfortable, I'm put off the whole package).

In my case, I'm expecting it to return to normal again about 1 year post #2 if all goes well. But it was hard to talk about.

Johnsfour Mon 12-Nov-12 15:11:55

PS, mentioning cost of the week away is not meant to imply I wanted anything in return, or thought that expense of hotel was related to intimacy we might have had......though a nice spa hotel should not have hindered the process.....

Johnsfour Mon 12-Nov-12 15:14:40

leggy.....that sounds so similar, and pretty much where we are at......why u say expecting it to get back to normal ? Cos u have feeling that will just reevolve naturally ? Been able to discuss openly with hubbie ? How has he coped with what sounds like a couple of abstaining years ?

Charbon Mon 12-Nov-12 15:28:07

I think there are some complex messages about sex that some men and women absorb as they go through this life - and they are very different according to gender.

Two things spring immediately to mind.

How was your wife socialised to view sex as a mother?

We often discuss men who have a madonna/whore complex but IME, some women have a similar set of feelings in reverse. In that, as soon as they become mothers, sex seems unseemly and incongruous with the role of being a mother.

That would explain the distaste, which might not be personal at all.

Johnsfour Mon 12-Nov-12 15:37:04

Charbon.........I agree. I have thought that. It is almost a religious ( she is not religious) belief that sex when you have children is wrong or smutty.

I have no idea how she was socialised to view sex as a mother. She is young, her friends are young. I cannot believe any of her friends would suggest for a moment that sex after motherhood is distasteful or odd. She has the majority of her life in front of her......anbd many many years, I hope, of happy marriage

Well I got back to normal eventually after first baby. Ironically (or perhaps causally related!) the week-ish in which baby #2 was conceived was like being 25 again!

But then the hormones kicked in and bang, it went.

So this time, I don't plan on waiting around if things hurt, and am trusting that with some effort and communication, once I'm getting enough sleep to function again, it will come back.

But then my husband has had to learn over time how important it is not to pressure, and I've had to learn how to let go of hang-ups relating to past pressure and feeling like I 'had' to, so therefore not wanting to. It was difficult for him to raise the subject without there being implicit pressure. And in fact, I can't even remember what most makes me feel the occasional interest I currently have in kissing. Usually being on a 'date' or similar I think. Last time it was over coffee in a cafe, nice view, good conversation, while toddler slept. Which probably says a lot about what's missing day to day!

Charbon Mon 12-Nov-12 16:37:44

If what I said resonated with you, I think that might be a helpful discussion point with your partner. It's important for a couple to discuss their associations about sex and where they were learned and it's interesting that you have no idea what your partner's views are about this or how they were shaped.

There is tremendous pressure on women to be 'good mothers' and IMO, it's never been greater.

Lots of women in their twenties and thirties are chronicling the pressure they felt while single to be sex goddesses, but they don't always realise that when they became mothers the pressure shifted to being supermum. Your wife might feel that motherhood is the thing that she is likely to be most judged on right now, whereas before it was other things such as being conventionally attractive, having a great sexual relationship, finding a partner. Unfortunately some of the worst pressure and judgement comes from other women.

If you are getting any sense that your wife has perfectionist standards about motherhood, this might be another clue to how she is feeling.

Offred Mon 12-Nov-12 16:58:11

I heartily agree with cog BUT there's a couple of things I notice 1. Which may be just a matter of how you explain things but how you feel about your body after a baby is about much more than how you look, it is a lot to do with your experience, how you feel, how your body feels, changes that have happened. It takes time to adjust and I found more time the more children you have, because there are more changes. By talking about it in such superficial terms it makes it feel dismissive of the massiveness of both the mental and physical changes. 2. Sometimes other things you are saying feel dismissive and pressuring. Like "excuses" in the first post and "even a snog". It is coming across like you are angry at her for not giving you sex. I can understand this feeling but it is exceptionally counter productive and if you aren't speaking you'll each be hypertuned to this kind of feeling and paranoid. 3. Intimacy doesn't begin with a snog, sex does and I think this is linked to my point 2. She won't talk, that is part of intimacy so she's not helping but she may not be able to talk just now. Focusing on intimacy and accepting you aren't going to even think about sex for a period ATM might help her feel she can talk. 4. I can't help but notice you keep saying you haven't had sex for a year but that isn't actually true. You HAVE had sex just extremely irregular sex. By behaving as though you have not had any sex you are devaluing something which may have been extremely difficult for her (we don't know) but either way failing to recognise those very infrequent times I think will make a big difference to the atmosphere. I don't think a year IS that long or two times is that infrequent after a baby. Of course it is a long time and infrequent if you are the partner for whom nothing has physically changed but it may (speculation) feel like a LOT to her.

QueenieLovesEels Mon 12-Nov-12 17:17:44

Post natal depression?

pylonic Mon 12-Nov-12 18:28:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AnyFucker Mon 12-Nov-12 19:21:01

It doesn't sound heartless, pylonic, but your post does make it sound like you have been conditioned to think that men are entitled to sex, just because they have put a ring on your finger

BelaLugosisShed Mon 12-Nov-12 19:37:57

Don't you see the (tragic) irony in your post pylonic?
Did you plainly inform your husband to shape up or ship out regarding his lack of sharing the childcare? Would you have resorted to an affair because of what your relationship was lacking? No? Then why do think think it's reasonable for a man to go looking for sex outside a relationship after a few months?
What OP describes is pretty normal for a large proportion of couples I imagine, two babies in quick succession and the resulting exhaustion.
A couple of years of sexual drought is nothing within a ( hopefully) long marriage - BUT, it does need dealing with, he is not unreasonable to want sex and intimacy, it's a basic requirement in a relationship, honest communication is the only way forward, she might have nerve damage making sex a bit numb for her, that can take a couple of years to resolve, she could have body image issues and just not feel sexy and attractive - him telling her how sexy she is will not help is she doesn't feel it, he doesn't say if she is breast feeding, which is a major cause of lost libido.
It could be any number of things and only talk without blame is the answer.

dibs78 Mon 12-Nov-12 20:21:24

I'm in the same situation as the op but I'm the mummy! Seems even worse when it's the man in the relationship doing the rejecting. Same situation as op pretty much identical- my dhfancied me rotten before ds1. Managed to cOncieve ds2 somehow on a very rate occasion we did 'it'. Not much affection coming my way either, he just seems very self conscious about it all. Dh used to call me sexy and gorgeous....hasn't since the day ds1 was born. Is it true, do u think, that some men just go off sex with their wives once they're mothers ?? sad((

Charbon Mon 12-Nov-12 20:36:40

Yes some men go off sex when women become mothers, but it's probably only 'worse' in your eyes dibs because of the erroneous socialisation that men must be up for sex all of the time, which is one of the complex messages that men and women receive growing up, that I was referring to upthread. So it's more helpful to work out whether your partner still has a libido for non-mothers (which might suggest a Madonna/Whore complex), whether he has gone off sex with you personally or whether he has gone off sex in general. You need to talk about this before it becomes corrosive. I'd also find out whether he is doing a lot of porn, incidentally......

dibs78 Mon 12-Nov-12 20:46:25

Definitely just me I think?? He was a very sexual person and I can't believe that's just disappeared overnight. Have found porn on his phone once. Whenever I've addressed it he tries to assure me he still fancies me but I do feel like he forces himself to do it whoever we do. After ds1 it was ten months before we DTD, with our second son we did it after 2 months....an improvement. I am worried he'll stray because if he doesn't want it here any more them maybe he'll go elsewhere sad it's a vicious cycle because it gets hard toake first move etc when you don't feel sexy, can't feel sexy when you fear rejection etc. Very difficult not to let it overshadow everything else. It makes me so sad.

AnyFucker Mon 12-Nov-12 20:49:07

Dibs, at the risk of upsetting you, do you think he might already have someone else ?

Pregnancy is a common time for entitled men to seek extra-marital sex

dibs78 Mon 12-Nov-12 20:54:33

I have worried about it, and asked him about it but no proof or dodgyness. Sometimes I almost wished I would find some incrinatimg evidence!!!! At least it would mean there was a reason for it all other than he's gone off me since we became parents. I once found an article he'd read on his laptop entitled 'can a husband ever truly find his wife sexy after childbirth ' or some such title.

To answer your original question, we waited 4 days after the birth of ds and have shagged nearly every day in the 4 years since.

I feel fat, unattractive and tired. However, my dh gets home from work, takes over with kids, runs me a bath with wine/nibbles, then has tea waiting for me when I get out.

That gives me time to rest, and consider how wonderful he is.

He works hard all day, however, no work outside of the home is as hard as the constant drone of kids. I dont want to share bedtime with him, I want him to fucking do it so I can dissappear into those bubbles!

Have you got a babysitter so you could take her away for the night?

AnyFucker Mon 12-Nov-12 20:57:16

You need to talk to him some more, love sad

AnyFucker Mon 12-Nov-12 20:57:55

sorry, last post to dibs

kige Mon 12-Nov-12 20:58:55

Your baby is young, I'd say it's pretty normal with a 6mo. Also it's likely she's exhausted and fed up of being touched and climbed on all day by the kids and just wants some space. Personally I think you should give it more time. Ours are 6 and 4 and the last time we attempted it, yesterday, we were interrupted anyway !!

thirdfromleft Mon 12-Nov-12 20:58:57

OP, one thing to accept is that sex is an important part of any relationship.

The point is not that anyone is entitled to sex, but that it is a healthy and necessary expression of desire and feeling for the other person. Yes there may be physical impairment, tiredness, mauling from kids, etc. but both parties have responsibilities to make a relationship work. Making a marriage work with young kids is bloody hard and it has to come from both sides. Do not feel that you should take it all on tour shoulders and hide your feelings, that leads to a martyr complex and inevitable resentment.

OP: this means you both have to listen to your wife and understand how she's feeling, and also make sure she understands your feelings. Find the common ground and make a plan of action. Time away is a good idea to rebuild the intimacy.

Good luck... You sound like a good person, I hope you find the right way forward.

dibs78 Mon 12-Nov-12 21:02:33

He's not the biggest talker- after 3 years of it I've kind of given up trying to tackle it, I've realized itmakes me sadder when I tell him how I feel and nothing changes. I know im still quite attractive- I doubted this after ds1 but over the years I've managed to get few compliments/glances/ turn few heads occasionally so know I'm not a complete minger!!! Only in his eyes maybe.

AnyFucker Mon 12-Nov-12 21:04:04

that is very sad, dibs

Do you think your relationship will survive it, long term ?

dibs78 Mon 12-Nov-12 21:05:12

Op....you do really sound like a lovely h. Even in a post about your feelings and upset about the issue you do seem concerned and genuinely mindful of her and her needs/issues. I hope you manage to resolve it. She's lucky that you care so deeply about her and your relationship. Good luck smile

dibs78 Mon 12-Nov-12 21:08:19

AF....I hope so. I hope I get to feel more like myself soon and not just 'mummy', maybe if I feel more like the old me I might convey that to him. I love him and our little family souch so I hope so

AnyFucker Mon 12-Nov-12 21:11:19

I hope so too, dibs

Offred Mon 12-Nov-12 21:11:34

Do you not think you deserve better dibs?

Biscuitsneeded Mon 12-Nov-12 21:13:37

OP what do/would you do for contraception nowadays? I think I may be rather similar to your wife. Early days, just too shattered, now just lost all interest. Does your wife by any chance have a Mirena because I do and I'm hoping it's at fault for the lack of libido, because otherwise I have to go somewhere very scary and confront why I have no desire at all to have sex with my partner...

dibs78 Mon 12-Nov-12 21:17:29

Yes of course but I can't force him to feel/act differently. Wish I could. It's not like we never do it, just really really rarely and not much affection in-between- usually I initiate it. At the moment I'm hoping it's part and parcel of having two little ones under 3....I'm hoping things might improve but I'm not so naive to think I alone can will it to happen.

Leafmould Mon 12-Nov-12 21:31:20

Monkey face. . . Are you serious? 4 days after birth?
I had perhaps wrongly assumed that the parts generally took a few weeks to heal. Did you actually have a libido 4 days after birth?

Op. I think you have go loads of really good perspectives on here. I suspect she is resentful. It is hard to tolerate intimacy if you are resentful. If she refuses to talk to you, I think you could seek help from relate. Sod sex, if you can't talk about something, you are in trouble.

What is the power balance like in your relationship? And has this changed since kids?

Offred Mon 12-Nov-12 21:32:00

We didn't have sex (genuinely at all) for 18 months due to sickness/worry/size in twin pregnancy and the intensity of twin babies, also Tbh the sex was a bit shit for me before hand too (inconsiderate male orgasm oriented) and this didn't motivate me to want to try when I had real issues with my body and pregnancy/baby experiences, I resented him and felt abandoned and trapped, had fear of pregnancy, also had previous abuse issues to deal with. I like a lot of sex but I needed the complete break, from all intimacy, the control over it and no pressure in order to deal with a lot of things. Our relationship and sex life is better because of it actually I think. I'm so grateful dh actually completely gave me that space, never mentioned it, never tried, put up with my not even wanting to share a bed with him and complaining about his breathing existing if we did and just patiently waited until I was ready and I took action.

AnyFucker Mon 12-Nov-12 21:32:32

I jipped a bit at "4 days" too shock

completely unrealistic and against medical advice

Offred Mon 12-Nov-12 21:32:52

Waiting for him to change or cheat is no life though dibs and not your only option. sad

Leafmould Mon 12-Nov-12 21:33:00

Good point, biscuits. Also the pill can reduce libido. As we get older these effects are more powerful.

dibs78 Mon 12-Nov-12 21:37:41

What would you do if you were me? I'm bore myself thinking about it/analyzing/worrying about it. I've never told anybody in RL as I'm too ashamed almost. My friends all moan about their dh wanting it too much!!! Ha- I should be so lucky!

Offred Mon 12-Nov-12 21:45:44

No-one can know unless they are in that position and no-one can give you your answers but I would like to think I would leave.

FastLoris Mon 12-Nov-12 21:47:22

Charbon -

We often discuss men who have a madonna/whore complex but IME, some women have a similar set of feelings in reverse. In that, as soon as they become mothers, sex seems unseemly and incongruous with the role of being a mother.

That's REALLY interesting. From a man's POV, it can seem like a woman in that situation is viewing sex (and must therefore have always viewed it) in utilitarian and even Machiavellian terms. Something like "you've done your job - I've got what I needed from you and got my babies, so now fuck off." I know I and several other men I know have sensed that message from the pointed disinterest in sex after children.

But from what you say that could often be a mistaken interpretation, and the sense of sex as something that has "served its purpose" could be more to do with a woman's attitude to herself, than to her partner.

AnyFucker Mon 12-Nov-12 22:20:53

dibs, have you searched for threads with similar situations to your own ?

I don't think it is as uncommon as you think

you have no reason to be ashamed

Charbon Mon 12-Nov-12 22:25:40

FastLoris I think when men have that view of women-as-a-group, rather than of an individual woman, there are usually underlying attitudes and beliefs that women don't enjoy sex for any other reason than attracting a mate who can provide children. It also pre-supposes that women's desires are sated by motherhood. I've personally never encountered a woman like that, but I've met lots of women who have temporarily lost their libidoes for one reason or another. Sometimes it's physiological, sometimes it's psychological and sometimes it's connected to a poor relationship and unsatisfying sex with a current partner. Often it's because she's sexually attracted to someone else.

In other words, all the same reasons as men have for a temporary loss of libido, either for a particular partner or sex generally.

Charbon Mon 12-Nov-12 22:31:38

Dibs I would suggest you explain in the clearest terms possible how unhappy you are, to your partner. If you found that article on your partner's laptop, I can understand why you think your husband has difficulty combining sexuality with motherhood, but you need to air these concerns and bring them out into the open. It's interesting that you describe the OP's wife as 'lucky' when in fact the feelings he is expressing about his wife are what others would regard as a minimum standard of love, care and desire.

Leafmould Mon 12-Nov-12 22:55:11

Thank you for this thread, op.

It has made me think about sex from my partner's perspective a bit.

dibs78 Mon 12-Nov-12 23:00:32

Charbon- yes you're right, it is isn't it?! I guess the lack of sex makes me feel quite unloved and uncared for. I really did think the op sounded loving and kind but really he was being a 'normal loving husband' wasn't he. Blimey, that's made me think!!

LordCharles Tue 13-Nov-12 01:10:06

OP - I'm another bloke in the same situation, but for me it's been five years, she wanted two children, as soon as the second was born - end of any intimacy other than maybe once a year ( can't work that out).

Loads of good advice here and my advice would be to really do something about it otherwise you will find yourself in my position, five years down the line without many options and very soon you will simply become housemates with a mutual responsibility for the children ( like we have).

I have tried to talk, given space, not mentioned serious weight gain, I am responsible for most of the child rearing duties ( she works full time and I work whilst the children are at school), I do all the cooking, washing, ironing etc - it is not unusual for her to be watching TV, whilst I am cracking on with jobs around the house. I'm not looking for a medal, it has to be done, but the notion that increasing one's "contribution" to household chores has not worked for me - it simply meant that my wife can watch more TV - and it has built resentment and anger. With this breakdown of the romantic relationship and partnership came the nagging and criticism, the "walking on eggshells".

We are now no more than flatmates and she is the worst person I ever shared a house with because she expects that because we are still techniclly married, that I should do what she says ........ so I went on strike and started a hobby that I gave away when I was young and deeply regretted giving up ( she threatened to destroy my kit at one stage !) - now I no longer see myself as a sexual person, that part of my life has ended and reaching that conclusion was strangely liberating.

That could be your future unless you act - and just talking ain't acting.

So it is important to get to the real cause of the matter, rather then simply start doing stuff. I think it is unfair for anyone - male or female - to realisitically expect their partner to enter a life of enforced celebacy and indeed perhaps poor self esteem etc. I didn't notice that bit during the wedding vows. Sex is a natural part of any romantic relationship and for men (and indeed Maslow) it is the basic building block. As another poster mentioned, withdrawing that intimacy, without any thought to working to restore it, is a form of emotional abuse. Would she withdraw affection from the children and become like Miss Havisham from Great Expectations - maybe your wife is trying to weaponise sex??

I would also mention that your wife runs the danger of harming the children - they run the risk of living and observing a dysfunctional relationship - why would she do that to them? Would she harm them in any other way - almost certainly not, so why is she prepared to harm their Father in front of them?

The thing that most folks forget is that 2 year olds grow up to be 25 year olds with opinions - they will work it out.

So my advice is to follow their advice and do something about it because time is not on your side in these situations.

Best of luck - but it might not end up like a movie plot - some of us just get unlucky and the myth that women are all more emotionally mature than blokes is just that , a myth. Frankly ( and I may be flamed for saying so), but your wife needs to grow up and work out her problems.

Offred Tue 13-Nov-12 06:54:37

Lord Charles - I find a lot of your post really uncomfortable. You know you can't put all those things onto your wife don't you? You are also responsible for what the children learn about relationships, you can't just say "she doesn't want sex, her fault". She is entitled to not want sex, you could reasonable expect your partner wants sex, you could also reasonably expect to be able to talk about changes together. Deliberate withdrawal of sex to harm is abusive, not wanting sex is not.

I also don't think it is good enough to make assumptions about why this has happened or say "this'll happen to you if you don't act". It is interesting that you both are very bothered about sex and both display a feeling of being entitled to it and angry if it isn't provided whilst dibs is feeling powerless and dejected. I think this can only be socialisation, i have what may be described by some as a "male" attitude to sex - I use it for stress, I use it to build intimacy, without it I find it hard to be intimate in other ways, I want a lot of it, I fall into a pattern of feeling angry when I don't get sex etc

I can see why intimacy would be withdrawn along with sex if intimacy was expected to always lead to sex on the one hand or if intimacy was only provided when you were having a good sex life. Ultimately for all of you I think the best thing is stop focusing on your partner, feeling powerless or angry, you need to communicate and if you can't communicate properly then leave. Don't make it all about sex either, it is the intimacy that is the thing.

WaitingForMe Tue 13-Nov-12 08:31:02

I'm not convinced it is ok to not want sex. When DH and I got together I said I believed romantic love should have a sexual element and that if he went off sex and wasn't actively working on remedying that then at some point that'd meant he'd lost love for me and not loving me as much would probably mean the relationship was nearing its end. This attitude came from a first marriage where my ex withheld sex.

I don't think its really fair to talk about men/women not being entitled to sex. Of course nobody should have to have sex if they don't want to but if they don't want to then the onus should be on them to be working on it. To think it's ok not to work on it is far more entitled and disrespectful than wanting sex.

aven Tue 13-Nov-12 13:33:38

First post here.
Can i just say that i am having this problem with my DP. I am the one with no sex drive and we have not been intimate in a year maybe more. It started about a year or so after my DD was born. She is now 5 and things eventually came to a complete halt. I cant get my head around why i feel this way. My poor DP has been so patient and tried to talk to me but i cant even bring myself to discuss this with him. I think now i have pushed him to far though. This has caused problems in every other part of our relationship and 2 weeks ago it came to a head and he left. It is only now that i am realizing that i have a major problem and have ruined the one thing that means the most to me. i love him so much but can seem to convey that to him. He is so angry with me and i understand his reaction completely now, i haven't for so long though and i really do feel there will be no going back now. i never before looked at it from his point of view and just felt it was all about sex but it's not, it's about intimacy and closeness. Making him feel wanted. I have made such a mess of things because i was stubborn and wouldn't listen.

I hope you manage to fix this issue for the both of you.

Offred Tue 13-Nov-12 13:40:50

No it is not, it is just coming from a perspective that no-one is entitled to sex from you for any reason, relationship or not, and that preserving a relationship with someone else does not override bodily (or other) autonomy. It is perfectly fine to not want sex, what is not ok is lying and manipulating over it and abusively withdrawing it or not allowing your partner to make their own choice over it by refusing to communicate about it. It is also perfectly fine to leave a relationship where you are unhappy with the sex, it is never ok to feel entitled to sex from your partner, or to absolutely refuse to communicate about it with them and i find it hard to see why rather than leave a situation you are unhappy with, you would behave abusively in order to maintain it by any means whether that is avoiding discussing breakdown of intimacy/loss of sex life or pushing for sex you feel entitled to/cheating. You could reasonably expect sex in a relationship or even that everybody should be entitled to have a sex life but neither of those things are the same as being entitled to sex from your specific partner. Not wanting sex is not always some illness which needs treatment and even if it is then treatment or therapy needs to be sought by the person not pressured by the partner. A partner is perfectly valid in feeling they aren't able to cope with the situation and leave and it isn't being a bastard. Threatening "I'll leave if you don't have sex" is bastardy though. I think pressurising for sex is always wrong, no-one has rights over anyone else's body and fundamentally I do think it is more of an issue for women in heterosexual relationships because women are entered, men do the entering and this makes quite a big difference to things that shouldn't be forgotten. I'm not saying men are bastards btw, just think there is actually a mechanical difference that needs to be recognised.

Offred Tue 13-Nov-12 13:44:10

And I'm posting from a perspective of most of the time feeling angry with dh about quantity/quality of sex/intimacy and sometimes feeling tempted by the idea of cheating as well as having had a period where I absolutely refused most intimacy and all sex.

Offred Tue 13-Nov-12 13:45:33

Basically fine to not want it and not want to work on it, not fine to trap your partner by refusing to explain/discuss that's how you feel.

Sorry, dont want to hijack, but unsure what the hmm is about me.

I didnt tear, I didnt have much locia/loss at all, and we were horny after 4 days so why not?

I wasnt advised against it. They just said use contraceptive, as its not uncommon for women to go to their 6 week check already up duff.

FastLoris Tue 13-Nov-12 22:34:14

Offred - I don't really get what you mean about it being "fine" to not want sex or about people feeling "entitled" to it.

Surely it's just a question of wanting different things from a relationship. Of course it's absolutely fine to never want any sex at all, in terms of your life as an individual. That's not at issue, and I very much doubt most people would be concerned or judgmental about someone single who had simply decided to never have sex because they have no desire for it.

But in a relationship, things are never as simple as that because everything you decide about how to live your life has an effect upon your partner - and that partner has every bit as much right to decide they DO still want sex. So sure, not wanting sex and not being prepared to do anything about it is fine, as long as you're happy to end the relationship (with all the responsibility towards children etc. that that may entail). But that's meaningless because when people raise these kinds of issues, it's usually on the assumption that they want to continue the relationship, or at least explore the possibility of doing so. In that case your person who is determined to stick to their right of no sex has to either give their partner their blessing to shag around (if that's a solution for them), or presume some right to enforce lifelong celibacy upon them. Fuck that (or not, as the case may be).

Similarly this thing about "entitlement" is just a judgmental way of referring to men wanting sex as part of their relationship. But it's not a question of being entitled in any absolute sense to sex from another person - it's just a question of some kind of sexual connection being a necessary condition of being in a relaitonship with that person. This is something that most people - both women and men, including many of both on this thread - seem to feel is a dealbreaker for a relationship, so what singles it out as "entitlement" in some peoples' case and not others? It seems to just be entitlement when men do it and something else when women do.

I can see how an attitude of entitlement could be a factor leading to problems in the sexual relationship. But as for the fact of entitlement or lack thereof - it's surely just a description of what people consider necessary to be in a relationship, isn't it? It's not more sinister than feeling "entitled" to have your partner do the washing up, play with the kids, pay their share of the bills or whatever. You're not denying your partner's right to never do any of those things again, if they simply choose to divorce you instead.

Offred Tue 13-Nov-12 23:12:33

But clearly missing the point that if this is a point of conflict that actually not all people do consider sex an essential part of a relationship. Although it is reasonable to.

I don't get why you are saying "entitled" is an insult against men. It isn't. Entitlement puts pressure on people, it is sinister to feel entitled to sex because it is essentially a feeling of entitlement to someone else's body, not their behaviour etc.

FastLoris Tue 13-Nov-12 23:23:08

Of course not all people consider sex an essential part of a relationship, and when those people are in a relationship with each other then there is of course no problem. But that doesn't change the point.

In a nutshell: How does "considering sex an essential part of a relationship" (which you admit is reasonable) differ, in actual practice, from "feeling entitled to sex" within a relationship. They both involve insisting that some kind of sexual activity is a necessary condition for the relationship to continue; and at the same time they both allow for the autonomy and right of the other partner to go off and be celibate on their own if that's what they prefer.

What's the difference, apart from arbitrarily different value judgments about two things that are actually the same?

likeatonneofbricks Tue 13-Nov-12 23:50:45

unhealthy entitlement would mean demanding sex when a partner has physical or psychological reasons to have a break, IF they communicate to their partner (therefore show respect) - even if this communication isn't easy or immediate, entitlement is not an expectation that sex will be part of marriage if it was not denied/absent previously - it's not 'rights to someone's body' but expectation of intimacy and acceptance within marriage as these things define marriage/ltr among others, of course with some dry spells allowed for (but talked about).
FastLoris puts it well!

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 00:31:31

Did you read my previous post? I differentiated between reasonably feeling sex is an important part of a relationship and feelings of entitlement to sex from a specific partner.

Your differentiation is different because it is more conceptual but I still think feeling entitled to sex in a relationship generally is different to feeling it is an essential part of one and it is because entitlement means at best having a claim on someone else's body which is often asserted as a normal part of a relationship but is something I fundamentally disagree with.

Are you also making a mistake in assuming because I'm female I'm not the one who wants more sex? I explained that already too.

FastLoris Wed 14-Nov-12 01:07:45

OK so you're talking about the difference between one's attitude to relationships generally, and one's actions in regards to a specific relationship and partner. I suppose that makes sense.

I think one major area of confusion is that we're not talking about one person's right to have sex with another person per se. We're talking about their right to consider having a relationship with that person to be contingent on the existence of such sex. So noone's saying that a person is entitled to another person's body - only that they're entitled to end the relationship and express their sexuality elsewhere, if their partner unilaterally decides that they can no longer express it within the relationship.

To deny a person that right would seem very odd indeed: you'd basically be saying that if one partner in a relationship suddenly decides they want to be celibate, the other partner HAS to be celibate for the rest of their life too, and there's nothing they can do about it.

I think I have trouble seeing why sex is so different from any of the other things that people WANT in a relationship. People enter into and then remain in relationships because they enjoy being with the other person, they have similar ideas about the kind of life they want together, and the other person makes them happy. If the other person suddenly decides to radically change some aspect of how that happiness is shared - whether by stopping all housework, going out alone every night or refusing all sex - then the question of whether the other person is happy in the relationship with change. Sometimes that'll be a minor change that can be accomodated; sometimes it'll be a dealbreaker. Complete withdrawal of sex is often the latter - I don't see why it signals "entitlement" in the other partner any more than any other dealbreaker.

Charbon Wed 14-Nov-12 01:50:22

IMO, it's not the lack of sex itself that is the thorniest issue - at least not for people who respect a partner's bodily autonomy and feel no entitlement to broach that autonomy. The sticking point is that a partner has no desire for sexual intimacy in the relationship. Emotionally healthy people of either sex have no desire to have sex with someone who doesn't want sex with them, so it's not the absence of sex per se, it's the absence of repricocity and mutually enthusiastic desire that is felt as a loss.

When I try to define the term 'entitlement to sex' I reference people who want sex with unwilling or unenthusiastic partners, who do not want sex with them.

Darkesteyes Wed 14-Nov-12 02:28:39

Lord Charles i am in a similar situation to you and you had me nodding until i hit the sentence "not mentioned serious weight gain"
Women arent stupid. They know whether someone is turned on by them or not. All it takes is one contemptuous look or for it to show in your attitude.
It doesnt actually have to be vocalised. Just because you havent actually verbalised to her how you feel about her weight gain doesnt mean that she doesnt know.

Darkesteyes Wed 14-Nov-12 02:36:33
Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 06:46:05

Loris it is like you are not even reading my posts.

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 07:01:28

That's the whole point, the wrong isn't singular often though.

A partner who insists on their right to a sexual relationship but will not leave expects either to exercise a claim over their partner's body or to seek sex outside the relationship. A partner who is entitled to decide they don't want sex is not entitled to trick, manipulate or stonewall their partner over it in order to keep them in a relationship. Monogamy is not more important than respect for autonomy.

The reason for the disparity between the words is that at it's most benign entitled means a claim, no-one ever has a claim on someone else's body. They could reasonably expect their intimate partner wants sex with them someone does very much have a right to assert their claim over their own body. Both sides are entitled to have personal feelings about the importance of sex in a relationship.

Entitled is not interchangeable with reasonable expectation in any context though.

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 07:07:05

And, even though it is me in my relationship who is given to feelings of anger and frustration about a lack of sex/infrequency I think it comes down to entitlement again, sometimes you can't help your feelings, however you aren't entitled to be angry and frustrated at your partner, only to make a decision about yourself.

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 07:16:18

Maybe in the op's case to see that it isn't loss of the sexual relationship but a reduction in frequency and to change how he thinks about the situation to reduce the pressure on that one aspect of their relationship and also to work on communication rather than panic about sex - easier said than done and hard to understand if you are in it but it is related.

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 07:17:21

He needs to establish what he's dealing with so he can make a proper choice.

Leafmould Wed 14-Nov-12 10:03:25

Fascinating thread. Perhaps there are others like it, but I think is should be put in relationships, so it stays in the archive a bit longer. What do you think?

Leafmould Wed 14-Nov-12 10:04:01

Derrrrrr I thought it was in chat for some reason. Just ignore me I am stupid.

OneMoreChap Wed 14-Nov-12 14:12:23

I'm sure this has been discussed often before; as Offred says, no-one should have sex if they don't want to.

In a relationship, it's pretty normal to think sex is part of it; if you don't want sex anymore, you don't really have a whole lot reason to say your partner shouldn't have sex with someone who wants to... and if they do - they aren't really changing the relationship; the person who stopped wanting the sex did.

You can't go "Waah, they were unfaithful" if in the same breath you concede you were attempting to enforce celibacy on them. And no, "letting" them masturbate isn't the same thing.

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 14:17:44

I think you can, I don't think two bad things cancel each other out. It all just strikes me as completely pointless and horrible, I also feel retaliatory hurt is actually a bit worse than just plain hurt. It is more of a choice.

OneMoreChap Wed 14-Nov-12 14:24:08

What's retaliatory?

You would like to have sex again at some stage in your life. The DP with whom you enjoy going out with, raising children with, acting in ad-dram with doesn't.

Why should they care? They don't care about your sexual wants, no matter how much they like your cooking. Share your meals with them and your body with someone else.

QueenieLovesEels Wed 14-Nov-12 14:34:51

I think sharing your body with someone else is not an answer. It's not like an itch that needs scratching.

When you have a close relationship with someone you want the intimacy with them as an extension of feeling.

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 14:43:44

I don't quite understand your logic OMC; one partner who withdraws sex but refuses to discuss it with a view to artificially maintaining a pretence of the relationship unilaterally without input from their partner is wrong but a partner who in the face of this, seeks extramarital sex, also refusing to discuss it with a view to artificially maintaining the same non by now relationship is right? And if we accept the important thing is apportioning blame all that helps those people and their individual happiness how? What is left of the actual relationship if neither person will relate to the other?

Charbon Wed 14-Nov-12 15:48:36

Negotiating sex outside a relationship needs to take into account the associations a person has with sex. While there are certainly individuals for whom sex is merely a physiological activity that produces a bodily response, there are more people for whom it means extra or different things and who have a psychological, as well as a physiological association.

It is rather superficial to assume that everyone has the same associations about sex and that psychological responses to it will not occur for either sexual partner, therefore having a further negative impact on the relationship that the attached partner is seeking to maintain.

This superficial view of human nature and motivation frequently comes up in debates about monogamy. Many people seek new partners for a variety of reasons other than the physiological act of sex. There are often psychological needs such as the need to be desired, loved, chosen, respected, valued - as well as less commonly identified needs such as thrill-seeking, illicitness, adrenaline addiction and keeping secrets.

I'm guessing from the OP (who seems to have disappeared) that he has psychological as well as physiological associations with sex, so this debate (while interesting) doesn't seem to apply to his particular plight.

OneMoreChap Wed 14-Nov-12 15:57:20

Offred do you think all relationships are entirely defined by sexual activity?

My previous relationship was abusive and had no sex, but I can imagine some people have perfectly content relationships, save only the absence of sex.

If a partner says they love you, and want to be with you, "but I just don't want sex", why should you think they don't mean it?

I don't think you should hide it from your partner, but if you say "OK, fine; you don't want sex with me, so I shall find it elsewhere..." why should they think that unreasonable?

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 16:29:50

No, OMC and that is the whole point isn't it?

The whole point of what i said, is that amount of sex and who it happens with is not the point it is the relating to each other that makes it a relationship and what's the actual point if neither of you is prepared to relate to each other just have perceived needs met however you can get them met even if it involves manipulation, lying, stonewalling etc in order to "stay together"? What is the point in staying together in that situation? how is the wrong of cheating made right by the wrong of enforced celibacy and stonewalling? Abuse is not relevant, i was abused, i also cheated, i still think i was wrong to cheat and that whether i did or not xp was still abusive. i dont like the implied thing of to be a victim you have to be whiter than white and to be an abuser you have to never be nice, it is wrong and damaging.

This thread is talking about sex that's why we're talking about it and not relationships as a whole.

Charbon - I don't know enough about op's situation but "sexless" relationships are all different and you can't assume cheating or extramarital sex is always only about fulfilling a physical need, it depends on the individual. For me cheating in an abusive relationship was a. Taking back some control, b. some respite and c. Fulfilling psychological, emotional etc needs in order to maintain my involvement in the shitty relationship as is often the case with abusive relationships: very hard to even consider leaving.

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 16:40:48

And to answer your question they are entitled to find that unreasonable if they do. There is no law that says people have to stay together. Just break up FGS if your partner can't or won't provide something you want or need... Don't see it as a license to be a shit.

Charbon Wed 14-Nov-12 17:18:15

Offred I never assume that infidelity is about sex as a discrete entity. IME it rarely is, but equally I wouldn't assume it wasn't either. I can however honestly say I've never encountered someone who, after discussion, agreed that his/her infidelity was solely connected with having sex itself. Like you, it sounds like the OP has psychological as well as physiological needs, which is why I challenge the knee-jerk and simplistic response that often crops up on threads about sexless relationships i.e 'have your sexual needs met elsewhere, your partner has no grounds for complaint if you do'. It rarely solves the underlying issues for either party - or the relationship itself, because it assumes that everyone is able to put sex in a sealed box. Many people cannot and have no desire to, either.

OneMoreChap Wed 14-Nov-12 17:21:06

So, presumably, if one partner decides they don't want sex any more, surely they should be the one to leave, not kick the partner out/drive them away?

Charbon Wed 14-Nov-12 17:45:29

If a person doesn't want sex or a relationship with a partner, then it is more ethical to organise a structural break in a relationship that has ended anyway.

If however they don't want sex but they are still invested in a relationship, ending the entire relationship might meet no-one's needs and that unilateral action takes away the other person's choices to say 'I am prepared to stay in this relationship despite there being no sex'. Behaving ethically in relationships is all about giving people choices and being transparent about the choices that are being made. Not having sex is an open and transparent choice which leaves the other person free to make their own choices. Deciding to keep a response choice secret, is unethical behaviour.

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 18:14:00

No, since it isn't a given that the other person will be unhappy with that in all cases and they aren't a parent, they are a partner. It would be very paternalistic to say "I feel I don't want to continue one part of our relationship so I am not going to talk to you about it or give you a choice I am just going to leave you." What is the actual problem with the concept of communicating about issues like this and making mutually beneficial decisions or choosing to separate because you can't?

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 18:15:59

We are just agreeing with each other then charbon in that case!

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 18:16:43

(I was worried something I'd said had been misconstrued based on what OMC had incorrectly interpreted)

FastLoris Wed 14-Nov-12 21:12:24

Offred -

A partner who insists on their right to a sexual relationship but will not leave expects either to exercise a claim over their partner's body or to seek sex outside the relationship. A partner who is entitled to decide they don't want sex is not entitled to trick, manipulate or stonewall their partner over it in order to keep them in a relationship. Monogamy is not more important than respect for autonomy.

Well I certainly agree with all that, so I guess I see where you're coming from.

FastLoris Wed 14-Nov-12 21:13:22

OMC -

no-one should have sex if they don't want to.

Why not?

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 21:31:43

Er because that's a rape if it is woman who doesn't want to and a sexual assault if it is a man in heterosexual sex, you get the picture...

Did you not know that loris?

The law is clear in requiring that consent must be ascertained and not coerced and that it is up to the person seeking sexual activity to takes steps to ascertain that consent beforehand...

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 21:32:28

bangs head off wall

FastLoris Wed 14-Nov-12 23:09:04

Not wanting sex is not the same thing as not consenting to it.

The statement was about somebody having sex when they don't want to, not about being made to have sex when they don't want to.

Desire is a separate issue from consent. You can rape someone even though they want to have sex (they may well not consent for whatever reason, despite wanting it), and you can have consensual sex with someone who doesn't particularly want it, but agrees to do it anyway.

But most importantly - the statement was made from the POV of the person having sex when they don't want it. OMC didn't say that someone else shouldn't have sex with them, he said that they shouldn't have sex.

I don't understand why. People do things they don't particularly want to do all the time, for all kinds of reasons.

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 23:22:04

If there's no coercion a person who doesn't want sex doesn't normally have sex so it is a moot point. The person having sex with the person who doesn't want to cannot have taken adequate steps to ascertain consent because the person they are having sex with doesn't want to have sex. Situations that could be described as "she didn't say no" for example and is still rape and can be prosecuted if the woman complains. It is the test of reasonable belief of consent. You have to demonstrate what steps you have taken to ascertain consent.

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 23:23:29

Why shouldn't a person who doesn't want sex feel they don't have to do it anyway? Because it is their body and their right to decide what to do with it.

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 23:23:49

Feel they have to do it anyway!

Charbon Wed 14-Nov-12 23:41:30

Isn't the question why would you want sex with someone who didn't want it, Loris?

FastLoris Thu 15-Nov-12 00:30:03

Offred -

If there's no coercion a person who doesn't want sex doesn't normally have sex so it is a moot point.

Well that's blatently untrue. Lots of people have sex when they don't personally want to, in order to make their partner happy, without being in any way coerced to do so. And then there are also people who have sex for extraneous reasons (seeking validation, manipulating others etc.) when they don't actually want the sex, but do it without any coercion, even instigating it themselves.

The person having sex with the person who doesn't want to cannot have taken adequate steps to ascertain consent because the person they are having sex with doesn't want to have sex.

That's a complete non-sequiteur and makes no sense. I suppose it's based on your presmie above that a person who doesn't want sex wouldn't have sex. As I've pointed out that premise is false, so the rest of this doesn't follow.

Situations that could be described as "she didn't say no" for example and is still rape and can be prosecuted if the woman complains. It is the test of reasonable belief of consent. You have to demonstrate what steps you have taken to ascertain consent.

That's true, but irrelevant. We're not discussing cases where the woman doesn't consent, or even where consent is uncertain. We're discussing what happens when one partner (of either sex) doesn't personally WANT to have sex - and those cases can easily involve full and explicit consent.

FastLoris Thu 15-Nov-12 00:35:04

Why shouldn't a person who doesn't want sex feel they don't have to do it anyway? Because it is their body and their right to decide what to do with it.

Who said they shouldn't feel that? I'm not saying anything about what anyone should or shouldn't do. If someone doesn't want to have sex, then it makes perfect sense to me, all else being equal, that they don't.

But the fact is that some people DO have sex when they don't want to, and not just because of being coerced. I'm similarly not telling them they should do otherwise either - it's a free country and people can do what they like as long as they dont hurt others as far as I'm concerned. OMC said they "shouldn't" do this. I'm yet to see a reason why they shouldn't, and for some reason all the discussion seems to be trying to shift the question to other issues.

FastLoris Thu 15-Nov-12 00:36:51

Charbon -

Isn't the question why would you want sex with someone who didn't want it, Loris?

No, that's not the question we're discussing (as raised by OMC). That's a different question.

Joiyuk Thu 15-Nov-12 01:20:23

Me and my DH go through phases. We go ages with none and then have loads in a week. Probably. Week of every month we are at it like rabbits and then the rest of the time I don't want any. We only have one two year old though, and he's a good sleeper so I get rest at night (mostly). I would definitely say that resentment makes me want to push him away sometimes though. If he doesn't do his share round the house (he hardly ever does if I'm honest) and if I've been mauled by out two year old all day I just want to sit at opposite ends of the sofa from him.

Offred Thu 15-Nov-12 07:02:12

Loris you are the one asking OMC to explain why someone who feels they don't want sex shouldn't acquiesce to pressure to have it - the answer is because it is their body and they get to decide what to do with it.

It is clear to me that you don't understand consent.

For example woman doesn't want sex, man does, woman acquiesces to sex because of the pressure of the man still wanting/expecting sex despite her not wanting to, if man attempts to ascertain consent the woman's feelings, if she is freely able to speak about them, would become apparent, if she isn't then there must be coercion. Fact is most men don't ask, don't feel they need to ask and actually lots, like you - don't seem to care. Which is why charbon asked that question.

Totally ridiculous that you wouldn't answer that question AND said my answering the question you asked was irrelevant.

Offred Thu 15-Nov-12 07:12:04

The point of loris' question was to explain why having sex when you don't want to to "make your partner happy" WAS coercion. A partner that respected and loved you and didn't feel entitled to your body would not want to have sex on with you when you didn't want to, they would care about how you felt.

Offred Thu 15-Nov-12 07:12:22

Charbon's question even.

OneMoreChap Thu 15-Nov-12 13:12:02

There's a category difference between feeling desire for sex, wanting to make your partner feel good, letting someone make love to you and not stopping someone.

Consent isn't mysterious...

If you don't want to have sex, don't have it.
If you don't want sex your self, but don't mind if your partner wants you and let them make love to you... that's up to you.

We don't want people pressured into sex... and it happens both ways, FWIW...

FastLoris Thu 15-Nov-12 18:05:35

Offred -

Loris you are the one asking OMC to explain why someone who feels they don't want sex shouldn't acquiesce to pressure to have it

Who said anything about pressure?

OMC said noone should have sex when they don't want it. He said nothing whatsoever about the reason for having it being pressure.

It is clear to me that you don't understand consent.For example woman doesn't want sex, man does, woman acquiesces to sex because of the pressure of the man still wanting/expecting sex despite her not wanting to, if man attempts to ascertain consent the woman's feelings, if she is freely able to speak about them, would become apparent, if she isn't then there must be coercion.

It depends what you mean by her being not "freely able to speak about them". You seem to assume that if she doesn't freely speak about them, it must be entirely because of something the man is doing to stop her. The dynamics of communication are of course often, in reality, much more complex than that.

But more to the point, your example is only one of many in which people may have sex without wanting it. You keep trying to bring it back to coercion, which was not in the original statement and has nothing to do with my question about it.

Fact is most men don't ask, don't feel they need to ask and actually lots, like you - don't seem to care. Which is why charbon asked that question.

And now you're making vile assumptions about me based on this strange parallel conversation that you've invented, just because I don't automatically accept your completely illogical point of view every time you try to change the subject. Nice.

Totally ridiculous that you wouldn't answer that question AND said my answering the question you asked was irrelevant.

I have no problem with answering Charbon's question. I'm not entirely sure whether she meant it as a general question ("you" as in "one") or whether she was soliciting my personal feelings about it. But I never said I wasn't happy to answer it. What I said was that it wasn't the question we were discussing. Because it wasn't.

With all due respect you seem absolutely hell bent on changing this conversation to one about something else. I'm happy to clarify my position or answer questions about anything else, so there's no need to go about assuming what you think it must be. But I also stand by my right to ask a simple question about a statement OMC made and invite him to answer it, or anyone else interested to chime in. If you're not interested in THAT question, then you are free to ignore it rather than insisting on derailing.

Bumpstart Thu 15-Nov-12 18:44:21

Monkey face grace. I don't think you are hmm for having a sex drive 4 days after birth. I do think you are very unusual. please read the comments on this thread about shagging in the post natal ward.

Offred Thu 15-Nov-12 20:03:32

Who stated the coercion was only ever coming from the partner? You pick bits out of context in my posts and you assume and misinterpret until they mean what you would like them to.

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