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I am in a sexless marriage and have tried everything but don't want to leave

(52 Posts)
Pandrm Sat 06-Apr-13 11:25:56

Hi. A while back I posted about how my wife of 28 years addmitted she doesn't fancy me anymore. Nothing has changed of course even though I continue to try to do all the right things - including some of the advice given last time ( thank you). However I feel bitter that my wife is witholding sex from me ( actually she would let me her but I don't think it unreasonable to expect her to want me to do it). I have heard people advising women in her situation to 'set their husband free to have a normal loving and sexual partnership. The trouble is this kind of freedom would mean, for me, poverty and misery and the idea of not seeing my children every day tears my heart out. I feel I am heading down into a depression that I am not sure I will get out of, nor will I even want to. I would welcome any helpful thoughts. Phil

liquorice1 Sat 06-Apr-13 12:06:37

I am sorry you are having problems. You're wife may not fancy fancy you but she obviously loves you otherwise she wouldn't still be there have you thought about counselling to help you talk your issues.
Some of my friends have tried dating each other having a bit of fun see how you get on good luck:-)

That sounds like a really tough situation tbh. Did your DW always feel like this or is it a more recent thing?

Would councelling (for her alone as well as for you both as a couple) be worth considering if you both want to keep the marriage together and love each other?

I'm sorry I have no useful advice.

HellesBelles396 Sat 06-Apr-13 12:12:15

It sounds like you have three choices:

stay in the marriage on your wife's terms, accepting that she doesn't want sex and that this means you will not have sex from now on.

stay in the marriage and continue to hope your wife will change her mind which could result in you resenting each other and souring the home life of your children.

end the marriage and accept the changes in your lifestyle this will bring but have the opportunity to find a new lover who will want you as much as you want her.

Which would result in the highest chance of happiness for you and your family?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 06-Apr-13 12:13:26

You're miserable because you know it's a mistake to stay with someone who treats you with contempt and has destroyed your self-esteem. You are choosing to remain in a no-win situation and nothing is more depressing than futility. Why would you be in poverty if you split up? Why is it good for your children to see you every day miserable, bitter and rejected...?

dickiedavisthunderthighs Sat 06-Apr-13 12:22:41

You must both be unhappy; from her pov I can't imagine she's happy being married to someone that she no longer fancies.
Perhaps it's time for a long honest look at both of your futures?
I'm sorry, this must be so tough.

Pandrm Sat 06-Apr-13 13:24:00

Thank you for your thoughts. It helps to receive some empathy for both our situations. I feel the word poverty might be too strong but what I meant was that we could not afford another home and I am not prepared to see my children or my wife suffer in terms of their living standards. I have thought of a cheap caravan or canal boat as an option.Cogito I dont actually feel she treats me with contempt exactly. I am sure if she were voicing her views on here her story might sound quite different.

MayTheOddsBeEverInYourFavour Sat 06-Apr-13 13:28:19

Would she be happy for you to look elsewhere for sex? If I was in a position where I couldn't or wouldn't have sex with my DH I would think it only fair if he needed to fulfill those needs with somebody else

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 06-Apr-13 14:08:07

I don't understand all this mea culpa sackcloth and ashes thing. Have you done something terrible that you're not owning up to? Do you feel responsible for the situation? Do you feel you deserve to be told that the person who is supposed to love you doesn't fancy you any more?.... Do you think others would agree?

People grow apart for all kinds of reasons and the divorce laws exists to attempt to make the separation process as fair as possible. If your children had to live in two smaller houses... sharing their time between you and their mother, both happily single ... how would they be 'suffering' any more than living under one roof with two people who are unhappy with each other?

Pandrm Sat 06-Apr-13 14:21:14

As far as I can see ' as fair as possible' seems to mean seeing my children once every two weekends. Or at least that is what happened to two men I know and they similarly had done nothing to cause the split toher than growing apart. No I havent done anything terrible at all. In fact I have half a suspicion that if I had been more of a naughty boy I would appear more attractive - at least thats how it seems to be. Maytheodds yes she did suggest that I find someone to fulfill my needs but I have a suspicion it was more of a tes than a heartfelt offer. In truth I think she does feel very guilty that she doesnt want sex.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 06-Apr-13 14:29:58


There is no magic choice for you. All of your choices involve giving something up.

Your DW isn't "withholding" sex if she doesn't want to have it - you say yourself you want her to want you.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 06-Apr-13 14:32:09

Op it is possible to have 50:50 residence. Could you find somewhere to live near enough for a arrangement like this?

That's a very tough situation you're in, and I sympathise. Does you wife work? Because you should both be able to afford a smaller place of your own each if you both have jobs. If the relationship has run its course, there's little point in prolonging the inevitable.

If she doesn't work because she was supporting your career and looking after the children, the situation is a little more complicated.

The only thing I can suggest is that you seek both counselling and the advice of a solicitor, to make sure you are both absolutely aware of each other's expectations and understanding of your relationship, and your future options.

I feel there's little benefit to you, your wife or your children to just carry on in your current situation. It's not fair on you and the children won't be seeing a healthy model of how relationships should be.

Good luck.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 06-Apr-13 14:39:10

Rather than making assumptions based on what happens with other men (whose situation you probably don't know 100%), why don't you find out what would apply to you specifically? 50/50 care is the aim these days and many people achieve precisely that if they remain amicable and flexible. Similarly with the issues of accommodation and finance. The idea is not that the marriage breaks down, exH lives in a cardboard box panhandling for coppers whilst the exW and DCs are completely unaffected materially. No solicitor would seriously recommend that course of action as it would be palpably unfair... and besides which, if you are living in a cardboard box, your DCs wouldn't have anywhere to sleep when they come to visit.

Just because you have a bad marriage, doesn't mean you couldn't project manage a great split.

Floralnomad Sat 06-Apr-13 14:42:48

If you don't mind me asking how old are your children? In your OP you say your wife of 28 yrs ,or did you mean your wife who is 28 ? if your children are older they may choose to live with you if you separate.

I split from my exdh for the exact same reason, but he'd never been interested. He's not interested in anyone though but I think he may have other tendencies that he's suppressed? In fact I know. We're still good friends and the dcs are very happy.

How I did it was shared care. We split having them half way. Now I've moved almost 30 miles away he has them every weekend.

I do what's best for the dcs and it's worked out well. They're very happy. DS2 was only about 6 when I left he took it worse but he's now happier than he ever was before.

How old are your dcs?

Pandrm Sat 06-Apr-13 14:46:47

To be honest I think the children - although at 16, 18 and 21 they are more than that- are unaware of our problems in the sex department. We dont argue and have a good relationship generally. Apart from me looking miserable, which I think everyone ( including my wife most of the time) thinks is due to the stress of my job. I have tried to explain how important sex is to me but I really don't think she understands. I guess if you are not really into sex you wouldn't think it that important would you?

Pandrm Sat 06-Apr-13 14:49:14

And also, am I not being selfish to place ssex above everything else?

Floralnomad Sat 06-Apr-13 14:51:58

If I were you and she isn't prepared to change her mind I'd leave ,your kids are old ,they'll see you when they want to or live with you if they choose and TBH with their ages you should be able to reach an amicable financial settlement . If you had small children I could see why you would stay but not with kids that age and also if you do leave make sure the children know why . You've hopefully a long life left ahead of you don't spend it being unhappy .

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 06-Apr-13 14:52:52

Um, if your kids are those ages, then they would be able to see both parents more or less as they want, surely? Do they all still live at home?

Anonymousesqueak Sat 06-Apr-13 14:53:41

I was in the same situation; my DH and I had a sexless marriage for seven years. He is so very lovely and we were so well-suited in other ways that it just seemed so silly to break up over it. Yet in the end the intimacy and close communication of having loving sex with your partner is such an important, human thing to want and need.

DH simply had no libido and didn't fancy me or anyone else. He was loving and kind and such a decent person.

We ended up having an open relationship for a couple of years but it was a bit of a nightmare. Although I met a nice man, to be honest 'sex for the sake of sex' is really not the same as loving sex in a committed relationship (for me anyway) so ultimately it wasn't really satisfying and DH missed the time we could have been spending together.

However I simply could not live in a sexless marriage and eventually I decided it would be better for it to end as we were fundamentally incompatible and I wanted to be free to find a relationship that included a sexual element as well as long-term commitment (I haven't found this yet but I do feel better about being available to meet the right person should they come along). Going without sex and physical love is quite soul-destroying. I know it feels selfish to think 'I want sex', but actually it is really IMPORTANT and human. You have got to address the issue.

Have you considered counselling? You can specifically get sex therapy, but I would recommend having some general relationship counselling first to address the overall situation and think about whether sex therapy would help your situation.

Open relationships do work for some people, although they didn't for us, and at least this is an honest way of addressing the issue. Would your wife consider allowing you to sleep with other people, with certain rules about how this would be managed? Should this work well for you (and I would say that absolute honesty and trust is ESSENTIAL or it isn't worth even considering) it can be a solution of sorts.

My biggest question for you is - what does your wife want from the relationship? Where does she see it going? I'm curious, because she's admitted that she doesn't fancy you, so it sounds like you've had some discussion.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 06-Apr-13 14:55:25

Thing is, Pandrm, she can understand how important it is to you without that giving her the desire to have sex. I might understand that my DH likes eating vindaloo - I wouldn't eat one though as my body (taste buds, stomach) would not let me. Does that make sense?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 06-Apr-13 14:55:27

It's not selfish to want affection in a marriage. If you don't have affection, all you've got really is a room-mate. Some people are OK with that and others aren't. Some think it's unrealistic to expect sex after 40 and others are normal. I really do think your DCs are old enough to be talked to honestly about the state of play. You don't have to go into gory details but I think if you presented the possibility of a split (or house-move or other adjustment in living standards) they'd be supportive.... unless they're horrendously spoiled, materialistic and selfish that is.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 06-Apr-13 14:57:31

Btw, how long has this been going on?

Lovemynailstoday Sat 06-Apr-13 14:58:30

Lots of good advice here-- but personally I would draw the line at discussing my sex life with my kids. They really don't need to know that.

Anonymousesqueak Sat 06-Apr-13 14:59:55

No no no - it's not selfish AT ALL! I spent such a long time telling myself this. I was so stressed out and unhappy, yet felt that my feeling were ridiculous and selfish. They weren't.

If you don't believe me (and I didn't believe me) check out all of the major religious texts. The Quran, the Bible, the Torah - all place emphasis on the importance of physical love in a marriage. It's clearly important.

There is a strong link between mind and body and being able to express love in a physical way is important. I was so shocked - over the years I had put on quite a bit of excess weight, and when I finally ended the marriage, the weight literally dropped off. My whole sense of myself as a physical being was transformed - somebody might actually desire me, and want to be with me. I was a body as well as a brain.

The only thing I am sorry about is that my XH and I didn't have counselling while we were still together. I wish we'd given it every chance to work, and I think counselling is a very valuable way of having some structured communication (in a safe space) about the issues and the needs that both of you have.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 06-Apr-13 15:00:52

I wasn't suggesting discussing sex-lives smile But I think young adults are quite capable of processing 'Mum and Dad haven't been happy for some time and are going to split...'

Floralnomad Sat 06-Apr-13 15:02:21

I disagree with not telling the kids ,you don't need to go into detail but they will want to know why you're splitting and are old enough to not be lied to .

Darkesteyes Sat 06-Apr-13 15:05:37

OP i am in a very similar situation to you. I have to go out now so havent got time to write a long post so im linking in an article i wrote about it for another website.
Im really sorry if it upsets anyone. Its not my intention but i was very upset when i wrote it. I can understand the bitterness that you feel.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 06-Apr-13 15:05:42

I actually have a friend in a similar situation to the OP. One DS at uni, a DD who has just finished A-levels and another doing GCSEs. He and his DW clearly don't get along and his main concerns for not suggesting a split are a) she'll bust his chops financially and b) he won't see the kids. But as the DCs all grow up and move on, he's realising that he doesn't really matter to them and it's just him and DW locked in this death-dance ad infinitum.... he's also pretty miserable.

marriedinwhiteagain Sat 06-Apr-13 15:06:22

Thing is and we have been together for 25 years, married for 22, sex is only part of a truly loving relationship and friendship. We have been in a phase where it doesn't happen often but that suits us both - we both have stressful jobs and fall into bed exhausted too often; but we still have a hug and a cuddle every day. I think if the friendship and the love have gone as well as the sex then perhaps the marriage is ending but for as long as there is companionship and mutual respect then surely a compromise can be reached. Also, your DC are in fact almost grown and I don't see why you should be far off both having a flat rather than a family home if the worst comes to the worst.

I couldn't imagine being with anyone but my DH but that doesn't stop me telling him not to even think about getting randy if he doesn't take his socks off and have a quick shave.

Darkesteyes Sat 06-Apr-13 15:07:54

Anonymouse i comfort eat sometimes too. i am looking into starting a salsa class soon if i can find the confidence to go.

Anonymousesqueak Sat 06-Apr-13 15:11:25

Darkesteyes, I love swimming (the feeling of weightlessness is great!) and yoga felt great too.

juneau Sat 06-Apr-13 15:13:15

You are not being unreasonable to want to be in a sexual relationship with your partner. However, it sounds like that is not going to happen while you remain with your DW as she clearly doesn't want to have sex with you. You need to accept that. Have some counselling if you feel you need it, or and see your GP for some anti-depressants, but the facts are what they are. Sorry, that all sounds harsh, but I remember your previous post when you came on here and said the exact same things and nothing has changed. You need to make changes if you want things to improve in your life sex-wise.

So, from what you've said, it sounds like you need to separate. There will be a sensible and happy solution to this, although I understand how hard it is for you to see that at the moment. Please go and see a solicitor, as a starting point. An initial half-hour consultation is usually free. People split up all the time and make new lives for themselves, even when it initially appears impossible. Set yourself free. You're wasting your life in this relationship that doesn't give you what you want and need.

You say you want to have as much access to your DC as possible. As two of them are already adults I suspect that they'll get to decide how much time they spend with each parent and when, so it will be up to all of you to agree about that - but it may well be a flexible arrangement - given their ages.

juneau Sat 06-Apr-13 15:15:43

The other alternatives, of course, are to stay and accept your lot in life or take your DW at her word and find yourself a sex partner. Maybe it will be okay, maybe it will precipitate your separation. But those are your choices.

SybilRamkin Sat 06-Apr-13 15:51:02

OP, I'm so sorry to hear about your situation, it sounds very upsetting and difficult to live with.

I disagree with those posters who suggest leaving your wife straight away - presumably you had a healthy sex life at some point? How long has this been going on?

You need to have an honest discussion with your wife about what it is that's made her feel this way. She might not know, but then again there might be a reason. Have either you or she changed a great deal physically? Has there been some major life event (e.g. menopause, emotional trauma)?

I would suggest you get couples' counselling as a matter of urgency. Have a look at Relate:

Finally, I wish you and your wife all the best, I hope you can work this out between you without resorting to splitting up the family.

They're old enough to cope and who wants a miserable parent?

Pandrm Sun 07-Apr-13 09:21:07

Thanks for your thoughts. Sybil yes it was better years ago, probably per children, but was best when we were 'courting' - I suppose like many other couples. I have looked at relate but their charges seem very high and I did ask my wife if she would come but she didn't want to.

Darkesteyes Sun 07-Apr-13 16:08:45

my h didnt want counselling either. With me its not just the sex itself that i miss. Its the intimacy surrounding it that goes too. Things like somone just kissing the back of your neck while you are washing up.
Or tenderly stroking your face.
Or just a hug. In my case there is no affection either. Its a lonely place to be.

CrispyHedgeHog Sun 07-Apr-13 16:35:38

Can I ask you something? does she have a mirena coil?

The reason for that is because I had one for years, thought it was the best thing ever then had a year off from it when my sex drive went through the roof and now I've got a mirena back in I just have no interest again.. could it be something like that?

Pandrm Sun 07-Apr-13 17:21:13

No Crispy she doesnt. Goes a long time this. I told her I had posted on here to get thoughts and there is something I havent mentioned that she asked whether I had. She thinks it is wrong not to give you the full picture. I agree but actually dont think its relevant as the problem existed many years before what i am about to tell you.
About three years ago we jsut happened to be chatting during a rare lovemaking session about other men. I asked her whether she fancied any of them. The long and short was that she ended up having 6 or 7 orgasms. Since then this has been a particular theme for msot of our sex sessions and always with the same result for her. In the last two years I have talked to her about the idea of making this real and we have joined a swingers site to find out more. So far nothing has happened and she says she doesnt want another man for real, but the other man, or men, thing is still part of our lovemaking. After sex she always says never for real.
When I mentioned mumsnet she seemed to imply that she has withdrawn from sex because of this but i know for a fact that our sex life was very infrequent for years before this fantasy arrived. She says its more my fantasy than hers - I laughed and said I only cum once you cum 6 times !!! Anyway I thought I would fill you in on this part of our relationship.

Darkesteyes Sun 07-Apr-13 17:37:28

In your latest post you have put that the other men fantasy is still part of your lovemaking but you have called the thread "i am in a sexless marriage and have tried everything but i dont want to leave"

I dont mean to be nasty but me and others like me who actually are in this situation for real and have been for many years would say that you are NOT in a sexless marriage OP.
You have no idea. I think your OP has been very misleading.

Pandrm Sun 07-Apr-13 17:45:47

I understand sexless to be 'defined'as less frequently than 10 times per year. We have had sex no more than 12 times in the last two years. Sorry if the ideas seem in conflict. I was persuing the 'other man' idea to try to find a way to help my wife become more sexually active. Thats all, a means to what could have been a good end for her and me

Pandrm Sun 07-Apr-13 17:53:52

when I referred to ' still part of our lovemaking' that is NOT to say that we have a regular lovemaking pattern because we definatelydo not. Apart from that, as in your previous post, its not just the sex is it. It is the ongoing intimacy and touching that says in a continuous way , ' I love you and want you'

Lazyoldcow Sun 07-Apr-13 17:58:13

TBH OP once every 2 months for sex with 3 teens in the house (I assume) isn't that bad. I've been married 29 years and our rate is not much better than that- due to illness and work etc over the last year.

Not sure how old your wife is but after 28 years with you she must be 50-ish. Is the menopause and physical symptoms such as dryness affecting her enthusiasm? Her libido may have gone crashing through the floor with a drop in hormones.

If she can only have an orgasm while thinking of other men, then it appears to show she doesn't get turned on by you- but again you may find this is par for the course with lots of 50-somethings. Just like men sometimes need more visual and physical stimulation as they get older, women might need more fantasy.

or are you saying she doesn't rate/want sex unless she has an orgasm?

Pandrm Sun 07-Apr-13 18:31:14

Thanks Lazy. Perhaps I am making too much of it and we are perfectly normal. If thats the case its me that has the problem I guess. I did once ask the doc for something to reduce my libido. He said ," I can give you both something to raise your libidos, but there isnt anything to reduce it!". Ah well, maybe I should put up and shut up. Thanks for all your input and best wishes to you all.

BIWI Sun 07-Apr-13 18:33:43

Well, to me the word 'sexless' implies that you aren't having any sex at all, so your OP was a tad misleading.

Do you actually talk to your wife about this, and about how it makes you feel? Or are you just silently brooding and seething?

Spero Sun 07-Apr-13 18:36:34

Given the ages of your children, the alternate weekend contact scenario has no relevance to you - the court is highly unlikely to make any orders relating to children over 16. Your children will make their own decisions about how and when they see you.

If it were me, I would rather be living on my own in a boat or bedsit than with someone who didn't love me in the way I needed and wanted to be loved. Otherwise I know the bitterness and resentment would sooner or later eat me alive.

But that's me. I don't know what you value more in life. If you like the lifestyle you have together and don't want to lose it, then you may have a different view.

Pandrm Sun 07-Apr-13 18:38:10

I have read on numerous sites a 'definition' of sexless and the general consensus is that less than 10 times per year is regarded as sexless, though particularly when one partner has a significantly differing need for sexual fulfilment. It was on this premise that the thread was posted. Yes of course we talk about it and my wife is aware how it makes me feel. At the same time I have no desire to load her with guilt so I do try to take some of the resposibility.

lazyoldcow Sun 07-Apr-13 18:46:04

I've read the definition of sexless which is just someone's definition- it's meaningless I think really. I know couples who have sex once a month and they are both happy- and would not say their marriages were sexless. ( 12 times a year rather than this 10 times which is quoted.)
I have a friend where they have not had sex for 11 years- nothing- nada. That IS sexless and they are on the way to divorce.

There is no such thing as normal- it's what works for you and your OH. That might be once a year or once a day. But for people your/our age I doubt if many are much more active than once a week or once a fortnight from what I have heard.

You haven't replied to my suggestion about your wife's hormones- is this something she shares with you? Is she post menopause? How old is she?

Yours is not really a sexless marriage as one where you have mis matched libidos. it's up to you to work out with her whether this is down to psychological reasons- she resents something you do or don't do- or simply the physical chemistry has gone and will never- for her- come back.

have you had this type of conversation rather than just one about 'I want sex and you don't'?

You could try counselling alone- give you the chance to talk.

If there is NO hope and your wife cannot see your hurt- you must feel rejected- then either you shut up and put up- or you separate.

Pandrm Sun 07-Apr-13 19:11:19

Yes on reflection I think it is perhaps more about mismatched libidos, and I do think we are at opposite ends of the scale. For some reason it feels more important now than ever. I think it has hurt most since she suggested she didn't fancy me like she used to. She is beginning her menopause and is seeing the doctor about it at the moment. The sex life I have tried to impart to you all, and apparently haven't done a great job, has been ongoing for the best part of twenty years. Yes, that's about the length of time we have had children.

Pandrm Sun 07-Apr-13 20:19:19

Thank you all for your comments. Its great to get alternative viewpoints on a very hard to talk about topic. I wll end the conversation with this post. Best wishes to you all. Phil

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