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DW, marriage, communication, sex and stuff.

(329 Posts)
Keepithidden Tue 09-Jul-13 10:11:19

Hello, I’ve posted in Dadsnet and Feminism already for advice regarding specific parts of my slightly dysfunctional marriage, so it’s time to bite the bullet and whack a post in relationships!

Bit of background, I’m male, DW and I have been married five years, together ten. Both mid 30’s, two DCs (2 and 4) and no sex life. I’ve considered and tried various anaphrodisiacs and been reading a lot about PIV/Feminism womens views of sex and got myself thoroughly paranoid about the number of women with disappointing sex lives and I think DW may be one of them.

I’ve tried to broach the subject a few times, but she says it’s tiredness/stress (understandable considering the young kids I suppose), I’ve asked whether she enjoys it when we do have sex, she says yes. I’ve even asked if she fakes it! She says no. Not sure whether I believe any of it because I know she wouldn’t want to hurt my feelings, and there does seem to be a big proportion of women out there who aren’t happy.

I help around the house as much as I can (still got to buy a copy of Wifework to make sure I’m covering all bases) and I think we split things pretty equally despite me being fulltime working and DW a SAHM. She has the option of lie-ins at weekends (but rarely takes them), I try to do all the kiddy stuff at weekends to give her a break and cooking/cleaning in evenings is my responsibility most of the time too (she tends to do most of the laundry and cooking for the kids).
So I suppose the question is, how long should I wait before putting an ultimatum/suggesting counselling/ending the Marriage? (rhetorical: I know only I can answer that) I love DW and would do anything for her (have considered chemical castration at times), but this is getting me down and I’ve started having slightly suicidal thoughts which I know isn’t healthy. The constant rejection I could cope with if I knew what the reason was. Could be a case that counselling for me is required.

I think it all started about 5 years ago when we were TTC, after 1 year DW became pregnant and morning sickness put a kibosh on any intimacy, a year later we DTD once and number two came along, again Morning Sickness meant a nine month break, BFing extended this and it all fell into a rut so we’ve only DTD six times in the past five years! Putting that down in writing is quite shocking.

Anyway, DW has issues with her body post pregnancy. I find her sexy and attractive, but my constant reassurances fall on deaf ears (haven’t seen her naked for five years either). I think she may need some help to improve her confidence as nothing I can say changes it a jot. Not sure on the best way to approach this one, so any words would of advice would be good. I think once she’s happy with herself then we can talk more about what she wants out of life and whether she even wants me in it.

Sorry, this post is all a bit disjointed and I’ve probably missed stuff out but it’s cathartic to get it down even if this gets no responses!

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 09-Jul-13 10:24:39

"So I suppose the question is, how long should I wait before putting an ultimatum/suggesting counselling/ending the Marriage? "

What was your sex life like five years ago? Be honest here. Also, how affectionate are you with each other day to day? How 'close' are you in the ordinary course of events? Do you hold hands or kiss in public? Do you snuggle on the sofa watching TV or exchange flirty texts? Do you share private jokes, give each other compliments, romantic gestures ... that kind of thing? There's no 'normal' when it comes to sex-lives but IME, couples who have had a strong physical & emotional connection to begin with can survive the inevitable lulls in 'sex' as long as they remain affectionate

Jan45 Tue 09-Jul-13 10:31:31

Sex 6 times in five years! No wonder you are wondering what to do. I suppose until your wife accepts there is a problem there's not a lot you can do; saying it's stress and tiredness wouldn't be an answer for me and I would expect my partner to be a bit more active in trying to find out the cause and solution. A relationship without sex isn't a relationship to me, the sex is as important as the communication, in fact without the sex there's no closeness, you're basically just friends sharing children together. It's up to you how much long you are prepared to wait but looks like unless you both try counselling and perhaps a visit to the GP, this will just continue and probably, from your part anyway, kil the marriage altogether.

Keepithidden Tue 09-Jul-13 11:03:06

Cogito - It varied, but probably twice a week, not quite the levels some folk on here enjoy! We are not very affectionate at all, whenever we're in public we're with the kids, holding their hands, looking after them rather than focussed on each other. No snuggling on the sofa, evenings tend to be for housework, cooking that kind of thing, then by 10ish I'm thinking about heading to bed. No flirty texts either. We give each other compliments, gifts, romantic gestures.

I think the affection thing is something I need to work on. Friends sharing children, as Jan says, seems to sum it up at the moment.

I don't know if this is a 'normal' lull experienced by most couples with small children though. If it is then I can probably hack it, it's just the not knowing that is difficult.

The other issues of whether she enjoys it, whether she finds me attractive or what she's thinking about us complicate matters more. I just wish I knew what to do, she deserves a husband, partner and lover. At the moment she's just got a flatmate who coparents.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 09-Jul-13 11:23:04

Again, it's unhelpful to think of 'normal' because we're all individuals and we have different definitions. It helps you not one iota to learn that, as a mother of a young baby, I thoroughly enjoyed a exciting sexual relationship and treated it, aside from anything else, as a way to wind down from a tiring day and reinforce my self-image as a desirable adult woman rather than just a sleep-deprived, nappy changing automaton with teats...

What I think you have to focus on is that neither of you seem happy and then put this to her. She's feeling insecure about her appearance. You're feeling insecure because you're being rejected sexually. She says she's tired and stressed. You're depressed and slightly suicidal. There's a lot wrong here and I think you could achieve a lot as a couple if you started putting each other higher priority rather than the DCs all the time.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 09-Jul-13 11:25:26

When did you last take a break together as a couple btw? A weekend without the children or even just a grown-up, romantic night out? Aside from sex, what did you do pre-DCs that kept you connected as a couple and which has since gone by the wayside? Did you have some common interests? What did you enjoy talking about?

AnythingNotEverything Tue 09-Jul-13 11:40:40

Is your wife happy with the current situation? Does she know that you aren't?

My gut feeling is this isn't about sex - it's about intimacy and feeling a connection. Stop the housework and make time for each other.

BelaLugosisShed Tue 09-Jul-13 11:58:19

Sorry to break this to you but it sounds pretty normal/standard for a busy couple with 2 very young children, it sounds like you've never been very intimate together and couples really need shared time and intimacy when sex is thin on the ground.
Your talk of chemical castration and suicide really isn't normal or healthy though, lots of people cope with sporadic sex lives, how do you think people with partners who are away for months at a time cope?
It sounds like communication is the main issue, counselling probably would be useful.

Keepithidden Tue 09-Jul-13 12:03:39

Cogito - Yeah, you right about normal. It's useful to have a yardstick, but also not very useful as it could set up your expectations.

We need to have a long old talk I know, I think DW does too, she is I suspect reluctant to discuss it though.

Been years since we went away as a couple, before kids. We went out for our fifth wedding anniversary a few weeks back. It was great, but it doesn't happen often, babysitting is problematic. We used to watch films together, go out to the pub, cinema, restaurants, cycling, gardening. All of that's gone now, the DCs have become the priority, to the detriment of the marriage.

Anything - She doesn't seem unhappy, whether she's actually happy I really don't know now (it's the communication thing again). It's easy to fall into a status-quo which makes me think she's content if not happy. She's always tired when I'm around although I don't think it's anything medical.

PiHigh Tue 09-Jul-13 12:15:08

Lots of those hobbies are very doable when you have kids even without babysitters.

Why not get a lovefilm/netflix type of deal and make one night a month/week "Movie Night". Do the absolute bare minimum essentials in the house, then make some popcorn and sit and watch a film together.

Gardening - get the kids involved, bucket of water & paintbrush and get them to 'paint' the house while you and dw enjoy the real gardening or just sitting in the garden with a glass of wine.

Cycling - can you hire a trailer for the kids?

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 09-Jul-13 12:18:31

I think you've got to get back some of those old interests. If you went out and it was 'great' then there's another angle for the conversation i.e. 'how can we do more of that?' Babysitting agencies exist so it might cost you a few quid but what price a better relationship? If you don't go out, create a romantic night in. Put the kids to bed early, buy a bottle of wine and slap a few steaks on the BBQ... Forget the housework.

'Always tired' if it's not medical means you have to find ways to give her a break. If you can't go away as a couple what can you do between you to get her more sleep?

The one key suggestion I'd have for you is to take the emphasis off 'sex'. If at any level someone thinks that they only get to be treated nicely if they put out, it turns a nice gesture into a pressure situation. Keep the emphasis on reconnecting, being more affectionate/intimate, making time, reducing tiredness, making each other feel special, prioritising yourselves as a couple....

PiHigh Tue 09-Jul-13 12:25:25

Oh another thing, I find (as a SAHM) that Dh taking over in the evening/weekends isn't really a break for me. I can still hear the noise of the kids and the general monotony of being at home if that makes sense. Could you maybe treat her and a friend to a cinema trip for a proper break?

Keepithidden Tue 09-Jul-13 13:00:46

Some great ideas, thanks everyone.

"The one key suggestion I'd have for you is to take the emphasis off 'sex'. If at any level someone thinks that they only get to be treated nicely if they put out, it turns a nice gesture into a pressure situation."

Yep, I learnt that particular lesson a long time ago, to my embarassment and shame!

PiHigh - Interesting about the noise etc. at home. I hadn't considered that angle. I have encouraged here to go out with friends before, not really sure why she doesn't. Cinema/pub/clubbing anything to unwind I'd be happy for her to go out. Will try again though.

Lots of things to talk about here. Will try this evening (assuming it's diplomatically a good time - various other stresses ongoing at the moment, but when aren't there!).

intarsia Tue 09-Jul-13 13:07:21

Did your DW have a career before children? Could she be needing something at her own intellectual level? Has she ever spoken about it? May be she's struggling with feelings to do with that?
You sound really caring BTW

Wellwobbly Tue 09-Jul-13 13:20:14

The time to give an ultimatum is NOW.

But not the nuclear option (D, leaving her), just a calm and factual statement as you have told us that you feel unloved and uncared about, that sex is very important to you to express closeness, that her 'meh' makes you feel very rejected.
That you HAVE BOOKED A COUNSELLING session and that you want her to come with you. That, if she doesn't, you will go along anyway.

Apparently nothing cuts through the denial that there is a problem more, than counselling.

Next level of ultimatum (after you have explored the issues that counselling brings up): that whilst you love her very much and she is the one you are attracted to, her continued 'meh' is going to be taken as acceptance of an open marriage and you are going to find your sexual needs fulfilled elsewhere - and do it. I think that might get a reaction/her off to the doctor to check her hormone levels etc.

Tbh husband, I think you are Too Nice, have given her too much power in the marriage and she takes you for complete granted and doesn't respect you. Do go to counselling, and let us know what comes up?

Getting a bit tough with this wife might get you the results you want.

If it is any comfort, this woman thinks your wife is being very unfair, very uncaring and could do with a bloody good kick up the arse. Man up and get angry about this! You sound like a lovely caring man, if just a bit too lovely and caring.

PoppyWearer Tue 09-Jul-13 13:27:58

How well do your DCs sleep? Who takes care of the night wakings? I have a 4yo and a 1yo, the 1yo is an awful sleeper. I deal with him every night. Frankly I'm too knackered to think about anything else when I go to bed than sleep. Can you give your DW a night off or whisk her away to a local hotel for a night (or send her on her own, also throw in some spa treatments)?

If you can't give her some time away, what about some time for grooming without the DCs around? I feel much happier once I've had a warm bath and a hair-removing session! Would she like a gym membership? Does she like to run or go to exercise classes? All of that, time away from the children, will help her to feel better about herself.

Yes, the work/intellectual thing definitely matters. My own self-esteem goes through the floor at times because "all" I do all day is look after the DCs and do housework. Maybe she needs to go back to work?

Get a cleaner, if you can afford it! That will probably help your sex life, seriously, if your DW feels like less of a drudge. And some childcare wouldn't hurt.

Lastly, could contraception be the problem? I found that my contraceptive pill made me feel exhausted and depressed and have been like a new woman since I stopped taking it. Until I get different contraception sorted I am reluctant to let DH near me as I want to avoid another pregnancy at all costs, it would be a disaster for us. Could you have a vasectomy if you don't want to have more children? The threat of another pregnancy might be at the root of her reluctance.

Good luck. Please be patient and try to find out (gently) what is really going on.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 09-Jul-13 13:28:04

Too harsh WellWobbly.... Kicks up the arse? Open marriage? Power? Really? The stage you're describing is not where the OP find himself at all. Reading what he's written I'm not seeing 'meh' and neither am I seeing malicious withdrawal of affection or (which is the time to issue ultimatums). I'm seeing two people who are prioritising everyone except themselves, live like ships that pass in the night and have got into some bad habits, but who (and this is very important) ... when given a chance such as their fifth anniversary... are perfectly capable of being intimate. I'm never shy to suggest to anyone that they have to lay what they want on the line but, in this instance, I think there's hope. Counselling, certainly. Threats of screwing around?... that's just childish.

PoppyWearer Tue 09-Jul-13 13:38:25

Hear hear, Cogito, spot on!

Hi Keepit I responded to your first post in Feminism (it's PromQueen here, with a new name) and wanted to just pop in to say I'm glad you've posted here too. The posters here are very wise and I'd listen to them if I were you. (Except the bit about ultimatums and open marriages, as Cogito says, that sounds a bit shock to me).

Good luck!

Wellwobbly Tue 09-Jul-13 13:39:26

Cogito, why is men's distress denied and minimised here? Why are women ALWAYS given the benefit of the doubt on Mumsnet? Men are NOT animals for wanting sex. It is a normal and natural desire for love.

To calmly say: I am unhappy my needs are not met... are as important and valid for men as for women, and even though she is a precious woman his wife SHOULD listen to him and take him and his needs seriously. That is called love.

I am only extending to this husband what I wish for myself: to be heard, to be taken seriously, and to be met half way.

And, if she refuses to take him seriously (which I doubt if he does the constructive process of clearly stating his position/boundaries and going to counselling), then yes he does have the right to tell her openly and honesty that he does not want to lose his family but that he will get his sexual needs met if she won't.

If you look at the marriage contract, providing sex is in there. I know mine was the really old-fashioned one, but it is a fundamental part of the contract of marriage: I keep myself only to you, and you provide sexually. Both to eachother.

'Screwing around' is not so if it is done openly and honestly and with fair warning, giving the other person the opportunity to revise their stance and priorities. The whole point of affairs is that they are SECRET and DECEITFUL which means the spouse is not negotiating on a level playing field.

When she finds out he is serious and he is determined I am pretty sure it wouldn't get to that.

Cogito, women can behave badly and with laziness and lack of care, and sometimes they do need a jolt to catch their attention. Sorry if my language (kick up the arse) offends.

AnythingNotEverything Tue 09-Jul-13 13:51:09

Sexual needs which must be met?! This isn't the 1950s.

I'm with cognito.

themaltesecat Tue 09-Jul-13 13:54:38

Can I just say, you should know if she isn't faking it. Things, er, quiver and jolt and pulse around your cock / tongue / fingers in a way which leaves you in no doubt.

That you have a doubt about this matter suggests to me that she was faking orgasms.

Which suggests to me that it was pretty inevitable that your sex life petered out.

You make yourself sound reasonable enough, but reading texts about feminist issues isn't going to help (you do realise that just because one author has a vagina, she doesn't speak for all womankind, don't you?). I'd be well suspicious if my husband did that, and find it a turn-off, whether it was done in a "I've been a good boy and done my homework and now can I have a shag, please" way, or a more sinister, "Look, I've done THIS, THIS and THIS in the house, and even read THIS shite by a WOMAN, now SHAG me for fuck's sake" way!

Ragwort Tue 09-Jul-13 14:00:29

Sexual needs which must be met?! This isn't the 1950s - personally I agree with this statement however there are many threads on mumsnet when if the woman isn't satisfied with her sex life it is considered perfectly acceptable for her to give her DH/DP an 'ultimatam' - there are countless threads about a woman's 'right to a satisfying sex life'.

Why doesn't this work the other way, double standards (again) on Mumsnet hmm?

Keepithidden Tue 09-Jul-13 14:26:26

Whoa, loads of responses now. Okay I'll try and cover all questions.

Career - Yes she had a career of sorts, and still maintains it to a certain extent (small business, working from home) it's the type that can be dipped into and out of as she wants/has time. I've sked her if she'd rather be at work than a SAHM and she says she'd rather be a SAHM. I'm sure she misses the adult company though, who wouldn't?

DC waking at night - DD sleeps well and generally all the way through. If she needs attending then it's generally serious and will require Calpol and reassurance. So we'll both get up. DS doesn't sleep as well, but is older, we used to take it in turns, but now it is more often me as he plays up for his mum more than me. Not sure this is an issue, I can get by on far less sleep than DW.

Contraception - I had the snip last year, FDW has been off the pill for a few years now. I know she's concerned about another pregnancy. I have more faith in Marie Stopes than she does!

Wobbly - May be a bit overkill, I've read about sex-rank, alpha males etc... on the Talkaboutmarriage forum. Not that convinced about it all. Yet. May be a tactic to use in the future, mind you when it gets to that stage all-bets-are-off anyway. I get your point about marriage contracts etc. but that argument smacks too much of power games for my liking (call me a Beta male if you like!).

Themaltesecat - Yeah, I know I should know. Not easy to be objective when you're involved in the situation. I know I'm paranoid, I just don't know how much!

I think it's a bit unfair to pin those other two arguments on me. I'm not after a pity shag, or a forced sex, I'd rather go without, either of those two may as well be voluntary rape from my POV. I want to be the lover my wife wants, and if that's not possible (either because I'm not attractive, or because she's asexual) I want to get out so she can find someone who can fulfil her needs.

Wellwobbly Tue 09-Jul-13 15:13:39

You sound like such a lovely man, Keep. What loving and caring loyalty.

Do go to counselling, you might find you are a bit too 'nice' and that once the dynamics in the family are tweaked somewhat, you will all be so much happier. All of you.

Jan45 Tue 09-Jul-13 15:18:12

Wobbly, I agree, a relationship without sex isn't a relationship, it's a friendship so of course, male or female your needs should be met, what is the point being in a couple if the other person doesn't desire you or seduce you - and you're wrong for asking if you're a man????? So, it's okay if it's the other way around? I have noticed this here, men's needs are not important but by god if you are a woman it's a different story.

Of course you are entitled to want to have sex, it's what makes you close, brings you happiness and ultimately makes you stronger as a couple, it's not rocket science.

PoppyWearer Tue 09-Jul-13 15:21:43

Well done on getting the snip, not many men seem to do it these days! I would like to put good money on contraception concerns (not wanting another pregnancy, facing the possibility of a termination) being a factor here if you already think she's worried about that.

You do sound caring.

Jan45 Tue 09-Jul-13 15:21:57

Yes women do fake it and no you can't tell by things moving, rubbish! I know woman who have been faking it for years, sad, but true.

WitchOfEndor Tue 09-Jul-13 15:25:45

You sound like you are really trying to understand things from your wife's pov so kudos for that. She has already told you that it's tiredness and stress, and I think it is as simple as that. Motherhood can change some women's perception of their bodies and really knock their confidence too. I know it doesn't seem fair to you but if she is busy with the kids and slumps knackered into bed to be propositioned then she won't be particularly receptive as she just wants to sleep. Try getting a baby sitter/family member to take the kids one night and start going out and being people again, rather than parents. I wish you luck because you are obviously willing to make an effort to improve the situation. But the best person to talk to about this is your wife.

Jan45 Tue 09-Jul-13 15:28:02

Sex 6 times in 5 years is something more than being tired and stressed, I rreally hope you find out what OP. I actually think your OH is taking you for granted and basically not caring much about you, she's lucky you are so attentive towards her, perhaps that is the problem...

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 09-Jul-13 17:59:43

" Men are NOT animals for wanting sex."

A man that said 'give me sex or I'll get my sexual needs met elsewhere' would be an animal... hmm

He'd be an entitled arse. Unlike this OP, who quite obviously isn't...

ladybranston Tue 09-Jul-13 18:57:51

Dear Keepithidden,
I see that someone has already suggested that you "man up". I don't think that language is particularly helpful but suggest you perhaps examine the blog and the books written by Athol Kay.

it has helped me immensely.

2much2young Tue 09-Jul-13 19:17:33

Could be lots of things happening here

Could be that she doesn't want sex because she doesn't feel sexy attractive, it's lovely that you tell her you find her all of these things but if she doesn't feel the same way about herself she will feel self conscious and unable to relax/let go. Her self esteem is probably quite low and until that improves it's likely that your sex life will stay the same.

She might prefer being a SAHM but may be feeling the drudgery of it all, you're obviously doing your share but can you get a cleaner for a couple of hours a week to take care of doing the bathroom/floors/bit of ironing/etc? free you both up a bit

She may not be feeling it from a hormonal place - I'm a bit older, early 40s and I only really get the horn now just before I ovulate (or when pissed blush and quite often timings are off for one reason or another and nothing happens!

You sound like a lovely man, really sensitive and caring, talk to your wife and take it from there but don't expect to get to the bottom of it all straight away - it could take time. Good luck

Keepithidden Tue 09-Jul-13 22:37:02

Thanks for the further comments Folks, lots of food for thought there. I'll try and check out a copy of the Married Life Primer too. Both me and DW are quite passive individuals so maybe there's stuff there that we could both learn.

Her self confidence has never been great, but post pregnancy it seems to be a lot lower and I haven't a clue how to change that. Hormones, tiredness and stress all seem likely factors, also convenient excuses for something more. I don't know. At least I've got a few starting points now.

CityTiliDie Wed 10-Jul-13 07:29:07

Hi, Keepit,

Reading your OP was a bit DejaVu for me as I could have written that myself...... My DW and I have been through an almost identical situation.
Many times I have thought about ending my life as there seemed to be no point and that DW and DD would be happier without me and she could find someone that would make her relly happy as I cnat seem to do that. I have also thought about just packing a bag a buggering off too.

We have tried to have many discussions about our dwindling sex life but each time she refuses to talk about it as this 'puts too much pressure on her'! I tried backing off and not mentioning.

I too share all the housework and childcare, lie in at the weekend, flowers, arranging child care for meals out, lots of compliments, hug and affection........ all to no avail. WHile our sexlife is not as bad as yours (every four weeks here) I know DW only does it out of duty not because she wants to.

Counselling didnt work for us but it might work for you so try it, you have nothing to lose.

TBH my advice having been through it for the past few years is........ Leave now. It wont get any better and you will have both wasted a good portion of your life that you will never get back.

I do regret not ending my relationship years ago but we have stuck at it and now have a 'friends sharing a child with monthly sex' kind of relationship. Its not ideal but at my age (49) its probably the best I am going to get and I adore my DD so much the idea of someone else becomming a step dad to her is so abhorrent I stay and do the best I can under the circumstances.

I know things here will not get any better and may well only get worse so with hindsight I would go and make a new life for yourself, a life you will be happier with and where you DW can find her own happiness.

Good luck

Numberlock Wed 10-Jul-13 07:45:19

What he said ^^

arsenaltilidie Wed 10-Jul-13 08:32:32

Cant believe some of the stuff i'm reading.
Get out of there now, she is not attracted to you.

You sound like one of those passive, doormat 'nice' guy.
For once be assertive and do something for yourself.

city life is much better than that. You reap what you sow.

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Wed 10-Jul-13 08:43:36

Sorry, but I agree with the most recent posters. Have seen it first hand. Things won't improve. She may have completely lost her libido. There could be a physical problem. There could be a psychological problem. She may not fancy you any more through no fault of your own. She may simply, but selfishly have got want she wants - children - and have no need for you any more (that sounds awful but I have actually known that).

Point is, she refuses to address it or discuss it reasonably which is what you do in a marriage or partnership. That is unreasonable and unfair. I'm sorry, but this will not improve. If you wish to have a sexual relationship in future, you must leave your wife and end the marriage. It is clear you have followed the 'standard guidelines' that a lot of women say men should do to improve things on this score and, as in the majority of cases, it makes no difference.

She is totally within her rights to decide she no longer wants sex with you. But by so doing she is basically saying you can't ever have sex again either. If you're happy with that for the next 40 years, fine. If you're not, then leave and find someone who is willing to be more than just a child-rearing partner with no physical involvement. Your wife has already checked out.

You might have read the last few posts with mounting horror Keepit. Often posters on this board suggest LTB and one or two call caution.

Today that seems to be me, even though I usually keep my nose so far out of relationships I've only posted on one or two threads.

Have you explained to your wife everything you are feeling? Not in a "poor me, I am not getting what I want from this relationship" or "I want sex and if you won't provide it I may go elsewhere" but instead:

I miss the closeness and attraction we both used to enjoy. I know things are hard and you are tired (trust me, I empathise with your wife having been at one point a SAHM with two young kids) but I want us to be happy again. What do you think? Would you consider counselling?

If she doesn't want to discuss it at the moment you choose, then I'd probably respect that, but if you keep 'choosing the wrong moment' and nothing gets discussed, then this is clearly unfair to you. You are not the only one who is responsible for keeping this relationship alive. If she really won't discuss it, then perhaps you need to start thinking about what will make you happy if you can't actually change things with your wife...

But from what you've said, I don't think you're quite ready to give up yet?

That said, if you wife isn't willing to try and make things better for you so that you are happy, and she should, it's her marriage too plus she is supposed to love you, then nobody should blame you for making changes in your life so that you are happy.

Also, I don't think its fair to the OP to derail this thread into the old mumsnet hates men / double standard argument. He doesn't care about sexual politics, he wants help and support to make his marriage better. No?

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Wed 10-Jul-13 09:43:53

Buffy - to a point, yes, but how long does he continue banging his head against the brick wall. This has been going on for years, not months, and every time he has tried to get his wife to discuss it she brings up "too tired". Sorry, but that is NOT FAIR. She is making NO effort whatsoever and he can't go on ad infinitum. Before he realises it, 10 years will have passed. We've seen it so often on these threads.

"From what you've said, I don't think you're quite ready to give up yet?"

No, he isn't. But she's already given up and nothing he will do now is going to change that.

Whether and when he gives up is the OP's decision to make. All we know is what he has posted here, and I suspect (though I don't know of course smile that he is making a particular effort to be very diplomatic in how he phrases his posts so as not to prod the nest of vipers, so to speak.

Of course you have a right to try and achieve a fulfilling sex life keepit and I even think that you could consider 'manning up' oh, the irony a bit about it, so that you wife can respect you as a self-confident person rather than someone who is just there to tiptoe around her needs.

It sounds to me as though you are doing things right: pulling your weight at home, recognising that she has a tiring and stressful job just as you do. Respecting her boundaries, etc. It doesn't sound to me like what is happening is your fault.

Seriously. If you are so unhappy that you've considered suicide, find a counsellor asap to talk through your situation and feelings. Ask your wife to join you in couples counselling.

If she will not, then you have a right to make changes in your life, with or without her support, so that you are happy.

Also, we have no idea whatsoever about how his wife feels, why she isn't interested in sex and whether or not she has "given up". We should remember that, I think.

blueshoes Wed 10-Jul-13 10:25:24

I have sympathy for both points of view.

The only thing I will add is that your children are only 2 and 4 and they at the age where parenting is full on, particularly since your wife is a SAHM.

I think it is only when ds my youngest was 5 when I started coming out of my shell sexually. Prior to that, I had very little interest in sex and did it out of duty maybe once a week. Not always full sex, sometimes handjobs, blow jobs. I am sure my dh noticed but he did not make an issue out of it. It would not occur to me to deny him sex because that is so fundamental to a marriage. Things are much better now that ds is 6 and our sex drives are evenly matched.

BTW, your wife is still not breast-feeding, is she? I was and it killed my sex drive, plus made me feel very touched-out, so did not like my dh to approach.

If you are prepared to wait, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. But you are perfectly within your rights to be more insistent in the meantime. How your DW reacts will indicate to her whether she is prepared to be fair to you. I think suggesting an open marriage to your DW is acceptable in your situation down the line if you feel you are getting nowhere.

Feelslikea1sttimer Wed 10-Jul-13 10:49:57

I think people are being way too kind here... I've noticed on the few threads written by men they get way more sympathy than women!

This is far from a normal relationship, does your wife have a medical problem that is making her so tired? Because surely a SAHM can manage to look after the kids and do more than the laundry and cook for the kids? And as far as getting a cleaner in, why would you need a cleaner? she's a, dare I say it 'housewife' surely that is her 'job'

I think you need to see someone about this, GP, counsellor or solicitor... It sounds to me this marriage is over.

I am sorry to be so brutal but to be suicidal over this, you need to take drastic action.

Jan45 Wed 10-Jul-13 11:16:44

CitytilIdie: you feel at 49 what you have got is the best you'll get at this age????? You're the same age as me and are entitled to a sexual relationship hopefully up until the day you die, you still have time to find that with someone else unless of course you are happy in a sexless relationship then fair do's, I just had to respond as I certainly don't feel that way.

Jan45 Wed 10-Jul-13 11:20:29

Sorry CitytilIdie I didn't read your whole post property. You are not happy with this situation and you think your wife is having sex with you out of duty and nothing else - get out, there's a big world out there with people who like to have sex in their relationships, go grab yourself one, life is too short to settle for second best.

OnIlkelyMoorBahtat Wed 10-Jul-13 14:57:43

"she's a, dare I say it 'housewife' surely that is her 'job'"?? She's a SAHM - her "job" is parenting her children: anything else around the house should be shared!

Cheeseatmidnight Wed 10-Jul-13 15:26:32

Good luck op, I have no idea how you can approach this. We dtd once a month and I am struggling to put my finger on the issue, so if dp asks me all I can think is that I feel like a milk machine and have dd all over me bf all day.. Minded children clambering on me too.

I just need space, but am working on it to keep our relationship intimate. I am sure this is a lull due to having a small dd.

Feelslikea1sttimer Wed 10-Jul-13 15:38:09

onilkley I understand its now called Stay at home mum but surely that is the same as a housewife and housework and things become part of that role too? I have read threads on here when the mum works and dad stays at home and does nothing other than look after the kids and they get the standard LTB response....
If I didn't go out to work I wouldn't expect my other half to come home and do all the housework and cook meals, maybe I am wrong?!
I was just wondering if there is a medical reason why after just looking after the kids and not doing the rest of the jobs around the home, the OP's wife is too tired for sex? 2 kids can't be that exhausting?!

OnIlkelyMoorBahtat Wed 10-Jul-13 18:04:41

(Hi Feels,

Basically my point was that the OP's wife is working, she's looking after the kids. You said "I wouldn't expect my other half to come home and do all the housework and cook meals": no, I wouldn't either, so why would someone expect someone to do all the childcare and all the house work and all the cooking. Do you see what I mean? Kids are knackering, trust me! smile)

Anyway, back to the OP and his wife...

OnIlkelyMoorBahtat Wed 10-Jul-13 18:08:38

Oops, pressed post before finished! OP, I don't really have much to add to what everyone has said above - it seems you are doing all the right things, but not knowing your wife we can only conjecture why this is happening this way for her... I do think the idea of trying to get some more time together just 1-on-1 and just being together is part of the process and will help to re-establish your intimacy together - as you say, it's been along time hasn't it, you probably both didn't know you didn't remember that feeling! Hope it works out x

CityTiliDie Wed 10-Jul-13 22:04:34

WHile I dont want to hijack the thread I would just like to add.....

I have a good relationship with my DW. She is my best friend etc etc. I fancy the everything off her, she is gorgeous and we get on well, have a good life, little stress, just enough money to manage and enjoy life, we share everything. But she wont do anything about our sexlife. SHe acknowledges that there is a problem but she is ok with things so its my problem.

I know that I will never find any one who matches up to my DW in any way shape or form and I could never leave my DD so I will have to put up with the situation for the rest of my life, cry myself to sleep most nights and 'please myself' Learning not to take my frustration out on anyone is hard and I fail miserably sometimes. Its our 13th wedding anniverary this week and we might have a cuddle for two minutes btu that will be it as we DTD last week so couldnt possibly dtd twice in one month. Its got so predictable that I can name the day we DTD weeks in advance. I've decided that next time i will be the one to refuse jst to see what happens though I guess it will only make her happy yo have got away wiht it for four weeks and can blame me for refusing if I mention the lack of intimacy.

I hope things get better for you OP and do try to talk with your DW.... whats the worst that can happen?

Good luck

Keepithidden Wed 10-Jul-13 22:27:10

Well, certainly some conflicting views presented.

City, you have my utmost sympathy. I'm sure I couldn't live like that. I doubt it'll get to that stage here, but I'm sure you are one of many in the same situation.

The whole Man-up thing I can try, it's not a natural response for me, I'm a persuader rather than enforcer by nature, but then life is one long lesson.

DW is not BFing, hasn't for 18 months now.

Buffy - Thanks for your advice, I think the cautious approach is the way to go for now. I have avoided being explicit with DW, but now is the time for the more direct approach, with tact of course. We'll see what happens...

No need for persuasion or enforcement really. Just a more assertive statement of what you would like to change, that's perfectly reasonable, especially as you sound as though you are very willing to listen and try and understand as well. Good luck! Keep posting for support if you want to.

himoutdoors Wed 10-Jul-13 22:57:43

I think this is fairly common after years of marriage and children....even for conscientious, hardworking partners. Trouble is that it bothers one party and then becomes a focus point. And if you have a wonderful DW and DC and dont want to leave then you can only try to work on relationship but can lead to years of frustration!

MysteriousHamster Wed 10-Jul-13 23:05:06

Does she ever talk honestly and openly about your relationship?

Is there a chance she could be getting emotional and/or physical intimacy elsewhere? I haven't read anything particularly red flaggy, just wondering.

Numberlock Wed 10-Jul-13 23:53:33

I'm confused by your comments*City*. You say you have a good relationship with your wife, best friend etc yet you cry yourself to sleep most nights? Presumably she knows this?

himoutdoors Thu 11-Jul-13 00:17:11

I understand what he means ....good equitable relationship, no nookey, no real explanation. Sex is the only sore point, otherwise everybody happy.

Sorry no time to read thread, but my STBExH and I only communicated even before DC at task level, rather than deeper. After DC the cracks really showed as there was no intimacy and emotional bond, let alone sex. His solution was an affair and goodbye marriage. Do please look at how you communicate with each other - it is so fundamental to a good relationship. Then intimacy and sex follows - at least I think that is how it should work! Best of luck sorting it out!

Dad1975 Thu 11-Jul-13 17:19:44

I feel your emotions keepithidden ,
I am in a similar situation where there has been no more than a dozen "intimate" moments in the last 3 years ( none in the last 18 months ) . I have tried talking with her to understand why but it gets shrugged off . I have tried explaining how I feel rejected and unwanted and it gets shrugged off . We now sleep apart as I cannot stand lying next to her in bed knowing that she does not want me to cuddle her or be near her .
Looking back over our relationship I have always initiated any emotion , whether it was saying " I love you " before we went to sleep or reaching for her hand to hold in a cinema etc ..

peteypiranha Thu 11-Jul-13 17:26:20

Im sorry op I doubt your wife will ever want it. Really even if you had 20 children and a full time job having sex only a handful of times in 5 years doesnt look promising. It would still not look promising if it was only a handful of times in one year. I know it must be hard for you, you have my sympathies.

Wellwobbly Thu 11-Jul-13 17:41:45

Take her to counselling Dad. INSIST you go together. The counsellor will not allow her to shrug it off.

(Counselling is a very supportive place, hard to explain).

arsenaltilidie Thu 11-Jul-13 18:23:03

The quicker these guys realise their wives are only staying with them for the wrong reasons, the better it is for everyone the kids, them or even the wife.
Most of the men complaining know what's the right thing to do but are just being weak about it.
Forget couples counselling, you need counselling for yourself and see why you put up with it and why you are not assertive/low confidence.

PS: the 'persuasive' way never works because its seen as being manipulative. It's often interpreted as 'you are only doing it because you want...' Which means you can never do anything right.

himoutdoors Thu 11-Jul-13 19:26:43

Arsenal- leaving one's family isn't always the best outcome for the children!! I don't think that you can say that for sure. Some families thrive with discreet affairs. Not recommending it but I now see why that often works.

EverybodysGoneSurfing Thu 11-Jul-13 20:01:35

I hardly ever post in relationships but this resonates so much with me... This could be my DH talking (it isn't we only have one child!)what can I say? Our DD is nearly three. Mostly, I am just not interested in sex. I work full time, I am tired. Physically I feel taken up and exhausted by my DD's demands. She is constantly in my space and I feel like I have little left for my DH. I don't want to be touched anymore, I am tired, I want more space.

People on this thread have talked about suggesting your DW goes out, have spa days etc. What I really want and need is my own home back. I would love my DH to take my DD out and let me just be, at home. I empathise with the poster who talks about noise, and not being able to truly relax.

in short, it makes me sad when I read people's posts who say it will never change and you should leave. I truly hope it will change for us, I want it to. But the truth is, at the moment, I don't feel like having sex very often. Nothing else. I adore my DH, I love spending time with him, we are a family. I think this will improve as DD gets older and I think my DH understands. I hope he does, because when we said our vows we both knew we were in it for the long haul.

Wellwobbly Thu 11-Jul-13 20:04:34

Just have sex. The more you have it, the more you are fine with it.

I think women must get some sort of testosterone 'injection' from their H's.

Please think of their needs and just be kind to them. After a while you will find you don't mind...

After a while you will find you don't mind...


Read that back to yourself a few times and see if you're still happy with it.

Keepithidden Thu 11-Jul-13 21:37:40

Not sure how seriously to take some of the suggestions made, but in amongst those who recommend LTB there are far too many lonely souls. This is all quite depressing. Speaking of which (and having reread this thread) I think the suicide thing I mentioned shouldn't be linked too much with this particular situation, it's not something new for me, just hadn't been around for a while, that's all. So feel free to ignore that aspect in as much as the relationship advice is concerned.

Anyway, I've been thinking a bit about the frequency we DTD and it has picked up (ha) in that it's been thrice in 2013, twice in 2010 and years between, so by my reckoning the cause is probably pregnancy related. That doesn't address things now, but does give me some hope in that now I'm firing blanks that ain't a road open to us now.

An affair? - It's a possibility, not sure when she'd be doing it. I have daydreamed about coming home to find her in the throws of passion with another thus demonstrating she does have the want and need for sex. Subsequently finding out he's a financially secure proposition, a good father etc... and leaving me to head off into the sunset. Before anyone suggestes it, this is not a sexual fantasy - not a turn-on to me. I'm pretty sure that's just some twisted martydom disorder/complex (pop-psychologists - give me your diagnoses!) so I've rejected that on the grounds of irrational and unreasonable (I have frequent fights with my subconscious, most of the time my conscious wins). Anyway, this is getting away from the fact that I'm as sure as I can be that she isn't having an affair. But never willing to discount anything no matter how improbable.

Arsenal - Some good points, but somewhat generalistic and I'm unwilling to give up the investment I've made without a certain degree of negotiation. The shareholders would string me up... Persuasive and manipulative are two sides of the same coin to an extent, but the intent behind it is the part that differentiates the two IMO.

Everybody's - Thanks for your opinion, it's the ray of sunshine to Arsenal's dark clouds! Well not really, but compared to some of the advice offered at least it suggests there is a way to a happy ending even if the road is long.

Wellwobbly - Um... Are you talking to me or DW? I think it could be a bit more comlicated than your last post implied.

Right, that's a plenty long enough post for now. Stop back sometime if you'd like to hear the continuation of this particular soap opera. It's not that interesting and is echoed in hundreds of homes and lives accross the world, but you never know you may learn something that will benefit you...

Dilidali Thu 11-Jul-13 22:05:08
Dilidali Thu 11-Jul-13 22:07:53

I bought her book, Mating in captivity, I think it makes sense.

Shlurpbop Thu 11-Jul-13 22:26:39

surfing you have just written, far better, exactly what I was wanting to write but couldn't quite word correctly.
Even your username is completely relevant to me smile
Spooky, eh?!

arsenaltilidie Fri 12-Jul-13 06:12:01

Whilst you may have good intentions its often INTERPRATED as trying to score brown points.

Anyway it's funny how people in your situation who are years down the line are also advising you to leave.

If you ask this question in a male forum most of the answers would be to leave it will never get better etc.

It may be blunt but at the end of the day it is the truth.
If it was health related she'd have been looking to make a change see a GP etc.
You have tried the 'persuasive' way and it doesn't seem to be working.
I can almost guarantee that without even knowing your full story it was never 'I'm going to rip your clothes off' right from the begining.

CityTiliDie Fri 12-Jul-13 07:48:08

Dilidali. I was reccommended to read the book 'Mating in Captivity' and reluctantly did so (not a great lover of self help books) but I have to admit that it was the one thing that stopped me walking away from the best thing to happen to me.

Sadly my DW refused to read any of it or try any of the suggestions in it to help improve the situation but it helped me to deal with my own thoughts on the subject and to have a clearer mind. I know its not all DW's fault. I know she loves me and there are many issues from her past that are causing todays problems for both of us,

SHe cant/wont work through these and they are only going to get worse in the near future when her DM moves in with us but I married her 13 years ago for better or for worse and for the most part it is better but its a curates egg and I am willing to live with that.

My DD makes up in part for the pain of the rest of my relationship and I am not willing to give up on my DD for anything.

Numberlock Fri 12-Jul-13 08:09:30

And once your daughter's left home? Then what?

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Fri 12-Jul-13 08:19:22

City - really? Your DW who gives you no affection or intimacy at all, refuses to read a book, or try any suggestions KNOWING that the person she supposedly loves and who loves her is, in effect, in mental pain and feeling neglected and unloved for years, with his self esteem through the floor, you admit it is going to get worse and she is THE BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU?

Sorry, but I don't understand that. That she could have been once, yes. That she still is?

AnyFucker Fri 12-Jul-13 08:22:53

I think city means his dd ?

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Fri 12-Jul-13 08:30:14

Ah, apologies, I didn't read it that way but see he could mean his DD is the best thing. Personally, I think his DD would rather have two happy parents. While we all make sacrifices for our children, we still have a right to our own happiness and he would clearly be a great dad who saw his DD a lot of the time.

Wellwobbly Fri 12-Jul-13 08:32:28

Keepithidden I was talking to WIVES.

As a woman and I wife I don't think women really understand how much men soothe, bond, express and 'find' themselves through sex. It is so sad how misunderstood this is!

How cruel is it of wives to shut themselves off from a person because 1. they don't understand that language, 2. they assume men are just like women and 3. they can't be arsed?

That is IMO selfish and unloving. AND it is against the marriage understanding. IF men agree to keep themselves only to one person, then the flip side of the agreement is that they get access to sex. I am not making this up I am stating a socio-historical fact so don't hate me or think that argueing with me will take this FACT and source away.

And the statistics support this, men who are married have more sex than single men, apologies to the distressed husbands here.

So, yes, go to counselling to address the issues, see where the hidden resentments/misunderstandings are, hopefully men will be more open to understand that women's reaction to sex is different from theirs (what does Dr Phil say? A man is a gas flame, a woman is an electric stove) but to deprive a husband of sex is deeply unloving thing to do.

Keepithidden Fri 12-Jul-13 09:10:14

Arsenal - You're right it wasn't rip-your-clothes off at the beginning, not sure I've ever been that way, pretty sure DW hasn't either. That's not really relevant anyway. We did have a good sex life despite it not being as passionate as some, now we don't. It is interesteing how others who have been here have recommended I cut my losses, you're right, but there are others who recommend a different tack and I'd like to explore all avenues before going the route you recommend. If those fail, well then so be it and one way or another things will be over. I have looked on more male focussed fora and you're not wrong about the advice there. That was one of the reasons I chose Mumsnet to explore my/our problems rather than somewhere else!

City - I understand your behaviour perfectly, is there really no way of getting your W to understand how much pain and suffering you're going through. It seems very heartless and I'd be concerned about the image of marriage you're portraying to your DD.

Can I ask, how does your W respond during the "duty sex" times? I'm curious to know if she just lies there and lets you get on with it, or whether she gains pleasure at the same time? Feel free to ignore if that's too personal.

Wellwobbly - Interesting, and not without an amount of truth in it either. I struggle to reconcile the "get access to sex" bit though. I'm not sure that should be part of any contract, sex shouldn't be something done just to please your partner, it should be done to please your partner and yourself. I really don't like the idea of sex without wanting it and particularly from the womens perspective it makes me feel very uncomfortable, just a bit too much like rape.

Brief update - I had a chat with DW last night, suggested counselling, told her I wasn't happy and we needed to work on our marriage, explained that I didn't think the relationship template we were providing for DS and DD was very healthy and thought that lack of intimacy was a factor in my ongoing dispondency. She was very upset. Thinks I'm going to leave and didn't realise things were that bad. I tried to reassure her that I wanted to make it work and wanted her to think about what would make her happy (although she claimed she was happy) and what she'd like out of our relationship. I asked her about her sex drive and she said she still enjoyed it, but her libido was hiding.

She's quite good at taking blame and accepting full fault where none (or where shared fault) lies though and I truly believe there is no malicious intent there so hopefully my reassurances that I'm not about to up sticks have been heard. I've nowhere to go anyway, and can't afford to move out. The only option I can see if a seperation where on the cards is living in a tent. I've given her a few days to mull things over so we'll see what response I get..

Thinks I'm going to leave and didn't realise things were that bad. I tried to reassure her that I wanted to make it work and wanted her to think about what would make her happy (although she claimed she was happy) and what she'd like out of our relationship. I asked her about her sex drive and she said she still enjoyed it, but her libido was hiding

That sounds like there is a glimmer of hope for you both, hopefully this will be the wakeup call that your DW needs before you both get so frustrated with one another that there isn't a marriage to salvage.

I really hope she'll agree to counselling with you smile

But then, I'm neither a man in a sexless marriage myself nor a women who thinks that a marriage contract includes a clause where a wife provides her husband with sex even if she doesn't fancy it herself. I favour the notion that women are complex individual humans who also need and enjoy sex to varying degrees (funnily enough, just like men are) so you should take my suggestions on that basis!

Seriously, to me you sound like a wonderful person who hasn't done anything wrong (mind you, your wife doesn't sound like she's done anything wrong either) and I hope you can work this out for both your sakes.

Wellwobbly Fri 12-Jul-13 09:37:49

Keep, when I was b/f and with a small baby, there is some hormonal switch that just goes off. On top of that, babies suck the life out of you. They are an overwhelming black hole of NEED. I was tired, mauled and absolutely not in any mood whatsoever.

So why should my husband, the man who got up at the crack of dawn and worked his nuts off to provide, suffer because that was my reality? Why?

This is where FRIENDSHIP comes in. He was my friend, who wants to see their friend suffer? I would be honest, and say: this is doing nothing for me, but I know you are unhappy without me. I would negotiate like a whore! Please don't kiss me too much. Don't touch my boobs. Don't try and turn me on. Please don't linger longer.

And he would moan gently 'when are you coming back to me?' which would let me know he missed what you say and what I agree with, hugely. That was a sentence of love, for me. And we knew, by the nth baby, that this wasn't personal it was temporary, it was a 'hump we would ride together, and the passion would come back.

That's how I know that the more sex you have, the better it gets smile The more you avoid it, the bigger the problem gets.

Communication, caring, humour.

I agree that if you get into the habit of not having sex, then the lack of it becomes less of a problem. Whereas more sex = more desire for it.

Not sure I'd go as far as negotiating like a whore though. what a delightful way to phrase it

If it works for you and your DH well well nobody should tell you to do otherwise. Not sure it's a solution that a great deal of women and their DHs would find acceptable though confused

blueshoes Fri 12-Jul-13 09:57:13

Agree with everything Wellwobbly has said, even the negotiations. I had a gentle "make it quick" request. I agree the passion returns, in my case with a vengeance once my youngest was 5. It is a temporary blip and both parties can make accommodation to keep the sex life ticking over until the hormones can switch back on.

I also think that the less men have sex, the more they want it. It is the reverse for women: the less they have sex, the less they want it. Use it or lose it!

OP, I am glad your wife is not deliberately withholding sex, just that she did not think it was (rightfully) such a big issue with you. You are entitled to ask for more.

2much2young Fri 12-Jul-13 10:14:51

wellbobbly shock your last post made me feel sick

Keepithidden Fri 12-Jul-13 10:15:29

Well I can see you're not alone Wellwobbly, and I guess if folk are happy with that set up and it brings less grief in the long run (for a bit of short term discomfort) then who am I to judge? I'm not sure I could cope with those kind of negotiations though, I'm used to my partner wanting me in the same way I want them and a digression from that would be difficult for me to reconcile. There's nothing I find more of a turn-on than a woman also turned-on!

The world would be a boring place if we all agreed though, and the "use it or lose it" seems to be a recurring theme when it comes to sex, it's definitiely panning out that way for me at the moment. Still, it's been a couple of years since babies, and 18 months since BFing so I'm hopeful of a turnaround in DWs feelings. I have put it down to hormones before and she's still having miss timed periods, I understand these things can take years to settle down to the pre-baby levels...

SanityClause Fri 12-Jul-13 10:23:36

Men are not different to women. They are just socialised to believe they are. Men do not "need" sex, any more than women do. FWIW, I was more highly sexed than DH early in our relationship, but less now. I have never felt I "needed" sex. "Wanted" would be the correct word.

When I married my DH, I did not sign up to be his Prozac, when he's in a bad mood, to "soothe" him, FFS! If he needs the soothing an orgasm brings, he can masturbate. If he wants cuddles, I am perfectly happy to supply these.

Who wants to have sex if it's a duty? And why would you want to make someone feel guilty for not wanting to have sex with you? What kind of crazy power trip is that?

Surely, it's best to take the pressure off. Do lovely things for her, without it leading to sex. Stop asking, stop making her justify her lack of desire. No one can make themselves want sex. They can, of course, make themselves have sex they don't want, but is that the sex you want? Really?

Thurlow Fri 12-Jul-13 10:25:07

I agree that the more sex you have, the better it gets. Our sex life is not great, between having a small toddler and both working f/t. Generally if we haven't done anything for a while I'm actually less keen, but when we do get to have some time together a few times in a week I start feeling much more relaxed and have a great time.

The emphasis on men vs women and sex is misleading here, IMO. What's at the core here is a difference between the two partners in a marriage and their interest in and/or need for sex. I've seen the effect this has had on a close friend where it is the DH who has very little interest in sex, and it's not pretty.

The OP is missing physical intimacy and sex with his wife. There is nothing wrong with this at all, nothing inherently male about it, just one person wishing they could be more intimate with the person they love and have committed their life to. Relationships are about compromise, and I believe that this includes your physical life together as well. The hopeful answer here is that the OP can get his wife to understand that he would like more physical intimacy than they have, and that might involve counselling.

FWIW DP would like a lot more sex than I do. I'm tired, I'm thinking about the house and DC, it's not a top priority. But I try and remember that intimacy is a priority for DP and so we try and find a solution that suits both of us. It's like you often see posts on the Pregnancy board from women worrying that they have no sex drive or find sex painful while pg, and worrying about their DH's response to this - the answer is always to be open and honest. Things don't change that much when you have young DC. But if it is just tiredness and busyness that is putting up barriers to sex, ideally a couple should be honest and talk about this.

Keepithidden Fri 12-Jul-13 10:44:55

Sanity - I agree with most of what you say, but would take issue with these:

"If he needs the soothing an orgasm brings, he can masturbate. If he wants cuddles, I am perfectly happy to supply these." Sex is more than just an orgasm and a cuddle combined for me, it's like a much more intense form of bonding, something that can't be replicated by a wank and a hug.

" Stop asking, stop making her justify her lack of desire." When phrased like this, yes I agree, but asking her what she wants out of a relationship that is generally also sexual, and trying to find out if there is a reason for her not enjoying a sexual life is what I was trying to do. Hopefully she didn't view it as an attack and implication that there was something wrong with her for being asexual (if she is) or lacking libido (with just me, or anyone) for another reason, I need to know if I've been doing anything wrong/badly before I can correct it!

I think you should prepare yourself for the idea that she can't tell you what you've been doing wrong so that you can correct it, because she herself may not know why she has so little interest in sex.

If she can, and then you can correct it, then great! But if not, there's a process of communication and rebuilding of the sexual desire that needs to happen, which you will have to work on together, perhaps even without being certain that it will work.

AnyFucker Fri 12-Jul-13 10:58:24

Who the Fuck is that person using her log in to post worrying shit like that ?

Where is Wellwobbly and what have you done with her? confused

peteypiranha Fri 12-Jul-13 11:07:06

There must be something seriously wrong with the relationship if either party dont want sex. I dont believe this I was tired from the kids thing that goes on for years, if you were attracted to the person then you would want a frequent sex life.

gertrudestein Fri 12-Jul-13 11:11:38

Am de-lurking to just say - Keepithidden, you sound like a very caring man. Similar to my DH in fact.

Like you, he is not comfortable with 'duty sex', even though he has a higher libido than me. I do have to make an effort though - I often don't feel like sex until we're actually in the middle of it, if you know what I mean. But I appreciate that it's important to him, and I want to make him happy, and also it is rather fun once you're doing the deed! The fact that he wants me to be happy makes it possible for me to have sex with him even when I'm not really in the mood - it would be entirely different if I didn't believe he truly cared about me, my pleasure and my happiness and expected sex anyway.

I think it's right that you talk about it with your DW and hope she understands how it affects you. It's not fair of her to take it all on as a 'woe is me, my husband is demanding sex' issue though ( - not that she necessarily will, just that it sounds like it's a possibility she'll turn this round to be about her instead of about both of you). I hope she respects you for talking about it reasonably and understands that this is a part of your relationship you both have a responsibility to work through together.

I know a lot of this has been said, I just wanted to chip in and give you some support - you sound like you've got a good relationship founded on care and love and I'm sure you can work it out.

arsenaltilidie Fri 12-Jul-13 11:59:51

I'm totally against the idea of the wife providing a 'duty' of sex to the husband.
When your wife is attracted to you, sex is never an issue other than finding time.

The reason i asked about the begining is If the spark wasnt there in the begining, it rarely ever surfaces..

The cynical me thinks you got together when her clock was ticking and she pretended (to you and herself) that all was well until you had children.

I would love for you to prove me wrong and update us how things have improved for the long term.

DuelingFanjo Fri 12-Jul-13 12:01:36

"I help around the house as much as I can"

double it.

I know that is a bit sarcastic but I honestly truly believe that when a man says 'as much as I can' they most often mean 'as much as I want'

nothing is less sexy than a man who thinks housework is beneath him but is prepared to allow his wife to do it.

AnyFucker Fri 12-Jul-13 12:08:43

Op, I agree that you sound like a good bloke

Best of luck

CityTiliDie Fri 12-Jul-13 18:04:39

Keepit. No its not too personal so in answer to your question. at the start she basically 'lies back' until she 'gets in the mood' (hate that phrase but cant think of any other way to put it) Once we have started she says she does enjoy it and does orgasm 99% of the time. And B4 you all jump in about faking it she does not. She is too truthful to do this and there are other things to prove she 'gets her satisfaction' that are too TMI but trust me she enjoys it.

She just never wants to DTD. SHe has no sexual thoughts during the day, evening or night. She does not like talking about it and hates watching any sexual activity on the TV. Its just a big no go area.

We did have a better sexlife before we married but it died within weeks, DD didnt arrive til 8 years into our marriage, she was planned, wanted and very very loved. Dw has suffered severe depression but is doing well ATM and we have been through shit and hell together and I wont give up on her or DD for the sake sex however much I hate it and it depresses me.

When I say I wont give it up that does include DW as she is an amazing person, mother, friend etc etc. We have a great life apart from the sex and its something I am slowly trying to learn to live with.

Would I rather have this life forever? Or should I give it up in the hope of finding something 'better'? Having been in that situation B4 when my first DW left me for a 'good mate' after 15 years, knowing the pain I went through then and how it affected me then Yes I would rather have this life, a happy wife and a DD in a million.

Sorry Keepit, I'm rambling.... its the heat. We're not used to it up Norf.
Good luck and just know you are not alone there are quite a few of us out there. We are not all insensitive neanderthal manchilds. And thanks to all the other understanding sensitive replies we do appreciate your time you take to read and reply.


Darkesteyes Fri 12-Jul-13 18:21:23

Ive been reading this thread but didnt know whether to post or not. My DH hasnt touched me for 17 years. After 7 years of no sex or affection at all i had an affair.
I get VERY fed up of stereotypical attitudes that its the women who go off sex Believe me it isnt always the case. I lost ten stone on a serious healthy eating plan I asked him to go to counselling and he refused.
I had an affair that lasted for 4 and a half years.
Some would say thats wrong. I can see why people would say that. But it has certainly shown me that society has a bit of a Madonna/whore attitude when it comes to women and sex.

Darkesteyes Fri 12-Jul-13 18:26:27

Keepithidden and City i know what you mean about trying to live with it.
Do you find that you cope with it on some days better than others? Thats how it is for me. i can be ok for a while and then something will trigger a memory of the affection i had with OM and then i will become very depressed and weepy.

Solari Fri 12-Jul-13 19:21:58

May not be relevant at all, but just a thought. Do you have different ideas about what kind of sex you find enjoyable?

I've always been very into sex as an intimate experience and expression of love (so lots of kissing, stroking etc). The ex in question, however, very much wanted a more porno-like experience. Uncomfortable positions, dirty talk, and endless complaints about me not making enough noise, not doing this, not doing that.

Sex became a chore all around, a performance for him rather than anything I actually enjoyed, and after not very long I grew to hate it. Any time I tried to talk to him about it, he would try every persuasive tactic in the book to make me believe there was something wrong with me, that was how everyone enjoyed sex, etc. etc.

Might it be worth talking with your wife about what would make the experience more enjoyable for her? Does she ever fantasize about sex? What does that picture look like if she does?

This is a key point OP: If the spark wasn't there in the beginning, it rarely ever surfaces..

There must be reasons why both of you were happy to embark upon a relationship where the sexual aspect was lacking.

Of course you should try to improve things but I think that you should be very aware that five years is a long time: any improvements will most likely to be short lived and this (no sex, sporadic unsatisfying sex) is the default position.

Sorry to present such a gloomy point of view.

Keepithidden Fri 12-Jul-13 21:28:09

Lots to respond to this time, I'll try to respond/answer to each, sorry if I miss anything/anyone.

Buffy - Once more the voice of reason! It occurred to me I may not get any answers, but I'm willing to search hopefully DW is too.

Gertrude - DW wouldn't do the woe-is-me thing. She would blame herself and withdraw though.

Arsenal - The spark was there for us prechildren, five years of happy times. It's the last five years when things suddenly changed. I don't think she was using me to get kids and a meal ticket. It's a very long game to play if she was.

Duelling - I use stereotypes as much as anyone but in this case I think you could be tarring me with the wrong brush. I've explained that the housework is divided equally and believe me when I say no job is beneath me!

City - Thankyou for your honesty, I pictured a different scenario to the one you paint. It's sad that she enjoys it but won't explore the reluctance to initiate or accept initiaton. Feel free to ramble anytime!

Darkest - Yes some days are easier, some days I go to internet pages and try to order the hormones they give to sex offenders to remove their desires.

Will post again soon kiddies calling...

arsenaltilidie Fri 12-Jul-13 21:50:55

Arsenal - You're right it wasn't rip-your-clothes off at the beginning, not sure I've ever been that way, pretty sure DW hasn't either.

Arsenal - The spark was there for us

Gertrude - DW wouldn't do the woe-is-me thing. She would blame herself and withdraw though.

Spero Fri 12-Jul-13 22:31:46

For me, it is not so much the lack of sex that is the issue, but whether or not your partner will talk openly and honestly about what is going on.

For me, I decided that if I was going to be lonely and celibate I might as well be lonely and celibate and single rather than in a 'relationship'.

It wasn't so much the lack of sex that killed it but the lack of any attempt by my then partner to talk to me about anything much. Maybe he was gay, maybe it was a phase, maybe he just didn't fancy me. I still don't know but I wasn't going to hang around for years to find out.

If it is a relationship worth having, you will both want to support and love one another. Sometimes that will mean one of you not having sex when you would really, really like to. And sometimes it will mean one of you having sex when you would rather read a book.

But if you can't talk to each other about these times then the problems go way deeper than lack of sex.

So I hope you too can talk about it because it sounds like there is still love between you, and also two small children who will be better off emotionally if they can see their parents together, loving each other.

arsenaltilidie I did wonder if I was the only one who had noticed the inconsistency comments.

OP re: spark confused

plantsitter Fri 12-Jul-13 23:02:57

Fucking hell this is a depressing thread.

Keepithidden you sound great and I am sorry about your frustration, I'm not having a go at you.

I'm a SAHM of 2 and 4 yr old girls. I am reading some of the posts on this thread with my mouth agape at the sense of entitlement some men seem to have and the willingness to accept it from some women.

Being a SAHM with 2 preschoolers is fucking relentless, it really is. The demands are emotional and physical and it's almost impossible not to have some time in any given day/week/whatever to feel like a servant. Someone asking you for sex when you don't feel like it makes you feel like there is yet another service to provide - and no I don't feel like I have a duty to offer up my body because my husband has overwhelming urges which it's my job as wife to satisfy. Jesus.

Keepithidden I'm sorry - I've had to skip some of this thread because the attitudes within it have made me so angry, but do you think your DW might be depressed? Being a SAHM is the loneliest job I've ever done.

If I were you I would be 1) trying to make time for non-sexual intimacy so you can connect with each other again - something that makes you laugh together or achieve something as a team (but something v short term, not like having kids!)
2) asking her if she thinks she's depressed and needs to see a doctor
and even - sorry - 3) waiting until at least one of the kids is at school to see if she fe

Good luck.els more like herself when she is not enslaved to 2 cute, yes, but incredibly demanding task masters.

plantsitter Fri 12-Jul-13 23:03:37

That went wrong! 'Good luck' meant to be at the end.

himoutdoors Fri 12-Jul-13 23:16:41

Didlidali - fucking fantastic link on page three above. Wow

himoutdoors Fri 12-Jul-13 23:19:00

Inspirational. I think that I help too much round the house and need to be that more careless, desired and desirable, harder to please young man that she fell in love with.

himoutdoors Fri 12-Jul-13 23:24:04

I think work sold be shared by couples but I do notice that my male friends who do next to nothing but buy lots of flowers have a much easier life. So a little less focus on equality and a bit more focus on guile and charm would go a long way, I think.

Darkesteyes Fri 12-Jul-13 23:30:59

himoutdoors you are not "helping" around the house. You live there and create mess too. The fact that you have used that phrase says more about you than the rest of what youve posted.

Darkesteyes Fri 12-Jul-13 23:31:58

The fact that you see it as "helping" shows that you think of it as womens work.

Dilidali Fri 12-Jul-13 23:36:33

No, himoutdoors, not that. But you could make it obvious to your DW that you care about you two as individuals, not as parents.
Glad you found the link useful.

himoutdoors Fri 12-Jul-13 23:38:06

You are correct that I am am contributing and not helping. FYI I work full time and do half sometimes more than half the housework, all the groceries, the gardening, and lots more. We both work hard. Don't want my slip to detract from the point. It is acknowledged that I make an excellent contribution in that dept.

Fact is that, my mates who do little and make a few romantic gestures have a much easier time.

AnyFucker Sat 13-Jul-13 00:00:23

I would bin the petrol station flowers over some honest collaboration and respect any day

Don't look at what your mates do

You should have outgrown that when you were 14, tbh

2much2young Sat 13-Jul-13 00:01:15

well said plantsitter absolutely spot on

@himoutdoors you should fucking stay outdoors - what a load of bulllshit cobblers and if that's what your mates tell you er yeah whatever.

OP, have you had a chat with your wife? christ knows it's one of the most difficult things to talk about if there are problems, it's a real pandora's box isn't it? and by god you better be ready when you (as a couple) open it.

Spero Sat 13-Jul-13 00:16:08

The one good thing about these threads, for me anyway <selfish> is that it really cheers me up about being single. All this game playing, bargaining, crying alone at night ... And yet relationships are still touted as the only way one can possibly be a fulfilled human being.

2much2young Sat 13-Jul-13 00:44:21

game playing? I don't think it's that at all. I think it's just people trying to live their lives in the best/sometimes only way they know possible.

Being single has it's merits, being in a relationship does too.

himoutdoors Sat 13-Jul-13 00:45:54

2much2young -no need to be so aggressive. Having some honest dialogue. It does seem that earnest, domestication can be rebalanced somewhat by being a little more blokish, on reflection. I try to do as much as possible to be responsible and to make life easier for everyone, whilst doing a high pressure job. But lowest priority is having any grown up time for many years now. Neither DW or I is type to cheat so that isn't the issue. Sometimes it seems as though we have children now so job done. Sometimes it seems as though DW wouldn't mind if I played away a bit. Some other (married) women seem fond of me and one or two very keen but it would be difficult to cheat on a fabulous DW.

My point is problem seems insoluble cos I would find it difficult, near unacceptable to break my family up much as I miss having grown up time together.

Spero Sat 13-Jul-13 00:46:54

By not talking to each other?

Why is it not possible to say to your partner - I am tired, I would appreciate this, that or the other.

Way we seem to have is mass of seething unexpressed resentments and people contemplating killing themselves.


himoutdoors Sat 13-Jul-13 00:57:34

Discussed many many times. With busy lives there is always something to do and grown up time is at the bottom of the pile, in practice. If we did nothing for 3 mths she wouldn't notice and I would. The only way for me to come to terms with as it inevitably causes conflict. I think that DW really wouldn't mind, almost expects that I may be playing away although I have made it clear that isn't what I want, however tempting.

himoutdoors Sat 13-Jul-13 01:00:19

OP apologies if I hijacked ..... I do empathise and think that it is more common and this can happen between two decent people. I love respect is just the way it is.

2much2young Sat 13-Jul-13 01:18:49

Grrr <holds arms up in bear like stance> I'm not trying to be aggressive but you really came across as an A1 Cock (I'm sure you didn't mean to) I'm sure you're not so apologies but you are coming across a bit like that. Well I think.

I totally hear you about grown up time and putting the kids first - as it should be in my book though and that's what makes it a ompeltely different set up to being "just" married or living together without chidlren. BUT why does this mean you should be "playing away" your analogy makes me think you are very young. How do you know this??

Sorry Op.

himoutdoors Sat 13-Jul-13 01:48:07

I am not young. I am honest and open. DW sometimes talks about the OW jokingly. I have a laugh about it as humour is a good mitigant. Frankly, I think subconsciously DW would not be completely surprised or even unhappy if I am having a physical affair that doesn't interfere with family life. Hard to absorb that but so it seems. I think that I am almost given green light to do so.

2much2young Sat 13-Jul-13 02:14:42

look I don't know about your wife and her subconscious but I can bet you that all your "mates" are feeding you a big line of shit about what it's really like to be in a long term relationship, esp with kids.

Whatever, I'm hammered

chipmonkey Sat 13-Jul-13 02:30:08

I also think you should never underestimate the how the physical "devastation" of childbirth can affect a woman's self-esteem. After having ds1, I was utterly shocked at how my tummy looked like a deflated balloon and that no matter now many sit-ups I did, it never went back to normal. Dh still fancied me but I felt unattractive and when you feel unattractive it's hard to believe that someone does find you attractive and it has a terrible effect on your libido.
I have kind of learned to live with my body now and to accept that to dh I am still attractive ( we had four more children!) but it took a long time.

I would also like to say that you do sound like a lovely guy and to be frank, if you follow some of the advice on here, you would behave like a complete bastard and your dw would just end up upset and bewildered and wondering what happened to the man she married. I think really you need to be firm but gentle with her. That you are on her side but that you are unhappy with the current situation.

Best of luck to you. I really hope you two can work this out, you sound like a great team and it would be a pity if you ended things.

himoutdoors Sat 13-Jul-13 07:12:42

2much2young. It's what I observe with my mates and their DWs

Keepithidden Sat 13-Jul-13 07:12:54

Shit, I'm not evem conning myself now. Probably time to go.

himoutdoors Sat 13-Jul-13 07:56:23

Thanks chipmonkey. I don't think that I can do much more other to be a good DH and take whatever is thrown my way. DW doesn't like being touched or hugged even though I have tried dissociate hugs from DTD. Just occasional functional DTD very late in the night.

I think our sex lives were imbalanced before DC and I take some of the blame. We have discussed but never seem to move much forward. It seems that I am valued as a provider and dad but that is mostly it. I try to not make an issue of it but them after a couple of months, I get a bit fed up and we either do quickie or argue......and the cycle goes on. I keep myself in good shape so it is frustrating being unfulfilled in this respect. DW is as attractive as when we got married, intelligent and I am proud of her but a little depressing that things are not likely to get better in that area unless I leave which is too high a price to pay. So suppressing that side is the only answer. DW thinks that a counsellor would take my side and doesn't like the intrusion so that isn't an option.

himoutdoors Sat 13-Jul-13 07:57:16

Keepithidden, what did you mean by conning yourself?

peteypiranha Sat 13-Jul-13 08:06:06

I dont think it should matter if you have young children or not, there is still plenty of time to have meals just the two of you, snuggle watching films, and having sex. It only wont happen if you dont want it to happen.

himoutdoors Sat 13-Jul-13 08:41:01

Petey- I don't tend to have dinner. Sometimes I help to make her dinner and keep her company. I have recently started to watch odd movie with her - before I preferred to do other things. Cuddling whilst watching is not favoured around here.

peteypiranha Sat 13-Jul-13 08:47:07

What other things did you do?

himoutdoors Sat 13-Jul-13 09:03:33

We have little time: Chatting, PC, getting stuff ready for next day, tidying up, opening mail. I prefer to pay for extra domestic help but DW not so keen. I think there is some scope to change that though.

The point is it is okay to stay up late to watch movie but not to DTD. There are a few women at work who lean on me for advice and help...I am a popular choice for mentor by both men and women (personality rather than anything else).....a couple of the single women show much warmth towards me and it makes me realise that my relationship at home is missing much warmth.

peteypiranha Sat 13-Jul-13 09:06:33

I think its strange all the jobs are taking up all your evenings. Do you never cuddle or just hold hands or snog on sofa? Are you physically close often?

AnyFucker Sat 13-Jul-13 09:16:42

himoutdoors the way you were talking a couple of posts upthread it sounds like you are paving the way and excusing yourself already for having an affair

himoutdoors Sat 13-Jul-13 09:19:01

No not physically close often. We both have lots to do. Children, work, chores....

DW used to like physical closeness before children. I have become a much much better partner with time but there is a sort of inverse effect. I had never held a vacuum when we got married. We had an argument about that a few months after marriage and I responded by vacuuming. I wasn't completely hopeless as We didn't have a dishwasher so I used to do all the washing up. Even then I tended to cook for both of us. I always had empathy for my mom and how hard she worked so when I got married it wasn't too difficult to work out that I needed to respond to demands. Other women are amazed at how much I do and DW sometimes resents the attention or fuss made and kinda just says that we are equal parties so I am doing my bit which is correct of course. But then I see the husbands that we mix getting away with it and being loved up and I wonder.

peteypiranha Sat 13-Jul-13 09:23:23

Dh does the same amount at home as me he cooks, cleans, does lots of childcare, and gives me time with my friends. I do half the chores, and the rest of the time is grown up time, and we sit close most nights. I sit in bathroom chatting whilst hes on shower, we watch tv together, kiss, hug etc. We have sex on average 3-4 times a week, because I am attracted to him, and he makes sure Im well rested.

himoutdoors Sat 13-Jul-13 09:33:22

Sounds perfect. DW hasn't been happy at work for a few years. I support and listen to her. I think DW doesn't have the energy or inclination....worn down by a job she feels trapped in. Our relationship is not high priority for her. A little angry and dissatisfied - although we are blessed in so many ways. I think that I have clear choice to either bear it, leave, or cheat. I honestly think that my wife wouldn't care that much if it didn't disrupt or interfere with her life/space.

himoutdoors Sat 13-Jul-13 09:34:26

AF- we actually discussed my having OW as a solution!

himoutdoors Sat 13-Jul-13 09:37:01

My DW reservations were not about the emotional impact on relationship. Just whether it will interfere with DC. The implication is that I would have to keep it out of the way.

OP where are you?

peteypiranha Sat 13-Jul-13 09:40:28

It doesnt sound like you do much with her. You arent close, you both spend hours each night doing jobs so no time for each other. I am sure that could be changed.

himoutdoors Sat 13-Jul-13 09:44:52

Her favourite tv programme is always the priority. I will try to watch more tv with her. It's a long and lonely road to walk. We get on really well until I show any physical affection. Hugs and kisses don't go done well here even if I declare not ulterior motive.

peteypiranha Sat 13-Jul-13 09:52:10

Have you asked her what the problem is? Have you asked her what she wants to do?

JustinBsMum Sat 13-Jul-13 10:32:08

Well you could go to a counsellor on your own.

There seems to be an impasse ( if that's the right word) and you need to find something which might result in DW getting her spark back.

My DBIL is everyone's supportive sympathiser at work - drives my DSis mad as, although a nice DH, he is not as empathetic at home. Imo he loves the admiration and 'mr nice guy' image at work and happily encourages it and revels in it, which is a bit hmmm to me, as it is a bit of an act.

You do sound a bit smug himoutdoors - but you are blind to your faults and thus can't make the changes needed. Perhaps if you looked truly and deeply distressed at the failure of your relationship rather than resigned to having to find love elsewhere things might change.

Spero Sat 13-Jul-13 10:58:26

I think some of the time the answer is 'because I don't fancy you' and that is a hard thing to say and an equally hard thing to hear.

But worse is hanging about for years getting increasingly sadder and sadder.

which takes me back to my original point.

If you can't talk to one another, honestly and openly, about what makes you happy or unhappy, then I really don't see the point in a relationship at all. It seems simply a recipe for living a life of quiet desparation, of compromise, of mind games and other game playing. Layers and layers of inauthenticity which can only lead to depression and resentment.

And if anyone is lying awake at night crying because they feel that they cannot connect to their partner either emotionally or physically, then it is problem for both of you. One of you is not communicating your pain and/or the other is just not listening.

Fwiw I haven't seen any examples of sexless relationships resolving themselves. I tried for 3 years - futile counselling, efforts to be romantic/consideration and it was horrible and soul destroying. I think the reality in my case was that he just didn't fancy me, the only answer I could ever get out of him was that my stomach wasn't flat any more (I had been pregnant by then).

Obviously, that wasn't the 'real' reason - if he really loved me he wouldn't have cared about my stomach, as so many here have said, their partners go out of their way to tell them they are still desirable etc.

But if one or both or you can't or won't talk about it, you either accept the situation for what it is, or you leave. I don't see there is any other alternative if there is no communication.

arsenaltilidie Sat 13-Jul-13 11:39:15

himoutdoors I can see how your comments can be taken out of context but you don't sound smug, you sound like a person who's been worn down and is on the verge of leaving.

JustinBsMum Sat 13-Jul-13 12:20:25

but you don't sound smug - yes, I was possibly being unfair but if you have had the 'well, shall I move out?' conversation and that hasn't shaken up DW then you might well give up, but I am not sure you have actually had that conversation about what exactly will happen re contact with DCs, finances, etc when you split.
Perhaps she is waiting for you to make all the decisions then assumes she can continue as she is, same house, same job, same DCs but no DH. Can you shake up that plan so she properly reassesses what she wants out of life?

LillyGoLightly Sat 13-Jul-13 13:31:57


Hi...firstly I would like to echo a lot of the other posters and say that you sound like a lovely chap. There has been an awful lot said on this thread and varied replies/opinions etc and I haven't had chance to read them all. What I have done though is focused on your posts and I can see some areas where I might make suggestions:

Please let me say sorry if any of this is off the mark or offends but its the cue's I have taken from your posts.....

From you posts you come across as very much an analytical person and as someone who over thinks things, or puts a lot of emphasis on the details. The reason why I mention this is that I think that this may be the reason why you DW is not so willing to discuss sexual issues with you and why, if she does discuss it she does not discuss it at length or in detail. She is likely to know that anything she does say will be over-thought and then analyzed by you, and issues that may seem small to her may be magnified by you and ultimately hurt your feelings.

I think and it sounds to me like you wife does still love you and is still attracted to you. I think that she suffers with low sex drive having 2 small children to care for and tiredness etc. While your more frustrated with the lack of sex/intimacy she is not as frustrated or as concerned as you are, which is not uncommon it does not mean she loves you any less, finds you any less attractive, it just means she is more content to forego the sex for the meantime in favour of rest/sleep etc.

Also from the sounds of things I imagine from how you seem to be you seem to be the type of guy that wants to put a lot of effort into sex and it to making it a good experience for both you and her. While this is a really lovely sentiment (and it really is) she may find it quiet laborious and she may well be lying there wishing you made much less of meal out of it and just got on with it. However I bet she dare not say that to you because it would make her and you feel awful, because she knows that she should appreciate the effort that you are trying to put in to please her and make it nice for her. I'm thinking she would think that if she said that to you that you may again take it very personally and over analyze it. I have a strong feeling that she won't say these things to you because she loves you, is trying to spare your feelings and doesn't want you to drive yourself crazy with either thinking your not good enough in bed and that she wants it over with, or that she doesn't want it at all, when in fact neither is the truth.

I account this to after I had my children especially my second, I still fancied the pants of my OH, still loved him, found him attractive etc but did I want sex.......HELL NO! So what happened was we had sex much less then usual for us, and therefor I think he felt that whenever sex was on the menu it had to be a 3 course meal.....I know he wanted to make it good for me but I also know he wanted to make the most of it while it was up for grabs lol. I on the other hand would think to myself I wish he wouldn't make such a meal out of it and think why cant we just have a nice quickie instead. This lead to me being even less inclined to want sex because having sex meant that it would be this big deal and would last for ages when I really was so tired and didn't have the energy to be bothered with ages of passionate kissing and stroking. I still wanted sex, but somehow all the fuss kissing and stroking etc seemed to much faff when knackered. This really offended my OH, as far as he was concerned he was making a real effort to please me in the bedroom and be romantic and was upset when I would say I wasn't in the mood or whatever. In the end we had a big conversation where I kindly explained to him that while I appreciated all the effort he was putting it, it was actually rather putting me off! I explained that I would feel like sex more often if I knew that it was more of a quickie than a love making marathon. I told him that I still wanted sex with him it was just that with the children/work/cleaning house etc I was just so tired that a quickie was rather more appealing than anything else at the time and that I was sure it would change in the future. Luckily he was very understanding and realized that it wasn't anything to take personal but was just more circumstances at the time. Years later we are still together and have a good sex life balanced nicely with quickies and lovemaking sessions.

I think it is entirely possible that your wife may feel the same way or at least something very similar. At the crux of this is that I think she has a hard time being honest with you because she fears hurting you and more importantly hurting your self esteem as you will over think any critique. She is probably also concerned about your on/off depression and may not want to harm your well being, as she will see the problem as lying with her and not you. After all you still want sex, still have a healthy sex drive and she feels like she does not. She is probably thinking/wishing/wondering where her own sex drive has gone and hoping it comes back and then she can fix the gulf between you in the way you want it fixing.

I am sorry for the very long post. I am sorry as well if anything I've said hurts or offends, was not my intention. I do hope that it helps though.

Wishing you well.

himoutdoors Sat 13-Jul-13 19:10:16

if we didnt have children we probably would have made or broken by now. But I know that it would be sub-optimal for them on several levels so I wouldn't do that without giving it best shot. I would find it harder to live with than personal scarifice. Further, I still love DW and she occasionally says the same. I think her work and a few other factors don't help. I am supportive but no

Helltotheno Sat 13-Jul-13 22:08:20

himoutdoors its over between you. Your wife isn't attracted to you/just doesn't want sex with you. It doesn't mean you're deficient. But stop focusing on how she doesn't want cuddles on the sofa etc, you're so flogging a dead horse. It's not going to happen. Instead focus only on how you could manage a coparenting but separate life with minimum disruption to the DCs. After all, that's exactly what she wants so why beat yourself up thinking she'll be persuaded in any other direction!

At least then you could open the doors legitimately to someone else but you'd probably have to keep it on the down low. My advice would be the same for OP and anyone else in the same situation.

Keepithidden Sat 13-Jul-13 22:13:39

Arsenal - Impressive. Never has a post prompted such soul searching and relationship reappraisal as I've gone through today. Bit depressing this morning, and I'm not sure I've got any answers to the apparent contradictory nature of my posts. But neither DW or I are the type to "rip each others clothes off", yet we did enjoy each other physically at the start and after the usual honeymoon period. Maybe it's pure semantics, or maybe I'm just uncomfortable with describing myself as some kind of Casanova. The spark was there and remained for a number of years, it may not of been a lightning bolt (think slowly undressing each other in candlelight rather than shredding each others garments), but it was a few volts above a three point mains socket if that analogy works.

Darkest - Sorry I didn't respond more fully to your posts, you're another one I have immense sympathy for. Some days I feel a complete failure of a man, somedays I hope for something better. Some days I'm too busy too care. It's interesting that there are so many women in a similar predicatment, the tradition of sex-hungry-man compared to frigid-women is just another example of the myths that abound between genders. I can understand why this frustrates you.

Spero - I'm think your post mentioning young children was aimed at me, and you're right about the communication thing. When I mentioned counselling to DW she jumped to the conclusion that it was all over and this was just a way out. I explained that it was more about encouraging and aiding communication and she accepted that she wasn't good at communicating so I think there's certainly an acceptance that work needs to be done in this area. It's certainly not all on her shoulders though.

Also, nothing wrong with a bit of selfish enjoyment. Just don't take it to schadenfreude levels of humour please!

Petey - Sounds like you've got it all sorted. I'm jealous, yet remain hopeful of similar in the future.

Lilly - No hurt or offence taken. From the brief outline of my life and personality presented in this thread I think you've summed me up quite well. Even more interestingly the way you describe sex is also very similar to my approach. The quickie is something I've never been great at initiating, I think I've been assuming for so long that women need hours of foreplay and romance that I've lost the knack of the quickie. Going to bring that up with DW at the next opportunity, I wouldn't be surprised if she felt exactly the same as you. Hopefully she understands that I'm resilient enough to take that kind of backhanded compliment!

Himoutdoors - Feel free to thread hijack. Oh you already have! Only ribbing you, it's always interesting to see how others cope in similar situations, it's the only way to learn how to deal with your own.

ProphetOfDoom Sat 13-Jul-13 23:06:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Darkesteyes Sun 14-Jul-13 01:51:24

Keepithidden You sound like a very nice bloke and i really really hope that things get better for you.
Is she becoming more open to the idea of counselling do you think?

Sorry for TMI but going by experience with my ex OM we did both quickies and sessions with longer foreplay.
I liked both for different reasons. The quickie is that "Ive got to have you now" kind of passion . But for full satisfaction and orgasm i tended to need longer foreplay. blush I really hope you can find a way through this. I know how soul destroying it is.

Yogii Sun 14-Jul-13 08:48:34


Just a few things that have worried me...

Whether unconnected to this issue of yours or not, do not allow suicidal thoughts. You have young children who will carry the scars for life if their dad checks out rather than sees them grow. You brought people into this world, you have a duty of care to them, do not take the easy way out of those repsonsibilities.

Do not order dodgy drugs from the Internet. It's dangerous, as are any thoughts about chemical castration.

And when you're in a relationship that has issues, one of which is half a dozen instances of sex in the last 5 years, do not have the snip! Oops, too late.

Good luck Op, you do indeed seem like a nice guy, possibly a little too nice.

Littlet932 Sun 14-Jul-13 09:00:26

There are a lot of strong feminists on here!
I'm a woman who went through 5 years of low sex drive but never refused sex so we did it about 2 times a week and was ok once we got going. I thought I was asexual.
I didn't really like my post baby body and used to hide in a massive dressing gown, sex with light off etc, but after 2 years of going to the gym I'm really proud of it now and walk around in skimpy stuff as much as poss!
However sex drive didn't come back until I stopped depo provera (contraceptive injection) It's come back with a vengeance (just as he's decided he's gone off sex and doesn't love me!).
I share your frustration but I think it's her problem to sort out. You sound so lovely btw.

CoalDustWoman Sun 14-Jul-13 09:07:56

Have any of you read this thread?

There are some massively eloquent discriptions of the frustrations and irritations of being the mother of small children. And why "helping" with those is not a seduction technique.

Wellwobbly Sun 14-Jul-13 11:44:05

Plantsitter I agree with you 1000%:

"Being a SAHM with 2 preschoolers is fucking relentless, it really is. The demands are emotional and physical and it's almost impossible not to have some time in any given day/week/whatever to feel like a servant. Someone asking you for sex when you don't feel like it makes you feel like there is yet another service to provide "

My youngest is 14 and I STILL remember the exhaustion of the relentless demands. And yes, it was ANOTHER demand.

But: that is YOUR reality, as it was mine.

I had the ability to see that although that was my reality, it wasn't his and HE MISSED ME. So I tried to the best of my ability in that reality to be his friend, because he was my friend and he was doing his best for me too.

It did absolutely nothing for me! So what. That wasn't the point. I knew I loved him, I loved sex with him and why biologically it wasn't doing it for me at that time. A spot of KY jelly and being there for my friend, 10 minutes out of my day. No big deal.

And he accepted the compromise, telling me he missed me. Come on guys, lets be kind here.

Spero Sun 14-Jul-13 13:45:18

I agree with wobbly. A relationship can't just be two people who live alongside each other in their own reality, neither caring for what the other is going through because it isn't their own experience.

I have experience both full time care of a preschooler and long standing sexual rejection from a partner. Both were their own special kind of horribleness, both frequently reduced me to tears. Both would have been bearable with a partner who loved me and was kind and who was prepared to step into my world for at least a short time.

If there isn't mutual help and support and willingness to occasionally do things you don't much feel like to increase your partners happiness, then what is the bloody point of it all?

peteypiranha Sun 14-Jul-13 17:25:47

If you actually have sex a lot it will be good and will help with the stress of looking after the children.The more you have sex with each other, then you will want it more and more. It shouldnt feel like a chore, and the man shouldnt have to ask for sex as that would be highly unerotic, and no wonder the woman doesnt want to do it. If you do lots of things together, and are affectionate then the sex often comes naturally.

himoutdoors Sun 14-Jul-13 19:24:25

a lot of good points being made here. i think that men should really pull their weight round the house before complaining about lack of sex. Put some effort before expecting some kindness back. There should be a virtuous circle of mutual support.....that is the theory as many couples start getting at each other and measuring who is doing what amount and the team work breaks down.

himoutdoors Sun 14-Jul-13 19:29:37

Helltotheno- i discussed that arrangement with DW (sadly) but she held back on saying let's do it. I think that I need a long uninterrupted period of me being really good, avoiding disagreements etc. before being able to say that is the right course....before throwing it all away.

Spero Sun 14-Jul-13 19:37:39

Of course there will be peaks and troughs, one of you might have to be supportive for longer etc. I agree 'keeping score' is grim, but if its a good, loving, healthy relationship it should all even out in the end.

But I get the impression from my own experience and from what I read on these kind of threads is that often the partner who doesn't want sex just pulls up the drawbridge and won't talk about it, leaving the other partner confused and upset. That is emphatically NOT the hallmark of a loving relationship so if your partner won't talk about it then I question the fundamental value of a relationship like that. What other issues are they dodging?

ZingWidge Sun 14-Jul-13 19:48:21

OP would you show your DW this thread?

It might help start a proper conversation?

himoutdoors Sun 14-Jul-13 19:51:27

good idea to show thread. Possible chance of backfiring if DW thinks that the thread has ommissions/doesn't represent her properly.

CoalDustWoman Sun 14-Jul-13 20:01:16

I'm not sure that women don't talk about it. I do think they are often not heard, though.

himoutdoors - you could show her the thread I linked to up there and see if she identifies with what any of the posters are saying?

himoutdoors Sun 14-Jul-13 20:05:29

CoalDustwoman- good idea. I am certain that she will identify with some of the points. However, it would probably be a good way of sincerely acknowledging that the points have registered.

Helltotheno Sun 14-Jul-13 20:12:16

but she held back on saying let's do it. But it isn't about her doing it, she's already got the status quo she wants. It's about you deciding you're doing it. By all means 'be good' for as long as you see fit (sheesh, is that what you're reduced to, 'being good' like some kind of notional exam you have to pass or fail?!), but there are other ways to live. It isn't all one-way traffic. If her big thing is stability for the DC, make that happen, just make it happen under a different roof!

Anyway it's up to you, but I think exhaustively listing the various things she doesn't do and clearly doesn't want to do under any circs, isn't getting you anywhere and is probably making things worse for you ultimately, ditto OP.

Agree with Helltotheno

Spero Sun 14-Jul-13 20:36:34

In my experience and from what I have read on many, many threads, people not merely don't talk about but refuse to talk about it. And that in my mind is where the rot sets in.

And if you are talking about it but 'don't feel heard' how about saying 'I feel very unhappy about this. I want us both to do something to make it better. I want you to come with me for counselling/talk about it'

And if he or she won't, then leave.

Better than putting up with some passive aggressive withdrawal of sex as 'punishments' for other transgressions or living with a partner who just doesn't find you attractive. Fine, if you are both asexual, not so fine if the end of sex is just their unilateral decision.

CoalDustWoman Sun 14-Jul-13 20:48:31

Do you mean posters say they are refusing to talk about it, or that their partners say they are refusing to talk about it? Did you read the thread I linked to, just out of interest?

I do agree with you that counselling should happen when there is a communication problem that the couple can't solve themselves. One of the partners should seek out and book the appointment and go, even if their spouse refuses.

CoalDustWoman Sun 14-Jul-13 21:08:05

Sorry, I should expand a bit on why I mention that thread and apologise to those women for using their stories. (And I am not intimating anything about their sex lives). It's just when I read that thread, it struck me how easily they could be the wives of the many male posters who start threads on here bemoaning their lack of sex, whilst saying ther wives won't talk about it.

I seem to be surrounded by women who are run ragged, with husbands who do not appreciate how much their lives have changed since having children whilst theirs haven't much, who don't have a moment to not be the go-to person and the place where the buck stops in terms of the family, with physical and hormonal changes that impact on their libido and months or years of not getting a good night's sleep. And the husbands think they have a problem with their sex life. No, they don't. That they don't see or hear what the real issues are is where the problem lies.

The big problem with these threads are that everyone comes at it with their own filters and I am no exception. I think it's probably best that I bow out now.

Darkesteyes Sun 14-Jul-13 21:50:52

CoalDustWomanSun 14-Jul-13 20:01:16

I'm not sure that women don't talk about it. I do think they are often not heard, though

Yep Agree with this. On the few occasions i have tried to talk about it in RL i have had some of my friends say to me "well at least he isnt hitting you"
I have had a male GP say to me that as a woman i didnt need sex if i wasnt trying to get pregnant. See what i mean about the Madonna/whore complex in society.
When a woman is denied sex it is not taken seriously. To ignore me for years and then moan when i have an affair is like being angry when somone has picked up a toy you dont want to play with anymore (bad analogy as im not a toy obvs but couldnt think of a better one) and yet situations like this arent seen by the majority of the public as emotional abuse and it damn well should be. Loads of Mners on here can see what i mean and have said so when i have posted about this in the past but its a different kettle of fish in RL where women are seen as either sluts or frigid.

Helltotheno Sun 14-Jul-13 22:12:14

Nobody is obliged to provide someone else with sex. What matters is the willingness to recognise that another person might want sex and act accordingly, ie either work on things thru counseling or acknowledge that things aren't working and let the person go. What's not acceptable is to refuse to do anything about the problem and assume that should be fine for the other person.

darkest you were always free to leave but chose not to.

Keepithidden Sun 14-Jul-13 22:20:48

Back again.

Schmaltzing - Yes, there has been a decrease in spontaneity, something I definitely need to work on. I tried it this afternoon and had a positive reaction!

Yogii - No worries about the suicide thing, I recognise my responsibilities, it's the key thing that's stopped me over the past few years. It's also the big reason why my daydreaming involves my DW having an affair with the stereotypical perfect man (father, husband, lover, financially successful etc.). It allows me to drop all my responsibilities... Not going to happen though so don't worry. I hear you about the drugs too, it would need to be a legitimate source. I've looked into the options and know trusted sources. RE: The snip, yep too late, but it was for me as well as DW it's for the best anyway, I know that.

Coaldust - That's a long thread! I'll try and work through it.

Spero - If there isn't mutual help and support and willingness to occasionally do things you don't much feel like to increase your partners happiness, then what is the bloody point of it all? I agree, but I don't want to have sex with someone who doesn't want to have sex with me. I don't think that's unreasonable.

Zingwidge - No I wouldn't show her this thread, there are almost certainly omissions, but I've also never talked to anyone in RL about suicide or the more personal stuff I've shared here. I wouldn't want to unless it came to visiting a professional (counsellor or similar). It would start a proper conversation, but not a helpful one (at least short term). The stuff I've shared here probably does need to be aired, but it's got to be a slow process over a time frame I'm comfortable with.

Coaldust - Please don't go if you have more to contribute, I have been stereotyped already on this thread and I'm happy to defend myself again if required!

The last couple of days DW and I have been showing more affection to each other and have talked a lot more (not necessarily about us, but we can get on to that). I feel a bit more upbeat about future prospects and it's been really useful having so many different inputs into this thread, Arsenal in particular has made me think a lot about my marriage, but others presenting the opposing view have given me hope too, I'm thinking of you Buffy and Surfing. So thanks to you all.

Darkesteyes Sun 14-Jul-13 22:23:31

Got a spare room Helltotheno?

Darkesteyes Sun 14-Jul-13 22:25:58

4 out of 10 women are homeless due to domestic abuse. All very well to say LTB but nice spare flats are out of reach for some of us.

Darkesteyes Sun 14-Jul-13 22:29:42

darkest you were always free to leave but chose not too.

If it were any kind of other emotional abuse other than the withdrawl of affection or sex woud you have said the same in the same way.

Darkesteyes Sun 14-Jul-13 22:33:07

I wrote up the whole thing for another site. The full background is here.

Darkesteyes Sun 14-Jul-13 22:36:12

DarkesteyesFri 12-Jul-13 18:21:23

Ive been reading this thread but didnt know whether to post or not.

ZingWidge Sun 14-Jul-13 22:36:58


you sound so nice and loving and just so desperate.
I want to hug you
and I wish I could talk to your DW to find out what's bothering her.

I don't know why she is distant, but I think it is more to do with her being unhappy with herself rather than being unhappy with you.
(I've been like that and most of what you said could have been written by my DH!)

I haven't read whole thread, sorry if repeat, but I think you need some professional help to get the communication going first.

I will PM you tomorrow about a book you might find interesting.

Helltotheno Sun 14-Jul-13 22:38:26

Look I'm not trying to give you a hard time, just wondering if that was an option you could've chosen. No judgment from me re the affair by the way.

I think it's taken as read here that ltb is the optimal solution to all abuse situations, tho easier said than done.

Darkesteyes Sun 14-Jul-13 22:46:11

Sorry Hell It just gets to me sometimes thanks wine Most of the time i cope. Turning 40 last month caused a mini panic attack about it all.

Agree with other posters KeepItHidden you sound like a really nice bloke and i really hope things get sorted and that you find a solution and happiness as a result. sad

Spero Sun 14-Jul-13 22:52:47

Of course it is not unreasonable to want to have sex with someone who wants sex with you.

But my point is that it is unreasonable to expect a situation like this just to 'get better' if there is no communication or no will from the withholding party to make it better.

Sometimes you can just be stuck in a rut and will come out. Sometimes it is not a rut, it is the way things will always be. Then you have to make the decision about what it is about this relationship that keeps you in it.

Of course there are many happy, fulfilling relationships where the people in them have little or no sex. But I think this only works long term when this is the mutually agreed decision of both of them. Unilateral impositions of one person's reality on another for the long term are rarely healthy or happy.

The sadness is that the years go by so fast and you may find yourself stuck in a situation due to inertia rather than any positive decision.

arsenaltilidie Sun 14-Jul-13 22:58:09

keepithidden yeah at least you sometimes you have to think about what YOU want and if the situation is making you happy.

I hope all goes well.

curryeater Sun 14-Jul-13 23:21:25

OP, I also think your wife may be depressed - partly because you said she is terrified of getting pregnant, despite your vasectomy. It could be that the effect of having two small children is such that she knows another would destroy her.
To be clear, I am not saying her fear of pregnancy, when you are snipped, is a good reason not to have sex, I am just noting it as a possible indicator of someone who is drowning, not waving.
Do read the "parenting affecting mental health" thread that someone linked to. one of the things that I feel and saw a lot on that thread is that having small children drops a bomb for some people where the devastation lasts years. Some people are back to normal at the 6 week check after having a baby; for some, having a toddler around, or more than one small child, perpetuates the daily, absolute impact of babyhood, from which you have never once had a single day off, or enough sleep, since the day you lost a night of sleep or more in labour.

I suppose what I am saying is: early days. I still think you maybe should be seeing this as a post-baby anomaly with children the ages of yours.
If your wife used to like working and now says she doesn't want to, she may be too exhausted to try; may have lost her confidence, or her creativity or organisation, or whatever trait she was making her money from; she may feel completely out of touch with her "real" self.

she may feel far worse than she lets on. If you try to find out and try to help her get help, please don't let it come across as "I hope you are depressed because then you will get ADs and then you will be fixed and then we can have loads of sex!"

YoniBottsBumgina Sun 14-Jul-13 23:58:02

Hmm, I feel that "witholding" is likely totally the wrong word and even the wrong way of looking at it.

It is very painful, of course, to have a partner who does not desire sex with you. I just think it's important to note also that it is very painful to be the partner who does not desire sex, and usually has no idea why. It is not fair to state that this person is withholding sex, as though the decision were an arbitrary one, as though they are merely choosing not to have sex. It isn't as simple as that, you cannot choose whether or not you want something, you cannot force yourself to want something, desire is something which is completely out of our control.

This also makes it hard to talk about because you can see that your partner is upset, feel that they are frustrated, and to answer with "I don't know why, I just don't want to" feels so ridiculous and petulant that it is embarrassing. You feel like there is something wrong with you, you love this person, you want more than anything to make them happy but you cannot make yourself want sex with them. It's also scary - does this mean I'm falling out of love? Does it mean I'll never want sex again? How can they be happy with me if I can't give them sex? How can you talk to your partner about these fears, when you're questioning your own feelings about the relationship and the thought terrifies you because it is so irrational? How can you explain that to the person that you love?

I'm not wishing to minimise the suffering of those who are living unwillingly in sexless relationships, but to paint the partner as an uncaring, cold, withholding bitch is unfair. Yes, deliberately witholding sex is an emotionally abusive move, but it may not be deliberate - and the lack of desire could be a whole host of things, it could be physical tiredness, hormones, feeling "touched out" at the end of a day, it could be problems in the relationship whether that is resentment or emotional abuse (OP I do not think this is the case with you), it could be a past sexual experience/abuse which is now resurfacing, it could be an underlying fear or unease about the relationship which she is not consciously aware of (caused by growing apart, not feeling connected, falling out of love, emotional abuse again) it could be that it's just really, really low on her priorities at the moment and those 6 tomes in 5 years have happened to be when you both had enough free headspace for it to click into place, it could be any of these things, it could be something else but the point is that she probably doesn't know any more than you do, and when she thinks about it enough it upsets her. This too contributes to a vicious cycle where sex is somethin scary & stressful to think about and hence she does not want to initiate it when you don't seem bothered about it. Easier just to push it to the back of her mind and forget that it even exists.

FWIW I think your absolute best chance at salvaging the relationship is to keep building that closeness again, no pressure for sex, emphasis on not wanting it unless she also wants it, basically everything you are doing. I am really pleased to read that you are feeling closer and I hope that things continue to improve for you both.

Spero Mon 15-Jul-13 00:03:50

Well exactly.

There could be a thousand and one reasons, some which can be very difficult to articulate.

Therefore you really need open channels of communication.

You may not be able to force yourself to have sex or to choose to have sex but you can damn well talk about it.

Sorry, I speak with the anger and bitterness of someone who lived for years with this. And I am angry because I see that I wasted my time.

I don't like seeing other people make the same mistake, but equally I don't like seeing people chuck away a relationship that could be good, that could be salvaged.

All I know for certain is that you can't stick your head in the sand and hope it will get better.

ProphetOfDoom Mon 15-Jul-13 01:27:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ProphetOfDoom Mon 15-Jul-13 01:41:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Spero Mon 15-Jul-13 08:51:05

But I think it is important to distinguish whether your relationship is in a temporary rut due to demands of young children etc, or whether something deeper is going wrong.

The advice about casual touching was exactly what our counsellor recommended - just hug each other briefly in passing, kisses hello and goodbye etc, spontaneous non sexual touching etc. my ex couldn't even do that. I noted that in one five day period he touched me three times. And this was someone I shared a home and a bed with.

If it is just a rut and you love each other then it is definitely worth trying to mend relationship. But I would not try indefinitely or for more than a few years. I think you only have one life and I didn't want to live mine in sadness and resentment.

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Mon 15-Jul-13 08:58:03

I totally agree with Spero, as someone who has been there myself.

Spero Mon 15-Jul-13 09:02:07

Jessica, I think this thread is split between those who have been in a rut and got out and those of us who were never going to resolve the problem so we left the relationship.

I think those in a rut who managed to sort it out are perhaps thinking their advice applies in every situation and I really don't think it does. That's why I use words like 'withholding' - sometimes the refusal to have sex really is a deliberate and quite aggressive tactic from someone who just doesn't have the moral courage to either end the relationship or talk about what is going wrong.

I think it is really important to work out which side of the line you fall. If a number of years only with no change, I think you have your answer.

I agree with spero that it's important to work out whether its a temporary rut due to outside things or whether feelings have changed irrevocably.

I have been in longish relationships (e.g. 2/3 years) where feelings changed and there was nothing that could be done to resolve it.

I've been in a relationship for 11 years with my DH and while we have periods of being slightly distant friends who happen to share a house and need to communicate about the logistics, we also have many periods of being like loved up newly weds. Most of the time it's somewhere in between. What makes the low times different from other relationships? We are still attracted to one another. In the final analysis, if that's still there then everything else can be resolved, I think. If you want it to be.

Spero Mon 15-Jul-13 10:01:21

And another clue to where you might be is how things were at the outset as I think quite a lot of people have already said.

With my ex it was obviously from start that things weren't right but I think we both felt we were in the last chance saloon for parenthood so we both just stuck our heads in the sand and didn't face up to problems. Very dangerous and ultimately much more destructive than being honest from the off.

If you were loving and affectionate at the beginning I think you can get it back and you should certainly try especially where there are children.

But if the physical side of the relationship was always awkward and has now vanished entirely then I am afraid I think it is now doomed.

Keepithidden Mon 15-Jul-13 10:52:29

Mornin' everyone. a few more comments to respond to:

Zingwidge - Thanks for your kind words, I think you're right about the self confidence issue. Counselling could be the only way to get to the bottom of that. I don't know if DW will agree to it, but I'll suggest it as an option for her and us to consider. She knows she's not good at communicating (nor am I for that matter) and it's an area we both need to work on sepaerately and together.

Spero - I don't believe there is no will to make things better with DW after last weeks chat she has been making an effort to communicate more. It is early days and we have been in this rut for some time. I hope it doesn't end up being too hard for her and me to break ourselves out of the lack-of-communication viscious circle that we've fallen into.

While I'm on the subject I've had a chance to reassess my own behaviour and thinking back I have been quite passive/aggressive in my responses to previous rejections and can see quite clearly in retrospect how this not only failed to help us, it made matters worse. I needed something to snap me out of that behavioural trait and this thread is part of that something. It's not much fun realising how my behaviour has adversely affected things.

Darkest - That blog is quite harrowing and I can understand how defensive you feel, particularly the responses you've received in RL. I don't understand why people say those things, it's like they'd rather not look at the root cause of the issue and just minimise it by comparing it to something worse! Just such a ridiculous and irrational response to someone obviously in pain and suffering. I'm glad that you've found people who can understand and support you now though, the loneliness is the worst part.

Curryeater - "I hope you are depressed because then you will get ADs and then you will be fixed and then we can have loads of sex!" - Genuine LOL moment there, if only it were that simple, have you ever read "Brave New World"? Anyone who invents the drug Soma in there would be onto a winner. The kid-gloves approach is one I'm quite good at so I'll take it slowly to try and find the root cause. Of course it may be that I'm not in a position to do that anyway, in which case it's the counselling route...

RE: the rest of the posts regarding abuse/rut contrasts and how we were at the start. I'd like to think that neither DW or I are deliberately withholding anything (though our unconscious minds may behaviour differently). I don't believe there is any deliberate malicious intent from either quarter. It's going to take time and patience to sort out, but the last couple of days have proved better and I'll keep teaasing out our communication problems as opportunity sees fit. Not quite ready to give up yet. We were happy I'm sure we can be again, and if it doesn't happen or I sense deliberate reluctance to acknowledge there is a problem then, well I've no desire to spend my life in a marriage like that, I've no desire for DCs to experience that and assume it's how marriages should be so it'll be decision time.

Glenshee Mon 15-Jul-13 11:22:09
Spero Mon 15-Jul-13 11:29:43

Good luck, I do hope you can work it out. It would be a shame to end a relationship that can be rescued but it is definitely a two person job, no one can carry that weight alone.

Spero Mon 15-Jul-13 11:48:16

Darkest - sorry to read what you went through. My ex also used to say 'I don't know what's wrong, it's not as if I hit you or have affairs' ...

How sad that some people see this as the benchmark of a functioning relationship - that they don't hit. Almost as if they want credit for NOT hitting or sleeping around.

Reminds me of that Chris Rock sketch - I take care of my kids! Well yes, you are supposed to.

Wellwobbly Mon 15-Jul-13 12:49:37

"The last couple of days DW and I have been showing more affection to each other and have talked a lot more (not necessarily about us, but we can get on to that). I feel a bit more upbeat about future prospects "

- it is incredible what even a bit of 'stranger' support from the internet can do: you feel less alone and misunderstood and have a few new tools to go on with.

Do be brave and think about going to Relate. You love your wife dearly (lucky, lucky her), and talking to eachother and listening are skills that are learned, just like any other skill.

Be brave OP and go!

higgle Mon 15-Jul-13 14:11:40

Another vote for counselling now. you need to arrange this, as previously suggested. I used to work in a very matey mostly male environment where we would talk about anything and everything over tea or a late afternoon drink. I can think of 3 males of my acquaintance aged around 60 who had this issue in their marriages and never discussed or tackled it, they were still living in sexless marriages around 20 years down the line and could talk about it within our group but not to their own wives (lawyers). Don't let it go on that long without tackling the issues here.

Keepithidden Mon 15-Jul-13 15:08:19

Thanks folks

Wellwobbly - - it is incredible what even a bit of 'stranger' support from the internet can do: you feel less alone and misunderstood and have a few new tools to go on with.

I think I needed the incentive to examine myself, my relationship and DWs behaviour and motivations. I've learnt a lot in a short space of time and I'm determined to put it into practice.

Do be brave and think about going to Relate. You love your wife dearly (lucky, lucky her), and talking to eachother and listening are skills that are learned, just like any other skill.

I think it would be useful to go to counselling, both of us, I don't know much about it and we don't have much time (or money). I'll head over to the relate website and find out more.

Higgle - Thanks for the warning, it's gone on too long already, time to start making changes, starting with me.

Darkesteyes Mon 15-Jul-13 16:46:52

Thankyou Spero I remember that Chris Rock sketch He pretty much nails it on the head.

KeepitHidden i echo what Wellwobbly says You seem to love your wife dearly and despite whats going on i see absolutely no bitterness in your posts.

Good luck and best wishes to you and thankyou for your supportive comments to me too. thanks

Wellwobbly Mon 15-Jul-13 16:57:03

Don't worry Keep, it is on a sliding scale of fees. Relate gets a big subsidy from the government (which should be trebled IMO)

arsenaltilidie Mon 15-Jul-13 17:27:16

^ We were happy I'm sure we can be again, and if it doesn't happen or I sense deliberate reluctance to acknowledge there is a problem then, well I've no desire to spend my life in a marriage like that, I've no desire for DCs to experience that and assume it's how marriages should be so it'll be decision time.^

Keep us updated

tumbletumble Mon 15-Jul-13 19:50:12

OP, you could consider a marriage course. DH and I went on one a couple of years ago and found it really helped us communicate better. It's not expensive and there is a whole session about sex!

TheDoctrineOfAllan Mon 15-Jul-13 21:04:46

Good luck, OP. Relate are good even if you go alone to chat things through. I got a lot out of just four sessions.

Glenshee Mon 15-Jul-13 23:07:14

My DH and I are on the same roller-coaster ride as you, OP - going downhill for the last 3 years or so; with me being disinterested in sex, like your wife.

Lots and lots of good advice here on this thread (and some not so good smile ). I particularly enjoyed watching the TED talk that Dilidali linked to. I thought it was relevant, but more importantly - constructive. For example, the speaker says that instead of focusing on what makes sex unpleasant it’s more helpful to discuss what kind of situations and circumstances make (or made) you feel relaxed and ‘in the mood’. She also says that people find their partners most attractive when they are at some distance from each other – for example, whilst observing the partner interacting with other people in a social gathering, or by watching him/her perform and succeed in a professional setting. I guess it’s pretty safe to say that none of that really happens in a typical family when kids are little.

I also loved the ‘3 course meal’ analogy by LillyGoLightly which I totally identify with. Very elegant description smile and up to the point.

OP I am glad that you’ve not been sidetracked and have already done the most useful thing you could have possibly done – confronted your DW and made your feelings known. This breaks the vicious cycle that makes you both miserable. I don’t want to minimize the stress that the lack of sex is causing you, but trust me being on the other side, carrying all the blame is no fun either, and it only gets worse and worse as the desparation becomes more evident and off-putting in it’s own right.

I suggested a one month break from any sexual activity to my DH, with the view to remove the pressure and tension that it causes, and so that I can at least talk about it without falling apart.

Our kids are older and both in school, so they no longer suck out all our energy like they used to when they were 2 and 4. I no longer work full-time, and I am certainly not burdened with any unreasonable housework or childcare demands. I have my own hobbies, me-time etc. (Although I do blame the accumulated sleep deprivation of the past years, and a very boring previous job to some extent). But right now there is no real, external stress whatsoever apart from the stress that my DH and I create ourselves out of thin air every other day!

Relationships are funny things...

I have been to GP last week who said that I do come across as mildly depressed. He recommended Relate – I have my first appointment (initial assessment) tomorrow; I'm going on my own at this stage, at my request. Initial assessment is £35, then between £20 and £50 per one hour session depending on your income.

Two years ago I discovered I have histamine intolerance which may well affect things, but you just never really know how much. The condition itself can be managed ok with ocassional mild medication. It is entirely possible that this can be backtracked to the times when kids were little and symptoms weren’t so obvious. None of us is becoming any younger, you know, and once you hit your 30-ies and have two kids, I don’t think you can reasonably expect to carry on being ‘the same you’ all the time without fail.

We do have other issues too. (So do you, I suspect). This is not a full story. But like you, and against the odds, I am trying to remain optimistic.

Numberlock Tue 16-Jul-13 03:43:43

From the other side of the fence sorry to say but you're all deluded and clutching at straws.

Glenshee Tue 16-Jul-13 11:56:42

How charming Numberlock grin

What sort of place are you reporting from? The separated/divorced side of the fence or?...

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Tue 16-Jul-13 12:09:10

I am assuming Numberlock is suggesting that whatever you do will make no difference and that, for whatever reason, once one partner is totally and unequivocally no longer wanting a sexual relationship with their partner, nothing you can do will get it back. And, I suspect this is totally right in the majority of cases. We only have to see how many threads we get on here about sexless marriages to see how true and sad this probably is. My experience and those of others on here would bear this out.

DadIsSad Tue 16-Jul-13 12:44:43

From my perspective I tend to agree with JessicaBeatriceFletcher - I've started threads on here before in the hope of getting help, but don't think we're actually any further on than when I first posted over 2 years ago. Well I suppose we are now up to DTD 6 times in 7 years, having been once in 5 years back then, but last time was over 6 months ago (now the longest period which doesn't include the birth of a child), and I am wondering if that actually was the last time. I don't think my partner has any interest in a sexual relationship with me (not sure if that's just me, or anybody, and not quite sure which I'd prefer!), nor does she have any interest in trying to fix it. Intimacy? Not unless I initiate and often get the impression that anything I do is unwanted - that includes the times we've DTD when it's happened as a complete surprise to me, not following any kissing or cuddling before getting into bed - I was trying to work out what the secret was to her being interested, but I don't think there is one and it's totally random. I've also come to realise that actually it is the intimacy I really miss more than anything - we last went out on my birthday and I just ended up feeling frustrated that we couldn't even manage a cuddle, let alone a snog at the end of the evening.

We went to Relate for a couple of months last year - I guess it helped a bit, but didn't get anywhere near fixing our relationship. Stopped going because she didn't want to go any more rather than because we'd solved all our problems (hadn't even got as far as discussing sex - though it had started moving that way, which I think she was uncomfortable with). I suppose that was followed by a burst of 3 times in 4 months so maybe it did something? Don't discuss sex or our relationship at all now - if I ever try she doesn't want to talk about it.

I'd say I'm not really sure why I'm still here, but that would be untrue. I'm still here because I'm even more afraid of leaving (well that and current financial circumstance, but I'm not sure I'll manage to leave once I get that sorted). The trouble being that I don't really have any friends or social life, so it feels like I'd be leaving my family to go to nothing - and I'm totally lacking the self-confidence to believe that I'll manage to start another relationship (isn't having no friends one of those red flag things?)

Sorry - I don't think that helped the OP or anybody else at all, just feeling the need to vent today as I'm feeling so down, and this seemed the most appropriate place.

Spero Tue 16-Jul-13 13:49:09

I think it definitely helps to know you are not alone and there is no shame in venting.

Number lock - we are not all deluded. Some of us saw writing on the wall a long time ago and were lucky enough to be able to get out.

Numberlock Tue 16-Jul-13 16:29:53

Yes sorry to generalise with the 'all' but from the woman's point of view, my ex was the same as the OP - fully hands on with child care, house work etc, a 'nice' decent guy.

None if it made a blind bit of difference sadly and I wouldn't have cared if we'd never had sex again.

DadIsSad Tue 16-Jul-13 16:39:54

Just to satisfy my curiousity (and I know you're not the same as my DW, that it doesn't make any difference and feel free not to answer if you'd prefer) was that just sex with your ex which you had no interest in, or sex with anybody? Was there anything which would have made a blind bit of difference?

FWIW I've become aware that I'm deluded and clutching at straws as you might have gathered from my post - it's just that I haven't spotted any greener grass.

Spero Tue 16-Jul-13 17:18:16

I think there are basically four scenarios for the sexless marriage - the first, there is mutual attraction but it is overwhelmed by the circumstances of the time, such as child care or illness. This can change but runs risk of slipping into permanence just by force of habit.

2nd, one partner just doesn't fancy the other and never has much, but would enjoy sex with someone else. They entered into the relationship for other reasons.

3rd someone who isn't that bothered by sex with anyone and if they have had sex have done it to procreate, hence any interest drying up once children are born.

Finally, a mutual decision made by two people with low or no libidos.

It is of course a decision for an individual whether or not they want to have sex with anyone else. But to refuse to have sex with your partner and refuse to discuss it is pretty shitty behaviour in my view. You are holding someone else hostage, dangling the hope that things may get better when they probably won't.

Numberlock Tue 16-Jul-13 17:20:18

Dad. Just my ex I'm afraid and nothing would have made a difference.

11 years post-divorce I'm pleased that he's about to get re-married, ie he's found his greener grass.

Darkesteyes Tue 16-Jul-13 17:34:50

Spero when me and h met he was attracted to me but he was never really into satisfying me properly. Never wanted to touch me in certain places I was almost 19 and he was 42 when we met. So i didnt have a great frame of reference. He stopped having sex with me when i was 23 When i was 30 and my affair started my OM wanted to touch me everywhere and i was actually having orgasms during sexual encounters. I did once wonder if DH is only attracted to women within a certain age range. Its moot anyway now though because his disabilites mean he now cant.
And thats something i feel i should mention DadisSad Keepithidden and City and others how would you feel if your partners got ill and you ended up having to care for them after your needs being sidelined for years. Because sometimes just sometimes it can be hard to do that without feeling massively resentful.

Darkesteyes Tue 16-Jul-13 17:37:36

I feel so guilty writing that and it sounds really nasty I dont mean it to be. He does try to make up for it i think in his own way by buying me the odd gift which then makes me feel guilty for feeling resentful and then confused too.

Spero Tue 16-Jul-13 17:54:30

Why feel guilty? It is a fact and you are sad about it, I can't see anything nasty in what you have posted.

Darkesteyes Tue 16-Jul-13 18:00:35

Thanks Spero thanks

Wellwobbly Tue 16-Jul-13 19:06:04

flowers to you too, Darkesteyes. I didn't realise your H was now disabled.

Keepithidden Tue 16-Jul-13 21:39:26

Well, this thread has taken quite a depressing turn.

Glenshee - I'd never heard of a histamine intolerance before, a quick Google suggests it's really quite common. Interesting stuff. Hopefully the cycle you talk of has been broken, I can see quite clearly how my own responses continued it for so long. I can also see how to change myself, my DW on the other hand has to want to do it too.

Numberlock and Jessica - It is some relief that I'm (nor my DW for that matter) are not alone in facing this predicatment. I've some work to do to find out the reason behind the current sexless state and I don't think I'm at the stage of wanting to leave our marriage behind yet. I'll be back here for advice on how to cope if/when it gets to the stage to seperate.

Dad - I can see why you're sad (a massive understatement I think), feel free to vent here. I've read your threads before and I fear something similar to you. Having said that recognising you have a problem is the first stage to getting rid of it, just don't take too long.

Spero - I hope I fall into the first category, five years is a long time but an awful lot has happened during that time (MC, DC x2, and various other family traumas). It seems (from Mumsnet anyway) that this is the smallest category so the stats are against us...

Darkest - A very good question, and the truth is I really don't know. I doubt any of us know how we'd react to those circumstances until we're forced into them. I feel resentful already so there's no doubt that I would probably feel even more so,how that would tally up with the love I have for DW I don't know. I hope never to find out and I really wish you hadn't found yourself in such a difficult position. I'd echo what Spero says, you have no reason to feel guilt, it's the way things are for you. Your reality.

Lots of things to think about here people, I've also got a lot of reading material to wade through from all angles and perspectives. Why are people so complex?

Darkesteyes Tue 16-Jul-13 21:48:36

Thankyou WellWobbly. Sorry to be so maudlin everyone. Keepithidden thanks for being so supportive and same for the rest of you thanks i think the guilt feelings come from him being nice in other ways. He will stick up for me if another family member causes any problems (usually my DB) so i get confused.
But thinking about it really its just the same as a platonic friend would do isnt it

Darkesteyes Tue 16-Jul-13 21:50:57

Keep i think your wife is very lucky to have you. I wish many years ago that H had tried to do a fifth of what you are doing.

Just my thoughts...

The reality is that it is not sex that disappears it is communication and intimacy that become dysfunctional.

Over time, the dysfunctional way of relating becomes the norm. It is a stable state, and difficult to change. The longer it is allowed to continue the less likely that sex can be permanently be successfully re-integrated back into the relationship.

Ignore a problem and it takes root.

Of the four scenarios mentioned above by Spero the most common I think is three. But it is not a conscious thing, but similar to puberty, just Mother Nature doing her thing!

Once baby has arrived, the urge to procreate is switched off, then it is either scenario two or four.

Scenario one would be typified by good quality communication and affection/intimacy continuing to be shared between the couple irrespective of the lack of sex.

If, there is poor communication, intimacy and therefore sex will be adversely affected.

YoniBottsBumgina Tue 16-Jul-13 22:16:50

I agree with Darkest. OP you have said you can see the communication improving in small ways already, which is a huge thing in my opinion.

Spero Tue 16-Jul-13 22:32:09

Agree with warmfuzzy, once the raging hormones of adolescence die down a bit I think sex becomes the most potent and obvious way that adult partners can demonstrate intimacy. And without good communication it is difficult to see now you can have good sex as you won't be able to let each other know what you want/how you feel.

And this crucial link with intimacy explains why most of us feel such pain when we are denied it.

Sometimes I read on threads like this the dismissive comment that a man can just have a wank, how dare he bother his wife for sex if she isn't swinging from the chandeliers in anticipation.

And I think that profoundly misses the point. Sex is not just about squelching your bits against someone else's bits. It's also about closeness and affection.

So when one partner doesn't want to offer that to the other, I do think there is something profoundly wrong.

But don't be depressed op. whatever happens you have been honest and tried your best, and that's very very important. Better to have tried and failed, if it comes to that, than never tried at all.

Fingers crossed you will work it out.

Spero Tue 16-Jul-13 22:34:10

Darkest - people are rarely 100% nice or nasty. I am sure he has some good qualities. But he hasn't been fair to you and he has caused you a lot of pain and you are entitled to be sad and angry about that. Don't put guilt into the mix!

Darkesteyes Tue 16-Jul-13 23:13:33

Spero your posts are very insightful. you are right Its the loss of intimacy and closeness. When i was with OM we used to talk and laugh and hug and kiss even when we wernt having sex and had driven to a party in another county (i was leading a double life for 4 and a half years) i used to stay the weekend at the OMs and DH never questioned it. I met the OM at work and it wasnt until quite a way in that i found out he and DH were distantly related by marriage. DH found out about affair initially but thinks it only lasted 3 months rather than 4 and a half years. I have NO idea whether he thought i was seeing the same man (which i was) or whether the persons flat i was staying at was a different bloke. Because DH flat out refuses to talk about anything remotely related to the problem.
I once asked him many years ago whether he thought we would ever have sex again He just shrugged his shoulders and said "i dont know" Pre affair i asked him to go to counselling (he said no) and i lost ten stone which gave me confidence and my sex drive shot up The OM came along and everything was like a high speed locamotive after that It just all seemed to happen at once.
Sorry for the novel I know you have been in a similar relationship to the one i have with DH Spero I hope you are happier now. thanks

Spero Tue 16-Jul-13 23:19:14

Thanks for your kind words, yes I am much happier now because at least I am lonely and celibate as a single person, not as one half of a couple, which I think is the bitterest loneliness there can be. I appreciate I was very lucky to earn enough to get out when I did and keep my daughter - i know not everyone has the financial freedom to make the break or wants to leave their children,

I wish I could understand why we humans generally find it hard to talk to one another and be happy - as E M Forster said, only connect.

It's taken 20 years of hard knocks and skip loads of self help books to get this insightful! Pity that wisdom often only comes with age - my fave self help book has the snappy title 'Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart'.

cronullansw Wed 17-Jul-13 01:21:34

Is this lovely SAHM living with a housekeeper, cook, cleaner, child minder, money provider or a partner?

You know, a 'partner'. As in, things get done together or shared evenly, not only by the one party.

The passion, lust, intimacy went when he stopped being the caveman hunter gather and became the housemaid.

Keepithidden Wed 17-Jul-13 10:22:22

Good description of the state of affairs Warmfuzzy, it is a stable state, and also an unhappy one from my POV. Spero hit's the nail on the head it is the intimacy rather than the cathartic relief that's missing, masturbating is great, but it can be very lonely.

Cronull - DW is living with a partner, albeit one who also does a fair share of the housekeeping, cooking, cleaning etc. Apologies if I mislead you or any other poster, DW works harder than me looking after DCs during the day I pick up the slack when I can. The housework and childcare cannot be split completely equally due to me going to work, but when I am around it is, and if I can I'll give DW a break too. Interestingly over the last six months or so she has started to do more of the cooking and laundry compared to previously, whether this is a reflection of the DCs getting older (more independent) or whether she herself is looking to gain more independence I'm not sure. Again, we're back to the communication issue.

I'm reading more about the "caveman hunter gatherer/nice guy doormat" contrast at the moment so may come back to that at a later date. I definitely fall into the latter category being passive and, for want of a better word, weak, but that is no reflection on DW and I don't believe I am being deliberately or consciously treated as doormat.

girlwithmousyhair Wed 17-Jul-13 15:08:11

Hello keepit. I just ploughed through this whole thread and decided to name change to say something.
So much seems right with your relationship. So many people have advised you to get out (for their own very good reasons I am sure) but it seems to me you’d be throwing away a lot of stuff that many people yearn for. I wanted to share what you might find to be a hopeful tale….
I was with my ex for 9 years and we had a really enjoyable 2-3 times a week ‘sex’ life. He left very suddenly. I booked a relate session which he didn’t turn up to so I knew things were over. I saw the relate counsellor regularly for the next year or so and found it really very helpful to explore some stuff with her. I was single for around 18 months. During that time I missed what you describe….that intimacy. I would crave just having a cuddle. The human touch. I met someone else after 18 months and the first few months of our relationship were great sexually; like you might expect for a new couple. There were a couple of occurrences that led me to cry during/after love making and this understandably led to a tapering off of that side of our lives. I can see how it happened. I had some insecurities and it made my partner feel cautious. That went on for about a year and a half I guess: no sexual contact. We talked sometimes about it and my partner maintained that it wasn’t a big issue but that he’d like to get things sorted. We started seeing a psycho-sexual counsellor (through a GP referral); I went on my own and then partner came along when I’d had chance to discuss some things with counsellor on my own. That was very helpful actually. She smoothed out some things with me so that when we went together I was in a better place to progress. We saw her once a month and most months there was something positive to report; a step in the right direction. We were having some sexual contact again but very little. Then my Mum died unexpectedly so sex became incredibly unimportant and just surviving became the focus, so another ‘dry’ period ensued, probably for about 12 months. We resumed the counselling and again made steps in right direction. Even with things totally out of kilter sex wise my partner proposed. The 6 months leading up to our marriage we used as an impetus to keep going and get on track which I’d say we did by our wedding day. We conceived on our honeymoon (wasn’t at all the plan but a happy accident is how we’d describe it) and our much loved and wanted DD is 4 months old. The early pregnancy was horrible; I felt totally wiped out and sick most of the time so sex was off of the cards (and in fact weirdly the thought of sex, anyone having sex, sex on TV, or anything made me feel queasy!), then I started to show and it was a bit of a mind block to sex for me. Then I gave birth and had third degree tears and operation and post op complications. And the baby is still sleeping in our room (as is recommended until 6 months….I’m risk-averse so am taking the advice), still waking a couple of times a night and still breast feeding. So we haven’t DTD since honeymoon over a year ago. We cuddle on sofa each night, he chats to me whilst I bathe, we cuddle in bed, we’re affectionate and cuddly people (esp DH), but there’s no sex. I don’t view this as a situation that will go on forever. I’d be totally devastated if we split over this (we won’t). We chat to keep in touch with each other.
I blather on about all of this to illustrate that relationships can have dry periods for a variety of reasons but that doesn’t make it a bad or hopeless relationship. Travel hopefully and keep being the considerate person you clearly are. It already sounds like you are making steps in the right direction. Good job!

Keepithidden Wed 17-Jul-13 22:15:31

"Thanks Girlwiththemouseyhair, I appreciate your post. Sometimes the harsh reality of others lives means yours is put into stark relief. Other times the happiness of others offers hope.

DadIsSad Thu 18-Jul-13 00:23:29

Gosh Darkesteyes, I don't think you have anything to be guilty about. It's also quite scary the similarities between things you mention and my own relationship - I think I previously mentioned when DW made me a cake which was very sweet of her, but what I really wanted was a cuddle. Also she sticks up for me with my sister (who I don't have a great relationship with).

Apologies for the derailing - I really, really hope the OP's relationship isn't like ours. If it wasn't obvious, I'm pretty confident that we're a type 3.

Spero Thu 18-Jul-13 08:37:09

PS can I just say as a women who worked full time and had a partner who was 'unable' to remember where the towels were or his daughters clothes (same cupboard for two years) or that you couldn't wash wool at 90 degrees (this man was a university graduate), there is nothing 'unsexy' or emasculating about a male partner who contributes to the running of the home.

You dont suddenly lose your sexy appeal because you do the washing up.

I just don't 'buy' this argument that women go off men because they do domestic work. I think it far more likely this is used as an excuse to mask wholesale loss of sexual interest, either in this particular partner or in anyone else.

I have tested this theory by imaging James Marsters in a flowery apron, doing the washing up and solicitously asking me if I would like a cup of tea after he has run a bath. I can confidently report that this has zero negative impact on his continued appearances in my fantasy life.

CalamityGin Thu 18-Jul-13 09:11:45

here here spero I am most unattracted to my husband when I feel over run by the daily grind of everything and I feel that he is taking me for granted, as an example - leaving an empty wrapper on the side instead of putting it in the bin which is right there !!! I feel it is disrespectful and makes me feel unsexy that (a) he isn't taking care of himself (b) I have to "remind" him that wrappers go in the bin of that socks go in the laundry basket or that clothes get hung up not left on the backs of chairs in the kitchen. Men who are able to take care of themselves is very attractive and infact was one of the first things I noticed about DH - he cooked! he cleaned! he never had dirty clothes lying around! WOW! and phwoar!

Emascilating my arse.

CalamityGin Thu 18-Jul-13 09:13:08

are blush

curryeater Thu 18-Jul-13 09:14:22

Spero, as I am sure you know, statistics back you up on this - men who do housework get more sex.

However, where there is an attraction partly based on the man never lifting a finger, I think it is based in unhealthy self-loathing emotional programming whereby women respect and admire men who assert their superiority by being a bit mean and contemptuous, and having nothing to do with things they consider low status. It is not the case that this does not exist. However I feel very sorry for the women who fancy on this basis because it seems clear that they are doomed to unhappy relationships in which they are treated badly.

Glenshee Thu 18-Jul-13 09:51:18

I like girlwithmousyhair's post because it shows how complex (and changing over time) the reasons may be. Very insightful, on many levels.

It also shows amazing clarity and self-awareness which only comes from working extensively on yourself and the relationship - kudos for that, girlwithmousyhair! I think gaining that clarity is half the battle, and provides considerable relief in its own right.

Glenshee Thu 18-Jul-13 09:56:04

DadIsSad, I read your threads before. Sorry to hear there is no positive progress. Have you considered continuing counseling individually, for yourself, to help you develop coping strategies? So that you stay healthy and sane, even if that doesn't directly impact on the relationship?

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Thu 18-Jul-13 10:18:00

While girlwithmousyhair's post is interesting, it is clear that in her case there is good communication, counselling, affection and cuddling. In most of the cases we read about on here, none of this happens either. It is usually one partner's complete refusal to acknowledge the issue (they are often heard to say they don't think there is a problem or they are quite happy with the way things are), refusal to go to counselling and often a total lack of affection.

In girl's case, there were plentiful, understandable, workable and discussable reasons.

Glenshee Thu 18-Jul-13 10:30:45

I went to Relate (individually), and thought it was very good and very helpful. Obviously, one session doesn't fix anything but I do believe it's a step in the right direction.

Three things stood out for me.

First, it dawned on me, that the fact that we live together for 10 years isn't anything to be proud of, and isn't proving the strength or health of the relationship necessarily. In terms of breaking the bad habits and improving communication, it would actually be better if we hadn't 'practiced' our misguided ways for so long. This is exactly what AWarmFuzzyFuture describes so well in her post, but it wouldn't hit home for me, without my counselor telling this to me face-to-face.

Second, I think I have to become more accepting of the fact that separation is one of the possible outcomes, even though it's not a desirable one, from my point of view. Otherwise a lot of stuff will continue to be ignored and brushed under the carpet in the fear that if we talk about it the relationship will be over. (Sex is the prime example of things that are hard to talk about; without unintentionally implying the break-up).

Third, communication. Again, one of those things that you hear about a lot, but it's something that doesn't quite sink in until somebody tells you so, in a no-nonsense sort of way, about your own situation, and looking you in the eye. We have a similar situation as keepit in a sense that I was aware of the problem (lack of sex), but wasn't aware of how much of a problem it has become for DH. The counselor said: 'three years is a long time to not talk about an issue'...

I will continue counseling on my own, until I feel comfortable to go together. I'm shit scared that when we go together it would all go downhill, very rapidly, and I would not be able to cope.

Lazyjaney Thu 18-Jul-13 10:31:27

I agree, and that attitude of refusal is often supported and bolstered by quite a few posters on this board.

In my experience the only way to change people who refuse to acknowledge and deal with issues is to reel in the rope, not give them more of it.

Lazyjaney Thu 18-Jul-13 10:32:50

Ah, was replying to JessicaBear

James Marsters in a flowery apron, doing the washing up and solicitously asking me if I would like a cup of tea after he has run a bath

Sorry to hijack this serious thread, but spero that did make me grin

OK chaps, as you were...

Oh, and I'll add my voice to the 'pulling your weight at home isn't a turn off' camp.

Spero Thu 18-Jul-13 10:56:27

Gosh I agree with everyone who has posted since I did, and I don't think that's ever happened before.

May I thank this thread for opening up a rich new seam of fantasy life. James has just cleaned out the fridge and is about to clean the hob. He is not wearing a shirt because it is very hot.

Yup, still sexy.

Spero Thu 18-Jul-13 10:59:41

Glenshee - god yes, I went YEARS without discussing stuff, just hoped it would all get better. Scarey how quickly the time slips away.

My lightbulb moment was reading Carl Rogers 'on becoming a person' where he says 'the facts are always friendly. There is never anything dangerous or unsatisfying about being closer to the truth'.

Hello Buffy! One more for the Spike camp <slight but enjoyable derail>

I am pretty sure that there's a viable business idea somewhere: James Masters' Big Bad Cleaning Services or something.

<looks over shoulder in case my anti-feminist haterz want to accuse me of misandry>

It was a joke jeez grin

OK, no more derail.

Hope you are OK Keepit?

Glenshee Thu 18-Jul-13 13:14:21

Keepit is busy shopping for a flowery apron grin

Keepithidden Thu 18-Jul-13 15:11:20

All okay thanks Buffy. Just checking out Amazon for flowery aprons. They've got a very impressive range, particularly taken by the RHS and V&A ones...

Sorry, getting sidetracked now. Just bracing myself for another chat with DW this evening (circumstances permitting) about our/my concerns. I asked her last week to think about what I'd said and hopefully she'll have done so, and be ready to speak to me about some of it (not going to kid myself that a week is all it'll take to undo the relationship we've found ourselves in).

Feeling slightly melancholy. DC's will banish that when I get home though!

Hope the talk goes well keepit smile

katieks Thu 18-Jul-13 16:21:19

Have been following this thread with interest.

Quick question to men: would you want to hear the full honest truth if it was something along the lines of 'I still love you but there's no lust factor/I don't get turned on by you'? What about if she did get turned on by fantasising about others? I think the drudgery of everyday life takes away the 'mystery' etc, all that stuff that the TED talk refers to which keeps the flame of desire burning.

Glenshee Thu 18-Jul-13 16:35:11

Keepit - if you are going to talk, i think a good question for you to ask her is: 'what do you think I should do so that my basic sexual needs are met?' Doesn't matter all that much what she comes up with - as you say one conversation will not change much, at least not quickly - but this is the question that should make her think.

Darkesteyes Thu 18-Jul-13 16:47:57

Dadissad yes i remember you talking about the cake. Its strange how parrallel some of these situations are I also agree Type 3.

Spero i see your James Masters and raise you Samuel West smile

Darkesteyes Thu 18-Jul-13 16:50:26

Good luck with yr talk tonight Keepit.
Hope it goes well.

I disagree with your suggestion Glenshee. There's a danger that question could come across as "if you won't service my needs, I will need to look elsewhere at some point".

That may well be true, but counterproductive to bring it up when the OP's DW may be willing to work on the problem with him. I must be honest, if my DH said those words to me, as you wrote them, my hackles would be so far up they'd be touching the celling!

Glenshee Thu 18-Jul-13 17:33:17

Well, useful perspective, Buffy. Maybe 'what do you think I should do in this situation?' - ?

Glenshee Thu 18-Jul-13 17:34:42

That should be/sound more open - ?

I think it's reasonable for the OP to explain to his wife that he really misses sex, of course! And I think that if she loves him and wants their marriage to work for both of them, then she should listen.

If I were in your shoes keepit I'd stick to statements about how you feel, rather than asking a question that requires your DW to respond. If someone is already feeling vulnerable (as she may be? We don't know) then that could seem aggressive or unbearable pressure. Plus, the answer to the question might be a genuine "I have no idea". That doesn't necessarily mean she doesn't want things to improve, but she genuinely may not know how.

That's just my view: stick to explaining how you feel and give DW space to do the same.

JustinBsMum Thu 18-Jul-13 18:49:43

Sounds as if she doesn't have contact with other adults. You don't mention her having friends for coffee even.
Not a good situation if that is the case.
I think someone asked if she could be depressed.

arsenaltilidie Thu 18-Jul-13 20:06:29

katie If the flame was there in the first place, then I believe it never dies. Instead of the flame that everyone can see, it turns into a slow burning amber that no one can see but I know its there.

I still love you but there's no lust factor/I don't get turned on by you'? What about if she did get turned on by fantasising about others

If I hear this then I would seriously consider going our separate ways and getting my needs met elsewhere.
Funny enough the thought of leaving and to get my needs met will probably reignite the flames than anything else, that's if something was there in the first place.

If she feels the need to tell me she fantasises about others then my answer would be "ditto"

Spero Thu 18-Jul-13 20:13:22

But surely the issue here is not 'what do YOU think should be done to get my sexual needs met' but what are WE going to do about the fact that our relationship lacks affection and intimacy?

I agree, if anyone posed your question to me Glenshee, I would give them some massive side eye.

Not so sure about Samuel West tbh, but far be it from me to cast aspersions on what floats anyone else's boat!

Good luck op. tie on that flowery pinny and metaphoricaly gird your loins. If she loves you she will want to work with you to fix this.

Keepithidden Fri 19-Jul-13 13:59:10

Thanks for all the support, we tried to talk last night but were rudely interrupted by DCs suffering in the heat. At least its given me the opportunity to mull over the words of advice you've given me.

Katieks - I would want to know the truth, however painful and heartbreaking. At least then I could confront it and make plans. It's the limbo that wears a person down, always assuming the worst and hoping for the best. Unfortunately DW I think would try to sugar coat it, or not tell me if she thought it would hurt. She really dislikes conflict (to be fair I'm the same), despite the good that can often come from challenging yourself and others.

Buffy - I think she is feeling vulnerable, last week when we talked she jumped to the conclusion that we were over, which was something I really wanted to avoid. I need to learn how to stop her defences automatically coming up and be able to have a tough, but loving heart to heart about our feelings, wants and needs. I also don't think she is that aware of how I've been feeling these last eighteen months (the three/four years previous I could handle due to the pregnancies, young babies BFing etc. that usually limits sexual contact I understand, though not in all cases).

JustinsbsMum - you're right about the lack of contact with adults, I've encouraged her to go out with friends that she's met through the whole DC-thing, and friends she had previously (who have also had DCs, can't get away from them) but to little avail. I don't think she's spent a night/evening away from them, except with me a few weeks back, since they arrived on the scene. I suggested last night that she go out for a few drinks with one of DSs friends Mums (I'm happy to keep an eye on things at home for as long as she likes), but she rebuffed the idea. I don't think she's depressed, she's always been quite introverted: few, but very close friends that kind of thing. Friends do come over but nearly always with DCs in tow, I think she needs to rediscover her as a person, but every opportunity that crops up seems to present a problem. Could be the lack of self confidence again.

Spero - Those are pretty much the words I used previously. "We don't have any intimacy, we're friends rather than lovers and I think we need to work on our marriage and try to become husband an wife again" then I suggested counselling and other possible routes to a happier life. We have been showing each other more affection since the first talk, hugs, kisses, squeezing bums that kind of thing so maybe I'm pushing things too quickly, too soon by trying to engage in deep discussions so soon after the first.

Arsenal - Interesting immeadiate response to Katieks question, my first thought was "Okay, how do I reignite that lust in you? How do I turn you on again?" then, depending on the answer, I would go down the route you would.

Anyway, thanks again for all your support, it's helping me immensely (and hopefully a few others on this thread, and potentially many more lurkers!).

Darkesteyes Fri 19-Jul-13 14:48:27

Keepithidden my mum does that. In my long blog post which i linked upthread i mention my parents.
She did similar to my dad and she also refuses to go out anywhere or do anything with my dad or to socialize with any of the friends that shes got left after refusing to see them for so long.
And then she blames my dad saying he doesnt take her out anywhere.
As i write this ive realised this is another instance of her gaslighting. sad

Needsomeperspective2 Fri 19-Jul-13 16:41:30

Hi OP. I've been reading this thread with interest since It started. I am in a marriage where, until a few weeks ago, my DH probably felt the same as you, to an extent. Our sexual relationship has been non-existent at times since our DD was born 5 years ago and he has approached me a couple of times to have the conversations you are now having with your wife. I wanted to post about how I was feeling and reacting, to maybe give you some insight into how your DW might feel.

The first thing I wanted to pick up on is, you've repeatedlyrebuffed the idea that she could be depressed. I really think you need to consider that again. 4 months ago my DH would have said exactly the same as you but it turns out I was actually very depressed but was also very good at keeping it hidden. The thing that prompted me to go to my GP was realising I no longer knew how to make myself happy, and in turn I could no longer make my DH happy. I've since started on a course of tablets which are helping to not feel so bleak.

I have also started investing in 'me' time. Before the tablets I wouldn't have considered this at all as an option and would regularly put obstacles in the way to getting out of the house on my own. There was an almost martyr like approach to my life where I would make it more difficult without even realising.

My DH was very hands on, doing the majority of the laundry, half the cooking, half the washing up etc. Yet I still felt put upon and taken for granted. I think that wouldn't have changed if it weren't for the tablets. Now, I go swimming twice a week, only for half an hour but with walking there and back it gets me out of the house for an hour, while DH spends time with DD and I also do a class one night a week, at something which I am surprisingly ok at. It's done wanders for my self esteem.

4 months ago I thought my marriage was over, that I didn't love my DH anymore, because if I did, surely I would want to have sex with him. Now tho, I can see I was putting enormous pressure on myself and not giving myself any sort of break. I feel better about myself, I feel less stressed and as a result I am starting to feel more ready to resume bedroom activities once more.

Of course, I am not saying that your DW must be depressed, but IQ wanted to share my experience with you. A lot of how you describe your SW rings true with me. The best thing you can do right now, in my opinion, is to give your wife the reassurance that she can talk to you, without you being hurt or upset (something I didn't feel I could do with my DH as I wa so scared if hurting him) and that you will support her, both emotionally and practically in what she wants to do next. It may take some time, but if she loves you I think there is still hope yet.

Numberlock Fri 19-Jul-13 22:50:18

I'm happy to keep an eye on things at home for as long as she likes

Just an aside but wondered why you felt the need to point that out?

Spero Fri 19-Jul-13 23:23:57

At a loss to understand why that comment provokes any special mention.

Keepithidden Fri 19-Jul-13 23:50:09

Darkest - I don't think DW gaslights me. There's never any blame/complaints about lack of company. I just think she may lack confidence to go out, and worries about DCs too much to leave them.

Needsome - She could be depressed, I'm not a medic so don't know about diagnosing it. Thanks for your words. What made you finally decide to seek help? Was it a decision you made or did DH persuade you? I'm really not sure where to start in persuading someone to seek help.

Numberlock - I don't know. What does it imply to you? In retrospect maybe it was a way to suggest that DW was under no obligation to return at any particular time. I.e. She could go out for a proper night out, get drunk, have fun away from DH, DCs and responsibility. Does that make sense?

TheDoctrineOfAllan Fri 19-Jul-13 23:58:31

KeepIt, it might just have been a turn of phrase but it was a bit like you'd be "babysitting" rather than "parenting", if you see the distinction?

Keepithidden Sat 20-Jul-13 00:04:16

Ah. Yes. Sorry, the implication being it's DW responsibility to keep an eye on things at home for the rest of the time, right? I could've phrased that better.

Darkesteyes Sat 20-Jul-13 00:07:04

Oh KeepIt i didnt mean yr DW gaslights Sorry if it came across that way.
Its just that i realised it was another instance of my mum doing so and i realised while typing that post.

Keepithidden Sat 20-Jul-13 00:09:19

No worries Darkest, I'm glad the thread is bringing you some enlightenment.

Spero Sat 20-Jul-13 07:54:34

But if one parent works outside the home and the other parent within it, the home inevitably becomes more the domain of the parent who spends more time there? Why is this evidence of unsexy patriarchal thinking from op?

He says his wife is 'anxious' about the children. S she is clearly contributing to this atmosphere.

But again, if she cannot say to him that she doesn't like his attitude, that isn't a good sign.

However there was nothing the op said that raised my hackles. Over thinking things can be as unproductive as failing to confront them.

Needsomeperspective2 Sat 20-Jul-13 11:10:09

We had tried to be intimate and once again it had all fizzled out to nothing happening. I felt angry and frustrated that i couldn't make my body work the way it's supposed to. Usually it would have resulted in a row between DH and me, but this time instead he just asked very gently if I was ok. That seemed to allow me to think about the answer rather than getting defensive about why things hadn't worked out. There were other factors contributing to my depression, and I had started to realise how I was living wasn't right. I think the conversation needs to be very supportive and non critical.

AndreaDawn Sat 20-Jul-13 20:41:05

Sounds to me that you are spoiling your wife! YOU work full time and then come home and do the dinner? Look, having small children can be quite hectic but it is the easiest and most wonderful thing in the world and not difficult! She is a stay at home mom, lucky girl! I think she does need a kick up the bum personally, raising children ain't rocket science, some of us do it while keeping down a full time job! Stop pandering to her, man up and be a bit tougher, you may see a difference in her attitude!

JustinBsMum Sat 20-Jul-13 21:06:09

Just spending time with DCs and not adults is not a good sign. She seems to have opted out of life. Being a dedicated mother is her be all and end all therefore how do you switch from that to sexual being, not easily.

tumbletumble Sun 21-Jul-13 18:19:39

I don't agree with AndreaDawn that being a SAHM is not difficult (sometimes it's a nightmare!), but I do think that, in this instance, your lack of sex life cannot be solved by helping around the house more than you already do. You need to carry on communicating to explore other issues. How are your serious chats going, OP?

Keepithidden Sun 21-Jul-13 23:05:33

Thanks Needsome, that's useful advice and something to be aware of.

Andrea - If being a SAHM is easy then my normal day job is a piece-of-pi**! Seriously, looking after them at the weekend, I know I couldn't do what DW does and remain sane. Probably why JustinBsMum suggests she's opted out of life. Being a SAHP would probably do that to me.

Tumble - Thanks for asking, the serious chats are ongoing. We're communicating a lot better and showing affection a lot more. So much so that we did manage to DTD over the weekend, admitedly it was at my instigation, but there certainly wasn't any reluctance from DW. Still got to work on her confidence and we need to communicate a lot more about intimate stuff (sex basically) both physical and emotional. So I figure it's a work in process and I'm not unaware that it could be a long process, possibly with the help of professionals (counselling) if I can persuade DW.

arsenaltilidie Sun 21-Jul-13 23:18:37

I'm glad the issue is coming to a conclusion.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Sun 21-Jul-13 23:22:59

Good progress OP smile

Darkesteyes Mon 22-Jul-13 00:15:09

Thats wonderful progress OP im glad for you.

ZingWidge Mon 22-Jul-13 00:22:54

oh well done OP, I'm glad you are on the road to recovery!
all the best of luck!

What this thread (and others like it) indicate to me is what a wretched amount of misery is caused by the entirely unnatural cult of monogamy. Because monogamy is unnatural for human beings. If it was natural, it wouldn't need to be so brutally enforced, with so much propaganda and so many sanctions in place for people who breach it. If it wasn't for this cultural pressure to have sex only with the person you have had children with, a lot of people would be a lot happier: if the commitment of shared parenting wasn't expected to include (and even prioritise) a sexual/romantic relationship with the other parent, people could make arrangements which suited them so that the high-libido partner could seek other sexual partners and the low-libido partner would be free of the pressures and expectations to engage in sex that s/he had no real interest in. And all the time, both partners could enjoy and value the friendship and goodwill between them along with the commitment to parenthood without ending up in a situation where one partner is constantly unhappy and sexually frustrated and the other is unhappy due to an awareness that s/he should be engaging in unwanted sexual activity and/or engaging in sexual activity that has become a tedious, necessary chore.

Helltotheno Mon 22-Jul-13 09:18:42

And all the time, both partners could enjoy and value the friendship and goodwill between them along with the commitment to parenthood without ending up in a situation where one partner is constantly unhappy and sexually frustrated and the other is unhappy due to an awareness that s/he should be engaging in unwanted sexual activity and/or engaging in sexual activity that has become a tedious, necessary chore

This absolutely. I also think children unnecessarily suffer because if it was sold to children that mum and dad are great friends but not a couple/don't necessarily live together etc, it would be better for them in the long run than spending years trying to make a 'couple' relationship work when it patently isn't working (and children usually know this).

Good luck OP if this is the route you choose to go down. I would also say do try and develop an independent life of your own involving hobbies, other friends etc. This may give you a different perspective on life.

Keepithidden Mon 22-Jul-13 11:21:21

I do get the impression that Marriage and monogamy in general is being critically analysed more and more as time goes on. The ease of divorce and the regular chopping and changing of partners is no longer the taboo it once was. Interesting times.

DW and I both agree that if it came down to it, the DCs would be better off with two seperated, happy parents, rather than sticking together and being unhappy. This is as much for setting a good example of how relationships should be as it is about DW and my happiness.

Interesting last paragraph Helltotheno, we shouldn't be defined by our roles in life to the detriment of our personalities. It is so much easier to say/type that than to put it in to practive though...

Darkesteyes Mon 22-Jul-13 15:46:39

YY Solid I so wish someone like you had been around when i was in my late teens.
I bought into the whole romance/happy ever after bullshit when i was younger. I dont believe in monogamy any more.
My expereience and reading of others expereiences has made me realise that marriage is about the ownership of women and controlling their sexuality.
Im shocked at how much my views have changed in the last few years At 40 i am not the same person i was at 25. Its like ive been two different people.
And i cant really articulate this very well but there is an undercurrent in society thats very Madonna/whore complex.
Why the need to oppress womens sexuality so much. Does it scare people or something a woman having or talking about her needs.
It is really fucking depressing.

Keepithidden Tue 23-Jul-13 09:02:29

^And i cant really articulate this very well but there is an undercurrent in society thats very Madonna/whore complex.
Why the need to oppress womens sexuality so much. Does it scare people or something a woman having or talking about her needs.
It is really fucking depressing.^

I read up a lot of stuff on this on the Radfem blogs, there's a lot of theories about it, but personally I think it all boils down to power and control.

Women have a power that men can't really empathise with: the power to create life, it's awe inspiring and bestowed on pretty much every women. Men can never own this power themselves so the next "best" thing is to control the owner. I also think that fear has a big part to play here, technology has provided techniques that could potentially make men obsolete, that's quite scary if you believe their only function is as a reproductive tool!

The alternative view seems to be that Men have the stronger, larger bodies and are more willing to use violence to atain their wants (I hesitate to use the word "needs"). This is thought by some to be a genetic predisposition, i.e. you have the Y chromomsome = you'll be more willing to use violence. Violence, or physical power, is the ultimate power when it comes to human-to-human relationships. The person more willing to use it is likely to be the controller in any given relationship (note I'm not just referring to sexuality here). Interestingly the technology I mentioned earlier has started to make things more equal in this arena too, a women can handle a weopan just the same as a man, particularly things like guns which require little physical strength.

Of course all these arguments have counter arguments and all are flawed. Historically a patriarchy has existed for millenia and it's going to take a long time to dismantle it all and rebuild a more equal society.

In a nutshell then, it's about who controls power, it's about historical inertia and ultimately it's about our (as a species) progress towards a civilised way of life. Hopefully that road is one one we've started on.

It is depressing though, I agree.

Keepithidden Tue 23-Jul-13 09:02:58

Sorry, my quotes marks didn't work.

I think that Solid is right.

Marriage works for some people, but it is sold as the only relationship structure in which a person can be happy/fulfilled.

arsenaltilidie Tue 23-Jul-13 23:58:05

Jealousy is one of the strongest emotions a person can feel.

In an ideal world a woman would have one man to help her raise the DC but she'd be able to have sex with other men.
A man would have one primary partner who's faithful, but he would be free to have sex with other women..

However as a result of the distractive nature of jealousy, marriage is the better option.
You both give up having sex with others so you can commit to one another.

Also virtually all the swingers I've met in real life are a little creepy.

Not everyone feels sexual jealousy, though. Just like not everyone feels sexual desire. And sometimes, feeling a strong emotion is a fault that needs to be overcome, not something to be proud of.

If you (hypothetical, general 'you') don't want to have sex with your official partner, it's actually unreasonable and selfish to object if your partner has sex with other people. What's so good about 'keeping' something you don't want for your exclusive use when you are not using it? If you have a child with another person, it's reasonable to expect that person to share the care of that child in every way, but not actually reasonable to obsess about owning the other parent as a sexual partner. It should be possible to enjoy co-parenting even when one co-parent is also a co-parent with someone else, in the same way that people who have more than one DC can love and honour and care for all the DC for who each one is, rather than prioritizing one of them.

Darkesteyes Wed 24-Jul-13 01:51:04

KeepIt i agree More people seem to be questioning it now which is a good thing ...or at least a start.

Agree with Solid who has been very helpful to me on here over the past two years. thanks

Spero Wed 24-Jul-13 09:15:09

But it is more difficult for one person to raise a child - look at statistics re single mothers and poverty. I think we are right to challenge the stranglehold marriage has as 'only' way to be happy, but once children are involved there are different issues.

arsenaltilidie Wed 24-Jul-13 10:33:30

All the talk of owning another person is a bit of B.S tbh.

Wanting to be committed to my wife does not mean she owns me.
It means I want to commit to her and vice versa.

Not everyone feels sexual jealousy, though
The ones that don't feel sexual jealousy with generally experience emotional jealousy.

The line often used is "Im not jealous if the other person is better than me because I know we go home together" meaning there is a kind of emotional bond that keeps them together, jealousy will arise if that bond is threatened.

Spero Wed 24-Jul-13 10:49:31

The 'open relationships' I have witnessed have all involved one partner who was really unhappy with other partner's activities but who put up with it so as not to lose them.

I think sexual, emotional jealousy or whatever you want to call it is very common if not our default position. I think true sexual freedom and lack of such feelings is very, very rare.

Spero: my point is that both parents raise the child, they just don't have a sexual/romantic relationship with each other. Are you trying to argue that men will only take an interest in raising their own children if the children's mother opens her legs regularly? Because that's nonsense. Separating parenthood from sex and romance would help get rid of a lot of the misery and idiocy around the monogamy cult.

Helltotheno Wed 24-Jul-13 12:38:08

Yes I think the main point here is not about where and how people get sex, it's about the possibility of entering into an amicable coparenting relationship without living together/having a sexual relationship and making that work, rather than spending years trying to get a relationship to fit a certain mould when that mould isn't and never will be available for that particular relationship. When you look at it objectively, what a waste of time and energy!

And yes that would involve a huge shift in societal thinking. As things are, there always has to be a 'bad guy'. For example, if the OP suggested a different arrangement to his wife and said he wanted to live separately and just coparent, he'd probably be painted as the 'bad guy' by all their mutual acquaintances, family etc for breaking up the family (only using your case as an example OP; the opposite could be the case also). That's so unjust but unfortunately it's also the reality because people don't seem willing to look at other more effective arrangements that work, and instead are happy to go with this half life where nobody is happy.

Numberlock Wed 24-Jul-13 12:41:34

Spero: my point is that both parents raise the child, they just don't have a sexual/romantic relationship with each other

This is exactly my relationship with my sons' father. 50-50 split, all very amicable.

(Sadly I stayed in a relationship/married to him for x years before I realised the above was the best solution, where were you then, eh SGB? wink)

So now that the nest of vipers have worked out the third way for relationships, how do we sell it to the rest of society?grin

Spero Wed 24-Jul-13 16:22:07

I am not trying to argue men will only raise children to have sex with the mother and I have no clue where you got that from as it is patently absurd.

I have professional and personal experience of many relationships where the mother does indeed have lots of sex with the father of her children and he still does very little to help raise them.

I don't disagree that monogamy is pushed too hard at the expense of other ways of living, but I also don't agree than this happy, friendly co patenting lark is as easily achievable as you seem to think.

There is something more than mere societal pressure leading us towards pair bonding. And for every functional co parenting arrangement I can give you a 100, perhaps even 1000 single mothers in poverty.

howtoboilanegg Wed 24-Jul-13 22:47:11

I thought I would add my experience to this thread.
My marriage of 16+ years is pretty much sexless, (twice a year?)we are good friends with 4school age children.
My DH doesn't seem to need me sexually as much as an emotional prop and organiser. Looking back (and I did go to Relate), I can see the roots of this go way way back. I think my DH is a solitary figure who finds it difficult to be close to someone (product of boarding school) and who uses porn.
About four years ago by which time my self esteem was rock bottom and domestic life mega demanding, I met someone, also married. The attraction was electric. In time this has become a wonderful intimate, fulfilling sexual relationship. I have never known anything so personal and loving. I know I need this OM, not least as a prop to my marriage, and I to his, which is not happy but dutiful. We do not live near each other and can only meet up every few months, but we constantly email - dozens of times a day. I do not expect many people to understand this, but I think SGB is right...sexual fulfilment and intimacy can come in unconventional ways.
I cannot see my sex life with DH reviving. I worked at it, but have now given up. However, we have come to live side by side comfortably, and supportively, giving love and stability to the DC. My OM gives me what is missing - the anger and rejection I felt at the lack of sex with DH has lessened - and I am so much happier for it.

I have a perfectly comfortable and functional co-parent relationship with my DS' dad. Right now, he's here trying to persuade DS that school holidays or not, it's time to be quiet and go to sleep. We co-parents don't live together and haven't had sex with each other since DS was conceived. Both of us have other partners from time to time and no romantic interest in each other, but we are mates.

Glenshee Wed 24-Jul-13 23:43:05


She could be depressed, I'm not a medic so don't know about diagnosing it. Thanks for your words. What made you finally decide to seek help? Was it a decision you made or did DH persuade you? I'm really not sure where to start in persuading someone to seek help.

I think you can safely suggest it to your DW in a 'let's rule this one out' sort of way, possibly alongside other medical checks.

Getting round to seeking help for depression is difficult, because unless you are severely depressed, you feel different from one day to the next. On bad days you don't feel like doing anything (that's what tomorrows are for). On good days there seems nothing to worry about or report to the doctor.

So, you would really have to either reach a point where you're quite clearly upset all of the time, or when you're regularly getting upset over trivial things for no reason.

If she's not there yet, it's quite difficult to initiate a conversation with the doctor, because it feels like the only reason for her to go is because you want it to happen. Which is okay, I guess. But awkward/uncomfortable.

Himoutdoors Fri 26-Jul-13 21:00:35

For your interest DW stumbled on my earlier postings in this thread. Mad with me initially as it only told my perspective but crystallised more discussion, me accepting the blame followed by us being more genuinely caring and not angry with each other. OP great to see that you are on a good track.

Glenshee Tue 06-Aug-13 23:05:47

Any news, Keepit?

MerryMarigold Tue 06-Aug-13 23:36:36

Hi. You sound like me and my dh. We probably had sex the same number of times in 5 years. I think the longest we went was 2 years with nothing, not once. Things are improving, kids getting a bit bigger. A lot is about focussing on each other and not just the kids, house, work and getting by. There hasn't been a revolution in our sex life, it's maybe once a month now, but that is still progress. We are working on doing our bedroom up so it's a bit of a haven (with a lock on the door!) but not got round to it yet, probably for our 10th anniversary! Reading a book called 'Just do it' where a couple have sex 100 nights in a row. It is funny and for me, (as a woman), just broke the ice a bit on the whole subject and it does totally cement the idea that sex leads to emotional intimacy (not just comes from it). I think really 'getting' the idea of how important sex is, and how you don't always need to be 'in the mood' helps. Although we are still way off where I'd like to be in our sex life, I do believe we will get there.

Believe me, it is not anything you are doing wrong, but from a woman's point of view after having children your self esteem goes down, focussing on yourself goes down, focussing on your marriage goes down so of course your sexual activity goes down. I'm sure your wife wants to feel closer to you even if she doesn't equate it to having more sex (maybe she does though). You need to have a really good chat about this.

Keepithidden Wed 07-Aug-13 08:13:48

I didn't think this thread would still be alive!

Hototboilanegg - Not going to judge you, but I'd rather be in/out than be in you situation. If I or DW had an affair I can imagine it would be very easy for it to go from "just" sex. Marriage shouldn't be dutiful in my book, or unhappy. If it is then it needs to be fixed or ended as far as I'm concerned. The problem is figuring out how to fix it, or plucking up the courage to end it.

Glenshee - DW and I talked a bit about medical issues, she knows I have low self esteem and a generally fragile ego (stereotypical male really), and I know she's got very poor body image and self confidence. I've mentioned seeking help, both with marriage counselling, and individual counselling, but I think she believes these are last-resort options. I'm working on persuading her differently though. I haven't suggested depression or seeking advice from a GP, I'm hopeful that if we get to the counselling stage then the counsellor may suggest investigating this avenue. At least with a third party suggesting it there's likely to be more of an incentive to consider it.

Hiumoutdoors - I'm glad the thread has been helpful for you and DW, I wish I had the guts to show my DW. She'd be very upset at some of the stuff I've related though and probably get me sectioned...!

MerryMarigold - Thanks for your words, you echo what another poster has said in this thread and they give me hope for the future. For what it's worth we are showing more affection to each other since I started looking for support on MN. The talking thing is something she struggles with and I'm looking at different ways to encourage her to open up a bit more.

I've been reading a lot of self help stuff recently too, there is a wealth of material in this market and the approaches recommended do vary quite dramatically. It has made me a lot more introspective and aware of my own behaviour which can only be a good thing really, but when trying to apply some of the methods and techniques to other peoples behaviour (not just DW) it is a bit more hit-and-miss. People are so complicated and when there's two (or more) in any given relationship a few hundred pages of words seems a bit lacking when trying to describe the reasoning behind behaviour/communication. It makes me wonder why we bother being social animals at all sometimes.

I've also been looking at options of possible seperation and have come to the conclusion that we could survive on my wage with me moving out and DW remaining with DCs. It's not something I think is likley to happen but I figured it's probably a good idea to cover all possible scenarios. At least I know now that they will all be financially secure if our Mmarriage does fail.

MerryMarigold Wed 07-Aug-13 09:19:57

Keepithidden. The way you describe you and your DW sounds very similar to myself and dh. I have been on antidepressants for 6 years (apart from pregnancy) and have finally come off - very gradually. I have sometimes wondered if they could help him as they did wonders for me at the time I needed them. Will see how it goes. I am willing to go back on, but have been off for about 6 months now. We are actually very different in our depressive tendencies (I am more very up and down, and he is more constantly a bit down!).

Glad you are making good progress. I wouldn't recommend communicating to your wife that you have thought through separation and it could work. Speaking as myself, I would be devastated, and even if you said it was unlikely the fact you'd thought it all through properly and financially would really upset me. (But I am not your DW). I also think the issues need sorting, as they will just follow both of you into any new relationships.

I do recommend the Just Do It book as it's really funny and dry (even though it's American!!). Sometimes when things are too emotionally intense, it can be draining and you just need a good laugh to lighten everything up. Nothing makes me feel more like sex than a good laugh with dh. Do sort things out, but have some down time in between which is just the 2 of you, not talking about sex or marriage, but just being with each other.

Keepithidden Wed 07-Aug-13 09:41:06

Thanks Merry, yet another book to add to my reading list! When Wifework arrived from Amazon DW said to me "But I like being a SAHP, I don't want to go back to work*", I thought that reaction was quite sad. Will have to get her to read it.

*Interesting that she doesn't view Parenting as work, I do, it's a lot harder than going out and being a wage slave!

I'm not going to mention I've been thinking about the seperation angle, I was considering using it as an argument that we could afford childminder/cleaner or similar at one point. I.e. a bit of an ultimatum - Either I leave or we spend the money that I would be spending on rent on getting some help around the house/with the DCs to give you (DW) a break. I think that would be very counter-productive though and the focus would be on the negatives rather than positives.

Branleuse Wed 07-Aug-13 09:54:45

I havent read the entire thread, but what strikes me is the lack of affection.
I think having an emotional connection as a couple and taking pleasure in each others company is vital. I think this is going to be a journey for you. Just getting back into having sex isnt going to be enough.

Can you get any time away from your children. A weekend away together?

MerryMarigold Wed 07-Aug-13 09:59:20

I wouldn't get too hung up on her use of words. I am a SAHM. And yes it is hard work, but I wouldn't use the word 'Work' to describe it since I don't get a salary or have a boss (No the kids are NOT my boss!), plus the word 'Work' has all sorts of connotations to others. I'd rather use SAHM because it says what it is. I think I need to buy that book for DH though as it is my life's mission to make him realise that it is hard graft and that he only ever has the kids WITH me at the weekends or for a few hours (has has put them to bed the past 2 nights as I have been out).

MerryMarigold Wed 07-Aug-13 10:00:41

If you suggested a cleaner would you really need to justify it financially? I am permanently trying to convince dh to let me have a cleaner!!!

Keepithidden Wed 07-Aug-13 10:08:51

Thanks Branleuse - Lack of affection was flagged up pretty early on in this thread, and by both DW and I for that matter. It's been something we've both been working on over the past month or so, an improved sex life should hopefully follow. I suspect there are a few other issues too, but lack of affection is the most obvous at the moment.

Time away from DCs would be great, but DW is not comfortable leaving them with someone she doesn't know for evenings, so a weekend away is a no-go for a few years yet. We have no family/friends we can ask to babysit and DW is reluctant to use Agencies/Childminders, hence my considering the ultimatum in my previous post.

Keepithidden Wed 07-Aug-13 10:43:25

If you suggested a cleaner would you really need to justify it financially?

Yes, DW tends to be the more thrifty in our relationship. Although I think the bigger concern is having an "unknown" come in to the house to clean though. I think DW views it as a bit of an invasion of her/our privacy. Maybe I have more faith in the professional behaviour of cleaners than she does!

Numberlock Wed 07-Aug-13 21:22:59

'DW' really does hold all the cards doesn't she. Doesn't like this, won't do that... I'd love to meet her in real life to get the measure of her.

Keepithidden Wed 07-Aug-13 21:28:19

Yep Numberlock, but as you may have guessed I am weak.

arsenaltilidie Wed 07-Aug-13 21:29:42

Because DW doesnt want to work on things, the OP is fighting a losing battle.

Darkesteyes Wed 07-Aug-13 21:33:37

Keepithidden i am honestly not trying to be hurtful here but it does read like shes making excuses. I agree with Numberlock.

I picked up this months Psychologies today and it does have section on sex therapy in there (September issue)

Darkesteyes Wed 07-Aug-13 21:34:26

Keepit You sound like a great guy. You deserve more.

Keepithidden Wed 07-Aug-13 21:49:14

Well, everyone knows you only get one side of the story with these threads. No doubt a different spin would be put on things from someone elses POV. Try not to judge my wife. Probably time to go now.

Glenshee Wed 07-Aug-13 22:14:17

I've mentioned seeking help, both with marriage counselling, and individual counselling, but I think she believes these are last-resort options.

A lot of people take up marriage counseling as a last resort option, and often at this point it is too late, and the relationship is no longer fixable.

Same with depression - if you diagnose it too late, your treatment options are much more aggressive. Why would you want to be in this position?

Could she simply be afraid that by suggesting these options you actually mean this is now the last resort / crisis point, so by declining these suggestions she is seeking re-assurance that everything's alright?

Glenshee Wed 07-Aug-13 22:18:33

If you both want to improve your relationship yet despite best efforts the result is not satisfactory, then surely:
1) something else is going on (mild depression, other health issues, affair etc),
2) you need external help to deal with it (as you both are trying but your methods/strategies are not working).

Glenshee Wed 07-Aug-13 22:20:18

Also from your last posts it seems like you are holding back quite a lot, and if that's your overall strategy (with the view to not upset DW too much), then this may breed all sorts of misunderstandings and also needs attention.

Glenshee Wed 07-Aug-13 22:21:04

MerryMarigold - thanks for sharing!

Darkesteyes Wed 07-Aug-13 23:15:51

Keepithidden Im really sorry if any of my posts upset you but im further down this road than you are and (although i do realise i can only go by whats been posted) i can see similar avoidance tactics that ive experienced.

Numberlock Thu 08-Aug-13 22:14:08

Well, everyone knows you only get one side of the story with these threads. No doubt a different spin would be put on things from someone elses POV. Try not to judge my wife. Probably time to go now.

I don't think people are being overly judgemental but it's hard to understand why you're so protective of her and eager to make excuses for her, at the expense of your own happiness.

MerryMarigold Thu 08-Aug-13 22:30:26

As long as there is progress, I don't think 2 people (just because they are married) can be in exactly the same place (emotionally speaking) at the same time. Perhaps she is not 'ready' just yet. It's likely that if she is more involved with the kids, she is less focussed on the marriage at the moment. But it does seem to be beginning to change. OP, you sound patient and committed. It doesn't mean you have to completely accept the status quo, but it does mean you need to take people where they're at and encourage them to move - not browbeat them into it.

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