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DW - She's just not that in to me.

(162 Posts)
Keepithidden Wed 25-Sep-13 09:01:14

Hello, back again for more useful advice from the nest of vipers! I had a previous thread on here whinging about my lack of sex life with DW and got a vast amount of very useful advice from a range of viewpoints. As ever in these situations it’s taken me a few months to process and take heed of that advice (and read all the recommended literature), but now I have I’m back for more.

So, quick potted history. DW and me been married five years, together before that for five. Two DCs ages 2 and 4. Limited sex life since DCs came along so thought I’d come here for advice a few months back. Made an effort to be more appreciative, attentive and physically affectionate (without pressure for anything more) and was happy for a time. DTD a couple of times at DWs instigation, got knocked back a few times and have realised that it was basically pity sex and I feel a bit sh*t now.

I have tried to talk about it a few times but without much success DW is quite reserved and when I suggested counselling last time I broached the subject it ended in tears, she said she didn’t want to lose me and assumed counselling was a precursor to divorce. Looking back I think she may have been thinking about the impacts of a split, rather than losing me personally, I’m confident I can support her and DCs and live elsewhere though so I don’t think that’ll be an issue.

Anyway, all this means I think she probably doesn’t see me as a romantic prospect anymore, we still get on well, good friends even affectionate with hugs and kisses, but sex feels forced and lonely (for me anyway). She deserves better and I’m not happy with the status quo, so I reckon we’ll be heading for a split soon. I don't see why this can’t be amicable and why co-parenting can’t work out well, but I still love her, I still want her as my wife and I want to try and emotionally detach myself from these feelings to enable the split to be amicable and with as little pain as possible. Any words of wisdom/advice/experiences of similar would be welcome.

OvertiredandConfused Wed 25-Sep-13 09:29:26

Not sure I have much practical advice, but didn't want to read and run.

Can you sit down with her and say what you've posted - all of it, but especially the last part?

Hope someone wiser is along soon.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 25-Sep-13 09:31:07

These things are always complex. The problem with reserved people who can't or won't communicate about this kind of thing is that you can't understand their motives or feelings, let alone address them. I can't work out from what you've written here in the past if she's gone off you or gone off sex or is having a personal crisis, has lost confidence or what... and neither can you, clearly. It sounds as though she is very insecure if she equates 'counselling' with 'a split'. OTOH you say you're affectionate with each other.... which suggests something (mental? physical?) is blocking the transition from that to actual sex.

Unfortunately, sex is something that gets worse the more you analyse it. When one person is unhappy about the amount of sex they're getting - even if they say nothing at all - and the other is aware of that unhappiness, it becomes the elephant in the room. Spontaneity is lost, the pressure is on, it's impossible to relax, sex feels contrived and artificial and every bed-time becomes anxiety-making.

I don't really know what to suggest but splitting up when you clearly care about each other seems a shame.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 25-Sep-13 10:10:19

BTW... every time you try to fix this - talking, counselling, whatever - I think all she's hearing is 'If you don't have more sex with me, I'm leaving'.

Ehhn Wed 25-Sep-13 10:31:43

I posted on your other post with my story.

I think you may have to consider a separation. Your sense of isolation, loneliness and unhappiness emanate through the post. That is no life for you and I'm sure you can't face living like this until the kids grow up.

Better an amicable split with honour, respect and dignity both sides than one or other ends up in an emotional or sexual affair to satisfy a natural human need. You sound like a really decent man and you will take the honorable route.

Norudeshitrequired Wed 25-Sep-13 10:38:24

Does she reach orgasm when you have sex?
Unsatisfying sex is terrible and a real turn off as being left frustrated is .....frustrating.

Do you help out much with the children and around the house?
If your wife is doing all the children's bedtime stuff then she might be peed off by the time it comes to your bedtime and feel sex is just one more evening chore to add to her list.

Is she depressed or low in mood?
Depression has a terrible impact on libido.

The reason she isn't into sex might not be related to how much she does / doesn't love you. You need to establish why she isn't into having sex and work on that. Counselling isn't the answer for everyone, especially if she isn't the open book type.

VivaLeThrustBadger Wed 25-Sep-13 10:48:57

So have you only been making the effort to be more appreciative of her in the last few months? It's not clear from your OP?

If so then its probably going to take longer.....without her feeling pressured for sex.

My dh spent years ignoring me when dd was little, still does really. Off with his mates, doing his own thing, refuses to come on holiday with me and dd, shows me no affection unless he wants sex, never wines and dines me and is then amazed that we only have sex about once a year.

If dh made more of an effort, if I felt he was more committed to me then I'd be in a better frame of mind to consider having sex with him.

I also followed your other thread, and wish I had the miracle cure for you. You sound very sincere and caring. I have no idea what you should do, but I couldn't imagine staying in a marriage like the one you describe, because my confidence would be eroded in no time. I would feel undesirable and like DH's sister, not wife. Sad for you both.

Dahlen Wed 25-Sep-13 11:02:11

Unless your DW takes the invitation to open up and talk about this, there's very little you can do other than accept the inevitable - a marriage without sex or separation.

I think if you've reached the stage where you definitely believe that her worries about splitting are more about coping practically and financially than they are about losing you, and if you feel sex is just 'pity sex' sad, it's over, isn't it. I'm sorry.

There may be deep-rooted issues behind your DW's lack of desire. Something may have happened you are unaware of. It may be something that isn't to do with you at all. But unless she opens up to you and wants to fix it, you can only go on the assumption that she no longer loves you in that way, though I'm sure she loves you in other ways.

It's all terribly sad and I'm really sorry.

Keepithidden Wed 25-Sep-13 11:11:34

Oh dear, I knew I should've explained myself a bit better. Okay, will try to address the points:

'If you don't have more sex with me, I'm leaving'

Yeah, I thought this too, I've tried talking to her about it in as many different ways as possible reassuring her that there is no pressure. Taking any sex out of the agenda. Asking her what she'd like, how my behaviour has impacted on her, what she likes, doesn't like, how she feels etc. But I guess at the back of all of it is "he's only doing this to get laid". I can't seem to get through to her that I don't just want to get laid, I want sex with her and (most importantly) for her to enjoy it as much as me. Anything else is going to cause the problems that we're now facing and which now I don't think can be resolved. Don't know what other approach to try really...

Norude - She orgasms most times, occassionally not. Yes, I help out with the children and around the house, although "helping" out is not a term I like to use after being a frequent visitor here! I do my share in all aspects (I explained a bit more in my prvious thread about housework/childcare arrangements, was recommended Wifework and took heed of more advice from there).

Depressed, not sure. Low mood, occassionally. Small DCs tend to make life a bit of an emotional rollercoaster anyway.

Viva - Yes, more appreciative. Though the keyword is "more". We were both guilty of being parents and neglecting DH/DW relations, we have both been trying to work on this. She has not been pressured for sex for years, I've made that mistake in the past and learnt from it. Of course this does mean that the marriage had no sex for years, which is the cause of my current feelings.

Your DH sounds a bit of an arse. I go to the pub with a friend once every couple of months. I don't go on holiday alone. I don't show affection then expect sex.

Most of this stuff has been raised in my previous thread so I'm sorry if I haven't replied in more detail.

Keepithidden Wed 25-Sep-13 11:15:01

Dahlen, MissTickles - Thanks for your condolences. I'm starting the grieving process I think. Just wondered if anyone had any ideas how to make it easier, and for the fallout to not affect us (DW and DCs) too badly.

Also on how to explain it to DW. Though I think she must know. It's not going to be a good conversation to have.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 25-Sep-13 11:20:30

"I guess at the back of all of it is "he's only doing this to get laid". "

But it's true. Your very next words are 'I want sex with her'. When sex is the objective and you have an 'approach' ... no matter how gently or thoughtfully you dress it up ... it becomes the elephant in the room I mentioned earlier. It's an impasse that, as Dahlen said earlier, means you either accept a sexless marriage or it's over.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 25-Sep-13 11:26:25

"Also on how to explain it to DW. "

"More in sorrow than in anger". You say you love and respect her but that you've come to realise that you're incompatible sexually and, whilst you originally thought it was something you could ignore and live with, you can't carry on the same way because it's causing you so much unhappiness and her so much distress. Make sure she realises this is not some type of ultimatum and that there's no-one else in the picture. Have some ideas about where you're going to live and how you'll be continuing to support the family.

Keepithidden Wed 25-Sep-13 11:27:27

Cog, you're right.

Keepithidden Wed 25-Sep-13 11:28:10

It just sounds so selfish though.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 25-Sep-13 11:31:23

There's a difference between 'selfish' and 'self-preservation'. Selfish would be to go out tomorrow, fix yourself up with a flat and an OW, argue the toss over maintaining your children, blame the DW for everything and generally act like a twat.... Self-preservation sometimes means making tough decisions.

Yougotbale Wed 25-Sep-13 11:37:37

I reckon you have done enough. You have tried every avenue. She seems unwilling to open up, very frustrating. I'd probably start looking to a different future. You deserve a better relationship than this. Aleast you tried. Good luck

Glenshee Wed 25-Sep-13 13:29:52

As someone in the same boat as your DW I’m sad to hear you decided to call it a day.

I read you previous thread, as well as this one, and it is still difficult to tell whether the problem lies with your DW being unresponsive to your needs or your expectations being utterly unrealistic. You mentioned in your earlier thread that you spent a weekend away and it worked wonders. Could this mean that under the right circumstances and without the usual pressures of a family life, you are actually doing well? Could it be that your desire to have frequent sex is not incompatible with your DW as a person, but rather incompatible with having a young family, and being at a different lifestage than you were 5 years ago?

Have you considered exploring whether you could be depressed yourself? You don’t sound happy. It could be that you’re unhappy because of your relationship issues, or it could be the other way around – that you are unhappy generally, with not getting what you want from life, and the relationship suffers as a result.

You said your DW wouldn't go to Relate, but you can still benefit from counseling by going on your own. One of the areas Relate deals with on a daily basis is amicable separation. Why not ask a professional how to go about it sensibly, rather than (or in addition to) us MN-netters?

DuelingFanjo Wed 25-Sep-13 13:47:26

you are doing the right thing to split because the sex means much more to you than the marriage and clearly she isn't able to live up to the expectations you have. Good for you for doing the right thing.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 25-Sep-13 13:59:40

Ouch Duelling... Sex may mean more to the OP than the marriage and he may have certain expectations but the DW has surely decided something similar.. her own priorities and expectations?

onyerbike Wed 25-Sep-13 14:11:56

Maybe your dw needs some space to help her get clarity. If she suspects everything you're trying is just for sex then she's still right fighting with you, despite your best intentions.
On the other hand some people (not just women ), quite enjoy the control the constant "need to please" the other person in the relationship has. I'm not saying your wife is doing this deliberately, but if she won't go to counselling and you've done all you say then i don't see you have any option other than leaving.
Do not leave on the hope that it will change her feelings for you and she will magically feel differently. Leave because you deserve more as does she.
You have to be prepared for the fact that once you leave and she may realise (once her fears aleviate), that she can go on and that she just didn't love you enough to work on it.

Either way something needs to change for you.

CoffeeAndScones Wed 25-Sep-13 14:12:17

"sex means more than the marriage" sounds a little harsh. I doubt the OP would be happy to 'exchange' all the other things in his marriage for nothing other than sex (in and of itself). Isn't it that he might wish for a meaningful relationship WITH sex, not either/or?

casacastille Wed 25-Sep-13 14:19:33

Until now she has probably had no motivation to seek help or self-help to rekindle her libido. Why would she, when she doesn't miss sex?

So the conversation might be her motivation. The very real threat of losing you, thereby leaving you free to find someone else, might be enough.

Would you be happy with that outcome?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 25-Sep-13 14:21:14

You can't threaten someone into sex casacastille. Imagine if the OP says 'I'm going' and the DW were to desperately offer him a night of passion to get him to stay. He'd feel like a total shit.

Mosman Wed 25-Sep-13 14:21:27

Sex is a huge part of marriage though, part of my decision to split was that I couldn't bear to have sex with him but couldn't bear not to have sex again so it's a no brainer isn't it ?

casacastille Wed 25-Sep-13 14:31:53

No I don't mean threaten her into instant sex!

I mean it could push her into realising that the situation is critical and there might be something she too could do to help address this misery. Seek help, or self-help, I mean.

Showing her H that she takes his desire for sex as seriously as he takes her lack of interest in it. Then they can seek solutions together.

DuelingFanjo Wed 25-Sep-13 14:37:53

"Ouch Duelling... Sex may mean more to the OP than the marriage and he may have certain expectations but the DW has surely decided something similar.. her own priorities and expectations?"

yes I agree.

they have different priorities and he really wants more sex than he is getting, or better sex, and it's not happening so it's good that he has realised that and decided to leave rather than put more pressure onto his wife to do something she doesn't want to do (She's quite happy I think).

No point going round and round the bush if the alternatives to the status quo are too difficult to either of them. better that someone makes a decision and ends the relationship.

Glenshee Wed 25-Sep-13 14:42:10

I’m confident I can support her and DCs and live elsewhere though so I don’t think that’ll be an issue.

All well and good - but only until you get a new family at which point your priorities will change (if not before then).

ChelseaBun Wed 25-Sep-13 15:13:24

Hi Keephidden, I was your wife many years ago although we didn't have kids.

I guess I really wasn't that into him but I was too scared of the upheaval it would cause to our lives if I ended it. I loved him as a friend and I thought we could toodle along happily but my DH wasn't happy. And I saw the change in him and he admitted he'd lost his confidence - something I still feel guilty about.

He met someone else and although he didn't physically cheat, she gave him hope for the future and he ended things with me. Although I was angry, I didn't try to win him back - my heart wasn't in it, I made a few half hearted comments about still loving him. But I knew I would never fancy him again and I let him go.

If I'd really wanted the two of us to stay together, I could have fought for him and I'm pretty sure I could have talked him round. I just knew it wasn't fair to keep him when I just didn't have those feelings. A year later I met someone who floated my boat and I realised I hadn't lost my libido, I just stopped fancying my ex and no amount of weekends away or sexy lingerie made any kind of difference - we did try.

Ending it was the right thing for him to do and he and I have a platonic friendship to this day.

So there's two things for you to take note of - breaking up especially with young kids is incredibly sad and scary for both parents, but it can be the right thing to do. And two, if she is seriously still in love with you and not just the safe lifestyle you have together, she will fight for this marriage if you make it clear you are too young to continue living like this.

onlytheonce Wed 25-Sep-13 17:21:23

I'm in the same boat. I don't have any advice I'm afraid. A the moment I'm carrying on with it, and we seem to be happy enough. One conclusion I've come to is that whatever your relationship status you are responsible for your own happiness. So I'm looking out for myself, and doing things for myself more. Who knows, maybe becoming more of my own person again will mean I am more attractive to her, but if it doesn't then that's fine.

At the moment even if we split up I don't think I would want another relationship. I don't want more kids (which would rule out the majority of women without kids) and getting into a relationship with someone else with kids just seems like it would be very awkward.

So whilst I wouldn't say I'm happy with the situation, I'm OK with it for the moment. Who knows, in 1, 2 or 10 years time I might be completely fed up and look back on this time and think I should have got out earlier but that's a risk I'm going to take.

Darkesteyes Wed 25-Sep-13 17:37:09

Hi Keepithidden I was on your previous thread and am in the same boat too. I had an affair a few years back.

Ive recently started back at Slimming World and rediscovered excsersise and have lost 6 and a half pounds.
Its made me feel a bit better about myself but as the weight comes off im going to have more confidence and my sex drive will probably increase. But this is something i am doing for myself. But i already know weight loss wont make a diffrence to DH A ten stone loss didnt make any diffrence and thats not the reason i did it.
Its not just sex though Its affection and the intimacy that surrounds it. I miss that so much.

Keepithidden Wed 25-Sep-13 21:17:10

Thanks for the advice folks, please keep it coming.

Glenshee - You gave me a bit of hope in my last thread, and you're right I haven't given it much time. Yet I can feel myself resenting the situation, I can see my behaviour changing and feel powerless to change how I react to things: I can't watch sex scenes on TV with DW without getting upset and having to leave the room to hide how I feel. I don't want to get to the stage where I resent my situation so much it creates a toxic environment for DW and DCs.

RE: the new family, I've had the snip so there will be no new family created. I feel the same as onlytheonce, I can't see myself starting a new relationship. The old story of being "better lonely alone, than lonely in a marriage" thing I suppose. Anyway, I know my responsibilities and I know they'll be there for the next few decades at least, I have a family, that's never going to go away now.

Darkest - I remember your story, I wish I had your strength. I read your post before heading back home from work and spent a long time thinking about what I missed about sex. You're right, it isn't the act itself, it's the bonding and intimacy I miss. Also I suppose the validation (or should that be ego massage?), the knowledge that I'm worth more than being a provider, a father to the DCs and a flatmate/friend. Is it wrong to feel emotionally needed? When I "scratch the itch" it's always preceded and superceded by a loneliness despite the catharsis of the pure bodily function. I hate feeling like that, it makes me feel... ...I can't really put it into words, but the thought brings a lump to my throat.

This is turning into a really self-pitying post isn't it! Good job I don't know any of you in RL!

Someone else mentioned depression for me. Could be I suppose. I'm planning on starting the relate email counselling myself asap. Not sure if I should tell DW, I fear the reaction would be counterproductive. It's so much easier to write what I feel to someone/people who are anonymous than facing the reality. It's a bullet that needs to be bitten soon though.

Lazyjaney Wed 25-Sep-13 21:28:09

OP I doubt the situation will change unless you start to make it clear it has to change, there is no reason for your DW to make any changes as things stand.

It may be painful to change, but you wont get where you want to be carrying on what youve been doing.

TBH in my experience most people in your shoes would have an affair, but if you don't want that you are going to have to start being clear about what you do want.

There comes a time....

Keepithidden Wed 25-Sep-13 21:36:03

Oh I know lazyjaney, I've been sidetracked a bit in wallowing a pool of my own self pity! I was originally asking for ideas on emotionally disengaging to allow me to move on without causing too much grief/fallout.

perfectstorm Wed 25-Sep-13 21:40:35

Nothing to add except that I'm so sorry you're in this situation - all of you, really.

I disagree that sex matters more to you than the marriage. Sex is an inherent part of the marriage to a lot of us. That's why cheating hurts so desperately, and rejection like this eats away at you. I can see how that must be for you both and this is better than an affair or years of increasing bitterness.

I do wonder though whether explaining to your wife that the lack of being a couple (no need to emphasise sex as it sounds like what you miss most is the whole package of intimacy, really) is harpooning the relationship and counselling seems the only way to at least try to save it. After all, if she is so scared of counselling because she thinks that means the end of the marriage, that isn't really worse than just leaving, is it.

Counselling can also help you establish how to co-parent and move on amicably.

For what it's worth you sound like a nice person. The whole thing is just really sad for all concerned. Good luck.

Darkesteyes Wed 25-Sep-13 21:50:41

Im a bit further along in that i emotionally detatched a long while ago DH has health problems now and i deal with them in a matter of fact practical way rather than an emotional way I cant even explain it coherently confused

casacastille Wed 25-Sep-13 21:58:50

I feel terribly sad for both of you. If you both love each other and want to stay together, it's a miserable situation to be in.

Whatever you do, please don't go down the affair route. That way even more misery lies.

Glenshee Wed 25-Sep-13 22:45:44


You could try separation, as opposed to divorce, to work out how you feel. Your chances of getting together afterwards are slim, of course, but separation is nevertheless less final, and is easier to agree amicably. Your DW will almost certainly be more receptive to separation, than a divorce.

Unless you want to specifically work on your own issues, you should absolutely tell your DW you're going to Relate. Keeping it hidden is just silly wink It doesn't matter whether her reaction will be counterproductive or not (and what do you mean by that? counterproductive in what way?). Book a session at a time that you think is convenient for you both, tell her that she is welcome to join you, and that the session will likely be much more effective if you're both present. Tell her also that if she's not able to come, for any reason, you will go on your own, because that's better than not going at all.

In fact, going on your own initially will be incredibly helpful for you, because you have a tendency to avoid conflict, and seem to have a problem confronting your DW / communicating how you feel accurately (as in the 'sex scenes on TV' scenario - easier to leave the room than talk). So a counseling session with you both present in the room will be extremely hard for you if you are not prepared to put your issues into words accurately, and with confidence. Individual sessions will help you to get there.

If you'd like to learn more about counseling, and how it works try The Road Less Travelled.

One thing to bear in mind with Relate is that it's a person-centered therapy which is very patient-led and focused on you taking full responsibility over your decisions. I find this hard, expensive and time-consuming (would prefer to be given specific advice). There are other types of therapy, such as psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (favoured by NHS), existential therapy etc. But it's good to start somewhere - and Relate isn't a bad place!

Glenshee Wed 25-Sep-13 22:51:32

Ah - you're saying it's email counseling you'll be starting. I missed the 'email' part. Why email? Is this a way to keep it hidden from DW and avoid conflict? Your nickname has a lot to answer for! grin

katykuns Wed 25-Sep-13 23:34:52

Is it literally just the sex? Is everything else good? My gut feeling is that this is just the way life is with very young children. Everything is a challenge and a demand... and so exhausting.
I kinda feel like that perhaps when you said how teary your wife got over the counselling suggestion. That doesn't sound like someone aching to get away from an unfulfilling relationship.
I also agree with Cognito over the idea that everything you try is just an attempt for sex and that is how she will see it. I think until it appears that you no longer desire it (with physical nonsexual affection) will be the only time she will really realise your priorities.
I have a low sex drive, and when dd2 was a very small wasn't interested in DP's existance, let alone sex, but we have conquered a lot of it through communicating exactly how we both feel. Obviously that's the big problem in your situation though. sad

savemefromrickets Wed 25-Sep-13 23:48:31

I've recently told DP I'm starting counselling but only because I felt I should ask his permission to talk about him and the difficult position we are in. It seemed courteous. I'm not, however, telling him the dates and details because I want to have to time digest and mull on things that crop up rather than walk in and be quizzed about them!

I had a partner who went to counselling and told me the days/times. I found it felt awkward knowing our relationship was being discussed at a certain time and it was hard to behave normally when the session was over and he came back. I was either over cool or rolled out the red carpet!

BigFellaThanks Thu 26-Sep-13 00:09:10

What really jumped out at me was when you said your DW got teary at the idea of counselling, saying she didn't want to lose you, but then you later dismiss her feelings as not wanting the upheaval of the separation.

It seems really unfair to your DW, who you admit is reserved - she comes out of her shell, admits to you that she doesn't want to lose you, and you then dismiss her feelings and decide for yourself what they mean?

Why don't you listen to her - promise her that she's not going to lose you as long as you can both work towards a happy future for both of you, together? I also highly recommend a sex therapist. I know people don't rate them but a very dear friend has had her life and relationship transformed by going to see one with her partner.

GeppaGip Thu 26-Sep-13 00:22:21

hmm just a thought but you say your youngest is only 2. did your wife have difficult births or are your toddlers up all night?

its just I had a difficult birth with my first and didn't want much sex after. Two is also young to expect a rampant sex life because women go through many physical and often mental changes having and rearing babies. some women can get back on the horse quickly but many just can't. she is probably hugely resentful too because she can't have her body to herself for a short while.

sorry for dodgy typing. I'm on a phone but your thread made me feel so lucky to have my husband who is understanding about a reduced sex life while we have very little children and about the need for space and support at a very difficult time. I think this scenario is very very common but couples handle it differently.

BigPawsBrown Thu 26-Sep-13 01:24:19

Sex is a reasonable and normal expectation for a relationship. I'd say you're leaving unless you get counselling about the all of intimacy, either just her or both of you.

BigPawsBrown Thu 26-Sep-13 01:24:30

Lack not all

Keepithidden Thu 26-Sep-13 08:20:45

Back again.

Glenshee - Interesting idea about seperation. I'm not sure what it would achieve. Although it would stop any toxic atmosphere being created at home if I wasn't around.

The counselling would be for my benefit primarily, I know I have issues with communication that I need to work on. I suspect there's probably a few other bits and piecies in my psyche that could do with being aired too. Maybe relationship counselling isn't the right type. When I said "counterproductive" I meant what Cog alluded to earlier about the elephant in the room. If I mention it to DW it will probably just be viewed as another attempt to kick start our sexlife. I want to avoid all mention of that at the moment, anything related to problems in our marriage is going to be viewed of in this respect so I figure it's best to keep it hidden. Yes, email was an attempt to keep it as low key as possible, a way to work on my issues without involving her. Also, I'm finding it a lot easier to type how I feel than I would to speak face-to-face. Does anyone have any experience of Relates e-mail counselling service? I guess they take into account the difficulties of the communication method (lack of non verbal cues and all that)?

Thanks for the book recommendation too, will check it out. I don't know much about counselling, but it seems to be highly recommended on MN.

Katy - I don't believe that DW feels the relationship is unfulfiling. I'm reasonably confident she's happy with the status quo. The problem is the status quo won't stay that way. It's like you say, I don't think she's been that bothered about my existance I don't know how long I'm expected to continue in this way.

BigFella - I'm not sure I have dismissed her feelings, I've been trying to understand the reasons behind them and I'm not convinced they're the same as my feelings for her. Of course I'm reading between the lines so could be well wide of the mark (ref: communication issues earlier in this post). I struggle to make myself understood without her taking automatically taking the blame. In this case for example, I know it's me at fault. If she's happy with her life and I'm not then it's me who has the issue, it's me who has to figure out what choices I have and then make them. If I tried to talk about it then I'm certain she would blame herself, when there is nothing wrong with her, it's just we aren't compatable.

Geppa - Yes, difficult births, toddlers not up all night. I understand about the reduced sex life. I've read enough threads on MN about it all, after conception of DS it was eighteen months before we DTD again, DW conceived the second time we did! Then it was eighteen months again, since then well, here I am asking for advice... does sound so petty when I type it out, keeping tabs on the number of times we're intimate, it should be spontaneous, fun and enjoyable, but it seems such a big issue in my head. That's why I know something is wrong with us or rather me.

AgathaF Thu 26-Sep-13 08:55:15

Your marriage to me doesn't sound that much different to lots of relationships where there are young children, and in fact it sounds better than lots.

You say you are good friends, get on well, are affectionate with hugs and kisses. That sounds pretty positive really, although I understand it is not enough for you without fulfilling sex.

As someone said upthread though, it does seem a shame to end what is in effect a reasonable relationship, that may well become more sexual as the children grow older and your DW starts to feel the demands of them less.

You mention preferring the idea of being lonely on your own, to lonely within the marriage, yet to me you don't sound that lonely within your marriage. Not if you get on, chat, are affectionate. You have said you don't particularly want a new relationship. Lonely nights on your own watching tv night after night sound infinitely worse than where you are now (I realise that you will get out and see friends, have hobbies etc, but still...).

You seem afraid of starting joint counselling with your DW as she sees it as the start point of separating. Yet if you are going to separate anyway (and you will have to tell her that) then what's the harm in giving it a go. It might help or it might not, but at least you will both know that you have tried that final thing to make it work and air your issues.

Lazyjaney Thu 26-Sep-13 09:23:46

I don't think this is anywhere near "not much different"to most others.

There was a thread in Chat (I think) when I first joined MN a few months back, about how soon couples went back to having sex after childbirth. The vast majority were well in the saddle after 6 months, a year was a real outlier and tended to be due to bad tears or other health problems.

I think if it's this long, then strong communication by both partners is essential for any relationship to have a good chance of lasting.

I agree that the OP should probably insist on joint counselling, arguing it is to prevent separation, not to cause it.

Lweji Thu 26-Sep-13 10:20:28

What struck me the most was that you thought the sex you did get was pity sex and that she wasn't into it, even though she initiated it.

Why was that?

I wonder if you are projecting your worries, rather than what is really happening.

Have you talked to her about how she felt during those sessions?

probablyhadenough Thu 26-Sep-13 11:31:07

OP - I think there is more hope here than you suspect. It does sound as if you are (understandably) feeling sorry for yourself and maybe being overly negative.

You feel rejected - which isn't nice - but the facts are she initiated sex a couple of times, cried at the thought of separation and you generally get on pretty well. These years are hard, she probably doesn't feel completely herself in many ways. But she obviously cares that you stay together - and I think it is unnecessarily negative to suggest this is just due to the practicalities of being alone.

The thought of breaking up is probably terrifying for her, particularly over something she feels she has little control over. You definitely should have counselling. You both need to face up to the issues that might be involved and that can only be done with proper, mediated talking IMHO. Try and be really positive about how much you want to stay together and reassure her that counselling is absolutely not a precursor to separation but a real effort at avoiding it. Try and suspend the hurt and the negativity for a while and make her feel safe and able to trust. You may well find that it all improves....

comingintomyown Thu 26-Sep-13 11:59:07

I dont have any better advice than has been given

I will say I had a long period in my marriage where xh hardly wanted sex and it took over in my head and as you say watching sex scenes on TV etc was excruciating. If you havent been in those shoes it is hard to understand the depth of feelings of rejection and misery of this. In my case no more than 3 weeks or so would go by I doubt I could have handled 18 months.

I have gone through divorce from said xh and that was no picnic either but now I am through all that I am a happy content person with no huge shadows over me. I should add sex was nothing to do with our divorce though as bizarrely that righted itself after a few years.

We divorced amicably and whilst arent friends as such we have frequent contact over our DC with no problems. We were fortunate enough to have a scenario you say you are confident of having which was enough money to provide well for all of us.

I am single and have been almost 4 years and dont give sex any thought really because I have no expectation of it iyswim ? Its very very different to infrequent/non existent sex in a relationship.

Keepithidden Thu 26-Sep-13 12:42:35

Lweji - It felt like pity sex to me because the times it has occured were around birthdays and valentines day, almost like gifts. Another time she initiated because she thought "I needed cheering up". They don't seem to me to be because she wanted it.

I have asked her outright if she felt pressurised by me into it. She claims not. I'm not sure why I asked, it was one of the times she didn't climax so that's probably why I thought I'd broken a boundary (I'm a bit hypersensitive to that after some of the literature I've read).

I've been knocked back enough times before so I doubt she'd bow to any pressure I exert consciously or unconsciously anyway.

Comingintomyown - Thank you for your experience. I definitely see what you mean. I'm not looking for someone else, I'm not looking for sex elsewhere I just want to be out of this situation where I'm expecting something that's unlikely to happen.

May be I am expecting too much, there is no relationship template to use to assess whether any given one is normal after all. Happiness seems to be the only scale to measure it by. May be this is as good as it gets.

probablyhadenough Thu 26-Sep-13 13:02:27

No this is not as good as it gets! It must be miserable for you both and very lonely. But that doesn't mean that it isn't very common as a phase that you need to get through. You can only make it better by facing the issues courageously and as someone else implied, not keeping things hidden any more.

I may have missed it, but has your sex life ever been more fulfilling than this? That must be important surely?

And I feel a bit sorry for your dw really - having her ability to climax assessed like that (even if you did it privately). Just because she didn't come once, doesn't mean it was pity sex! I really think you are over-reading and over-analysing (and I say this as someone 100% guilty of the same!). It is good to try to change things by thinking them through, but sometimes it adds extra pressure to a situation that may already be too charged. She is probably very aware that you are wondering whether you can stick with this situation. Suspend that for a while and commit to making it better with counselling.

One of the problems with being a thinker, is that you may believe you have sussed out the issues. I have done this at times anyway. It can take the experience and compassion of a trained counsellor to show you that you may have missed some important stuff...You have in no way come across as arrogant or a know-it-all but you do sound a bit intense maybe?! Which isn't wildly conducive to relaxed, orgasmic sex.

And btw initiating sex with someone you love because it might cheer them up and you know that is what they want, isn't a bad impulse in my mind. She may not want it herself much at the moment for any number of reasons but seeing you enjoying it (wholeheartedly without fear of analysis) might spark something off. Desire is an odd thing....

probablyhadenough Thu 26-Sep-13 13:19:27

And just to add, I have been really worrying that I wasn't that in to my dh any more. We have had a significant drought and there have been times when I was just going through the motions if I am honest. He has been grumpy and unpleasant and completely unsexy! I had started to think I just didn't fancy him any more and things were spiralling down hill.

I can't even pinpoint what changed really (and it is early days). We are having counselling with a very insightful bloke, I just felt a bit like sex one morning, he was a bit more pleasant than usual (!) - and initiating things was partly an experiment on my part to see if it cheered him up and could break the cycle of misery. So you could say 'pity sex' if you were being negative. But is was great and we basically haven't stopped since. My sex drive seems to have gone a bit mad (I suspect I was really worried that we were doomed and this is a reaction - but I am trying not to over think it!). He is now (jokily) complaining that he is knackered.

So I am hoping it was just a phase for us. It has highlighted how much we need to sort out in counselling though. Sex is very rarely about sex....

Keepithidden Thu 26-Sep-13 15:25:04

Probably - I'm not sure that she's miserable or lonely. Once upon a time our sex life was good. Then marriage and kids came along and the cliched stereotype became a bit more real.

It is a bit clinical my way of viewing things, I would never air these views in public, let alone ascribe them to people who could be recognised. I understand why they appear distasteful though. I was accused of over analysing last time I started a thread here. There's a lot of truth in what you say there.

I really struggle with the idea of sex without one partner wanting it. I know many folk on here don't, but maybe that's another one of the issues I need counselling for.

I'm glad you and your DH are working things through, I think you may have a better handle on your communication skills than me and DW.

Elizabeth22 Thu 26-Sep-13 16:27:09

I read some of your last thread and part of this one (but not all - Sorry) Both have been quite focused on her satisfaction and enjoyment - but the thing that occurred to me that actually it is the other way around. It is actually you (rather than her) who doesn't feel desired or you are the one who isnt relaxing into it and enjoying it for what it is. What if she is perfectly ok with everything, does desire you and is enjoying it - but is now being put off by the fact you are clearly not. Would she respond differently if you appeared to enjoy the experience for itself for yourself rather than being so concerned about her experience? Her performance in bed is clearly not good enough for you - you are not satisfied with it - that's the unintentional message that is being given to her. Ironically, by trying so hard to be selfless - that might be the biggest turn off for her.

probablyhadenough Thu 26-Sep-13 16:27:11

Keepit - you may well not know just how unhappy she is. I wasn't really aware even myself how lonely I was until things got better. You may well both be hurting, just she isn't showing it. I am guessing she is aware how unhappy you are, at least, and that must worry her....

I didn't mean that you discussing orgasms on here was clinical or distasteful btw. Just that your dw probably senses your disappointment - even if you didn't voice it - and I feel a bit sorry for her. I think you may have quite high expectations of this phase of your life. I wonder what percentage of women with a 4 and a 2 year old are massively on for sex? Mostly they are exhausted and desperate to regain some of their old self. You are maybe not going to get the sort of wholehearted, passion filled sex you want at the moment. But it might well happen again, even soon.

You are right IMO to feel unsure about sex with someone who doesn't want it. But are you sure she 100% doesn't? There are many grades and stages of wanting it. I could easily have not jumped on my dh a couple of weeks ago and let pass the brief moment of desire! I couldn't honestly say that I was desperate for sex with him on that occasion - it was more an chemical need for someone combined with not actively disliking him. I haven't said that to him, of course! But then the following time, I really did feel a connection and since then it has been completely wholehearted and passionate. What I am saying is, don't expect the whole puzzle to be finished at once. Small steps with less expectation may help. She may well be up for some okish sex/half-sex for a while and that might lead to something better.

And you made me smile with the communication. My dh and I are dreadful at communication. At the first sign of difficulty he leaves the room or the house. And I am increasingly furious and snippy about everything. Our counsellor despairs at the inevitable response to "How do you discuss x or y". " Er, we don't".

But talking it through for an hour a week has brought down the defences on both sides a bit and made us realise what we have to lose. I would say that would be a good starting point for you two.

perfectstorm Thu 26-Sep-13 16:47:41

^ Once upon a time our sex life was good. Then marriage and kids came along and the cliched stereotype became a bit more real.^

Wait - you had a good sex life before? Because that doesn't sound like incompatibility, in that case. It sounds like it may be temporary.

You know, very tiny kids (and 2 is very tiny) soak up so much in terms of love and touch and closeness, that when my DH used to come home, the last thing I wanted was someone doing what felt like grabbing at my body and encroaching on my space. I was touched out and drained and just wanted time to recharge my emotional batteries. That wasn't him - we have a very good sex life again now DS is almost 5, in fact we've conceived twice in 9 months (sadly lost the 1st; I'm currently pregnant again) despite my being almost 40. If your youngest is just 2 and maybe a bad sleeper, she's very probably just not got anything left in the tank. That's not a rejection of you - that's what tiny kids do. Yet within a year they'll both be in childcare for at least 15 hours a week and she will start to get "her" back.

If you were never sexually compatible, then you have a real problem. If the issue is a temporary dilution of romance because babies, plural, besiege her with their needs... then tbh it's not actually great of you to be prepared to walk when you're almost through this (horrible, absolutely, and I don't mean to dismiss your unhappiness) intimacy drought.

If you really feel that awful about it all, is there a gp or sibling who would be willing and able to take the kids for a week so you can go for a holiday, just the two of you? I realise that may worry you both in terms of the kids' welfare, but parents splitting up is infinitely worse for their welfare. And time alone, where you can sleep and just enjoy one another's company, may remind both of you that there is life post children if you can just hang on in there until they're that tiny bit older.

Darkesteyes Thu 26-Sep-13 17:14:20

Sorry to hear you lost a baby perfectstorm.

probablyhadenough Thu 26-Sep-13 17:18:05

Yep, I second that perfectstorm. A couple of days away, just going for a walk and dinner or whatever. No pressure, no expectation of sex, a lighthearted chat about how impossible it is having 2 small children but how much you want to be with her. Reassurance that everyone feels like this and you absolutely want to stick with it, but feel some counselling will help get things sorted.

It is sad for you OP to feel like this but it is pretty standard IMO for this stage of parenting. Please don't give up!

ExcuseTypos Thu 26-Sep-13 17:27:27

"You seem afraid of starting joint counselling with your DW as she sees it as the start point of separating. Yet if you are going to separate anyway (and you will have to tell her that) then what's the harm in giving it a go. It might help or it might not, but at least you will both know that you have tried that final thing to make it work and air your issues."

I agree with this post. From what I'm reading, you're making a lot of assumptions about what your dw thinks.

You must talk, that's the only way you'll get to know how and what the other is thinking.

probablyhadenough Thu 26-Sep-13 17:34:00

Yes, you are making assumptions OP and that probably isn't helping. I do this - I am convinced that I am thinking through the issues deeply and know what dh does or doesn't feel on the subject. Mostly I decide that he hasn't thought it through himself and doesn't feel much! Our counsellor has pulled me up on it - I translate his behaviour apparently and it is an unhelpful dynamic.

You say she doesn't feel lonely, it is pity sex etc etc. Actually unless you talk you can't know these things.

GeppaGip Thu 26-Sep-13 17:38:02

What perfect storm said. And if you you add difficult births into that mix then that can add significantly to the psychological and physical side of sex. I think that these temporary lulls are what you sign up for when you have kids and I personally find the idea that sex should be on tap at all times of your life, illness, stress, kids or otherwise abhorrant, or there's something wrong with you. And not only that, but to still be offering and it still not be good enough just beggars belief.

Sometimes we don't feel like sex for a while, especially during massive changes in our lives like young children. I don't think when we get married we are made aware of this notional contractual obligation to not only put out non-stop but also, enjoy it too!

At the end of the day, you are in a partnership in your marriage. If you are unhappy, you should leave. But I really can't see a problem here from your wife's side. She is like millions of women all over the world who just had two babies.

Elizabeth22 Thu 26-Sep-13 18:20:23

I agree with GeppaGip.

I also think if your wife had thread telling it from her side, it could be titled "he's just not into me".

You say she's not into you but she tries to please you by offering sex as a special treat for you - it is evident she likes pleasing you, but you are dismissive of this fact - why?

Also, if that's what she enjoys - ie pleasing you, then she's going to be mightily discouraged to have you
focusing so heavily on her enjoyment to the extent you are not enjoying it (by this I include what you say after the event - you saying you think there's a problem and need counselling - ie the sex isn't good enough for you)

She even initiates it but instead of enjoying it - you downgrade it by dismissing it as pity sex.

Sorry but was her performance not convincing/good enough? Why not just enjoy it for what it is?

On top of that she is convinced you are thinking of leaving her. Whatever messages of appreciation you think you are giving her are not getting through to her. In fact, I think you are giving her a very different message: she's not good enough/sexy enough for you.

AgathaF Thu 26-Sep-13 18:46:13

Just to add too, that you said she had a traumatic first birth, then no sex for 18 months. Second sex after first baby then resulted in another pregnancy.

Although the second baby may have been much wanted by both of you, the fact that the second sex after a lull following a traumatic birth resulted in her having to potentially go through the whole birth experience again, may have scarred her more than you, or even she, knows.

She may need help herself to come to terms with her birth experiences. As an ex midwife I am fully aware that many, many women carry the fear and pain they experienced for many years, if not their whole life. Did she have the opportunity to debrief after these events? Do you acknowledge how bad they may have been for her?

She may be utterly terrified of another pregnancy, even though you have had the snip. She may just not be able to get past that mental block just at this time, with young children making constant demands on her time, space, body still.

Of course, that may be nothing to do with it. Counselling may help unravel the thoughts, fears and hopes you both have but are obviously keeping from each other.

Twinklestein Thu 26-Sep-13 19:22:13

OP you say that she doesn't like to talk, but that is the only way through this. You both have to talk to each other.

You say your sex life was fine pre-birth, and two highly possible causes of not wanting to have sex, as have been mentioned, are birth trauma & exhaustion.

The experience of being a mother is to give your body to your children, they're constantly making demands on it, long after BF has stopped, constantly climbing on you wanting 'tummy cuddles' etc. It's like your body doesn't belong to you any more & sex can feel like one more demand at the end of an exhausting day.

A further issue for many women is that their bodies change fundamentally after birth & they may not feel sexy any more, and that can kill their desire.

I'm very vain & sex is really important to me, so I didn't put on much weight during pregnancy & toned up asap afterwards. But friends of mine have found it difficult to click back into their pre-birth body image. One friend doesn't want her H to see her breasts or bum which leads to her avoiding sex, because she's afraid if her H sees them he won't fancy her, but he does fancy her & feels rejected. Paranoia kicks in on both sides, when they just need to communicate.

So - don't presume to read her actions, because without deeper communication you could be completely wrong.

You're making a massive assumption that she's 'just not that into you' when really she could just be exhausted, stressed, traumatised, feeling really unsexy...

Talking to MN, to counsellors on your own, is no substitute for communication in your relationship.

As others have said you need to reassure her that joint counselling is not a prelude to separation but to improve & deepen the relationship you have.

TheBreastmilksOnMe Thu 26-Sep-13 19:47:06

OP- i imagine my dp could have written your post himself. I have been with him 6yrs now, we have 2 small children together, and i really just dont have any desire for sex with him. I love him but have no desire for physical intimacy and could quite happily go without for the rest of our marriage. I feel guilty, guilty, guilty about the way i feel and often think he deserves better. He is a wonderful man, does more than his fair share, is a great father, but the desire just isnt there for me. I havnt been abused, i havnt got deep seated issues i just dont want sex! With him or anyone else! It winds me up that people want to 'fix' me (or any other woman who lacks desire) can people not just accept it's served its purpose, run its course and there's more to life than shagging?

You sound like a good man but i do feel for your wife too. I want to be left alone and just get on with things (life and kids) without being made to feel as though im broken in some way.

Madasabox Thu 26-Sep-13 20:11:15

This probably doesn't help that much OP, but as a parent of a 4 and 2 year old I can say the following: I fancy my DH to death, he is beautiful and gorgeous and lovely, but... we hardly ever have sex because I am exhausted looking after two small children, he is very busy at work/quite stressed. If we do have sex it is great, sometimes I orgasm, sometimes I don't, but I don't care I like the closeness. We pretty much never have sex though. My three closest friends also complain of never having sex with their husbands, they have children a similar age. They all had good sex lives before. My DH and I think that while it is not ideal that we are not rampantly at it, we know we love each other, we know we fancy each other as long as we keep kissing and cuddling and telling each other that we find the other attractive then we will get through this phase and be shagging like somewhat geriatric bunnies at some point soon.
I guess what I am trying to say is that it seems quite extreme to give up on your relationship when it could well be a phase. It sounds like you have had sex maybe what 2/3 times in the last 4/5 months? That might not be enough for you, but it's probably not atypical. I think comparing a pre-children sex life to a post children sex life is not helpful. I think sex is very important in a relationship don't get me wrong, but it would be awful for you to be sitting alone in some flat somewhere, seeing your children only on weekends, seeing your wife perhaps in another relationship in future and then suddenly realise that while you were now able to have all the sex you wanted (either with a string of partners or some conveniently situated partner who doesn't want children/have children) you had given up the companionship, love, affection, friendship and fulfilment of a family life for something which may well pass.

Keepithidden Thu 26-Sep-13 20:36:04

Some interesting stuff there, and probably a lot of it quite true.

In an effort to defend myself though I have seen no evidence that DW is unhappy with things. She gets upset at events outside of our control and displays that without issue. I suppose she could be hiding how she feels about our marriage and me.

I would like to reiterate I'm not expecting the early days of young love all over again, but it seems to me that our relationship is far from normal: from other posts on this board/forum. Is a sexless marriage (by the usual definition <10 times a year) normal?

I also understand, even if I cannot empathise fully, with how and why womens bodies and attitudes change post childbirth. I've spent the last two years reassuring her that I still love her, find her attractive and want to express that by pleasing her and myself sexually. I also know she experienced traumatic births both times around, the second time was unplanned (but neither of us would turn the clock back) which did leave a physical and psychological impact. I've asked her on several occassions totalk to me about this, with little feedback. I've resorted to researching about it on-line and it's certainly a minefield of emotions. She won't let me see her naked, she doesn't accept my reassurances, I have tried many approaches and I'm wondering what there is left to try. The reaction I got to suggesting counselling is probably the last resort. As she suspected.

Elizabeth22 - Your comments really struck me, particularly the "sex as a special treat" it brings to mind an owner giving her pet a treat for doing something good. It's like sex is some kind of commodity. I'm pretty sure this isn't what you meant, but that's how I see it. Nothing to do with performance/good enough, and I'm afraid it is pity sex if she's doing it purely to make me feel good. We both deserve more than that.

TheBreastMilk - I read your post thinking "fair enough, I understand" it's the feelings often expressed on this board by mothers, particularly new ones and those still breast feeding. But then I want to be left alone and just get on with things (life and kids) without being made to feel as though im broken in some way made me think "okay, why don't you tell H" or why doesn't DW tell me? At least then I'll know where I stand. You're right, you're not broken, DW isn't broken either, I just don't think we're compatable anymore. Maybe there is no underlying sex drive that people (or rather women) revert to post childbirth...

Keepithidden Thu 26-Sep-13 20:41:12

Sorry madasabox, was busy typing a response to previous posts before I read yours.

pdfan Thu 26-Sep-13 20:41:44

TheBreastmilk -that's exactly what my wife seems to be like, and has been for many years, but I don't think she feels guilty particularly. I think she just never even thinks about it at all because the whole caboosh of sex and physical intimacy seems to be totally insignificant to her and she has more important (to her) things to think about, like getting the washing out or getting organised to go to one of her classes. Also, she has always been disgusted by most of it, touching genitals and all that stuff. Just won't do it. It's all yuch...!. touching there is revolting to her, it seems.
No amount of communication or frank talking or therapy made any difference in the end. So sex is just never mentioned now. And we don't sit together and watch films with sexy scenes. We watch documentaries -social commentary, baking, history, art, food and diet.... nothing where sex might come in!

I've just left her alone for quite a long time now. I love her and we're happy together in other ways, but I suppose it's just a 'best friends' relationship really. I often felt humiliated and insulted in the past when I was depressed by lack of sex. But I've been resigned to it for a long while now.
But I've felt unlucky in life that I found a nice wife who turned out to have so little interest and have often envied other men who have wives who enjoy physical intimacy and making love to their husbands at least once a fortnight, and who actually have a need and desire for sex sometimes. I get nothing at all nowadays and she never needs anything.
I've no plans to do anything about it because far too much water has passed under the bridge and I'm tied to her emotionally till death.
Like you, my wife is very happy to be just left alone, doesn't feel she needs 'fixed' and is enjoying her life as a married woman but not needing to get involved sexually with her husband or any man. She's bright and carefree and keeps herself very busy.

Notbroken Thu 26-Sep-13 20:48:38

Breastmilk I could also be the OP' s DW, or even you.
My DH is a good man but I just don't want to have sex with him, EVER.

He knows I am not that into it and I know he is hurt by that but I can't change it. We don't have kids so there is no tiredness issue, I have no desire for him at all and I sincerely wish that he had none for me. I too feel terribly guilty but more so because it is just him I don't want.
The thought of sex with someone else is quite the opposite, so I know it is not all about me not wanting sex, I just don't want it with him.

Bumpstarter Thu 26-Sep-13 20:53:09

Hi keep it hidden.

I, like others can feel the loneliness coming out of your posts, and I hope you find a way through it.

I have a couple of thoughts. Not sure if they have already been mentioned.

Did you enjoy sex during pregnancy?
Many women get really horny and have the best sex of their lives during this time. I think it is to do with the hormones. It just sounds like you had 2 shags between 2 births, and perhaps this is not the case.

I like sex because it is an expression of love. I feel very warm feelings in my chest around my heart when I am in my lover's arms. This warm feeling is intimate, and it sounds to me like you lack this warmth and intimacy more than the actual sex. If missing this feeling is a problem, then talk to her about those feelings... Does she feel them? Perhaps it is you that has stopped feeling that loving feeling, not her? Or perhaps, as others say, she is too numb from caring for children all day.

You have got some really mixed messages on here about sex... Most women are back into it 6 months after birth, or if not then a year..... Or children take so much physical care that sex can be very firmly off the agenda for years.... So I don't know how much help that is. I think don't compare to others, but compare your feelings now to different times before.

Twinklestein Thu 26-Sep-13 20:56:38

She won't let me see her naked, she doesn't accept my reassurances

Did she let you see her naked before you had kids?

Bumpstarter Thu 26-Sep-13 20:56:49

Not broken, Are you considering separation?

Madasabox Thu 26-Sep-13 20:57:10

It is interesting that she doesn't want you to see her naked. It implies that either she thinks it will stimulate a sudden desire in you to have sex with her (which she wishes to avoid) or that she has issues with her body image perhaps post children, which could be carrying over to her sexual desire.

As a separate note if sex less than 10x a year is a sexless marriage then I and all my friends are in sexless marriages (we are all in our late 30s with very small children - and not a representative sample at all, but around 15 or so couples), which I think we would think of as a surprise!

Twinklestein Thu 26-Sep-13 21:00:47

I agree Madasabox - I think it's key.

Either she fears it will lead to sex, or she has significant issues with her body now, or both.

Keepithidden I wish I could put you in touch with my DH. What you are describing is very much the same as what I went through with DH.

Three DCs, 8, 4 and 17 mths - sex was non-existent. It wasn't him, it was me, definitely me. It wasn't until I went to my GP that I realised how depressed I was, I felt so low and alone, and generally unhappy. GP prescribed antidepressants, and literally within a week things were much better.

My DH actually made an appt with the GP to thank her for getting his wife back.

I'd say we now have sex 2-3 times a week instead of before when it was once every 2-3 months if he was lucky.

We've also made much ore of an effort to get some alone time, some time for us to be us, not mummy and daddy.

We have a relate counsellor who is fantastic and makes us both see things from different points of view. For us, relate was a last chance saloon, thinking it would precede divorce, but actually it's made us face our issues and communicate them effectively.

We've been together for 13.5 years, married for 6.5 and have three DCs, I honestly thought it was the end, but we are both working so hard to make sure it isn't.

Hoping you can work it out, you sound very much like my DH, a thoroughly decent guy who wants the best for his family.

Notbroken Thu 26-Sep-13 21:09:35

Bump, no he would be devastated. Everything else is great. I wish I could turn my libido for him on, or his off!

perfectstorm Thu 26-Sep-13 21:11:20

Maybe there is no underlying sex drive that people (or rather women) revert to post childbirth...

I have a strong underlying sex drive, it came back in full force. A lot of women on MN have over the years reassured women with very small kids that that's the norm, so I doubt I'm alone. Yet you seem almost not to want to hear it - forgive me if I'm wrong here, but you are saying that she is either okay with no sex, or has such low self esteem after the changes to her body/birth traumas that she has issues you can't help her with. You aren't hearing that she may well just be in a time of her life when she isn't that interested in sex because the small people you both created together still treat her body as their own property. That is a very finite, very fleeting stage of life, in the overall scheme of things.

Obviously people vary, and of course there's nothing "wrong" with someone who feels asexual after children... but you have so many women here telling you the emotional and physical demands of small children left them with no resources for any physical relationship with anyone else, and then they rediscovered their sexual mojo when the kids were a tiny bit older. I do appreciate that you are very upset by how things are and that you've been upset a while, but I do think it's telling that when you are given a range of views, you ignore the one that indicate things may not be as catastrophic as you thought, and which don't give you, perhaps, the out you are seeking - I realise that may be my own perception, and mistaken, but from your words I can't help wondering... do you, if you are brutally honest, actually want to leave at this point? Are you looking for validation of that decision? It's understandable if you have just had enough, but perhaps you might want to think about whether it's fair to blame her for a life stage many, many women identify with, as justifying your decision. If the ebbing of the physical intimacy has in turn killed your own desire to rediscover that with her when she's ready, that is understandable, but you are in turn then perhaps the one who isn't capable of dealing with a very normal life stage as young parents, rather than the rejected party in a sexless marriage.

There are people - men and women - who have posted on MN about sexless relationships that have no rhyme or reason, and which upset them greatly, and I honestly think they need to talk to their spouses about the possibility of an open relationship or to leave for their own sanity. That's a basic mismatch of libido. What saddens me is that you may well be walking away when in a year or so things would be even better than before - she'd be out of that baby tunnel, and you could rediscover one another. I just don't see that you are in the position I've seen many, many other posters describe, where leaving is a sane and honest response to the personally, subjectively unendurable. That doesn't mean you don't have every right to leave a relationship that is not making you happy - we all get only one life - but realistically, I don't think sex is a fair reason, when you have such young children in the picture. And counselling and time alone together would be well worth at least trying, first, if you otherwise think there is something to salvage.

^ Is a sexless marriage (by the usual definition <10 times a year) normal?^ With kids this young, I'd say so, yes. In a couple of years - well, normal is a word I'd hesitate to use, but it wouldn't be enough for me either, no. We probably average once or twice a week these days, which is fine for us, after well over a decade together.

I'm sorry if this seems harsh and I appreciate that you're in a lot of distress. But I do think you may want to think about where you anticipate being, should you split up. You won't see your kids that often (comparatively), you'll be very much poorer, and a lot of women will not be interested, because of the baggage of step-kids and an ex-wife. And even if they are, the pressure those factors place on a new relationship are immense. If your wife was unpleasant to you then none of that would matter, but you do seem to speak about her with great affection and respect. It seems like there is a lot to save, really.

Maybe you could think about having counselling of your own, just to work all this through? Good luck, whatever you decide.

TheBreastmilksOnMe Thu 26-Sep-13 21:15:23

Keepithidden, maybe it does just boil down to compatability, that people changes, needs and wants change and maybe in some ways, moreso for women? Children are all consuming and for me, i cannot see beyond that and how im feeling right now. Im not breastfeeding at the moment btw but yes that affects things too.

Why dont i say what ive just said to you, earlier, to dp? Good question. I probably will but for now things are ticking along. We're not as far along as you and we havnt tried this or that yet as im currently pregnant but if things continue after the birth the way they have been i feel we will be having an honest talk, its only fair on dp but i dread what that could mean for our family, the kids, the future.

Pdfan- i see the similarities between your dw and i and it pains me to see my dp following the same path as you as you seem to resigned. I wouldnt want him to just give up and accept as it seems you have. He, and you deserve to be happy and fulfilled. I think i would prefer it if he found someone else to give him what he wants and for us to go our separate ways then live a half life.

Notbroken- i dont know if i desire other men, i dont think i do, nobody has caught my interest so i think its just me, not dp. If i had desire for other men i would think the issue was with dp but i dont. I just dont want sex. Or for that matter intimacy, hugs, kisses or touching.

ZutAlorsDidier Thu 26-Sep-13 21:15:57

Keepithidden I think it is too soon to give up on your wife. I am usually really gung ho about the potential to separate but I think it is too soon.
I remember your last thread on this and I am going to say this in the context of (my perhaps imperfect) memories of that too.

You ARE thinking of leaving her because you are not sexually satisfied. No matter how you dress it up, this puts pressure on her. It makes her feel a need to perform. And then you blame her for artificiality in your sex life. What on earth do you expect?

She cried because she thought you were thinking of leaving her (which you are). It is hard for her to express her feelings but this was unmistakable.

She is fearful of expressing her feelings in general and of counselling in particular. I would suggest that she feels a need to appear in good emotional and pychological shape for you and her fears, anxieties, sadnesses will put you off and you will be talking about leaving again. She is hoping that putting a brave face on things and not sharing the messy reality of her struggles will buy her time to fix herself up, fix up the relationship, and persuade you to stay. She is struggling with intimacy with you. You perceive this of course and see this as something lacking in your life, but there is another side to this.

Having children is like a bombshell for some women. With a two-year-old this is far too soon to be drumming your fingers about getting back to normal. Seriously. My youngest is two and a half and I have been on the verge of tears all day from pelvic pain that is left over from my pregnancies. that is without going anywhere near all the psychological and emotional stuff. You sound pretty glib to me. You sound like you pay lip service to the notion that all this goes on but don't really emotionally understand that your wife may feel as if she is struggling for personal survival. That might sound over dramatic, maybe it is, but not for some women - for some women it is a statement of fact. Read the "parenthood affecting mental health" threads on "parenting". (I seem to remember someone said that before actually on your last thread)

I think there is a slightly complacent tone to your posts that doesn't take into account that she has (perhaps) been through hell and you have not. Consider her a shell-shocked disabled war veteran. Consider yourself, for a moment, as someone standing over the wheelchair of a person back from Vietnam two years ago, and saying "I know it's hard for you to get out and about but I really miss the part of our relationship that was dancing at parties. When will you be dancing again? But not just to please me. you have to LOVE the dancing." I think treating someone like that might result in a slight loss of authenticity of communication in a relationship. Maybe

OK I have just guessed all that and it might be wrong. I freely admit I am projecting. But I am feeling pretty defective at the moment, am not taking great care of my relationship. I desperately hope I have time to sort this out, that I can get some energy back and fix things before it is too late. If my partner leaves me I will be devastated. If he does, I don't think he gave us enough time.

If you want to leave, do. It's a free country. But imo this is far too soon to position taking that step as formally dissolving a marriage that is already over. I see it as you actively closing down a relationship with potential because it is not meeting your desires right now.

steeking Thu 26-Sep-13 21:26:38

I haven't read the other thread but one or two things spring to mind
Have you had any nights away without the children? IMO even one night away with a chance to talk without distraction of children makes a huge difference. There has to be no pressure for sex then of course, but just a chance to communicate.
I come from a family who talks about everything. DH's family don't. The phrase "I'm not a mind reader" cropped up often early in our relationship, and still does occasionally. I found that putting my thoughts in writing for DH to read and digest helps hugely.
Please, please do this quiz and get your wife to do it
When we hit a bad patch we did this and realised DH and I express our love for each other in totally different ways, and this had a huge impact on our perception of what we thought of each other. DHs love language is "acts of service" whereas I couldn't care less how much he did for me as mine is "quality time" . We now make the effort to communicate in each other's love language- not always easy, but always worth it.

tumbletumble Thu 26-Sep-13 21:37:08

I agree with perfectstorm and ZutAlors. 10 times a year for a couple of years when your DC are little is normal IMO.

steeking Thu 26-Sep-13 21:42:14

And for some 10x a year continues to be normal. Quality not quantity...

pdfan Thu 26-Sep-13 21:50:10

TheBreastmilksOnMe - You're right. I'm completely resigned to it now. My sex life these days consists of secretly looking at porn now and then on my own.
I felt so lucky and proud at the time to be marrying someone quite a bit younger than me... little did I know how things would turn out..... so I've been given my comeuppance, I suppose!
I haven't the energy or drive to do anything about it now. It's all too late. I've made my bed...
I love her and we get on well together otherwise, but somehow I feel quite lonely in my marriage. Maybe I'd just like to talk to another woman by email or something, someone somewhere - is this what they'd call looking for an EA? But on the other hand, what's the point? It would lead nowhere. Easier just to do nothing and get on with the rest of my life.

Keepithidden Thu 26-Sep-13 21:51:31

Every day is a school day on MN.

Perfectstorm and Zutalors - You've probably nailed my lack of sympathy/empathy with your posts. Not sure what else to say. Thank you.

This is as good as it gets. For now.

Need a bit of time to think. Back soon.

probablyhadenough Thu 26-Sep-13 21:53:08

Yep, you are getting a lot of good and consistent advice here OP. I too feel you are looking for a reason to check out of your marriage - much too soon in my opinion. I don't know where the 10 times a year stat comes from, but my guess is that absolutely loads of couples with 2 very young children would fall into that category. Add to that the traumatic birth and the fact that she has actually initiated sex and it really doesn't look so bad.

So what you are saying is that you are willing to give up on your marriage - with all that that means for you, your wife and the children - because of an entirely predictable and very common problem that many of us here have resolved with time and talking. That is your choice of course but it seems very sad.....

Bumpstarter Thu 26-Sep-13 21:55:30

Not broken... Do you get horny at a particular time of the month, or are you on the pill?

TheBreastmilksOnMe Thu 26-Sep-13 22:14:45

Pdfan- i really feel that you should look to find your own happiness. What a waste of a life. I dont mean an EA as that is a cowardly way out, nasty endings. You are entitled to live a happy, fulfilled life and only you can make sure it turns out that way. Free yoursel, and your dw to find real fulfillment. Dont waste away your precious years. (Its easier to give advice then to take it but my situation is a bit different from yours now. Who's to say it wont end up like it though?) If i were you i would get out and start living again.

Notbroken Fri 27-Sep-13 05:23:16

Bump, I'm not on the pill, was sterilised about 10 years ago, I'm 44. I have no body confidence issues, quite the opposite in fact. Yes I get horny, not just at certain times of the month, can be any time. I suppose I have got in the rut of not doing it except out of duty so now I don't want to at all - with him. We have been together 17 years.

Lastofthepodpeople Fri 27-Sep-13 05:52:28

Marriages always change when children come along and sex often falls the by way side. It's natural. Small children are exhausting and they require a huge amount of attention.
I'm using huge generalisations here but I think women, more than men, need a sense of intimacy and closeness to enjoy sex. And that's not just sexual intimacy but the type that comes from enjoying the other's company and spending time together. Physical sex alone isn't always enough. If you then add the pressure of knowing that you're not having sex, and the OH is unhappy, it just makes it more stressful and can end up in a vicious circle.
It is really hard to find couple time when you have young children. Really hard.
I think you need to try and get that 'couple' feeling back before worrying about getting back to your pre-children sex life. You say you still love her. Tell her that.
If you are able to get a babysitter, then do so and go out and do something nice just the two of you and be adults instead of just parents, as often as you can afford it.
If you don't have a babysitter, then I suggest a 'home date' on the weekend after the children are in bed. Maybe just making something nice for dinner (just the two of you) with some wine and snuggle up to a movie (without any expectation of sex at first). It may go a way towards recouping the closeness you had before. I suspect that may go a long way towards rebuilding your relationship and your sex life.
Marriages can be hard work, especially in the first few years after children come along. It is normal and it will probably get better, but you will both need to work at finding the intimacy that came naturally beforehand.

Lizzabadger Fri 27-Sep-13 07:08:12

Agree with Zutalors excellent post.

Keepithidden Fri 27-Sep-13 08:58:11

Well, after a rather shameful and embarrassing drop back to reality I guess my expectations have been too much, it's odd how on other threads expectations are so different to those aired by posters on (the latter part) of this one. I suppose the circumstances in this case (small DCs and associated traumas) are very different though. Zutalors your and perfectstorms posts were very well written and explained my flaws (and the errors in my thinking)

It's also shameful seeing how bad other posters relationships are and how unhappy their lives are particularly when there is no obvious way out. I feely lucky not to be in many of their shoes.

As well as all this I suppose I have been feeling "entitled" too, it's scary how deep the roots of male privelidge go, and how selfish my own attitude is.

Madasabox and Twinkle - She has had body confidence (and confidence issues full stop) prior to DCs, they are worse now. I cannot make her realise she is attractive physically and mentally. I guess part of why I'm having these issues is that I don't feel as if my opinion counts.

I'm quite surprised that so few people have taken issue with the female posters on here who feel they don't want to have a sexual relationship with their H ever again. I have suspected this is the case with DW, and I would want her to be honest with me about it too. On a personal level I can't see myself happy in a long term relationship/marriage without sex although I'm sure it happens with both parties being happy.

Lastofhtepodpeople - RE: Couple time: This was mentioned on my last thread, again it's something I've suggested, but DCs come first and I suppose DW is veering towards the Mummy Martyr stereotype that crops up occassionally on here. Personally, I think she needs to rediscover herself as a person before working on anything else (including her relationship with me or future partners), but my efforts to encourage her to go out with friends, take up new interests and all the other valuable suggestions from the last thread falls on deaf ears.

probablyhadenough Fri 27-Sep-13 09:19:35

Don't feel embarrassed keepit. You asked for advice in the knowledge you didn't have all the answers and then you reflected on the advice given. That's good isn't it?

One key fact here is you cannot 'make her' realise she is attractive or make her see she needs to go out more. All you can do is create a safe and unthreatening environment where she knows you are not going to abandon her just because things aren't great. You are married to her and there will be peaks and troughs in any marriage. Let her adapt to all the impossible demands of this phase in the way she wants - and show her that you don't judge her. She is not lacking in any way.

Be patient, please do get counselling and please try not to think her thoughts for her! My dh said mournfully in our last session "I can see we are never going to have a physical relationship again". I was astonished tbh - I saw the lack of sex as a symptom of issues that would be resolved. Fast forward and it looks like our own sexual relationship is on the mend. I would never have been happy with a sexless marriage but he thought that was our future.

Be patient (difficult when you feel unloved and worried I know...)

Lizzabadger Fri 27-Sep-13 09:26:42

"Veering towards the Mummy Martyr stereotype"

"Needs to rediscover herself"

Maybe quit thinking you know what's best for her.

She knows what's best for her.

You are not a superior being to her (although for me it comes across in your posts slightly that you think you are - sorry to be blunt and apologies if I am wrong).

Lazyjaney Fri 27-Sep-13 09:31:06

Fascinating that so many posts with the same point of view appear all at once, and seem to know so many just like themselves.

The thread I originally mentioned gives a bigger picture OP.

Also with these latter posts seems there are clearly as many reasons for not wanting sex as there are posters, and what would help for one wouldn't for another, but you'll just never know if your DW won't communicate or go to counselling with you.

I therefore think the earlier advice on here was more balanced, may also be useful to read the reverse posts on MN as then you'll get the real views women have about no sex in a marriage smile

Keepithidden Fri 27-Sep-13 09:39:56

although for me it comes across in your posts slightly that you think you are - sorry to be blunt and apologies if I am wrong

Nope you're not wrong, I often come across as a bit of tw*t in RL too.

Lazy - I'll check that thread out later thanks for the link. Also, what/where are the "reverse posts"?

AgathaF Fri 27-Sep-13 09:48:58

I'm quite surprised that so few people have taken issue with the female posters on here who feel they don't want to have a sexual relationship with their H ever again. I have suspected this is the case with DW, and I would want her to be honest with me about it too

You are so jumping the gun here. Still. You don't know how she will feel about sex in two, or five, or ten or twenty years. I doubt very much that your DW does either. You are either in your marriage for the long haul, not bailing out a couple of years after your youngest child is born, or you are not.

You do come across as entitled. You speak of understanding for the potential issues she may have following pregnancy and childbirth, yet I think you are paying lip service to it.

A perfect example of this is your "Mummy Martyr" comment. She is clearly not yet ready to go out with friends regularly or take up new interests yet. She has a new and exhausting interest already - your DC. Why would she want further demands on her? Ease off trying to turn her into what you want her to be.

You have created this nest of family/children between you. I assume you were happy to do that. You seem capable of reading about things, of researching. Were you really not aware that your DW may go into nurturing children mode for a few years after having children?

ZutAlorsDidier Fri 27-Sep-13 09:52:05

It may be that the OP's wife would ultimately benefit from joining clubs and having interests etc but if she doesn't feel up to it then dragging herself around to things she doesn't enjoy won't make her feel better, just more of a failure. More on the list of things she should be doing that make her feel like shit.

Also the "mummy martyr stereotpye" - ffs. That is so insulting, rolling your eyes at someone being exhausted and frazzled with childcare. They are exhausted because all that shit needs to be done. ffs. I think you get off on seeing yourself as uber-reasonable but there is an undertone of superiority and impatience to all this that is really rubbing me up the wrong way.

I say it again - leave if you want, but be very clear that if you do, you are just one of those men who got bored and frustrated with not getting everything you want from a young, romantic, energetic woman and decide to move on. Nothing noble about it.

ZutAlorsDidier Fri 27-Sep-13 09:53:18

Lazeyjaney, what exactly are you getting at? What is more "balanced" about some indvidual view points than others? are you hinting at anything more (what does "fascinating" mean?) than that you don't agree with the second half of the thread, and identify more with the first?

ZutAlorsDidier Fri 27-Sep-13 09:54:30

x-posted with Agatha!

Josie1974 Fri 27-Sep-13 09:58:13

Hi op, I have just read this thread, I am a dw with 3dc, the youngest is 2.

My thoughts are:
1. In the context of a non-abusive, loving relationship that has some problems, only a selfish idiot would leave when the youngest dc is only 2.

2. Following on from 1. IMO it is far too soon to leave, esp since you haven't been to counselling. IMO you should make counselling the issue, NOT splitting up. If yr dw thinks you would walk away at this stage, she may well have lost her trust in you. (Not conducive at all to wanting to be physically intimate with you.)

3. Purely on the sex issue - my dh and I probably have sex quite often under our circs (say once a week/2 weeks) But we only have quickies - I cannot be doing with long drawn out sex with loads of foreplay at the moment - for the reasons lots of PPs have said. It's a great fun physical urge we scratch but it's not the sex we had before dc. If my dh wanted that kind of sex at this point in our lives I would rather not have it. I can see going back to that when the kids are older, but really not now...

Josie1974 Fri 27-Sep-13 10:01:11

I suppose I'm suggesting, she might want sex if it required less intimacy and pressure - it's hard to be intimate when you have young dc

Keepithidden Fri 27-Sep-13 10:18:03

Agatha and Zut - Ouch. I deserved that rereading what I wrote.

I'm not uber-reasonable, I'm not trying to pay lip service, I know I'm flawed, I know I'm not 'getting it' and not understanding how DW feels. I've been trying to help her after reading up on recommendations on this site and half a dozen others. They all go on about a balance being needed between motherhood, being a person yourself and being in relationships with others (be that OH, colleagues or friends). From my (limited) understanding I concluded that may be that balance wasn't right and figured I'd try and find a way to help her correct it. Stupidly assuming that something was wrong in the first place too. Okay so I didn't go about it the right way, although I didn't know what the right way is, I made lots of assumptions, I jumped to conclusions and I'm sorry for that and I'll take responsibility if that's the cause of the failure of our marriage.

If I can get anything out of this it's that I'm thinking things through way too much, not listening to what I'm being told by DW or posters here and picking the stuff I want and leaving the uncomfortable stuff behind.

I'm sorry too about the martyr thing. I didn't mean to come across as rolling my eyes at her, that is something I can appreciate and do know about. I pull my weight at home, I get up in the night to calm the kids, I come home from work, cook them and us food, do the washing up, make lunch for them, iron clothes, put the laundry on, sort the bins, clean the bathroom etc all the drudgery of everyday life with DCs. I know what it's like to not stop 'til 11:00pm then fall into bed and get up again a few hours later to either go to work or sort out a vomit/piss covered bed exactly the same as DW. Hell, why am I even listing this sh*t you know it as much as I do. Sorry, getting annoyed at being accused of something I did not intend.

Madasabox Fri 27-Sep-13 10:21:03

Lazey - what exactly are you trying to say? You take issue with the thoughts of the later posters that think the OP should think a bit more about his marriage before leaving? You don't believe that I and other posters don't have sex that often yet accept that it is just a phase? You don't believe that my friends don't have sex that much either and while none of them are happy about it, they also in general (with one exception) think it is a phase that will pass - with the crucial thing here being that their minds are willing, but their flesh is weak ie if they could muster up the energy they would? I don't have a problem with you having a different view, but you seem to be implying something that I don't quite understand. Perhaps you would enlighten me?

Am I right in thinking that the OP's wife has been having sex with him in the last few months, just not the kind of sex/frequency he would like?

butterballs9 Fri 27-Sep-13 10:21:04

I read this thread with interest as the title resonates with me....I realize I am just not as into my husband as I would like to be. There's a whole thread up about it - 'I realize I don't want to be married any more'.

The big difference is that my children are now at college/University.

I think I probably married a man who I felt would be a great father and a very faithful husband - which I did - but put the sexual/romantic feelings and excitement lower down in the order of priorities.

Perhaps he did the same! In fact, I am sure he did!

When our children we quite small I had a few crushes and realized that I was not as 'in love' with my husband as I could have been and probably never would be, but I just could not bear to split up when we had young children, partly because my own father left when I was a child and I found it quite traumatic.

Anyway, we both threw ourselves into making a home and bringing up children and did the best we could. Sometimes we had a reasonable sex life (particularly when we went on holiday and got away from everyday stresses) other times it was verging on non-existent. I know there were times when my husband was frustrated but he too prioritized bringing up young children and having a family life as being more important than a sizzling sex life.

Fast forward to both our children leaving home to study and the old beast is rearing its head again. In all honesty, I am attracted to other men apart from my husband and am not sure I can stay married now that the child-rearing part is over.

We have had a few good discussions recently and my husband is well aware of how I feel. He too has his frustrations - they are somewhat different to mine but it is good that he has aired them as we both tend to be 'ostrich-like' and bury our heads in the sand. It may be that he has been as frustrated by the marriage as me, albeit in different ways!

I think there is always a dilemma with regard to the sometimes conflicting roles of making a home and bringing up a family and achieving a satisfying and mutually fulfilling romantic/sexual/emotional life.

I made a conscious decision to prioritize family life and home building over sexual fulfillment. And I think my husband did too. I'm not saying that is the right decision, but it was the decision we both took.

Others may think it is better to be completely sexually and romantically fulfilled and 'in love' and the children will be fine as long as the parents are happy, even if they are not together. And I am sure that can work very well too.

I haven't read your other thread so don't know the full picture, but, given the very young ages of your children and what you have said about your wife, I am wondering if you might find counselling helpful, maybe individually and together? I did this with my husband and it was really helpful for us both to be able to put forward our own feelings without being judged and with a third party moderating. It enabled us both to see each other's point of views. Anyway, seems like you are a caring, thoughtful person so I am hopeful that you will feventually find a way forward that works for both of you. Good luck!

Keepithidden Fri 27-Sep-13 10:22:10

Josie - Thanks, I think we've established my selfish credentials and rapidly coming to conclusions about being a bit of an idiot too.

I'm also starting to think that this isn't about sex, and may not even be about DW.

Madasabox Fri 27-Sep-13 10:23:17

Keepithidden what do you actually want? Do you want your old wife back, do you want to improve the current situation a bit or have you talked yourself into leaving already and want validation from us? I think that would help to understand where you are coming from.

Keepithidden Fri 27-Sep-13 10:23:29

Sorry Josie, that reply was a bit short.

I was being sincere in thanking you for your advice though, it's all useful.

Josie1974 Fri 27-Sep-13 10:43:20

No worries!!

Keepithidden Fri 27-Sep-13 10:55:43

Madasabox - I originally started this thread as a request on how to emotionally distance myself from DW in the way that I had perceived her to have done to me (that sounds like a nasty revenge type trick, but really I was just trying to look at things as objectively as I could). I thought she no longer cared for me as a H but as a friend, provider and father to our DCs. I thought this would make the inevitable split less painful and more amicable.

DW has changed since DCs, and would have anyway, that's what people do. So the "old" DW will never come back, just as the old me won't. I want to improve the current situation whether that involves splitting or whatever.

It's all gone off onto several tangents now though and I'm unsure of how DW is actually feeling, wondering if the state of our marriage is what I thought it was and starting to question my own motivations, beliefs and judgement. None of which is a bad thing, unsettling, uncomfortable and painful though it is.

Madasabox Fri 27-Sep-13 11:16:25

There is a lot of your perception of how she feels in this thread. A lot of assumptions about what she thinks of you, what she wants etc. I don't think you can do that. If she is not typically very communicative then you probably don't actually have that much idea of what she is thinking. Do you think you could be projecting your feelings on to her? By that I mean, the only circumstances in which you could imagine yourself being happy without sex would be if you didn't fancy your partner any more? We know already from a number of the responses on this thread that this is by no means necessarily the case - she might not be thinking that at all. Or it might be the case, but that the fancying is recoverable once some other issues are dealt with. I think your only option is to sit down and be really frank with her about how she is making you feel and ask if there is anything that she would like to change and why she is the way she is. If she is resistant to that then counselling sounds like a good option.

pdfan Fri 27-Sep-13 11:17:35

Why is it always such a big deal about sex?
You can have some very nice love making and sex in half an hour or just 20 minutes, or even 15, with someone you were fond of enough to marry.
Surely that's not all that time consuming or exhausting for either partner? Should it not be fairly easy to fit that in somewhere once a week or every 10 days or something? Can married life not be easier and simpler than this?
Does sex really need to be such a gigantic major issue or problem? After all, we're talking about people who wanted to be a loving, married couple and sleep in the same bed.

Those who are too exhausted must be indulging in extremely energetic, tiring sex! I was thinking more of nice simple, warm, cuddly, comforting and loving sex.
I don't really understand why there should be such a huge fuss about it. Sorry!

Madasabox Fri 27-Sep-13 11:30:01

everyone's different - for some people it is more than that. For some it is nice simple warm cuddly sex others such as the OP seem to think that if the woman doesn't orgasm then it is pity sex. Some people like a performance, some people don't. Some women find it hard to get warmed up so need their DH to put in a bit of effort on foreplay, which may mean that it seems like a big effort for both parties, some women/men may be harbouring resentments re unfair distribution of responsibilities/work, which impacts their ability to get into it, some people have half an ear out for a very disruptive small child... it's rarely that simple I think.

tumbletumble Fri 27-Sep-13 12:50:38

It's interesting that you've started two threads and received quite different responses. Of course, to an extent that is an inevitable (and often useful) feature of MN - it is the sum of its users, and you are dependent on which of those users happen to be logged on that day.

However I think it is also due to the language you have used to describe your situation. At one point you mentioned going without sex for 18 months - well, nearly everyone would agree that is a very long time. I think some of the more recent posts may be in response to your definition of a sexless marriage as having sex fewer than 10 times a year. Suddenly you come across as less reasonable. Many posters may have read this and thought 'Hey, that's nearly once a month - that's similar to how it was for me and DH when the kids were young, and I'd have been amazed / devastated to hear him describe our marriage as 'sexless'.

tumbletumble Fri 27-Sep-13 12:59:23

Pdfan, that is a really interesting question. All I can tell you is that when my DCs were very small I honestly couldn't face 20 minutes of loving sex with my wonderful partner, sometimes for several weeks at a time. It's hard to explain why - I agree that logically it doesn't make much sense. (All back to normal now thankfully!)

Keepithidden Fri 27-Sep-13 13:03:30

Madasabox - A lot of assumptions about what she thinks of you, what she wants etc. I don't think you can do that Understood

If she is not typically very communicative then you probably don't actually have that much idea of what she is thinking True. Silly mistake to make in retrospect.

Do you think you could be projecting your feelings on to her? Without a doubt.

Full and frank talk has to be the way forward really, just a bit reluctant to do it due to past attempts. Although I think actually listening to DW would be a step in the right direction, rather than trying to intepret what she says through a me-shaped-filter.

pdfan - Good question, I'm more used to the cuddly comforting variety but I'd guess (and it is only a guess) in DW case it is more the energy required to build up, rather than the act itself. Also guessing it's much more a mental energy rather than physical energy thing. If I find out I'll let you know. I think I probably put far too much value on it as a bonding/emotional validation thing too so it's best to take my opinion as an outlier rather than anything else.

probablyhadenough Fri 27-Sep-13 13:12:58

It is understandable,I think, that sex becomes a symbol of bonding and validation. My dh admitted that he sees the fact that I am turned on and have orgasms as a sign that he is worthwhile and accepted. I think he has major problems feeling 'good enough' in life generally due to rubbish parenting. From my perspective it is quite a burden - having to validate him with praise, approval and orgasms! I wonder if any of that resonates?

And you do sound a bit defensive tbh! I don't think you have been pitched as a selfish pig, just someone who has misunderstood a few issues. I wonder if you are being that defensive in your relationship because that would obviously impact on how much your dw felt she could confide in you,

And a genuine thank you because I have realised how I second guess my dh and how it probably makes him feel.

Keepithidden Fri 27-Sep-13 13:16:11

tumbletumble - Yes I suppose my use of language has caused altered responses.

For the sake of clarity, I understood a sexless marriage to be less than ten times a year. I googled it and according to Wikipedia this covers 20% of couples. In our case I think it's single figures for five years, but this year it's been four times. The 18 months were when DW was pregnant: morning sickness and breastfeeding put paid to any sex for both DCs. Between the two 18 month periods we DTD twice and thats when DC2 was conceived.

Thinking about it, it would interesting to see a correlation between couples with small DCs and sexless marriages (according to those measures on Wikipedia) I suspect they may follow similar lines.

Apologies if this is all a bit clinical. Scientific background and all that.

oscarwilde Fri 27-Sep-13 13:25:48

Just out of interest - when did you have the snip and have you had the all clear? I have two young DC's and fear of an unwanted pregnancy is a major turn off for me. Aside from appalling self body image, chronic exhaustion and loss of "self".

If your youngest is 2, then I genuinely think you have about another year before things start to improve. Kids are marginally less needy, they get out to nursery for a few hours, and you are generally happier leaving them in someone else's care as they are more verbal and if they are not happy you have a reasonable chance of understanding why.

I would try to work on your marriage gently in the interim, get some time together as a couple more regularly and try to restore lines of communication. Simple things like eating a nice dinner at a table with no tv on and some adult conversation, can do more to restore your sense of being in a relationship than feeling forced into relationship counselling to try to explain nicely that you just can't be arsed and are generally disinterested in everything requiring additional effort at the moment.

MrsMinkBernardLundy Fri 27-Sep-13 14:07:58

Op i do think you have been getting a slightly hard time. you sound like a thoroughly decent guy who accepts he is sometimes a bit of an arse (aren't we all) and sometimes does not put things quite as well as he might. neither of those things makes you anything other than a normal.person.

It is all very well for people to say that you just need to hang in there and this is just a blip. but if like me, you have a sex drive (i am not going to say normal as i have no idea what that is) then coping without sex for the best part of three years is hard. it is hard emotionally and mentally and it is tough on a relationship.
I imagine the prospect of another year or so of the same is quite daunting sad i don't know if i could.

...and I am now going to risk getting flamed, yes motherhood is hard, small kids are hard, childbirth can be very traumatic but I do think there is more of a tendency these days to wallow in motherhood a bit. possibly it is because we tend to have kids later and have a much more indulged and entitled lives before that we now find the transition much harder.

I guess what I am trying to say is, i am really sorry you are going through this, and well done for bring brave enough to come on MN to ask. your questions may be getting some tough answers but I think you get credit for even giving enough of a stuff to ask.

I sympathise with your DW too. It is a very difficult situation and I hope you find some resolution.

youretoastmildred Fri 27-Sep-13 14:20:55

I think the op's wife sounds like the opposite of wallowing. She may be struggling, but she isn't complaining about it. She is coping, but perhaps only by cutting out absolutely everything that is not essential to day to day getting by, doing nothing nice or fun for herself. this means sex is one of the things that is on the "oh god not now" list. this actually sounds like a very old school, stiff upper lip position. I bet there have been a huge number of marriages like that throughout history but people got on with it and didn't whine about it. the aspect of modernity that applies here is that the OP thinks things not being enjoyable is a reason to call it a day.

MoonHare Fri 27-Sep-13 14:27:28

Haven't got time to read the whole thread but just wanted to say OP please do not leave your wife. You are wrong to think she won't get back to her old self or that neither will you.

Me and DH have been together more than 20 years and have 3 small DCs. We've had lots of dry spells sex wise in the past, I always knew he wasn't happy about that though he never pressured me. I wasn't that happy about it either but just didn't know how to communicate with him in a way that wouldn't hurt him.

Anyway, keep doing all the considerate things you're doing, it might take a while longer. Reassure her that you find her attractive, my Dh never really did this, I knew he felt it but he hardly said more than 'you look nice'. Peg the washing out in the way she likes it done, put the top back on the toothpaste etc, it seems you probably are doing the small stuff but don't give up.

Cut a long story short, I read an article in the Guardian recently, an extract from a book recently published about putting your partner first and how the best thing for children is for parents to stay together and work out how to make their relationship a good one. It rang some very loud bells for me and I spoke to DH. We've had some long soul searching conversations recently, the upshot of it all is that we are very much back on track in the sex dept and it's wonderful. He has been attentive and more honest and so have I. I feel as in love with him as I did 20 years ago and I never thought that I would have those feelings again.

You and your wife CAN get it back, relationships have peaks and troughs. Don't give up now - you could be missing the most wonderful intimate married relationship that's just on the horizon if you and your wife can find a way to come together.

Don't kid yourself that the children will be OK, divorce leaves scars that can run deep and don't necessarily show on the surface.

I hope my story might help you in some way.

MoonHare Fri 27-Sep-13 14:32:08

Pardon the pun smile

Keepithidden Fri 27-Sep-13 15:14:21

Probably - All of that resonates, something along those lines made me think earlier today "maybe it isn't about sex, or DW, may be it's just me".

Oscar - I had the snip in August 2012. Thanks for the suggestions too.

MrsMinkBernardLundy Fri 27-Sep-13 15:56:16

I was not suggesting OP DW is wallowing, merely that some people do (and you can wallow quietly in your own head and become accustomed to not e.g. going out and then give up)

I am just countering some of the MN bias that man =bad woman=right which is coming out in this thread. it seems like some posters are desperately looking for ways in which the OP must be to blame when he is making a good effort to see things from different perspectives but is in a difficult situation which in reality is probably no ones fault but just the way things are for now.

And also that it should not be underestimated how difficult this is for the OP. (yes his DW deserves sympathy too but she is not the one asking for help and i am conscious that when women post on MN asking about their DHs their DHs get precious little sympathy)

i hope try do sort things out. it sounds like there is a lot of love there.
But i don't think it should be underestimated how hard a situation this can be to be in. the OP is not just giving up.

perfectstorm Fri 27-Sep-13 16:11:51

OP, I don't think you are being at all selfish or unreasonable. You married someone you very much loved and had a great relationship with, and you now find yourself distanced from her and in a relentless grind of caring for small children with your lover preoccupied and in many ways distant. That's shit. It's hard and depressing and you're human to be distressed by it. There is, IMO, no grounds to beat yourself up and think your feelings are anything more than normal - as normal as your wife's.

I think it isn't the sex that I found too much when DS was smaller. It was the intimacy. I just wanted space and peace and to be left alone, without any emotional demands. Sex with my husband, even quickies, is emotional. That's the great thing about it, of course - but when my son was really little I just didn't have anything left in the tank.

I am a bit bothered, given your youngest is now two, that your wife is still so much in a baby cocoon. I don't think it's healthy to be so opposed to time spent as herself/a wife. Not sexual time, just dinners out alone and movies now and then and the odd weekend away. Bluntly, she is doing her kids no favours by threatening an otherwise very happy parental relationship. It is hard - mothering is an endless process of incremental detachment - but I think you need to be solid on the need for counselling, because as you've identified you are at the point you can't take much more, and also because you don't know how she feels or what she wants and as you aren't communicating well you need professional help to kickstart that process. Without communication, a marriage is, eventually, fucked. Neither of you wants to turn around one day and find the kids have left home and you're married to strangers.

I don't think you're anything other than a good person in a hard but very normal situation. But the reality is you can't take a lot more and therefore you need to start taking steps to re-establish that bond with your wife. You can't know if she is like me and so many others (just went off intimacy when kids were tiny) or like other posters, and it's personal to you/her and the new status quo, unless you start to talk. And explaining to her that you are feeling very lonely now in this marriage, and that sex is just a part of that (because if you don't have a clue how the other feels, you're fairly estranged emotionally, aren't you) but that you love her and want to right the ship and feel counselling would strengthen and reignite things... I think you need to level with her that you are now deeply unhappy. Surely she, you and the kids deserve that much, rather than you deciding unilaterally to walk away without making serious efforts to fix things?

Maybe you could sit down and write out what you would like/need to improve things in the short term. NOT "more sex" but maybe a guaranteed afternoon (night, and if yours sleep badly you're on a losing wicket there!) together every week away from the house and kids... and maybe your 2 year old needs to start preschool sooner rather than later. Obviously those suggestions will take money, but if you can comfortably fund 2 households it doesn't sound like that's an issue. I would also think about saying you want a weekend away together every couple of months. You say she is totally wrapped up in the kids, and really that's a good thing - but not if it excludes you. Bluntly you are also a member of the family and not just the provider. While the children obviously must come first, you don't need to come nowhere. And one afternoon a week plus 1 night every 8 weeks isn't asking for the moon on a stick. It's asking that the family unit be protected - that unit being the two of you plus kids. She's not child-centred if their father is sacrificed to the point they lose him from their day-to-day lives. Especially as, in my case at least, Daddy has become increasingly essential with every month that passes as the baby cocoon of mummy/infant recedes.

Childbirth is normal and yet it hurts like hell too! So is death, as far as I'm aware in most cases. Saying "this is normal" is not saying "you have no right to be deeply hurt and worried". It's saying "there is hope!"

Again, good luck.

perfectstorm Fri 27-Sep-13 16:18:49

MrsMimk - X post. I think the OP needs to see things from his wife's perspective, but his wife also needs to see them from his. And things need to change, that much is clear.

I don't think there are any villains here. I think life can be hellish at times for us all, hopefully it's a phase, but either way they need to find a way to communicate with considerably more effectiveness than is happening right now.

Xollob Sat 28-Sep-13 22:04:26

Your children are so young, I think you are being a bit impatient expecting her to spring back to her former self. If you are parenting properly, it takes a lot out of you.

A couple of years after your youngest child goes back to school you may notice a real difference in your wife - you sound as though you are not prepared to wait that long though.

I notice she is a wife, not just a partner, and I'm wondering about marriage vows. If she had been injured in an accident and unable to have sex, would you still have the same approach that you do now? It's sounding a little as though your vows should have read 'for better or worse, provided I get a regular shag ....'.

Darkesteyes Sat 28-Sep-13 22:39:31

I think its actually covered by the vow "with my body i thee worship" Xollob.

No one has the right to make someone have sex they dont want though.

Lazyjaney Sat 28-Sep-13 22:39:44

Well in fact the marriage vows do say "to have and to hold", that doesn't mean a handful of times in 4 years.

Xollob Sat 28-Sep-13 23:01:47

Oh yes, forgot those bits!

Keepithidden Sun 29-Sep-13 07:52:48

Just checking in.

Perfectstorm - thanks for the comprehensive reply
Don't have time to reply fully, but wanted to register myappreciation!

Xollob - The injured scenario is different to one made through choice. Not sure they are comparable. Even so I don't know how I'd react to those circumstances. Do any of us without going through it?

Impatient? Maybe. The last few years haven't been the happiest. Regular shag? What's that then???

Xollob Sun 29-Sep-13 11:39:28

But it might not be made by choice Keepithidden - It's not just a case of passing something the size of a watermelon out through your bits and resuming life as normal. There are massive emotional changes for a woman, combined with massive hormonal changes to boot. There is something self preservative about it too - at some level she is probably associating sex with reproduction and may not feel she could adequately care for another child at the moment.

Let's do a little experiment - for the next month, make sure you only sleep for ten minutes at a time- set the alarm, rake up whatever emotionally charged situations you have ever experienced when you are particularly tired, make sure you have absolutely no time for yourself, leave all your meals and drinks at least 75% untouched. At the end of the month run a couple of marathons (without training) and then see if you fancy long drawn out sex with your wife. This will be a tiny, tiny insight into the last five years for your wife as you will be missing out the pregnancy, anaemia, birth, hormones etc. Come back and let us know how you get on.

I'm not defending your wife as such - just trying to show how some people find early days with children. You sound as though you have made up your mind though - you don't need our permission on here.

Lazyjaney Sun 29-Sep-13 12:08:40

There is an entertaining reverse thread on here at the moment OP, about a husband who is not doing his duty - go check out what all the advice for the woman in your position is. My favourite is tat she should tell her reluctant party he has to do his duty twice weekly or else smile

MrsMinkBernardLundy Sun 29-Sep-13 12:51:52

xollob it is not that early. if by the time your youngest child is two, you are still up every ten minutes and not finishing any meals ever then something needs to change. there has to be some balance between parenting and living.
and if the parenting is that exhausting then it is for the OP too. he is also there and also sharing the childcare.

Fair enough if you were talking the bf phase. no sleep etc. but this is two years down the line. things should be getting easier.

Yes parenting is hard but then again the majority of women around the world give birth at the majority of men have dcs. the world does not stop. Things change but it is mother the end of everything.

Xollob Sun 29-Sep-13 12:55:47

I didn't mean literally that a parent would be doing that MrsMink I was trying to condense it a bit for him into a month!

MrsMinkBernardLundy Sun 29-Sep-13 12:57:32

He is a parent!

Xollob Sun 29-Sep-13 13:40:09

MrsMink are you deliberately being dim? Jeez ... Let me explain again. I know he's a parent. I was saying to him that it would be hard to replicate what his wife had possibly been through. An interesting experiment would to be go through those things for a month. That would be like a compressed mini-version of what she has been through. I know, at two, a child would not (hopefully) be waking every ten minutes - but if he did that for a month, that would be an insight into sleep deprivation. Got it?

perfectstorm Sun 29-Sep-13 14:50:59

Lazeyjaney, if you're talking about the thread where a bloke is online gaming every second he's able and going without sleep to do it, and the relationship is dead in consequence, I don't think the situations are comparable. The one is totally self-centred and neglectful of the family in preference to a fantasy world, the other is down to unavoidable real life demands that haven't yet receded. Your own male bias is showing if you really think that obsessive computer gaming is comparable in any way, in terms of culpability and choice element, to the demands of babies and toddlers. In fact I would say that selecting that comparison says more about you than anything else - I would have pointed to the thread where a woman is devastated her husband has an OW, where she was bluntly told that a marriage without sex for 3 years with no intention or desire on her part to alter that is no marriage, and she is hard placed to blame him. That's a fairer snapshot, frankly.

Though I would agree that trying to sort the situation out would always work better than ultimatums (not seen that thread past the first few comments). That's no way to run any relationship, IMO.

Lizzabadger Sun 29-Sep-13 15:32:04

Lazyjaney the guy in the thread I think you are talking about spends his time gaming till the small hours and watching "nasty" internet porn. Hardly equivalent to being knackered and drained caring for small children.

Xenadog Sun 29-Sep-13 15:51:43

I've skim read this thread so apologies if I have missed a lot of stuff out and have got the wrong end of the stick but am I right in saying the OP loves his wife and wants things to work with her but due to the lack of sex (of which there is no real explanation yet from his DW as she doesn't appear to want to discuss the matter) he is prepared to walk away, divorce and start again at some point?

If that's too simplistic I am sorry.

OP I guess you have written your "D"W a letter and told her how you feel and what your needs are? In the same letter you have emphasised how much she means to you and how much you actually want the relationship to work and how happy you want her to be. Guessing you have also stated that couples counselling would be a place to start to rebuild the relationship and not as a precursor to splitting up? Also guessing you have stated that you understand that having young children to care for will have a negative effect upon her libido but you are willing to work with her.

If you haven't then that is that surely the place to begin?

It sounds like communication isn't great in this household and instead of pouring it all out on here the OP needs to find a way to talk (even if it's begun by a letter) to his wife and establish what is going on in her mind and then find a way to move forward either separately or as a couple.

However, if this has already been said I apologise as I have skimmed through the whole thread quickly.

Darkesteyes Sun 29-Sep-13 18:07:31

perfectstorm would you mind pming me this thread when you have a min.
Ive looked but i cant work out which one it is Thanks.

I would have pointed to the thread where a woman is devastated her husband has an OW, where she was bluntly told that a marriage without sex for 3 years with no intention or desire on her part to alter that is no marriage, and she is hard placed to blame him. That's a fairer snapshot, frankly.

Retroformica Sun 29-Sep-13 18:33:08

I think you need to go through basic steps and arrange couples counselling. Tell her when the appointment is and arrange sitters so that she is free. If you still love your wife, you need to help her through this blip. Having young kids is totally wearing and I like many if my friends loose ourselves a little. Sex often temporarily takes a lower priority.

perfectstorm Sun 29-Sep-13 20:00:57

Darkest it was a month ago I think? I'll have a good look for you when I have the chance as I do understand why you'd like to see it. She didn't want a split because they were best friends, but didn't want more. The OW was horrified by the situation (her as OW) and trying to do the right thing and so was the H, and as far as I recall OP admitted in an ideal scenario she and her DH would be co-parents and best friends, but she didn't want him as more. It was all rather heartbreaking tbh.

Retro I completely agree - counselling is the best way forward here.

OP I so hope, for everyone's sake, that she's just stuck in the baby rut and sunlight will dawn for you all soon. Once more, good luck.

mumtosome61 Sun 29-Sep-13 20:15:53

I just wanted to add a comment, and not that I am experienced in this at all but just as an outsider looking in (albeit on a small part of a big story, I imagine).

Although the sex is, of course, a big dynamic of this disharmony within the relationship, I should imagine the lack of sex or guilt over pursuing sex is a side effect of another factor. The factor may be depression. It may be your DW does not feel attractive in herself no matter what you say to the contrary. It could be deep rooted reasons that have existed for years, or have only sprung up since childbirth. Obviously it's not clear otherwise they would have been addressed.

Because of the possibility of other factors, making the split or potential for splitting with the inference of sex being "the" issue (or even a fairly big issue) is only going to make the whole process of sexual relationships for your DW in future (either rekindling with yourself or others) so much harder to deal with. I'm not speaking for your wife because I don't know her, much less assume that all women are the same, but sex can have many emotional attachments, especially if you've had children. Making the cause of the parting either about sex wholly or significantly will discredit you in a way you probably do not deserve to be; sex is of course a very important component of a functional relationship for most people and we are entitled to our needs, but bear in mind a lot may view it harshly.

Personally, the fear of the relationship splitting over a sexual incompatibility, even if it has been a short term problem would probably exacerbate the fear of consummation and would lead to resentment and negativity from pressure. If someone pressures me to do something, I end up fearing it more than if I had been left alone to figure it out myself in my own time; if that makes any sense.

Lazyjaney Sun 29-Sep-13 21:47:05

@perfectstorm & lizzabadger I suggested some way upthread that the OP read all the reverse threads, as I do think some posters are giving him a hard time here, they write as if the kids are 2 and 4 months old, not years. As someone else said upthread, at their ages it's not that hard to find 30 minutes every week or so.

No one reverse thread is exactly the same, but taken as a whole the advice on reverse threads is typically far kinder to the woman not getting any IMO, and typically far more brusque on the non performing male, and I think the OP should read them too for balance.

I also said upthread that another throw at joint counseling and communication are the next steps, and only if that doesn't work should he go for further separation. But given that hasn't succeeded so far though, I think it's unlikely to work again.

I did like the idea of the bloke being told he had to perform twice a week or else, and IMO at some point the OP here is going to have to spell out what he needs too.

MrsMinkBernardLundy Sun 29-Sep-13 22:05:58

xollob of course i am not bring deliberately dim are you being deliberately patronising? The emotional fall out of giving birth may be hard to comprehend the physical demands are not especially difficult to imagine if you have been there, which he was/is. he doesn't need you to lay him out an imaginary obstacle course for a month.

Lizzabadger Sun 29-Sep-13 22:09:55

"I did like the idea of the bloke being told he had to perform twice a week or else"

Words fail me.

Lizzabadger Sun 29-Sep-13 22:17:03

To expand on the above now my jaw is back off the floor:

1. It is not OK to threaten people into having sex with you under any circumstances
2. I have no idea why anyone would want to do this to someone they love, above all people
3. I have no idea how anyone could enjoy having sex with someone who had been coerced into it.

Lazyjaney Sun 29-Sep-13 22:22:51

Of course it isnt OK, that was my bloody point!

I think Irony slips by you too....

perfectstorm Sun 29-Sep-13 23:54:59

I did like the idea of the bloke being told he had to perform twice a week or else, and IMO at some point the OP here is going to have to spell out what he needs too.

Honestly, Lazeyjaney, if you didn't really think that something the OP should seek to emulate as a suggestion then you did phrase that pretty unfortunately, and you can't blame the other poster for thinking you were sincere. It simply didn't read as ironic when you add the second half of the statement to the first. It read as though you were genuinely approving of that attitude - which gelled with your "why can't she find the time" attitude - as if sex is all about a spare few minutes and nothing more. I'm relieved to hear you thought it appalling, too (which was certainly how I read your original reference to it, in fairness).

And I'm not sure why you think counselling has failed - the OP backed off when his wife became distressed and saw it as the first step towards a split, understandably and kindly enough. But at this point I think he needs to make it clear that there might indeed be a split if communication can't be improved.

I agree a few others have been unsympathetic to the OP, rather than simply trying to offer alternative perspectives. I feel sad for both of them. But the reality is that this is a site that is dominated by women, just as many others are dominated by men. There's nothing wrong with women offering a perspective that reflects their own life experiences - indeed I imagine the OP, like some other men, posted here to try to understand that alternative viewpoint. I don't really understand why some posters want to try to "correct" that in the way they seemingly do. It isn't as though the world at large doesn't support dominant male narratives, is it. Why be so threatened by the few spaces that are female dominated?

Lazyjaney Mon 30-Sep-13 00:59:01

Ah, I see what you mean, it's not clear what I meant. In my mind I was following on from my initial post about that comment, which you graciously noted, so apologies.

Keepithidden Mon 30-Sep-13 09:31:49

Sorry didn't get a chance to reply yesterday. Once again thanks for your responses (I seem to start every post with that).

Perfectstorm - As ever a lot of good advice and very diplomatic, you'd make a good negotiator. Ever though about a career in Counselling? Weekends away aren't really affordable, we couldn't 'comfortably' afford to run two households. In a worst case scenario I'd be moving into a bedsit/shared house and it would be a struggle, but doable. While still maintaining the family home.

Babysitting is also a bit of a problem, DW doesn't really trust the various Agencies that provide babysitting services and we don't have much support from family so there's a limit to the amount of "us" time we can get. It is pretty limited to being at home for the date nights. It's something that we could both make an effort with a bit more though.

Xollob - That's an interesting experiment, I'm not going to try it if that's okay. Partly because I couldn't manage it physically or mentally, and partly because it would raise a few suspicions at home! However, I don't think you really intended me to do it, it was more to illustrate what DW has gone through and on that point it was a success. I have been lacking empathy.

Xenadog - Yes that's a pretty good description of the thread. Simplistic? Yes, but accurate. I haven't written a letter, but I think it could be an option when I've learnt a bit more about how to communicate without judgement.

Mumtosome - What you said really worries me, and harks back to what Cog said earlier in the thread. The last thing I want to do is let DW apportion blame, especially when it seems I'm the party at fault (if anyone and it isn't simply incompatability) and I can pretty much guarantee she'd blame herself. I don't think I'd have a problem being discredited after the failure of a relationship on the basis of lack of sex, but there's no way on earth I'd want to scuttle any chance of future happiness for DW.

Depression has been mentioned on this thread and previous ones, but again it comes back to the lack of communication. I don't know if she's depressed, and I don't know if she'd want to seek help if she was, I wouldn't know where to begin helping her.

Anyway, this thread does seem to be going round in circles a wee bit so I'll probably start drawing a few conclusions:

First off, I'm not going to speak/write to DW without getting some help myself with communication first, probably counselling from relate on my own. I don't think talking about it the way I have been trying to has been helpful and I'm worried writing it down will produce the same result - fear and distress and self blame.

Secondly - It has only been a few years, others have gone decades in these kind of cricumstances, so I figure if they've been strong why can't I? I'm going to revisit my marriage vows and try to dig up some of my own personal integrity to stick to them. I've been shamed into doing that at least by some posts on this thread!

I've got a few book recommendations from this thread, and the whole of MN is an invaluable resource so I'll keep looking here and learn from other peoples expereinces before jumping to any more conclusions! I've really got to stop over analysing stuff and being defensive, that'll be the projection stuff again!

Xollob Mon 30-Sep-13 09:50:26

Good luck keepithidden . She may surprise you yet.

I was lucky not to have the loss of libido problem you mention, but I did find that in the first few years of having children I put a lot into parenting and lost a chunk of me. It's back now though, so hopefully your wife will be the same.

MrsMinkBernardLundy Mon 30-Sep-13 10:05:41

Good luck OP thanks I really hope you can work it out. I have to say I have much more hope for your rs than many I read about on MN because you seem to be prepared to really put in the work and also to have a good hard look in the
I think counselling to work on your communication style is a really good start. I hope DW also finds a way to open up and start communicating more too as tbh although the lack of intimacy would be an issue for me the lack of communication would be a far bigger issue (because I would be worried about my DP) and it may be that once she can open up a bit she will feel relieved to get some of the things that may be bothering her out there and in so doing hopefully forge a stronger bond.

re. babysitting- if you cannot e.g. find a friend with an older child/student that she might trust, how about taking some time during the day if the kids go to nursery? As a parent who spends almost all of the time when I am not working, with my dcs, as I too have limited babysitting, I think it is still really worth while to just grab a few hours here or there to get away from the home otherwise it becomes a bit all consuming. So I very occasionally take a decadent day off work when the dcs are at nursery/school and go and do something else. Because parenting is, as has been pointed out up thread many times, hard, it is important sometimes just to have a rest from itsmile and be {your first name} not {your dc's first name's mum/dad}. I am not suggesting you take the day off and book into a hotel! just a walk or a spa day or anything that is not getting something done and perhaps that might help either the communication to flow a bit better or to give a bit more perspective on the balance between living to be a parent and also having some kind of life (which will in fact further enrich your dcs life to see that their parents are also people) and because eventually your dcs will grow up and need you both less and it is important to have preserved something of yourself for when that time arrives.

probablyhadenough Mon 30-Sep-13 10:33:28

Good luck OP - that sounds a good plan and I am disproportionately pleased that you are sticking with it! Projection is everywhere I suppose!

Xollob Mon 30-Sep-13 10:38:23

Actually MrsMink I think a local hotel might be just the place for them (sorry keepit can't remember what, if anything, you said about your financial situation) if affordable - even a Travelodge type place. When I am at home, there is always something that needs doing that catches my eye and makes me 'Mummy' again.

MrsZimt Mon 30-Sep-13 10:54:31

Op, my advice would be to really get some couple time, without dc.

I never had family around to help me but we managed to get babysitters through friends (and I would bake a birthday cake or give some tuition in return). You need time together without children.

My suggestion would be to arrange a date night, and make it absolutely clear from the beginning that there is no sex happening after returning home. You have to stick to it. It's the only way imo to take the pressure off, get your relationship back on track by starting at square one: talking to each other, being attentive, have conversations about other things than kids stuff.

From what you have written so far I can see the potential for you to be happy together, but fgs take the pressure out of it and start talking to each other.

AgathaF Mon 30-Sep-13 11:27:52

Good luck.

I second trying really hard to find babysitters from somewhere. Do you work with anyone with older, responsible teenagers who would welcome the odd tenner for sitting for a night. Any elderly neighbours around who might fancy it? We had one down the road from us when your children were small. She used to say she liked the change of "looking at someone else's decoration apart from her own". That was brilliant because, like you, we didn't have much in the way of family support for childcare. Asking around if anyone knows anyone who would babysit might produce some surprising results. That said, I would understand your DWs reluctance to leave your DC with people she doesn't know well, so see how that one plays out.

I hope you go with the counselling for yourself, and in time perhaps for both of you.

MrsMinkBernardLundy Mon 30-Sep-13 11:32:57

Absolutely MrsZimt. Take the pressure off but also take some time to be together.

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