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Can I rescue our empty, loveless relationship?

(11 Posts)
thelar Mon 20-Oct-14 16:08:53

Hi All,

Please bear with me, I'm new and have never opened up any of this to anyone before but I'm desperate for some advice to help me decide what to do about what has become an empty, loveless relationship after 20+ years together.

I'm 43, she is 50 now and we have 2 wonderful children. A boy of 11 and a girl of 17. We never got married, after the house, the kids and everything else we just never seemed to get around to it! We experienced the loss of our second daughter who was just a toddler back in 2002 from undiagnosed epilepsy, I only mention it to give a bit of background to the emotional turmoil we have experienced together.

In recent years, I would say the past 5 or 6 (maybe more), the intimate side of our relationship has petered out to nothing. In the past 3 years we have had sex 4 times but each time I know that she is only going through with it because she feels like it's her duty, she never lets me touch her, she actually physically recoils when I try to touch her and she certainly would never think of initiating sex or touching me! She insists that it's not my fault and that she just doesn't want sex, no matter who it was with but I don't know that's the truth.

Up until the last month or two I have (stupidly) ignored the situation in the hope that it is something to do with menopause and that it will get better. I still love her very much and tell her often but I just feel like she is keeping her true feelings hidden from me in order to keep the relationship together and avoid the turmoil and financial loss that a breakup would cause.

Neither of us has ever been unfaithful to the other and there is no abuse or anything like that in her past. I have researched HSDD as I felt that that may be a possible cause but when she brought it up with her GP on a recent visit, she didn't seem to even know that it existed! We are now on a waiting list for psycho sexual counseling but this worries me because I think it's just going to expose our true differences and force us to separate (but then maybe that's for the best?).

As a 43 year old man, I feel like I have a lot to give and a lot of living still to do. I'm just not prepared to call time on my sex life just yet. I feel so empty and alone at the moment though, I wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with the woman I love but I don't know how or whether I can get her back. Does this sound like a lost cause? Anyone been through anything similar, how did it work out?

Thanks for listening

Achooblessyou Mon 20-Oct-14 22:16:22

I'm not the best person to give advice as I'm divorced but bumping for you!

Fwiw it sounds like you still have a lot to fight for - it's worth making the effort to get the relationship you want - don't give up yet

YonicScrewdriver Tue 21-Oct-14 07:04:26

Hi thelar

Unless you specifically want male opinions, you might get more answers if you repost in Relationships - Dadsnet is quite quiet.

I'm sorry that things are so tough.

thelar Tue 21-Oct-14 07:25:30

Hey there, no, not specifically looking for male opinions, guess I just thought the main forums were female only - I'll do as you suggest and repost there.

HidingFromDD Tue 21-Oct-14 07:32:24

I feel for you because I've been there (different way around though). Sadly, in my case there was nothing to be done and we divorced. We now happily co-parent and I have a good life and a lover I see most weekends. My ex still doesn't see anyone and doesn't seem to have any desire to either

temporaryusername Tue 21-Oct-14 07:40:57

I am so sorry for the loss of your second little girl, that is a devastating experience and one that never goes away. flowers

I am no expert (since I don't have dc myself), but it looks like your wife may have got pregnant around the time of this loss, just before, or after. Would that be about right? It would be very difficult to go through pregnancy and childbirth, and caring for a newborn, having so very recently lost your daughter. As well as that natural reaction to the turmoil, she could have been vulnerable to developing PND (post natal depression). If she found those early days hard, and then perhaps with added difficulty when your son reached the age at which she had lost her daughter. sad I'm just wondering if all that may have been the lead in to her feeling this way and into the 'maybe more' than 5 years.

Hopefully someone with much better knowledge than me will come on and help us! It does sound like you could be able to rescue this, though we can't be sure not knowing what is going on in your wife's mind. It could be that she's hiding her feelings not because she thinks they would lead to a break up, but because she fears they might lead her to a breakdown or face horrible things - if they have not been directly about you but about her. Alongside that, she might be thinking that if she can't feel better you and she won't work out, but realise if she can get help that you could get through this. There is also the possibility that she doesn't feel the same as you, or resents you, and wants to separate (even if not now).

Sexual problems often seem to be a symptom of something wrong elsewhere in life/the relationship. I think I would put sex on hold if you can at first, as that part of life would probably get better as a result of improving the underlying issues first. I know it is an important and valid goal to resume a better intimate relationship, but taking that pressure of her is probably best for now. I mean not talking about it for now or keeping presenting that as the problem, the goal. I agree you shouldn't give up and settle in a sexless marriage where you are both unhappy. But also you mustn't make it seem that all her problems are only important because they stop you getting sex, ie. you don't care if she is unhappy as long as she puts out! You don't sound like that at all by the way, but just putting in a word of warning in case.

I'd tell her that you are worried that she is unhappy and that you don't want her feel pressured by the psycho sexual therapy pending, or the pressure to get that part of life sorted. Say that you're worried that in all that, her wellbeing gets put in the background and what is really troubling her doesn't get any focus. Stay on the waiting list, but in the meantime tell her you want her to focus on getting herself feeling good. Ask what you can do to make that easier, with no sex discussion involved, just what can do to help? Take on more around the house? Free her up to go swimming/whatever she likes or meet a friend at regular times? Individual counselling for your wife, alone, could be a good suggestion, where she can talk about any other issues, even bereavement counselling if she feels that could still help. Tell her she can absolutely talk to you about anything she wants, but you'll support her in speaking to the counsellor too/instead, and if she wants you to go for any sessions yourself - alone or as a couple, you will. In fact you may well benefit yourself from some sessions alone.

Sorry, I talk a lot for a non expert wink. Not a lost cause, but worth working out what is going on now. You don't want to live this for much longer. Perhaps things can get better for both of you together. If not, separation might be the outcome. You'll have tried your best though.

thelar Tue 21-Oct-14 10:39:51

Thanks so much for your thoughts! The thing is, I wouldn't say that she's unhappy or suffering from depression or anything like that at the moment but she's not particularly open about her feelings, so maybe I'm wrong. I'm not sure whether this is related to the loss of our daughter, obviously you never fully get over something like that but time does heal to a certain extent. We had our son a year after the loss of our daughter, obviously it was an incredibly difficult time, she was 38 at the time and we knew that there wasn't much time left.

We did pick back up an enjoyable sex life for a while after it happened although I would also add that generally we have always been unmatched when it comes to our needs in that department which I know is not uncommon. She does worry about our children greatly and puts everyone else's problems in front of our own for sure, she doesn't really consider her own happiness at all but I'm sure that she would be quite content to live out the rest of her days without an intimate relationship at all, the unhappiness comes from her knowing that it's not what I want.


silkysilky2 Sun 08-Mar-15 14:00:54

How did this pan out?

Anyone got a link if this discussion happened in 'relationship' forum as mentioned?

yyz2 Sun 29-Mar-15 12:37:24

Try a night out to rediscover the spark.

Even trip to cinema be out alone. Can you get a babysitter even for 3 hours?

GotABitTricky Sun 05-Jul-15 13:27:18

Hang on in there "thelar"

SaulGood Sun 05-Jul-15 13:41:18

silkysilky, you can find it using advanced search but to save you the trouble ta-dah!

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