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attempting to resurrect sex life but all a bit confusing

(19 Posts)
dippyrascal Tue 02-Aug-11 11:11:06

Will try and keep this succinct and balanced - have a tendency to waffle!

Relationship problems and health issues - mine - have meant that our sex life has been been very unsatisfactory for, well a few years really. I haven't been up for it, dp has been been left feeling rejected and frustrated. We are affectionate with each other and frequency of actual sex can range from once a week to once a month or even less. He has tried to be understanding but can get very angry at times about it. I feel under constant pressure and that I have completely forgotten, mentally and physically, how to be a properly sexual person and the sex we do have is stuck in a rut.

Recently I read something based on what I believe is sex therapy practice. Basically a couple agree to have sex once a week and that time is totally devoted to being intimate together - rather than falling into bed knackered at the end of the night and attempting it if you see what I mean. Each week one partner leads, sets the scene and the other goes along with it as long as they are comfortable with it. In the intervening days there is not sex, no pressure - and hence no rejection.

I thought this seemed like a brilliant idea and suggested it. DP wasn't keen but didn't seem to want to really talk about it so in the end I said let's go ahead and give it a try and he agreed that it was worth a shot. The first night I led and whilst it wasn't fantastic sex it was close and intimate and we both enjoyed it. Since then though he was back to his old tricks of hugs which lead to him giving my boobs a quick fondle, suggesting we have a quickie, when we walked past Ann Summers in town nudging me and asking if we should go in? Also he seemed to be making excuses for doing his night - he'd be working late, he's going away with work.

Finally yesterday morning after a nice cuddle which led to his hand up my top I said would he stop with the groping and has he not been listening to a word I'd said. He got really angry, said I made him feel like a dirty old man, that he was constantly rejected by me. He ignored any attempts I made to contact him during the day and last night when we tried to talk about it he said he wasn't up for the once a week thing as he was so used to being rejected he didn't feel comfortable instigating anything, that he's lost confidence in himself sexually. This doesn't quite ring true to me as he often does instigate sex but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt hence posting here.

What I kind of think is he's turning what I said to him about not knowing myself sexually anymore back on me for some reason - he's done it before with other things. But for the life of me after years of him wanting to improve our sex life and giving me grief over it I don't know why he'd sabotage a concerted effort to get it to work. Unless I'm missing something and I'm being some sort of control freak here? confused

Sorry, it is a bit long isn't it? Any insights - even if I'm roasted - gratefully received.

Quodlibet Tue 02-Aug-11 11:25:44

Is it a control thing rather than a sex thing? You're saying: You can be in control (of the sex) on Friday night. He's saying: No, I'm not only being in control when you tell me I can be.

Is he bucking against things being on your terms, essentially?
(Whilst I absolutely don't think anyone male or female has any right to expect sex of anyone else, in any relationship, I can understand how an underlying resentment/pressure could build up about an element of a relationship only being on one person's terms, whether that's sex, washing up, work hours, whatever. It's very hard to separate out those two things though.)

Sounds like he doesn't understand your point about wanting 'time off' sex to release the pressure (sounds like a very reasonable idea to me). Hope none of that sounds like a criticism, I think you're doing a really good thing in trying to tackle the issue and your method does sound like a really good compromise to start trying from, if both people can see it as such.

BertieBotts Tue 02-Aug-11 11:33:58

I think he really, REALLY needs to respect the no groping, no hints, no pressure thing for anything to happen, otherwise he's just going to push you further away. He's said he doesn't want to initiate on his "designated night" as he's expecting to fail, but he's setting himself up for rejection with all these hints constantly which you've told him you don't like and WILL reject if he does them. He has said you make him feel like a dirty old man, but he is being disrespectful by doing this when you've made it clear you don't like it. So he's not taking responsibility for his own actions here.

I think you need to talk to him and ask what he suggests to get your sex life back on track if he's unwilling to try your idea, and don't agree to anything you don't feel comfortable with.

I also don't like the sound of him getting angry, though that might be my own relationship history encroaching. It doesn't sound like you're scared of this anger anyway which is a good sign.

geraldinetheluckygoat Tue 02-Aug-11 11:41:04

I'm in the oposite position exactly - my dh has health issues which lead to a very infrequent and lack lustre sex life. I get what your dh means about being rejected, and as unreasonable as it sounds, it can make you feel like that because although it rationally shouldn't, trying to initiate sex with your partner and then being rejected, and not being allowed to make any sort of flirty gestrue to your partner does start to make you feel a bit resentful after a few years. (my dh will playfully reprimand me for, oh i dont know, pinching his bum or something like that...).

It must be really hard to be in your position too, and I remember suffering a total loss of libido when I had my second child. There is nothing worse than being pawed when you're not in the mood.

People have suggested we go to councelling and I just find the whole idea so depressing and heartbreaking because I suppose I think it feels so sad to have to get a third person to intervene and almost cajole and encourage my parnter into fancying me again - I know that isn't exactly what it would be like, but that's how it feels. A bit soul destroying. Maybe that's how your dh feels. It is hard to get past that feeling that actually you just really wish your partner looked at you and fancied you and wanted to have sex with you rather than having to be persuaded in to it.

Please don't take this as a personal attack, I dont know what the answer it, probably it is waht you are trying to do, but I just wanted to give my side of it from the other side of the fence, if you like!!

itwasthat Tue 02-Aug-11 11:59:49

god i hate it when they think a grope or hands in your knickers out the blue is going to get you in the mood.!! totally get you on that, i think your DH sounds very inconsiderate, he sounds frustrated and impatient yet he cannot see that what you have suggested could be a way out for you both. have you tried counselling with him. not sex therapy just counselling because it seems to me that your DH hasnt LISTENED to what you have planned, and isnt taking part. i do agree with one post above saying its a control thing, perhaps he doesnt want to have sex when it just suits you ie your planned night. thats just childish ... either way you two need to have a good chat about this and he needs to be drawn a picture or two to illustrate how you really feel about this because its clear he has missed the boat

nickschick Tue 02-Aug-11 12:04:03

My dh does that sometimes it leads to sex sometimes it doesnt .......im always very careful when bending over the oven or something as he has a tendency to slap my arse hmm but he does that in public too so I think its just blokey behaviour.

Dont you think your way is a little clinical a little contrived? and surely to try and reach a degree of normality you need a level of intimacy most days?

Dh knows he gets a better response off me if he strokes my face or touches my knee than if he slaps my arse or gropes my boobs but its just a jokey way of being intimate that I dont always object to.

venusandmars Tue 02-Aug-11 12:04:23

I think that it can be quite difficult to do something like this on your own because you can get confused between following a therapeutic programme, and being the person who sets the ground rules (don't know if that makes sense).

geraldine I understand your reluctance to involve a 3rd person, but a good therapist with experience in psychosexual counselling will neither 'intervene' nor 'cajole'. What they will do is create a safe space for you and your partner to discuss sex and intimacy, they will listen deeply to what you are both saying, they will (based on their professional expertise) suggest some approaches that they think might work for YOU BOTH, and help you both negotiate what you want out of it. I know that it can sound sad, embarassing or soul destroying, but it can also be liberating, enlivening and quite fun.

Curiousmama Tue 02-Aug-11 12:09:38

Have you tried getting him to go to a sex counsellor? Or to read a book on it? It's awful when sex goes wrong I hope you can sort it out for both your sakes?

dippyrascal Tue 02-Aug-11 12:13:05

Thanks for the replies. I think all the points are insightful and tbh it just makes me realise how complicated all this is. I think yes, there is some control thing going on, with both of us. He tells me all the time that I'm the one in control of when and how we have sex but I don't feel at all in control, particularly when I try and be honest with him about how it is and he just ignores it.

I really do need a 'time-off' approach though, he would argue he's given me plenty of time off and that him wanting to touch me is perfectly normal and he's sick of being made to feel like having a sex drive is wrong. Also he says that his comments re quickies and the like are just jokes. I do take them as such at the time but I can't help feeling they're a bit loaded with resentment too.

Geraldine - what you say is how it is, I imagine, to be him. We have a thing about him touching my bum. But then it stems from him being incapable of giving me a hug without trying to put his hands down my trousers, or cuddle me in bed without it being all about giving my bum a rub - eventually I was like 'arghhh, leavy my bum alone!' Now he makes a joke of even patting my bum, says he does it just to annoy me. But then I hate that I've made it all seem so perverted when its normal couple stuff - surely there's a happy medium though? Dp will say that he wishes I fancied him the way he does me. I do fancy him though but I need some time to build up to it and this constant cycle of pressure/rejection makes it impossible.

Bertie - I can be scared of his anger as at times he has really kicked off, shouting in my face, slamming doors. He says I have no idea what sexual frustration is and it's the frustration that makes him angry. Its only usually that powerful when he's had a few drinks though.

dippyrascal Tue 02-Aug-11 12:20:02

I also think going to see a proper sex counsellor is a good idea - we went to a marriage counsellor a while ago - was hell at the time but in retrospect helped, even though he has a tendency still not to listen!

It all seems such a big palaver though - not to mention expense - when I thought a diy version might work. Good point though about it not helping having one of the two people in the relationship being the ground-rule setter. When he calms down I'll try and get a more open talk about the way forward going and see if we can come up with something together. It's such shame as he's away for a couple of days and then we're all on holiday together with my parents, so not going to be easy to talk then. Can't bear the thought of a grumpy and resentful week ahead when we're all going to have to be trying that little bit harder anyway.

wannaBe Tue 02-Aug-11 12:48:18

I understand your frustration, there's nothing worse than feeling pressured into something you don't want. But tbh I can also see your dh's pov about control.

For the past however many years you've been the one to control when you have sex, now you've extended that control not only to when it happens, but down to the day it happens, and now you're also controlling when you don't have sex, iyswim.

I imagine that for your dh it must feel a bit like you are having sex with him out of some sort of obligation, rather than because you want to. By assigning a day and time to it it does turn it into a chore rather than the spontaneous act of two people who are supposed to love each other and want to be with one another in an intimate manner.

I think the therapy methods are all very well, but they have to be mutually agreeable, or imposed by a 3rd party, otherwise there is too much of an imbalance in control and nothing gets resolved.

BertieBotts Tue 02-Aug-11 12:51:22

Shouting in your face and slamming doors is a big red flag for DV, don't want to scare you, but there it is. It sounds as though there are some other controlling behaviours here as well. The fact that it only happens when he drinks is irrelevant, it's still a red flag. And you are NOT to blame - if he was that sexually frustrated he could have a wank, and yes, I know it's not the same, but honestly I refuse to believe that a wank is insufficient to relieve the "pressure" that some men use as an excuse for their anger. (What they really mean is "I'm angry because you won't let me do what I want to you")

The thing with a time off approach is that it's irrelevant when he thinks he's given you "enough" time - that's not something he gets to decide. It IS wrong to touch someone sexually when it makes them feel uncomfortable, and possessing a sex drive does not exempt him from that. I imagine he doesn't grope every pretty girl he sees walking down the street - being in a relationship doesn't give him an automatic right to do it to you. It's only "normal couple stuff" when it's wanted! If it's not then it's not normal at all. And it's definitely normal (and I'd say healthy) to have a balance of non-sexual affection and the more suggestive types of touching etc. It sounds like your H slips a grope or a feel in every time you do something affectionate like hug, kiss, or even sit together, and that's not a balance at all.

If his idea of a joke is to do something that makes you physically uncomfortable it sounds like he's not very respectful of your body at all.

If he's not receptive to your DIY sex counselling techniques, then I very much suspect he would rubbish any suggestions by a counsellor as well and refuse to co-operate which would make it not only useless, but an expensive useless!

I think you should try talking to him by all means to see if you can find any other things to try, but also think for yourself about the relationship as a whole and whether the issues he's displaying here (not listening to you or taking your needs/opinions seriously, not respecting you and your wishes, trying to shift responsibility for his behaviour onto you) are occurring in other areas of your relationship as well.

Apocalypto Tue 02-Aug-11 12:54:58

Well per the 'How long would you put up with dh sex and intimacy problems? ' thread, he should give you an ultimatum whereby you either sort yourself out to his complete sexual satisfaction within a year, or he leaves.

Whatmeworry Tue 02-Aug-11 12:59:21

There is another thread going here from the opposite POV, the OP has told her DH (who can't get it up) that they are going to sex counselling and he has a year to learn to fuck her or she's fucking off.

What's good for the Goose....

Whatmeworry Tue 02-Aug-11 12:59:49

X-post with apocalypto smile

PhilipJFry Tue 02-Aug-11 13:02:20

Dippy, I really sympathise with you. I love my partner so much, but there have been times in the past where I just felt at the end of my tether at being groped and touched incessantly. It was incredibly frustrating and made me feel almost cheap that someone could reach out and just cop a feel whenever they felt like it. I had to really talk to him about it before it stopped and what I felt was a healthier dynamic resulted.

He's said a lot about not wanting to do things on your terms and feeling controlled or whatever, but to be honest to me it seems that he's upset that it isn't being done the way he wants it. The fact that he tries to skip the week where you lead the sex, while he goes ahead with the one where he leads and you do things his way, for example. And you say he ignores your suggestions, well that surely doesn't help.

"I can be scared of his anger as at times he has really kicked off, shouting in my face, slamming doors. He says I have no idea what sexual frustration is and it's the frustration that makes him angry. Its only usually that powerful when he's had a few drinks though."

That sounds incredibly unpleasant, and I'm not surprised you feel under pressure and upset.

luckylucky Tue 02-Aug-11 13:18:21

Are you both happy in this relationship still? I was in a similar situation for the last year or so. The groping etc really got to me and he never understood. It was always his way or no way. I have now recognised that all the years we've been together, i have never truly been happy and that he is not the right person for me. The "spark" has gone from my side. Is this how you feel about your partner? I'm not sure you love someone but are not IN love with them, whether that love could ever come back so for now, we are having a trial separation which was my choice and not his so as you can imagine, things are not too good at the moment. I hope you find your answers soon. Good luck.

dippyrascal Tue 02-Aug-11 16:56:44

Thanks again for the views from both sides of the bed as it were. I know in an ideal world it shouldn't be so hard to have sex with someone you love and having been the person who was on the rejection side before in a different relationship - albeit not for the years that this has gone on for - I do get a little part of how shit it must be to not be fancied by the person who you're in a relationship with.

But then it's not that I don't fancy him, for ages I didn't but many things affected that - babies, arguments, money problems, health stuff. The thing is I think I can myself cranking up again but I don't know how to, or what I like anymore or how to relate to him sexually because it's been such a battleground for so long. The time off and once a week thing isn't meant to be controlling, it's meant to be a 'wipe the slate clean and get to know each other again'.

Perhaps the spark, as luckykucky says, has gone and, yes Bertie, there are issues underlying it which go deeper. Our counselling a few years ago really highlighted them and we almost split because of them. He swore to look harder at himself and take on board what the counsellor and I said which he has done. However, the occasional outbursts of anger or nastiness over this, his blaming me, the freezing out... it all takes me back and a wall comes down again. I do feel though that we've both put such a lot otherwise into the relationship and our family, that we do have a good time and enjoy each others company that it's worth working at.

MadAboutHotChoc Tue 02-Aug-11 17:12:33

I've had to explain to my H that I would prefer him to say something like your bum looks great rather than grope me which can be a real turn off when I am not in the mood and it works well as a compromise...

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