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Is sex really the solution to all relationship problems?

(44 Posts)
sc13 Fri 30-Sep-11 11:06:09

I'm in a dilemma. Married for 14 years (together for 20), a 5yo DS with autism, last month DH said he's been having an affair for a year and wants to start a new life with the OW. It's not an unusual story: after DS and especially after DS's diagnosis at age 3, I have focussed my energies mostly on DS, and not been very supportive of DH. We both have FT jobs. Sex has been pretty much non-existent for the last 2 years. DH has been feeling unhappy for a long time, he says, and now he's found someone who makes him happy. He has agreed to try relationship counselling.
Now, one of my best friends has been insisting that this is all about sex, and if only I picked myself up and seduced him, DH'd come back in a flash and we'd sort things out. DH in all this has not mentioned sex at all, although I guess talking about feeling neglected could be code for that.
Is my friend right? The truth is, at the moment the very thought of sex with DH makes me sick, but what if she is right? She says, just do it, it's not such a big deal, and it could solve a lot of problems - do you think she has a point?

MangoMonster Fri 30-Sep-11 11:14:41

I don't think it's the answer but I think no sex is a symptom of what went wrong between you. I can completely understand how you got there, it's easy to focus on your dc to the exclusion of your partner especially wrt SN. Our ds has been recently dx and I am mindful not to push dps needs (all needs not just physical) too much to one side as it can become a habit over time.

So sorry you're having to go through this, I don't think sex is the answer. Wish you all the best.

joblot Fri 30-Sep-11 11:28:04

I second mango- in my experience sex goes as a result of primary issues in a relationship not being sorted out. Can you talk to a friend who has abit of a broader view of relationships/more life experience?

rshipstuff Fri 30-Sep-11 11:28:56

I never complained to my wife about lack of sex: she didn't want it much I accepted that (we also have stresses due to autistic DS and demanding DD) but sex is a kind of relationship glue and without it then you drift apart.

That said you have not done wrong, he has by going off with the other woman, you should not throw yourself at him as a reward for his betrayal, he has wronged you terribly and while you should definitely discuss the sex issues in counselling, it is not right that you 'make it up to him' by offering yourself up on a platter.

PurplePossum Fri 30-Sep-11 11:29:29

No, I don't think your friend is right. My marriage was pretty much sexless for the last 3 years (not for lack of trying on my part) and that is largely why I ended it, although obviously the lack of sex is, as MangoMonster says above, a symptom of bigger problems. If my husband had tried to seduce me at the end, after I'd decided to leave, it would've made no difference - the prolonged lack of sex had completely killed any romantic love I had for him over the course of those 3 years. I wouldn't have wanted to sleep with him and there was no-one else involved. I don't know, maybe your situation is different. In my case, what also really killed those feelings was his complete inaction in dealing with the sexual problem (which I see as breaking his marriage vows) despite me talking to him about it every few weeks. Doesn't sound like your husband did tell you often how serious the problem was for him though? Regardless, from my own experience, my gut feeling is that it's too late for seduction to 'sort everything out' sad

I'm very sorry this has happened to you. It's a horrible way for a marriage to end for anyone, but especially when the 'neglect' has happened due to you taking care of you DS after his diagnosis. In an ideal world people would communicate their problems long before it got to this stage and some people would be able to leave relationships before starting others sad

krispykremeaddict Fri 30-Sep-11 11:33:18

I don't think so, though it is a bit of a chicken and egg situation I suppose. Sex is a big part of bonding with another human being and is an important aspect of a romantic relationship. Where intimacy is lacking, you'll not necessarily feel inclined to have sex, and it can be a vicious cycle. However, I think a relationship should be strong enough to withstand dry spells according to what life throws our way, be it family life, bereavement, depression etc.

The other thing is though, in amongst all that, is that sex can be very powerful and people sometimes make stupid errors under its influence - thinking with your trousers if you like. It can make some people very, very foolish and careless.

I'm really sorry for what you're going through. Please don't blame yourself.

sunshineandbooks Fri 30-Sep-11 11:37:23

No. Your friend is being extremely unhelpful. If anyone should be making an effort in this relationship, it is your H. Perhaps the reason you don't want sex with him is because he has betrayed your trust and you are exhausted from managing your DS (despite you both having FT jobs, it sounds very much as though you have all the responsibility). Maybe if your DH makes the effort to help and support you, and treats you like he's been treating the OW, you will want to have more sex with him.

Charbon Fri 30-Sep-11 11:49:38

No your friend couldn't be more wrong.

What she's proposing is that you start competing with another woman for your husband's affections and in the process, reward him for deceiving and lying to you. If he is still in any form of contact with the OW too, all you will be doing is contributing to a surfeit of needs being met in your H, so there would be no motivation to make a decision about what he wants. In this situation, the only thing that motivates is loss.

Likewise, relationship counselling is pointless if he still has any contact with the OW. It only works if you start that process, after he has made a firm decision to commit to you.

You seem to be assuming you are at fault for your husband's affair.

You are not.

He and the OW are completely responsible for that, because you cannot be held responsible for a decision you never made yourself. You and he were however, jointly responsible for your relationship. When problems arose, it was both's responsibility to attempt resolution. If he didn't tell you he was unhappy and as a result was going to start a relationship elsewhere, you must not take the blame for a choice that was hidden from you.

I think it would be more helpful if you reversed your thinking and analysed where he had been failing as a partner, before and during his affair.

The decision should not be "will he choose me?" but instead "why would I want him back?"

buzzskillington Fri 30-Sep-11 12:00:56

Why are you going to relationship counselling if he's decided he wants to start a new life with this woman? It sounds like he's just going through the motions so he can say at the end, well, we tried everything...

I disagree wholly with your friend. He should be proving himself trustworthy to you and be desperate to keep you, not you should force yourself to have sex with someone who has betrayed your trust.

He wasn't getting enough attention because you work and your SN ds takes up your time & energy? Well, wah, diddums. It was as much up to him to keep things going and instead he chose to fuck someone else.

DontTellAnyonebut Fri 30-Sep-11 12:11:03

There are many women who say that if you're not sleeping with your husband, who is? It's advice from my grandmother's generation. Whilst i feel for you, you did let your marriage crumble. Do you think that if you had been shagging 3 times a week for the past year he wouldn't have looked at someone else then you are to blame too. I don't care if that's not the PC response.

If you want your marriage back, give sex a go. If not, then try not to be too angry or bitter and work out a solution than minimises the break up for your son.

buzzskillington Fri 30-Sep-11 12:20:59

And the man had no responsibility at all in the marriage 'crumbling'? hmm

GreenMonkies Fri 30-Sep-11 12:23:49

Sorry, but what a pile of bollocks your friend is talking!

Sex is the wild thing you do in the first few years you are together, and when you are making (planned) babies. After that, once reality and real life, the stresses of work and caring for high needs children etc start to take over, sex becomes secondary. It's nice if you both still want to do it, but not a deal breaker if it's not happening. I know of couples who have not had sex for years (for a variety of reasons) and still have very connected, solid, affectionate relationships.

Your husband is making pathetic excuses, and I should know, I've heard every one of them from the father of my children. The truth is, if he had focussed his energies on the needs of the child you both created, perhaps he would A) understand how tired, preoccupied and generally worn out you are, and B) not felt so left-out and isolated. You say you've not been very supportive of your [D]H, but I wonder how supportive of you and your DS he has been? If he's been busy having an affair with an OW for a year, then I'm guessing not very.

He's behaved like a spoilt child, you already have one, genuinely, high needs child, don't take this kind of emotional blackmail from this man, and I use the term loosely.

Go to counselling, use it as a tool to help you separate amicably and get to grips with the fact that this is mainly the result of his inability to deal with life as a family with a high needs child, not your lack of focus on him. But don't you fucking dare put on the high heels and stockings and lure him back to your bed, he doesn't deserve you, and you sure as hell don't deserve him.

DontTellAnyonebut Fri 30-Sep-11 12:26:00

Of course he does but the OP did say that she took the eye off the ball, so to speak.

VeryLittleGravitas Fri 30-Sep-11 12:26:50

No, more sex isn't the answer.

Just think about this; if your husband had put a tenth of the energy he's invested in this new relationship into supporting you and your child then you wouldn't be having this conversation.

He sounds thoroughly selfish IMO.

GreenMonkies Fri 30-Sep-11 12:28:13

DontTellAnyoneBut she didn't take her eye off the ball, she was too damned busy with a FT job and an autistic child to pander to the "needs" of her husband. Perhaps if he had been a bit more involved she wouldn't have had to focus on DS quite so much, it's not rocket science surely?

VeryLittleGravitas Fri 30-Sep-11 12:29:06


Well of course she took her eye off the fucking ball! She has a disabled child to care for!


buzzskillington Fri 30-Sep-11 12:31:06

Oh well, that's alright then. Your partner's a bit distracted, not paying you enough attention perhaps, what should you do? Oh I know, have sex with someone else! Yeah. Not perhaps, tell your partner you need to work on things together, noooo, whoops - fell into someone else's vagina...

cecilyparsley Fri 30-Sep-11 12:31:39

donttell, I think you are using the pc card to discredit replies that have been very rational and well thought out.
The fact that your advice comes from your grandmothers generation isnt a reason to recommend it, quite the opposite!

DontTellAnyonebut Fri 30-Sep-11 12:33:30

They both had a DS to care for, not just her. I do think that this sounds really sad and awful but nearly everything written about love and sex reiterates that it is how men 'feel love'. Surely BOTH of them need to take some responsibilty, her for the sex and him for his son. I have no idea if he helps out or not but if she wants him to stay why not give a bonk a chance?

DontTellAnyonebut Fri 30-Sep-11 12:36:36

If OP doesn't think the relationship is one she wants then she shouldn't do it but 20 years is a long time to throw away.

buzzskillington Fri 30-Sep-11 12:39:35

It's not her that threw it away for a cheap shag.

rshipstuff Fri 30-Sep-11 12:40:29

If the husband wants to throw away 20 years and his own flesh and blood then that's HIS problem.

Yes men do get pretty chilled out if they are getting sex from their wives every night, BUT what about the women who are not so mechanical about things and are genuinely not wanting? Why should she 'put out'? I don't see that his desire for sex trumps her lack of interest in it.

PurplePossum Fri 30-Sep-11 12:41:39

It's nice if you both still want to do it, but not a deal breaker if it's not happening.
Greenmonkies, speak for yourself. For many people it actually is a deal breaker and their feelings on the subject are equally as valid as those belonging to people for whom it isn't. When someone says "Oh you don't need sex in a marriage", I am quite happy to accept that that is true for them and expect them to understand that for some people it is absolutely vital to their existence. OP, not directed at you but it really rankles me when I see this stated as a universal truth because it's not.

DontTellAnyonebut Fri 30-Sep-11 12:49:35

To me, sex is part of a relationship, maybe to others it isn't. If you're both happy then 'no worries' but why should someone's lack of interest be accepted but the other. If you no longer want to shag your husband, you don't have to. However, if he expects that from his relationship ,you have to accept that you are withdrawing from the original deal.

GreenMonkies Fri 30-Sep-11 12:51:06

I think if sex is utterly vital for your existence then there may be some ishoos that need addressing.....

Sex is a biological urge, designed to make sure we procreate and the species continues. I like sex, I really do, but when I'm tired, stressed and juggling a millions domestic balls in the air, the last thing I want to do is empty his for a quiet life.

A partnership is just that. Two people, together, creating and maintaining their family. If the family has especially high needs, then both parents are responsible for making sure they are met, and sex is not a need. Contrary to what many men will tell you. It may be that too many men measure how much you love them by how often you put out, but this is a pretty piss-poor and shallow way to assess how much someone loves you.

A relationship (marriage/whatever) is based on way more than sex, it's about mutual support and caring, if you're having sex too, that's lovely, as long as both of you want it. But if it's a deal breaker, then I'm not sure the deal is that solid.

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