Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Tell me what to do - please. I'm really at my wits end. Should I go?(23 Posts)
I know, there are a million and one threads about whether to stay or go in a relationship. I hope you will be kind enough to read on and give me some honest thoughts. I cannot go on much longer.
Back story as briefly as I can. I have been with DH for 15 years (since I was mid 20s). We have been married for 7, and have two DC, who are 2 and 5. DH is a very good man. He has a good job, he's a great father, he is kind and intelligent and is a good husband.
When DH and I met, we had that normal rush of sexual attraction; I'd say it lasted a year or so. But actually, if I'm honest, fairly early on it started to wane. The attraction for me was definitely that he was a nice, secure, stable man who appeared to really love me. I knew he'd be a great father and husband. Forward to 3 or 4 years in, I knew I just didn't find him physically attractive any more. Cue a very painful, very very painful break up, where I minimised any discussion about sex, just said I wasn't ready to settle down etc.
And then, after about 6 months I realised that I missed him. Very much. I loved him. So I contacted him and told him this, and told him that I wanted to be with him. We talked and talked and ended up getting back together. And in my head I compromised. I told myself that i could live with the fact that I didn't fancy him really. That the trade off was a good one. So we got married and had children. And were relatively happy.
Until January this year, when one night I came home late from being out with friends. He was waiting up and asked if I was having an affair (I wasn't of course). When I asked why he asked that, he said that our sex life was awful and had been for a long time, but he had been too nervous to bring it up. and he's right. It has been. I hate having sex with him; I do it, because I love him and I love our family but it is really something I would happily never do again.
it was an awful night. we talked long into the night and I was as honest as I could be (I said the sexual 'spark' had gone for me, not 'I haven't wanted you to touch me for years'). We agreed to go for counselling (sex and relationship) and now we are almost a year on. And the bottom line is that I feel like we've got nowhere. Our relationship is not a bad one. I haven't gone off him because of his behaviour, or small children, or anything like that. I feel in my heart like I just don't fancy him any more and haven't for many years.
Sorry this is so long. I know that you're all going to say (if you have read this far) that I shouldn't have married someone I knew I didn't find sexually attractive. I know that, and I am so ashamed. I can only say that I loved him, I do love him, and I thought that it would be OK. That I could psyche myself up. I was scared of being alone too.
and now - here we are. Crunch. Two small children who adore their daddy. I have tried a year of counselling and I don't think it is going to work. I honestly feel some days like ending it all, because that would almost be easier than hurting this lovely man and telling him it is over, and hurting my children.
and what lies out there for me anyway? How can I leave a marriage just because of sex? I am doomed to be alone forever, right? Please help me.
Okay going to say first off ending it all would stop your angst but bring a whole heap of trouble for your beautiful children for a long time (and for that matter your husband you profess to love if not sexually) so please put that thought out of your head.
I feel the same as you! I've been married for 5 years (no children) and would happily never have sex again. Husband will never agree to this and would like to be doing 'it' 3 times a week (which we don't). It causes problems between us and I too think that if this relationship ends I can't enter another one because sex will be an issue again. I wish I could offer some advise but I can't, other than to say you are not alone.
You're husband does sound like a lovely man. I'm sure a lot if women would be envious of you having a husband like him.
You say you love him? Then surely that is enough. Almost all relationships become more mundane sex wise, but other aspects become better - like bringing up children together, and feeling safe and secure.
Is it really worth breaking up your family because of this? You obv have felt some attraction for him as you chose to date him on 2 separate occasions, and went on to have children with him.
Maybe you should start doing something physical together, like running or learning ballroom dancing to bring you closer. Start laughing together more and you might find you begin to fancy him again.
Don't give up on your marriage yet.
Your 'lovely man' is already hurt. You've left him once, come back under false pretences and subjected him to a year of counselling. Telling him it's over is the only honest and decent thing to do. Let him get on with life with someone new rather than carrying on holding out hopes for someone who cannot return his affection. Let your DCs experience two happy parents living apart rather than two miserable ones living together. BTW...killing yourself would be supremely idiotic, not to say selfish. If you feel depressed, see a GP... don't take it out on your family.
What lies out there? Whatever you want, basically. Chance to develop yourself as an independent person.
hey, have inboxed you. good luck with horrid decision.
OP, you seem to hold back some pertinent information from him. Counseling can only work if you are honest. I'm not surprised you feel you are going nowhere if you don't approach this honestly and candily.
I have a few friends in similar sitouations in so far that they never mentioned to their DH how bad sex was and then don't know how to improve it without admitting the duplicity that has been going on for years (and the fake enjoyment of it).
I might be naive but I've always thought that if you talk openly about sex , go through the moitons of what you like, how you liek to be touched, handled, enquire about what he likes then perhaps you can get back to a sex life that is decent.
With the right person in the right circumstances you may well feel that 'spark' again but in OP's case, surely having tried counselling, therapy or whatever, you can be honest with your DH and say you've tried but haven't chamged your mind? He deserves someone who can gladly offer him what you can't. If you feel you've done your utmost, it's time to tell him, before any further damage.
I would never lightheartedly say to anyone with children "oh, split up", but this seems a sham.
What's your libido like generally? In other words is it that you don't want sex at all or is it that you don't want sex with him?
If your libido is intact then it's not unreasonable at all to want to end a marriage for these reasons. It's pointless and unreasonable to suppress it because it's one of the strongest life impulses humans can have, but women are conditioned all the time to think it's not important and it's shameful to give this an equal or higher priority than other things in a relationship. In fact it's more unnatural to suppress it.
Of course your husband's in the same position. He probably feels trapped in a marriage where he's also got to suppress his libido, but it's more personally painful for him because of your rejection. I agree he's already hurt and staying with him is just going to prolong that, stopping him from finding a partner who will desire him fully.
If you're good friends and have a good relationship generally, you will probably be able to co-parent with more ease than when there is acrimony and resentment.
Personally I think it would be far more hurtful and disrespectful to continue this marriage and more compounding of your original offence when you 'settled' and persuaded him to sign up for a marriage without sexual attraction. But you should throw of this cloak of shame for being a normal woman with a functioning libido- because that's harming your husband and children as much as it's harming you.
I have been honest in the counselling, as best I can. I have said everything as honestly as I can. We have tried everything, trust me.
And my libido does appear to be intact. Beth your message resonated because I do feel very guilty about lack of sexual desire being something important to me. But it is. I can't imagine being in a sexless marriage forever (which I don't think my DH would want either anyway). But it is hard - I imagine the chats with my children - "Mummy, why did you and daddy split up? Er, because I didn't fancy him enough". I HATE it. I almost wish I'd had an affair, or he had, or we fought a lot because that would be a concrete reason to leave.
I think your guilt is because you've swallowed all those years of conditioning that a woman's libido is not as important as a man's.
In fact it's much more important that we raise children not to believe this claptrap and to teach them that sexual desire is normal and healthy and isn't gendered.
I'd urge you to reject that guilt because it's irrational. The guilt about your original decision to marry and prolonging the inevitable is however rational and needs resolving. Your husband has been hurt by this and will continue to be hurt if you keep trying to flog a dead horse.
It's also much kinder and more dignified to end this before affairs start. When adults, if you raise your children to value sex and feel no shame about it, they will understand your choices. They won't however be so understanding if you have an affair. They will resent your cowardice and the unnecessary hurt an affair will bring to their father's world.
The answer to 'why did you split up?' is 'because we grew apart'. If your relationship has no physial affection in it and, more importantly, the lack of that physical affection is making one or other party miserable ... that is a perfectly concrete reason to end it. You canpotentially still be friends with your exH - which is what you are now, in reality - but you'll both lose the feeling of being trapped.
Beth and cogito (and everyone else) can I say thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to reply. You make perfect sense to me. I guess it is a concrete reason to end it; but it just feel very very selfish to break up a family because of it.
You're right though. Dignity. Kindness. Those are things I need to think about now. Feeling selfish and guilty isn't helpful. I will just have to suck up the pain and hurt and try to make the best of all this.
Hi amongst other things, I divorced my exH partly for this reason to. It was only when i recently got into another relationship, where the spark, sexual attraction was there, that i realised i wasn't in a relationship with my husband at all. We were living as friends. I hadnt felt sexual chemistry like it for a long time (since my teens) with new man. However, that relationship didnt last for other reasons. I am hoping i do meet someone in future who is compatible and the chemistry is there again. But one thing, i don't regret divorcing my exH (after 13 yrs) i am free to move on and so is he. Our child is absolutely fine. Hard as a single parent, but harder to live in turmoil. we went to relate for months. You cant make something that isnt there. good luck x
You can look back and feel guilty for 'settling' in the first place, because that was a choice you made that has had very negative consequences for 4 people. But you might also want to acknowledge that stuff about how you were conditioned as a woman to think that sex shouldn't be important- and forgive yourself.
You can perhaps agree with your husband that you will raise your children to make different choices and never to feel shame about their libidinous impulses, especially if sexism is involved. That will go some way to righting your own wrong.
Acknowledge that your husband is going to be very hurt and will need a period of grief, so help him all you can while you sort out the separation. You can perhaps tell him that you have too much respect and regard for him as a man to hurt him by having an affair and that you think like you, he's entitled to happiness in the long term. Sadly, he's as much a victim of this crazy conditioning as you are. In time, he might acknowledge that and much later on, will respect your honesty, courage and decency in ending this marriage without the hurt of infidelity.
Where is the bit where someone forced the op to start seeing this man in the first place. She said she made a decision to leave him - and she did. Then, again, it was also her decision to restart the relationship.
No one was telling her 'you're a woman sex isn't important so just settle for what you can get'. It was entirely her choice, her free will. Can everyone stop blaming 'society' or whatever.
Did you not read Cosmo when you were younger - where in that magazine did it ever say women's desire for sex was unimportant etc etc. I sure as hell never read it, or have heard anyone in rl say it.
The fault with this failing marriage lies with the op and the op alone.
Can everyone stop watering down the fact that she is about to rip apart her family and start blaming it on 'society', rather than in fact the actual culprit which is herself.
She has gone ahead and had children with a man she now says she doesn't fancy and never really did. If she chooses to end this relationship she should square up to the fact that it is her fault and no one elses.
Women of the 40+ generation were raised to value sex as a single woman, sure. But they were also raised with a hangover from their parents' generation which was that women are responsible for keeping families together, orgasms weren't the be-all-and-end-all of sex- something that has never been foisted on men- and that good, kind loving men weren't to be sneezed at and that compromises had to be made.
The OP made a bad call all those years ago. Doesn't mean she made her bed and has to lie in it though, compounding the bad call for another miserable 30 years or so.
Agree beth. Beating the OP with a big stick for making a mistake isn't going to help her, her DH or her DCs really is it?
I've been there and made a bloody great enormous mistake with bells and whistles in it myself. I feel shit about it everday of my life in fact. Only i know that though.
No one is unhappy now, because i took a massive leap and admitted to myself and everyone around me what i'd done. It's what the OP (and a couple of other OPs on other threads right now) need to do.
You don't have to tell the children anything that will hurt them. 'We grew apart' is perfect, and it's what i told mine.
To those who said I deserve everything I get, and it is entirely my own fault - trust me, you don't have to say it. I know. I will feel guilt about it for many years to come anyway. In my own defence I have this though - a truly terrible role model as a mother, who taught me that to really love was to have hurt and pain in your life. I don't think it is a coincidence that I married a safe, stable man that I didn't love enough, sad as that is now for everyone.
Thank you again to everyone. I have tough days ahead but I know that I must face them.
I do think the OP was very unfair on her now husband. Whether there was societal pressure or memories of parental behaviour is irrelevent; whether they are reasons or excuses, justifiable or not. The point is that we make our choices and have to accept the consquences. Unfortunately in this case, the consequences don't just affect the OP but what sounds like a very decent guy and a family.
There is no point prolonging this. You should make arrangements to leave and try and be as amicable as possible for the children. At the end of the day, your husband has been a good guy and obviously loves you very much. He doesn't sound as if he has been at fault in any way, so try and make it as painfree as you can for him.
You deceived him, even if (for you) you felt the right motives. Allow him the chance to find someone who DOES want him, totally and utterly. He deserves it. That's not to say you don't deserve it too but....
Why are people piling on the OP as though she deserves punishment? Or as though this idea that women are supposed to not be particularly sexual is utterly antiquated? FWIW I was told quite explicitly by my mother that sex was a much more important drive for men - concurrent to also being told to keep my legs together until marriage, that men only wanted one thing, and so forth.
And we STILL see the message that men want sex while women want love, that women "trade" sex to get love, etc. None of us lives in a vacuum.
I feel for you Bocca. I am in a similar situation to you. I often tell myself it's not a crime to make a mistake, but it's a crime not to learn from it. Remember also that you didn't make a bad decision on purpose, you genuinely thought it was for the best at that time. (Regrets and hindsight are meaningless as we only ever live in the present). I worry that if you stay together and suppress this problem, it will fester and manifest itself as problems in other ways. Good luck with everything.
Thank you to everyone, and also to those who PMed me (you know who you are!). I have not ever set out to hurt anyone. Quite the contrary, I have tried everything to try to sort the problem out. To those of you living with the same problem, please do try to sort this out. A desire-free marriage is so miserable, trust me. It starts to erode everything.
Join the discussion
Please login first.