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Should I look elsewhere for sex?

(49 Posts)
Jangled Wed 06-Mar-13 10:26:31

Have namechanged.

I'm so confused, can't see the wood for the trees. I have been happily married for 21 years. I love my dh wholeheartedly, I respect and admire him. He is the bravest person I know with the most integrity. I know that he loves me.

Dh is severely physically disabled and beyond kissing we do not have a sex life. It drives him mad that he is unable to do anything for me. Physically he feels nothing, but emotionally he would still like to be able to make love to me.

I have convinced him that the lack of sex means nothing at all to me, and that I am absolutely fine with the way things are - and for about eight years I truly was. But over the past year or so I have begun to sorely miss, well sex to put it bluntly. I think this possibly coincides with being peri-menopausal and with my hormones running riot!

If I'm being totally honest I'm not sexually attracted to dh any more - my feelings have changed so that I feel very protective and tender towards him, but nothing beyond that. I have seen him suffer so much (lots of horrible hospital procedures and operations) that I want to care for him and look after him, but I can't see past that. So even if by some miracle (and it really would be a miracle) something happened that meant we could resume our sex life, I don't know how it would work.

If I told dh that I was missing sex it would crucify him, and I'm not willing to do that. But what is the alternative? Do I just put up and shut up? I have tried satisfying myself, both alone and with dh, and it's something but no longer enough for me.

There is someone I know very slightly, who I see very irregularly - once every six weeks maybe, sometimes much less. I am attracted to this man, and think there is perhaps a slight frisson between us. It's difficult to tell because I don't know how to interpret the signs any more. I'm so distracted that I'm at the point of contacting this man and asking him if he's married. I can't actually believe I'm even considering offering myself to a virtual stranger who may very well tell me bugger off. I haven't even kissed another man since I met my dh 24 years ago.

Please help me work through this. Should I just accept that the physical side of things is over for me as it is for my dh? And please don't think too harshly of me, I think badly enough of myself as it is.

I have to go out for a while so forgive any lack of response on my part for now.

elly67jo Wed 06-Mar-13 10:34:45

People do what they have to do sometimes. Sounds like you've done the very best by your DH. As long as he definitely won't find out then if you feel it's something you have to pursue then you should but with the greatest caution. Choose someone kind and single who will appreciate you and be discreet.

MerryMarigold Wed 06-Mar-13 10:37:11

I have no experience in this area, and don't really know what to advise but I didn't want to read and not respond as you are going through so much.

I feel really sad that you have such a loving relationship with your partner but can't have sex with him. However, I also feel you should be faithful to him. You are so blessed to have someone you are close to, that you love, and who loves you. And unfaithfulness could shatter that. Even if it is your own conscience. I think you would naturally have to harden yourself to your partner, keeping such a huge lie from him and he would sense it.

It must be so hard for you, I don't want to come across as being harsh, but if it is you being peri menopausal then it will pass hopefully even if it is a burden for now. Try not to think about it too much, because the more you dwell on it, the more you will desire it etc. etc. Those thoughts will plague you and make you behave in a way you don't really want to.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 06-Mar-13 10:42:28

I think you and your DH need to have a very honest conversation about feelings, expectations and the direction your relationship is taking. Talk about the lack of sex and your need for physical affection. Be honest about the way you see him.... as a dear friend to be protected rather than as a lover. Explain how difficult it is becoming to keep sacrificing your needs and prioritising his.

The disability complicates matters but all relationships change and evolve over time so, in that regard, you're no different to hundreds of other couples who find 20 years down the track that they have to have a rethink, take a different approach or call time.

dopeysheep Wed 06-Mar-13 10:46:19

I think if you love someone then you can't expect them to make such a massive sacrifice for you as you have made for your DH.
I don't think you can just be sexless for the rest of your life, if you have a desire to express your sexual feelings, it's not realistic.
You say your DH wouldbe crucified if you told him how you feel but at the moment your relationship isn't a wholly truthful one anyway, and how about you? Don't you feel crucified not being able to tell him, or do anything about this situation?
You sound lovely and thus must be so tough for you.
I really don't think you should be expected to be celibate forever, and I don't think your DH should expect you to be either.

MerryMarigold Wed 06-Mar-13 10:49:25

I don't think the the OP is celibate! She is not having penetrative sex with her husband.

I know I will no doubt be the odd one out here, OP. But really sex is amazing, but not necessary in life. Love is far more important and necessary.

You do sound lovely by the way, OP.

AThingInYourLife Wed 06-Mar-13 10:54:09

I agree with Merry.

namechangealso Wed 06-Mar-13 11:04:11

Hi Jangles. In answer to your thread title... the answer is 'yes'. Yes you should. You sound so caring and loving toward your OH.. he is very lucky to have you. No, you don't put up and shut up because believe me it will NOT pass. Why should a woman's sexuality be a 'burden' and why should the OP 'try not to dwell on it' MerryM? That is so unfair and could only be posted by someone who has a OH who can turn desire into lovemaking. Jangles OH can't. Nor could mine (to put this into context, see my last paragraph).

At the moment, Jangles, you are in the position of having given it your all. You are on a long journey with this and you will carry on loving and supporting your precious OH. You are committed to your OH in every way possible but you have one life to live and who should be condemned to celibacy for the rest of their life?

I was in a similar position as you and I buried it all in the hope it would go away. It didn't. It caused me a mini breakdown of sorts as it came back to bite me on the arse. Do not brush this under the carpet please. By thinking about it now, Jangles, you can make a rational, calm and considered decision as to what you do, and if that means having an affair, so be it. You won't be rushing into it because it is obvious from your post, you are torturing yourself with this now. Don't bury it and let it come out with a less than rash decision later on.

You have lived with this for nine years or so... I did the same for double that time and I suddenly had a lightbulb moment when I realised I could not die without ever making love again. I wish I had addressed it after nine years or so because the lightbulb moment caused me great pain, anguish and heartbreak. If I had addressed it earlier I could have been more rational about what I was going to do. You have that chance. Take it.

Mintberry Wed 06-Mar-13 11:24:18

Also agree with Merry. You ought to prioritise your marriage over a quick fix of sex - if he found out it would probably tear him in two. I appreciate things are hard for you and it sounds like you've done a really good job at keeping things together, so it would be a shame to betray your husband now. You even said your hormones are running riot, you shouldn't do anything impulsive when you don't have a level head.

Stay strong OP, when I read your post it sounds like you need people to support you through this time so you don't get overwhelmed and do something rash, not people to say "oh it's okay, do what makes you happy, as long as he doesn't find out" - whether or not he finds out or not doesn't make it right, and some things are more important than individual happiness. Ask yourself how you would feel if the boot was on the other foot - you were sick and couldn't have sex, so your DH just looked elsewhere. You and your husband should be able to depend on each other even in the darkest situations.

namechangealso Wed 06-Mar-13 11:37:46

Hmmm.... of course we should all be able to depend on each other in darkest situations. But this isn't going to get better is it? There is no end in sight for Jangles, this is a 'forever' situation. This is saying that one person in life has to dedicate their life to another... every bit of it.... and that is expecting someone to be a saint, and to be a lid on their feelings, desires and emotions. Somehow or other it will come back... it won't go away, you can't bury all this.

If I were sick and couldn't have sex, I would never ever expect my OH to put his life on total hold for me. That is too much to ask of someone, I'm sorry. Of course, every situation is different and maybe there will come a time when the OP is able to talk with her OH about how she feels, but to condemn her to a life of celibacy is just cruelty IMHO.

namechangealso Wed 06-Mar-13 11:39:34

to put a lid on their feelings, not 'be' a lid!

dopeysheep Wed 06-Mar-13 11:47:12

This isn't about betrayal though. I think as a previous poster a true and honest conversation ( probably many!) needs to happen.
Everyone has different desires and needs, and some people could live without sex and some can't. The OP has lived without for 9 years and now feels she can't continue like thus. There's nothing impulsive at ALL about her feelings.
Yes some things are more important than individual happiness, but then is his happiness worth more than hers?
If I couldn't give my partner a sex life then yes I would be happy for them to look elsewhere, otherwise how selfish would I be? I couldn't expect someone to give up something so central to them just so I wouldn't be unhappy.

AThingInYourLife Wed 06-Mar-13 11:51:54

I'm not sure I could be in a marriage where my spouse went out to have sex with other people and then came home to be my nursemaid.

It would make me feel like utter shit.

I'd have more dignity being cared for by a professional who had never promised to love me.

He has a right to be treated with respect and honesty by his wife.

namechangealso Wed 06-Mar-13 11:57:00

good point dopeysheep (love the name BTW!) Why is his happiness more important than hers?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 06-Mar-13 12:02:22

"He has a right to be treated with respect and honesty by his wife. "

Respect and honesty has to come, in this case, from being truthful. The truth my hurt the DH in this case and it may change the relationship but currently the OP doesn't feel they can be truthful at all. That unwillingness to express herself honestly - for fear of hurting his feelings - means she's considering a secret affair. Something that is probably the worst of all worlds because the OP will end up feeling cheap and the DH, should he find out, will be very upset.

Again... this is the fundamentally the same as any other relationship. When the game significantly changes it has to be reassessed honestly and everyone know where they stand. Otherwise it limps along with everyone unhappy and/or living a lie.

Lovingfreedom Wed 06-Mar-13 12:05:23

Don't have an affair. You'll feel terrible, it will solve nothing and you'll break his heart. Better to have a difficult, honest conversation with him. His response might even surprise you. He's bound to have thought about this.

BelaLugosisShed Wed 06-Mar-13 12:14:35

For me, as long as there was kissing and intimacy, I could cope with no penetrative sex, much as I love it, so could my DH.
Plus, severely disabled people are usually able to have a sex life, there is a fair bit of specialised equipment to enable it.

I think that if this other man wasn't on the scene, you wouldn't find it difficult at all - you are half way to giving yourself permission to have an affair, which would hurt your husband far more than telling him you miss having sex.

namechangealso Wed 06-Mar-13 12:18:49

Yes, but Jangles says that desire for her OH has left because she is in the role of a carer and has been for an age. That is understandable and no-one should think badly of that... walk a mile in my shoes etc etc

AThingInYourLife Wed 06-Mar-13 12:28:38

I agree, Cogito.

something2say Wed 06-Mar-13 12:36:33

I think - don't have an affair. Do tell your husband. Let him cope with the fallout. He may be lying to himself about his capacity as a man and may need to accept that his capacity to make love has sadly died now, and he may need space to grieve that. Watch for anger, completely natural.

You deserve sex if you want it, it is normal. Tell your husband and both of you take it from there. Good luckxx

badinage Wed 06-Mar-13 13:20:14

I'm reading this that at this point, it wouldn't matter if penetrative sex was back on the menu, the OP doesn't fancy her husband or want sex with him any more. So even though other sexual intimacies might be possible, that's not what she wants with this man.

In which case, although the disability and carer role might have contributed to these loss of feelings, they are red herrings hiding a more common situation; a woman who doesn't have any sexual feelings for her partner.

In which case, there are only two ethical options but both come with the potential for hurt. One is to end the relationship and the other is to seek an open relationship that would possibly (but not definitely) be one-sided. Deceit and lies are never going to be the ethical option, so honesty is always the way to go.

The RL OM is a non-starter. He might not be interested in an affair with a married woman, he might not be interested in the OP full stop. He might be in a relationship himself.

Branleuse Wed 06-Mar-13 13:28:50

no you shouldn't be dishonest to your dh. Have a wank. don't involve other people and other peoples feelings dishonestly into your relationship.

Soundofthecrowd Wed 06-Mar-13 13:30:52

It sounds as though you have been very loyal and dedicated to your husband. However, I don't think you should be expected to give up your whole life and put his needs first all the time. I agree with others that you should have a really honest conversation with him. He may already have some idea of the problem you are having especially if you are close. None of us can know how we would react in these difficult situations but I like to think if I was in your husband's position I would give my OH the freedom to choose how to live his life. You could also investigate other ways to have sex with your DH. If you decide to look elsewhere don't underestimate the power that sex has to bring you close to someone else and it may change your relationship with your DH more than you expect. Good luck whatever you decide!

VoiceofUnreason Wed 06-Mar-13 13:34:30

We really need to change wedding vows to remove that stuff about "in sickness and in health" if we haven't already.

As someone who stuck several years in a sexless relationship my advice is that you should leave your DH and I agree with badinage. It's sad but these things happen.

Mintberry Wed 06-Mar-13 13:48:51

If we remove the vow about marriage being a commitment we may as well do away with marriage altogether, because that really would make it 'just a piece of paper'.

Just to clarify, though I said not to have an affair, I agree you should share your feelings with your DH.

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