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Marriage crumbling - advice needed please

(60 Posts)
DesperateDH Fri 12-Apr-13 13:23:44


I've lurked here for a little while looking for advice but finally plucked up the courage to ask. I have a couple of very close friends to talk to, but their mutual and I would like some objective (and preferably female) guidance.

The situation is this:

I am a 45yr old man. I have been married to my wife for almost 23 years. We have two beautiful children (7 & 5) who mean everything to me.

I find myself becoming ever more sad (and feeling lonely) as the days, weeks and years pass. I feel like I am no longer required in the relationship - just here to provide a home and money.

Before we were married, we had a fabulous relationship. Loving, mutual respect, shared interests and a decent physical side.

After we were married, there was an almost instant stop to the physical part of our relationship (it was 3 weeks before we consummated our marriage). The rest of the relationship remained strong - we laughed together and still deeply loved each other.

Fast-forward to our mid 30s. The relationship is still pretty good but the physical side is almost non-existent. My wife just isn't interested and has never once initiated any intimacy. I try to talk about this as it's creating a strain (on me) - my wife doesn't think it's the most important part of a relationship (for her, fair enough).

Still in our mid-30's, the biological alarm-clock goes off and my wife is terrified of being too old to have children so, when at the correct time of the calendar, we have more sex than we've ever had in our previous 13 years of marriage. For me, though, it's mechanical, functional and not particularly pleasurable. We are successful though and are blessed with a beautiful daughter and a son 18 months later.

We're both now in our 40s and our son is approaching 6 years old - his conception was the last time we had sex. There have been two "fumblings" since, but my wife lost interest. I know this may sound a bit selfish, but in our 23 years of marriage, we've had sex 22 times. I have never forced myself on her or asked her to "lie back and think of England".

I don't know whether it's biological, but I've found myself looking at other women more and more lately. I have never done anything about it and, although I have gone over the scenario again and again in my head, I just could not bring myself to leave my children.

I do love my wife, and I tell her so, but I don't think it's reciprocated.

I just don't know what to do. All I want is a "normal" relationship.


forumdonkey Tue 16-Apr-13 23:20:09

hi op
I'm sorry if my post sounded crass, I did say I would be blunt but never intended it to be insensitive - I wanted to speak from my own experience.

Tell your wife how much you desire her, how attractive you find her etc. It's not about different positions or size, it's all:about making her feeling amazing, sexy, desirable & earth thundering climaxes (which can be achieved without penetrative sex even). Make it all about her pleasure and she will respond in return ( if you manage to get intimate).

I am lucky but it has only come to the place we are now by gradually talking openly without judgement or embarrassment.

My point about my Mr Selfish was highlighted by the disappointing sex but showed that he cared little for my feelings ( it was all about him) and I could never feel as close or open or truly myself as with my Mr Amazing.

We're here for a good time not a long time and this is not a dress rehearsal.

My advice to any man - make your lady feel loved, attractive, sexy and amazing inside the bedroom and out.

And I make no apology for my to the point sex talk as we are all adults and it's a natural part of life.

Good luck x

Darkesteyes Tue 16-Apr-13 22:05:02

My H is on anti depressants and has been since 1969.
We met in 1992 when i was almost 19 and he was 42. We did have a sex life for 4 years (although it was just basic penetration) but it stopped when i was 23.
I comfort ate after that and got up to 21 stone After losing 10 stone in 2002/03 i had an affair which lasted for 4 and a half years.
When that ended in early 2008 i went back to comfort eating. Am now losing weight but its a lot harder this time.
Food is the only pleasure i get out of life. And because the sex i had with DH was so basic pre affair, back then i didnt know what i was missing out on.
Now post affair i know EXACTLY what im missing out on which caused me to comfort eat really badly.
I started to get a grip on this just after Easter. Ive bloody got to for the sake of my health.
Sorry Op Didnt mean to hijack.

Darkesteyes Tue 16-Apr-13 21:51:19

Yet during jokey conversations with our friends, full of innuendo and general naughtiness, she's happy to participate and even hints that we have a great sex life. I had to leave the room on one recent occasion, I was so cross.

Op i experienced this years ago. Its extremely manipulative of people to do this and it is done so that people in situations like this wont be believed if they confide in anyone.

Deffodil Tue 16-Apr-13 21:08:20

Stop looking at your relationship with your wife,and look at her relationship with your children. If she's as detached from them as from you,she has to stop taking the anti-depressants. You say that she can be the life and soul at social events. She's living in a fake bubble,and must start to feel real again,before you get to the truth.

welcometomysillylife Tue 16-Apr-13 18:52:42

She is not going to change is she? You know that. I would say counselling would be a complete waste of money. It won't give her a sex drive. The title of your post says it all. I think the only option you have is to leave and have the chance of happiness with someone else.

SeasideStrolls Tue 16-Apr-13 18:36:16


I empathise with you and would like to add to those saying you could well be happier apart.

I was married for 25 years, and our sex life, although no where near as bad as yours, was limited to a handful of times a year and it was very depressing. Like you we met and married young and we were the only partners either of us had had, so v inexperienced. My DW wouldn’t talk about it, didn’t initiate once, or show any interest in understanding any other view points. I was once told I was more like a father than a lover. I am sure all that contributed to the difficulties between us and we separated 3 years ago. The irony was that one thing she said when we separated was that she hadn’t felt ‘desired’. In truth by that time I had given up but because of our limited experience I had never wanted to upset her and had no idea how to turn things around. I suspect you are similar, given your statement that it took 3 weeks to consummate the marriage, which is unusual, at best!

So…I am now in my second relationship since separating and I can honestly say that in both I felt like I have come alive. Those feelings and experiences I thought I should have been having for all those years have all come together but the most amazing thing is that I can talk to my partner about all of it – good, bad or anything else. We share an approach, an outlook, that was definitely not there before.

I always hoped that my DW would find someone who would make her happy and complete, as I felt I couldn’t, but in the several relationships she has had she has not really experienced this. I know this because we got together again for a while last year (pre current partner) because there was still a lot of love there, and she told me quite a bit, but it served to show me how different we were, and made me realise that we (and probably many others) stayed married because, well, ‘you should because you made the vows’. So although I love her I didn’t feel we were well suited to live together.

So in summary to this epic (sorry!) post although I was unhappy about separating at the time these is no doubt it was the right thing to do. And you can have a life – and in reality I am not just talking about sex. Even though your DCs are younger than mine from what I have seen here you will still have your relationship with them. It is waiting for you, either through your DW choosing to change, or you choosing to end the marriage.

Good luck.

TicTacSir Tue 16-Apr-13 17:24:45

And that's exactly the point op. Your life and happiness is just as important - consider these two points:
a) what advice would you give one of your dc's who was locked in a seemingly loveless marriage?
b) you're young enough to leave, meet your soul mate and have a good thirty years of true happiness
I completely, completely understand your reticence to leave your children (as you see it) but it really is no good for any of you to continue in this way. As mentioned earlier (sorry, am on phone, can't scroll up to name poster), your children should see the ins and outs of a happy marriage. The older they get, the more they will realise that it isn't.
I'm hoping you find the courage to ask some of the questions I mentioned earlier.

DesperateDH Tue 16-Apr-13 14:37:00

Darkesteyes - thank you for the link. I will have a look when I get home later. I fear the work internet fun police may not like me reading it! smile

MooncupGoddess - You are probably right. I guess I find the thought of life outside of my little family unit absolutely terrifying - as mentioned back at the beginning of this, the thought of not seeing my children every day is unbearable. However, the concept of "'till death do us part" is now becoming more and more frightening. I feel like I'm wasting my life.

Darkesteyes Tue 16-Apr-13 14:14:24

Darkesteyes Tue 16-Apr-13 14:12:21

Hi OP i am in a similar situation to you My dh and i have not had sex or affection for 17 years. His choice not mine. I wrote about it anonymously for the moresexdaily website. I will put a link here. I just wanted to say that i know how you feel.

MooncupGoddess Tue 16-Apr-13 13:59:07

OP - have you heard the saying 'you can't change other people, you can only change yourself'? It's very relevant here.

You say, 'I need to be able to hold a grown-up conversation about a difficult subject (our failing relationship) without her walking away in tears as soon as she hears things she doesn't like or agree with.'

But if she doesn't want to engage (and clearly she doesn't) you can't make her. By all means try your best, but at some point you're going to have to take control of your own life if you want anything to change. And yes, that might mean suggesting you split up. By refusing even to consider this, you are giving 100% of the power in the relationship to your wife.

BurtNo Tue 16-Apr-13 13:54:24

sorry to hear that Desperate DH -maybe try a version of TicTacSir's item 3 as an open question to see how she fancies spending retirement?

DesperateDH Tue 16-Apr-13 13:39:58

Sadly BurtNo, I have no idea what interests her currently sad

BurtNo Tue 16-Apr-13 13:28:05

Best of luck OP - i am in a very similar position - i nearly sent myself mad trying to be a mind reader - i also tried being more assertive and demanding my DW be honest with me about our problems but it was counter-productive

it sounds to me like your DW might be avoiding all forms of intimacy - does she ever reveal her hopes and dreams to you - do you know what interests her currently? if she is keeping her inner thoughts from you then i suspect you have a mountain to climb

DesperateDH Tue 16-Apr-13 13:19:38

TicTacSir - thank you for that. Some very good advice which I will most certainly take away.

DesperateDH Tue 16-Apr-13 13:16:49

Forumdonkey - I'm pleased for you that you have such a wonderful sex life (and a bit jealous). But please read my last post - I've tried to suggest things, to change things and to spice things up but she's not interested - and I'm not talking about weird stuff either! Anything other than standard missionary would be a good start!

Walkacrossthesand - You're quite correct; this is not a new issue, but one that has gone on for years and years. I've never directly asked for sex or "prodded her in the back", but always tried to initiate intimacy when we've been snuggled up in bed. Maybe I should be more blunt?! More assertive? ! State what I want for a change?! I've never done that before.

StephaniePowers - Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not trying to blame anyone here. I'm trying to understand - which is precisely why I asked a bunch of Women on an internet forum smile - however, in order to do so, I need to be able to hold a grown-up conversation about a difficult subject (our failing relationship) without her walking away in tears as soon as she hears things she doesn't like or agree with.

TicTacSir Tue 16-Apr-13 13:01:16

I have thought carefully about how to respond to your post. I am sorry that things are as bad as they seem. This is no marriage.
Instead of focusing on the question of sex, I'd be asking the following questions; either by sitting down and talking, or by letter if she's unwilling to engage.
1) Does she regret marrying you
2) Did she only have children with you because she was scared she would "miss the boat"
3) How does she envisage your old age together after the kids have grown up
4) Does she have feelings for anyone else
Until these issues are all addressed I don't think you should even consider sex as the main problem.
Best of luck op. You sound like a decent and caring husband.

StephaniePowers Tue 16-Apr-13 11:56:55

paying lip service
anything where we simply don't agree
it falls on deaf ears

She is getting a lot of blame here without any real attempt to understand why she might, for example, discount what you say or not agree with you.

Perhaps she is depressed and fed up and not feeling the love because the above is the reaction to her attempts to communicate something. Running away in tears does give you some information beyond 'she doesn't agree with me'. If she is not listening to you then it might be because you haven't got to the heart of the matter.

Asking a bunch of women on an internet forum isn't really going to help but presumably a marriage counsellor will be able to get you both to listen to each other.

Walkacrossthesand Tue 16-Apr-13 07:24:17

OP, I feel for you. Many posters are assuming that the sexual side withered when DCs arrived, but your OP states that the physical side was 'decent' until you married, and then (almost instantly?) refused by your wife, until needed for procreation - but she's happy to give friends etc the impression that you have a normal sex life, she cries and runs away to avoid talking about it with you, and seems not to care about what this feels like for you. It doesn't sound to me that she loves you like you love her - maybe the 'meal ticket' suggestion at the beginning is on the money, in which case it's ok for you to stop trying, you've tried for so long and got nowhere . We only have one life, its not too late for you to find passion - but it looks like you'll have to end your marriage to find it.

Thisisaeuphemism Tue 16-Apr-13 07:07:46

Forumdonkey, that's not blunt, it's simply unhelpful and irrelevant.

Loulybelle Tue 16-Apr-13 00:57:54

If my partner rejected me for 6 years, i'd start to think the issue was with me, in which it wouldnt be, and the fact she doesnt ever seem to want to discuss, sounds alarming.

Mumsyblouse Tue 16-Apr-13 00:40:03

forumdonkey lucky you but in this situation they haven't had sex for six years since the birth of the last child, so how on earth would the OP start performing his new tricks to win her over. And really, why should he, if my partner (even if I wasn't the best in bed) rejected me for six years in a row, I wouldn't feel very amorous myself.

I think looking at the quality of the sex is entirely misguided, it can't be that bad that you'd only want to do it once a year!

forumdonkey Mon 15-Apr-13 23:36:07

Hi OP, can I be blunt? I am 43 and have always enjoyed sex and had a really good sex life, even all the years that I was married. I am with a man and we have the most amazing sex life I have ever had or imagined. In a period we split and I started dating an amazing man, who was so good looking and literally had women falling at his feet, he'd had had many previous lovers I was shocked how boring and selfish he was in bed!! It was so mundane and boring I just lost the urge to rip his clothes off and was always left disappointed and unsatisfied at his 'selfishness'.

Please don't take this the wrong way, but what about doing a bit of research and trying new things, making sure your lady is the priority? If sex is exciting, exhilarating, passionate as well as loving for her, it might just bring her spark back.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 15-Apr-13 15:01:24

EA... Emotional Abuse or Psychological Bullying. Using the withdrawal of affection to control someone else's behaviour.

DesperateDH Mon 15-Apr-13 12:26:26

Sorry I didn't manage to get back over the weekend. Your advice has given me some hope that all may not be lost. I tried to broach the subject again but was not immediately engaged. Difficult subjects are kind of skirted.

Stephanie. Thanks for your honest response - that's why I came here to ask for advice.

Missmaybe. Yes, we've both been treated for depression over the last few years. With me, it was succesful for quite a few years although I can feel myself spiralling down again now. My wife doesn't seem to be responding to treatment but doesn't seem to be doing anything to help herself either - she thinks popping a Citalopram will fix everything. I've explained that it is an aid to helping herself, but, as usual, only lip service is paid.

NotDavidTennant - Is there some particular issue that tends to provoke the crying? anything that is, while not necessarily confrontational, in opposition to her view or another (my) opinion that she doesn't agree with.

JamieandtheMagicTorch - Are you sure that there is not anything that you do, or don't do, sexually that is alienating her? Possibly. I'm not very experienced in the bedroom at all (having only had sex with two women - one after a break up age 20) and have been very keen to try and liven things up by trying something new. I am (almost) sneered at when I suggest this. Yet during jokey conversations with our friends, full of innuendo and general naughtiness, she's happy to participate and even hints that we have a great sex life. I had to leave the room on one recent occasion, I was so cross.

huddlelikepenguins - OP, you haven't explained what your relationship is like outside of the bedroom - does she confide in you? Is she affectionate in other ways? Do you make the effort to try new things? Does she? It's hard to tell... I used to think so, but I know she talks to her friends and her brother more than she talks to me. I try to make an effort to try new things and comment that change is good and healthy but it falls on deaf ears.

Needastrongone. Thank you. That really gives me hope.

Ohtobecleo - What you're describing sounds borderline EA to me. Sorry, you're going to have to help me with that one. EA?

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