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DW, marriage, communication, sex and stuff.(343 Posts)
Hello, Ive posted in Dadsnet and Feminism already for advice regarding specific parts of my slightly dysfunctional marriage, so its time to bite the bullet and whack a post in relationships!
Bit of background, Im male, DW and I have been married five years, together ten. Both mid 30s, two DCs (2 and 4) and no sex life. Ive considered and tried various anaphrodisiacs and been reading a lot about PIV/Feminism womens views of sex and got myself thoroughly paranoid about the number of women with disappointing sex lives and I think DW may be one of them.
Ive tried to broach the subject a few times, but she says its tiredness/stress (understandable considering the young kids I suppose), Ive asked whether she enjoys it when we do have sex, she says yes. Ive even asked if she fakes it! She says no. Not sure whether I believe any of it because I know she wouldnt want to hurt my feelings, and there does seem to be a big proportion of women out there who arent happy.
I help around the house as much as I can (still got to buy a copy of Wifework to make sure Im covering all bases) and I think we split things pretty equally despite me being fulltime working and DW a SAHM. She has the option of lie-ins at weekends (but rarely takes them), I try to do all the kiddy stuff at weekends to give her a break and cooking/cleaning in evenings is my responsibility most of the time too (she tends to do most of the laundry and cooking for the kids).
So I suppose the question is, how long should I wait before putting an ultimatum/suggesting counselling/ending the Marriage? (rhetorical: I know only I can answer that) I love DW and would do anything for her (have considered chemical castration at times), but this is getting me down and Ive started having slightly suicidal thoughts which I know isnt healthy. The constant rejection I could cope with if I knew what the reason was. Could be a case that counselling for me is required.
I think it all started about 5 years ago when we were TTC, after 1 year DW became pregnant and morning sickness put a kibosh on any intimacy, a year later we DTD once and number two came along, again Morning Sickness meant a nine month break, BFing extended this and it all fell into a rut so weve only DTD six times in the past five years! Putting that down in writing is quite shocking.
Anyway, DW has issues with her body post pregnancy. I find her sexy and attractive, but my constant reassurances fall on deaf ears (havent seen her naked for five years either). I think she may need some help to improve her confidence as nothing I can say changes it a jot. Not sure on the best way to approach this one, so any words would of advice would be good. I think once shes happy with herself then we can talk more about what she wants out of life and whether she even wants me in it.
Sorry, this post is all a bit disjointed and Ive probably missed stuff out but its cathartic to get it down even if this gets no responses!
Just my thoughts...
The reality is that it is not sex that disappears it is communication and intimacy that become dysfunctional.
Over time, the dysfunctional way of relating becomes the norm. It is a stable state, and difficult to change. The longer it is allowed to continue the less likely that sex can be permanently be successfully re-integrated back into the relationship.
Ignore a problem and it takes root.
Of the four scenarios mentioned above by Spero the most common I think is three. But it is not a conscious thing, but similar to puberty, just Mother Nature doing her thing!
Once baby has arrived, the urge to procreate is switched off, then it is either scenario two or four.
Scenario one would be typified by good quality communication and affection/intimacy continuing to be shared between the couple irrespective of the lack of sex.
If, there is poor communication, intimacy and therefore sex will be adversely affected.
I agree with Darkest. OP you have said you can see the communication improving in small ways already, which is a huge thing in my opinion.
Agree with warmfuzzy, once the raging hormones of adolescence die down a bit I think sex becomes the most potent and obvious way that adult partners can demonstrate intimacy. And without good communication it is difficult to see now you can have good sex as you won't be able to let each other know what you want/how you feel.
And this crucial link with intimacy explains why most of us feel such pain when we are denied it.
Sometimes I read on threads like this the dismissive comment that a man can just have a wank, how dare he bother his wife for sex if she isn't swinging from the chandeliers in anticipation.
And I think that profoundly misses the point. Sex is not just about squelching your bits against someone else's bits. It's also about closeness and affection.
So when one partner doesn't want to offer that to the other, I do think there is something profoundly wrong.
But don't be depressed op. whatever happens you have been honest and tried your best, and that's very very important. Better to have tried and failed, if it comes to that, than never tried at all.
Fingers crossed you will work it out.
Darkest - people are rarely 100% nice or nasty. I am sure he has some good qualities. But he hasn't been fair to you and he has caused you a lot of pain and you are entitled to be sad and angry about that. Don't put guilt into the mix!
Spero your posts are very insightful. you are right Its the loss of intimacy and closeness. When i was with OM we used to talk and laugh and hug and kiss even when we wernt having sex and had driven to a party in another county (i was leading a double life for 4 and a half years) i used to stay the weekend at the OMs and DH never questioned it. I met the OM at work and it wasnt until quite a way in that i found out he and DH were distantly related by marriage. DH found out about affair initially but thinks it only lasted 3 months rather than 4 and a half years. I have NO idea whether he thought i was seeing the same man (which i was) or whether the persons flat i was staying at was a different bloke. Because DH flat out refuses to talk about anything remotely related to the problem.
I once asked him many years ago whether he thought we would ever have sex again He just shrugged his shoulders and said "i dont know" Pre affair i asked him to go to counselling (he said no) and i lost ten stone which gave me confidence and my sex drive shot up The OM came along and everything was like a high speed locamotive after that It just all seemed to happen at once.
Sorry for the novel I know you have been in a similar relationship to the one i have with DH Spero I hope you are happier now.
Thanks for your kind words, yes I am much happier now because at least I am lonely and celibate as a single person, not as one half of a couple, which I think is the bitterest loneliness there can be. I appreciate I was very lucky to earn enough to get out when I did and keep my daughter - i know not everyone has the financial freedom to make the break or wants to leave their children,
I wish I could understand why we humans generally find it hard to talk to one another and be happy - as E M Forster said, only connect.
It's taken 20 years of hard knocks and skip loads of self help books to get this insightful! Pity that wisdom often only comes with age - my fave self help book has the snappy title 'Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart'.
Is this lovely SAHM living with a housekeeper, cook, cleaner, child minder, money provider or a partner?
You know, a 'partner'. As in, things get done together or shared evenly, not only by the one party.
The passion, lust, intimacy went when he stopped being the caveman hunter gather and became the housemaid.
Good description of the state of affairs Warmfuzzy, it is a stable state, and also an unhappy one from my POV. Spero hit's the nail on the head it is the intimacy rather than the cathartic relief that's missing, masturbating is great, but it can be very lonely.
Cronull - DW is living with a partner, albeit one who also does a fair share of the housekeeping, cooking, cleaning etc. Apologies if I mislead you or any other poster, DW works harder than me looking after DCs during the day I pick up the slack when I can. The housework and childcare cannot be split completely equally due to me going to work, but when I am around it is, and if I can I'll give DW a break too. Interestingly over the last six months or so she has started to do more of the cooking and laundry compared to previously, whether this is a reflection of the DCs getting older (more independent) or whether she herself is looking to gain more independence I'm not sure. Again, we're back to the communication issue.
I'm reading more about the "caveman hunter gatherer/nice guy doormat" contrast at the moment so may come back to that at a later date. I definitely fall into the latter category being passive and, for want of a better word, weak, but that is no reflection on DW and I don't believe I am being deliberately or consciously treated as doormat.
Hello keepit. I just ploughed through this whole thread and decided to name change to say something.
So much seems right with your relationship. So many people have advised you to get out (for their own very good reasons I am sure) but it seems to me youd be throwing away a lot of stuff that many people yearn for. I wanted to share what you might find to be a hopeful tale .
I was with my ex for 9 years and we had a really enjoyable 2-3 times a week sex life. He left very suddenly. I booked a relate session which he didnt turn up to so I knew things were over. I saw the relate counsellor regularly for the next year or so and found it really very helpful to explore some stuff with her. I was single for around 18 months. During that time I missed what you describe .that intimacy. I would crave just having a cuddle. The human touch. I met someone else after 18 months and the first few months of our relationship were great sexually; like you might expect for a new couple. There were a couple of occurrences that led me to cry during/after love making and this understandably led to a tapering off of that side of our lives. I can see how it happened. I had some insecurities and it made my partner feel cautious. That went on for about a year and a half I guess: no sexual contact. We talked sometimes about it and my partner maintained that it wasnt a big issue but that hed like to get things sorted. We started seeing a psycho-sexual counsellor (through a GP referral); I went on my own and then partner came along when Id had chance to discuss some things with counsellor on my own. That was very helpful actually. She smoothed out some things with me so that when we went together I was in a better place to progress. We saw her once a month and most months there was something positive to report; a step in the right direction. We were having some sexual contact again but very little. Then my Mum died unexpectedly so sex became incredibly unimportant and just surviving became the focus, so another dry period ensued, probably for about 12 months. We resumed the counselling and again made steps in right direction. Even with things totally out of kilter sex wise my partner proposed. The 6 months leading up to our marriage we used as an impetus to keep going and get on track which Id say we did by our wedding day. We conceived on our honeymoon (wasnt at all the plan but a happy accident is how wed describe it) and our much loved and wanted DD is 4 months old. The early pregnancy was horrible; I felt totally wiped out and sick most of the time so sex was off of the cards (and in fact weirdly the thought of sex, anyone having sex, sex on TV, or anything made me feel queasy!), then I started to show and it was a bit of a mind block to sex for me. Then I gave birth and had third degree tears and operation and post op complications. And the baby is still sleeping in our room (as is recommended until 6 months .Im risk-averse so am taking the advice), still waking a couple of times a night and still breast feeding. So we havent DTD since honeymoon over a year ago. We cuddle on sofa each night, he chats to me whilst I bathe, we cuddle in bed, were affectionate and cuddly people (esp DH), but theres no sex. I dont view this as a situation that will go on forever. Id be totally devastated if we split over this (we wont). We chat to keep in touch with each other.
I blather on about all of this to illustrate that relationships can have dry periods for a variety of reasons but that doesnt make it a bad or hopeless relationship. Travel hopefully and keep being the considerate person you clearly are. It already sounds like you are making steps in the right direction. Good job!
"Thanks Girlwiththemouseyhair, I appreciate your post. Sometimes the harsh reality of others lives means yours is put into stark relief. Other times the happiness of others offers hope.
Gosh Darkesteyes, I don't think you have anything to be guilty about. It's also quite scary the similarities between things you mention and my own relationship - I think I previously mentioned when DW made me a cake which was very sweet of her, but what I really wanted was a cuddle. Also she sticks up for me with my sister (who I don't have a great relationship with).
Apologies for the derailing - I really, really hope the OP's relationship isn't like ours. If it wasn't obvious, I'm pretty confident that we're a type 3.
PS can I just say as a women who worked full time and had a partner who was 'unable' to remember where the towels were or his daughters clothes (same cupboard for two years) or that you couldn't wash wool at 90 degrees (this man was a university graduate), there is nothing 'unsexy' or emasculating about a male partner who contributes to the running of the home.
You dont suddenly lose your sexy appeal because you do the washing up.
I just don't 'buy' this argument that women go off men because they do domestic work. I think it far more likely this is used as an excuse to mask wholesale loss of sexual interest, either in this particular partner or in anyone else.
I have tested this theory by imaging James Marsters in a flowery apron, doing the washing up and solicitously asking me if I would like a cup of tea after he has run a bath. I can confidently report that this has zero negative impact on his continued appearances in my fantasy life.
here here spero I am most unattracted to my husband when I feel over run by the daily grind of everything and I feel that he is taking me for granted, as an example - leaving an empty wrapper on the side instead of putting it in the bin which is right there !!! I feel it is disrespectful and makes me feel unsexy that (a) he isn't taking care of himself (b) I have to "remind" him that wrappers go in the bin of that socks go in the laundry basket or that clothes get hung up not left on the backs of chairs in the kitchen. Men who are able to take care of themselves is very attractive and infact was one of the first things I noticed about DH - he cooked! he cleaned! he never had dirty clothes lying around! WOW! and phwoar!
Emascilating my arse.
Spero, as I am sure you know, statistics back you up on this - men who do housework get more sex.
However, where there is an attraction partly based on the man never lifting a finger, I think it is based in unhealthy self-loathing emotional programming whereby women respect and admire men who assert their superiority by being a bit mean and contemptuous, and having nothing to do with things they consider low status. It is not the case that this does not exist. However I feel very sorry for the women who fancy on this basis because it seems clear that they are doomed to unhappy relationships in which they are treated badly.
I like girlwithmousyhair's post because it shows how complex (and changing over time) the reasons may be. Very insightful, on many levels.
It also shows amazing clarity and self-awareness which only comes from working extensively on yourself and the relationship - kudos for that, girlwithmousyhair! I think gaining that clarity is half the battle, and provides considerable relief in its own right.
DadIsSad, I read your threads before. Sorry to hear there is no positive progress. Have you considered continuing counseling individually, for yourself, to help you develop coping strategies? So that you stay healthy and sane, even if that doesn't directly impact on the relationship?
While girlwithmousyhair's post is interesting, it is clear that in her case there is good communication, counselling, affection and cuddling. In most of the cases we read about on here, none of this happens either. It is usually one partner's complete refusal to acknowledge the issue (they are often heard to say they don't think there is a problem or they are quite happy with the way things are), refusal to go to counselling and often a total lack of affection.
In girl's case, there were plentiful, understandable, workable and discussable reasons.
I went to Relate (individually), and thought it was very good and very helpful. Obviously, one session doesn't fix anything but I do believe it's a step in the right direction.
Three things stood out for me.
First, it dawned on me, that the fact that we live together for 10 years isn't anything to be proud of, and isn't proving the strength or health of the relationship necessarily. In terms of breaking the bad habits and improving communication, it would actually be better if we hadn't 'practiced' our misguided ways for so long. This is exactly what AWarmFuzzyFuture describes so well in her post, but it wouldn't hit home for me, without my counselor telling this to me face-to-face.
Second, I think I have to become more accepting of the fact that separation is one of the possible outcomes, even though it's not a desirable one, from my point of view. Otherwise a lot of stuff will continue to be ignored and brushed under the carpet in the fear that if we talk about it the relationship will be over. (Sex is the prime example of things that are hard to talk about; without unintentionally implying the break-up).
Third, communication. Again, one of those things that you hear about a lot, but it's something that doesn't quite sink in until somebody tells you so, in a no-nonsense sort of way, about your own situation, and looking you in the eye. We have a similar situation as keepit in a sense that I was aware of the problem (lack of sex), but wasn't aware of how much of a problem it has become for DH. The counselor said: 'three years is a long time to not talk about an issue'...
I will continue counseling on my own, until I feel comfortable to go together. I'm shit scared that when we go together it would all go downhill, very rapidly, and I would not be able to cope.
I agree, and that attitude of refusal is often supported and bolstered by quite a few posters on this board.
In my experience the only way to change people who refuse to acknowledge and deal with issues is to reel in the rope, not give them more of it.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Gosh I agree with everyone who has posted since I did, and I don't think that's ever happened before.
May I thank this thread for opening up a rich new seam of fantasy life. James has just cleaned out the fridge and is about to clean the hob. He is not wearing a shirt because it is very hot.
Yup, still sexy.
Glenshee - god yes, I went YEARS without discussing stuff, just hoped it would all get better. Scarey how quickly the time slips away.
My lightbulb moment was reading Carl Rogers 'on becoming a person' where he says 'the facts are always friendly. There is never anything dangerous or unsatisfying about being closer to the truth'.
Hello Buffy! One more for the Spike camp <slight but enjoyable derail>
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
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