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DW, marriage, communication, sex and stuff.

(343 Posts)
Keepithidden Tue 09-Jul-13 10:11:19

Hello, I’ve posted in Dadsnet and Feminism already for advice regarding specific parts of my slightly dysfunctional marriage, so it’s time to bite the bullet and whack a post in relationships!

Bit of background, I’m male, DW and I have been married five years, together ten. Both mid 30’s, two DCs (2 and 4) and no sex life. I’ve 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.

I’ve tried to broach the subject a few times, but she says it’s tiredness/stress (understandable considering the young kids I suppose), I’ve asked whether she enjoys it when we do have sex, she says yes. I’ve even asked if she fakes it! She says no. Not sure whether I believe any of it because I know she wouldn’t want to hurt my feelings, and there does seem to be a big proportion of women out there who aren’t happy.

I help around the house as much as I can (still got to buy a copy of Wifework to make sure I’m 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 I’ve started having slightly suicidal thoughts which I know isn’t 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 we’ve 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 (haven’t 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 she’s 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 I’ve probably missed stuff out but it’s cathartic to get it down even if this gets no responses!

higgle Mon 15-Jul-13 14:11:40

Another vote for counselling now. you need to arrange this, as previously suggested. I used to work in a very matey mostly male environment where we would talk about anything and everything over tea or a late afternoon drink. I can think of 3 males of my acquaintance aged around 60 who had this issue in their marriages and never discussed or tackled it, they were still living in sexless marriages around 20 years down the line and could talk about it within our group but not to their own wives (lawyers). Don't let it go on that long without tackling the issues here.

Keepithidden Mon 15-Jul-13 15:08:19

Thanks folks

Wellwobbly - - it is incredible what even a bit of 'stranger' support from the internet can do: you feel less alone and misunderstood and have a few new tools to go on with.

I think I needed the incentive to examine myself, my relationship and DWs behaviour and motivations. I've learnt a lot in a short space of time and I'm determined to put it into practice.

Do be brave and think about going to Relate. You love your wife dearly (lucky, lucky her), and talking to eachother and listening are skills that are learned, just like any other skill.

I think it would be useful to go to counselling, both of us, I don't know much about it and we don't have much time (or money). I'll head over to the relate website and find out more.

Higgle - Thanks for the warning, it's gone on too long already, time to start making changes, starting with me.

Darkesteyes Mon 15-Jul-13 16:46:52

Thankyou Spero I remember that Chris Rock sketch He pretty much nails it on the head.

KeepitHidden i echo what Wellwobbly says You seem to love your wife dearly and despite whats going on i see absolutely no bitterness in your posts.

Good luck and best wishes to you and thankyou for your supportive comments to me too. thanks

Wellwobbly Mon 15-Jul-13 16:57:03

Don't worry Keep, it is on a sliding scale of fees. Relate gets a big subsidy from the government (which should be trebled IMO)

arsenaltilidie Mon 15-Jul-13 17:27:16

^ We were happy I'm sure we can be again, and if it doesn't happen or I sense deliberate reluctance to acknowledge there is a problem then, well I've no desire to spend my life in a marriage like that, I've no desire for DCs to experience that and assume it's how marriages should be so it'll be decision time.^

Keep us updated

tumbletumble Mon 15-Jul-13 19:50:12

OP, you could consider a marriage course. DH and I went on one a couple of years ago and found it really helped us communicate better. It's not expensive and there is a whole session about sex!

TheDoctrineOfAllan Mon 15-Jul-13 21:04:46

Good luck, OP. Relate are good even if you go alone to chat things through. I got a lot out of just four sessions.

Glenshee Mon 15-Jul-13 23:07:14

My DH and I are on the same roller-coaster ride as you, OP - going downhill for the last 3 years or so; with me being disinterested in sex, like your wife.

Lots and lots of good advice here on this thread (and some not so good smile ). I particularly enjoyed watching the TED talk that Dilidali linked to. I thought it was relevant, but more importantly - constructive. For example, the speaker says that instead of focusing on what makes sex unpleasant it’s more helpful to discuss what kind of situations and circumstances make (or made) you feel relaxed and ‘in the mood’. She also says that people find their partners most attractive when they are at some distance from each other – for example, whilst observing the partner interacting with other people in a social gathering, or by watching him/her perform and succeed in a professional setting. I guess it’s pretty safe to say that none of that really happens in a typical family when kids are little.

I also loved the ‘3 course meal’ analogy by LillyGoLightly which I totally identify with. Very elegant description smile and up to the point.

OP I am glad that you’ve not been sidetracked and have already done the most useful thing you could have possibly done – confronted your DW and made your feelings known. This breaks the vicious cycle that makes you both miserable. I don’t want to minimize the stress that the lack of sex is causing you, but trust me being on the other side, carrying all the blame is no fun either, and it only gets worse and worse as the desparation becomes more evident and off-putting in it’s own right.

I suggested a one month break from any sexual activity to my DH, with the view to remove the pressure and tension that it causes, and so that I can at least talk about it without falling apart.

Our kids are older and both in school, so they no longer suck out all our energy like they used to when they were 2 and 4. I no longer work full-time, and I am certainly not burdened with any unreasonable housework or childcare demands. I have my own hobbies, me-time etc. (Although I do blame the accumulated sleep deprivation of the past years, and a very boring previous job to some extent). But right now there is no real, external stress whatsoever apart from the stress that my DH and I create ourselves out of thin air every other day!

Relationships are funny things...

I have been to GP last week who said that I do come across as mildly depressed. He recommended Relate – I have my first appointment (initial assessment) tomorrow; I'm going on my own at this stage, at my request. Initial assessment is £35, then between £20 and £50 per one hour session depending on your income.

Two years ago I discovered I have histamine intolerance which may well affect things, but you just never really know how much. The condition itself can be managed ok with ocassional mild medication. It is entirely possible that this can be backtracked to the times when kids were little and symptoms weren’t so obvious. None of us is becoming any younger, you know, and once you hit your 30-ies and have two kids, I don’t think you can reasonably expect to carry on being ‘the same you’ all the time without fail.

We do have other issues too. (So do you, I suspect). This is not a full story. But like you, and against the odds, I am trying to remain optimistic.

Numberlock Tue 16-Jul-13 03:43:43

From the other side of the fence sorry to say but you're all deluded and clutching at straws.

Glenshee Tue 16-Jul-13 11:56:42

How charming Numberlock grin

What sort of place are you reporting from? The separated/divorced side of the fence or?...

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Tue 16-Jul-13 12:09:10

I am assuming Numberlock is suggesting that whatever you do will make no difference and that, for whatever reason, once one partner is totally and unequivocally no longer wanting a sexual relationship with their partner, nothing you can do will get it back. And, I suspect this is totally right in the majority of cases. We only have to see how many threads we get on here about sexless marriages to see how true and sad this probably is. My experience and those of others on here would bear this out.

DadIsSad Tue 16-Jul-13 12:44:43

From my perspective I tend to agree with JessicaBeatriceFletcher - I've started threads on here before in the hope of getting help, but don't think we're actually any further on than when I first posted over 2 years ago. Well I suppose we are now up to DTD 6 times in 7 years, having been once in 5 years back then, but last time was over 6 months ago (now the longest period which doesn't include the birth of a child), and I am wondering if that actually was the last time. I don't think my partner has any interest in a sexual relationship with me (not sure if that's just me, or anybody, and not quite sure which I'd prefer!), nor does she have any interest in trying to fix it. Intimacy? Not unless I initiate and often get the impression that anything I do is unwanted - that includes the times we've DTD when it's happened as a complete surprise to me, not following any kissing or cuddling before getting into bed - I was trying to work out what the secret was to her being interested, but I don't think there is one and it's totally random. I've also come to realise that actually it is the intimacy I really miss more than anything - we last went out on my birthday and I just ended up feeling frustrated that we couldn't even manage a cuddle, let alone a snog at the end of the evening.

We went to Relate for a couple of months last year - I guess it helped a bit, but didn't get anywhere near fixing our relationship. Stopped going because she didn't want to go any more rather than because we'd solved all our problems (hadn't even got as far as discussing sex - though it had started moving that way, which I think she was uncomfortable with). I suppose that was followed by a burst of 3 times in 4 months so maybe it did something? Don't discuss sex or our relationship at all now - if I ever try she doesn't want to talk about it.

I'd say I'm not really sure why I'm still here, but that would be untrue. I'm still here because I'm even more afraid of leaving (well that and current financial circumstance, but I'm not sure I'll manage to leave once I get that sorted). The trouble being that I don't really have any friends or social life, so it feels like I'd be leaving my family to go to nothing - and I'm totally lacking the self-confidence to believe that I'll manage to start another relationship (isn't having no friends one of those red flag things?)

Sorry - I don't think that helped the OP or anybody else at all, just feeling the need to vent today as I'm feeling so down, and this seemed the most appropriate place.

Spero Tue 16-Jul-13 13:49:09

I think it definitely helps to know you are not alone and there is no shame in venting.

Number lock - we are not all deluded. Some of us saw writing on the wall a long time ago and were lucky enough to be able to get out.

Numberlock Tue 16-Jul-13 16:29:53

Yes sorry to generalise with the 'all' but from the woman's point of view, my ex was the same as the OP - fully hands on with child care, house work etc, a 'nice' decent guy.

None if it made a blind bit of difference sadly and I wouldn't have cared if we'd never had sex again.

DadIsSad Tue 16-Jul-13 16:39:54

Just to satisfy my curiousity (and I know you're not the same as my DW, that it doesn't make any difference and feel free not to answer if you'd prefer) was that just sex with your ex which you had no interest in, or sex with anybody? Was there anything which would have made a blind bit of difference?

FWIW I've become aware that I'm deluded and clutching at straws as you might have gathered from my post - it's just that I haven't spotted any greener grass.

Spero Tue 16-Jul-13 17:18:16

I think there are basically four scenarios for the sexless marriage - the first, there is mutual attraction but it is overwhelmed by the circumstances of the time, such as child care or illness. This can change but runs risk of slipping into permanence just by force of habit.

2nd, one partner just doesn't fancy the other and never has much, but would enjoy sex with someone else. They entered into the relationship for other reasons.

3rd someone who isn't that bothered by sex with anyone and if they have had sex have done it to procreate, hence any interest drying up once children are born.

Finally, a mutual decision made by two people with low or no libidos.

It is of course a decision for an individual whether or not they want to have sex with anyone else. But to refuse to have sex with your partner and refuse to discuss it is pretty shitty behaviour in my view. You are holding someone else hostage, dangling the hope that things may get better when they probably won't.

Numberlock Tue 16-Jul-13 17:20:18

Dad. Just my ex I'm afraid and nothing would have made a difference.

11 years post-divorce I'm pleased that he's about to get re-married, ie he's found his greener grass.

Darkesteyes Tue 16-Jul-13 17:34:50

Spero when me and h met he was attracted to me but he was never really into satisfying me properly. Never wanted to touch me in certain places I was almost 19 and he was 42 when we met. So i didnt have a great frame of reference. He stopped having sex with me when i was 23 When i was 30 and my affair started my OM wanted to touch me everywhere and i was actually having orgasms during sexual encounters. I did once wonder if DH is only attracted to women within a certain age range. Its moot anyway now though because his disabilites mean he now cant.
And thats something i feel i should mention DadisSad Keepithidden and City and others how would you feel if your partners got ill and you ended up having to care for them after your needs being sidelined for years. Because sometimes just sometimes it can be hard to do that without feeling massively resentful.

Darkesteyes Tue 16-Jul-13 17:37:36

I feel so guilty writing that and it sounds really nasty I dont mean it to be. He does try to make up for it i think in his own way by buying me the odd gift which then makes me feel guilty for feeling resentful and then confused too.

Spero Tue 16-Jul-13 17:54:30

Why feel guilty? It is a fact and you are sad about it, I can't see anything nasty in what you have posted.

Darkesteyes Tue 16-Jul-13 18:00:35

Thanks Spero thanks

Wellwobbly Tue 16-Jul-13 19:06:04

flowers to you too, Darkesteyes. I didn't realise your H was now disabled.

Keepithidden Tue 16-Jul-13 21:39:26

Well, this thread has taken quite a depressing turn.

Glenshee - I'd never heard of a histamine intolerance before, a quick Google suggests it's really quite common. Interesting stuff. Hopefully the cycle you talk of has been broken, I can see quite clearly how my own responses continued it for so long. I can also see how to change myself, my DW on the other hand has to want to do it too.

Numberlock and Jessica - It is some relief that I'm (nor my DW for that matter) are not alone in facing this predicatment. I've some work to do to find out the reason behind the current sexless state and I don't think I'm at the stage of wanting to leave our marriage behind yet. I'll be back here for advice on how to cope if/when it gets to the stage to seperate.

Dad - I can see why you're sad (a massive understatement I think), feel free to vent here. I've read your threads before and I fear something similar to you. Having said that recognising you have a problem is the first stage to getting rid of it, just don't take too long.

Spero - I hope I fall into the first category, five years is a long time but an awful lot has happened during that time (MC, DC x2, and various other family traumas). It seems (from Mumsnet anyway) that this is the smallest category so the stats are against us...

Darkest - A very good question, and the truth is I really don't know. I doubt any of us know how we'd react to those circumstances until we're forced into them. I feel resentful already so there's no doubt that I would probably feel even more so,how that would tally up with the love I have for DW I don't know. I hope never to find out and I really wish you hadn't found yourself in such a difficult position. I'd echo what Spero says, you have no reason to feel guilt, it's the way things are for you. Your reality.

Lots of things to think about here people, I've also got a lot of reading material to wade through from all angles and perspectives. Why are people so complex?

Darkesteyes Tue 16-Jul-13 21:48:36

Thankyou WellWobbly. Sorry to be so maudlin everyone. Keepithidden thanks for being so supportive and same for the rest of you thanks i think the guilt feelings come from him being nice in other ways. He will stick up for me if another family member causes any problems (usually my DB) so i get confused.
But thinking about it really its just the same as a platonic friend would do isnt it

Darkesteyes Tue 16-Jul-13 21:50:57

Keep i think your wife is very lucky to have you. I wish many years ago that H had tried to do a fifth of what you are doing.

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