Advanced search

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.

Can I get a female perspective?

(138 Posts)
Octopus7 Fri 20-Sep-13 18:11:19


I'm 34 and my wife is 36, we've been married for 7 years and have 2 amazing sons. We're a really tight family but over the years the relationship between my wife and myself has become almost entirely about the kids. My wife has little to no interest in sex and hasn't since she became pregnant with our second son 3 years ago (we've probably had sex 5 times in the last 3 years). She's quite a shy person and doesn't like to talk about such things and she always has a reason why she rejects me (generally it's tiredness). As its been going on so long I've tried a lot of different things from asking her to talk about it to backing right off.

The obvious assumption is that she isn't attracted to me anymore, well to me it is anyway so a couple of years back I joined the gym, started hitting that pretty hard in my lunch breaks and taking a lot more pride in my appearance. I'm not the best looking guy in the world but I'm in decent shape, I like to think I'm a good father and a lot of people comment on how close we are as a family. Outwardly I'm a very confident person but this is really ripping me apart. I could never leave because I love my wife and sons far too much - how do I get this back on track? I'm not out for sympathy, I just need some help!

Thanks everyone

TheOrchardKeeper Fri 20-Sep-13 18:15:34

If she's said tiredness then have you tried helping to relieve that? She may not be lying you know! Do you help a lot with the DCs?

Jazzicatz Fri 20-Sep-13 18:15:34

How much do you help around the house? Help with your boys? Give your wife time to herself?

edlyu Fri 20-Sep-13 18:24:02

Do you run the home if she is tired? Or take the kids out on a regular basis? Choose, shop for and cook meals ?

I would think all of these would come before your appearance when it comes down to sex in a long lasting relationship. In fact if my DH suddenly started taking more care in his looks and going to the gym I would not be inclined to think he was doing it for my benefit at all-quite the opposite in fact.

Maybe start talking to her about things other than the kids ? Date nights -at home if no baby sitter is available. Making sure she knows why you are going to the gym - but without being accusatory .

Maybe she is insecure about her body and is shy to return to the intimacy you once shared. She might need wooing again. But mostly she needs to know you love her unconditionally.

SpottyDottie Fri 20-Sep-13 18:25:48

Before we had our DC we were oblivious to the fact that for along time our lives would revolve around our children. I also didn't realise how tired I would feel day in day out, no matter how much I loved them or my DH.

All you can do is be supportive. As other posters have suggested Do you help with the children? I assume you are the main bread winner but do you help around the home with the chores and give your wife a break? My DH made me go out on a saturday. And by that I mean ALL DAY, with my girlfriends so that I could have some time to be myself, not just be mummy iyswim. We would do family things the rest of the week.

I do have a question though, how is your wife's self esteem? You say you go to the gym regularly and take pride in your appearance. I went from being slim and well dressed to slightly overweight and wore whatever I felt comfy in! Would she feel a little low about her post children body compared to your body? Sorry if I've offended, I'm just trying to think of possible helpful suggestions.

Bowlersarm Fri 20-Sep-13 18:27:30

Such a sensitive subject OP.

I agree with you that sex is very important in a relationship. Without it there is a lack of intimacy. If my DH was only interested in having sex 5 times in 3 years I would be very frustrated, worried and probably quite pissed off.

Does she have confidence issues with her body? Are there other issues she may be worried about?

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 20-Sep-13 18:29:19

"As its been going on so long I've tried a lot of different things from asking her to talk about it to backing right off."

Then you have to say how you feel. I think you've been very patient but enough's enough. No-one, not even a mother of three, is 'tired' for three solid years. And so what if she's shy talking about sex?.. this is ripping you apart and, if she can't or won't communicate, you're destined for more years of misery. This isn't about how often you iron the shirts... something's badly wrong and 'silence' isn't fixing it.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Fri 20-Sep-13 18:29:52

Well, the obvious assumption is that she's tired! Like she says she is grin

Do you do your fair share of housework and childcare? Do the two of you pull together as a team? Do you get equal amounts of time 'off' to enjoy some hobby or activity? Do you each get lie ins and time to recharge? When you go on holiday, do you make it easy for each other or is she left running round after everyone?

You know, that sort of thing.

How do you show her that she is special (and not in a 'please have sex with me' way)

TheOrchardKeeper Fri 20-Sep-13 18:35:04

(she may no be tired per se but may be saying that because she feels she's doing more than her share, which definitely puts me right off. Just guessing really)!

Octopus7 Fri 20-Sep-13 18:37:20

Thanks for the comments everyone. In truth, I probably could do more around the home. I am a bit guilty of getting wrapped up in work (we're a 1 wage family) at times - maybe I just need to break the routine we seem to have found ourselves in.

Also a couple of you are right in that my wife isn't particularly confident, especially about her body which to me doesn't make much sense as it's often been said that she is too attractive for me.

headlesslambrini Fri 20-Sep-13 18:37:32

for a woman, sex can be about the emotion and the run up to it. Try just holding her, no groping, a cuddle, no wandering hands. Talk to her, tell her how lovely she looks, how happy you are with your lives, talk about the future, hopes and dreams. Make plans for the weekend, somewhere nice as a family.

Do NOT expect sex at the end of a nice day.

TheOrchardKeeper Fri 20-Sep-13 18:38:37

Oh, well if you have 3 kids and she's doing the majority of the house stuff then no wonder she;s not in the mood often grin

Bowlersarm Fri 20-Sep-13 18:40:06

Were there any issues with you sex life before you had children?

TheOrchardKeeper Fri 20-Sep-13 18:42:10

(if you are going to start helping out a bit more don't make it seem like a quid pro quo for sex. That will not go down well. Do it to ease her load a bit & show you want to support her. It will probably help the issue a lot by the sounds of it).

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 18:44:40

I found it very difficult to be interested in sex when my children were small. It was as if all my capacity for intimacy
Was used up by them. I couldn't even bear the cat on my lap- I just didn't feel able to meet anyone else's needs. I explained this to dp and I think he sort of understood! I always enjoyed sex when we did it and I tried to
Initiate it once a fortnight or so just to keep out hand in!
It certainly wasn't about dp- and it did get better!

Fozziebearmum2be Fri 20-Sep-13 18:52:27

Agree with pp, tell her how lovely and attractive she is to you, but don't expect sex. I find that men sometimes jump from 0-100 in about 5 mins whereby your dw may need time so there will be lots of times you'll need to just cuddle her to increase her self esteem/body confidence.

It's a shame she can't talk to you about it, might be worth trying again once you've done some of the things suggested

stowsettler Fri 20-Sep-13 18:52:39

I think you sound like a pretty decent guy actually. I can only echo advice which has already been posted: try to help a bit around the house, and make sure she knows how much you love her / fancy her (i.e. if her self esteem is a bit low it'd be nice for her to be appreciated).
I also think that you do need to have the discussion though - it is a big thing and if there is an issue that a bit of rest / appreciation can't fix then you do need to talk about it.
Is there any way you could go away for a night together, without the kids? I don't suggest this as a way for you to 'get her on her own' so that you can get sex, I mean it in a romantic, get away from it all and enjoy yourselves as a couple kind of way. If sex happens then great - if it doesn't, perhaps she'd feel more at ease talking about it away from the kids over a few glasses of wine.
I hope it works out for you, you sound like one of the good guys.

FrancescaBell Fri 20-Sep-13 19:18:30

100% agree about doing your share around the house and giving her chunks of time when she can either potter doing nothing on her own in the house, or out with friends.

Other suggestions are: are you proud of her in company? Do you big up her achievements? Do you tell people in front of her how beautiful/kind/clever/what a great friend to others she is? I specifically avoided bigging her up about motherhood because I don't think that will hit the spot as much as the other things. Don't just concentrate on looks and sexiness though. Talk about her as a whole person and the qualities you admire.

I don't think it's ever fair for a subject to be totally off limits though and I never come at these threads from the perspective that men like sex more than women, because IME that's poppycock. I tend to think that women go off sex with a particular partner when they are exhausted, resentful, when they don't fancy their partner, when the sex available is not satisfying or at the extreme end, when they are having an affair.

The other thing is, do you encourage her to spend money on herself? If she feels guilty about buying new clothes or grooming products, she might have got into a habit of not caring too much about her appearance and IME, that leads to feeling sexless and undesirable.

Yougotbale Fri 20-Sep-13 19:35:35

I'd say try and help her not to be tired, but 5 times in 3years makes me think its not tiredness and something more underlying.
Hope you work it out

Shapechanger Fri 20-Sep-13 19:48:41

I find this a frustrating thread.

All you can do is be supportive

The OP has had sex five times in three years. I think this would try anyone's patience. Life is for living - and sex, intimacy are important things. There seems to be largely a consensus that the OP should earn some sex by loading the dishwasher etc.

I'll be blunt with you OP; your assumption that your wife doesn't find you attractive any more might be right. Irrespective of that, the fact that you can't have a conversation with her about all of this doesn't suggest you have a good relationship. Not only does she not want to have sex with you, she isn't communicating.

The problems in your marriage are more deep seated than just not having sex. Some posters here say they went off sex when children were small. That's not uncommon but not for three years, surely? Having sex five times in three years in your early thirties is a miserable state of affairs.

My marriage became sexless. I spoke to my husband's cousin about it. Her suggestion: have an affair. I came close but didn't; but I did leave in the end because it's no way to live.

A healthy loving relationship between a man and his wife includes a sexual relationship, unless there are health problems.

I'd be saying exactly the same thing if you were a woman.

Octopus7 Fri 20-Sep-13 19:56:35

Don't get me wrong, I do quite a bit around the house - particularly with the kids but I guess there's always more I could do.

My wife's low confidence is a long standing thing and obviously I tell her she looks great and that I love her on a daily basis but I think she just thinks I say those things because she wants to hear them (hope that makes sense!).

The more I write here and the more options I hear lead me to think there isn't specifically one reason, I think it's a c

Octopus7 Fri 20-Sep-13 20:00:11

Oops, accidentally hit the wrong button...

I was saying I think it's a combination of tiredness, low self esteem and just generally that she's really not that into sex. Hopefully it will work itself out - I have to say our youngest is an absolute handful at the best of times!

I liked the idea of almost having a no strings attached date night at home, she might go for something like that because she's not a big fan of leaving the kids for a night out (in fact she just plain wouldn't do that)

Thanks again to everyone that's commented

FrancescaBell Fri 20-Sep-13 20:07:53

It's not about earning some sex by loading the dishwasher at all. But some men severely under-estimate the amount of work involved looking after children and a home, plus when a man comes on this board and admits he could do more at home, that usually means he does practically nothing in the way of chores or solo childcare. People who go to work have a clocking off time and they usually get two days off as well. People responsible for children and a home who get no real help with either don't have a clocking off time or weekends off. It can be truly exhausting.

Add to this the effect on the body of having two pregnancies in 4 years and the physical demands of children wanting feeding, cuddles and clinging off you all the time, it can feel that a woman's bodily autonomy is not her own anymore.

So it's not as simple as trading sex for chores. It's often about feeling sexier and more kindly disposed towards a partner who pulls his weight, isn't work and gym obsessed and who you don't want to batter with a frying pan when he leaves his underwear on the floor or the sink, full of his shaving hairs yet again.

stowsettler Fri 20-Sep-13 20:13:41

Not leave the kids at all? Not even for one night at a local hotel or something?

Gosh. I suppose it's not that unusual but surely the odd night with Grandma is ok? I remember as a kid we used to live for those nights and had a truly great time. DD, aged 6months, has already stayed over at Grandma's 3 times and Auntie's twice.

But if she won't then fair enough, I suppose. You have to work with what you've got. And pressurising her into leaving them won't be a good start.

Shapechanger Fri 20-Sep-13 20:15:51

Sure Francesca but the OP says he does do a fair bit around the house and he also works to support his family.

He pays her compliments and tells her he loves her every day.

Imagine what people would think if a woman came on here complaining her dh wouldn't have sex with her and she was told to help more around the house, 'big him up' and pay him compliments in front of others. It's a joke!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now