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DW - She's just not that in to me.

(162 Posts)
Keepithidden Wed 25-Sep-13 09:01:14

Hello, back again for more useful advice from the nest of vipers! I had a previous thread on here whinging about my lack of sex life with DW and got a vast amount of very useful advice from a range of viewpoints. As ever in these situations it’s taken me a few months to process and take heed of that advice (and read all the recommended literature), but now I have I’m back for more.

So, quick potted history. DW and me been married five years, together before that for five. Two DCs ages 2 and 4. Limited sex life since DCs came along so thought I’d come here for advice a few months back. Made an effort to be more appreciative, attentive and physically affectionate (without pressure for anything more) and was happy for a time. DTD a couple of times at DWs instigation, got knocked back a few times and have realised that it was basically pity sex and I feel a bit sh*t now.

I have tried to talk about it a few times but without much success DW is quite reserved and when I suggested counselling last time I broached the subject it ended in tears, she said she didn’t want to lose me and assumed counselling was a precursor to divorce. Looking back I think she may have been thinking about the impacts of a split, rather than losing me personally, I’m confident I can support her and DCs and live elsewhere though so I don’t think that’ll be an issue.

Anyway, all this means I think she probably doesn’t see me as a romantic prospect anymore, we still get on well, good friends even affectionate with hugs and kisses, but sex feels forced and lonely (for me anyway). She deserves better and I’m not happy with the status quo, so I reckon we’ll be heading for a split soon. I don't see why this can’t be amicable and why co-parenting can’t work out well, but I still love her, I still want her as my wife and I want to try and emotionally detach myself from these feelings to enable the split to be amicable and with as little pain as possible. Any words of wisdom/advice/experiences of similar would be welcome.

casacastille Wed 25-Sep-13 14:31:53

No I don't mean threaten her into instant sex!

I mean it could push her into realising that the situation is critical and there might be something she too could do to help address this misery. Seek help, or self-help, I mean.

Showing her H that she takes his desire for sex as seriously as he takes her lack of interest in it. Then they can seek solutions together.

DuelingFanjo Wed 25-Sep-13 14:37:53

"Ouch Duelling... Sex may mean more to the OP than the marriage and he may have certain expectations but the DW has surely decided something similar.. her own priorities and expectations?"

yes I agree.

they have different priorities and he really wants more sex than he is getting, or better sex, and it's not happening so it's good that he has realised that and decided to leave rather than put more pressure onto his wife to do something she doesn't want to do (She's quite happy I think).

No point going round and round the bush if the alternatives to the status quo are too difficult to either of them. better that someone makes a decision and ends the relationship.

Glenshee Wed 25-Sep-13 14:42:10

I’m confident I can support her and DCs and live elsewhere though so I don’t think that’ll be an issue.

All well and good - but only until you get a new family at which point your priorities will change (if not before then).

ChelseaBun Wed 25-Sep-13 15:13:24

Hi Keephidden, I was your wife many years ago although we didn't have kids.

I guess I really wasn't that into him but I was too scared of the upheaval it would cause to our lives if I ended it. I loved him as a friend and I thought we could toodle along happily but my DH wasn't happy. And I saw the change in him and he admitted he'd lost his confidence - something I still feel guilty about.

He met someone else and although he didn't physically cheat, she gave him hope for the future and he ended things with me. Although I was angry, I didn't try to win him back - my heart wasn't in it, I made a few half hearted comments about still loving him. But I knew I would never fancy him again and I let him go.

If I'd really wanted the two of us to stay together, I could have fought for him and I'm pretty sure I could have talked him round. I just knew it wasn't fair to keep him when I just didn't have those feelings. A year later I met someone who floated my boat and I realised I hadn't lost my libido, I just stopped fancying my ex and no amount of weekends away or sexy lingerie made any kind of difference - we did try.

Ending it was the right thing for him to do and he and I have a platonic friendship to this day.

So there's two things for you to take note of - breaking up especially with young kids is incredibly sad and scary for both parents, but it can be the right thing to do. And two, if she is seriously still in love with you and not just the safe lifestyle you have together, she will fight for this marriage if you make it clear you are too young to continue living like this.

onlytheonce Wed 25-Sep-13 17:21:23

I'm in the same boat. I don't have any advice I'm afraid. A the moment I'm carrying on with it, and we seem to be happy enough. One conclusion I've come to is that whatever your relationship status you are responsible for your own happiness. So I'm looking out for myself, and doing things for myself more. Who knows, maybe becoming more of my own person again will mean I am more attractive to her, but if it doesn't then that's fine.

At the moment even if we split up I don't think I would want another relationship. I don't want more kids (which would rule out the majority of women without kids) and getting into a relationship with someone else with kids just seems like it would be very awkward.

So whilst I wouldn't say I'm happy with the situation, I'm OK with it for the moment. Who knows, in 1, 2 or 10 years time I might be completely fed up and look back on this time and think I should have got out earlier but that's a risk I'm going to take.

Darkesteyes Wed 25-Sep-13 17:37:09

Hi Keepithidden I was on your previous thread and am in the same boat too. I had an affair a few years back.

Ive recently started back at Slimming World and rediscovered excsersise and have lost 6 and a half pounds.
Its made me feel a bit better about myself but as the weight comes off im going to have more confidence and my sex drive will probably increase. But this is something i am doing for myself. But i already know weight loss wont make a diffrence to DH A ten stone loss didnt make any diffrence and thats not the reason i did it.
Its not just sex though Its affection and the intimacy that surrounds it. I miss that so much.

Keepithidden Wed 25-Sep-13 21:17:10

Thanks for the advice folks, please keep it coming.

Glenshee - You gave me a bit of hope in my last thread, and you're right I haven't given it much time. Yet I can feel myself resenting the situation, I can see my behaviour changing and feel powerless to change how I react to things: I can't watch sex scenes on TV with DW without getting upset and having to leave the room to hide how I feel. I don't want to get to the stage where I resent my situation so much it creates a toxic environment for DW and DCs.

RE: the new family, I've had the snip so there will be no new family created. I feel the same as onlytheonce, I can't see myself starting a new relationship. The old story of being "better lonely alone, than lonely in a marriage" thing I suppose. Anyway, I know my responsibilities and I know they'll be there for the next few decades at least, I have a family, that's never going to go away now.

Darkest - I remember your story, I wish I had your strength. I read your post before heading back home from work and spent a long time thinking about what I missed about sex. You're right, it isn't the act itself, it's the bonding and intimacy I miss. Also I suppose the validation (or should that be ego massage?), the knowledge that I'm worth more than being a provider, a father to the DCs and a flatmate/friend. Is it wrong to feel emotionally needed? When I "scratch the itch" it's always preceded and superceded by a loneliness despite the catharsis of the pure bodily function. I hate feeling like that, it makes me feel... ...I can't really put it into words, but the thought brings a lump to my throat.

This is turning into a really self-pitying post isn't it! Good job I don't know any of you in RL!

Someone else mentioned depression for me. Could be I suppose. I'm planning on starting the relate email counselling myself asap. Not sure if I should tell DW, I fear the reaction would be counterproductive. It's so much easier to write what I feel to someone/people who are anonymous than facing the reality. It's a bullet that needs to be bitten soon though.

Lazyjaney Wed 25-Sep-13 21:28:09

OP I doubt the situation will change unless you start to make it clear it has to change, there is no reason for your DW to make any changes as things stand.

It may be painful to change, but you wont get where you want to be carrying on what youve been doing.

TBH in my experience most people in your shoes would have an affair, but if you don't want that you are going to have to start being clear about what you do want.

There comes a time....

Keepithidden Wed 25-Sep-13 21:36:03

Oh I know lazyjaney, I've been sidetracked a bit in wallowing a pool of my own self pity! I was originally asking for ideas on emotionally disengaging to allow me to move on without causing too much grief/fallout.

perfectstorm Wed 25-Sep-13 21:40:35

Nothing to add except that I'm so sorry you're in this situation - all of you, really.

I disagree that sex matters more to you than the marriage. Sex is an inherent part of the marriage to a lot of us. That's why cheating hurts so desperately, and rejection like this eats away at you. I can see how that must be for you both and this is better than an affair or years of increasing bitterness.

I do wonder though whether explaining to your wife that the lack of being a couple (no need to emphasise sex as it sounds like what you miss most is the whole package of intimacy, really) is harpooning the relationship and counselling seems the only way to at least try to save it. After all, if she is so scared of counselling because she thinks that means the end of the marriage, that isn't really worse than just leaving, is it.

Counselling can also help you establish how to co-parent and move on amicably.

For what it's worth you sound like a nice person. The whole thing is just really sad for all concerned. Good luck.

Darkesteyes Wed 25-Sep-13 21:50:41

Im a bit further along in that i emotionally detatched a long while ago DH has health problems now and i deal with them in a matter of fact practical way rather than an emotional way I cant even explain it coherently confused

casacastille Wed 25-Sep-13 21:58:50

I feel terribly sad for both of you. If you both love each other and want to stay together, it's a miserable situation to be in.

Whatever you do, please don't go down the affair route. That way even more misery lies.

Glenshee Wed 25-Sep-13 22:45:44


You could try separation, as opposed to divorce, to work out how you feel. Your chances of getting together afterwards are slim, of course, but separation is nevertheless less final, and is easier to agree amicably. Your DW will almost certainly be more receptive to separation, than a divorce.

Unless you want to specifically work on your own issues, you should absolutely tell your DW you're going to Relate. Keeping it hidden is just silly wink It doesn't matter whether her reaction will be counterproductive or not (and what do you mean by that? counterproductive in what way?). Book a session at a time that you think is convenient for you both, tell her that she is welcome to join you, and that the session will likely be much more effective if you're both present. Tell her also that if she's not able to come, for any reason, you will go on your own, because that's better than not going at all.

In fact, going on your own initially will be incredibly helpful for you, because you have a tendency to avoid conflict, and seem to have a problem confronting your DW / communicating how you feel accurately (as in the 'sex scenes on TV' scenario - easier to leave the room than talk). So a counseling session with you both present in the room will be extremely hard for you if you are not prepared to put your issues into words accurately, and with confidence. Individual sessions will help you to get there.

If you'd like to learn more about counseling, and how it works try The Road Less Travelled.

One thing to bear in mind with Relate is that it's a person-centered therapy which is very patient-led and focused on you taking full responsibility over your decisions. I find this hard, expensive and time-consuming (would prefer to be given specific advice). There are other types of therapy, such as psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (favoured by NHS), existential therapy etc. But it's good to start somewhere - and Relate isn't a bad place!

Glenshee Wed 25-Sep-13 22:51:32

Ah - you're saying it's email counseling you'll be starting. I missed the 'email' part. Why email? Is this a way to keep it hidden from DW and avoid conflict? Your nickname has a lot to answer for! grin

katykuns Wed 25-Sep-13 23:34:52

Is it literally just the sex? Is everything else good? My gut feeling is that this is just the way life is with very young children. Everything is a challenge and a demand... and so exhausting.
I kinda feel like that perhaps when you said how teary your wife got over the counselling suggestion. That doesn't sound like someone aching to get away from an unfulfilling relationship.
I also agree with Cognito over the idea that everything you try is just an attempt for sex and that is how she will see it. I think until it appears that you no longer desire it (with physical nonsexual affection) will be the only time she will really realise your priorities.
I have a low sex drive, and when dd2 was a very small wasn't interested in DP's existance, let alone sex, but we have conquered a lot of it through communicating exactly how we both feel. Obviously that's the big problem in your situation though. sad

savemefromrickets Wed 25-Sep-13 23:48:31

I've recently told DP I'm starting counselling but only because I felt I should ask his permission to talk about him and the difficult position we are in. It seemed courteous. I'm not, however, telling him the dates and details because I want to have to time digest and mull on things that crop up rather than walk in and be quizzed about them!

I had a partner who went to counselling and told me the days/times. I found it felt awkward knowing our relationship was being discussed at a certain time and it was hard to behave normally when the session was over and he came back. I was either over cool or rolled out the red carpet!

BigFellaThanks Thu 26-Sep-13 00:09:10

What really jumped out at me was when you said your DW got teary at the idea of counselling, saying she didn't want to lose you, but then you later dismiss her feelings as not wanting the upheaval of the separation.

It seems really unfair to your DW, who you admit is reserved - she comes out of her shell, admits to you that she doesn't want to lose you, and you then dismiss her feelings and decide for yourself what they mean?

Why don't you listen to her - promise her that she's not going to lose you as long as you can both work towards a happy future for both of you, together? I also highly recommend a sex therapist. I know people don't rate them but a very dear friend has had her life and relationship transformed by going to see one with her partner.

GeppaGip Thu 26-Sep-13 00:22:21

hmm just a thought but you say your youngest is only 2. did your wife have difficult births or are your toddlers up all night?

its just I had a difficult birth with my first and didn't want much sex after. Two is also young to expect a rampant sex life because women go through many physical and often mental changes having and rearing babies. some women can get back on the horse quickly but many just can't. she is probably hugely resentful too because she can't have her body to herself for a short while.

sorry for dodgy typing. I'm on a phone but your thread made me feel so lucky to have my husband who is understanding about a reduced sex life while we have very little children and about the need for space and support at a very difficult time. I think this scenario is very very common but couples handle it differently.

BigPawsBrown Thu 26-Sep-13 01:24:19

Sex is a reasonable and normal expectation for a relationship. I'd say you're leaving unless you get counselling about the all of intimacy, either just her or both of you.

BigPawsBrown Thu 26-Sep-13 01:24:30

Lack not all

Keepithidden Thu 26-Sep-13 08:20:45

Back again.

Glenshee - Interesting idea about seperation. I'm not sure what it would achieve. Although it would stop any toxic atmosphere being created at home if I wasn't around.

The counselling would be for my benefit primarily, I know I have issues with communication that I need to work on. I suspect there's probably a few other bits and piecies in my psyche that could do with being aired too. Maybe relationship counselling isn't the right type. When I said "counterproductive" I meant what Cog alluded to earlier about the elephant in the room. If I mention it to DW it will probably just be viewed as another attempt to kick start our sexlife. I want to avoid all mention of that at the moment, anything related to problems in our marriage is going to be viewed of in this respect so I figure it's best to keep it hidden. Yes, email was an attempt to keep it as low key as possible, a way to work on my issues without involving her. Also, I'm finding it a lot easier to type how I feel than I would to speak face-to-face. Does anyone have any experience of Relates e-mail counselling service? I guess they take into account the difficulties of the communication method (lack of non verbal cues and all that)?

Thanks for the book recommendation too, will check it out. I don't know much about counselling, but it seems to be highly recommended on MN.

Katy - I don't believe that DW feels the relationship is unfulfiling. I'm reasonably confident she's happy with the status quo. The problem is the status quo won't stay that way. It's like you say, I don't think she's been that bothered about my existance I don't know how long I'm expected to continue in this way.

BigFella - I'm not sure I have dismissed her feelings, I've been trying to understand the reasons behind them and I'm not convinced they're the same as my feelings for her. Of course I'm reading between the lines so could be well wide of the mark (ref: communication issues earlier in this post). I struggle to make myself understood without her taking automatically taking the blame. In this case for example, I know it's me at fault. If she's happy with her life and I'm not then it's me who has the issue, it's me who has to figure out what choices I have and then make them. If I tried to talk about it then I'm certain she would blame herself, when there is nothing wrong with her, it's just we aren't compatable.

Geppa - Yes, difficult births, toddlers not up all night. I understand about the reduced sex life. I've read enough threads on MN about it all, after conception of DS it was eighteen months before we DTD again, DW conceived the second time we did! Then it was eighteen months again, since then well, here I am asking for advice... does sound so petty when I type it out, keeping tabs on the number of times we're intimate, it should be spontaneous, fun and enjoyable, but it seems such a big issue in my head. That's why I know something is wrong with us or rather me.

AgathaF Thu 26-Sep-13 08:55:15

Your marriage to me doesn't sound that much different to lots of relationships where there are young children, and in fact it sounds better than lots.

You say you are good friends, get on well, are affectionate with hugs and kisses. That sounds pretty positive really, although I understand it is not enough for you without fulfilling sex.

As someone said upthread though, it does seem a shame to end what is in effect a reasonable relationship, that may well become more sexual as the children grow older and your DW starts to feel the demands of them less.

You mention preferring the idea of being lonely on your own, to lonely within the marriage, yet to me you don't sound that lonely within your marriage. Not if you get on, chat, are affectionate. You have said you don't particularly want a new relationship. Lonely nights on your own watching tv night after night sound infinitely worse than where you are now (I realise that you will get out and see friends, have hobbies etc, but still...).

You seem afraid of starting joint counselling with your DW as she sees it as the start point of separating. Yet if you are going to separate anyway (and you will have to tell her that) then what's the harm in giving it a go. It might help or it might not, but at least you will both know that you have tried that final thing to make it work and air your issues.

Lazyjaney Thu 26-Sep-13 09:23:46

I don't think this is anywhere near "not much different"to most others.

There was a thread in Chat (I think) when I first joined MN a few months back, about how soon couples went back to having sex after childbirth. The vast majority were well in the saddle after 6 months, a year was a real outlier and tended to be due to bad tears or other health problems.

I think if it's this long, then strong communication by both partners is essential for any relationship to have a good chance of lasting.

I agree that the OP should probably insist on joint counselling, arguing it is to prevent separation, not to cause it.

Lweji Thu 26-Sep-13 10:20:28

What struck me the most was that you thought the sex you did get was pity sex and that she wasn't into it, even though she initiated it.

Why was that?

I wonder if you are projecting your worries, rather than what is really happening.

Have you talked to her about how she felt during those sessions?

probablyhadenough Thu 26-Sep-13 11:31:07

OP - I think there is more hope here than you suspect. It does sound as if you are (understandably) feeling sorry for yourself and maybe being overly negative.

You feel rejected - which isn't nice - but the facts are she initiated sex a couple of times, cried at the thought of separation and you generally get on pretty well. These years are hard, she probably doesn't feel completely herself in many ways. But she obviously cares that you stay together - and I think it is unnecessarily negative to suggest this is just due to the practicalities of being alone.

The thought of breaking up is probably terrifying for her, particularly over something she feels she has little control over. You definitely should have counselling. You both need to face up to the issues that might be involved and that can only be done with proper, mediated talking IMHO. Try and be really positive about how much you want to stay together and reassure her that counselling is absolutely not a precursor to separation but a real effort at avoiding it. Try and suspend the hurt and the negativity for a while and make her feel safe and able to trust. You may well find that it all improves....

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