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.
DW - She's just not that in to me.(162 Posts)
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.
I dont have any better advice than has been given
I will say I had a long period in my marriage where xh hardly wanted sex and it took over in my head and as you say watching sex scenes on TV etc was excruciating. If you havent been in those shoes it is hard to understand the depth of feelings of rejection and misery of this. In my case no more than 3 weeks or so would go by I doubt I could have handled 18 months.
I have gone through divorce from said xh and that was no picnic either but now I am through all that I am a happy content person with no huge shadows over me. I should add sex was nothing to do with our divorce though as bizarrely that righted itself after a few years.
We divorced amicably and whilst arent friends as such we have frequent contact over our DC with no problems. We were fortunate enough to have a scenario you say you are confident of having which was enough money to provide well for all of us.
I am single and have been almost 4 years and dont give sex any thought really because I have no expectation of it iyswim ? Its very very different to infrequent/non existent sex in a relationship.
Lweji - It felt like pity sex to me because the times it has occured were around birthdays and valentines day, almost like gifts. Another time she initiated because she thought "I needed cheering up". They don't seem to me to be because she wanted it.
I have asked her outright if she felt pressurised by me into it. She claims not. I'm not sure why I asked, it was one of the times she didn't climax so that's probably why I thought I'd broken a boundary (I'm a bit hypersensitive to that after some of the literature I've read).
I've been knocked back enough times before so I doubt she'd bow to any pressure I exert consciously or unconsciously anyway.
Comingintomyown - Thank you for your experience. I definitely see what you mean. I'm not looking for someone else, I'm not looking for sex elsewhere I just want to be out of this situation where I'm expecting something that's unlikely to happen.
May be I am expecting too much, there is no relationship template to use to assess whether any given one is normal after all. Happiness seems to be the only scale to measure it by. May be this is as good as it gets.
No this is not as good as it gets! It must be miserable for you both and very lonely. But that doesn't mean that it isn't very common as a phase that you need to get through. You can only make it better by facing the issues courageously and as someone else implied, not keeping things hidden any more.
I may have missed it, but has your sex life ever been more fulfilling than this? That must be important surely?
And I feel a bit sorry for your dw really - having her ability to climax assessed like that (even if you did it privately). Just because she didn't come once, doesn't mean it was pity sex! I really think you are over-reading and over-analysing (and I say this as someone 100% guilty of the same!). It is good to try to change things by thinking them through, but sometimes it adds extra pressure to a situation that may already be too charged. She is probably very aware that you are wondering whether you can stick with this situation. Suspend that for a while and commit to making it better with counselling.
One of the problems with being a thinker, is that you may believe you have sussed out the issues. I have done this at times anyway. It can take the experience and compassion of a trained counsellor to show you that you may have missed some important stuff...You have in no way come across as arrogant or a know-it-all but you do sound a bit intense maybe?! Which isn't wildly conducive to relaxed, orgasmic sex.
And btw initiating sex with someone you love because it might cheer them up and you know that is what they want, isn't a bad impulse in my mind. She may not want it herself much at the moment for any number of reasons but seeing you enjoying it (wholeheartedly without fear of analysis) might spark something off. Desire is an odd thing....
And just to add, I have been really worrying that I wasn't that in to my dh any more. We have had a significant drought and there have been times when I was just going through the motions if I am honest. He has been grumpy and unpleasant and completely unsexy! I had started to think I just didn't fancy him any more and things were spiralling down hill.
I can't even pinpoint what changed really (and it is early days). We are having counselling with a very insightful bloke, I just felt a bit like sex one morning, he was a bit more pleasant than usual (!) - and initiating things was partly an experiment on my part to see if it cheered him up and could break the cycle of misery. So you could say 'pity sex' if you were being negative. But is was great and we basically haven't stopped since. My sex drive seems to have gone a bit mad (I suspect I was really worried that we were doomed and this is a reaction - but I am trying not to over think it!). He is now (jokily) complaining that he is knackered.
So I am hoping it was just a phase for us. It has highlighted how much we need to sort out in counselling though. Sex is very rarely about sex....
Probably - I'm not sure that she's miserable or lonely. Once upon a time our sex life was good. Then marriage and kids came along and the cliched stereotype became a bit more real.
It is a bit clinical my way of viewing things, I would never air these views in public, let alone ascribe them to people who could be recognised. I understand why they appear distasteful though. I was accused of over analysing last time I started a thread here. There's a lot of truth in what you say there.
I really struggle with the idea of sex without one partner wanting it. I know many folk on here don't, but maybe that's another one of the issues I need counselling for.
I'm glad you and your DH are working things through, I think you may have a better handle on your communication skills than me and DW.
Keepit - you may well not know just how unhappy she is. I wasn't really aware even myself how lonely I was until things got better. You may well both be hurting, just she isn't showing it. I am guessing she is aware how unhappy you are, at least, and that must worry her....
I didn't mean that you discussing orgasms on here was clinical or distasteful btw. Just that your dw probably senses your disappointment - even if you didn't voice it - and I feel a bit sorry for her. I think you may have quite high expectations of this phase of your life. I wonder what percentage of women with a 4 and a 2 year old are massively on for sex? Mostly they are exhausted and desperate to regain some of their old self. You are maybe not going to get the sort of wholehearted, passion filled sex you want at the moment. But it might well happen again, even soon.
You are right IMO to feel unsure about sex with someone who doesn't want it. But are you sure she 100% doesn't? There are many grades and stages of wanting it. I could easily have not jumped on my dh a couple of weeks ago and let pass the brief moment of desire! I couldn't honestly say that I was desperate for sex with him on that occasion - it was more an chemical need for someone combined with not actively disliking him. I haven't said that to him, of course! But then the following time, I really did feel a connection and since then it has been completely wholehearted and passionate. What I am saying is, don't expect the whole puzzle to be finished at once. Small steps with less expectation may help. She may well be up for some okish sex/half-sex for a while and that might lead to something better.
And you made me smile with the communication. My dh and I are dreadful at communication. At the first sign of difficulty he leaves the room or the house. And I am increasingly furious and snippy about everything. Our counsellor despairs at the inevitable response to "How do you discuss x or y". " Er, we don't".
But talking it through for an hour a week has brought down the defences on both sides a bit and made us realise what we have to lose. I would say that would be a good starting point for you two.
^ Once upon a time our sex life was good. Then marriage and kids came along and the cliched stereotype became a bit more real.^
Wait - you had a good sex life before? Because that doesn't sound like incompatibility, in that case. It sounds like it may be temporary.
You know, very tiny kids (and 2 is very tiny) soak up so much in terms of love and touch and closeness, that when my DH used to come home, the last thing I wanted was someone doing what felt like grabbing at my body and encroaching on my space. I was touched out and drained and just wanted time to recharge my emotional batteries. That wasn't him - we have a very good sex life again now DS is almost 5, in fact we've conceived twice in 9 months (sadly lost the 1st; I'm currently pregnant again) despite my being almost 40. If your youngest is just 2 and maybe a bad sleeper, she's very probably just not got anything left in the tank. That's not a rejection of you - that's what tiny kids do. Yet within a year they'll both be in childcare for at least 15 hours a week and she will start to get "her" back.
If you were never sexually compatible, then you have a real problem. If the issue is a temporary dilution of romance because babies, plural, besiege her with their needs... then tbh it's not actually great of you to be prepared to walk when you're almost through this (horrible, absolutely, and I don't mean to dismiss your unhappiness) intimacy drought.
If you really feel that awful about it all, is there a gp or sibling who would be willing and able to take the kids for a week so you can go for a holiday, just the two of you? I realise that may worry you both in terms of the kids' welfare, but parents splitting up is infinitely worse for their welfare. And time alone, where you can sleep and just enjoy one another's company, may remind both of you that there is life post children if you can just hang on in there until they're that tiny bit older.
Yep, I second that perfectstorm. A couple of days away, just going for a walk and dinner or whatever. No pressure, no expectation of sex, a lighthearted chat about how impossible it is having 2 small children but how much you want to be with her. Reassurance that everyone feels like this and you absolutely want to stick with it, but feel some counselling will help get things sorted.
It is sad for you OP to feel like this but it is pretty standard IMO for this stage of parenting. Please don't give up!
"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."
I agree with this post. From what I'm reading, you're making a lot of assumptions about what your dw thinks.
You must talk, that's the only way you'll get to know how and what the other is thinking.
Yes, you are making assumptions OP and that probably isn't helping. I do this - I am convinced that I am thinking through the issues deeply and know what dh does or doesn't feel on the subject. Mostly I decide that he hasn't thought it through himself and doesn't feel much! Our counsellor has pulled me up on it - I translate his behaviour apparently and it is an unhelpful dynamic.
You say she doesn't feel lonely, it is pity sex etc etc. Actually unless you talk you can't know these things.
What perfect storm said. And if you you add difficult births into that mix then that can add significantly to the psychological and physical side of sex. I think that these temporary lulls are what you sign up for when you have kids and I personally find the idea that sex should be on tap at all times of your life, illness, stress, kids or otherwise abhorrant, or there's something wrong with you. And not only that, but to still be offering and it still not be good enough just beggars belief.
Sometimes we don't feel like sex for a while, especially during massive changes in our lives like young children. I don't think when we get married we are made aware of this notional contractual obligation to not only put out non-stop but also, enjoy it too!
At the end of the day, you are in a partnership in your marriage. If you are unhappy, you should leave. But I really can't see a problem here from your wife's side. She is like millions of women all over the world who just had two babies.
Just to add too, that you said she had a traumatic first birth, then no sex for 18 months. Second sex after first baby then resulted in another pregnancy.
Although the second baby may have been much wanted by both of you, the fact that the second sex after a lull following a traumatic birth resulted in her having to potentially go through the whole birth experience again, may have scarred her more than you, or even she, knows.
She may need help herself to come to terms with her birth experiences. As an ex midwife I am fully aware that many, many women carry the fear and pain they experienced for many years, if not their whole life. Did she have the opportunity to debrief after these events? Do you acknowledge how bad they may have been for her?
She may be utterly terrified of another pregnancy, even though you have had the snip. She may just not be able to get past that mental block just at this time, with young children making constant demands on her time, space, body still.
Of course, that may be nothing to do with it. Counselling may help unravel the thoughts, fears and hopes you both have but are obviously keeping from each other.
OP you say that she doesn't like to talk, but that is the only way through this. You both have to talk to each other.
You say your sex life was fine pre-birth, and two highly possible causes of not wanting to have sex, as have been mentioned, are birth trauma & exhaustion.
The experience of being a mother is to give your body to your children, they're constantly making demands on it, long after BF has stopped, constantly climbing on you wanting 'tummy cuddles' etc. It's like your body doesn't belong to you any more & sex can feel like one more demand at the end of an exhausting day.
A further issue for many women is that their bodies change fundamentally after birth & they may not feel sexy any more, and that can kill their desire.
I'm very vain & sex is really important to me, so I didn't put on much weight during pregnancy & toned up asap afterwards. But friends of mine have found it difficult to click back into their pre-birth body image. One friend doesn't want her H to see her breasts or bum which leads to her avoiding sex, because she's afraid if her H sees them he won't fancy her, but he does fancy her & feels rejected. Paranoia kicks in on both sides, when they just need to communicate.
So - don't presume to read her actions, because without deeper communication you could be completely wrong.
You're making a massive assumption that she's 'just not that into you' when really she could just be exhausted, stressed, traumatised, feeling really unsexy...
Talking to MN, to counsellors on your own, is no substitute for communication in your relationship.
As others have said you need to reassure her that joint counselling is not a prelude to separation but to improve & deepen the relationship you have.
OP- i imagine my dp could have written your post himself. I have been with him 6yrs now, we have 2 small children together, and i really just dont have any desire for sex with him. I love him but have no desire for physical intimacy and could quite happily go without for the rest of our marriage. I feel guilty, guilty, guilty about the way i feel and often think he deserves better. He is a wonderful man, does more than his fair share, is a great father, but the desire just isnt there for me. I havnt been abused, i havnt got deep seated issues i just dont want sex! With him or anyone else! It winds me up that people want to 'fix' me (or any other woman who lacks desire) can people not just accept it's served its purpose, run its course and there's more to life than shagging?
You sound like a good man but i do feel for your wife too. I want to be left alone and just get on with things (life and kids) without being made to feel as though im broken in some way.
This probably doesn't help that much OP, but as a parent of a 4 and 2 year old I can say the following: I fancy my DH to death, he is beautiful and gorgeous and lovely, but... we hardly ever have sex because I am exhausted looking after two small children, he is very busy at work/quite stressed. If we do have sex it is great, sometimes I orgasm, sometimes I don't, but I don't care I like the closeness. We pretty much never have sex though. My three closest friends also complain of never having sex with their husbands, they have children a similar age. They all had good sex lives before. My DH and I think that while it is not ideal that we are not rampantly at it, we know we love each other, we know we fancy each other as long as we keep kissing and cuddling and telling each other that we find the other attractive then we will get through this phase and be shagging like somewhat geriatric bunnies at some point soon.
I guess what I am trying to say is that it seems quite extreme to give up on your relationship when it could well be a phase. It sounds like you have had sex maybe what 2/3 times in the last 4/5 months? That might not be enough for you, but it's probably not atypical. I think comparing a pre-children sex life to a post children sex life is not helpful. I think sex is very important in a relationship don't get me wrong, but it would be awful for you to be sitting alone in some flat somewhere, seeing your children only on weekends, seeing your wife perhaps in another relationship in future and then suddenly realise that while you were now able to have all the sex you wanted (either with a string of partners or some conveniently situated partner who doesn't want children/have children) you had given up the companionship, love, affection, friendship and fulfilment of a family life for something which may well pass.
Some interesting stuff there, and probably a lot of it quite true.
In an effort to defend myself though I have seen no evidence that DW is unhappy with things. She gets upset at events outside of our control and displays that without issue. I suppose she could be hiding how she feels about our marriage and me.
I would like to reiterate I'm not expecting the early days of young love all over again, but it seems to me that our relationship is far from normal: from other posts on this board/forum. Is a sexless marriage (by the usual definition <10 times a year) normal?
I also understand, even if I cannot empathise fully, with how and why womens bodies and attitudes change post childbirth. I've spent the last two years reassuring her that I still love her, find her attractive and want to express that by pleasing her and myself sexually. I also know she experienced traumatic births both times around, the second time was unplanned (but neither of us would turn the clock back) which did leave a physical and psychological impact. I've asked her on several occassions totalk to me about this, with little feedback. I've resorted to researching about it on-line and it's certainly a minefield of emotions. She won't let me see her naked, she doesn't accept my reassurances, I have tried many approaches and I'm wondering what there is left to try. The reaction I got to suggesting counselling is probably the last resort. As she suspected.
Elizabeth22 - Your comments really struck me, particularly the "sex as a special treat" it brings to mind an owner giving her pet a treat for doing something good. It's like sex is some kind of commodity. I'm pretty sure this isn't what you meant, but that's how I see it. Nothing to do with performance/good enough, and I'm afraid it is pity sex if she's doing it purely to make me feel good. We both deserve more than that.
TheBreastMilk - I read your post thinking "fair enough, I understand" it's the feelings often expressed on this board by mothers, particularly new ones and those still breast feeding. But then I want to be left alone and just get on with things (life and kids) without being made to feel as though im broken in some way made me think "okay, why don't you tell H" or why doesn't DW tell me? At least then I'll know where I stand. You're right, you're not broken, DW isn't broken either, I just don't think we're compatable anymore. Maybe there is no underlying sex drive that people (or rather women) revert to post childbirth...
Sorry madasabox, was busy typing a response to previous posts before I read yours.
TheBreastmilk -that's exactly what my wife seems to be like, and has been for many years, but I don't think she feels guilty particularly. I think she just never even thinks about it at all because the whole caboosh of sex and physical intimacy seems to be totally insignificant to her and she has more important (to her) things to think about, like getting the washing out or getting organised to go to one of her classes. Also, she has always been disgusted by most of it, touching genitals and all that stuff. Just won't do it. It's all yuch...!. touching there is revolting to her, it seems.
No amount of communication or frank talking or therapy made any difference in the end. So sex is just never mentioned now. And we don't sit together and watch films with sexy scenes. We watch documentaries -social commentary, baking, history, art, food and diet.... nothing where sex might come in!
I've just left her alone for quite a long time now. I love her and we're happy together in other ways, but I suppose it's just a 'best friends' relationship really. I often felt humiliated and insulted in the past when I was depressed by lack of sex. But I've been resigned to it for a long while now.
But I've felt unlucky in life that I found a nice wife who turned out to have so little interest and have often envied other men who have wives who enjoy physical intimacy and making love to their husbands at least once a fortnight, and who actually have a need and desire for sex sometimes. I get nothing at all nowadays and she never needs anything.
I've no plans to do anything about it because far too much water has passed under the bridge and I'm tied to her emotionally till death.
Like you, my wife is very happy to be just left alone, doesn't feel she needs 'fixed' and is enjoying her life as a married woman but not needing to get involved sexually with her husband or any man. She's bright and carefree and keeps herself very busy.
Breastmilk I could also be the OP' s DW, or even you.
My DH is a good man but I just don't want to have sex with him, EVER.
He knows I am not that into it and I know he is hurt by that but I can't change it. We don't have kids so there is no tiredness issue, I have no desire for him at all and I sincerely wish that he had none for me. I too feel terribly guilty but more so because it is just him I don't want.
The thought of sex with someone else is quite the opposite, so I know it is not all about me not wanting sex, I just don't want it with him.
Hi keep it hidden.
I, like others can feel the loneliness coming out of your posts, and I hope you find a way through it.
I have a couple of thoughts. Not sure if they have already been mentioned.
Did you enjoy sex during pregnancy?
Many women get really horny and have the best sex of their lives during this time. I think it is to do with the hormones. It just sounds like you had 2 shags between 2 births, and perhaps this is not the case.
I like sex because it is an expression of love. I feel very warm feelings in my chest around my heart when I am in my lover's arms. This warm feeling is intimate, and it sounds to me like you lack this warmth and intimacy more than the actual sex. If missing this feeling is a problem, then talk to her about those feelings... Does she feel them? Perhaps it is you that has stopped feeling that loving feeling, not her? Or perhaps, as others say, she is too numb from caring for children all day.
You have got some really mixed messages on here about sex... Most women are back into it 6 months after birth, or if not then a year..... Or children take so much physical care that sex can be very firmly off the agenda for years.... So I don't know how much help that is. I think don't compare to others, but compare your feelings now to different times before.
She won't let me see her naked, she doesn't accept my reassurances
Did she let you see her naked before you had kids?
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.