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Calling real or armchair psychologists: why doesn't DH want sex?

(57 Posts)
coralinna Sat 12-Oct-13 09:09:11

DH has mental blocks that prevent him from having sex. This is the latest reason (came out last night) and I feel there might be something in it. He's said he'll try to think about why he has these blocks (refuses therapy point blank and I'm going along with this rather than argue more over it as I've resorted to "smoking him out") and in a few weeks I'll ask him how it's going (so he does it).

I don't know if our relationship is going to work out, but I'm trying my hardest, because we have kids (he wanted them too, I had to initiate sex). I feel AWFUL for the kids and want to find a solution. Obviously I want a solution for myself too because (ungreat) sex every 11 months isn't making me happy.

An example of these so called blocks us that when he was just out if uni, a girl was interested in him. Apparently she was very nice. She had a cat, however, and he doesn't like cats, so when she invited him back, he said no and that was that. This was a guy in his early-mid twenties who now, many years later has a cat. He says he doesn't know why he couldn't see past the cat at the time. There are loads of examples like this, this is just the most straight forward to write down.

So, what do you think could be the cause of his blocks? I want to have some ideas so I can ask questions that get us somewhere. I've asked him in the past if he was abused as a kid, gay, asexual and he's said no. I'm thinking it's along the lines of little self confidence.

I'm going to be in and out today, so not at computer all the time. I will check back when I can.

NotQuiteCockney Sat 12-Oct-13 09:13:40

The root of this is likely to be in his childhood - not necessarily abuse. And therapy is the most likely way to get to the bottom of it.

It's good that he sees he has a block, and also good that he sees he doesn't know the root of the problem.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 12-Oct-13 09:15:12

Does he struggle with intimacy more generally? Is he affectionate with you and the DCs? Is he a tactile person?

sixfootplus Sat 12-Oct-13 09:28:22

Morning OP

Sounds like a poor excuse there for an issue he's not being honest with you about.

What was your sex life like in the early days? He's obviously capable because you've said you have kids, so think back to when this all started and see if there are any triggers.

Depression, low self esteem, worries, low levels of testosterone can all be key factors in the loss of sex drive.

There are dozens of reasons why this could be happening & only one person that can tell you for sure what it is, his lordship!

I would set a time-line here and make it clear to him that this is completely unacceptable for you & he needs to work with you to over come this issue, or you will show him the door!

Be nice, supportive and patient (while he is willing to actually do/try things to sort this issue out). But most important of all, be firm and stand your ground by not accepting his point blank refusal to go to therapy.

If he really does loves you and wants to be with you, then he should be willing to move heaven and earth to over come this problem!

Best of luck to you & hope you get it sorted out.

coralinna Sat 12-Oct-13 11:49:13

NotQuite - thanks. I agree that it's a good step and I'm kind of clinging on to it amidst all the rubbish that is said. Go you think there's any way other than therapy (you said "most likely way")?

Cogito - he struggles with intimacy with me, but not the kids. He's bonded more with our son than daughter (she's two months, but this issue has nothing to do with having young kids, or I'd just wait it out). He was nervous to change her nappy because "it's so complicated", whereas with my son he was/is a lot more hands on. I try to make him get her ready for bed everyday though, so he has to, and he's fine. He is very tactile and open with our son. I don't feel he's holding back at all. With our DD it's too early to really tell, but I think he's quite bemused by her in a good way and is getting warmer.

He tells her - and me - that she's beautiful, and it's said almost in awe. He NEVER tells me that. The only time was when I arrived at the altar to get married. He might say an item of clothing I wear is nice, at a push, but never that I look nice, that I'm beautiful etc. I don't want to always fish for compliments, or seem shallow, but it would be nice. I tell him it makes me feel crap, because I decided a year or so ago that I have to let him know all these things are really affecting me.

He gives me a peck on the lips to say goodnight and (very) occasionally during the day. Very occasionally he'll hold my hand and never something like putting his arm around my shoulders or waist when we're alone and only very occasionally if we're out and people are around (which annoys me).

I'm very tactile (or I used to be, I'm becoming a shrivelled up old woman), so this has been hard for me.

SixFoot - he's physically capable of DTD but obviously it's not earth-shattering for me given the length if time between them. He's always been shy (his words and I agree) and up until two or so years after we got married, I truly believed this to he the case. I was led to believe (not something directly said and the situation was complex) that it would change after we got married. He wouldn't walk around naked after the marriage, including going to the bathroom after sex, until I pointed out how silly it was that he'd have sex with me, marry me and be shy in front of me. Now he's not bothered.

I also can't show him the door. I don't want to go into details because I've name-changed and the details would out me easily, but it's just not possible without causing me more problems (a lot more) than this situation does. If I could leave, I'd have separated before now.

Can anybody think what, other than abuse, in his childhood could cause these blocks? I think I'll need to have some leading questions.

I also don't know what to do, other than explain that this will ultimately take us to divorce (which I did 15 months ago and have mentioned again since) to get him to take it seriously.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 12-Oct-13 11:58:13

Do you think it's you he has the problem with rather than a 'block'?. Quite a few people decide that they can stick it out in a marriage for the children as long as they don't have to be intimate with their partner. The 'cat' example was obviously a big fat lie to get out of being intimate. You say there are other examples. He's not willing to have therapy. He might simply be being dishonest.

JaceyBee Sat 12-Oct-13 12:08:51

You CAN show him the door. It might be difficult but it's not impossible. It probably would be possible for him to get to the bottom of why he's like this but it doesnt sound as though he's that bothered. I think you either have to accept him as he is or split up. I know which I'd do.

coralinna Sat 12-Oct-13 12:13:38

I think if he's being dishonest, then it's with himself too. He generally doesn't lie and when I asked him what he thought the common thread behind these blocks are, he looked genuinely stumped.

I think that maybe his level of self-awareness isn't as high as it might need to be to find the answer, rather than deliberately lying. That is partly why I'm asking for ideas, because I don't think like he does.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 12-Oct-13 12:18:30

Stumped for an answer can just be someone being evasive. i.e. they're perfectly well aware of the real reason but aren't prepared to say it. After all, if he did say 'I just don't fancy you any more', you'd be pretty hurt.

LowLevelWhinging Sat 12-Oct-13 12:25:42

it's perfectly possible that he genuinely doesn't know why. like you say, not everyone has that insight into their own feelings and subconscious thoughts.

I really think working with a therapist might be the only way he'll figure it out.

Unidentifiedflyingobject Sat 12-Oct-13 12:29:32

Is he slightly autistic maybe? The outright blocks on things for example, bemusement at dd, not identifying need for affection or intimacy? He doesn't sound nasty, but does sound slightly lost...

coralinna Sat 12-Oct-13 12:34:16

Sorry I'm about to go out, but unidentified I have wondered that.

It worries me, because I wonder if there's any solution for me in that case..

getinmybelly Sat 12-Oct-13 12:38:26

It might be that he needs to identify what internal rules he's following and how they need to change (e.g.i should show affection when other people are around because that is what couples do)

CaptainPoop Sat 12-Oct-13 12:43:06

OP, I have intimacy issues but less extreme than your dh. I find physical closeness with my dh, unless initiated myself, very suffocating and anxiety inducing and I basically have a mild panic attack. We do cuddle frequently but it has to be on my terms. I also have problems hugging/touching other adults, such as hello/goodbye kisses and hugs, and I never touch anyone when I'm talking to them.

With our DC I have no inhibitions whatsoever and could cuddle them all day long. My DM doesn't hug me ever and that makes me sad, especially as she used to when I was little which I enjoyed.

The thing is, there is no one reason for my discomfort with physical contact, and it's probably the same for your dh. I was sexually abused by a family friend when I was about 3, and when these memories resurfaced 18 months ago it made it even more difficult to hug my dh, and we didn't have sex for 6 months. Even now it's only 2-3 times a month.

I also have mild aspergers, which means I can find eye contact and touching incredibly uncomfortable at times, even overwhelming.

The difference between your dh and I is that I am desperate to work through the various contributing factors to this problem. I've had a therapist for 2 years and next year dh and I will go to couples counselling. I really care about the effect not being cuddled has on my dh. I totally understand how he must feel like he's unloved because our physical relationship is infrequent and completely dictated by me. I love dh and really resent that he has to suffer because of my emotional baggage.

Does your dh express any concern for your emotional distress at an unfulfilling relationship?

If he does then I would push for him to go to therapy and explain exactly how this is making you feel and why.

If he shows no concern at all then there is no point as the marriage is dead. Make an exit plan, even if it takes a few years. And don't make the mistake of 'staying for the children'. There is a thread around at the moment about that and some of the posts are heart breaking (sorry, can't link on tablet).

Unidentifiedflyingobject Sat 12-Oct-13 12:43:18

I wondered this about a previous partner of mine too. It was as though he hadn't got a radar for how to behave towards me. He was ok with the children though like your dp. That amazement at dd being beautiful is quite interesting... As though thinking that is not something he has experienced before (and would be consistent with him never telling you that either) that's what made me think of it.

What attracted you to each other initially?

TheMagicToyshop Sat 12-Oct-13 13:01:44

I had an ex who had a 'block' a bit like this - I think he had performance anxiety so extreme that it totally inhibited his ability to perform, so he would lose his erection if I tried to touch him etc.

He would give similar excuses to your DH, say he would take time to think through what the issue was etc. I soon realised this was simply a deferring tactic to get me off his back for a few more weeks, he was utterly determined to not address it or talk about it. He wasn't really willing or able to look inside his head. I think you need to give an ultimatum and insist on therapy in this situation.

FrancescaBell Sat 12-Oct-13 14:21:28

The only other example of this 'block' as you call it was when he avoided having sex with a woman because she owned a cat.

So it doesn't appear to be you he has a particular sexually intimate block about- it might be women generally.

Have you considered he might be gay?

ilikeFISH Sat 12-Oct-13 15:08:28

coralinna How is your DH with other women in his life? His mother, sister, friends etc?

He sounds very unable to relate to women in a meaningful and intimate fashion. The not holding hands willingly is worrying. The vague act of putting his arm round you in company falls into one of two options. Either he is showing "ownership" or he is trying to show affection but only in public.

SlangKing Sat 12-Oct-13 17:42:40

This'll horrify you - and I hope I'm wrong - but my gut reaction to the OP was "Paedophile" and I can't argue myself out of that conclusion. Please note that your DCs aren't necessarily in any danger. Paedophiles who molest children lack empathy/control, like rapists. Just like most men don't rape random women they 'fancy', so paedophiles don't act upon their urges. So, to explain why I suspect this,,,,. From your OP it seems the only time he made any effort to initiate sex with you was pre-marriage. Post marriage, you've had to initiate in order to conceive. In a (stereo)typical relationship engaged/newlyweds are 'at it like rabbits' before settling into a routine that's mutually compatible (if they're lucky). Sure there are medical/hormonal reasons that can explain low sex drive but many/most would've manifested themselves in other symptoms by now. You don't mention him being ill/tired or that the inadequate sex is getting worse. Also, he admits it's due to mental 'blocks' so there's no reason to assume it's medical. Then, there's the nappy thing. Most men, I think, have some kind of brief, visceral reaction when first confronted with child genitalia, but they're quickly over it and just get on with the job - or prefer that mum does it cuz their reaction confuses them. A reluctance to change nappies alone is indicative of nothing concrete but his different reaction to DD than to DS is a 'red flag' since it appears to be ongoing. Could be that he's deeply 'puritanical',, but about those 'blocks'. People can suppress (childhood) trauma, sometimes completely but usually they have an inkling or more. If he were completely clueless he'd likely want to find out if it was ruining his sex life so it's fair to assume he has an inkling or knows. NOBODY, including you, is buying the cat(s), especially since you own one. So, what's he lying about/hiding? You've given no indication that he's otherwise dishonest or lacking in empathy so it's a concern. Could be he's a closet ANYTHING but I return to the nappies and his different reactions to DCs. That's not indicative of a closet gay. If he were gay it'd explain his reluctance to tell you and others but not the nappy reaction. There's every indication that he's hiding something he doesnt want you/others to know. If it were cat phobia he'd seek help. It's no secret that men are visually stimulated. If it moves and/or has an orifice, we'll sexually assess it. Most of us are attracted to women and will try to appropriate something close to our ideal. Stray too far from that ideal and it doesn't trigger our sex drive - we struggle to get it up or can't at all. Resorting to stereotypes to make a point - blokes arses do nothing for hetero males and vaginas do nothing for gays. So, unexplained medical/psychological issues aside, your DH's ongoing reluctance and (near) inability to have sex with you strongly indicates that you are well removed from his sexual ideal. He may love you but doesn't fancy you. THAT, I suggest, should be your starting point. You've given no indication that your marriage is otherwise unhappy but you do need to know what he's hiding. There's a lot to suggest he's married you for social acceptance/advancement that wouldn't be available if he followed his true desires, whatever they are. There's no indication that he's acting (or would act) on those desires and that he IS trying to make a sham/show marriage work. To conclude then - If your sex life had plunged cuz you got too fat/thin/changed your hair that'd be (kinda) normal,, but you didn't have a sex life to begin with. That suggests he fancies something other than you (an adult female). He's hiding/lying about what that something is. That he has an ongoing visceral reaction to nappy changing and his different handling handling of them indicates that the something may relate to children. I repeat, this is only a best guess from the clues you've provided. I'm not one of those people who sees paedophiles lurking around every corner. I may be wrong and hope I am but, given what you've provided I think you need to consider the possibility.

bertandmarble Sat 12-Oct-13 19:33:20

Omg Slangking. That's hard to read. Are you a psychologist?

SoleSource Sat 12-Oct-13 20:11:49

Because her DH says changing the DD's nappy is too complex he is a paedophile?


SlangKing Sat 12-Oct-13 20:24:59

No, Bert, but I was well on my way before paying £40 for psychology books (in '82) became less appealing than earning £50 - 100 per night in the entertainment industry. Sorry if I've baffled you.

Not necessarily, Sole, but he could be. I'm not the only person in this thread to suspect he's a closet something. Why does the suggestion that he might be a paedo' bother you more than that he might be gay?

rootypig Sat 12-Oct-13 20:29:33

Because being a paedophile is appalling and deeply problematic and being gay, while not ideal if you're married to a woman, isn't? hmm

rootypig Sat 12-Oct-13 20:31:28

(sorry OP no wish to derail your thread but was reading and felt compelled to chip in with that last. Actually I do agree with SlangKing on the possibility that you are removed from his sexual ideal, and I think you must find a way to get him to counselling asap)

Suelford Sat 12-Oct-13 20:32:37

"Why does the suggestion that he might be a paedo' bother you more than that he might be gay?"

Because the accusation that someone is a paedophile is rather more alarming and serious than the accusation that someone is gay? Unless you think they're on the same level?

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