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.
Another sexless marriage(119 Posts)
Hi all, looking for the collective wisdom of anonymous internet folk.
I'm a married guy in my mid-30s; my wife and I have been together for about 10 years. We've got two kids.
The issue of the day is a complete and utter lack of sex, verging now on abstinence. I couldn't accurately describe the frequency, but I think maybe 2 or 3 times in the last year? This has gone on, probably for about the last 2 or 3 years, only marginally better than that for the prior 4 or 5. Only really in the first few years of being together were were really having sex regularly. The sex we do have is singularly awful - all attempts at foreplay are rebuffed, and I'm urged to finish the deed as quickly as possible (which, given the usual frequency, is not that difficult!). She's not interested in any aspect of sex at all, giving or receiving.
Things really fell off a cliff though, once I made the decision (about a year ago) to stop even attempting to initiate. In all honesty I couldn't take the continued rejection, it was utterly humiliating. I knew it would be the death knell of the twice-a-year hurrah, but I had to do it for my own (vastly diminished) sense of pride.
Sounds terrible, but we otherwise have, I think, a good relationship. We're both young, reasonably attractive, have good jobs, a couple of great kids, live in a nice house and we're better off than most. The odd stress or strain, but nothing millions of ordinary people don't face every day. On paper, we're lucky. In case it needs spelling out, yes I more than pull my weight around the house. This isn't an issue.
I do really love my wife. She's funny, intelligent, good-looking, interesting. I love spending time with her. I love going out together, wherever. I just don't know why she's completely given up on this one aspect of the relationship.
We've talked endlessly and openly about this. She acknowledges the hurt and feelings of rejection this must cause. We've talked about possible causes - there's a bit of everything in there. Body image issues, post-pregnancy pain, tiredness, birth control etc. But at the end of the day, she says she simply cannot explain why she does not want to have sex. End of. Nothing to be done. Sad, but that's life.
It is causing huge issues in the marriage. My resentment is building; knowing that this isn't helpful on my part doesn't really stop me feeling it - like her rejection of sex, this is an emotional reaction that I'm not entirely in control of. I've tried taking it off the agenda for long periords to try to take the stress out of the issue for, but in my experience this simply means it gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list below pretty much everything else.
I'm at the point now where I feel I have to make a decision about whether to end the marriage. I can't really bear the thought of leaving my kids, and feel I'm going to end up the bad guy here with friends + family when I wasn't the one who unilaterally declared celibacy.
Is this ever solvable? The more I read about other people's experiences, the more depressed I get that this will ever be addressed, and the more I think I need to act now.
Any advice / thoughts gratefully received.
Good luck is all i can say. It does seem you have tried very hard so i guess if there really is no effort from the other side to put it right then that is ultimately the decision you will have to make. Not much else to say really ?
How old are your dc? Do you have the opportunity to do the deed? Mine are 2 & 5 and I work full time, by the time I get to bed after a 16 hour none stop day I haven't much energy! Also, we've got a ds who is an early riser so we are always woken up.
Could you try and get away for the weekend? Spend some quality time together?
I'm no relationship guru but I do know lots of couple struggle like this when there are little ones about.
They're young, both under 6. We don't have a lot of opportunity, no. But to be honest, what opportunities we have are never acted on. Any attempts lead to rejection.
Acting on our limited opportunities would probably take us to the level of a typical marriage, I guess; once a week? I'd be utterly delighted with that. I'm not asking for the impossible.
I don't want or need sex 5 times a day. I'm not looking for weird sex, or kinky sex, or sex with 3rd parties. Just a normal, healthy sexual relationship, of the kind that takes into account the daily pressures of working with young kids, you know?
It's desperately desperately sad when this happens. I went without for TWELVE whole years!!! Now I've filed for divorce. I begged, pleaded, bought saucy underwear, ditched my glasses, went to counselling (alone), did marriage guidance (alone), etc etc. Felt utterly regected & ugly. What the celibate person often misses is that lack of sex begins to breed lack of intimacy & without intimacy there is no relationship. Have you tried taking some of the burden off her, kids/housework etc? Do you have breaks away? Have you ever tried leaving her little notes, played with her hair/rubbed her feet etc etc with no expectation? How about getting rid of the kids, paying for a good massage or even better doing it yourself, anything to try to reconnect with who you both were when you first met. Joint counselling if you can. Divorce is a really fucking miserable outcome.
Part of the issue with this is that it places the onus on fixing this problem with the 'innocent' party (I know this language isn't helpful, I'm not saying she's doing it deliberately), and to be frank I'm pretty resentful at this point. I didn't cause the problem, I can't be the only one to make an effort towards a solution.
I could easily see a situation where such efforts went entirely unreciprocated, leading to further resentment and bitterness.
I don't know what the answer is at this point; I'm pretty sure it doesn't involve me attempting to 'woo' her out of it. I also don't want to get into a situation where she feels pressured further because of overt displays of ostentation.
We do what we can, in terms of getting some alone time. As babysitting allows, etc!
Fully agree that a divorce will be a terrible outcome
Has your dw actually been to her GP to discuss her lack of libido? There are physical causes. Is she using hormonal contraception? (I guess probably not), she may be depressed or have a thyroid imbalance. Other than that she has to want to improve things and save your marriage. If you have had endless open discussions have you actually said that you don't want to continue this way?
It's true that many if not most marriages take a hit in the bedroom when there are young dc but it requires effort on both sides and from what you are saying she isn't making any effort at all. Most women know that even if you don't feel much like it, sometimes you need to make that effort and actually having sex does, in itself, increase your desire.
I feel for you, OP. She needs to want to make things better and she isn't showing much sign of it.
You could try an affair with another woman, or prostitutes. It might keep your marriage alive, otherwise call it a day.
What is certain is that you can't go through your life resenting your partner, do you actually want another 30 or 40 years of misery?
She has not been to the GP, though we have discussed it. Contraception doesn't seem to be the issue; it's been varied many times without any change.
I have been very open about my feelings on this. She is always sympathetic, if a little defensive (understandably), but the sympathy doesn't translate to anything concrete. My guess is she has no idea what to do.
Personally, I think it's a combination of things. Body image issues (she's actually very attractive, IMO), the natural fatigue of a working life with two kids, and a naturally low-libido plus a certain apathy to the problem that's led to it getting worse and worse. Now, it's almost become psychological. The lack of sex has made the prospect of sex loom in her mind.
I think it depends what she's willing to do about it.
My relationship (without DC) ended because of why you are unhappy.
A previous poster is right - the lack of a sexual relationship eventually leads to all other areas of the relationship falling apart. That's what happened in mine and I ended it. I didn't want to but I had to as my ex was happy to ignore the issue and not seek any help.
This is happening to me to but I'm a girl the day we found out I was pregnant he went off me that was 2,5years ago I feel sad every day
I'd suggest you put the ball in her court a bit.
Tell her you love her, don't want to give up on a sex life with her, ask if she feels the same, and will she do something? Would you suggest sex therapy to her along with the GP visit? And make sure she understands where you are "at".
The crux is whether she wants things to change or not. One of my friends deeply loves her husband, he is good looking, they make a great couple, but she has never desired him. He isn't her "type". She sees sex as a chore which she does the absolute minimum of. She shouldn't have married him. If your wife is like this, nothing will improve it. But if she wants to change there must be a chance.
I don't know. I suspect not, mostly because she rejects attempts to bring her to climax manually or orally. I suppose if she does then that implies a different kind of problem, so worth knowing.
I would definitely look at moving on. You only live once and you've made massive efforts. It's time to realise that things are unlikely to change.
Is she prepared to lose you over this, or would she seek help?
i felt similar to your wife. Sex just did not appeal on any level, even with myself. It turns out I had a thyroid problem and was going through a very early menopause. Now my libido is higher than my husbands! So there may very well be a medical issue. She has to want to address this though and sadly it sounds like she doesn't. Your options are rather limited, you can't make her care so your alternative may sadly be divorce, seeking sexual pleasure out with the relationship or sadly celibacy. Maybe an ultimatum will work?
Your DW is going to have to put some genuine effort into figuring out why she feels this way, and ways in which to try and have it sorted if the marriage is going to work out. Having sympathy but then taking no steps to actually attempt to deal with the problem is not good enough. If she isn't willing to see her doctor to rule out any physical issues, or do some couples counselling or maybe a sex therapist...then to be honest I would just call it a day here.
She is entitled to her feelings, but if it is putting a strain on the relationship and she can't be bothered to try anything to see if there could be improvement then there is no where for this to go...unless you are ok with being celibate for the rest of your life - and that is completely unfair in the context of a relationship.
Hhave you actually told her outright that this could be the end of the marriage? I agree that you've made all the right efforts. I have kids, I get tired, I have a lot of housework, we have extremely stressful jobs etc etc ....still have sex even if the frequency's gone down!
she might not realise just how strongly you feel about it. at the same time, it's not ideal because even if she does 'pull her socks up' about it, to me that would feel like I was holding her to ransom its a sad, impossible situation - sorry I can't be more help.
Have you tried therapy/counselling - either on your own or together?
It does sound miserable OP
She knows you're unhappy
She won't do anything about it, such as see the GP
It's pretty basic, isn't it? She'd rather you were unhappy than explore this low libido issue.
I totally sympathise with you as you didn't sign up for celibacy. It's possible that the problem could be fixed, but the only way that's going to happen is if she takes steps to fix it.
I think I would be laying my cards on the table here and saying "I feel so un-loved and rejected that I cannot stay in this marriage any more, as my self-esteem is getting worse by the day. Either give me your blessing to look elsewhere, get yourself to the GP so we can start sorting it, or we have to split."
I felt this with my dh, it was like a cloud over us. The pressure of the situation made it worse. I decided I couldn't go on like that and ended the relationship. I met someone else who I did want to be intimate with though. I think this is a different situation to yours though.
If this post had been from a woman about a man, I'd have said 'Leave'.
To be fair, and because I think its what you need to do, I'm saying it here.
Give her a 'last chance' if you like, but she's made it clear she doesn't want to have sex with you, so plan your exit and go.
We haven't gone to counselling, though it is an obvious next step and we've discussed it. I'm personally pessimistic as to the chances of success (though willing to try).
I'm also wary about it becoming a gauntlet of he-said she-said grievance mongering; during particularly heated discussions she has a tendency to become very defensive and raise a variety of never-heard-again smokescreen issues that, to me, look more like an attempt to "spread the guilt", rather than raising legitimate, causative grievances. Perhaps I'm wrong or being biased, there; counselling might help.
If I thought that this was her attraction to me, in particular, rather than a general issue, then I'd simply end it and move on. I am not such a simpering fool I'd be content to hang around in a marriage where my wife simply didn't fancy me.
My best guess, however, is that this isn't the case. This is more general (though I'm sure a new relationship for her would have a chance of providing a 'reboot' for her libido).
Join the discussion
Please login first.