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Incompatibility - what do I do?(17 Posts)
I have been married to my husband for 16 years and we have 3 lovely children.
We married fairly soon after meeting - too quickly - although we were in our late twenties, so we were not young. We had an immediate strong connection as soon as we met, and in many ways he is my soulmate: we are excellent friends, we share similar ideas about life, support each other and look after each other. He is an excellent father, and a very nice man, a good man, loyal and caring. Everybody likes him. I know (because they say so) that people look at our family and think we are the perfect set up – happy parents, well balanced kids – and in many ways they would be right. It is not as easy as it looks of course – we are short of money and work very hard and suffer all the strains that everyone else does – but overall, our family is strong and stable, and I know we are lucky in that.
However, I feel as though I have carried a secret these past sixteen years that I cannot tell anyone, and sometimes, as at the moment, the stress is so great for me that I wonder if I can live like this for the rest of my life. My husband, though a loving man in many ways, has never made love to me. He knows how to have sex, but he does not know how to make love.
He comes from a small village in rural Spain, where the attitude to sex is just much more pragmatic than it is here. Prostitution is legal and a way of life (it is difficult to explain to people who do not know what it is like, but these are traditionally very poor communities where prostitution through the years has been just another profession as opposed to something ‘shocking’). I once asked him – jokingly - long ago if he had ever visited a brothel, and although his answer was negative, he reacted as though my question were a serious one, which took me aback. It is just a completely different culture, a completely different attitude to sex.
Although – as far as I know – he has never used prostitutes, he has used pornography ever since he first became sexually aware, I think. I once read somewhere that too much pornography dulls the senses, and that it is possible to get to a point with this from which one cannot come back, and I feel this is very true of my husband. Right from the start he has wanted a completely different kind of sex life to the one I want, full of experiences that I just do not want to have.
Please forgive me if the next bit is a bit explicit, but I have never told anyone and it is pointless writing this message if I cannot say it now.
Not long after we married he told me he wanted me to give him ‘golden showers’ and I know he is disappointed that I do not comply. He has always used sex toys on himself, and again I know he would really like me to too. In fact I am sure there are lots of sexual practices he would like to indulge in – he has suggested threesomes, with enough seriousness for me to believe he would be happy to go beyond fantasy with this, and he would certainly like to watch porn together – he watches a lot of porn on his own. He talks crudely in terms of (forgive me) ‘having a f**k’ as opposed to ‘making love’ and I feel he treats sex as though it is a recreational sport – or like going into a restaurant and choosing what meal he would like to have on that particular occasion. There is no emotion in it at all, no intimacy, no connection. I could be wearing a paper bag over my head for all I matter as an individual.
I know – because he implied it a few years ago – that he is disappointed with the sex life we have, and that he came to a conscious decision some years ago – he made the choice to stay with me even though he was not happy with it.
The same is true for me. We have sex – and it is having sex – once a week on the same night, and in the same way. I have directed things this way, because it is all I can bear to do. I would hate not to have sex at all – so long as we are having sex, then our marriage is still alive. But I cannot bear to do any of the things he would really like to do, because it just reinforces his complete lack of emotion about the act. It is, as a result, dissatisfying for both of us. I (again, forgive me), am ‘f*ked’ once a week, and he does not get to indulge any of the practices he would like to.
I have tried to talk to him about this, but it is impossible as he genuinely has no idea what I am talking about. It is as though the ‘intimacy’ chip is missing from his brain. I don’t think he knows what intimacy is – or he mistakes sex for intimacy, and, for him, the more extreme the act, the greater affection he is showing. Occasionally he catches himself and starts talking about ‘making love’, but I think he thinks this means spending five minutes more in foreplay (and sexual foreplay as opposed to intimacy) before ‘f*king’ anyway. And I would rather he didn’t do this at all, as it just flags up to me how little he understands the act of making love. It is not about (or not just about) physical satisfaction, it should be about so much more.
The problem for me is, I have had very loving and very satisfying sexual relationships prior to my husband. I have never met anyone who I connected with so strongly as him out of bed, but I have had very loving, intimate relationships in bed. For me it is so much about nuances, about eye contact and mutual trust, and the natural development, the sharing of intimate moments, which develop out of that into the physical acts. I have in the past found the exclusivity of that intimacy: the fact that the two people concerned have chosen to share what they choose to do together, a huge part of the attraction, and all these things mean the act is an act of love rather than purely physical.
I have of course considered that we should have therapy but aside from the fact that we couldn’t afford it, I am not sure I can bear to do it. Perhaps if we had had therapy years ago, it might have helped but I just feel it is too late now. I have spent so many years putting up with what he is, what he does, that he has killed any chance of attraction I might have had – the delicacy of that is gone for ever for me. And I will never be able to bring myself to share in the experiences he wants. So we are irreconcilable.
I don’t think I could even conjure up any emotion if I discovered he was having the experiences he wants with another woman. I wouldn’t feel any jealousy – how could I, when he doesn’t make love to me anyway? He doesn’t even see me. Perhaps if he was having sex with another woman then I wouldn’t feel a nagging guilt that by marrying me, he gave up the chance to have the kind of sex life he would have wanted. Because I know we shouldn't have married.
I suppose I am afraid therapy would inevitably fail and I am frightened of the implications of that.
But sometimes I think I just can't bear to go on like this forever. I couldn't bear to break up my family but it seems such a sacrifice, to have to give up the chance ever to be loved physically again. I ache for this and sometimes it is so overwhelming that I do not think I can go on.
I don't know if there is any answer to this, but thank you for listening.
I assume you haven't suggested an open marriage due to the fact that you will need an emotional connection with a lover which would endanger your marriage? In a way that's a shame as otherwise you could both have lovers as you are both resentful and wouldn't care. But obviously in your case I understand that there is no point just finding another lover with no emotional connection as that's the whole point of sex for you.
I think then you should split up - so what if you co-parent, millions of parents are divorced, it's bad for the DC to wirness the tension and resentment anyway. If all of your dc are teenagers, you could wait till they leave school, but if not, really you are risking depression/distree which will in turn affect the dc. I really don't get it when partners torture themselves in staying together just to save hte family - when dc grow up they will never appreciate that, they will feel guilty that you stayed unhappy for their sake.
But if we split up, I leave what is in every other way a good partnership because of sex. And it breaks my heart to do that too, because I think I should be stronger than that. That I should be able to hold on, to endure, and concentrate on the positive things in our relationship.
And for many of our 16 years, I have managed this very well - just kind of 'shut off' my feelings about it - but maybe I am just having a mid life crisis at the moment...... I just can't bear the thought that this is it, that it is going to be this way forever, there will never be anything more.
how do you manage to like and love him though, when the major part of the relationship is wrong for you (it's not 'just sex' is it - for you it's the lack of love making as an expression of his general love)? Personally this would spoil the other things for me, the incompatibility and also his blind spotr to this whole thing where he can't even understand you. If of course the marriage was more for convenience or coparenting/financial stability, then it can work as you wouldn't feel as hurt if you didn;t actually love him, but I'm not sure if that's the case? in which case yoiu must feel likie you've sacrificed your whole need for love and loving sex. You can like someone as a friend but then why have sex at all with him.
There is really no other magic option - you either split up or agree on open marriage (complicated), or stay and deny yourself a whole aspect of your needs emotional and sexual. He won't change if that was your hope.
OP, you would seem to have a lot to give in a relationship and you have articulated that well. Your and your DH's core values are poles apart, and yet you say that it is in other ways 'a good partnership'. But do you really know who exactly your DH thinks you are? I say that because I think you may surprised or even shocked by the reality of his frankly shabby mindset.
If you could set aside the idea of 'sunk costs' in terms of the years you have put into this relationship, can you see a future where you could have a loving, caring partner? At the moment you are not being treated well, or even fairly, indeed you are existing on an emotional island - Population: Just Maggy - and IMO that is not a good partnership.
To me, having trust and connection in our sex life colours the rest of the relationship
One cannot exist without the other, so I am struggling to see how you praise him so highly out of the he'd room
The porn, the objectifying of women, the way he uses you sexually, the fact that it is only your own strength of character that has put the block on some more rather serious abuses of you....all describe the true nature of this man
What he presents to the outside world would mean nothing to me. I would know him, and that would be all I needed to know.
Yes, I do feel I have sacrificed my whole need for love and loving sex, and this is what I am struggling with so desperately at the moment.
But - and I appreciate this is difficult to believe - but he really is a very nice, thoughtful, caring man. It is completely a question of how he was brought up - I think he thinks everyone is like he is, he genuinely doesn't know there is another way to be. It feels almost cruel to be angry with him about it, because it isn't his fault, it is the fault of the way he was raised. And I suppose I think it is partly my fault, as I shouldn't have married him in the first place.
I know I am sounded like a downtrodden woman, but I am really not, I am really very strong! I like him very much, I really do. I just desperately want to be loved by someone again, in bed.
We are due to go away together this weekend (first time in years because of the kids) and I think I will try to explain again then.
Otherwise, I suppose it does come down to the choice of staying, and accepting the situation, or deciding to go....
Sorry but if you are not sharing an equal sharing fulfilling relationship then there is no real relationship, I don't know how you can even have sex with him with his warped attitude to love and sex, no matter how nice he appears he clearly has deep seated issues which will probably never leave him now, he can't just expect you to agree to sex which involves degradation and he won't meet you half way to have a normal sex life so really it's expect more of the same or grant yourself the permission to have the sex life you would like, with someone else.
He sounds pretty vile from what you have just posted, perhaps you have become used to it.
And I really don't buy that he thinks every man is like him, if he really does believe that then he definitely needs professional help.
We are not the sum of our childhoods
All of us have had other modifying influences on our lives unless he has been locked up in a cave for the last 20+ years
I call bullshit, and you are minimising
This has nothing to do with culture, and everything to do with the person he is.
Spain is not some kind of exotic extra-terrestrial land where everything is different . We're talking about another Western European country: things that are shocking here are also shocking there.
If he's a terrible husband, it's because he's a terrible husband. There is no excuse, cultural or otherwise: don't downplay or minimise it.
OP, OH is not 'nice thoughtful and caring' when it comes to your physical relationship, is he? If he had a genuine regard for you he would curb his selfish misogynistic practices and think about your needs as half of the partnership.
IMO OH absolutely will not change and I believe you have actually allowed yourself to be downtrodden by his sexuality, where you are occasionally lending him your body for a shag as opposed to you both having mutual, loving intimacy together.
Ok, so..... it's quite difficult for me to listen to all that, which makes me realise I am quite defensive/protective of DH, and maybe, yes, I have been conditioned to be so.
But I do genuinely think it is more complex than him as misogynist/me as victim. For example, I know he is genuinely hurt/feels rejected by the fact that I do not want to share with him the things he wants to do - he thinks he is showing me affection. I don't know how to explain to him that it isn't - how do you explain to someone who just doesn't 'get it'?
If he did understand the problem, I know he would do his best to change because in every other area of his life that is what he is like. In every other area of life we are a good/equal partnership. But I don't know if my feelings can ever recover from how he has been.
And I know I have had my head in the sand about this for years, and it is quite scary to be finally addressing it now.
Oh this is so sad
I can't believe you think this is just the way he was brought up - I very much doubt his parents instructed him to this extent!!!
I don't think you can completely blame porn either. I'm sure there are men who enjoy watching porn occasionally but also enjoy loving sex with their partners. He's clearly not one of them.
You can't blame anyone but him for his unhealthy, misogynistic and dangerous attitude to sex.
That fact that he says he feels hurt and rejected when you don't want to
be sexually abused indulge his sexual tastes is not exactly proof that he's innocent. I read it as manipulation - putting emotional pressure on you so you'll give him what he wants sexually.
I think your only options are couple's therapy or ending the relationship.
He must be buttoned up the back then OP if he doesn't understand where you are coming from, I don't get either how his upbringing has lead to his outlandish sexual wants, I mean golden showers, and all men are like him......I think he's done a massive number on you and you can no longer see how it's his way or the highway.
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