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.
Sexless marriage - female perspective needed please(54 Posts)
I’m hoping to get a female perspective on an issue that is causing me real anguish.
I’m mid 40s and my wide is late 40s. We’ve been together for 15 years and married for 10. We have no children by this of from previous relationships.
My wife has a medical condition that she was very open about when we first met. It’s very rare (less than 100 people in the country have this) so I’d rather not say what it is as I might out myself.
About a month after we first met we started having sex. After about 4 months she told me her medication has changed, this has caused her problems with hormones and periods and as a result she would be temporarily unable to have sex. I fully accepted this and carried on building a relationship without sex.
I sort of lost track of time and another 12 months passed before I became a bit concerned about getting our sex life back on track. I had a growing feeling that when she said “temporary” she hadn’t really been truthful and I was left with a difficult decision; do I leave her or do I say and live a sexless life. I loved her, after much thought, decided to say with her in a sexless relationship - now marriage.
This has been very difficult for me I have struggled with celibacy on a daily basis but I made my choice freely and have stuck to it for 14 years.
My wife has recently told me that actually she was only unable to have sex for a few months; from that point on she was able to have sex but she just preferred not to. She has given me no reason or this just that she is not a very sexual person. I have found this news VERY, VERY difficult to cope with. When I made my choice 13 years ago my decision was based on her being UNABLE to have sex with me, being UNWILLING to have sex with me is a very different situation.
I feel that if I had known the truth years ago I would have wished her good luck and moved on. My wife doesn’t see any difference between being unable to have sex and being unwilling to have sex as the outcome for me is the same.
I have spoken to a few close male friends about this. Their view of my wife was pretty poor. I would really appreciate a female perspective on my situation.
If you feel you can share any thoughts with me I be very grateful as to honest right now I have no idea what to think.
She has lied to you, and prevented you from making an informed choice on how to spend 13 years of your life. I'm sure that I would be feeling pretty negative about that if it had happened to me.
I think she has been very unfair and it is rather convenient for her to say she sees no difference. Clearly either way you aren't having sex with her but she has misled you.
I'd be having a serious think as to whether you can forgive her and without her admitting she has behaved badly I don't see how. If you can forgive her you still have the option to leave.
To me sex is an important part of a loving relationship, but not the most important part. IF my partner was unable to have sex because of injury or illness, I would stay with him because I loved him for who he was, not just for the sex.
But what you are describing is different - and I can understand your hurt and anger (if that is the right word) your wife made a choice about having a sexless marriage but she lied to you about the reason, there was no reason for her not to have a sexual relationship with you other than her not wanting to. She deceived you and she took away your choice. As you say - if you had known she simply didn't want sex, you might have decided to end the relationship, but you didn;t have the true facts.
For me honesty and trust are vital in relationship and she hasn't been honest with you, that would be a deal breaker for me. I could live without having sex if that was agreed and there was a valid reason for it (even 'I don;t like sex would be acceptable if it was stated from the outset and I had the choice), But you have been stuck in a sexless marriage with a vague promise of future sex which your wife knew would never happen.
She was dishonest with you, I couldn't live with that - it was cruel and stringing you along. You have to decide whether you love her enough to accept the new situation that your marriage is sexless and always will be or whether you want to leave and find a more fulfilling relationship.
Another option if you love your wife and want to live with her still is to discuss your sexual needs with her and see if she is amenable to you finding sexual satisfaction elsewhere while still staying together (I know a couple who have this arrangement and it seems to work for them after a fashion although I wouldn't describe their marriage as entirely happy)
For me the sticking point is not the lack of sex, it is the deceit -s he always knew she wouldn't want a sexual relationship but she allowed you to think that she would, That is very selfish and cruel and I would personally not want to stick around with someone who had that little respect for me.
You know the truth of the situation now, so now you have choices which were denied to you before.
What? In 13 years your wife's 'medical condition' prevented her from all forms of sexual contact?! No oral, nothing?
I would be livid.
She has lied to you. She does not care about your needs or feelings.
Another one here who would be very hurt and angry. She's lied to you and taken away your choice.
You are only mid 40s - do you want to stay in a sexless marriage to someone who doesn't care about your happiness?
Blimey, I'd be fuming. Your whole relationship is based on a lie.
Do you want to get passed this? Is she adamant she does not want any sexual contact at all in the future? How is the relationship in other areas?
I think the trust would go for me and I'd be questioning other aspects of the relationship and her personality. It would depend if she would be willing to engage with you, and professionals if necessary, to overcome this.
My heart goes out to you. I was in a very similar situation, in that the reason for the sexless marriage was concealed and only revealed a decade later. You're not alone. I still feel the anger and hurt, and the idea that the whole of my twenties was stolen, my marriage was a sham and my children now have a broken home because I was essentially used to make someone else appear 'normal' to the outside world, well, it's a difficult notion to adjust to.
What do you want to do? Nothing will change. From your wife's perspective it's all fine. Her needs are met. What about you?
I agree with everyone - she lied and it's not ok.
When you asked her, did she outright tell you she couldn't have sex again or did you assume?
Either way, yes she has behaved very badly, deceiving you all those years, very sad.
Do you mean penetration? What about other forms of sexual contact and intimacy?
(sorry for using the term broken home btw. I never wanted to be divorced and lose half the time with my children, that's all I mean by it. no stigma implied.)
Thank you taking the time to post.
Kara: as far as oral is concerned she once told me that she gave her ex-husband oral and that she felt disgusted with herself afterwards so I didn't see the point asking.
Kurri: You mention seeking sex outside marriage, with her consent, I don't feel she would be able to cope with me asking.
Lamp: I don't know yet if can get past this or if I even want to try. I'm still coming to terms with things have no idea want I want. I've posted on here to try to balance out the advice of my male friends but your views are pretty much the same as the men I've asked (minus the swearing).
Liney: We are very close and there is lots of handholding and kissing but just no sex.
Gilbert: I'm sorry to hear what you went through - I'm not sure what I want.
Kara: as far as oral is concerned she once told me that she gave her ex-husband oral and that she felt disgusted with herself afterwards so I didn't see the point asking
Disgusted at herself, more disgusting is being deceitful and having a relationship with someone under false pretenses.
She doesn't like sex, and it would seem never has, and she knew she would have to lie about it in order to secure the long term security of a relationship. That is disgusting.
OP I agree with everyone else on this thread - there is a huge difference between unable and unwilling. If I was in a relationship with a much loved partner who became unable to have sex (for instance following a prostate operation) I would cope somehow and try my hardest to keep the rest of the relationship good. But if I was with a partner who didn't want to have sex with me it would eat away at my self esteem. And to have a partner who I discovered didn't want to have sex but pretended for years that they couldn't simply to avoid having an honest conversation - I'd be devastated and betrayed.
Thanks again for all of your responses.
Mini: I think my wife has a very prudish attitude towards sex. I feel this may relate to her mother who has endured an awful marriage for 60 years. In this marriage (her mother's) sex was something a man "did" to a woman.
Lexi: No. We are very affection to the extent one of my male friends when I told about this was utterly surprised - he confessed he'd always been jealous of me as he assumed we were at it all the time.
Lurcio: That pretty much sums up how I feel. It's good to hear this from other people (you, others on this thread and the men I've talked to) as it gives some value to my feelings and reassures me I'm not just bitter because I'm not getting sex when I want it.
Her behaviour has been truly despicable and I can't tell you how angry I would be in this situation. You have been lied to throughout your relationship with seemingly no care as to how this enforced celibacy has affected your life. I imagine her behaviour would be grounds for annulment of the marriage.
Good grief - I'm just coming out of a relationship where there are similarities. It was so painful emotionally. What I've learnt is that as much as I wanted to accept it, I couldn't. It also turned out that this was just one example of how his commitment to me differed from my commitment to him, so ultimately I was blindsided by a divorce. Be honest with yourself and her about how this makes you feel. This is a very difficult subject to navigate, you might want to get the help of a professional counsellor with it.
My DH said something would happen after marriage and it has only once and won't again. I'm pretty miffed but what your wife has done is unforgivable to me. She has used you for whatever reason and it isn't that she hasn't given you sex, it is that she has lied and treated you like you aren't as important or equal to her. Married people put their spouses first. They sometimes do things they don't really want too because their spouse would be happy (not necessarily sex related). loving spouses don't marry on a lie.
I think mini has it.
Never wanting sex is fine. But in that case your wife should have pursued an open relationship or one with a fellow asexual person.
She lied about a medical condition to make you feel bad about wanting sex.
You are totally justified in feeling very angry.
I would also be ripshit mad at my wife were I in your position.
I read an interesting article in the NY Times this year about a study which reinforced the importance of sexuality in a relationship by suggesting working on that first as a way to facilitate the resolution of other issues, contrary to the idea that other issues, once worked on, lead to resumption of sex. My point is that sex is important, for sexual people. I agree with PP that your wife is likely asexual.
If you were a pal of mine, sitting right next to me right now, I might gently suggest that you examine why you stayed this long, and why you took her explanation at face value, and why you accepted her rejection of all forms of sexuality, including touching you were her hands, or allowing non-penetrative sex. I would hope you could do some work to improve your own sense of worth and self-respect.
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.