Advanced search

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.

Happy but sexless marriage and don't know what to do next

(27 Posts)
ladybirdie Mon 25-Jan-16 10:20:25

I have a largely happy marriage, with two young children 5 and 1, but no sex life to speak of. We've been together 8 years, married for 6. Sex was never show-stopping, but when I eventually tried nicely to ask for us to make it different, he lost his rag and we ended up unable to talk about it together without him being enraged. We ended up having almost no sex.

It became a big problem for me, not having sex, and I pushed for us to get counselling and we had sex therapy for nearly 2 years. During that time we came to understand that he had problems and worries about intimacy, about sex being a bit shameful, and about 'getting it right'. In the past I had quite a few sexual partners, unlike him, but also unlike him no very long-term relationships, because I too found intimacy difficult in my way.

It's weird because we talk about everything except this, he is my best friend, and we enjoy our life together. other than this. I am finding myself so enraged that 18 months after ending therapy, and with all the work that we did, I am still the only one of us bringing up the topic and also initiating sex - which always comes to nothing. If i never mentioned it, I really don't think he ever would. I flip between wanting to understand him, and be gentle, and wanting to scream (I don't) and blame him for it all.

I know he has a strong sex drive as he's told me he masturbates a lot, and fantasises about me. I feel sometimes that he's having a sex life with a version of me in his head, one that can't hurt or criticise him.

I really don't know what to do next, other than sit it out and wait until the children are older so I could support myself financially after a divorce.

Has anyone else been through something like this? What would your advice be?

ordinaryman Mon 25-Jan-16 10:35:58

As a man, yes: ie. I want a normal sex life with my wife, but I'm the one doing all the trying but all to no avail. As you say, if I never mentioned sex ever again, I think that would suit her just fine.

Trouble is, there is no intimacy at all either (hugs, cuddles, kisses) so I just end-up feeling undesired, unloved and unfulfilled and unfortunately, angry and resentful. I think of it as a passive unfaithfulness.

I've had plenty of advice to leave, but really not sure about that, chiefly for two resons - young kids + financial.

As you said, I'm almost considering the long-game, to wait another 10 years until the kids are adult and the money situation better, but it sounds mad as I type it...

Annarose2014 Mon 25-Jan-16 10:37:54

It's not a happy marriage. It's a marriage where he knows you're desperately upset and doesn't give a shit.

And you're seriously thinking of living another decade like this? Losing your youth on this? Madness.

pocketsaviour Mon 25-Jan-16 10:41:05

So the last time you had sex was when you conceived your youngest?

I'd be telling him since sex is so unimportant to him (and presumably my happiness equally unimportant) that I'd be seeking a discreet FWB arrangement outside the marriage.

2 years of sex therapy and the result was basically nothing? What a waste of time, money, and your precious happiness.

ladybirdie Mon 25-Jan-16 10:50:58

Thanks Ordinaryman. It's both sad and comforting to know I'm not the only one. I really do believe that no marriage is perfect, and that compromise and missing out on some things goes with the territory. I guess it's about what compromises we are willing to make. I didn't imagine it would be this one! My younger self would have walked away, but children change the whole game, especially as I grew up myself in a divorced family. I desperately want it not to happen for them.

ladybirdie Mon 25-Jan-16 10:55:11

Annarose, it must sound like madness to some. It would be very simple if he were an unloving person as I could just be heartbroken that he doesn't love me, or just hate him and move one. But he does care about me and about my unhappiness. He just doesn't seem to be able to do anything about the cause.

Annarose2014 Mon 25-Jan-16 10:59:53

I'm sorry but nobody's holding his Cock hostage here. He's making a choice. Every single time.

In the full awareness every single time of the hell that puts you through.

ordinaryman Mon 25-Jan-16 11:05:04

"My younger self would have walked away, but children change the whole game..."

Exactly. No kids and I'd be gone already, but despite advice to the contrary, I feel my kids benefit from my being around and would be heartbroken if I wasn't (so would I!). We're not fighting, or openly argumentative, so I really don't think the kids are aware of any issues.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 25-Jan-16 11:06:01

What do you get out of this relationship now?.

Re your comment:-
"As you said, I'm almost considering the long-game, to wait another 10 "years until the kids are adult and the money situation better, but it sounds mad as I type it..."

Of course it is madness

Staying for the children and a lifestyle to maintain are not good enough reasons to endure this. They also will not say "thanks mum" for staying but could well accuse you instead of putting him before them.

What do you want to teach them about relationships. What you are doing here as well is showing them that a loveless marriage (this marriage is certainly not at all happy) is their norm. They pick up on all the vibes.

Your older self can still walk away; you are also now actively stopping yourself from meeting someone else.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 25-Jan-16 11:08:46

"We're not fighting, or openly argumentative, so I really don't think the kids are aware of any issues"

Do not kid yourself that this is the case; they see all the unspoken stuff and your reactions towards each other. They may not be old enough to understand or express themselves but they will come to learn that things are badly amiss between their mum and dad.

ordinaryman Mon 25-Jan-16 11:11:26


I think you're confusing the OP, and my response to her post - it was me that made the '10 year' comment...

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 25-Jan-16 11:17:23

Ah yes, sorry about that.

Toystory4 Mon 25-Jan-16 11:25:41

Do you believe that he is fantasising about you? That seems very unlikely if he never wants to have sex with you. With his lack of previous relationships, lots of masturbating and no sex with you, have you considered the possibility that he may not be attracted to women? He wouldn't be the first to do this.

Only you can decide if you can put up with this but it seems a long loveless road ahead if you do.

ladybirdie Mon 25-Jan-16 11:25:53

Yes some confusion.
But just to be clear our children are certainly not suffering as I am not miserable around them. Neither of us are. We are a relaxed, happy family and this gives me great pleasure. I can't bear the thought of our children or us losing this.

I am only miserable about the sex, and my fears about how long I can live like this. The long term. I desperately want it to work out. Overall I enjoy things and can see how much I do have, just now and then this side of it really eats me up. and I am lost as to what to do next.

ladybirdie Mon 25-Jan-16 11:29:10

Toystory4, it had crossed my mind very briefly but it's not the case. He has only ever had relationships with women, and I know he watches heterosexual porn now and then. I have also occasionally been paranoid that he's getting sex elsewhere, but knowing the kind of person he is, this seems very, very unlikely and there are no clues to this. There's no reason not to trust him, including what he says about fantasising.

stumblymonkey Mon 25-Jan-16 11:47:28

It's very hard to give advice on this topic as it really depends on your priorities and how important sex is to you, which may be quite different to me.

Personally if I was happy with someone in every other way...they made me laugh, there was affection (hand holding, cuddles, kisses), they made an effort to compliment me, we already had children and a happy family life I could live without sex. To me it would be more practical and the best option to buy some vibrators and watch some porn and let go of the resentment.

However it would be different if there was no affection, no compliments, etc. While I would manage a marriage without sex, I couldn't manage one without love.

Would you categorise your marriage as sexless or loveless?

If it is truly specific to the sexual act alone...what exactly is it that you're missing? Orgasms? Intimacy?

There are lots of ways to increase intimacy without sex...

gatewalker Mon 25-Jan-16 12:08:26

It sounds like your husband has a deep-seated fear of engulfment, and really the only way to deal with this is with therapy - not sex therapy and not behavioural therapies like CBT; but a depth therapy like psychodynamic psychotherapy or humanistic therapy.

Google "engulfment" and "therapy" and see what you get. It is usually because of an unresolved or enmeshed relationship with a man's mother.

All the best.

ladybirdie Mon 25-Jan-16 12:17:36

Stumblymonkey, that's such a helpful post. I guess for me sex was always very important, perhaps too important, or at least I didn't have a close relationship that lasted longer than 2 years before I met my husband. He makes me happy in every other way and it is a very loving marriage. We're not without physical affection. He's not cold, although I do find I more often than not I am the one who instigates hand holding and cuddling. But he does too and only on occasion pushes me away from cuddling.

I have thought that whilst I could not live without love, perhaps I could live without sex. I mean, I have been doing so for the past 5 years pretty much. Your suggestion to work out what I miss is a helpful idea. I think it's being desired in a way where he is unable to stop himself as it were (!) and the security and physical and emotional pleasure that this brings that I miss. He just never seems to lose control!

ladybirdie Mon 25-Jan-16 12:27:28

Gatewalker, it's more a fear of rejection I think. This came up in the sex therapy a lot, and I thought it had to started to be addressed. I feel it would be good if I were able to help reassure him enough and be gentle enough to help us build up our physical intimacy gradually. But I keep getting sideswept by my sense of injustice and rage and rejection! very unhelpful.
I've thought of suggesting therapy, or a return to couples therapy if he preferred, which would at least give me some hope of change.

Annarose2014 Mon 25-Jan-16 13:42:21

Darling you did two years. TWO YEARS.

And you're still thinking "if I'm gentle enough...."

It reminds me of Charlotte losing her head and raging at Trey in S&TC "Dont talk about moving in in front of the penis in case it goes soft! The penis wasts this, the penis doesnt want that! Dont scare the penis!"

At the end of the day he is not suggesting any further treatment, is he? He's quite happy with his hand. You cant change someone whos content with their situation.

eloquent Mon 25-Jan-16 14:18:22

You are clearly unhappy AMD sadly he clearly doesn't want to change.
I was in this situation. 8 years together. 6 of those pretty much sexless.
Year 7 I found out he'd been messaging and potentially meeting men. We talked it through and I decided to try. We split a year later.
We are still close, but more friends now. I think he's very much in denial about his sexuality.

Obviously, this may not be the case for your dh. But it still stands that it doesn't look like he wants to change.

HolgerDanske Mon 25-Jan-16 14:25:39

The thing is, he is entitled to not want to have sex. Sometimes that's just the way it is, and no amount of therapy is going to change it.

He shouldn't be forced to have it just like no woman in a marriage should be forced to if she really doesn't feel it anymore.

Doesn't mean you have to settle for that, though.

And sadly, if you try to stay in the relationship you will just get angrier and more resentful. It may be time to call it a day. Or, you will have to accept that sex is not going to be part of this relationship. You shouldn't have to live a sexless life, of course, but there's not a lot else that can be done if you want to stay with him.

ladybirdie Mon 25-Jan-16 14:45:09

Yes, Eloquent, it may be that he doesn't want to change. I think I really need to find out if that's true. And HolgerDanske, absolutely he can't be made to want to have sex. I really would never coerce him into something - to be honest he is really not the type of person you can make do anything!

He just confuses me in that he seems to fancy me and like the idea of sex, but not really be up for the act. He's not without desire, he just doesn't seem able to direct that desire physically at a person, male or female. To be honest it would all make so much more sense, if agonising, to find out he was either gay, or didn't fancy me. But it looks like he's going to do nothing. I do agree that I can't just sit around getting more angry/despondent. Somethings got to give and it looks like it will be on my side not his.

HolgerDanske Mon 25-Jan-16 14:55:33

It's very sad, and I understand what you mean, that it's a lot harder precisely because it seems like things are ok in most other respects. And of course I didn't at all mean to make you feel as if you're coercing him or anything like that! But what I meant was, all the introspection and therapy and talking about it and meaning well, etc, won't change the fact that for whatever reason he can't or won't engage in that level of intimacy with you. It isn't fair to him to keep expecting him to, and it certainly isn't fair for you to keep torturing yourself wondering why or what you can do about it.

Christinayangstwistedsista Mon 25-Jan-16 16:07:05

A few things to think about....

What kind of best friends ignores your feelings and wants?
Why isn't he organising g therapy for himself?
He has a high sex drive but is content with the occasional wank
He fantasises about you, why , when he can have the real thing

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: