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DH won't initiate sex

(22 Posts)
Cleatusclarke Sat 07-Jan-17 17:26:14

This has been going on for the duration of our 15 year relationship but has now reached crisis point. He says it feels disrespectful to initiate sex without me making the first move and 'showing I'm interested', like he'd be pestering me. I want to be desired and for him to show that spontaneously and it makes me feel pressured that he leaves it up to me, like all the onus is on me to keep the impetus going in our sex life.

Neither of us is very confident sexually, we're both afraid of rejection and there's a sense of embarrassment that just shouldn't be there after 15 years together but we have sex so infrequently it just feels as though we've never got past it. We both brought hang ups from previous bad experiences into the relationship and it feels as though we've never let our guards down because there's never been enough consistent sex to get any further than scratching the surface.

It just feels like such a waste, we're still attracted to each other, always have been but it's an area of our lives where neither of us have ever been properly fulfilled. The rest of our marriage is good, we're close, we make each other laugh and are a great team, it's just the physical side that's lacking.

We've talked about it til we're blue in the face, we both understand what the problems are and have come up with numerous strategies to improve things but they only ever seem to work for a little while and then it just goes back to the way it's always been.

He used to get really frustrated and down about the situation (but still refused to change his belief that initiating sex was somehow disrespectful) but he just seems to have accepted that this is how it will always be now. He still says he'd like things to change when we talk but doesn't seem to have any hope that it will ever be any different. I can understand that, it's exhausting going through that cycle of hope and disappointment all the time but I guess it puts me back into the role of being the one who's responsible for pushing things forward and I really don't deal well with that.

I should add that feeling that pressure to be the driving force has always had the effect of making me do just the opposite, partly because I'm just not comfortable in that role and partly out of resentment and feeling like why should I when he refuses to adjust his mindset. The upshot is that we haven't had sex in over a year now, he rarely comes to bed anymore and it feels like we've both given up. I think we would need a completely new approach now to have any hope of fixing this, neither of us have much faith that anything we can come up with ourselves will help because it never has in the past. We've considered sex therapy but it would be logistically difficult (very few evening childcare options and he works away frequently and without much notice so keeping a regular appointment would be impossible) and I'm not sure it would work anyway with the level of embarrassment we both seem to suffer from around sex.

It just makes me really sad, we're both early 40's now and we've already wasted so much time but I'm honestly at a loss as to what to do. Part of me thinks maybe we should split up and give each other a chance to find other partners without our respective hang ups, I think maybe we both would have done better with more confident partners and instead we're both equally shy and insecure. But we love each other and, honestly, I don't want anyone else and I think he feels the same. It's just such a crying shame that we both want the same thing but can't seem to make it happen.

TheNaze73 Sat 07-Jan-17 18:17:29

At first glance, I'm thinking childhood issues.

Can't you instigate a password or euphemism to chuck the idea out there & go from there?

category12 Sat 07-Jan-17 18:25:50

Seems to me you guys have to make that time for therapy. I know - obstacles, but really, if it matters, if it's the one thing that isn't right between you, if it makes you sometimes feel you should split - make the time. You could go separately and together.

TheSparrowhawk Sat 07-Jan-17 18:28:26

If you're serious about making it work then you have to get some counselling. It sounds like it might be fixable but only with a commitment from both of you to really address the underlying issues.

Cleatusclarke Sat 07-Jan-17 20:11:04

Just been looking into sex therapy in my area, does anyone have any experience or thoughts about online or telephone counselling compared to face to face? Just thinking that might be more doable around DH's work. I do agree counselling does seem the next logical step am just worried that DH in particular will struggle to open up. When he and I try to talk about anything difficult the conversation is always punctuated by frustratingly long silences while he tries to articulate what he wants to say and I suspect that would only worsen with the presence of a third party, this could be a long job!

FT100 Sat 07-Jan-17 20:33:33

I don't think this is going to be easy for you to remedy to be honest. I have been in a similar situation and counselling (sex related) was hideous.

Does he have any urges at all? Ie does he masturbate, watch porn etc?

Cleatusclarke Sat 07-Jan-17 20:41:56

He's never expressly said so but I would think so, I found porn on his phone once but that was some years ago. It feels more like we've just got into an awful rut and some really bad habits where neither of us make the effort rather than either of us actively not wanting sex tbh. Obviously there are underlying reasons why we've ended up here which have never been properly addressed or resolved and that's likely to be what's stopping us breaking those habits but I honestly don't think lack of desire for sex or each other is the problem.

Can I ask why you found sex therapy so hideous FT?

Daisyfrumps Sat 07-Jan-17 23:10:15

We're pretty lazy about sex too - neither of us seems to have much of a drive and I'm always the instigator. Recently it's been maybe 2 / 3 times a year. Always good when we get going. Fancy each other.

DH isn't a 'talker' either but says it's just not so much on his radar. Same here.

Sometimes I think I'd love to be taken roughly in the kitchen but it's not really his style!

I seem to giggle when we get down to it, but that passes.

It could maybe change if the effort is put in by both parties.

On the other hand, it's ok to have infrequent sex if you'd both rather this than split.

I don't know..

Cleatusclarke Sat 07-Jan-17 23:25:36

Infrequent would be fine if we were both happy with that but I don't think we are really. It's just like this massive barrier has built up due to old insecurities and bad habits but I think we'd both like more out of our relationship. Don't think either of us want to split, it's just proving really difficult to solve the problems we have. It gets shoved on the back burner much of the time while we get on with life in general so it's no wonder we've made little progress really, I just think it's time we got it sorted before we spend the next 15 years feeling like we're missing out.

Christmasnoooooooooooo Sat 07-Jan-17 23:46:14

Relate do sex therapy

BelarusianDoll Sun 08-Jan-17 00:13:17

OP I think this is a fundamental problem that will only get worse. Don't spend another 15 years like this. It doesn't need to be this difficult; you both sound quite passive but might thrive with a more confident partner. Life is short and you can both be happier if you stop ignoring this very important issue.

Do you have DC? And how old are you both if you don't mind me asking?

It's not unreasonable to want a DH to find you irresistible and passionately jump on you from time to time! Be brave.

BelarusianDoll Sun 08-Jan-17 00:14:57

Sorry, I saw you already said you were early forties. If you have no DC then seriously consider your options OP.

rosabug Sun 08-Jan-17 00:29:06

Or there is another way perhaps, speaking 6 years down the line with no sex and looking at the end of a 20 year relationship - I wish I had tried to skip the endless talking it through. Eventually the talk just built stress and that in itself made it worse. Don't let it go on any longer, get him back into bed. I say why not just accept you will probably always have to lead? It's not perfect, but a combination of stand-off and no sex at all will kill your relationship. Try - if you can - to take it all a bit more lightly, because the heavy vibe that sex probs can cause is a desire killer. Or make the responsibility mutual. Me and my partner when we were still lovers, one of us would say - 'we should have some sex soon', just matter of factly - then we would, usually the same night.

timelytess Sun 08-Jan-17 00:40:37

Make a timetable. Together.
Make it clear and specific - dates, times, places and erm... activities.
Then keep to it.
Have a rule that you can add in extra activities but not miss/avoid anything on the timetable.

Problem solved. Sex is scheduled, and no-one has to speak up. Just turn up wherever you've planned and get on with it.

Cleatusclarke Sun 08-Jan-17 00:53:18

I reached exactly that conclusion about 5 years ago rosabug, that I would just have to take the lead. Trouble was deep down I still resented having to do it and it played into my own lack of confidence and ended up making me feel worse. I also struggled to feel like I wanted sex because I didn't feel like he wanted me. It's been a vicious circle throughout our relationship, I need to be 'pursued' a little bit to feel sexy I think and he's never done that. Then because the sex dries up he ends up feeling unwanted and we both withdraw to our respective corners feeling hard done to and resentful.

It's a bit pathetic in all honesty but we don't seem to be able to break the pattern. Maybe Belarusian is right and we would both be happier with different, more confident partners, I just wish we could find a way to make it work. We do have a DD btw, she's 8.

Cleatusclarke Sun 08-Jan-17 01:01:56

Tried that too tess, we just don't stick to it for any length of time. Something disrupts the schedule (one of us is ill/he has to go away for work/DD not sleeping well) and we lose momentum and fail to pull it back round. We're both a bit lazy and I do think that's part of the problem but it makes no sense that this issue seems to bother both of us quite a lot and yet we don't seem to be able to change it long term.

timelytess Sun 08-Jan-17 01:30:06

Perhaps its time to move on.
Sad but... this isn't what you want for the rest of your life.

Isetan Sun 08-Jan-17 06:21:00

Personally, I think you both have to take responsibility for your respective issues before you can both take joint responsibility for your relationship ones. Your respective issues must run very deep, if your both willing to forgo a fulfilling sexual relationship that you say you both want because neither one of you wants the responsibility of getting it.

A new partner won't necessarily change things if how you think about yourself is part of the problem and there's a good chance that new issues would manifest.

I think neither of you know yourselves as well as you think you do and at present, neither of you are willing to know yourselves better. The resentment appears to come from the expectation that the problem is the others to fix but as Micheal Jackson said, you need to start with the man in the mirror.

Your unsatisfactory sex life is a symptom of deeper problems.

FudgeBiscuits Sun 08-Jan-17 06:49:34

Tell him if you're up for it you'll kiss him a certain way.

DH knows if I kiss him and bite his bottom lip, he's getting some. Also randomly just show him my ass (kind of like a baboon confusedhmmgrin) and again, he knows he's got the green light.

Also if he's up for it but not sure if I am, he'll kiss me and bite my bottom lip, if I don't return it, he knows to back down. If I do return it and bite back, he basically pounces on me!

FT100 Sun 08-Jan-17 08:32:30

The problem with a lot of these suggestions is that he ight just not be up for it and it will just add more pressure to the mix. Not every man is lying there just waiting for the magic sign that he might get some. Some are probably dreading the sign. I also find there is a lot of answering for the other half on these type of threads. "We still fancy each other" well is that 100% true of the partner? He will, of course, tell you that because telling you he doesn't opens up a whole new discussion and causes a lot of upset but desire may be a problem.

Have you also looked into how happy he is in general. Depression can be a problem for libido and men are notoriously poor at addressing this illness.

The sex therapy through relate was so basic in parts it was laughable. "I am going to show you some pictures of a penis etc etc...

There were bits that I could see would be useful if and it's a big if, the desire is still there in the first place.

It wasn't for us and we split up. Sex therapy made no difference whatsoever.

noego Thu 12-Jan-17 18:57:47

Try meditative tantric sex. It is a way of discovering each other and each others bodies. Find out what each other likes. How each other like to be touched. Where each other like to be touched.

wherearemymarbles Thu 12-Jan-17 20:05:49

Might be and odd suggestion I know and something that would probably kill off most peoples sex lives but...

Why dont you both agree you are going to have sex at 10pm on the dot every 2nd Saturday ( or how often you want) without fail.

That way there is no issue of instigation and as, to be fair, you are both unable to have spontaneous sex it might work long enough to relax and at least go some way to resolving your hangups

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