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Sex life dwindling - a thread for practical suggestions?

20 replies

UnorthodoxFox · 18/12/2018 05:00

This is going to be a long one, I'll try to summarise!

Been with DP for four years and I'm 6 months pregnant with our first child. We have another each, mine lives with us.

Existing kids are school age, so no sleepless nights, we are financially stable, and get on well most of the time.

Our one big problem is sex. I've had concerns about frequency from around one year in, as he's become gradually less interested over time. These days it's typically 10 days to a fortnight inbetween, which I know could be a lot worse but, as well as the fact that I want it more, I can see it easily dwindling further over time. When we do have sex it's satisfying, but not spontaneous or varied or long, which I wouldn't mind so much if it was more frequent!

I probably sound quite dispassionate here but I'm really struggling to cope with this. I feel frustrated, unwanted, unloved. I want to be with him and see us spending the rest of our lives together. I don't see myself ending the relationship over this issue but I'm not ready to give up and accept that this is all the sex life I'll ever have.

I've read so many threads on this topic, including from people with his perspective, and simply don't know what to do.

I guess other salient facts are:

  • he is physically affectionate, we cuddle on the sofa/in bed, he'll give me a kiss, but he doesn't respond to any subtle attempt to take things further. If I try to make a kiss last longer he will always break it off first, if I press against him he either doesn't notice what I'm doing or pretends not to - not sure which it is
  • every few months I get upset enough about the situation that I end up in tears and there is some discussion. He agrees that our sex life could be better and says he'll try but nothing changes apart from that we have sex once or twice within the next few days at his instigation
  • he can't or won't explain what the issue is. Early on he once said that I had put on some weight, which wasn't helping.
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UnorthodoxFox · 18/12/2018 05:37

Oh crap pressed post too soon...

I was pretty upset but also take the view that he can't help it if this puts him off, and if this is the reason i would rather know. I intend to get fit once I've had baby for my own sake, so if this fixes the problem id be delighted. My fear is that I'll manage to do it but nothing will change. He now says he loves me and is attracted to me the way I am but I think just doesn't want to upset me.

  • the best explanation he can give me is that he just can't really be bothered. He is not as fit as he was when we met although not in terrible shape. He drinks too much beer, doesn't exercise, we eat too much and we eat late in the evenings. He also works shifts and the odd sleeping patterns definitely don't help. Neither of us are shockingly unhealthy, and could get into much better shape if we dialled back the worst habits. He says often that he wants to do so, but never does it


  • I generally don't ask for sex or initiate anything in an overt fashion. He's said in the past that I should but if I do this (and I must admit I've not done it often) he either says no (which is obviously fine) or we have sex but it's almost reluctant to begin with. He says he's into it once we get started but I feel like I'm pressuring him into it. I feel like we're now in this awful dynamic where he feels blamed for the situation and i feel like he is only having sex to keep me happy and isn't interested himself at all. My self esteem is utterly shot so while in theory it feels like we might be able to solve things if I just lightened up and made more advances, I can't bring myself to do it. I repeatedly tell myself I'll try that evening then chicken out.


  • he says he won't see a counsellor. I went to see someone by myself a few months ago but ended up on a waiting list. I've cancelled this now as baby is due in a few months which will change things anyway. Maybe I'll go off sex and the issue will go away.


What I'm really after (apart from just venting) is some practical advice. I know every relationship is different but what have people done which has worked? Scheduling sex? Agreeing to do it every day for a week? Force myself to initiate twice a week? If the thread says go for it that could be the motivation I need to try. Is there a book I could read with practical suggestions?

The longer term plan is to get fit next year and hopefully inspire him to do so as well but that may not work, and I need to feel like I'm doing something now.
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busybarbara · 18/12/2018 14:56

If you're six months pregnant, give it a couple of months and you won't want it anyway - you can pretty much kick this can down the road till next December!

These days it's typically 10 days to a fortnight inbetween,

Our hearts are not going to bleed over this, really. If he wants sex that frequently, you can't ethically make or manipulate him to have sex more often. If he were the one in here asking the same question about you, I hope you'd expect us to say the same thing!

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Wherearemymarbles · 18/12/2018 15:37

When you have the baby every 10–14 days may well seem waaaay to much!

Some people just arnt as sexually driven as others.

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UnorthodoxFox · 19/12/2018 09:09

I don't want to manipulate him into sex or force him into it, that's basically the whole problem. I want him to want me.

If he was saying that this is just how he is then that would be clear and I'd need to work on accepting that, but he says he thinks it could be better too and he'd like to improve things. It just doesn't translate into any practical action.

I must've spent hundreds of hours reading threads about this issue from both perspectives and the last thing i want is to pester him or make him feel forced into it, I don't believe I'm entitled to sex. But what about my feelings? If there's no compromise or solution to be found that's one thing but are you saying he shouldn't even have to try?

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ConfusedDH · 19/12/2018 23:13

Do you actually want him to 'try', or do you really want it to come naturally?

It might sound a strange question, but I'm in a similar position to you where our sex life has dwindled to the point where it's now a serious threat to our marriage as the levels of unfulfilment and unhappiness are not long term sustainable.

I'm lucky in one sense that my wife did actually 'try', but in the process made the problem worse because she wasn't in any way convincing, and it became an emotionless, passionless, mechanical process, so we agreed that if it wasn't actually desired, it was best not to bother as pretending was doing more harm than good. - we'd start and just give up within a few minutes as it was utterly dreadful.

I tried 'backing off' as so many advise and this just resulted in no sex at all, which is where we're at now.

I can't offer any practical advice as I now truly believe you simply cannot make a person desire sex any more than you can make them feel hungry. They either do or they don't and the quest to change this is frustrating and futile in equal measure.

Not feeling wanted, needed, desired or fancied is soul destroying and damaging to one's self esteem in a long term loving relationship though, of this I am certain.

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UnorthodoxFox · 20/12/2018 08:52

That's really helpful actually thank you. I want it to come naturally, the concern that he might be having sex when he doesn't want to is one of the things that's stopping me from trying to initiate more. I've tried not to put pressure on him and let him take the lead but he knows that it upsets me, and I worry that he might feel coerced.

He is adamant that he does enjoy it when we do it, and its just the motivation to get started which is the problem.

It's been 10 days now. He'll be aware that it's been a while, I thought he might be up for it last night and maybe should've suggested it but he announced before bed that he was tired and had eaten too much which, rightly or wrongly, I take as him telling me not to. And I know this frequency isn't too bad but it's not just doing it, it's the constant wondering every day when he will be up for it / how long it will be, and agonising over whether I can do something.

I realise it sounds daft and we should be able to just talk about it but I've tried and we never get any further than agreeing that we'd like to do it more, which was why I was hoping someone could make some practical suggestions I could try. I could say I want to try something specific like agreeing in advance when we'll do it next but i think that he'd agree to whatever I suggest just to avoid the conversation whether or not it works for him.

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ConfusedDH · 20/12/2018 12:35

I sympathise.

In my experience, scheduling sex is terrible - it makes it even more robotic and less passionate. Whilst the physical act can occur, the emotional level is missing as you just don't feel wanted/needed/fancied and it turns into another chore.

Do not feel bad for being disappointed at once every 10-14 days. You'll get people with a low sex drives or problematic sex lives stating this is fine and stop complaining, where you'll get others with healthy, functioning sex lives or with decent libidos who see every day or more often than not levels of frequency absolutely normal and what they want and need.

Your drive, wants, needs and desires are absolutely fine for you. As are your husband's to him.

The problem is the difference and like you, I have trawled the internet looking for answers that never come. There are hundreds and hundreds of people in similar situations, all frustrated, unfulfilled and miserable who also cannot find a solution.

I genuinely believe there isn't a magic wand solution that works, otherwise it would be shared and well known and we'd all be happily going about are pleasurable sex lives. But no such solution exists and the same threads keep turning up again and again with no solution in site.

I challenge anyone to post a link to a thread where there was a substantial difference in sex drive that caused problems, where a solution was found, and where the couple stayed together and ended up with a sex life that satisfied both people.

If this exists, PLEASE someone post it her so we can all benefit.

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angieevie · 21/12/2018 03:31

Since he's mentioned before it had to do with weight gain I'd seriously be looking into his porn usage. If it's he's just not that attracted to you, he's getting off to something he does find attractive since he's said it's an attraction issue. Many will argue the pros of porn here, but if he's choosing it over a proper sex life then it's a problem.

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UnorthodoxFox · 21/12/2018 07:23

ConfusedDH I agree entirely, and I'm sorry you're in the same situation.

I think you're right, but every now and then I see comments from people who have managed to improve things and I'm just not ready to give up yet.

I think the immediate decision i need to make is whether I try to do anything else now, or just park it until after baby is here. I may find my libido drops then, and either way I plan to work on my weight/ fitness. If I can make improvements then I think he would be motivated to sort himself out, and I do think there's a chance that would make a difference. And if none of that works I will at least feel better about myself, and I'll know that my weight isn't the issue!

I don't think couples counselling would work as he would really struggle with it, but possibly counselling for me to help me manage my feelings? Maybe if my confidence improves and I'm willing to initiate more that would make a difference.

Angieevie you will think I sound very naive but I don't think he uses porn. I know I can't be certain, but it just doesn't seem to fit the situation and I've never seen any sign of it.

We're childfree this weekend and hes working lates. That means we can spend some of the day in bed which these days means I lie next to him frustrated while he sleeps (he would not appreciate being woken up for sex!) and then once he's properly awake he wants to get up. I'll try to talk to him tomorrow

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UnorthodoxFox · 21/12/2018 07:52

I was thinking maybe I could say that I want us to take a break from having sex for a while, and agree that we won't do it again until we've had some time and then a proper conversation about the issue.

Presumably that way he'll either get a reminder of what it feels like to want sex and not have that need satisfied right away, or if he goes(say) another few weeks without being bothered and its a relief for him not be under pressure I at least understand the true position.

We'd still be affectionate with each other and everything else would be normal.

Does that sound ridiculous or is it worth a try?

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ConfusedDH · 21/12/2018 08:16

We agreed not to have sex for a while until we could get to the bottom of things.... it's now been several weeks.

Re the porn thing.... he may or may not be accessing porn, but if he was, removing it won't change what he finds attractive or not, and if he is masturbating, he can do so without porn just using his imagination. If something is unattractive to him, it's unattractive to him with or without porn.

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angieevie · 21/12/2018 09:06

@ConfusedDH I should of been clearer when I suggested to check his porn usage because he indicated his lack of sex drive was because op had changed physically and he was less attracted her now. This indicates to me that it's not a physical problem.

Not that cutting out porn would make ops dh more attracted to her, however, excessive porn use has been proven to produce unrealistic physical expectations in men and can cause a db situation if it becomes an addiction. I speak from experience.

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UnorthodoxFox · 21/12/2018 09:10

I completely agree, if my weight or perhaps my pregnancy is putting him off he can't change that, but I feel he should be honest about it. I would rather know even if it's hurtful, it's not as if things are fine as they are!

I think taking a break would help me feel like I've regained some control and choice. I feel so passive and helpless as things stand, just waiting for him to decide he fancies it. Obviously I'm hoping he'll get frustrated and it may change his mindset, but I'm trying to prepare myself for the possibility that it doesn't.

Did you discuss how you bring the sex ban to an end? I think I'll be saying that we won't be having sex again until he's ready to talk frankly about it and get to the bottom of things, and I guess if he chooses no sex over this option I'll try getting some counselling for myself.

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UnorthodoxFox · 21/12/2018 09:21

Angieevie he says now that it's not my weight and he is attracted to me. The weight comment was a one off, on one of the first occasions I raised the issue over a couple of years go.

I think there must be some truth in it, plus his own lack of fitness (not awful but could be better) and general bad habits mean he's just not hugely motivated to do stuff. He acknowledges this and says he wants to get fitter but as yet hasn't done anything about it. He reckons he's going to do dry January and try then.

I want to get fitter anyway, I'm not happy with my weight for my own sake so it's not like I'd be changing for him. I'm just scared that we could both manage to do it and then nothing improves.

I'm not ruling out the porn possibility but i don't think it very likely, it doesn't seem to fit.

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ConfusedDH · 21/12/2018 12:01

Ours wasn't an official sex ban, more just an agreement that as part of taking the pressure of expectation away, if we agree to only have sex when she really feels horny, it might improve things. It hasn't.

She's not felt horny since, nor do I hold out much hope that she ever will.

She says she fancies me and says she finds me attractive, but the sex urge just isn't there, nor any behavioural evidence to support her narrative.

We sit on the same sofa and she'll stroke my foot and vice versa, that kind of non sexual affection, but there is absolutely zero sexual chemistry or spark going on whatsoever. Other than the foot stroke or peck on the lips, it's like living with a family member.

We're totally lost and I'm out of ideas, but I know that this isn't how I imagined life with a long term partner and don;t want to spend the rest of my life unhappy and unfulfilled. My self confidence and self esteem, (like so many women on here report) has taken a battering.

We are able to talk quite openly about it, but nothing changes the fact that she feels no urge, and if she does try in the hope that she'll get into it, it's like going to a restaurant with someone who isn't hungry and orders a salad and and glass of tap water. It feels empty without any glimmer of passion or enthusiasm - literally going through the motions and not worth the effort or disappointment.

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LatentPhase · 21/12/2018 12:21

No helpful advice, I just wanted to say I feel my relationship heading a bit this way. I know how this feels - it hurts.

You sound sensitive and level headed.. I hope you find a way forward together.

Congrats on the baby Flowers

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Newman2018 · 02/01/2019 23:30

@ConfusedDH
Just thought I’d say that your posts have summed my situation up exactly - I’m sorry to hear we are in the same boat.
Also, more recently due to major problems caused by all this, I’m actually able to discuss this with her but the net result is a bit like discussing what we need on the shopping order next week. She’s just not into it. We’ve had (having) our problems and there’s a lot of water under the bridge but essentially it seems that DW is just not interested in sex ..... with anyone. Well apart from a well known actress and I did follow up on that in case she wanted to explore some lesbian curiousity but her answer was she was too old for experimenting (she’s 44).

I have no answers other than leaving the marriage and finding someone else more compatible. Right now the thought of not seeing my kids every day stops this although there will come a point when they are a little older and I’m a little more fed up where I guess it will be the only option.

I’m not just talking about sex either - it would blow my mind if she came up to me and gave me a hug and kiss.....

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Scott72 · 06/01/2019 03:47

He has a very low libido, for whatever reason. Its not you. If a man has a decent libido, he generally isn't too fussed if his partner has put on a bit of weight or whatever - he'll still be attracted to her.

He may be using porn, but it would be more of a symptom rather than a cause of his low libido. Masturbating to porn takes far less energy than actual sex, and you don't have to worry about not being able to perform.

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MarieG10 · 06/01/2019 08:09

I think it may be worth to try and focus on diet and exercise which will help him cope with shifts and won't do you any harm either. A friend of mines DH got the exercise and gym bug and she confided his libido went up massively, as did hers when his body really changed for the better

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UnorthodoxFox · 06/01/2019 20:29

Thanks all of you, sorry for others in the same boat. He does still want it sometimes and there's no shortage of affection so things could be worse!

I did speak to him. I said I didn't want to have sex again until we'd had a proper conversation, when he was ready to talk about it. But then I completely disregarded that a few days later when he was up for it because, of course, it felt so good that he did want me.

It's now been another 10 days so not sure whether to try to hold out when he does show an interest again or just go along with it and try to focus on the fitness side of things in a few months time.

I'm sure he'll say if I raise it that I've been tired and not all that well since Christmas so he hasnt wanted to bother me. I am starting to slow down and I've had a cold and a sore throat, but I'm perfectly capable of saying no if I'm not up for it so I don't really recognise that as a genuine reason, I think it's a convenient excuse rather than acknowledging the libido issue.

I am becoming less keen now that I'm getting bigger due to the sheer effort of moving around so maybe the best thing is to stop trying to talk about it and let late pregnancy and birth create a natural break in things, then see where we are after that.

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