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Sex

Staying in a sexually incompatible marriage

24 replies

Lacey1990 · 14/01/2023 13:09

Those of you who stayed with their spouses/partners in a sexually incompatible marriage, do you regret it? Or are you glad you made the decision to remain.

Bit of background: We have children, he lacks enthusiasm and seems uninterested in sex in general, communicating hasn’t worked. We are early 30’s and to stay like this forever feels impossible. We get on in many other ways and parent well together.

OP posts:
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Andypandy799 · 14/01/2023 16:33

No way that’s far too young to hang up your suspenders. Does your partner take anti depressants? Has he any possible reason to have gone off sex?

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Olliee1983 · 14/01/2023 23:45

Regardless of age I’d say this is a difficult situation to deal with. My wife and I have very mismatched desires when it comes to sex. On reflection, it’s actually been this way for the majority of our relationship but really only becoming an issue (for me) the last few years. Outside the bedroom we get along well and parent our children together but for me it feels like there is something missing whereas my wife doesn’t really think about lack of sex as an issue. The longer you leave it unchecked the more chance resentment will appear, if it hasn’t already. If that seeps into your daily lives as parents it can become really difficult, certainly it’s become an issue causing friction between us.

I would say this and it’s only my opinion but don’t allow someone else to make you feel bad for wanting sex and/or more intimacy. This is how I have been made to feel and it hurts and it also makes me angry. Of course we are all made different, we have different desires and wants and trying to make someone want the same things as you is a fruitless task.

As others have said, find out if there is a reason your partner doesn’t want sex or to communicate about it. If it’s a medical condition or medication related can you discuss alternative treatments, so long as the other party is happy to do that, to try and increase their willingness to participate in sexual activities. If all of these things are exhausted then it comes down to you deciding how important physically is to you in a relationship.

it’s easier to give advice and guidance that it is to take it. Deep down I know I’ll never have the sex life with my wife that I want. I know she’ll never desire me the way I desire her but I’m too much of a coward and too afraid to leave her. I keep telling myself you can find ways to get past our sexual
incompatibility but the truth is it eats me up inside, as does my inability to make a brave but perhaps necessary decision to move on.

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Judeisnotobscure · 15/01/2023 00:46

@Olliee1983 I’m so sorry you’re going through this, your post is so raw I can feel your sadness. I hope things improve for you and @Lacey1990 xx

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Olliee1983 · 15/01/2023 20:23

Judeisnotobscure · 15/01/2023 00:46

@Olliee1983 I’m so sorry you’re going through this, your post is so raw I can feel your sadness. I hope things improve for you and @Lacey1990 xx

Thank you. Yeah it’s sad, but it would appear not at all uncommon, maybe we need a support group!

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Oopsiedaisyy · 15/01/2023 21:18

I was in a marriage with infrequent and soul destroyingly bad sex. I left and have now got a sexually fantastic relationship. No regrets

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sexyporridge · 18/01/2023 13:44

I have discovered that sex is rarely just about sex.

I thought it was just a sex problem in my marriage but found the problem was much more than that.

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Rieslinger · 18/01/2023 16:23

Take a look at David Schnarch's book Passionate Marriage.

Top parts for me Crucible, Differentiation, hug to relax, eye contact.

Every relationship has a higher and lower libido party in it, this guy will blow your mind.

Good luck and hope it helps!!

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Funberry · 20/01/2023 10:47

Olliee1983 · 14/01/2023 23:45

Regardless of age I’d say this is a difficult situation to deal with. My wife and I have very mismatched desires when it comes to sex. On reflection, it’s actually been this way for the majority of our relationship but really only becoming an issue (for me) the last few years. Outside the bedroom we get along well and parent our children together but for me it feels like there is something missing whereas my wife doesn’t really think about lack of sex as an issue. The longer you leave it unchecked the more chance resentment will appear, if it hasn’t already. If that seeps into your daily lives as parents it can become really difficult, certainly it’s become an issue causing friction between us.

I would say this and it’s only my opinion but don’t allow someone else to make you feel bad for wanting sex and/or more intimacy. This is how I have been made to feel and it hurts and it also makes me angry. Of course we are all made different, we have different desires and wants and trying to make someone want the same things as you is a fruitless task.

As others have said, find out if there is a reason your partner doesn’t want sex or to communicate about it. If it’s a medical condition or medication related can you discuss alternative treatments, so long as the other party is happy to do that, to try and increase their willingness to participate in sexual activities. If all of these things are exhausted then it comes down to you deciding how important physically is to you in a relationship.

it’s easier to give advice and guidance that it is to take it. Deep down I know I’ll never have the sex life with my wife that I want. I know she’ll never desire me the way I desire her but I’m too much of a coward and too afraid to leave her. I keep telling myself you can find ways to get past our sexual
incompatibility but the truth is it eats me up inside, as does my inability to make a brave but perhaps necessary decision to move on.

Wow....I could have written this exact thing myself.

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XmasElf10 · 20/01/2023 15:28

My libido died when my respect for my exH died (not saying this is true in all dead bedrooms at all). In my case he didn’t work nor did he help out at home much so I was carrying everything and the anger and resentment festered and I just didn’t want to give him anything else and that included sex. He felt angry and rejected and did even less to help and so the circle of doom continued. However it wasn’t just that I was horny and denied him, I literally felt dead from the waist down. About 8 months after I left him my libido returned with a bang and hasn’t abated since.

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Twigletgirl27 · 20/01/2023 17:18

@Olliee1983 you write so eloquently how I feel too, but have found difficult to put into words. I sometimes find it hard to explain why it's only a problem now, but I think that comes from years and years of trying to pretend everything is fine.... but now I just feel like I'm done. But like you I don't know if I can leave. We are friends but nothing more. I would like to suggest to him opening up the marriage.... but think that might end things anyway. I'm 56 and not sure how much longer I can last in a largely sexless marriage, with someone who won't really talk about it

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HaggisBurger · 20/01/2023 22:43

Oopsiedaisyy · 15/01/2023 21:18

I was in a marriage with infrequent and soul destroyingly bad sex. I left and have now got a sexually fantastic relationship. No regrets

Same here. I stayed longer than I should have.

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Freddy75 · 21/01/2023 13:36

@Twigletgirl27
I could have written that, quite literally word for word! It’s utterly soul-destroying, in a pervasive way, doing more psychological harm than we realise. To desire, and to be desired, is an amazing thing!

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theoldapplebarrel · 21/01/2023 14:48

@Lacey1990 and @Olliee1983 I've name changed for this as I contribute every now and then on this topic but really want to do that from how things are now, in a much better and far more positive place, 26 years later in a marriage in which my wife and I have vastly differing levels of libido, with mine on the high and very enthusiastic end and hers much, much lower. In every other way we are well matched.

I originally wrote a much longer post detailing some of the experiences of personal agony of this but I'm sure people aren't going to want to read my life history and, having read other recent posts on this, it seems there are many, many people who understand this situation very well. It was a very cathartic exercise though.

It wasn't that we never had sex but for the majority of the time - there were occasional wonderful exceptions - it just wasn't very enthusiastic on my wife's part. As though she wasn't really bothered and would quite happily live without it. I was always the one to come up with ideas, buy toys, suggest different things etc. She had no desire at all for any of that or even to talk about sex in any way. Basically I didn't feel fancied or desired by her in the same way I fancied and desired her.

I quite quickly learned to tone the whole business of sex down and approached it more tentatively, gently and carefully but it didn't make much difference. Often when we did do it I felt as though she was just doing her best to accomodate a sex mad husband ("Can't you go to thr Dr's to get something?" she would joke) or she'd just say "no" and we didn't do it.

At the same time I realised that if we were going to continue to have any kind of physical relationship that it was solely down to me to work out a way that was going to happen.

Suffice to say I know the sadness, despair and loneliness of this situation with the danger of resentment and hurt beginning potentially to destroy a relationship. The feeling that you are the only one in the relationship to recognise that this is an issue. The confusing sense that something which should have been fantastic is turning out to be such a hard slog and the sheer emotional dog tiredness it causes. The self-doubt and the "is it me?" questions tearing you apart inside. Trying everything and anything year on year to make the situation better but never coming up with any resolution. For a long time I felt diminished as a person and my self-confidence was on the floor.

I did consider leaving. I didn't for two main reasons. Firstly I love my wife from the bottom of my heart and I know for sure that she loves me. And secondly because of the devastating effect I feared it would have on our wonderful kids. And (I now realise) that my wife's much lower interest in sex was not about me - as I'd assumed and feared for years - but simply because that's who she is. And I love her for who she is. So, approaching 26 years later we're still together and actually very happy.

And the sex thing, well I've got no real explanation but the past 4-5 years have been much better. Maybe I'm more chilled out about it in a strange, emotionally wrung-out sort of a way. The fact that I realise and accept that our sex lives will never be what I hoped and expected all those years ago has maybe communicated itself to my wife and perhaps taken the pressure off her to respond in the way she thinks I would like, but can't, and "the sex issue" - the way she probably felt I was fixated on sex - has gone away. Without realising or planning it we've somehow met in the middle.

She is much more relaxed and open to sex and invariably is up for it, although I always, always have to do the initiating. It probably wouldn't happen otherwise. We can make love (and that's really what it feels like) several times a week and it's always good, happy, mutually enjoyable and relaxed sometimes quite varied and adventurous lovemaking.

That's my experience. I stayed. I can quite understand people coming to make different, momentous decisions. It's been awfully hard at times, but we're certainly in a good place now.

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theoldapplebarrel · 21/01/2023 15:09

Just realising looking at it now mine is a very long post after all! My apologies

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Judeisnotobscure · 21/01/2023 15:33

@theoldapplebarrel it’s wonderful that things have worked out for you and your wife! Beautiful xx

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Popatop · 21/01/2023 15:34

early 30s and no sex life here. Marriage is meant to be for better or worse I guess and it’s going to have ups and downs. Honestly everyone else here has described the feeling so much more eloquently than I could. It does make you sad and if you are able to stop resentment then that’s probably the best way forward through what for one side will be a difficulty throughout your marriage

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theoldapplebarrel · 21/01/2023 16:11

I guess it probably would have made a big difference if there had never been any sex at all or extremely infrequent sex as it appears some people experience. The fact that we did have sex - albeit sex which my wife seemed to be entirely unbothered about most of the time, apart from once in a blue moon occasions when she seemed an entirely different person - gave me moments when I could feel emotionally close to her. I'm not sure I'd have coped if it was hardly anything or nothing.

We're different people with different feelings about sex and we'd been on a different pages most of the time. In recent years I just think we've come to understand and appreciate each others needs much more. The whole thing is so much more relaxed now. But it's taken a lot of years.

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Choconut · 21/01/2023 16:25

It's a complete deal breaker for me early on in a relationship - much more complicated when you're married with kids. Was he always like this or is it a recent thing?

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Rieslinger · 23/01/2023 10:41

Check out Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch.

He doesn't focus on what's wrong he talks about where you are at and what you can do for you and for me and my DW it's been transformative.

I can't recommend this book highly enough.

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BisonGrassVodka · 23/01/2023 12:02

I made the mistake of staying to long, I left her in January 2016, but still kick myself for not leaving 10 years earlier, I wasted a huge chunk of my life trying to make things work.

If I had my life over again, I wouldn't be hanging about.

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sexyporridge · 23/01/2023 12:11

BisonGrassVodka · 23/01/2023 12:02

I made the mistake of staying to long, I left her in January 2016, but still kick myself for not leaving 10 years earlier, I wasted a huge chunk of my life trying to make things work.

If I had my life over again, I wouldn't be hanging about.

I wonder if anyone has left and regretted it? Grass not greener etc? I want very much to be out of my situation but it’s such a huge move.

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NorthAngel · 23/01/2023 18:08

I stayed for many years. It was me who wasn’t sexually attracted to him and never turned on by him (he was very poor in the switching me on department and sex itself). I was 36 when I last had sex with my husband and I just laid back and thought of England. It was awful and I got nothing out of it. I stayed. Marriage became sexless as I just wouldn’t do it.

Age 45 hit menopause which switched me on. I ended up seeking out male attention elsewhere and realising my marriage was nothing more than a friendship. I met a man who turned me on in lots of ways. Sadly, he was also married (I know it shouldn’t have happened), and he felt guilt and stopped it. He wanted me to find someone else.

Id been a fool to stay in a sexless marriage for so long. It is my biggest regret that I have wasted years of my life!! I’m 50 now and worried I will never experience what I had with OM again.

You will regret staying. It’s intimacy that I missed too. Hand holding. Kissing. I feel so sad I missed out on that.

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NorthAngel · 23/01/2023 18:09

The grass won’t grow if it’s dead.

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Joey69 · 23/01/2023 18:22

Olliee1983 · 14/01/2023 23:45

Regardless of age I’d say this is a difficult situation to deal with. My wife and I have very mismatched desires when it comes to sex. On reflection, it’s actually been this way for the majority of our relationship but really only becoming an issue (for me) the last few years. Outside the bedroom we get along well and parent our children together but for me it feels like there is something missing whereas my wife doesn’t really think about lack of sex as an issue. The longer you leave it unchecked the more chance resentment will appear, if it hasn’t already. If that seeps into your daily lives as parents it can become really difficult, certainly it’s become an issue causing friction between us.

I would say this and it’s only my opinion but don’t allow someone else to make you feel bad for wanting sex and/or more intimacy. This is how I have been made to feel and it hurts and it also makes me angry. Of course we are all made different, we have different desires and wants and trying to make someone want the same things as you is a fruitless task.

As others have said, find out if there is a reason your partner doesn’t want sex or to communicate about it. If it’s a medical condition or medication related can you discuss alternative treatments, so long as the other party is happy to do that, to try and increase their willingness to participate in sexual activities. If all of these things are exhausted then it comes down to you deciding how important physically is to you in a relationship.

it’s easier to give advice and guidance that it is to take it. Deep down I know I’ll never have the sex life with my wife that I want. I know she’ll never desire me the way I desire her but I’m too much of a coward and too afraid to leave her. I keep telling myself you can find ways to get past our sexual
incompatibility but the truth is it eats me up inside, as does my inability to make a brave but perhaps necessary decision to move on.

Exactly the same here ..

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