Not Giving Up - But Can't Go On...

I thought I'd go fishing for other Catholics.  No disrespect to other denominations, but birds of a feather...

I am committed to my wife, marriage and family.  I think I still love my wife.  I am however, growing increasinly resentful and distant from her because since the very beginning, our sex life has been one-sided and infrequent.  She never initiatites, puts up lots of boundaries (don't touch me), no foreplay, always in the dark, once only, no noises, etc, etc.  It is always the same.  If it were not so infrequent, it would be totally boring.  You get the picture I presume.

I feel like I was duped from the start and she lured me into marriage to get a family but had no interest in sex.  I have become completely distrustfull of any affection she now gives and have long since given up on initiating any myself.  We seldom kiss or hug.  If she says she loves me it makes me cringe because I don't believe her.

This is creating stress in our family.  The kids are growing up with a very poor perception of a monogomous and committed relationship.  I need to fix this for all of us.  I know there is a lot of responsibility on spouses for sharing conjugal love in Catholic theology.  I just don't know enough to present her with facts.  Even if I did, everytime I bring it up, she does not want to talk about it.  I'm going to try getting her to a marriage encounter weekend but I fear something's going to boil over soon.  Last night I moved out of our bed to the basement.  Predictably, no complaint from her.  I just don't know what to do and feel like such a loser.  

growingoldandbitter growingoldandbitter
46-50, M
13 Responses Mar 13, 2009

This is my life. Almost verbatim. It's about respect. Or a lack thereof

This sounds like my lack there of sex life. Pray for a conversion. Also forgive your wife, I did that and that allowed grace to enter not bitterness. I will pray for you both, since I don't know what else to do

This is eerilly close to me and my wife. Sounds like the same sort of control freak (this is OK, this isn't) As for having kids, she makes you feel more like a ***** donor than husband. She says I Love You, but there doesn't seem to be anything behind the words. Refusing to talk about a physical relationship.

Marriage Encounter might make a difference. I also got my wife to go to Retrouvaille, a "disaster recovery" hot-wire jump-start for marriages. For us, it helped a bit, for a little while. But then she lost interest.

There is a quote on EP that has been floating around, from Saint Therese of Lisieux, "It is not enough to love. We must prove that we do." You are proving your love by your actions and deeds. You want this to work. There is nothing wrong with having a sex drive. Your efforts are the very definition of love. Nothing is wrong with you.

As for how to get her to live up to her marriage vows, don't take any half-way measures. Talk with people your trust and get referrals to professionals that have proved, successful experience. Check out this book (which I learned about through EP), "His Needs, Her Needs" I found that it makes sense, and I'm not even finshed reading it. There may be things you can do which will awaken your wife's love for you. I can only hope for both of us that those things will work.

Growingoldandbitter, your not the first one to go through this. Focus on three things. First - your first vocation is to get your wife to heaven. That's what you will be judged on. And God won't listen to excuses about "she did this or that". It between you and God. Imagine telling one of your kids to get something done and coming back to a whole bunch of excuses, you would say what any good parent would say" I don't want to hear it, I gave you this job to do."
Second- read Popcak For Better Forever. There are specific techniques you need to navigate through this.
Third-go to counseling. There are good Catholic councellors that will navigate you through this minefield.

Blame is always a two way street. The goal here is to build a healthy, Holy marriage.

I agree with Olivia. I think it has to do with her views about sexuality. Maybe your wife needs affirmation from a religious person that sex is still a vital part of a marriage even after children are in the picture. Also, perhaps a doctor could help if it is a medical issue. So sorry I know the pain, feeling like you are getting the short end of the stick. I hope God guides you to make the correct actions.

Why not see your church father and have a private session with him? It will give you the information you need. <br />
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Moving to the ba<x>sement is the beginning of the end. You are already concerned and rightly so about what example you are setting for your kids. Do you want them to have this warped notion of marriage? <br />
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If your child was in your position, would you tell them to stay in misery or leave and find happiness? Give yourself the same advice. You won't go wrong.

I am afraid I don't have much advice because I am in the same situation as you, apart from I am the wife and he (the person who isn't interested in sex) is my husband. Our child is thankfully too young to notice any animosity between my husband and I - she's only 10 months old. <br />
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I truly do feel for you and your situation. Please, please don't feel like a loser because you aren't. You're a man who wants to save his marriage, which is very admirable given how many signs your wife is giving you that she doesn't want to know. Have you tried speaking to your parish priest? Have you been to counselling? Has your wife seen a doctor? Do you now there is nothing in her past that has affected how she views sex? <br />
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Do you ever speak about sex? About how it makes the both of you feel? It might be a good idea to just lay everything on the table and talk, talk, talk. I would personally rather know exactly how my husband feels than pretend everything is okay but cry myself to sleep at night because we've not had sex for the seventh month in a row. <br />
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I will pray for you and your wife and that things change.

I personally think presenting her with the facts isn't going to do anything for you. No one likes to hear they are wrong and my guess is she already knows there is a problem. I also think if you are worried how this would effect your children moving to the basement doesn't help that or your relationship. You want more closeness but are creating more distance.I understand that it was your hope that a step like that would stop her in her track and now you are hurting worse because you didn't get the reaction you were hoping for. Been there many times.<br />
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"I have become completely distrustful of any affection she now gives and have long since given up on initiating any myself. We seldom kiss or hug. If she says she loves me it makes me cringe because I don't believe her. "<br />
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It is probably safe to say that if she is still doing those things she cares for you. By not trusting them you are turning away exactly what you want. From reading your post it sounds like she may not be terribly comfortable with sex. In fact one doctor I read on the subject said exactly what you have said. If you take away everything that each partner is uncomfortable with there is not much left to keep sex in a marriage interesting or enjoyable. I think that combined with unresolved difficulties have put my marriage in the same place as yours. In hind sight I think the worse things I did was to push and focus on the sex. The truth is there was more missing such as respect, trust and my feeling loved. We have begun to work on those issues and slowly I have noticed my husband has been more willing to hear my feelings in relation to our sex life than simply feeling I just want sex!<br />
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I am sorry you are going through this. It really makes you feel like there is something wrong with you....like you said a loser. The truth is it probably has very little to do with us and much more to do with our spouses comfort with intimacy. I hope I haven't been too blunt in my answer I am certainly not trying to judge you for I have done all the same things. We really are just doing the best we can in a difficult situation.<br />
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Best Wishes to both you and your wife,<br />
Olivia

Olivia, simply superb comments and not blunt, but clear and easy to understand. Particularly helpful, too, as you seem to have found a way to step in the right direction with your husband.

re: I just don't know enough to present her with facts. <br />
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You might want to check out Gregory Popcak's book "Holy Sex." He does a really good presentation of how to have a fulfilling sex life in line with the Catholic church's teaching.

Growingoldandbitter,<br />
God Bless You! I know that all who have commented on your story mean well. However they do not share what you and I do. I have been going through the same problem in my marriage for the past 4 or 5 years. I am a devote Catholic with two sons and have the same concerns you have as to the example we are setting for them. I have to ask if you feel that it may be possible that your wife is involved with someone else. I discovered my wifes affair by reviewing cell phone bills. I called the other man and disclosed the affair to his wife as well. After three years of suspecting, begging and asking it took me discovering to get her to tell the truth. Our intamacy declined and stopped all together at the same time the affair began. I slept in the game room for three months before moving out and preparing for the end of a twenty year marriage. When I exposed her affair she begged me to move home and try to save whats left of our marriage. I agreed and have been home for what will be a year this Tuesday. I know now that the only reason she asked me back was because she is afraid of what I will say to our sons and the fact that her male friend's wife has threatened to take his son from him if he speaks to her again. So you see I won but in winning I have lost. I thought that she would return to being my wife and our sex life would return. In reality what has happened is we both have so much resentment for one another that I truely feel that only God's Grace can salvage whats left of our love for one another. Pressure, threats, promises, and isolation didn't work for me and I don't think they are the answer in your case either. I have two suggestions of things that I wish I had done in the beginning that will help you. 1.Communicate with her, be offensive rather than defensive. Let her talk without fear of guilt or repercusion.2. Seek the help of your priest or your church.( Retrovallie ) Do not try to force her, let her know that you are going and that you would like for her to join you. I know that some may view me as weak or crazy for trying to save what seems impossible but my faith in God keeps telling me to hang on and try. The book of John chapter 2 The Wedding at Canna, I pray and believe that Christ will bless my wife and me with the best wine last. I hope that I brought you as much peace as your story brought me. You are not alone and remember although I may not know you that my prayers are with you.<br />
God Bless!<br />
FT

TRY THE MARRIAGE ENCOUNTER. IF SHE DOES NOT WANT TO DO IT THEN SHE DOES NOT CARE ABOUT THE MARRIAGE. YOU ARE IN THE BASEMENT SHE IS UP THERE.MABY YOU NEED TO BE MORE DEMANDING,NOT HURTFULL,NOT HARMING, BUT PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN AND SAY " HAY I HAVE DONE EVERYTHING FOR YOU BUT YOU TREAT MY LIKE........... I LOVE YOU BUT EITHER WE WORK THIS OUT OR WE SEPERATE. WOULD YOU LIKE THE KIDS TO GO THROUGH THIS? DO YOU WANT US TO GO THROUGH THIS? IT IS TIME TO TALK AND WORK THIS OUT... OH! BY THE WAY... IF SHE DOES NOT WANT TO TALK THEN YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME. FIND SOMEONE ELSE THAT CARES ABOUT YOU.

This is a tough call, read this and see if it hit home. I am sorry to hear about you issues, because they hit close to what I went through. <br />
http://loopnscc.blogs.experienceproject.com/77815.html

Maybe trying going on dates with her? or maybe take her on a trip just the two of you to ignite the sparks in your marriage. In my marriage if my wife wanted sex was linked to how she felt in the marriage. There could be more going on, and it's just a matter of helping each other to reach a point where you both want to be.

This might work if she'd ever shown an interest in sex. Now, it just sounds condescending and annoying.