In Need Of An Outlet And Support

I searched for a support group, and here I am.
I'm a 41 year-old man with two kids and a wife of 17 years with no libido. Things went south when the kids were born and have never recovered. Before that, the only problems we had were the normal sort that small-town Midwestern kids who were too smart for their community but too inexperienced to know how to get out and so got married too young, had. We went to college together to escape and thinking it would be the doorway to a better life (and it was in a round-about way) and got married the fall after she graduated. We waited 5 years before having children. We should have waited longer. We decided to have kids because our careers (such as they were) had stalled and we couldn't think of anything else to do. Plus all our hometown friends/family had toddlers already. About the time our son was born, both of our careers had started to take off in unexpected directions. But now we were tied down.
If any of this sounds like I resent my children, please believe me that I love them more than anything. But in the interest of getting to my point, I have to confess that many of my life choices are dictated by my responsibility to my children, first, and my needs second, if at all.
Anyway, 12 years later, and we're stuck in an unfulfilling cycle. Well, I am anyway. Here are some facts about her that are relevant: She's had some serious health problems that peaked about three years ago. She has polycystic ovary syndrome, which she has been receiving poor care for since the birth of our second (and last) child. I say poor because about three years ago a cyst the size of a grapefruit, burst and almost killed her. The doctors who treated her where astounded that someone could be receiving treatment for PCOS and not know about a grapefruit-sized cyst. Prior to this event we had chalked up her low libido to the hormonal imbalances her condition brought about. I was unhappy, but what could say? By all accounts, she was seeking treatment and wanted our sex life to return to a fulfilling state.
After her recovery, unfortunately nothing changed. Nothing but her attitude about it. She has since received much better treatment. She has lost a considerable amount of weight (one of the excuses was that she didn't feel attractive and so therefore was unable to tap into her sexuality). We still only have sex about once every six weeks, and only if I initiate. It's always on her terms. I am rejected more often than not. It always feels like it's something she's letting me do to her, not something she is participating in. I'm not sure what undermines my sense of worth more, being rejected or being allowed to "do it to her". I always feel worse after.
We have talked about it many times and she expresses what I take to be genuine regret that just has no interest in sex, and feels awful for me, but still, she'd be satisfied if things never changed and we stopped having sex all together.
Here's the thing. I truly love this woman. She is my best friend and partner in just about every way. I don't want to Not be married to her. But I can't ignore the fact that being in this situation has turned me into a person I'm deeply unhappy with. It's affected all of my other interpersonal relationships. I have very few friends and none of them close, anymore. I'm in an almost constant state of depression. I don't really enjoy any activities or hobbies anymore.
I'm hoping I can find some support here to help me turn this around. I accept that the answer is probably that we need to separate and look for happiness somewhere else, but at the moment I know I'm not capable of it.
MrNorris MrNorris
41-45, M
8 Responses Dec 7, 2010

Jenny8888, you friend is very fortunate to have you as a friend.<br />
It probably makes things much less frustrating for him to know there's someone that not only listens, but seemingly understands him. <br />
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glitchster, what started out as a friendship/confidante relationship between me and my friend has grown into something much deeper. I have fallen gradually, slowly, deeply in love with him. I am the one he is having an affair with. His sex life is extremely active now, which solves his initial problem. He still lives with his wife as roommates, but it is tolerable now for him. I didn't expect to become involved with him, but I feel that perhaps it was destined to happen. I am also in a longterm relationship which I am in the process of deciding what to do about. I do know one thing: I tried to end it with my guy friend, but I was absolutely heartbroken, as if a part of me had died. I am still seeing him, and will continue to see him. Our sex life is amazing. What will happen in the future I don't know, but for now this is working for us. <br />
I suppose it's a sad reality of a sexless marriage. If one person is unhappy, there are few options. You can suffer miserably, get a divorce, or have an affair. I don't think the sex life can ever be rekindled once it is gone. <br />
My friend is happy now, and he doesn't feel guilty because his wife stopped living up to her end of the bargain a long time ago. He is now having the best sex of his life, with someone who really wants him.

I feel your pain. You are not alone.

Wow. Such a lot of people in the same situation.<br />
<br />
"It always feels like it's something she's letting me do to her, not something she is participating in"<br />
<br />
The above line sounds VERY familiar . . . . . well it did for a short while until any physical intimacy of ANY sort ceased. I have taken things into my own hands (pun intended) in several ways since then, but not to actually have any sort of affair. <br />
Yep, I had a small fetish, which is still develpoing into a much bigger part of my life, mainly due to the lack of intimacy & sex. <br />
My wife would be completely horrified if she knew all of the things I think about, but she does know some of it.

>>> I'm not sure what undermines my sense of worth more, being rejected or being allowed to "do it to her". I always feel worse after.<<<<br />
I don't have any answers for you, for that I'm truly sorry, I came here for some answers, and so far I've only found that the boat we're in seems to be pretty crowed.<br />
<br />
<br />
Jenny8888, you friend is very fortunate to have you as a friend.<br />
It probably makes things much less frustrating for him to know there's someone that not only listens, but seemingly understands him.

I feel your lonliness...I will pray for you. I am in the same type of situation...

So I've been keeping a tally sheet for the last two years. 19 times in 2009 and for 2010, wait for it...<br />
20 times. <br />
As per the suggestions about counseling; the funny thing about that is that four or five years ago, when I was more or less of the opinion that the problem was that I wanted it too much but, because of my depression at the time, was emotionally distant, she was all about going to counseling. I don’t even remember why I didn’t want to go. I think it was financial, mostly. Probably in part because I felt like I should be able to fix it on my own. (I’ve had bad experiences with therapists and I have trouble paying people to tell me what I already know.)<br />
Anyway, for the last two years, I’ve been trying to get her to go see a marriage counselor. Not happening. I’m pretty sure she’s aware that her low sex-drive and selfish attitude about it are the source of our problems, and she doesn’t want to hear that from an authority. <br />
So I’ve made this promise to myself: If we haven’t reached 12 by July (and I have to feel good about at least 8 of them) then we talk divorce.

MrNorris, I'm a 47 year old woman with a 47 year old male co-worker who is in your same situation. He and his wife have been married for 20 years, 2 kids, the wife had a hysterectomy a few years ago and they have not had sex in 4 years. She has absolutely no interest, and doesn't seem to care that he is unfulfilled. I've been his confidante for the last few months and have done a lot of reading on this issue on his behalf. There are a LOT of men in your situation. I've read both the woman's perspective and the man's perspective on this issue and it seems that the men really don't get much sympathy in a sexless marriage. It's unfortunate and unfair. I don't understand women in this situation. I feel that if a woman truly loved her husband, she could at least give him some sort of sexual gratification, whether it be oral sex or even a hand job if she doesn't enjoy intercourse anymore. It's as if the women feel that since they have lost their libido that the husband should have to become celibate as well. It's so unfair. <br />
From your story, I fear that it will only get worse. You could be looking at spending the rest of your marriage being unfulfilled.<br />
I thought I could help my friend out by trying to rekindle his relationship, but it didn't work. Once the sex leaves a relationship, people grow distant. I don't think you can get it back. They are living like roommates, sleeping in different rooms. <br />
My suggestion is that if you want to save your marriage, perhaps you can get some joint counselling. Otherwise, you may very well end up like my friend, absolutely no sex for years on end.<br />
My friend's solution was to have an affair. He really doesn't feel guilty about it because his wife has not lived up to her part of the marital bargain. Sexual fulfillment is very important in a relationship. I pray that you and your wife can talk this through and she can realize how important it is to keep the sex alive. I pray that your marriage doesn't end up like my friend's. <br />
Take care, I hope things get better!

Frighteningly similar situation here. My wife recently told me she had sex with me "just to get it out of the way." Thanks, but no thanks. Like you, I don't really enjoy the idea of it "being something I do to her" instead it being a jointly enjoyable romp. I have three kids, and like you, will put them above my needs all day long. I love my wife, too, so I understand where you are coming from. I'm in shape and take care of myself, but this is slowly turning me into a bitter, morose SOB. I don't want to be "that guy" but I can't help it. I travel a lot, so get to watch a lot of couples interact. The affectionate ones make me smile and make me sad at the same time. In short, I sympathize, but I don't really have any good answers for you.