At A Crossroad

I applaud everyone for sharing their stories here. I know it takes courage to do so. This is uncomfortable to share, but maybe it will be cathartic for me.
This story has been several years in the making and it’s not a situation that I ever thought I would be in, but I’m sure everyone else feels the same. I’ve been married for 8 years. My husband and I were introduced by a mutual friend. He thought we would be the perfect match. He’s 10 years older than me and I said, “he’s too old for me” and he said, “she’s too young for me.” We ended up becoming good friends. After a few years, something just clicked for us both and we fell in love. The first time we made love, he seemed very uncomfortable. I thought it was just that we had been friends for so long and it was difficult for him to see me as something more than just a friend. I didn’t think much of it. As time went on, he always still seemed uncomfortable. I would always have to initiate sex with him, he never did. He never refused; he just always left it up to me as to the when. Within the last 3 years of our marriage, the instances of lovemaking have dwindled down to a few times a year. I just became so tired of initiating sex all the time. He was never enthusiastic and he started to make an excuse as to why he couldn’t that it ended up hurting me more and more, so I all but gave up. I had conversation after conversation with him, trying to figure things out. He would never give me a good answer it was always excuses, but I knew there was something deep down that he wasn’t telling me. I suggested therapy, but he went a few times and never went back. I asked him to go to the doctor to see if there was something medically wrong, but he refused to do that. Sometimes he would tell me that I wanted sex too much and other times he would tell me he was sorry that he would try to do better. I blamed myself and spent a lot of time crying and wondering why he didn’t want to be intimate with me. It never occurred to me that there were men out there that didn’t enjoy sex. I would push it out of my mind and tried to think of all the good things about our marriage, but without the intimacy, it doesn’t feel like anything more than a friendship.
Several days ago, I initiated sex. He led me up to the bedroom and we began kissing. Right from the start I could tell that he was just doing this to appease me and nothing more. I told him, it was fine that he could stop and I just lay down in the bed. The next day, we discussed what happened. I expressed to him that I would rather not have sex most of the time, but prefer to take care of myself because it was obvious that he wanted to just get it over with. I told him it really hurt me and I didn't know what else to say or do to make things better. He broke down and I finally got the truth out of him. He said that sex just feels so dirty to him, which given his religious upbringing, it all became clear. What keeps going through my mind now, is, “how do I fix this?” and “can it be fixed?” Since his constant refusal, I’ve felt like my heart keeps closing more and more to him because the rejection has hurt more and more. I’ve tried to play the good wife role the best that I could, but it has started to feel like I’ve fallen more and more out of love with him. I want to feel that deep emotion that I did when we first got married, I just need to figure out how.
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9 Responses Jun 11, 2012

You should really read the books by Conrad Baars.( a psychiatrist.) I especially recommend "Feeling and Healing Your Emotions. You might find the root causes of your husband's difficulties very accurately described in there.

I think it can be fixed, if you love each other enough. You may try a couple counselor who knows Transactional Analysis.

Have you written an update to this post?

It makes a lot of sense. It took me a long time to come to terms that my wife was not meeting my needs. She is a really great person, and she does some stuff so well. Just too much was not right for me to keep going.

Leaving my husband, after 29 years of marriage, was so painful for both of us (and our children, aged 18 and 23 then). My following experience, and second marriage, make me wish I could help prevent this happening to anyone else; but of course I can't. But I make these comments on such pages, just in case it helps.<br />
You wrote: I’ve tried to play the good wife role the best that I could, but it has started to feel like I’ve fallen more and more out of love with him. I want to feel that deep emotion that I did when we first got married, I just need to figure out how.<br />
Have you asked him, or has he said, that he wants to be happy with you, wants to have a happy marriage with you?<br />
Are there any activities that you both enjoy, i.e., you both enjoy the same activity? It is very helpful if the two of you have something(s) which you love to do, and you do it together (reading books is not a good one for this). It should be something like camping, or dancing, or cooking; something that would allow for conversation, but biking is good also. When you fell in love, weren't the two of you doing things together, making time to be together?<br />
Sex is a very important part of one's marriage relationship, but it isn't the only part. I am thinking of how you can strengthen other parts, while not giving up on improving the sex part.<br />
I saw a program once, where couples were headed for divorce, but after one year of working successfully on their finances together, they were in love with their spouses. Even if your finances are in good shape, the two of you might make some special plans or project that would involve your finances, and work toward that goal. That's just a suggestion of another part where you could both be actively involved in something together. Together is very important. Now that your husband has told you his feelings about sex, I hope this is not the end of the conversation. I don't believe that he can't change. It may require a paradigm shift, but people make paradigm shifts about different things, and that includes our views about sex, and your husband does not seem to have a Biblical view of sex (I don't know what religion his family was).<br />
Also, I am familiar with the temperament sorter that someone previously mentioned. While we do each have these basic temperaments, they are something of a sliding scale, and some people who do not have strong preferences, actually fall into what is called X. The point I want to make here, however, is that as people mature (and there is not a set time for that!) we tend to take on the opposite traits of our natural temperament traits, i.e., it is a growing experience, and we are not locked into just our natural temperaments. Like part of mine, is I have a natural tendency to be late; that doesn't work well in the real world! I have to work at being on time!<br />
Try to find some humor in your lives together. Not to make light of the need for growth and change, but when your husband told you his real feelings about sex, that might have been a great time to exuberantly exclaim, "Oh, thank God! I thought you might be gay!" (Now if anyone is in that situation, you would have to use some other line!)<br />
Laughter helps us stop being so analytical and self-conscious; two things I think your husband needs to lose when he's in bed with you!<br />
In fact, while he would do well to be in counseling (as someone else advised) I suggest you find some sex jokes that you think would make him laugh. Use them, outside of the bedroom! You can always preface it with, "Honey, I would like to try something; may I tell you something, and you let me know what you think."<br />
Find other things the two of you can laugh about also; laughing together is extremely important, as part of staying in love.<br />
Relationships are like gardening. The only way to have a beautiful, 50 year old garden, is to tend it for 50 years.<br />
That's my advice (from a grandmother) since it seems the two of you love each other, and really would like to have a happy marriage. You can't be an overcomer, if you have nothing to overcome.


Perhaps it's pointless to even post, because I can offer no solutions to your problem. Probably the only advantage I have over your situation is that my wife and I are more alike in this realm than we are different, so that makes things somewhat easier. Howwever, even in a marriage where neither partner enjoys being the initiator, there's a problem.<br />
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In my case, I probably had a similar upbringing to your husband. Very strict, fundamentalist christian home, where sex was not thought about, let alone discussed out loud. So no doubt this plays into my reluctance to initiate sex. But for me I think it's <br />
more than that. It's also tied to confidence and self-esteem, neither of which I have in any measurable quantity. I tend to feel I'm not worthy of my wife's intentions. In fact, I tend to spend a great deal of time wondering why she even married me in the first place, because certainly she would be more happy with someone else.<br />
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I'm almost 50 years old. I shouldn't be so uptight about sex, especially with my own wife. Yet, I don't know how to change. I'm too timid to try anything. She may love it, but I'm too scared to ask. I wish you luck. I sure haven't found any answers.In fact

I can't pretend to know your husband, but it's an odd comfort to me to know there's at least one other man out there who has at least some of the same feelings I do. Of course I regret that this comes to your detriment.

The ironic thing is, if I could just talk to my wife about intimacy, I'd probably find she doesn't hold half the notions I assume she does. But even talking about sex is hard for me.

I don't know if you're into personality types, but as if I didn't already have enough baggage, I'm also an INFJ. By nature we're introspective and sometimes have a difficult time allowing others "in." Even those we love.intimacy

Oh I can almost assure you 100% it's not you.

"He said that sex just feels so dirty to him... and “can it be fixed?” <br />
No, unfortunately it can not be fixed... It is imprinted in his brain from the birth into his family, who moulded him this way...

Thought patterns are just that. Habits. Habits can be changed. He is unlikely to lose all his inhibitions, but if he is prepared to work at it his attitude may become more relaxed and open.
I've just realised this is an old post. Has anything changed since you wrote this?

You are a very beautiful women and i can not think of anything that could possibly be wrong with you.<br />
If you where my wife i would make sure all of those needs would be fulfilled.

You are certainly having a difficult time and I feel so sorry for you, my marriage was very similar and we ended up getting divorced. Not that I am saying that is your only choice.<br />
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I had a friend that broke the problem down to a series of simple questions, but that's not to say the answers are going to be simple.<br />
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The first question you need to ask is do you wish to remain in the marriage if nothing changes? On the surface a simple yes or no question. <br />
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Once that is decided, if no, you need to decide if you can stay if things can be changed. These will lead to a narrowing chain that will let you decide if you can and will expend the emotional capital to sustain you.<br />
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I wish that you find the relationship you're looking for and need, and I'm always available to talk to if you need to.<br />
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Take care