When To Leave A Sexless Marriage?Am I afraid? Or am I hanging onto values drilled into me all my life such as commitment and responsibilities and using them as an excuse? How many of you have stayed in a sexless marriage because of uncertainty, whether that uncertainty is due to fear of hurting those closest to you in your life, including the spouse with whom you have lived this sexless marriage, or because of the belief you have to live up to commitments and responsibilities? I ask myself these questions every day.
I've been married for 35 years, married young. While dating my wife was usually reluctant when it came to physical intimacy. Being naive I thought this was natural and would change after we were married. Boy was I ever wrong. We've always remained friends, even though many of our interests are very different. To all accounts everyone thought we had a perfect marriage. However, when it came to sex, once a month was and has always been her limit. Even less in recent years, but then after so many years of hearing no, I've gotten to the point that I don't care nor have interest, at least on the home front - see below. We've discussed her lack of interest many times over the years, but to her it wasn't a problem. Like many of you I tried reading books and watching tapes on how to be a better lover, tried all the romance recommendations, essentially I wanted to make this work any way that I could and thought maybe it was my own lack of experience and skill. After our kids were off to college, I told her we needed to work this out or I was leaving her due to the lack of sex and physical intimacy. I suggested counseling, she didn't think we needed it. So I went alone for 6 months. Finally I interviewed lawyers and told her I was leaving. She begged me to stay, family pressure was brought to bear - good Catholic family hence the lifelong values - and she agreed to go to counseling with me. Surprise, surprise sex finally appeared in our marriage, but it sure felt like desperation sex - not too much can be worse than desperation sex. Counseling seemed to work for a while but slowly she went back to her old ways of lack of interest. I continued to blame myself and maybe a lack of skills causing her ambivalence towards sex. But after years of being hit on by women, I finally had an affair about seven years ago. I'll leave it with two comments on this experience, lack of skills didn't seem to be the issue and I found out what I was really, really missing. Eventually we relocated to be closer to her parents and take care of them as they are aging, and so my past affair came to an end. But I really missed those feelings of intimacy and eventually found another lover who I am currently seeing and who I have fallen in love with. I often think of leaving my marriage and have even spoken to an attorney but have failed to pull the trigger. Whether leaving would lead to a life with my current lover is uncertain as is any future, but if I leave it has to be for my happiness, not for another woman, or am I being naive?
Regardless, here's the issue and what I struggle with every single day. My wife comes from a small dysfunctional family. She is the only one who can take care of her aging parents. Her one sibling has her own personal challenges. My family, which is quite large, has become her family. I am also her best friend, and she has very few close friends. If I leave her, and pursue my own happiness, she will be taken care of economically, she is entitled to that. However, it is her emotional well being that has such a hold over me. I know her well enough that she will likely fall into depression - I'm not saying this or because I am banging my own drum. I'm saying this because I know how she has reacted before when I brought up discussion of and pursued a divorce. I also know she will look into the future and see her parents eventually gone and feel alone, especially as she will lose to some degree the depth of the relationships with my family. She will still have the relationship with our children, but trust me, she will be in despair as she has been very reliant on me throughout our marriage. It's just her personality. I know I am rambling a bit but I find myself consumed with the guilt I would feel by not living up to my commitment and responsibilities as a husband. I am constantly balancing this internal argument with myself knowing at the same time while I stay in this marriage I know I am not living up to my commitment and responsibilities to myself to ensure my own happiness. I do love my wife, but, yep here comes that common statement, I am no longer in love with her, nor have I been for a long time. I feel trapped by my commitments and responsibilities and can't seem to exit the trap. And to add a little more complexity to all of this, recently my wife has shown a little interest in sex, primarily because I am traveling on business so much and she is worried that I may be seeing someone. Yes, she has asked, and yes, I have denied it. Regardless, her overtures are too little too late and I am no longer interested in her physically. I'm sure many of you have similar situations or have lived them. I honestly feel caught in the middle. Your thoughts???