I Feel Completely Irrelevant To My Wife.

We have been married for 26 years and we have four children living at home with us; the youngest is 15. I am 51, and my wife is 48.

My wife is a wonderful mother, and in so many ways a wonderful wife. I’m sure many people think we have the perfect marriage, and that might include my wife. But I’m sure my wife is in love … or content, with what we have, not with me.

Our sex life is fading away and I cannot bear the thought of ending up in a sexless marriage; but there are no shows of intimacy from my wife at all. It’s rare for me to go a day without spontaneously showing my affection in some small way: a short e-mail or text message; holding hands when we’re out; a peck when I get home from work; occasionally buying her favourite chocolates or some other small gift because I was thinking of her; gently rubbing her back in bed at night; touching her leg when we are driving together; hugging her in the kitchen. Just little things, and by no means constant or smothering. But my wife never does the same. She will kiss or hug me back, but she never initiates anything. When I think back, I know she must have done so in the early years, but I just don’t remember it any more as there has been nothing in the last decade at least.

She has everything she wants: a family, a husband, a beautiful home, a current model car, well above average household income, the freedom to do what she wants without question, dinner with her girl-pals and occasional weekends away with them, shopping without having to be too careful about the bottom line.

But while there is no-one in the world I would rather be with, I feel that I am just ‘the husband’ in this picture.

I am articulate, well educated, and a non-drinker earning a very good salary. I work long, but not ridiculous hours and I’m usually home in time for dinner with the family every night. I work out (at home with one of my sons) to stay in decent shape. I help with the house-work, share the demands of the kids, and my wife has a cleaner come in to do the bits neither of us likes doing.

While I dress well for work and pay attention to grooming and hygiene, I tend not to spend a lot of money on myself. For example, my kids (and wife) drive much newer cars than I do because that’s just not important to me. And over the years there have been women, married and single, who have made it clear to me that they’d be interested in some fun if that’s what I chose.

I never forget a birthday, anniversary, Valentines, or other occasion. I can probably count the number of true arguments we’ve had on one hand in our 30 years together and we never yell or fight. It’s not avoidance, just a measure of our general compatibility. That said, I’ve tried talking to my wife about my concerns but she won’t truly engage because she ‘doesn’t want to argue’. My wife just says we should work on making things better, which she does for a month or so, and then we’re right back to the same pattern.

In truth, she is most often the one who initiates sex. I can generally predict when that will be because there is a time in her cycle when she is most aroused. When it occurs it is generally great for both of us, and I’m always conscious of her pleasure, but it is always on her terms. We do what she wants; when and how she wants it. But in recent years I’ve rarely initiated sex because I either end up feeling rejected and worthless, or I’m made to feel like a rapist when she plaintively whimpers ‘don’t’ at my touch.

For several months I completely avoided sex with her because the pattern was making me feel worthless. I’m sure it didn’t bother my wife and worse, I walked in on her ************ in the shower one weekend morning. I quietly left and she was none the wiser. So clearly the desire for that release is still there for her.

I probably love my wife more deeply than the day we married, and I still find her attractive in every way, which just makes things harder for me. There is simply no way I could or would want to divorce, and I now regularly find my thoughts turning to what I see as the only way out. I have researched suicide and I now have a couple of options at the ready. I feel I have been desperately close a couple of times, but I know it will have a devastating impact on my daughter at this stage of her life. Yes, it will upset my sons, but they are now in their 20s and much more resilient. I just don’t see any other option.

Apologies for the long post ... but I wanted to get it all clear in my own head ... and give you enough to properly understand my situation.

Am I doing something wrong or missing something here?
apretendperson apretendperson
51-55, M
8 Responses Jun 3, 2012

20+ years ago I was you. i wish i had words of encouragement but............here i still am..............
Perhaps some psychotherapy ??? I know, I know, radical; but having trod your road for 50+ years, i speak with experience if not professional training. prayer, negotiation, hints, begging, all to no avail. she's still wonderful in so many ways - i guess He giveth and taketh away.............
sincere best to you and her

Get out ! 50+ years in similar circumstances here and only getting worse. No sign whatsoever of her "loving" me, other than those external efforts like cooking, cleaning, catering to my "non-sexual" needs quite nicely. But, like you, I feel irrevelant in her view ! The only difference is that she was never really "into" sex. Other than that, all the same..............Nothing gets better, only worse - get out !I hope for you..........Fred<br />
Sorry, shortcut your post and missed the suicide talk first time thru. I too have considered this - too painful for my grandkids and others i love deeply. I guess even prisoners adapt and accept a life "sentence". <br />
Feeling for you.<br />

Well ... I spoke to my wife and it probably went as well as I would have expected. There wasn't much discussion from my wife ... she largely just accepted what I said and said that she loves me and wants to stay together. She felt that she had been more demonstrative since I last tried to talk to her earlier this year, but the only thing she could think of was offering her cheek for me to kiss as she takes our daughter to weekend sport. I didn't tell her about my darker thoughts because I didn't want that to be perceived as a threat. I'm not sure that any behaviours will change on her part, but I've been heard and told that she loves me. That's something I guess. Thank you all for your words and thoughts.

i feel for u because im in a marrage for 11ys and little less than u and was pregnant 3 time and lost all 3 the most resent was 2mth ago.and affection is not my strong suite and i long to know the right way to make my husband feel good and he in turn has to learn to. i love him but i find myself feeling more comfortable with other people. and yes i so feel chocked but killing yourself is not the answer

I'm really sorry to hear about your loss. Regarding affection, it really doesn't take much. "I love you" is the most powerful and longed for message, but I know that words can be hard for some people ... even when you're married. Yet there are so many other simple things that can be sustaining and affirming ... a rub on the back, a pat on the butt, a random hug, a kiss goodnight, sitting close on the lounge, resting your legs in you partners lap ... and of course, making love. Any little sign that shows you are connected.

OMG. I want you to talk to my husband. I am lost and only if my husband thought like you do....all would be great in my world. your wife is a lucky woman. :)

Thanks for your comments. I just read your stories and your situation sounds very similar to mine, but with the roles reversed. I wish I could give you the answers but I just don't have them. There are times when I accept my wife's word that everything is okay and that she loves me and I try to keep moving forward in a positive way ... and then some little thing happens to bring it all crashing back down again. It makes it very hard not to give up. But ... thanks for commenting.

I agree whole-heartedly with the idea of therapy, either as a couple or alone. <br />
Sometimes even the most articulate, intellegent, thoughtful people need help with communication. A trained ob<x>jective third-party can help you express your feelings of estrangement to your wife.<br />
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I've been where you are, in many respects, emotionally. It's hard to think about losing the relationship that means the most to you, but you need to fight for your family and marriage. And being depressed will only cloud your perspective. <br />
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If you need a virtual ear, let me know, or post stories...there is lots of support to be found here. <br />
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Sending you healing thoughts.

Your distress turned inward toward self harm will help no one. Recognizing and being able to articulate your needs is important, and having the ability to share those thoughts and needs with your wife is crucial. Perhaps with constructive discussion some of the issues could be addressed, one at a time. Have you tried finding a marriage councilor that can assist both you and your wife to address your needs, and potentially hers as well? There are some awful concilors, many mediocre ones, and a few wonderful ones. To feel appreciated for what you provide, not who you are, is so very lonely, and you should be able to share how lonely you are, and have that heard and respected.....<br />
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Best of luck.

A counselor may be an option. But it's just a shame that two intelligent and articulate grown-ups can't communicate directly. More correctly (and from my perspective) I want to work through it to agree on what needs to be fixed ... my wife doesn't.

I wholeheartedly agree with your point, and natural desire, that you and your wife should be able to agree on what needs to be fixed and then address those issues, however, she is not on the same boat. I have been there. It feels good providing comfort and stability, but although there is no abuse or coldness, there is an apathy. I found that draining, and very depressing. I believe my spelling error of councilor vs counselor may have been an unconscious slip from my past. And I am sorry for that. But not matter which "c" you choose, take comfort in knowing that you will still be around to share the joy of life and of experiences yet to even be had with your children. Suicide is final, and the scars left on everyone in your life, especially your children and wife, will be forever. I hope with discussion, your wife will at least understand your loneliness. Empathy is so important..... Wishing you well.

I hope you didn't read my response regarding a "counselor" as a criticism or correction of your post? That certainly wasn't my intention. And I do understand and accept your point about the scars.

It was a spelling slip on my part, and as I wrote, not sure if it was purely sloppy or unconscious. And you made neither criticism or correction in your reply- you merely replied. Thank you for that consideration. And please do not feel that you need to accept or agree with anything anyone says, especially me, if you disagree. I hope that you are feeling better and less alone since you wrote the above story. There are many ties to many people in the real world that exist that can be overlooked and underestimated when in pain. But those emotional ties are real. And when people make irrevocable choices such as suicide, the ripples extend through many generations and in unexpected, and often tragic ways.

1 More Response

I am so sad to read your post and I do identify with you in many ways. I'm not sure what encouragement there is to offer other than... you are not alone. I am sure you feel lost but please never give up. I want to also sometimes but ultimately, I want to find joy...not just an end. I am here if I can help in some way.

Thank you sweetpinkbloomers.

I do know I'm not alone. I've been doing a lot of reading, trying to better understand my wife's needs and to find a way forward. And I've found that there are many others around the world in a similar boat. It was the research and reading that led me to this site.

But time and again I read about men and women in my circumstances getting nowhere with their disinterested partner after years of trying and they end up giving up on their marriage and separate or divorce.

I just can't stand the thought of that.

I can only say to be true to yourself. If you don't want the marriage to end then you must find a way to get through to your wife. I imagine that somehow she is also crying out in her own way.
If this doesn't work, as it didnt work for me after years, I had to find my own happiness. I am still married but my heart takes joy from other things. I don't grieve anymore over the lack of love in my life... But look forward to new ways to find that love and joy. Keep the doors open to talk to others who feel as you do... This is your best contribution to yourself and to others.

I think you're stronger than I am.

And I don't see that my wife is crying out in any way. She has a very nice life, as do my kids ... and in many ways so do I.

But something is missing for me that doesn't appear to be missing for her,

I don't think I would call it 'stronger' than you- I just have an incredible survival instinct. That instinct has caused me to have to make decisions that most people would not agree with. Those choices have tested my own moral code and caused me to have to reexamine so many beliefs. But I do not have many regrets. I have found my peace and acceptance outside of my marriage and although it was not ideal or even 'right', it did help me to be more complete in all other roles in my life. I am not saying two wrongs make a right... But I wanted to live, after all.

1 More Response

suicide is neaver the answer. u should neaver kill yourself over no body and i mean no body , u sound like a man that very depressed and should speck with there doctor.<br />
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to me so many people fall to deep in love with there parner and forget what it was like before they was in your life and other love ones that was before them in your life before hand. <br />
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please now this you are loved very much so yes try with your wife , yes talk again with her, if she do not listion show her this story on here<br />
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you are not just a married man, your ARE someone one son,<br />
i,m a mother myself and from a mother point of view it does not matter how old you are a son is always a mothers child for life <br />
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your a friend a mate to someone in this world, i don't now u but i,m feeling something for u. suicide is not your ask my friend <br />
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you said that u work what about your work colleges, they would miss u<br />
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your brother / sister if u have one. would miss u<br />
nice and nephew, uncle,anty, granparent your father,<br />
daman it man your children and the list goes on. do not be so selfish and do this. <br />
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what im trying to say is your wife is not going to be the only person at your grave side<br />
that would grive for u. the changes are yes u could conment suicide over this but for this really pull your self together there are other option and maybe u thing not right now but there are No one is worth suicide over and not for this reason that for shore <br />
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maybe it just time to move on to a diffrend relationship i for one dont know you but just reading your story i would be sad to here u took your life <br />
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you just need to remember your not just a husband stop focuing just on your wife yes i now you meason other people but most of it was about your wife and no getting more sex <br />
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man your in love bad you need to be in love with your self just as much and then u would she suicide is not your option my friend <br />
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You are doing something wrong Your not in love with your self and what you are missing is there others in your life that need your love as well as your wife please do not coment suicide even if it just for me a strange that just love life and all that is in <br />
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death come to us all my friend anyway you will have your time in death but this time is not your today please do not do this <br />
and just think of everyone that u would leave behind and no i am not just talking about your wife

Thank you for the reply ... there is a lot in there to think about.

Yes, I'm sure I would be missed by some(?) many(?) people for a while. And yes, I'm sure I could move on to a different relationship. But I don't want that. We both found the love of our lives ... it's just that my wife loves/likes having what I represent or provide ... she doesn't love me.

Again, thank you, I will think about your post.

You should go on a camping or wilderness trip with your wife. I know if there's no technology, media, or modern day luxuries two ppl can really get to know each other better