Love Your Self

I married a man 18 years ago and filed for divorce 7 months ago. He loved me in his own way, did sweet and romantic things for me, but we did not have sexual intimacy. I told him I loved him every single day, initiated hugs, kisses, showers, massages and sexual advances, but he was not interested in any of those things. The 'things' he was more interested in were his huge collections of DVDs, CDs, books, magazines, synthesizers, sequencers and soldering circuit boards and the History Chanel.

We had dated for 1 year and were engaged for another, all the while enjoying a sexual relationship including intimacy, but that suddenly changed the very night we were married. He let one of his groomsmen spend the night with us on our wedding night because the guy had no way home from the reception, and neither one of them seemed to mind at all, in fact, they ordered a pizza while I sat there in my wedding gown. We did not make love on our wedding night. The honeymoon was disappointing, too, because he did not want to make love there either so it was on our honeymoon that we had our first real argument.

Over the next 18 years, he cooked for me, did the dishes, washed my laundry, ran bubble baths for me, gave me birthday cakes, took me on dates to the movies and restaurants and took me on weekend getaways, but we rarely had sex; maybe twice a year if I'd begged long enough. I loved him and he loved me, however, we did not have sexual intimacy, and the few times we ever did have sex it was mechanical and without kissing and cuddling. He confused me because he told me he loved me and did nice things for me, but he had no desire to be touched or to touch me. He was content with living without sex and intimacy; he was more interested in reading, watching TV or adding on to his massive keyboard collection he played with as a hobby. He had a lot of hobbies and I was not one of them.  He confessed to me, after I had left him, that he'd also been addicted to online **** while he was at work and while I was at work, which really made me mad because I was working so darn hard to buy things for him like his keyboards; not that I minded the work; at least at work I had people to talk to me and to interact with me, it just felt like a slap in the face knowing what he had been doing while he was at work and while I was working my bum off.

He did not enjoy socializing. He screened every phone call. We could not host family dinners. He refused to attend weddings and funerals and my high school reunion. I could tell that he had depression and I asked him to seek professional help and he said that he would try. Month after month, year after year, I continued to lovingly ask and beg him to seek help and he said that he would try. About 10 years ago I packed a suitcase and left him. I returned the same night only because he promised me he'd finally seek help. He didn't keep his promise. The years passed, the holidays and anniversaries came and went, all the while without sex and intimacy. I kept telling him every single day that I loved him, I kept spooning him and caressing him each night only to hear that my hands or feet were too cold or too dry and he would blow me a kiss and roll over. I cried myself to sleep while he slept like a baby.  He confessed to me, after I had left him, that he had not been tired, that he had been "self-medicated" with pot and booze.  I had no idea because I thought he was always just "tired".

I finally realized that he was never going to seek help for his depression and that nothing I could do would bring him happiness. I wanted to divorce him, but I feared my leaving would devastate him because of his depression and because he had told me, and I knew it, too, that he needed me and depended on me. I didn't want to hurt him. He was a good person throughout our marriage; he just didn't want to have sex or sexual intimacy. It hurt my feelings by making me feel undesired, unwanted, unappreciated, unattractive and hopeless. It also made me feel that he had betrayed me by refusing me sex and intimacy. I would have never married him if I'd known that I was to be doomed to a sexless marriage; this was not anticipated, it hurt and was not deserved. However, I put up with this and willingly compromised my own happiness in order to try to provide it for him. I wanted to leave but felt too guilty so I stayed a few more years.

I had met a fun, interesting and pleasant person in someone we had met 3 separate times while attending 3 functions (with my husband by my side every time, at functions which I had encouraged him to attend because I thought he would enjoy himself; it had to do with one of his hobbies and I had grown to enjoy this hobby, too) and this person lived in another country and was here to be at these functions. We liked each other as friends and eventually became Facebook friends about a year ago. We were only friends and we enjoyed emailing each other and made each other laugh. We talked about all kinds of things but had no idea that each of us were in a sexless marriage. We eventually disclosed our similar sexless situations and gave each other emotional strength to deal with our marriages by either staying or leaving but to weigh the options. He gave me the strength I so desperately needed by encouraging me to love myself and to not settle for less. Also, I realized how wonderful this man was, even if I couldn't be with him, I realized what I was missing out on in my marriage; someone of his character, strength, compassion, honesty, sense of humor and zest for life. I decided to leave my husband and file for divorce because I would rather be happy and alone than be miserable and lonely. I did not know what my future would bring, but I knew that I owed it to myself to become responsible for my own happiness, and I knew that I had exhausted every ounce of love and support for my husband and realized that it was he would never help himself.

My soon to be ex-husband did not handle the divorce well and begged me to take him back; he said that he hadn't seen this coming, that he had "no inkling" at all. I had told him for 18 years that I was unhappy, that he kept hurting my feelings and that I didn't want to live in a sexless marriage and I had even left him once. How could he had not seen this coming?  It's only when it's too late that someone realizes what they've lost.  He was so depressed that he couldn't see how his treatment of me had given me the right and the reason to divorce him. He informed me that he was finally in therapy but that it was pointless if I would not take him back. I told him that I was genuinely proud of him for seeking help, but that it now had to be done for his own good and for only himself. His lack of desire for me, the lack of sexual intimacy and his refusal to seek help for 18 years had made me fall out of love with him. It was a tough decision to make because I truly loved him, but I just couldn't go on like that.  I had been miserable but still went to work and family functions with a fake happy face.  It had taken me a long time to make my decision to leave and when I had finally made it I stuck to it. I have no regret.

Unfortunately, 5 days ago he attempted suicide via carbon monoxide poisoning in my bathroom (he still had a key and was feeding our cat while I was away). I came home that night to find a scene of horror and his suicide note. He wasn't there and I had no idea if he was alive or dead. I called his father and he said that he had been rescued and was alive...and then yelled at me and told me if was my fault, but I'm strong enough to know it wasn't me and that it was his untreated depression. Luckily he's alive and is physically ok. Now he has the opportunity to get serious professional help with his depression. I wish him all the best and hope that he finds happiness and love within himself one day.

I left because I had finally realized that I had to be true to myself, see the situation as it was and accept the fact that he was never going to help himself. I loved my self enough to become responsible for my own happiness. My friend and I traveled across the world to be with each other a few times and realized that our love was indeed real.  We had unexpectedly fallen in love with each other and it's the greatest feeling ever!  I'm in the process of (and almost finished!) moving to his country to be with him, the man I love; a good, strong, loving, responsible and sexy as hell man who loves me in return. I would have been ok on my own, but I got very lucky and found my true soul mate in a friend and we're going to spend our lives together in a loving, happy, sexually fulfilled relationship. If anyone reads my experience who is undecided about staying in or leaving an unhappy relationship/marriage without sex and intimacy, just please remember to LOVE YOUR SELF.  If you don't love your self then you cannot truly love anyone else. Every human being DESERVES to be loved and to have sex and intimacy, and if only one partner has the desire to make an effort to cultivate this type of closeness then that person deserves better. And if anyone who reads this is in a relationship with an untreated depressed person, please do everything you can to get them to a therapist or medical doctor. Beg them or have a family/friend intervention. The decision to seek help will be their responsibility. But keep in mind that you cannot help someone if they will not help themselves. In my case, it was my husband's depression which made him not desire me in a sexual way. It was not my fault. I had suspected that either I had caused it, that he was seeing someone outside the marriage, and even wondered if he was gay and didn't know it. It didn't seem normal that a husband would not want to have sex with his loving wife. There's got to be a reason for refusing sex, and it may not have to do with us at all. Good luck and a big hug to anyone who's in pain because they are refused and feel hopeless and betrayed. Just try to love your self and things will get better; one way or another, with or without your partner.

Thanks for reading my experience. It's way too long, but it was therapeutic for me to write it down. Any comments are welcome. Thanks and good luck on your personal journey.  And just for the record, against all odds, YES, sometimes fairytales actually come true.  Hang in there : )
ISELFLOVE ISELFLOVE
41-45, F
18 Responses Jul 20, 2010

commongroundseeker: Surely if this person has found true love with another person then by your belief system God has also brought THEM together for a reason ? Anyway...I am of the opinion that we should take individual personal responsibility for our actions. Staying in an unhappy marriage benefits nobody, and "for better or worse" only works if there are two people willing to participate in working at the problem. Otherwise the marriage vows become a life sentence, and who really needs that ? I'm sure your God (who "is love" after all) would understand that humans deserve to have their emotional needs met.

enna30...thanks for your response; we are absolutely like-minded regarding SM as a form of emotional abuse and also your take on the topic of religion in this forum. <br />
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commongroundseeker...thank you for reading my story. While I appreciate your response and your faith in your God, I do not agree with you at all. I have one life to live, and if it's miserable and I do everything possible to improve it and all of my efforts are fruitless over years of trying, and I continue to accept a miserable life then that is, in my opinion, a waste of MY precious life and I value the gift of life. Regarding the "for better for worse" vow, believe me, I battled with that one for years until I realized that it was my soon to be ex-husband who first broke his vow by withholding sex and intimacy. And regarding my extra-marital affair, well, he unexpectedly came into my life for a reason and gave me a very real understanding of what the beauty of pure love really is. Good luck on your personal journey.

Commongroundseeker, you cannot truly love anyone else until you can love yourself. I fear that your interpretation of Christian marriage is too narrow and insufficiently empathetic to allow for the issues in this forum. Do you hold to the belief that one should remain in a marriage if there is abuse? Because SM is a form of emotional abuse.<br />
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If you seriously seek common ground, may I suggest you are a little less critical and a little more open minded . . . .

I could never do that to my husband. when i made the vow to have and to hold for better or for worse i meant it. i dont mean to be a stick in the mud but as a christian we are not to let someone come in between what god has brought together. such as a marriage. also to me it brought to mind how in the last days its true people would be lovers of themselves rather than lovers of god. these countless stories like this one breaks my heart.

Oh my God....Stories like this are one of the reasons I'm not married today. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know it must have been horrible for you to live like that. And please, please, please do not blame yourself for your ex's suicide attempt. It was his choice. You begged him to get help and he wouldn't. You did your part and as for those on the outside looking in, they don't know what you went through. They weren't living your nightmare. It comes a time when you have to put yourself first. You need to live a life that makes you happy. I wouldn't dare stay in a sexless marriage but you hung in there for 18 years for his sake. Do you realize what you could accomplish in 18 years? But I do commend you because you tried. Good luck on your new life and I hope you find someone to jump your bones for ALL the jumps you've been deprived of in the past.

Dear silentgiant88...Wow, if no one else ever reads my story I will at least know that you have. You are such a brave person to a) even be here on EP and for sharing, and b) be so honest and open about how you truly feel inside. I'm so sorry that you are so unhappy and that you think you don't have much to offer, especially to girls. It sounds like you suffer from a chemical imbalance and you should probably make an appointment to see a medical doctor. I think you should also see a therapist. Yeah, it's a scary thing to do, and yeah, it will take time to go to appointments and it will be emotionally hard to sit there and discuss your life and maybe you will even feel embarassed to talk to someone in person, but it might help you overcome your feelings of despair and make you realize that you are not a bad person. Everybody goes through feelings of low self-esteem but when it's prolonged it is a sign of depression or some other type of illness. If you're depressed it is nothing to be ashamed of because depression is a real type of illness and it involves a very real chemical imbalance in one's brain. Drugs can help this and therapy can offer a chance to get at the root of the issues that plague someone. You are not alone, and there are alot of folks just like you who think they don't have much to offer, but you do! Honestly, it must be so hard to realize that you do but it's because you might have a chemical imbalance. Also, you said that you are a sadomasochist...are you sure? I could be wrong, but maybe you are actually a "self-injurer". There's a huge difference. There are people who cut or inflict physical pain on themselves for many reasons, and one of those reasons is because it gives them emotional comfort to actually FEEL something because the hurt they feel day in and day out doesn't go away and makes them feel numb so they inflict injury to feel better, to just feel. I could be wrong, but I think that sadomasochism is something that people do on purpose while having a healthy desire for a certain type of sexual release. I don't know, but I think it is done by someone who is not depressed and by someone who enjoys sex in a certain way. If you are hurting yourself because you think you deserve it or because you think you are worthless, please google a crisis center in your area...it's an annonymous service to vent your problems to and to seek real help if you want it. I could be wrong about you having depression, maybe it's something else that makes you feel so low, but I think you should make an appointment to get checked out. If it is a chemical imbalance, LOTS OF FOLKS have this and medication helps right the brain and makes you able to be the person you really are. I realize that it's easier said than done, but you owe it to yourself and to the people in your life to at least try to feel better. Come on, you've got it in you, you're brave enough to admit you feel like crap so try to take the next step and try to care of yourself. You have so much to give and I think that it's a dis-service to you if you don't realize it one day. And if you think you have nothing worthwhile to give, you are VERY WRONG because the fact that you read my post and actually responded to it means that you have enlightened my day because you made me realize that my post actually touched someone and that I am not alone. Can you understand this? You had a positive effect on a complete stranger! Good luck and take care of your self. Big, big hug to you.

This is trully a good one.. thanks for shatring.

WOW, good for you. I almost fell off my chair when I read that he let a Groomsman stay with you on your wedding night. I would have guessed him gay and stuck in the closet. To bad it took 18 years to finally have the life you deserve. I truly hope you and your new love make up for both of your lost time and live happily ever after. God knows you deserve it. Take care.

Iselflove, much of your story could be mine. Thankfully my ex did not consider trying suicide and was not depressed. However, many of his behaviours were (are) very similar to those of your ex.<br />
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I too have found happiness and a real relationship with someone new - and I sincerely admire and respect your self awareness and the integrity of your approach to your life. May you find the happiness you so truly deserve.

Dear Hope54...Firstly, you are not a coward at all! The fact that you're on EP and talking with others takes real courage, even if it IS annonymous! And please, please, please, don't think that your time to make a move has come and gone..seriously, don't give up, hope, Hope54! Yeah, sometimes it might seem like there's no option in sight, nowhere to go, not enough money, not enough support, but there's always some type of option. And that doesn't mean you have to leave; maybe it means you give someone an ultimatum, a deadline, and if that doesn't work, then get the heck out. Believe me, I'm not wealthy, I'm going to need my retirement money to live on for a while, and withdrawing it way early will incur a serious penalty fee, but it was an option. I'm going to spend it in the most responsible way and hopefully not have to use all of it, but I figured I needed it now and not when I'm 72. It's really about quality of life, you know? And the part about me finding my true love in a man who lives across the ocean, well, that was pure luck! I may have been alone for the rest of my life but that would have been way better than to have been lonely for the rest of my marriage. And quite frankly, I am only recently realizing how angry I am at him for refusing me sex! Depression or no depression, he certainly didn't have to make me feel so unworthy and downright undesired. He was kind to his coworkers and family, but he would come home and watch tv for hours. Jesus, I wasn't even asking for much. Please don't feel like your opportunity has gone...look closely at your options. And it you think you don't have any, talk to a friend, a therapist, find a support group or research government assistance. You think I'm brave? Well, look in the mirror...at least you're reaching out to us on EP! Thanks for your support and sweet comments.

ISELFLOVE... what a brave brave person you are... I can tell it was hard for you to break out. The thing is... a marriage becomes a habit. I am in awe of you and how wonderful it is that you have actually found someone who you deserve after such a long time trying with your husband. I cannot imagine making that break. There have been times when I thought I could leave, when I felt stronger... but I am thinking that that time has now gone and this is my lot. Maybe it means I am a coward. Your story resonates with me greatly.

wow...thank you so much for sharing your journey...it really speaks to my heart!

Dear Cherokee59...just keep working on the 'friendship' part and at least you'll have a really great friend if nothing else comes of it. And try not to worry that you are presenting him with too many issues to deal with. That's what friends are for...the good stuff and the not so good stuff...it's what builds a real relationship. I believe that a real friend accepts you just the way you are, and if that means that you suffer from depression or sadness or confusion, well, a true friend listens, tries to help and if anything, is just a shoulder to cry on. Maybe it WILL turn into something more, but hold off on buying that plane ticket until you absolutely know and trust this man. I'm sure he's a great guy, but you have to protect yourself. Good luck, sweetie, and hang in there. >>>HUG<<<

love10killer, I'm so glad that you and your wife worked at it and stuck it out and that things got better. It sounds like you and she were actually able to discuss the problems and take steps to make them better. The problem for me, and probably for a lot of others out there, is that we tried to talk to our partners, we talked until we cried, begged and yelled and we could have talked into we were blue in the face, but nothing, I mean absolutely nothing would get them motivated to make an effort. I'm real glad that it was two of you working together, that's what I had longed for.

Thanks for the story. One question did u ever tell him how u felt and what u wanted. me and my wife went through something different she really didn't care for sex on the the other had i love sex cant get enough of it. One day i told her how i felt and that i needed to be loved and what not. se told me she loved me and that sex was not on the top of her list as it is mine. so i explained that i need to feel the desire in our relationship and told her that she came to realize she did not want me to leave her and she became more intamnt and loving. She is vary happy working on our third kid we have an avg of sex 50 times a month and i love it i would not change that. By talking and working on our relationship<br />
has made up best frs and i would change that for nothing.

Thank you so---o very much for sharing your story. It gives me hope that someday I can also break through of a sexless marriage. I have been communicating with a wonderful man in another country and have communicated for 2 years. I still do not trust and because I have had so many issues, it has spilled out into my friendship with him. I think I overwhelm him with my depression, my sadness, my feelings of confusion. I want to go to his country and find out if it is what it appears to be. Thanks again for your wonderful story!!!!!! My best to you both....

Thank YOU BOTH for reading my story and for your comments. It sucks to feel "trapped" in a relationship/marriage because you fear what might happen if you leave. What I had finally realized was that I had to take care of my self. I had tried everything, offered everything, supported him in every way, but he was not going to help himself. I had actually feared he would take his life, that's one of the reasons I stayed for so long, but *I* couldn't go on living that way, day in and day out with worry along with frustration and disappointment. He's the one who needed help and it would be up to him to seek it because I had already tried everything. Good luck to both of you.

Thank you for sharing your story. I think your words will help many on this board. I know it has helped me. My husband was diagnosed with chronic depression, among other things over 10 years ago. He did try 1 medication back then, but only for a short period of time. He has not tried anything since then. Your husband's collections, etc., remind me of my husband, who is very much a loner. What you have described in your husbands suicide attempt is one of my worst fears. I do know that I have to leave, for my own sake. I can't live like this any longer. <br />
Thank you for sharing all of this, the good and the bad.<br />
I wish you joy in your new journey.