"relationship Issues" = No Sex?

I have been married faithfully for 14 years. My wife and I have 5 children (3 biologically and 2 adopted). Our marriage started out very hot with enough satisfying sex (e.g. 3 kids). Over the past 14 years we have been through alot together and some core issues keep cropping up. I will admit I'm not the best communicator, but I'm also the most committed guy a wife could wish for. I'm a techie, and not so romantic sometimes. I have a great job, good church, and good friends. My wife has become increasingly frustrated with our inability "to relate on a deep emotional level". I really want to, but I'm not a woman. I have read many books on marriage help. We have been to counseling some (which I loved), but my wife is now not even fully committed to living together and is to the point where the thought of living separate places (still married) is better than living together with me. I have supported her through many life trials. I just don't get it (and that is the problem she says). She says we should take some time (w/ no sex) to work on our relationship. The gentlemen inside me respects this approach, but it just seems that I feel I'm being controlled somehow and now I have given in again to no sex for a while. She even told me today - "you can just go take care of it". I feel hurt, but I also love my wife and children and will certainly try this if it has a chance of working. Today I have spent most of my thoughts trying to be thankful for what we have and not trying to think selfishly of my own desires.

Your thoughts?
fundrummerdad fundrummerdad
41-45, M
20 Responses Aug 10, 2010

Thanks anna. Yes, I have that book. When I picked it out last year, my wife looked at me and said - "That's the book I wanted you to read two years ago". I felt like a royal dumb a$$ for that. Anyway, I like that it is research based and has very real word examples.

There is a book called "saving your marriage without talking about it." A marriage therapist friend gave it to me and I must say the insight is incredible. It is also why I believe all the counseling we had in the past failed us. From a woman's point of view, maybe she has a hard time with forgiveness, I don't know what "issues" you had in the past, but I know that often women resort to holding out on sex because they know that will get the guys attention. It is not right but she has your attention now doesn't she? So try and remember what her issues were. Communication? well men communicate differently and from a different place than women. Communicate in YOUR way, connect in YOUR way and maybe just maybe she will see the effort as a start. I hope I helped a little.

I know the financial part would be a big challenge. In her mind however, she would get child support, alimony, and state benefits that could just make it worth it. She would probably also take in other children as foster kids and bring in income that way. She is great and loving with children. Here is some insight into that: <br />
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Since I have shared so much already, I'll add that I know my wife was abused as a child by someone very close to her. I think that this has lead so some of our problems deep down. When she gets frustrated in our relationship - sex is the first thing to go. My theory is that since she did not ever feel safe in this area as a child, she recoils from the idea as an adult when she feels threatened/frustrated or whatever. I'm no psychologist, but I think this may be on the right track.<br />
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Also, for the past couple of days since being on EP, I have not paid as much attention to her, and I think it's driving her nuts for her to see me getting some emotional support from somewhere. Maybe I'll get lucky if I keep posting. : )

Is she just using you for financial support? Not saying she is - but it is a VERY common behavior in single income homes.

Only you know if you really do connect with her emotionally. Only you. If you really listen when she talks and you care about how she feels - and that shows in your actions - great. If you don't - that is a problem. But what I just described is VERY DIFFERENT from always doing what she wants, from consistently saying what makes her happy. Are you a jerk about it when you disagree?<br />
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ORRRRR is she just not that attracted to you AND doesn't really care about you enough to want to please you?

I don't think this is terminal... but her problem is her priorities. I'm summarizing my impression from reading all the previous comments here, but I gather that she spends all her time as a mommy and you work to provide her with this opportunity. That's grand, and obviously important to both of you... but let's step back for a second: which came first, the chicken or the egg? It's not that circular in your case... the real question is which came first, the marriage or the kids? The MARRIAGE must come first. Without it, there are no kids... at least there is no home-schooling, no stay-at-home mommy, no quality of life resembling what she and the kids have grown accustomed to.<br />
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Women who put their children first (like my STBX) and use that rationale to deprive their husbands put motherhood on a pedestal of martyrdom and demand worship via blood sacrifice, including their own but especially yours. If your marriage survives until your children grow up, they will model the same choices and behavior, then wonder why they're so miserable themselves. Furthermore, you will go through this again after the children leave in 16 years... except you'll be older, less hot-to-trot (possibly), and 16 years deeper in the hole. What will you decide then?<br />
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Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'.

I'm sorry fundrummerdad. It sounds very sad to be in a marriage like this.. I hope things get better for you guys.. And idk, it seems to me that she doesn't understand the difference between the way men and women love. But yeah, I hope you guys figure things out.

Maybe I missed the part of the post that explained why this relationship is terminal. How long has the sexlessness gone one, is it possibly situational?? This is one of the rare cases I wonder if communication / counseling will help. Often not, but if she can see that he is and wants to be connected in a way that satisfies her... and she is willing to see it ... well, maybe? Working on things should be mutual, involve touch and sex .. and not one person on a leash. My motto has been give it your all and then give a little bit more, just for my own sense of self. Not to suggest that it is for everyone OR that it solved anything for me, just another perspective. Good luck!

Hi Frustrated. I'm sorry for your husbands issue. I suspect there are other options available if he is willing to go that route. I think I saw some posts on another thread regarding options when the equipment is the issue and not the heart.

I am in a sexless marriage because of ed....my hsband has been to docs....any idea?

I am in a sexless marriage because my husband has ed...nothing has helped...we have been to docors....any ideas?

You are both going to give up sex (her by inertia, you by choice) to help in saving the marriage.<br />
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There must be some logic in this position, but I can't see it. I'd love to hear how this strategy turns out.<br />
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Anyway, tread your own path.

Oh man, just had a good cry. Not often for me. I think my wife feels that she has "put up" with so much over the years that she is just not able to go on "like this" anymore. It's not completely her fault, but here we are. I know there is a lot of bitterness in her also. To her credit she has honestly tried many times to re-connect and it did not work. The group will appreciate this: At one point she actually tried having lots of sex with me to get us going again a couple years ago. It caught me off guard. I think many of our problems were really my issues that I needed to work out way back. I think there still is hope for our marriage, but I'm going to be giving up sex for a while to show her I do care and love her. Maybe this post will be helpful for those of you going through similar situations in the bedroom. Peace All.

AnarChristian - I think you are right. Especially given the conversation she & I just had. I asked her what she needed to see in our relationship for us to get back on track sexually. So not something she wanted to hear. More like another nail in the coffin. Man, this is tough. I love her so much but I have just missed the boat somehow. My wife stays at home, I bring in the only income (and always have). She is able to home school and does not have to work.

FunDad, <br />
We men have a difficult time thinking with our heads sometimes. We also have trouble hearing the truth when it hurts. The truth is that your wife no longer loves you. She is telling you that loud and clear. Now, you have to figure out how to deal with it given that you two have kids. <br />
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Who controls the family income?

Actually she is aware enough that we are NOT adopting any more children (by her choice). This was one of my biggest errors that I see now - I was hesitant to adopt more children and was not totally honest about it. I mentioned it a few times, but really I let her steam roll me on it. She was so led to do this though and I felt I needed to be supportive, even with my own concerns (and faith it would work out). This part is totally my fault, and she has a right to be upset and hurt about it. We are coming to grips however with the fact that 5 is totally enough. She wants good communication, and I have been telling her what I think instead of what she wants to hear too much instead of how I really feel.

@fund.<br />
Your additional comment seems very revealing to me.<br />
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The idea (I read her idea) to bring more children into the dynamic sets alarm bells off to me. It would seem to indicate that she thinks the existing marital environment is fine. You clearly do not think so.<br />
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Appears you may have the spouse adopting the "Management By Inertia" strategy. That's a big problem. You have at least a partial answer to Q2 above.<br />
If she maintains this inert strategy, you will not get answers to Q3 and Q4. You will be left to make the running while she watches. She may offer the odd 'helpful' hint, like "you can take care of it yourself" or similar.<br />
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If you are going to have to make the running, then a large part of that may well need to be planning an exit strategy - unless something happens to change her inert thinking.<br />
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Tread your own path.

Thank you so much for the kind and thoughtful posts. To answer one question:<br />
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...your wife is fully aware of this, and wants to do without it for a while because... why? It gets in the way? You can't think when you feel loved? When you get it, you stop jumping through hoops?..<br />
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She says "You think everything is okay" and then I apparently stop trying as hard with the relationship. She honestly does not want me to have a false sense of security by having sex with me.<br />
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Also, our lives our very kids focused. We have young children (all < 13), and they are now her life. She actually wants more (via adoption) but I just can't commit to bringing in anymore with our love life like this.

Well, I'll pose a few Q's to you.<br />
1. Do you know, specifically, what she wants you to do ?<br />
2. Are you prepared to willingly do it ?<br />
3. Does she know, specifically, what you want her to do ?<br />
4. Is she prepared to willingly do it ?<br />
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If you get these Q's answered, honestly, you will have the reality of the situation out in the open. From there you can (both) make an informed decision about where you go from here.<br />
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Just a hint, you must be straight down the line, no bullshit. If, something she wants is something you cannot or will not do, don't bullshit her and say something you don't mean. You can only hope that she will accord you the same respect by not bullshitting you.<br />
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Tread your own path.

i was married for 18 years had 3 children and there was no love - i realised that once i wasnt distracted by the kids anymore when they became adults my marriage was all about them not us. <br />
i feel for u...xo