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I Grew Up In A Sexless Marriage

I was tempted to join this group, not because I live in a sexless marriage but because I grew up in one.   I first posted this story in the "I Believe In the Sanctity of Marriage Group" and was urged by friends and others to repost it here.  I didn't post it here at first because I would have felt like an interloper.  But my friends have made me feel like an invited guest, so I have the courage to say what I'm going to say here on this group knowing it might be challenging and confronting but will nevertheless be received kindly.

I came on EP to write a weight loss blog and found that one of the largest if not the largest group here is for people living in sexless marriages.  I wish I had the answer.  But as you all know, it just aint that simple.  I do however have some reflections to share from what I have personally lived through and the more we share and talk about these things the more light comes to our understanding.  So, for what it is worth, I am going to share something of what it was like from a child's point of view.

I wanted to talk about my parents' "marriage".  I put marriage in inverted commas because I question whether it was ever a valid marriage.  My mother and father were both baptised Christians when they married for the second time in a registry office, their previous spouses still alive.  My brother and sister and I were born out of wedlock. Please understand that I am looking at this from the Christian perspective.  When I talk about "validity" and "invalidity" I am meaning it in a specific context, i.e. whether in the sight of God the Sacrament of Matrimony takes place.  In my parents' case, given that it was a case of remarriage for each of them, and outside the Church, I would dare to say it probably didn't.

Are you feeling outraged, dear viewer?  That I am scrutinizing my own parents' marriage and passing judgement on it?  Well, I dare to, because whether or not the marriage is valid goes to the heart of whether or not it can or should be saved when it goes horribly wrong.

My father passed away in July last year, and left his books to my mother.  They had separated about twelve years previously, if my memory serves me correctly.  And we, their children, jumped for joy when they did because it was a dreadful situation when they were together.

More about that in a minute.  Why did I mention the books?  Well, in the early days of their relationship, their big thing was to go to the library, borrow 20 books each, read them, then swap them over and read the other person's.  Doesn't that sound neat?  I would just LOVE it if someone in my life would do that with me.  That would, I imagine, give a couple a lot to talk about.  Even after Dad died, Mum lovingly sorted through his books and categorized them and arranged them on her own shelves and has since been reading them.  But there were other things that cemented their togetherness too, besides the four children.  They were involved in the community Progress Association and had meetings in our home.  They got things done in the community, like the kindergarten they set up and all the tree planting they did.

And then, one day about the time I was 9 years old, they stopped having sex.  I know, because my mother told me.  Why?  I don't know.  But I do know that they were no longer borrowing books from the library, reading them and swapping them.  I do know that my mother was now working night shift and they were hardly together at the same time any more.  And I do know that it was also around that time that my father started having extra marital affairs.

And I want to say something about what it was like growing up in this situation.  My mother was lonely and she started confiding all her thoughts, fears and problems in her children.  My younger sister was barely school age when she started having to take on the burden of adult responsibilities.  And this has affected her deeply.  When the cracks in the marriage finally came to the surface and disintregation was inevitable, my father started confiding in me, and I told him in no uncertain terms that I am not a marriage guidance counsellor and as a parent he should not be discussing such things with his child.  But the fact is, we already had many long years of experience dealing with the marital problems via my mother, and that was in the years when we were too young to know how to draw the line.

My parents were never talking at any close level, and like the absence of sex, absence of communication is another symptom of a relationship that lacks intimacy.  An they were never talking at a close level with us about our own fears, hopes and joys. Instead, they were too wrapped up in their own world of devastation.  So communication was all superficial.  My mother became expert at pretending that everything is alright.  She never addressed the issues with my father.

And there were some pretty big issues.  Like, children.  My Mum adored kids and wanted a large family.  My father put the brakes on after he was criticized for having four already by his sister.  My mother resented her sister-in-law's interference and patronizing judgment.  My older brother was treated abusively by my father and there was never any serious intervention from my mother.  Although it was never discussed, we as children worked it out that his parentage was different. 

No, it all got swept under the carpet.  My father coped by having affairs, and us kids lived with the fallout from this on my devastated mother.  To see Mum hurt like that hurt us to the core.  It made us feel insecure, like our whole world was collapsing.  But as long as my miserable mother continued to cook and clean for him, they both tolerated the situation.  You know how that felt for us kids?  Just dreadful.  We felt insecure.  We felt powerless.  We didn't like the atmosphere at home.

It had become a massively dysfunctional family, with both parents being emotionally unavailable.   There was abuse going on and everybody hiding it.  My older brother was my father's whipping post.  I could say a lot more.  We were all affected in different ways.  My brother would get flogged to within an inch of his life.  I remember my brother marking off the days  days on the calendar till he would be old enough to leave home.  14 years and 7 months.  I did try phoning the police once when I was about 9 but I knew the embarassment would kill my mother so I  hung up.  I was already trying to protect my mother's feelings.  In the end, my brother committed suicide.  And no-one's feelings were protected then.

A marriage with no sex is a sick place to be, unless of course there are health reasons.  It should be telling you that you need to talk to your spouse and I would say, based on my own experience, that this should be with a mediator.  That is because you either lack communication skills, or there is too big an imbalance of power in the situation.  You need to establish such things as whether your marriage is really valid, or what you can do to create more time together, or what you can do to reestablish intimacy.  This is especially true when children are involved no matter how old they are.

By the time my parents finally separated a whole heap of upset had happened involving their grandchildren.  Mediators were contacted and refused to become involved because, as they said, the situation is too far gone.  The situation was, we could not visit my parents with my father there and my father was keeping my mother a prisoner in the home.

Sick marriages have repurcussions for children and grandchildren.  They destroy everybody's happiness.  They are like a millstone tied around your neck, robbing you of the flowering and develpment that happens in a close and loving environment. That is all I wanted to say.  Hopefully for some it will shed light on the situation.
perseverer perseverer 51-55, F 62 Responses Mar 19, 2011

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Wow I don't know what to say except.... thank you. I'm sorry for the pain you have gone through but thank you for sharing this story with all of us to really think about something so simple (at least you would think that initially) as sex in a marriage.

Thank you, Excellency and Longrun for your thoughts and comments. The funny thing us, when I look back on my childhood, I do not see it as being a sad one. Most of the time it was awesome. There were sad chapters, but a lot of good times, too.

I want to say something sad, but I know you probably are moving on, so I don't want to bring back anything from this story. <br />
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Your EP name is fitting indeed---a perserverer.

KataGrete, thank you for your empathy. My heart goes out to everyone suffering these marital dilemmas. Both my parents suffered terribly, especially my mother. I always welcome sharing and discussion as any wisdom gained, whether from my own experience growing up, or from what friends have generously shared, helps to complete the picture of what goes wrong and what we can do to preserve our sanity and self esteem. I appreciate your kind affirmations and the fact that you cared enough to leave your sweet and thoughtful comment. Blessings to you in abundance!

What a beautiful ending! Thank you so much for sharing it and God bless you and your family.

Thank you!!! After my dads death my mom lived 7 years,and the great new is that she finally let Jesus come into her heart, and she started attending church constantly, with my husband, children, and sister.<br />
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She was very kind and would share great wisdom with the young ladies. She became a great assest for the kingdom of God right here on earth!!!!!

Nananelson, thank you for this beautiful letter with its dramatic truth. You have conveyed what you wanted to say very well and to great affect, I think. My first observation would be your father's wisdom at the end of his life, about leaving his first wife for a prettier woman, that he knew that this was the wrong thing to do and he probably regarded the suffering he incurred in his subsequent remarriage as just punishment for his action. The second observation I would make is the kindness of God, that whatever the mess is we make of our lives, He is there drawing good out of it and never, ever abandoning us. That your mother's affair ended in such a tragic and abrupt manner is not surprising to me as time and time again I see retribution striking swiftly for the sake of the elect. <br />
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My own father died knowing he was forgiven and loved and in a manner that left me thinking that he made his peace with God. Family is a powerful thing, even a sexless or otherwise dysfunctional family. You have given me much to think about. Thank you once again.

I am not a good writer as everyone is, please bear with me, I came to EP by accident trying to find out how to write what I cannot share with those that I know.<br />
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But I am also a Christian who have gone through many challenges in my life, messed up alot, but still I thank God for his mercy.<br />
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My parents life was the opposite, my Dad was a true born again Christian, and my Mom was the one who had an extra marital affair on him. My two older siblings received Christ in their life after they got grown, and started college, my older brother was at home, and my older sister went to another state.<br />
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I remember very vividly about my moms affair, she would take us with her sometimes and leave as a decoy, or to throw my dad off,sometimes I think that he knew, you see he was twenty years older than my mom.<br />
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She would drill us not to tell in fear of my dad killing her. This other man in her life made my Christmas look so big, because I go gifts from my dad, and him. but a little 5 to 11 year old would think that this was the life. See I didn't understand at that time what was going on, only if I wanted my mom to live, not to tell, and I didn't, but kept it bottled in my mind.<br />
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Well back to after my brother and sister accepted Jesus in their life, my dad was truly blessed because his prayers were answered. They warned this guy, and I hope Ep don't get the wrong idea concerning this, to stop seeing my mom or God would intervin<br />
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This man called my mom for a date, she could not make it, that evening he was involved in a bad accident, when his car broke down on the freway, he was DOA on arrival to the hospital.<br />
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Both my mom and dad are deceased not, but they lived some twenty more years in a sexless marriaige, before my dad died he shared with me on how he shouldn't left his frist wife to marry my mom because she was so pretty, well I wouldn't be here if he stayed with his first wife.<br />
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Moxxie, you are a brave strong independent woman of great strength of character. I admire you enormously. Each of us has his / her own "path" (I wonder where I got that? lol!!), and you are following your's. Know you have my complete support as you do.

Perseverer, each situation is so unique to the individuals. I love my children but I am no martyr. If I had endured the verbal/physical abuse that your mother experienced, I would have been long gone. The truth is that no marriage is perfect due to our human failings. At some point in every marriage, we are faced with the decision to stay or leave. I just believe that the decision becomes very complicated when minor children are involved. I don't endorse staying in a relationship just for the sake of the kids. It was a priority for me, I stayed for many reasons including financial security, which may not be too noble but it was emminently practical! <br />
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Enna, I always appreciate your comments and insights. I also wondered what my children knew so recently I made discreet inquiries during conversations with my children and the resulting answers I got actually surprised me. They do not know that their father and I have lived a sexless life. They do know we had a less than perfect marriage. They know we had big problems with communication. This is okay, this is real life and they understand no relationship is perfect. So at this time, I think it is just wiser to keep the sexlessness to myself. <br />
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When I first came to EP, I was at a pinnacle of my anger and ready to exit my marriage. But life happens and my spouse became very ill with cancer. I stayed to help him out of compassion and concern for another human being. Call it codependancy or whatever but the benefit to me is that my anger has abated considerably. This past year has drawn us closer and I am more at peace even though the marriage is still sexless. Right now, my heart says to stay and so I will. It is just not my time to leave and it may never be. <br />
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But Enna, I think you did the right thing for you and Baz. It was your time!

Mox, my heart goes out to you. I urge you to recognise that your adult children will be sad about your situation - for both their parents. But they will NOT be devastated by the sexual part of the equation IMO. There is no need for them to know how LONG this has been going on - just that it is the reality now and that you can no longer tolerate it.<br />
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You might be surprised and find they have known, or at least suspected, this was the case for a long time. Once adult children are in sexual relationships of their own, they can clearly see that this is NOT happening for their parents. . . . if that is the case. <br />
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They may well think YOU are happy with the status quo - altho your discussions with them have probably given them cause to think otherwise . . . . <br />
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And you have at least another twenty years of good life ahead of you. Ask yourself this:<br />
"If my children knew, when standing around my death bed, that I had stayed in my marriage simply because I did not want them to think ill of their Dad, what would they say?"

MoxxieM thank you so much for your thoughtful and balanced comment. You are very brave. And I agree with you, that a process of deep introspection needs to take place when a marriage is in trouble, and that if the children are secure and happy within their family home, that their welfare should be considered above all. I applaud the fact that you and your husband are able to be civil and courteous to each other. Unfortunately, my father only began to appreciate the importance of this after my mother left him, and he tried many times in the years following to get her to go out with him, but her judgment about the situation was keener for the separation and she had no desire whatsoever to get embroiled in his abusive pattern of relating again. May I also add that I was impressed by the manner in which you spoke of your husband, He has obviously caused you deep unhappiness, yet you spoke of him kindly. I pray for peace and resolution for you, too.

Perserverer, I have come late to this discussion. I thank you for posting your story. The issue of how a sexless marriage affects the children (if any) born into that situation has troubled me for a long time. I appreciate your story because it comes from both your personal childhood experience and the insightful, educated perspective of a mature adult. <br />
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I have just spent considerable time reading and reading and reading all the comments. There were so many comments that struck a chord with me. I wholeheartedly believe that children are formed and influenced by their upbringing and environment and carry many beliefs, values and perspectives into their adult relationships. <br />
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I also believe that each relationship is unique. If there are no children involved, I encourage the person to leave a sexless marriage/relationship and begin again. But when the relationship involves young children, I believe that the decision to stay or leave a sexless marriage becomes very complex and ALL facets of the marriage and family life must be evaluated to determine the best course of action for EVERY family member. For example, while a sexless marriage is very difficult to live in day by day, the seperation from a loving parent may be more traumatic for the children and so their welfare comes first. <br />
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I made such a choice almost 23 years ago. My marriage became sexless due to several issues, foremost being my spouse's difficulty with intimacy and communication. However my spouse was not verbally cruel or physically abusive to me. We were and have always remained civil and courteous to each other. I had 3 young children and while my marriage was horribly flawed, my spouse adored his children and was a loving, caring father. First and most importantly, if I left their father, my children would have lost his day to day presence in their lives and all the wonderful benefits of his parenting on a daily basis. Secondly, if I left I would have plunged my children into poverty, an unnecessary financial hardship I did not want to inflict on my children. <br />
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I stayed. Did I live a lie? Yes, in regards to portraying a "happy" marriage. No, in regards to having a happy family life. My children were happy, secure and well cared for. Together, my spouse and I are very good, loving parents. We just were not too good in the intimacy issues.<br />
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I thought when the children were grown, I would leave. But the "lie" now bites me! My children know that we did not have a perfect life. All families have issues. But..., they don't know about the sexlessness. I just don't want them to know because they love their dad so much that I think it would be detrimental to their relationship with him if they knew he had such severe sexual dysfunction issues. I stay for other reasons now too, but the "lie" is one of the top reasons.<br />
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Meanwhile, I talk to my adult children frequently about the importance of adult sexuality in loving relationships and really stress that sexual problems are a sign of relationship/communication problems that should not be ignored. <br />
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Each situation is unique. The decision to stay or go cannot be made without careful, thoughtful deliberation if there are children involved. I believe for me and my family, I made the right decision but only time will tell. I pray for peace and resolution for all the ILIASM members. It is the most I can offer to so many heartbroken people.

perseverer - You got it right. I think whenever someone "challenges" another's way of thinking, then no matter how much you try not to get your panties in a twist, it will still happen. <br />
Thank you for giving me a lot to think about and to perhaps see things in a different light. I'm going to keep going strong and hopefully my husband and I can work this out. Also good luck to you! :)

FairyGold - "...it was just a big misunderstanding..." True, but I wonder if it wasn't something else as well. As soon as comments to this story started appearing I recognized the nervous tension behind many of them, the nervous tension that comes from living in a stressful situation.<br />
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You get used to it and forget what it is doing to you. It was clear to me that people were reacting defensively because of the pain they are going through. It is entirely to your credit that you kept giving me the opportunity to explain what I was trying to say. Once the nervous tension was dissipated, it all became clearer. Thank you for your perseverance, and good luck with working through your issues.

Cumbersome - the handle you have on your situation is awesome. Your son has a wonderful, very wise and grounded Dad. He will come to appreciate that more and more as he gets older and learns how trustworthy your judgment is. <br />
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You have a lot resting on those big shoulders of yours. You REALLY need to be taking good care of yourself.<br />
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Options for coping with difficult marriages are just not that clear cut, are they. Man, it can get complicated. Your reasons for staying are very responsible and very sound. But do make sure you prioritize your own health. Much depends on it.

perseverer - Thanks for replying back! Now that you have clarified things, I can see that it was just a big misunderstanding. I guess I got a hold of the wrong end, which can sometimes happen when discussing things over the internet. <br />
I knew when I saw this statement from you "And in saying that marriage is meant to be sexual, it was never meant to denigrate the love between a couple who for medical or mental health reasons can no longer have sex. Not at all." Yup, you got it! <br />
I'm also not trying to say that living in a sexless marriage due to physical/mental reasons is peaches and cream all the time either. There are still issues that need to be worked out before you can reach a point where you feel content with the whole situation, which is why I am here.<br />
Thanks again for sharing your story and comments!

FairyGold,<br />
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There is a quote from your previous letter that I thought was marvellous and I would like to republish it here:<br />
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"It is very hard to get the refuser to see that life shouldn't be like this and that they need help. You could compare it to trying to help an alcoholic or drug addict. To them, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way that they are living. They think that they do not have a problem, YOU have a problem with their addiction (or lack of sex.)"<br />
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Now, how on earth do two such people end up in a marriage together? I am convinced that it doesn't just happen. At any rate, there is the all important challenge; how DO you get the refuser (or the addict or the mental health person) to see that they shouldn't be living like that? From where I am coming from, an important first step is to actually get to the point where you realize that YOU are part of the problem too.<br />
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It was jumping ahead to that step that made me classify it as a background issue. So sorry for confusing you, FairyGold, it is not what you said, but the inference I very quickly drew from it. I do believe that background consideration is just as important for a refusal situation as it is for an alcoholic or mental illness one. I could be wrong. It is just a strong hunch.<br />
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FairyGold, I can assure you, I am not being sarcastic. Not that on occasion I can't be sarcastic, but certainly not in such a forum as this.<br />
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Now, for the very important points you raised about people who cannot, for medical reasons, engage in sex. Those specific instances are not beyond help and help should be sought. But if there was a serious reason that sex could never be performed, even right from the outset - let's say because of physical deformity - then from my point of view, as a devout Catholic, that would be an impediment to marriage. THAT is how important it is to us Micks that marriage is meant to be sexual. As for other occurring patholigies, my heart goes out to the spouses who have to lovingly support their loved ones in spite of the absence of sex. No, you don't abandon someone jsut because they are sick. I knew a man whose wife became severely schiszophrenic and had to be permanently hospitalized. He was so faithful to her, and never stopped caring for her. The example he set to his children was heroic and superb.<br />
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But please do not construe by that that I stand in judgment of someone who just cannot stand it. No, indeed, my heart goes out to you, too. Until we have been in those shoes we do not know how we ourselves would act.<br />
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"People are unhappy i their sexless marriage because of the lack of love and affection that usually accompanies sex."<br />
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Beautifully put, FairyGold. Sex is not a commodity, devoid of emotional intimacy. Where there is sexlessness, so often (but not always) there is also emotional deprivation. I do recognize the suffering that is in these marriages. And in saying that marriage is meant to be sexual, it was never meant to denigrate the love between a couple who for medical or mental health reasons can no longer have sex. Not at all.<br />
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And the thing about kids always knowing that their parents are sexless....no, FairyGold, I did not say that. That was an inference drawn from what I said about kids knowing more than we give them credit for.<br />
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Let me reiterate. I am not "lumping everything into one category." I said that marriage is meant to be sexual, not that all marriages are at every time able to be sexual. I can't remember if I was at all categorical about thinking spouses of refusers are necessarily codependents, it was just a model that I found helpful. If I did sound categorical and dogmatic about it then I most sincerely apologize. And I never said that I always think kids know if their parents are sexless, just that kids are pretty cluey and will absorb the pathology in the adult relationship even if they know nothing specific about it.<br />
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Your anecdote about your own parents' divorce is most relevant and illustrates the harm that results from unecessarily destroying a child's whole world. In my own situation, I am glad I stuck it out. But please do not infer that I am being judgmental of those who do not. As you have said, everybody's marriage is different, and I would not blame someone if they thought that I, as a child, should have been removed from the harmful impact of my father.

Cumbersome,<br />
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Yes, you really are a man I admire. You are brave, strong and hyper critical, as anyone living in a NDP relationship needs to be. You have big shoulders and one of the warmest most caring hearts I have seen. You can reach into the horrible messes in other people's lives and offer consolation just by appreciating the beauty that is in the sufferer's soul.<br />
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And what a survivor you are. Instead of acting purely in your own interests you have sacrificed your possible happiness in a relationship to keep your child's world as secure as possible. I really admire that. <br />
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I am so sorry that you lost your own folks so early in life at an age when you needed guidance. And you said it all, "Survival is the only option." And here's to the marvellous resilience built into human nature.<br />
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When I said that I am honoured that someone I admire even read my story let alone commented on it, it doesn't mean I think I am undeserving! I am a best selling author for goodness sake! It just means that it means a lot to me that you read it and took as much interest in it as you did. And in spite of my literary success, it always has and always will mean a lot to me when someone reads my work whose perspective I respect.<br />
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When I said, "But it was extraordinary, the need he had to go right into it and make sense of it," you might be amused to know I could say exactly the same thing about myself. I assure you I would never be sarcastic about such important issues. I was recognizing that you were picking up on important elements, even if you weren't at that stage articulating their importance to yourself but rather reacting defensively. You most emphatically do not come across as a confused person. On the contrary, you know your demons and you have been processing through them.<br />
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"What a background produced that response"....no, Cumbersome, I am not being sarcastic. And I made that statement not knowing the first thing about your background. If I could use a comparison to illustrate what I was trying to say, my friend Shepherdess said in my story about my daughter, "I know you." Now, she was not in my friendship circle at that time and in reality she does not know me. But she meant, "I recognize you." And now that we are friends, it is true that we have so much in common in our circumstances that it does feel like we recognized each other. In your case, I recognized in your response a background involving dealing with personality disorders. It was just a very strong hunch that turned out to be spot on. Just as Shepherdess's hunch that I had a family dealing with multiple mental health issues turned out to be spot on.<br />
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Codependance is not the dirty word for me that it appears to be for everyone else. No, it doesn't mean I thought you went along with everything your wife said and did any more than I went along with everything my husband said or did. To me, codependence means that inadvertantly I was propping up my husband's and sons' illness. I could never have discerned that in myself. And I am inclined to agree with FairyGold that refusal is kind of like an illness. When I was first confonted with this notion, I reacted quite strongly because I thought I was doing everything to help the situation, not fester it. In the years since I have understood codependence and embraced that aspect of my personality, I have come to appreciate its strengths. It does make you able to survive hairy situations. It does make you super responsible. It does make you able to achieve in spite of your interior grief. But it is a demon you have to guard against. It can facillitate an illness without you even realizing it. You do have to step back and let go.<br />
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Cumbersome, there is no way in the world I would hurl something like codependence as an accusation. It is not a weakness either, in my opinion. And if it doesn't apply to you, then what the heck! Ignore it! It's no skin off my nose. I am not the one living in a sexless marriage. Just a mental illness one. It was just a theory that kind of fitted, from where I am coming from.<br />
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"Also, without the pain we go through, we would never achieve the depths of pleasure either."That is exactly how I feel about my marriage and I very much appreciated this comment. And no, Cumbersome, I know you are not trying to attack me. You are someone who really needs to tease out the truth. I totally get where you are coming from.

perseverer - Umm thanks....I think. I don't know if you are trying to be sarcastic or not, I don't pick up on things like that so well. I'll just say thank you to be on the safe side.<br />
I'm going to say that I disagree that all marriages are meant to be sexual. Some people have no choice whether they can have sex or not. Some men have problems with erectile dysfunction, low testosterone, etc. Some women have hormonal problems (such as menopause) or they have painful disorders like Endometriosis. Some spouses have horrible illnesses that make everyday a living hell for them. <br />
How are they supposed to put that aside? They can't. Sure some things can be helped along with medication, but not all things. Should these people never marry because they can't fulfill the sexual aspect of their marriage?<br />
The same can be said of people with severe mental illnesses or victims of sexual abuse. If they are still capable of showing love in other ways to their spouse, then what is sex? I think a lot of people would agree that they aren't unhappy in their sexless marriage because of SEX. You can get sex anytime if you really try. People are unhappy in their sexless marriage because of the lack of love and affection that usually accompanies sex. <br />
If you have a situation where it is impossible for your spouse to have sex but you love each other, then you have to decide whether sex is important or love is important. It is not so cut and dry! All marriages are not meant to be sexual because not all marriages CAN be sexual. <br />
I don't really understand what you mean by "And finally I am having a good laugh, because what you said about the background impacting on the present is exactly what I have been trying to say all along." This leaves me very puzzled. Where is this coming from? Did I talk about backgrounds?<br />
Maybe I'm just slow, I have no idea.<br />
Also the thing about kids secretly knowing that their parents marriage is sexless is not always true. I can guarantee it, I know this from my own experience. I had not even the slightest clue that my parents were sexless. I didn't even know that they had any problems, until the day that they told me they were getting divorced! I'm not kidding either. I guess that is why I found it so traumatizing. I thought they were the perfect married couple and then they dropped a huge bomb on me. <br />
Just out of curiosity, why do you feel the need to lump everything into one category? I'm not trying to make a joke, but is it your codependency and your need to organize? I just find it interesting that you seem to think all marriages are meant to be sexual, that all the refused people are codependent, that all children know about their parents' sexless marriage, that everything in the present is due to something in the past, etc. What about not all situations and people are the same? Everyone has a different story, everyone has a different spouse, and everyone has a different marriage.

FairyGold, I hope my reply to Cumbersome answered your concerns about the "living a lie" statement. I ONLY meant it in the context that all marriages are meant to be sexual. I have no doubt that you and Cumbersome are doing an excellent job in your most trying circumstances.<br />
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FairyGold, I appreciate your reflections about the role played by mental illness in refusal situations. And the good news is that mental illnesses can be understood and worked with in many cases. I think that applies equally to whether the mental illness concerns the refuser or the refused. At least, I can say that for me, in my situation, understanding it and getting counselling over it made a whole heap of difference.<br />
<br />
And finally I am having a good laugh, because what you said about the background impacting on the present is exactly what I have been trying to say all along.<br />
<br />
Thank you for your gracious reply.

Cumbersome<br />
<br />
"Who is someone like me?"A devout Catholic with a devout Catholic's understanding about marriage and about sex in marriage.<br />
<br />
"Are you different in some way?"<br />
<br />
Considering the group, "I Am a Devout Catholic" has only 7 members, I would dare to say that yes, I probably am different to most. So I will try to explain a little more about who I am and what I meant.A devout Catholic is someone who really believes in and lives the Catholic Faith. <br />
<br />
When it comes to marriage, sex is integral to the very definition of the word. For Catholics like me, all other relationships are celibate.Sex in marriage differentiates it from other relationships. It has the highest priority. To refuse sex would be considered a mortal sin, worthy of hellfire. In my story, "Once We Were Sexless But Now We Are Sexy As" I admitted to refusing my husband for a time and I tried to explain how that came about. And it was reading a book about the life of a married saint that made me realise that what I was doing was wrong, in spite of my injured feelings and insecurity. Imagine if I did not have that Catholic formation and never came across such a book with such a lived example of the Faith? A marriage in which a partner is refusing sex would be considered a marriage in crisis.<br />
<br />
When I said, "I wish you could see how you come across to someone like me" it was in response to the notion that children can grow up unaffected if affairs are kept secret. I was trying to highlight that for someone like me, a devout Catholic, though I agree with you 100% about adults keeping their affairs to themselves, I must disagree that children will remain unaffected. And that is because of what I believe is happening in a spiritual and psychological sense.<br />
<br />
FairyGold maintained that her children are fine and don't know about her sexlessness. And it may come as some surprise for you all to know that in spite of the shadow over my childhood, I still think of it as a happy one. I am sure my parents would have thought I was just fine - a happy, playful child with friends and doing well at school. Nothing obvious in my health or behaviour to warrant concern. <br />
<br />
Nevertheless, I married a man with BPD and Depression. Is that a coincidence? I don't think so. Is that the end of the world? No. In fact, having worked through it all and come out the other side, it just makes me love him all the more dearly.<br />
<br />
"Are you superior to any other person here on EP? or in ILIASM?"<br />
<br />
No, I am not superior to any other person here on EP or in ILIASM. But I do have this advantage - I live in a happy, sexually fulfilled marriage.That does not make me a superior person; it makes me a more fortunate person, and I am humble and grateful about it.<br />
<br />
Considering that at one stage our marriage was sexless but is now intimate, I feel that I have a winning perspective. It does not mean I have the answer for everyone. But it does mean that I found the treasure buried in the field.<br />
<br />
I feel blessed. I won't say it was all God's work and we had nothing to do with it because my husband and I co-operated with God's grace. We did the work. We went through having someone come into our home every week for years. We built up a support network to cope withthe mental health issues. We erected boundaries, we scrutinized our behaviour towards one another and to our children. We were answerable to authorities and we answered them. I should explain here what I mean by "authorities". In a psychiatric situation, some areas give psychiatric personnel authority to uplift children if they think that mental illness is going to impact on their health. We were accountable for getting our problems dealt with.<br />
<br />
And we stayed together, through thick and thin. We moved overseas to get away from the sick family. And we moved overseas again to get new employment after the one we were in was toxic to the point of impacting on my husband's mental health. <br />
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We protected and built upon our Catholic marriage and moved into a community of other devout Catholics.We both work in a traditional Catholic School. All the children in our school come from families which have the same values as ours.<br />
<br />
It is, in a sense, a very romantic community. The sense of marriage and family life is very strong. The children in our community tend to marry fairly young and have lots of children. There is a pride and an opnness about the beauty of marriage that was especially attractive to me, given my background. It has taught me a lot.<br />
<br />
I found a light to guide my steps through a complicated and difficult marriage. I weathered the storms in a spirit of faith. And from where I am at now I can truly say, keep plugging at it. With the grace of God, everything is possible.

perseverer - Don't even worry about it. I missed your comment anyway, so what I don't know won't hurt me! We are all human and sometimes even the best of us lash out. I've been guilty on quite a few occasions. <br />
Sometimes I also forget that there is a real person on the other side of the screen. I get too involved in the actual discussion and things don't always come out sounding right. I guess sometimes I think of the discussion in a logical sense only and not in an emotional way. In other words, I like to play devil's advocate on occasion. <br />
One thing that I wanted to throw out there as food for thought....I wanted to jump back into the "living a lie" thing. I get where you are trying to go with this and yes, it may be true in situations where the marriage is not only sexless but abusive. It works when the refuser is using sex as a form of control, punishment, etc. <br />
You stated that marriage is meant to be sexual. Yes, it is supposed to be that way for normal people. But a refuser spouse is not normal by whatever normal standards may be. In my opinion, it is up to refused spouse to decide whether the reason for the lack of sex is legit or not. <br />
I think a great deal of sexless marriages can be contributed to mental issues and health issues. I don't want to offend anyone, but I don't think a lot of them are because the refuser is an awful person who wants to make everyone's life a living hell. Maybe a small percent, but not too many. It wouldn't make any sense. Why would someone live like that? They would be punishing themselves too. If that were the case, then it would take us right back to mental illness. <br />
The refused spouse has to again weigh the pros and cons. A lot of people live with "sick" spouses whether it be physical or mental. It could be Diabetes, Bipolar Disorder, Cancer, Asperger's Syndrome, so on and so forth...I'm sure at some point during any marriage there will be a hurdle like this to overcome. <br />
Perhaps being sexless is also a "sickness". I'm not trying to be funny or downplay this. I think this could very well be true. In a lot of cases unfortunately, I think it is a longterm illness. It is very hard to get the refuser to see that life shouldn't be like this and that they need help. You could compare it to trying to help an alcoholic or drug addict. To them, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way that they are living. They think that they do not have a problem, YOU have a problem with their addiction (or lack of sex). <br />
So is it living a lie if you decide not to abandon your "sick" spouse? Every marriage has some sort of little hiccup...are they all living lies? <br />
I've never met one couple in my whole life where everything was dandy and perfect in their relationship. Maybe to other people they appeared to be perfect, because there is no need to air your dirty laundry in public. Couples have problems all the time and they should keep them secret from their children. No parent should unload their problems on their child. <br />
If you love your spouse and you are sticking by them and trying to make it work....tell me how that is living a lie? It would be living a lie if you didn't love your spouse. I'm not stupid. A lot of people here give off the notion that they could really care less about their refuser spouse. Why are they still with them though? It couldn't be because they actually love them, now could it?<br />
What my children see is really what they get. If I laugh with their father, it is because I want to laugh. If I joke with him, it is because I want to joke. If I play a game of Yahtzee with him, it is because I want to play. None of it is made up for the children's benefit. <br />
My husband and I have a problem IN the bedroom. Obviously my children are never going to see THAT. I'm not fooling them into believing anything, because that aspect is none of their business.<br />
What they get is a normal loving Mom and Dad. Yes, you can be in a sexless marriage that is not loveless. <br />
That to me is the difference between living a lie or not. Are you trying to convince your children that there is still love between Mom and Dad when there isn't? That is a lie. Are you in a loving marriage, but neglecting to tell your children about your sexual problems? That is not a lie.

CUMBERSOME<br />
<br />
When I said, "You are living a lie," I meant it in just one sense and one sense only: that marriage is meant to be a sexual relationship.<br />
<br />
So all your rhetoric about whether you, FairyGold and GaDiddy are "living a lie" because you choose to stay for the children is a distortion of what I was saying, which you have taken out of context and used to misrepresent me.<br />
<br />
"I still think you could have listened to what he would have to say for himself over one cup of coffee. Not that you owed him but that maybe it could have brought closure for you."<br />
<br />
Closure for what? I knew what the situation was. There was no question in my mind at all about what the problems were or who the main problem was. The one big question I did have was how on earth did someone as wonderful as my mother end up with someone like my father? And Cumbersome, I have you to thank for helping me to find the answer because of your excellent posts on Narcissistic Personality Disorder.<br />
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As for that cup of coffee...This is what it was like trying to talk with Dad:<br />
<br />
Me: Hello, Dad, how are you?<br />
Dad: Alright. I am writing an article about how we need to wake up and recognize reality and stop all this religious nonsense. <br />
<br />
Me: We've been down this road before Dad and that's not what I wanted to talk about...<br />
<br />
Dad: You know the Muslims have built a mosque in Hobart<br />
.<br />
Me: Dad, can I ask you something about Mum?"<br />
<br />
Dad: The politicians are making a big mistake letting so many muslims into the country.<br />
<br />
In other words, he talked at you, not with you, and delighted in being as offensive as possible. I have had many attempted conversations with Dad, and they all were about his agenda and his agenda only, which was anti religion, pro climate change, pro overpopulation and what a wonderful person he is and how many people have acknowledged him for being such an amazing person.<br />
<br />
So although I tried and tried and tried, it wasn't until the very last time I saw him alive that I felt we connected at all. you can read about it in my story, "A Catholic Daughter's Obituary for her Atheist Father" in the "I Am Catholic" group.<br />
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"Parents hiding their affair from the children repulsive? I don't think ANY children should be exposed to an affair that one of their parents is having whether the child is 5 or 50."<br />
<br />
You missed in this quote the bit of my quote which says, "...to 'protect' the children..." and that was the all important bit.<br />
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What I find repulsive is the notion that children can be protected from the breakdown in the marriage just because the affair is being kept secret. The affair is just a manifestation of a whole range of interpersonal anomalies in the relationship. I totally agree that affairs should be kept hidden from children. But thinking you are "protecting" your children from your sick marriage just because you keep the affair secret is a form of self-deception. Granted, in a difficult marriage you just have to do the best you can.<br />
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What do you mean, "At what age should children be allowed to live a lie?" That is SUCH a distortion of what I said that words almost fail me.<br />
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Children learn about ways of relating in an ozmosis like way. They absorb what they grow up with. If the marriage is sick, if a parent is emotionally unavailable, the impacts heavily on a child. As an adult, that child will be attracted psychologically to someone who will challenge them to resolve this unresolved aspect of their childhood.<br />
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It was in the context of the question of whether parents should stay or leave that I said, "A lot depends upon the age of the child and the degree of acrimony between the parents."<br />
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It was much easier for me as an adult to accept my parents' split than it would have been when I was a 9 year old child. When my father had the first affair I imagined that he was going to walk out on my mother, and it made me feel very insecure. I was relieved when life went on as before. That is, until my brother got his next beating. <br />
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In your situation, I do believe that you are making the right decision by staying. It is your son's best chance for safety, security and stability.

CUMBERSOME<br />
<br />
"My answer was that Perseverer's childhood review and implying that the 'sexless marriage' was the cause of the pain and unhappiness."<br />
<br />
"The cause was not the sexless marriage. There was too much other stuff going on."<br />
<br />
"Sick marriages have repurcussions for children and grandchildren."<br />
<br />
Cumbersome, something went terribly wrong in my parents' marriage. In my opinion, sexlessness and abuse were all manifestations of the same root cause, the breakdown in the adult relationship. In the case of the breakdown of MY parents' relationship the consequences were even more severe because of what each of them brought into the marriage in terms of their own background of dysfunction.<br />
<br />
I thought flying stone put it quite well. "Perhaps the lack of intimacy underscored the dysfunction of not being able to support each other and being open. It is a way of closing off the other person and not acknowledging them."<br />
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I am not trying to say that sexlessness caused physical and sexual abuse and prompted extra marital affairs. But rather, that the dynamics in the relationship broke down; the marriage then became characterized by sexlessness, physical abuse, sexual abuse and extra marital affairs.<br />
<br />
I see all those factors as being symptoms of the one cause - the breakdown in the adult relationship. Not the breakdown in EVERY adult relationship, but certainly in the breakdown of my parents' relationship.<br />
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I can just as easily say that it does not necessarily follow that because a couple is sexless that they are unloving or irresponsible or are going to abuse their children.<br />
<br />
"In philomath's reply towards me 'maybe the father physically abused the mother too.'"<br />
<br />
No, he didn't. He just used to shut himself away in the garage with a flagon of wine and a big bag of crisps and hibernated there. <br />
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We, as children, embarassed him. My sister has Perthae's disease and was in broomstick plaster. He found it too humiliating to be seen in public with a disabled child. And after she was out of plaster, the habit of shunning us continued.<br />
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We were never good enough for him. He once told me that my head is too small for the rest of my body. Even when I was one place off being Dux of the school I wasn't good enough because I wasn't Dux.<br />
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With my mother he was like this over meals. Instead of eating the meal, he would shuffle the food around on his plate with his fork, complain that it wasn't to his liking, or had some condiment added to it and he wouldn't eat it as the food had been tampered with.<br />
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It took us decades to figure out he had already eaten out with his girlfriend and was feigning criticism to cover his lack of appetite.<br />
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You said to philomath, "So you're saying that the dad would not have had an affair? The mom would not have been lonely and leaned on the kids? The dad would not have given beatings? Or sexual abuse? All if the marriage was not sexless?"<br />
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Please note this was YOUR inference about what I was saying, not MINE.<br />
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The perspective I did try to emphasise, both in my story and in the correspondence following it is that a lot depends on whether the marriage is valid sacramentally.<br />
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In a valid sacramental marriage, the graces needed to cope with the trials in the relationship are there. And I was at pains to point out that I did not think my parents had a valid, sacramental marriage.<br />
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Therefore, it lacked grace.<br />
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Perverse tendencies that might have been tempered and brought into submission with prayer, were given free reign and just became worse with the passage of time.<br />
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To understand my father's treatment of my mother and his attitude towards his children - he was a user. He viewed us as ob<x>jects of his possible financial gain. He exploited us. He felt that he could do better than us. He used my brother, my mother's son to her first husband, as a whipping post and others as ob<x>jects of sexual gratification.<br />
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It was a power thing. He had a paedophile mentality. He thought that it was natural for children to have sex and that adults going overseas to solicit children in third world countries were doing them a favour.<br />
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So what I am saying is, it is worth considering the role, if any, that God plays in your marriage. Because the grace of God is what can bring healing in a situation as bad as my parents'.<br />
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When my husband and I were engaged as a Catholic couple, there was an inventory, the ob<x>ject of which was to discover any possible problems. It was very thorough. After doing the inventory we were taken through it by the priest.<br />
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We were thoroughly grounded in our responsibilities as Catholics - to welcome children lovingly as a gift from God. We attended evenings for engaged couples - and these were taken by a happily married couple who convened group discussions about a range of issues pertinent to marriage.<br />
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All this was missing from my parents' marriage. There was no safety net. In my opinion, this is especially true about the lack of sacramental grace.<br />
<br />
Can I be so sure? Can I really be so sure that the grace of God is what makes all the difference? And what would I say to other couples in an unhappy situation who are prayerful Christians? Or sincere servants of God?<br />
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All I know is this. I came into this marriage with every potential problem under the sun. My husband at one stage was diagnosed with BPD. And I have been through some pretty tough times. And I was a sincere, prayerful Christian in those times.<br />
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And now - we are happily married. That diagnosis could not be made of my husband now. He is a loving, caring attentive husband. We have survived 29 years of marriage and we have great times and great sex. We have created many, many, happy memories for our children, and that is in spite of all the mental health problems. <br />
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What has happened is a miracle of transformation. And in my opinion, that is a) because of God's grace and b) because we believed and persevered. We co-operated with God's grace by living a prayerful, sacramental life. And eventually, it came right. <br />
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Now to Baz's question about staying for the kids argument.<br />
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This has got, necessarily, to have everything to do with how well the parents can co-operate.<br />
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Let me give a reason for parents staying - me who jumped for joy when my own parents split. You are doing a great favour to the children if you can keep together their childhood home. Or, for that matter, as many pieces of a child's security as possible.<br />
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NOTE - it was not MY argument that the solution to sexlessnes is leaving and breaking up the child's whole world. MY argument is for a process of introspection about whether it is possible to save the marriage and then take appropriate steps to doing so. But also, that in a badly deteriorated and pathological situation it is better for the child to remove him from an abusive person.<br />
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I will add another argument from my own situation which is not a sexless one, but a mental health one.<br />
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There was a stage in our marriage when things were very bad because of psychosis. I was strongly encouraged to leave. I was even urged to leave. My mother begged me to leave. My husband's behaviour was seen as harmful to the children. Authorities threatened to "uplift" them and put them in foster homes.<br />
<br />
And I stayed. I told everyone - the doctors, the authorities, my mother - that you don't abandon someone because they are sick. I educated my children about mental illness. I told them we all had to expect some unpleasantness, but that it would pass, and Dad would get well again and stay well most of the time.<br />
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And he did.<br />
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Until I posted this story, I was not a member of ILIASM. I made it clear at the outset that I didn't post the story here at first because I felt like an interloper. So I can hardly be blamed for not realizing that people are inclined to favour leaving in this group. That is an argument that strikes me as being as specious as it is unreasonable. On that subject - no-one should judge but the couple it concerns. Unless, as in my parents' case, it is so sick that one party needs to be rescued from the other party.

P.S. I deleted my last comment because it was a case of me striking back cornered and was not exactly the best reflection. Apologies to FairyGold for my roughness. Thank you again for all the efforts.

Thank you all for reading and contributing. You have all helped me in different ways to gain insight.

perseverer - I think we are beating a dead horse. It was interesting to discuss anyway! :)<br />
GaDiddy - Thank you as always! :) You have excellent comments as well. I enjoy reading them, even if to some people they come across as harsh. I do get exactly what you are trying to say!

FairyGold, I agree with you about not overgeneralizing, but I still think that upbringing "magically" propels us towards certain people far more often than you concede. Take for example the paedophile's ability to pick victims of abuse in a crowd just by looking at them, or the powerful boom that is called, "love at first sight.". FairyGold, I think we will just have to agree to disagree.

Well, after hearing a more defined definition of codependency I am now very sure that I'm nothing like that. <br />
Organizing or taking control of a situation is definitely at the bottom of my list. I honestly could care less about things like that. You should see my house and then we will talk about organization or lack of. If somebody tries to put me in charge of something my first thought is "Oh crud. Isn't there somebody else who can do it?" <br />
I'm extremely laid back when it comes to 'management'. I think that a lot of people waste too much time or energy planning, instead of doing it. My father was one of these great planners and my sister and I teased him constantly because of it. I had the mindset that we should just get it done and if we didn't finish it then there was always tomorrow. That's me. I'm the "There is always tomorrow" person and most of the time tomorrow never comes.<br />
I wouldn't define myself as a procrastinator. I do get important things done, but if they aren't really so important then I never have the time or interest to care too much about them. I feel like people who obsess over things that don't really matter are missing out on chilling out and having fun.<br />
I also don't think all people are compelled to their sexless spouses because of underlying psychological reasons. What about the people in sexless marriages who had a 'normal' marriage up until something changed that? Or what about people like me who got married before even knowing that the sex issue would be a problem? <br />
I've had all sorts of relationships before my husband and sex was never an issue. I don't think I was magically compelled toward my husband because I was psychologically damaged growing up. <br />
I really think sometimes people search for a deeper meaning, when there is none. For a lack of a better quote, you know **** happens. <br />
We could back and forth all day trying to slap psychological labels on this or that, but in the end what does it achieve? If I decide to say "Yes, I am codependent and I was compelled toward my sexless husband" how does that change anything? I'm still me and I'm still in a sexless marriage. <br />
I know you will probably say something like it allows you to understand why you do certain things and then maybe you can change those things, etc. If I don't like something about myself then I do try to change it, without needing to delve so deeply into it. <br />
I guess I am just a person who hates labels. You can package inanimate ob<x>jects neatly into a little box, but you can't do that with people. Everything about each one of us, our personalities, our spouses, our marriages, so on and so forth are all different. <br />
Not every single one of us is codependent, not every single one of us was compelled toward our sexless spouse, and not every single refuser is playing a mind control game. Each situation is unique and I think it is useless to try and lump them all together and slap a label on it.

enna30 and Floridanewlife thank you both for supporting the notion that our upbringing influences the choices we make in partners. It is one of the central themes of my story, that what happens in your childhood home has repercussions further down the track. I did everything in my power to avoid marrying into problems. Did psychology, read books, became an expert on family dysfunction. And I still married someone with a mental health problem. The upbringing didn't turn out to be a life sentence, and the guy I married is a wonderful husband. But it wasn't always like that. I have had to do a lot of hard work including being challenged with my codependency.<br />
<br />
FairyGold, Wikipeadia makes codependency sound awful. The human face of codependency is kind of different. Instead of "controlling" read "organizer and manager". Instead of "passive" read "tolerant", and instead of "low self esteem" read "puts others first and sacrifices self to nurture."<br />
<br />
Codependents make great CEOs. They can take on a messy company and turn it around. They are great in disaster relief. They can bring order and comfort into life's most uncontrollable and messy situations. In a place requiring the human touch plus massive organization skills, like schools and hospitals, codependants really make it happen. <br />
<br />
While it is true that many people make great organizers and managers who are not codependants, codependants really get into the nitty gritty. They factor in the human considerations. They can't resist it. A codependant visiting ER will take in the whole organization of the place in almost a single glance and analyse its inefficiencies. And by the end of the visit the chief doctor will have confided his life's history and marital problems.<br />
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Codependents with a history of abuse are magnets for partners with intimacy problems. Or intimacy needs. That can be a strength ... but it can really be a huge problem too.<br />
<br />
Upbringing has a huge impact on adult interpersonal relationships. But so does environment. And to make sense of it and deal with the often inexplicable problems, like refusal, it can be most beneficial to go into therapy. Going into therapy was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. It really helped me to see how instead of being so strong and capable I needed to let go and let the messes happen. I stopped disempowering my husband. He stopped having the severe episodes he used to have. I know I have overgeneralized with the imputation of codependency in this group, but I do recognize certain characteristics, even in the comments received so far on this story.<br />
<br />
Take Cumbersome. This is a man I really admire, by the way. I never told him, I didn't enlist as a fan, but I like his great big generous heart, his ability to get into the nitty gritty, his survival skills. Someone in my circle was scandalized by what she saw as his attack on me. And I told her, I didn't see it that way. I just saw the great big massive wound. I was honored that someone I personally admire even read my story let alone commented on it. But it was extraordinary, the need he had to go right into it and make sense of it. What a background produced that response, and what a classic codependent!<br />
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I would hate any of you to think that, by what I have said, I am in any way undermining your judgment or capability. I take my hat off to all of you just for having survived. It will take time to really digest it, but I only threw it in to help the process of self knowledge and understanding.<br />
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The worst day of the year for me as a codependent is Athletics Day. There are always so many things that go needlessly wrong due to lack of forethought and organization. There are always children who suffer unecessary disappointment. It could be made so much better, with a little thought and analysis. It could be made into a great school fundraiser. Today I was line judge. So I delegated numbers to several people to ensure accuracy of placings. That worked well until I had to delegate myself out of a job to go get a drink. When I came back, it had turned to shambles. There wasn't enough delegation and placings were being missed. They weren't keeping track of whether it was a heat or a final and kids were missing out on their ribbons. So I grabbed the clipboards, resorted the delegations for numbers, worked out who had been entitled to ribbons, found them and allocated the ribbons and then found their parents and personally apologized to them. Then spent an hour listening to a staff member talk about his marriage.

Gadiddy, thanks for responding to my comments. I understand that you can do nothing about what happened in your childhood at this stage. But I am of the opinion that we ARE the result of our upbringing to a large extent. That the choices we make are influenced by our experiences. That our future may well be the result of decisions we make now. <br />
<br />
In order to live our lives to the fullest, it is my belief that we need to examine our OWN motivations, try to understand both what and why we are the way we are. To do so allows us to better understand what we do and how our futures might be affected both by our past and our present. . . . . <br />
<br />
I'm delighted to hear that you and your sibs are all such affectionate people. It bears out your opinion that we are not always going to end up copying our parents' life styles, thank goodness!! <br />
<br />
But is it just possible that you were (subconsciously) attracted to your wife because of some of the influences your parents' marriage had on you? Although she is outwardly affectionate (at a very superficial level it seems), is she in fact emotionally closed off (hence the limited sex) and that you subconsciously were attracted to such a person BECAUSE you had seen this modelled in your childhood home?<br />
<br />
Lastly, you have completely misunderstood my final point. It is NOT about telling your children about your sex life!! OMG!! It is about modelling for your children the behaviour you expect from them. For example: if you say to your kids:<br />
"You bloody kids had better not do any ******* swearing!"<br />
you are scarcely likely to achieve your aim of having your children avoid profane language!!<br />
<br />
Likewise, if you present yourself and your wife to your children as the "perfect couple, very happily married" and this is NOT actually the case, you are presenting them with an UNTRUTH. This may be done from the very best of motives, but it is still a lie.<br />
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As with so many things on this forum, our individual beliefs tend to be very strongly held and it is unlikely any of us will change our viewpoints as a result of discussion. But it is wise IMO to challenge our beliefs and examine just how strongly they hold up to scrutiny. Sometimes we have an "aha" moment when we realise that something we held to be true may not be so.<br />
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I've had quite a few such moments here and I appreciate and value those who gave me the chance to see things from a different viewpoint. But in the end, each of us can and will act according to our own "truths", whatever they may be. This does not mean either side is "right" or "wrong" - just that we are different. So GD, this is NOT an attack on you - or others who share your beliefs - it is just my opinion. . . . . .

FfairyGold, thank you again for giving this so much thought. I said before that you are a strong, loving and capable woman and I will say it again.<br />
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The reason that psychological analysis is drawn on - and all psychotherapy involves delving into history because it has shaped the person being counseled - is because we are exploring a deeply upsetting interpersonal problem. Interpersonal relationships are, by their very essence, psychological happenings. And when something goes wrong, for whatever reason, the diagnosis will usually be psychological as will the treatment.<br />
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I fully expected you and GaDiddy and everyone else to recoil and protest at the imputation of codependency. And one thing your response does highlight is that psychological observations might not be helpful, even if they are accurate.<br />
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Codependency is only a weakness in the sense that it facilitates pathological behavior in another. The rest of the time it is an enormous strength, even a life saving strength.

Whew! I will have to take a deep breath and try this again. <br />
GaDiddy has some excellent points. Why are we always trying to delve into the past or find that long lost secret to why our marriages are sexless? Why do we bring up psychological terms such as codependency? Maybe sometimes the situation is so clear cut and simple that it involves no such psychobabble. Maybe sometimes there is just no answer.<br />
In SOME situations these sort of things like past history or codependency could apply. I wouldn't always put your money on it though. But in the end it wouldn't matter what I wrote because somehow I would be considered codependent. I can tell you now that it doesn't fit my situation at all.<br />
The definition at Wikipedia states codependency as a tendency to behave in overly passive or excessively caretaking ways that negatively impact one's relationships and quality of life. It also often involves putting one's needs at a lower priority than others while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, and/or control patterns.<br />
I laugh if I try to fit myself into this category. The only thing I might have in common here is low self esteem, but I know that is caused by a whole different reason. Of course people are going to say that I'm in denial because the whole codependency diagnosis wouldn't work unless that was the case. If anything, I'm the complete opposite of the definition of codependency. That was what I was trying to explain in my last post.<br />
I'm 100% never compliant, unless it somehow does benefit myself. I never put my needs at a lower priority than others. Well, okay unless it comes to my children. But that is not unhealthy, that is normal. I would also never allow my children to take advantage of that. If they need a jerk back into reality, then I will definitely give it to them. <br />
When it comes to my marriage, I'm quite sure that I have put my needs before my husband's. I'm not some quiet little church mouse who sat back all these years and cried in silence. For the last 12 years, all he has heard is "What is wrong with YOU?" Through my actions all he has seen is that whatever he does it is never going to be good enough for me. <br />
I've never supported him through this, I've never even believed the poor fellow! I'm really confused how that would make me codependent. I would have to say that this makes me a selfish git. Maybe if I had supported him for all of these years, we would have never reached this point. <br />
Yes, there is a difference between being supportive of your spouse and codependent. I think in some certain circumstances, like my own, it is time to lay down the weapons. There is no ONE person or ONE reason at fault. No one is at fault. It does not help one single bit to over analyze it. In fact I think in these circumstances, over analyzing it will only destroy the relationship. <br />
My husband has an illness. He can't control it and it is time that I realize that. In some other people's circumstances, maybe their spouse is also ill or has psychological problems that they can't control.<br />
Bitterness grows very quickly around here. I've seen it firsthand, I've also let it creep in on me. It doesn't help anyone or anything. It destroys you and whatever you have left of your marriage.

GaDiddy, I love your style. Whatever you do, please don't ever change the way you write.<br />
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Denial? The word is yours. And that is not an accusation. History of sexlessness and marriage breakdown. But working through the issues. Sounds like codependency lurking in the shadows to me but being kept away with a flaming torch.<br />
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As we say in Australia, "Goodonya mate!"

I loved both your comments, bazzar and FairyGold. Bazzar, it is one thing to hypothesize about what one ought to do and quite another to be in the situation contemplating the choice. Sexual abuse, for example, ought to be exposed. But I can tell you how difficult that is when it is someone you know and it is going to cause a whole heap of trauma. One thing I am sure of though is that when a relationship breakdown reaches the point of irretrievable breakdown where you just have to get out come what may, you know it with deep certainty.<br />
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Fairygold, assuming full responsibility is classic codependent behaviour. Sorry. But I liked your introspection, nevertheless.

Thank you perseverer! I can see that you are very wise indeed!<br />
I do believe that codependency can play a big role in a lot of sexless marriages. I still don't think it is that way in every situation though. Everyone here is always searching for that one answer as to why they are in a sexless marriage. I don't think there is one answer. The reasons vary between each individual person and marriage.<br />
If I were to be brutally honest with myself, I already have my answer. I just haven't accepted it yet. I don't feel like I'm codependent, if anything perhaps I'm the selfish one. <br />
I would have to go into a whole bunch of detail to explain myself, but I'll try to give the shortened version. My husband does have an illness. This illness has been known to put a damper on the sex drive. My husband has told me time and time again that the reason why we are not intimate very often is because of his illness and nothing else. I don't listen. I don't believe him. I'm always trying to find out what is REALLY causing him to not want me. Because that is how I see it, that he doesn't want me.<br />
Whenever I approach him and ask him why he doesn't love me, why he doesn't show his feelings for me, etc. then he says "Of course I love you. Don't you notice when I kiss you, hug you, and do nice things for you?" The reality is that he does do these things, but in my mind they aren't good enough. <br />
I have my own insecurities and low self esteem and I'm putting this on him. I'm not secure enough to take his word on the matter. I realized that just today. There was this situation that happened between my husband and I about a week ago and I let all sorts of stupid thoughts creep into my mind. I even talked about it with an EP friend (you know who you are!). I let myself get all worked up and worried thinking all these horrible things about my husband, instead of going to him and talking to HIM about it.<br />
Yesterday, I did talk to my husband and I found out quick enough that the situation was nothing like I had built it up to be. I could have saved a lot of heart ache and worry if I had just gone to him and asked him about it. <br />
Last night in bed, I asked him if he was really being honest about everything. I asked him straight out if he was getting his jollies someplace else or if he secretly despised me and was trying to hurt me. He laughed at me and said "Of course not! I love you very much." Then he rolled over and gave me a bunch of kisses on my neck. <br />
This morning I told him that I was sorry that I even thought such things about him. I told him that I thought it was time for me to listen to him and to believe him. <br />
And you know, maybe it is time that I STOP searching for things that just aren't there. If he says that it is his illness, then that is what it is. I can't keep hurting him and hurting me by not believing him. The situation will never get better that way. <br />
It takes two to make it work and I have to start doing something on my end. If I love him then I have to accept that he is ill and that we are not going to have this explosive sex life. I also have to realize that both of us need to work on this together. This is just not his problem, this is OUR problem. I have to drop my own insecurities and see his efforts of showing his love for me. I have to show him that I love him too, because I don't think I do that enough. <br />
So maybe codependency is a problem in some sexless marriages, but in mine I think the main problem right now truly is me. I don't think I'm being codependent, I think I'm just not listening to my husband. I have to work on that.

What an excellent thread you have provoked perseverer.<br />
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This is a subject I have been interested in for a long long time. Two unhappy parents staying together for the kids, or two happy parents living apart but fulfilling their parental roles.<br />
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I am you classic fence sitter on this.<br />
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I am inclined to the view that unhappy parents can split amicably without damaging the kids in any big way.<br />
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If they split acrimoniously then there almost certainly WILL be fall out, and the kids could be collateral damage.<br />
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Maybe, if there IS going to be acrimony, and collateral damage, a case could be made to keep it all together in dysfunction, as the "lesser of two evils", until the kids reach their majority, and bust out into their own life. But it is hard to know what attitude they might carry into their adult life ba<x>sed on what they have observed (or as someone else wisely pointed out - what they have NOT observed) - in their parents.<br />
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Tread your own path.

GaDiddy, Floridanewlife and Fairygold, I recognize the history and emotion in all your comments and I respect it.<br />
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Fairygold, congratulations on your pregnancy and everything it means to you.<br />
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GaDiddy, you have a lot of inner strength and conviction. That does not make you necessarily right.. There is something that you, as one living in a sexless marriage has in common with Floridanewlife and everyone else here besides the lack of physical intimacy. And that is codependency.<br />
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Codependency is another issue that is at the heart of the problem. When I was first confronted with it by a psychiatric nurse/social worker who is an expert in the field, everything inside me baulked. I wasn't the one with the problem. I wasn't the one with the obnoxious behaviours. I was the one who was trying so hard. He was the one opting out of life. Me codependent? Hadn't I devoted so much of the last 20 years of my life to examining the choices I tend to make, to understanding the dos and don'ts coming from a background like mine ? And now this person was suggesting that I was at least half the problem?<br />
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It took me a long, long time to digest what he said. It took me even longer to understand what it really meant. And slowly, slowly, I began to realise how I was, in fact, facillitating my husband's illness.The problem was not NOT loving him. The problem was OVER loving him. The problem was not irresponsibility with me; the problem was taking on far too much responsibility. The list of codependent behaviours goes on and on. Too much of everything. Trying too hard. Putting yourself last. etc, etc.<br />
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Nowadays, now that I have been through all that therapy and it has been 7 years since my husband was ill, it is as clear to me as the sun in the sky that the members on this site are codependents.<br />
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A lot could be said about that. But I mentioned it for just one reason, and that is, whatever one's position in this field of suffering, there is no room for judgmentalism, sanctimonious superiority or lecturing. <br />
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In my opinion, my story provoked the strength of response it did because it goes to the core of codependency,and examines the way the pathology twists our thinking about the effects of the relationship on the children.<br />
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Looking back, it was easy for me to feel elated when my parents finally separated. I was an independent woman living my own life by then. As a much younger person, all I wanted was to see my parents embracing each other and joking with each other the way they used to. I didn't want my father to be removed from the home because he was abusing my brother. I just wanted the abuse to stop.<br />
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But the reality is, it was sexual abuse of the grandchildren that finally caused the split. And that is the sad fact of the situation - the relationship was toxic and the effects of toxicity in marriage are profoundly damaging. Would an earlier separation have helped? Probably not. The work really needed to be done in the early stages.<br />
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Awkward as it is, exposing your relationship to a professional, and having such people come and visit you in your home, it might well be very necessary to save your relationship, to make you understand yourself better and come to realize the part you play in it after all. Don't kid yourself that because you managed to conceal the sexlessness or the affairs that you somehow protected your children. The sexlessness and the affairs are only the tip of the iceberg. Those kids already know there is something wrong.

Of course GaDiddy lives in a sexless marriage! There is no real definition of what a sexless marriage is. If you 'google' sexless marriage, most sites will say something about having sex less than 11 times a year. It does NOT say that your spouse has to withhold kisses and hugs.<br />
In my personal opinion, I consider any marriage sexless if both partners are not happy with the frequency or quality of their love making. You could have sex 365 times a year, but if every time feels robotic and cold then you will never get your intimate needs met. Technically you still live in a sexless marriage. <br />
Floridanewlife if we went by your definition, then a lot of us would have to leave this group because we do receive hugs and pecks. As I said, not all refusers are the same. Not all of them are evil people. Some are capable of affection and loving acts, they just do not know how to extend them to include the bedroom. <br />
I can not speak for GaDiddy, but I do not believe that someone is a 'cruddy' parent if they decide to leave a sexless marriage. As I previously stated, you need to weigh the pros and cons. You should try to keep it together for the kids that didn't ask to be brought into such a situation. But if those kids are more affected by you staying than leaving, then you need to get out. <br />
I do understand what GaDiddy is trying to say even if it came across as harsh. When we become a parent, we should no longer put ourselves first. There are other people who now depend on us. Every decision that we make could have an impact on their happiness. We need to choose carefully what our next move is. Would divorce be more devastating than staying? Is staying more devastating than a divorce? That is up to each individual to decide. <br />
Enna30 - You asked "HOW do you justify living a lie to your children? Don't you spend much of your child rearing time on insisting they tell the truth, own up, take responsibility for, etc." <br />
I'm not sure if you are addressing me, but I don't feel like I'm living a lie at all. I do love my husband and I want to make it work. <br />
My husband and I had a conversation yesterday which centered around my doctor's visit where we found out that we are having another little girl together. It made me realize that he does love me, and he does love our whole family that we made together. I lost sight of that. I couldn't see that anymore because I blocked it out. <br />
I don't want to sound pompous, but I honestly think visiting this site has to be done very carefully and with a lot of thought. Especially for people like myself who have a tendency to over think things anyways. I've always loved my husband more than anything else, but when I post here and other people do as well, they are met with "No, he can't love you." "He is ******* you around." "He is controlling you." "Don't fool yourself." "The only answer is divorce." "It will never get better." So on and so forth...<br />
For those who are a little unsure of themselves to begin with and/or have low self esteem it is easy to grab onto what others suggest. I BEGAN trying to convince myself that I was being controlled by my husband and that secretly he was some evil person trying to torture me through withholding sex. Why? Because it felt good to actually have a reason for his actions! <br />
I even found myself writing things on here that I knew just weren't true. It is sort of like 'herd mentality'. It felt better to go with the crowd, then against it. If I tried to go against the crowd, then I was told that I'm only trying to deceive myself into believing that my sexless marriage is not that bad. <br />
I gave OTHER people advice that they should just get out of their sexless marriages. Do you know how stupid I feel now? Who am I to say who should stay or go? <br />
I can't name the countless times that I wrote to EP friends, on my blog, or shared a story that was simply me blowing off steam without putting any real thought into it. If my husband read any of those things it would hurt him so much. <br />
That right there is the thing that I have been saying all along, not all refusers are the same. I don't know why my husband has a problem in the bedroom. It could be illness, low testosterone, psychological problems, etc. I just don't know. But I'm not ready to give up on him. I think there is love there. I thought about it and I'm not staying just for the kids. Yes, they are a big reason. I'm staying because I want to, I love him and I still have hope. <br />
Wow, okay...I wrote way too much AGAIN. It's good to get it all out. Sometimes you don't even know what is going on in your own head until you let it come pouring out. <br />
I guess perseverer's story did help to open up that 'can of worms'. Great stuff!

GaDiddy and enna30 thank you both for your contributions. GaDiddy I agree with your final point - that all any of us can do is make the most of the situations we are in with the lights and graces we have been given.When I spoke of a sexless marriage as living a lie I meant it as an extreme and provoking statement, and it was made to highlight the pathology of Cumbersome's thinking. The situations are not that black and white. But as Enna 30 so rightly pointed out, we are products to a large extent of our upbringings and as such, accept and tolerate behaviours that are damaging and ultimately toxic. Sexlessness is the manifestation of a myriad of more subtle interpersonal problems.<br />
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Enna 30 you mentioned before that my upbringing sounds just like yours. I cannot help observing the degree of understanding and insight into this issue you have gained. That is like me too - needing to understand it and work it out. Growth towards healing depends so much on knowing who you are and who you are married to, the mental illnesses and personality disorders that are so often intertwined.

GD, does it ever occur to you that YOU have ended up in a sex starved marriage precisely BECAUSE of the effects of your upbringing? I'm not knocking your decision to stay for your kids . . . and your situation with your wife IS different from most here.<br />
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But I encourage you and EVERY POSTER here to look at themselves and their own upbringing and ask:<br />
"Did something in my past and the way I was reared propel me (however unknowingly) into a relationship with this spouse?"<br />
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Also, GD, the "half a brain" comment is pretty tough IMO. HOW can a refused partner whose Refuser spouse will not allow touch (hug, kiss, hand hold, etc.) demonstrate to their children that their's is a loving and connected relationship?<br />
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And finally, and this is NOT addressed to you GD, altho it may well include you:<br />
HOW do you justify living a lie to your children? Don't you spend much of your child rearing time on insisting they tell the truth, own up, take responsibility for, etc. etc.? Isn't it supremely hypocritical to turn around in 5, 10, 15 years time and say:<br />
"Oh yes, I know I told YOU to do that - but all the time, I was living a lie . . . ."<br />
????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

GaDiddy - just a note, - you said "my wife is very huggy kissy hold hands and all that crap so looks are deceiving" regards the kids not knowing.<br />
All relationships differ, and my wife, although NEVER hostile towards me in front of the children (who believe all is fine) has other issues and is UNABLE to have physical contact of any kind with me, or her own children! or any human - without freezing up...<br />
The therapist said to me this will have a bad impact on the kids...<br />
I don't know if she is right or wrong - my son is 14 and has a girlfriend and they are very touchy feely - my daughter is only 12 and has no interest in boys at all yet so I don't know what will happen....<br />
One thing I do know, is they do notice we don't touch, so I balance this against staying or leaving in the mix of other reasons.<br />
I do not judge your decision to stay, if your wife is close to you and shows affection in front of your kids then they will probably assume you have a 'normal' sex life, so for YOU its the right decision as long as you put your children above your own happiness, and I get that, because most parents do...

Jiggyrainbow, you have no idea how my failure to call in the police has tormented me over the years. My brother's suicide was triggered by his failed romance. It happened about 13 years after he had left home. And thank you for caring. I am doing OK, I think.

Cumbersome<br />
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You asked why I allowed my mother to offload but not my father. As a child, I had no choice. When Dad wanted to talk, I was 37, and married with a family of my own. And having already applied myself for many years to the subject of my dysfunctional upbringing, I was armed with the correct way to handle Dad.<br />
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Did my Mum tell me what she did to address the sexlessness? No. And yes she should have found an adult counsellor, had such a thing existed at the time.No, my parents did not handle it well. But where I am coming from, as a happily married, sexually fulfilled Catholic, I find your argument i.e that the parents can hide their lack of intimacy and affairs to "protect" the children repulsive.You are living a lie. Marriage is meant to be sexual. In my Catholic community it obviously is. Marriages that encounter unacceptable behavious are dealt with decisively. Intervention, counseling and if need be, removal of the offending spouse draw a very marked line in the sand. Our parents would rather be divorced because of the sanctity of marriage than living a lie and teaching their children to live a lie. Of course, a lot depends on the age of the children and the degree of acrimony between the parents. But I wish you could see how you come across to someone like me. Is it only the children whose feelings matter? Why don't the husband's and wife's feelings get priority too? <br />
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You ask whether I condone staying in the marriage, trying to work it out, for the sake of the children. As I said in my story, it largely depends on the sacramental validity of the marriage. I do believe in the power of sacramental grace to work miracles of transformation. I think my husband and I are living proof of that. But if the marriage is not sacramental between two baptized Christians, I don't think there is much hope. Even when one person tries their hardest, it can all be undone by the other person. No, given such pressures as coming from dysfunctional family backgrounds, it definitely is a work of grace when the marriage works.

Cumbersome<br />
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Thank you for your lengthy and heartfelt response. I struck a raw nerve with you. It would indeed take someone like me to be able to do that.You raised a veritable forest of ob<x>jections, analyses and rash judgements. Yet for all those trees you were scrutinizing, you failed to see the wood.<br />
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And the wood you missed is this: this story is a repost from a group called, "I Believe In the Sanctity of Marriage". I only posted it here because so many friends and other viewers asked me to. This story is not an attempt to point the finger at sexlessness and blame it for abuse. On the contrary, where I am coming from, sexlessness is every bit as abusive and abhorrent as physical or sexual abuse.<br />
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Before addressing your specific points I would like to say a little more about where I am coming from. I am a convert to the Catholic Church since age 19. In Catholicism, I have found clear guidelines and excellent example on the subject of marriage. I wrote this story as a 50 year old woman who has had decades of psychotherapy, read a library of books and done a whole heap of research in a professional capacity (as a researcher for the ABC).<br />
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Central to what you tried to say is your assumption that it was my mother who refused my father. Actually, it was the other way around. I did not think it was my place to question either my mother or father about the lack of physical intimacy. But I did ask Dad why he married my mother and he said, "I thought she had money."<br />
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Looking back, I can see how important this was to Dad. The woman he took off with was a multi millionaire and with her he was a kept man. Was he deliberately trying to make my mother feel rejected to fulfill his desire of finding a wealthy woman who would keep him? I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was.<br />
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I thought your judgements about my mother's reaction to discovering my father's affair was harsh. This happened in the 60s. There was no Internet to offload to back then and these subjects were even more taboo back then than what they are today. Plus my mother, newly arrived in Australia from the USA, had no friends or family to turn to either. I am not trying to condone her failure to keep the affairs secret. But, how easy would it be, do you think, to conceal your shock and subsequent upset upon finding another woman's earrings in the glovebox of the car with the children in there looking on?

I wanted to add that I am sorry that perseverer's post got hijacked a bit! Your story is truly eye opening and I'm sure it helps people who are dealing with a similar type of situation. Also it did open many lines of discussion, therefore it helps other people in that way too.<br />
Thanks again for sharing!

GaDiddy - I think you and I are in a similar boat. I agree with everything that you said. <br />
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Not all children recognize that their parents are sexless! I can promise you that. I had no clue mine were and my children have no clue that my husband and I are sexless. <br />
I recently found out that I am pregnant again over Christmas. When I told my children that they were going to have a new little brother or sister, I knew that they had NO IDEA that their father and I had problems in the bedroom. They both know all about puberty, menstruation and sex but I think somewhere the wires got crossed a bit.<br />
The conversation went a little like this...My older daughter (she is 11) asked "Why didn't you tell us that you were going to try to have another baby?" I said "Well, it wasn't really planned. It was just a nice surprise." My daughter sat back and thought about it for a minute and then with this horrified look on her face she says "Do you mean that you have sex even if you aren't trying for a baby?" I laughed and said "Yes, people do have sex even if they don't want a baby. It is something that adults do when they love each other." She thinks that one over and replies "So you and Dad had sex more than the 2 times it took to make me and my sister?" I smile and say "Yes." Then my two daughters both look at each other, burst out laughing, and yell "Ewwwwww!" <br />
I never unload my problems on my children. To them, I think their Dad and I appear to be a normal married couple. The problems start when the hurt and anger of living in a sexless marriage spills over into all other aspects of life. It is hard to keep the two separated, but possible. I do not speak to my husband about any difficult matter unless I am sure that the children will not be around. <br />
That really gets my goat when I see some people doing this (like in persever's situation). This happens often in divorces as well. I was lucky that my parents were decent with each other during the divorce, but it still hurt. I can't even imagine how much it hurts when a child hears their mother or father verbally bashing the other. When you are young like that, your parents are your whole world! A child should love both their mother and father, regardless if they made mistakes in their marriage or not. The child should not have to choose sides. <br />
I'm also staying because like GaDiddy mentioned, my kids have a certain quality of life ba<x>sed on their father and I being married. <br />
My husband makes a decent income and he wants me to stay home with the children. My kids love it. They have said on many occasions how lucky they feel that they do not have to go to the daycare after school like many of their friends do. They have their mother waiting at home for them with their lunch on the table. <br />
We try not to spoil them, but my husband always seems to go overboard when Christmas comes. If we got divorced, I would never be able to afford new computers, mobile phones, PlayStation Portables, etc. Of course, kids do not need any of this to survive, but if you are already accustomed to a way of living then it is a very big shock if you no longer can live that way.<br />
My husband's family is a very close knit family. Every weekend we get together. My husband's Aunt is my youngest daughter's Godmother. My kids see their grandparents multiple times a week. They stay over sometimes at my husband's cousin's house. One of my daughter's favorite people is my husband's Great Aunt who is 92 years old. My daughter goes over there once a week to do errands for her like bring her eggs and milk, water her plants, etc. Their whole world would come crashing down if they didn't have this great family structure in their life. <br />
And of course they have their pets. The pets are a part of our family and they would be devastated if we had to leave them behind. I couldn't really see a single mother being able to afford one dog and three cats. My oldest daughter's best friend is her dog. She sleeps with her every night, sneaks unwanted dinners to her, teaches her tricks, brings her for walks, etc. I don't know what would happen if I took that dog away from her. <br />
Last but not least, their father. They both love their father. My oldest daughter and I sometimes butt heads (we are too much alike). Her father is her rock. She is a Daddy's girl and she knows it. I don't mind that at all. Some people get along better than others. I love both of my girls dearly, but I recognize the fact that they are two different people. My oldest goes together with her Dad like peanut butter and jelly. <br />
So yes, in some circumstances I do think that staying for the children is 100% the best choice. You have to weigh the pros and cons. If the child is stuck in a situation where the parents fight constantly and there really is no concrete family structure, then it is better to get out. <br />
But it is not like that in all sexless marriages. Not all refusers are controlling evil people. My husband is a great father and a great husband (minus the sex part). Over all, I would even say he is a great person. The hang up is the sex part. He is not so great when it comes to that. <br />
I say that staying for the children is the best option when leaving would devastate them more than staying. <br />
I know I repeated myself quite a few times in my posts and it seems strange that I came back multiple times to defend this position. There is a reason why I am doing this. It might even offend some people, but I'm going to be honest. <br />
I find that the more I hang around this site, the more I lose sight of who my husband really is. If I walk away and take a break from this site, my hubby doesn't seem all too bad. As I previously stated, he is not such a bad guy. I don't know why we don't have sex. His illness certainly could play a role and I'm okay with thinking that when I don't come to this site. I'm content.<br />
When I come here and I read stories and replies that state time and time again that refusers are only playing games, using sex as a form of control, using this and that as excuses, etc. then the wheels start turning and I begin to think maybe my husband is doing that to me. I get angry and I begin to see things in certain areas that aren't really there. I try to justify that anger and the bitterness clouds my true judgment. <br />
To tell the truth, I've never thought or written such hateful things about my husband as I have on this site. Sometimes I think it warps your mind. <br />
It is not healthy for anyone to do that. Everyone lives in a different type of situation. There is no one size fits all. You can't just throw out random advice like staying for the children is a bunch of crud. For some people, it is a valid reason. Because not everyone is in the same type of marriage and not all refusers are the same.

I read your story with sadness, I wish someone had intercepted who knows, your brother might still be around.<br /><br />
How are you coping now?

This sounds so much like my family of origin

"Don't fool yourself for a minute - if you're sexless, your kids know - and they'll also think this is how life should be." --- Oh boy. My mission for the next 18 years then is, hide my SM from my son until he is old enough to have discussions about intimacy, then, gulp, break the news to him and ask him to do as I say, not as I (don't) do. I am very scared of failing at both!

Thank you, chocciebean. As a teacher, I can tell all of you out there in parent land that the kids know where you hide the Christmas presents and they know what they are getting.

I honestly think this story will help a lot of people here, whose main concern is the welfare of their children. As adults we don't always realise what strong role models we are for our kids - and we're not always aware of quite how much kids know. Don't fool yourself for a minute - if you're sexless, your kids know - and they'll also think this is how life should be. Is that what you want for them?

Whatapeach, that is exactly what happens when children sense the emotional void in a parent. They take on a little role. I don't know what to say, except that as human beings we are amazingly resilient and it helps to have a great connection with at least one parent, and concerned grandparents. Try to be strong, now.

Hey perseverer,<br />
Thanks so much for sharing your story. You may not realize how much you are helping people by doing so. I've been struggling with guilt for so many years about how I would be unfair to my children if I walked out of this abusive marriage. But your story gives me clarity and perspective. I may not be doing them a favor by staying on, after all. Maybe a happier mom - living elsewhere - might be better than an unhappy mom living with their dad.<br />
Am so sorry to hear about your brother. Hope he has found peace. How old was he when he gave up? I wish there had been some anchor for him. :(<br />
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Take care and god bless

Thanks perseverer. I agree with what you say too. I think if a child does realize that all is not well in the home and they experience that on a regular basis, then it is probably better to get out of the marriage.<br />
But like in my situation with my parents, I had absolutely no clue that they were in a sexless marriage. I only learned about this years later. They never fought in front of me, they were never unhappy around me, etc. I thought we were just your typical loving family. And then bam, they were getting divorced. <br />
I was so upset by it because I only saw both of my parents as really great people and I couldn't understand why they wouldn't want to be together. I thought they were two peas in a pod. <br />
It works the same way here at my house now, at least I hope. My husband and I don't argue with each other in front of the kids. Ya okay, maybe we have spats about who forgot to take out the garbage...but nothing earth shattering. We get along as friends very easily. We laugh, we make jokes, we do things together.<br />
It is not like we both sit around giving each other the evil eye waiting to pounce when the other one says the wrong thing. The problem really is the sexless factor. I'm not trying to diminish the problem, because it is a very big one. It is not fun to live in a sexless marriage. <br />
But I do try to put aside my hurt and anger for the sake of the children. I don't feel like they will grow up seeing non-loving parents because we are pretty normal in all other aspects. Obviously we must be because as I mentioned before, they really have no clue about it. If I thought that they knew and it hurt them, then I would definitely reconsider my stance. <br />
Your situation had a lot of stuff going on. Especially the part about your brother, that broke my heart. My brother also committed suicide, but for different reasons. I don't think you ever really heal from things like that. Just got to keep going.

Fairygold, you are a very brave and loving woman and what you just said brought tears to my eyes. I totally agree with you about the trauma of divorce and in this context I can appreciate that a lot depends on what else is going on. My husband likes to watch Dr Phil and one of the things Dr Phil says is, "Children would rather be from a broken home than in one." I guess any responsible parent would be able to gauge that point at which it is better for the parents to be apart.<br />
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And I sincerely hope, for your sake, that your feeling of hopelessness will one day turn to joy in a vibrant, physical relationship.

Bazzar, thank you. Everyone is different, and I don't mean to give the impression that there weren't good times, but it was all my mother's doing. And however remote and self absorbed my father was, my mother still cared for him to the hilt. It was as if she was thinking, if I only show him enough care, things will change. And they never did, except to get worse.<br />
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Flyingstone, I think you hit the nail right on the head. Thank you for your thoughtful response.

My parents divorced when I was 7. It left me traumatized.<br />
I personally still stick to my thoughts that if both spouses can remain civil toward each other then there is no harm to the children by staying. Divorce on the other hand always has a negative impact on a child. It doesn't matter if it is done civilly or not. <br />
My parents were not particularly cruel to each other during the divorce proceedings. The reason why they divorced was a sexless marriage as well. Like I said, it wasn't fun for me. I was a small kid back then and I couldn't understand why they couldn't just work it out. No kid wants to see their parents break up, unless of course it is a matter of life or death.<br />
I've heard my children talk about divorce before. They have plenty of friends at school with divorced parents. One time my daughter came to me because she was so worried about one her friends who was sad because he thought that he would never see his Dad again. I guess the kid was crying at school and the teacher and all the other children tried to make him feel better. <br />
I said to my daughter "Oh, that is really sad. It must be hard for him." My daughter said "Ya, I bet it is. If you and Dad ever got divorced then I'm sure that I would die." <--- That is the reason why I stay. <br />
Yes, it is lonely. Very lonely. I know I'm missing out on my life, but I have to see it from the other side. I'm not being physically abused, maybe in some way emotionally. But none of my children asked to be born and if staying with their father is the best thing for them, then that is what I will do.

Score #1 for the "leave it for the sake of the kids" school.<br />
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Anyone from the "stay for the sake of the kids" school got a rebuttal arguement ?<br />
<br />
Tread your own path.

Thank you for your generous and thoughtful response. There are people in this group who argue that refusing sex is abusive. In my parents' case, I think both the abuse and the sexlessness were symptoms of a sick relationship.<br />
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It's not that the sexlessness hurt me. The lack of intimacy did. I felt the lack of closeness and openness very keenly. And I bet you do, too.

Thanks for sharing your story!<br />
There was only one thing I kept thinking as I was reading this though. It didn't really sound like your parents were in a sexless marriage, more like an abusive one. I guess you could argue that sexless marriages are emotionally abusive, but there was so much more going on with your parents. I think being sexless was at the bottom of the heap.<br />
I think denying your spouse intimacy is a lot different than beating your child. Some of us like myself, decide to try and work out a sexless marriage (even if it seems impossible) because our spouse is a decent person outside of the sexual issue. Call me foolish and crazy, but no one is getting hurt here but myself. There is no abuse occurring. <br />
If I thought for a moment that my children were hurt by my marriage, then I'd be gone in a heartbeat. But my husband and I keep this issue behind closed doors. Neither of our children have a clue that we are sexless and I intend on keeping it that way. <br />
I'm really sorry that you had to go through such a tough time growing up. I honestly don't think you were hurt though because your parents were sexless. You were hurt because they were abusive.