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About three years ago, I found this website because I was in a sexless marriage and desperately wanted to talk to someone about it. I was too ashamed to talk to anyone in person, even anonymously, and I'd rather have died than tell anyone I knew about it.

I was what you guys call the refuser though I never actually refused actively. If my s/o had ever asked directly, I'd have consented nervously, but there was no way I was going to initiate and I was pretty good at passively avoiding it and creating situations to continue avoiding. This went on for a handful of years and caused a lot of guilt and distress. We talked about it some but it was really embarassing and such a heavy issue between us that neither of us brought it up much so I came on here seeking help and just a place to voice my feelings. I remember crying my eyes out and just feeling relief when I finally got the whole story down on paper and hoped to discuss it with people but then I found that almost everyone was not interested in helping or empathizing with the refuser but rather most people here are so angry and frustrated that they lashed out and told me I was hopeless basically. It made me feel awful. Now this is the experience project and people were posting their experience, so I can't say that anyone had any responsibility to help me- this is not a self-help website. But still the response stung a bit and as you might know, there is no support group or website anywhere on the net for people who are refusers but want things to change but don't know how to change them or even get started, so this was the closest thing I could find. I have to say also that it made me wonder if this is the sort of attitude you also take with your s/o who is a refuser though that sounds like an accusation and it is not fair for me to make it, but I do wonder that way. The thing that struck me most was that there was someone on here who was writing about how his wife was trying to have sex with him but that the sex was so lame that he'd rather just skip it, and that seemed so hurtful and embarassing to me- the fear of that happening to me- that the discussion about this shut me down and made me go back farther into my shell even more. I remember a discussion about people who would not even have sex because basically the sex was not worth having which seemed cruel to me to call someone else a refuser if you are refusing the sex yourself too. But anyway I did not write to vent to you guys only even though my experience here was not very good.

What happened is that reading what you people felt and how you thought really helped me think about the other side. In the first place I think there is a difference between me and the other refusers because my relationship otherwise has always been physically kind and affectionate. There has never been a time when we didn't cuddle and kiss and mildly make out, but it always stopped short of sex and this was a source of frustration but I never meant to be manipulative and I don't think there were ever bigger problems going on between us, and many of you sound like you have problems within the relationship that are more severe and the sexlessness is a symptom, though not everyone. What happened then is about a year ago I finally admitted it to a counselor who talked to me about it openly and discreetly and she told me that I was suffering from very debilitating and severe performance anxiety which seemed so lame and stupid to me that I couldn't believe it could be as simple as all that but it really was once we really started talking about it and I realized that on top of that I had built up this issue in my mind so that there were layers of guilt and fear on top of this anxiety which made the anxiety worse until it was almost unbearably embarassing- I'm telling you there were times that I would rather have died than admit it or discuss it much less try to have sex, the anxiety was that bad. My counselor said this is more common in men as a reason for refusal that women typically refuse after babies or hormonal changes for different reasons- I can't speak to that though no one would expect performance anxiety in a woman but there you go. And I finally discussed it with my s/o though it took months to build up the courage and it was realy embarassing and I had to tell him without looking at him because I was afraid of his response but then he went to the counselor too and talked about his own issues with it- basically he had a lack of interest because it had been a few years of rejection and he said he just wasn't interested anymore but once he heard that I really wanted to be with him but was just dealing with this horrible anxiety then he was instantly interested again and acted like the strong and sexy man he used to be when we started dating. Then I don't want to make it sound like it was an overnight success, but slowly by just consenting and then later by pretending like I was interested and then finally I started to have fun too and after a few months we were having sex pretty regularly for the first time in years. Things aren't perfect but they are fun again and we feel like kids learning all over again. It's made us closer, and oddly enough it is happening at a time when most married people in our age group start to get bored with their marriages so for us to have a rekindling is nice.

Anyway, I was thinking abotu this website today and I thought I would write and tell you that for a couple of reasons. First I wonder if you could nicely redirect people who are refusers to their own group or if you could be more encouraging or supportive of refusers. If someone logs on here and admits that they are a refuser then that was probably a big step for them and they probably need support because no one would do that if they didn't want help. Second I remember reading that people said that these situations were absolutely hopeless and for a time after I came on here, I believed that and I was really ready to just give up and let it all go and be depressed abotu life in general, but it turns out that this is not true.

It has just occurred to me also that maybe I can answer questions about being the refuser but I don't know that everyone is probably different.

Sorry if I sound rude-0 that is not the intention though I want to be honest and tell you how it made me feel though I do totally agree that you have every right to vent and that this is the experience project after all and not the support project.
barbaralj barbaralj 36-40 11 Responses Aug 28, 2011

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An atypical sort of refuser at any rate sort of like a fish with horns. You did something that 99.99% of refusers would never consider doing and that was to actually try to do something about the situation so that makes you about as rare as a moose with wings. The average refuser could care less about their partner or the pain that they cause or what it does to their marriage as long as they are getting their way. So it's highly unlikely that our views will change much where the term refuser is being used but you have changed sides and become a human being again and I think you are better for it and I think you seem to like the change.

Barbara, you have expressed yourself very well and I do agree that there is no 100% at fault person in any sexless marriage. It is a process of the erosion of intimacy until it has degraded to a painful struggle between two people that in most cases, ends up in utter destruction of their relationship. A very few will recover and it appears that you and your husband may be one of those rare couples. <br />
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Meanwhile you commented on the events that seemed to be the catalyst for the drastic increase in your anxiety that led to a sexless marriage. Interestingly enough, in your situation, you and your husband maintained some close bonds while not engaging in any sexual activity. I believe that due to those other acts of intimacy, even though communication sure was not one of them, you and your husband were able to re-kindle the physical ex<x>pression of intimacy. <br />
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In my own situation, there were very specific events that occurred that were the catalyst for my SM. If I knew then (ahhh, the joy of hindsight!) what I know now, I would have handled my situation much differently. In the critical beginning stages, I was a deer in the headlights, walking on eggshells and in complete confusion all at the same time. I contributed to the SM by my inept actions and I do regret them in light of the result.<br />
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I am curious now how many ILIASM members can actually cite an event or series of events that were the catalyst for their SM. As Baz would probably point out, what difference would it make to know the cause because the result is the same. But for the "newbies", people just beginning to slide into the sexless marriage and trying to steer clear of the mine field, perhaps it would help them to know that certain events may be the catalyst. Maybe by knowing the "signs" to look for, they can get some professional help before the whole thing blows up in their face.

I note that, in your first experience of ILIASM, you read a comment from someone who could not be bothered to have sex because it was not to his liking . . . . It seems to me that such a comment would have been disastrous for you. Your underlying performance anxiety would have sky-rocketed when you read that, IMO. <br />
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The fact that you were able to see the importance of sex to others, by reading comments on this board, and recognise that this applied in your own life, is reason for congratulation.<br />
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You then undertook to address the issue with a counselor and have made seriously good progress as a result. You are certainly to be commended for this - well done! Your husband too deserves recognition for being prepared to "hang in there" despite the serious lack of sex in the early years. You both deserve the much happier future you are now enjoying.<br />
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Further, your experience once again highlights the essential TRUTH of ALL sexless marriages - unless the "refuser" accepts responsibility for her / his behaviour AND takes action, nothing can change. But when both people do so, then success can follow. I'm so glad it has in your case.<br />
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However, I also want to comment on the situation of your joint communication with each other in the "refusal" years. You say he never asked for it outright. But that does NOT mean you were unaware that he wanted sex with you! I expect he was VERY aware of how repulsed (scared, anxious, distressed) you felt about having sex, and could not bring himself to "force" this on you by asking directly. <br />
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What I want to point out to you, is that by saying you would never have refused a direct request, you are being disingenuous. I realise you probably don't mean to be, but the fact remains that you are using this as a "loop hole" to say you were not a TOTAL refuser. . . . <br />
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In the interests of your own self growth AND having genuine honesty between the two of you, I believe you NOW need to face up to and accept that the fact your husband never ACTUALLY asked for sex, does not in any way let you off the hook.<br />
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Look at it this way . . . I come to your house for dinner. You serve a food I don't like. I do not ACTUALLY say to you "I don't like this. Please don't make me eat it." But I screw up my face. I look at the food with distaste. I avoid the food and eat only the vegetables. . . . Would you then say to me:<br />
"Would you like some of that food you obviously don't like?"<br />
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Of course not! Your message to your husband about your dislike / fear / anxiety of sex was very strong. THIS is what prevented him from asking you outright for sex. He was passive about it, hoping as so many of us do, that YOU would change your mind!!<br />
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This may seem unimportant to you at this time, when you have so successfully and bravely addressed your issues. But I urge you to consider this as the last "barrier" in your own thinking. Once you can accept that his not actually asking you was / is irrelevant, you will have truly "owned" the situation as it was. Such "ownership" is very important for your own self growth. You already know that - because you have achieved SO much already!!!<br />
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Does this mean your husband behaved perfectly? No. He could have been more assertive. He could have tried to communicate with you more effectively about what he obviously perceived as a major problem for you. He could certainly have approached the situation in a more pro-active manner. <br />
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But this is an area where almost all of us who have been "refused" are guilty. We wait for our beloved Refuser to have a change of heart - for the weather to be right, for the kids to be at Grandma's, for the washing up to be done, for the TV show to be finished, for the planets to be correctly aligned . . . !!! lol<br />
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What we find most difficult to do is to lovingly, assertively and pro-actively seek a solution. We vacillate between "hoping" for a result, or getting upset and angry. These reactions are NOT helpful! But it takes getting out of a SM or at least being ex[posed to ILIASM for some time, before most of us "get" this!<br />
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In your case, you both worked hard to achieve a positive outcome, and this is very commendable. It is also a "light in the tunnel" for other Refusers. Thank you for your post!

HI Enna, thank you.

I want to say one more thing about how this website HELPED the first time. It was not that I realized that sex was important to others. This I never doubted as sex was always important to me and sometimes I was crazy for it though I was afraid to admit it and what a relief to have it again! So I never had that problem of no desire or of not understanding others' desire.

What helped was reading about how destructive it was to the self-worth of the refused. I did not consider this in the case of my s/o before reading this. It made me feel even more guilty but it also helped me understand why he was not asking directly or being more assertive in tackling this problem. Always I have looked up to him as stronger and reliable- it is some of the qualities that make him attractive to me. So why can't he be strong and reliable and help with this too and get me out of this mess?? Then I read this board and realized that probably inside he was feeling broken also whcih now that we talk about it, he confirms that is true. So in one sense you are very correct that this board helped me learn that the refuser must take charge and acknowledge the problem and seek help.

There are two things that I am trying to explain here beyond that that I really think could help many of you (at least if you have an otherwise loving relationship and anxiety is the cause of your sexual problems and not something else).

The first is that I'm not sure most people (based on the little I read here, maybe I'm wrong) have a real appreciation how monumentally hard this admitting and acknowledging is. I imagine that many people with my problem probably are lying to themselves too as a protective measure- it's probably primal and instinctive. I'm not saying that this means that you (as the refused) should be forced to put up with it or that things should stay as they are. Only that in cases like this (where people are not being deliberately hurtful or manipulative) then the refuser is probably acting out the only way he/she knows how to survive. It's not like it is something you wake up and choose to do. I think it took a complete breakdown and hitting rock bottom- where you feel that your whole sense of self is completely destroyed- for me to talk abotu this and even that was only to write about it here. So I do NOT think this excuses behavior that will go on for a life of misery, but I DO think that some of the comments here about taking action are just a little flippant sometimes. Really you might be asking someone to do something impossible, in whcih case sadly the ball might be back in your court and you have to decide what you will live with and when you will leave. You can't ask me to fly. Try as I might, I can't do it. The idea that I was not trying at all during the no sex time is not true. I was desperate and sad and trying all the time though he couldn't see it. You never really know what is going on in someone's heart and soul.

Second, the thing that troubles me is the way everything here is presented in such a one-sided way- that one person is at fault and another is the victim. I think this is unhealthy for both parties, and this is why I keep making the point about refusal which is specific to my case and maybe irrelevant to yours. A relationship is two people and rarely is a problem just because of one person alone. I have accepted over and over again that I was a refuser. I am not denying that at all as you can see from all of my comments. Yes this problem was the majority my fault, and yes I can't tell you how terrible was/is the guilt about that. It sounds like some of you really want someone to feel guilt and say it is all their fault as if this is part of the "acknowledgement" that you are talking about, and to me this sounds like it is motivated by resentment. If my husband had so much resentment as this, we would not have made success- it would have been the end of it because there would have been too many obstacles. But anyway my point is that problems are almost never entirely one person's fault, and for that reason I absolutely will not "come to terms" with this idea you have that the refusals were entirely 100 percent my fault because it is all wrong.

I'm not trying to blame my husband because he had no intention to cause any trouble and he was doing his best and then got wrapped up in my troubles and anxiety. The anxiety is all mine, and he did nothing to cause it. But if you trace back to the beginning, when I was recovering from this illness and he had been away for a long time- well first off he made the decision to go away for six months with his job. He could have refused and I wanted him to but he chose to go away because of the opportunity for advancement. That is putting his job before his family- six months is a long time. So he chose to leave me for six months completely sexless first. Keep that in mind. This is a minor point as it was good for us in the long run and I do not blame him and it is hard in a marriage because nowadays there are two careers- it is hard to juggle. But still this is the beginning of the problem. Then when I was ill for so long and he was caring for me, as I was starting to get better, he was strong and healthy and attractive while I was weak and recovering and my body was not yet back into shape. These things are hard for a woman, plus I just down right felt bad, plus he'd been away for so long. Now I understand that probably he was thinking that he wanted to be gentle and let me come to him because i was weak, but what I needed was for my sexy strong husband to sweep me up into his arms and be more assertive. When he did not do that, I didn't know what to do.

Then when he did start making advances, sometimes i was not feeling well enough to respond. I felt shy, ugly, unhealthy and inadequate. My partner was very loving and supportive, but he was gentle and slow and that was not what I needed. I needed to feel DESIRED.

So you see through good intentions, both of us were trying to do what is best but our signals got crossed. This is often what happens with emotions.

So once I stopped responding to his advances because the anxiety started up, he never once tried to discuss it with me. This made it worse.

All the way along you have me, feeling bad, him trying to make me feel better by avoiding anything that might make me feel worse, which made me just more anxious and humiliated which made him withdraw even more because I was rejecting him, and this spiralled over a few years into a hellish situation.

LIke I said, I was the refuser and I was the one dealing with anxiety, but it is not fair to say this is 100% my fault. In fact I don't think we should be focusing so much on fault at all and rather on intentions. My goal was not to save my marriage but to protect myself. That was my intention. This is destructive to the marriage and that is why I was the refuser. But I was doing it to survive- not to be mean. My husband's goal originally was not to save the marriage but to protect me also- he didn't want to cause my anxiety. And then later his goal became to protect himself from rejection.

What we had to do was make the primary goal to save the marriage and that meant I had to face horrible humiliation and my husband had to face resentment and rejection. But blame and guilt are destructive and have no place in healing. If you want to move on, you have to set that aside and try to understand each other.

And if you are aboslutely sure that the other person will not work on it ever, then really that's the end of it isn't it? Probbaly many of you are not certani of that and still have hope.

I have a great deal of compassion for the "refuser" because I know from talking with my husband that the situation we have endured is not what he wants either. Yet, there is something that has caused the disconnect - the stimulus to avoid intimacy is greater than the desire to create it. After living so long without the intimacy I crave, I find myself wondering if I'm able to trust my inner voice, my feelings, my desire. I know you have experienced the same. So all of us are in boats that look the same - refused and refuser - but rowing in opposite directions trying to get to the same destination. It seems stupid really - why can't we all just get over it?<br />
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Unfortunately, human beings carry our baggage whether we've overpacked or not. Even if we don't need the heavy overcoat, we take it just in case and it is difficult to maneuver with a big suitcase and an equally large overcoat. I long to find a way to leave the overcoat behind and only pack what I need. But even if I do that, it doesn't mean that my husband can or will do the same. We all have our own journeys, and one thing I've learned is that I cannot control another person's reactions. I can only control my own. <br />
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It is wonderful that you are beginning to see the impact of your actions. I genuinely believe that we all want the same thing. We all want intimacy and closeness and affirmation and understanding - yet what keeps us from finding it? That is the great mystery.

Yes your metaphor describes emotional baggage perfectly that is exactly what happens. You say you have talked to your husband about it. What does he say is the reason you two are not having sex? Is he uninterested or afraid?

I don't know if one ever really knows reasons for things. He became a sex addict - addicted to viewing videos and internet sites. This was done secretly for our entire marriage - almost 25 years. He believes this stemmed from his sexual abuse by his sister when he was 7 years old. This all seems plausible and yes, it's anxiety based. Thus far, however, after 5 years of therapy, he has not been able to overcome his anxiety and enter into a sexual relationship with me. I can say at this point, however, I don't want the relationship with him. It may be too late, and there may be too much damage to me and to him for us to get it together. We shall see.

That is very sad. Sexual abuse can really bother people. I know many people who view **** harmlessly. I am not troubled when my husband watches it occassionally, but it is terrible for me to watch it because it is so unreal and impossible that it makes my own sex life seem terrible even though when we have sex we are both very satisfied. I think a lot about our parents who grew up in another country and did not grow up with any **** or even access to sexy movies. There were many taboos. Part of our shyness is from growing up in a culture where sex is private and never discussed and moving to one where sex is everywhere. I don't know which is better- probably they both have their benefits and problems. But as to ****, I think it would be better and more satisfying to be in my parent's generation when they got married and had sex and never had anything like impossible standards like the body of Angelina Jolie or the sorts of skillful things you see in **** to compare themselves too. I bet this creates anxiety in Westerners too- being bombarded with these images from an early age and then to experience the real thing and see that it is clumsy and requires work and communication and then to compare it to what is in their heads. Maybe your husband has the combo of both things- the problems with the abuse and also the problems with reality vs fantasy. I think viewing **** increases performance anxiety. As for it being too late, I'm really sorry to hear that but seven years is a long time and if you are sure it is time to move on, then I wish you the best! Life is short!

I am glad to see you got it together. That is foremost the important point. That said, Yes you were the refuser. And because of that started issue with the other, your spouse. That by itself was not a good thing. It is reasons like that so many people get pissed because if you don't want to and won't do it then a lot of them think it is time to seek a port somewhere else.<br />
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And all the issues from there. That is one tiny avenue that can develop. That is why YOU should be the one to start the group for refusers and at least start it with your story. Chime in when you can tell what was your end results. You have been down that tough road.<br />
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Jump in here and do it. I bet it will make your own experience even better at home with the input you see and help with here. Plus I bet you never allow that crap to ever get started again ever.

Well I did not come looking for a group for refusers. I came looking for a group of people in a sexless marriage which I assume includes both refusers and the refused. After all , this group is not called "My spouse refuses to have sex with me"- it is not a group just for the refused.

I think it is healthier to have it mixed so we can learn to see each other's meaning.

Good point.

Your story is really valuable! Thank you for sharing it. It's so important for us to know that it's possible to work on these situations and rekindle the intimacy in a marriage!

thank you!

You must understand that the term “refuser” that is used in this group applies to people who refuse to engage in sex with their partners AND also refuse to work with their partner in order to improve the sexual relationship.<br />
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And so, in my opinion, you are NOT a refuser because you realized something was “off” with your sexual attitude and sought professional help … good for you! Congratulations for having the courage to face your fears; and on your new and improving relationship.<br />
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Thank you for sharing this as I am sure it will be helpful to someone here.

Hmm, but I think she was a classsic refuser in that she would not even acknowledge or discuss the problem for quite a long time. However she became motivated to seek help and it was through her seeking help, accepting responsibility and making the effort to restore intimacy in her marriage. She also has a husband who wants the same thing. And that is amazing to me since most of us battle weary, broken hearted souls have given up the fight forever.

I think I was a refuser and I was not denying it. Only that I never said no in the way I read about people here. I don't know if that is really what is happening in your marriages where one person says, "will you please have sex with me" and the other says "no I refuse" but I thought you meant that literally. I think in rretrospect it would have been better if my partner had been direct and said this though he says he felt humiliated and rejected and so he never asked me because he didn't want me just to have sex with him if I didn't want him. But if he had asked directly then that would make the conversation in my face which would be terrifying but at least I could not hide from it. Probably I would have cried but that would have been an ice breaker at least. Instead we both never talked about it and the problem grew. That was the only distinction I was trying to make. Thank you.

Yes but everyone keeps skipping over the part that my partner never asked- not once. He never brought it up either. I understand that he felt rejected and humiliated, but the fact is still there that he let these problems prevent him from ever bringing it up with me. Never once in all this time did he honestly and directly say something like "why we don't have sex anymore?" or "will you please have sex with me?" Never once. In all the time he was trying to be affectionate and making attempts- so his body said these things and I rejected him. That is absolutely true and for that reason I am a refuser. But it is not fair to dismiss the fact that he never once brought it up either. He was afraid to discuss it too, and that is a big part of why the problem continued so long. Sometimes if you are scared and shy you need someone to take the lead and if the other person is not strong, then what can happen?

Hello barbaralj, Thank you for your post. It is very interesting and I appreciate the time you took to explain your perspective especially because you have identified yourself as a refuser.<br />
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I was very intrigued by your disclosure to your counselor and the following statement that you wrote," she told me that I was suffering from very debilitating and severe performance anxiety." <br />
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Now that I can relate too. My refuser spouse has always had issues with anxiety. What you said about your experience with anxiety was very poignant, " I realized that on top of that I had built up this issue in my mind so that there were la<x>yers of guilt and fear on top of this anxiety which made the anxiety worse until it was almost unbearably embarassing- I'm telling you there were times that I would rather have died than admit it or discuss it much less try to have sex, the anxiety was that bad". <br />
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My H is unable to verbalize his feelings as skillfully as you, but he is full of guilt and embarressment over his inablility to "perform". Each sexual encounter became worse than the one before until our encounters dwindled away to nothing as a way to avoid the misery of sex. It was very enlightening to me to hear you speak about your own emotional pain as a refuser. I tend to forget that in my case, my refuser has and is still having guilt and pain associated with his anxiety. <br />
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And I am glad that you have reminded us that everyone here on ILIASM deserves to be treated with courtesy and respect as long as they are trying to be honest and forthright. I am sorry that you had such a negative experience after you disclosed you were a refuser. It is hard for many ILIASM members to be "ob<x>jective" about refusers in any way. <br />
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It is wonderful that you and your husband have rekindled your sex life and I wish you both a long and happy marriage.

Yes thank you for writing. Your post is the reason that I tried to log back in today. I forgot my password and had to start over again so this is actually a different account but it is still me. I wanted to respond to you.

I want to tell you that my story of recovery takes place over many months. I don't want you to think we talked about it and then suddenly we were having a wild time in the bed. It was not like that at all and even still now when we try something new it is a little embarassing htough less and less each time and more and more fun and now we have learned to laugh about it and the passion has come back too so that helps because eventually you just lose your inhibitions even if you start off clumsy. But this took many months.

So the talking for me was the first major relief. Talking openly about this problem took away half the anxiety probably. Ok but I am verbalizing this now but there is no way I would do that a year ago. I'd rather die and part of the reason I want to post here is because I don't think everyone is giving the empathy needed to face major anxiety. I understand that my husband felt rejected and frustrated and angry- that is all natural. And to be bitter about it is natural. But to me, these feelings (though terrible and destructive) are not as severe as major and debilitating anxiety. Only you have to know what a panic attack feels like- like death is just around the corner- absolute TERROR, like that instant when something pops out in a scary movie and your heart jumps only spread out over several minutes until you feel that you are going to die. Most of the time it was not that bad, but the dread of intense humiliation was nearly constant. In my case, though I never had sexual problems before and never had abuse in my past, I did have some childhood experiences when I was deliberately humiliated and always I have had some anxiety problems because of that and it spilled over into sex. Probably your husband has some reason for feeling anxiety like that too. I can't stress enough how much humiliation is a terrible feeling- like you are nothing better than dirt and you only want to cover yourself and hide. Like you are totally exposed. It's terrible, and the awful destructive feeling of resentment and frustration is nothing in comparison.

That is what I am saying- my spouse should have taken the lead and been strong because he was dealing only with resentment and rejection, which is terrible I know but not debilitating, at least not in our case as we were still very affectionate and always told each other how attractive we were and that we loved each other and we cuddled and went out and had fun and all that. It would be different if I was talking about complete isolation or neglect- everyone needs contact and love and we had that. It sounds like you still have love and closeness too.

So first thing for me was being able to explain how it made me feel. Then I was able to tell him what I needed. It was like deep down I knew what I needed- what I was afraid of and what I needed him to do and not do- but it was so humiliating to talk about it that I couldn't. So getting to talk about it brought that out. For me, probably it was easier because i am the female in the relationship. For the man, maybe the physical limitation of anxiety will prevent you from working on it so you might have to figure out how to overcome that. Also I will tell you that watching **** was like a nightmare- there is no way I can ever compare to those standards and I remember seeing some **** a few years back and thinking, "that's it. I give up" because it seems so impossible. Also when we started having sex again it was really bad and pretty boring but we did not pressure about ******. At first my s/o tried to encourage me by praising me and telling me how good I was in bed, but this was a complete lie as we were having very bad sex and I knew it. So don't do that because that was even more humiliating- like I was a dog being patted on the head. The best approach for us was to make it humorous. You have been together for a long time so the passion is not going to take over and drive away inhibitions like when you were just starting out. Eventually it may come back, but not at first. So humor worked best for us. Just admitting that we were having very bad sex, that probably we would not get off, but hey let's have a drink of wine and approach it like a novice- I have this and you have this and how funny, what can we do? This took the pressure off without humiliation of having to pretend (or knowing that he is pretending) and without any expectation. Then slowly (after a few months) we loosened up and started to FEEL again completely naturally just by stumbling back upon the relaxing things that feel good.

But I think after reading many of these stories that for us, the difference maybe is that we were always affectionate even when there was no sex at all so it was easy to kiss and take off clothes. If you have to start with that, then that is another obstacle.

If your husband is not even letting you talk about it, then what you can do is ask him to write about it and then talk to someone else first. That is what I did. I wrote my story here (then deleted it) which is the first time I admitted it to myself directly. Then I told the counselor. Then I talked to my partner. Each time it became a little easier, and now I can talk online about it even and it seems such a trifle that it's hard to understand why I was so anxious in the first place.

What I am reading is a rare case where you decided to own your choice.<br />
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Then pro-actively sought some help to review your choice.<br />
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Then took that on board and attempted to change your choice.<br />
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And with a bit of perseverance, and goodwill, you changed your choice.<br />
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I admire that.<br />
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Now, if you copped a bit of a kicking when you first graced the board here, maybe - just maybe - that was the start of you challenging your thinking.<br />
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In any event, whatever prompted you to review your position, it took YOU to see it, and act on it. So you done good.<br />
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And, if you want to unload on what you see as an unsympathetic mood on this board, then unload away. <br />
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Tread your own path.

Thank you for the kind words!

-----" I was pretty good at passively avoiding it and creating situations to continue avoiding.<br />
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-----" though I never actually refused actively."<br />
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You did actively refuse. As evidenced by the top statement - you accomplished your goal by engaging simultaneously in both passive behaviors and active behaviors (the active behaviors are covered under the verbiage "creating situations"). <br />
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What took you so long to seek professional help?

What I meant by I never actively refused, is that if my s/o had ever asked me to have sex with him, i would have done so though it would have been in a passive role and not much fun for him so I understand why he didn't want to do it. This is very different from many of the situations I read here in which the neglected partner is literally begging the refuser who says no.

As for what took me so long, I explained that in detail in the post. Overwhelming embarassment and anxiety to the point that suicide seemed preferable to talking about the problem. You can read my post and see that I spent like a whole paragraph explaining this. The first time I did open up and talk about it was on this board where many people shot me down by pointing out all the ways I was being horrible to my partner rather than trying to give me support. That was enough to make me clam up again. That is in the post above too so I wonder if you read it before asking?

Yes, I read your post before asking.

Passive aggressive behavior sounds intentional and mean. For me, it felt more like survival. It's your lack of empathy that makes me wonder about your questions. There is an obvious difference between saying no to someone who is begging you and avoiding a situation. The outcome and emotions are the same, but the difference is in the behavior of the neglected person. The situation that we were in, my partner was too nervous/frustrated/confused about it to even ASK for sex in the first place. So I don't think it's fair to say this is the same thing as active refusal. Both parties were avoiding the topic though obviously I take the blame for creating the anxious situation in the first place.

We had a pretty normal sex life for the first two years of our marriage. Then he traveled a lot with a job that parted us for about six months after whcih time I had an illness that made me not feel like sex for about six months so we had the first year without sex accidentally- I was not avoiding it was just not possible. Then when we started up again we were shy and awkward for some reason I don't know why it just didn't seem natural anymore though we were both very desperate. Then we tried a few times and I started to feel very pathetic in bed- it was just awkward and that made me feel like I couldn't do it anymore and then I started to get passive and dread it because it would make me feel so embarassed and like a failure. Then I was not responding for several months and so he stopped trying to initiate. We still kissed and cuddled but then before things would move beyond this I would say I am sleepy or get up to do something or just start talking about random things so it was just like that for a long time until even this became an issue and I started to feel guilty and even more embarassed.

The truth is that in retrospect I was not very experienced when I got married and though I loved sex in the beginning I always felt a little inadequate because I am not coordinated but we were having so much fun that I didn't worry too much about these things in the beginning. We didn't date long before the marriage because in our culture it is uncommon to date, so we got married early on in the relationship and for the first two years the passion continued though it was becoming less frequent- down to two times a week, sometimes one, which I assume was normal in a marriage anyway but the one or two times a week was very nice and fun so it didn't trouble me though I think my partner would have liked more. Then he went out of town, then the illness, and when he came I was feeling very shy and awkward because we spent six months together while I had this illness with him helping me and then slowly me becoming more healthy and it was weird to be like, "ok I'm healthy enough to have sex again now" and it just never happened and then snow balled from there.

Mvcmvc is in no way lacking empathy. She is very adept at accessing situations and, she knows that wallowing in hurt, denial and self pity is not helpful. And so, she “cuts to the chase” with her insightful comments. You would do well to at least consider what she says.

I was interested in trying to understand your situation (which is now a bit clearer to me). This was a collusive sexless loop, behavioral wise, that was finally broken by your seeking treatment. Your story reads as if your marital quality of life has improved a great deal, and that is a positive trend.

Please know that the post that you are responding to was written in response to something MVCMVC wrote which is now deleted so you are not reading my comments in original context. Probably you would have same opinion, and probably you are right since I'm new and haven't talked with her much, but I just wanted you to know it would maybe read differently if the original things she wrote (that I was responding to) was still there where she told me I was being passive aggressive.

Thank you and sorry for conflicting with you. Collusive sexless loop- ha ha I like that.

You deleted her post?!

No I did not. But it is not there now.

6 More Responses

I am happy that you have been able to solve your issues and rekindle your marriage. Your point of view just shows us that sometimes a sexless marriage can be fixed and may give soneone the hope they need to fix their marriage. The key is that you seeked proffesional help and took an active role in fixing your situation. <br />
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Anyone who is in a sexless marriage has issues unless both agree to be sexless. It really does not matter who the refuser is but what matters is are both willing to admit the issues and work on them. If one is not willing to fix or don't see it as an issue then the marriage has no hope. It does take two too fix the issues. I am at the end of the road for my marriage but we are trying one more couples retreat to see if we can fix the marriage. I don't have much hope it will get better, but at least I can say I tried. <br />
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It is nice to read about a sucess story for you. Although the people on this site may have hurt you at least it resulted in you getting the help you needed to fix your marriage. All is good that ends well.<br />
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Good luck

Thank you for your kind words and good luck with your own situation I hope you can both be happy one day. You are right that both people need to work together or it is impossible. Since you are going to couples retreats it sounds like maybe your partner is trying also to fix it? Maybe your partner doesn't know how to try or to help you or to ask for help? I don't know the details so I won't try to give advice, just I'm sorry you are experiencing this and I hope you work it out one way or another. You are right that this resulted in me evenutally getting help, I did not think about that so I am very thankful for this site in retrospect.