Therapy Update

I've been reading The Sex Starved Marriage. In it she lists a number of questions one should ask a therapist to help ensure you are getting someone who can treat people in an SM. Tuesday I sent the following message to the therapist:

"Before we get started with therapy I wanted to ask a few questions about you, your approach and your clinic:

I saw the cost scale on your website. Is the cost the same whether you are counseling individuals or couples?

What experience do you have specifically addressing people in sexless marriages?

Is your approach future oriented? (Where does the client want to be in a week, month, year, etc.)?

Do you believe in the sanctity of marriage? Does your approach focus on attempting to salvage the marriage before considering other alternatives?

What are your views on divorce? Do you have an idea of what percentage of couples in your practice left with their marriage intact?"


I was actually expecting a call back from her to arrange an appointment and learn whether my wife had called. My wife hadn't shared whether she had called or not.

What I got back instead was the following message:

As I began to answer your valid questions about my specific experience with sexless marriages I realized that I am not the best fit for you. As I said in our meeting, I do not specialize in couple counseling, but have dealt with issues concerning couples.

She also included a referral to another therapist who indicated she has quite a bit of experience with people in sexless marriages.

Yesterday I made an appointment with her. Now here's the interesting part.

I told my wife that I had made the appointment at a time that was convenient for both of us and encouraged her to join me. Her response wasn't anything I had expected and it was encouraging.

For the first time ever she admitted that we have a long history of unresolved emotional issues as well as her own physical problems. She said she wanted to start by pursuing separate individual treatment. She also said she wanted to work with her doctor to resolve physical issues related to sex.

This tells me a couple of things (assuming she actually follows through with what she's saying). 1) because she has thown up cost as an issue, pursuing separate therapy means there are significant issues she wants to address probably directed at me. 2) she seems willing to do something about the issues.

We've talked more about our issues in this brief exchange than we've talked about them in years. That's encouraging.

With all that said it could just be another refuser tactic.

I think (maybe it's just hopeful thinking) that me taking action to see a therapist is an indicator that I am serious about resolving the issue one way or another. Maybe she fears the alternative if she doesn't step up to the plate.

BTW the elliptical trainer is in place. As she was setting it up she needed to enter her weight. It was the first time I saw what her weight was...she has a tough job ahead of her getting back to a healthy weight. I have no doubt that if she is committed and loses the weight it will improve her general health. I don't know if the libido will get a boost at the same time. I frankly doubt it because the state of SM has persisted much longer than the weight and health issues. We will need to address the emotional issues as well as the health.
NWTruthSeeker NWTruthSeeker
56-60, M
8 Responses Mar 10, 2012

Just something else to consider.<br />
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It is not unknown, should sex be put back on the table, for someone in your position to find that that train has left the station. That you actually no longer desire her, the embers of love have actually extinguished.<br />
<br />
When / if that happens, it comes entirely out of the blue and is most confusing.<br />
<br />
Don't run your strategy with this as a vital part of it - but be aware that it does pan out that way sometimes.<br />
<br />
Tread your own path.

I know of two good friends here who went for counseling and are making their marriage work. <br />
Unfortunately, like ModLuLu, they are the exceptions to the rule.<br />
You might want to ask yourself some questions before you go into this. <br />
- How long are you willing to devote to counseling and her efforts to 'work' on the marriage?<br />
- Let's assume counseling works out and you're having sex. What are you willing to do if, a year down the line, things drift back to their current SM state?<br />
<br />
While in counseling, listen to what your wife says and DOESN'T say.

I've read ModLulu's story and it's an inspiration for me. I've considered your first question. I am currently willing to give this a year with quarterly milestone for "progressive affection". What I mean by this is that at each milestone the level of affection expressed needs to be stepped up. Today there is nothing. The first milestone as we begin therapy would be for my wife to begin expressing affection, hugs, kisses, caresses, etc. the each quarter the expressions become more intimate and expressive. The second question I hadn't considered. I will need to give that some thought.

With regard to the "progressive affection" and your other plans, I would advice against letting your W know about it.
Then, you'll know if it is personally motivated vs doing what you expect in order to save the marriage.

I haven't shared this with her. That is a great suggestion. I'll keep this one to myself.

There are VERY few success stories here, but honestly, the ones that I recall seeing had elements similar to your story. Instead of making excuses to begin taking steps, your wife is actually taking the steps and not throwing up roadblocks to each path. You're being compassionate about her issues, and recognizing that BOTH of you need some guidance in getting back to "intimate". Although intimacy ain't rocket science, deep-seated psychological issues aren't, either... they're HARDER. If your wife has something that's keeping her from being intimate/staying healthy/living to her max potential, then that's worthy of consideration.... TO A POINT. You get to decide where your point is.

Her "theoretical" grasp of the situation seems real enough.<br />
<br />
Now, 2 main things.<br />
<br />
1 - does the theory become action, does the action become the new normal ?<br />
2 - have YOU got anything left in the tank to burn daylight whilst awaiting the results of #1 (above) ??<br />
<br />
There's a choice for you.<br />
<br />
Tread your own path.

That is a very concise summation. My plan is designed to draw out 1) with a defined date.

Running the clock on it is a very wise move.

I think it's great that she seems willing to take some proactive steps toward working on the problems. That is, indeed, encouraging. I think that she should go ahead and start the couples counseling with you anyway; she can see an individual therapist too. That's what I did. It was emotionally draining, but I needed to start tearing through **** with a jackhammer. My husband also saw his own therapist while we were going through the couples counseling. <br />
<br />
You booking the counseling session does show you are serious about working on your problems, and she SHOULD fear the alternative if she doesn't step up to the plate. She needs to know that leaving this unresolved is NOT an option if she wants to stay married to you. Marital love is not unconditional (and that's not a bad thing). When spouses are in a situation where they are absolutely sure divorce is not an option, they have zero incentive to change (coughcoughManInFullcoughcough). Hold her to her commitment, hold her to deadlines, and hold her to her responsibility in being actively involved in the process. That is how she will show her commitment to you and your marriage at this time. <br />
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As for the black-and-white view of marriage as "you either like having sex with your spouse or not" -- I totally disagree with that. Completely, totally, 100% disagree. If you expect to have sex with only one person for 50+ years, and your feelings for that person NEVER change, then you have a 100% chance of getting divorced. Unless you are living in a fairy tale. Maybe one on 10,000 real-life marriages are like that, but for the rest of us mortals, we have to work harder for it. Marriage is so much more complicated, nuanced, elastic, and evolving than I ever gave it credit for. I am allowing myself to just live through my changing feelings for my husband (which have greatly improved in the past year), and let the relationship evolve. Last year, when I hated having sex with my husband, and if the only advice I believed was the black-and-white views here, I would have seen no alternative to divorce on the spot. Thank God I stuck with it through the crappy time -- I am still married, we are happy together, and we have plenty of great sex. <br />
<br />
The right couples counselor will be a great asset to your process. Best to you!


Thank you for your encouragement and support. What you've done with your situation is an inspiration for those that truly want to save the marriage and put the hard work into saving it.

Therapists are not sorcerers, magicians, miracle workers, or even solution providers. Where they work with couples, they have no role as negotiators or arbitrators. At best they are facilitators, enablers, which means that either the individual or couple involved have to be positive-minded, open-minded and prepared to think and consider things about themselves that they would probably be initially inclined to park in some distant recess of the mind.<br />
<br />
That is where you and your wife are in this whole process whether initially in individual counselling or eventually in couple's counselling. It might be worth considering that realisation with one another. If you both can enable yourselves like that then there is always hope. Good luck!

You are spot on. One of our challenges is communication. My expectation is that the therapist will do what you are suggesting, facilitate the communication and bring to light things that we probably had parked in distant recesses of the mind.

I also think that you are correct in that once those things come to light we have to be willing to address them. To me this is the value of therapy. If one or both of us are unwilling to address what is brought to light we're probably done.

I would like to believe that I will have the proper frame of mind to address my issues and issues we share. If I don't at least address my issues, it really won't matter what happens in the future. I will still be carrying my own baggage.

What remains to be seen is whether my wife will be willing to address her issues. If not, the therapist will have done me a valuable service in bringing the issues to light and putting a spotlight on my wife's unwillingness to address her problems. In that case, we're done as well.

I still say that money spent on counselling would be better put towards the cost of a divorce. Intimacy is not rocket science. If your partner does not want you, there's nothing a therapist can do but take your money while they address the various deep `issues'. I call bollocks on the lot of them.

I like your comment "Intimacy is not rocket science". So simple and relevant.

Thank you. This group really gives me the chance to work through the long term sexless marriage I found myself in. The heavens smiled on me and I took my chance to move on (with a wonderful woman who had experienced exactly the same thing. We value our intimacy as much as anyone in this world could. I spent years looking for the answer when there was none, and if I can help anyone to see this for themselves then I truly feel like I have helped. Only we can know what it feels like to be sexless and rejected.

I have been actively dealing with my SM for 5 1/2 years. All of that time, both my H and I have done individual counseling. At the beginning of our journey, we started couple's counseling, but it was clear to me after only a few sessions that my H was not ready to deal with me because he really hadn't dealt with himself. So doing some individual work before entering couple's therapy will give you a running start when you get to couples therapy. I cannot evaluate her motivation, but the concept is a valid and reasonable one.<br />
<br />
The reasons for the SM have everything to do with the **** we carry around with us from way, way back. Both of you have issues that exacerbate the problems in the other - those issues are likely the very thing that brought you together because they were familiar to you but it took a weird turn by taking sex out of the equation.<br />
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Your journey is to do whatever it takes to make sure if you end up leaving that you did everything in your power to save your marriage. I know I have done everything and more, but it's not been easy, and I've felt lots of despair. I wouldn't have changed any of it though. From where I sit now, I can see the tremendous value of this journey and know that the future is bright for my H, my children and me no matter what happens. I am a different who has figured out that I matter. Selflessness is every bit as damaging as selfishness; there is a middle ground I've never known until now which allows me to honor myself while caring about others. A true epiphany!<br />
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Blessings to you on your will be is ok.

Thank you for sharing. Your support and the support of many others here makes this process easier.