What Are The Odds Of Success?

How to begin this one? I’m 28, H is 27, and we’ve been married for 5 years. I was a virgin when we got married, although I’d had sexual experiences previously, and never had the problems that we're facing now. He’d been with one other woman before me, and had never said anything about there being issues with sex. During our pre-marital counseling, I mentioned that 4 times a week was a minimum for me, and he agreed, so I genuinely felt that we were on the same page. On our wedding night, we had sex once, and I asked him afterwards if we could do it again. He said no, that he was tired, and he just wanted to watch TV. I felt rejected and humiliated, and because he was my first sex, wondered if I’d done something wrong. He told me that I hadn’t, that it was great, but that he was done.

On our honeymoon, it was more of the same. I would initiate, and he told me that he wasn’t in the mood, and referred to himself as a “sex camel,” stating that he didn’t need it as frequently as I seemed to want it. I put on lingerie, and he would critique the color of it, and my wearing it in general. He stated that wearing lingerie seemed like a pointless waste of time, so I stopped. We had sex 4-5 times on the honeymoon, and I initiated all of it, and was turned down about half the times I tried. Since the honeymoon, it was a slow decline in frequency. Directly after the wedding, it was about once a week if I initiated it, and now the average is once every 6 weeks or so.

When I initiate, he's usually too tired, or too stressed, or I'm trying it at the wrong time. He’s made comments during sex about how my face looks weird, or I’m taking so long, and I’m just so incredibly uncomfortable even having sex with him at this point. He doesn’t like to French kiss, because he says that he can’t breathe during a deep kiss, plus, he has “bad memories” of kissing previous girlfriends, so he prefers to just give pecks. He’s also told me that he’s not used to needing to do any amount of foreplay, because his previous girlfriends were “always ready.”

In the last year, the only time we’d have sex was when I pointed out, “Hey, wow, it’s been like 3 weeks since we’ve had sex.” I’ve tried explaining my frustrations when I was calm and rational, and when we weren’t in the bedroom. I’ve tried appealing to him emotionally, and have broken down sobbing because I felt so unattractive to him, and he would usually initiate sex at that point. When I don’t mention it, though, it’s gotten to the point where we go months without sex. The last time we had sex was on our anniversary in May, and before that, it had been 3 months. He tells me that he finds me incredibly sexually attractive, but he’s got anxiety problems, and he needs me to initiate. I’ve pointed out that when I initiate, it’s hit or miss for success rate, and that I’ve been turned down so much, I’m a nervous wreck to initiate at this point. For reference, until a month ago, I had never turned him down for sex. For the past year, he has only initiated sex after about a half a bottle of wine, because he says it helps him feel less anxious, which doesn't help my self-esteem much.

I unconsciously turned off my sex drive about 5-6 months ago, just so I wasn’t torturing myself. At this point, I have no sexual feelings toward him anymore. He’s my best friend, he’s a great roommate, but he’s like my brother now. A month ago, I brought all of this up yet again, and told him that I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I said that something needed to change, that I had lost my sexual desire for him, and that we needed to figure things out. He agreed to counseling (finally) and immediately began rubbing on me to try to get me to have sex with him. I told him no, that I wasn’t emotionally capable of having sex with him, and he continued to do so for several days, until I gave in and we had sex. Since then, he “agrees” that sex is probably not the best idea right now. We’ve been going to counseling for 3 weeks, and the counselor is doing individual counseling currently.

I feel so incredibly guilty, because it seems like he’s trying now, and I’ve got lukewarm feelings about continuing the marriage. I’m so full of resentment that I brought it up dozens of times in the last 5 years, and nothing seemed to affect him until he realized just how dire this situation had become for me. I guess my question is: Truly, what’s the success rate? I have no desire to spend 2-3 years in therapy, only to end up right back where we are now, or to work incredibly hard at reaching some sort of mutual compatibility for mildly decent sex once or twice a month. And despite the lack of sex, I have to chime in to the ubiquitous refrain of “he’s a genuinely great guy and I love him dearly.” It’s true. We still have fun together, outside of the bedroom. We still have intimacy - we hold hands and hug and cuddle. And I seem to have something that is rare in refuser mentality - somebody who is willing to go to counseling and try to work on things. Am I stupid for holding on so tightly to my resentments, frustrations, and fears?

And I remember how crappy the dating world was, and how difficult it was to find somebody worthwhile, and I’m crippled by the fear that I’ll never find anything better. Feedback from those in the trenches, or out of the trenches, or who have waded through the trenches is desperately desired.
uncharted uncharted
26-30, F
10 Responses Jul 17, 2012

This sounds so familiar in every way. I'm in a very similar situation and have come to the conclusion that 1. My H is just not a very sexual person, and consequently 2. He not that into having sex with me. He can make a million excuses about relationship dynamics or stress or whatever, but when it comes down to it, it's pretty simple: either you want to **** me or you don't. And he doesn't enough for me or with the passion I need. It's so sad and I have experienced the shock you describe too---how can this be happening? The thing is, if your partner doesn't think it's really a problem and is just working on it because YOU think it's a problem, you probably aren't going to get the result you desire. I truly believe both parties have to want the change individually, not just one changing for the other. It's very painful, I know, and I'm sorry.

To work your way back from this kind of rejection, and the resulting resentment is very difficult. It is possible, but it is difficult. If you want to stay married and be happy, you will have to forgive him. This will take some time and some deep personal work, as well as work with him. You both have to be 100% committed to making the marriage mutually satisfying for BOTH of you - this means NOT compromising on the things that mean a lot to you. If the condition of staying married is sacrificing your sexuality, then you are better off alone. I have a success story, so you should have a look at what I have written it get an idea of what it took for my husband and I to rescue our relationship. Hands down, it has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, same for him. If you choose to commit to working on the relationship, you will embark on a path that will push you to your limits, and past them. If you stay true to *yourself* first and foremost, you will come out the other side a better, stronger person regardless of the outcome of the counseling. Best of luck to you.

When you were in the pre-marital counselling and he agreed to the four times a day, he was lying. He knows he ain't quite right for a normal woman...in his mind he didn't think there was anything else he could say. When he told you he was a sexual camel, he was telling the truth. When he critiqued the color of your lingerie, he was telling you in a passive aggressive way that he's not turned on by that kinda thing. I've had a very similar exchange with my husband. I can tell you that after 16 years and a kid I had to come to the painful realisation that he is never going to change, it's just not who he is. I wish, I wish, I wish that I'd been as aware as you're becoming much earlier on.

And that's where the resentment kicks in, right there. I feel like I was tricked and lured into the marriage under false pretenses. Maybe that sounds dramatic, but it's just so frustrating to feel like he willfully lied in order to get the results he wanted, and didn't plan ahead enough or care enough to think about the potential fallout down the line.

You have a right to be angry and resentful. You were tricked. But if it's any consolation he probably wished so much that it was true that he fooled himself as well or blinded himself with hope. Though that excuse doesn't wash 100%

This is a very difficult position in which to find yourself. You've been lurking and reading, so keep doing so and you will gain a lot of insight.

Thank you, MissLee. I'm not going anywhere. You'll all be sick of me by the end of this :)

Premarital counseling? WTF is that?<br />
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From my perspective, the following quotes stand out:<br />
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1) "Directly after the wedding, it was about once a week if I initiated it, and now the average is once every 6 weeks or so. "<br />
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2) "...he has only initiated sex after about a half a bottle of wine..."<br />
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3) "I’m so full of resentment that I brought it up dozens of times in the last 5 years."<br />
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You're in a typical pattern where your H just isn't into you. There are a lot of potential reasons why, but all of them are unsolvable from your perspective. I hate to be so blunt, but there isn't much chance of things getting better. And there is an almost virtual certainty that things will slowly get worse. Resentment is toxic, and you're already wallowing in it.<br />
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Don't have kids. Dating may not be great, but there are a lot of guys out there. Start looking. Surely you can do better.

Premarital counseling...yeah, it was a requirement to do 4-5 sessions to get married in the church we went to. In hindsight, the only thing I learned from premarital counseling is that paying attention to the way your partner approaches the sessions will tell you more about how they'll approach your married life than the words they say within the sessions. He basically waited until I did the quizzes and questionnaires, and then agreed to everything I'd said. Again, in hindsight...huge red flag.

Thank you for the bluntness. I need it, at this point, and hearing it from people who know exactly what this feels like is more helpful than you can imagine.

Your desire for intimacy brought you here. The issues your H has are something that won't heal overnight if they ever do. It sounds like you were mismatched from the beginning. 5 years is enough time to know.<br />
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I've waited 25 years and knew within the first 5 that things were not right, but by then, I had 2 kids. I wasn't about to leave my children without the magnificent father he is. So I sucked it up (and have no regrets about that). <br />
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The question you are asking, however, is "What's the success rate?" It is not very high and given what you shared, I would place my odds on incompatibility. Sometimes you can't change what is - acceptance is the way to happiness. You can accept your sex life will never be great (not likely to appease you since you found your way here) or you can accept your wants/desires and move toward the fulfillment of your needs. <br />
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I wish there were a magic pill that would cure this disease. But there isn't. Honestly, the only way through this is to tell the truth and move toward the life you want.

Thank you for your perspective. I really appreciate the help, especially from people who have been in this situation themselves.

Oh, I forgot one of the most important considerations. Do NOT make the mistake of thinking that starting a family might provide a good distraction from your problems. That will only be short-lived. Many of us, including yours truly, have made that blunder. It makes the problems worse, delays dealing with it, and harder to extricate yourself if you get to a point that you realize things are just not going to work. Again, I apologize for my apparent pessimism, but I would do you no favors to sugarcoat it.

No apologies necessary! I'm here for advice, I'd be an idiot to throw it out when I get it :). And the kids thing is no problem - neither of us want them, and even if I did, we've talked before about how I wouldn't have kids with him. We have disagreements about how to parent our dog - kids would be a disaster...

Just keep it in mind. We weren't planning on having kids when we got married either. In fact my wife said she NEVER wanted to have kids. I was ambivalent. Then the whole biological clock thing kicked in when she was in her early 30's, and the rest is history. She even decided to quit working and raise them full time(this is a woman with a Master's Degree who didn't want kids at all).

Definitely keeping it in mind. I don't feel like kids right now would do anything but make the situation worse, so it's not anywhere on the docket.

Wow only when it is too late does he seem to realise the gravity of the situation. You are in the classic refused scenario that you have been refused sby him for so long that you no longer desire him. <br />
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Might i be right in assuming that you now resent him?<br />
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Stay Strong & Good Luck

Yeah, this feels pretty typical, based on a lot of the stories I've read here. Except for the fact that he is going to counseling willingly, and has brought up a couple of marriage books that I'd suggested reading previously. But like you said, it might be too late? My resentment is incredibly deep, and I think it was only made worse when he chose NOW to make changes, rather than doing so 4 or 5 years ago when I brought it up the first time. Is it even fair to seek reconciliation when I'm this angry with him?

This is obviously his one last shot at saving his little world from crumbling. He has probably realised that you are done with his antics and will no longer put up with them. Regarding reconciliation i wouldn't seek it until your feelings of anger are dealt with or preferably bought to the table for him to know of them and why you feel this way. But that choice id for you to make. We can only offer an opinion.

And I hugely appreciate the help. I thought I was alone in this until last week. I had no idea SM was as common as it is. The one positive is that we're maintaining incredibly open communication. He's very aware of my resentment and my anger, and has commented that he hopes I can "get over it" in time. Which, given the circumstances, wasn't the best wording he could have used... :)

I suggest you do a LOT of reading here. You'll find your story is pretty typical of the folks in this group, almost cliche in fact.<br />
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As young as you are, and having only been married for a few years, I certainly wouldn't dissuade you from seeking counseling. The only thing I would suggest is that if you know you can't deal with the status quo indefinitely, set a firm timetable for how long you can be patient, hoping the two of you can work out your issues with professional help, and stick to it. In the meantime, give it your best effort.<br />
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Unfortunately your experience is all too familiar and has all the hallmarks of a disaster in the making. Not very positive, I know, but it sounds like the two of you are on opposite ends of the spectrum sexually, and I don't know that it can ever be made to work for the long haul when there's that much of a disparity, even when both partners are able to communicate effectively and have the best of intentions. I hope I'm wrong, but the sooner you find out whether this is going to be workable the better. Don't make the mistake many of us have and tread water for 20, 25, 30 years before coming to your senses.

I've actually been lurking here for a week before I got up the nerve to post. This group was what helped me realize the gravity of the situation, and to see my probable future if I maintained the status quo. It's also helped me to identify a lot of the refuser patterns that he's displaying more prominently now that I've sought change.

How do I know and trust, though, that the changes I'm seeking are lasting and permanent, and because he does genuinely want an intimate, sexual relationship, rather than a frantic attempt to slap a band-aid on the problem and get me to shut up for a few months? ;)

I don't know that you can ever be sure what his motivations are if he makes the changes you need him to. You can't read his mind. I expect the only metrics at your disposal will be time and consistency. That's why I think it's important to have a firm timetable in mind.

Do you have any suggestions for a timetable? I'm having a hard time coming up with neutral expectations.

That's entirely up to you and your level of patience and tolerance. I can't help you there. If it were me, and I had it to do over again, I would think two years tops. Long enough to allow for change, and make a balanced assessment as to whether they seemed sustainable. That may be too long or too short depending for some people.

Two years is a good outer limit. If you can work something faster, so be it. Life really is short, and you don't want to waste it.

VB's 90 days FROM today has a lot going for it. Your spouse has had over 1,800 days so far and done **** all.

I guess I can see tentatively mothballing plans for bailing if you see good results within 90 days. I just don't know how you could have any confidence the changes would be permanent without at least a probationary period following it, like another 3-9 months say.

90 days seems so much more reasonable to me. I guess it's pretty telling that my heart sank when I read 2 years. The only thing I keep thinking is, "I wonder how long he can fake it?" Ugh.

As I said, you have to determine based on your level of patience. Two years was the absolute worst case I could imagine for me personally. Not that you want him to fake it, but if he can't even fake it for 90 days that's telling you something right there. On the other hand, if he does manage to fake it for 90+ days(obviously he shouldn't know that you have a specific threshhold in mind) and then falters, where does that leave you? My sense is that you already have all the information you need and there's no need to put either of you through this painful exercise, but you're having trouble coming to terms with it.

Your intuition is correct. I'm not sure how to transition from a "failure is not an option" mentality to a "yep, we failed" mentality without dying a little inside. And to try to do it with grace? Yeah...

7 More Responses

There is no reason why you cannot have a successful outcome here.<br />
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But the key question is, 'what is a "successful" outcome ?'<br />
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If your only definition of a successful outcome is to produce a vibrant and fulfilling marriage complete with all the sexual trimmings with this dude, then I don't like your chances too much.<br />
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If your definition of success runs to finding out the truth of the situation, and letting the truth dictate the outcome (whatever that might be - including the probability that this marriage is a dead duck), then I really like your chances of success.<br />
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Your story indicates that HE doesn't actually think there is a problem. He is only attending counselling at your insistence and without enthusiasm or committment. That is a very poor indicator for any potential "cure" for the dysfunctional marriage. <br />
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Might be best to assume the worst at this point, and go see a lawyer in your jurisdiction to see how a divorce would shake out. Just so you "know" what might be ahead. Armed with that knowledge and the certainty for your future it would provide as a viable option to continued misery, you can attack the counselling option without the nagging worry of "what'll I do if this doesn't work ?"<br />
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Tread your own path.

Before finding this group, I think I was so mired in the idea that I'd given vows to him, and I took those completely seriously, that the idea of divorce was unfathomable. I never, EVER saw divorce as a possibility for my marriage, and if it had been in my mind at all before we got married, I wouldn't have gone through with it. This is not an outcome I was looking for, but is one that I'm seeing as being more likely than not, lately. If he can't be intimate with me comfortably, it's selfish of me to expect him to change. If he can't meet my needs, it's selfish of him to expect me to tamp them down. We're at a bit of an impasse. I'm hopeful that as I seek truth, I'll have the strength to look at the situation full on, and make a completely educated assessment of what would be best for both of us. The lawyer is a good idea, although to be honest, it's terrifying to me, because of the mental step it signifies.