What To Do? Help Anyone?

I live in a sexless marriage. There are so many reasons for this from both of us that I have no idea what the root of it is any more. I am the refuser and have been on the other side too. In the mix we have my emotional dysfunction and complete emotional breakdown 6 years ago. We have his brain-tumour that led to excessive weight gain. There is depression and bi-polar disorder and all the associated pharmaceuticals that go along with it. And more recently (last 3 years) we have been battling with his alcohol dependancy. In the meantime we have created a successful business and live comfortably, but there are no children and probably never will be. How could I have children with someone who has so many problems? How can I have sex with someone who has no love for himself or his body, and from my perspective, is actively involved in self-destructing. Cigarettes (30 per day), Alcohol, Coffee, bad diet, no exercise... there is only physical repulsion, not attraction, I do not want that fat, smelly man huffing and puffing on top of me! Lucky for me with all the psychiatric pills he is taking and the lack of testosterone from the brain-tumour (side effect) there is no chance of that happening for some time. I do not even think he can get it up at the moment, or if he even wants to!

And yet, as with all these stories, there is the other side. He supported me through my breakdown, he has continued to accept me and I am quite a different person to the one he married, he supports me financially (yes, that is a factor as I have no family and if I leave there is no where to go unless I burden friends which I am too proud to do) and he does love me and need me. For those of you with as much pop-psycology as most out there the 'need' word should start the alarm bells tolling... I am loyal, I believe in marriage, I still believe he can get better.

The brain-tumour is treatable and is being treated (when he remembers to take the pills, self-sabotage according to me, he does not want to get better for whatever reason, in love with the excuse?). The alcoholism is something that can be dealt with and the other health issues can be tackled through diet and exercise. Then I could have my man back?

But is it worth it? At the end of all this work, and it seems like an insurmountable mountain right now, will I want to have sex with him, or will I never get over the revulsion of his stinky, drunk self getting in to bed? I have intimacy issues and I really need to trust someone to give myself to them, so much of our trust has been destroyed, I do not know if it can be rebuilt?

The reason I am here on this site is that we are starting round 2. We got over the first round of Alcoholic behaviour 2 years ago, but it is back. I think he has started drinking to counter-act the feelings of coming off the bi-polar meds. Coming of Seroquil and Cymbalta was HARD and he has turned to booze again. But I am tired and I do not know if I have the inner strength this time to help him through this again. Especially as I feel betrayed by his failure to stay off the booze. And I worry that this may be a endless cycle, that he gets sober and then falls off the wagon again, I cannot live in a life like that. I don't drink, I don't eat meat, I don't smoke, I run and go to gym 3 times per week, I am very spiritual, living with this man that I love is killing me. He sucks up all my energy and leaves me feeling depleted and hopeless.

Don't know what to do. Anyone have any advice? Perhaps I should have posted this elsewhere as the lack of sex is just another side-effect of everything else that is going on. But that doesn't mean that I don't miss sex. I would love to have an affair, but I just don't have it in me to be that deceptive or break my marriage vows. I would have to leave him before I would allow myself to get involved with anyone else.
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19 Responses Sep 15, 2012

He Fears Death ?
Who may need to have HOPE but in the beginning when You first met, dated, courting etc.
What Goals have You come up with together ?

My wife had back pain, was off from work for a month, she planned a weekend get a way a few weeks ago, she started working out while both us force together is helping a bit.

A feedback, a few changes can help rather than feeling alone and going backwards.

Enjoy brainstorming and getting feedback too ! Thanks for sharing ! Would enjoy more too !
Wish You All the Very Best !

Having walked in your shoes, my advice is to get out! Make a financial plan and be quiet about this. He will not change so it is up to you to change and find a better life for yourself. The peace of mind that you will feel will be wonderful!

You owe it to yourself to find happiness in this life. To gain self respect and self love. Once you are centered, so much in life will open up for you.I am twice your age but I am now living a life with my wonderful husband who I met here on EP four years ago. We live with like and respect and love. Free to be our true selves with no judgments. We are best friends and laugh so much.

Our transitions were hard but we are now doing well financially and live peaceful loving lives. If I had stayed with my ex I would be dead by now. Simple fact. So take your life and make from it what you want. You deserve so much better and you will find this. Peace,D

A defining moment in my former marriage was when I realized that my husband was continuing to do things to harm his body and bring on his early death. How could I continue to love a man who made choices that would eventually end his life.

He was diabetic but ate sweets constantly when at work. Refused to exercise even after I bought us a joint membership at the gym. Went one time and got mad at me. Smoked like a chimney even though he had recurring pneumonias and heart problems. Started coughing up, blood in the sink but said nothing was wrong when I voiced concern. Had high sugar tests and high cholesterol and refused to diet.

When his opportunity came up with his company to get more life insurance, a one time deal with no physical, he said to me,"I can't use the money after I die". I explained that this was to protect me from his loss of income and he told me to fend for myself! Not one thought for my survival and we were getting along well at this time or so I thought.

I started my mental process of leaving him years before the fact. Found it impossible to feel love for him due to many other hurts and betrayals. I did not even like the man. He treated me worse than a dog for years. I feel no guilt over his suicide. It was a relief because I no longer lived in fear of my life or other innocent people. Could stop shoving the alarm wedge underneath my bedroom door at night. Take the butcher knife from under my pillow and live like a normal human being in my own home. His death brought me peace. Sadness but the peace and lack of fear was the most I felt. Peace,D

Ya know, I wondered what it was like on the other side and now I think I have a better idea.
You feel that he doesn't respect himself or his body because of what you believe he does to it. You do realize that just being an example isn't enough when your SO has sunk so low, right?
Instead of thinking about what you think or feel he does impacts you, think of how it's impacting him. If he doesn't know how to eat right, cook for him. Better yet, cook with him. If he doesn't exercise, go for a walk with him. It doesn't have to be dressed up as exercise, just a stroll with the man you love. Then build on that and in the end, you both get exercise and maybe some bonding will happen along the way. If he doesn't smell nice when you go to bed, buy him some nice shower gel and shower together. A shower isn't a guarantee of sex, just a way to love him more tenderly and thoughtfully.

I've told my guy friends for years that if you make a woman feel beautiful, sexy, and desirable, she will want to be those things. If you encourage a woman and make it a point to notice her efforts, big and small, she will continue to strive for her goals. This is no different for a man. He may have given up because he feels like you've given up on him. If you've been together for a while, he can tell by your body language that you're unhappy, uninterested, and unsatisfied. Which leads to the other "un". An unstable relationship that can fall apart easily and quickly.

Stop thinking about him and how you think he is ruining the relationship. Start thinking about your part in this, and how you can do your utmost to make it work.

You could try Rousana's strategy of subjugating your entire being to accommodate your spouses many interesting and varied neurosis. In other words, continue on with what you've been doing and "just try harder". That will provide your spouse with an open ended free ride and prevent him from ever taking on any personal responsibility for himself. He would have no motivation what so ever to make any attempt at personal growth. You would condemn him to staying just like he is forever. He is more than capable of ******* his life up - as he has shown you. He doesn't require your help to do so.

Interesting reply but it would be useful to note that he is not exactly a free-rider when he has provided emotional support and continues to provide financial support. Self centeredness is not one sided in the context of this relationship and I think that is important to understand!

A very thoughtful and thought-about reply Rousana, full of humanity and without bitterness.

Thank you heightsgreen! : )

I think so many of us spend our time thinking about me, me, me. How the situation impacts us. But, you have to remember, so is the other person. In my experience, that really doesn't move things along, just creates deeper resentment. I am NOT saying that anyone should stay and try to make an abusive relationship work. But if you took the step to marriage, I would assume that at some point you loved your partner. If he/she isn't abusive, and if you still love them, why not try to do everything you can to make it work. Including stepping outside of yourself and being more self-less. If your efforts and love don't work, at least you leave the marriage knowing that you did your best and tried every way to resolve it. Not in a smug, martyr kind of way, but in a "I can move on" kind of way.

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an alcoholic is always an alcoholic and most need a support system to quit and stay sober. Alcoholism alone is enough reason to start making plans to exit and find a more compatible partner that you can enjoy all the things a marriage should offer~

"We do pick the partners that will most clearly show us our own failings." <--This is a difficult concept for many. It would make a great post in itself! (If you don't I will!)

I encourage you to seek personal counselling. There are SO many factors operating in this situation that it will take you time to work out how to proceed. A skilled therapist would be a HUGE help to you in figuring out where to go.

Wow, glad you are venting, it needs to be done. I have a marriage of 20 years, and a husband who works hard, drinks to excess, over eats, smokes heavily. He has no interest in me at all. He isn't who I married, I had a melt down 2 years ago, he has stuck by me through it, but like everything else it is not talked about. Things have been easier since I started to really pray, read the bible (the message version) and really just Look to God through Jesus. I have asked him to turn this around and start with me. I feel more positive about it, a peace even though nothing has changed yet.

all things are possible with God~

The man you seem to find so awful and repugnant, that you see as a failure and involved in self destructive behaviour is the person you presumably once felt affection for. Have you ever tried to imagine what life must be like for him, what it must feel like to be struggling with all the issues that he is and has struggled with? Have you ever asked yourself why he indulges in alcohol and smoking and what fear he must hold inside himself because of his illnesses and his afflictions. Of course you cannot get inside someones head and fully understand what anything in life is like for them but you can try to imagine especially when they were the person who stood by you when you needed support and help and who continues to support you and accept you as you are. Have you considered that he may care for you and love you more deeply than you know but cannot find the means either emotionally or physically to show you. He perhaps senses how you feel about him physically and would be very wary about any show of feelings for fear of rejection.

It's understandable that you feel frustrated and unfulfilled in the ways you have stated but you may have some hard decisions to make in either finding ways to deal more positively with the situation and in dealing with his very low self esteem and most likely the fear that he has in wondering what is going to happen to his life which has obviously taken a downward spiral of depression and anxiety. You have to consider if you are really at the end of the line with the relationship or if you can find enough commitment to go that extra mile in getting him back on track. He may have given up because he feels you have; you will know that better than anyone if you are still able to discuss the weight of problems you both have to bear. The other option is to end this relationship and move on but you have to have some kind of sense as to what you will move on too. This course of action will mean leaving him to get on with his life by himself, unless of course he has friends or family who can or who would take on the support that he so obviously needs. It is infinitely sad if you cannot tell each other what your fears are and how each other is feeling about being in the relationship as it stands. Does he know how you are feeling deep down inside? Have you any idea how he feels deep down? If not, as hard as it might be, it would be wise to try and talk things over with each other. If you have already done this and nothing has come of it then you have few choices left to you. You stay with him and hope that things will improve or you leave him, but as you say he needs, you have nowhere to go and you do have a sense of loyalty towards him.

Imagine what you would feel like if you wanted support over something and it wasn't there and all you had to rely on was yourself. Compare that with how you would feel knowing there was someone who was willing to stand by you and you weren't alone after all. It's the same for him, if you have, even unintentionally, given him a sense that he is a burden on you that itself is a debilitating feeling, a reason why someone would think of themselves as worthless and give up trying. Perhaps in the end you have to decide whether you have time for him or if your own desires, above all else, are more important.

"Cigarettes (30 per day), Alcohol, Coffee, bad diet, no exercise... there is only physical repulsion, not attraction, I do not want that fat, smelly man huffing and puffing on top of me!"

Yuck! At this point I'd be running for the door. Move on.

Maybe as a complete stranger I do not see some hidden issues, but to me the decision seems pretty straight forward...
You are young,healthy fertile and fit female,repulsed by your husband and you are financial partner(you have comfortable lifestyle now, sure you have a legal right for about a half of that?) ,nothing obvious(to me) that can stop you of starting to build new life for yourself... Why you even think about friends support in this situation? You are not crippled?
I personally do not see any benefits of staying in this relationship.... Only the way to self destruction and much regrets later in life...

You are dealing with enough crap between the two of you, aside from whatever the choice to indulge a known drinking problem AND meds, which each bring their own additional problems, while diminishing the capacity for remedy. In doing that, he's making it YOUR problem while he checks out. There's just not much negotiation or nuance in dealing with a drinking problem, and the outcomes are predictable enough that you can decide right now if you wish to travel the road he's choosing to take. Even with an otherwise fulfilling relationship, it would likely be tough sloging. But in your case, and in mine, I took my wife aside and made it very clear that this was going to be the limit of my tolerance, and that if she continued to choose to indulge her similar problem, I intended to go to any length protect myself and our children from it, including immediate separation, divorce, kicking her out of the house, seeking full custody and enlisting the aid of her own family to do so. I also indicated that I was not interested in debating the existence of the problem, whatsoever, and that my terms were not negotiable. AND that I would be checking up on her regularly, and if she chose to give it up and choose her family instead, then I didn't want any guff when I asked her how she was doing with the booze. She had a choice to make, and she was putting me in a position to choose, and my own choice in this case was not going to be ambiguous.

She curbed the drinking, immediately.

I'd have to say that's pretty unusual.

Have you looked up the word "co-dependency" yet? You should. I believe your portraits will be right there in the dictionary.

Lots of issues here, a mess, but it sounds like this is the end. You've supported each other well in the past, but it's get the better of you and neither of you have much left to give the other.

You both need time to yourselves to disentangle the resentment and passive-aggressive sh*t, only then can you even begin to think of whether you WANT to stay together in future.

Having an affair just is a way to not deal with the issue at hand. Yes they can be fun and life affirming but still the marriage needs to be addressed. Can you stay with a man who is not loving himself or you? This is what you need to look at and find the answer!! Love yourself first..

Your use of the word "love" is interesting to me. There is love and there is LOVE!!! The love your describe is as one would have for a friend - it is not the love one would have for a lover. They are distinctly different - both powerful and important but completely different.

I love my H and would never abandon him. He is the father of my children and a kind-hearted, thoughtful man. But he is not my lover. What I am finding after only 10 days of separation is I am free to love him fully because we've taken the "lover" part out of the equation. The things about him I truly love are still there, and I realize my life will always include him if it's what we both want. But a relationship is always a joint effort no matter what kind it is.

With or without alcoholism, brain tumors, mental breakdowns, it sounds as if you didn't marry a lover - you married someone who would never leave you and needs you. This is a slippery slope that's hard to unwind. Your subconscious keeps creating circimstances which lock you in for the forseeable futurel you get over one crisis and then there's another. My suggestion is to get yourself out there and become financially self-sufficient. Once you start chipping away at your dependency, you will be able to see things more clearly.

Get a divorce.
It is not that complicated and you know it.

Your post gave me a headache half way through. The bottom line is this: If you are a refuser, you are a bad person for staying in the marriage and faking a happy face.

"In the meantime we have created a successful business and live comfortably..."

".. he supports me financially (yes, that is a factor as I have no family and if I leave there is no where to go unless I burden friends which I am too proud to do)..."

Which is it?
Did he create the business or did you or did the two of you?
THIS is the major disconnect for me in your story.

I read so many stories here and I sense (in many) that underlying feeling of resistance to standing on our own two feet FINANCIALLY.

I know I'm going to take heat on this one but you'll never know what you CAN do unless you TRY.

Are you ready to try?

I guess the better questions are what are you equipped to do?
What are you prepared to do? <--Think HARD on this one.
What are you afraid of?

The following helped me a great deal at one point in my life. I think of it often when I doubt; when I fear doing something. Maybe it can help you too:

From Matthew 6:
"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
27Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28"So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31"Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?' or "What shall we drink?' or "What shall we wear?' 32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.


I have a few questions and thoughts on this tangled web. Firstly, did he always smoke? Secondly, can you pinpoint when the excessive drinking started? Why would a man who believes his wife loves him and desires him, engage in self destructive behaviors? You talked about the difference in your lifestyles and his acceptance of you and your lack of acceptance of him. Perhaps he is selfish or perhaps his self care is connected to your revulsion of him. I don't presume to know. The main thing is that there is little evidence of his trying and little evidence of your connectedness to him - you love him but cannot see yourself being intimate with him. You have choices - they aren't great ones but they are there nonetheless.

Here is the key statement in your story - "I still believe he can get better".

This is the core issue off which everything else hangs.

So I am going to challenge that statement as my contribution to your story.

On what you have written about his assorted issues - and God knows there are plenty of them - there is no evidence in your story of any attempts he is making to address them.


And without Herculean work on his part, there is no known way his issues are going to get any better. And far from making such superhuman efforts he appears to be doing nothing. There is simply nothing in the story to suggest he can get better.

What would be the hard evidence to back up your statement that "I still believe he can get better" ??

Supplementary question - do you have a fall back plan to cover the scenario of him NOT getting better ?

Tread your own path.

The lack of sex is almost always a side effect of everything else that's going on.

I dunno about that.