From Another Perspective

I don't really belong in this group because I no longer live in a sexless marriage. I was the spouse that refused sex. For me various reasons attributed to it, I wasn't feeling romanced by him, I longed for non physical intimacy more than sexual intimacy, I was tired when I came home, I went through a spell of just not feeling aroused by him. while he would pour his heart out to me, told me how the lack of sex made him feel, how he didn't feel loved and he didn't feel attractive because I didn't approach him physically. I didn't do anything to address his issues. I kept this attitude of if I am cooking, cleaning and tending house, then what's the big deal we dont have sex. This back and forth went on for yrs, eventually he had an affair and I found out. I was crushed in so many ways but I had to honestly look at what caused it to happen. I was very aware that the lack of intimacy that I set forth in motion caused this to happen.

As I dealt with my feelings of the reality I created, I at first started having more sex with him. It wasn't because I wanted to heal his wounds but because I didn't want him to stray again but there was to much pain associated with the act. I couldn't get past him being with someone else, so I started to become distant again and had my own affair. There we stood, two people who love each other in this cycle of hurt repeating the pain. Eventually my affair ended and I had to seriously evaluate my marriage. Do I want to keep hurting him? do I love him enough to try and fix it? Why am I not more intimate with him? what really is the deal?

It does come to the point where you know that being in a sexless marriage has to change, as the person who is holding the power by withholding sex, you really have to say to yourself either I am going to **** or get off the pot so to speak. Either I am going to do something and change because I do love him and want to make it work, or it simply is I am no longer in love or sexually attracted to him. The truth was I am in love with him, so I changed. It has been a gradual process, four years later we are in a wonderful place. We have had lots of talks, we reconnected sexually by accepting what our likes and needs are now. A lot of it had to do with life changes, changes in sexual taste and communicating. I couldn't hear his needs because I didn't want to listen and his hurt wouldn't allow him to see the other ways I needed to be acknowledged.

It isn't right to use sex as a weapon against your spouse, it isn't there for that. It shouldn't be the only thing that connects you but it is an important aspect. I know this now. for those of you that say you love your spouse and everything else is great outside of sex, I hope that you and your spouse can find a way out of the sexless marriage trap.
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11 Responses Dec 23, 2012

Thanks for your honest story. I find myself in a similar situation and am glad to hear it is possible to work through it and reconnect sexually. May I add you to my ( currently non-existent ) circle ? I would value any advice you felt able to offer.

Thank you for posting. I know it takes 2 to change the situation and still be together.

One thing I was wondering, it seemed from your account like your affairs were the thing that brought home the realities to you rather than his pouring his heart out beforehand, is that right?

Was there anything he could have done with less fallout that would have crystalised the emergency for you? Or were you justifying the original postion with the normal if-onlies and self-justification?

Thanks, that's pretty much what happened to me (without the affair though). Until she understood that it was terminal and we were down to bare metal, she wouldn't take what I said seriously, which still rankles 3 good years downstream - as it should! I suppose I was curious whether there was any way of getting through with less pain and damage (which was major for me, my feeling is that my loss of trust in her has been very similar to the impact of an affair).

IslandKandi and hl42, i have been asked the exact same question by many people struggling with this on EP too.
My story was much the same as many others , but we never got as far as the affairs.
I too, just didn't see how bad things had become no mater what my husband said, i was lost in my own issues.He did think that he might have to end up finding what he needed elsewhere but didn't.
He finally snapped and said he was quitting his job of 23 years and taking a new one 3 hours away, and wasn't sure he could stand US anymore.
This woke me up and i began to mend our relationship. 2 years later we couldn't be happier. It was the worst thing i had ever gone through , having to hear that we were so close to seperating.
I can't seem to work out what he could have done, to get through to me how bad things were, that didn't require him hurting me at the same time. Thankfully , he didn't stray , but him telling me that he was leaving was almost as painful.
I'm affraid that there may not be something inbetween that creates the EMERGENCY and that your partner may need to be halfway out the door to really get your attention !

Thank you, I hope 2013 is a great year for you.

I think you have made great progress in simply identifying the problem and wanting to do something about this. Too many women would write this off as being normal, expected or even desired behaviour.

Well done and good luck. :)

Thanks for sharing that, it is inspiring to know that they are people who still work at things, even if it takes a lot of time and personal development.

Loved the story. There are many refusers who don't feel this way--they just wish their spouse would get over these "sexual demands" and grow up. There are a lot of therapists who also seem to support this "get over it" perspective. Often, one of the outcomes of being refused is p0rn and m*sturbation. Those things can and often lead to sexual addiction. Working to copy and perhaps counter balance this, therapists often push and even endorse a certain amount of sexlessness in marriage. It is crazy. It feeds a cycle: the spouse that refuses is validated and reinforced by the therapist who sais: "Your spouse is a sexual addict. More sex will NOT solve this problem.",...and then sex becomes even more sparse. This leads the person wanting sex to feel more isolated, perhaps choose to act out more...and the whole thing spirals out of control.

It is WONDERFUL that you were able to see that you had a part in your spouse's adultery. Generally speaking, those that refuse don't take any responsibility. For them, it it inconceivable that they had anything at all to do with the actions of their sex crazed unfaithful spouse. Sad, but true. You have taken steps to save your marriage.

Wonderful post. Thank you.

I never would have thought that a marriage counsellor would portray the refused as a sex addict! Thanks for opening my eyes! I would have understood if the therapist had said that there are other issues beyond sex that must be dealt with (see my "war games" comment below). I'm sure there are big issues underlying the sex refusal. But calling the refused a sex addict, IMHO, means the therapist should lose their license and be banned from the industry! And people pay money for that advice!?

There are sexual addicts. I'm one--or so I have been catagorized. However, I got into my mess because I was covering the pain of feeling rejected. There is NOT an easy solution of this problem. The answer from the therapists is for at least a time to go without....a dry out period.

That is fine, but they took it to the level of saying: "Sex is completely optional and 100% non essential." (exact quote). Not qualified,,...just delivered like that.

Well, fine. If sex is optional, than so is the reason I got married in the first place, I guess divorce is a good solution,...right? Yep,...these are IMO some really sh*tty therapists!

But, it hurt me. Anyway, no more. I have desires and feelings, and marriage was suppose to be part of that. I am no longer a victim,...nor will I move into a persecutor role. If my wife and I are incompatible,..that is OK. I accept that there are not easy answers to our dilemma.

Being refused is more than not getting a sexual release when wanted; it includes an emotional connection that transcends the pain thresholds, even moving into the spiritual area of self awareness and self image. Typically women get this easier then men--when they want to be wanted and are rejected, they often feel there is something wrong with them: Are they ugly, fat, undesirable in some other way,...and it hurts. Oh BOY does it hurt. For men, well,...there are similarities. Are they unmasquline, weak, stupid or poor? It cuts right into who the person is at a deep emotional and spiritual level.

But, that is just how it is. I spoke to a friend recently. If a person feels unwanted, and they have sexual feelings, what are they suppose to do about it? There are really only two choices: 1) supress them way down inside; 2) relieve them some other way. If a person chooses #1 and it keeps the peace (if seething resentment can be considered peace), then does that give license for the other person to continue to refuse? How long can you take option #1 before the emotional damage begins to surpass the value of the overall relationship? If the disappointment and sorrow grow beyond the value of the marriage, is it morally wrong to end it?

Yep, people who have not felt the sting of prolonged rejection don't have a clue. I find myself feeling resentment toward those who say that marriage is worth any sacrifice. My faith promotes this, and they wonder why I wonder if it is a faith I wish to remain a part of? Duh!

In this group, it is extremely rare to hear from the "dark" side. We spend hours trying to comprehend the refuser - is it us, what's with them, stay, leave, suffer, hate... Thank you so much for your comment!

While "it isn't right to use sex as a weapon against your spouse", it seems that it is the weapon of choice to many, or all, refusers. It seems that the refusers feel slighted, unappreciated or worse by their spouse. And instead of communicating (the "flyswatter" approach), they go straight to withholding sex (the "nuclear war" approach). It seems that the wake-up call comes for the refuser when the refused has an affair (the "nuclear retaliation" approach).

What amazes me is that anyone would resort to a nuclear conflagration when simple, earnest communication would have avoided the resulting devastation. I would pose the question "Are people really that way?", but all I have to do is read the newspaper. People fight in international conflicts without truly understanding the underlying issues every single day.

So, I've rated up your story 2X (which I just figured out how to do!). You are as human as everyone else in the world. We, the refused, can hope for better, but then reality points out that DOING is better than HOPING. WE MUST DO SOMETHING. We need to talk, get to the bottom of things, no matter how uncomfortable. Because what is missing is equally uncomfortable. We need to ACT, because what we are doing ISN'T WORKING!

Sorry I've been carrying on, but your post has been very thought provoking and may be the best I've ever read. Thank you!

All the best to both of you.

I too was in your shoes once ( without the affairs part )
I had to realise what i was missing out on in order to find my desire again. I have fallen in love with my husband all over again , after 26 years together. We couldn't be happier.
It can be fixed. If you know you are with THE ONE , you can do it.
I had lost myself in the process of raising kids , work , the usual crap, and didn't realise i was missing from my own life.
Doing regular maintenence on you marriage is VERY important!

Thank you. Your story, its honesty, authenticity, is so valuable.

Your story is an important one here, we don't see this perspective often. I applaud you for posting.

I wish all refusers could read your story and understand it-to the point where they actually change themselves. Thanks for sharing-it really is nice to read!

Thanks for this story. I love these stories by former refusers who realise how their actions hurt their spouses and decide to work together to help each other address each of their unmet emotional needs.