The Meaning Of My Marriage

I live in a sexless marriage.

One of the upsides of this, if you can call it that, is that you have some time on your hands to think about your predicament and look for some meaning. Like, what does it mean to be married, and what comes along with it. While I am no expert in this field, living the life has given me one perspective (opinion) about it.

I believe the idealized picture of marriage is just that, a picture. Think of the Christmas cards we receive every year in December. But what really is behind this picture?

Marriage is a legal contract created by society and government. Its objective is to sustain our society into the future. Yeah, kids. Tomorrow's contributors (work, build, create, sustain). The family unit provides a good environment for kids where their physical and emotional needs are met as they grow into adulthood, and the marriage contract provides 'guarantee' that the support stays throughout their growth period.

But what else are the legal requirements? There is no law that says that you cannot have a separate social life. There is no law that says if the spouses did not have sex with each other x times a day/month/year, they are punished. There is no law that says if you had sex outside of marriage with consenting adults, you are punished.

I love my kids. They are very young. They need me. Since I had a hand in them being born, I have an obligation to care for them. I cannot abandon them or think about providing distant parenting. But I cannot forever push my wife to have sex with me if she does not want to (tried that for a while), or ask her to set aside some 'our' time.

Get out? Can't do that now, see paragraph above. So what should I do? My plan: approach parenting as a business. That way, we can do it efficiently, and put the children first in our decisions. Moreover, I need to be able to maintain a 'civil' relationship with my wife so that we are not fighting all the time. For my emotional 'needs', I cultivate circles of friends and some lovers. Yes, that is right. I reject all fantastical idealized notions of the rules of marriage. It is my life and I don't want to be controlled from the graves of nameless people who pontificated ages ago on how I should live MY life. For that matter, if we adhered to ALL their rules, we would be stoned and killed in short order - remember what they also said about women being subservient and divorce being punishable and one race being better than another...; we should not pick and choose.

I can imagine some folks will disapprove. Please be kind while you express it! :-) It is my personal choice and I am not trying to impose it on anyone. But I would love to hear what you think, I appreciate the advice. I am here to learn. And FYI I reserve the right to change my mind at any time!

raidenthor raidenthor
31-35, M
12 Responses Dec 28, 2012

I think you are thinking about this very logically and putting the needs of your children first. I think your solution to stay in the marriage to raise the kids, while having lovers outside, is ok, as long as you view it as a temporary state... I think that you also have an obligation, once your kids get older, to teach them to love themselves and not to sacrifice themselves always (Which is what you are doing by staying in the marriage), so when they are old enough to understand, you need to lave the marriage, realizing you are teaching them valuable lessons about living their life to the fullest and following their dreams, and to not sacrifice all of themselves for anything less than their own dreams.... *Good luck*

DreamChristine, if we list (say) 10 things that are important in a relationship, and if 3 are lacking, it is up to us then to decide (1) if 70% is an acceptable rate for continuing the relationship, and (2) do we weigh each of the 10 things equally or if some are weighted higher as more important than some others. With respect to #2, I suppose each of us weigh some things higher than others differently; in other words, it is subjective. My point is that we should look at this matter practically and ask how it adds up for everyone involved (each adult and each of the kids) if we stayed together, or went our own ways. I feel it is hard to do because relationships are about emotional connections and reactions, but I am trying! Thanks for wishing me luck, I need it!!

I think staying together for the kids is no the answer. I know that sounds wrong but I did that once and it just made me so miserable all the time that it affected how I was with my kids. When you are unhappy it leeks into every part of your life weither you think it does or not.

to be honest i think a lot of people are in this same situation....they're unhappy for whatever reason and having their needs met elsewhere...

my motto: if you can't get it at home you have to get it somewhere else. i am with you

I understand where you are coming from. I often feel like I live separate lives. I have my home life which is normal. work, school, come home, eat, watch tv, do home work, go to bed, get up do it all over again. But my life outside these four walls does not include my husband. My social life is totally separate from my home life and my husband never goes with me. I have met a few "special" friends and that has made me feel alive again. I can come home and live my boring mundane life with a smile on my face. I can be civil to my husband because I no longer feel as if he is holding me back, preventing me from having a social life or sex life. My husband is a good man and a good father and I owe him a lot, and my son needs BOTH of his parents. So I do see where you are coming from and all I can say is do what makes you happy. You have to live with yourself.

I am heartened to know that you have made the best of the situation for yourself by casting aside the BS and pursuing what is best for everyone that you care about, including yourself. Good luck!

My parents still together until now although my mom treated my dad pretty bad . After I grown up n moved I ask my dad why he does not divorce my mom? He answered thats for us.
Unfortunately he spent almost all of his time outside to get save from my mom n maybe get a kind of joy from doing his job n gathering with his friends n left us with my mom who was obviously not a good mom.
If u keep ur marriage for ur childrens make sure ur wife also be a good mom as u be a good dad to ur childrens. Unhappy / fake happy marriages mostly make the childrens be the victims both with/without a divorce

Thank you for bringing that up. Even with the challenges, you appear to have grown up perceptive and empathetic. My wife is a good mother, and she puts most of her energy caring for them. Which is part of the reason for our relationship being neglected I am sure. I am also hands-on with parenting.

But your point about unhappy marriages hurting the children is well taken, and we should worry about this. Still my question is: what is 'real' and what is 'fake'? We should not subscribe to somebody else's (especially dead sages) prescribed rules on what it SHOULD be. If you have a reasonably civil relationship with your spouse and you are supportive of each other in parenting, but your marriage is sexless, it may be less than 'ideal' but it meets most of the objectives. Ideal is not available to a mere mortal like me. I have to work with what I have, and what I am - what we both are. And happiness comes from within us and not outside of us.

The fake happy marriage that I meant is like my parents have. On public my mom n dad be like a very happy couple who love each others while in the house where no one else sees they r not . Mom treats dad bad n dad keep distance from my mom. On public my mom be like a good mom while in the house where no one else sees, she is not a good mom

Its good to get your thoughts out. You feel pain, yet at same time holding true to your commitments; I admire you. I wish you the very best.

I am in the same dilemma. Very similar, if not the same. I have been tempted, multiple times to engage in some sort of relationship outside marriage only to feel special again, despite knowing the fact that it is fundamentally wrong.

But regardless how much I try to hit myself in the head reciting some mantra along the lines of "stop it, stop it, stop it" -- at the end of the day, when I'm back at home, just my husband and I, in separate rooms doing our own stuff, I whisper to myself -- this is NOT marriage.

I'm sorry I do not have any advice, just some thoughts.

silvermug, I can't tell you how many times I've lay awake on the sofa while my husband sleeps upstairs in our bed and think the same stuff. I just want to feel wanted and needed again. I have had the opportunity to have a cyber relationship with someone in a similar situation and despite being tempted, I have not 'yet' engaged. I have been so tempted though but the thought of being found out and having my husband leave me has stopped me. It would be a deal breaker for him I know that. I just keep telling myself that at least I am still married and if I am still married, then maybe, just maybe, there is a way to repair the damage that has been done. But I am starting to wonder...

I had the same thoughts in the beginning, when I was at the peak of my determination to address the issues we have. But after over a year of finding solutions, including marriage counselling, I have consumed all my resources and tried all avenues I could think of -- and yet things are the same.

If we are simply in civil relationship, almost like friends living room mates -- is that still marriage? Sigh.

silvermug, thank you for your sharing, and I am sorry to hear it has not improved for you. I want to question the definition of marriage, and whose definition are we using. I think the definition should be personal, that is, marriage is whatever you define it to be, just for yourself.

As you describe above, if it is just a civil relationship, where you support each other in parenting, daily living (practical, financial), basically everything else but sex and intimacy, you can still call it marriage if you wish. The word is nobody's trademark or property, although almost 50% of our country thinks otherwise and feel the need to 'DEFEND' it. All the while many of these 'defenders' are practicing a sham behind closed doors anyway. What hypocrisy!

All very good points. Define your own marriage (and happiness). (Sorry for the following - I guess I'm feeling nautical today...) Don't let you spouse be a "boat anchor" and drag you into the whirlpool of depression. Cast off and set you own course.

Souinds like you've got an excellent plan to maintain your sanity and happiness. A business contract is really what it has become hasn't it?

n44wwep, there are many things in our lives that are imperfect (perhaps there is nothing in life that is perfect?) but we still accommodate them. If we make a HUGE deal of the imperfections, they consume us. If we recognize they are just part of the package that we need to chip away at, we can keep our sanity, and bring some peace to ourselves.

Yes it bothers me, but I have grown to cope. It is not literally any better or worse, but it certainly has shrunk in mindshare. I read your stories, and it was good learning. Thank you.

Well stated. I know too many divorced people who let their ex ruin their lives, because they never stop thinking about and talking about the ex. As you say, they are consumed. Best if they can put it behind them and move forward, not letting the ex poison their future.

I like your approach - it seems like a subtly new perspective here.

Thanks for you comment on my stories. Now I have to go back and read them myself!

3 More Responses

This may be a rather silly question but I have to ask it anyway. Have you asked your wife why she doesn't want to have sex with you? I too live in a practically sexless marriage. If I get it once every two months it's a miracle and even then it's so unsatisfying that it's almost not even worth it. But, from what I have seen in other relationships and from discussions I've had with my girlfriends, I have observed a few things that may help you.

Guys (most guys) are hot wired to want sex pretty much all the time. And it's a physical need that can be satisfied regardless of whether or not they feel loved and appreciated. Women on the other hand only want sex when they feel loved and cherished. If a man expects to go to wake up for work in the morning, have his breakfast prepared then rush out the door without so much as a 'buy honey, love you,' nevermind helping out with the kids as necessary and then come home and sit on the sofa with a beer while his wife runs herself ragged in the home then I am not surprisede his wife doesn't want to be physical with him. Now before you get upset, I am not saying this is what you are doing. I am saying, that in a lot of cases this is the reality. The biggest secret that most men need to know is that for a woman, sex starts in her head.

Try helping her around the house, try making he a cup of tea, pouring her a glass of wine and talking to her while she makes dinner. Go behind her and hug her while she cooks or is doing the dishes then offer to dry the darn dishes. Call her from work and say you were missing her, take out the trash without being asked, tell her she looks nice, when your kids are giving her a hard time step in and help her out. Let her have a lie in on the weekends, cuddle her in bed and make her feel wanted without putting pressure on her to have sex with you. Let her make the move once you've done some of these things and you're cuddling her in bed. These small things make a woman feel wanted and appreciated and that is a big turn on for women. We need to know we are more than a mother and cleaner in our homes but that our husbands are interested in us a people rather than just a label. Yes we are wives, mothers and secretaries or whatever but we like to be touched, we like to be listened to for our opinions. We like going out on dates and we like to be treated like ladies. If a man treats his wife like she is the help or even like she is stranger then it goes without saying that she won't sleep with him. Cos in this day and age you don't sleep with the help and you don't sleep with strangers - for the most part. LOL! I know it sounds like a rant but this is all the gospel! Ask almost any woman and you will hear the same thing.

If all else fails, ask her sister or her girlfriends (any woman she is close to) what you can do to repair your marriage. Having an affair is not the answer and will likely end your marriage if you are found out.

I really hope you can resolve things with your wife and that you get what you need.

I'm sorry to say Cheeky, but you are clueless about sexless marriage. You really need to read many stories here and their responses in order to formulate an understanding of this genuine condition. Your reply to the poster reminds me of what my aunt said when my father was facing quintuple bypass heart surgery - she sugested Bach flower remedies was all he needed!

actually enno30 I am in a sexless marriage. And these are the things that I and other girlfriends I know in the same situation say we want.

hmmmm, I have read many stories here of Men who run themselves ragged trying to please their wives, only to Still be refused. Your solution may work well for a jaded marriage, but No One has reported it as a successful antidote for a sexless marriage. It's possible that those that had success with your solution simply didn't let us know.

I must conclude that I didn't marry one of your friends:

Try helping her around the house...I do, makes no difference.
try making her a cup of tea, pouring her a glass of wine and talking to her while she makes dinner...well, I actively listen to her monologues.
Go behind her and hug her while she cooks or is doing the dishes then offer to dry the darn dishes...I would LOVE to hug her this way in the kitchen! It's forbidden - "I'm busy" or the stink-eye.
Call her from work and say you were missing her...She doesn't get why I called.
Take out the trash without being asked...I do.
tell her she looks nice...she doesn't like to hear compliments.
when your kids are giving her a hard time step in and help her out... I do.
Let her have a lie in on the weekends...she never wants to.
cuddle her in bed...she used to like this, but seems to get bored after 10 mintutes and rolls over.
make her feel wanted without putting pressure on her to have sex with you...she seems uncomfortable with the "wanted" concept in any form.
Let her make the move once you've done some of these things and you're cuddling her in bed...After three years of no sex, I can tell you, this didn't work.

Cheeky, does this mean you are the Refuser? Would you be happy to have sex with your husband if he did these things? Or is it your husband that is the Refuser?

IMO partners / spouses who use sex as a bargaining tool are seriously damaging their relationships. Sexual coonnection and intimacy that is doled outr as a "reward" for household duties or child care is a very unsatisfying and unrewarding way of connecting with your loved one.

OTOH if spouses are genuinely failing to be contributing partners in their marriages, the desire for sexual intimacy may well lessen. If that happens, then the issue is best addressed in ways OTHER than withholding sex IMO.

no I am not the refuser. Neither do I have a high sex drive, I just crave attention and intimacy from my husband which I think is normal. I come from a culture where a wife and mother are expected to take sole care of the houeshold and children without any help from their husbands. If my husband helped in the house I might collapse from suprise. I would love to have my husband take some kind of interest in me. It would mean to me that perhaps there would be some hope for us with the sex issue. I just know that years ago when things were still good between my husband and I, even something that wouldn't normally be seen as 'helping around the house' like taking his plate to the kitchen after a meal, made me want to do things to please him which led to a better sex life. That has long since gone now, he does not do any of those things for me and in fact, most of the time it seems like I have a stranger living with me. I have never withheld sex. Never once said I had a headache because I like sex and intimacy too much.

In fact it is the opposite. I have gone so far as to tell my husband that if he just needs a quickie - and doesn't feel like having a full blown sex session he is welcome to take his satisfaction without bringing me to ******. I told him I would fully engage with him and participate in any way he wanted me to.

I have to agree with Redwaterlady (poetic username, by the way). I have always treated my wife this way and we don't even have kids as an obstacle to sex. I wrote somewhere else here, yesterday that once when we discussed the problem, my wife said she likes when I tell her what to do. I thought she meant once we were in bed already in foreplay mode. Now I am wondering if my seduction technique, which I never really developed, needs to be a little more insistent. I was taught 'no', even a silent "no" means no, and I am not a macho guy so pushing her seemed rude or insulting. I think there are many subtle, extremely personal parts to this dance of seduction and each time you make a move, you open yourself to rejection, you are vulnerable. So it's not that those things aren't great ideas but what gives the final push that makes the other want you?

redwaterlady, simply put, the antidote for a sexless marriage is to find the sex outside of marriage. As far as 'success', there is no endgame in my life (except that in the long run, I will die!). "The journey is the destination", and the only question I ask myself is: was I happy today and am I planning to be happy tomorrow?

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I do not think you are helping your children. Kids live what they learn. You are teaching them that marriage means suffering. They may not know the exact reasons behind it but kids are smart and can tell that something is wrong. They will see that mommy and daddy do not kiss, hold hands, show affection, and will end up in marriages just like that when they are grown. Everyone says they want their kids to be happy. I feel it is the parents job to model what a happy adult looks like. I am willing to bet that if you look at your wife's parents you can see the root of her behavior. Do not perpetuate the cycle.

I am not judging you. I understand that you are trying to do what is best. These are just my thoughts on parenting. Best of luck to you.

Agree whole heartedly. I suggest Raiden that you check out the MANY stories and posts on this site about the values of staying and not staying "for the children".

If I could be forgiven for adjusting a bit.
Instead of modelling a what a happy adult looks like, maybe modelling what a happy (or authentic) adult IS.

Red, that is a profoundly wise comment!! Thank you - beautifully expressed!

I think you're rationalising what you're doing - no judgement there, and in any case, I specifically think what you say about outsourcing is fine, judgemental outsiders can go hang.

I would encourage you though to listen to your little voices, attend to your emotions. You can be all business-like as you like, and that's unlikely to fulfill what you want in life. Do you know what you want? Are you assuming constraints that might not be there?

I can see you are a logical, intellectual type of person. You do what works for you. But for this part: " There is no law that says if you had sex outside of marriage with consenting adults, you are punished." Make sure you live in a no-fault divorce state before you go for that sex outside of marriage, because you MAY WELL be punished if she finds out and decides to take you to the cleaners in a divorce - it's happened on here before.

It would be wise for you to go to a lawyer in any case just to see how a divorce woudl shake out for you, in the wise words of Bazzar, because you are at high risk - your WIFE might pull the plug on YOU for any number of reasons. Find out what happens if you divorce NOW vs. LATER. Find out about custody laws and everything else in your jurisdiction. There's no need to act on it now, but there IS A GREAT NEED FOR YOU TO BE INFORMED NOW.

zsuzsilowinger, thank you for that. I will do the homework. But for sure divorce will put a big dent in my 'orderly' universe (best laid plans, right?) and perhaps affect my kids the most :( The way I see it, I have 30-40 good summers to go (for those of us not living in the tropics) before I hang up my hat. I want to do what is within my scope to do the best for myself and EVERYONE around me, knowing that compromises will be required from all.

This is idealistic because in reality, when you involve a third party in a situation,. you have NO control over that person. She may fall in love with you. You may fall in love with her. It is MOST important IMO that you realise an affair partner or FWB is a PERSON with emotions, rights and attributes that deserve respect in their own right. They are noy just there to provide for youir needs . . . and that is where all this rational thinking can come undone . . . . .