The Truth Will Set You Free. Premises For Solutions.

Sex is a team sport.

It is very easy to pretzel oneself in twister like contortions to attempt to revive sex and intimacy in a sexless marriage.

But, it is not as complicated as we make it.

Here are some simple truths and premises to keep sanity in accepting and moving forward with the reality of your sexless marriage....

1. If someone doesn't want to have sex with you, they shouldn't have it with you. And, why would you want to have sex with someone who doesn't want to share it with you?

Sex is a gift to be shared. It is not an act to be imposed. It is not a obligation to be fulfilled. In saying this, I am NOT stating that couples do not need to compromise and work together to find ways to mutually satisfy and please one another. Nor am I saying that sometimes, you do things for your spouse for the pure pleasure of giving and that is not beautiful and right. Rather, I am stating if the person does not want to give or participate, it is not for anyone to cajole, plead, beg, demand, or punish for the other person's inability to share in love making. In our frustration, and the despair of our loneliness and rejection, we often play the victim role to our partner's inability to share this joy with us. But, we do have choices. And, this brings us to number 2.

2. You have every right to live true to your own needs and sexuality.

The flip side of the first truth. YOU have every right to live out your truth and fulfill your needs. We get stuck because marriage encompasses responsibility and bonds outside of our sexuality. You can be friends, you can share parenting, you can share a mutual dream or business association, you can share a past and a family support network. All of these things are real and have value. But, none of those things can fill a void for a person who wants and needs intimacy and physical closeness to feel bonded in a marriage. You can compromise on many things in a marriage. Subjugating all your physical and emotional need for physical closeness is not compromise. It is subjugation. And, love can not flourish when one person has their very core needs subjugated to accomodate another person. Subjugating another person's sexuality and need for intimacy and love (and remember we are BORN with the need for touch, infants die if given formula and shelter but no holding an love) is just as cruel as imposing unwanted touch on someone who doesn't want it.

3. The truth will set you free.

We want SOOOOOOO much for things to be different that we refuse to allow ourselves to look at the truth of our own situation. I believe the worst of misery doesn't come from the lack of sex or the hurt from our spouse's rejection. It stems from our own inability to accept the reality of our relationship, and that makes us powerless to advocate for true change. It may appear that we are 'working' on change, but often that is just managing our emotions by trying to change our spouse. We push for dr's appointments. We push for therapy. We engage in the magical thinking that if we are nicer, sexier, lose weight, give more, give less, rationalize and articulate our needs in conversation, we will be able to change the situation and save the relationship and get what we think we want. But, this leads us to number four....

4. You can't change anyone but yourself.

Anytime we are focusing on changing another person to fit our needs, we are engaging in co-dependent behavior. This does NOT mean that you don't share your needs with your spouse, and work to find ways to let them share their needs with you. A couple can work to respect the needs of their spouse, and seek to find honest and loving ways to help support meeting those needs. But, if your core needs are in complete conflict, the solution is not to force your spouse to betray their own feelings and truth to make you happy. The solution is to be true to yourself, and find ways to meet your own needs. This is NOT a permission slip for an affair. You retain the right to seek ways in meeting for meeting your own needs, but it is not an excuse for dishonesty or deception. Honesty is the only lasting solution here. You have every right to tell your spouse that you can not deny your core sexual self to live in a celibate (not monogamous, monogamous is sexually faithfulness to one person, but their is not sexual faith where there is no sex) marriage. You do not have the right to take away their choice to stay in the relationship, if you are going to seek emotional/physical intimacy outside the marriage. It is not the sex that is unethical, it is the dishonesty (to yourself most of all). If you are going to live true to yourself, honesty is the place to start. You don't deserve to carry the burdens of deception to meet your needs. Honesty will give you a place to start talking, it will set the boundary for how you choose to live and open the door to conversation about how to move forward with the reality of the marriage. (And, disclaimer, I had an affair on my first husband, I am not trying to get all judgey about these matters. My goal in writing this is to advocate for what works and what moves things forward, not throwing stones)!

Number 5:

You DO have choices, although you may not like the choices that you are facing. And, they bestow GIFTS.

Yipee! I can either leave my marriage and lose all its benefits or never have sex! Great choice, right? But, it isn't as black and white as it appears. In the midst of your journey in seeking to find ways to experience your sexuality and meet needs for intimacy, you may learn the most surprising things about yourself, relationships and love....Here are a few I learned from losing, leaving, and loving.....

I learned to continue to love someone despite not achieving the outcome I had hoped. I lost a partner, I gained a friend.

I learned to forgive.

I learned to take responsibility for my actions, and gained the empowerment that comes with that choice.

I found my own sense of self.

I learned to give up the illusion of control (still working on this one ;)

I learned that love always expands and grows, it does not restrict or control.

I learned what I need.

I learned what I want.

And, now, I am learning to love with someone who wants to share in that journey with me. Frosting on the cake. Who knows what you will gain, but I promise it will be surprising and liberating...

Good luck!

rosedl rosedl
41-45, F
5 Responses Jan 7, 2013

wonderful rose! thank you for writing this! i am moving into number five as we speak. :)

You pretty much hit the target. Great story.

The forgiveness part is tricky. I rationalize as follows: My wife is actually perfectly normal physiologically and emotionally. It is perfectly normal for a woman to mildly want sex once in two months; it is well within medically normal ranges. So there is nothing to forgive, really --- she's just being a normal woman. Meanwhile, it is perfectly normal for a man to crave sex twice a week. So there's no reason for me to be apologetic either. Just as long as we don't get into a bed together, everything's fine. It's just that I (and she) had wrong expectations of marriage. We must not have been sex-educated right. I know she wasn't.

It isn't the discrepancy difference that creates the need for forgiveness. It is how we treat one and another in reaction to this very trying situation. I didn't need to forgive my ex for his lack of desire, I needed to forgive him for his dishonesty and false promises around change. I needed to forgive him for pushing off his sexual inadequacies and hang ups onto me.

And, I don't want to categorize your wife as normal or abnormal, but wanting sex every couple months would fall into the very low desire category. It isn't in the median, it is at the bottom of the curve.

The curves are all on the female body. There is no curve when it comes to their libido. Technically, the density kernel has degenerate (zero) covariance. I am sure someone here will understand that. I like your reaction that the forgiveness is not for libido difference. She didn't deal with it well, but I was not perfect either. I'd argue it should be easier for the refuser to be more generous (say by terminating the relationship) than the refused (who cannot think straight early in the crisis).

How do you forgive?
...I wish I could forgive her, as she's stuck living in my house for financial reasons. But whenever I see her, I become tense and unhappy.
I wish I did not feel this skin-crawling desire to get away from her.

Forgiveness is not a "feeling", it's a choice. Doesn't mean you will feel at peace with her, doesn't mean you'll become friends, doesn't even mean you'll like her as a human being. It means moving forward, focusing on your development, and letting go of control. Imo. Are you two actively looking for a solution to this living arrangement, as it can not be good for your health?

She's supposed to be saving money to get out.
...I am moving forward, albeit falling over occasionally. She's lingering like a dogfart, but she makes more than I do, so can save faster.
She should be out soon.


Yes, that skin-crawling part I viscerally understand. I feel negligible, useless and judged --- none of which have anything to with sex per se. That's the catch: the sex was terrible, but that's normal between a man and woman. Skin-crawling isn't normal.

1 More Response

"Sex is a team sport."

Probably the simplest yet most profound statement ever! As always Rose, your ability to see through to the heart of things and articulate the realities of the situation is mind blowing!!

I have just read and reread your story three times, nodding my head as I read. . . . . nothing to add except "Thank you SO much" for such a wonderful story. {{{hugs}}}

Contact sport too !

Or a choir, band or orchestra. As I wrote in one of my stories, after a charity concert that was wake-up-screaming-in-the-night bad, I told my wife our joint performance, no bias intended, is as bad as that choir's. They should never ever sing again. We should never have sex again. Mercifully, that idea has stuck in our minds.