Here I Am AgainI've been lurking 'round these parts for a while now - today I decided it was time to participate. So here I go. Oh...and I'm not known for my brevity - you should know that up front.
I'm currently in my second sexless marriage. That's right - I've gotten myself into the same predicament twice. The first marriage ended after 8 1/2 years when I discovered that my ex was having an affair. Yes, it was painful, awful, terrible - but I eventually came to realize that her affair was a symptom, not the problem - and the truth is, she did us both a favor by giving us a reason to split up. We're raising two now-almost-grown children together, and while things haven't always been easy, we've managed to do ok.
I met my current wife two years after my first marriage ended. In many ways, she was the opposite of my ex: an intellectual, a big-city girl - finishing an advanced degree, many hobbies and interests, an independent spirit. I liked her instantly, and we soon became inseparable.
I suppose the first warning sign of impending sexual incompatibility was that when we started dating, she insisted on waiting for several months before we consummated the relationship. The funny thing was, it seemed completely reasonable at the time - we were both in our 30's and knew we were looking for a serious relationship - she claimed that waiting until we really got to know each other before sleeping together would keep things more in perspective - and besides, she knew that once we slept together, she'd become very attached, and so she wanted to give herself some time before that happened. So she claimed.
Once we did consummate, things were pretty good for a while. She was certainly interested in sex with me, and seemed to enjoy it - but often she would worry that I was putting too much emphasis on sex (I wasn't), or ob
We dated for a year and a half before I proposed - and married six months later. No sex on the wedding night by the way. And then the real trouble began.
As I alluded to earlier, my ex and I haven't always exactly gotten along. But where wife #2 was concerned, there was out and out hatred between the two of them almost from day one - and to this day, almost 10 years later, it has never improved. This was always a source of great distress for my current wife - she nearly called off the wedding on account of her hesitation about being able to handle the situation, my ex, 2 small kids, etc - but she decided she loved me enough to go through with it. And when we did finally get married, my ex went through the roof - and a big expensive court fight ensued.
What does this have to do with a sexless marriage? Well, the stress and upset we endured right at the beginning of our marriage was something from which we have never completely recovered, despite years of expensive counseling. And when the good times disappeared, so did the sex. It went downhill fast - and then it disappeared, only to return briefly when my wife wanted to get pregnant. Yep.
Seems like a cut and dried case, right? The marriage wasn't meant to be - we should have gotten out early on. But it is never that simple, is it.
The thing is, my wife came with some real baggage, mostly to do with a tragedy her family experienced when she was a child - in fact, to this day, she still experiences the fallout from those events. And despite the external stresses of my ex etc, my wife finds that being with me has helped her to feel better - a lot better. And I feel good about that, and responsible for her continued well being. She struggled with depression for years, and has undergone extensive therapy (and continues to do so) - a few years back, she found great relief when she started taking an anti-depressant drug. Of course, those have side effects - like loss of libido.
Now, my wife never had much libido to begin with - sex disappeared in all of her previous long term relationships - but after she started on the medication, the little desire she had for me evaporated. She has some other health problems as well - nothing life threatening - but between dealing with her emotional and physical issues (mostly stress related), and raising our child (in addition to my other 2, we have a little one of our own), she really has no energy for or interest in sex with me at all. For about seven years now.
To be fair, when I say "no interest," that's not completely accurate. She seems to get very slightly interested once a month, right around the time she ovulates - and if the stars align, we sometimes have sex on those days. It averages about 8-10 times a year. Thats what I mean by a sexless marriage - I'm using the generally accepted definition.
A couple of years ago, I began discussing our lack of a sexual relationship in our regular couples counseling sessions - so my wife knows how I feel about it (i.e. not good). We have tried to find ways to clear resentment between us. We have worked on our communication skills - in fact, I am so skilled at couples communication at this point, I could probably teach a graduate school course in it. We have both done personal work. My wife has examined her own sexual history and tried to understand why her interest in sex wanes in long term relationships. We have taken little weekend jaunts to nice hotels and holed ourselves up in the room for 24 hours (mostly we order room service, do crossword puzzles and watch movies). No improvement in the sex life.
We like each other, mostly. We have some creative interests in common, and have found it really fun to do creative projects together. We have a lovely home and enjoy keeping it up. She sometimes travels with me for work (with kids in tow), and we have enjoyed adventures in foreign cities. Sure we drive each other crazy sometimes - we fight - we get on each others nerves. But we also enjoy each others company. She's a great friend - and an excellent roommate.
But we don't have sex nearly enough for me. And when we do have it...well...it's bad. Can you believe it? Bad sex! How is that even possible!
Our therapist is encouraging us to continue working on our intimacy - she claims we need to, for lack of a better phrase, keep it real. So what would "keeping it real" look like at this point? I suppose I might sit her down and say: "honey, you and I like each other a whole lot. We even love each other sometimes. But this isn't a real marriage - we both deserve better - and now it's time to dismantle it while we're still friends."
But I can't seem to get behind that kind of declaration. Mostly, I feel guilty - she doesn't want the marriage to end - she likes being married to me. She wouldn't mind having more of a sex drive, but short of going off the meds (which she won't do - and I wouldn't want her to), her sex drive isn't going to come back anytime soon. Wouldn't it be completely unfair of me to leave the marriage under those circumstances? Wouldn't it be like leaving your partner because she got sick? I knew she had these issues when I married her (god help me) - and now we have a child together - isn't it my responsibility to continue to see it through?
In short, aren't I just experiencing exactly what I signed up for? Do I even have the right to complain?
I'm no angel - I've done things I'm not proud of. But my heart is in the right place. I don't want to cause my wife any hurt or harm. I really do love her. But I'm desperately unhappy - and the truth is, I'm becoming more and more resentful of her because of it - which makes me much less of a nice person to be around. Short tempered, distracted, distant. You know, how unhappy people behave towards the people they think are the cause of their unhappiness.
But of course, I'm smart enough to know that my happiness is my own responsibility. I'm in charge of that. I'm still relatively young. I'm reasonably attractive. I am secure enough financially that I could survive the financial fallout of the breakup of another marriage. And I know there are other women out there who would love to be with someone like me - who would be happy to receive my love and affection, and would provide the same in return. I know because I meet them all the time. I'm starving, and I can see the meal right there in front of me - I just have to decide to reclaim the right to nourishment.
So now I'm on that proverbial fence - waiting until I feel sure I know what to do next. Complicated, to be sure.
Would love words of advice, encouragement, flames, whatever. Thanks for reading.