Here I Am Again

I'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 objectifying her in some way (I never did). This should have been a red flag - but I missed it.

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'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.
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11 Responses Feb 4, 2013

hmmm.. how do i say this? I think you are pursuing her too much. She's a control freak as you mentioned... sorry if that offended you... if she is that way, then i think the problem can be more easily solved than you think.

Firstly, have some patience, you have to have patience with her. Secondly, i would say you would have to restraint yourself a lot in this case. I am sorry to mention this, but if you really want to make her want you a lot, you will have to play games with her, make her want you. The way you can do that is by constantly touching her. Words will mean nothing, nothing at all in this case. For some women it may work, but for her, no. When you can, try to talk to her then pause your conversation at mid-sentence, probably touch her lips or anywhere else except the general pleasure areas. Lean in at this point and draw back at the last minute when she thinks you are going to kiss her, try to act flustered... you will probably be at this point, just walk away in this situation, try not to feel angry. Try to create a lot of scenes like these with her. If you do kiss her, then stop it, pause for a while, see if she returns it or not. If she does, haha.. then you just hit your jackpot. Just remember that you are helping her to overcome something not forcing her to.

For me, i think she feels pressured all the time when you ask her for sex. Don't set up candlelight dinners, don't do all the general romantic stuff that ppl tell u to do, but say everything that you appreciate about her that really comes from your heart. Because if you do what everyone says to create that romantic scene, she will think "oh no, he's trying to get me into bed again". She has to make the first move in this case, you can only tempt her to make the first move. Since she's a control freak, you have to accommodate her by tempting her, not asking her for sex. Let her guide your actions, not the other way around. She has to make the first move, not you. If you run out of ideas, there is always the women's romance section. I know you may think that is not masculine reading material, but women love it and write it for a reason, because they are creating scenes that they wish were real in real life. don't choose a romance novel written by a man, you are targeting a female here.

i hope this helps, and sorry if its too long

I wish you well on your journey. We have some similarities in our experiences.

If you don't change yourself, you will repeat this all of your life. A sexless marriage is very general. Make love to her in your mind, remind her of her beauty, and don't be to callous toward yourself, we all expect this or that. She belongs to the universe, not YOU. I know, I have been there. Once you set her free in your mind, not only will you have peace, but she will relax. The story is all it is, a story, not to dismiss it or deny it, but it is after all just a story, yours, all yours. Now it's time to remake your story and in this drama find out what you want inside your heart of hearts. Keep in mind all is "now", right now where is the story? It's in your mind and the mind loves a problem. Stay away from thinking past or future. They do not exist, and never will. If they get here they will then be the "now". Nothing happens outside of the now. Hope this helps but you may not like it. That is not my business, my business is to not blow smoke, it's to lead you home, peace and love.
I'll see you there my friend.

"It is as if she thinks those of us with a sex drive are all a little bit crazy - that we all place too much emphasis on sex - and that we'd all be healthier if we didn't need it as much as we do."

That is a very common response in Refusers. A well known member of this forum coined the term "sex people" and says that (generally speaking) people fall into the "sex people" category or the "non-sex people" category. Your wife is certainly one of the "non sex people"!

At times various posters here have quoted the terms used by their refuser spouses to describe them - one of my favourites was "Sex Fiend"! I called myself a "sex fiend" with pride for some time . . . !! lol

Look up Buspirone.
I have read that adding BuSpar to an antidepressant regimen counteracts the whole dead-at-the-pelvis thing for some.(and not for others)
I experienced some of that when I first started SSRI's.
Now that's gone away (YAY).
Too, I found DHEA makes me friskier.

...Is your wife aware you're miserable? Does she care enough to try to fix it?...I mean, if she's willing to try to fix it, there's a bit of hope.
...D'you think she'd be ok with an open marriage? (Mine wasn't, I asked.)

...Maybe you should take SSRI's too...they sure do mellow you out...and stomp your libido... O.o
Just a thought, there...Not sure if it's a good one.

Your happiness is no less important than hers, and you ain't happy.
Determine right now that you are not going to keep sacrificing your happiness for hers.
Marriage as a zero-sum game where one loses and the other gains does not work.

"It is as if she thinks those of us with a sex drive are all a little bit crazy - that we all place too much emphasis on sex - and that we'd all be healthier if we didn't need it as much as we do. "
...When you start believing that, as I did... then you're off to Crazytown. I thought I was a sex monster by the end.
Sex twice a week is AVERAGE for married couples.
That's a truly ordinary sex drive.

(BTW, current frequency with girlfriendo is 2-4 times a week-and we live 40-odd miles apart...Some people have a sex drive, I have a sex commute.

LOL a sex commute. Classic....

If it ``averages 8-10 times a year`` you`re not in a SM.

In any case it's a sexless marriage or a sex-dysfunctional marriage if one party is not happy with the amount of sex- REGARDLESS of some definition that got coined once upon time.

AMM is bothered by the lack of sex. That is what matters here.

Pardon my ignorance.I`m new to this.
I thought a SM was just that,as is my case(4 yrs).
I didn`t mean to downplay AMM`s situation.

I don't mean to be bitchy. AMM has just had an awful time on this story with some responses.

I've been thinking about your response, Lolich, and I'm sure you didn't intend to minimize AMM's experience. Here's my two cents:

It's dangerous to compare our experiences to one another. It's similar, but not exact, not apples to apples. I met a man who has been married for 20 years and his sexless marriage story is devastating (I don't feel it right to expand on those personal details because it's incredibly unique and I would be mortified should he ever visit this sight and see his story here). That said, it shocked me. His story blows most people out of the water. If comparing was a rational thing to do in this situation.

When I shared my personal experience with him, it sort of felt like I'd lost the competition. Like my story didn't have the same weight or relevance because I had not suffered nearly to the extent that he has.

But I suffer. Every day. Some days I struggle to get out of bed. I just don't want to deal with this anymore. I'm worn away by it.

Comparing yourself to others won't change your sexless marriage. It just makes you bitter. And stuck. (At least, that's what it did to me.)

Read here and take what you can from the stories by others in order to better your own situation, to your satisfaction. Hoping the best for you.

Thanks for the reply,lohla.
Bitchy?That`s hardly bitchy!Straight to the point response!
I didn`t realize that other people are in the same misery.I can relate to AMM to a certain extent.

2 More Responses

i firmly believe in having sex early on in a relationship. Sex is another way of getting to know someone. it's part of getting to know someone. It tells you how the other person sees sex, and if they like it, and if they are any good at it. Doing that early on helps people from ending up here.

I also agree that you need to work on you. I'm pissed at our marriage counselor, if feel he let us down. Our "Intimacy" issue is really an empathy that it's come up it's clear as day. So look for a really great therapist, dig into your childhood experiences to learn what happened as a child that is affecting your behavior as an adult. sounds corny but very possible, and you need to be sure.

Gotta agree with earchres--get a second or third therapist opinion, one who is interested in helping you get resolution rather than maintaining a steady income stream. If you want to really "do the work," you have to find a therapist who will give you a different perspective from anything you yourself can see.

I'm not gonna support you. Wake up! You have intimacy issues not your wife. You've projected your stuff into her ...your first wife cheated in you. Dude! You've got problems. You need to find a therapist for yourself who is gonna cut deep enough into the layers of BS that you've wrapped yourself in to protect yourself from...Figure it out. Once you do I bet you find happiness and most likely with your family. Changing your circumstances ain't gonna change you. New house, new wife, new city..lame old problems until YOU decide to change. But this board is probably another way for people to fish for lovers and my advice is totally irrelevant. But seriously you want a more positive life.. Change YOU.

fish for lovers? Seriously? That's what you think goes on here more than anything?

AMM, I love the philosophy "wherever you go, there you are". Couldn't agree more. :) Welcome to ILIASM, sorry you have to be here but glad you made it.

Definitely didn't get the sense AMM is "fishing for lovers," either.

I'm completely offended by that. I am here because, well, frankly, I'm desperate for a solution to a sexless marriage. I've hit rock bottom. And I refuse to stay at rock bottom for the rest of my life.

The value in this particular group is an honest response based on real-life experience. We're not always going to agree, but when 'we' don't, it's best to respectfully disagree and move forward.

ps - if anything, I have a secret girl crush on Lohla! ((wink, wink))

Funny how people can give themselves away - probably unintentionally. Earches, that "fish for lovers" comment means I will never take any comment from you seriously ever again!!!

AMM, I didn't mean to detract from your OP, but I needed to make light of that ridiculous statement. While it's true, there are some people here who send subtle, flirty messages, I am in no way here to fufill or FIX my sexless marriage by way of cyber-play. And that includes Miss Lohla! LOL.

The crux of all this? ILIASM has shifted the way I think about my sexless marriage. Definitely resistant at first, but have come to realize that when something erodes another person's being, then it's probably not good for them. I *will* take personal responsibility for my part in this sexless marriage,
and I will also be honest and honour who I am and what I need, which I am exploring with a therapist.

Bad grammar towards the end... you get the point, right? :)

Thank goodness my girl crush isn't one sided. I was getting a bit worried! :p

LOVE you Ms. Lohla! :)

Love back at you, Truly!

Oh- as for this earch person.. I read that post twice and it doesn't make it any sense to me at all. It sounds like a random rant from a lunatic.

Well, everything we write is a reflection WHO we are and WHERE we are in this process. When we give advice to others, we often need to apply the same to ourselves, if we haven't done so already. That's how I took the original response by earches (sp?).

Haha! Exactly, ifoundmehere! I sincerely value the supportive community on ILIASM!

Ifoundmehere, it was a good comment too.

AMM, definitely not referring to you or to anybody specifically. Those who are not so subtle in their messaging usually send a note by private message, and are ignored. :)

9 More Responses

When you ask any parent what they want for their children they will say 'happiness'. So why would you choose to teach your child that they should suffer unhappiness as an adult? Or more importantly, why don't you believe that you deserve happiness. That is the great thing about life, we make decisions for good or bad but there is always another chance.

You want out.

That looks like a very wise course of action.

Tread your own path.