Looking For Answers

Many of us come to this web site because we are looking for answers... At times reading the posts, many also come for justification and to soak in their negative emotions and share those with others that will agree, sympathize and cheer them on.

I have been in a Sexless Marriage or Sex strained marriage for 5 years. Married for 10 years and we've been together for 13 years. We have 5 kids (2 from my previous marriage that I had full custody of ). The Sex and relationship issues started after the 3rd child, which was a difficult and challenging baby. I know the starting point, since that was our most challenging period of our relationship. Not just the kids but also financially we had some serious issues to deal with... but we gone through the hard years raising little ones (almost) and we are doing much better financially... but we started the negative spiral in our relationship and the lack of sex or at times the mercy sex or the strained sex... really the sex to me was the measurement stick that we had issues.

What I didn't realize was that I was changing as well and it took reading many of the post here and reading a few books. If you are looking for a recommendation on a book, for me the one that was the catalyst that changed my perception and either gave me hope or at minimum a sense of control in regards to our situation was by Richard Thomas called "Rekindle your love life".

The other way that I was able to move from the negative, unhappy, frustrated, out of control, resentful and all other emotions you can think of... was to actually start becoming a solution thinker the way I was trained at work and look for the root cause... not the surface emotions or reasons but the true root cause. Why? Because the root cause typically gives you the path back and at times the path back may be too challenging, but at least you can see what the path back is and make a decision.

It has taken me a while and a lot of effort to figure out the root cause and I might not actually have it right... but I think I can get us back to a better road and a better relationship. I've decided to once again put on my big boy pants on and take the more challenging path and continue on the journey with my spouse. I've been divorced, so I do have the luxury and the experience to know that "Wherever you go... there you are" and that another relationship is not necessarily the answer.

I am hoping to find others like me in this group that is willing to make the hard choice, have a plan and execute that plan to be one of the few that have succeeded where most have failed or given up.

Not quite sure how to find those individuals yet, so just doing the triage is time consuming enough :)
spiritnow spiritnow
46-50, M
9 Responses Nov 14, 2013

<p>I can't remember if it's Bazzar or hl42 who frequently comments that you have to tip the sinking boat (your marriage) over and swim to shore if you are going to change the dynamics of the marriage.</p><p>My husband and I are rebuilding our marriage, moving forward, becoming stronger, and yes we now have a healthy sex life. What did I do? I tipped that damn broken boat all the way over, hit my husband up side the head with an oar, told him I was swimming to shore with or without him, & that it was up to choose whether this marriage was going to sink or not with him.</p><p>You have to be ready to throw all your chips on the table and walk away with nothing if you are going to salvage a sexless marriage.</p>

Not all relationships can be saved , it depends on so many things.
I am one of the lucky ones.
It was never a hard choice , it was a matter of discovering each other again.

What do you think is the root cause?

Right now I think the period of time we went through about 5 years ago that involved a challenging child, law-suits, business failures, etc... Really was not a fun time. I think I came out of it sooner and was ready to start a normal life and she was not. I think she put a lot of the stress on me at first and blamed me for it and therefore affected how she saw me. I also think that I started the typical cycle of being refused, rejected, denied and started to not like her very much and the dynamic of our sex life changed... from not really thinking about it, to becoming a constant strain on our relationship. Quite frankly, I don't think we really liked each other for a long period of time. I still wanted sex though, liked her or not, she's very attractive and sex was a way for her to show me she still loved me. That's how I want to be loved. Not how she shows affection or love. So the sex is really more a reaction to other emotions and things that are going on in our relationship. I don't think she was very attracted to me and I really didn't respect her very much either. The more I asked for sex, made it an issue, made her feel inadequate, then the cycle of her justifying the reasons or not wanting to talk about it or deal with it. That is definitely a common thread that many of us have gotten to. We may have gotten to it by a different path. I think resolve the root cause and getting to a point where we both like and are attracted to each other might help.

Thanks for the reply. You have identified something that could well be the root cause. I think you two might benefit from couple counselling to try to get to the point where you both like each other again, or at least know where you stand in the relationship.

I was about to give you a big cook over this "willing to make the hard choice, have a plan and execute that plan to be one of the few that have succeeded where most have failed or given up" - as I initially read it to be quite demeaning to those who
(a) are still in their shitholes and can't get past how hard it is to get out
(n) got out of their shitholes, and know only too well how hard that was

If you are embarking on a rescue mission, I wish you well. It is a hard hard road, and there is no guarantee of success.

Those still in their shithole deals likewise carry my best wishes, as it too is a hard hard road, and there is no guarantee of anything improving.

And those who are attempting the leaving option, you too have my best wishes on this hard hard road.

And to those who took that hard hard road, and got out, my best wishes to you.

There is no "easy" way forward here no matter which way you choose to go. They all carry a price tag.
There is no moral highground to be had in these choices either. One is no more moral than another.

Whatever you end up choosing, you measure your success a bit later, after you have acted on your choice. If you are the a happier, more well rounded individual than you were, the you "succeeded" - whether you stayed, went, cheated, whatever.

And, if you reckon any one of these choices involves less pain than another choice, I would suggest that you have NOT thought it through at all.

Tread your own path.

We actually agree. In no way would I want to judge actions others take or qualify their choice. Not my place. I will state what I want, what I'm looking for and avoid what I don't want and what I'm not looking for. Right now, I want to find advice, support and positive reinforcement for finding ways to improve my marriage and hopefully improve my sex life. I will share what I'm doing to get there and I am hoping to read and discuss with others that are on the same path. This is not my first marriage or relationship. I've gone the way or leaving and starting another relationship. For me, breaking up my previous family, was a hard choice and emotionally, financially and physically draining. That I am not ready to make that decision. If others are... great, that's just not me right now. Any judgement felt by my choice is self inflicted judgement.

I would commend anyone that is willing to seek a solution and stay in their marriage. Many in this group speak of leaving, hope they leave, most continue in their marriages unhappily. I do not think there is a "one size fits all" solution. Keep trying till you can try no more. Reevaluate in 5 or 10 years. There is no clock on your decision.

Everyone must choose their own path (I heard that before somewhere).

Thanks Footballbat, I appreciate your supportive post.

I have been divorced as well, and completely agree with you. My relationship has been suffering from the same issue...near no sex. You don't indicate if the issue is more you, or him, but I can give you a decent idea of how it feels for the person who has less 'drive'. This is something I'm trying VERY hard to fix, and it's the culmination of several major issues, one being PTSD that I honestly didn't realize I had.

I commend you on the efforts your working toward, it sounds like you know that you love your husband and that you know that there are times in life that get messy...messiness shouldn't be something that eradicates an entire marriage, hopefully in the future, you will be able to look back on this period of time with happiness that you both got through it.

If you ever want to have someone to bounce ideas off of, I'm certainly here, as I'm trying to work on finding my issues and fixing them, maybe we can shed light on some answers?

Actually, I'm the husband and yes I do love my wife. I don't always like her, but I do love her. Look, I'm in a different situation in that I will not disrupt my children's life because my wife and I are not sexually active. But I am also not satisfied with the status quo. So while I raise my children in a good home, and learn to control my mood, I will look for a better way, a better relationship and hopefully improve the situation. Worse case, I'm looking at it now that I'm becoming a better me and she's the friction that is helping to get there. You need friction for movement... I just wished at time that the friction was in between the sheets with some loud moans associated with it. :)

What exactly are you looking for in like-minded members of this group? Matching solution paths? Similar lightbulb moments? Here are some things I've learned being an active member here:
1. Root Cause Analysis most often fails. Most of us here have been cut off from intimacy gradually, and among those that do figure out the root cause, more than half of them discover answering the question "why" is either very painful or turned out to be a big waste of time.
2. There is no such thing as The One And Only Solution here. Most "Refuseds" have different attitudes, ethical codes and situational parameters that directly affect their individual solution paths. Many times I've seen stories posted declaring a solution was found, it's always within one of a handful of categories - and they begin filtering all other posts through their own solution path and post comments and replies that are skewed toward what worked for them. Sometimes it's borderline trolling. Fortunately, among the members here I haven't seen any all-stops-pulled flamewars but it has come close once in a while. Usually on the topic of ethics.
3. The single most important thing members of this group can bring to the discussions is an open mind. And that is an ongoing learning experience. The decisions we make here are SO diverse others will find them impractical, immature sometimes and even unethical or offensive. The one thing to keep in mind here is we're all suffering and many of us are desperate enough to try anything - even things we regret or know will be hurtful or even destroy the relationship.
In a sense we're ALL like-minded: we're not getting a fundamental need met from our partners and have become frustrated or desperate enough to look for friendship with others in similar situations. And we're all looking for solutions, advice, support, or just somewhere to vent where others understand where we're coming from and will laugh, cry or rage with us.

It is not a matter of whether you succeed, fail, or give up.

It is a matter of determining what is the best choice for YOU.

If you feel that the best choice for you is to stay in your marriage and work on it, and you think that your spouse will be willing to work on it as well (you can't save a marriage by yourself, and you can't MAKE someone else want sex or MAKE them participate in the relationship), then that is a great thing. More power to you. The important thing is to recognize that it's not a matter of right or wrong, of succeeding or failing. The important thing is to make an informed decision, and to work on the things that ARE in your control in order to improve your life. If you can do that with your spouse, that's awesome. Some people (most people in here), can or could not. For them, leaving their marriage is a success - because they realized what they had to do to get to a better quality of life, and they did it.

fully agree with you. Actually you just made me realize I've already reached success because I feel empowered once again and I'm doing what is the right thing for me. Thanks. I am actually going to focus on improving my relationship alone and not worry so much about what she is doing. I have a feeling that works itself out. I think what I want is not to MAKE my spouse do something, but become a person that she would once again WANT to be with and value. That is my goal right now.

There are a handful on here - I think the last count was 4 or 5 people out of 40,000 - who have succeeded in turning around their marriages - but they did NOT do it alone. The key was that BOTH parties in the marriage were willing to knock everything down and start again from scratch.

For the vast majority of us, our spouses were not willing to do what you call the "hard work". So, YOU can do ALL the hard work you want, but if your spouse is not on ball as well, you will be spinning your wheels - you can do that for years, for decades, or for a lifetime.

If I were you I'd look up stories by hl42.

I agree with z. I was willing to do the hard work. My spouse was not. He said that it would be "too much trouble."

A reason that so many of us were in longterm sexless marriages was that we do believe in marriage, we loved our spouses, and we kept hoping to find some way of improving our marriages. If we had been people who easily gave up, we would not have stayed sexless for as long as 20 years.

My own marriage of more than 30 years had 8 sexless years by the time I divorced him. He had refused my requests to reenter marital counseling, something that had gotten us back on track years before. It ended up that he had been having a several-year affair.

I wish you the best spiritnow.

Thanks Mettamomma. Infidelity to me is a different subject. I am afraid that I would probably walk away from this relationship if she was having an affair. I don't think that is the case... but you never know. That is why I think I need to focus on my happiness and me... that way if she is having an affair, I will be a more self-confident and attractive person for the next relationship I begin (if I choose to do so). I'm done being the one wanting and she the refuser as it is called here. To me it's more than about the sex and I think it is that I want to feel wanted and desired and most woman do not want a man that she perceives as needy, wanting, and add any description there. I think it took awhile to develop but somehow that has happened and I do not believe she wants to be in this situation either. I think we are stuck and I'm going to take the lead and get us unstuck. If she doesn't come along... I can't control that.

Here, here, MM... For the past 10+ years since our first set of counseling, I've been willing to "do the hard work", and my spouse has, paraphrasing her words, been willing but not able and she doesn't know why.

10 years is enough time, even for the slowest among us, to realize that this *may* not be an achievable goal via the particular path or paths we've been trying. Maybe time to consider something else. :-)

I've walked away from relationships, so I fully understand making that choice. I am just not there right now and I'm focusing on solutions. Of course, it may not improve my relationship with my wife but I think the solution I'm looking for is actually more about me than my relationship with her. I did not like the negative cycle we were (are) in and I am not ready to walk away from the relationship either. I just needed to change something and the only think I can change is me. I don't really need to read about relationships that led to splitting up, it does me no good. Not meaning that I might not do the same thing in the future... but why focus on that right now. It is not a current option for me. By my choice

SN, you've kind-of identified the rub, which is that you can change yourself and what you do. And you are cutting yourself off from valuable advice and experience if you will not listen to anyone who has changed their situation, usually starting with self-awareness and getting honest about the position and what they wanted. And the reason is identified above: you have no control over the "solution" and people who have left certainly weren't aiming for that. So, although we've reinvented our marriage, I view it as being completely new, and many of the challenges of divorce and a new relationship were implicit. There are no easy answers, and I'm no different from others who have taken the steps needed to change - wherever that leads. And if W had not responded, that would certainly have been divorce for me.

So your focus can be on achievable things in your control - wherever that leads. Just as a practical example, I used to congratulate myself if I had reacted honestly and proportionately.

Do not assume that change will come by being reasonable or rational.

I already know the solution to leaving or the path and advice... I would be asking for advice about starting up again... not how to leave or if I should leave. And honestly, I don't need to justify to leave or to build a case. I can do that tomorrow and feel completely comfortable with my choice because that is what it would be. My choice. Been there done that. I'm now trying a new approach to staying and I'm looking for advice on that topic. We are human beings in an emotional relationship. Reasonable and rational, I agree do not fit in the equation.

Have you got an idea of who you are, and what you stand for? What you want out of a worthwhile relationship? How you will know when you've met your objectives whether tactically or strategically?

And how long have you got?

Pretty good idea of who I am. Actually, I think that was part of the first step of figuring out that I had to deal with me first and let go of what she wasn't doing for me and many of the negative cycles I was in. I went from angry, to entitled, to she didn't love me since she wasn't willing to try, to doesn't she know how much this is hurtful, to anyway... you get the point. I went through all of those. Now, I'm focusing on me and doing what I need to do and with the hope that this will bring some of the passion back. It might not, but I am looking for others that hopefully are taking a similar path and to share in their experience.

Those odds suck : (

The odds do suck to find somebody offering constructive opinions or ideas. Man, I am shocked at the amount of negative energy in this EP. I can't see where the support is. Unless others making you feel good about feeling bad is considered support. Ah yes, feeling justified about feeling bad is the same thing.

Spirit I didn't mean any criticism with that comment...more that it saddens me that there are so few success stories here. Perhaps by the time many of us begin desperately googling "sexless marriage" its already too late. I've said this before on other threads...I do find this forum discouraging at times but I do also think many people are trying to balance support and the reality if their experience. I am positive that if you can turn yoursituation around the members here will rejoice for/with you!

Spirit I didn't mean any criticism with that comment...more that it saddens me that there are so few success stories here. Perhaps by the time many of us begin desperately googling "sexless marriage" its already too late. I've said this before on other threads...I do find this forum discouraging at times but I do also think many people are trying to balance support and the reality if their experience. I am positive that if you can turn yoursituation around the members here will rejoice for/with you!

I was actually wondering if individuals that taking a different path to improvement or start seeing improvement, leave the group and most of the comments and feedback come from those that are not seeing improvement. I have been in those periods of time that I was in a very negative state of mind and was bitter, angry, frustrated and really looking to make sure I was justified in feeling the way I did. I'm just not there right now. I've already seen improvement in my relationship with my wife and my kids just in 1 week. No sex yet, but crazy enough, the other part is that I am not feeling frustrated about that. Still horny as a cat in heat, but somehow my current perspective of focusing on me and not expecting her to have sex with me as changed my level of anxiety.

This is in response to my original thread on sexless or sex strained marriage. It's been almost a year since I decided to focus on myself and I wanted to give an update. After months of slow progress I have to admit that I lost then plot or direction of what I had previously decided, which was to focus on improving myself and not be dragged into the negative cycle I/we were in for years. I became intolerant of my wife, became moody, angry and just escalated any fight that would start. It became really ugly until some really bad consequences. We calmed down for a period of time, actually moved due to work but that helped in creating a temporary distraction. I started getting ready to announce our divorce. I think my wife sensed it and for the first time she asked for us to seek counseling. Counseling was very productive. Not sure actually if it was the counseling or the book he recommended. Which was "Intimacy & Desire" which I highly recommend for any couple that is having sexual issues in their marriage. It got me out of my negative frame of mind and it truly helped us to be able to talk about it. We are not out of the woods in any stretch of the imagination but we are having sex. We are having some of the greatest sex we have had in years. She actually gave me the best oral sex i have ever received and had her first ****** from oral sex in 9 years. We are still working on our overall relationship and now the focus is on her. I have my own issues to address but the therapy has really highlighted areas such as her inability or fear of intimacy. It also brought points of her emotional intelligence and anger issues. I am encouraged at the progress, I am also concerned that this has turned into a 5 year experiment about her and I have to be patient and wait to see how it turns out. At least we have sex once or twice a week and it is usually pretty good.

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