Seven Years Without Sex -- Feeling Afraid and Alone

 Attraction and sex were the last things I thought could ever become a problem in my marriage.  We married relatively late in life -- I was 39 and my husband 48 when we said our vows.  We had an extremely nice sex life prior to getting married; no one had ever felt like such a perfect match sexually. It was just so.... easy. in fact, before marriage, my husband's sex drive exceeded mine.  

But fertilty problems were an issue from the very beginning, and even very early on in the marriage, I could sense something had changed with my husband's desire. More and more, I was the one initiating sex. Our sexual repertoire became more and more constrained. Things we loved doing together were suddenly not appealing to him any more.

We very briefly sought medical treatment for infertility (went through one cycle of fertility drugs and insemination) before giving it up; it just felt too "medical."  We pursued adoption.  But then, to our great surprise and joy, discovered I was pregnant at age 42.  I had a difficult pregnancy -- I experienced bleeding and bed rest through the first and part of second trimester.  After that, our sex life, which had already begun to dwindle prior to the pregnancy, stopped cold. I was interested in having sex with him, especially toward the end of the pregnancy, but my husband said he just couldn't get over being worried about jeopardizing the pregnancy.

While I was pregnant, I didn't mind the lack of sex.  I didn't even miss it terribly much after our son was born. Sleep deprivation and being absorbed in the baby were good distractions. But as the baby became a toddler, my sex drive returned full-force. His did not. When I initiated sex, he would sometimes go along, but it was so clear his heart wasn't in it. He'd dutifully do what he knew would make me **** as quickly as possible.  

We tried lots of things. We visiting a tasteful sex shop for couples.  The things we bought basically stayed in the box unless I brought them out and proposed using them. And then they stayed in the box unless I got them out to use just myself.  

I've kept myself in good shape -- I weigh exactly what I weighed when we were married, I exercise, eat well, wear attractive clothes and am often told that I look far younger than my age. All along, I asked if there was something wrong in the relationship that was making him not want sex. My husband claimed that the lack of desire was NOT resulting from a problem in our marriage. He was sure it was hormonal, or age-related. He went on testosterone, via a prescription from his internist. He saw an endocrinologist, who could find nothing really wrong.  He went on an anti-depressant (Wellbutrin) that is supposed not to reduce libido. He saw a more "alternative" MD who had him take various supplements in addition to that.

Then, he finally agreed to see a psychotherapist, but said he had to do it alone. I never asked him about what was said in therapy, never quizzed him about his "progress."   I felt that perhaps he was feeling "smothered" in the marriage, and it might free him up if I pulled way back and asked for as little as possible from him. Then, finally, after about two years, I said I would like to see the therapist with him, since sex is a two-way street.  He never arranged for this, and in fact, stopped seeing the therapist, saying the therapist was, essentially, too supportive, and didn't offer any real insight. 

Meanwhile, our relationship has disintegrated. We used to have fun together. We used to co-parent mostly very amiably.  Now we argue even about parenting issues.  I see contempt cross his face when we disagree: he sneers or rolls his eyes.  There's no intimacy to re-connect us when we're in a dark spot. And the sadder I feel, the more desperate I get.  And the more he feels my sadness and desperation, the angrier and more remote he gets.

It's like I'm damned if I engage emotionally, but equally damned if I disengage, since we just seem to float further apart.

I'm pretty sure the issue for him is deep. He has had a conflicted, very stressful relationship with his mother for as long as I've known him. Though he lived with one woman prior to our marriage, it was only for two years. 

I'm smart person. I've held high-level executive jobs, had my work published in national magazines and newspapers. But when I read back what I've written, I can't believe I've let things get to this point. For the longest time -- years -- I remained attracted to my husband even though it was clear he'd lost desire for me.  I've handled the worst moments with ************, and in the beginning that kind of cheered me up.  But now it just makes me feel worse -- pathetic, even. And what scares me is that I'm worried I'm losing, or have lost, my attraction to him. I've begun to wonder if he suddenly took an interest in having sex with me, whether I'd even want to any more.

After a fairly ugly argument today (not about sex), I told my husband that we simply had to see a therapist together. The issue now isn't even sex; it's just that our relationship has totally disintegrated. He takes almost no interest in what I do or think or feel. I'm angry because I feel completely rejected; he's angry because I'm angry, and he's got issues I don't even begin to fathom. He agreed to therapy -- though it falls to me to do the work of finding a reputable therapist, making the appointment, and paying for it. 

We have a beautiful six-year-old boy. We both love him madly. My husband is an excellent father. I can't bear the idea of divorce for a lot of reasons, but the chief one is that I've seen what broken marriages did in my family to my nieces and nephews. They are very damaged, messed-up kids. 

I really, really want to try to fix this. But I'm up at 1 a.m., can't sleep, terrified it's too far gone.


littleengine littleengine
4 Responses Feb 10, 2009

The simple and sad truth is that we have no control over how others feel or act. For whatever his reasons, whether physical, emotional, harmonal or another woman, your husband checked out long before you did. After living in a situation like that for so long, you begin to EXIST. Days turn into weeks, turn into months, turn into years. <br />
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You have stated the obvious to him "WE need HELP". Now the ball is in his court. If you can work together as a team to get back what was once there, how wonderful, but if not, do not blame yourself. You are obviously a strong and caring person. Save yourself and your child.<br />
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Best of wishes. Please keep us posted.

You know that feeling you said that even if he should decide to take an interest in you again.. you're afraid you have lost yours in him....that's pretty much the key right there.<br />
When I realized that even if my husband did a complete turn around, I didn't trust him enough, didn't believe in him enough, didn't physically want him enough anymore to be his lover. I can be his friend forever....but friendship doesn't make a marriage. <br />
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Not every divorce is the worst trauma a child can go's only that way if the parents make it that way.

IF... this all ends up down the gurgler, it seems to me that you have looked under every stone, behind every tree, and generally done everything (and more) you could reasonably expected to do to find a solution to this issue. Your work may yet bear fruit too - it ain't over 'til it's over - . There are solutions out there (I outlined mine in a story Recognise Reality) but there are as many solutions as there are problems. <br />
Sounds to me like a smart resourceful person such as you will work out an answer, you've already done a power of work and discovered a lot of methods that haven't (yet) worked, and thats GOOD. Hope you get some quality input from readers for you to sift thru. There WILL be a resolvement out there for you. Keep punching ! It'll turn up.

You are doing all the right things. <br />
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If the relationship ends you have to find out why, or you will make the same mistakes again, blame yourself, feel guilty about your son, or take years to forget.<br />
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You are not alone. So many stories on this site like yours. <br />
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After reading hundreds of posts I have come to the conclusion there is no easy answer. What ever solace you find will not be easily obtained.<br />
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I have always lived my life telling myself that it is short. I need to do what I need to do to experience all that I want to experience. Look at my profile and read a little about me. <br />
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But now I have landed in a situation that is painfull like yours. Now I have to be strong and find the solution that will work for me. <br />
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You will have to do the same.<br />
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I wish you the best.