How Did I Get Here?

"I did the best I could with what I knew and who I was at the time."

I've been doing some soul searching about "how did I get here?" - meaning how did I end up in a sexless marriage?  I found the above quote in another post and borrowed it - because I believe it is true for us all.  But that doesn't mean I don't recognise that I've contributed to my plight.

So . . I grew up with a very gregarious father and a very reserved and private mother.  I take after Dad.  Mum was/is very self centred and has played the victim role all her life.  (I do love her to pieces, because she's a great Mum in lots of ways, but she's not a great role model.)

I grew up learning how to please and appease my mother.  I was sent to boarding school at 12 and only got to go home once a year.  (Yeah, I know I sound like I'm a victim here!! Just painting in the background though.)

So when I was 18 and met a guy who thought I was wonderful, I got married at 19!  (Not my first boyfriend, but hey! 19 means you don't know much, right?!)

Turned out we were fantastic together in bed and not much else worked for us.  He was a great womaniser and was never faithful to me.  We had 2 kids together or we probably wouldn't have lasted for 12 years together.  Divorced.

5 years as a single Mum - lots of boyfriends; lots of sex - did many of the things I should have done in my teens and early 20s!  Then decided I wanted to have a "real" marriage and settled down with my present darling husband (DH).

So, looking back - how come I made such a HUGE mistake as to marry someone who doesn't want sex??   (By now you have probably gathered that I LOVE sex - always have!)

My first marriage resulted IMHO from feeling very insecure due to all my years at boarding school.  I just wanted "a family" and I snatched my first chance at one. I also wanted to get away from having to please my mother and take care of many of her responsibilities (mainly for younger siblings).   No wonder this marriage didn't work out!

By the time we divorced my self esteem was at rock bottom.  But one thing I was very good at (thanks to my mother) and that was pleasing and appeasing people.   I got involved to a greater or lesser extent with a whole lot of different guys and (believe it or not) they all treated me well.  Some were just one night stands; some were relationships; some were flings with married men . . . but all nice guys.   Guess I was just lucky.

So now my knowledge of men is greatly increased - but not necessarily my knowledge of myself.  I know men like me and I know I love sex and I've never yet met a guy who did NOT love sex.  So "sexless" is not something I equate with the male gender!!

My DH is a good friend - part of a group of us who have been work friends for years.  I know he fancies me and others in our group tease me about it.  I like him lots but don't really see him in a romantic light.  Then we gradually get closer - little things he does for me help me see him in a new light.  I start to love him (not that fabulous "fall in love - head over heels" thing - just a deep and caring love).

He is everything my first husband isn't - has had one serious girlfriend and never been married (Red flag - he is 48!).  He is totally reliable - always does what he says he'll do - never ever lets me down!! Totally new experience for me! I expect men to let me down - they always have, one way or another.     So I'm thrilled to have found someone so reliable and responsible.

He is very competent - has a great job; built his own house; is competent in a practical way and has a terrific wacky sense of humour.  We see "eye to eye" on values, politics, religion, all the important stuff.  We like to do many of the same things for recreation.

Above all, he ADORES me.  This is heady stuff!

So what other red flags did I miss, or refuse to acknowledge?

*   he always talked about "my" - my house, my car, my life, my job - but more than that! my towels, my saucepans, my . . . you name it.   I determined that this was because he'd spent so much of his life alone, and he would adjust.  No - this is how he thinks.  I am "my wife".  There is no such thing as "our".

*   he was / is a total stickler for having things done "his way" - as I say to him it is "his way or the high way".  This inability to accept / cope with things that don't go "his way" is a major problem.  As you can imagine it is a big sticking point when it comes to me trying to change his mind about sex.

*  he was/is thrifty to the point of being ridiculous.  I should have noticed this streak - he is never deliberately "mean" but will not spend 2 pennies if one will do.  Watches expenditure on everything like a hawk.  This carries through to things like heating in winter; using the phone, etc. 

I have become much more financially responsible since we married so he's been a good influence on me, but his penny pinching extends to MY money as well.  Not just that I pay my own way in our marriage, but how I spend my "pocket money". . .

*  he is very time focussed - lives his life according to a very strict timetable.  Gets anxious if that timetable is disturbed in any way.    This extends to me - he is very controllng - gets upset if I say "I'm not hungry" because I OUGHT to want to eat - it is time to eat!!!

* doesn't tolerate aspects of my life that he doesn't share (such as friends, musc, etc.) but expects me not only to tolerate but to like his choices.

*  a dear friend of us both (and ex-lover of mine) told me he (DH) would never match my libido, but I took his (friend's) comments as "sour grapes" because I ended it with him when I got serious about DH.  I should have heeded what was wise advice.

Looking back now, I realise that ALL the signs were there - except that our sex life was pretty good!  The only signal there (apart from my friend's warning) was that I usually initiated sex.  But he was very responsive, innovative and seemed to enjoy it . . .

I closed my eyes to the signals; I refused to admit them even to myself.  I made the cardinal error of thinking he would change!!!  I so badly wanted a husband who loved me, who cared for me and my children, who gave me the trappings of the life I wanted - that I overlooked these red flags.

I made myself believe that loving was as good as (or even better) than being in love.  I told myself that "husband material" was more important than "lover material".  I convinced myself that my children needed the stability of a home and family that my DH could provide us with.

I told myself that no one person was ever perfect (still believe that) and that I could cope with his attitudes etc. without resentment.  I should have realised that this was just a wish - not something that would really be possible.

My self esteem didn't allow me to believe that I could have what I wanted without sacrificing some things.   But if I had known it would be SEX I'd have to sacrifice, I think EVEN I would have been wary.

Because we love and respect each other, because he is a really GOOD man, because we have so much in common - I really think we could have overcome the other aspects of the relationship that were not ideal.   And I know he would say, and rightly so, that I have many faults too.  No doubt his list about me would read something like - extravagant! profligate! tardy!

I think in most things we have arrived at a livable compromise.  I do feel I have to constantly "fight" not to be overwhelmed by him, his rules, his preferences, his "own way" of doing things.  But I can generally cope with that, expecially as I know he TRIES to rein in these aspects of himself.

What has become increasingly clear is that I CANNOT live without sex any longer.  I should have done something concrete about it YEARS ago - instead I'm now coming yup to 13 years without any sex AT ALL.

But now he is 70 and his health is not so good.  He loves me and I love him - so how can I leave him?  And even if I did, would we both end up miserable and lonely?  What makes me think I'd find the partner of my dreams now?  I'm getting too old to believe in fairy tales!  :)

So for now we will continue as we are.  And I thank all of you on this forum who have helped me face up to the fact that I contributed to this situation in which I find myself.  It is sobering to realise how being "determinedly blind" to certain aspects of our lives can have such a momentous effect on our relationships and our whole lives.

Would that we could use what we learn in this life and try again . . .!!!!

enna30 enna30
56-60, F
5 Responses Feb 21, 2009

I'm continually blown away by the kindness, generosity of spirit and the grace of EPers. Thank you all so much for your comments - they mean a great deal to me.<br />
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I've been reading about OCPD and I think a lot of this applies to my DH. As with all such conditions, there are some aspects that he doesn't display, but in other ways he is a text book example. I plan now to read more about this condition to try and find out how best to "handle" things with him.<br />
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Reflections, you are SO right when you say:<br />
Acquaintances don't have a clue on what is "not going on" behind closed bedroom doors. My husband is warm and funny, holds my hand, calls me sweet names - no-one would EVER guess he flinches from my touch!

Every one of us has had a history of events that led us to where we are today. The blessing is in the reality of knowing who you are, regardless of our husband's personality traits. You have managed to hold onto "yourself"!<br />
There are so many areas in which I do not agree with my husband of 40 years. A controlling person can seem to be organized and result orientated. I admire my DH intelligence and sensibility. However, like your DH, mine not only wants to control the thermostat, heating and lighting in the house, (to save money), but also how I live my life. <br />
I smiled when I read that your DH becomes upset if you say you're not hungry because you OUGHT to want to eat - it is time to eat!!! - my DH has a strict schedule for mealtimes and is visibly shaken when I don't have an appetite at the appointed breakfast, lunch or dinner time.<br />
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It's healthy to understand what type of personality we are living with; although it is frustrating to deal with the life they've embraced. Perhaps it is inborn, or learned behavior, I don't know. I do know that I have to continuously be "all together in thought, word and deed" in order to keep him at bay. Otherwise he closes in on me like a cat around a dying mouse. <br />
I swear he sees my sexual needs as a weakness to be controlled. He doesn't have a clue how desire fuels my heart and soul. I've been thinking -- since he has turned me off so often and for so long .... that it's not him I want .. it's the physical closeness of the act I crave. It's like I am beating a dead horse! At least you have come to terms with your marriage. There are always financial considerations since marriage is a partnership. There are also the emotional considerations .. caring for a friend whom you get along with on various levels, but not on a sexually level. Acquaintances don't have a clue on what is "not going on" behind closed bedroom doors. He projects himself as a sensual person to friends and family .. and I just laugh on the inside ... you can't tell a book by it's cover.<br />
Thanks for putting your story together so we can better understand your world. You are a remarkable person and able to take care of yourself with an open-mind.<br />
May you find many blessings along the way. You are special!

I'm on the same page as Baz....<br />
I am empathetic to your situation, although different than mine, the end result is similar. What else could you do but fill the holes? Without doing that, you would be in for a bumpy ride!<br />
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Thank you for sharing your story.<br />
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If if lived near you, I would meet with you just to hang out... consider it done, even though...

"Real Men" don't cry.<br />
I just read this. Will have to resign from "The Real Men"s club.<br />
Don't think I can offer one damn comment of consequence. I'll re read it later. Hope I can offer something later.

You are very courageous to open up so much of your life to so many here, but everything you have said can apply to all of us here. I know that I can see personally much of what has transpired badly in my own life through your experiences described here. I am sure others will as well.<br />
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You are one gracious, articulate and honest lady. <br />
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We are not all that vastly different in our needs and life is always going to be just a matter of degrees and all our needs are pretty much the same.<br />
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Thank you for being so candid I am sure you have helped many recognize the pitfalls that emotions and inexperience in life can bring to all of us.