I have posted here before, and am still (just) in my SM - but taking steps to leave it. I guess this might sound like a rant, but it's really just a question, and I would welcome people's views in the comments, if you'd be so kind.

As have many here, I have had conversations with my wife about the dismal state of our sex life in the course of our marriage. It's the usual story, that I won't repeat here, of someone who appears to have a very low sex drive, and very little active interest in sex (never initiates, endless reasons why now is not the moment... but "tomorrow" etc.). I am at the point where I simply do not believe I could have a satisfactory sex life in this relationship.

In our various discussions, my wife has said that she *does* like and want sex. And she wants a sex life with me, and knows she has made "mistakes" in the past.

My question is this: how can someone who supposedly likes and wants sex, NEVER show any interest in it, and never suggest it?

Am I missing something?
Adeptlinguist Adeptlinguist
56-60, M
19 Responses Aug 26, 2014


I looked at some of your prior stories. If you are still having these conversations with your W, then it sounds to me like your W is afraid of the divorce and is just *saying* these things to try to get you to stay. And you are confused because you are a very trusting person, but perhaps too trusting.

Challenge her on that statement that she does like and want sex. Ask her what her "ideal" sex life would look like (frequency, variety of positions, quickies vs. lovemaking, giving vs. receiving, what it *means* to her emotionally when having sex with you, etc.). Then, ask her how *important* it is to her that you have a good sex life. Next, ask her if there are any *obstacles* in the way of having a good sex life (e.g. too tired late at night). Then, discuss the best solutions to remove any of those obstacles (e.g. have sex in the morning instead). Finally, *do it*... Remove those obstacles and start having sex! If she doesn't execute on the plan, then get a counselor involved. There's more to it than she's revealing.

You say you're taking steps to leave the marriage though. So maybe it's too late. But I'm just trying to make sense of it and work through it logically. In the end, it sounds like your refuser has just been making excuses and stringing you along... rather than being active in finding a solution.

All the best. Good luck, whatever you do.


Not to put too fine a point on it, your missus is handling the truth very carelessly.
The real problem is that you either are - or are choosing to be - blind to that fact.
The refuser in your life is not only avoidant, but also a liar. (Nothing unique in that. The words 'refuser' and 'liar' quite often travel together)
Tread your own path.

She likes telling you what you want to hear. To tell you the truth would most probably result in her cosy little world collapsing around her.

Now she doesn't want that does she brother adept?

I would believe her when she says she likes sex, but for whatever reason she just doesn't like it with you.

I am strong believer that when sex goes in the marriage that the possibillity of an affair taking place should always be investigated.

Has the your wife given you cause for suspicion in other areas?

Stay Strong & Good Luck

she likes everything you provide outside of sex!

2BlossomBlue's response hits the nail on as much of a head as it currently may possess:

1) She likes and wants sex, just not with YOU
2) She isn't interested in sex and says just enough to keep you playing along.

On the first count, it's sad because at least, per your own insistence, you appear to be trying. That may or may not be enough to suit her. It's only courteous to take you at your word, but let's also be candid enough to consider that you may desire sex but otherwise lack in some fashion, however that remark may be perceived.
You may be all that and the proverbial back of chips... in which case it's a dreadful shame on your behalf.
On that ubiquitous other hand you may be an under-achiever... which would be a shame on her behalf.

I make NO accusation or condemnation in either direction. If it's the first and she's just stringing you along, shame on her, period. If it's the second and you're asking and she's not sitting down and telling, then shame on both of you, period.

As stated elsewhere, perhaps it's time for you to consider option 3, departure. I do not say that lightly, nor do I say it with the dismissive attitude many display when they suggest it. We all stay in our situations for different reasons and no one else knows the WHOLE story, so talk is cheap.

Were I you, and this talk had occurred several times already, then I would sit her down for one more talk, and I would make sure she understood that I was serious.

I would say quite bluntly that since the sex life was clearly going nowhere and she expressed little interest in either A) fixing it, or B) initiating departure / separation / divorce, then would she please express permission for me to seek sexual satisfaction elsewhere, and please be kind enough to do so in writing. That way we could just stay together as she seemed to prefer while refraining from sexual contact with one another, as she also seemed to prefer, while protecting myself from and backlash should she abruptly change her mind regarding this permission.

Now... do I think she'd really go along with this? No, of course not.

But I bet you'd shake a few nuts out of the tree and finally garner a genuine reaction, for better or worse.

MOST of the time a sexless partner isn't sexless because of sex, but because of general dissatisfaction -- with the partner, with the sex, with the everyday aspects of home life, with any sense of personal fulfillment, etc. A sexless marriage is very seldom about the sex, although sometimes it is.

By asking in a serious manner whether she'd mind if you seek satisfaction elsewhere AND that she give written permission, I'm betting you get enough blowup to start clearing some of the fog.

Or... you get your own get-out-of-jail-FREE card and go get some strange and a load of relief.

I'm aware my post seems ludicrous and even kind of stupid... but when someone just won't react or provide feedback, sometimes you have to really shake things up to get anywhere.

In our various discussions, my wife has said that she *does* like and want sex. And she wants a sex life with me, and knows she has made "mistakes" in the past.

My question is this: how can someone who supposedly likes and wants sex, NEVER show any interest in it, and never suggest it? ***


She's got you on her refuser bull **** train !

Good luck!

next time ask her.........

Who are you trying to convince here?

Me or you?

Because you damn sure don't have me convinced !

You answered your own question...


I think we are baffled by our refusers & their ability to either out right lie to us or maybe just lie to themselves. With the amount of time that's gone by & now in separate beds...does it really matter? Results are the same.

Your story is so akin to one aspect of my marriage that I felt I could speak to it. I have basically been in the sexless part of a S/M for 5 and 1/2 years, not long by many posts here. After three years of trying everything I could think of I sat my W down and talked to her about the unhappy state of our union with regard to sex and intimacy. She acknowledged the validity of her disinterest and that she knew I was unhappy. She said she enjoyed sex but wasn't interested anymore. "It was just one more thing she had to do". Since that talk I have initiated numerous other discussions re: the same subject, and have heard the same response a number of times. "It just one more thing she has to do", even though we are not doing it. It has taken some time to figure out how she could enjoy sex but not be interested.

Sorry to run on, but here it is. You aren't missing anything. Crane 15 I think is correct. After thirty years she sounds like she really isn't attracted to you anymore. (my story to) At this point your W mostly wants security and is content with the quantity of sex in the marriage (what ever it is). You can try to impress upon her the detrimental effect of her inaction and she might say(mine did) she will try and do better, but it probably won't last long. (my W's effort didn't last a day) Then she will be back to dodging your efforts at intimacy.

If you have threatened to divorce her and that hasn't worked then you my friend are out of cards to play for this pot. She has called your hand. You will have to show (leave) or fold. (stay and endure)
Good luck

I think you are missing something.

People have hugely different meanings for the same event, and it's all to easy to project your meanings onto others - which is what you're doing. For sex-people, sex is shorthand for a whole suite of intimacy, connection and love meanings which have massive significance in their lives. Of course, that works the other way round too, so that refusers do not comprehend how awful the SM is.

And then, I've read credible accounts by asexuals who are self-aware, and you have to understand that they speak another language, whose words may be familiar at some times, but mean something else. So, for example, an asexual can indeed like and want sex - to be sure, unlikely to be partnered, but nevertheless. But it would not have the significance it has for you. Similarly, there are non-sex-people who do indeed like and enjoy sex, but would not seek it out, there is no urge for them, and this is because whatever meanings it has (which may be mainly sensory and pleasure), it does NOT have a big relational implication for them - it's discretionary. Bizarre for a sex person to understand, but there it is.

And of course, it doesn't matter, you are on your way out, focus on the objective. Either a couple can creatively negotiate different meanings or they cannot - the latter being the overwhelming likelihood given that they have ended up in an SM - which is the equivalent of being unable to organise a - beer tasting - in a brewery.

Can I recommend that you re-read what I have written. Have I not been clear enough? It may be the same ostensible event and the meanings are different.

If could point out - I have revolutionised my marriage, and it was in large part because I was able to understand what I was attempting to express above, and indeed to negotiate different meanings.

Well, I was answering the OP's question which was:

"how can someone who supposedly likes and wants sex, NEVER show any interest in it, and never suggest it?"

I believe I have done so, and further, have given pointers to what is necessary if you are going to be able to move beyond positional bargaining (which is based on events without exploring meaning to each). Of course, that relies on your partner being willing and able to do so, which is a huge and unlikely ask in the circumstances.

Regardless of what happens in the OP's current relationship, it is important to understand these things for the future, otherwise you end up talking French to someone who understands Zod.

I fully agree that the issues go way beyond the bedroom, which is also extremely likely given the couple's proven track record of incompetence in negotiating(!).

I can recommend reading the book "Getting to Yes" which is useful regardless of the SM.

"In our various discussions, my wife has said that she *does* like and want sex. And she wants a sex life with me, and knows she has made "mistakes" in the past."
This is interesting to me...and is incongruent with someone who has a low sex drive independent of her feelings toward you. Here are the thoughts that went through my head when I read that..in order:
1) She was rejecting you because she was getting it elsewhere. (Likes sex + 'made mistakes' = affair)
2) She was rejecting you because she is not attracted to you. (Wants a sex life with you, but really can't bring herself to actually have sex with you because she's not attracted to you - either physically or emotionally)
I think you need to challenge what she means by "wants a sex life with you". If that's true, what is she willing to do in order to make it happen? Even if she's the one with the hangup about you, she needs to be the one to a) communicate it or b) work on getting past it. When I confronted my wife about our SM she admitted having hangups ABOUT ME that were keeping her from being interested in sex with me. With some therapy we were able to communicate, confront and work through those issues to help me understand. Not easy. But essential if you really want to get to a place where you CAN get back to a healthy sex life.

I don't for one minute think the "mistakes" refer to an affair. For her, not responding sexually was a "mistake". It's not the word I would use, but there you go...

I still can't get over the "I like sex but just not now" argument that is supposed to have been convincing for nearly THIRTY YEARS!!!

Yes. That is disheartening. Makes it seem like she was either lying then or lying now.

I think this is an interesting example of how the the perspective of the refuser and refusee are so different and yet so important.

I believe that Someone who has a low interest in sex and intimacy can say they want it but then not show any effort in getting it in the same way that I like Chinese food but would never suggest eating it. If I was offered Chinese or Italian I would choose Italian, and it Chinese food was brought to me and I needed to eat I would have it.

So I'd never say that I will never eat Chinese food again - but that could happen. And if it did, it wouldn't matter.

I'm a huge fan of steak. I love to eat steak and so will seek out opportunities to have steak. If I am offered it I will accept and at times I will suggest we go out to eat steak.

If I thought I might never get to eat steak again I'd be gutted.


So I try to think about my husbands behaviour in this way as it is the best analogy I have.


I still want intimacy & sex.
I still want intimacy & sex with my husband.
If I can't get it with my husband then I still think I need I get it elsewhere.

At this point I am not willing to accept that I will never have those things again.

If I could become a vegetarian and be happy then it would solve a few problems....

Maybe her sex drive is reigniting? Have you taken her up on that or afraid it's just reset sex in disguise?

The latter... and I don't want that.

Been there, got the T-shirt ("But we had sex this morning...")

Got to love Reset sex. Designed to keep the Refused quiet, for another 6 months or so.

Has she been in another relationship? Its a question best asked straight out. She will probably get angry. but it is a question that's needed.

No - of that I am certain.

My wife is very similar. I think sex for my wife is like desserts are for me. Let's say my wife orders a big slice of chocolate cake....wife "do you want some?"....me "no thanks"....wife "this is too much for me, here you eat it".....me "mmm, that was good!!"....wife "want some more?"........me "no thanks, I'm good"

Men do that too.

Don't try to understand crazy. If you understood it, that would mean you're crazy too.

If she wanted a sex life with you-- a willing partner -- she'd have a sex life. My belief is your wife is sexually averse to you, fears you'll dump her, so she's telling you what you would like to hear. This allows her to remain celibate in a marriage that she wants to keep.

That is what I would have thought: "If she wanted a sex life with you-- a willing partner -- she'd have a sex life".

She's not just afraid I'll dump her - I have told her I want to divorce.

Yep, this was my first thought, too. Just another lie in hopes he'll stay.

My wife did not remain celibate, just required me to be celibate, I found out that it was an idea that my father had.
His thought was since I was a six foot four two hundred thirty six pound monster I was supposed to lift that bale and tow that barge. In other words in was not supposed to have anything I wanted for myself. I disappointed him. I am now an even greater disappointment. Now I decided I am the ruler in my home and marriage. I was a little rough in the palace revolt, so to speak, and the aftermath from the takeover, is still being felt. My wife says I should have considered that negotiation could have still happened but the way I held my revolt sent a message, she says she will not refuse any more.
My father on the other hand says that my heavy handed way has lost him most of his friends after I bought family matters into the open, my mother feels it was the only choice I had left after she heard the whole story, She is just sorry so many had to be put in their place including my father.

She is all talk and no action. What happens when you initiate sex? Does she reject you or is she receptive? A lot of women aren't comfortable initiating sex. If she is receptive then you just may be the one who is always initiating. If she rejects you then there really isn't anything you can do if she doesn't have a valid reason. What is your marriage like out of the bedroom? Are you affectionate? Do you spend time together? Do you help with housework or children (if there are any)? Women need an emotional connection to want sex. Does she have any body image or medical problems?

No amount of anything either party does to 'persuade' the other to have sex should EVER be discussed in a loving, caring relationship. No amount of housework, childrearing, bill paying, lawn mowing, cooking, etc. should be a reason to withhold if you love each other. And in that perspective, both should be doing whatever it is the other NEEDS to make each other feel wanted. Plain and simple.
You shouldn't have to beg for it. On the other hand, she doesn't have to give in. On the 'third' hand, this is a means to find someone who feels like you. You aren't right for each other.

Good question. I have the same issue with my wife!!

She is hot and I am "not unattractive" yet, nada!!

We are in year 5 and it has to end for both of us!