Finding Happiness In Your Marriage

Hi everyone. I used to belong to this group, but left some time ago. I still live in a sexless marriage, I've just come to accept it. I think people in modern Western cultures make way too much out of sex and romance. It's important, yes, but its not the most important thing, in any way. It plays a bonding role, but its not essential, in my opinion. One can live in a sexless marriage and still find happiness.

The question of course, is how? What is most important in a relationship? These I think are the crucial questions. In our case, my wife and I seem to be coordinating things together all through the day. We help each other with meals, cleaning up after eating, cleaning the house, doing the laundry. Its a lot of collaborative activity so we talk throughout the day. 

We don't discuss big things very often, the really knotty relationship stuff (cause that's too stressful) but we talk about the kids education, her mother, my parents, world events, movies, travel plans, next meals, taxes, etc. And with all that shared activity and talking there's a closeness, deep friendship and a feeling of teamwork.  

It's very Zen, in my opinion. Sweep the hall, wash the dishes, eat the meal. In these small collaborative efforts we come together throughout the day and feel like a team. Same with the kids, just doing things with them, helping them with their homework, going places with them.  

My wife and I haven't kissed or made love passionately in years. Every 6 months or so I say something about this but otherwise I just don't focus on that. I made myself miserable when I did. Is sexual intimacy and romance a need? Buddha, Jesus, Gandhi, they all said no, it isn't.  

Is spirituality a need? I think so, but don't think you need to talk about it to experience it. Just being with people, with your heart open, without judgement, without making reference in your mind to grievances, regrets, ego needs... that's love.  

At least how I'm experiencing it. It's not big and passionate, no angels singing, no fireworks of love making (anymore). Its more like the love of father and mother in "Fiddler on the Roof." Its the love of loyalty, commitment, partnership, friendship...  

Family.

I wonder these days so many people searching for passion, for soul mates, the perfect partner. Seems like a fantasy to me. People are hooked on these passionate feelings, same as people get hooked on Big Mac, cigarettes, ice cream, alcohol, heroin. Everyone wants to feel good, we are hooked on pleasure. But life isnt like that. Happiness is not found that way. Happiness comes from attention to details, appreciating the little things. Keeping your heart open in difficult situations. Being loving, forgiving and grateful. Being part of things that matter, like families, friendships.

My wife and I are really a team. Coordinating for our children has been the biggest challenge. We look around us and see lots of friends whose kids have gone off course. One really has to be mindful, totally focused with your children, every day, to help them grow up happy and successful. So far our boys are both doing great, but its taken real attention to help them from being pulled by all the distractions out there. Video games, TV, computers, ****, beer, drugs- the distractions are endless.  

Life is a journey. You will never get everything you want, but if you are lucky, have good friends, a supportive family and a good partner, we can make our lives something beautiful. Collaborative works of art. This often requires sacrifice, and a willingness to let go of things society (or our minds) may tell us we need, but actually we don't.  

Most of all it requires daily doses of love. Finding love in the moment, the everyday, the little things. Paying very close attention to what is happening all around us. Cherishing what we have, being grateful for our lives, instead of dreaming of being elsewhere or with someone else.

Love is a verb, something we have to give away freely without conditions, to experience in our lives. Dreams of perfection can get in the way of love.  

Don't let them.  

1 Corinthians 13  

1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.   4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.   8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.   12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.  

 

MakingPeace MakingPeace
46-50, M
17 Responses Mar 28, 2009

I've lived solo @ 12 years now & use da shampoo in da shower to wake myself up every day<br />
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Must google, friendship day & what Bible says @ true friendship & teamwork & community spirit

You ask, what is most important in a relationship? This is something I wonder about, too. And the answers could be very different for various people, depending on where they're at in their personal growth, and in relation to their partner's. This is something I've been trying to define for myself. And since you asked, I'm going to try and define it, here. <br />
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I think what is becoming most important, for me, is finding what is 'real' about a relationship, whether it is a romantic relationship or personal partnership, or even an important friendship. And in looking at what is 'real' for the relationship itself, I think this means the relative circumstances of each individual involved. For instance, looking at what each person is actually in the relationship *for* (both consciously and unconsciously, if it is possible for this to be uncovered), and whether each person's needs are being adequately addressed, and whether it is beneficial for both people involved.<br />
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Relationships are about relating, and ultimately finding out about ourselves. And when things turn sour or difficult in a relationship, this is pontentially where we can learn the most, as painful as this may be.<br />
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No one relationship can teach us everything we need, fulfill us in all ways that are beneficial. We seem to need a variety of relationships -- with family members, children, friendships, spouses/partners, acquaintances. Each relationship can bring something special and unique, something to value and learn by (even those most difficult ones).<br />
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When we can keep our relationships healthy, there are so many benefits for all involved. Relationships can grow and evolve over time, and sometimes deteriorate and fall away. Just as in nature, there seem to be cycles and rhythms to such things.<br />
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This is just a collection of thoughts, afterall, from a woman who is pushing through old patterns, and coming to define her life in new ways. I suppose relationships, ultimately, are about sharing. Sharing in ways that are 'real' for us, in each moment.

Hi ivoryone.<br />
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You wrote: <i>"I am of the Christian Buddist persuasion and believe that you can have non-sexual relationships however, on the the other hand it is the deepest form of communication between two spirits who care and love one another. Albeit can be shallow but if you have all of the makings of a spiritual connection then it should be there."</i><br />
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I used to believe this as well. I'm no longer sure. I've made love with many women in my life, quite often where i felt there was a deep spiritual connection. Those moments in one another's arms, looking deep into another soul's eyes, feeling your bodies pressed close together, light kisses, laughing, making love, giving one another pleasure- I had felt this was the greatest possible experience on earth, the height of human experience, the deepest connection two souls can possibly make.<br />
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I'm no longer sure. I've felt such bond with at least a dozen women in my life. They are all still alive, but the bond has faded. What is left after such moments, if you don't have the kind of selfless spiritual love described in Corinthians? <br />
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Yesterday I sat in a nearby park. Bats flew near my head, catching bugs. The sky was a beautiful orange, a breeze drifting over the bats, trees, bugs and I, like a current in the great ocean of air that connects all of us here on this planet. The trees, the bugs, old lovers, my wife, my children, the terrorists and Wall street financial planners-- we all breathe in air from this same "ocean" -- we all get energy from the sun. We are all composed of star dust, dinosaur atoms, dirt and water.<br />
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Everyone is connected. At all times we are connected, we just don't usually notice it. We seek connection, and to find a lover seems like the ultimate form. But the connections exist at all times, we just usually don't notice, don't pay attention...<br />
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Ecstacy is fleeting, bliss doesn't last. But there is something deeper, which does...<br />
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:^)

Wow, <br />
Your post was very full of information!! I wanted to respond to the sexless marriage thing. I was in one for a while and I am a very sensual person. It killed me after a while and I needed to leave. He was addicted to **** - that's another long story. However, we did not have children, so leaving made it less difficult. I am of the Christian Buddist persuasion and believe that you can have non-sexual relationships however, on the the other hand it is the deepest form of communication between two spirits who care and love one another. Albeit can be shallow but if you have all of the makings of a spiritual connection then it should be there. I tread upon slightly dangerous waters now but what I derived from the first part of your posting is that you wish for is and talk yourself into what you have at your feet. I especially liked your Corinthians verse. Thanks for sharing. I wish for your spirit to find peace and happiness and it sounds like you are on that journey.<br />
Wishes

Hi enna and moonwalker.<br />
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Yes!! to both of you!! Each person must make these choices for themselves, there is no one answer that works for everyone. If you decide to stay with a person, there are ways to make peace with the situation so you can still find happiness. I've described one way that can be done.<br />
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Then some morning you wake up and can no longer accept the situation, you may need to leave. It all depends on the relationship you have with your partner, what you share together and what you are looking for.<br />
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I cannot say where my wife and I will be in 10 years. I think at some point things will change in one direction or another. Few things remain unchanged in this Universe. And as long as two people are not sexually intimate its always possible that one will meet someone else and things break apart.<br />
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Actually, that's reality even when you are sexually intimate! There are no guarentees. <br />
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We know one couple who seemed to have the most intimate relationship, who maintained strong desire for one another after 2O years. All in our friendship circle were envious of them, they somehow kept the sexual passion going strong for over 2 decades...<br />
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Until she got sick and died, in her mid-40s. <br />
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There are just no guarentees in life.

Wow! Some interesting perspectives here. I congratulate those of you who can honestly say that you have come to terms with sexless marriages and are truly content.<br />
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I have spent the best part of the last two decades trying to tell myself that living in a sexless marriage is fine for exactly those reasons many of you have quoted.<br />
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But the truth for me is that it is NOT OK. I can no longer live like this. My physical and mental health are threatened by this situation.<br />
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So it seems that each of us must find what s acceptable for us as individuals. I wish all of you well who live in sexless marriages happily - just as I wish others like myself well in their searches for something more.

Hi catpaws. I dont know if you can make peace with a situation until you understand it. It really helps to know the reason behind this, and the reason will be different for each couple. You can attempt to make peace by focusing on God, nature, your children, work, spirituality, sports, friends, etc... but with your partner if you dont understand why they have pulled back, there is still more digging to do, imo...

Sorry to hear about your situation, behindenemylines. I think my wife has similar feelings about being sexual with me. Except she has not become emotionally distant from everyone in her life. She has many friends and reaches out to people all the time. I hope you will consider counseling. I don't know your situation, but being connected to the world is essential. If you are cutting yourself off, that is indeed the worst kind of pain.<br />
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My wife and I went to a counselor for 2 years, after the affair. It helped a lot. Only problem was the counselor was kinda asexual and didnt help us there. She (the counselor) had the attitude that friendship, family and love are what is essential.<br />
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I've come to make the best out of our situation. Its not perfect, but there is much in life that brings us happiness. Sex isnt everything. I'm not saying others will be happy with this kind of approach, but I do believe people *can* be, if it sounds like a fit for you. Concerning the quote from I Corinthians, I'm Buddhist, not Christian. I shared it though cause it fits with how I view and experience love. There are many wise words that have been said by people from many religious backgrounds that speak about LOVE in this way...<br />
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Love is bigger then sex, way bigger. It can be expressed sexually, but sex can also become completely divorced from love, and love can exist without sex. Love can be found in poems of many great traditions, in the sound of birds singing, and in the eyes of a child...<br />
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~Peace<br />
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<i>"Do not look for rest in any pleasure, because you were not created for pleasure, you were created for JOY. And if you do not know the difference between pleasure and spiritual joy, you have not yet begun to live." ~Thomas Merton (Christian monk)<br />
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"As a child, I understood how to give. I have forgotten that grace since I became civilized. I lived the natural life, whereas I now live the artificial. Any pretty pebble was valuable to me then, every growing tree an ob<x>ject of reverence." ~Ohiyesa (Native American Indian)<br />
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"The beauty which the knower knows and the lover appreciates, the mystic worships. His God is Reality. To every question that arises in the heart of the mystic, he finds the answer in the life before him." ~Hazarat Inayat Khan (Sufi mystic)<br />
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"True love is boundless like the ocean and, swelling within one, spreads itself out and, crossing all boundaries and frontiers, envelops the whole world." ~Mahatma Gandhi<br />
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"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is." ~Albert Einstein <br />
</i>

I agree with longtimesexless, and experienced a similar situation to Make Peace. My husband cheated on me about 12 years ago and it is me who does not want to have sex. Long story but out of the last 12 years, I was depressed for the first four years. I would have left him back then if I had predicted how deeply his infidelity had effected me. I thought I would get past it but I have been unable to do so. My husband wants to have sex and I give in every 1 -2 months but he knows I have difficulty getting interested and he tries to open up a dialogue about it but I am evasive on the topic. I don't know what to say anymore. Anyway.......I am trying to get to a point ..... Even though I appear to be just fine, going through the usual every day tasks, working side by side with my husband, I did not lose all of my sexuality because my husband was unfaithful. I simply lost my trust in him and have a really tough time being open on that level with him. I crave great sex but I have to be with someone who I trust and I have to know that I mean a lot to them. Since being unfaithful, he sat back and waited for me to get over it. He didn't make much of an apology, he didn't seem to be trying to make it up to me. He just waited and accepted whatever I had left to give. Incredibly, there is a feeling inside that gets worse with each passing year. Our kids are leaving for univeristy now, there isn't too much work to do side by side anymore with the kids becoming independent - there is a huge hole, becoming more obvious, not shrinking with time. I have become emotionally distant from everyone in my life because this has eaten away at me to the point where I do need counseling before I go nuts. I put a wall between my husband and I to protect myself from further hurt. I don't think he has ever repeated his infidelity again. At this point, I have no idea how to dismantle the wall and reconnect with him. All this to say, if your wife was a sexual being before you cheated on her, that sexuality may still be there, buried. I am the queen of repression but am only learning the damage repression causes.

Longtimesexless, thank you for posting the Scripture rebuttal. What so many people forget about the Bible is that you can find scripture to justify ANYTHING pro and con.<br />
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MakingPeace, I'm glad you found a way to cope with YOUR marriage. I'm not sure that most people here would agree with your choice, but ALMOST all would recognize themselves in your description of how you and your sister/wife get about your days. My married lover would see himself and his sister/wife in every line (except the kids, they don't have any). Til you get to that no sex is okay by me thing.<br />
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I'm sorry you never experienced all the joy that there is in life when you can get along as you and your wife do and then turn out the lights and have that same joy explode from your body as your lover/wife trails a roughend from housework finger down your spine, or how she clings to you her body rippling in ****** after you've sent her over the top. THAT is what marriage is supposed to be. THAT is what my lover will have when we are together, that is why he's leaving his marriage after almost 40 years because NOW he knows what true intimacy is.<br />
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You quoted scriptrue; I'll quote another ancient tale, Aesop's Fable of the Fox and the Grapes. Seeing a beautiful bunch of grapes hanging out of reach he tried and tried to ****** them. Finally giving up he walked away, comforting himself by saying, Pah, those grapes were probably sour. I really didn't want them anyway.<br />
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To me, that sounds like what you doing, taking cold comfort from a situation you can't change. But it doesn't matter what I think. Its YOUR marriage and YOU are responsible for your own happiness. If you are happy, then that's all that matters to us here at EP.

Like victor, there is a "reason" for our situation. Over 12 years ago I had an affair with one of my wife's best friends. I confessed to her, and after that things have never been the same.<br />
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I think when you know "why" things are this way, it helps. Acceptance is easier. Kind of like losing your eyesight or having a disability, the greatest suffering comes from wanting or expecting things to be different. Once you accept the situation its easier to make peace. You then may find that there are hundreds of ways and reasons to be happy in this world.<br />
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Not everyone is in that situation, where you can accept this lack of intimacy. And that's really hell, I know. Not accepting, expecting things to be different.

how do i cope?... i bang my head against the wall till i am dizzy. it really works! unfortunately, after the swelling goes down (after 2 days or so) the feeling returns....<br />
(warning: do not try this at home, kids!)

My wife and I never had a very good sexual relationship--just a few times a year for the first twenty years and no sex at all for the last twenty. She has no interest in sex because of extensive sexual abuse when she was a child.<br />
Our marriage has developed into a relationship very similar to yours. Other than sometimes holding hands, we don't exchange romantic or sexual gestures. We sleep in the same bed but never touch. We don't talk about sex anymore because there really isn't anything to talk about.<br />
Yet we share a home office, share the housework and do things together socially. We act like siblings. <br />
I get by most of the time, but sometimes thoughts about sex drive me to distraction. Then I feel cheated by life and very emasculated. <br />
I don't really want to cheat on her and don't really have the opportunity anyway. 65 year-old men are not in demand as lovers. I had a brief affair 30 years ago and all it did was show me what I'm missing. <br />
I wish I could find the peace you have. Are there others who have found a way to cope with no sex?

Hi Miles. I couldn't do it alone. I have faith in a more spiritual view of life. That's helped a lot. Its kind of like the 12 step program for alcoholics, you can't do this- give up something you desire so strongly- without some kind of faith or belief, in a power higher then yourself, in something more important then satisfying your physical cravings.<br />
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And even there my journey has been imperfect. I'm no monk. Last night I watched some ****, which just confirmed this even more, that sexual desires are rather drug like.<br />
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Hope you find what will work for you.

MakingPeace,<br />
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More power to you for coming to terms with your situation. I doubt if I have that strength.<br />
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Best wishes and Take care.

Thanks SteelMagnolia. Yeah, peace without sex, lol. I could make that into a bumper sticker...<br />
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:^)

W O W<br />
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MakingPeace, it seems like you have indeed found peace...I am happy for you.