Experience Project iOS Android Apps | Download EP for your Mobile Device

Wife Has No Desire

My wife was sexually abused as a child.  This has caused devastating effects on our marriage and her life.  Deep down, my wife is afraid to love.  She grew up in a home where if you didn't take care of yourself, you weren't taken care of.  Her mother died at an early age, leaving her father to raise three children by himself.  He didn't do a very good job of taking care of them however.  Mostly he left them to fend for themselves.  He might buy groceries for himself, but not for the family.

Anyway, getting back to the topic of this experience.  Although we had a decent sex life when we were dating, it went downhill after we were married.  It actually started going downhill before we were married, but after we were married it really became bad.  In the past year, we have had sex twice, and let me call it having sex, not making love.  When we do have sex, it is of the lets hurry up and get it over with variety. 

Only once in her life did she admit that she was abused as a child.  At this point in her life she tends to act as if it never happened.  She refuses counseling of any sort, although she has agreed to see a Psychiatrist for medication.  However, even that is problematic because she is never honest with the Psychiatrist, she tries to pretend that everything is just fine.

Anyway, that is my story.  Thanks for listening.
stinkcat_14 stinkcat_14 41-45, M 199 Responses Aug 31, 2006

Your Response


Having a wife that is mentally ill, I feel your pain. Fortunately, my wife takes her medicine and will go to counseling.
I am curious as to what the psychiatrist's diagnosis is. If it is PTSD, that is best cured with therapy, not medicine. Also, many psychiatric medicines diminish sexual feelings.
If you can, see if your wife will go to the psychiatrist with you. Tell her that you are there to be her advocate. If she doesn't agree, write or email the psychiatrist what you observe. Legally, the doctor cannot even acknowledge that your wife is a patient of his/hers. But he or she can read what you write.
There are resources out there for setting limits with your wife's behavior. Look for any NAMI Family to Family classes in your area. Check out Xavier Amador's LEAP program.
I facilitate a family support group, and I have learned one truth. It is no one's fault that they have a mental illness, as it is no one's fault they have a cold. However, a person with a cold is expected to blow his/her nose when it runs and cover his/her mouth when coughing. A mentally ill person is responsible for acknowledging the illness and seeking treatment.

Wow, your story describes my husband exactly. He refuses to admit there are issues, refuses to be honest with the therapist and is in denial.
If they don't want help, there is not much we can do to help them. It's extremely frustrating.

I am in a very similar boat, brother. My wife is in therapy now, and I hope it helps her to sort through the same things that your wife is facing. Some of the folks on here are a bit naive that have commented.....listen to some of the others who are experienced with this. No offense, but most people under the age of 25 can't begin to understand what 10+ years in a sexless marriage is like, no matter what books they read. I don't know your whole story, or how long you've been married, but if you are a decent guy like I am, you've been patient beyond belief for the last few years.

She may never feel ready to talk about this....and if she doesn't, it will only get worse. Your role as a husband/room-mate/adult family male has gone beyond "support" to "enabling" and that's not a good thing. If she was a abused by a man/boy in her family, it can make it an interesting dynamic: When you were dating, you were attractive to her as an escape, as a way out. But once you married, you became just what she fears from her childhood, an adult male family member. That may explain the sudden drop in sexual activity around your engagement and wedding. It is sub-conscious and she probably has no idea if that truly is part of the issue. She can see you during the day as a guardian or a caregiver, but when the lights go out and you go to bed, she then sees you as someone a male, adult family member who is not to be trusted closely.

Although you are not a stranger (like a therapist would be to her), your communication is horrible, she is not opening up to you physically or emotionally already, and besides that, you are not a trained are her husband! Even if you had a doctorate in psychology, you are too close to her to be much help. That's why going to a professional therapist IS the right thing, and the only thing--if she's not up to talking about her past abuse, then at least talk about your marriage and communication issues in couple's counseling. If she loves you, she will go.

However, one thing troubles me about your said that "she is never honest with the Psychiatrist, she tries to pretend that everything is just fine." How do you know that? Did you sit in on her sessions? Did you ask her what it was like as soon as she got home from her appointment, and quiz her? Or did she volunteer the information willingly? Seems unlikely, since she is not readily admitting things to you. I don't ask my wife about therapy....she will tell me a story or 2 or give me a general idea, but I don't push. That's the whole point of individual therapy....a safe place to talk about your spouse, family history, etc. without them hearing about it. If she's talking about deeply personal stuff, let it stay between her and her's her opportunity to open up. You've got her there, but you have to let her decide what issues she wants to bring up.
There will be a time to discuss those things, but that will be in couples' therapy.

Yes, she made a commitment to you, but you made one to her as well. If she was sick and didn't know it or refused to go, wouldn't a good husband take her to the doctor? She is not a "victim," but a sexual abuse "survivor." You are a "secondary survivor." Look those terms up. She needs help and if you are a good husband, you see the danger and will try to get her the help she needs. You cannot save her or your marriage alone, and she can't save herself, either. You both are going to have to give 100% of strength that you feel like you don't have, and you're going to have to go to therapy to save your marriage and your sanity. No book is going to cut it!

The sex issue is NOT your fault!!!! There is nothing you can do or any way you can act that can make her more interested. It took me a while to get that. You also need individual counseling....get you a good individual therapist that you like and he/she can help you come up with a plan to suggest couples' therapy to her and also to work on your issues. You need to regain some strength and wisdom for the months ahead......

You and I are in the same uphill battle, but we can do it!

Good luck!

Probably one of the best posts I've ever read in this regard.

Your point of supporting to enabling is superb. And the point to get individual therapy. And an innate lack of trust preventing intimacy. Secondary survivor. The road ahead and the mutual work needed to get through this.

Outstanding and, I hope, helpful to those with a previously abused spouse.

Keep writing!

Thank you for the kind words, n44wwep. If something I have learned from my EP friends, from my therapist, or from my personal experience is useful to someone else in their journey, I am glad! We all learn from each other's experiences, and we all stand under the shade of trees planted by others. Many of us in ILIASM hope that the pain we've endured will have some small but greater purpose, if only to help others on their journey by what we've learned.

I agree. A different twist on paying it forward. Learn something the hard way and pass that knowledge to others so that they can avoid what you've gone through.

Amazing words of advice. Thank you for this post. I needed this today

1 More Response

I was molested.

2 years after our marriage I told him. Now my problem is different , yes I was molested , but I never let it be a problem with my new life. **** happens to pple and life moves on. I though I can either move forward with the clock or all stay behind... When I was preggo my hubby rejected me of having sex bc he was afraid to hurt the baby... And he felt "weird" and there was time when we were having sex that he went soft and never finished but fake it. We stop having sex for 5 months bc I was preggo... I felt so rejected. So I thought whatever and now I don't like I ask for sex bc of what happend and he wonders why I don't ever want To have sex. I told him the truth and he denied and said I'm over reacting... And today If he wants sex I'm willing... And now lately his hygiene has been pretty bad he doesn't brush his teeth not that he did before and his balls always smells like ****. I enjoy sex with him after he showers...and he plays a lot of video games , that i felt neglected over the years , so I said if I can't beat him join him.....Now I play video games at night like he does. We waste away free times on vedio games instead of spending it on intimacy. so heck whatever. Now that he found out I got molested he put "connected the dot"together saying that's y I don't like sex........ Well, I guess problem solve! I've grown tired of him , I wished he leaves me... I still love him, but what a waste of effort . He will never stop playing his stupid video games, he plays all day all weekends and week day he plays after work all night . Sex time is only when he wants to. His pathetic. I deserve better . But we have a daughter , if I dint have her , I would have her , I would have jet a long time ago.

I was raised in a similar environment as your wife, if not worse. I'm also a psych major. If you want my advice...what shes feeling even after all of this time is totally normal. And it might actually help if you STOP pushing her to get help like that. If someone isn't ready to talk about it to someone that they are close to, then they probably aren't ready to talk to a stranger about it. Also, being afraid to love or even being reluctant to admit to your feelings doesn't mean that she doesn't have them. If she is willing to marry you, that's a hell of a commitment for someone who has been in her situation to make. Even more then saying that she loves you. By doing that, she is putting TRUST in you to not only STAY with her but help PROVIDE SUPPORT if something goes wrong. Which is the exact opposite of what her family did. If i were you, I would consider the implications of that and hold it as a more accurate indicator of her feelings for you than what she is able to share right now. As for sex...from what you've shared in your story I would think that part of it is due to pressure that you may be putting on her without realizing it. When you ask her to go to therapy, you see it as a chance for her to improve emotionally, she could very well possibly see it as an ordeal that she doesn't want/isn't ready to face. Nothings worse on the libido then being in an upset place emotionally. And then on the flip side, if you want to encourage love making in your relationship, stop the full court press. Don't make the first move or be overly affectionate. Check out exactly what she is comfortable with physically right now and think about what she is comfortable doing to you. And by comfortable I don't mean what she will push herself for to make you happy. Once you find out what that is, (and please keep in mind that im operating under the assumption that your wanting to stay married to this woman and are willing to work slowly with her on this to eventually improve your sex life) slow things down and limit yourself to those things for the time being. Now, its important to encourage her to continue these things but try and be patient with her. If she pulls away from you kissing her, then relax and don't try again for a few hours. You want to GENTLY ENCOURAGE not push and its easy to accidentally do so. For example, lets say she likes cuddling with you while you two watch a movie. Cuddle with her for a bit and then maybe scoot over for a bit and put her legs up on your lap. Be the first to pull back so that she slowly starts wanting more. And until that happens, be emotionally supportive. Do those cute little things that women love. Surprise her at lunch or send her flowers at work. Let her know that you still love her. She may feel bad that she isn't able to meet your needs and worries about your commitment and love because of that. Once she feels reassured you may notice an improvement. Don't take advantage of that improvement by thinking that her taking the initiative in a kiss or her being more comfortable with you is a good time to ask for more. It will put pressure on her and make things worse. Reassure her, be affectionate with her, but let her make the first move when it comes to initiating more contact and then when she does, see how far SHE is willing to take it. Don't ask her when that happens, just don't go farther then she is. If shes on third base with you, that's what you should stop at. Another thing that may help is, in bed, (and I know this sucks and may give you blue balls but it may help) but pleasure just her. Kiss her and play with her breasts, maybe bring her to climax (through fingering or oral not sex) and then compliment her. Don't let her do the same thing to you, even if she offers the first few times. Itll suck but after the third or fourth time, if she asks and tells you that she wants to and itll make you happy, then you can let her. Its not fun but that will take the pressure out of it and make her feel like its up to when she is ready to and it may encourage her to be more active in bed. Think of it as a long term investment. You put in a lot now to get results later on. Anyway, hope that these suggestions help. message me if u have any questions or anything. :)

GREAT advice!!! :) I hope he takes it.........

The entristing thing about the BDSM lifestyle is its afect it has on a woman that was abused as a. Child . It is my OPINION that if done in a firm but loving way the PRECEVED abuse will

Trigger a response in the woman that is amasing.

Why did you marry her if she was like that.

I have the same situation, Accept lately she says that how can people be so messed up more than her since she survived rape from an uncle from ages 3-8 while her mother knew and did nothing, esp says this lately when seeing the news and all the messed up stuff, gosh I just keep the TV off watch Amazon Prime and relax. Sex is great and I miss it with her but I don't thinK I will every understand how a woman can have sex to get marriage and establish a family then say no more bc of a rape of childhood, why did she have sex before and now she can't?

Simple, she doesn't love you. Get out while you can.

She had sex before because she was probably desperate to get away from her horrible family. Now, she is in a marriage and feels she can be her real self -- a person who is repelled by sex. She is not interested in becoming sexual person, and she doesn't love you enough to enter therapy in order to find ways of meeting your sexual needs and being a full wife to you.

You can choose to stay with her and continue to be miserable and sexless or you can choose to leave her and set both of you free to live the kind of lives you desire.

Maybe something triggered her memory of the rape. Another possibility is that she doesn't want to have sex with you, and therefore made up a a reasonable sounding excuse. If she was sexually abused, but loves you and values sex, she will enter some kind of treatment to get help. She won't just expect you to be celibate.

so it seems any abuse-whichever has to be talked about before marriage

Leave her. I hate to be so blunt, but if that's the way she is going to treat you and you are doing everything you can to help her, it is time to cut your losses. Life is too short to spend any part of it being miserable. When she asks why, tell her she's broken her vow to love honor and cherish you. And yes, that is enough. Good luck.

What a horrible answer. It appears you didn't hate being blunt, you go a little thrill out of it.

There's no thrill in it for me, believe that. I've been through it, did everything I could, and she ended up leaving me for a drifter/freeloader who somehow "understood" her better. That's what I got in return for 8 years of my understanding and support. Mind you the time spent before we were married was wonderful, just like the OP, and then descended into misery. If she won't get the help she needs it's not up to him to give her happiness, something I had to learn the hard way. If I knew then what I know now, I would have cut ties and moved on with my life much earlier and the pain would have been much less. Waiting for something good to happen in that situation is the surest way to madness. If she chooses to live in denial and not seek treatment for the abuse she suffered, she's ruining the lives of two, not just one. There is no reason he has to bear the responsibility of her bad choices. Thrill? No, not at all. But I will admit that I am still bitter about it, six years later.

Very true. I have friends who were sexually abused as kids -- including by being ritually sexually abused. They got the help they needed in order to enjoy sex, and they have fulfilling sex lives.

Stinkcat's refusal to get help for her sexual aversion means that she's not having sex with her willing spouse. He is under no obligation to continue to be with her since she is not willing to do with him the one thing that makes a marriage different from a roommate relationship.

She is forcing him to be in an abstinent marriage. If he wants to have a sexually fulfilling marriage, he needs to leave her and make himself available for that kind of marriage with someone else. He can't change her, but he can change his situation.

I was sexually abused as a child, to multiple degrees and by multiple persons. I had to fend off unwanted advances as a young child. And so I personally understand the struggle. But no one need to drag his/her past life into the present.

Two steps, first, to acknowledge the pain and the fear. Second, to realize the fallacy of post hoc, prompter hoc. Just because she got sexually abused, does that truly explain her emotions such as fear, disgust whatever it is related to sex? If so EVERYONE who got abused would have exactly the same reaction. But you know it's not true. Why is it that some can move on and some cannot? It depends on the interpretation of the horrible event that happened.

My gosh I struggled. Especially about my physically, verbally and sexually abusive father. But he was twisted, he was sick. But so what? That's the past. I have NO control over the past, but I have every control over how I react to the past and some control over my future.

And sex can be SO beautiful. Sexuality comes in different forms and degrees/intensity. I will have sex the way I feel most comfortable with, no, I will make LOVE to someone. that one person.. I felt that love.. maybe it was oxytocin, whatever, but I felt it. And it was magical, so I want that again :)

I truly respect your honesty and openess: )


The past cannot be changed, but the future has yet to be written. My wife has no desire, nor will she ever again. Why? I don't know, but I do know that she herself is not sure why. She is at a place in her life where human touch is revolting to her. Oh she loves a good hug, but anything more is disgusting to her. She says I am her be it. But why the insistence that we never get a divorce?

abiggguy, she probably enjoys the perks of being married -- companionship, financial security, a guy who can help with repairing the house, etc. A more important question is why you choose to stay with someone who finds human touch revolting.

I guess she won. I am now in a position where I need to be taken care of. At least financially. I cannot seem to find A job. I have even tried applying for a position as a box boy at the local market. Nothing! So after 35 yrs of BS, I am letting her take care of me. lol

If you want to be out of the marriage, talk to a lawyer because you might qualify for alimony since you're unemployed.

This make some great sense

Well stated. Finding the pathway, and then letting go of the past, is crucial to future happiness. Looks like you've found that path and have taken it.

Good for you! And a good post for others in the same boat.

5 More Responses

sounds exactly like my life brother. I wish I had known about her past before getting involved... only found out years later after it was too late...

Feel bad for you bro, hope it works out.

I really don't think you're alone. I don't know that my wife was abused as such, but I think there was a sexual assault she thwarted and a family that was anything but loving. Like you, the sex was okay at first but began to falter before we were married.

My wife too was sexually abused as a child. I learned of it after we got married. If I was to shoot from the hip and say why she didn't tell me earlier I'd say it was because she was afraid I wouldn't understand or maybe embarrassed because she is a strong intelligent woman.

I am less likely to jump on the band wagon as far as saying that our sexless marriage has anything to do with that. We had a great sex life for several years. I firmly believe that empty nests, mid-life crises, hormone imbalances and over busy life styles are where the blame needs to be.

Please understand, I think pedophiles are scum of the earth and the trauma they cause is horrific to say the least. I am just very cautious to psychoanalyze someone's loss of sex drive to be a direct affect of what happen to them 20 to 50 years ago.

I agree...I am sure it is much more complex. To say it was her past is probably true, but not just her bad childhood. I would suggest some marriage counseling, but I know how it is when they decide it is not something they want to discuss. I do know in my case, that her lack of desire grew after her Mother died.

I very much relate to your story. My wife was abused sexually from age 3-12 and it didn't come out until about 2 years after married

I went through the same thing. Difference is I had to get counseling and deal with it u can;t have these wounds and do psychology and social work the topic comes up. Sit with her and allow her to talk about it she probably is scared and still feels ashamed. I would also insist she go to a psychologist who deals with sexuality. She has to come to grips and notice she's the victim and she has nothing to be ashamed of so she can finally talk about it without feeling she did something wrong,

I was raped when I was a child and I can relate to this story my husband and I sometimes go through periods of no sex for months but we love each other its just I do need to be able to talk to him or someone because I do feel sad and I have thoughts about it. I have a lot on my plate also I have6 kids I love,take care of and most times sex is rushed or we have to sneak when the kids are sleep or not around I want romance I do want to have the feeling of intimacy I guess I'm getting older and sex is more like work to me I'd rather sleep but I understand sex is a part of a relationship. Be understanding to your significant other who was abused and it will work out if you are understanding it makes making love easier to do.instead of getting upset and only taking your feelings into consideration.

Well, to all the woman who lie about being abused you have a problem mentally to lie about something like that! I don't understand liars! Why not just tell the truth and say you don't want to have sex, what's the big deal we're all adults! That makes me mad because there are woman that have been sexually abused and luring is just plain dumb!

Spell error: not luring, lieing.

1006 is a chatbot, Flagged.

This story sounds almost identical to my wife except for her being abused as a child. Our sex life before marriage was much better than it is now. She was promiscuous in college before we were together and would usually be the one to initiate sex with me. Today she is the polar opposite. I would initiate sex and she would say she is tired, or stomach hurts, or not in the mood, or headache, or kids will be up soon, or kids down the hall, or......the list goes on. Which is funny cuz I can remember her initiating sex when her parents were in the next room, or there was a party going on outside our room, or we were in a public pool at night with hotel windows all able to see us, or in the ocean when people are all on the beach. WTH?!
I wish I had an answer as I am looking for one myself. As sad as it is a bit comforting to read other people going through the same thing as me. It makes me feel a little less alone. So thank you for sharing.

She was hunting for a mate, house, and children. (maybe not in that particular order) Once they have their priorities satisfied, to hell with the husband's needs. But I bet she would cry bloody murder from the highest tower in town if the husband would go else where for his needs to be met. (Especially if she is a nice and loving person).

while that is true at times...sometimes it IS the guy...while he may not be able to control it, it may be how his 'performance' is....i know i crave it every day almost but do i ask for it from my bf of 4 yrs....not really....y you ask?....cuz while i love him very much and i do it with him more than 2 times a year....he doesnt last long enough...and im not saying 10 saying 1 or 2 at the most...and its just not good for me....and yes i was sexually abused as a child....god its hard to open up about this stuff...

he needs to ******** before he has sex with you second round he will last longer.

I have been in a sexless marriage since 1992 when my wife was put in an "uncomfortable situation" with another. It was never her fault and i have always been there supporting her. She did cry bloody murder a short while ago though when she thought i was having an affair with a female from work for which i can say i was not. It was and still is just an innocent friendship, and yes she is a nice person.

funny how that works...."I don't want you in my bed, but don't you dare look else where" ? very strange logic ladies!

2 More Responses

Hi there
I too was abused as a child, and as you know this is all too common, unfortunately.
It affected my life, trust issues, my relationship with men, and so on, and later on, sex. I went through a period of no sex with my ex for 10 yrs. So I totally get the issue, but if she refuses to seek help, and maybe that would involve a sex therapist, there's not going to be a whole lot you can do.

It's a shame those partners who won't have sex don't allow or feel supportive of their partner seeking love/sex elsewhere, but it seems that most do not, so that in the end we have to divorce in order to give ourselves a chance to obtain it elsewhere.

Fear is a Big thing, and it takes courage to face that fear and to do something about it, and affection, touch, and sex involve being vulnerable, so you can understand that unless you've experienced great sex, or had a fairly happy childhood, being vulnerable is like going back down memory lane, so to speak. There are workshops that deal very particularly with loving yourself and allowing love in, and I'd be happy to share with you more on this, if you contact me directly. It has helped me free myself more and fill an emptiness long felt.
Blessings, SB

I'm say it started to go downhill before you married. Looking back, do you now see that as a clue? Did something happen to put these wheels into motion? Her refusal to seek therapy is puzzling..unless there is another problem you are unaware of. I agree with stating your feelings and letting her know you cannot continue to live like this (assuming you really feel that way).

OK. I'm sorry for what you're experiencing. And I know that everyone is different but I have to tell you that I also have been sexually abused when I was young. This happens to us from either a family member, friend of the family, or neighbor. I don't take medications or anything because I don't let this past experience bother me.

My husband did not hurt me. They did. So our sex life was good especially when its just me and him that live in the house. It sounds to me that she just not interested in it anymore. How old is she? Did you know that her age might have to do with it? Also, are you affectionate to her? This would help too? Does she drink? This will help too. Do you try to please her or are you more of pleasing yourself?

Right now I'm also living in a sexless marriage. Please just hang in there. Do something to help your urges other than cheating on your wife. Things like this just makes things worse.

ugh....its like that with my bf...but he is TOO affectionate...i mean really....hes more like the chick and im more like the guy...

spank her

My opinion on this post is your wife has suffered awful things in her past and she has not had the courage, motivation, or consideration for her marriage to get help.
I have been in counselling for years because I was abused as a child which lead to choosing abusive partners, addiction to alcohol and drugs. I have never married as I was just not stable enough. A marriage is two people with needs wants and desires I encourage your wife to face the past and put it where it belongs, in the past. The hurt she experienced will always impact on her present and her future so sad ... perhaps counselling together might be something she can cope with

1006 is a chatbot.

Yes, most girls who have had that happen to them are kind of traumatized by sex after that and they dont look at it as a beautiful thing they look at it as omg. I remember what happen to me. She probably gets those images back when she was getting abused and it stops her from getting that emotionally and passionless into sex. I would go to therapy or maybe sit and talk to her about how much you want the marriage to stay together and maybe telling her you want the good sex life back. If that doesn't work. Therese only 1 more option

Omg her abuse directly relates to her present sex life for sure. Only counseling can help...the more she waits, the more chronic the situation will be and 2013 what’s ur update?

This was written a long time ago, in 2006. Some development takes a long time. What has happened since?

Make her to join EP and write her own story. I could help.

stand by her. I am sorry for the both of you. The pain and emotional scars she has carried around for years upon years is just heartbreaking. She wants to be healed from her wounds but she doesn't know how. You will be commended by the Lord (yes - the maker of heaven and earth- thats correct) if you stick it out with her and love her unconditionally. I am certain it is extremely taxing on you as well. God bless you man. You have an opportunity to be the best thing that ever happened to her. Please don't let her down.

Its NOT your fault.... Just be there for her now