Books?! We Don't Need No Steenkin' Books!

Be gentle... :-)  I know many here are too far gone to consider reading, and many others have probably dog-eared the pages of two dozen books on the topic.  I'm not quite there yet.

As I progress through the stages of grief, I've started focused reading in an attempt to diagnose the "why" and turn a critical eye toward my role in the current state and what might be within my influence to fix.  I'm not out to assume the blame here, but if I can't fix it I sure as hell want to know how to prevent it the next time around.

First came the shock of reading the scenarios.  It was like finding ILIASM for the first time - not only am I not alone in this, but someone else is telling my story!  And just maybe, these are folks who made it to the other side and lived to tell the tale!

Page after page, I found myself underscoring sections that exactly matched with my situation, emotions, reactions, etc.  They're telling the story far more effectively than I could, and I feel very validated to hear it being told by a professional - that I'm not exaggerating the emotional impact.  I'm still undecided whether to thrust them on W and insist she read them to appreciate the pain I've been feeling for years.

I'm no connoisseur of self-help books, but I wanted to share a couple that have really hit home with my sexless marriage...

First is The 5 Love Languages by Chapman.  The gist of this book is that the ways you instinctively express love might not be fulfilling to your spouse; you might be busting your *** in all the wrong ways.  Conversely, they may have given up because all their efforts have similarly missed the mark.  Personally, I found the self-analysis part very enlightening - I've felt empty, but I couldn't say why.

While the book isn't targeted at sexless marriages, it tackles an issue that (for me at least) is a huge void in the relationship and surely contributes to the problem.  IMHO, it's valuable even if your spouse doesn't participate; it's only like 150 pages, so it's a quick read too.  (FYI, he has several spinoffs with similar titles, so look for the original.)

Second book is The Sex-Starved Marriage by Michele Weiner Davis.  OMG, how this title hits the bullseye!  There are so many stories that could have been ripped from the pages of ILIASM.  She's not empathetic to the refuser nor recommending ways for the high-libido partner to cope - her stance is basically "get over it and go ****".  Sex is vital, whether you think you want it or not.  And, yes, she talks to the male refusers as well.  I recall seeing she has a second title specifically for sex-starved wives.

Also on my reading pile (OK, hidden in the trunk of my car) is Passionate Marriage - it looks intriguing, though overwhelmingly thick.  That one may be premature, but it's been highly recommended to me.  Haven't cracked the cover yet.

Now, if books aren't your thing, don't take offense - I'm not suggesting all your SLM needs is a good book.  (I know many would rather use a book to club some sense into their refuser.)  On the other hand, if you've got a SLM title that really hit home for you, I'm open to suggestions.



DryCreek DryCreek
46-50, M
10 Responses Feb 26, 2010

I found reading books to be very frustrating because with every page-turn the truth hit harder and harder: my wife does not love me and things are hopeless. <br />
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Since then, I have softened my opinion and considered the possibility that my wife is an animal that does not have the instinctual capacity for true love but is stuck with the body of a human.

I've read all of those books LOL. I'm a poster child for them since my husband is dumping me years after I read them. :)<br />
Actually, I really found Passionate Marriage to be very helpful. Granted, it's really thick and parts of it are pretty deep. But, it was more helpful than any other book I've read. It helped me understand intimacy much better and why a spouse would pull away. It actually was very helpful understanding all of my relationships (including friendships) better. Alas, my stbx did not read the book, and intimacy takes two.

@LadyA - Thanks, I'll check out His Needs / Her Needs. I've heard it recommended before, but that all goes out the window once you've worked up the guts to browse in the "I'm married and not getting laid" section of the bookstore.<br />
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Funny how the psychology works... walking up to the checkout, I had a sudden panic spasm upon realizing that there was no hiding my shameful truth from the cashier. Kinda like checking out with a blow up doll at the sex shop... ain't no hiding what's going on.<br />
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@KP - we'll see if the Sex-Starved book turns out useful. It does an amazing job of telling my story, but getting her to read it, believe it, then act on it will be very tough. I think I'll have better luck with the 5 Languages book first, as it's not an intimidating topic. I am fortunate that our relationship hasn't gone to hell yet, so I think it's very salvageable, but only if she'll participate; in the many past attempts (mostly focused on just sex) she has never followed through.<br />
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@Olivia - Schnarch's actually the author of Passionate Marriage, so that gives me an idea what I'm in for. I think I recall hearing his philosophy in the past - i.e., if you only do what each other is fully comfortable with, that leaves very little.<br />
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I think there is a huge factor in willingness to try (or ask for) new things. Whenever we'd try something mildly different I'd get a half-hearted one-time attempt from W, so they generally failed epically, justifying her resistance to new stuff. I'd be left feeling like a pervert for asking, and she'd feel like I was bored with normal sex. It's gotten to the point that I don't dare ask what I'd really want - crossing the line too far risks a permanent scar on her psyche.<br />
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My starkest contrast is a short fling I had before W - I tried everything I wanted with no risk of embarrassment... I had nothing to lose, because we were parting ways shortly anyway; it was amazing. When the relationship is "disposable" there's no risk in crossing the line, so why not ask for everything you really want? Probably why "happily married men" seek out prostitutes.<br />
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@LH - I've heard of Too Good To Leave, but I haven't checked it out yet. If I'm not yet at the "stay vs. leave" decision point, would you recommend it?

Thanks for the recommendations of the books. I think I may head to the book store next week for lunch and look around. Regardless of how I end up in my SM, I am sure they will provide insight.

Thanks for the recommendations of the books. I think I may head to the book store next week for lunch and look around. Regardless of how I end up in my SM, I am sure they will provide insight.

DC- I knew the person who needed to read the books (my H) would get confused by all the words, so I got him a picture book to see if that would help. I dust it off now and then or just write read me on the cover. LOL. No good.

IamLadyA: please tell me that His Needs/Her Needs doesn't justify them to refuse us…please?

Olivia,<br />
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I think I agree with this now. Sex wasn't really that great to begin with. However, I tried offering up anything and everything only to be shot down. So, I tried I guess. I have often just wanted to tell her 'It was boring. That's why you don't want to.' I don't think she'd buy into it, but I do know she wouldn't buy into doing anything out of her 'comfort zone' (which was an awful small piece of real estate).<br />
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VK23<br />
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Carry on - didn't mean to hijack.

Drycreek,<br />
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I also have plowed though the self help section. I haven't really found any books lately but I have been reading some stuff on line from a Drs. David Schnarch . Let me just warn you at first you may get really mad at the guy. Especially if you are like me and think you have tried everything only to have your spouse feed you a line of bull about wanting to change. Anyway the general idea is that the sex must not have been that good if the person can simply walk away from it. He basically says that till you take out all the things each partner is uncomfortable with you are left with very few tricks. Sex becomes boring. Yet people are often too afraid to tell or partners are unwilling to push themselves out of their comfort zone to get great sex. I don't know how this applies to your situation but it got me wondering for all of us who write that sex was great before would our partners really agree. Keep me posted on any good info you find. I'm going to check out the 5 love languages. <br />
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I am not familiar with the third title you mention (Passionate Marriage) but I am familiar with the 5 Love Languages and the Sex-Starved Marriage (as well as the Sex-Starved Wife, from the Same author).I think the 5 Love Languages is an excellent read for any couple; that title was included in our pre-marriage counseling.As for the Sex-Starved books, I thought they were ok, but did not relate to my situation. Even worse, my H is perfectly fine with never having sex again so those reads didn't help us. However, it is worth a try for others as I could see it being a helpful tool for discussion if you are able to get your spouse to read it too.Just for kicks I bought "The Idiot's Guide to Intimacy". Not very helpful, but nonetheless interesting.