Who Wins If We Both Lose

I am 30 years into my second marriage.

My first marriage, although brief, was filled with sex. It ended when she ran off with someone else having had multiple affairs. I shared the blame as it takes two to tango. The main point was that she never refused sex so when I got married again, I assumed that this was how marriage and relationships worked as I had had no experience which suggested otherwise..

We lived together prior to marriage and had what I considered a full and interesting sex life. This came to an abrupt end the day we married after which time 'Not tonight dear' became the norm. When I got sufficiently grumpy, when I was about to go off on a business trip and especially when her sister was to visit, these were the times I could expect to make love. otherwise rejection was to be expected most of the time.

I should have bailed out at that point but I was still dealing with a child from the first marriage and my pride suggested that I really did not want to fail again, so I stayed. It did not get better and the arrival of two children made it worse. I heard every excuse in the book, it was like a masterclass at the comedy fest.

I had a number of romantic offers as I worked and traveled but really did not want to have an affair so always refused.

One day I picked up a colleague at the airport as he came back from a trip to an oil platform and, as we drove into town, I asked him what he had planned during his time off. He said he was off for a beer or two and then would call an escort service to send over a professional lady to handle his sexual needs. It was just that simple and, as he said, he knew what how much it would cost, what to expect and no emotional nonsense to work around.

It had never crossed my mind but I certainly started to think about it on the way home. The next trip away I made the call, had a reasonable time and felt pretty much guilt free as well as having my stress levels much reduced. This then became the pattern and it had its own level of excitement. When she refused me or pissed me off, I would go and pay for release. I was very careful about cleanliness as well as privacy as I had no desire to catch a disease or cause her any embarrassment.

This went on for a number of years until she found out through my carelessness or deliberate stupidity. As you can imagine we had a huge row and followed that with hours of discussions to try and find understanding. We agreed to try to better match our needs, me by demanding less and her by accepting more. As you would expect this slowly went back to the original situation whereby the person with the lowest sex drive or interest dictates how often sex occurs. In her case she simply could or would not accept that it was unreasonable to demand that I somehow ignore my own sexuality and this attitude is still the case today.

Eventually I strayed again, not often just when it was unbearable. She sort of turned a blind eye but was still busy saying no.

At  supper with friends one evening, one of the wives started to talk about on line dating and how it was taking off, especially with lonely partners in sexless marriages. Naturally I had a look round and discovered a site which provided lots of opportunity.

The real fascination was with couples who seemed to have got through their own battles and had reached a place in which they were open with each other, accepting of others and enjoying an extended range of friends with who they had both sex and intimacy. If one of the couple wanted more sex, then the other would either accept it or actively take part in enabling it to happen.

My wife was and is an attractive woman with a good figure. She has never chosen to flaunt herself in public and always has been reserved with others. She threw herself into mothering to the exclusion of almost everything else and, in the end probably has both a very low sex drive and lots of emotional baggage from her past as well as from the marriage. When she found out about the on line site, which she did by getting my personal credit card records, going through them and calling the billing company, she went pretty crazy. I simply said that maybe we should both look at the site, the people on line and then discuss the whole thing. Her response was to go off and see a counselor who told her to move out of the marriage bed, cut off all 'services' such as doing my laundry and consider her future. Eventually we went together to see a counselor and, over a number of visits, established that I was a very bad person, my family was the root of all evil but that it was not all my fault. We finally got to the point where we were going to start talking about sex when she and the counselor decided that we should take a break and there we stopped.

Seven years later we still do not have sex or have any intimacy although she randomly spends nights in my bed as and when she chooses. When we are on holiday she will actually initiate a cuddle but leaves if it even hints of sex although she will only be wearing a tiny Tshirt and no panties. She seems to get off on the teasing. We still have a good marriage in many respects; do lots of stuff together and she remains fiercely jealous.

So what have I done about it all? I found a wonderful female friend with who I share both intimacy and great sex. She is in a sexless marriage as well so it, mostly, suits us both.

Would I like to leave and start again, in many ways I would but the cost to too many people is too high. In a perfect world we could, as a couple, openly talk about my present solution and maybe, even agree that it works, which would get rid of the secrecy and lies, the part I really hate. It might even allow for true intimacy without sex which would also be wonderful.

Are my solutions wrong, I no longer know or even care, they work for me at present. It seems that there are no easy answers, no magic buttons and none of the standard accepted answers actually do anything useful except create guilt, distress and deceit.

fitshugh fitshugh
61-65, M
6 Responses Mar 2, 2010

Whether you a male or female it is a denial of who you are by the other person. A bold statement that your feelings and needs do not count. Even if the denying spouse would give a reason, it would be better than "Just Saying No". My wife and I had a great sex life at one time. Then in about a 60 day period it just shut-off. That was 9 years ago and we have had less than satisfying sex 4 time since then. I have yet to figure - out what the hell happened. We talked about external gratification for me and she reminded me of our vows. Hold yourself only to one another as long as you both shall live. I condemned that she was holding herself to herself and not to one another. Didn't fly, but I'm done trying to regain something we had once and move on. Actively seeking a mutual M/F sexual relationship. Let the chips fall where they may.

As a woman there was a time when I would not have understood any of this, been so against it. , But now, as a woman in a sexless marriage with no real resolution in sight I think I can understand it.

fHugh, <br />
I hear you completely -- although, without knowing any of your specifics, I am not going to say I agree with your final decision. Regardless, I think you can learn a lot from our online group here and I beg you to continue to participate in our discussions because I suspect we can learn from you too. Money is not the only currency to which the principles of economics can be applied. <br />
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Sparky, <br />
The funny thing about therapy is that I believe it can help in theory -- in the same way that benevolent dictatorships can work. The only problem is that the odds are against therapy working because the people who hold the power and influence have an incentive to bullshit. I am a proponent of individual therapy but couples therapy is a huge gamble.

It is never as simple as 'just money'. There are all sorts of loyalties; family, friends, business relationships and other networks involved. There is the basic need to protect one's partner from public comment and there is the whole issue of public failure to manage.<br />
In my case, having been through a divorce not of my choosing, the thought of doing so again is simply horrifying, hence my solutions.

Are you saying that neither of you two can afford to divorce? <br />
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Your wife's refusal is horrifying. The teasing ( hugging with no panties ) is definitely evil and mentally ill. <br />
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" We finally got to the point where we were going to start talking about sex when she and the counselor decided that we should take a break and there we stopped. " <br />
I can relate to that. That is precisely how our last family therapy session ended after four hours of bullshit with the therapist.

Your approach has similarities to mine over the years years and while it is not a route I would condone for everyone it has worked well for me. I have long ago given up on any sexual intimacy with my wife but have found many others out there who suffer in similar circumstances. These wonderful ladies, I have found are more than willing to enjoy,even on a momentary basis, the joys and resurrected passions that sexual intimacy can afford..<br />
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I have never suffered any guilt over this and consider it an unavoidable necessity..