As A Child...

First, I want to confess that I do not live in a sexless marriage, but I do have a story to tell you and I hope you will give me the courtesy of reading just this once. If my story offends, I’ll remove it and leave the group, I promise.

When I was 16, my mother started menopause and decided that was her excuse to stop sex forever. She has always had the mindset that sex was the worst possible thing in the world and only necessary for having children.

My dad was a recovering alcoholic, sober for 11 years, when this all happened. As a sober man, he was kind and loving, and I worshipped him. He was known to everyone as a wonderful helping soul.

Well, within a few months of the cessation of sex, he fell off the wagon. I’m sure it wasn’t the only reason for his going back to the bottle, but I know for certain it was a major factor. He felt unloved and emasculated and simply lost his strength to fight that alcohol monster any longer.

Now, let me tell you that he wasn’t just a drunk, he was a 2 or 3 bottle a day, mean, violent, self-destructive drunk. He spent several nights in jail for bar fights that really injured someone. He took his anger out on my mother, and was very vocal about why. He said things within my hearing that he would never, NEVER, have said had he been sober.  I knew what he was angry about.

At 17, I (a 5’3” little girl) took a butcher knife away from him when he tried to kill my mom. I stood between him and her when I knew he would kill her if I didn’t. At 19, I had to go to court to have him put in a mental hospital for detox.

I had to go from an innocent teenager to the only adult in the family within months, while still in high school.

My point in all of this is that your children know much more about what is going on in your unhappy marriages than you might think. I feel sure that the younger they are, the more likely they are to feel that they are somehow at fault for the anger in the house. It’s just the way children are. They too are hurt by the situation. Staying together just might not be as good for the children as you believe. A calm, reasoned separation/divorce just might be more beneficial to them than staying in a home filled with ire, anger, hurt, and coldness.

My heart goes out to all of you in this situation. I wish you all well and hope you find the right solution for yourself and your families.

LillithTimeless LillithTimeless
56-60, F
20 Responses Mar 5, 2010

"A calm, reasoned divorce" I doubt that is possible for very many couples here

Wow my dad stole my families money he never killed her

So, is it the sexlessness? <br />
is it the alcohol? <br />
is it the fact that one spouse is generally evil? -- where the refusal is only one portion of the overall manifestation of that evil. <br />
<br />
or is it the money?

"Seems to me that this whole "kids just know" theory is nothing more than a way to assuage the guilt a refused partner feels when they want a divorce in order to be in a relationship where they will get to have sex again"<br />
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Jason, do you see the irony in your statement? Do you recognise that you are doing exactly the same thing - for the OPPOSITE reason? You are saying what you are saying because you did/do NOT leave your marriage . . . .!<br />
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I can see you indignantly shaking your head and saying:<br />
"No! I really believe what I'm saying - regardless of my own circumstances."<br />
<br />
Well, guess what? Many of us believe what we are saying, regardless of our circumstances too!<br />
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And just to clarify, my children were 34 and 35 when I left my marriage. I see directly how my passionless life has affected their adult lives. Zorbas says his children have survived unscathed, and I'm glad for him. In my case, my children bear the scars of my STAYING in my relationship. And as I've said before, their adult lives are at least 4 times as long as their childhoods . . . this is a terrible burden to bear throughout one's life.<br />
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And as a loving parent, it is terrible to realise that you unwittingly inflicted this on your own beloved children . . . .

I’d like to thank you all for your comments. <br />
I have just a couple of words of clarification. My mother considered sex a bad thing in general. During the years of his sobriety, my dad was kind and loving. Alcohol was like poison to him, in that he was a completely different person when he was drunk.<br />
I think I was lucky that I was an older child when my world fell apart, because I did learn what a loving family life was like, up to that point. <br />
I would never advocate just getting a divorce for the children’s sake, simply that they may see more and know more than you might have considered.<br />
Thank you to those whose comments have been so kind.

The world today with genuine reality is something much sadder than most can see. Because there have been extremely poor family situations for so many decades now, its the children from totally dysfunctional families that have grown up to sink the ship they grew up in. Look at the politicians of today along with every other position and all there is for existence is a world and a great nation about to crumble just as God said it would thousands of years ago, and the grown ups today refuse the truth of God because of religious deception. Your story was a well written truth of the way life is. And I meant not to come on as off the wall because I am not at all a religious man by the standards of man, but a man of God I most certainly am.

That is not at all what I'm saying. I still am in my sexless marriage because I still have a son at home who is now in university and he need financial help that I couldn't give him otherwise. <br />
Each set of circumstances is different and I was also of the opinion that since our marriage is somewhat civil my sons were blind to what was happening under the facade. They were not, they saw and sensed the lack of harmony between my husband and I.<br />
No one has said get out of your marriage at all costs or your children will forever be lost. The story was posted to ask us just to be aware of the adverse consequences on our children.

Your story has touched me deeply, thank you for posting it. My sons are now at an age where they can tell me how they were affected by our marriage. They have both told me in no uncertain ways to stop defending their father as they both see him for what he is and have for since childhood. I believed that since there was no violence like what I had been brought up in then they were all right. I was wrong.

I am a believer that 'children learn what they live.'<br />
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I work with children everyday and hear all their stories. They are very observant, absorbing and intelligent. They know, sense and feel when things aren't right. They look to their parents as role models, and so we are, on how to deal with life and relationships. Presenting them with a faked reality has it's problems when they reach an age where they can understand and analyze such issues. The time will come when they start to look at you as not just parents but people. The realization that they have been the cause for your sacrifice could bring about more harm than good.<br />
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My H grew up in an unaffectionate household and he even suspected that his parents relationship became sexless. All the siblings have intimacy/affection problems, my SIL is leaving her marriage - which has been sexless for 10 years. The jury is still out on my BIL.

I agree with VB - sorry! ThingV! The thing that is missing from the sexless marriage scenario is the affectionate, passionate and loving exchanges between a couple which signal several things to their children:<br />
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1) "all is right with the world" - Mum and Dad love each other<br />
2) open displays of passionate affection are acceptable and desirable<br />
3) being sexual is part of being human - and is a GOOD thing<br />
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When these messages are not being given, it is inevitable that children (especially as they get older) are aware of the ABSENCE of these and take away a different set of messages.<br />
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What is clear is that those who have decided NOT to leave will defend this position. Those who have decided TO leave will defend that position. That is why it is of great value IMO to hear from the children of these marriages - some of whom are members of ILIASM.<br />
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The alcoholic issue is certainly the most dominant, but it is interesting to note that the sexless nature of Lillith's parents' marriage is what tipped her father back into alcoholism after 11 years of sobriety. . . . .

As The Sex Enthusiast I have to wonder how in the world any adult ever comes to the conclusion that "sex was the worst possible thing in the world and only necessary for having children." <br />
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Someone need to do something about this belief... as it seems to lead to great suffering... what a waste.<br />
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James<br />
Atlanta

Wow Lilith. I never post on here - I just read. That was really a powerful posting. I think you've provided some incredible value to people by shedding another perspective on a difficult subject. Thank you for your contribution - you've done a lot of good by posting this. Others will benefit one way or another.

...and to put a happier end on my own story...<br />
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My parents were never anything but loving towards us. My brothers and I adore them without question. We knew that their difficult relationship was complicated Dad was cruel and we'd tell him that...but ultimately between them and as a family the love came through. I guess I am saying that kids can be more resilient than we think.<br />
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JasonL, VK and Zorbas said it very well...violence qnd incivility hav a vigger effect on kids than their parents' sex lives. You can be sexless and civil, or sexful and violent. I see the sexless as a non-issue.

VK has said it quite right.<br />
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I do thank you for sharing your story with us. It is a horrific narrative of the harm a dysfunctional family can cause. I am glad that you seem to have successfully gone forward with your life in a better way.<br />
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While it is true and there is no doubt, that sexless marriages can cause severe difficulties , not all to the excess of that of your parents, there are many where no contentiousness or rancor exists. Those are where the children's; best interests are the prime priority and concern. It is the contentiousness and outward displays of disdain, disrespect and outright anger that subverts and infects the family dynamic. It not the sexual deprivation alone. Not all persons deprived of sex will become raging antisocial abusive beings. <br />
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It may be unfair to use my own as an example but my marriage as sexless as it has been all these years in no way has affected either of my children, now grown adults,who prosper and love in successful married relationships. .

Hi Lilith: What a horrific situation to have to manage; attempted murder.<br />
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My father was very psychologically abusive to my mother. My mother told us kids everything...and often she gave us T.M.I.; he wsa controlling and at times, we were her only 'friends'. Not a good place for kids to be.<br />
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When I was an adult, I got really good at saying "Mom, that is between you and Dad. I will help you if if you are in danger, but otherwise, it's your marriage and your issue to solve."<br />
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Her disclosure made me feel like I was carrying her burden.

No offense taken.<br />
Just wanted to point out that we are dealing with our situations differently than your father. I think we all try to put our kids first.

Vectorking, I never, ever meant to insinuate you were all monsters, just telling my story from the child's point of view. Please don't think I was accusing, that was not my intention.<br />
Nomisery, Enna, tsnew, and Dude, thank you for your comments. <br />
I will leave the group, Dude. I think I understand now why I have been reading these stories, they hit home without my realizing why until today. Now it's off my chest, I think I can move on. Thanks for pointing it out.

The good news is we are not all monsters who verbally/mentally/physically abuse our spouses because they show little to no intimate notions. I am not making light of your father/mother, but I do not yell, belittle, etc. because of the situation we are in. And, yes, I believe many here are SUPER protective of their kids. I know I am. Therefore, there is a sense of calm - even without the marriage being a joint venture most days.<br />
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I am civil towards my wife. I still bend over backwards for her. And I certainly expect respect and manners from my kids whether it is me, her, or a perfect stranger.<br />
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I am sorry you had to be part of that. It sounds like you might have learned something very valuable from sorry very horrible.

LT, definitely worth reading. Thanks for writing this.<br />
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I do recommend you leave this group though, not your cross to carry anymore, why spend time reading the depressing stories?

Lillith, I am so sad for you that you had to suffer this terrible situation. No child should have to witness this sort of relationship / behaviour. Your experience was extreme, but you are saying what I truly believe to be correct.<br />
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". . . your children know much more about what is going on in your unhappy marriages than you might think. I feel sure that the younger they are, the more likely they are to feel that they are somehow at fault for the anger in the house. It’s just the way children are. They too are hurt by the situation. Staying together just might not be as good for the children as you believe. A calm, reasoned separation/divorce just might be more beneficial to them than staying in a home filled with ire, anger, hurt, and coldness."<br />
<br />
Even in situations where the behaviour is not extreme and the couple are basically respectful and affectionate with each other, children "learn what they live".<br />
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Some ILIASM posters believe that, as their children are unaware of the sexless nature of their parents' marriage, their children will be unaffected. I disagree with that view point. I believe that children are intensely aware of EVERYTHING that is happening even though they may not know the specifics. And yes, children DO blame themselves . . . .<br />
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This topic is fraught for ILIASM posters and people tend to come down firmly on one side or the other. Each person must decide for him or herself what is best for their own family.<br />
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Don't be upset if your post brings some vehement responses in the negative - it is just such debate about possible options that helps us to make our own decisions. Information is always useful if we are to make the best possible decisions for our own situations.<br />
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Thank you for posting Lillith!