What to do about a sexless, but not loveless, marriage?
August 31, 2014 10:58 PM Subscribe
I have been dreading asking this question because it’s so painful, but I feel like I really need to get this sorted out so I can move on with my life. So here it is: My husband and I haven’t had sex in over a year, probably inching closer to two years by now and I wonder if I’m just fooling myself/prolonging the inevitable in staying married to him.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
The thing is though, I love him very much. I have a very deep love for him that goes way beyond what I’ve felt for any boyfriend I ever had before. Like sometimes I’ll be at work and something will make me think of him and I’ll just be overwhelmed by feelings of love for him. And taking sex out of the equation, our marriage is a happy, healthy one. He is a great person, we are the best of friends, we see eye to eye on most things and when we don’t we are quick to forgive and forget. It would be very, very difficult for me to leave him, if it came down to that.
We’re not even that old. I’m 37(female, btw) and he’s 43. We’ve been married for a few years (no kids) but together over a decade. When we first met things were very hot and heavy. A few years in, when things started to calm down, I would end up initiating more often and it seemed like my sex drive was higher than his, which caused a lot of self-doubt for me because of the societal messages that the man should always be the one who wants it more so what was wrong with me? I must be unattractive, gross, whatever.
Things went on like that for a while and then at some point took a turn where my libido dropped even lower than his. Maybe a subconscious giving up? The last few times we tried to have sex went the same. We’d get going, he’d ostensibly slow down or stop himself from coming too fast, I’d think “he’s losing his erection because he’s not into me” and totally lose interest, he’d ask “what’s wrong?” and we’d get into a fight and fall asleep, with me hurt and him humiliated. It sucked so bad, I think we both kind of just decided, independent of each other it wasn’t worth the pain of trying any more.
This definitely isn’t about him becoming unattractive or anything. My husband always was and continues to be a very attractive man. It’s also not about a general lack of libido on my part. Believe me, I have plenty of sexual feelings, unfortunately they’re just not directed at him.
It has something to do with being too familiar with each other (I’m sure he would probably agree with this) and knowing how familiar he is with me in all my less than sexy aspects. There’s also an element of body issues and self doubt on my side.
In addition, there are some practical barriers. We work different hours and only have one day off a week together which doesn’t help matters at all.
I’m almost 100% certain he isn’t cheating on me and though I nursed a very serious crush on someone for a while, I never allowed it to develop into an affair, because I knew that would be a horrible idea, and now that person is gone for my life for good, so other sexual/emotional attachments are not an issue.
Sex is not something it’s easy to talk to my husband about. He grew up Catholic and can be surprisingly conservative about this kind of thing. It’s gotten to the point I’m embarrassed to watch a movie sex scene with him anymore. It’s like we’re brother and sister, instead of husband and wife.
Sometimes I think I’m almost okay with the way things are but the thought of never having sex again is deeply depressing. Then again, so is leaving the person I love for an uncertain future.
I’ve also thought about seeing a counselor and would be willing to do so on my own but I know there’s no way he would go along with me.
I started reading a book about the topic and it started off with a couple in their 50s who were unhappy with having sex “only” once or twice a week which made me feel even worse.
Something like an open marriage would be completely off the table for him and honestly for me as well.
I met up with an old high school friend of mine recently who was divorced. In the process of catching up she talked about why she and her husband had divorced and it was haunting how much it sounded like my marriage. They were married for a few years, had no kids, he was a wonderful man but their sex life was dead. She said at the end she wished he had been having an affair so at least one of them would be getting some. She said it was a very painful process but she was now happily single.
So I guess my question is: is this normal and it’s just something people don’t talk about much or are we an outlier? Have you been there? What did you do? Is there hope of any kind or should I start getting used to the idea of divorce? Any resources you could share would be much appreciated, too.