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Avatar universal

Women with low libido - sexless marriage - please help this guy


I've been married for a while with kids.  I'm pretty sure I'm one of the nicest guys around - loving, caring helping guy - take care of the kids, make dinner, do laundry, treat everyone with kindness and regularly express my love for my wife and kids.  However, I'm struggling with the fact that my wife never extends any intimacy.  It has been like this for years and years and I'm coming to my wit's end with it.  I'm getting to the point where I just frankly dislike sex, why?  because it makes me feel like a dog begging for it.  I get shot down 9 out of 10 times.  I try to space it and what ends up happening is it happens maybe 4 times a year.  It is torture.  I think my wife is beautiful beyond belief.  I haven't even seen her naked in months.

Why is she doing this to me.  She knows as I've told her that intimacy is important, but still, manages every night to  be asleep minutes before I'm done tucking in the kids.  If we have a night off, she's sick with one of about 5 rotating ailments.  We'll go for a nice dinner, spend some time walking around hand-in-hand, then as soon as we are alone, she avoids me like the plague.  I feel like a rat.  When I hug her she simply balls up.  She absolutely never hugs me.  I feel like that monkey that scientists deprived of a parent and it latched onto a fury mannequin for comfort.

I can't live like this.  I've read many people with similar issues, six months later they post that they broke up and are happy as can be.  Prior to busting up they expressed they steadfast efforts to get to the bottom of things, with patience, willingness to change, but that seems to evolve into despair and extreme disappointment at the neglect they feel.  Yes, I feel neglected, I'm made to feel like I'm sex obsessed.

Now with that said, if somebody can relate let me know what might be going on here.  It has either got to be hormones (ie, a medical thing) or, she just is grossed by me, I wonder sometimes, is she gay?  I don't know.  All I know is that I'm sad.

26 Responses
1962649 tn?1332448451
of course you are sad. this is no way to live. have you told her how you feel? if not you need to TELL her exactly how you feel. i have never understood how women can deny sex to their husbands and expect the husbands to be ok with it. it very well could be hormonal. many women's hormones become unbalanced prior to menopause. how old is she? how old are you?
134578 tn?1546634665
I wouldn't be surprised if it is hormonal, as shell921 says and you suggest.  She might just simply have the dial so low on her estrogen and testosterone that she wouldn't have sex with anyone at all.

If you are good about taking care of the kids, and helpful (not critical) around the house, she is probably not doing this out of resentment.  Usually when the husband is loving with the child or children, the wife loves him for it.

Best suggestion is to go to a therapist together, and lay it out the way you did here.  If she won't, see if she will go on vacation alone with you, a nice long weekend at a resort.  And talk about it.  Don't go with visions of sugarplums, and if she acts willing to have sex rather than discuss the problem, don't be distracted by the offer and forget to talk about the overall problem.  If you two can't talk frankly about the problem, you will never get anywhere.

The part about how you feel is terribly sad, but what you really need to know is why she thinks this is happening.  Unfortunately, telling her how it affects you will not open the door to her talking about that, especially if it comes out as recriminations or if she hears it that way.  Your goal at the retreat or therapist's is to find out what she thinks is going on that makes her feel so uninterested.  And then to make a plan together.  (Some possible plans:  she wants to know what is going on also, and agrees to go to a doctor for testing.  Or, she knows what the problem is and tells you, and then you set plans to address these facts.)  

Maybe she knows what the problem is and doesn't want to discuss what she knows, or more likely she feels ashamed and guilty but doesn't know what the problem is and feels called out by your hints and remarks, and just wishes the problem would get better by itself.  If you want to stay married, you have to help her tell you what it is.  Men tend to want to leap to a solution; discuss the problem in detail and don't tell her what the solution is, ask her what it can be.  Together you might work out a next step.

Avatar universal
Hi, thanks for your reply.  We are both nearing middle-age - since this has been going on for many years, doubtfully menopausal related.  It's funny, I share your opinion when I read about women being denied sex from their husbands, I just don't understand how they can be so cruel, you hear these poor women going out of their way to change, augment their bodies, dress up only to find him on sex chats and web cams.  Coming from a male perspective, I know when I read these that the man has checked out - he simply either hates her and hates himself for getting locked into one woman who's not a cover model.

Since a male perspective is my point of reference, naturally, I'm prone to conclude that she has checked out and somehow must hate me for locking her up with a someone who is not Mr. Big from Sex and city.

But that is just emotion speaking there.  I'm sure she knows how this hurts me.  I don't think it is intentional cruelty, she is one of the most thoughtful people I've met ever!, in the grand scheme, this is out of character, ie, to punish her best friend (that's me).  Let me re-iterate, we are very close in every other realm, just not from 10pm to 6am...

Avatar universal
Hi, thanks for the reply.  Two things stick out here.  Your emphasis on helping her get to the bottom of her issue, and your comment about how men tend to think.

As far as helping her get to understand her issue, I've always thought that's the sensible and sensitive thing to do.  It's what I want to do, but the fact that I can't self sacrifice entirely makes doing that (helping her) very delicate business.  My desires, my sexual needs are over-powering - obviously, she can sense it, actually seems to be able to predict it.  It seems the only way that it is possible is to eliminate my sex drive.

Sometimes I wonder if my reaction, that is, my disappointment is her way of validating that I'm still attracted to her.  Right?  If she withholds and I'm upset, "then he must want it - great, I'm still desirable"

So the other comment about mens reaction - makes me wonder if I want to jump to solution and discuss in detail with no solution...that requires some thinking...I just think in reality, I just want a mini leap of faith that will help me help her.

Thanks so much both of you, I just wonder what she wants from me.  I know she doesn't want to function this way.  There are queues, I just need more confidence and I just need to keep trying and demonstrate support in the right way.

2088407 tn?1333849575
This all sounds suspicous of a hormonal inbalance. I would suggest she have her hormone levels checked (blood test) I don't think she is intentionally refraining from sex to hurt you as you have stated. Is she on any kind of medication, because this can be a side effect of some meds. I'm sorry you are going through this. It must be very difficult. You sound like a very good man/spouse. I hope you and your wife get to the root of the issue. Intimacy is such an important part of a relationship.

Best of luck
Avatar universal
Hi Vq, I don't think it is intentional either.  My first post as a spewing out of essentially how it feels.

Um, aren't we all on meds? lol, fyi, I started ssris recently, my libido crashed.  At first I think, oh GREEEAAT, now we'll be on the same level.  That aside from just feeling fantastic after a long bout of not even fully understanding that I was depressed and to what extent.

We've talked about it before, how probably meds are the cause, but then there is always this invasive element of 'you know, it is not that abnormal, its common for women to not want it, why, how about so-and-so, she never wants it from her husband' - that comment feels like she is saying, sorry, pal, that's reality, just deal with it.

What is so very aggrivating is I'm the type of guy who just loves the company of women, not because I'm gay, not because I'm scamming or perving them out, I just have always love the low key machismo-free atmosphere that women create.  It is ammmazing and refreshing and uncompetative and intellectual and rich and fun with emotional content.  So you get how completely frustrating it is that I can't quite figure the right state of mind in confronting my wife about something so important and enriching in an otherwise wonderful relationship.

What I will say is the more disappointed I become the more challenging it is to discuss, so I guess, step one of this who-know-how-many step program is don't discuss anything in a distressed state of mind.  Get it together first...
2088407 tn?1333849575
Well I do hope things work out in your best interest! Feel free to private message me if you wish to talk or vent or whatever.

134578 tn?1546634665
Talk to a therapist yourself if she will not.  You need to be able to talk to her from a blame-free sounding place (even if you don't really feel blame free), so you two can problem-solve together.

You're right that a man will translate a woman not being interested into a "how can she, she knows I'm a man and sex is very important," kind of statement.  But her problem is doubtless more complex, and being indignant is not going to open the doors to conversation about it.

In the end, if she won't talk it over, you should consider whether the marriage is worth it compared to having a satisfactory physical relationship with a woman.  I don't recommend divorce lightly when someone has children.  But if she is not happy (and if it's not physical -- she should DEFINITELY rule out hormone problems) and you are not happy, both of you deserve to try to find a world where there is some happiness.

How old are your kids?  That will play into it also.  And can you afford to support two households if you split up?

Avatar universal
I agree with everyone it could be a hormonal imbalance, but the way she seems to extend NO sort of intimacy, not even hugging, makes me think she could have had some traumatic incident sexually in the past and it started cropping up a few years ago and since she hasn't dealt with it, things continue.  This is a hard thing to ask and bring up.  Sometimes, it's best not to because if it is a case of molestation, she doesn't seem at the point where she'd answer truthfully and it may only cause her to pull away more.  Maybe suggest marriage counseling, and she can go in and see someone on her own too if she so chooses.  However, it may be a lost cause.
1548028 tn?1324616046
I have to wonder if this isn't much to do with you at all.  Hormone imbalance comes to mind (over years) and I have to wonder if it's not herself that doesn't feel deserving.  How does she really feel about herself?  Sometimes men change very little (only in my opinion) and well women change and age a little more sometimes.  Only my perspective.  The body changes with kids and life.  Can be hard sometimes.  I really think you guys need to talk.  I have been married for 20 years and my husband is just as handsome as ever and I feel old and unattractive.  I know he loves me very much and it's all good but things about myself have definately changed.  Just wondering.
Avatar universal
Have you all had any other major problems in the marriage before this?  Anything traumatic or upsetting happened in her life that you are aware of?  

Does she take care of herself?  i.e. exercise and eat properly  Any medical conditions?  Is she on meds?  She could have some underlying medical issue.  

How long has this been going on?  

Exactly how long have you been married and how many children do you all have?  Does she work?  

She could just be plain exhausted especially if she is middle-aged.  

I know once I reached my forties and dealing with early menopause my hormones dipped a bit wrecking havoc on my sleep, sexual drive, energy levels, etc.  It finally has tapered off; thank goodness.  

Sounds like it could be a combo of factors, but if she isn't really interested in sorting this out......hmmm...I am not sure what to tell you except that you will have to decide whether to live with this or not.    
Avatar universal
Hi quiet girl.  There's a lot going on that can't be splurged out in one or two threads, but you are on the ball. Amazing - almost clairvoyant you are.  This particualar topic affords me much sympathy to the situation which is why I'm somehow able to practice extreme patience and understanding.  the trick is dealing with it all the right way.  I've messed up royally in the past, strangely, what I'm learning is that the other person gets better if you focus a bit on yourself.  I think the reason is that we often project our own issues onto others.  So, whenever confronting someone, even in the best of interest in helping the person, we can easily screw it up thanks to the weaving in of our own projections.  When we look at ourselves first, deal with our own issues first, it seems to cleanse the discussion floor.  So regarding past trauma, it is not my job to pry open that shell.  What I do feel is my job is to somehow instill a sense of comfort that if it were to open, the contents would fall into caring arms.  I just wish I could somehow figure out how to instill that sense ...

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