I'm not attracted to my husband: Marriage without chemistry?

August 31 | Guest post by Alex
Dopamine Molecule Ring JewelerBazaar

My husband and I have been together for 11 years, married for five and have two beautiful children whom we adore. We function really well as a family, and have a healthy supportive household. However, right from the start I have not been sure about my feelings towards him.

I have had a terrible past with abuse and relationships ending in heartbreak. I was really insecure and messed up and quite promiscuous. I always went for the bad boys, or the boys who didn't want me — as the chase is what really turned me on. However, when I met my husband I decided that I wanted to get my life together and that I had had enough of un-healthy relationships. So I denied the feelings of my heart, because I lost trust in my heart, and made a decision based on my head.

I did find him really attractive the first night I met him — our eyes locked, and we hit it off straight away. We got on really well and really clicked. He pretty much saved me, and, in a way, I saved him. He has been my rock and I have completely turned my life around. I am now fit, healthy, successful and happy within myself and my achievements. However… I have not been true to my feelings or honest with him that being with him has always felt wrong.

Since the first night my feelings towards him have slowly turned more and more to platonic. When he asked me to marry him I felt in the pit of my gut that it wasn’t right. On our wedding day I almost felt sad, but I listened to my head and not my heart. He became my best friend, my companion, and the perfect father. It's hard to explain, and you may wonder why I married him. I just thought that I could do without the chemistry, even though I'm not attracted to my husband anymore, I though that the love alone would grow.

Instead, I find myself more and more disconnected and un-attracted. And now I've gotten to the point where I can't stand his smell, can't stand kissing him, all his little mannerisms annoy the hell out of me, I can't stand him touching me in bed, I put a pillow between us so I can't smell him… The list goes on. And he is NOT getting what he deserves out of a wife.

I have not had the guts to tell him properly how I feel for 11 years, and it has been weighing on my mind heavily. Until now….

I finally told him, and have told him that I need time and space to sort my feelings out and decide if I'm in this for the long haul — if I'm willing to live without chemistry — or whether or not we are going to just be friends. We agreed on an "in home separation" and, amazingly enough, he is open to both outcomes. He loves me and the kids so much, that he is being completely amicable, and has moved into spare room to give me the time I need. However I still can't decide what to do!

I think the reason why I have been sitting on the fence for SO long is because of how much my husband and I have going for us. We have the same morals, the same goals, the same taste, the same parenting views, and in lots of ways we get on really well. We are open about almost everything (except this topic) and work through things together as a team. However this unfortunately hasn’t changed how I feel.

My husband and I have already talked about the possibility of being apart. We have already agreed on all the co-parenting fundamentals, finances, support, putting children first, sharing duties, bringing the kids up under the same roof etc. Is it possible to co-parent and still function well as a divorced family?
Do I deny my feelings and my heart for the sake of my children?

Do I have unrealistic expectations about a marriage? I mean, can you be in love with your husband long-term or is it okay to not have those types of feelings?

I have read that marriage is mainly friendship, but surely you need chemistry to survive, am I asking too much to have the chemistry as well as the friendship? Are you better off being single than with the wrong man if it means being true to yourself?

I am wondering if anyone is in the same situation may be able to give me some words of wisdom or put things into prospective for me from another angle.

  1. Oh man, that's a tough one! I'm not in the same boat, but what I will tell you is what I ask myself when I wonder if I'm in the right marriage. "Can I live the rest of my life without X?" Do the journaling, therapy, soul searching, whatever it takes to find your real answer. Only you can find the answer you're looking for.

    For what it's worth, you may want to try couples therapy or a marriage retreat. Maybe just being honest about your lack of feelings will help you work through them.

    22 agree
  2. Good for you communicating your feelings. My mom did not and was miserable for 44 years of marriage before my parents finally called it quits. Granted, my father was not nearly as much of a partner as your husband so it's not quite the same situation, and therefore take all I say with the proper grain of salt.

    There's not much co-parenting to do for a 30-year-old, but I can attest that, should you decide to split, staying friends or at least friendly after an amicable split is entirely doable. As for if this happens with small children (I'm now speculating and not speaking from experience) it seems to me, like any other closely intertwined relationship of any type, communication is key. Make sure you remain on the same page. Of course, that's true regardless of if you split or stay together.

    Make sure the kids are kept on the same page too. Most important: I caution you to complain about your husband to your kids. As a pre-teen (when my parents marriage really started going south) my mom and I would have bash-sessions about my father when he wasn't around. I grew up thinking it was normal for mothers and daughters to compare notes and complain about the husband/father of the family almost like it was an inside joke how inept and obnoxious he was. I still have trouble valuing my father's abilities and not thinking of him as inept to this day. I should also point out, my parents did not have a horribly dysfunctional marriage. My dad wasn't abusive. They didn't have screaming matches or really even fight much at all (that I was aware of). They just weren't right for each other.

    To sum up, at the end of the day do what makes you happy. Communicate about whatever arrangement you have with your children's father. Don't talk down about him a bunch to your kids. Good luck!

    10 agree
  3. Just split up with the father of my kids about 5 months ago. We have three small children and are starting to successfully coparent. We had a physical attraction initially but not much else. I have never really had a healthy relationship and have had a past similar to yours. I feel like chemistry is important and you should definitely go with your gut. You kind of always knew it wasn't going to be quite right, we need to learn to trust our instincts. Once I started to feel better about myself my relationship seemed less and less right for me. I hold hope that I will eventually find the right partner for me but hopefully someone else can comment about how realistic that is. I am actually now quite happy on my own, much happier than I was in the relationship and the kids seem to be doing much better also. The happier you are the better for your kids.

    7 agree
  4. Something worth looking into, which may or may not affect what you ultimately end up doing, is if you've lost all sexual attraction or just toward your husband. When I was married, I thought I had just lost my libido, but it turned out I was on some medication that was messing with things. The marriage ended anyway, but finding out that I wasn't just uninterested in sex helped me sort out my feelings toward my ex.

    27 agree
  5. What about exploring alternative relationship models? I've never been a fan of the idea that one person needs to fulfil another persons each and every need. It's a lot to demand of someone, especially if your needs grow and change over the years. What about an open relationship?

    Or figure out what your priorities are. Can you live without the physical attraction if all your other emotional needs are being met? If you were in another relationship with physical attraction but didn't get one other thing your current partner provides, would that be better? Or worse?

    43 agree
  6. You are not alone AT ALL. I've been with my husband for 10 years and have an infant. I had a similar experience to you, I felt that we were roommates. It took about 2-3 years to get there. About halfway into our relationship we explored an open relationship and it worked for a few years. I had the healthy, stable life at home and a fulfilling sexual life with another man. Everybody knew and it was consensual. However after a while I realized that I wanted it all in one relationship, I felt it wasn't fair for me to be in a marriage where I wasn't attracted to my husband. The spark that I had with my partner and that he had with his wife 24/7, I wanted that for myself. At home, with my LIFE partner. Though my husband said he didn't mind and was happy and in love with me, I thought it wasn't just about me… he deserved to experience a healthy, relationship with someone who was interested in fun, sexual relationship with him. I was tired of the lack of intimacy in our relationship sexual and eventually emotional. We are still together and I find myself asking them same questions as you: are my expectations for marriage to unrealistic? Is this ow things are supposed to be…and am I ok with it? Is this something that we can gain back? I know now that getting married was a mistake but at the time it did feel right…sort of. I still have not decided but know that you are NOT alone. Good luck, whatever you two decide.

    15 agree
  7. Whoa….wow…what about open marriage. Let him get his u get urs. Not fair to him that ur not into him..thats ur issue not his. U get whatever it is u need.. u were wrong for wasting his time but im sure u liked the bennys of a great guy.. its a shame for both of u…just know u cant have ur cake and eat it too…u want him for the perks…but u want ur bad boy too…u cant help who u are…goodluck with all that. Lol

    5 agree
    • Don’t let people shame you with ridiculous comments like this. Must be nice for them that they can’t relate. Millions of women can! Including myself. I mean, how did we all end up on this page? Including the person who wrote this (and the 3 women who clicked “like” on it)? I smell some rats.

      20 agree
      • Umm….not sure why u have issue with my comment…would u rather i just being simpathedic towards your situation…hey i get it u arent happy…but ..thats life..if u arent into him then u are also mistreating him also..he deserves to be someone who is in to him..not sleeping in some other room …so im sorry im calling u out dear but its all about u..good luck with all that…

        1 agrees
        • Not everyone agrees with that (an open relationship) but there are some people it works well for. I am in the same boat and it did not work well for me as I would develop emotional feelings for the person i was intimate with. We (dh and I) have been together 21 years and have 2 children, but it hasnt been without extreme heartache and abuse and distrust. To each their own. I have been in therapy, taken meds for depression and read tons of books…even thought about becoming a sex therapist but that still wont help my relationship with my husband and it sucks to feel this way 24/7. There are reasons to leave and reasons to stay. Either way you have to decide what works and what doesn't and get out of limbo so you can stop feeling guilty about it.

          2 agree
        • Why people have an issue with your comment is because of your lack of empathy. Your tone is one of preaching at a woman who has reached out for help in s spirit of honesty. Compassion even if you don’t agree with someone goes a long way. Otherwise you are not helpful, just hurtful because of your own issues.

          3 agree
  8. No one can tell you what to do, unfortunately there is no easy answer, you have to decide if you can be fulfilled in this relationship. If even his smell is upsetting you, is it because he actually disgusts you, or is it a symptom of resentment that you may have for feeling like you are missing out on something? This post also makes me wonder can 'chemistry' be learned? Have you considered sex therapy? I do believe you can have a successful relationship without chemistry, however, I feel that you would have to be fully at ease without the chemistry in order for it to work, otherwise it will build resentment; as it seems to be doing for you.

    9 agree
  9. Only you can know for sure what to do and you are wisely taking the time to think before acting. Something in your post rang a bell though.

    I recognise very strongly the being attracted to people who don’t want me thing. For a long time I couldn’t understand why I kept having the worst luck of continually falling for unavailable people, people with complex issues who meant they couldn’t commit or just people where with other people. I was totally blind to the way that I utterly discounted anything that didn’t have that drama, that for me it wasn’t love unless there was longing. When I met my wife what was very odd for me was that there was no drama, she was totally available and we could just get on with it and give in to our desires. This makes it utterly unlike any relationship I’ve ever had and therefore it’s continually new ground. I’m nearly 8 years in and I am still adjusting to a lifetimes warped view of what real connection actually is!

    I think chemistry is very important but I think it’s different every relationship and it’s not even the same throughout a specific relationship which is why using whether or not there is chemistry right now as a decider can be so slippery. You asked for another angle so here is one, I think sexual chemistry is very important to get things going but what keeps things going is emotional intimacy which is fucking hard and which sometimes actively works against sexual chemistry (as does fear). However when things are balanced, when both partners are getting the space they need and life isn’t throwing to many shit bombs (ie an occasional occurrence not everyday service) emotional intimacy actually starts fuelling that sexual chemistry that got things going in the first place. I think this happens in cycles though which can sometimes be very long and that’s when the fear can set in and make it worse/longer.

    The only person who can know if you are on a cycle or whether it’s stopped completely is you but it may take a bit of debris clearing and attempting to re-start the cycle before you do for sure. Good luck!

    47 agree
    • This is very insightful! I think there's definitely a correlation between emotional intimacy and sexual chemistry. It can be hard to balance the two of these things once you start throwing kids into the mix, etc. My husband and I had much more sexual chemistry before we bought a house, got pregnant, and ended up with all these other real "adult" stressors. We have to work at our sexual chemistry, but the emotional intimacy thing is still there.

      OP, you're not alone. Thanks for sharing your story!

      8 agree
    • I agree with all of this, I would only add that it seems like the OP never really had much in terms of sexual chemistry with this partner to begin with, and that seems like a big red flag from the start. Admittedly, she has an unhealthy attraction to unavailable and unstable men, so I don't know if pursuing her heart is necessarily the best decision. I would suggest individual and couples therapy before making any decisions. Sounds like she has a good life, and an amazing family, and it would be shame to disturb that because of destructive impulses, but on the other hand, no one should have to live a lifetime of unhappiness.

      15 agree
      • Agreed- if the issue really is that she can only be attracted to "bad boys" then that's something therapy needs to address before she'll be able to find any sort of good, chemistry-ful-and-also-healthy relationship. Might as well do that first just in case this already good one can be saved.

        3 agree
    • Yes, definitely! I find the times that I'm actually into sex and enjoying it mentally as well as physically are when I am emotionally open and connected to me husband. If not though, it's similar to the OP in that I don't want any of the intimatw kissing or cuddling. Just the physical release and then leave me be.

    • I agree with this so much, but I'd never thought about it this way before. I went through a phase of wondering if I should stay with my husband because I had no sexual feelings towards him. I knew that I loved him, but I felt no desire for him. I got into a cycle where I felt angry at him and he didn't understand why. Recently things turned a corner, I managed to let go of the anger and allowed myself to be emotionally intimate with him again. The immediate difference in our relationship was really quite profound, I realised that I had been blaming him for my lack of attraction. After I allowed the emotional intimacy to grow the sexual attraction followed and I am now in a relationship that feels as fresh as it did when we first met. I came so close to throwing that away because I had got myself into a rut and I am so very glad that I didn't.

      7 agree
      • It’s a complex relationship between emotional intimacy and sexual chemistry for sure! I think you can lose sexual chemistry when the emotional intimacy lessens but also you can lose it when there is an excess of it too, when the partner you are intensely emotionally bonded is to, is almost over familiar.

        It’s not as simple as only new things are sexy and exciting but there is no denying that a shiver of lust and shiver of the unexpected often come together. It’s hard to get that spark going when most of your interactions are (unavoidably I know) about daily chores and always take place in the same location too. It’s also not as simple as adding in a date night will solve your problems but changing things a bit can do loads for breaking old habits and working out if they are just habits or real problems. I did once read a great piece of advice about trying to see your partner differently, in different places, like meeting them at their work, if practical, and seeing the whole other side of them you don’t usually have access too. I have to confess I love occasionally meeting my wife at work and seeing her walk across the lobby in her work persona.

        3 agree
  10. I've found sexual chemistry with my partner of 12 years to ebb and flow. We've gone YEARS where I really wasn't interested in him sexually, as in: we rarely had sex and I didn't enjoy kissing him, and then found myself becoming attracted to him again. We're in a high-attraction phase right now, and we have fabulous, regular sex. Sometimes it is related to medication, or hormonal imbalances, and sometimes it is because we've grown apart psychologically. Also, our tastes evolve over time. I'm changeable when it comes to turn-ons, and I go through phases where my husband's "look" (handsome as he is) just isn't what I want at that time. So we both go without for a while. That's how we've decided to deal with the issue, openly and honestly, and still stay married.

    The thing is: Marriage is about a lot more than just sex. There's no law that says you have to want to have sex with your spouse. You and your partner have to negotiate what role sex is going to play in the relationship; as long as you agree, everything and anything is possible. Sex with each other, or other people, or no sex at all–these are all fine. They don't mean your marriage doesn't "work" unless you aren't on the same page.

    Is it okay to be in a completely attraction-less marriage? I have no idea. That's for the individual to decide. Is it realistic to expect yourself to be sexually attracted to your partner consistently for 30+ years? No. Those relationships are unicorns. If you leave the marriage because that's what you want, you will be disappointed. Hopefully, the pair of you can come to an arrangement that suits your family well and makes you both sexually and emotionally satisfied.

    48 agree
  11. I completely understand. Been there. Done that. So I am thinking maybe you outgrew your relationship or maybe in the beginning it was a stabilizing event in your life and security was perhaps a huge factor. Husband. Home.
    Career. Savings. Positive credit and reputation. Family.

    These are treacherous waters to be swimming end. No matter what you chose to do there will be a huge price.

    I was in a similar situation. We made great roommates and parents but I was not attracted to him any more after 18 years and 4 children. He turned into a monster. The last thing he did from his death bed was to stiff me. He was very industrial practicing PAS therefore I have not had any relatiinships with my children in the past 20 years.

    So I advise a different approach in your endeavors. Be warned though anger is a secondhand emotion. The original emotion is anger. There is no way to bypass the inevitable. Sorry.

    I kept myself in a similar prison. Reguardless of the fallout, it was a must for me. I look back today and I realize I was alone and lonely all those years.

    We were awesome at co parenting, school functions, holidays but under all of that civility was his rage over rejection.

    Just know research and seek help for what the fallout will be. If he has pensions make sure you are the irrevocable beneficiary and you have an air tight QUADRO in the divorce degree. Things get really hard as one reaches their 60s.

    Peace and Grace.

    3 agree
  12. I believe you can have a marriage without intense chemistry. Because for me too, chemistry equals intense head-exploding lust for the wrong kind of guy. I have never had this with my husband, possibly because we grew up in the same circles and he was my friend for several years before he asked me out (while I went through a string of abusive, drug-addicted, or in one memorable case gay (but deeply angsty back then before he figured it out) boyfriends.) So there was never a WOW intense beginning. Just a "let's try this" moment.

    I am attracted to him, but I do have to fan the fire, if you will. Sex is good and satisfactory, but he definately has a lower libido than me. And he is NOT the very dominant bed-partner I sometimes want (which translated into generally not-good people out of bed). This is not to say he is not a good lover, just that sometimes he's not exactly what I need. But I am quite aware of this, and have an active fantasy life and like was already pointed out, urges ebb and flow. The compromise is well balanced by the rest of our relationship and definately worth it.

    He is and always has been my partner and friend before we added the benefits. We've been together eighteen years, got married after fifteen.

    All that said, I don't think what you are expressing is lack of chemistry. If his every move makes your hair raise, that goes beyond lack of chemistry into disgust. I think you need to find the source of why he's bugging you just by existing. Like anon put it,I am getting vibes of resentment too. Is he working too much? Is he not putting full effort into your couple (letting go of your marriage too easily without a fuss) Are you feeling unconsciously less "good" (don't know how to put this) because he's got it all, he's Mr Perfect, successful, a good father and it's still not right for you? There is something therapeutic about being rightfully angry, especially if you have a past seeing yourself as a victim, and he's not giving you that oppurtunity. You will have to put on your bitch-panties and take responsability if you decide to break up your family and that's tough. He's forcing you to make the decisions, and he's being fucking agreeable and reasonable too. (Gosh, Does any of that ramble make sense?)

    23 agree
  13. I haven't been in the same situation as you,but from what I can tell, yes, you have unrealistic expectations for marriage, to be blunt. By your own admission, your husband is perfect in every way and he is your best friend and co-parents. This is the best thing for a marriage. Don't blow it up just because you want to feel the rush of being in lust again. Lust is often confused for love, but will not make a stable marriage. I am concerned you are starting to fall back into the same old destructive habits. You should definitely explore why you are starting to despise your husband so much. Medical changes, hormonal? Some therapy is undoubtedly in order, both for you yourself and for you as a couple. Hopefully you can pin point those issues and work to counteract them. Then hopefully your marriage counselor can also work with you to better appreciate and possibly love your husband in a way both you and he deserve.

    17 agree
  14. Have you thought about multiple partners?
    I myself am not polyamorous but maybe somebody with more experience in this arena can chime in?

    1 agrees
    • I was in a polyamorous relationship for 5 years. The thing with polyamory is that it isn't for everyone. I've got friends who identify as polyamorous and say that it's the best thing that ever happened for them. I personally felt like a closeted monogamous person in a relationship style that didn't suit me, and I'm very happy to be in a monogamous relationship now.

      I can see why polyamory would seem like a solution to this situation, but I don't feel like it would be the best idea. What if OP finds someone she has AMAZING chemistry with? What becomes of her husband? Is he going to cope with continuing a relationship with her whilst seeing her be truly fulfilled by someone/s else? Will he fell like an outsider in his own marriage? (This is why my poly relationship failed.)

      If OP finds other partners that fulfil her sexually, will she feel satisfied enough to reinvest in her relationship with her husband? If her relationship with her husband is already complicated and unfulfilling, adding additional partners will just make it much more complicated.

      You can't fix an unstable house by building another floor on it. You should only expand a stable house when you (and your present partner) feel ready to welcome more people into your lives. I personally think OP needs to ask herself whether she truly, in her heart of hearts, wants to continue a relationship with her husband, or whether she's allowing logic (he's a good husband/father) override her feelings again. Once she has the answer to this question, if she feels that her desires and needs are as important as the needs of her family, and whether she wants to continue this marriage at all, then she should decide what action can come next.

      16 agree
  15. I can't imagine splitting a two parent family with children up for anything short of abuse or infidelity. He may not be your dream sex partner, but you have presented him as an ideal father.

    1 agrees
    • As the child of an extremely dysfunctional couple, filled with anger and resentment and manipulation who stayed together "for the kids" and because of Christian ideology, I can't agree with you. Everyone in my family would have been MUCH much happier if they'd just been honest and split. We were kids, but believe me we knew there was no love between them.

      23 agree
      • I totally understand your example here. But there are more kind and gentle ways of couples staying together, in many ways, for the kids that aren't connected to any christian ideology, or any ideology really. Especially while they are young, people can be motivated by the love that their children have for their families, and by putting romance on the back burner for the sake of stability for and commitment to their children.

  16. I have no advice, I just want to say that I relate. I almost walked out before my wedding because everything was horrible and some days I wish I had. My husband isn't the perfect partner you make yours out to be and we have no children, and I see a lot of red flags I wish I hadn't ignored because I sometimes think I should never have married him. But I don't have the guts to tell him how I feel. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to see other people and sometimes I even casually mention giving him a "hall pass" because I just hate having sex now. I feel so guilty all the time. It's a mess.

    1 agrees
    • I urge you to explore your options now. Divorce without kids is usually just a simple splitting up of property. If you are this miserable, you don't deserve to stay this miserable just for your partner.

      16 agree
  17. I'm 31, have only been in the following relationship 5 years but I do have a psychology degree. Here are some thoughts. What you said about self-esteem problems struck a cord with me. I have had some of the kind that meant my teens and early twenties were mostly spent pinning over men I didn't dare give any indication I was attracted to. When my now partner asked me for my number the first time he met me and later claimed to have fallen in love with me at first sight. Asking myself "Do I like him back?" was a baffling new experience. Like you I can't fault him for personality. I don't have conventional taste in men so I know I can't rely on other people to tell me if he's attractive. In fact why should anybody. He's provided me with support and helped me on the way to a more functional life. That's the most a lover can do for someone with emotional problems. When I'm depressed and anxious I'm a loser who just wants to believe a plain, unexceptional man is an amazing conquest because she has nothing else and he's so going to get fat this year. When I'm happy I have the Benedict Cumberbatch lookalike of my dreams who treats me right and I can face the future with.

    1 agrees
  18. Oof. That bit about the pillow in your bed really wrings my heart — I want to give you a giant internet hug. You say that you're not really sure what you want to do. I would observe that when you're in the habit of thinking that what you don't want sexually doesn't matter — or maybe even more than that, when you're in the habit of thinking that's it's wrong to expect other people to respect and understand what you don't want sexually, figuring out what you DO want in ALL other areas of life is just considerably harder. You have a lot of different options ahead of you – but I suspect that all of them will work better if you expand your vocabulary in boundary setting. I do have a specific book I'd recommend a chapter from – Barbara Carrellas's 'Ecstasy is Necessary' has some explanation of and different exercises for creating and respecting ongoing, evolving sexual boundaries in non-charged ways that I think is great, and I've found extremely helpful. If not that particular book, I'm sure there are other good resources for that out there that probably approach boundary-setting from a more serious therapeutic perspective. If it were me, I'd start there, before anything else. Good luck, and much love to you in your journey!

    2 agree
  19. Can I ask a weird question? Are you, or were you at the beginning of your relationship, using any sort of hormonal birth control? There's evidence that messing with our hormones can affect the way we read chemical signals from mates. I think that's how I ended up in a mostly-good-but-somewhat-chemistry-less marriage, personally. Once I went off birth control I became less and less drawn to him.

    8 agree
    • Wow! This comment here is a actually a profound concept for me. I was on depo shot when I hooked up with my male roommate for the first time. Now we've been together for 16 years. Married with a 7 year old and I have to force myself (wine and weed, plus lube) to feel attracted enough to have sex with him but I'm attracted to other men. I haven't been on birth control for years.

      7 agree
  20. Companionate marriage? It's basically what you have now, except you both know you both sleep with other people– how much or how little details you share are up to you. You keep everything going well, and outsource what's not.

    1 agrees
  21. I was once in a relationship like this – although we were not together for long. I started dating this woman after being single for a very long time. I was desperate to be in a relationship. Very quickly, I knew we were not compatible. Almost everything she did made me mental. She embarrassed me in public, she dressed slovenly, she odd mannerisms. I even found her dog annoying and I am a DOG person. For me, this dynamic came down to power – I had it all and she had none of it.

    At one point she asked me when we could move in together. Given that lesbians generally move in after the 2nd date, the fact that she had to ask the question was telling. I said, maybe at a year. I got a card from one day that stated: "only 267 days to go." I threw up and broke up with her.

    In healthy relationships power ebbs and flows. It seems to me that you have all the power. You say that your husband is fine with either outcome. I doubt that's true. I am sure he's invested.

    Now, I could be totally wrong about your situation. In the case that I am correct, I don't know if there is any coming back from this kind of situation. How can you be with someone when you can't stand his mannerisms and smell? The other thing is that you and he make think everything is fine on the surface and your kids don't know but they know.

    I think taking some time figure things out is good. I would also see a counsellor. I wish you good luck and I really hope it all works out in the way that's best for you – because that will be what's best for your kids.

  22. It is awful to live without chemistry and it is tied to your happiness and the happiness of your kids. I try to sustain myself in other ways while my kids are young. For me, the kids are the glue in marriage. When they are young, I want to give mine an intact family. I want to enjoy the many aspects of family life and give this to my kids. These are their 'wonder years'. Childhood is an experience unmatched by any other phase in life. It is our responsibility to our children to make life as whole and connected as possible. I don't have chemistry with my husband, but I am still going to enjoy my life, have fun with my kids, and as a whole family, even though the romance aspect isn't great. If we can have fun as friends, then I think I can survive it with him until my kids are older, more logical and less innocent. I want to do this for my kids….It is disappointing, it can be sad sometimes, but I don't have some wonderful romantic option in front of me either. Maybe it is just not the season in my life for that. But seasons change, kids grow, and there are different possibilities for the future. And then, in the future, I can look back and know that I gave them some positive understanding of an intact family. I do want them to know the togetherness and warmth of family and their traditions. I do want romance, but mostly, I want to be happy, however I find that. For now.

    9 agree
    • I'm you, fast forward 10 years. I had angry parents in a bad marriage and so I was desperate to create a 'wonder years'/ 'this is us' childhood for my kids. I loved my hs/college boyfriend but he didn't want commitment (or me) so DH comes along and he's a nice guy. My now husband says he even knew on our honeymoon that I wasn't happy. NM that, onward with my agenda. MY agenda. Jobs, nice house, kids, dog, great schools, sports. MUST achieve all this. In some weird way, I wanted to one-up my own mother just to show that I could. I got away with friends twice a year and that helped sustain me. Never wanted to go away with dh though. Here's the cautionary tale: 3 kids; 1 in college, one about to go to college and an 8th grader. I don't think we can hang on for much longer. Nearly everyone (Christian/ Catholic circles) hates me for this. Things are bad now and kids DO suffer lack of authenticity, especially on the part of the mother. More PRE marital counseling is needed. It's is the biggest decision and puts weight on EVERY other decision in your life. People live longer. Women have sex drives that really DO rev back up when we're not taking care of little ones 24/7 and we're no longer ashamed to admit it. I ended up having a months-long emotional and one-time physical affair with old BF during separation. The guilt nearly killed me. How I wish just ONE person would have asked me if I was truly and deeply in love before we got married or even if I loved spending time/ traveling with him. That's a flag on the field, too. We need older, wiser women to talk to us, too.

      5 agree
  23. I think some time has passed since you posted this… But I want you to know that I felt like I was reading my own story. I don't have a history of abuse, but I was raised being told all men were sex addicts… So still a pretty warped view. I've been with Mr. Safe for 17 years. Married for 13. (God. Can it be that long?) Monthly cycles make me go from "able to tolerate" to feeling repulsed and deeply trapped.

    I knew day one that I was getting married to a man I didn't have chemistry with. I was foolish enough to think that would change. It has only gotten worse. The problem is that we are really both great parents. We are both far too practical to bother living in two houses. Going back and forth for the kids etc… is silly. But I can't stand him. I mean… I can if I really work at it. If I'm meditating and consciously holding my tongue. But really? Everything he says to me, the way he dresses, how he spends his free time, his stupid jokes… All of it makes me feel trapped and depressed. Angry too.

    I get it. Stay because it doesn't make sense to leave? Or leave and no one will understand why it makes sense.

    I can tell you that I'm a happy person in every other aspect of my life. But spending time with Mr Safe and I feel like Malificent. I am hiding in the other room right now. I can hear him having the most amazing conversation with our kids. I appreciate him so much as a father. As I provider. I feel like I owe it to him to stay because he (somehow) feels like everything is fine. I feel like I owe it to his parents and even mine. I certainly love the idea of making it easy on the kids, but the reality is that the effort it takes to stay could be used for so many other things.

    So no. You aren't alone. Thanks for sharing so I could feel a little bit more normal.

    19 agree
    • Thank you for this. In many ways this is exactly how I feel and it makes me feel less alone. Why does it have to be so messy and difficult?

      14 agree
    • Joy, I am just like you. But I have been married over 30 years. Kids grown left home, small family, no grandkids etc. I have never said anything to my husband just lived in silence.So much effort to stay but too difficult to leave as I’m a passive person without many friends, Fear of guilt, uncertainty or regrets for the future at my age. There is always the fear of even more loneliness or finding someone with whom maybe there is chemistry but maybe eventual problems in new relationship will kill chemistry. Married 1st man went out with so not experienced in relationships.

      Sorry I don’t have any answers to the post. You have already discussed with your husband. Lucky for you he seems to accept as some men get aggressive. Wish you luck and happiness.

      1 agrees
  24. Man oh man… This entire post……… Im in the same situation. I have 2 kids and a new one on the way. We finally got married In July after being engaged for 4 years. I stalled like crazy bc i knew in my heart that we had no chemistry and it was off. Its so hard bc i want the kids to see a 2 parent home but its killing me…. I am miserable… I try to pretend and fake happy… I try to enjoy US… But my mind wants to be some where else… I think after this baby is born im out… I am just going to step out on faith and stop being so afraid and go.. He is is a wonderful dad and great provider but this "safe choice" life is too difficult. I feel bad because women literally would kill to have a man and be married and have kids.. Im thankful for my family but why should i have to keep this going? Oh and the kids notice.. They are not stupid. Esp my daughter who is 9. I feel like a brat for even complaining bc im not being cheated on or beated on…. Its no chemistry, its bc i have too do it Sex, no attraction, and boring! Maybe we can take a break and this might help… I dont know. All i know is im tired of talking about it and 2018 something has got to change!! Asap…. He is a great dad and i cant imagine them having another dad but as for me… Im just mentally checked out. Any advice?? Bc im so lost..

    9 agree
  25. Hmmm, I'm in a similar situation but without kids or owning anything. The sex was great for quite a few years until it wasn't. Something changed, something shifted and for me it was not going to come back. I was no longer attracted to him, but it was for various reasons not even about sex. He refused to let go, begged me to try, we spent a few months apart, a month apart, now a month apart and he's still moaning and crying like a baby. I believe sexual attraction and chemistry in a relationship is important! I can barely kiss him anymore, I hate him touching me and resent that he insists sleeping in bed with me because he couldn't sleep in the other bedroom without me. And I caved every time. He wanted to try counselling, but like many women, once you decide something, once you feel something in your gut, that's it. It makes no difference. Why should you force yourself to try be attracted to somebody that you are no longer attracted to? I don't want to hurt him, but it's hurting me. I was angry for awhile, but that passed to tenderness. I do love him, I care about him, he is my kin, he is my best friend, but he's more like family than the love partner I crave. In relationships people grow and change overtime and sometimes end up on different paths. It isn't the end of the world, we know better than to fall for that until death do us part. Why not accept that you are best friends and have an amazing relationship that should last for life? I was told to have kids with someone that if the relationship did fail you would at least remain excellent friends and family and be awesome co parents.

    3 agree
  26. I am 37 and single, there is no way I can relate to you but honestly this has been my biggest fear, marriage with no chemistry.
    Just like yourself I am attracted to the bad guys and hence still not married. I have said no to many good men as your husband. Wondering which one is worse, married into this no chemistry or holding out like myself.
    Thanks for sharing.

    2 agree
  27. I hope this simple comment helps someone as much as it's always helped me. Years ago when I was in my teen years, I heard this woman on the radio taking about what it was like being married for 50 years and how she made it through happily. Her response was simple but amazing and has kept me going through the tough stuff. She said "It's normal for a spouse to fall in and out of love throughout the many years of a marriage. The key is not having both people fall out of love at the same time." I've always remembered this. 12 years ago I felt my husband drifting out of love with me. I could just feel it, though it's not something he would have owned up to at the time. Years later, he now agrees that he mentally checked out. No cheating occurred, but we simply weren't at connected. It was my love for him that pulled us through and kept us going. About three years ago, it was me who fell out of love. It was a slow process, but things weren't good, communication was horrible and a bunch of life stressers piled on all at once. It was he who kept us going with his love for me. To be clear, I'm not talking about pulling each other through via putting up with b.s. or cheating, I'm talking about simply not leaving the marriage during a bad patch.
    My advice to the original author is to, 1. End her affair or contact with the person she is clearly chatting with at the very least (I'd put money on this fact) and 2. Go to personal counseling first, and then go to couples counseling after. Ending a marriage without giving counseling a chance is like sitting on a sinking ship whilst you stare a life raft. Makes zero sense not to try. If you don't feel like trying, get out of your emotional affair first; you'll feel like trying afterwards.

    3 agree
  28. Hello,

    After 24 years of marriage, and 27 years of being together, my wife told me she no longer was in love with me.
    I’m 59 … she’s 49. We have two children whom are now adults, with the youngest being 18.

    I was sexually abused when I was 3 … not by a parent / relative. It happened only once … and was not discovered by anyone. I “froze” that moment … then 6 years later, when I was 9, I was traumatized again. The effects of both of those events, coupled to growing up in an emotionless home run by a dictator and supported by my mother’s passiveness, my sexual development was warped, and I became very adept at being alone. This lifestyle caused me great shame and guilt and I could never understand why I didn’t fit in – anywhere. So I tried suicide at 23 … and from that failure I ended up getting professional help for the first time – to gain understanding of “why” I was the way I was. That took time, and I was doing ok with the new-found insights … and I left therapy thinking I was mostly ok and that I needed to move on in life. Soon though, I found myself again “alone against the world” and reverted back to what I was doing to prior to the suicide attempt to get pleasure. And I continued living this “lie” – was a real Jekyll and Hyde … until I met my wife – who had / has a heart of kindness I had never experienced before.

    I was so glad to finally have someone to love … my first and only love … that I stopped my anti-social destructive behaviours and together we were the quintessential happy young couple – we were never great at sex, but for all other aspects of marriage – even communication, we were as happy as could be. And I never told her of my past … until we started to drift apart – sexually – after the birth of our second child, which was 6 years into the marriage. Sex left the building – and life took over. The issue of lack of intimacy would come up every now and again – always from her, and always as to why “how come we never have sex anymore”. I never understood why I could not commit this last bit of my love for her. And, she admits that she has issues of closeness also … so … more time goes by, and we keep "trying" … "working" … yet even after attending marriage counselling together … it never did get resolved. And I knew that deep down inside my psyche I had unresolved issues – or aftereffects – of the early abuse, and the damage to my “self” that had never been repaired.

    Then 2017 came and both of the kids are on their own, and I decided to try and retire, and my wife and I committed to working on the intimacy / sex issue again … and we even planned a vacation for August – which we took and was the first for us together in over 20 years. We had a great time … but never had sex. Then we came home … talked more … and again neither of us made a move towards the other.

    I then made the mistake of writing down what had happened to me when I was a child (I had, over the years, told my wife all of this – this was my first time ever writing it down) and from completely out of the blue … my wife’s response was to say that she knows I’m in pain over all of this but that she “no longer is in love with me”, and that she wants a divorce, and that she does not see us ever getting back together. She next said that she thought I’d be better off alone.

    That was at the end of September. I took this pronouncement very badly … and as I had already “opened” up all that shit in my mind re the abuse, neglect, etc when I wrote it all on paper … I had a breakdown and two days later I woke up to my 3-year old self holding onto an Exacto blade knife in one hand and my penis in the other as I was looking to cut that part off of me. I was so scared … and so alone … and it was all of a sudden.

    I realized I needed help, again, and I have since been doing that. I was forced to leave my home as there is no available help there at all – and what help that is available is on a “wait list” and is for a facility outside my territory only (and the wait list is between 6-10 months long).

    My wife’s response was a complete shock – I truly believed she still loved me as much as I have always loved her … she was my only love … I have never loved anyone else and I never once fell out of love with her … and in actuality I was the romantic in our marriage. I never had a clue … and so I could not understand her response. In the month it took for me to pull myself together enough to find the help I need and make the arrangements – she moved out of our home – and withdrew from me even more. Granted, I was pretty screwed up … but I found a new place, was diagnosed with PTSD, arranged therapies, and prepared to leave.

    Then, while cleaning up our home computer, I found a file of pics. It seems that 3 weeks before my writing her my history and my concerns for us, she had an affair. That discovery changed my fragile mind even more – it made me physically ill – and my immediate thought was that I had caused so much angst with this lovely woman that she had changed her values … and that … that realization … is so fucking PAINFUL. This pain consumed me … it is what drove me – literally – 3700 kilometres to get help.

    I've now been in intensive therapy – EMDR is a blessing – for three months and have made great progress with insightful linkages and all led by being as brutally honest with myself as possible. It is good. It is also very very lonely.
    I have too much time to think … and I’m very scared for my future when I think thoughts like “what is the value of doing all this work?”

    What bothers me the most though is the effect this has had on my wife … I really don't know her anymore – she is that different to me now … and I suspect she has been in pain for a long while and it took her that long while to get up her nerve to leave … and I understand that on an intellectual level. Emotionally, I'm so very lost without her so yeah it's very hard to hear that she's already planning a vacation for next month (February – something we had wanted to do ourselves but never did) … and that she is so so quickly leaving me in the dust. This is so hard on me – trying to work on the issues of my early life which is so deeply tied to my present … and my present has imploded.

    Too much pain … too alone … and so full of guilt / shame / etc that I let my marriage fail. I had the best and I fucked it up by not dealing with my issues that were born in the childhood abuse … catch-22 at it's finest.

    3 agree
  29. Thank you for sharing your story and wow, does it surprise me that there are so many other women in the same situation! The same situation I am in. I'm not attracted to my husband either, but it's not that I'm frigid, it's because I need to feel an intimate connection first before wanting to have sex. And my husband simply doesn't listen to me, he interrupts me 5 seconds into my "story", and always makes it about him. I try over and over to share myself with him, but he just can't hear me out. I listen to him talk forever and ever, and I know some people who have a wonderful relationship this way. But it's not for me. I'm sad that he's not interested in what I have to say, how I feel, I feel disrespected, belittled and certainly not loved. So, a logical result is that I don't feel like being physically intimate. He accuses me of cheating, calls me a whore when I spark another mans interest and he even hit me when he found out a friend of mine was hitting on me, even though I told him of. I must be getting "it" somewhere if I'm not doing it with him… And of course I can stay with him so that the kids have an intact family, but is this what I want to show my kids? That this is a relationship? Where there is no love, no respect, no cuddling, no fun? Lots of arguing and sadness? And that you have to sacrifice your happiness for others? I am not in the position to leave, but if I could, I would for sure. If it were up to me we would keep this house where the kids have their steady home, and a studio apartment that my husband and I share while we take turns living with the kids. I'd have no problems co parenting or with my husband entering a new relationship. We both deserve better and more then this, everybody does. And no, forever passionate sex is not what I expect, but love and respect and intimacy is. It sounds like you have a wonderful husband who has an open ear and An open mind. But if you feel so opposed to him, there must be something going on and as I've learned in life, you can talk it straight with your brain, but if your heart and gut cringe, something's not right. I wish you clarity and all the best! And send an update if you ever visit again , I'd love to know where you are now.

  30. It sounds like the only real problem is your sexual aversion to your husband. The same thing might happen if you meet and marry someone else. Romance is a temporary neurological sate of mind. Partners in good marriages function as friends after romance dissapears and still enjoy sex. The fact that you can't stand sex with your husband may be due to your unhealthy exposure to abuse and sex in your formative years.
    If this is so, there is not much you can do about it and you should accept that you are especially challenged in this area. If you look for and find another partner who you enjoy sex with, then the same thing will probably happen again. You may then realize you have torn your true family apart and the regret will be horrible.
    You have a good life but you may be flawed in an area that will require a lot of therapy to restore. Acknowledging weaknesses and living life with grace and courage is the best approach I think.

    2 agree

Leave a Reply to Natalie Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.