I am a straight female in my mid-thirties, and I have been married for almost two years now. I have been with my husband for 11 years. But… he has not wanted sex at all for the past four years. To clarify: We have not had sex, not even on our wedding night. And our sex life was okay before!
I have given up trying to initiate as the rejections got me down. My husband doesn’t want sex, he just wants to cuddle. Having raised the issue multiple times, he said it isn’t my fault and that he needs to sort out some things (family issues apparently). And recently, he finally agreed to go to therapy, although it’s yet to happen.
I can’t do this anymore. After going through self doubt, I have cheated. And I don’t feel guilty. If anything it made me realize that I should be happy (it was nice to finally feel wanted).
I love my husband, and he is my world, but there is a lot of resentment in me that makes me believe that it isn’t fixable. I now stand in front of possibly breaking up my whole life not knowing where to turn. I don’t think I have the energy to go through the months and years of “it might get better.” What should I do? Am I wasting my time? I need help. -Nancy
A few years ago we ran this post:
It was written by a woman in her thirties, currently in a “sexless marriage” (defined as a couple who have sex “10 times a year or less”). She wrote the post because she wanted other partners in similar situations, like you!, to know that they aren’t alone. But it was the comments on that post that made is SUPER clear that people like you are not alone.
Among the comments of support were some really helpful insights that might help you out, especially this one from a reader named Josh with some men’s sexual health experience:
Hey y’all, as a man who sits in many sexual brokenness groups with other men. A low sex drive FOR MEN in a heterosexual relationship comes down to three usual suspects in the order to be suspected:
- Childhood sexual trauma
- Same sex sexual template
And this comment about Dan Savage was echoed a lot:
I have no idea if you read Savage Love, but Dan Savage addresses mismatched sex drives on a nearly weekly basis. The solutions he brings up:
- Have the low libido partner be medically tested for anything that could be wrong (ie, HORMONES!).
- Get a sex positive therapist (there is a list somewhere, Google?)
- If the mismatch can never be overcome, either the high libido person needs to lump it, they need to split up, or the low libido person needs to allow the high libido person to get their needs met elsewhere (let’s be VERY clear that sex is not a “nice thing one does in a relationship,” sex is a human need) through opening the relationship. (It can be a don’t ask don’t tell kind of thing if that’s how you want to frame it.)
By just kinda coasting along and never dealing with it you doom your relationship, as the high libido person eventually becomes resentful. -Allison
But I thought I’d post an update from the original writer of the sexless marriage post:
I just wanted to thank all of you for the support and love; on difficult nights, I would sometimes read your comments and cry because I still felt deeply sad, but now I also felt understood. I just wanted to tell you that [my husband] and I have been in therapy for a year now, and it has been amazing. Thank you all for urging me to seek this counseling…
We were lucky enough to find a compassionate therapist who specializes in sex/intimacy issues (and also lucky that our insurance covers regular visits). I won’t say that this year has been easy — there were many dark days when we left therapy and I felt shattered. I won’t say that our sex life has returned yet, either; it’s been two years since we last had sex, which was very infrequent before that.
BUT I want to stress that therapy has helped us find ways to give each other strength, and to keep reaching towards each other. If you have been in my situation, I would strongly recommend specifically finding a sex therapist who uses cognitive behavioral therapy. Though it has been useful to talk about our feelings and figure out how to communicate better (like, actually communicate), it has been even more important that our therapist gave us intimacy-building homework exercises (as well as doing these exercises during a session).
I have also figured out one very important thing: though I still fiercely love my husband, and obviously am committed to him, I have also made the choice to love and care for myself. I do not mean seeking sex outside the marriage… I mean that I make a point every day to try to take care of myself — getting enough sleep, eating healthy food, painting my nails, taking a walk, going out with friends. Instead of being sad because I miss being touched by my partner, I try to tell myself why I am awesome and deserve to be love and cherished. This has made me free in a way that I had not imagined.
But above all, fellow readers, I have a lot of hope for the future. We are making more lifestyle changes, with the support and guidance of our therapist. Obviously I hope that he figures his shit out and realizes how amazing his partner is (and truly, I have put up with a lot of crap), but I am taking care of myself and preparing to live my best life without him if he chooses otherwise.
I hope that we all find our happiness, whether it is with ourselves or with our partners.
Anyone else with advice or similar stories?