One woman answers the question: should I stay in a marriage without chemistry?

Updated Nov 18 2019
Guest post by Alex
Divorced AF glass available here.

I wrote the Offbeat Home post I'm not attracted to my husband: Marriage without chemistry? in 2013. [One of the most popular posts on Offbeat Home & Life, of all time. -Ed] After 6 years of working on myself, finding myself, and trying to do absolutely everything I could to save the marriage… I finally had the strength to call it quits.

I spent years researching, years in therapy, years working on past issues, and years meditating… but unfortunately still had no feelings what so ever for my husband.

I also realized that he was NEVER going to change, and NEVER going to work on the marriage. With all the personal development I had done, I feel like I outgrew him in the end.

Some of the key factors in my decision were also that we all moved back to my home in New Zealand, where we have the financial support to live separately.

Also, me learning to love myself enough to know that I can be loved by someone else and love back.

Most of all, I learned that a marriage ending does NOT necessarily mean you are tearing your children's lives apart. With love, respect, and influence, your children do not have to suffer ongoing trauma from a marriage ending!

I actually couldn't believe how many people made it into such a bloody negative thing and how so many articles said that staying together for the children (despite your own unhappiness) is the best thing to do.

Well, sorry but I think that's completely wrong! My children are thriving. They have two parents who adore them and co-parent completely amicably, we still do things together and everyone is happier.

When you dig a bit deeper into the research, you will find that most children bounce back with minimal damage as long as their NEEDS ARE MET. This can be done as a couple or separately! Do everything you can to try saving things, but if it ain't working, it ain't working.

You can't force yourself to love someone, you shouldn't stay in a marriage just because that's the person you married! People change.

It takes both sides to make it work. If one person is putting all the work in and other one isn't, it's move on. It is NOT unrealistic to want love and to be in love! What a load of garbage that is! I think people who think that's unrealistic obviously don't have very much self-worth.

I want a great love, that goes on forever. Of course passion and chemistry will fade, but when both people work on a marriage, your love can last.

I have now seen it first hand. You just have to meet the right person. So if love like this is important to you, don't give up hope.

If you're dealing with similar challenges in your relationship, here area few books that may help you in your process:

  1. YES YES YES to Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay! I went through something very similar to the the author and I found this book to be the most helpful in my journey. I hadn't read the others, I'm sure they're very good too, but I think Too Good to Leave… is essential reading for someone who is struggling with leaving. Love and prayers for everyone who needs books like this – it's heart-breakingly hard, but you're not alone!

  2. Agree on this so hard. My parents stayed together for me and it was so hard seeing them unhappy for a very long time instead of going all in with new partners.
    People change and that's OK!

  3. So I'm going through the thick of it right now. Every single thing the author mentioned is what my current state is and truthfully has always been. We've been married for 10 years. Together for 15 and have 3 young children. I don't want to be touched by him but I do love him. We operate very well as friends and poorly when it comes to intimacy. No chemistry from my part and I can date that back to 6 months after dating.

    I thought it was a libido issue but I crave sex. Just not from him. So hard to even have the convo with him. I'm seeing a therapist for the first time this Saturday. I really don't know where we will end up but I know things can't stay the same.

    I'm going to look into the books mentioned as well. Glad to know I'm not alone. All the fears of what can happen if I do leave haunts me just as much as if I do stay….

  4. This article and your first one on the subject really resonated with me in every way. I'm struggling still with should I leave or stay because he is a good man, but chemistry is no existent and always has been. sexless relationship since we met. I'm going to check out the books you mentioned and focus on me. We did therapy but still not changes.

  5. First thank you for sharing your experience and for posting an update. I identified with your post completely. I'm going through the same thing and feel so very alone in this. I see a therapist but ultimately I know I have to be the one to decide what to do. I have an 8 year old daughter who is very attached to her father and for now I've chosen to place her needs above my own.

    For years I haven't even wanted to admit to myself what I'm really feeling but then my head was turned by someone else. We became friends and though it never materialized into a physical affair, in many ways it would qualify as an emotional affair. Someone that felt like a soul mate; but that's neither here nor there as it will never progress further.

    The truth that is so difficult and guilt-inducing to admit is that I'm not at all attracted to my husband and I am not sure that I ever really was. I'm confused now (13 years after getting married) how I convinced myself it was the right move. We never had chemistry or passion. We had friendship and I convinced myself that this was enough. And perhaps it is for some, I thought it would be for me and it turns out it isn't.

    Adding insult to injury- we no longer feel like friends. We argue a lot. We both feel disconnected and disrespected from each other. I'm happier when he goes on business trips and I don't have to act. It feels like we don't have any overlapping interests at all. So talking with him is a struggle b/c we can't just have those great conversations I crave.

    We have sex maybe 5 times a year at this point……And yet even saying all these things aloud (and to my therapist as well) and I still know I don't have the courage to leave. I'm too scared of what would be around the corner – a child who despises me for breaking up our home… challenges….and possibly being alone forever.

    I commend you for doing the work, sharing your story and having the fortitude to move on with your life. Best of luck. M

    • Mathilda you are certainly not alone, in fact we are living the same story! We married 13yrs ago, together 17!!! I have never really felt a physical attraction to him, however he is a good looking man. I allowed our relationship fully aware that it probably wasn't going to get better, however he is such a good man. Our child is 11yrs old & he is a fantastic father.

      our sex life has always been terrible, even from the beginning, I thought I could deal with it but I can no longer pretend. We have not had sex in 8 YEARS!!! We are both very physically fit & healthy, in great shape & very attractive people. It's been so difficult.

      I saw a Psychic who said I was so stuck & actually told me to leave my husband as my soulmate was waiting. I knew who this 'soulmate' was & I am very attracted to this man to the point I asked for a separation from my husband & he has been very supportive, moving to the spare room etc. Nothing has happened with this other person & I don't know if it will …

      I have started meditation & going very deep internally, seeking answers, I am terrified of leaving but feel equally as terrified to stay. As I write this, I know what to do but it doesn't make it any easier. Good luck.

  6. I have read my life story. I’m having an extremely hard time deciding whether to leave or stay. My husband and I have been together for 18years and married for 17. He is a great friend, awesome dad and wonderful provider but I am not sexually attracted to him and never been. We have been arguing about sex our entire relationship and though I don’t want to hurt his feelings I’ve come to accept I can’t force myself to make love to him. I squirm and feel agitated every time he touch me and it’s not fair to him. I too thought it was my libido but I got honest with myself because I still crave sex just not with him.
    Feeling Hopeless,
    N. Smith

  7. Wow, could have written this myself, and all the comments resonate with me also. So surprising that this is not something talked about more, as clearly it is not an uncommon situation. I have never thought sex was an essential part of a fulfilling life for me, and thought that partnership, security etc… could be enough. Unfortunately, my husband does not feel that way, and has been rejected by me (and hurt by it ) for the majority of our marriage. It’s difficult to try and force yourself to be intimate with someone out of pity or kindness, and resentment builds easily. As I enter a different phase of life where I can focus on my own needs more, it has become clear to me that I can be attracted to someone sexually, but not to the man I married. It’s hard to think about leaving, when there are so many other great aspects of the partnership. In a way , having discreet affairs feels kinder than leaving a good man simply because I am not attracted to him in the way he needs and wants. Maybe if one is fulfilled sexually elsewhere it’s possible to ‘go along with it’ when needed at home to keep the peace? Hoping to find some clarity through therapy and reading, thank you for book recommendations!

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