Patricia Redlich

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sexless Marriage

18th October, 2009

It's Monday morning and I am off to work after another sexless weekend in an almost sexless marriage. For the past two years I've suffered serious depression because of this. My mood is constant anger. And to-day I will likely have an argument/blow-up with someone in my office. This is me who used to be the most calm, care-free individual you could meet. And this is work, which is a welcome distraction from the stresses of life because I'm so into my job.

I am 41 years old, married for 14 years, with a beautiful and attractive wife who very clearly has no feelings for me - physical anyway. We go to bed, turn our backs to each other and sleep - well I try, but can't sleep properly because of the anxious, negative thoughts. What really gets me is the why?

Imagine the feelings if someone you love, who used to be your enthusiastic physical and emotional partner, just looses all interest, with no explanation. I have tried to initiate conversations on this, but the subject is always swiftly changed to very important issues like her brother's upcoming graduation. I have about ten probable answers as to why all this is happening, some of them ridiculous, which go round and round in my head, driving me insane. It has made me distrustful, sensitive and basically in bad form. I range from thinking that she longs for a former lover, who is still in our broad social circle, but won't leave me because of the kids, right through to thinking that perhaps she's having a lesbian affair.

My approach in trying to address all this varies - from staying upbeat in the hope that I might get lucky, to giving up and just going to bed and keeping my mouth shut and trying to sleep. Neither approach works. I went to counselling last year but I'm not going back. I was talking to the wrong person.

Every couple of months we get together, but I know her heart isn't in it. It's just to please me. I appreciate that this is a common problem, but what is the answer? Where can I turn?

You are dodging confrontation. No, I don't mean a screaming match, I mean a truthful conversation. You don't actually want to hear what your wife has to say. I'd say you're scared, which is entirely understandable. But you're not just fearful about what you'll hear. The real terror lies in the decisions you will have to make when you hear the truth. What will you do if she confirms she longs for an earlier lover? Or that she is, indeed, engaged in a lesbian love affair? How will you proceed if she simply says all sexual desire has vanished? What to do is truly the question, and one you don't wish to face.

Instead you're angry all the time, taunt yourself with painful fantasies, have difficulty sleeping, and mess up the really good part of your life which is your job. And yes, you're right. In counselling you were talking to the wrong person. It was just another way of dodging confrontation. Except, perhaps, in counselling you might have explored your reluctance to hear the truth, talked about your terror, and garnered courage to do what you have to do - namely sit down with your wife and do some straight talking.

It's not just fear which stays your hand. It's hope. You hope your wife will miraculously return to the old sexy togetherness. You feel that if only you could manage yourself, find the right strategy for negotiating this painful period, somehow all might yet come right. It won't, for two reasons. It's not possible to stay upbeat, laid-back, accepting and cool, when you don't know what's going on. I mean if your wife had terminal cancer, you'd manage the sexual frustration just fine. But you don't know whether you are being two-timed, treated with contempt, or worse, indifference, no longer loved perhaps, or simply shut out of something which is going on in your wife's head. So you're angry, down, and undoubtedly often difficult to live with - which at the very least compounds the problem. Secondly, by staying silent you are colluding with your wife, telling her, in effect, that it's alright to shut you out. And that, too, perpetuates the problem. Don't you see?

You are allowing yourself to be treated badly by your wife. Nothing is actually worse than that, because therein lies no dignity, no self-respect, no hope of happiness. I understand you're scared you may have to make a stand, and then lose her, the kids, the house, the whole package. But that is an end-scenario, the ultimate nightmare, which you face, quickly, and then set aside. There are a thousand steps in-between, none of which you can take until you sit your wife down and insist on hearing what is really going on.

You ask me where you can turn to. The only answer is to her.
Irish based professional therapist and journalist. Website By : Deise Design