Friday 9 December 2016

How can I get my marriage back on track after blazing row over lack of sex life?

Orla Barry

Published 15/11/2011 | 06:00

I haven't had sex with my husband for months. Nothing in particular happened -- we just seemed too busy and then too tired. I was a little relieved because I've been pretty exhausted between my kids and work.

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Anyway, he brought it up the other night and said he was seriously worried about our sex life and what had become of it. We ended up having a huge fight.

In the early years we were all over each other but you know the way it goes. He said he's worried that our desire for each other has gone. Then he went on to suggest trying out some new stuff. He told me he had talked to a friend who had a similar problem and they had bought adult videos to watch together. I was shocked. Most of all though I'm hurt to think he considers our desire has gone because we haven't had sex.

I have no doubt that I love him but physically sex just seems like too much work when all you're craving is sleep. I told him he had shown no interest in sex either and he said it was because I was always tired. I didn't realise it had been so long but he remembers exactly the last time we were together. He went on to tell me was out with that same friend one night and he felt tempted by the women there. I felt sick to my stomach. Now I don't remotely feel like being intimate with him. All I can think is that he no longer desires me and is considering cheating.

We haven't been speaking properly for the last few days and the girls are starting to ask what's wrong. One of the nights he stayed out late with work colleagues and I worry about what might be going on. This whole thing seems to have escalated into something else and now I don't know how to sort it out.

You're right. This thing has escalated into something much bigger and you need to tackle it immediately before it festers any longer.

Don't underestimate the impact an absent sex life can have on someone. It can lead to all sorts of conclusions and often totally incorrect ones. It's time to have a serious chat.

Sexual desire varies radically between one person and the next and it alters naturally over our lifetime. It makes perfect sense that you have little desire for intercourse when you're exhausted, raising a family and holding down a job.

Stress is a wonderful passion-killer. That said it can be just the way to unwind. The problems start when you don't address why it's not happening and just allow things to drift on.

Your email is a good example of how desire can differ between men and women. It is difficult to demand greater physical intimacy when your spouse is clearly wiped out and I'm sure his desire dissipated pretty rapidly when he saw just how tired you were.

The values we attach to sex are also crucial. A relationship without any sex might be inconceivable for some. On the other hand there are many who would and do live contentedly with a partner in a relationship that no longer involves intercourse.

It works when both partners are honest about what they want. In many marriages it's not a subject that initially comes up for discussion. As you pointed out, in the early days it's usually not an issue. When children, jobs and life's worries kick in, it's harder to remind yourself of those earlier times.

Now that this has happened, however, it's a good opportunity to start addressing what's been going on. Let's begin with you. Being exhausted makes sense but are there things you can do to give yourself a break. Do you take time out just for yourself and for both of you together?

It might seem a luxury that you can't afford but your mental and physical health need to be carefully minded. Being exhausted all the time is not an acceptable condition to be in for long periods.

Yoga experts, meditation or mindfulness advocates will all tell you the benefit that you can derive mentally and physically from even 10 minutes of any de-stressing practice a day.

We all convince ourselves that we don't have the time but think of how easily we all waste so much time during each day. Have a look around the internet or on local notice boards and check whether there is an activity you can start that is just for you, with the aim of lowering stress levels and raising energy.

Confronting the row and the reasons for the argument are crucial. Clearly it's been simmering for some time and I imagine nasty things were said on both sides that hurt. See if you can take it out of the home altogether for an evening.

Arrange to meet your husband for a drink or dinner and begin not by raking over what was said but the reason that everything blew up in the first place. It's clear now that the absence of sex did and does bother your husband, more than it does you. It is part of his life and he worries that it's not happening anymore.

To help your marriage to work, this is a matter you need to tackle. You may not feel in the mood but any sex expert will tell you, the more sex you have the more you desire. Because you have gotten out of the habit doesn't mean the desire isn't there, simply that it needs to be stoked again.

Many closely link sex with love, and see the absence of sex as a sign that love has also faded. Your husband may have misread your signals and seen your lack of interest in sex as being your lack of interest in him.

His suggestion that your desire for each other may have disappeared could be a call-out for some affection from you. After all, he followed this with a comment about pepping up your sex life. Sex is important to your husband but it's sex with you that is fundamentally important to him. In his own way he was looking for a solution to all this.

It's tough to know our partners are speaking to friends about intimate matters involving our relationships. Be thankful though that he is.

Many men will chat to no one about it and allow it to worry away at them. It's quite refreshing to know that he is seeking advice from a close friend on sexual matters.

What your husband suggested doesn't seem particularly radical and I'm not sure if that's what shocked you. Anyway, doing as his friend suggested might be a fun and novel way to approach things.

It might do no harm to take a totally different approach and let yourselves enjoy what happens. We all fall into routines in life and routine can kill desire. You haven't had sex in months, so what have you got to lose?

Relationships are work and sometimes it feels like a real effort but usually the greater the effort the more satisfying the result. I suspect he mentioned feeling tempted to let you know just how lost he has been feeling. We all feel tempted from time to time, but the fact is he didn't act on it.

Now it's up to both of you to take your relationship by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shake.

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