Style Sex & Relationships

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Dear Mary: After 20 years together my wife is now refusing to sleep with me

My marriage is slowly ending and I seem powerless to do anything about it. I have been 20 years married to my childhood sweetheart, we have a 22-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son, and outwardly we look like the perfect family.

About six months ago, my wife told me that she wasn't going to sleep with me any more. At the time, I actually laughed because our love-making was practically non-existent anyway, but I am not laughing now. It's one thing to have a very poor love life, but it is quite different to come to the realisation that unless I cheat, I will never have sex again. I am only 40 years old, after all.

Lately, I feel more and more that I should just leave her, but financially we are way under water and it takes both our wages to pay our way, so it would mean me going back to my mother's house to live like a loser. Anyway, apart from sex, I love everything about my life -- my wife, my kids, my home and my social life.

She says that she loves me, that she finds me attractive and that there is nothing that she wants me to change, but she does not want to have sex and if I pressurise her it will only make her hate me -- which is the last thing I want. But now that I know her feelings, if she asked me to sleep with her tomorrow I would say no.

I feel embarrassed that I would even think about breaking up a family over what is no more than an animal instinct. I should be above this. I am so angry because I feel she is getting what she enjoys most out of the marriage -- a great social life -- yet I am made feel like a dirty old man for wanting my wife.

If our friends knew our bedroom situation they would be amazed because when we are out she is so affectionate, she holds my hand, sits close to me and is very quick to mark her territory if I pay any woman too much attention. Everyone thinks we are like little lovebirds, our families included; I can't face telling anybody the truth.

I feel I have only two options: one is to leave and go from seeing my kids every day to maybe having them blame me for the split and refuse to see me. I couldn't tell them the truth. The second is to stay and get revenge by refusing to go on social outings because I know that she loves them.

But if I go that route I know there is nothing in it for me but rows and stress for all the family, which may end in her asking me to leave. Even knowing that, I can't see me making a clean break. Is there any point in counselling?

Mary replies:

ONE of the most frequently asked questions is what is 'normal' for couples with respect to the frequency of their sexual lives. This can vary, but the average is twice a week in a long-term relationship. People very often have a lot of sex at the beginning of a relationship -- what is referred to as the 'bunny' phase -- but after a few years this changes and the couple settle into what will become the norm for them.

What happens between a couple is nobody's business but their own, and if they only have sex once a year that is absolutely fine, providing they are both happy. This is patently not the case with you. I don't agree with you that sex is no more than an animal instinct. Of course it can be purely a transaction between two people, but in a loving relationship it has the advantage of being both a physical and an emotional experience, and helps to strengthen the relationship and make the couple feel closer.

In your situation, this means that you will find yourself having to work harder at making the relationship work, and already you are getting angry and contemplating different courses of action.

Yes, the option of counselling is open to you, but it is extremely unlikely that your wife will agree to it, as she appears to be happy with things as they are. Has she any idea as to how unhappy you are and does she know that you are even vaguely thinking of leaving? If not, then you should tell her.

There is, however, something missing from your letter -- you don't give the reason she gave you for her decision. She doesn't want you to change anything, and yet she has changed everything. I would like to know if she has gone off sex altogether, or if it is only sex with you that is a problem for her.

That answer will tell a lot. If it is sex in general then she should see her doctor and have her hormone levels checked. If it is only with you then there must be a reason, and you deserve to know that reason. You had your daughter two years before you got married when you were very young. Perhaps she felt that she had to marry you as you were the father, and now that your daughter is raised she may resent having been tied down at an early age. Only she can supply the answers to all these questions.

I also have to ask if it might be possible that there is somebody else in her life. This may sound alarmist to you and may well add to your anxieties, but it has to be asked.

Sunday Indo Living

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