Style Sex & Relationships

Friday 17 January 2020

Dear Mary: I want a baby but we are not even having sex anymore

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Illustration: Tom Halliday

Mary O'Conor

Last year I got married to a guy I met on a dating site. We dated for a year and then moved in together and two years later we got married. He had a property which he sold so that we could get a house. We got a small pet, to practise having something to take care of in preparation for us having a baby.

I recently got laid off and started applying for admin jobs. I don't ever have a big pay cheque and my husband makes more than I do. We share expenses but he always complains about how I spend my money - I am an impulsive buyer.

Anyhow, the real problem is we have not made love for the past few months - only twice after our wedding. I am in my late 30s and I worry that I won't be able to have babies if I don't get pregnant in 2020. Not being able to have a baby when all my siblings have kids would be devastating.

I tried talking to my husband about us having a baby. Even monitoring my fertile phase and initiating sex on those days doesn't work. He is either tired or just plain uninterested since he has a hard time having erections. He just turned 41. He went to the doctor and all the test results came back negative. We tried Viagra but it's really not that pleasurable.

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Sex with him is the worst I have ever had as he doesn't seem to know where my vagina is! I always initiate the sex, and I feel that he isn't attracted to me anymore. He doesn't look at me with loving eyes any more and when we fight, we don't talk for a few days and he sleeps in another room.

I am from Asia and have very strong morals, and divorce is out of the question. I am unhappy in terms of my sex life, but I love him because he is kind and has good morals.

When we fight, he blames me for all his debt and for him being depressed. He says he didn't really want to get married and he doesn't care if I leave him. Even if I wanted to move out, I don't have enough money to live on my own or any savings.

If I was only in my 20s I would definitely leave him and find someone who actually wanted to have kids. But to start dating again at this age, get married and have kids is impossible.

However, I am still hopeful that we could work this marriage out, and I know deep down that both of us want to make it work. Part of the problem is our financial status. The house we bought was over our budget but it is in a great location.

What should I do?

Mary replies: There are two very important points for you to bear in mind. Firstly, if a relationship is not good enough, then you cannot expect that your sex life will be good. Secondly, if a man is having difficulty in getting erections, even if the relationship is going well, he will not look forward to having sex and will in most cases try to avoid it.

Financial worries are a common cause of discontent among couples. You currently have no job and so are not contributing to the family finances, so this puts pressure on your husband to keep everything going.

It is good that you are looking for work, but in the meantime you should emphasise to your husband that you will not do any impulsive buying and that you appreciate how difficult things are for him being the sole wage earner.

You seem to have dismissed using medication such as Viagra on the basis that it was not pleasurable. I feel you should reconsider this. While your husband is having erectile difficulties, then surely it would be very reassuring for him to know that he can rely on getting an erection, particularly during your fertile period.

Most couples will admit that trying for a baby takes away a lot of the spontaneity and fun from their lovemaking, particularly if they are trying for a protracted period. So any help you can get to make it as stress-free as possible would be a good thing.

Regarding his being unsure of your way around his body, he obviously isn't as experienced as you are. (You mention your ex-boyfriend in your long email). And if you are thinking this is the worst sex you have ever had, you are surely going to transmit this to him, if only at an unconscious level. So please give some thought as to how you could make things more pleasurable for him by building up his confidence.

I am reluctant to suggest counselling, as money is an issue. Instead, I recommend that you have a conversation with him, ask what he feels you can both do to make the relationship better, explain how you feel regarding having a family and make sure that you are both in agreement about this. Because above all, for anything to work the relationship has to be in a good place - and it doesn't sound too healthy to me right now.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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