I have been married for over 17 years, and we have a beautiful 9 year old girl and a 13 year old boy. My wife has refused me sex for the past year and I’m getting to the point where we’ve moved past “annoyance” to “real problem.” I work long hours and travel, but I also make time for family. For example, we rent a ski condo every year, we go out to dinner pretty much every Friday and Saturday night, and I buy her flowers. I’ve also recently created a date night for us and I ask her what I can do to be a better husband. I’ve also studied the female orgasm and I know that she did orgasm when we used to have sex. I’m fit and run 5 miles every day.
what do you do here? Part of me thinks it’s just very normal for a woman’s sex drive to just shut down after being married for a long time. But what I’ve been thinking about is does this mean no sex for me for the rest of my life? And Jesus and God obviously oppose divorce but a loving father I would think could also see my point of view, right? How could He hold it as a sin to get a divorce when I’m being denied sex?
i almost feel like she is a spoiled child. We live in the most expensive town in the state and all I ever hear from her is how she wants a bigger house, she wants to do a renovation, she wants a Range Rover… it’s never ending the list of demands and my reward is basically feeling completely alone and trapped in a sexless marriage? And why is it ALWAYs the guys fault?
I’ll answer as a former gatekeeper/avoider, where I was begrudgingly having sex every 7-9 days. This almost always is pointing to deeper issues. I always had orgasms when having sex, but not because I was into the sex, but because I felt pressured by my husband and so I would disassociate and use fantasy to have an orgasm. My husband rushed me too much, touched me too roughly, didn’t spend enough time teasing and getting me aroused.
The biggest disconnect with me was my husband’s gatekeeping/avoiding emotional and spiritual intimacy, which made me resentful of sex and I felt like a prostitute. I also had abuse and assault in the past that hadn’t been dealt with. I would HIGHLY recommend a good counselor who can help you can get to the real issues. Please be willing to deal with your stuff as well.
Don’t settle and don’t leave it to continue to fester.
I’ve seen so many different reasons this might happen, and the husband could be anywhere from 0.5 – 90 % at fault. Best anyway not to worry about blame and just identify and work on the solution. Since we don’t know what the problem is, any advice is a shot in the dark. Because the problem seems to be a sudden change, I think Seeking Change is on the right track to try to look at what happened. It would be good to check hormones. Is there the possibility that she got hurt by something and hasn’t told you. Did she start on a new medication, start hanging out with a new friend, etc. I even saw a story once where the wife had a one-night-stand and then felt so guilty about it she shut down sexually with her husband. Once the secret came out and she was repentant and he was understanding, their marriage was restored and their sex life got back to normal. I doubt that’s your issue, but I’m just bringing it up to highlight the point that we here can only guess.
Seek understanding like Seeking Change recommended, and seek counseling like Wheat48 recommended. I’ll add: try to get a Gottman certified therapist if there is one near you, and don’t give up or settle but don’t be angry or pushy either or you’ll make it worse.
Edited to add: don’t jump through hoops trying to earn your way in the bedroom. That is not conducive to feelings of respect.
Have you two been able to talk about why there was a change? Did something happen around her beginning of refusal? Even if you can’t think of anything, has she been asked? Anything stressful happen around a year ago? Will she open up and talk?
How old is your wife? Is there a chance she could be hitting perimenopause, where hormone changes could be affecting her libido negatively?
“we go out to dinner, talk and laugh”
That’s an ideal time to take her hand (or not, if that’s part of the struggle), look her in the eye, and in a calm, level, friendly tone of voice say: “Hey, so, I wanted to ask you something. You know we haven’t had sex in a while, and I just wondered if we could talk about why? Can you tell me how you would feel if I suggested we do that tonight? I’d really like to understand and want you to feel good about experiencing that with me again.” (The exact words aren’t what matter; I just mean to try to get those points across to her in some way–that you are asking because you want to understand her and for her to feel good about it.
Maybe she won’t give you any usable answers…but maybe she will. You won’t know unless you try, and a moment when you are comfortable with each other is a good place to start.
Based on your brief description of your marriage, family, health/fitness, education, financial situation, career, and to some extent the things that matter to you and your wife, I’m struck by a sense of drivenness – both you (work hard and make a lot of money) and your wife (enough is not enough and status is very important).
Interestingly, you haven’t shared much about your or your wife’s faith walk, faith community/church, and friendships/relationships, it seems that there is ‘something’ wedging itself into your husband/wife relationship. Hmm?
You have shared that she is refusing you – that’s a decision based on ‘something.’ You indicated that she blames you for ‘something(s).’ Your situation seems puzzling – no sex for over a year and then duty sex that satisfies you for this moment. There is ‘something’ about how you (fail to) communicate with each other.
Do you know or have a hunch about what that ‘something’ or ‘somethings’ may be?
Sir, do you want me to lay out my qualifications since I too was a former sexual refuser and gatekeeper…for basically the first 18 1/2 years of marriage? We too went over a year of zero sex, or sexual touch. I was fine to “never have sex again.” I actually wished my husband would have an affair so we could Biblically divorce, and I still be “in the right.” I had a pretty radical transformation, too long to go in here, although it is very well documented on the former TMB site, but trust me, I try to live generously for my husband, and I have enough experience to know just a little of what I am talking about.
I am sure you are hurting, and it’s blinding you to reason. But, if you act and have this attitude in your marriage, when you are trashing basic, healthy communication, it shows your own immaturity and why your relationship has some problems.
May the Lord help you.
Hi…you stated that she was Japanese by reference with the sentence “I speak English not Japanese.”
I’m sure there are cultural issues there.
Have you identified any of those and do you think they are part of the challenge as well? Have you considered learning Japanese so she can communicate more deeply with you?
Also, what is your prayer life like? Do you take her to the throne of grace daily? Do you pray for her to grow in Christ? Have you taken your complaints and concerns to the Lord first before coming here?
That sounds like a positive sign.
Is your job a factor? You say that you travel and work long hours – does she maybe want you to reduce your hours so you can spend more time together? Also, if she’s not working, what else does she do? Maybe she’s unhappy and feels unfulfilled and/or lonely.
You clearly love your wife and family and provide for them very well materially, but maybe what’s lacking is something that money can’t buy?
I’m 47 and she is 45. We are both fit. I like Wheat48’s response, since it is coming from a woman who was a refuser. It seems like yeah there is more emotional stuff there and she’s like angry or resentful towards me. I respect her and she has her MBA but she doesnt have to work and I make a lot of money and I travel so it’s almost as if she feels inferior to me and she hates me because she depends on me for the house and paying the bills and everything. The “sex shut down” is also kind of a “communication” shut down too. As a guy I am straight forward and I speak English not Japanese. I ask her, what can I do to be a better husband? She says respect my dreams to buy or build a bigger house. Our current house costs $1 million and we have no mortgage and we have no debt. The next house size up is at least another $800k. WTF? So fine I listen to her but she doesn’t work and I need to get the college tuition thing taken care of too. Any rational normal human being I think can see my POV. She says take the dogs for a walk every night, so I start doing that. Sorry to complain here but as a former refuser it’s like I need to play this emotional cat and mouse game where I like have to figure out how to speak Japanese female to get her to open up? Any women have any thoughts?