Lack of Sex and Intimacy is Making Me Consider Leaving

Hi,

First post – found this site online while soul searching for guidance on how I want to proceed in my marriage. Reading some of these other posts makes me realize I have an overall good situation, but an ongoing lack of affection and sex has pushed me to the point where I find myself asking, “with only one life to live, is it really worth staying?”

Been married for over twenty years – I have a high libido, she has a low one. It’s been a constant (and really only) source of stress on our relationship. We’re both in our late 40’s, she hasn’t started menopause but her overall interest in sex continues to decline. After years of hearing “not tonight,” it’s hard not to take it personally.

My main frustration is that she won’t follow-through on the agreements we make together. We’ll have tense conversations - aka “the sex talk,” and try to come to some agreements – and in doing so I’ve made major concessions. We’re down to maybe a little more than once a month, but she won’t have sex at night (too tired) or when our teenage kids are in the house. But, there are times when she’ll say, “how about tomorrow night?” and then when I’m looking forward to it, she’ll just go to bed without even acknowledging we were supposed to be together. I cannot understate how years of this behavior have been enormously hurtful, I could not feel like a lower priority to her.

One of her complaints is that she feels gross because she’s gained 20-30 pounds since we married, but I’m never critical of her appearance, the only thing I ever say is how beautiful or sexy I find her, which is true. Even after all out time together I think she’s the hottest woman on the planet, I love those curves! I’m basically the same weight I was when we got married and am in pretty decent shape, I exercise regularly.

She was a stay at home Mom for most of the kid raising, for which I am deeply appreciative – she’s gone back to work part time and it’s been a stressful situation so I’ve offered for her to quit and find something else. I have a well paying job and we’re financially secure – my job is stressful for sure but things have calmed down on that front. I’ve gone so far to suggest that if she wants she can quit and spend time on things she needs for herself – hitting the gym etc.

I try to be a good partner at home. I cook dinners, help clean up, and have always been involved in our kid’s activities – I understand the idea of being a good partner and I appreciate the concept of long form seduction. I spend time talking with her about her day etc. because I’m genuinely interested in spending time with her. She’s a great partner in most things but has never taken any initiative to try and improve things in the bedroom – very little energy or interest. And, she’s never taken any steps to try and improve the situation, medically, therapy etc. Nor has she made any requests of me – I would literally do anything she wanted to help improve things.

But I’m also at the point where lack of sex and affection is really dragging down my overall life satisfaction, and I only have one life to live. Part of my frustration is my belief that she views the situation as low risk, she knows I won’t disrespect her or our marriage by cheating – I’ve had opportunities through work for sure but would never act on them, and if I were to end up leaving I would want to do so honorably for the sake of all involved.

I’m not a yeller, don’t break things, don’t play video games all night, I’m not an alcoholic etc. – looking at some of these other posts seems like I have things pretty good, even volume wise by comparison. But, I don’t want a roommate, I want a lover, and her complete lack of interest in working on this space, and her continued lack of follow-through on the commitments she makes truly makes me feel disrespected and deeply hurt. The idea of being with somebody who is affectionate and actually into sex seems like mind-blowing opportunity to improve my overall satisfaction in life. My wife has said she has no fantasies, so the opportunity of being with somebody who says, “would you be willing to do XXXX” sounds so exciting, because whatever XXXX is, you can damn well bet I’d be willing to do it - the idea of being asked to fulfill a fantasy is actually a fantasy itself.

This sucks – tough situation when overall things are really good but there’s a significant problem in one area, and that area is really only important for one of you. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve genuinely started to question my resolve to stay married, even though I’d probably be a disaster on the dating front, being that I’m close to thirty years out of practice.

Ongoing rejection really hurts, and it’s been enough to degrade what is otherwise a great relationship. If you are the low drive spouse or otherwise worked through this situation, any advice would be appreciated, including how you know when it’s time to cut and run.

I’m in a similar situation though for me, My wife is sick and cannot be conjugal.
Its killing me. In every other way I’m satisfied with the relationship. But she doesn’t seem to understand that 2 years without sex for a man under 30 is a hurtful thing.
There doesn’t seem to be any help out there for men either. We’re just supposed to deal.

If you’re financially secure, you should go to counseling. Even if she wont go, you should go and see if you can get her to go with you.

Good luck man. I’ll be praying for you, I dont know how you’ve held up. But God speed.

She’s taking you for a rde mate and probably has had sex with others outside your marriage. One piece of advise is that women do not express their true feelings when it comes to sex. She probably doesn’t want to have sex with you because she had it with someone else and now is not interested in having it with you. If I was you I, d find a girlfriend and enjoy your life. If you try to fix it you will only be disappointed and she will find a guy and have sex with him everyday so please don’t beat yourself over it get rid of her and enjoy your life.

A few months ago I probably wouldnt have understood your point of view but since a dramatic shift in our lives that has forced my husband and I to live apart for a while- you are going through the exact thing my husband was experiencing with me. Since living several hours a part we’ve had time to get out of the monotony of our relationship.

First understand that your wife is the type of woman that needs to have her mind, body, and emotions in alignment to “want” sex. Sex now is more like a chore. Under stress she cant clear her head enough to even remotely feel sexy. When a woman isnt feeling sexy to herself those juices arent going to flow.

She may also feel guilty and resentful all in one. I know id look at my husband in irritation thinking how dare he: dont he see me going to work, coming home to care for the kids, cook, clean, do the bills, be his personal assistant, be a support system for others etc and he have the audacity to squeeze my boob and offer his penis to me like a prize.

There were other times id promise to do it and really want to but i get side tracked, overwhelmed, and overworked.

Im sure its nit tht she doesnt want to be with you- she just has a lot of stuff rolling through her head all the time. She needs a serious break away from everything to disconnect emotionally in order to have time to let go, refocus, and live again.

Help her that way first. When she feels alive her libido will pick up and i gurantee the sexual encounters will pick up too.

I know you posted this a while ago. I’m just wondering where you are in your relationship now and your decision on whether to stay or leave. I am in your situation but I am the female and my husband has no sex drive. Your words literally felt like they could have come from my heart. Thank you for posting although I am not sure you got much help from the responses. You did help me to at least not feel alone or feel badly for contemplating leaving my husband.

I appreciate the responses.

Ultimately, I’m not optimistic about the future and have started to come to the conclusion that practically speaking an open marriage or affair may be the best solution – and this is coming from somebody who never cheated, even back in my high school girlfriend days. Why should I have to choose between my kids/home life and a fun sex life?

My wife ended up quitting her job, that helped reduce some stress. Both our kids are now driving, so the idea that she’s somehow overwhelmed with house related activities is a false narrative, she probably has 4-5 hours of free time every work day. She’s busy, but she’s trying to make design decisions around the house. At the same time, I’m entering a new higher profile job at work – Director level for a billion-dollar software company, and I’m definitely feeling the additional stress. It would be such a tremendous lift to me to have a relationship that was playful, sexual, and fun – it would be amazing to feel desired, and/or reciprocate and be able to make somebody else feel good. The idea of being able to fulfill my partner’s fantasy and have them really excited sounds intoxicating. That’s the funny thing, given the option I would probably be more excited to GIVE than receive pleasure (I’d put myself out on the market as somebody willing to try just about anything).

I’ve done a lot of soul searching and reading over the past couple of years, I’ve come to the conclusion the libido difference might be unsolvable in many cases. I think there is a base disconnect between partners when it comes to comprehending sexual desire – for those with a high drive it’s a very primal need. Those with the low drive only have things they care about as a point of reference, but the intensity of their non-sexual desires never measure up to what the high drive spouse is feeling, so they can never close the gap in understanding – it’s always, “geez, what’s the big deal? I don’t get so riled up when I can’t do the things I want to do.” One recent example of this is when she accused me of “laying it on thick and acting so happy” after we had a good night of sex together – whatever she was seeing in my happiness the next day was genuine I wasn’t purposefully acting any different, she just couldn’t grasp that it would matter so much.

I’m just about done trying to negotiate an engagement model because she has to be poked and prodded to follow through or just blows it off. For me, it’s barely about the sex anymore, every time it’s, “let’s spend some time together tomorrow,” and then tomorrow comes and she forgets, it’s a gut-punch and it really hurts. Her response to that is sometimes, “I hate the pressure of having to deliver on those promises,” my solution to that is for her not to agree with them in the first place.

At this point I’m truly resentful of the power dynamic – she holds all the cards and controls the narrative for something she doesn’t care about. Her desire is to transition to us having less and less sex, she said she likes hanging out and watching TV instead. I know a big part of the issue is her self-esteem, she self-identifies as being 30-40 pounds heavier than she wants to be, she says she feels gross. I have never said a negative thing about her appearance, and in truth, I still think she’s smokin’ hot. I am still madly in love with her after 20+ years of marriage, but I’m also deeply fatigued by our interactions, and I know she is too.

My next step might be to sit down and try and have one last rational conversation about how we want to proceed. We hire a housecleaner and a gardener to help with things we either don’t want to do or don’t have time with, why not apply that to sex? I actually think the idea of an above-board situation where I could be with somebody else might actually be the right way to go. My preference is to be with her, but if she’s truly not interested, why not consider a different arrangement if the alternative is divorce? At the moment, she primarily wants to be a mom, both kids will be out the door to college within two years, and she’s already grieving over that situation. In our house the kids always come first, if we’re watching a movie and the kids come in and ask a question, even if it’s something that can wait, she immediately engages and we put the movie on hold – that dynamic can broadly be applied to all phases of our relationship. Mom first, wife a more distant second – I take pride in being a very active and involved father, but I am also comfortable with us occasionally prioritizing each other, for her the kids always come first.

I would recommend a book called The Sex Starved Marriage – good perspective from/for both he high and low sex drive spouses. It’s very enlightening and helpful, and also has some key concepts which really resonated with me, among them the idea of “real giving,” – giving your partner what they want/need in their terms vs. yours. It’s a simple, yet powerful concept.

I may have to come back to this board more often, writing this post actually helped!

I am legally separated and was married for over 35 year in a sexless marriage for the last 10 years, and infrequent sex before that. Did the talk, went to counseling, loved her mind, and spirit but her body would not love me back. I walked out, both of us were devastated. Our divorce should be final in the next few weeks. I still love her as someone I spent 2/3 of my life with, but while I lived with her I hated her. Hated her for not wanting me, for not even trying. Once I walked out the hate disappeared and I truly wish her the very best. She will always be in my heart. I am now in a healthy relationship. Sex is as frequent as each other wants. I had forgotten that you could love someone and still get sex. That loving someone isn´t always a ¨sacrifice¨.