A reader sent this to us through our contact form:
I am at my wits end. I am attractive, intelligent, accomplished woman and I feel so lonely in my marriage.
I love my husband very much and he loves me, we enjoy each others company, talk everyday – we have a great relationship, as friends. BUT Our sex life SUCKS!!! He always has an excuse. “I’m tired. I’m not feeling well. I have to work. I just showered. I want to get my day started.” The list is literally neverending.
I want to be flirted with. I want lingerie. I want sexts. I want to be groped. I want to have dirty looks or comments. I want passionate kissing. I want sex that I do not instigate. I want sex outside of our bed. I want to be seduced.
We have a child together and some days I feel if it wasn’t for him I would leave I am so frustrated and mad. I do not know what to do.
I cannot force somebody to be attracted to me. I feel like an idiot for wanting a divorce so I can be married to somebody who actually wants sex. I feel like his roommate not his spouse. I have spelled my frustrations out at nauseam and nothing ever changes, and I fear it is only going to get worse.
Response from Stella (one of our administrators):
Physical intimacy can be a very big part of a romantic relationship.
You are going through a period of your life that isn’t likely to end any time soon. You want a level of intimacy he cannot provide and its intensely frustrating and can be harmful to your long term health.
You need to realize your own needs, and they ARE needs, and not punish yourself for wanting to have them fulfilled.
You also need to understand that husband isn’t so much a prude as he is older and has a much lower libido.
So you’re stuck in a situation where the only choice you can make is a shitty one. Either you end the relationship with your husband and find a younger man who can satisfy all of your needs, which will hurt you, him and your child. Or you live with not getting what you need from the relationship which will also hurt you and your husband, because he’ll know he isn’t providing everything he needs to his younger wife. Sure, you could cheat, and try to keep it a secret or maybe even get permission to pursue an open relationship, but it’s clear you do not want to do this, and that’s a very wise decision.
I wouldn’t suggest leaving a spouse offhandedly. But the bottom line is that he is a lot older than you. Unless he can rekindle the libido with some viagra or natural supplements, he will never be the man he once was, if he even ever was to start with. Your sexual desires are not going to go away for a long time. You have to be fair with yourself first. Don’t try to make yourself sound like an evil bitch because you’re “Horny all the time”. Its natural. It isn’t something you can help or ignore.
Try to work something out with him first. Try everything you can think of until you’ve either found a common ground or you’ve run out of options. Then its time to think of yourself.
Good luck to you. I hope it works out and you get the best of both.
Response from Kathy (another one of our owners):
As someone who is both a woman and who likes/wants all the things that you do, but also is closer to your husband’s age and can empathize with being freaking tired and not always not wanting to bring your “A game” to every sexual encounter….
Your post doesn’t give enough details to figure out what the solutions is. I can’t tell if your husband is a plain cold fish or if your expectations need adjusting. Or both.
Has he always been inattentive in bed? Or is this something that has grown due to life changes after having children?
And is he willing to have sex, but just doesn’t have the energy to bring to the table, or is he actively avoiding contact all the time?
And do you need to rethink your standards? Is sex only OK for you if it’s “passionate” and “seductive”? Is it OK if sex is quiet, so as not to wake the kid, and maybe not completely seductive and energetic because he doesn’t have a ton of energy to give? And maybe…God forbid…even scheduled for convenient times (Gasp!).
If both of you are healthy, normal people, there’s a balance between those things somewhere.
The reality of mature adult sex when there are children involved is that many times it is NOT flirty, gropey, passionate, exotic sex. There can be great pleasure in the quiet nights when your kids are in bed and you silently grasp for each other at times that it’s convenient…and not when you’re having to get up to go to work or just got out of the shower.
And if you’re going to be happy, you’ve gotta love those quiet, less-energetic times. Yes, you can love the other, more energetic times more, and there should be some of those. There should be some times when there is lingerie and seduction and sexts.
But the reality of being grownups and parents means that this isn’t going to happen all the time. That stuff takes some energy, and energy is a scarce resource for a hardworking parent that’s 42.
Energy is so damn limited in your 40s. You’re tapped out so much of the time. And the sex you describe is awesome, but it requires energetic resources. If that’s the only kind of sex that can make you happy, you’re definitely destined for problems.
Now, that doesn’t mean that he gets an infinite excuse from working that energy up and bringing his “A-game” on occasion. You’re his wife and he should want to please you.
And if he’s really just avoiding sex altogether…not just at inconvenient times, but always…that’s a huge problem and he is obligated to do the work to fix that.
But if you can only be satisfied by the “A-game,” you’re gonna have a bad time. If you’re going to be a happily married parent, you’ve gotta love the minor league baseball nights. And those nights can be awesome in their own way.
Response from John:
So I found myself in a similar situation as you a few years ago. My gf and I (both girls not that it really matters) had been together for about 8 years and we were best friends, lived together, did everything together, etc etc. But her sex drive was at a zero and mine was at a 9. It was a constant thing throughout our entire relationship. I eventually just stopped asking (more like begging) as it was less painful to be lonely physically than to be constantly rejected.
My best advice is to first try to work it out with him. It could be his hormones/testosterone, stress, some ED issues he is embarrassed about, etc. You want to do everything in your power to fix it within your marriage.
But, if he is unwilling/unable to meet you halfway in this, then it is not worth it for you to be so unhappy. I woke up one day, after our millionth conversation about the subject, and realized that I couldn’t do it anymore.
Our differing sex drives was going to be an irreconcilable difference. So I broke it off. It sucked. It was super-painful for both of us. We made vague promises to try to be friends but it just didn’t work like that for us. We still cared deeply for each other and we realized that neither of us could move on if we were still in each other’s lives. That was honestly the worst part as I did love her and she was my best friend.
So, fast forward a few years. I’m now with someone who gives me all the times that I had wanted. And it is amazing. I don’t regret staying in the previous relationship as long as I did because I really wanted to try to make it work.
Sometimes I feel guilty for breaking it off over sex, but I was only 28 at the time and knew that settling wasn’t an option anymore.
I know your situation is a tad different since you are legally married and have a kid. But you both deserve to be happy and the short-term pain of ending the relationship is better than a lifetime of unhappiness and frustration.
My philosophy on the art of dating is quite simple:
Dating is an opportunity to ask for what you want, say what you’re looking for (your purpose for dating), date lots of people (as many as you’d like), have fun and enjoy the process, have almost zero expectation, and remain unattached to the outcome.
When you engage in the art of dating from the right place physically, mentally and emotionally, you actually stand a better chance of ending up with the person who is the best fit for you sooner. Much sooner.
If you’ve been searching for “the one” and beating your head against the wall, crying yourself to sleep, or lamenting to your BFF how “a good man is hard to find,” well, stop it.
You will only get what you want when you make up your mind about what that is, and get smart about your search.
How you should date:
State your “purpose for dating” all the time. Tell everyone within the sound of your voice what and who exactly you’re looking to find.
They may have a brother, son, nephew, cousin, co-worker, or neighbor who sounds like a good fit. You just never know where your Mr. Wonderful is going to come from.
Have fun and enjoy the process. What’s the point if you don’t have fun and enjoy the process? When all of your energy is wrapped up in “finding,” you won’t be “enjoying.”
Inject fun into the dating that you do! Go to new restaurants, indulge in new foods, try miniature golfing, go hiking, learn how to SUP (stand-up paddle), learn a new language, train for a triathlon. All of these activities put you in front of people, many of them new people.
Have no expectations.
What if you could just go on a date and the only expectation you have is that you’re going to have a conversation (maybe even a good one) and a nice meal? Wouldn’t that take the frenetic energy out of the date? The energy that holds expectation and hope and even a little bit of crazy? Wouldn’t that be nice? Yes, yes it would. Nod and smile, so I know you’re with me, okay?
Don’t be attached to the outcome.
Don’t worry if “he’s the one,” just do your best to have a good time, enjoy your dinner and movie, flirt your ass off, and then wait and see what happens.
Complete Guide – Read this if you skipped most of the article:
- Don’t build castles in the air. Just because he/she agrees to go out on a date does not mean he/she is in love with you.
- Make sure you are not entangled in an ex/someone else while you are pursuing this person.
- The one who asks out, pays. The one who is asked out, thanks and gives a short feedback (on his/her own, without being asked).
- Be on time. Girls, it might make you feel awesome to dress up like a queen, come freaking 30 minutes late, and expect the guy to be swept off his feet by your mesmerizing beauty, but it’s not the right thing to do. Get real, and get efficient. Boys- it’s just not cool.
- Dress comfortably. I have no problem if you are as comfy as a cantaloupe in your tight dress and dizzying high heels, but if you are going to spend the whole date adjusting your dress and trying to ignore the pain in your calves, I suggest you rethink. I did most of my dates in jeans, kurtas and floaters, and I did not do bad. Same about makeup- comfort is more important.
- Be flexible. There are chances your choices don’t match. The one who asks out- try strike a balance between choices of both. The one who is asked out- try to appreciate something different.
- Pay attention. Refraining from texting, checking emails and answering calls for an hour does not kill you. If you are expecting an important call that day/time, inform the other person, tell him/her that you will have to attend it for a few minutes, and give a quick, sincere apology for that.
- Talk about general things. Don’t get too personal. Do not discuss previous love lives (though a brief, impersonal discussion on what you expect in the future can be a good idea). Do not express strong opinions, especially if you do not know what that person thinks about the issue. If you see a debate converting into an argument, give it an immediate closure (” I think this is escalating a bit, shall we please move on to something else?”) instead of abruptly changing the topic. Which reminds me- do not abruptly change topics; make sure the person in front of you is on the same plane of topics and thoughts as you are.
- Listen. This applies to both boys as well as girls. For all the complaints girls have about boys not listening, girls are not great listeners themselves. Boys usually listen to reply; it would help if both listen to understand. Conversations which go this-happened-to-me followed by that’s-nothing-even-more-happened-to-me are meaningless; you are countering each other uselessly, and it would help if experience-sharing is met with empathy rather than counter experiences.
- Lower your expectations. Even better, keep none. Many people get the idea that a date is ‘successful’ only if it ends with a kiss or making out, or something similar. That’s not true. Don’t go with expectations. Don’t ‘plan’ to end with a make-out session. Your own goal should be that both should have a great time, and work towards that. If things are to happen, they will happen.