My wife doesn’t want to have sex with me?
I separated from my wife a while ago. I’ve agreed to go back and try and save things, but I’m not sure I can. I was severely depressed last year and this made me intensely lonely.
Despite not having shared any intimacy for over 8 years, I felt the need for sex in our relationship. We discussed this, along with the fact I felt the lack of intimacy had caused me to no longer be ‘in love with’ my wife. But it didn’t change anything.
There have also been some difficult dynamics between us because I was abused as a child.
Last week she got nasty about the counseling session and objected to it ‘taking her weekend up’. This upset me and things escalated, so I ended up leaving. We’ve barely spoken since.
I still insist on the intimacy returning pretty quickly, otherwise I don’t want to stay in this marriage. I want to be in a loving, sexual relationship. But my wife doesn’t seem bothered. Am I being unreasonable?
Tahira Rubab says …
No, you’re not being at all unreasonable in craving intimacy from your relationship – but neither can you insist on it. Insisting will get you nowhere, because intimacy is a two-way street: both partners need to want it. But clearly there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be in a loving, sexually intimate relationship. Many people feel that being loved and cared for in this way enhances both their mental and emotional wellbeing. It will undoubtedly be soul destroying; being with someone who can’t (or won’t) acknowledge this important side of you will only add to the loneliness you feel. You describe a really sad and difficult situation and one that you’ve both been facing for many years. More lately, the depression you’ve experienced has reminded you how lonely and isolated you feel. This, along with the legacy of abuse you suffered as a child, must be a painful thing to bear and I’m not at all surprised that you’re feeling this way.
The very interesting thing about sex though, is that it means different things to different people. Often people think about ‘sex’ in terms of some sort of penetration. For some couples, this is the only outcome of any sort of foreplay and anything less than intercourse (of whatever description) is a disappointment.
Often in sex therapy clinics, we see couples with very mismatched expectations of what they want from this part of their relationship. For some, intercourse makes them feel alive and connected – for others, just the touch of a hand, a gentle massage and kind words have the same effect, with no need to progress on to anything else.
I’m wondering what has caused the lack of intimacy or sex between you and your wife over the years? What might your wife say from her perspective? I’m wondering if you’ve been able to discuss this problem openly and honestly as a couple and really understand what you’re asking of each other?
Sometimes, although the obvious answer might seem to be ‘let’s just have sex – we’ll both feel good about it and it will solve everything’ it just doesn’t wash, because one or other of the partners feels unheard. So it’s probably not surprising to hear that when we feel unheard, we can often switch off.
But what to do right now? If ever a situation called out for couple counseling, it’s this one. The risk at the moment is that you might both be making assumptions about how and why the other feels the way they do. Harsh, destructive things are being said and as you’re now finding, the only thing achieved is more pain, misery and the awful loneliness you describe so eloquently.
Couple counseling might help you find the ‘space’ to explore what’s gone wrong and see if there’s a way back to finding a place where you can both get some of your needs met some of the time. From what you tell me, it sounds like you and your wife have reached that classic, insoluble position which can be loosely described as “I’m not talking to you – well, that’s fine because I’m not listening”. Clearly, if you both keep taking the same approach, I strongly suspect that you’ll keep getting the same responses from each other.
Couple counseling could provide a holistic space to unravel everything without destroying each other. It could help you both to make sense of your respective concerns and give you plenty of opportunity to potentially reclaim something that could become important to both of you. But regardless of whether it helps you both find your sexual mojos again, hopefully you would emerge with a much clearer idea of what’s possible. Of course, it could equally signpost that the relationship has nowhere left to go, which I guess would be very painful. However, the question you might ask yourself is whether it would be more painful than having a constant expectation of your wife that for whatever reason she feels unable or unwilling to meet.
I hope you find what you’re looking for with or without this current relationship.
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About the Author
Tahira Rubab a Relationship Counsellor and Sex Therapist .If you’ve got a relationship worry you’d like some help with, please call us at 0311 4482787