Status: married 16 years, 2 sons, 15 and 11. He's very busy with a successful career, I am still searching for employment after going back to school to get my BA. For many years I was a full-time mom, and while it was hard and often lonely, I was glad to be home with my sons while they were young.
Problem: For several years now, I haven't felt love for my husband, or any sexual attraction. He has issues with stress eating, and while he was never thin, is extremely overweight now. He is a good person in many ways, caring and strong in his faith. Unfortunately, he is a slob. Often has ragged fingernails, food on his face, clothes are sloppy, leaves stuff lying all over the house. Don't get me wrong, I know I have many faults. I'm very quick-tempered and moody, and that can't be much fun to live with either. For many of the past several years, he's worked long hours, often not coming home until the boys were in bed, so that he wouldn't see them at all for 2-3 days at a time. At first I was pretty lonely; now I actually prefer for him to be gone, I've gotten used to it. He takes care of nothing around the house as far as maintenance goes, and is very careless about leaving things lying around, which frustrates me to no end.
I've thought many times of separating, but can never seem to see any option that works. I can't stand the thought of hurting the kids, especially at this dangerous age of adolescence. I want them to have a stable home environment, and feel it isn't fair to disrupt their lives just b/c I'm not happy. I also want to avoid divorce because of my Christian beliefs, because I want to be obedient to God. But in the end I am miserable.
It's so sad. I wish I could just feel love and attraction for him again. He is not a bad person, he deserves to be loved. I just can't seem to get it back. I talked some with a counselor, a few years ago, and I've prayed about it. He and I have discussed the things that bother us about each other, but nothing seems to get resolved. I've suggested marriage counseling, and he always tells me to 'set it up' and he'll go. So I am in the process of doing that.
I've even thought that maybe I could just learn to be content in what is basically a sexless marriage, and just be companions to each other, at least until the boys grow up. He still wants sex, though, and is hurt by the fact that I'm not interested. The bad thing is that I do think about other men, it isn't as if I'm completely not interested in sex at all. I just am not at all attracted to my husband anymore.
Speaking just of financial issues, if I did decide I wanted us to separate, I have no job and no means of supporting myself at this point, not a good situation. So that keeps me here as well.
Does anyone have any suggestions?
There's a member named Mark Twain, who wrote this article. I'm sure you will find yourself under the "Resentment" section. With the exception of one or two reasons that he missed, I think he did a good job discussing the reasons women build up resentment and no longer want sex with their husband. It would be a good idea to have your husband read the article also.
Marriage counseling is a good idea, but I don't believe you really want to do it. You want things to change, but so far you have allowed your resentment to fester and have begun to enjoy it. If you really wanted to arrange for marriage counseling, you would have by now arranged for marriage counseling either this time or in previous times you have discussed it. I understand you not taking action because the feeling of hopelessness comes from being a little depressed. You just have to remind yourself that nothing will change, you won't want your husband sexually again, you will continue in this rut of a life style, and will continue feeling hopeless if you don't take the initiative. So do it now. I don't know what "in the process" means or if it is much more than a phone call or two.
Mark Twain's article is a great start for the two of you to be able to open up communication. Then counseling will further help you learn to communicate your feelings and the things that displease you in your marriage. In addition to those, this movie will help tremendously. Rent it. Watch it together. Both of you follow the principles.
Counseling will only work if your husband changes. By him abandoning his health, his hygiene and being sloppy, he is sending you a signal that he doesn't really value the relationship. I'm sure he wouldn't have done that when you were dating; why would he feel that that's ok to do now?
Your needs are not being met. I would say give him a chance in counseling to change. Give him every opportunity. If that doesn't happen, though, you need to look out for yourself. He obviously isn't doing that (and he wants sex)? Hang in there and hopefully this will all work out!
So sex is earned in a marital relationship then? Could someone please print up the check list of does and don'ts so I could tape it to my pillow.
It kind of sounds like the guy is friggin depressed to me. Ok Lynnalee your "needs aren't being met". Well I'll bet you a buck or two his needs aren't being met either; so what now brown cow?
This is nothing more than marital tic tac toe. Play this game for another day, another week, or another 10 years Lynnalle and the result will be exactly the same, a draw.
You were gracious enough to open your post by listing a number of your husband's strengths, and perceptive enough to notice his weakness. You also define yourself as a Christian woman; so my question to you is have you truly been his helpmate?
I am not blaming you. I am simply asking you. When a marriage goes south there is always enough paint to cover both parties. Look, you've tried resenting him. Did it better your situation? My advice in closing is to try loving him again. It worked for you in the beginning or your relationship, and it'll work for you now. Yes, yes, I know he doesn't probably deserve it, but that's what truly makes it love.
Give the counseling a try; it may help b/c you have a strong desire to fix things, from what it sounds, b/c of your kids and your faith.
Does your husband know that you are not attracted to him? If not, you may have to tell him. He may be assuming that you simply have "issues" that have nothing to do with him. If he knows that you do not find him attractive b/c of his hygiene and obesity, he may decide to do something about that. It does not sound like you are expecting him to become Mr. America, and that your expectations for common decency in personal hygiene are pretty normal and realistic.
A sexless, companionable marriage is dangerous b/c it leaves you vulnerable to infidelity. Do what you can to change things before it gets to that. And do not settle for something that falls far short of your needs--out of guilt, out of fear, or whatever. Those are terrible reasons to stay once you have made a sincere effort to repair things. By then he should understand his role in things--as will you--and both of you will have made whatever changes you are capable of making. That's the best you can do and if leaves you still unable to enjoy a healthy sex life, you will remain vulnerable to infidelity. Better to end things than to introduce that nightmare to your marriage. But a lot can happen to make things better, so good luck.
Thank you for your suggestions. My hesitation with marriage counseling is fear of getting an ineffective counselor (I don't want to say 'bad') who won't be helpful. I've had friends who've had bad experiences. Also, we don't have insurance for that, so it would be an expensive mistake if it didn't work out. I did speak to someone in the counseling profession in our church, and she is going to give me some names of people who are Christian marriage counselors.
Whenever a person puts a post like this out there, they open themselves up to all kinds of replies, I know. I never said sex was something to be earned; I only meant that it is very hard to have sex with someone if you are not interested at all. Then it just feels like a duty, when it used to be something very special and enjoyable between two people who loved each other. It has been said before about divorce by someone I know, that "Nothing is ever black and white; everything is always gray." I'm sure that's true. Of course I have my own faults and shortcomings, and I've had my times of not being very helpful or supportive. I can certainly admit that. I think my husband IS depressed, but what do you do if someone won't go to a counselor or a doctor to get help for it? I've suggested it to him, and tried to draw him out. In the sense of dragging my feet about the counseling, yes I have done that. I guess I have a fear that it won't help, and then what? I know we won't know until we actually go, but if it doesn't work out...?
I don't understand the post about 'why don't you try loving him?' We're talking about difficulties that began probably 8 years ago, and I have tried to be a loving wife. Sure, I've also had my times of being a *****y, nagging, complaining wife, especially when the kids were little. It would be pretty shallow of me not to love him b/c he's heavy. But it's all the other things combined; not doing maintenance around the house that is badly needed, the messiness, the hygiene issues, rarely being here for the kids, coming home and just yelling at people from the couch b/c he's tired and doesn't want to be bothered. Maybe he needs to be in a new line of work that doesn't exhaust and overwhelm him so much. I don't know. As far as maintenance goes, I do what I can. Some things are a little beyond me, though.
I have told him, as gently as possible, the things that affect my desire for sex. It was still upsetting to him, but at least he knows. He did say that if the situation were reversed, he might feel the same way.
But as far as counseling goes, I should stop dragging my feet about it and just make a decision to go to someone and try it. I don't enjoy resentment, and would like to get past it and try to salvage our marriage. So that's where things stand at this point. I will read the above mentioned article as well. Again, thanks to all for your opinions and suggestions.
The best counselor I've come across is Dr Harley at marriagebuilders.com, which he founded. He has counseled thousands of couples and I haven't heard a single thing bad about any of them. He doesn't waste time on anything but productive steps to (1) remove the problems and (2) provide better solutions. Well worth it.