Question: Dear Luise: My wife and I have been together for 15 years, have two kids and in the past have been socially accepted. Recently my wife went through addiction problems and an affair. I have been there through thick and thin as opposed to the husband I was say 6yrs ago. My wife says she loves me (she is very honest with ALL that has happened) but cannot commit to a physical relationship with me. However she was able to do so with the person she cheated with, (who is a homeless addict with nothing but the clothes on his back and a rap sheet.) She has been distant for several years. I always made sure to accommodate her sexually as to not leave her short. What can I do to reverse this trend? She simply says she doesn’t like sex. That wasn’t the case when we married. As for loving me it is hard to comprehend when we may go months before she may break down and give me what I see as pity sex. I cook, clean, work, take care of kids but receive no compassion toward my needs. I don’t do these things for that reason but most women I know have stated they would be more than willing to be reasonable with their “no’s” if they had this type of treatment. PLEASE RESPOND!!!! I feel very lonely…but I will not cheat!!! M.
Answer: Dear M.: Where were you when I was looking for a husband? (Oh, now I remember…you weren’t born yet!) My point is that your friends are right; most women would find you a very attractive partner both in and out of bed. The other side of that coin is that it probably isn’t wise to discuss your situation with most women you know as long as you plan to stay in your situation. Knowing others agree and sympathize with you doesn’t change anything.
People vary a great deal when it comes to the need for sexual expression, or the lack thereof. Sometimes someone new changes that but often it’s only for a short while. There are those who enjoy illicit sex more than sanctioned sex. Often illness, whether physical or emotional, robs people of their sexual energy. Taboos from childhood can play havoc with sexuality. The list goes on and on.
If you will go to the section on my website headed Sexuality, you will find a large number of posts that deal with sexless relationships. Young or old, male or female, rich or poor…it doesn’t seem to make any difference. There are people who simply aren’t interested after the novelty wears off. They may start out just fine but it doesn’t last and then their partners, for whatever reason, are left out on a limb…usually while holding an entirely different definition of married love.
If your wife really wanted to solve the problem, her sexual disinterest might lessen with therapy but that’s never guaranteed. For some reason that I can’t fathom, those so inflicted don’t usually want to address and/or deal with the issue. Your wife’s recent problems with addiction and infidelity indicate that she is already dealing with some pretty tough issues but you also indicated it has been a longstanding problem.
You are left with a wife you love, kids you love, a home you love and no way to express your feelings or be comforted and acknowledged in the most natural and satisfying way known. If you stay, you may continue to live on an emotional desert and if you go, you will lose everything you value. Not an easy choice. Incompatibility is very difficult to live with. And you are 100% right about cheating; it always makes things worse.
I’m sure you have told your wife how you feel. The fact that she doesn’t see it as a priority is sad when you have bent double to stick by her. However you can only change yourself, as you have over the last six years, you can never change another person. Blessings, Luise