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Desperate for intimacy

By April 3, 2011 - 4:32pm
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My husband and I were married late 2008. 9 months after we were married, he was deployed to Afghanistan for a year. We've always had a healthy sex life...no issues. After being gone a year, you would think we would make up for lost time. It's been the opposite. Since he's been home in Aug., we've had sex maybe 6 or 7 times...that's an average of once per month. When we do have sex, he either doesn't climax or loses his erection half way through. I feel HORRIBLE, unsexy and miss our intimacy. I went a year without him and now I feel like I've lost a part of him. He never initiates sex...ever. It's always me and I think he gives in to appease me unfortunately. He's complained that I get too excited too fast (wet) but I've always been that way? I just feel like I cant do anything to get him to be as excited about being with me as I am with him. He's affectionate, giving, warm, loving and everything else in our marriage is great...it's just the intimacy that is lost and when I try to talk to him about it, he says I'm nagging him and he doesn't know why, but he's just not as interested in sex as much as I am. :( That comment killed me inside...killed my confidence and broke my heart. What do I do? Please help me....

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If sex was good, healthy and frequent before your husband was deployed to Afghanistan, and sex is now described by you as:
- infrequent
- he never initiates
- he complains (you are too wet, making him feel bad)
- he is losing his erection
- he does not have an orgasm
- he is unable/unwilling to discuss this issue (turns it back onto you, saying you are "nagging")
- he is able to communicate that he is not as interested in sex
...then it sounds like the culprit may have been related either his deployment (what happened before, during, after) or some type of differing expectations from both/either of you upon his return home.

Please know that you need to somewhat separate yourself emotionally from these comments, in the way you are using them. Only you can let another person's comment "kill you inside" and "kill your confidence" and "break your heart"...this may not be about you at all, and by making these grandiose statements, the problem does become about you, instead of identifying the cause to find a solution. Of course, this effects you and involves you, but you might not be the problem or cause. Bottom line: don't let the words kill you emotionally; focus instead on finding a solution so that he is not also burdened by the guilt of "killing" you emotionally.

Your husband has been able to communicate that he is not as interested. His body has shown you that it is not able to keep an erection, nor climax. These are all changes since he has come back home. He is also feeling guilty, and either using deflection (saying you are too wet, and is a turnoff for him) or blame (you nag him) as tactics to avoid the real situation.

The real situation is that he may need to talk with a counselor about what happened in Afghanistan, how he has changed, how this life event has changed his perspective on his wants and needs in life, what his future holds. He may be unable to emotionally connect in the same way, and his body is reflecting this change (erectile dysfunction). Couples counseling may also be helpful, but learning more about ED can be your first step in understanding what may/may not be going on with your husband. I am not sure if he has ED, but knowing that most sexual dysfunction is caused by psychological or emotional issues/trauma, or physical injuries, can be helpful in getting past the blame and hurt...and finding a solution. Please talk with him about seeing a therapist, either alone or separately, and you can read more about sexual dysfunction in men: http://www.empowher.com/media/reference/impotence.

April 3, 2011 - 6:53pm
(reply to Alison Beaver)

I can tell you that when he was deployed, he was on a safe base and he described it to me like he was working out of state for a year. I'm afraid he did something there with someone and he's feeling guilty for it. I don't know. My mind wanders and makes me think that something else is going on. I was faithful for a year and hope he was too but now that he's home, we should be having sex more frequently. I asked him if he was masturbating while he was there and he said no. He said he had no interest while he was there and he doesn't really have any sexual interest now. I don't get it. I'm 37 and in my prime and MISS him after a year and he's just not interested? I agree we should see a counselor but I'm afraid of him blaming me and making me feel worse than I already do. (By blaming I mean saying I get too excited or I'm not as sexy as I used to be or anything that makes me feel more horrible than I already do) Any ideas how to find the right therapist?

April 4, 2011 - 6:43am
(reply to sos_newbride)

It can be tricky to find the right therapist...but there are many great choices! It is important to call at least three different therapists to talk with them about their philosophy, type of therapy, and get a "feel" for someone who connect with. You aren't looking for a friend...but you do need to feel that you trust this person and have some basic connection as far as communication and dialogue.

(Hint: my husband and I went to marriage counseling to help us with some communication issues, and I did all the research, narrowed the list to three therapists, and let my husband choose from the list of 3 so we both had ownership and could not "blame" each other if one of us did not like the therapist...we chose him/her as a team).

To begin your search, you can try the AAFMT (American Association o f Family and Marital Therapists), who have an online therapist locator: http://www.therapistlocator.net/. You can narrow down your search by the therapist's physical location, expertise/specialization, credentials, gender (if you/your husband have a preference). Most of the therapists also have a website that you can review.

I am not sure what it matters if he masturbated or not; that sounds like an unfair question to ask an adult! Most men masturbate, and this is perfectly healthy and normal...in fact, I would worry if he did NOT masturbate, as that could indicate more of a sexual problem (lack of sexual impulses) than if he did. Asking him this question would definitely put him on the defensive, and back him into a corner, and create some guilt and distrust...why is it your concern what he does with his own body?

If you are questioning his faithfulness, this is completely different and something that you do have a right to ask.

There are many reasons someone would lack sexual interest and desire, and mis-communication and lack-of-trust between partners can be major causes. It is great that you both would be willing (I assume) to talk with a therapist, who can help bring back the communication (even if the discussion is about a difficult topic).

Have you ever considered that you also likely changed over the year that he was deployed? I could only imagine how you each have grown over a year (one would hope!), and it might take some time for your new selves to get to know each other again. I hope you two can be patient, learn to trust and communicate honestly, and a therapist can help guide you both. I wish you the best!

April 5, 2011 - 9:21am
(reply to Alison Beaver)

The masturbation question is a valid one if he's doing it so often that he has no interest in sex with me. This has been an issue in the past that lead to porn use etc. and it's a long story but he suffered a brain injury 5 years ago that impacted his impulse control and judgement and he did cheat on me due to the porn and over stimulation of himself. Yes, I think you're right....it's time to go back to therapy but this time one that is focused on sexual health. Thanks for your input.

April 5, 2011 - 11:04am
(reply to sos_newbride)

Let us know if you would like any help on narrowing down your search, based on your personal criteria, for a sexual health therapist. There is also an organization for therapists to be specifically credentialed in counseling on sexual health. You can read more at sexual health: how to find a sex therapist, as they list the credible organizations.

You are right...for most men, masturbation does not impact one's sexual desire to be with another person, but your husband has a history of sexual difficulty (even dysfunction?), and it is clear why you are worried that he has cheated on you in in the past year, if this history is in your relationship. I'm sorry to hear that, but you sound like a very strong and intelligent woman, and it does sound like a great idea to talk with someone qualified to work with you two as a couple. Let us know if you need to bounce off any questions or ideas off of any of us at EmpowHER (or, any woman reading this discussion!).

Please keep us updated!

April 5, 2011 - 1:01pm
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