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At the end of my rope

By Anonymous November 14, 2009 - 10:14pm
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I apologize ahead of time if this turns into a novel, I just don't know what else to do. I have been married for about 3 years now, and my husband and I have been together for about 4 1/2 years. In the beginning, sex wasn't much of an issue, but his sex drive always seemed to vary a little bit. Sometimes he just didn't care if we did it or not. For the past few years our sex life has been great, or so I'd like to think, in fact, we haven't gone more than a week or so without. However, every so often, he gets into these moods where he doesn't want to have sex and will do almost anything to avoid it, even to the point of telling me sometimes that he doesn't want to do it ever again. He has admitted to having a chemical imbalance, which I'm very understanding of and it explains his mood swings. What it doesn't explain is how he can be laughing and joking around with me and be almost cutesy, but if the subject of sex comes up, he turns into a completely different person and refuses to talk about it. Sometimes his sex drive is very high and we'll do it every day for weeks, then all of a sudden, something snaps in him and he has no interest at all, to the point of avoiding all sexual conversation. I've tried to talk to him about it numerous times. Rarely he'll humor me by answering some of my questions and telling me it's not me, he just sometimes doesn't want to have sex. I've tried for a long time to be understanding, but I guess the last straw was what he did last night. We often enjoy watching porn together and last night, he almost turned it on, then laughed at me and went right to bed. I've felt like a piece of crap ever since. Talking to him about it is not an option. He's acted all day today as if nothing's wrong and I know that bringing it up will only make it worse. What hurts the most is that I know for a fact that he pleases himself to porn when I'm not home, but will a lot of the time avoid sexual contact with me. It really does a number on my self esteem, which has never been very high to begin with. I often wonder if he knows or even cares how damaging this behavior has become to me. The sad part, is that I still love him and want to be with him. The thought of leaving him only to find out he ends up not having this problem with someone else isn't something I can deal with. I feel like a total mess and there's little I can do about it. I see a therapist every two weeks, but it hasn't seemed to help this problem. I also must point out that I have an extremely high libido. I want sex everyday if possible and it's getting very difficult to be rejected like this. Although sometimes he says he wants to swear off sex, he's always come around eventually, but this has become a vicious cycle and I always live with the fear that one day he just might mean it. I occasionally try to initiate it, but 99% of the time when I try to get him going, he pushes me away and says, "What are you doing?" The rejection is so depressing it's starting to make me numb. I can't believe I've gotten used to being in a marriage where I can't come on to my husband without getting rejected. Another thing I should mention is that he is bisexual and I realize that could be part of the issue. Another problem is that he swore I was the person for him before we got married and after we got married he told me that sometimes he gets depressed because he always thought that it should be 3 people in a relationship instead of 2, where everyone in the relationship is sleeping with each other... and not a threesome for just sex, an actual relationship like that. We do have incredible chemistry and get along very well, most of the time. The sex is also incredible, when he is in the mood. I just don't know what else to do. I'm so tired of feeling this way.

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EmpowHER Guest

I've talked to him about it, but he refused. We did have a conversation the other day and it really opened my eyes. He said that he always feels under pressure, like I'm always expecting sex from him. He doesn't always feel up to it and my expectations of him compounds his desire to not do it. This is a phase that he always goes in and out of from time to time. Sometimes he's really into it and sometimes he could care less. Like I said, I'm always worried that one day he won't want it at all. I spoke to my therapist yesterday and that really helped a lot. As far as the self esteem goes, I was picked on relentlessly as a child. It was really bad. That probably has something to do with it... so when he rejects me like that, it makes me feel ugly and unwanted... kind of how I felt all through elementary school. Right now, everything seems to be fine between us. I tried backing off and he seemed to respond better to that. Main issue I have right now is that I'd like to be the one to initiate it from time to time without him saying no. I never say no when he wants it because I'm just so happy that he's willing, but if I try to come on to him 99% of the time it's met with rejection.

November 18, 2009 - 9:02am
(reply to Anonymous)


Talking with your therapist is wonderful medicine. I hope you can do that regularly while you work on this issue, especially about how it connects to your feelings of being ugly and unwanted when he's not interested.

If backing off has helped, that's an awesome first step. Be patient. After a period of time goes by, your initiating sex might not be such of a "hot button," so to speak. Perhaps after a few weeks of letting him initiate and letting the whole issue cool off, there can be another conversation in which you bring up issues like your not feeling that you can initiate.

Despite the progress, you may still feel at some point that the two of you are still incompatible sexually. But it sounds like you're taking those baby steps toward figuring out just what you need -- and how to make it work.

November 18, 2009 - 10:36am

I think you received some great advice above, and wanted to offer some more perspective; I can understand why you said you are "tired of feeling this way", as it does sound emotionally draining.

A few things you mentioned caught my attention, as you said, "He admitted to doing everything he could to get rid of his first wife except dump her. He was too lazy to break up with her, so he figured if he was really mean to her, she would leave...". "I admit I don't want to end up like that, but aside from the sex deprivation, he's anything but mean or unfair to me."

I actually do see what he is doing to you as "mean" and "unfair", just from reading your first post, you said:
"...even to the point of telling me sometimes that he doesn't want to do it [sex] ever again." (this is not a sign of a healthy relationship with one partner telling the other one they will never do something again that they know is important to the other person, and vital to a marriage).
- "...then laughed at me and went right to bed. I've felt like a piece of crap ever since."
- "He's acted all day today as if nothing's wrong and I know that bringing it up will only make it worse." (not a quality you want in a relationship, regardless of the topic, that one person in the marriage would willingly make it impossible for the other person to bring up a sensitive topic)
- "...he pushes me away and says, "What are you doing?" The rejection is so depressing it's starting to make me numb." (this sounds really mean and unfair to me, as it is obvious 'what you are doing' and he is putting all of his issues onto you, instead of being mature and responsible and communicating with you honestly)
- "...although sometimes he says he wants to swear off sex, he's always come around eventually, but this has become a vicious cycle and I always live with the fear that one day he just might mean it." (again, living in a 'vicious cycle' and 'living with fear' that you can not communicate a very basic need or he will take it away completely is not a sign of a healthy relationship, and he has all of the power and control in this scenario that is mean and unfair to you)

These things, to me, do sound like he may be repeating himself in this relationship: trying to push you away as he does not want to be the one to break-off another commitment, as he did with his ex-wife. I'm not sure if he learned anything from his previous relationship, as beginning a new relationship with you without being entirely honest is truly unfair (although, I do understand his reasoning).

However, you also said that he has "admitted to having a chemical imbalance", which is a really big piece to this puzzle! If he is depressed because he wants another type of marriage, then he needs to make this happen and not bring you down with him. If he is depressed because he has a chemical imbalance...is he being treated for this with medication and therapy/counseling?

Lastly, you said, "I often wonder if he knows or even cares how damaging this behavior has become to me." What is the answer to this?

If he DOES know or care how damaging his behavior is to you, is he trying to correct it?

Either way, this is the conversation you want to have with him, and the "sex" stuff just doesn't matter, as it could be related to any topic. The important thing in your relationship is that he is withholding information from you, making you too afraid to speak your mind or voice your concerns for fear that he will withhold even more physical affection. If he does not care about this, it is definitely time for a change, or as a baby step, marital counseling. If he does care about this, then it is also time for a change, and probably the same baby step: marital counseling and/or for him to seek treatment for his depression and chemical imbalance.

I wish you the best, please let us know how you are doing.

November 17, 2009 - 1:34pm
EmpowHER Guest

I agree that we probably aren't a good match. I should have realized this before we got together. I just wish I didn't feel the way I did and that I didn't get so familiar with this life. It's very difficult to leave. As far as children are concerned, I have absolutely no intention of having children with him. Both our mood swings would not make it a healthy environment for children. Besides that, he already has 2 children from a previous marriage... one that he was completely miserable in. He admitted to doing everything he could to get rid of his first wife except dump her. He was too lazy to break up with her, so he figured if he was really mean to her, she would leave, but she didn't. Eventually her friends practically forced her to leave. I admit I don't want to end up like that, but aside from the sex deprivation, he's anything but mean or unfair to me. He includes me in everything he does. He doesn't make plans with friends without assuming I'm coming with. He isn't abusive. The sex situation is the only problem. Without sex, it's as if we're living as really good friends. A relationship without sex is a very depressing one, especially considering how attracted I am to him and I couldn't fathom the idea of being alone right now. That's why I feel so torn about what to do. It's so hard to have the person you want right in front of you, but they won't let you have them. I know it's not normal. I've tried for so long and I just can't seem to get my head straight about it.

November 15, 2009 - 3:10pm
(reply to Anonymous)


You are such a smart and thoughtful woman, and Susan has given you great insight and advice. I have very little to add to it, except I am wondering if, for you, he would go to therapy with you?

Without some sort of change, you are looking at the life that you will live as long as this marriage ends. He is clearly not motivated to open up more about sex or to have a more active sex life with you; and you are clearly very sexually attracted to him and want intimacy to be a big part of your relationship.

At any sort of crossroads like this, there are three things that could happen:

1. Things could get better.
2. Things could stay exactly the same.
3. Things could get worse.

Clearly, Nos. 2 and 3 are not what you want for your life. So it leads us to No. !. And No. 1 won't happen by itself -- and it won't happen with just one person's efforts. It takes both of you to start working your way through your issues. It's very possible that if enough love and respect exists between you, the two of you could move foward. But no matter how determined you are, your efforts alone won't be enough. And with self-esteem that's already low (you didn't say why?), that may be a double whammy.

Sit with this all, for a while. We often make changes in baby steps, not in grand gestures. What's most important in this equation is what you want for the rest of your life, and whether that can happen inside this marriage. If you fear that the answer is "no," then it's time to start taking baby steps toward a new life.

November 17, 2009 - 9:04am
HERWriter Guide

Dear Anon

Thank you for your update.

Unfortunately, your husband married you, knowingly believing in polygamous states of marriage, rather than monogamous states. The purpose of legal marriage as we know it, is two people and two people only. Many us ignore that and commit adultery but most, going into marriage, believe in monogamy.

You are left now in a very complicated state. I am glad to read that your husband would rather forgo polyandry/polygamy in order to stay with you. However, he has said he believes monogamy is not normal (and he has a point. Human beings are not necessarily naturally monogamous, it is a choice we make. Some of us stick to it, others do not). You are happy with monogamy and believe in it. He is unhappy with monogamy, does not believe in it, but will stay with you to keep you happy.

If you are ok with this, then the life you describe may be the life you will have to live. It sounds like your husband is keeping his promise but isn't happy with it and is using tools like porn to cope.

He married you under false pretenses. It's up to both of you to see if it can work but it'll take both of you. No-one can tell you why his sex drive and sexual interactions with you are so polarized. Only he can. I may be wrong - he may be having sexual liaisons with others, and this may answer your questions as to why you sometimes get his attention and other times he's hardly around and is unavailable sexually.

So we have two people married to each other. One believes in monogamy and is heterosexual. One believes in polyandry/polygamy and is bisexual. He cannot help how he is, no more than you can. Sexuality isn't a choice.
So clearly you are not a match. It's not a case of who is wrong, or right. Who is the good guy, or bad. You're simply not a match and love aside, should not have gotten married. You didn't know this, but he did and hid it from you. That wasn't right, it was completely unfair.

You both can live with each other but you may have to accept that neither of you are a good match to each other. If you can both accept it, who is to say that it's can't work out? I would, however, not bring children into this marriage. Children don't belong in a marriage where two people have vastly different points of view about relationships.

But you are so vastly different to each other than it's like trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. You just don't fit each other! You can't make the unworkable work. We all deserve a happy life and one person's version of happiness isn't the same as another's. I think we can definitely say that in the case of you and your husband. I hope both of you can come to a happy conclusion whether it's together or separately - but make sure you live an authentic life that is true to you.

November 15, 2009 - 1:36pm
EmpowHER Guest

Sometimes I think it has something to do with me because I have such a high sex drive. The first thing I think when I wake up in the morning is how long it's been since we last did it. I don't think that's normal, personally, but I know he probably has more of an issue than I do. I don't have a problem with him being attracted to men, same way any heterosexual male would be attracted to other women... it's just human nature. What matters is if it's acted upon, which I couldn't tell if it has or not. Sometimes I feel that his needs are being met with someone else, but I think it's more likely that that "someone else" in reality is just porn. It makes it a little more dealable because he isn't actually cheating on me. I have no problem with him watching it, but when it starts to replace me, I have a big problem with it. As far as this 3 relationship thing is concerned, I never knew that this is how he thought relationships should be until after we got married. At first he was reluctant to tell me about it, because as he put it, he didn't want to "ruin anything"... between he and I. I kind of forced it out of him because he had become so distant and it was really starting to get to me. He said that as far back as he could remember he just didn't think it was normal to be in a relationship with just one person... that people were meant to be in multiple relationships, but all with each other... kind of like a harem. I told him that if he feels the necessity to act on that, this marriage isn't going to work. He swore to me that he would rather give up the idea of the "3-person relationship" for the sake of being with me. There are so many things that enter into why he loses his desire for sex from time to time that I'm not sure which it is at what time. I wish I could just sit back and let him come to me when he's ready, but I don't think that is particularly fair either. I have needs as well. I just get scared that he'll never want to sleep with me again and will just use porn as a release so he doesn't have to deal with actually doing it.

November 15, 2009 - 11:42am
EmpowHER Guest

Thanks for sharing your personal story and I am truly sorry to hear your dealing with so much. I was first going to ask if he was interested in men but by the end of your story, you answered that question.

How do you feel about that situation? This is clearly not your issue, this is something he is dealing with about his own sexuality. It only becomes your issue when you feel the way that you are feeling about yourself.

Is his sexuality something that you can deal with? Give us a little more background when it comes to this three person relationship. I think this may help answer your question.

November 15, 2009 - 10:18am
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