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My husband will only have 'sex' with me

By June 12, 2009 - 7:00am
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We have been married for 18 months but been together for almost 10 years and our sex life is becoming a HUGE problem. Now there are several contributing factors to this.
1. After 10 years together I don't expect 7-times-in-one-day marathon any more.
2. He is working in a physically demanding job that he HATES
3. We have discussed the problem several times with the conclusion that the fact we only have sex once a month is because he is stressed/in pain and or tired.

I understand his point of view, I really do, and the fact that he took this job for us makes this whole subject very difficult for me to bring up with him but I am going out of my mind here!!!
Firstly, initiating sex has become wholly my responsibility and under the circumstances, fair enough, but I am continually rejected and when I last asked him if I should keep trying to initiate sex as he never seems interested, he said that I should but if he wasn't in the mood I should laugh it off understandingly.
OK, got the point but this is becoming increasingly hard to do.
I have found that the only successful attempts are either
1.. A quickie first thing in the morning, 5 minutes, Wham Bham thank you mam or
2.. An early hours-when-he-is-sleeping attack! (use you imagination)

Now we flirt during the day, he often expresses how much he desires me or tells me that I look very nice. Also we have a very rich fantasy life that we discuss with each other.
All good ingredients for healthy sexual relations, this I understand.
My problem is twofold..
1 I am finding it more and more difficult to handle the rejection and
2 When ever I manage to interest him/ engage him sexually he ALWAYS brings up our fantasies.

Now as a PART of a healthy sexual relationship talking about fantasies are normal but for me a sexual relationship comes in two parts...
1 Having sex
2 Making love.

We have sex once a month only because I keep trying until we are successful.
The really big problem is that no matter what I try, in the end we only have sex.

What can I do about this? I'm afraid that I'll lose the little sex I do have if I mention this particular point. I don't even know if I'm over reacting (something I often do) or if, once again, I am over thinking things.

But for me, this lack of intimacy is becoming about everything. All the little things that were just part of his personality when we married have become reasons to leave. For example.. I ask him to think about the weeks menu so that we can write a shopping list... and he can't.
Two years ago, this was just because he was who he was and liked everything I cooked. Lovely to heave such an easy customer.
Now, if it seems that if I can't rely on him for a decision over something so simple as a menu, how on earth can I rely on him for anything at all.
We were talking about starting a family.
He said that as I was the one who was most affected by stress (I have panic attacks and am prone to depression) it would be my decision as to when we would get pregnant!!
Considerate or passive aggressive unreliable B.S.? I can't tell any more.
I think all of this comes from the fact that I can't connect with him in the way I need in the bedroom. I know that this has all been very much a rant but I really need help.
Am I overacting?
Is it all connected?
What can I do to fix this?
Should I leave?
We have sex once a month, and this is a big something under the circumstances but we haven't made love in YEARS and I don't know how to fix this or even if I can.
I think my marriage may be over.

Add a Comment7 Comments


So sorry you're overwhelmed. You have so much going on. Take care, and remember that you guys are smart, loving souls who can figure this out. You just have to take a day at a time. We're thinking of you.

June 16, 2009 - 9:52am

Thank you both for your answers and i will consider your points and get back to you but I am having a bad day and can't even try to think about anything positive. It is so easy at the moment to let all the negative thoughts and feelings become enormous that right now I don't think of anything at all.
This is normal and goes away in a few days, I'll reply properly then. Thanks again.

June 15, 2009 - 2:06pm

Another addition to my comment above:

After discussion the two definitions (sex vs. making love)...perhaps there is a third way to have intercourse?! If your hubby is stressed and unhappy, he may feel pressure to perform in a particular way to suit you. He is obviously having intercourse in the way that he wants (a quickie). What if you both re-define intercourse in a 3rd way...perhaps as a "stress-reliever" or something that you both would find useful?! Even come up with a funny/sexy name or new "style" that is all your own.

I didn't want to close you into a box with definitions, but was trying to suggest that the way you define each of those different intercourse styles may overlap, and you may just need "an extra minute of passionate kissing" (for example) instead of an entire overhaul of "making love" and not "just sex". The latter seems daunting, but the first re-framing is something that is easier to achieve.

does that make sense? And, finding the exact behaviors that you both would find satisfying would be idea...hence the "3rd definition" of intercourse.

June 14, 2009 - 8:19am

Since Diane has provided some wonderful insight and information, I thought I could play the "other side", and ask some questions in a different perspective. Please know I whole-heartedly agree with everything Diane has suggested, and only offer this to bring up other thoughts---I do not want to minimize your frustration and struggles.

How do you define "making love"?
How do you define "sex"?
How do you define "satisfying intimacy?"

And, how does your husband define each of these?

I ask, because it may not be as black-and-white, and you may actually have some of each of these definitions in your current situation. Be specific; I "get" that a quickie is your definition of "sex" and not "making love". I would challenge you to write down the details of what else defines these terms for you, and it would be great to ask your husband the same thing. He seems open to sharing his thoughts, and this is not criticism or anything negative..it can be a fun learning experience! The possible benefits could be:
- you have more in common with your definitions than you realized (great!)
- you have less in common in definitions than you realized (and can learn about each other)
- this fact-finding "exercise" or "activity" could be an opening to further discussion
- it may facilitate further exploration (both verbally and physically)

I have found in my 6 year marriage that different situations and life-events really do cause the sexual and intimate relationship to "ebb and flow". When we were sad, depressed and hated our jobs, our relationship suffered for a long time (5 years, on and off). We went to marriage counseling, and the {stupid} counselor said, "why are you two even still married?!" We were appalled at the question, but this was the turning point for us...it made us both so angry that we both had to defend our reasons...and it reminded us why we are still married. We stopped seeing that counselor, and she was probably the biggest help to us with her abrasive question.

I have been in your exact same situation with the having to initiate and be rejected...it hurts, is frustrating...and all the time you feel like you should be the "modern woman" who can speak her mind, ask for what she wants, have her needs met, etc, etc. I still believe this, but also realize that sometimes it doesn't work this way. You can give it time; put your physical needs on hold while you go on a fact-finding mission. Your husband needs to be happy in order for him to be able to open up to you in an intimate way. If he refuses to do this, refuses counseling...he may be refusing to work on his relationship. That gives you the information you need to move forward with your life, as you can put some of your needs on hold for a little while (the "ebb and flow" part of a relationship, assuming he would do the same for you). You do not, nor should you, put your needs on hold indefinitely.

As far as other aspects of your relationship---who is the "decision-maker", I had that same issue as well. How I resolved it in my head: I told my husband that I did everything around the house as far as the "invisible housework" (paying bills, making doctor appointments, buying family gifts, coordinating get-togethers with his family, etc), and he was surprised I felt this way! He said, "well...I do all the VISIBLE housework!", and started naming off everything HE does (mow lawn, make bed, clean one of the bathrooms, take cars to shop, etc). Wow---he was right! Our relationship is never going to be 50%-50% on everything, because he never goes grocery shopping and never will plan a meal to save his life. However, I also never mow the lawn. Does this sound at all like your situation---you and your husband are both helping around the house, both have a career, both have friends, both have families and other social obligations--and are both feeling resentful towards each other for not pulling their own weight?

June 14, 2009 - 7:54am


All this and you're in another country, as well. That makes things doubly hard sometimes. Where are you living?

He is making sacrifices for you (and for the both of you) by working at a job he hates every day. You are making sacrifices for him (and for the both of you) by moving to his country and by originally being the decision-maker, the "manager" of the household, so to speak. But now neither of you is happy in the roles you took, and it's grating on you daily.

I can really understand how frustrating it must be for you -- each of you -- on a daily basis. And you know, sex is a reflection of that. Making love was a joyous reflection of your relationship when you were both joyous, you know? Now, your sex life has different undertones -- who's in charge here, the person who asks or the person who says yes or no? is it sex or is it love? is it joyful or is it a chore? It represents everything that's going on in the other rooms of the house.

Would the two of you be interested in online counseling from an English-speaking counselor? There are many in the United States; at least one of them even writes for EmpowHer.

Would you be interested in a book on working through relationship difficulties, something you can order from Amazon online?

Or do you think you have reached a point where you truly want out?

Do you think your husband wants out of the marriage?

If he were writing to me instead of you, what would he say about the situation?

I'm glad that you have days when things seem OK, that it's a matter of patience and strength. But you know what? Every day that you are patient is also something else: It's a gift of faithfulness to the marriage. We vow "in good times and in bad" and sometimes that's what keeps us going when they ARE bad. Every day that you hang in there is another day you honor that vow.

June 13, 2009 - 7:56am
EmpowHER Guest

Hello Diane P,
Thank you SO much for replying.
I think that you are right in many of your points.
First of all, when we discuss the situation, I go for a completely non judgemental, non confrontational approach. I want him to listen to me not clam up. And though we haven't discussed how much is enough we have both come to the conclusion that right now isn't sufficient. He feels terribly about this so I tread VERY carefully. You cannot be to harsh when talking with a man about the bedroom not matter how understanding and compassionate to your needs he may be.
The lack of intimacy really started to become a problem when he took this job and I do feel defensive for wanting more.
While throughout our relationship I have been the decision maker, it is only now that I have started to resent that fact. Before, my husband gave me the physical and emotional support that allowed me to be the principle decision maker, the power house in the relationship and it worked, wonderfully.
But now I am still the decision maker but without the support I feel I need to be strong enough to take all the responsibility.
Some days I am optimistic and (not happy) but accepting of the realities of our situation. He is looking into leaving his current job, and all I need to do is be patient.
But on other days, that are becoming all too frequent, I wonder if this is want I want, to BE the decision maker. Maybe the lack of sex is just highlighting the lack of practical support I get from him day to day.
I know that this is unfair, that we complement each other and have similar life ambitions and we were so happy and could be again, it is just I deeply resent all of the sacrifices and demands that this relationship is putting on me. I am tired of being understanding, of feeling selfish and defensive. I am tired of being patient, of waiting for next month or next year when things will be better.
As for how much sex I feel is normal, if I were to qualify it, twice a week would be OK.
But for me its not the amount that I miss, it's the spontinaity, the joy of our lovemaking. Now, every come-on I make feels tentative. I have to be constantly prepared for rejection. And when I am succesful, I have to be ready for the disappointment that this time, again, we will only have sex as opposed to the connexion that I am really seeking.
If I do decide to start a family with this man, I don't want it to be timetabled, calculated. Making babies should be an extension of the love a couple feels for each other, of their passion and joy in the other's body even if it is only once or twice a month. Without that, you could have sex every day but in the end it would only be an exchange of genetic material.
One of the sacrifices I mentioned was moving to his country. While I have learnt enough of his language to be comfortable at the dining table, I don't feel confident enough to talk with a councillor. Something I would jump at if we lived in an English speaking country.
Right now I really don't know which way to jump. Is all of this just a passing phase or are the weaknesses in my marriage being highlighted.
Mainly, I am tired of not knowing which of the two is right, if either. I am unsure of everything, doubt myself and my husband and am having more and more trouble in maintaining my confidence that I can fix this. And lastly, something which hurts the most, I know I still love him but I could tell you for sure if I am still in love with him. I know my mother told me that marriage is difficult but should it really be this hard?

June 12, 2009 - 10:30am

Hi, Jeninic. Welcome to EmpowHer, and thank you so much for your post. You have a lot going on, and I'm really glad you found us.

I have a couple of questions for you. Did your husband's taking of his job and the reduction in your sex life happen at the same time? Or was the sex life already becoming a problem before he took the job?

While you say you don't expect 7-times-a-day marathons anymore (whew!), what DO you "expect" or what do you wish were to happen? Daily? Twice weekly? Once weekly?

I know that seems odd to pin it down like that, but I'm wondering if you know the answer, and if so, if you've talked to your husband about it. Seems to me that comparing ANYTHING to 7-times-a-day makes it seem completely insufficient, you know? Do you possibly start out conversations with him like that?

You are clearly a smart, loving and analytical woman. He is clearly a hardworking and loving man. But you've known each other a long time, and he's tired from his job, and those factors make it seem easy to just skip the intimacy after a long day. While it sounds like he wants to make love with you, it also sounds like what gets him excited isn't making you happy right now.

You seem to understand and care that he is stressed, he is in pain, and he is tired.

I want to write that again. The two of you have talked about the fact that he is stressed, in pain, and tired.

In pain.

That does NOT make for a good love life, whether the person is male or female. Simple desire can't overcome all those things. And because of all this, you are thinking of leaving him.

It feels, to me, that the job needs to go. That's easy for me to say and hard to do in today's job market, I understand. But the job is hurting him and it's getting in the way of your intimacy. That lack of intimacy is hurting you personally in other ways, leading you to think about leaving.

It IS all connected, Jeninic. Just look at the chronology:

-- you're together for 10 years, married for 18 months. Clearly you were happy.
-- he takes a job that he hates, that hurts him and stresses him out.
-- it affects the intimacy between the two of you.
-- the lack of intimacy leaves you feeling hurt, abandoned, and rejected.
-- those feelings lead you to see motivations that don't seem to be there -- for instance, whether he's being passive aggressive or just understanding regarding when to start a family.
-- the job is making him crazy.
-- the emotions are making you crazy.
-- and simple things that didn't used to get on your nerves (the menu, for instance) are now getting on your nerves.

it all adds up. but if you peel the onion back, layer by layer, it all seems to go back to the job, which you say he took on for the two of you. And you feel guilty for that, which makes you feel defensive for even wanting more than you're getting.

Am I sort of getting it right?

Do you really want to leave him, or do you just want better days ahead?

There is no wrong answer.

If you just want better days ahead, it sounds like you're going to have to wait out the job or he's going to have to leave the job and find another.

If you really want to leave him, it's difficult, I know, but at least you didn't start a family yet.

Is couples counseling a possibility here? Even though it sounds like the two of you do a good job communicating with one another, the cool thing about couples counseling is that there's an objective person in the room. The counselor listens, suggests, and guides. It's easier to talk, sometimes, when you feel that you're being heard by someone new, someone educated in the field who can understand the stress you feel.

Honestly, if nothing else changed, is it just the sex life that's bugging you? Or all those other things underneath?

Please know that I don't know you and that I totally realize these are just questions and assumptions on my part. But you're a good person who's genuinely hurting, and it sounds like your husband is a good guy too, and I'd love it if you can find some support here with us and take baby steps toward solving the problems here.

Does any of that help? Can you write back and tell us any more?

June 12, 2009 - 8:41am
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