[Two Pronged] In a sexless marriage
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,
I have been married for 11 years. In the beginning, our sex was good, but it started to become problematic this last year. It hurts me so much as a woman that my husband refuses my advances whenever I try and initiate sex. But we have sex less and less often now.
Now in one week, we only have sex once, then it became two times in one month, then once a month until this month when nothing happened between us. Whenever I try to get him to bed his excuse is always that he is tired. He is a Grab driver. He tells me his balls hurt.
Now, whenever he refuses me, my only response is to cry, and yet he doesn’t say sorry. As a wife, I force myself to understand him.
What I fear the most is that one day, I just wake up and have no more feelings for my husband. Maybe then we will just be together for the sake of the kids.
My question is: Is it true a man can live without sex even as long as a month?
We are always together anyway, except those times when, as a Grab driver, he has to sleep overnight somewhere. Please help me.
Generally relationships start with the excitement of novelty, pursuit, and sexual ardor. The participants are young, have few if any real responsibilities, plenty of time at their disposal and are in prime physical condition. A few years into their marriage, all this has drastically changed. The novelty has diminished, children and work take up most of their time and despite the best of intentions the exhausted couple relegate sex almost imperceptibly from principal activity to an occasional diversion. Three times a day and four at the weekends dwindles to once a week or less.
With this in mind, your question about a man living for a month or longer without sex might more usefully be rephrased: “why is my husband prepared to go without sex with me for a month or more?” You seem sure that he is not being unfaithful but perhaps you need to consider whether he has replaced you simply with masturbation, with or with porn. This solution is simple, does not require any coordination with you, much less ensuring your pleasure, and entirely self-centered.
However, of equal concern to you should be his attitude to your desire to improve your sex life together. Refusing your advances, ignoring your distress and offering up lame excuses are not the recipe for a stellar marriage. Instead, they suggest a total disregard for you and your relationship together. He may argue that his job puts bread on the table but there is a lot more to a marriage than that.
Since you do not know what he is really up to, the time has come for a full and frank discussion with him but before this conversation, you need to decide whether you are indeed prepared to continue living with him in a union without feelings or whether you want more out of life. Don’t forget that your children will look up to you both as role models, either as a married couple or as individuals, and also as parents, so simply staying together for the sake of the children is not necessarily good for your kids.
Finally, decide what your minimum requirements are before sitting down with him to negotiate – as they say, hope for the best but plan for the worst.
Best of luck,
Thank you very much for your letter and for being clear that you do not want to wake up one day “and have no more feelings for my husband…Maybe then we will just be together for the sake of the kids.”
It would be sensible if you decided if the above scenario is unacceptable enough to leave him if he isn’t willing to change.
I am surprised (and happy) that Mr Baer and I suggest the same (seemingly) extreme measure and I guess it is because he feels as I do: that your husband cares so little he does nothing to make you feel better even when you cry.
Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I wonder if the pain in his testicles is real in which case please encourage him to go to a doctor asap. This is good not just for his physical health, but for the emotional health of your relationship.
Your last question is: "Is it true a man can live without sex even as long as a month?"
The answer to that is an unequivocal yes. There are several reasons some men can do this — and do this easily and sometimes even by choice.
- The relationship has suffered to the extent that he is no longer interested in having sex with his wife or even anyone else;
- The quality of your relationship to begin with. As Mr Baer says, most relationships start out with a lot of sex and it is common for this to slowly diminish through the years. I guess one thing to look out for is how drastic is the change from period 1 to period 2 and what the gap is between those periods. You have done that in your letter and it has helped us to understand where you’re coming from more easily;
- His health and/or the medication he takes;
- His sexual orientation. I doubt this relates to your issue with your husband, but in the interest of giving you a complete answer, being asexual would definitely mean a man could go without sex for as long as a month (or even longer) without considering it a hardship at all. Very simply defined, asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others, or low or absent interest in or desire for sexual activity.
So there you have it, Myrna. My (our) answers will not provide a solution to your problem, but hopefully it has provided with you with some avenues you might consider.
All the best,
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