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Hi everyone. Long time-lurker, first-time poster. The past 12-18 months have been really rough for me personally and for my marriage. Here's the cliff's notes version: Pregnancy loss/emergency surgery, diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, sudden loss of my father, pregnancy/birth, being first time parents of a very colicky newborn, job loss... basically every majorly stressful "life event" you can imagine.

Long story short, I almost left my husband back in March due to a number of issues, many having come to light or having been intensified because of these stressors. One of the major issues was the non-existence of our sex life. He finally agreed to marriage counseling, even made the appointment. Our communication improved, we had sex a handful of times, he made a huge effort to address my concerns; I responded in kind. Things seemed to be looking up.

The problem now is sex.... again. I want it; he has absolutely no interest.

We have had sex fewer than 10 times since our 10 month-old was conceived (December 2011). While I was pregnant, I didn't want to have sex until I was 12 weeks along due to fear of pregnancy loss and generally feeling like crap. Once I was past the first trimester, I was ready to go. He wanted nothing to do with me. He told me that he just felt that sex with a pregnant woman was "weird" and he didn't "feel right about it." He would just shut down when I'd try to initiate. When pressed, he told me that he found it "creepy" that his d1ck would be so close to the head of our unborn child. Despite my best efforts to reassure him that sex during pregnancy is a common, natural thing, and that there was no way the baby would be aware of what its parents were doing, etc., he refused to try. Even when we took a vacation to "celebrate our last few months as non-parents." I begged, I pleaded, I tried to seduce him, I tried talking to him about how much it meant to me on an emotional level. No dice. He would say things along the lines of "what about ME? what about how I feel??", "What, I'm just supposed to do something that I find repulsive so that you'll get off my a55?", and "Touching you right now is the furthest thing from sexy that I can imagine." Really awful sh1t, and hard to heal from. This was one of the major issues we addressed (or attempted to) in counseling.

After I gave birth, he was interested in sex again when I was less than 2 weeks postpartum. I wasn't physically ready to have sex with him, but did give him oral a few times. The first 4 months or so were really difficult with our daughter; when she started sleeping mostly at night, she would only sleep latched on to me. My husband is an incredibly heavy sleeper (untreated sleep apnea), and I was afraid he'd roll over on the baby if we all slept in the bed. So the baby and I slept on the couch while he slept in the bed. Because, you know, he needed to be rested for work. And the couch was too uncomfortable for him. I should note that this continued when I went back to work. It was only after counseling that we started hard-core sleep-training and bought a bed that was big enough to accommodate all three of us.

Anyway, we only attempted to have sex twice for the first 4-5 months of our daughter's life. Neither of us was interested, really. For my part, I was too busy just surviving. I also had some pain with intercourse due to granular tissue growth (I did get it taken care of, i.e., chemically burned off with no local anesthesia- fun!). I thought he was just overwhelmed with life with a newborn as well... turns out this wasn't exactly the case.

For the past couple of years, he's been constantly complaining of exhaustion and feeling poorly. He's gained a lot of weight. Has become almost completely withdrawn, socially. Basically acting depressed. Staunchly refused to see a doctor. After counseling, he agreed to go for a check-up. He has low T. At 32! It makes sense, symptomatically, but just never crossed my mind because he is so young. The doctor prescribed monthly injections to begin with. He took two and seemed to be doing better- more energy, we had sex 3x/week during two separate weeks, he started speaking with more confidence about his job, and even began to lose a little weight.

Then he stopped taking the shot. He didn't want to be dependent on it, didn't want to risk prostate cancer.

He pretty quickly sank back into the awful funk he was in before. His energy/confidence plummeted. Sex stopped completely. I'd been rejected so many times in the past two months that I honestly began to feel like we were back at square one. He got super defensive when I told him that I thought he needed to start back on the T: "so I have to go get shot up with something so that you can deal with me?"

FINALLY, this past Wednesday, he went to get his shot. Not because of anything I said, or because he wants us to have a sex life again, but because he "could barely function" at work. If he feels better after this shot, "maybe," he says, "I'll stick with it this time."

I tried to initiate sex with him last night, but he wasn't interested. He swears that this lack of sexual desire isn't a permanent condition... he's just not interested in sex at all right now. Doesn't even masturbate (he did let me go down on him the other day). He claims that if I just "lay off" and stop bothering him about it, it will happen again. This is exactly what he said early on in my pregnancy, before he started insisting that I shut up and put up with his hangups.

Our conversation last night escalated into an argument where I ended up saying to him, look: what would you do if the tables were turned? Would you live in a sexless marriage? I have no desire to be a martyr and be miserable for another 17 years "for the kid." So, either we get divorced, work out an arrangement where I get my sexual needs met elsewhere, or work this out. I said that we need to go back to counseling. He refused, thinks it's unnecessary. He said that he couldn't believe I was thinking about divorce again so soon after we'd agreed to stay together and work it out-- called me "wishy washy." He was really hurt by my suggestion that I find someone else to have sex with (this wasn't even a serious suggestion- just part of my laying out the logical options given our situation). Regarding that, he said, "do whatever you want," and left the room. I apologized this morning and told him that I don't want just anyone- I want him. I want the intimacy we used to have, not just a warm body to get my rocks off with. His response as I leaned down to hug him? "okay."

Even if his shot kicks in and works miracles, there's a lot of damage to undo at this point. I don't know if it's possible to fix this (i.e., get our intimacy back). I worry that, despite what I said last night, I will end up staying "for the kid" and because it's the path of least resistance. I've seriously thought about seeking out an affair to have some intimacy again. In my better moments, I know this is a wrongheaded way to solve the problem and will likely just make things worse, so I haven't taken any steps down that road.

Re-reading what I've written, I don't know... my resentment just sort of drips off the screen. Maybe I am just a heinous, nagging b1tch; maybe I don't communicate effectively with him. I really do try. I would appreciate any and all suggestions about how to approach him and what to say/do in order to get my point across without making him shut down.

I'd also appreciate any feedback about our situation in general- am I an idiot for staying? Weak? Does this whole post just scream "LOW SELF-CONCEPT!! GET SOME HELP!!!"?? :(

Sorry for the novel.
 

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The way you describe him, sex is the least of his concerns. How are you doing financially and employment wise? Is his job stressful? Secure? Tiring? Does he interact with buddies? Hobbies? Leisure activities?

Methinks some serious depression is going on there... You both need to find out why. I'm not suggesting he becomes an immature, fun loving 53 year old teenager like Dr. John here but he's about 30 years too early for the symptoms you describe.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
John, our employment situation is... stabilizing. I was the sole breadwinner during his last 2 years of college, and continued to work full-time until I had the baby. Went back part-time (3 days/week) after that. He graduated college while I was pregnant, got hired as an intern 3 months after graduation, and then got a full-time position at the same company before I went back to work. Then my department was cut, and I was laid off. Started another part-time job with slightly fewer hours in April.

Overall, we are in good shape financially. No debt except the credit cards we pay the balance on every month.

The fluctuating job situation, especially when he was looking for work after graduation, and when it was uncertain if he would have a better paying/more secure position before I returned from maternity leave, were real sources of stress. In counseling, he talked about how he was terrified of not being able to provide for us.

His job is secure at this point. It's demanding while he's there but he works normal hours and isn't tethered to the office. He has one friend who works evenings, so if he sees him, it's usually late at night (11ish- wee hours), while I'm at home in bed. They don't do much... play video games and "hang out." No hobbies to speak of (except PC gaming and surfing the internet). Doesn't like to get out of the house on weekends, though he will force himself to at times.

I agree that he is depressed. He acknowledges that he is *feeling* depressed, but thinks that Depression as a medical condition is "bullsh1t". He was on antidepressants as an adolescent for a while; says he hated the way they made him feel and he will never take them again. Has a major distrust of the whole psychiatric/psychological profession.
 

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I'm sorry you are in this situation and I don't think at all that you are a heinous nagging *****.

I feel its extra shameful to have to plead for sex from a man - because stereotypically that is never supposed to happen. Stereotypically the man should be non stop chasing tail and it is nearly impossible to not take this situation personally.

It does sound like he is depressed and you know he has low testosterone. He problem is that you cant do anything because he is an adult and you cant make an adult seek help, take shots or take AD's.

Is he concerned at all about your marriage failing or is he past that point?
 

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I'm sorry you are in this situation and I don't think at all that you are a heinous nagging *****.

I feel its extra shameful to have to plead for sex from a man - because stereotypically that is never supposed to happen. Stereotypically the man should be non stop chasing tail and it is nearly impossible to not take this situation personally.

It does sound like he is depressed and you know he has low testosterone. He problem is that you cant do anything because he is an adult and you cant make an adult seek help, take shots or take AD's.

Is he concerned at all about your marriage failing or is he past that point?
Thanks, Miss Scarlet. It is shameful/humiliating to have to beg... Especially when your body has changed so much and you could really use some loving reassurance.

Exactly- that's why I feel so discouraged- I don't understand why he isn't trying harder to address the problems that have been identified and could be solved.... But I can't force him to do anything. So basically I just wait around for him to take some sort of action. If I bring up the shot, counseling, or any solutions, I get lambasted for "nagging," and blamed for his inaction. Then I apologize, he goes back to ignoring the problem, and my resentment builds until I feel like I can't help but bring it up again. Rinse and repeat.. Vicious cycle.

He was very concerned about our marriage failing when I almost left him in March. He made an effort to be a better partner and father. He's still making more of an effort to help around the house and help with the baby. But as for maintaining a sexual/romantic relationship with me... He avoids it.

He doesn't want me to leave because we "share a life together." He thinks I'm being unreasonable about sex and that it shouldn't be this important to me. I explain why it means so much to me, but he basically tells me that I'm wrong- objectively, sex isn't as important as I make it out to be- end of discussion. I'm wrong for feeling the way I do and wrong for nagging him about it. In fact, I just make him want sex even LESS when I bring it up.

I don't feel heard, and I feel like he's trying to keep me around by guilting me into thinking that ending our marriage because of this issue would be selfish and petty of me. And I can't say that his strategy is ineffective.
 

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"I don't understand why he isn't trying harder to address the problems that have been identified and could be solved."

It sounds like this is mostly due to the low T. He will not be motivated to address any of these issues because his body is not giving him the usual hormonal cues that would cause him to care about his life in a different way.

I would make a guess that you won't be able to make progress unless he gets on and stays on the T. Then you will be at least working with a man who cares.
 

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Hi Gingham--

I agree that your husband sounds like he has depression. There seems to be many things that could be making it worse--the low T, the stressful events, the strain in your marriage. Did you know that some men can suffer from postpartum depression, too?

I'm glad he has at least seen a doctor, and that he has shown at least a willingness to do MC with you in the past.

My advice to you is to get yourself into IC to get support with living with a depressed partner, and for learning ways to cope with the resentment that naturally results. The resentment will kill your relationship in the end, and it will eat you alive and begin to affect other aspects of your life. Even if you are never able to get your husband to help himself, you can still do this for YOU and for your child.

Is it fair? No. I lived with resentment for ten years (my husband, too, suffers from what I believe is depression) before I sought help. I thought I was helpless to improve my marriage until my husband addressed his depression. But I did find that things improved dramatically once I confronted my resentment. Now, my story isn't like yours in the details (I was the LD partner for those 10 years), but the way you describe your building resentment sounds so, so familiar. And your husband sounds very much like mine.

It seems telling to me that your husband was spurred to start the shots again because his performance at work was flagging, yet he could watch you, his wife, struggle with unmet emotional needs and not feel inclined take the shots to improve his marriage. Why is he inclined to put the effort into work and not into making you happy? Could it be that he feels his own resentments and doesn't want to be the one to be seen as "giving in?"

When I described to my therapist how helpless I felt in the face of my husband's unwillingness to get help for his depression, and when I asked her for advice for what to do when I felt my resentment threatening to shut me down emotionally towards my husband, she said this: "Why don't you ask your husband what you should do?"

I thought about it for awhile, and then I did just that. Not in a sarcastic way, but in a way that showed I honestly wanted his input. I described to him how his depression affected me emotionally, how it changed the way I felt towards him for weeks at a time. I told him how it made me feel helpless to connect with him, that it isolated me physically and emotionally, and how it made me wonder if we both would be happier if we'd divorce. I asked him if he had any ideas for what I should do when I felt my resentment building as a result of his behavior.

He told me he'd think about it to see if he could come up with any ideas. He's not brought it up since, and neither have I . . . but I have noticed him putting more effort into controlling the things that trigger his depression (namely stress from work.) What I think my therapist was trying to get me to do was change the dynamic. Asking for his advice allowed me to describe to him how I feel and invite his input without making him feel like I was nagging him again. In other words, there was a definite PURPOSE to my brining up his depression beyond just airing how it's a problem for me.

Does that make any sense? You can't change him, but you can change the dynamic, and sometimes that's enough to get things started in the right direction.

Again, I'm not suggesting that you are the one who should do or needs to do all the work here. Your emotional and sexual needs are completely reasonable and normal and it's wrong of him to tell you to just put up with your frustration. However, if you really and truly want to stay married to him--healthily married to him--then at this point all you can do is what YOU can do.

And that means taking care of yourself. :) Good luck.
 

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Thanks for your long and thoughtful response, GettingIt. I really appreciate all of you taking the time to read my lengthy post and offer such great advice.

A lot has happened over the last few days; the situation is completely different.

It seems telling to me that your husband was spurred to start the shots again because his performance at work was flagging, yet he could watch you, his wife, struggle with unmet emotional needs and not feel inclined take the shots to improve his marriage. Why is he inclined to put the effort into work and not into making you happy? Could it be that he feels his own resentments and doesn't want to be the one to be seen as "giving in"?

You nailed it. He has a pattern of resisting doing anything I ask him to; this is a long-standing issue. It doesn't matter how I ask him- he immediately goes on the defensive. He has to have things on his terms. He doesn't care that his actions hurt me or cause me to have doubts about the relationship-- as long as I shut up about it.

On Saturday, I mentally prepared myself for a sit down with him all day, one in which I was going to change the dynamic. After I put the baby to bed, we ate dinner and I took a deep breath and broached the subject by saying that I was really concerned about him, but didn't know what to do to help him. I asked what I could do, and he responded, "I don't know." Sat there sullen for a while; I reiterated that I wasn't trying to make him feel bad about himself, I just honestly didn't know what to do and I felt like everything I'd done so far was just making things worse. He then told me that the best thing to do would be to leave him alone about everything-- about sex, the T shots, his mood, and his health.

I got frustrated... It escalated into an argument. We went around in circles; he denied that anything I was concerned about was actually a problem- it was just me being too demanding, or asking the wrong way, etc. All my fault. I got discouraged because I wasn't feeling heard... Yet again... Plus I was beginning to feel crazy- was I really the problem? This happens a lot when we argue. He ended up walking away and going to play on the computer. I took some time to process and regroup.

Before I went to bed, I stopped by his desk and told him that I was done. We could be co-parents and roommates, but this is not a marriage. He scoffed something like, "you're "done," huh? Checking out again? You're just so ready to throw it all away." He told me to go back in the living room- we weren't through talking. More arguing. Finally, during an ebb in intensity, I stood up and sighed that I was exhausted and tired of talking about this. I was going to bed. Started walking out of the room.

This set him off. He came after me, grabbed me by my arm, and yelled, "You're not going anywhere! You are going to stay here and finish this!" I said "no, f you, I'm going to bed." He tightened his grip when I tried to get away from him, then shoved me backward onto the couch. "You think you can treat me however you want, you can just say anything you want because you're not getting your way!" He climbed on top of me, forcing my leg into an awkward angle, and violently dry humped me, while yelling, "you want me to **** you? Huh? Is this what you ****ing want?" I'm pleading for him to get off of me- he gets up, stands over me while I sob balled up on the couch.. Continues to yell at me (I honestly don't remember what else he said... I was shaking, nauseous... It felt like my brain was short-circuiting... All I could do was think, "don't move, don't speak, don't do anything to make it worse.") At one point, I remember him jumping up and down in rage and the look on his face makes my stomach turn to recall. He threatened suicide, I remember that.

I have bruises all over my arm.

The worst part is that this isn't the first time that something like this has happened. Its been going on since before we were married. He has shoved me, grabbed me, physically prevented me from leaving a room, the house. Even hit me on the leg while we were driving once; left bruises. He has broken my things. Punched holes in walls and doors. It even happened once when I was 37 weeks pregnant (grabbing me to stop me from leaving, breaking things). I have been in such denial about this. It doesn't happen all the time. It happens 2-3 times a year. Each time he puts his hands on me in anger, he is so remorseful and swears it will never happen again. Then a few months- or maybe a year- later, he does it again. I am completely guilty of letting him rugsweep. My boundaries with him are basically non-existent and he does whatever he can to ensure that it stays that way. I have been too ashamed to seek help or tell family/friends. The MC we were seeing didn't know about this issue, needless to say.

I was tempted to rugsweep this incident... He gave a long, flowery apology... Cried... Said I was right about everything... I even let him convince me to have sex that night. Wtf is wrong with me. I know.

I woke up feeling physically ill. While he slept in, I fed my baby girl her breakfast, and it occurred to me how out of my mind with anguish I would feel if anyone ever treated her the way H has treated me. How heartbroken my dad would have been had he known the truth. Something clicked, and I finally feel like rationality is winning out this time. Maybe it's being a parent. Maybe it's because the past 18 months have shown me how strong I really can be. I've even thought that maybe it's my dad looking out for me. In any case. It's really over this time. I am divorcing him. He knows I'm still upset with him, but doesn't know how strong my resolve is yet because I know I need to carefully plan breaking the news... He tends to lose it when I threaten to leave. I can only imagine how he'll react to my actually filing.

So yeah. Time to move the thread, I guess.

Thanks again everyone for your help.
 

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Thanks for your long and thoughtful response, GettingIt. I really appreciate all of you taking the time to read my lengthy post and offer such great advice.

A lot has happened over the last few days; the situation is completely different.

It seems telling to me that your husband was spurred to start the shots again because his performance at work was flagging, yet he could watch you, his wife, struggle with unmet emotional needs and not feel inclined take the shots to improve his marriage. Why is he inclined to put the effort into work and not into making you happy? Could it be that he feels his own resentments and doesn't want to be the one to be seen as "giving in"?

You nailed it. He has a pattern of resisting doing anything I ask him to; this is a long-standing issue. It doesn't matter how I ask him- he immediately goes on the defensive. He has to have things on his terms. He doesn't care that his actions hurt me or cause me to have doubts about the relationship-- as long as I shut up about it.

On Saturday, I mentally prepared myself for a sit down with him all day, one in which I was going to change the dynamic. After I put the baby to bed, we ate dinner and I took a deep breath and broached the subject by saying that I was really concerned about him, but didn't know what to do to help him. I asked what I could do, and he responded, "I don't know." Sat there sullen for a while; I reiterated that I wasn't trying to make him feel bad about himself, I just honestly didn't know what to do and I felt like everything I'd done so far was just making things worse. He then told me that the best thing to do would be to leave him alone about everything-- about sex, the T shots, his mood, and his health.

I got frustrated... It escalated into an argument. We went around in circles; he denied that anything I was concerned about was actually a problem- it was just me being too demanding, or asking the wrong way, etc. All my fault. I got discouraged because I wasn't feeling heard... Yet again... Plus I was beginning to feel crazy- was I really the problem? This happens a lot when we argue. He ended up walking away and going to play on the computer. I took some time to process and regroup.
I recognize this feeling so well--always the second guessing about whether or not you have ground to stand on. Feeling off balance, discouraged, deflected.

Your feelings are not the problem. You might or might not be failing to communicate effectively with him, but you have every right to articulate your feelings and expect a respectful discussion of the issues.

Gingham, please get help from a counselor (call a hot line if you can't get an appointment) right away. Get advice on how to get out of the house and out of the relationship safely. I don't think your should confront him any more about this--he doesn't seem able to control himself when he's angry. You are right in thinking you should plan carefully how to tell him--please get professional advice and don't try to do this on your own or when you are alone with him.

Your husband very obviously needs help, but you must protect yourself and your baby first. I can't offer you any advice on how to do this except to say to please put yourself and your child FIRST in all considerations. You husband threatened suicide, and this is a serious thing, a worrisome thing, but please stay clear headed about your safety. You might feel sorry for your husband, or worry about him, or think you know him well enough to handle his reactions, but it's not worth the risk.

I'm not sure why you didn't bring up his physical violence in MC, but it's high time to face it. It's not acceptable.

And it's not acceptable for him to expect you to "just leave him alone" and that everything will be a-okay in time. He is NOT going to change--YOU have to decide what YOU are going to do.

You have the strength--you'll be amazed at the strength you find. One step at a time.
 

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That sounds like a very scary evening, Calico. Of course its possible for people to change - but your husbands issues seem way too large for you to be taking on. Not to mention the danger to you and your baby.
 

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From a mans POV.
I don't understand how men can do this to his wife PERIOD.
Sounds like its over. If I ever did something like this, I would do the honorable thing and end the marriage myself.
I am truly Sorry about your situation, but it sounds to me like you risk physical harm to you or your child if you stay.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you guys so much for all your support. I'm staying firm in my resolve to end this... We have a MC appointment this afternoon and I'm planning to tell him that I want to continue to live apart (he left last Wed) and start the divorce process. I'm sick with anxiety about this right now.

Anyway, for anyone who's interested, I started a new thread here: http://talkaboutmarriage.com/going-through-divorce-separation/101713-how-do-you-leave-someone-youre-afraid.html

Thanks again and hope you're all doing well.
 
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