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It’s very common to hear rational such as staying for the kids or “...everything else is good” etc and of course the usual suspects such as fear of not being able to find someone else/being alone and codependency etc.

But when the topic of people that have been living in misery and outright rejection and denial and complete loss of affection for YEARS is something I have called Toxic Commitment in other threads.

This will ruffle some feathers but I think a big contributing factor to people living under misery for years is their own mentality of “... Till death do us part.”

We see lots of people that come here after years of pain and rejection and even outright abuse and one of the first things they say is, “divorce is not an option.”

I call this Toxic Commitment.

Like the Japanese kamikaze pilots of WWII, they are fully committed to a concept that results in their destruction with no personal benefit to them. You could also call it Marital Martyrdom. Only in this case you don’t get 50 vestal virgins when you die... just a life that sucks.

Commitment is fine when both parties are committed to the other’s health, happiness and we’ll being.

But if you’re committed to ‘death do us part” and the other doesn’t give a crap about your wants and needs and well being, you’ve just set yourself up for being used and abused and put away wet.

So one of the common denominator traits that I have seen in these sexless marriages that last years and years is basically a toxic commitment to their own misery and dysfunction.

Right now there is an active thread by a guy who’s wife hasn’t touched him at all for 6 years but yet they are still buying houses and properties and putting on additions to the house etc and he simply doesn’t get it that he doesn’t have to live that way.

His wife even told him to take his penis and get sex elsewhere that she doesn’t want it and yet he keeps coming back here every couple years wondering what he can do.

He is committed to a concept that is causing him harm and despair but he refuses to see beyond the bars of his own jail cell for which he has the key.
I agree with your take on toxic commitment and the absurdity of divorce not being an option.

Often times it's a control thing. They can't control the state of the marriage by themselves and they can't control their spouse, but they can control the decision to divorce. Sometimes it even becomes a martyr thing where they keep the moral high ground because look at how much poor them put up with. Then they claim victory because they refused to divorce.

There's also an inertia component....it's really hard to blow up your life aa you know it for the unknown and much easier to smoke the hopium pipe (as CL would say). I can appreciate this since I've left 2 marriages, but I'm also not the anxious type and have never been afraid of the unknown.
 

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View attachment 85357

I'm assuming lots of chicken choking and lots of rubbing off by themselves? :unsure:
When truth such as this, slaps you in the face, you either smile or grimace.
Very few dead-pan mugs will be seen.

Sexual desire is generally irrepressible.

Either you diddle with someone else, diddle yourself, or you refuse to participate and become generally bland and invisible to others.
 

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That's when the parents need to put their own needs aside and put the kids first, and not yell/fight around them. Table their discussions for when the kids aren't around. Kids pick up the tab in divorce and it's not fair. They should just be able to be kids.
This is the hope.

That said, reality always reigns (acid rains :().

When emotions are involved, logic, so often dissolves.
 

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I don't know if it's really anything to do with being hopeful something will change....Most people in sexless marriages are in dead marriages....

Why do they stay?

For one, no one really knows the whole story...People are very discrete about these topics...Heck, I know a guy that has been seeing 2 different high priced escorts for the last 20 years...I didn't know this, until he told me in confidence some years ago.. Morality/ethics aside, its not hard for a guy that has anything going for him, to find women for sex, whether married or not.. whether paying for it or not....

Here is another aspect to consider....I know a lot of divorced middle aged people...Surprisingly a lot of them aren't actively dating and aren't actively looking...I've heard middle aged women say that they don't feel comfortable with their bodies anymore to be intimate and they know guys will want sex...Most are set in their ways and don't want to start new with someone else and all the potential crap there....Who knows, if these people weren't fighting and arguing when married, aren't dating and presumably aren't getting laid, then why even bother divorcing? I also know a lot of married couples that literally do nothing together, barely talk, and basically lead separate lives...It's almost the same as the divorced couples, just a lot more difficult financially for the divorcees...

So I guess is it fair to call these people weak, martyrs or damaged in some way? I dunno...The way it appears to me, is that they are just seeking the path of least resistance, based upon their own circumstances and life desires, which is a common human behavior/coping mechanism...
 

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Sometimes it even becomes a martyr thing where they keep the moral high ground because look at how much poor them put up with. Then they claim victory because they refused to divorce.
There is truth to some seeking martyrdom.

There used to be a podcast called “ The Sexless Marriage Struggle”

It was by a guy in his 40s that called himself Chris who’s wife had not touched him in 10 years. In fact they only had sex in the first few years of their marriage until they had 2 kids and then she stopped.

He would carry on about how miserable he was and how deeply it had effected his self esteem and confidence and enjoyment of life.

He would frequently read emails from his listeners who would pretty much universally urge him to divorce and move on.

He would spend the rest of the podcast lecturing on how he had made “vows” and that he was a man of honor and fortitude that’s keeps his promises blah blah blah.

So in other words he would whine and moan about how miserable he was in a sexless marriage, but then turn right around and brag and boast about how honorable he was and how much strength and integrity he has for tolerating it and living with it like people get some kind medal or plague on the wall for living with deprivation and misery.

So for some people, it really is a martyr thing.

You can see some of the same thing here where people will talk about how miserable they are,, but then almost brag about how they are standing by their vows and how much misery and hardship they can take.
 

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I'd still question the whole martyrdom story...It makes no sense(to me) why someone would do this if they had a decent enough way out....I'd love to know the financial situations of these so called martyrs....

Guys tend to have a more pragmatic approach to money....It sounds a whole lot better to make themselves out to be victims, than admit to being too afraid to sell their family home and live in a crappy apartment above the gas station..because their finances are in the toilet..If they aren't dateable at that point anyway, then why bother at all?
 

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Sometimes it even becomes a martyr thing where they keep the moral high ground because look at how much poor them put up with. Then they claim victory because they refused to divorce.
There are some who choose not to divorce because their belief system (e.g. religion) forbids it. Whether that is a pure and only factor influencing their decision, or tainted by unspoken, perhaps lesser, motivations I do not know, in general or in specific cases.

Some people are doing the best that they can. I can think of one longtime poster who is in a ****ty situation, is staying, according to him, because of his religious beliefs. In his case, I don’t know what sort of “victory” he could be claiming other than honoring his commitment made to his God. Im not the least bit religious, but I can comprehend that his religious convictions are likely a big influence in his case, and can respect that it is. For his sake, I hope he can find and feel some value out of his choice to stay married.

Though he occasionally vents here, and/or shares the downside of his choice to stay, I don’t fault him for that or look down on him. I’m glad he has somewhere he can get some of his real and valid pain off his chest. Those impatient with that can choose to block him. Or communicate options consistent with his belief system that might help him see a different way forward.

Yes, you said “sometimes”. So, I don’t know how you feel about any particular poster, or what thoughts gave rise to your post.

In my case I’m sure there’s much below the surface that contradicts the reasons apparent I could offer for why I’ve stayed so far. Such contradictions are useful to point out, and important for the one holding them to come to understand, because doing so unlocks more possibility for making healthier choices. But, the fact someone vents about a situation or feels good about some aspects of their choice to stay so far does not make them a martyr or inferior in any way.
 

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So I guess is it fair to call these people weak, martyrs or damaged in some way? I dunno...The way it appears to me, is that they are just seeking the path of least resistance, based upon their own circumstances and life desires, which is a common human behavior/coping mechanism...
I find the notion of martyrdom here potentially insulting and unhelpful. Certainly distracting, and not the most direct route to connect people with their potential for effecting change.

Someone on TAM accused me once of being a martyr, I found it a bit annoying and that it did not apply to me. I did give it some thought. I concluded his need to judge me so had more to do with him, rather than what little he might possibly know about me. YMMV.

I like to think I’m generally open to criticism. I’d guess I hold many inaccurate beliefs about myself, so who knows, maybe someday someone will convince me I am a martyr.

One thing I’m sure of is I’m the one who has to live with my choices. I’m the one in daily contact with the people and circumstances and things of this world I value. I value some more than others. I have conscious motives and less than conscious motives. Many of these are opposed to each other. Currently, they balance out to the choice to stay another day. The balance changes.

I don’t think the parts of me that are on the losing side of that decision get much joy from their loss. The parts of staying that I perceive beneficial, yes, I’d like to maximize the impact they have on the moments I live in.
 

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I find the notion of martyrdom here potentially insulting and unhelpful. Certainly distracting, and not the most direct route to connect people with their potential for effecting change.

Someone on TAM accused me once of being a martyr, I found it a bit annoying and that it did not apply to me. I did give it some thought. I concluded his need to judge me so had more to do with him, rather than what little he might possibly know about me. YMMV.

I like to think I’m generally open to criticism. I’d guess I hold many inaccurate beliefs about myself, so who knows, maybe someday someone will convince me I am a martyr.

One thing I’m sure of is I’m the one who has to live with my choices. I’m the one in daily contact with the people and circumstances and things of this world I value. I value some more than others. I have conscious motives and less than conscious motives. Many of these are opposed to each other. Currently, they balance out to the choice to stay another day. The balance changes.

I don’t think the parts of me that are on the losing side of that decision get much joy from their loss. The parts of staying that I perceive beneficial, yes, I’d like to maximize the impact they have on the moments I live in.
Fair point....

Just out of curiosity, If you hit the lottery tomorrow, would you still stay??
 

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How is it possible to stay married with a sexless marriage? One could ask how one can stay in a marriage with other aspects of the marriage out of order.

This question is for the case where at one at least has sexual tension. Age and health are killers in themselves, and some do not have great sexual tension in a sexless marriage as touted for the original question. Others whether their sexless marriage is caused by their relationship, health, age, or other have sex drives and libidos that have long since tanked! So, what would be the point of leaving?

I think out of the box constantly. It was asked if there might be fear to leave a marriage and not be able to find anything better. Some do not leave because their mate will not be able to find anything better. Ever think of that?

Hanging the martyr label on those attending to their vows might be a correct determination, at the same time one is throwing out the marriage vows with the bath water. A thrust that the vows are meaningless. One leans to dissolve the marriage since the have and to hold is missing save the better or worse is dismissed as irreverent. Can we have it both ways?

There does seem to be situations where throwing in the towel on marriage is the best for all involved. If one is leaving a marriage and lists a sexless marriage as the reason, they are really leaving because of the cause of the sexless marriage, not lack of sex? Some in this situation are unable to identify the root cause, or both know what it is! This is a mystery beyond comprehension when you think about it?

The causes of a sexless marriage at times is complicated and reasons folks are staying in a marriage that is dysfunctional is very multifaceted in my opinion also. And listing the mindsets for such a drama may not be related to, understood, and or really accepted till one walks in their shoes in my opinion!
 

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At 59, we both are no more than three days tops. Thankfully both of us are high desire. A couple of my friends at my age are not so frequent. I had to educate one of my best pals how to jazz it up. He purchased a “womanizer”. Uh oh....he really started something. LOL.
yeah, i'm the idea guy and the toy guy. I've bought some that are met with "um, i don't think so." others that have become very very popular. lol
 

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yeah, i'm the idea guy and the toy guy. I've bought some that are met with "um, i don't think so." others that have become very very popular. lol
Get a Womanizer and you will be a hero.
 

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I also know a lot of married couples that literally do nothing together, barely talk, and basically lead separate lives...It's almost the same as the divorced couples, just a lot more difficult financially for the divorcees...
Same here - my wife's best friend has been married 30 years and their kids are out of the house. They don't do anything together - she's a teacher and he's in business with his brother but he doesn't work too hard in the business because he's always doing projects around the house. She goes on vacation with her mother every year without him - not sure what he does. Same thing with a buddy of mine - to hear him talk they haven't had sex in years, and they're slightly younger than us (early 50's with one kid still at home). I also don't think my friend is real happy in his marriage, but he has a lot more to lose should they get divorced (he's a business owner and he and his partners also own the building their business is located in), so he's just sticking it out.

As for us, being mid-50's with two grade school age kids, even though other aspects have improved greatly since the kids were toddlers (they're ten now), our sex life is dead as a doorknob. Been over a year since we last had sex (came close a couple of weeks ago due to her being a bit drunk, but alas nothing happened), and she honestly doesn't have a sex drive. To be fair, we also can't just dump the kids off on grandparents like our next-door neighbors do every weekend (my parents are deceased and hers are in a facility), but I don't think that would matter (back when we'd get a sitter and go out, as soon as we'd get in the car, she'd go on and on about how bad her head hurt and/or how tired she was - I still maintain this was her way to forestall sex).
 

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Sex is only a small part of being married and raising a family for most people. But everyone is different.

I know a couple who always had hurt feelings and conflict around sex. All he wanted to do was "look" at only certain body parts and not put forth any effort that might have gotten her off. She was higher drive than him and into ordinary sex with touching.

They survived quite a few years and luckily, both of them lost their interest in trying to have the mutually disagreeable sex about the same time -- and then they stopped fighting nearly as much and were able to relax and enjoy just sitting around together watching a movie or something. It wasn't until AFTER this began happening that I first saw him show her any ordinary everyday affection, such as putting his arm around her.

There's all kinds with all kinds of problems. Most of the problems were not as noticeable in the beginning when people are concealing their oddities....
 

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Again, that is how it would be for you. But there are plenty of people for whom it is still a marriage. It comes down to the two rules of life:
1) consent is mandatory
2) except for rule 1, there is no one true way.
You way has it such that a sexless partner is no longer a spouse. And that is valid for you and others like you. But you present the situation as if my wives went sexless on me that they are no longer my spouses. But that is not the way it is with us.
But your's know that you can add another woman if they are no longer available. They have to keep up their game.
 

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In my situation, everything else in our marriage was working fine. We weren't fighting in front of the kids or not speaking, we just weren't as affectionate. I was used to my husband going days, weeks, or occasionally even months between initiating. So when on one occasion it went on even longer than that, I kept thinking, he'll initiate sometime soon. In the mean time he worked and I took care of our kids and time kept passing. After several months I realized he wasn't going to do anything. I was too hurt and prideful to go begging him when it seemed obvious he didn't want anything to do with me. Before a year had passed, I was considering divorce. Something snapped and we finally spoke about our lack of sex for a year. I told him how I felt and he apologized saying he had wanted to initiate, but the longer it went on for, the more scared he was that I would reject him. Since then he vowed to never let us go that long again. I've told him I won't put up with it again. Sex between two healthy married people is necessary for emotional closeness as well as physical release.
Why didn't YOU initiate? If it is more than a day and I don't, my wife does. That long time period was just as much your doing as it was his. If you don't want to initiate, then make it clear throughout e the day you are ready and willing.

My wife and I have been married 25 yrs and act like honeymooners, can't keep our hands off each other. That sends me a signal that she is game if I initiate. Come to think of it, she has not turned me down in 8-9 yrs. There are times I will not initiate if she is not feeling well or I know she is really tired.
 

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This is the hope.

That said, reality always reigns (acid rains :().

When emotions are involved, logic, so often dissolves.
I used to wish my dad would find someone else that actually loved him and divorce my mom. I lost a lot of respect for how he tolerated mom's crap. Have no respect for mom due to the way she treated dad.
 
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