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So in talking to a friend recently, asking me what I felt was missing in my marriage given our many problems, and in talking to him, it finally hit me: desire.

And here I don't mean ME desiring my wife.... I feel plenty of that. What I don't feel, and can't remember when I last felt it, is desired BY my wife.....?

I can give plenty of details and expand, but my question is this: what is the importance of feeling/being desired in a marriage? Is it wrong to expect to feel it? Is it a privilege, an expectation? What?

I know it isn't up to my wife to make me feel sexy or to make me feel any certain way, but is it fair to myself to allow myself to exist in a marriage where I don't feel, let alone think, I am desired? Or is that selfish, unfair expectation?
 

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So in talking to a friend recently, asking me what I felt was missing in my marriage given our many problems, and in talking to him, it finally hit me: desire.

And here I don't mean ME desiring my wife.... I feel plenty of that. What I don't feel, and can't remember when I last felt it, is desired BY my wife.....?

I can give plenty of details and expand, but my question is this: what is the importance of feeling/being desired in a marriage? Is it wrong to expect to feel it? Is it a privilege, an expectation? What?

I know it isn't up to my wife to make me feel sexy or to make me feel any certain way, but is it fair to myself to allow myself to exist in a marriage where I don't feel, let alone think, I am desired? Or is that selfish, unfair expectation?
What does "desire" mean to you? Would flirty text messages do the trick? Is there an issue where you say something nice & maybe a bit flirty yourself to your wife and it falls flat, so you wonder what the point is? Is it about you having to initiate everything and you'd like to see her greet you in her see-through Kimono once in a while?

If it's any of those things, I think you'll find you're in very good company here. The problem with solutions is that they're both individual and, here's the worst part, they may involve you having to change yourself. You're also going to be asked if you're adequately communicating your issues with your wife, and not just by telling her what the issue is, but also explaining why it's important to you. Oh, and if you haven't already, you and your wife both need to read "The 5 Love Languages."

But welcome to TAM! Give some specifics and you'll get a lot of responses, from both men & women.
 

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... but my question is this: what is the importance of feeling/being desired in a marriage? Is it wrong to expect to feel it? Is it a privilege, an expectation? What?
First, there is nothing wrong with wanting a fulfilling intimate relationship with your wife.

The problem is, you have to create the atmosphere that makes it happen. Female desire comes as a response to masculinity (status, frame, playfullness, passing sh!ttests, decisiveness, prudent power, etc.), whereas male desire is more visual (younger, slimmer, longer hair, prettier, etc., whatever lights your candle).

Need more details on your dynamics, but she ain't gonna feel desire if you've both settled into homely roles (got kids?) where you're helping around the house and being a good provider. Sadly, this kills desire in a woman, and once a woman has turned off, it takes a lot of effort to get it back on.

We men may not like the rules, but we have to play by them.

How long has it been dead? Months or years? Beware, many get to decades of sexlessness so understand you need to take action as it will ever fix itself. I'm not convinced that talking about it will work as you will sound needy and weak which will lower her desire even more. Just try a few things: flirt with her, tease her, be playful, be witty, be decisive and don't change your mind, ... and if you're rejected, no problem, don't whinge, just get on with something more interesting. And repeat.

I assume she was turned onto you back in the day, what sparked her in those days? Have you changed by become more homely, more weight, lower status job, money issues, etc?
 

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I can give plenty of details and expand, but my question is this: what is the importance of feeling/being desired in a marriage? Is it wrong to expect to feel it? Is it a privilege, an expectation? What?

I know it isn't up to my wife to make me feel sexy or to make me feel any certain way, but is it fair to myself to allow myself to exist in a marriage where I don't feel, let alone think, I am desired? Or is that selfish, unfair expectation?
I see mutual sexual attraction and desire as something to be expected in a marriage. Without that, why not be just friends? In my view, the difference between friend or familial love and romantic love is sexual desire.

Would I stay in a marriage where I don't feel desired? No. See: Why not just be friends. That said, I'd at least talk to my spouse and make sure he knows that I don't feel desired and if that doesn't change permanently, I'm out.
 

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... but my question is this: what is the importance of feeling/being desired in a marriage? Is it wrong to expect to feel it? Is it a privilege, an expectation? What?
First, there is nothing wrong with wanting a fulfilling intimate relationship with your wife.

The problem is, you have to create the atmosphere that makes it happen. Female desire comes as a response to masculinity (status, frame, playfullness, passing sh!ttests, decisiveness, prudent power, etc.), whereas male desire is more visual (younger, slimmer, longer hair, prettier, etc., whatever lights your candle).

Need more details on your dynamics, but she ain't gonna feel desire if you've both settled into homely roles (got kids?) where you're helping around the house and being a good provider. Sadly, this kills desire in a woman, and once a woman has turned off, it takes a lot of effort to get it back on.

We men may not like the rules, but we have to play by them.

How long has it been dead? Months or years? Beware, many get to decades of sexlessness so understand you need to take action as it will ever fix itself. I'm not convinced that talking about it will work as you will sound needy and weak which will lower her desire even more. Just try a few things: flirt with her, tease her, be playful, be witty, be decisive and don't change your mind, ... and if you're rejected, no problem, don't whinge, just get on with something more interesting. And repeat.

I assume she was turned onto you back in the day, what sparked her in those days? Have you changed by become more homely, more weight, lower status job, money issues, etc?
This is good advice, IF it fits the situation. IF.

Beware that there are women who marry men they aren't very attracted to on purpose, because they want him for the financial/life/family structure he will provide. Not because they also want HIM intimately.

Figure out which one your wife is.
 

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Beware that there are women who marry men they aren't very attracted to on purpose, because they want him for the financial/life/family structure he will provide. Not because they also want HIM intimately.
And, to boot, they consider themselves ENTITLED to have a completely one-sided marriage, complete with house, kids, cars, pools, fences..... as if it's some kind of "inalienable right" for them to have security at the expense of his significance.

Just let him try to get a divorce..... or, God really help him if he looks at another woman..... he is to have a life of forced celibacy and remain completely "faithful" to this damnable self-sacrificial ball-and-chain she demands.
 

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It has been explained that you must perform tricks to be desired what a crock, yes there are marital expectations which shouldn't have to be earned. Is it an unreasonable expectation to have this no. But because you may see it lacking from what it once was, involves everything, you have seen the changes in your marriage is she more demanding than she once was? Or does she feel she has to have a standard of living you cannot swing?

I get it but it's already been said that if she isn't feeling it she will move on, well if that the case maybe it time. But most marriages go through peaks and valleys. But if been one sided you need to talk and find out why? If you are just stew about this and don't confront this it will never change. Are you a man who is able to be happy with himself?

Are you able to make a stand, for your desires, or just accept what little is giving to you. I believe having children or normal life isn't a good enough reason for her to not to be engaged with you. Yes women see things differently but if they are connecting to everyone or anything but you there is a problem.

Maybe share more here so we can get a better picture of the relationship.
 

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So in talking to a friend recently, asking me what I felt was missing in my marriage given our many problems, and in talking to him, it finally hit me: desire.

And here I don't mean ME desiring my wife.... I feel plenty of that. What I don't feel, and can't remember when I last felt it, is desired BY my wife.....?

I can give plenty of details and expand, but my question is this: what is the importance of feeling/being desired in a marriage? Is it wrong to expect to feel it? Is it a privilege, an expectation? What?

I know it isn't up to my wife to make me feel sexy or to make me feel any certain way, but is it fair to myself to allow myself to exist in a marriage where I don't feel, let alone think, I am desired? Or is that selfish, unfair expectation?
The last paragraph you wrote sounds pretty self centered. All about 'myself' and 'I'. You made promises and you have commitments, are you so easily wanting to end a marriage because of what you FEEL? Feelings lie BTW. Marriage is about far more than just what 'we' want, or think 'we' need. If you have children even more so.

My husband spent 23 years in a marriage where he didn't feel sexually desired. He stayed because he made a commitment, he made a promise, he had responsibilities and he had children. There was no way that he would have ever ended that marriage is she hadn't met someone else and ended it first.
 

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My husband spent 23 years in a marriage where he didn't feel sexually desired. He stayed because he made a commitment, he made a promise, he had responsibilities and he had children. There was no way that he would have ever ended that marriage is she hadn't met someone else and ended it first.
This kind of existence should not be wished upon ANYONE, sentenced to a life of self imposed misery out of obligation. NO ONE should be expected to live that way.

OP, how was your early relationship with your wife? What was she like? Has she always lacked desire for you? Are you sure that is what is going on here? Sometimes there are other issues that exist and desire is affected by them. No, you should not be expected to stay where you are not wanted.
 

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I've been married for over 30 years to a women who doesn't desire me in that way. After decades of thinking about the situation, I've concluded that the problem is not me.

Some people do not have sexual desire - pretty much ever, under any circumstances. They are just not "wired" that way. (I often suggest people visit asexuality.org for input from people who never feel sexual desire)

OP - you should take a mental step back and think about your situation. Do you believe that in the same situation that you have with your wife, other women would desire you? Do you think your wife desires anyone?

Being desired is extremely important for many people. It is a perfectly reasonable thing to want / expect in a marriage - but some people are not capable of providing it.


OTOH, I'd don't know anything about you . If you are 35, still living in your parent's basement, don't have a job and don't bathe - then it could be you. Do you think that in general you are the sort of person women can desire? You don't need to be a billionaire astronaut, just someone who has their life together .
 

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I think what you are asking for is what we call in healthy relationships "actually being in the marriage."

To me, if your spouse isn't actively demonstrating that they want to be married to you - which probably included a sexual/romantic desire in the beginning - then they've checked out.

It could be laziness, it could be complacency, it could be that you're no longer the same kind of person they are attracted to, or it could be something else.

But checked out of a marriage is still just being checked out of a marriage.
 

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I've been married for over 30 years to a women who doesn't desire me in that way. After decades of thinking about the situation, I've concluded that the problem is not me.

Some people do not have sexual desire - pretty much ever, under any circumstances. They are just not "wired" that way. (I often suggest people visit asexuality.org for input from people who never feel sexual desire)

OP - you should take a mental step back and think about your situation. Do you believe that in the same situation that you have with your wife, other women would desire you? Do you think your wife desires anyone?

Being desired is extremely important for many people. It is a perfectly reasonable thing to want / expect in a marriage - but some people are not capable of providing it.


OTOH, I'd don't know anything about you . If you are 35, still living in your parent's basement, don't have a job and don't bathe - then it could be you. Do you think that in general you are the sort of person women can desire? You don't need to be a billionaire astronaut, just someone who has their life together .

But the above would be the best possible situation :smile2:

Shoot for this, if you're not quite this, you'll be close enough.

Now I want to be a billionaire astronaut!!
 

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This kind of existence should not be wished upon ANYONE, sentenced to a life of self imposed misery out of obligation. NO ONE should be expected to live that way.

OP, how was your early relationship with your wife? What was she like? Has she always lacked desire for you? Are you sure that is what is going on here? Sometimes there are other issues that exist and desire is affected by them. No, you should not be expected to stay where you are not wanted.
Depends on whether you are the sort of person who breaks such vitally important promises they made and who understands what commitment and responsibility actually mean.
He also doesn't believe that we should divorce and that marriage should be for life.
 

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This kind of existence should not be wished upon ANYONE, sentenced to a life of self imposed misery out of obligation. NO ONE should be expected to live that way.

OP, how was your early relationship with your wife? What was she like? Has she always lacked desire for you? Are you sure that is what is going on here? Sometimes there are other issues that exist and desire is affected by them. No, you should not be expected to stay where you are not wanted.
Depends on whether you are the sort of person who breaks such important promises made or who understands what commitment and responsibility actually mean. He also doesn't believe that we should divorce and that marriage should be for life.
Who is "he"? The OP??? I didn't get that from his post. ???

Commitment and responsibility mean being a good partner to your spouse. Commitment and responsibility don't mean being stuck in a crap marriage for life.

Just because YOU believe everyone should stay in a ****TY marriage no matter what doesn't matter. Not everyone believes that and your views and definitions aren't better or more accurate than anyone else's.
 

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Depends on whether you are the sort of person who breaks such vitally important promises they made and who understands what commitment and responsibility actually mean.
He also doesn't believe that we should divorce and that marriage should be for life.
Here I see some interesting mental gymnastics.

IIRC, both you and your husband are divorced due to infidelity. Marriage is then clearly not for life.

If a spouse breaking their vow of "forsaking all others" is grounds for divorce then, logically, a spouse breaking their vows of "to love and cherish" and "to have and to hold" should also be grounds for divorce.
 

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And, to boot, they consider themselves ENTITLED to have a completely one-sided marriage, complete with house, kids, cars, pools, fences..... as if it's some kind of "inalienable right" for them to have security at the expense of his significance.

Just let him try to get a divorce..... or, God really help him if he looks at another woman..... he is to have a life of forced celibacy and remain completely "faithful" to this damnable self-sacrificial ball-and-chain she demands.

I never really understood this type of thinking. In most marriages the wife, especially if she's a SAHM like mine is, does a lot more for the family than the husband. Sure, I work and bring home the money, but she literally does everything else and I can tell you that she works a lot harder than me. If we never had sex ever again, I sure wouldn't think the marriage is one-sided because I provide the "security". What she provides is so much more than security.

Another thing I don't understand is the sex part. I mean if he's not having sex, then neither is she, right? Women like sex as much or more than men, so it's not like she's "getting over on him", or in any better situation than he is. If she doesn't desire him then they're both not having sex, not just him.


And for the "forced celibacy", what is that? No one forces anything on anyone. He always has a choice, everyone has a choice. No, w if he doesn't exercise his options, then it's on him, not her.
 

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I never really understood this type of thinking. In most marriages the wife, especially if she's a SAHM like mine is, does a lot more for the family than the husband. Sure, I work and bring home the money, but she literally does everything else and I can tell you that she works a lot harder than me. If we never had sex ever again, I sure wouldn't think the marriage is one-sided because I provide the "security". What she provides is so much more than security.
Marriage is complicated. It's part business (taking care of the bills and the household) and part personal (the private relationship between the spouses). I think the one sided bit referred to the personal relationship between the spouses.

Another thing I don't understand is the sex part. I mean if he's not having sex, then neither is she, right?
What you're missing here is not all women want sex. Some rarely want sex. Some want sex, but chose husbands they aren't sexually attracted to because they prioritized other attributes in mate selection. So, the low/no libido wife hums along just fine getting her needs met while the high libido husband goes without.
 

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OP Here...

Wow, great to see such a wealth of responses. TO be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. And thank you all for your contributions. It seems there's lots of ideas in the thread above, and many express questions about the nature of who I am and our relationship over time.

So, more details:
Yes, there was definitely desire early on, though the sexual dysfunction, "checking out" started early. So, yes, this is a YEARS long issue. And yes, it definitely got more pronounced after kids (now 3rd and 5th graders).

She definitely didn't marry me for money or security! I am a teacher, so no lucrative salary here!
And I definitely haven't let myself go. Though I am mid 40s, I am in very good shape, generally thought of as attractive, though definitely not the cocky/arrogant type about it.

I am one who generally does not ignore problems, and so early on in our marriage, I was the one to propose marriage counselling. Through the years we've tried ummmm, 3-5 therapists, each on my urging, each to moderate success. We;ve read 5 Love Languages and several other self-0help marriage books (Passionate Marriage, etc....), again, all on my suggestion and urging. I don't say these things to say, wow, hey I am the perfect husband. I just want to illustrate that I am not a bury-the-head-in-the-sand kind of guy and I am willing to work on things, certainly admitting to my own faults and short comings fairly readily.

I know in trying to deal with the lack of desire I have no doubt handled things poorly at times, but never out of intention. Looking back, its clear that I have been deeply hurt by existing in this state for such a long time, that it has no doubt impacted my own self esteem, and yet despite that, whenever i have tried to address it, I usually try to double check my intentions to make sure I am coming to any conversations as level headedly as possible and driven by sincere mutual self interest.

This last round of concern, the one that prompted me to turn here, comes after a few deep heart to hearts recently where I have expressed to my wife that I am feeling quite out of hope about our marriage....a warning sign of separation/divorce, I know. But I am the kind who believes in upholding vows, upholding commitments, and it was out of this desire NOT to split, that I appealed to this forum, seeking to know, yes, am I wrong to expect to be desired? There is of course ego involved (who wants to feel like they are married to someone that they feel is only intimate with them out of obligation...?) At what point does upholding one's commitment in the face of profound dissatisfaction and in an environment that is destructive to their self esteem cease being a noble pursuit and instead make them a spineless chump (for lack of a better way to put that)?

Most recently, I made a clear and direct initiation of sex with her, to which she opted out, saying she wasn't quite in the mood and needed more time, and thus I called off the advances. This itself was not an issue (there were days earlier in our marriage where I would have taken this personally, wondered, awwww, what's wrong with me that she doesn't want me? But I am done with that). I actually appreciated her clear and direct response. I have no interested in being intimate with her merely out of her sense of guilt or obligation or pity,... So I just moved on. It was only later, the next day when she returned to the subject and pseudo apologized that she triggered this reminder and clarity about the issue of desire. She point blank said that she felt/feels torn at such moments when she "isn't feeling it." Whether to be faithful to her own inclinations (ie, clear lack of desire) or to follow through at the expense of what she is feeling (hope that makes sense). And she says this, I know, with full knowledge of the differences between male and female sexuality.... (someone above alluded to this with the idea that men are visual, etc... and come to the table ready to go, while women warm up more to the idea and the urges can often come second only after initiating).

So yeah, I'm okay with all that in theory and in principal and likely would not have been triggered, had I not thought further about it and realized that, heck, she NEVER generally expresses a desire... and sex/intimacy in general seems for her a matter of last resort, of convenience, last priority once there's not other reason NOT to have sex or be intimate....

Okay, this post has gone on long enough, but I hope it helps clarify things and I look forward to any follow up wisdom out there!
 

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OP Here...

Wow, great to see such a wealth of responses. TO be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. And thank you all for your contributions. It seems there's lots of ideas in the thread above, and many express questions about the nature of who I am and our relationship over time.

So, more details:
Yes, there was definitely desire early on, though the sexual dysfunction, "checking out" started early. So, yes, this is a YEARS long issue. And yes, it definitely got more pronounced after kids (now 3rd and 5th graders).

She definitely didn't marry me for money or security! I am a teacher, so no lucrative salary here!
And I definitely haven't let myself go. Though I am mid 40s, I am in very good shape, generally thought of as attractive, though definitely not the cocky/arrogant type about it.

I am one who generally does not ignore problems, and so early on in our marriage, I was the one to propose marriage counselling. Through the years we've tried ummmm, 3-5 therapists, each on my urging, each to moderate success. We;ve read 5 Love Languages and several other self-0help marriage books (Passionate Marriage, etc....), again, all on my suggestion and urging. I don't say these things to say, wow, hey I am the perfect husband. I just want to illustrate that I am not a bury-the-head-in-the-sand kind of guy and I am willing to work on things, certainly admitting to my own faults and short comings fairly readily.

I know in trying to deal with the lack of desire I have no doubt handled things poorly at times, but never out of intention. Looking back, its clear that I have been deeply hurt by existing in this state for such a long time, that it has no doubt impacted my own self esteem, and yet despite that, whenever i have tried to address it, I usually try to double check my intentions to make sure I am coming to any conversations as level headedly as possible and driven by sincere mutual self interest.

This last round of concern, the one that prompted me to turn here, comes after a few deep heart to hearts recently where I have expressed to my wife that I am feeling quite out of hope about our marriage....a warning sign of separation/divorce, I know. But I am the kind who believes in upholding vows, upholding commitments, and it was out of this desire NOT to split, that I appealed to this forum, seeking to know, yes, am I wrong to expect to be desired? There is of course ego involved (who wants to feel like they are married to someone that they feel is only intimate with them out of obligation...?) At what point does upholding one's commitment in the face of profound dissatisfaction and in an environment that is destructive to their self esteem cease being a noble pursuit and instead make them a spineless chump (for lack of a better way to put that)?

Most recently, I made a clear and direct initiation of sex with her, to which she opted out, saying she wasn't quite in the mood and needed more time, and thus I called off the advances. This itself was not an issue (there were days earlier in our marriage where I would have taken this personally, wondered, awwww, what's wrong with me that she doesn't want me? But I am done with that). I actually appreciated her clear and direct response. I have no interested in being intimate with her merely out of her sense of guilt or obligation or pity,... So I just moved on. It was only later, the next day when she returned to the subject and pseudo apologized that she triggered this reminder and clarity about the issue of desire. She point blank said that she felt/feels torn at such moments when she "isn't feeling it." Whether to be faithful to her own inclinations (ie, clear lack of desire) or to follow through at the expense of what she is feeling (hope that makes sense). And she says this, I know, with full knowledge of the differences between male and female sexuality.... (someone above alluded to this with the idea that men are visual, etc... and come to the table ready to go, while women warm up more to the idea and the urges can often come second only after initiating).

So yeah, I'm okay with all that in theory and in principal and likely would not have been triggered, had I not thought further about it and realized that, heck, she NEVER generally expresses a desire... and sex/intimacy in general seems for her a matter of last resort, of convenience, last priority once there's not other reason NOT to have sex or be intimate....

Okay, this post has gone on long enough, but I hope it helps clarify things and I look forward to any follow up wisdom out there!
A few things:

1. what was sex like at the beginning of the relationship and what is it like now - in terms of frequency and in terms of interest?

2. how big a deal is this to you? Are you all-in, meaning you're willing to divorce if this doesn't get fixed? Or is it something you want to improve on but even if it doesn't, you're going to stay?

3. how rational is your wife when you have these conversations? What happens when you go to therapists? Is she interested and active, or is she passive? Or defensive?

4. has your wife ever expressed to you what she wants out of her sexual relationship with you with clarity? Meaning, she wishes it could be better, or she wishes you'd just accept it for what it is? Is she happy with it?
 

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A few things:

1. what was sex like at the beginning of the relationship and what is it like now - in terms of frequency and in terms of interest?

2. how big a deal is this to you? Are you all-in, meaning you're willing to divorce if this doesn't get fixed? Or is it something you want to improve on but even if it doesn't, you're going to stay?

3. how rational is your wife when you have these conversations? What happens when you go to therapists? Is she interested and active, or is she passive? Or defensive?

4. has your wife ever expressed to you what she wants out of her sexual relationship with you with clarity? Meaning, she wishes it could be better, or she wishes you'd just accept it for what it is? Is she happy with it?

Caught me still here:

1. it was good, passionate, frequent. Until about 3-4 years into relationship, chilled some to be expected I guess. Nothing ever too out of the box. In terms of growth, I would say I have grown more in sexuality--- shared desired to express new things, etc.... Wife has frequently said she liked it when we were younger and she felt like she was leader, etc... Right now, it is maybe, maybe 1 -2 times a month if we're lucky. Most likely 0-1 time. And most often, bland, unconnected. Given that, it doesnt seem too much for me to "give up" and just say f- it. And check out from it all myself.

2. It is a pretty big deal. Been unhappy about it for a long long time. and it coupled with other general issues (which I suspect are just as likely to blame as pure sexuality for our issues), yes, I am now thinking separating might be best case. If it werent for kids, I'd be a whole lot less apprehensive about going the split up route....

3. Wife is more rational now. Early on, very defensive. She has a great deal of shame and baggage from youth, I think. Early on, when I raised the issue about lack of intimacy, she would flip it and point to something I was doing or not doing to be the blame.... Always a revolving and evolving blame game away from her. Therapists have been decent, though never break through moments. It was like it would get her plugged back in fior a few weeks, a month, etc... and the poof, before either of us noticed it, it was back to buisness as usual. THe emotional yoyo ride is half the drain. Definitely has been manipulative.... only time she generally gets what I would call remotely aggressive or pursuing about sex is when I bring up the issue and maybe she senses me pulling away. I read an attachment theory thing the other day that seemed to explain that: one person being needy in one way, the other fearing detachment.... led to spirals of unhealthy interactions....

4. SHe agrees she thinks it could be better, but very reluctant to speak to any specifics on how to improve it.... Early on she would try to deemphasize the sex part (which made sense) and expressed concern that I just wanted sex or a screw and didn't want her..... that's about it, though recently she did agree with me when I said I felt like neither of us really "knew" the other person very deeply on a sexual side of things.

Maybe all that helps.
 
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