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I would like this thread to be a resource for women who are in sexless, or near sexless marriages in which it is their husbands who don’t want sex. I’m hoping that women dealing with this issue will post and talk about what they are going through.

About 20% of marriages are sexless. A sexless marriage is defined as one in which the couple has sex 10 or fewer times a year.

We hear a lot about women withholding sex and thus making a marriage sexless, or near sexless. There is a lot of empathy/sympathy out there for men stuck in such a marriage.

What we don’t hear of much is that about half of the sexless marriages are due to the husband choosing to make the marriage sexless. We are fed the falsehood that all men want sex all the time. Well that’s just not so. Some men do not want sex all the time.

Women who are in sexless marriages due to their husband’s choice to make the marriage sexless often feel that they have nowhere to turn, no one to talk to. They are rightly concerned that they will be blamed. It’s all their fault. When a woman thinks that all men want sex all the time, in her mind she becomes the only married woman who is so undesirable that her husband will not touch her.

Women are only now starting to be open about this. Marriage counselors are finally starting to talk about how common the problem is.

If you are a woman in a sexless marriage because it’s your husband’s choice to make it sexless, you are far from alone. Many of us women out here have had the same issue. We are, or were, married to a man like your husband.

TAM is a good place to come for moral support and some good advice. But there is no way that we here on TAM can give you all the input and help you need to resolve this issue. There are some books that I think would go a long way to help you understand what is going on in your marriage and figure out ways to fix it if at all possible. Here are some good books that have helped a lot of women.

Why Men Stop Having Sex: Men, the Phenomenon of Sexless Relationships, and What You Can Do About It

Intimacy Anorexia: Healing the Hidden Addiction in Your Marriage

Sex-Starved Wives

The Sex-Starved Wife: What to Do When He's Lost Desire by Michele Weiner Davis

Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence

In some sexless marriages, the issue is denying sex to control their spouse. Here are some links if you think you might be experiencing this

Narcissists, Sex and Fidelity - The Somatic Narcissist, The Asexual Cerebral Narcissist, Extramarital Affairs, and Paraphilias

Sexual Attitudes of a Narcissist: Sex and the Narcissist - The Narcissistic Life

https://talkaboutmarriage.com/ladies-lounge/350970-Sex-Starved-wife-12.html#post16762066
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Below is some info from the book "Why Men Stop Having Sex".

WHAT STOPS THE PASSION? Why do men stop having sex with their wives? The reason is seldom simple and may have a physiological, psychological, or cultural foundation; recent studies add a genetic component. Often these elements combine. We looked at the statistical reasons our male survey respondents, who self-identified as choosing not to have sex with their spouses, gave us for no longer being intimate, and we studied their comments carefully. Let’s first take a look at some statistics. We asked men to rate a list of reasons on a scale that went from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The following table lists in descending order the percentage of men who agreed with each of the causes.


%% WHY MEN SAID THEY STOPPED

68%……She isn’t sexually adventurous enough for me.
(This lack of newness, energy, and emotion translates for many men into a lack of adventure and sexual enjoyment on the part of their partners, transferring the problem and ignoring the fact that they [the men] are not bringing any originality to bed, either.)​

61%……She doesn’t seem to enjoy sex.
48%……I am interested in sex with others, but not with my wife.
44%……I am angry at her.
41%……I’m bored.
40%……She is depressed.
38%……She has gained a significant amount of weight.
34%……I am depressed.
32%……I no longer find her physically attractive.
30%……I suffer from erectile dysfunction.
28%……I lost interest and I don’t know why.
25%……I prefer to masturbate, but not online.
25%……I prefer to watch pornography online and masturbate.
21%……I am on medication that lowered my libido.
20%……I am/was having an affair.
16%……I suffer from premature ejaculation.
15%……I have difficulty achieving orgasm.
14%……I am too tired.
09%……She is/was having an affair.
06%……I don’t have the time.
03%……I wasn’t interested in sex to begin with.
<1%……I am gay.

Although the men know (or at least think they know) the reasons for their voluntary celibacy but the women are only guessing, either way the situation is embarrassing and painful. It is therefore not surprising that both men and women agree most with statements that shift responsibility away from themselves. Indeed, men indicate a lack of sexual adventure (hers, not his) as primary. It is difficult to believe that this lack of erotic excitement is completely one-sided, and that these men who identify their wives as unadventurous are themselves imaginatively passionate guys, just somehow mysteriously unable to inspire the one woman they chose to marry. Both men and women agree most with statements that shift responsibility away from themselves. After all, they probably knew her acceptable level of tolerance for erotic exploration before the vows were exchanged. We suspect that boredom or other factors is closer to the truth, or they are confusing the pornography they see on DVDs or the Internet with reality.

Berkowitz, Bob; Yager-Berkowitz, Susan. He's Just Not Up for It Anymore: Why Men Stop Having Sex, and What You Can Do About It (pp. 13-15). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

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Another thing that is becoming more and more of an issue is men who prefer to use porn to masturbate to instead of having sex with their wife (or significant other).

I've had discussions with women who say that their husband seldom has sex with them. Instead he uses port many times more in a month than he will have sex with her...if he will have sex with her at all. But she will make a strong point that her husband does not have a porn addition. I'm not sure if it matters one iota if we call it an addiction or not. He prefers to have sex with porn than with her. There is a reason and it needs to be addressed if the couple is ever going to have sex life. So label it addiction, or don't label it. It's all the same thing.

There are ways for men who use porn to the extent that it is hurting their marital sex life. There is a way to get the desire for their desire for their wife back.

This has become so common that there is now a lot of information about it available. If you search on "cure porn addiction", many sites will come up that talk about how to fix this.

Here is a site with a lot of info on this topic: Your Brain on Porn



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I think I'm going on 5 or 6 weeks now. That may not be the record breaker but it's probably close. The excuse is an injury that he obtained working out at the gym. Yet he's never gone to the doctor and he still works out 5 days a week. I'm calling bs on it (but not to his face). I'm LD too (once a week is good for me), but I'm now dreaming about sex.

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Great post, Ele!

Some wives aren't totally sex starved or sexless, but are maybe just getting lack luster sex or sex they dislike (men complain of the same problem, of course). There are some women here who have turned their so-so sex lives into better sex lives. I hope some of them will chime in here. I'm thinking of @Spicy and @peacem

and @MissScarlet

and @Anon Pink
 

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I remember @Anon Pink giving me some good advice that I needed to get the root of the problem and stop worrying so much about the porn. Every time we talked something new and surprising would be said, and then there would be another layer, and another and another. It was 20 years of thin layers of unhappiness that slowly crept up on us.

When we got right to the root it turned out my H was not very confident with sex and didn't think he was ever very good at it (because I took so long to orgasm). For me I was insecure about my body, not dealing well with aging, and honestly thought there was something wrong with me because I couldn't orgasm like a porn movie. So when he turned from me I didn't put up much of a fight.

Not to simplify things too much (because there was a lot of childhood issue around sex for my H too), but the single biggest solution was buying a vibrator - which ironically was bought in absolute rage and spite. It turned out having a new power tool improved his confidence and made me feel like a 'normal' woman. It also meant that if my H wasn't feeling horny he can still be sexually affectionate with me until he is ready. He never really cared for the sexy pics of me, or the erotic lingerie or watching porn together - but he would be perfectly happy for me to spend our last penny on sex toys. It wasn't about my attractiveness or sexiness (that didn't need improving) it was about confidence on both sides.

I think to get to the point we did you have to be somewhat vulnerable which I think many people struggle with (both men and women). It was very difficult for him to admit after 20 years of marriage that he never felt very good at sex and it was difficult for me to admit that I don't really like my body much (those conversation do not typically inspire sexiness). But actually getting these things out in the open created a small chink of light where we could at last find a solution - as opposed to sleeping in the spare room or turning our backs on each other when the lights go off.
 

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The average frequency of sex as it relates to age would be interesting to consider in this discussion, imo.
@EleGirl, can you explain a bit more about the 20% of sexless marriages fact?

I'm curious whether this is 20% of the population in general or whether the study was focused on a particular age range?

I have not been in a sex starved marriage ever, but I was in a sex starved relationship of 8 months with an ex boyfriend. So I can't relate to the duration of sexlessness some ladies here may have endured, but I can recall clearly the way I felt whenever my bf would reject me or avoid being near me when I was sending out obvious signals. When we did have sex, it was very wonderful. I simply could not for the life of me understand why he didn't want more of that.

I was probably in the best shape of my life when we were dating (my weight hasn't changed much but my lifestyle could allow for more exercise time then) and he was overweight. I was concerned for his general health, but his weight never stopped me from wanting him.

I'll never know what held him back, whether he found me unattractive, or I just wasn't his type, or he was too nervous and anxious, or what. Maybe our drives were simply mismatched and he needed it less than me. Maybe he had T issues. I asked him very frankly once, why he didn't just seem to desire me at times, and I got the most non-answer in existence. That told me all I needed to know. There were other reasons we split, and it was done completely amicably and cleanly, but he was my first (and hopefully only) experience with sex starvation. It makes you want to crawl up the walls when you're a very expressive, sexual being.
 
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I think I'm going on 5 or 6 weeks now. That may not be the record breaker but it's probably close. The excuse is an injury that he obtained working out at the gym. Yet he's never gone to the doctor and he still works out 5 days a week. I'm calling bs on it (but not to his face). I'm LD too (once a week is good for me), but I'm now dreaming about sex.

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The underlined might be a good starting point. If he can work out, he can have sex. Why are you avoiding this topic with him?
 

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Also, does the 20% sexless marriage take into account marriages where both partners are LD and perfectly happy with this minimal amount of sex, or are we saying 20% sexless are those in which one person in the marriage is unhappy with this?
 

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Sex starved marriages for men and women seem to follow a very similar pattern. The LD person frequently describes their lack of interest as having some other physical cause - illness, tiredness, etc, but as tropicalbeachiwish has in her example, that physical issue doesn't seem to affect other things that the LD person wants to do.

I don't think the LD person is lying - I think they are trying to explain something that they don't understand themselves.

There is a tendency for LD people to also be selfish lovers - any sort of sex they want si always available to them on the rare occasions when the want it. They may never have had the experience of not getting what they want in bed. OTOH, there are some selfish lovers who are not LD, who just don't care about their partners' enjoymemt.
 

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The underlined might be a good starting point. If he can work out, he can have sex. Why are you avoiding this topic with him?
Because we both avoid conflicts. The sex issue is just a small part of our problems. It's important, yes, but it doesn't rank very high on the list. Our communications suck. We usually pretend that everything is OK but both know it's not. And because we don't fight on a regular basis , when we do once in a while, it BLOWS up.

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Discussion Starter #10
Sex starved marriages for men and women seem to follow a very similar pattern. The LD person frequently describes their lack of interest as having some other physical cause - illness, tiredness, etc, but as tropicalbeachiwish has in her example, that physical issue doesn't seem to affect other things that the LD person wants to do.
Studies done on couples in sexless marriage have a very similar finding. Most people (man and female) who do not want sex with their spouse are not actually low drive. Somewhere between 70%-80% of them harbor anger and resentment towards their spouse. Some have just stopped trying to talk to their spouse about it but will not have sex with them because their desire for sex WITH THER SPOUSE has been extringuished. Many times, the withholding spouse is using withhold sex as a passive aggressive way to punish their spouse. They can act all nice to their spouse’s face. But then punish them, sort of put the screws to their spouse, by not having sex. If sex matters to their spouse, rejection is a very effective way to punish them. Keep in mind that when asked, about 50% of men who withhold sex from their wife are getting it on the side with another woman. Add to that the large percengate who turn to porn for masturbation. The majority of men who withhold sex are not LD, they are getting sex one way or the other. I think that the same holds for most women… about 50% admit to cheating.

Yes, there are truly LD people. Your wife might be one of them. But that percentage is actually very small.

I don't think the LD person is lying - I think they are trying to explain something that they don't understand themselves.
Since 70%-80% of those in studies on the topic say that they are not LD, but withholding because they are harboring anger and resentment, I do think that most are not telling the truth.

Again, your wife might be one of the small percentage who is truly LD. You might not be experiencing what the majority of people who have spouses who make their marriage sexless experience.

There is a tendency for LD people to also be selfish lovers - any sort of sex they want is always available to them on the rare occasions when the want it. They may never have had the experience of not getting what they want in bed. OTOH, there are some selfish lovers who are not LD, who just don't care about their partners' enjoymemt.
Yep.
 

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I was debating if I should add to this thread, but since other men have chimed in, I'll toss in my thoughts.

I've read many books on sexuality and many issues that are not gender specific boil down to self confidence. An individual may crave sex with a spouse because s/he wants to use it as a way to prove that they are loved. So this individual with low self confidence will begin comparing the sexual response of their spouse to that of their own. Upon finding differences, a lack of confidence will often misdiagnose a healthy difference as being a problem that requires correction. Most often this problem is diagnosed as the the other spouse having low desire or an unhealthy libido. In reality the only thing wrong is that there is a failure to understand and respect the spouse's varying sexual response to that of their own.

I'll also add that even men such as myself that have a very active libido and a high level of desire can take a long time to build arousal before achieving a status of being ready to go at a moments notice. Achieving that can take hours or days of daydreaming, fantasizing, and discovering curiosities that create a sense of "anticipation" waiting for the next time our spouse is receptive. In that sense an act of sex actually takes course slowly over a day or more, culminating in the actual event itself for just a very short moment. I can actually go from zero arousal to having sex in a very short amount of time, but I'll admit that it is not enjoyable and those are the moments that I do it for the sake of my wife's pleasure and not mine. The exact same things also happens vice versa in my marriage, and it can be difficult learning to communicate and be respectful of that in a way that allows just one partner to fully indulge while the other enjoys the emotional closeness without feeling used.

Another difficult thing for some to understand is that sometimes sex can be better without an orgasm. An orgasm should never be be sole focus and goal of sex, and if it is, it is very likely that you are forcing your partner to orgasm. It is usually obvious when a partner is having trouble reaching orgasm, be it yourself or your spouse. In my opinion partners should take that as an indication that they are likely overstimulating or understimulating their partner. This is easy to overcome with a little trial and error to see what works better. This situation however becomes even worse when someone feels that they are required to orgasm in order to complete the act of sex, when in reality they should just let go and calm down. I have myself, forced myself to orgasm when the moment was not really happening. What I did not realize is that my wife was sensitive to this and could tell that I was struggling instead of enjoying being with her. I too can sense this vice versa and it is indeed rather problematic to experience your partner pushing themselves beyond the point of pleasure in efforts to force an orgasm. So if it is not going to happen, relax and the next thing you know you will not be able to stop it!

The last discussion point that causes me problems are incompatible philosophies on self exploration and masturbation. Desire needs distance, and in my opinion loving couples encourage each other to be playful with that type of distance as opposed to being threatened by it.

Hope that helps,
Badsanta
 

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One guy's perspective...

I was in a 100% sexless marriage for last 4.5 years of my 8 year marriage. I hated my wife, resented how she treated me. No way in hell did I want to be intimate with her. Never once got a BJ from her, even when dating. I'd much rather take care of myself than to see her naked and give her any pleasure. She never initiated sex prior, I blame her strict religious upbringing. I just married the wrong person, chalk it up as a life lesson.

Now that I'm divorced, I'm having the best sex of my life at 35 years old. Amazing how good a relationship can be when both want each other all the time. I just hope it never ends.
 

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For those male posters that are scoffing at this being a real problem and/or implying that being a sex starved wife is the woman's own doing.

PLEASE REFRAIN FROM POSTING ON THIS THREAD.
If a woman is in a sexless relationship, not by her choice, it is serious (regardless of whether it is more common with one gender vs. the other). I think the general perception is that more men deal with this, which I think makes this thread more valuable as an outlet for women to discuss. I know several female posters have been very forthcoming about the issues they have (and possible are still) dealing with.
 

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Do you have any links.
I just have 2 detailed data points (myself, and a woman who has described her problem to me) but from reading lots of forums, there seem to be a lot of cases where as far as the HD can tell, they are doing nothing wrong. Where the LD has been LD since the relationship started - so it seems hard to imagine that it is being used as punishment - why punish someone when you are just starting a relationship?

I am 99.8% convinced my wife doesn't want me to change in any way, she just doesn't want sex with me or with anyone else, or herself for that matter. She has near zero sex drive of any sort.

Single data points don't prove anything of course, but I'm surprised at the claim that so many people are withholding sex out of anger.


Studies done on couples in sexless marriage have a very similar finding. Most people (man and female) who do not want sex with their spouse are not actually low drive. Somewhere between 70%-80% of them harbor anger and resentment towards their spouse. Some have just stopped trying to talk to their spouse about it but will not have sex with them because their desire for sex WITH THER SPOUSE has been extringuished. Many times, the withholding spouse is using withhold sex as a passive aggressive way to punish their spouse. They can act all nice to their spouse’s face. But then punish them, sort of put the screws to their spouse, by not having sex. If sex matters to their spouse, rejection is a very effective way to punish them. Keep in mind that when asked, about 50% of men who withhold sex from their wife are getting it on the side with another woman. Add to that the large percengate who turn to porn for masturbation. The majority of men who withhold sex are not LD, they are getting sex one way or the other. I think that the same holds for most women… about 50% admit to cheating.

Yes, there are truly LD people. Your wife might be one of them. But that percentage is actually very small.


Since 70%-80% of those in studies on the topic say that they are not LD, but withholding because they are harboring anger and resentment, I do think that most are not telling the truth.

Again, your wife might be one of the small percentage who is truly LD. You might not be experiencing what the majority of people who have spouses who make their marriage sexless experience.


Yep.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I see on TAM time and time again that some people claim that in a sexless marriage, men are "equally likely" to refuse sex as women.

This statement above means that if we take a random sample of 100 marriages, the ones where the men refuse would be about 50 and where the women refuse would be 50.

Does this seem accurate? From what I see and read and experience, this is not the case. While sexless marriages due to husbands definitely exist, I don't think that it is as much as the ones due to wives withholding sex.

My guess would be 20%-80% rather than 50%-50% but I want to see a survey if anyone has.

I don't want to derail the thread but I think it is important to know how serious this is (or not).
A large part of the reason that you see/read more about men whose wives withhold sex and make the marriage sexless, or near sexless, is that men have always felt open to complain about their wife withholding sex and a sexless marriage. Men get a lot of sympathy from other men and even from other women when the marriage is sexless.

And due to this societal openness on the topic for men, a lot of the earlier work on the topic has only looked at men with wives who withhold sex.

It's only been more recently that studies have started to be done that look at marriages in which the husband is the one who is withholding sex and making the marriage sexless.

Society has historically had to empathy/sympathy for women in this situation. For the most part a woman who dares to talk openly about a husband who does not want sex with her is pretty much attacked.. it's her fault, something is wrong with her. If only she would lose weight, wear more makeup, dress up in sexy things, and on and on.. . it's all on her. Women know this and so they don't talk about it.

I was in a marriage where my husband refused to have sex with me for 7 years... yes 7 years. I tried to bring it up in counseling and even the counselor attacked me and make all kinds of mean assumptions about why it was all my fault and my husband was a victim. All of this was imagination in the head of the counselor. That was the last time I ever tried talking about it to anyone... well until I came to TAM.

And do you know what was told me on TAM? Did I get all that sympathy that the men on TAM get when they have a wife who withholds? NOPE. Not one of the men on TAM offered any kind of empathy or help. The ones who replied laughed at me. I was told in several different ways that it was about time that women expensed this. After a few attempts to talk about it on TAM I just shut down.. for a few years.

But I kept watching women come here with this issue. And I kept watching them being told some pretty harsh stuff. That's when I started to find resources for these women and started posting to them.

I don't want to derail the thread but I think it is important to know how serious this is (or not).
So yea, don't derail this thread to argue about this. It's real. Studies have been done. This thread is to help women in this situation because it can be very hard for women to even be taken seriously when they have this problem in their marriage. When it comes to this topic, one of the first things that a woman needs to know is that her situation is not unique. It's pretty darn common. This thread is for those women who are living with this and need help.
 

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Guys that are in sexless marriages, I REALLY feel for you. It must be horrible.

But please dont make that pain become resentment for ALL women, and turn this thread into yet ANOTHER men vs women thread on TAM.

Be strong enough to realize this might be one instance where it IS harder for women. Because guys ARE supposed to want sex all the time. So to be married to a guy that for whatever reason doesnt? That would be hell. Hell without people feeling for you because what the hell are you talking about? ALL guys want sex all the time.
 
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