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My wife and I are in our early-to-mid 30's, been married for going on 10 years, are both professionals with demanding careers, and have no kids. No prior marriages for either one of us.

So, there's some huge gaps between my basic ideals and reality in this marriage, and I feel sad about it just about every other day, like somehow we've been cheated out of what marriage is meant to be, in the course of our own relationship.

After having communicated these feelings to my wife and suffered her rounds of denial, I have concluded that my feelings are one-sided, meaning that I alone feel that these gaps exist. The wife thinks she's doing a great job at being a wife in the relationship, and quickly shuts down any complaints from me. Given her position, I now wonder if my "basic" expectations are somehow not-so-basic and unreasonable?

I'm going to outline the major issues in my relationship that really upset me. I welcome any feedback on how I'm seeing this...

1. SEX LIFE
So, my wife and I did things the so-called "right" way. We didn't have premarital sex, didn't live together before marriage, etc. etc. When we got married, our sex life as newlyweds never exceeded 3 times a week, and many times it was just once or twice a week. Years later, after long intervals where our marriage would qualify as "sexless", we have sex maybe once every 2 weeks. The wife would say it's every week, but I disagree. Whatever the frequency, it should be noted that sex with my wife is always with a condom (due to her career, her unwillingness to take birth control, and general concerns of pregnancy), and there are never sexual favors of any kind. Nowadays, I'm typically told "to finish" after 10-15 minutes of intercourse, especially if she's already climaxed.

So, the sex has always (in my opinion) been infrequent, mechanical, cold, and altogether limited. Even if I assume that sex life in a marriage will deteriorate over time, inevitably reaching this level of quality at some point, the fact remains that it's never been better. And in this, I've been robbed of the fond memories that many married folk enjoy, of how things "used to be".

2. SUPPORT
My wife has received my emotional and financial support throughout our marriage, with whatever pursuits she's sought after, whether professional or personal. I've changed jobs for her career a number of times, and generally have adapted to her. She and her career have always been the priority, as demonstrated by the freedom, resources, and flexibility that I've given her. As a direct result of this, all of my pursuits have been put on the "back burner", but nonetheless, I've insisted that my dreams be fulfilled, even if they're not the priority in this relationship. My pursuits can vaguely be described as completing an advanced degree and writing a book, which I've tackled over the past few years. My wife has been strongly unsupportive about both pursuits, telling me the "degree was worthless", "my book would be a failure", "I can't write", etc. etc.

In any marriage, I would expect to have my wife in my corner, supporting me in what I believe are wholesome, fulfilling, and worthwhile pursuits. I haven't had this, and it just plain sucks.

*note: After finishing my degree, I currently make ~3X the salary of my wife, so it doesn't seem to have been a complete waste, after all*

3. RESPECT
There's been a general lack of respect in the relationship, and I expect better from both of us, given that we're married versus dating. In particular, there should be boundaries erected by both husband and wife that are mutually respected. This is not done in our relationship, and I see it as a real problem. I have come to a point of not respecting her boundaries, unless my boundaries are also respected. It may be immature, but that's just how I feel I need to deal with a disrespectful wife.

4. FAMILY
My wife has long accused me of skewed priorities, but her priorities are singular around her career, and have prevented us from having a family for years. In our case, the absence of family in the marital equation creates a dynamic where husband and wife become absorbed in their own pursuits. I see this as another gap in the relationship, knowing that there's many people who, while unfulfilled in their marriage, derive much joy from family. I can do no such thing.

---

The lack of respect and support has made me feel unloved, and that feeling has manifested itself through the underwhelming sex. Marriage without love, intimacy, support, respect, and family seems worthless. Very sad... I feel like I'm throwing away my youth.
 

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I feel really sad for people who get married without having sex or living together. You have no idea how big of an issue sex is until you've gone through it. So it's really unwise (maybe unfair) to get married to this life long commitment being blind to one of the biggest potential issues in your relationship.

I suggest counseling, and see if this relationship is worth saving. The sooner the better for both of you, so you can decide to move on, or work on a future together.

Best of luck.

PS - regarding the Family issue - ignore them. Family should stay out of your most personal relationship with your partner, for your own good and their own. I have had friends / family who sided with one person or another and it's never gone well. People should respect those in relationship, provided it's not toxic, dangerous, or otherwise harmful. Let them work it out, or offer to help fund counseling, etc. Do any more than that can be very hurtful and harmful.
 

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Man, this cries to me of...

Remember that thread I posted a couple of years ago, asking for help regarding my life with my wife with passionless sex and no support and no respect. Whew, man, I can't believe it took me so long to get out of that, but man, my life with my new girlfriend is RIDICULOUS! Holy cow, I can't believe how much I enjoy life now. I wish I had ended that ice cold marriage years earlier.
 

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The lack of respect and support has made me feel unloved, and that feeling has manifested itself through the underwhelming sex. Marriage without love, intimacy, support, respect, and family seems worthless. Very sad... I feel like I'm throwing away my youth.
You are. BAIL! Before you do something stupid like knocking her up. She's using you and you need to find a new woman before it's too late. Better divorced at 30 than 50 and being an old man trying to find a new partner.
 

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OP-

Unless your wife is on board to work on your marriage (and yes, it should be expected that work is required)- you have an almost impossible hill to climb...I can somewhat agree with the others to just move on...

...but I'm assuming you are here to see if you can improve your situation (not necessarily leave- although that needs to be an option).

When you have THE TALK with her about working together to make your marriage what you both need you will need to have divorce on the table as an option.

If she's willing to work on it...have a plan in place (I recommend reading His Needs, Her Needs together) as well as marriage counseling.

She needs to know this is not a half-effort, check-the-box moment...but a complete change in dynamic for both of you.

If she's not All In....she has made her choice that you and your marriage is just not that important to her.

You need to speak the truth...and what you are willing to do....then put the ball in her court.
 

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I think this major problem in this relationship is you two stopped "dating" as soon as you got married.

Never stop dating. Always try to keep the passion up.

If she's not interested in dating you then the relationship is over, whether you're legally married or not.
 

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#1, Stop thinking about having Children with this woman. Stop having Sex with her. You need to resolve your issues before there is a child in the mix. Chances are she won't notice, but if she asks just explain that your emotional needs are not being met therefore you aren't interested in Sex. I suspect she will believe that.
#2 Start planing weekend activities without her. Do whatever it is that YOU want to do. If she starts hitting you with a "honey - do" list (which is the first defense against this tactic) Tell her you are sorry but this activity is really important to you , but she can hire that work out.
#3 Get a hair cut, new clothes , and hit the gym. If she notices, tell you felt like doing something for yourself.

This course of action will lead to one of 2 results. Positive, She will start arranging her life so she can spend weekends with you doing things you want to do. Or, negative, You will get yourself in the right frame of mind to leave her. You are only a couple on paper at this point.
 

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So, there's some huge gaps between my basic ideals and reality in this marriage, and I feel sad about it just about every other day, like somehow we've been cheated out of what marriage is meant to be, in the course of our own relationship.
The disparity between what is possible and what exists causes a tremendous amount of pain. I have a concept called emotional voltage, in which I relate electricity to conflict theory, and it is similar to this. The greater the disparity (voltage) between the possibility and the reality, the greater the pain (current).

After having communicated these feelings to my wife and suffered her rounds of denial, I have concluded that my feelings are one-sided, meaning that I alone feel that these gaps exist. The wife thinks she's doing a great job at being a wife in the relationship, and quickly shuts down any complaints from me. Given her position, I now wonder if my "basic" expectations are somehow not-so-basic and unreasonable?
She shuts you down because she can't handle the criticism. She is not able to process that her husband is less than satisfied with her level of effort. She creates her own reality for you that differs from yours. Your approach allows her to do this (in the vast majority of cases)



1. SEX LIFE

So, the sex has always (in my opinion) been infrequent, mechanical, cold, and altogether limited. Even if I assume that sex life in a marriage will deteriorate over time, inevitably reaching this level of quality at some point, the fact remains that it's never been better. And in this, I've been robbed of the fond memories that many married folk enjoy, of how things "used to be".
Again, the possibilities versus reality. This is a difficult subject because individuals have to be very connected and intimate with one another for great sex to be the case. Mostly, in my opinion, it requires a great level of respect and a lot of attention given to each other, not oneself. Sex should get better over time, not worse. Yes, the frequency will decrease, but if you live with that person for year after year, you'd think that you would learn new ways to explore each other's body.

2. SUPPORT
My wife has received my emotional and financial support throughout our marriage, with whatever pursuits she's sought after, whether professional or personal. I've changed jobs for her career a number of times, and generally have adapted to her. She and her career have always been the priority, as demonstrated by the freedom, resources, and flexibility that I've given her. As a direct result of this, all of my pursuits have been put on the "back burner", but nonetheless, I've insisted that my dreams be fulfilled, even if they're not the priority in this relationship. My pursuits can vaguely be described as completing an advanced degree and writing a book, which I've tackled over the past few years. My wife has been strongly unsupportive about both pursuits, telling me the "degree was worthless", "my book would be a failure", "I can't write", etc. etc.
Support is great, but it goes in a lot of directions. I wrote a book and had little support to speak of. My partner just is uninterested in my professional work. I have passion in what I do and nothing can be said that will take away from that.

But, there is a difference between involvement and denigration. If she has claimed to be a great wife while giving those insults to you, I find it hard to understand how she rationalizes her behavior. I understand how she does it, however. Again, a lot of this has to do with how you interact with her. Relationships need two strong individuals to perform at a masterful level. If one just serves the other, then the relationship will degrade. Your passions are yours, whether she agrees with them or not. They are who you are and she needs you to fulfill them, whether she admits it or not.

In any marriage, I would expect to have my wife in my corner, supporting me in what I believe are wholesome, fulfilling, and worthwhile pursuits. I haven't had this, and it just plain sucks.

*note: After finishing my degree, I currently make ~3X the salary of my wife, so it doesn't seem to have been a complete waste, after all*
Have you empathized with her? If not, you really need to. You should write page after page about how she perceives the world. Then, you will understand. That is step one, but it doesn't change anything yet.
3. RESPECT
There's been a general lack of respect in the relationship, and I expect better from both of us, given that we're married versus dating. In particular, there should be boundaries erected by both husband and wife that are mutually respected. This is not done in our relationship, and I see it as a real problem. I have come to a point of not respecting her boundaries, unless my boundaries are also respected. It may be immature, but that's just how I feel I need to deal with a disrespectful wife.
That will get you nowhere. It is a tough pill to swallow, but I am a realist and giving you what you need to hear. If you pull back, then you put your stamp on the disconnection in the relationship. The concept of respect goes far beyond what one thinks of when they hear the word "respect", but in general how you present yourself tells others how to interact with you.
4. FAMILY
My wife has long accused me of skewed priorities, but her priorities are singular around her career, and have prevented us from having a family for years. In our case, the absence of family in the marital equation creates a dynamic where husband and wife become absorbed in their own pursuits. I see this as another gap in the relationship, knowing that there's many people who, while unfulfilled in their marriage, derive much joy from family. I can do no such thing.
The relationship has to come first. Not you. Not her. We lose focus because we become selfish or selfless. It always ends up degrading the relationship, which hurts each individual. Having a family under these circumstances will only further strain the relationship, something you desperately need to sustain and grow.
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The lack of respect and support has made me feel unloved, and that feeling has manifested itself through the underwhelming sex. Marriage without love, intimacy, support, respect, and family seems worthless. Very sad... I feel like I'm throwing away my youth.
You have your catalyst for change.

Let me tell you from personal experience. Throughout my life, I have been the epitome of a Beta Male. I used to be dominated. Your post documents well how your wife uses manipulation to keep things the same. You use manipulation as well. It is a concept that goes 100x farther than individuals typically think. When you understand the underlying strings, you will realize how you can become a gravitationally massive individual, forcing others to respect you. You can get what you want without conflict, you just never learned how. Neither you or your partner are to blame. How can we place blame, when individuals don't know of healthier alternatives?

If I tried to explain all of the specifics, it would turn into another book, so let me spare everyone :smile2:

In general, do your best, and that includes looking for every possible way to better yourself. Realize that you have all that you need and her support does not add to that. Her insults/lack of support do not take away from that. When you have this mindset, you will be a force that demands her attention. Done right, she will wake up and join the effort to mastering the relationship.
 

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I think you need to talk to her....spell it out. How you are feeling and how she makes you feel.
You could do MC but you both have to want to work on the relationship. You can't change anything by yourself.
Threaten divorce...sometimes that drives the point home.
I agree with what poster said... Start doing things for yourself.
Go to the gym and work on bettering yourself.
 

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"*note: After finishing my degree, I currently make ~3X the salary of my wife, so it doesn't seem to have been a complete waste, after all*"

I'd be tempted to rub her nose in that one. Oh, about, 2,3,5, 6 times. It seems your wife thinks you're only there to promote her career. It would be best if you could drag her to marriage counseling. Counseling is definitely cheaper than a divorce.

Do you still love her? Would you like to work this out? A child will not mend your marriage and it would be unfair to bring a child into a marriage such as this.
 

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should have kicked her to the curb before finishing your degree.

hind sight is 20/20.

better late than never.
 

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Sounds like she was never that into you in the first place.

And that sucks and I'm sorry.
Posted via Mobile Device
 

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I was in a sexless marriage for 8 years (over 4 years with nothing!). But it was because we hated each other and were married just for the kids and finances. 4 months being single, life is great! Having a woman that thinks your #1 and wants to please you in the bed (or car, couch, etc) is amazing!

I vote for leaving her and starting over with someone that you actually enjoy.
 

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So one of my questions...WHY is HER career getting the priority when YOU are the one making the most money? That confuses me, makes her sound like she has a too big sense of entitlement. Maybe by doing what you felt is the right thing and following her, she has lost respect for you? Seems like that can happen even though you both came to agreement on how things were going to go, she may not feel you are leading/taking charge/being the man. (even though obviously she wants things HER way...)

She clearly does not want children, but you do. That difference alone is almost insurmountable. There is no happy compromise on either decision, someone gives up what they really want.

Regarding the sex life, I am of the opinion that waiting to have sex until after marriage may SOUND like the right thing to do, but in reality is a HUGE mistake. It is too big an issue for you to not be compatible in that way. Yes I realize that ship has sailed and you cannot change the past. She may never change her stance on this, because if it was never really good from the heady honeymoon phase, it likely will never be. Sorry to say that.

Bottom line is, unless your wife is fully on board with making the marriage work...making an effort, taking the time, paying attention...it will never change for the better. One person cannot make a marriage. Im sorry you're here, best of luck to you with this.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
So one of my questions...WHY is HER career getting the priority when YOU are the one making the most money?
She has the most earning potential, and for that reason, her career has gotten the priority, whether right or wrong.

She clearly does not want children, but you do.
I actually think she wants kids, but her career has just been in the way for a very long time. Any maybe that's been a blessing in disguise?

...waiting to have sex until after marriage... is a HUGE mistake.
I completely agree. If sex becomes an issue for "inexperienced" newly weds, it will inevitably prove divisive over time.

She may never change her stance on [sex], because if it was never really good from the heady honeymoon phase, it likely will never be. Sorry to say that.
No need for apologies; you're likely right on point. This weekend I brought up the topic of intimacy again, and did so politely and respectfully. The wife just gives me all these "excuses" as to why she's not giving me the sex life I want. When I bring up the fact that years ago, there were fewer relational problems when we just got married and still the sex life wasn't what I wanted, she grows dismissive. And in that, she's dismissive of my needs, as if she were discounting them to lesser ideals to her own. Very sad.

Bottom line is, unless your wife is fully on board with making the marriage work...making an effort, taking the time, paying attention...it will never change for the better. One person cannot make a marriage. Im sorry you're here, best of luck to you with this.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I feel really sad for people who get married without having sex or living together. You have no idea how big of an issue sex is until you've gone through it. So it's really unwise (maybe unfair) to get married to this life long commitment being blind to one of the biggest potential issues in your relationship.
These are wise words, withstanding the very idea of living together being inappropriate by traditional standards. I personally am not offended by the idea, and in a serious relationship before my marriage, I did just this.

I suggest counseling, and see if this relationship is worth saving. The sooner the better for both of you, so you can decide to move on, or work on a future together.
Counseling would be good, if she goes too. Right now, she's trying to get me to go a therapist alone, which is aggravating to say the least.
 

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Can you give some indication of what career or field she is in? Some careers tend to be emotionally draining regardless of compensation....
 

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I agree that saving a marriage requires both people working. A lot of problems in marriage are 2-body problems, where both husband and wife need to be part of the solution.

On this front, a troubling thing is that as much of either one of us has ever talked of counseling amid our various arguments, neither one of us has made it a priority to schedule counseling and just go. There was only one instance I recall where we both sat down, and reviewed counselors online. While I was agnostic to price (and that's saying something, given I'm cheap as heck), my wife was overly sensitive to price.

In the end, my takeaways from us not scheduling counseling is that fixing the relationship is not a priority to either one of us. Furthermore, I guess the dollar value of the marriage to my wife is less than a few hundred bucks, given that gambling on counseling (which may or may not work) seemed to great a loss.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Can you give some indication of what career or field she is in? Some careers tend to be emotionally draining regardless of compensation....
She works in healthcare, but I won't say more than that.
 
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