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Do I stay in a Loveless marriage?

Community Member

Hi there. Have been married for 21 yrs and am 46- with 2 kids. At the start of this year my wife started to get really anxious about intimacy. She said the thought of it made her sick. I suggested counselling and thought she was going through some depression. She went to 2 sessions and was told that many relationships are sexless and it’s ok. So I basically haven’t touched her in 6 months. Our intimacy and physical stuff like hand holding and kissing has always been instigated by me. We have discussed this many times but now she is done discussing. Says she is not in love with me anymore but we get on well and really are just living as flat mates. We’ve 2 boys- 15 yrs with ASD and 11 yrs. Yesterday I tried to be intimate and she told me to stop. Later that day we had a conversation about where to from here. We both agree that we don’t want the boys to move. I want to do couples counselling but she just doesn’t see the point- she doesn’t see how talking about it will make her want sex. She says she has never really been into it. It is fairly clear that she doesn’t really love me and is more like a flat mate.
Her not wanting to fix stuff for me is a sign that she doesn’t love me. She would be quite happy being flat mates. I have been craving that physical side. Don’t know what to do. Do I stay on a loveless marriage where we actually do enjoy each other’s company or do I start looking for love elsewhere. We talked about renting a room in a share house and spending a week at a time in our family home with the boys and one away. Am 99% sure she is not having an affair. I really don’t want my life to change BUT do not want to be with someone who does not love me in the way I need.

7 Replies 7

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi there A.Culeds - thanks so much for reaching out to the forum with great clarity on an emotional subject.

I feel for you and have been in a similar situation but not to the same extent I suspect.

As my wife grew closer to menopause, her desire for intimacy trailed off which is fairly natural. Our relationship became less physical and she was a bit moody from time to time.

We discussed it a lot and tried all the things you have done. What proved to be a success was going away on a series of 'surprise' weekends to pretty romantic destinations. Not expensive, but just a bit special. I took things easy and didn't force myself on her at all. Then towards the end of our second weekend she opened up, said how much she appreciated the attention, and we became very intimate.

We have continued these weekends but less often, and rotate whose turn it is.

Our relationship has become much better but I don't think it will return to where is was when we were younger.

I guess the big question is - are you getting what you want out the relationship? Of course intimacy is very important but she has made it clear she is not interested and doesn't want intimacy counselling.

So she hasn't told you that she doesn't love you, but you believe from her actions this is the case. I guess it is really difficult to know the truth without counselling with an objective and empathetic trained person. Maybe you could ask her in a very non judgemental manner if she does love you and does she want to stay with you, and what kind of relationship does she want. This will be pretty tricky as it will be very easy for one of you to take the 'blame' so to speak and get defensive. Make it clear what your needs are but also ensure she understands that you love and respect her.

I agree you really need to make it clear that sex is really important to you but you respect her rights as a woman and don't want to force anything on her that she is not fully supportive of. To have her agree to intimacy simply to please you is probably not a good idea either.

I feel with any relationship that laughter, shared experiences, respect, and missing each other when apart is so important. It always takes effort from both parties but it sounds like that may not exist with your situation.

I hope these comments help you a little bit - your situation is not an easy one.

All the very best in sorting it out.

Happy to discuss further. Regards, The Bro

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

I really agree with the bro on his approach to the problem.

She has mentioned a few things that She only indicate her views. "I'm not into it" demonstrates that she knows she never has had the sexual drive to compete with yours and that She acknowledge yours is normal. That's a big admission.

Secondly, the suggestion/idea of swapping the second property is a very good one and again showing willingness to work as a team for the benefit of your children.

Neither of these topic have anything to do with "love". She might very well love you but knows of your needs and her reluctance to try any more.

It would be a big step securing another property to use in the way you both agree on, however, it will give you personally time to reevaluate your relationship and see if she prefers your absence or she realises her love for you is indeed there. Absence making the heart grow fonder.

However before any of this I would instigate what the bro suggested with the surprise weekends away. Hot air balloon, mineral spas and romantic dinners.

Good luck.


Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear A. Culeds~

I'd like to join The Bro in welcoming you here. Actually I think The Bro has given you a very sensible answer.

Nobody will be able to give you a roadmap that leads to a perfect solution.

I'd like to give you a few points to consider -my apologies if you have thought of them already, which you may well have done.

The first of course is a frank statement from you wife what she would like to do for the future. What she says may well dictate what you do anyway. The only hesitancy I have is if she feels that she is lacking in meeting you needs it may well make her feel less of a person - which may influence what she says, discounting her own true desires as a result.

The second thing is you have a 21year old relationship, looking after 2 children, one with special needs, and apart from your sense of loss and lack of intimate fulfillment, this relationship works. You actually call it "home" and say you and you wife enjoy each other's company.

The fly in the ointment is being sexually mismatched - which happens though nobody's fault. and a perceived lack of love -which may be accurate, I don't know.

Against that you have the idea you could leave and find a more satisfactory relationship elsewhere. At this stage this is an idea, a dream. You do not have anyone specific to go to, and in fact may or may not find someone.

Any action to do this will have all sorts of complications, financial and emotional, on all four of you, maybe particularly the children. Plus once done your family's views and affections may change, and it is not the sort of thing that can be undone.

So I'm sorry, I've no idea how strong that drive is, and what you would be prepared to sacrifice in an attempt to meet it.

I simply hope whatever you decide works out well for all of you.


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello A. Culeds, thanks for your comment and the replies from our frequent volunteers because what you have told us is definitely a problem in a marriage, especially one where you have been married for 21 years and understand that this may be a problem that often occurs.

As we grow older, love between two people in a long marriage doesn't necessarily mean that intimacy continues, although normally the male wants it to continue, but not so with the wife, but because this may end doesn't stop the love between the two of you, although there is a traction period where this new adjustment has to settle in, then if this is accepted, then the two of you grow old together.

I'm not saying this is the situation but anger and frustration begin and then you try everything possible to regain the intimacy, counselling, medication, talking with your doctor, education or even doing repairs on the house and sometimes none of these makes any difference, although the repairs are very much appreciated but the spark isn't there, and not shown the way it has always been.

Wanting to be flatmates may be the interim to the beginning of this, however, I understand the problem you are now facing, and sorry if I've put another side to your comment.


Community Member

Hello A.culed’s.
I am pretty much where your wife is.
though I have been married almost 38 years, have 3 awesome grown up children and just about to have our 5 grandchild.

I am at the same space your wife is, in my mind set I couldn’t think of anything worse to do, the thought of intimacy repulses me. I have no desire at all. Yes I do love my husband. He works 2 and a half days a week and I am on income protection and as a result of severe chronic pain 24/7 it just drains me of all energy and life. I have just had my 3x monthly blood test and it resulted in my body is all but depleted in vit D . ( which can stop the want intimacy. As well as going through MENopause. I also have SjögrenS, no bodily fluids, in which all these 3 things contribute to my lack of wanting to be intimate.
we get on great ( when he isn’t drinking, there is nothing more putting off than being groped by a drunk), we do lots of things together. he helps me so much with my 81 year old mom, which I very do appreciate. But To be totally honest if he never asked for sex again it would be bliss. I suppose once my hormones are sorted and vit D levels get back to normal , maybe it may happen again . Hope you can find a way to get through it.

Community Member

A. Culeds, whatever you do remember to look after yourself and be the best parent you can. My wife and I havent spoken in 12 months and havent had sex in 18 months but still live under the one roof. I have a daugher who has been going through a severe mental issue for nearly 3 years and continuing to live together has allowed us to manage that to the best of our ability. I have learned to replace my love of spending quality and intimate time with my wife with new ventures and hobbies. As a 50 year old, i have a regular exercise routine, cook great meals, play with classic cars and enjoy camping and quad riding with mates. Who needs Sex? (I do secretly miss the intimacy and having someone genuinely excited to see you, but I am doing well mentally)

No one can give you the right answer but dont be afraid to ask for help and a good therapist is worth their weight in gold.

Learn to Fly
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi A. Culeds

Welcome and thank you for sharing this very important topic with us.
You have received some much valued advice here. I realise you have already tried and had had some honest conversations with your wife but I wonder if you would find helpful asking her to think when things started to change for her, resulting in a change in your relationship?
Some things/behaviours might be reconsidered, additional care and willingness applied, knowing the reason (I.e. medical issues) maybe it would be easier to be more patient or understanding for both sides, not only expecting this from yourself.

You seem to be a very good couple trying to work a new approach for the benefit of your children, which is great. I guess you just have to work out if this is the point when the things stop or if there is still a willingness to improve or find new ways of carrying on your relationship and making sure both of you are reasonably happy in it.
I sincerely wish you best of luck.