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helping or hurting?

Community Member
Hi, I have a question that I am finding challenging, and wonder if you could provide some perspective.

In essence, my wife has been explicit about feeling depressed, unmotivated, tired, and completely unengaged with life, work and everything. She have a deep sadness and lethargy and expresses a desire to check out of it all, not go to work, etc.

I know that it is legitimate, and encourage her to get professional help, which she soon will.

Here’s the tricky part: She's said that things I have recently said have caused or contributed.

I believe I've done nothing 'wrong' but have expressed 'big' issues recently. After many years of marriage, and not being explicit about my wants and needs, I've recently expressed my own desires: for greater and more varied physical intimacy, and more explicitly stating that changing our sexual relationship is important to me. I am choosing to enhance this aspect of my life and relationship more honestly and open. I invite her to express her wants and needs (even if “none at all”), also honestly, so that we can actually communicate about this stuff rather than guess.

These discussions seem to have led to her current state. I have not delivered these angrily, but I have made it clear that enhanced sexual life is now something I want. Again, I can and will discuss how/how much she desires, too. If she doesn’t want more/different, and can’t meet my desire, then I'll talk to her about how we can compromise for mutual happiness. If she is unwilling to compromise, then I'll consider what other means are available.

It's not an ultimatum, but you can see if she is unwilling to change at all, then I am forced to either quell my desires for a fulfilling life entirely, or radically alter our marriage (divorce, or me going outside of it).

To complicate things, she often suffers from UTI’s after sex, and we can’t find any way to completely avoid or prevent these; they are very painful for her, and I understand and acknowledge that. I think the ‘rock and hard place’ nature of all this manifests as depression. It’s definitely not easy for me either.

After all that, my question is: how can I talk to her, help her, and support her — when (at least from her perspective, it seems), me and my needs are the very cause of the problem in the first place? How do you 'communicate' -- critical to successful marriage -- when the very communication itself is the cause of the problem?

Thanks for any perspective you can provide.
9 Replies 9

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Jimbo,

You sound like you care a lot but don't know what to do, so I hope I can be of some help here. I speak from the point of view of someone who suffers from depression, so I hope I can give you the perspective of your wife. I think people forget that depression hurts everyone, not just the depressed person, so please don't feel like I'm judging you.

I know it may not be what you want to hear, but I would be very hurt if my partner (or rather, ex-partner) raised those concerns with me, whether calmly or not. In my depressed state, any criticism is very hard to accept and just adds to my stress. It's not that I don't care about my partner, just that I emotionally cannot handle it right now. So, frankly, compromise is not something I would want to hear.

So while I absolutely urge you to communicate and ensure that your needs are met too, it might be stressing her out to think that she's not meeting your needs. It's not that she doesn't want you to be happy, but she might not know how or may not feel ready.

I think if you want to stay in this relationship and don't want to end it, you may need to continue to be patient with her. It sounds like she's really struggling at the moment and just needs your complete support. It will be really hard for you too, so I'd suggest having a look at the links below under "Supporting someone".

I guess that's really a question you need to ask yourself - are you willing to support someone and basically forgo some of your current happiness, or would it be too big an ask? Again, I am not judging you as I also have friends who just don't want to deal with my unhappiness, but that's okay.


Thanks James, your response is helpful and not judgemental. What I will say, and maybe wasn't clear, is that, she wasn't depressed before my expressing my needs. They seem to have caused it.

And while I am OK, or at least, accept, that fact - what I am confused about is: does that mean that *I* then am the one who has to suppress my desires and needs, so that she isn't depressed? Of course I don't want her to be, but I don't want to be either (also 'of course').

I feel the problem is almost intractable, which in some ways is the hardest aspect of all to accept and deal with. I don't want to put all the onus and 'work' on her -- nor on me. I want us to work on it together. But my attempt at doing so, has led to a bad place. So you're right, I don't know where to turn for improvement.

Hey Jimbo. Give me a bit of time and I'll respond. It's a very detailed and complicated topic

Thanks for response Apollo -- no rush, and any viewpoints are appreciated.

Ok Jimbo here we go.

I told my wife I was concerned about our lack of intimacy and my marriage tanked. But as I have said, it's such a varied and complicated issue. In my case my wife was either unable, unwilling (or both) to address this issue. This is my specific situation and yours could well be different.

You may well have hit your wife with this out of the blue I don't know and it's come as a shock, or she's well aware you have no sex life and she's guilty. Depending on her age or medical status she may have no desire. Maybe she doesn't like your BO. Maybe she doesn't feel connected because you're at work all day. Who knows, there's too many variables.

Personally I think the key is starting from the ground up. It may not be successful but at least you come out of things as a better person. What I'm talking about it improving yourself to be the best man you can be without expecting the payoff to be sex. You work your way up the chain from there.

I wont say any more because from what you've written, you should check out an author named Athol Kay. Google it. He also has a useful forum specifically angled at saving marriages crippled by this issue. Like I said it may not work, but at least you would have covered all the bases possible. Just do it. Google Athol Kay. Read his two short books, then head to his website/forum. You'll get a lot more help with your issue there. Trust me. JUST DO IT. Let us know how you get on.

Now you've mentioned it to your wife, don't mention it again until you've done your homework

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Jimbo,

Apollo Black's given some great thoughts which I really agree with.

The only thing I'd add is to respond to your question: does that mean that *I* then am the one who has to suppress my desires and needs, so that she isn't depressed?

I think you're putting to much of the blame on yourself for her depression. For all you know, your wife may have been struggling prior to that, knowingly or not, and some of your comments just brought those issues to the fore. So don't be too hard on yourself for that, but your wife is also clearly vulnerable right now so it's a difficult situation for both of you.

Sorry I can't be of much help, but please do keep us updated if you are comfortable to do so. I really hope things improve for both of you.


Thx to both for response and advice.

Here's the thing: I am only fully aware of the resources you mention, and have adopted the principles some time ago. TBH I feel that this is exactly why things are where they are. No way to be certain but may definitely factor.

All the things recommended I've achieved: Leadership. High income. Fitness, strength, appearance. "Fun guy." Determined in going for what I want, but w/out aggression.

So is this now why she's in a rough place? A rebalance of interpersonal power, and new refusal from me to accept status quo (aka imbalance of power, esp. in physical relationship.

Since you know A. Kay, you're almost certainly aware of the 'sub' Internet forum wherein this 'praexaology' is discussed at length. I lurk there, and have found help in the readings they advise, and ensuing discussions.

But, one of two things seems to have happened. Either this approach has had exactly the opposite effect than hoped .. Or it hasn't worked "yet". I'm not sure which it is. I think my wife is caught between the comfort she's always had and known in her marriage, and the reality of an almost brand-new-husband. The tension is pushing in on her from two, seemingly (to her) diametrically opposed positions: Accept the New Husband (and all that entails and requires) ... Or, let go of the New Husband if she can't accept all that requires (but then loses so much else in life that she enjoys, depends on, and takes comfort from).

I hope I'm not speaking too cryptically to make sense to you!

I'm not sure where to go from here, and I do understand, that *I* have to choose what I want, for me: Old me, or new me -- even if 'new me' may entail or result in her not being part of it. That is indeed the hardest possible choice; Apollo, it sounds as if you went through exactly the same scenario, and opted for where you are now.

The other thing constantly in my head is: the Athol Kay et. al. approach is "just" a bunch of Internet people. They are not psychologists, they are not professionals. It could all be just a bunch of rednecks in Arkansas talking crap. Am I going to bet my marriage on the prospect that these Internet Strangers know more about this stuff than anyone else? Who would take a gamble like that?!? Sounds crazy when I put it that way, doesn't it?

I'd be interested in discussing this in much greater detail, but unsure if this forum is the appropriate place. Maybe could PM if that function is available? Let me know what you think.

James makes a very good point. I didn't comment much regarding her reaction because we know very little regarding your history. Feel free to divulge if you'd like to, but I think it would be better served after reading the e-books I suggested and posting a "triage" on Athol Kay's forum.

As you know A Kay follows a series of steps which hopefully leads to resolution of whatever you're trying to achieve. At the end of the day the ideal scenario may not be possible but at least you end up in a better position to move on and get what you desire.

I'm no expert in this area that's why I asked if you'd been to the MMSL forum as they are more experienced - because without seeing your triage I can't make much comment. Did you ever do this? Unfortunately there is no PM function here.

I am happy to tell you something of my situation however. Like many "nice guys" I hooked up with some kind of borderline wife. She doesn't fit that mould perfectly but it's close. I brought up a sexless marriage before I had done my homework and it blew up badly (I now know it's because she's unstable). As soon as I took the "red pill" things went downhill rapidly . I think she sensed I wasn't going to put up with her actions and tried to nuke me back to my previous compliant self. Once I had taken the red pill I couldn't unsee what I had seen and continued to improve myself and tolerate less and less of her abuse. Things led to today where she's trying to isolate me from my son and get me out of the house. She won't negotiate and has now commenced legal action.

Anyway, back to you. If you adopted Athol's theory and it hasn't worked I'd be asking why on his forum (is this the same forum you say you lurk on?) and even arrange a call with the man himself. I found it quite useful to sift through why things didn't work for me.

I think if you're coming here nothing substitutes professional guidance so I hope you are doing that (it wasn't useful to me). Coming back to the start of my post - if you followed the phases to the tee and nothing is happening for you, then ideally you should be proposing an option A or option B ultimatum if you are indeed at the correct phase.

It didn't work for me because my wife is BSC. Personally what I've done to improve myself has been invaluable