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Lack of intimacy in my relationship.
Im new to this forum, first time poster.
This topic has probably been done to death but here goes.
I've been married for over 30 years and after the birth of our first child intimacy has been an issues as well as mis-matched libidos.
I feel my wife doesn't find me attractive on any level. It's convenient to have me around. I work away a bit and feel lonelier when I'm at home than when I'm away. She says she loves me and misses me a lot when I'm away but when I get back she manages to find fault with most things I say and do which makes intimacy difficult. She is a master at making up excuses to avoid any attempts by me to initiate things. I've heard most over the past 3 decades
She won't acknowledge there's a problem or go to counselling.
She doesnt have a paid job and there's no financial stress. I pull my weight around the house when I'm not working.
Anyway it bothers me less now than it used to but I would still like to keep trying.
Welcome to the forum Brownshort.
There’s a good reason why this topic “has been done to death”, it’s very common and for the partner in the marriage who’s feeling the way you do, it can make for a very sad and lonely life. Not to mention the negative effect it can have on your self esteem and confidence.
No doubt you’ve read the usual suggestions like do more house work, gifts and surprises, compliments, be well groomed and get yourself in shape. While all these things are great to do, if they are just done in isolation, I find they rarely help.
I’m also going to assume your wife is not suffering any physical problems which would make physical intimacy problematical. After 30 years I’m also assuming your wife is post menopausal and low libido is common in this cohort. If that is the case, it’s unreasonable to expect her to perform if the basic drive is not there. However, that doesn’t excuse her from displaying affection, kindness and a shared intimacy (not necessarily penetrative sex). You also owe her the same consideration.
There’s really only two outcomes and you have to think carefully about what you want and what you won’t accept. The first outcome is that nothing changes and the second outcome is that there is an improvement that shows there is life left in the marriage. The improvement maybe is less than you were hoping but anything should be seen as positive.
Obviously, you have brought the subject up with your wife and she has indicated that she doesn’t see a problem and therefore there’s no need to change, Now this is where you have to be really clear on your end game. You need to explain to her that you are sad, lonely in your role as a convenient house labourer who also works full time outside the house. It is not your idea of a happy and fulfilling marriage. Because you feel the way you do, how can you be expected to live this life with no prospect of anything changing and yet appear a balanced and supportive husband.
If she truly loved you, she would make some effort to make you feel special (after 30 years, swinging off the chandeliers is off the agenda), just simple signs of affection and the odd compliment satisfies most blokes your age. If she won’t budge and meet you at least halfway, would you be prepared to risk the end of your marriage? Because in a lot of cases I’ve seen like yours, that is what it may take.
Thanks for the prompt response.
All of the assumptions you have made are correct. She finally went to a doctor a few months ago and the doctor prescribed a topical treament which she was going to try after reserching natural alternatives. I was happy she was finally making an effort. She recently announced shes not doing that now.
There hasnt always been a post menopausal issue of course.
Prior to that, approx 25 years, there was always another reason.
Anyhow thanks for your input. I'm aware of the choices I have. Just wanted to verbalise how I'm feeling and its good to know someone is listening.
I have some coping strategies that dont rely on self medication, some that do as well but I'm working on that one.
I'm not giving up but running out of fresh ideas.
I’m glad you feel supported. Just be aware (if you don’t already know), the topical sex hormone will NOT raise the desire for sex. It will however, improve the physical function of her anatomy so everything feels okay.
The desire has an emotional source that can be very elusive.
Understood re the hormone cream.
I've read it has other benefits in that area as well. But as you said won't up the desire levels but hopefully take the discomfort away and that may help.
Wondering if your wife is feeling a little lost and empty in the way of life. Could it be she's looking for excitement on a variety of levels - personally, relationship wise, socially and so on? Might sound strange but maybe she's not even aware that it's excitement that's missing in her life.
As a 49yo woman (so, yes, at that change of life stage) I am going through the process of reinventing myself. I believe, at this stage of our life (no matter our gender), we're meant to be entering into a more relaxed stage. Finding new ways to relax whilst obtaining hits of regular excitement is definitely a challenge. My husband is a little too relaxed. There are times when I just don't feel attracted to him and times where I do. Typically, the attraction comes when I see him as 'The exciting person' in my life. He can be playful yet just doesn't appear to have the energy or mindset for adventure. I try so hard to energise him and bring out the natural adventurous side of him - sometimes it feels like a full time job which can often end in frustration.
I believe, adding ventures is a significant part when it comes to the evolution of any relationship. If no ventures are added, there is sameness. As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Adding ventures (adventuring) is also a significant aspect of personal development.
Based on your wife's nature, can you think of anything adventurous that may appeal to her? Maybe she likes or used to be deeply interested in photography for example. Camera shopping and/or going for a day trip to one of the most amazing spots for photography would be something to feed her soul. Basically, I believe romance is pretty much that which feeds the soul. It's when our actions toward our self or out partner appeal to the deepest part of who we are. It's where we reconnect with out most natural self (the fun loving, naturally loving, excited adventurous kid in us), who we once were.
Your wife may fall over in shock if you were to announce to her 'Darling, I'm setting out on a quest to feed your soul'. She'll possibly think you've gone crazy or else she will be incredibly deeply touched (or both). Sometimes, we simply need to be actively loved to the point of excitement. Then the person who naturally excites us becomes one of the most attractive people we have ever met.
This could prove to be a times of reinvention and experimentation in the way of life and the relationship.
Thats food for thought.
We do lots of things together and also have our seperate interest. My wife appears very happy with her life. I'm away every second week but home every weekend. We go out a fair bit. Dining out at least 3 times a week and beach walks every day. We are both fit and enjoy outdoor activities. We are a bit restricted as my mother in law lives with us. Shes no trouble really but ws cant just up and go away for a night or 2.
She has developed an interest is spirituality and mindfullness which I encourage. I generally have to insist she goes on the retreats as she baulks at the cost. On the other hand I play squash 2-3 times a week. More lately as its one of the few places I feel people want me around and respect my ability.
If she wants to do somethimg Ill go and be supportive because it makes it easier for her as she doesnt like driving in the dark anymore which is fair enough.
She hates squash! I can count of 4 fingers the number of times shes been to watch me play in finals etc in 32 years. Im no star but get around OK for an old fella. Doesnt bother me anymore. I got used ti that when I was a kid. My family were not interested in sport at all.
Anyway getting back to the adventure ootions. We gad 2 months in Europe/UK last year which was great except for the lack of intimacy. It corresponded with our 30 year anniversary.
She doesnt want to do much apart from strolling through the bush looking at trees or walking down the beach with her feet in the water. Any suggestion I make that require planning and committment she backs away from.
She has basicalky told me that sex is off the table and she doesnt see why I cant take care if business myself as its just a physical thing. A bit like putting the rubbish out or cleaning the cat tray. Things I can manage without her having to get her hands dirty. She occaisionally offers, reluctantly and with no enthuisiam, to "put the trash out" for me. Without going in to specifics its all at arms lenght and not very satisfying to say the least.
Ive decided to wait until she wants to be involved which I have told her. I think I'll be waiting a while. Not sure but I think this has annoyed her a bit. The fact that I'm not actively chasing her attention. Which is confusing fir me as she has told me to back off many times in the past.
I would love to do a couple counselling session but she won't go. Waste of money apparently.
Anyway thanks for your input. I'll rethink my strategy in those areas.
I've been thinking of your situation especially since I read therising’s excellent contribution to the discussion.
One thing I skated over in my original response, is that this is not a new problem for you. You mentioned that this problem has been around for 25 years. Have I got that correct? What I would be interested to know is how long after you realised you had mismatched libidos did you bring the subject up with her? Has there ever been a time when things were satisfactory? I’m thinking if she has settled into her position comfortably thinking this is the way our life will be and you haven’t challenged it until recently, could this be one reason why seems so unwilling to even have a conversation?
Just as an aside, todays media implies that everyone is having great sex all the time from the age of 18 to 90. And if your not part of this hip modern crowd, you’d better see a doctor. This type of pressure can put unreasonable expectations on people and is best ignored. The truth is most long term marriages wax and wane when it comes to physical intimacy. The most important thing for both partners to understand is that their wife or husband is there to care for them and to be a reliable life mate.
We are coming up to the 30th anniversary of the mortal wounding(not dead yet) of our sex life.
First it was post natal depression, followed by second child 3 years later, post natal depression again but managed a lot better.
We then moved to the extreme PMS years/decades. It was "dont touch me" for the week before, week during and the week after. The good week was occaisionally ok but over the years the list of reasons that it wasnt on grew longer.
I worked shiftwork throughout the entire period. It was uncanny the number of times the planets aligned when I was on night shift apparently. I tried backing off and suggested she approach me when the time was right as me asking was too much pressure for her. She would then say the next day that had I asked the night before it would have been OK. Was doing my head in as it seemed like a premeditated strategy to create the illusion of availability. Squash night was another regular time the planets aligned in my abscence.
So the short answer is it has been a long time since things were ok and in the early years trying to have a productive discussion was extremely difficult. Didnt talk to me for 3-4 days first time I mentioned it. She doesnt handle stress or respond well to suggestions that things could be better. She did work part-time at our kids school for a while which was fatiguing for her so she suggested not working might improve things but didnt. Issues with birth control was another limiting factor so I had a vasectomy, her suggestion but my choice. That was many years ago and there was a minor improvement for a very short period.
We've discussed this situation many times and she wants me to reset the clock. Shouldnt dwell on the past she says which is good advice. So I'm doing some reserch and thinking about a solo session with a counsellor.
Sorry if it seems I'm drip feeding the information. I do appreciate all the comments.
You are only getting my side of the story and dont get me wrong my wife is a beautiful person and attractive. She looks 10 years younger than what she is. Unfortuantely for me after 38 years in a stressful job I look 10 years older. I dont think that's part of the problem but who knows. She doesn't have to worry about women pursuing me but I see the looks she gets when we are out and about. I dont have any concerns in that area though.
Thank you again for listening and offering advice. I'm determined to stay calm and work through this to an outcome whatever that may be.
I must say, from your posts you sounds like a deeply thoughtful person. You've put so much thought into possibilities, trying to understand the way she thinks, trying to work out the puzzling aspects of your relationship and so on. My husband's not all that big on analysis. He's a little old school. His theory is he's happy for us to simply grow old together. My idea - I want to grow young together. Much prefer to look forward to life rather than death.
Interesting, you mention your wife has become interested in spirituality and mindfulness. Gee, you're a legend, encouraging her to go on retreats. A lot of spouses would say 'Why you spending your money on that rubbish?!' Personally, I love the spiritual side of life. I found relabeling 'spiritual' to 'natural' in some ways helps it become more relateable to those who like to refer to it all as 'All that weirdo stuff' 🙂 Those who tune into the natural or spiritual side of life and those who study the intricacies of quantum physics agree on one thing - we are energy and everything around us is energy. One of the most energetic experiences we can have can be found in foreplay and intercourse. I'm not going to go into too much detail here but approaching intimacy from a natural or spiritually energetic perspective encourages experimentation, joy and surprise. It becomes about raising each other through stages of excitement on a physical, mental and natural level. It's about feeling and sharing in different parts of your self and each other coming alive throughout the process.
If you were to ask someone 'How do you feel the inter(nal) course of energy during intimacy?', most would respond with 'What do you mean, feel it? I just have intercourse or sex'. To feel the initial stirrings of energy move from one (base) point up through the stomach, further up to excite the heart and then take the breath away, is what precedes, for some, the eyes rolling to the heavens before some folk actually express out loud having met with god. Our energy does take a particular course of excitement through this experience we can share with someone we love. Tuning into each individual sensation makes it a unique experience. The lead up or play is a part of the overall fun.
Not sure if your wife would entertain the idea of this aspect of her spiritual exploration. Perhaps get her wondering about a bit of research here and then offer to be the guinea pig if she's up for a bit of experimentation.