We’ve been married 14 years, two kids. My wife thinks I have a sexual disorder, since I desire sex more than she does. (I’d be happy with two or three times a week.) She tells me everything in my mind revolves around sex, which I disagree with. She, on the other hand, refuses to discuss sex or other intimate matters with me in a constructive way. She just clams up, or tells me I’m screwed up. She’ll sure chat it up with her girlfriend, though. She is also obsessed with the thought I’m having an affair, which I’m not. Her paranoia has caused me problems at work, and it’s affecting our kids. I generally get no affection from her, since she claims any affection I give her is only driven by my sexual desire. Counseling hasn’t helped, it’s still all my fault when we get home. She never has a problem. She’s driving me away. How can I stop where we’re headed?
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Marriage is about many things, but one of those things is definitely sexuality. Wanting sexual relations with your spouse at a frequency of 2-3 times per week is a reasonable expectation, it would seem to me. The fact that sexuality is so not-easy in your marriage suggests that there is a significant problem. I don’t know what is happening for your wife (she may have very legitimate reasons for why she finds sexuality with you aversive for all I know). I do know one thing and that is that whether or not you are actually “screwed up” as she says, or whether she has a problem all by herself, your marriage definitely has a problem and it is up to the both of you to fix it. If both of you are not on board with wanting to fix it and seeing it as a personal responsibility that both of you have to address and fix the situation, then it seems unlikely that the marriage will work out. Which brings up the important question of where your limits are. Would you be willing to continue in the marriage if nothing changed? Is it unlivable now? A better way to ask this is, “could you find a way to be happy with this situation if it didn’t change ever?”. She may be “driving you away” as you say, but will you know when you’ve passed the point of no return? Divorce is certainly a possibility here for you to consider. I’m not recommending divorce or even separation, but I would suggest that you think about whether it would be a viable alternative. Knowing what you will and will not accept as solutions will help you to retain self-respect in this situation. If you decide to work within the marriage, it will be very important for you to try to get inside your wife’s mind so as to understand what it is about sexuality with you that she finds so distasteful. Does she feel you don’t love her? Was she harmed sexually when she was younger? Is there a way you can approach her (sexually or lovingly or both?) that will help her to relax some? Think about these questions and try to act on what you conclude so as to give her what she needs. And for heavens sake, do not give up on counseling. Your marriage is sick and you need to keep working on it until it is well again. A doctor can help. If previous therapists were not successful in getting you both to engage the therapy, well then – try a new doctor with a new approach. If you choose to say in the marriage, keep working on it and do not accept that this is your problem alone. Good Luck, – Anne