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Sexually Frustrated In Kansas

Question:

I love my wife very much and have reason to feel she feels the same, emotionally, anyway. But from the beginning, my wife has always been uncomfortable with physical intimacy. Over the years, our marriage has evolved from bad, infrequent sex to horrific, very rare sex. The situation has left me very frustrated and depressed for many years. The situation has devolved to where it feels intolerable. Counseling isn’t an option. My wife is always willing to talk about fixing me, but will walk out of the office if the “s” word is even mentioned. Divorce is not an option for many reasons, most important of which, is its morally unacceptable. I don’t know how to live with this situation and I don’t know what else I can do.

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Answer:

You seem to suggest, between the lines, that you and your wife have been to counseling before regarding this issue of mismatched sexual needs, and that she has literally refused to address the issue. That is a true shame if that is the case, because your desire for a regular and satisfying sexual life with your wife is a very reasonable thing for you to want. Normal people want a sex life. It is rather abnormal that your wife would be so anti-sexual; There may have been some sexual abuse in her history, for all we know. She may be living with the consequences of abuse. If that is the case, it is a shame that she cannot bring herself to get professional help. It is frightening to do so, particularly when abuse was extended or horrific, but it can be very freeing too. If she won’t go to therapy with you, has she ever indicated that she might go on her own?

At any rate, it seems (by your report) that you’ve written off the possibility of your wife changing her tune, and you won’t change your tune either. Your all but impossible to solve task now is to figure out a way to best adapt to your all-but-sexless circumstance.

You seem to be a moral man; so much so perhaps that you may be extreme in that capacity. Most men cannot or will not control their impulses so well. They would find a clandestine outlet for their sexuality rather than suffer alone. I point this out not because I think that you should find is what you should do, so much as I want you to see that your morality literally has you in a vice-grip in this instance. Your sexuality is now hostage to your wife’s anger or issues. There is literally nothing acceptable you can do for yourself in the way of sexual expression that will feel guilt free, I think. In marriage you pledge to be faithful to one woman, and the unspoken but very real corollary to that pledge is that your faith is supposed to be rewarded with sex. Only, here, in your situation, you aren’t getting any. My hat is off to you for your faithfulness, it is a really good and beautiful thing to see in action, but it is also that very faithfulness that is causing you such pain. You need to find a way to relax some of that faithfulness of yours just a little, I think, or simply resign yourself to your present pain for the rest of your days. Ow!

I assume that if you are not willing to divorce on moral grounds, that the thought of taking a mistress, or making a regular date with a prostitute or escort is equally repugnant to you. That seems to leave only one good option, which is masturbation. I’m not sure how you feel about masturbation, but I think in your case, it would be a good idea. You need to find a sexual release which is morally acceptable, and masturbation seems to be the only one that doesn’t involve cheating.

When I recommend masturbation to you, I’m not recommending porn – let me be clear about that. Porn is designed to be ultra-stimulating, and it seems to provoke addictive and obsessional tendences in some men who use it. Also, people who use porn tend to feel guilty about that use, and I don’t want to see a moral person like yourself have another thing to feel guilty about.

This is a really difficult circumstance you are in, I think. Your very goodness as a person has become “intolerable” given your commitments. You need to find a way to retain your goodness without becoming a martyr at the same time. I think that masturbation might go a long way towards this goal. I hope you are open to it, or to some other similar creative solution.

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Comments
  • Anonymous-1

    The wife does not seem to be confortable with her husband, there may be many reasons behind this, like she does not like him, does not love him and was married just because she was forced into it and could not help it.

    Over the period of time, she got involved with someone else and already getting her sexual needs satisfied by HIM (her lover).

    I think the second reason is most prominent in the cases where wife's start behaving strangely with their husbands and are no more interested in sex life with the husbands.

  • Seriously ?

    The marriage contract includes sex. In fact it is the primary reason for the mariage contract. Sexual exclusivity.

    If your wife is unwilling to fullfill the contract sned her on her way.

  • Larry

    My wife and I have had the very same problem for years as a result of sexual trauma she suffered as a child and adult... and nothing has changed much except me. Anne, I'm betting your right about past sexual trauma in his wife's past. I also appreciated the deep concern and feeling you had for his dilemma, but what to do?

    From my own experience, first, he should first talk to the therapist alone. If he or she does not have extensive training and experience treating sexual trauma, find someone who does... preferable a woman. And whatever he does, he must not go off on his own looking for answers from other family members... he is likely to come up against closely guarded family secrets and find family members and his wife joining forces against him.

    Lastly, Anne... I wish you would reconsider advising men caught in this dilemma to masturbate and instead study up on learning about how to live with celibacy... even forced celibacy. Trust me... it can be done without feeling resentment or loss. The poor guy's self esteem is likely suffering enough. Know this, masturbation inside a relationship - good or bad - is an act of isolating or distancing oneself from a relationship with a significant other. He might as well pick up and leave, which this man certainly does not present as the type who would do such a thing. To a man of character and integrity and faith, "for better or worse" has deep meaning. Trust me on this one, Anne, abandoning his wife by taking to masturbation is going to make him feel shameful... and if his wife finds out about it, it will likely wound her badly. She knows she can't be sexual and for him to be sexual... if only with himself... will likely make her feel betrayed just one more time by a man she trusted.

    Thanks for listening... and keep on keeping on.

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