His wife no longer will have sex.

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My wife and I have been married for 4 years. In the last 3 years of our relationship, the frequency with which we had sex tapered off very gradually; we now have had virtually no sexual contact in the last 6 months.

We have had a few bad fights — one in which we hit each other (I spent a night in prison for this). This was several months ago now, and we had virtually no sex for months leading up to this fight anyway.

I’ve been unemployed for about a year but have been steadily paying the majority of our bills from my savings and severance package; I’ve also been raising our daughter (she’s 2 1/2 years old) as my wife is working full time. I’ve had a number of job interviews and anticipate going back to work soon. Our sex problems predate me losing my job.

My wife is also 7 months pregnant (from the very last time we made love). She was in several VERY abusive relationships before we met. I get the impression her father criticized her terribly. She also was sexually assaulted 9 years ago whilst hiking by herself in a wooded area.

I know she’s not cheating — but she refuses to give a real reason why our sex life has ended. She claims to be very traumatized by the time I lost it and slapped her (very lightly, after she hit me, which I realize is inexcusable on my part) and she’s also extremely fatigued and depressed-acting. She’s also gained a fair amount of weight between 2 pregnancies and stress eating, but she won’t change her diet or exercise habits either (she seems addicted to sweets, treats, and starches).

I love her but I don’t want to live out the rest of my life this way. Should I stick around much longer? My needs aren’t even close to being met. I realize how unhappy she is but I just can’t seem to interest her in anything besides food!!

We do love each other and she breaks down in tears at the thought of me leaving her. Why is the physical part of our relationship gone? Can it be brought back? I feel so rejected, frustrated, and betrayed I’m ready to leave tomorrow, but for our kids. I’m still attracted to her, and I care about her a lot, but this just isn’t worth it anymore!!

A: Why oh why have you two not found yourselves a therapist? From what you’ve told me, your wife is suffering from depression and perhaps from post traumatic stress disorder. In addition to having had a critical father and several abusive relationships, she was sexually assaulted. She thought you were finally a man she could trust. Then you lost it and hit her. On top of that, she is pregnant, tired, over-worked and probably scared of the financial situation. It’s no wonder to me that she isn’t interested in being open to you sexually and is turning to comfort food instead. It’s probably all she can do to hold it together!

Meanwhile, you have troubles of your own. You’ve been unemployed. You’re watching the bank account evaporate. You have primary parenting responsibilities for a toddler and there’s a baby on the way. As frustrated as you are with your wife, you are also worried about her but have been unable to help her.

My take on the situation is this: For you, sex would be a comfort and a way to be close and to rebuild trust. For your wife, sex is yet another demand as well as a reminder of how much men have hurt her. She needs closeness and trust to be rebuilt before she can allow herself to be intimate with you again. You two need support and help to bring you back together.

Please ask your doctor, clergy person, or friends for a referral to a couples therapist. If you could solve this on your own, you would have done so already. You live in a city with many therapy centers, clinics, and therapists in private practices offer a sliding fee scale for people in financial difficulty.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Nov 2007

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2007). His wife no longer will have sex.. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/11/27/his-wife-no-longer-will-have-sex/